Tales from kitchen and cellar

Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Christmas Breakfast with Bubbles

In Cooking, drink, food, Food and Drink on December 7, 2012 at 11:51 am

This week The Wine Place asked me to take a look at a wonderful English fizz,Brightwell Sparkling Chardonnay, and very delicious it was too.

I decided to pair it up with a scrumptious breakfast treat, classic Eggs Benedict.

Check out the combination hereeggsb

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Autumn Leaf Cake

In Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on November 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Autumn Leaf Cake

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Here is a recent cake I made that was inspired by the falling autumn leaves. It was a time consuming cake but not difficult.

Make yourself a chocolate cake, there are enough recipes out there to suit you and coat the cake in two layers of chocolate buttercream. I made a chocolate ganache buttercream on this occasion.

You do need to buy fondant icing in at least two colours, here I chose pumpkin orange and caramel brown. You will also need some leaf cutters in at least three different shapes.

I used oak, maple and ash I believe!

Warm your fondant icing in your hand and kneed until pliable. You can then roll out a little sausage shaped length in two colours and twist together. Roll out to a good pound thickness and cut out your leaves. Do this in small batches so you get a range of marbled leaf shapes.

Leave to harden over a curved surface such as a rolling pin or wine bottle, leave some to dry flat.

When the leaves harden arrange at the base of the cake pushing into the icing to neaten the edge and in a pile on the top.

Enjoy!

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Christmas Pudding and Ginger Stout, Stir Up Sunday

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, drink, food, Food and Drink on November 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir Up Sunday

It’s the second of my recipe blog’s for the Wine Place in Wokingham. This week we’ve been looking at matching beer to your very own home made Christmas Pudding. This weekend it’s Stir Up Sunday and if you’ve never made your own Christmas pudding, now’s your chance.

Take a look at the blog and recipe here

 

Wild about Wild Mushrooms on Bruschetta

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on October 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Mushroom Bruschetta

It’s not the first time i’ve mentioned that this is my favourite time of year and what better way to hunker down in the autumn evenings than to a light, delicious and simple supper of sauteed wild mushrooms, poached egg, rocket and parmesan on toasted bruschetta.

This delightful dish is tasty, quick and easy and would make a great starter, lunch or light supper.

Ingredients

Serves 2

Approximately 300g wild mushrooms (pick your favourite wild varieties and mix with chestnut mushroom or button too)

2 slices of good quality bruschetta style bread ciabatta or sourdough will do ( I chose an Italian style bread readily available in waitrose or other good supermarkets)

2 cloves of garlic, 1 sliced the other whole (or more if you’re in the mood)

2 handfuls of rocket

25 g grated parmesan cheese

3 slices of streaky bacon

2 free range eggs (poached ahead of time for 3 minutes in boiling water and left in iced water ready to refresh before serving)

olive oil

Method

Clean the mushrooms with a little pastry brush to be sure of removing any dirt or grit and slice together with the button and or chestnut mushrooms.

Fry the mushrooms in a little olive oil and cook down until they are no longer soggy in their own juices add the chopped streaky bacon and cook until crispy together with one of the sliced garlic cloves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toast your ciabatta or sourdough slices and rub with the garlic clove and drizzle with a little olive oil.

In a pan of boiling water refresh your poached egg or cook from scratch.

Layer the mushrooms, bacon and garlic mix on top of the toast, place the egg on top, scatter with the rocket and grated parmesan.

Enjoy!

Perfect Pumpkin Paradise Soup

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on October 15, 2012 at 2:17 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

It’s my favourite time of year as Autumn’s glorious bounty of colours come into full flow what better way to celebrate this beautiful season than with a comforting, hot orange coloured bowl of pumpkin and chilli soup!

Quick, easy and a feast for the eyes this delicious soup will warm you to the bone and it’s cheerful demeanour will make you smile…

 

Ingredients

1 butternut squash or medium edible (not decorative pumpkin)

2 onions finely diced

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 red chillis deseeded and finely chopped

1 pint of vegetable stock

Olive oil

Soured cream (optional

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C, Gas Mark 6

Peel and chop the squash or pumpkin into 1 1/2 inch chunks.

Roast with a little olive oil in a roasting tray for thirty minutes, turning once during cooking.

In a large pan heat the olive oil and a little butter if you like and gently saute the onions until tender and soft.

Add the garlic and cook a little longer together with the chopped chilli.

Continue cooking on a medium heat adding the vegetable stock and cooked sqaush/beetroot.

Blitz in batches in a blender smooth or chunky. Add more stock or a little milk to thin if too thick.

This hot sweet, spicy soup is delicious with a swirl of soured cream and a chunk of warm  buttered soda bread.

Enjoy!

Figs Glorious Figs

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on September 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabulous fig season is upon us, and these sensual little bulbs of deep crimson deliciousness are one of my favourite indulgences.

For this recipe I used green figs which were in season in Italy at the time but the dark emperor style purple of our native figs would work just as well.

Ingredients

Serves 4

6 ripe figs firm to the touch but not overly mushy inside

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1 cup caster sugar

A little honey for drizzling

Method

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until the skin rubs off and they are a little golden in colour. Place to cool on one side

Next make the caramel, place the sugar in a heavy based frying pan and melt over a medium to high heat, as the sugar starts to melt and change colour swirl the pan gently to even out the colour. Once a medium caramel colour is achieved remove from the heat and throw in the hazelnuts.

Toss them in the caramel using a fork, don’t be tempted to put your fingers in, this is extremely hot!

Pour onto grease proof paper and leave to harden.

Heat up the grill and cut the top of the figs into a cross shape and squeeze to reveal their sumptuous insides.

Drizzle with a little honey and grill until they start to bubble and blister a little.

Break up the hazelnut caramel and sprinkle like a spiky golden crown in the centre.

Enjoy unadulterated or with a little creme fraiche for added mositure or serve alongside a plate of anti pasti meats.

Whatever the excuse get stuck into the figs while you can!

Blackberry and Pear Perfection

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on August 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Blackberry and Pear Compote

It’s blackberry time! A little early you might think but cast your eyes in any nearby hedgerow and if you’re lucky you will indeed see little dark jewels waiting to be picked!

So if you do happen to come across some of these dark little beauties, (I found mine at the bottom of the garden) here’s what to do with them.

This simple dessert can also be added to your morning bowl of muesli or on its own with a little yoghurt, quick and simple it showcases the humble blackberry and all it’s rich flavouring and colour.

Ingredients

Serves 2

A generous handful or 2 of blackberries (careful not to pick them to close to a busy road for contamination purposes)

1 pear (I used conference)

1/2 cup of sugar

a little water

A dollop of greek yoghurt (optional)

Method

Wash the fruit and peel the pear, core and slice in to bite sized slithers.

Make a light caramel by adding 1/2 cup of sugar to a heavy based frying pan add a little water to cover the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved over a medium heat.

Once the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and leave until the sugar turns a pale golden colour.

Remove from the heat and add the pear and stir gently to soften through, then add the blackberries, heat again and add a little more water (careful not to splash).

Let the fruit sit in the juices which should have turned a deep red now. Leave until just warm before serving with a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of broken biscuit like a ginger nut.

Serve and enjoy!

Beautiful Beetroot Bruschetta

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on August 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Beetroot Bruschetta

I was lucky enough to be given some home grown beetroot and little gem lettuce, and in order to enjoy both in their full glory I thought this excellent summer bruschetta dish was the perfect place to showcase their colour and flavour.

Ingredients

2-3 medium beetroots

1-2 packets good quality goats cheese

2 little gem/baby gem lettuce

1 can artichoke hearts

Bruschetta bread

Olive oil

Garlic

White wine vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Method

The beetroot can be a little fiddly but worth the effort after boiling for 20-30 minutes until tender. Then with gloves to avoid pink fingers peel when a little cooled and chop into nice chunky pieces. Marinade in a little white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

I bought some really good quality toasting bruschetta bread whic I grilled and rubbed with a little garlic and olive oil.

Wash the lettuce and cut into chunks, similar in size to the beetroot, arrange the with the beetroot, artichoke and some crumbled goats cheese onto the bruschetta and drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic to taste.

Tuck in and enjoy the summery vegetable delights!

Decadent Orange Polenta Cake

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food on August 9, 2012 at 10:50 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t like cake? Sorry, don’t answer that! Very few at any rate and for those who are looking for something a little different to a classic sponge then this rich, sumptuous, glossy orange cake might be just the ticket.

Dense and delicious, rich and yummy this is a serious cake from Ottolenghi the cookbook. It’s a little effort but worth it.

Ingredients

50g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

200g unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

3 free range eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp orange blossom water

240g ground almonds

120g quick cook polenta

Caramel Topping

90g caster sugar

2tbsp water

20g unsalted butter cut into cubes

2-3 oranges

Glaze (optional)

3tbsp orange marmalade (shredless)

1 tbsp water

Method

Preheat oven to 170 Gas Mark 3

Take an 8 inch cake tin, grease and line the base and sides with baking parchment.

Place the sugar and the water for the caramel in a pan and bring gently to the boil, do not stir or the sugar will crystalise. After a few minutes the sugar will start to darken to a golden caramel. Remove from the heat and stepping back from the pan add the butter.

Pour the caramel into the base of your cake tin and swirl around so the base of the tin is fully covered.

Zest your oranges being careful not to remove the bitter pith and set to one side.

Carefully cut off the rind of the oranges and slice into 6 discs removing any seeds as you go along. Place the orange slices into the caramel and pack in tightly. Use an extra orange if necessary.

Start with the cake batter. With the help of a kitchen aid or electric beaters cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Then add the eggs, orange blossom water and zest.

Fold in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour in the tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Leave to cool completely.

You can glaze the cake with some warmed shredless marmalade for extra shine. Serve with a little sweetened mascarpone for a sweet sharp twang.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Meringue, Crowning Glory

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on July 24, 2012 at 7:57 am

Strawberry Meringue

Is there any finer pudding in these summer months than the crisp, chewy, light texture of home made meringue, whipped cream with fresh vanilla and the star of the show… the voluptuous strawberry.

This dish has great impact, the rustic wow factor and is every bit as tasty and gorgeous as it looks. I urge you all to go find the finest strawberries you can,  a good double cream and free range eggs.

Ingredients (serves 6 with leftovers)

4 fresh egg whites (large)

225g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod split and seeded

500 ml double cream

3 tbsp icing sugar

2 punnets of strawberries

 

Method

Preheat oven to 140 C, line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper and draw circles in pencil using a plate as a guideline.

Using a very clean bowl and electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until medium to stiff peaks are formed. Beat for a little longer then add 1 tablespoon of sugar then whisk again, repeat before adding the remaining sugar. Beat until thick and glossy.

Spoon onto your baking sheets and place on the bottom two shelves and bake for one hour, then turn the oven off completely and leave the meringue to cool overnight.

When you are ready to serve your meringue, wash, hull and chop your strawberries into quarters. Keep a few whole for decoration I usually set 7 aside. You can add a little sugar and cointreau to the strawberries if you like for added sweetness and kick.

Whip the cream with the vanilla seeds and icing sugar until thick enough to hold its own weight but still be spread.

Carefully remove the meringue from the greaseproof paper and using a large plate to serve keep your best meringue for the top.

Spread the cream on the bottom of the meringue, top with the strawberries together with any juice that has leached out, use a little of the cream to sandwich the top on carefully and decorate with the strawberries set aside using a little more of the cream.

It is very fragile at this stage but if it cracks don’t worry too much, serve and enjoy!

If there is any left you can pop it in the fridge and serve as an eton mess the next day, delicious.