Thursday, 26 April 2007
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
Rhubarb and ginger crumble
100 grams plain flour
100 grams butter
100 grams caster sugar
100 grams ginger biscuits, crumbed
800grams stewed rhubarb
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp brown sugar
Rub the butter into the flour to form a breadcrumb texture. Mix in the sugar and the ginger biscuit crumbs. Place the stewed rhubarb (you could substitute for stewed apples, plums or cherries) in an oven proof dish, stir in the brown sugar and the ginger and cover with the crumble topping. Bake in a moderate oven 180oC/Gas Mark 5/Aga top oven bottom shelf with approx 25 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Monday, 23 April 2007
Hinwick House was a stunning backdrop for Friday evening and really set the mood for the dinner which, I am pleased to say, went really well! No panics, everything on time, empty plates returned to the kitchen! It made me realise that a lot of the pressure on Masterchef was the cameras and not being in control of the situations we were in. Although it was completely exhausting, I really enjoyed the buzz of cooking for lots of people again and am proud that I didn't even panic once! Thank you all for your kind wishes of support - very much appreciated!
Friday, 20 April 2007
Catering for 85 people whilst still in a full time job is probably a bit insane! I worked really hard last night and am just about under control but still have a morning's work to do before I can head off to Hinwick House to start cooking.
Having made 130 bread rolls (cheese, caraway, tomato, wholegrain and ciabatta) last night, I never want to see another bread roll again! I also made 10 puddings (2 gooey chocolate cakes, toblerone tiramisu, ginger rhubard crumble, 2 blueberry and lemon cheesecakes, a ginger lime and chocolate cheesecake, lavender and cherry pie and 2 treacle tarts). It was just like a Masterchef task except I didn't have Ben Steven and David there to help out! Five hours very hard work but it was good to be cooking on a large scale again and to have actually managed to get everything done! One more day to go and then I can relax on Saturday!
Wednesday, 18 April 2007
This week is getting busy as I am cooking dinner for 85 people on Friday night and must admit to being a little bit worried! Expectations are high, the budget is minimal but I am really looking forward to cooking for large numbers again (although am sure it will bring back some haunting Masterchef memories).
Thought that, as I have no time to post a recipe today, I would introduce our cat Muffy, who is very fluffy, likes to sleep a lot and chase rabbits (usually unsuccesfully). She was a rescue cat and lived with us in London where she was completely manic and lots of trouble. Her previously owners had called her Buffy (as in vampire slayer) and looking back, this really should have started alarm bells ringing! On the day we moved to the country however she had a complete personality transformation and became really docile and affectionate! She clearly takes after me and is a country girl at heart!
Monday, 16 April 2007
Friday, 13 April 2007
Spring is definitely here and everything is coming to life in our garden. I really must do some gardening soon although no time this weekend as my lovely brother Gareth is coming to visit from America for his birthday. Busy planning lots of nice things to cook him and I guess I might make him a birthday cake if he is good! He missed the whole of Masterchef so looking forward to watching a few of the programmes with him!
Thursday, 12 April 2007
This recipe is for Robbie Hudson, an old friend from University and a self confessed "non pudding" person who has promised to try out one of my pudding recipes. So Robbie this is for you and as I now know that you are reading this blog (and posting replies) I fully expect an update when you have made this in due course (you have the excuse that peaches are not yet in season so I will give you until the summer to try it)!!
Baked Ameretto Peaches
100ml Disaronno Amaretto
6 peaches cut in half and stones removed
100grams butter, melted
200grams amaretti biscuits (I use Arden Doria), crushed and broken into small pieces
150grams golden marzipan, course grated
This is really simple to prepare. Mix the crushed amaretti biscuits and grated marzipan in a bowl. Pour over the hot melted butter and mix with your hands. The mixture should combine into a sticky dough. Take a small handful of the mixture and shape it over the cut side of one of the peach halves, so that you have a sphere (half peach, half amaretti mixture). Place in an oven proof baking dish and continue with the remaining peach halves. It is best to use a dish that fits the peaches quite tightly so that they don't move around too much when baking. Pour over the Amaretti and bake in a moderate oven (180oC/Gas Mark 4/Aga Roasting oven below the cold shelf) for approximately 25 minutes until the peaches are soft and the topping is golden brown. Toward the end of the cooking time, check that the peaches are not browning too much and if they are cover with silver foil to prevent them burning. Serve with creme fraiche or clotted cream with the amaretto cooking liquid spooned over the peaches. This is one of my favourite summer desserts and is equally good with nectarines.
Tuesday, 10 April 2007
This was our Easter cake this year. It was a lemon drizzle cake (my Grandma's favourite) - the recipe is set out on the strawberry butterfly cake below.
Having soaked the cake with the lemon drizzle, I then topped it with rosewater fondant icing (1500grams fondant icing sugar, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tbsp rosewater, 1 tsp pink food colouring). Spoon the icing over the cake and then decorate with eggs - I used sugar and chocolate ones. Top with fresh flowers if you wish!
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
There is something about Prosecco with its string tied top that really appeals to me. I like it much more than Champagne as the bubbles are gentle and it is just so easy to drink. It is also very versitile and can be flavoured easily, elevating a fairly cheap bottle of sparkling wine to something very special.
When I was in Germany last year I was introduced to "Elderflower Champagne" which was actually prosecco topped up with elderflower cordial. I was amazed that something so simple could make a drink taste so good. A perfect Easter drink and I definitely recommend you try it.
Nigella Lawson also recommends serving prosecco with gingerbread syrup - I can testify that this is absolutely delicious and a perfect drink for Christmas (although that's a few months off yet)!
Monday, 2 April 2007
Rosewater glazed hot cross buns
1 lb strong plain bread flour
2oz caster sugar
7g sachet of dried yeast
150ml warm milk
60ml warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
6oz mixed dried fruit (any combination you like - I used sultanas, raisins, candied peel and cherries)
2oz melted butter, cooled
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp flour
50grams caster sugar
50ml rose water
In a cup dissolve the yeast in 2 tbsp of the warm milk and 1 tsp sugar and leave for 10 minutes in a warm place until it is foamy. In the meantime, sift 4oz of the flour with 1 tsp sugar in a bowl. When the yeast mixture is foamy, pour it into the flour with the remaining warm milk and the water, and leave to stand in a warm place for a further 30 minutes until the mixture is very frothy (the whole mixture should be a fairly solid foam). Whilst you are waiting for this mixture to be ready, sift the remaining flour, sugar, spices, salt and mixed fruit in a bowl. When the yeast mixture is ready pour into the flour mixture with the egg and butter and kneed until the dough is light and elastic for approximately 10 minutes (less if you have a dough hook attachment on your food processor). Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a damp teacloth. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size - approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Knock the dough back again by rekneeding it for a further five minutes. Shape into small balls, approximately 3 inches (or smaller if you want more buns), and place slightly apart on a greased baking tray. Cover the buns with greased cling film and leave for a further 30 minutes until the buns have doubled in size. In the meantime, mix the 3 tbsp of plain flour with a small amount of water to make a runny paste that can be piped for the crosses. You can pipe this using an icing bag, but I prefer to use a plastic sandwich bag, pushing the mixture into one corner. When the buns have doubled in size, snip a small corner away from the plastic bag and pipe a cross on each bun. Bake in a hot oven (220oC/Gas Mark 7/Aga Roasting oven bottom shelf) for 20/25 minutes until the buns are golden. Whilst the buns are cooking, heat the sugar and rose water to prepare the glaze until the sugar has all dissolved and the glaze is syrupy. Remove the hot cross buns from the oven and place on a cooking rack. Brush the tops with the rose water glaze using a pastry brush (I usually do two coats allowing the first to set slightly before applying the second) and leave to cool (or eat straight away!)