Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Chocolate fondant pudding, with white chocolate sauce


 Simplicity itself. Self-indulgent, luxurious, and deeply satisfying!

For two.

Ingredients: 1 egg; 60 g butter; 60 g soft brown sugar; 50 g flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 15 g cocoa powder; 50g white chocolate; half a cup of cream; 1 tsp vanilla essence; 2 squares dark chocolate.

Method.

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease two individual pudding basins.

2. Process together the flour, egg, sugar, baking powder, cocoa, and butter. Divide this mixture between the two greased basins. Press into each one a square of chocolate and cover with the mixture.

3. Bake for twenty minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in the top part of a double boiler, melt he white chocolate along with the cream and vanilla. Stir to blend.

5. Unmould the baked puddings onto dessert plates, and spoon he white chocolate sauce over the top before serving.



Sunday, 18 April 2021

Mixed Berry & Peach Strudel


 Served here with bergamot cream.

This is another of those perfectly presentable last-minute desserts for when you have very little time or else have to deal for some reason with the unexpected. And it is delicious.

Serves Four:

Ingredients;

2 cups mixed berries, either fresh or frozen (I used redcurrants and blackcurrants, raspberries and blackberries); 1 peach, quartered,and then each quarter diced; 1 cup breadcrumbs; half cup sugar (or sucralose); 50g butter; three sheets phyllo pastry, each one 12" x 18".

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Melt half the butter in a small pan, add to it the breadcrumbs and toast them for a minute or so over high heat. 

3. In a bowl, combine the toasted breadcrumbs with the fruit and sugar. It should adhere, to form a dense mass; if it needs some help to do so, add a tbs or so of milk.

4. Melt the remaining butter and use it to butter each sheet of the phyllo, layering them one on top of another as you go. Leave a spoonful or two of melted butter to use later.

5. Spread the fruit filling over the half of the the phyllo rectangle which is nearest to you, with the shortest side facing you. Leave a margin of pastry of about 2" at the end which faces you, and along each side. Fold the exposed end of the pastry over the filling, and fold in each of the uncovered lengths of phyllo along the sides. Then, starting from the end nearest you, roll the whole thing into a neat cylinder, tucking in the sides as necessary, as you go.

6. Place on a greased baking sheet, and brush the top of the strudel with the last spoonful or so of the melted butter. Bake in the pre-heated oven for twenty minutes or so until golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

For bergamot cream, mix the grated lest of a bergamot (or a lemon, if no bergamot is available) with two cups of mascarpone, and half a cup of sugar. 




Thursday, 15 April 2021

More flowers...

 Azaleas, this time. In their all-too-brief flowering period. Pictures snapped in yesterday morning's sunshine...




Tonight's dinner:

Asparagus a la Parisienne

Salmon, in mushroom and Phyllo, with a puree of creamed leek

Vanilla Bavarois

Portobello Mushroom, roast with Balsamic Vinegar...


...and then dressed with toasted, herbed breadcrumbs and a gorgonzola sauce. 

Simple, quick, and straightforward. And an excellent combination of edgy flavours.

For two.

Ingredients:

2 large portobello mushrooms; 6 tbs olive oil; 1 tbs balsamic vinegar; 6 tbs breadcrumbs; 1 tsp dried thyme; salt and pepper; 100 g gorgonzola; 2 tbs milk; parsley (for garnish).

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Place each of the mushrooms in an appropriate sized oven-proof dish. Drizzle each mushroom with 1 tbs oil and 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar, so that the oil and vinegar seep into the gills of the mushroom. Roast for twenty minutes.

3. In a small roasting pan or similar, mix together the breadcrumbs and thyme, and season to taste; drizzle a further 2 tbs olive oil over the breadcrumbs, and add to the oven for the last eight minutes or so of the mushroom roasting time.

4. Meanwhile, combine gorgonzola, milk and the remaining oil and heat gently, stirring, as the cheese melts into the oil and milk.

5. At the end of the roasting time, divide the toasted breadcrumbs between the two mushrooms, and spoon the cheese sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve.




Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Flowers and stuff

Rosa Laevigata


Always the first rose in the garden to bloom


After three days of rain...the sun came out!


Apple blossom... the last of the fruit trees to
mark the arrival of Spring


One of the few remaining 'old' trees in the Old Orchard


Exquisite!



 

Tonight's Dinner:

Portobello Mushrooms, roast with garlic breadcrumbs, and served with a gorgonzola sauce

Pork Chops, baked with artichoke and tomato; roast salsify

Fresh Pineapple with Mascarpone

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Blueberry Almond Meringue Tart


 

Without question, the best way of using up leftover egg whites! One of my all-time favourites, this is yet another splendid recipe from Jill Norman, from her edition of Penguin Cookery. Which appears to have been largely unsung, and I really cannot understand why...

Ingredients: 1 shortcrust pastry shell, 8"; 180 ml egg white (from 6 or so medium eggs); 150 g ground almonds, plus 1 tsp almond essence; 190 g sugar; grated zest of a medium lemon (or, even better, a medium bergamot, if you can get it); 250 g fresh blueberries.

Method:

1. In a 180 degree oven, blind-bake the pastry shell, to a biscuity crispness.

2. Using an electric beater, whisk the egg whites until thoroughly stiff and risen; as they become dense, gradually add the sugar and  whisk it into the egg white as you proceed.

3. Fold into the meringue mixture first of all the ground almonds (plus essence), and the lemon zest.

4. Into the blind-baked shell spread half of the egg-white mixture, and then fold the blueberries into the remainder of the mixture and pile this on top of the mixture which is already in the pastry shell. 

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Leave to cool before you cut to serve.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Celery Salad


 After a period in which the word 'salad' could be associated with any collection of dispirited green leaves, occasionally enlivened by the amusing addition of strange bedfellows such as peanuts or diced pineapple, the dish is once again coming into its own. Helped in part by the ready availability of interesting oils and vinegars to give added depth: caprese salad, with the complicated sweetness of balsamic vinegar , for example, or a classic bean and tuna salad, but with the addition of sherry vinegar rather than a bog standard white wine variety.

This celery salad I found in a collection of recipes by Carluccio. It is surprising, in that it reminds me of no other salad treatment that I know, and there's something about the dish which feels ancient. Carluccio talked about being served this salad as a child, in Calabria, just after the War, and neither the period nor the location suggests dilettante self-indulgence. Rather, one gets the feeling that this is a dish which has been being consumed by peasants over the ages, all the way back to Roman times. Having tried it once, it firmly entered my repertoire.

In cooking both the celery and the onion, it is important to remember that the vegetables are merely being softened, and not cooked to a mush; they want to go beyond being al dente, but still to have some structure to them. I served the salad here on a bed of rocket leaves, which had been dressed in walnut oil and bergamot juice - but that was just because I had all of that to-hand, and those are entirely optional elements. The real hit in the dish comes from the sweet edginess of the vinegar which has penetrated into the softened flesh of the diced onion.

For two servings.

Ingredients: half a head of celery; one medium white onion; 1 tbs olive oil; 1 tbs white wine vinegar; salad leaves, lightly dressed (optional). Chopped parsley.

Method:

1. Finely dice the celery, and blanch it for two minutes in a large pan of boiling, salted water. Drain into a colander, and leave to cool.

2. Heat the oil in a small  pan, and in it gently cook the finely diced onion. Do not let it colour, or to become crisp. Once the onion is soft, turn off the heat, lightly salt the onion and stir in the vinegar, which the onion will absorb as it cools. 

3. Taste the cooled celery and add salt, if needed - it probably won't. Divide it between two salad plates, on the bed of dressed salad leaves, and scatter the onion, still warm, over the top of the celery. Sprinkle some chopped parsley on top of that, and serve.