Saturday 4 July 2020

Chicken, roast with honey and cumin

With acknowledgements to the late, great Penelope Casas (whose recipe this was). The honey-vinegar-cumin marinade gives a splendid sweet & sour quality to the chicken, which ends up with  beautifully crisp skin, while the taste of cumin gives it unexpected depth. I prefer to roast on the spit, as the bird ends up more succulent that way - but the recipe can just as easily be done in a standard hot oven.

Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil; 1.5 tbs red wine vinegar; 2 crushed cloves garlic; 1 tsp salt; 2 tsp ground cumin; 2 tbs honey; 1 roasting chicken.


1. Remove the chicken wishbone - makes life a great deal easier when it comes to carving.

2. Mix together all of the other ingredients. Place the chicken in deep-ish dish, and pour over and around it, and turn it a few times to cover thoroughly. Let it sit for at least an hour, preferably two, during which time turn it in the marinade from time to time.

3. Roast as you would any other chicken (35 minutes or so, at 'hot'). Baste every ten minutes or do during roasting with leftover marinade.  Let the chicken sit at the end for five minutes, and then carve and serve. 

Any leftover bits are excellent served cold as part of a chicken salad.

Friday 3 July 2020

Coffee souffle

With a nod to the inclination of the Leaning Tower - which is all of five minutes on foot, thattaway...

My standard go-to for the frequent times when the dinner hour arrives, and I've got nothing started for dessert. Five minutes to make the souffle base, and then a comfortable pause before the dessert course, as the oven does its magic.

For two individual souffles  

11g plain flour; 28g sugar + 1 tbs sugar; 60ml milk; 1 tbs good quality instant coffee powder; 2 eggs, separated plus one extra egg white; a pinch of salt.


1. Heat the oven to 210 degrees C. Grease two ramekins (I use ramekins of approx 200 ml capacity).

2. In the bowl of a double boiler, combine the flour, sugar, coffee granules and milk. Set over a gentle heat, and stir with a whisk from time to time, as the mixture thickens - about five minutes.

3. Once the mixture has thickened, take it off the heat and whisk the egg yolks into it. If not proceeding to bake the souffles immediately, at this point set the mixture to one side.

4. When you're ready to bake the souffles, beat the egg whites until stiff; as you begin to beat, add the pinch of salt to the egg whites, and as the mixture visibly thickens, add the spoonful of sugar little by little.

5. Add a third of the beaten egg white to the coffee mixture and whisk it in, to lighten the mixture, and then return everything to the remaining egg whites and fold in to amalgamate thoroughly.

6. Divide the mixture between the two prepared ramekins. Make sure that none of the mixture sits on the side of the ramekin, as this will prevent the souffle from rising properly.

7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for thirteen minutes, while you sit at table and talk over politics, music, or books, and consume another glass of something sustaining.


Thursday 2 July 2020

Budino Toscano

Loosely adapted from Elisabeth David's Italian volume (where she sometimes gets it right, and sometimes ...let's face it...falls a little short of the mark). I seem to be on a ricotta kick at the moment - I don't know why; perhaps the onset of the truly hot weather invites light eating, and ricotta functions so well as a vehicle for interesting flavours and textures, but without imposing itself very much in the process. In any event, I find myself regularly these days turning out ricotta and spinach gnocchi (which I love), or else torta di ricotta, with its excellent flavours of mint and basil...And, of course, this.

420g ricotta; 50g ground almonds; 3 medium eggs; 55g diced candied peel (, lemon, apricot, pretty much whatever is available); 55g sultanas; grated zest of a lemon; 112g sugar (or equal quantity-by-volume sucralose); half tsp each of orange flower water and vanilla essence (and almond essence, if your ground almonds are of only middling quality).


There is almost no method to making this, so as recipes go, it's a bit of a frost. 

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 20cm false bottomed tin, and line the base with greaseproof paper.

2.Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, with the aid of a hand whisk - don't overmix, just enough so that everything is properly mixed in, and holds together.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake for 45-50 minutes (until the top has started to brown nicely). Let it cool in the tin for twenty minutes or so before you un-mould it, and place it on serving dish ,

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Lemon and Amaretti Semifreddo

Simplicity itself. And extremely delicious. The raspberries came from the garden, as did the lemons  - well, strictly speaking they came from the tree which overhangs from the Priest's garden, next door, but it's much the same thing, and the fruit would go unused if we didn't help ourselves. With an eye half-closed, it could be argued that this is a sugar-free recipe...but, in fact the condensed milk comes 'sweetened' (whatever that means, in practice). Certainly, the end result is easily sweet enough.

Ingredients: juice and grated zest of 4 lemons; 1 x 397 ml can of sweetened condensed milk; 300 ml whipping cream; 100g amaretti biscuits (by preference, the soft 'Tuscan' kind, rather than the brittle sort which you find more usually...if the latter are the only kind available, than so be it.)

Serves 8.


1. Prepare a one-and-a half-pint loaf tin: grease the inside, and then line the base with a strip of foil, which overhangs the two ends; place in the freezer for ten minutes or so, to get good and cold.

2. In a large bowl, add the condensed milk to the lemon juice and zest. Mix them together - alchemy will ensure that the mixture thickens quite naturally.

3. Separately, whisk the cream until fairly stiff, and then fold into this the lemon mixture.

4. Crush the amaretti. They need to be in 'scatterable' form.

5. Layer the amaretti and the cream mixture in the prepared loaf tin: a quarter of the crumbled amaretti followed by a third of the mixture, finishing with a layer amaretti.

6. Freeze for at least four hours. Unmould by running a knife blade down the two long sides of the tin, and once upended onto the serving plate, pull on the exposed ends of the foil.

7. Serve with fresh raspberries.