Posh prunes and custard

posh prunes and custard 2

My blogging friend Janie from The Hedgecombers is off on an incredible road trip across Wales this month, discovering the best places to eat and drink in the country. Lucky bugger! While she’s otherwise engaged, she’s handed over the reins of her blog to some fellow foodies, including me.

My recipe for Posh Prunes and Custard has just appeared over on The Hedgecombers if you fancy giving it a try, and do check out Janie’s tasty offerings while you’re there. I’m sure you’ll be tempted by more than a few…

Poached pears in red wine and spices

poached pear 2

I was lucky enough to meet the brilliant Italian chef Valentina Harris at a special dinner party thrown earlier this year by Paddy and Judith O’Hagan who are part of the team behind the Wells Food Festival. The party was for volunteers and supporters of the festival, and we were treated to an incredible Italian five-course feast, all prepared by Valentina, who cooked at last year’s festival and is lined up to be involved again this year. There were beautiful canapes, followed by a selection of pasta dishes, then a wonderful risotto, an array of sweet treats and finally cheese.

One of the desserts was poached pears in the most heavenly red wine and spice syrup. I was rather surprised by how much my oldest daughter Jessie enjoyed the pears – so much so, she insisted we take our chances and pop into the kitchen (we’d been warned about the amount of swearing going on in there!) to see if Valentina would share her recipe with us. Continue reading “Poached pears in red wine and spices”

Cherry pie (and a damn fine cup of coffee)

Cherry Pie Collage

I don’t know a single person who’d turn down a big fat slice of hot cherry pie. It’s been one of my favourite pies for as long as I can remember, but this mighty fine dessert took on extra special significance when I was about 15 and became absolutely obsessed with the cult David Lynch / Mark Frost surreal murder-mystery, Twin Peaks. To this day, whenever I hear the opening bars of the ever so haunting Falling, a shiver runs down my spine.

Every Wednesday morning I’d rush to school so I could swap notes with my best friend Ruth on all the twists and turns of last night’s episode. I would have given anything for a leather jacket-clad biker boyfriend like James Hurley, was terrified if ever I entered a room with long red curtains, had recurring nightmares about Bob, and I so wanted to be Audrey Horne. I wasted much too much time trying in vain to tie cherry stems with my tongue…

Continue reading “Cherry pie (and a damn fine cup of coffee)”

Chocolate pancakes with berries & rose-scented yoghurt

Chocolate pancakes2 web

Pancakes are always a popular weekend breakfast in our house, and then when you go and add chocolate into the mix, well, who doesn’t love chocolate? So these bad boys are always a winner.

Served with juicy berries (I always keep a stock in the freezer so we can them all-year-round) and a heavenly perfumed rosewater yoghurt and drizzled with syrup or honey, these simple pancakes are elevated to celebration status, perfect for Valentine’s Day, Shrove Tuesday and birthdays. Continue reading “Chocolate pancakes with berries & rose-scented yoghurt”

Swiss roll ice cream cake

 

This is going to sound nutty but I’ve started watching cookery shows at six in the morning. I’m on a desperate get-healthy-lose-weight kick and so, as well as going back on the 5:2 diet, I’ve also started getting up half an hour earlier than I need to in order to fit in some exercise time. And I’ve found one of the best ways of taking my mind off all the stomach crunches and tricep dips is to watch celebrity chefs on the Food Network at the same time. I know. It’s not normal behaviour, is it?

The other morning I found myself drooling while I worked out as Lorraine Pascale made her Swiss Roll Bowl Cake. It looked so insanely easy and yet such a work of genius at the same time, I decided there and then I had to make it. My kids would love it, and I only need have the tiniest sliver. What’s more it’s frozen, so it’ll be around for a while. Plenty of time to have a few tiny slivers. On non 5:2 fast days, of course. Continue reading “Swiss roll ice cream cake”

White chocolate, beetroot and cardamom mousse

white chocolate beetroot cardamom mousse 4 text

Look away now if you’re on a diet. While this mousse might contain a generous helping of roast beetroot, I can make no claims for it being at all healthy. It’s rich, indulgent and highly calorific. Which is why it tastes so darn good.

Isn’t it the most amazing colour? You can imagine the look on my girls’ faces when they first saw it. Continue reading “White chocolate, beetroot and cardamom mousse”

Spiced plum and apple compote

plums and apples

It’s that time of year when fresh fruit and vegetables are in glorious abundance. I really should be pickling and preserving, and I fully intend to soon, but for the moment most of our fruit seems to be making its way into compotes of one kind or another.

spiced plum and apple compote

Fruit compotes are such an easy way to transform a huge pile of fresh fruit into a luscious bowlful of sweet, saucy pleasure. Make lots, as it keeps in the fridge for a few days. Simply tuck into your compote just as it comes or serve with creme fraiche or yoghurt for a delicious and healthy desert. My family’s favourite way to eat it is layered with thick, creamy Greek yoghurt and homemade granola for a light yet satisfying breakfast.

We’re enjoying vast volumes of plum and apple compote, making the most of fruit from our own and friends’ trees. Plums and apples both work terribly well combined with strong spice flavours; in this recipe, I’ve used star anise, cinnamon and vanilla. It really is heavenly. You’ll frequently find me surreptitiously tucking into it straight from the bowl in the fridge when no-one else is looking.

spiced plum and apple compote2

Spiced plum and apple compote

400g plums, stoned and roughly chopped
2 or 3 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped
juice of 1 orange
½ tsp cinnamon
1 star anise
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
4 tbsp demerara sugar

Place the ingredients in a medium saucepan, give it all a good stir and bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat. Cook for around 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is soft and just beginning to break up. Leave to cool and remove the star anise before serving.

spiced plum and apple compote3

This compote is my entry into the #AgaInspiredRecipes challenge hosted by Rix Petroleum. The theme this month is cooking with plums.

Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda

strawberry and rose ice cream soda

Ever since my step-mum Sue took me for an ice cream soda in the restaurant at Peter Jones in London’s Sloane Square, I’ve been in love with this heavenly combination of fizzy pop (soda), ice cream and syrup. Something simply magical happens when the ice cream hits the fizz and I am instantly transported to seventh heaven. Throw in some of my current favourite ingredient, rose water, and wow – I am in ecstasy.

I have fantasies of one day opening my very own retro soda fountain with mini juke boxes on the counter playing Chantilly Lace and True Love Ways, and this Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda will definitely be featuring on the menu.

It’s every so easy to make. I did use homemade strawberry ice cream (from a Ben & Jerry’s recipe), with gorgeous chunks of juicy strawberries, but of course you can always use shop-bought. But do please make your own strawberry and rose syrup. It takes hardly anytime at all and tastes incredible.

strawberry and rose ice cream soda

Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda

Serves 6

1 litre bottle lemonade, chilled

For the strawberry ice cream

250g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
330g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 large eggs
480ml double cream
240ml milk

Mix together the chopped strawberries, 100g of the caster sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Whisk in the remaining 230g of sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Take the strawberries from the fridge and mash to create a chunky puree. Stir this into the egg/cream mixture.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, transfer to a plastic container and place in the freezer for around four hours, remembering to give it a good stir every hour to break up any ice crystals that are forming.

For the strawberry and rose syrup

200g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
50g caster sugar
1 tsp rose water
150ml water

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer gently for around 5 minutes until the strawberries are soft and the sugar has melted. Puree with a hand blender. If you like you can strain the puree through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the seeds. I must admit, I couldn’t be bothered with this stage.

For the ice cream soda

Pour a little strawberry and rose syrup into a tall glass. Add a couple of scoops of strawberry ice cream to the glass, followed by cold lemonade. I love the way it froths up at this point!

Drizzle with a little more syrup to finish. Armed with a straw and a long spoon, you’re good to go. Enjoy!

Strawberry and Rose Ice Cream Soda 4

 

I am entering my Strawberry & Rose ice cream sodas into the following blog events: Let’s Cook With Strawberries (hosted by Simply Sensational Food); Family Foodies (hosted by Bangers & Mash and Eat Your Veg); and Simple and in Season (hosted by My Custard Pie and Ren Behan).

Lets cook with strawberries family-foodies simple

Raspberry, strawberry and rose millefeuille

strawberry raspberry rose millefeuille

I think I may have a new addiction. I simply can’t seem to get enough of it at the moment and I am obsessing over new ways to use it to enjoy another fix. Thankfully my new addiction isn’t harmful, although I’ve learnt it is wise to use it sparingly (a little goes a long way), and it won’t result in any lasting damage to my health or nasty side effects. Well, not as far as I’m aware anyway…

My latest foodie addiction is rosewater. Isn’t it the most heavenly ingredient? That heady, evocative perfume, mirrored so closely by that same wonderfully floral, fragrant flavour; it really is a magical and fantastical foodstuff that transports you instantly to star-swept scenes from the Arabian Nights.

raspberry strawberry rose millefeuille

Ever since my husband bought some to create Yotam Ottolenghi’s sublime Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey (inspired in turn by another culinary idol, Claudia Roden), I’ve been dreaming up different ways to feature rosewater in our cooking.

This Raspberry, Strawberry and Rose Millefeuille was my first experiment and it was a brilliant success, even if I say so myself. Using ready-made puff pastry, it’s deceptively easy to make too, yet looks quite impressive when you serve it up for your eagerly awaiting guests.

raspberry, strawberry, rose millefeuille

Raspberry, strawberry and rose millefeuille

Serves 6

3 tbsp caster sugar
350g ready-made, pre-rolled puff pastry
300ml double cream
1 tsp rosewater
300g strawberries, hulled and quartered
300g raspberries
2 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.

Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and sprinkle with caster sugar. Lay the pastry onto the baking parchment, scatter with more sugar and cover with more parchment. Place another baking sheet on top, and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown. Leave to cool.

For the filling, pour the cream and rosewater into a large bowl. Whisk until the cream forms soft peaks. Fold the strawberries and raspberries into the cream and then place in the fridge.

When the puff pastry is completely cool, use a sharp knife to trim the edges to form a tidy rectangle, and cut this into three equal rectangles. Place one rectangle of pastry on a plate and cover with half of the cream and fruit. Place the second layer of pastry on top and press down very gently. Top with the remaining cream mix and then place the final layer of pastry on top. Again press down gently squeeze the filling to the edges. Run a palette knife around the sides to level out the filling.

Chill until ready to serve. Liberally sprinkle the top with icing sugar and then very carefully cut the millefeuille into six elegant slices.

AlphaBakes Logo

As rosewater is the star ingredient in this millefeuille, I am entering it into July’s Alphabakes, hosted by The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, where the letter this month is R.

Lets cook with strawberries

For obvious reasons, I’m also entering my dessert into Let’s Cook With Strawberries, hosted by Simply Sensational Food.

simple

 

And last not least, I’m entering it into Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season challenge, which is this month being hosted by My Custard Pie.

Food Blog Diary

For all the latest food blogger challenges, events, giveaways and competitions, do make sure you head over to the Food Blog Diary, overseen by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes, Karen at Lavender & Lovage and Stuart at Cakeyboi. It’s a brilliant resource and a vital tool for all food bloggers everywhere!