Tuesday, 30 July 2013
Wow, think I got in just in time! I have been meaning all month to do this and now, on more or less the last day of July, I have managed to take part in 'Cook Like A Star', hosted by Zoe, at, Bake for Happy Kids, Baby Sumo from Eat your heart out and Grace from Life can be simple. This month it is Curtis Stone.
I vaguely remember the chiselled good looks of Curtis Stone on the odd cookery programme here a few years back and I hadn't really seen him recently so it was interesting to look at a recipe source that didn't necessarily spring to mind, and it was for that same reason that I thought it would be good to do something for breakfast, I mean, I always seem to do main meals and puds on this blog, and then I throw in a cake or two for good measure, but never breakfast and to be honest, is there really any better meal of the day? Especially if it can be a leisurely breakfast, with several cups of tea and my feet firmly up....I wish,
So, these pancakes were easy to make and if it is possible, (yes it is) they were both light and filling and the blueberry compote was a delicious addition. They were so good that I have just made some for pudding... so, not just for breakfast then!
Blueberry and Ricotta Pancakes adapted from the original recipe here by Curtis Stone
Serves 3 to 4
My adaptions in red
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
190ml/6½fl oz milk
255g/9oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
85g/3oz butter (I used hardly any butter, two or three slithers for the pan and I made the compote by adding a splosh of water to the sugar and blueberries - see below)
extra blueberries to garnish
Place the egg yolks, ricotta and milk in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Sieve in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well with the ricotta mixture.
Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak. Add a third of the egg whites to the ricotta mixture and stir in to loosen the mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Add one third of the blueberries to the batter and stir in.
Place the remaining blueberries in a small pan with the sugar and half the butter (I put about a tablespoon of water into the pan to allow the sugar to dissolve into something) and simmer for a couple of minutes so that some of the berries have collapsed
Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and add a ladle of the batter to the pan. Once the pancake bubbles a bit, after about 1-2 minutes, turn the pancake over and cook on the other side. (Don't make them too thick or else they will taste raw in the middle) Repeat until all the batter is used up.
Serve by placing three (or two big!!!) pancakes on top of each other and drizzle some of the blueberry compote over the pancakes and plate.
Here are some more great Curtis Stone recipes. Please visit and enjoy!
Monday, 29 July 2013
I so loved the colour of this ice cream when I served it. Let's be honest, ice cream can be a bit beige, even if it is the most gorgeous tasting thing, and I loved the fact that this ice cream screamed anything but; lively, bright, vivid!
Now I have made room in my freezer for my ice cream churn, I am experimenting with ice cream and seeing if I can come up with something pretty lovely, after discovering that you can make pretty nice, refreshing ice cream without making a custard, such as using condensed milk and cream here. I decided to use yoghurt as a kind of lighter, refreshing alternative, despite loving the unctuous creamy ice cream.
So, I bought some 2% fat yoghurt (hoping that it wouldn't be so grainy after churning and God, I need some fat!) Fage Total and unearthed some frozen blackberries from the freezer that have been in there for too long actually. I cooked the blackberries down with sugar, a splosh of blackberry liqueur from my 'When I go to France, I buy interesting liqueurs in Carrefour before boarding the ferry' stash and some salt and then passed it through a sieve and then boiled the juice so it became perceptibly thicker and syrupy. Added to the yoghurt, the juice swirls and goes from something dark and intense to something richly purple. And delish!
Blackberry Ice Cream
Makes about a litre of ice cream, ish.
500g blackberries (Mine were frozen, and I let them defrost a little to generate some juice)
50g sugar added gradually, but be prepared to add more depending on the tartness of the blackberries
A pinch of salt to taste
A splosh of blackberry liqueur (optional)
A 500g tub of 2% Greek yoghurt
Put the blackberries into a pan with a splosh of water and some of the sugar. Cook over a gentle heat allowing the blackberries to break down and the sugar dissolve. Taste the juice and add some more of the sugar so that eventually you taste, well, sweetened blackberry.
Once the sugar has dissolved, pass the blackberry mixture through a fine sieve to separate the juice from the seeds. Discard the residue in the sieve and place the sieved juice back into a pan. Add a little liqueur if you like.
Boil the juice rapidly until it becomes syrupy. When it has thickened perceptibly, carefully taste the syrup again. Add a little salt to bring out the blackberry flavour. You want something strongly flavoured as the flavour will diminish when added to the yoghurt and when it is frozen.
Set up your ice cream maker and pour in the yoghurt. Then add the juice and churn. I churned for about half an hour, forty minutes.
Put the half frozen mixture into a suitable tub and put in the freezer to continue the freezing process.
Sunday, 28 July 2013
...though yours doesn't have to be small to be perfectly formed. Indeed you could follow the recipe below and get something far more substantial but, you see, I am not really a cheesecake fan. In my mind, there are better and lighter puds and something in me thinks that if a pudding is going to be substantial then it has to be warm. However, what I will say is that as cheesecakes go, I liked this and I think it was because of its baked, mousse like texture and because I made it small and could take a small piece and not think about how I was going to have to eat the rest. I should say here that Phill is a cheesecake aficionado and would have willingly hoovered up the rest. In fact, the small cheesecake I made here he thought was a single portion but I think that was just an amazed response to the fact that I had actually made a cheesecake.
The quantities below are from the original recipe in Hummingbird Bakery's 'Bake Days', because it is unlikely that you would want to make something so small. I halved all the quantities below and used a 4 and a half springform tin. It served Lola, Finn, dad and me in one sitting, although Phill said he could have eaten all of it again. Maybe next time I will make one just for him.
Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake, taken from The Hummingbird Bakery 'Bake Days' by Tarek Malouf.
FOR THE BASE
220g (8oz) digestive biscuits
100g (3 1/2oz) unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE TOPPING
200g (7oz) fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped, plus 100-200g (3 1/2-7oz) extra strawberries, cut in half to decorate
180g (6 1/2oz) caster sugar
600g (1lb 5oz) full-fat cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)
2 large eggs
100g (3 1/2oz) mascarpone cheese
20g (3/4oz) icing sugar
100ml (3 1/2fl oz) double cream
Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Using a food processor with the blade attachment, blitz the biscuits into fine crumbs. Alternatively place them in a plastic bag, seal and crush with a rolling pin.
Pour the biscuit crumbs into a bowl, add the melted butter and stir together, then tip into the lined tin and press into the base with the back of a spoon.
Place the tin in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to allow the base to set.
Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a saucepan with 80g (3oz) of the sugar and 30ml (1fl oz) of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the strawberries are soft and the liquid has reduced by half. Take off the hob and set aside until completely cold.
Preheat the oven to 160c (320f), gas mark 3. Prepare the topping by using a hand-held electric whisk or a free standing electric mixer with the paddle attachment to beat together the cream cheese and remaining sugar on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl now and then. Tip the cooked strawberries and stir in by hand, ensuring that they are evenly dispersed.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin - it should be about two-thirds full. Place in a roasting tin (first wrap the cake tin in foil) and fill this with water up to about 5mm (1/4in) from the top of the cake tin. This creates a water bath in which to bake the cheesecake, preventing it from drying out and cracking in the oven.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until firm on the top with a very slight wobble in the centre. Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature still in the tin, then place in the fridge to chill and set for 1-2 hours.
Using the electric whisk or free standing mixer, beat the mascarpone and icing sugar on a medium speed until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the double cream until soft peaks form, then fold it into the mascarpone.
Friday, 26 July 2013
Just because I haven't been blogging as frequently as I might like, it doesn't mean I haven't been cooking and this particular recipe was a success, though it does differ somewhat from the original recipe as I kinda made do with what I had, but I was happy and confident to experiment with what I knew was a reliable basic recipe because it is of Ottolenghi origin.
For some reason, though I wasn't wrong to do this, I bought a bag of roasted Mediterranean vegetables in the supermarket and after rediscovering them in the freezer, I decided to roast about three quarters of the pack with a little olive oil, seasoning and thyme to use as the filling for this full tart. Plus, personally, I think sweet potato is a weird vegetable. I am not sure I even like it in soup, let alone as something identifiable in a quiche. Each to their own.
The weather here of late has been really amazing! Normally I cook something Mediterranean inspired as a form of escapism and as a stark contrast to the rain teaming down the windows during the Summer months. However, sat outside on a balmy evening, with a glass of something, bit of salad, a sense of luscious well being - you could be sat somewhere with the Mediterranean lapping up against the shore rather than somewhere in northern England. How wonderful this country could be with some decent weather!
Full Tart, adapted from 'Plenty' by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 4 - 6
My adaptations in red
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow pepper
100 ml olive oil
1 aubergine, cut into 4cm dice
salt and black pepper
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
1 small courgette, cut into 3cm dice
(or, replace the above vegetables with approximately 3/4 bag of frozen Mediterranean vegetables)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
300 g shortcrust pastry (I used shop bought and had some left over which I froze)
8 fresh thyme sprigs, picked
120 g ricotta cheese
120 g feta
7 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium free-range eggs
200 ml double cream
If you are using fresh vegetables then follow the directions below, Otherwise, open the bag of vegetables, scatter them on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season and sprinkle over some herbs. Roast for about 20 - 25 minutes at 220C or until the edges of the vegetables have started to caramelise, and then head to the instructions for the pastry, or...
Heat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. Cut around the pepper stalks, then lift out and discard, along with all the seeds. Put the peppers in a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil and put on the top shelf of the oven.
Mix the aubergine with four tablespoons of oil and season. Tip into a big baking tin and place on the shelf below the peppers. After 12 minutes, add the sweet potato, stir and roast for 12 minutes more. Now add the courgette, stir and roast for a further 10–12 minutes. By now, the peppers should be brown and the vegetables cooked. Remove everything from the oven and turn the heat to 160C/gas mark 2½. Cover the peppers with foil and leave to cool; once cool, peel and tear into strips.
Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Sauté the onions with the bay leaves and some salt for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown, soft and sweet. Discard the bay and set aside.
Grease a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Roll the pastry to a 3mm-thick circle large enough to line the tin with some overhang. Press it into the edges. Line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 30 minutes, lift out the paper and beans, and bake for 10–15 minutes more, until golden brown.
Remove and allow to cool a little. Spread the onions over the bottom, then top with roasted veg.
Scatter over half the thyme, dot first with small chunks of both cheeses and then the tomato halves, cut-side up.
Whisk the eggs and cream with some salt and pepper, and pour into the tart; the tomatoes and cheese should remain exposed. Scatter the remaining thyme on top.
Bake for 35–45 minutes, until the filling sets and turns golden.
Rest for at least 10 minutes, then trim off the excess pastry, remove the tart from its tin and serve.
Monday, 15 July 2013
This was the worst and best possible recipe that could have revealed itself for this month's Random Recipe Challenge, hosted by Dom over at Belleau Kitchen. The best, because I have been rather short of time lately, which I fear is a prelude to my returning to work full time from September when I will have hardly any time at all, and this recipe is, literally, 20 minutes from start to finish. The drawback is that they are so moreish and lasted a matter of minutes as they were slyly snaffled from the worktop by passing Lolas, Finns and Phills... and me. Y'see, this is the thing with appetisers, which is what I suppose these things are - I can't stop at one or two and even if I as at some swanky 'do' somewhere where I had a glass of something white and chilled in one hand, I would still have one hand free to pick and to keep picking at these tasty little morsels...
Anyway, the 30th random recipe challenge was to pick your thirtieth cookbook off the shelf and turn to page 30. The thirtieth book was 'Totally Simple Food' by Jill Dupleix and page 30 had a picture of the aforementioned tarts. The recipe was on page 31 so you'll have to allow me a little wriggle room on that one.
I am a great fan of Jill Dupleix's food. There isn't a recipe that I haven't tried without success. This, though simple, is really no exception to that rule. And as I like a little variety in life, I tried these with slices of chorizo and they equally good if not better, with all that paprika oiliness seeping into crisp puff pastry. Yum, frankly.
Salami Tarts, adapted from 'Totally Simple Food by Jill Dupleix
Makes 10 (of the salami tarts - 15 ish of the chorizo tarts)
500g of puff pastry, either ready rolled or rolled out yourself.
12 slices salami, about 6cm in diameter, or about 15 slices of chorizo, or a bit of both.
1 egg, beaten
200g Swiss chard leaves (I omitted this)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (...and this)
sea salt (...and this)
freshly ground black pepper (...and this!)
A handful of pitted mixed olives (my addition)
Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas 6
Roll out the pastry quite thinly.
Prepare the salami slices, by taking the skin off if you need to (or just taking them out of the packet!)
Place one salami slice on the pastry and cut around it, leaving about a centimetre border around the salami slice. You can then use this as your template for cutting out the other circles.
Brush each pastry round with beaten egg and top with a slice of salami (or chorizo).
Bake for 10 minutes until the pastry borders and puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack. They will crispen up as they cool.
If you are using the Swiss chard, wash it well and place it in a saucepan with just the water clinging to the leaves. Cover and cook over a high heat, tossing occasionally until it begins to wilt and the juices evaporate. Set aside to cool and squeeze out the excess water. Toss in olive oil with sea salt and lots of black pepper.
Serve the tarts slightly warm, or at room temperature, with the chard topping each tart or else do what I did - add a few olives and open a bottle of Spanish wine!