Saturday, 31 December 2011

Beetroot & goats cheese salad



Ingredients

 Beetroot, goats cheese, balsamic glaze, pine nuts, Spinach leaves, salad leaves, basil oil.
Serves: 1 Preparation: 5


I love salad. After the indulgence of Christmas this is just what I need to feel a little bit virtuous.


1) Wash the beetroot and slice off the stalks and leaves. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Carefully peel the beetroot with the nick of a knife, then once it's cool slice into matchsticks.


2) Toss the salad leaves in basil oil and add the beetroot.


3) Crumble the goats cheese into the salad and add the pine nuts. It's entirely up to you whether you prefer them toasted or not. Personally in this salad I prefer them not to be toasted.

Fennel gratin


Ingredients

    Fennel, parmigiano, cheddar, cream, garlic, parsley, butter

Serves:
2 Preparation: 30 minutes



Fennel is gorgeous, the liquorice taste which is so prevalent when it's raw, adds a fresh dimension to a rich dish so I think this is perfect to balance the parmeggian in this creamy dish.


1) Remove the first layer of the fennel and slice off the stalks, then cut the bulb into fine slices with a mandolin.


2) Crush the garlic and stir into the butter along with the parsley. Spread a thin layer onto each slice of fennel.


3) Layer the fennel into a baking dish, interspersing with a sprinkling of parmeggian. Pour over the cream and top with the cheddar and more parmeggian.


4) Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees and serve.

Fennel & cucumber salad


Ingredients

Peashoots, Spinach leaves, salad leaves, cucumber, fennel, pumpkin seeds, basil oil, mint 

Serves: 1 Preparation: 5 minutes

This salad is so fresh and simple, perfect on the side of something rich, or between courses to cleanse the palate. The fennel has a gorgeous licorice taste but is subtle enough not to overpower the other flavours.



1) Remove the first layer of the fennel and slice off the stalks, then cut the bulb into slivers.


2) Toss the salad leaves in basil oil and finely sliced mint


3) Slice the cucumber julienne and add to the salad leaves, along with the fennel and pumpkin seeds.

Fennel & goats cheese risotto



Ingredients

  Fennel, risotto rice, goats cheese,
 cream, leek, vegetable stock, vermouth 
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes


I adore fennel - the liquorice taste which is so prevalent when it's raw, adds a fresh dimension to a rich dish so I think this is perfect to balance the goats cheese in this risotto. All risottos (no matter what the ingredients) can be made in 3 simple stages. The first is called tostatura - coating the rice in fat, the second involves cooking off some alcohol and the third involves releasing the starch from the rice one ladle of stock at a time.

1) Finely dice the leek and sautee in a little butter until soft. Add the risotto rice and stir until the rice becomes transparent, revealing a white dot in the centre and pour in a glug of vermouth.


2) Once the alcohol cooks off, add the first ladle of stock and stir through.

3) Continue adding the stock, one ladle at a time, adding the sliced fennel with the second to last ladle of stock. Crumble through the goats cheese and stir through.

4) Finish with a little cream and freshly grated black pepper and serve.

Turkey risotto


Ingredients



   Roast turkey, turkey carcass, water,
 risotto rice, double cream, brandy, butter, leek

Serves: 2 Preparation: 30


Perfect for leftover Christmas turkey, this is a great way to use up your meat and use the carcass too for making stock. All risottos (no matter what the ingredients) can be made in 3 simple stages. The first is called tostatura - coating the rice in fat, the second involves cooking off some alcohol (in this case brandy to give it that extra Christmassy flavour) and the third involves releasing the starch from the rice one ladle of stock at a time.


1) To make the stock: Pick the meat from the turkey carcass and set aside, then add the carcass into a stock pot and cover with water. Allow to boil for 1-2 hours, strain away the turkey and allow to cool. Skim off the fat from the surface and then the stock is ready to use. If you don't want to make turkey stock, you can use chicken stock instead.


2) To make the risotto: Finely dice the like and sautee in a little butter until soft. Add the risotto rice and stir until the rice becomes transparent, revealing a white dot in the centre and pour in a glug of brandy.


3) Once the brandy cooks off, add the first ladle of stock and stir through.


4) Continue adding the stock, one ladle at a time, adding the turkey with the final ladle of stock.


5) Finish with a little cream and freshly grated black pepper and serve.

Parsnip & leek rostis


Ingredients

  1 Parsnip, 20g parmigiano, 1/2 leek, butter, 1/2 an egg.  

Serves: 1 Preparation: 20 minutes (plus overnight)


A rosti is a sort of Swiss version of a hash brown. A gorgeous crunchy potato cake with a meltingly soft centre. To get this right it takes a little time, but it's SO worth it. Traditionally made with potatoes, I love the flavour of this parsnip alternative for Christmas.


1) Peel the parsnip and parboil WHOLE for 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely, covered in the fridge (ideally overnight)


2) Grate the parsnip and sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture, then squeeze in a sieve or colander to extract as much liquid as possible. Dry with kitchen towel.


3) Dice the leek and sautee in a little butter until soft. Allow to cool and then mix into the parsnip with the grated parmeggian and a little of the beaten egg until the mixture is moist enough to hold together. I like to use biscuit cutters to form shapes and pack down the mixture into it, but you can just form a patty with your hands.


4) Add to a frying pan with a little butter and fry, turning continually until the outside is crisp and the centre is fluffy and soft.


Ideal served with my cranberry & orange curd.

Red rice with roast aubergine



Ingredients
    150g red Camargue rice, 1
  aubergine, passata tomatoes, oregano, coriander, salt, olive oil, 1 pint vegetable stock.
Serves: 1 Preparation: 40 minutes


Camargue red rice is the most recently discovered variety of rice and is very similar to those used in risotto like arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano because it's unmilled which gives it the sticky starch releasing quality. It's grown in in the wetlands of the Camargue in the South of France (hence the name). It has a dark reddy-brown colour with a really intense nutty taste so I complemented this with roast aubergine - the perfect combination.


1) Slice the top from the aubergine, slice it in half lengthways and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 200.


2) Unlike making risotto, you don't need to make it in three stages, adding a ladle at a time. It can be fully submerged and will still become sticky and create a creamy sauce. Stir the rice as it cooks, then add passata tomatoes and finely chopped oregano once the stock has cooked off.


3) Dice the cooked aubergine and stir it into the rice, then serve.

Chai tea loaf, pancetta, pear & leek stuffing


Ingredients


Chai tea loaf, 1 pear, 1/4 leek, 100g pancetta, 1 egg, butter.
For Christmas lunch this year, I thought I would sex up the turkey stuffing to mirror the spices I put in the brine bath. My Chai tea loaf is magnificently spicy but decadently sweet so I added savoury notes with the leek and pancetta and juiciness with the pear. Once it soaks up the turkey juices it is truly magnificent.


1) Crumble the tea loaf into rough breadcrumbs and set aside.


2) Peel and dice the pear and sautee in a little butter until soft.


3) Finely dice the leek and add it to the pear along with the pancetta.


4) Stir through the tea loaf crumbs and add a whisked egg. Pack it tightly into the turkey cavity and roast along with the bird.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Turkey


Ingredients
  Turkey or turkey crown, 1 tbsp allspice, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 150g salt, 100g sugar, star anise, caraway seeds, honey, butter, bacon 

Serves: an army... Preparation: 2 days

So this is Christmas... and we're all exhausted from the shopping and the wrapping and the decorating and wondering how in the hell we're going to fit everything in the fridge, in the oven and on the table.
With this recipe I promise that your turkey will be absolutely delicious and hassle free - all it takes is a little preparation! I use a brine bath and I'll tell you why; here comes the science bit... the salt in the brine bath breaks down some of the proteins in the meat which allows water to enter all the little cells. It's important to add this extra liquid because when you roast a turkey, the proteins contract which forces out the natural liquid and can leave you with a dry, stringy turkey instead of this lovely juicy beast.

(PS I will update the image on Christmas Day once I've roasted my bird!)


23rd DecemberUsing a stock pot (if you have a small turkey or turkey crown) or a large bucket big enough to fit the turkey in fill it 1/2 full of the salt, honey, sugar, spices and water and chuck in your turkey.

You need to cover this well and keep it somewhere cool until Christmas morning, cool enough to stop the meat spoiling (the cellar or even outside) but for god's sake don't leave it out in the snow or your turkey will freeze!

25th December1) Get up early and remove the turkey from the brine bath, ensuring all the liquid drains from the cavity, then pat it dry and pop it in the roasting dish.

2) If you're stuffing the turkey (I recommend my chai tea loaf, pancetta, pear and leek stuffing), do this first and then get to massaging and pinching the skin of the turkey so that it's loose enough for you to work two tablespoons of butter under it and press and massage until it's evenly distributed under the skin.

3) Lay strips of bacon over the top of the turkey and it's ready to pop in the oven! The magical thing about brining the turkey first is you don't have to faff about with covering it and uncovering it to baste it and cover it back up again... the only thing you really need to get right is the timings for cooking which really depends on the weight of the turkey/turkey crown.

Once it has cooked, remove it from the roasting tin and put it on a serving platter, covered with foil to keep it warm and allow all the juices to settle back into the turkey. If you press the skin you will see how they have risen to the surface in an attempt to escape as steam - by allowing the turkey to rest, they do work their way back down so you don't lose any of that essential juiciness. This 30 - 45 minutes resting time is also very useful because you have space in your oven to do your roast potatoes or other trimmings!

4) To make gravy, skim off most of the fat from the roasting tin and then whisk in a teaspoon of flour. If you add the flour first, it will mix well with the fat to form a sort of roux and you will never get lumpy gravy. Add the flour last and you risk getting chunks of flour and a cloudy gravy rather than a lovely, rich, clear liquid. To the roux, add stock or wine - whichever you prefer and give it a good stir as it warms through.

Chai tea loaf


Ingredients


    75g raisins, 75g sultanas, 75g currants, 300ml chai tea, 250g self-raising flour, 200g brown sugar, 1 egg, cinnamon, allspice, butter,
Serves: 8 Preparation: 1 hour 30 minutes (plus overnight)


Teapigs make, without a doubt the best tea I have ever tasted - unlike most tea it comes in tea temples (little silk bags, not paper) and contains real tea-leaves (not dust). Gorgeous tea also makes gorgeous tea loaf so give Teapigs a try. Annoyingly I forgot to take a picture of this before I started tearing it up to make Christmas turkey stuffing with so here... this is the biggest remaining piece!!!


1) Soak the raisins, sultanas and currants overnight in 300ml of chai tea.

2) Add the flour, sugar, a beaten egg a teaspoon of cinnamon and allspice into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour in the tea and fruit and mix with a spatula until the batter is smooth.

3) Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mince pies



Ingredients450g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 240g unsalted butter, 1 tbsp caster sugar, 140ml orange juice, zest of 2 oranges, 3 roses, 250g cranberries, 100g sultanas, 100g raisins, 2 apples, 1 tbsp allspice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 100ml brandy, 20g brown sugar.
Serves: 24 Preparation: 2 hours (plus overnight)


I love mince pies - the crumbly texture of all butter pastry with a hint of orange, the heady, boozy fruit in the centre and that dollop of thick cream. Mmmm. Nothing is more Christmassy and they're so easy to make.


To make the mincemeat: 


1) Pour the sultanas and raisins into a bowl and cover with brandy. Leave to soak overnight.


2) Wash the roses thoroughly, remove the petals and cover the petals with the brown sugar. Leave overnight.


3) The next day, peel, core and dice the apples, then add to a pan with the cranberries, rose petals and sugar. Add a little water and allow the mixture to come to the boil. After about 5 minutes the fruit should be macerated and most of the liquid evaporated. Add the brandy, sultanas and raisins, allspice and cinnamon.


To make the pastry:


4) Cut the butter into small cubes and add to a food processor with the flour and sugar. Pulse until it becomes the consistency of breadcrumbs.


5) I like to use clementines for this because they're the Christmassiest oranges! Zest two, then squeeze the juice of about 5, giving you about 140ml of juice. Add the zest of the oranges into the food processor, then the juice in a steady stream until the pastry begins to form a ball.


6) Remove from the blender - if it's sticky, add a little more flour - roll up in clingfilm and put in the fridge for an hour to firm up.


7) Roll out the pastry (you shouldn't need a floured surface - if the pastry is sticky then you have used too much liquid) to about 1/2 a centimetre thickness and cut out circles of dough. I like to use a large circle on the bottom and a smaller circle for the top but you could use a dough shape like a star or a tree if you like for the top.


8) Press the large circles of dough firmly into your baking tin and add about a teaspoon and a half of the mincemeat. Add the tops and bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 200 degrees.


I like to eat these hot, served with a generous dollop of champagne cream.

Boxing day soup




Ingredients

    Turkey, 1 carrot, 1 small potato,
   100g cranberries, 1 pint ham stock, 1 white onion, butter, rosemary.  
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes


This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day;
1) Peel and finely dice the onion and sautee in a little butter with the cranberries and some chopped rosemary.


2) If you are using fresh vegetables, peel and dice them and add to the pan with the stock and turkey meat. If you are using leftovers, pulse them in a blender first. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


3) Allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes and serve. (if using fresh vegetables, pulse the soup in the blender first)

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Roast butternut squash & pancetta soup



Ingredients


     1/2 pint ham stock, 100g pancetta, 1 large butternut squash, 1 small potato, truffle oil.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 1 hour


I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup is velvet smooth, voluptuously thick and has a rich, savoury flavour.


1) Peel and the butternut squash, discard the seeds and cut into chunks. Drizzle with a little truffle oil and roast in the oven in a covered dish at 200 degrees for 20 minutes.


2) Strain the butternut squash (do not discard the juice) and pulse thoroughly in a blender. Add the pureed butternut squash and juice into the ham stock along with the pancetta and the peeled, diced potato then allow to simmer for a further 30 minutes.


3) Mash the potato into the soup with a potato masher and stir through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve.

Courgette & feta soup



Ingredients


4 courgettes, 150g feta, 1/2 pint vegetable stock, 1/2 lemon, mint
Serves: 2 Preparation: 30 minutes


I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup is the perfect combination of Summer fresh flavours and comforting wintry texture.


1) Slice and dice the courgettes - discarding the tops and tails - and add into a pan with the vegetable stock. 


2) Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and pulse thoroughly in a blender. Add back to the stock along with some freshly chopped mint and the juice of half a lemon.


3) Season to taste with salt and black pepper, then serve with cubes of feta.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Cauliflower & almond soup

Ingredients
1 cauliflower, 1 pint vegetable stock, 1 potato, 10g toasted almonds, 1 white onion. 
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes

I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup has a velvety smooth texture and delicate flavour. A gorgeous winter warmer!

1) Peel a small potato and finely dice it along with half a califlower and half a white onion. Add to 1 pint of vegetable stock and cook on the hob for 20 minutes.

2) Separate the vegetables from the liquid using a colander and puree thoroughly in a blender.


3) Pass the pureed cauliflower and onion through a sieve and back into the stock, then stir through until the soup has been incorporated.

4) Stir through a little double cream, then serve topped with toasted almonds and black pepper.

Watercress, pear & gorgonzola soup

Ingredients
400g watercress, 1/4 leek, 1 pint vegetable stock, 50g gorgonzola, 4 pears, cream.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes

I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup has the fabulous peppery tang of watercress, and the sweet/salty combination of pears and blue cheese.
1) Slice and finely dice the leek and sautee in a little butter until soft.

2) Peel and finely dice the pears and add to the pan, stirring through and allowing them to soak in some of the buttery leek flavour before adding the vegetable stock and watercress.

3) Allow to simmer until the pears have softened (about 15 minutes), then strain the watercress, pears and leeks from the stock and pulse thoroughly in a blender. Add back to the stock  and stir through until it has incorporated.

4) Crumble in the gorgonzola and a splash of cream, then stir through before serving.

Spinach, pear & gorgonzola soup

Ingredients
400g spinach, 1 pint vegetable stock, 50g gorgonzola, 4 pears, 1/4 leek. 
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes

I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup has a silky texture from the spinach and a lovely sweet/salty balance of pears and blue cheese. It's fresh and full of goodness but an ultimate comfort food.
1) Slice and finely dice the leek and sautee in a little butter until soft.

2) Peel and finely dice the pears and add to the pan, stirring through and allowing them to soak in some of the buttery leek flavour before adding the vegetable stock.

3) Allow to simmer until the pears have softened (about 15 minutes) before adding the spinach and stirring through for another 5 until the spinach has reduced in volume and wilted completely.

4) Strain the spinach, pears and leeks from the stock and pulse thoroughly in a blender. Add back to the stock  and stir through until it has incorporated.

5) Crumble in the gorgonzola and stir through before serving.

Spinach & nutmeg soup

Ingredients

800g spinach, 1/2 nutmeg, 1/2 pint vegetable stock
Serves: 2 Preparation: 15 minutes

I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup is pure silk - the fabulous texture and subtle flavour of spinach is brought to life with nutmeg and black pepper and better yet it's the quickest soup ever to make and is virtually fat free too!

1) Pour the vegetable stock into a stock pot or a wok - anything large enough to stir the 800g of spinach before it reduces - and add the spinach.

2) Stir continually on a medium heat until the spinach has wilted completely - about 10 minutes - and then strain the spinach from the stock.

3) Puree the spinach thoroughly in a blender and then add back to the stock.

4) Stir in about half of a freshly grated nutmeg (don't ever bother with the powdered stuff - it tastes and smells of nothing!) with half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper to season.

Now it's ready to serve - if you wish you can add salt but I genuinely think that this dish benefits from the clean flavour of spinach, there will be more than enough enough seasoning in the vegetable stock.

Leek, potato & lavender soup

Ingredients
4 purple potatoes, 1 medium leek, 1/4 cup lavender, 1 pint vegetable stock, butter, rosemary.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 45 minutes

I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup is velvety smooth with the most incredible flavour. Purple potatoes give this a spectacular colour (the picture does not do the bright violet hue any justice!) and the hint of lavender in the stock really brings out the sweet flavour of the leek.
1) Slice and dice the leek and add to a pan with a generous knob of butter and about a teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary. Allow to soften and then set aside.

2) In a seperate pan, bring the vegetable stock and lavender to the boil, and then strain into the leeks, discarding the lavender flowers.

3) Peel and chop the potatoes and add to the stock, allowing to simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes have softened. Strain the leeks and potatoes from the stock and puree in the blender until completely smooth.

4) Add the pureed potatoes and leeks back into the stock and stir until it has been completely incorporated. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and then serve.

Honey roast parsnip & cider soup

Ingredients
6 Parsnips, honey, olive oil, vegetable stock, cider, onions. 
Serves: 4 Preparation: 1 hour

I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house comforting, and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup is thick and rich with a lovely sweetness.


1) Peel and finely dice the onion then allow to soften in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the onion is soft add a good glug of cider and allow to simmer. I used Katy by Thatcher's Cider which is GORGEOUS.

2)
Peel the parsnips and then slice into chunks, discarding the tops and tails. Add into a roasting dish with a drizzle of honey, olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, ensuring that the parsnips are all covered evenly.


3) Roast for 20 minutes at 200 degrees, stirring after 10 and then puree in a blender until completely smooth.

4) Pass the parsnips through a seive and add to the onions along with the vegetable stock and another glug of cider.

5) Allow to simmer on the hob for a further 10 minutes, seasoning to taste with freshly ground black pepper and salt and then serve.

Maple glazed carrot, goats cheese & pancetta soup

Ingredients
6 carrots, 1 pint vegetable stock, 200g pancetta, maple syrup, olive oil, 100g goats cheese, 1 onion.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 1 hour

I love soup. I find all the chopping, stirring and pureeing very soothing, the warm smells that fill the house and I love ladling out steamy bowls of soup for people to dunk hot crispy bread into, dressing it with ever more creative croutons or swirls of cream and yoghurt. This winter I have created 10 new soups to warm you through on a cold day. This soup is sweet and tangy with a gloriously smooth texture.

1) Peel and finely dice the onion then allow to soften in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.

2)
Peel and slice the carrots into fine chunks, discarding the tops and tails. Add into a roasting dish with a slosh of maple syrup, olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, ensuring that the carrots are all covered evenly.


3) Roast for 20 minutes at 200 degrees, stirring after 10 and then add to the onions along with the vegetable stock.

4) Allow to simmer for 10 minutes before straining the carrots and onions (do not discard the stock) and pureeing in a blender until completely smooth. Pass the vegetables through a seive and stir back into the stock.

5) Allow to simmer on the hob for a further 10 minutes, adding the pancetta and goats cheese for the last 5, seasoning to taste with freshly ground black pepper and salt.

I like to add half of the goats cheese (discarding the rind) and stir through the soup, then dress the soup with a good chunk of goats cheese before serving.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Limoncello & rosemary tempura battered courgette

Ingredients
2 courgettes, 1 cup plain flour, limoncello, black pepper, rosemary, 1/2 cup ice water.
Serves: 2 Preparation: 10 minutes

Since my good friend Leo gave me a present of some cream of limoncello for catsitting The Major, I have been determined to create some interesting uses for this Italian liqueur. Tempura batter was the first thing that came to mind (a fabulously light, crispy batter which you'll remember me using for tempura avocado and tempura bacon in previous recipes) and this combination of lemon, rosemary and black pepper is absolutely classic with lovely, fresh courgette.


1) In preparation, put a jug of water into the freezer to ensure it's as cold as possible without actually being frozen, and heat your deep fat fryer to 170 or bring a pan of oil to the boil.

2) Wash the courgettes and slice off the tops and bottoms, slice them in half widthways and then lengthways and finally slicing each piece into three wedges by angling the knife towards the centre of each piece.

3) Mix the flour with 1 tsp of finely chopped rosemary, black pepper and salt and then roll the courgette pieces into the dry mixture to coat them in flour. (this will help the wet batter stick to them) Remove the courgette and set aside.

4) Mix about 1 tsp of limoncello into the batter and then top up with ice water until a batter thick enough to coat a spoon is formed. Don't stir it too well - lumps are good here!

5) Dip each piece of courgette into the batter and drop into your deep fat fryer/boiling oil. The secret to good tempura is the combination of icy cold batter and hot oil so mix the batter at the last possible second.

Once the batter is crispy and golden it's ready to serve - absolutely perfect with good old ketchup but if you want to try some of my other dips check out the following recipes: cheese & chive, Wensleydale & cranberry, Basil dip, roast pepper & goats cheese, spinach dip, rose tzatziki, avocado tzatziki, aioli, baked camembert, basil hummus and hummus.

Limoncello panna cotta


Ingredients



250g Greek yoghurt, 2 sheets of gelatine, 150ml double cream, 1 cup caster sugar, limoncello. 
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes

My name is Lianne Marie Binks and I am a panna cotta addict.
I cannot, cannot get enough of the cool, creamy lusciousness and whenever we're in restaurants I have to force myself to order something different for pudding, otherwise I would never eat anything else. Making it is so quick and simple but it's such a versatile pudding. I have one month left before I force myself to embark upon a pre-wedding diet so expect many, many panna cotta recipes to come in December! My good friend Leo bought me some cream of limoncello back from Italy for catsitting The Major and I've been steadily creating recipes for it ever since.


1) Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes until they become completely soft and flexible, meanwhile, warm the cream in a pan and then whisk the gelatine into the cream until it has dissolved completely.

2) Take the pan from the heat and whisk in the yoghurt, continuing to whisk until the mixture is completely incorporated. Add in the limoncello - I used one shot to give it a delicate flavour and colour but you could use more.

3) Pour into moulds and allow to set in the fridge. I just use little whiskey glasses (not shots) because they're the perfect portion for me :-) it should be set after 2 hours but I like to leave it overnight. If you don't have a brulee torch to warm the mould, just stand the glass upright in a dish of warm water for 30 seconds and then tip it up and allow it to wobble out. Serve with a further splash of limoncello for a hint of sin!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sailor Jerrys Egg Nog

Ingredients3 eggs, 1 pint whole milk, 50g caster sugar, vanilla, 100ml Sailor Jerry's rum (or brandy if you prefer), nutmeg for dusting.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 20 minutes

Christmas is coming and this food blogger is getting fat. (And probably gout to boot with all of these indulgent puddings and boozy treats) Egg nog is nothing if not the most indulgent Christmas booze - essentially it's an alcoholic custard that you drink warm or cold and then wonder why you're waking up on a traffic island wearing your pants on your head come Christmas morning... (no? just me?)

1) Put a pan on a low-to medium heat - for this recipe you do not want to allow the mixture to boil otherwise you'll end up with scrambled egg, it must be warmed gently.

2) Whisk the eggs and whisk in the milk and sugar, transferring to the pan and allowing to warm through, stirring gently until the mixture just coats the back of your spoon. I like to add just a splash (1/4tsp) of vanilla essence to bring out the sweetness but Sailor Jerrys already contains vanilla so adding a vanilla pod like traditional egg nog would be far far too much!

3) Stir through the Sailor Jerrys rum and then serve warm, dusted with freshly grated nutmeg or cold. This mixture will thicken up a little as it cools so don't be alarmed

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Coconut panna cotta with lavender poached pear


Ingredients



250g Rachel's Organic coconut yoghurt, 2 sheets of gelatine, 150ml double cream, 2 pears, 1/2 cup dried lavender, 1 cup caster sugar   
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes

My name is Lianne Marie Binks and I am a panna cotta addict.
I cannot, cannot get enough of the cool, creamy lusciousness and whenever we're in restaurants I have to force myself to order something different for pudding, otherwise I would never eat anything else. Making it is so quick and simple but it's such a versatile pudding. I have one month left before I force myself to embark upon a pre-wedding diet so expect many, many panna cotta recipes to come in December! This combination of lavender and coconut, which I explored recently making lavender scones with coconut milk, is perfect.


1) Add the lavender to 1/2 pint water and bring to the boil for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to help the flavour infuse. Strain the lavender from the water and discard the lavender.

2) Peel, core and finely dice the pears, then add to the pan along with the sugar and lavender infused water. Bring to the boil and allow the pear to soften completely.

3) Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes until they become completely soft and flexible, meanwhile, warm the cream in a pan and then whisk the gelatine into the cream until it has dissolved completely.

4) Take the pan from the heat and whisk in the yoghurt, continuing to whisk until the mixture is completely incorporated.

5) Pour into moulds and allow to set in the fridge. I just use little whiskey glasses (not shots) because they're the perfect portion for me :-) it should be set after 2 hours but I like to leave it overnight. If you don't have a brulee torch to warm the mould, just stand the glass upright in a dish of warm water for 30 seconds and then tip it up and allow it to wobble out. Spoon the lavender poached pears over the top and serve!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Giant cous-cous with roast aubergine



Ingredients

150g Giant (aka Israeli) cous-cous (I bought mine from Millie's Organic in Leeds), 2 limes, basil oil, 10g freshly chopped mint, 100g passata tomatoes, 3 baby aubergines, salt.
Serves: 2 Preparation: 10 minutes

Cous-cous is made using semolina which has been sprinkled with water, hand rolled and then passed through a sieve, dusted with more semolina and rolled and passed through again to form the granules that you can buy in the shops. Cous-cous in Israel has a much larger granule and personally I prefer it, the texture is more like the bubbles in a tapioca pudding and it's absolutely delicious, absorbing flavour more intensely than the smaller grains do. The sauce contrasts so beautifully with the flavour of roast aubergine and it just melts in the mouth.

1) Slice the tops from the baby aubergines and slice into quarters, first lengthways and then widthways. Arrange skin side down in a roasting dish and sprinkle with salt to draw out the bitter juices. Drizzle with basil oil and roast in the oven at 220 for 30 minutes.

2) Pour the cous-cous into a pan of boiling salted water and stir through for 6-8 minutes before straining in a sieve and setting aside.

3) To make the dressing, squeeze the juice of 2 limes, a tablespoon of basil oil and the passata tomato into a pan and stir through.

4) Add some finely chopped mint, then stir through the cous-cous and aubergine.

Giant cous-cous with cucumber and king prawns


Ingredients


150g Giant (aka Israeli) cous-cous (I bought mine from Millie's Organic in Leeds), 1/4 cucumber, 2 limes, basil oil, 10g freshly chopped mint, 150g cooked and peeled king prawns, 100g passata tomatoes. 

Serves: 2 Preparation: 10 minutes

Cous-cous is made using semolina which has been sprinkled with water, hand rolled and then passed through a sieve, dusted with more semolina and rolled and passed through again to form the granules that you can buy in the shops. Cous-cous in Israel has a much larger granule and personally I prefer it, the texture is more like the bubbles in a tapioca pudding and it's absolutely delicious, absorbing flavour more intensely than the smaller grains do.

1) Pour the cous-cous into a pan of boiling salted water and stir through for 6-8 minutes before straining in a sieve and setting aside.

2) To make the dressing, squeeze the juice of 2 limes, a tablespoon of basil oil and the passata tomato into a pan and stir through.

3) Add some finely chopped mint and the prawns, then stir through the cous-cous.

4) Serve with chunky pieces of cucumber for a contrasting crunch. 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Fettuccini with poached egg yolk

Ingredients
8oz pasta flour, 1 tsp olive
oil, 5 eggs, 1 lemon, 100g pancetta, 1 tbsp basil oil, 1 tbsp parmigiano.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 1 hour (+5 hours pasta preparation)

I adore pasta and thankfully love making it almost as much as I love to eat it - there's nothing quite like freshly made pasta, fresh from the pot. I also adore poached eggs, the creamy gold egg yolk flowing makes the most beautiful pasta sauce and recently I decided to do away with the faff of poaching a whole egg and just stick with the yolk!

1) Pour 8 ounces of grade 00 flour (pasta flour), 1 teaspoon of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, 3 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk into a bowl and kneed with your hands until you have a firm dough. Wrap this in cling film and chill in the fridge for 2-5 hours.
2) Dust a worktop with pasta flour and roll out the dough into a sheet 1/3 of a centimetre thick. Cut out squares of pasta with a knife and roll these through a pasta machine (or using a rolling pin if you don't have one) until you have a thin rectangle of pasta. Slice into 1cm wide strips.

3) Add a little basil oil into a frying pan and sizzle the pancetta for 2 minutes.

4) Drop the pasta into salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Once it rises to the top of the pan it's done! Strain and toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice, a glug of basil oil, the pancetta and some freshly grated parmeggian.

5) Separate an egg yolk from the white and drop it into a pan of boiling water for 45 seconds, then spoon it onto the fettuccini. Once you cut into it the yolk will mix with the pasta to form the most stunning sauce. I served this with poached chicken breast and steamed asparagus.

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