November’s recipes: Tried & trusted

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Leading chef Laura Mason shares some recipes from the new National Trust Book of ROASTS (£16.99), which is out now

Breast of lamb

Stuffed with capers, garlic and herbs

(Prep: 20 minutes – Cooking: Three and a half to four hours – Serves: 
Three to four)

Ingredients:

•   Two breasts of lamb, boned
•   40g (1½oz) unsalted butter
•   One medium onion, peeled 
& finely chopped
•   Two garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
•   Two tablespoons salted 
capers, well rinsed and 
coarsely chopped
•   A little chopped fresh mint
•   Three tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
•   A large tablespoon chopped fresh basil
•   Zest of ½ lemon (preferably unwaxed), finely grated
•   150g (5oz) crustless day-old white bread, torn into small pieces
•   Splash of stock or milk, 
to moisten

This needs slow cooking, moisture, and a highly flavoured stuffing to add interest and counteract the fattiness. In the past, standard English mixtures of bread with herbs and suet bound with eggs were favoured, but these are very dense to modern tastes. I suggest using a mixture with flavours borrowed from salsa verde (capers, herbs), which works well with this meat.

Method:

Breast of lamb is flattish and thin, with one straight edge cut from the forequarter, which may still contain the ends of the rib bones, unless the butcher has already removed them. If you have to do this yourself, run a knife in between the bones and the meat on the outside, then cut them away from the lesser covering inside and slip them out.

To make the stuffing, melt the butter over a low heat and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Stir in the capers, herbs, lemon zest and bread, and add enough stock or milk to moisten the bread.

Spread the meat out, skin-side down. Put a layer of stuffing 
on top of each piece, then roll from the narrow end and 
firmly tie at each end with string.

Preheat the oven to 140°C, 275°F, Gas mark 1. Put the lamb in a shallow roasting tin and cook for three to three and a half hours, pouring off any fat that the meat renders. Then turn the oven up to 200°C, 400°F, Gas mark 6, and give it a further 15 minutes to crisp up.

It won’t produce gravy, but a light tomato sauce goes well with the caper-flavoured stuffing. Alternatively, serve a salad dressed with vinaigrette on the side.

RED CABBAGE

(Prep: 10 minutes – Cooking: 140 minutes – Serves: Six)

Ingredients:

•   One generous tablespoon goose, pork or bacon fat, or oil
•   One medium onion
•   One or two apples, preferably sourish ones
•   A small red cabbage
•   Two or three tablespoons cider vinegar
•   Two tablespoons light pale brown sugar
•   Four or five cloves, bruised
•   5cm (2in) 
cinnamon stick
•   A piece of orange zest (preferably unwaxed) about 5 x 2cm (2 x 1in)
•   A teaspoon of salt
•   Freshly ground 
black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 140°C / 275°F, Gas mark 1. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Peel, core and chop the apples. Quarter the cabbage, discard the stem and finely slice.

Heat the fat in an ovenproof casserole and fry the onion until translucent. Stir in the apples, then the cabbage, and fry lightly for a few minutes. Add the other ingredients and stir well. Cover and transfer to the oven for about an hour and a half. 
This can be cooked on the hob, but the heat must be very low – and stir frequently, adding a little more water from time to time if it shows signs of drying up.

Roast potatoes

(Prep: 15 minutes – Cooking: 60 minutes – Serves: Four to six)

Ingredients:

•   1kg (2¼lb) potatoes
•   About 50g (2oz) fat for roasting, such as beef or pork dripping
•   Salt

Roast potatoes are a defining element of “a proper roast”. King Edward, a potato variety with almost iconic status in Britain, probably has the best flavour, and can develop a fantastic crisp crust and melting interior. Wilja and Desirée are also good; Cara and Romano should produce reasonable results.

Method:

The oven needs to be hot – 200–220°C, 400–425°F, Gas mark 6–7. 
Peel the potatoes. Leave small ones whole, and cut large ones into smaller pieces (3–4 each). Put them in a pan, just cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Boil for 5–7 minutes. Tip them into a colander and drain well.

Put the fat in a roasting tin and place in the oven to melt and get very hot. Take it out and add the potatoes. (Wear oven gloves and an apron in case the fat spits – it should be hot enough to sizzle satisfactorily.) Turn the potatoes well in the hot fat, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 40–50 minutes. In a gas oven, put the potatoes at the top. Turn once or twice during cooking, and add a little more salt each time.

 

Roasts by Laura Mason, published by National Trust Books.

Images: Tara Fisher.

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October’s recipes: Italian job

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Chef & restaurateur Gennaro Contaldo shares two delicious autumnal recipes from his new book Pasta Perfecto

LASAGNE DI CARNEVALE

Carnival-Time Lasagne

(Prep: 30 mins – Cooking: Three hours (including cooking meat ragu) – Serves: 6)

Ingredients:

• 250g / 9oz Italian pork sausage
• Splash of extra virgin olive oil
• 350g / 12oz ricotta
• Two eggs
• 150g / 5½oz / 2¼ cups grated Parmesan
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 12 lasagne sheets
• 250g / 9oz mozzarella, coarsely chopped

For the ragù:

• 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• One onion, finely chopped
• Two bay leaves
• 750g / 1lb 10oz beef brisket, cut into large chunks
• 5 tbsp red wine
• 1 tbsp tomato purée (paste) dissolved in a little warm water
• Three x 400g / 14oz cans of chopped plum tomatoes
• A handful of basil leaves
• 20g / ¾oz / ¼ cup grated Parmesan
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

 

This typical southern Italian lasagne is usually made for special occasions such as Carnevale – the week before Lent when festivities all over Italy take place. Lent is traditionally a time when eating meat is forbidden, so a lasagne such as this one – with meat ragù and sausage – would be made to enjoy before the period of abstinence. Only the tomato sauce from the meat ragù is used for the lasagne; the beef can then be enjoyed as a second course with a green salad.

Method:

First make the ragù: heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and bay leaves, and sweat for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the beef and seal well all over. Increase the heat, add the wine and allow to evaporate. Stir in the tomato purée mixture, chopped tomatoes, basil, Parmesan and some salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for at least 2 hours, until the meat is cooked through and the sauce is thick. Check from time to time, stirring with a wooden spoon and, if necessary, add a little hot water.

When cooked, remove the beef and set aside to enjoy later.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Cook the pork sausage: you can either do this in the oven or fry it. If using the oven, put the sausage into a roasting pan with a splash of olive oil and bake for 25 minutes. If frying, fry for about 15 minutes in a frying pan (skillet) with a splash of olive oil over a medium heat. When cooked through, remove, slice and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, half of the Parmesan, and some salt and pepper, until creamy.

Line the bottom of a baking dish (about 24 x 17 cm/9½ x 7 in) with some of the tomato ragù, cover with a layer of lasagne sheets, then add a layer of ricotta, scatter over some sausage slices and some pieces of mozzarella, then add another layer of tomato ragù. Continue making layers in this way until you have used up all the ingredients, ending with a layer of lasagne sheets, tomato ragù, mozzarella and the remaining grated Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Cover with foil and bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

ZUPPA DI VERDURE E PASTINA

Vegetable and Pastina Soup

(Prep: 5 mins – Cooking: 15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

• 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• ½ onion, finely chopped
• ½ celery stalk, finely chopped
• One carrot, finely chopped
• 85g / 3oz courgette (zucchini), finely chopped
• 800ml / 28fl oz / 3½ cups hot vegetable stock (bouillon)
• 85g / 3oz pastina (small pasta shapes)
• Grated Parmesan, to serve (optional)

This should be really be called ‘Olivia’s Soup’ as it’s my daughter Olivia’s favourite meal! Small pasta shapes (pastina) can be little stars, butterflies, alphabet shapes or even broken-up capelli d’angelo (very fine spaghetti) if you have nothing else. In Italy, there is a huge variety of pastina shapes to choose from and we always bring some back after a trip. For an even richer flavour, pastina can be made with homemade broths in place of the ready-made vegetable stock.

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion, celery, carrot and courgette, and sweat for 2–3 minutes until softened. Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pastina and cook until al dente (check the instructions on your packet for cooking time).

Divide between serving bowls and serve immediately with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan, if desired.

September’s recipes: Cakes & cups

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Recipes

Join Macmillan Coffee Morning and get baking these treats

Coffee, walnut and cardamom cake

(Prep: 40 mins – Cooking: 30 mins – Serves: 8)

Ingredients:

For the cake:
• 200g unsalted butter, softened
• 200g soft brown sugar
• 3 large eggs beaten
• 200g self-raising flour
• 100g walnuts, toasted and finely ground
• 2 tbsp ground coffee
• pinch salt
• 1 tbsp milk

Cardamom syrup:
• 100g caster sugar
• 100ml water
• 1/4 tsp ground white cardamom

Coffee buttercream:
• 185g unsalted butter, softened
• 300g icing sugar, sifted
• 1 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp boiling water
• Walnut pieces to decorate

 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160C Fan /180C/350F/GM4
2. Combine flour, ground walnuts, ground coffee and salt in a bowl.
3. In a large bowl or food mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
4. On medium speed, add eggs a tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add a teaspoon of milk if the cake batter looks like curdling.
5. On the lowest speed, add the flour mixture until just combined (10 seconds).
6. Evenly fill the tins and smooth the surface with palette knife or back of a spoon.
7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes until a skewer comes out cleanly and the top is springy to touch.
8. Remove cakes from the oven, leave in the tins for a couple of minutes, turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Wrap the cakes in cling film and rest overnight at room temperature before icing.

Prepare the cardamom syrup
1. Place the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and over a low heat, dissolve the sugar completely. Then bring to the boil for a couple of minutes.
2. Remove from the heat, add the cardamom and set aside.
Make the buttercream
1. Beat the unsalted butter in bowl or food mixer until pale & light in texture.
2. Add the sifted icing sugar in 3 batches, beating well between each addition, until the buttercream has increased in volume and is very pale and fluffy.
3. Add the coffee mixture and beat again.

Combine everything
1. Place one cake half upper side down on a plate, brush with the syrup.
2. Sandwich the cakes together using half the buttercream.
3. Put on top, brush with syrup, decorate with buttercream and walnuts.

Vegan raspberry lemon mini cheesecakes

(Prep: 2-3 hours, including chilling time in freezer – Serves: Plenty!)

Ingredients:

• 3/4 cups almonds
• 1/2 cup dates, pitted
• 1/8 cup organic, naturally sweetened dried cranberries
• 1 pinch of salt
• 1-3 tbsp of water
• 2 cups raw cashews, previously soaked
• 1/2 cup coconut oil
• 1/4 cup water
• Juice and zest of 1 lemon
• 1/2 cup maple syrup
• Fresh raspberries, lemon zest and a few springs of mint for decoration

Method:

1. In a food processor, blend the almonds until they are ground.

2. Add in the dates, cranberries and a pinch of salt and continue to mix. (The mixture should be slightly sticky.) If the mixture looks too dry, add in a little bit of water, one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix.

3. Using cupcake cases (preferably made of silicone) spoon the mixture into each of the cases and press down, then put to one side.

4. Soak the cashews for 1 hour in hot water. Once soaked, strain them well.

5. Add the cashews, coconut oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup and 1/4 cup of water into the food processor and mix on high for about 5 minutes until a very smooth mixture forms.

6. Pour the mixture evenly over the base of the cupcake cases.

7. Place straight into the freezer for about 1-2 hours before serving.

8. Top with fresh raspberries, lemon zest and mint leaves to serve.

Cherry and almond traybake

(Cooking: 30-35 mins – Serves: 24)

Ingredients:

For the filling:
• 300g Butter
• 300g Caster sugar
• 375g Self raising flour
• 1 Lemon, zest & juice
• 85g Ground almonds
• 4 Eggs, lightly beaten
• 25g Marzipan, chilled & grated
• 2 tsp Almond extract
• 1 tsp Baking powder
• 3 tbsp Whole milk
• 200g Glace cherries, quartered. Reserve 8 for decoration
• Flaked toasted almonds

Cardamom icing:
• Fondant icing sugar
• Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

2. Grease and line a square traybake tin, about 28 x 28cm, with baking parchment.

3. Put all the cake ingredients (apart from the cherries) in a large mixing bowl or tabletop mixer and beat together until thoroughly combined.

4. Toss the cherries in a little flour, then fold them into the cake mixture using a spatula.

5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 mins until the cake is golden brown, springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

6. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then add the lemon juice and enough water to make a thick yet fluid icing. Spoon the remaining icing over the cooled cake – it should be liquid enough to level itself out; if not, use a palette knife to smooth it.

7. Cut into squares and garnish with glace cherry quarters and toasted flaked almonds.

M&S gruyere, bacon and leek buttermilk scones

(Prep: 10 mins – Cooking: 15 mins – Serves: 6)

Ingredients:

• Black pepper to taste
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp butter
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 100g Gruyère
• 150ml semi skimmed milk
• 40g softened butter
• 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon
• 6 sprigs thyme
• 2 medium leeks
• 1 packet M&S buttermilk scone mix

Method:

1. Half lengthways, wash and finely slice the medium leeks. Separate the leaves and stalks of the thyme and discard of the stalks. Cut into lardons the smoked streaky bacon. Grate the Gruyère.

2. Heat the olive oil and butter together in a heavy bottomed saucepan.

3. Add the leek, thyme and bacon, season well with black pepper and cook over a very low heat for 15 minutes, until the fat has rendered out of the bacon and the leeks are starting to caramelise.

4. Empty the sachet of scone mix into a bowl with the salt and rub in the butter until you have something that resembles breadcrumbs.

5. Stir in the Gruyère, leek and bacon.

6. Mix in the milk to make a soft dough.

7. Roll the dough to a depth of 2-2.5cm and cut out scones with a 7cm cutter.

8. Place onto a lined baking sheet, brush with milk and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes until golden brown.

9. Eat warm, split and spread with good salted butter.

August’s recipes: Sophie’s choice

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Chef & TV star Sophie Grigson shares two recipes ahead of her food & photography courses starting next month…

Fougasse

(Prep: 130 mins – Prooving: 90 mins – Cooking: 25 mins – Serves: 6)

Ingredients:

• 450g strong white bread flour
(I use a Canadian strong white)
• One sachet easy-blend /
fast-action yeast
(or 14g fresh yeast)
• One teaspoon salt
• Three or four tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil, plus
extra for preparation
• Either 150g lardons or 70g black olives, pitted and sliced
• One or two teaspoons dried thyme, or oregano, or finely chopped fresh rosemary

Method:

Make a soft bread dough. In other words, mix flour, yeast, salt and olive oil in a large bowl. Add enough tepid water to make a soft slightly sticky dough (around 300ml). Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously for about 10 minutes, working in a little extra flour or water if required. The final dough should be as smooth as satin, and delightfully soft and fairly floppy. If it feels heavy or over-firm, knead in a little more water to relax it.

Roll into a ball, place in an oiled bowl and turn until evenly coated in oil. Cover with cling film, or a plastic bag, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. Oil a baking sheet generously. Oil the palms of your hands, then turn the dough out on to an oiled worksurface. Knead briefly for a few minutes to smooth out.

Now spread out on the work surface and cover with lardons (no need to precook) or olives, and the herbs. Fold the sides and ends over the filling, then knead again until evenly incorporated. Transfer the dough to the baking tray and spread out to form a mega leaf shape. Using a sharp cutter, make a long cut from tip to stem without cutting right through to the edges. Next make three cuts on either side, like the veins of a leaf. Lift the sides and gently pull away from the centre to open up the cuts (remember the dough will expand when cooking). Spread a little more oil over the fougasse, then cover loosely with cling film and leave to rise for another half an hour or so. Remove the cling film.

Place a baking sheet in the oven, then preheat the oven to 200 C/Gas Mark 6. Place the fougasse tray directly on top of the hot tray in the oven, and then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on the tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Girasole with spinach, ricotta & pancetta

(Prep: 30 mins – Prooving: 90 mins – Cooking: 25 mins – Serves: Pleanty!)

Ingredients:

• 500g puff pastry
• A little plain flour for rolling
• One egg yolk

Filling:

• 250g fresh spinach
• One onion, chopped
• 75g pancetta lardons
• A splash of olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 90g freshly grated Parmesan
• 250g ricotta
• ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• Salt and pepper

 

Method:

Cook the spinach lightly, then leave to cool and drain in a colander set over a bowl. Fry the onion and pancetta in a little oil, over a moderate heat, until onion is very tender. Add the garlic and cook for a minute
or so longer. Let them cool.
Now back to the spinach. Squeeze it hard to get rid of all that water, then squeeze it a bit more. Chop finely. Mix all the filling ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Mix the egg yolk with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Preheat oven to 220C/200Fan/Gas 7. Now divide the pastry in two and roll each one out thinly to form a square. Using a large plate to guide you, cut out two circles. Lay one on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Take a cup, turn it upside down in the middle of the pastry. Press down gently so the edges print a neat circle in the middle of the pastry. Lift the cup off. Mound about a third of the filling in the middle of the inner circle. Use the rest to make a ring around the outer part of the pastry.

Brush the edges and the bare ring around the central mound with the egg wash. Carefully lift the second circle of pastry over on top of the first. Use your cup to gently press the pastry down around the mound. Leave it there. Seal the outer pastry layer.

Make 16 evenly spaced cuts from the rim of the cup out to the edge of the pastry. Twist each section through 90 degrees, always twisting in the same direction. Lift off the cup – it’s done its job now. Brush the pastry with the egg wash, then slide into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190C/170 Fan/ Gas 5. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Eat warm.

July’s recipes: Thrills & grills

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We’ve teamed up with the team behind ZIGZAG to bring you the perfect recipes to rustle up on the grill this summer!

Lamb

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the lamb:
• French trim lamb chops – allow three per person
• Garlic
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Fresh thyme leaves
• Rosemary
• Balsamic glaze

Method:

• Marinade lamb in oil garlic and thyme for 2 hours prior to cooking
• Heat up pan in the oven,
• Roast lamb chops for 3-4 minutes on both sides,
• Serve with fresh rosemary leaves.
• Drizzle with balsamic reduction for extra sweetness

Roast asparagus

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

And for roast asparagus:
• Bunch of fresh British Asparagus
• Olive oil
• Lemon wedge
• Rock salt
• Black pepper
• Parmigianino Reggiano

Method:

• Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus
• Place into the oven on a baking tray or metal handled pan.
• Remove from oven when soft and golden brown,
• Serve hot with slice of lemon, rock salt, pepper and a few  shavings of parmesan.

Aubergine

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the aubergine:
• Two large aubergines, cut into disks around 1cm
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Tahini
• One pomegranate, cut in half and with seeds removed
• Fresh oregano

Method:

• Lay out cut aubergines face down in a pan or baking tray
• Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper• Roast until golden brown
• To serve overlap aubergine, drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
• Garnish with oregano

Fish

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

And for roast fish:
• Whole seabass – around 35cm long scaled and gutted
• Potatoes, sliced 1cm think and par-boiled to soften
• Lemon
• Sunblush tomatoes,
• Fresh dill & parsley
• 2oz of fish stock

Method:

• Lay out cut aubergines face down in a pan or baking tray
• Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
• Roast until golden brown
• To serve overlap aubergine, drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
• Garnish with oregano

June’s recipe: Fiery & fresh

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Star chef Kay Plunkett-Hogge shares two recipes from her new book Baan: Recipes & Stories From My Thai Home

Gaeng keow wan gai

A classic green chicken curry

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the paste
• ½tsp coriander seeds
• ½tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp white peppercorns
• A good pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp finely chopped & 1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
• Two Thai shallots or one regular, peeled and finely chopped
• 12 green Thai bird’s eye chillies, de-stemmed and chopped
• Two long green chillies,
destemmed and finely chopped
• 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) root, with some stem attached
• One garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
• 2cm / ¾-inch piece of fresh turmeric, finely chopped
• zest of one kaffir lime
• 1 tsp kapi (shrimp paste)

And for the curry
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• One 400ml / 14fl oz can of coconut milk
• 350g / 12oz chicken thighs, cut into 2cm / ¾inch dice
• 1–2 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
• a pinch of caster (superfine) sugar (optional)
• 65g/2¼ oz pea aubergines (eggplants)
• Two Thai round aubergines (eggplants), cut into quarters
• 100 g/3½ oz bamboo shoots, chopped
• Two long red chillies, diagonally sliced into three pieces
• Large handful Thai sweet basil
• One long orange chilli (optional)

Method:

Pound all the paste ingredients in a pestle and mortar (hardest first, as listed, working down to the softest), until you have a uniform, close-textured paste. If it’s not completely smooth, don’t worry. If you prefer to use a food processor or a blender, again work from hardest to softest, and add about 1 tablespoon water or more to bring the paste together. Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and fry the paste until it smells fragrant (about a minute). Add half the coconut milk, bring to the boil slowly, stirring to dissolve the paste. Let the coconut milk simmer a little until you see oil appear on the surface. Then add 200 ml/7 fl oz/a cup of water and bring to the boil.

Add the chicken and bring back to the boil, then add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring back to the boil and simmer for about six minutes. Add the nam pla and the sugar, if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If it seems a little thick, add a little more water – you want a soupiness, not a thick gravy. Add the aubergines, the bamboo shoots and one of the long red chillies. Simmer for another three minutes or so. Taste – you want this to taste vibrant, hot, salty and herbaceous. Add the basil, the remaining red chilli and the whole orange chilli if you have one, and serve with some jasmine rice and nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).

Khao pad goong

Fried rice with prawns

Method:

Heat the wok or frying pan (skillet) until it’s very hot. Add the oil, then the garlic and stir-fry until golden. Add the prawns and the chillies, and carry on stirring, adding the nam pla, soy sauce and sugar, until the prawns are cooked. Add the cooked rice and stir through well, breaking up any clumps. Add the onion and the spring onion and incorporate well.

Season with white pepper, then turn on to plates and serve sprinkled with coriander and with the cucumber slices and lime wedges on the side.

Fried rice is one of the great comfort dishes – it’s filling, soothing and satisfying. I’ve used prawns in this version, but you can use slivered beef, pork, chicken, tofu, whatever. Feel free to pull back the chilli, too, if you like. You can always add extra heat later with some nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).

Three words of cooking caution: firstly, when you add the rice, you may be tempted to add more oil… Don’t do it! It will make the dish claggy. Keep breaking up the rice as you stir it through the wok, and work through it. Secondly, if you want to make this for more than two, by all means do. But don’t double up all the ingredients and throw it all into one wok. Make the dish once, wipe out your wok, and go again with the second batch. Thirdly, make sure the cooked rice is at room temperature when you make this. If it’s too warm and steamy, it will clump and stick. If it’s too cold, it will turn out as hard as a rock.

May’s recipe: Egg custard tart

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Egg custard tart with roasted rhubarb

Artisan baker Paul Barlow-Heal, dessert devotee and founder of Cotswold Baking, shares special recipe for gluten free sweet pastry, roasted rhubarb and egg custard, making this gorgeous egg custard tart!

(Prep: 30 mins [see pastry] – Cooking: 55 mins – Makes: one large tart)

Gluten Free sweet pastry (always make 24hrs before needed)

Ingredients:

• 500 grms gluten free plain flour ( I use doves)
• 225 grms diced unsalted butter
• 110 grms caster sugar
• 1.5 tsp xantham gum
• 2 large eggs
• 75 mls milk
• ¼ tsp Vanilla extract
• Good pinch sea salt
• 1 egg for sealing

Method:

1. Place flour, xantham gum, caster sugar and diced butter into a machine mixing bowl and blend until mix resembles fine breadcrumbs and butter is incorporated.

2. Whisk eggs and milk together with salt and vanilla. Pour onto the flour and butter and mix on slow speed until the dough comes together. The mix will seem wet, this is normal.

3. Transfer the dough to a container, cover with clingfilm and store overnight in the fridge

4. Remove the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface gently knead the dough to make it pliable. Don’t worry about over working it. There is no gluten in it so this will not happen.  The enemy of gluten free pastry is warmth, because it is soft it will become very difficult to work with quite quickly.

5. Roll out the dough using gluten flour or rice flour as a dusting, and roll to about 3ml thick, then line your 10” loose bottom tart case making sure the pastry is tucked nicely into the edges of your tart case, and trim away the overlapping pastry, but don’t throw this away. You can reuse as it will not get tough.

6. Prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork then place in the fridge for 20 mins to firm up.

7. Line the pastry case with a circle of baking parchment and baking beans ( I use uncooked rice) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160 C for about 20 mins then remove the parchment and bake for a further 10 mins.

8. Gluten free pastry does not take on a golden colour like normal pastry, it does stay quite pale. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly then brush the inside of the case with some of the 1 remaining beaten egg ensuring it is nicely sealed then bake for a further 2/3 mins to cook the egg glaze. Leave to cool

roasted rhubarb

Ingredients:

• 500 grms rhubarb
• 80 grms light soft brown sugar
• Zest of 1 lemon

Method:

1. Wash and trim the ends of the rhubarb, then cut into 2” lengths. Place the rhubarb in a bowl and add the zest and the sugar. Toss the ingredients together.

2. Place the rhubarb onto a shallow baking tray lined with two layers of baking parchment then cover with another piece of parchment and place in a preheated oven at 180c and cook for 15 mins.

3. Remove the parchment and check the rhubarb, it should be tender, but not mushy. If it needs more cooking, place back in the oven for a further 5 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

egg custard

Ingredients:

• 10 Egg Yolks
• 3 whole eggs
• 425 mls double cream
• 425 mls milk
• 160 grms caster sugar
• 1 vanilla pod
• Nutmeg for grating

Method:

1. Place the cream and milk with half the sugar and split vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring slowly to a boil.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and whole eggs together with the remaining sugar. When the cream mix has come to the boil pour a third onto the egg mix whilst whisking in, then finally add the rest of the liquid stirring until all incorporated.

3. Pass the mix through a fine sieve.

4. Place the tart case into a preheated oven at 140c for a couple of minutes then leaving the tart case in the oven slowly pour your egg mix into the case, taking care not to over fill the case or spill any.

5. Once the tartf case is completely full ,grate some fresh nutmeg on top and bake for about 30/40 mins, (this can vary depending on your oven.

6. If the mix starts to bubble around the edges turn down your oven until there is a slight wobble in the centre of the tart. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.

7. When completely cool place the tart in the fridge and chill to set.

To serve, cut a nice slice of the tart and serve with some roasted rhubarb and its cooking liquor and a spoonful of full fat crème fraiche.

 

Green party: April recipes

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Recipes

Watercress & cheese scones

Ahead of Alresford Watercress Festival on Sunday, 19th May, The Watercress Company has teamed up with chef Keri Astill Frew. Watercress, which grows in the flowing spring waters of Hampshire and Dorset, is one of the healthiest plants known to man and has been revered since ancient times. It contains more than 50 vital vitamins and minerals and, gram for gram, even contains more calcium than milk, more folate than banana, more vitamin C than oranges and more vitamin E than broccoli. Watercress has been scientifically proven to help prevent cancer and other diseases.

(Prep: 10 mins – Cooking: 15-20 mins – Makes: 9)

Ingredients:

100g watercress
• 225g self-raising flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
• A pinch of salt
• 50g butter, cubed
• 75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
• 200ml buttermilk plus a little for brushing the tops
• A pinch or two of cayenne pepper

Method:

A tangy alternative to the traditional sweet scone, these are delicious with butter or perhaps topped with a cream cheese.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7.

Reserve a few small sprigs of watercress (to decorate the tops) and finely chop the rest.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and mustard into a large bowl. Add the salt and butter; rub into dry ingredients with your fingers. Stir in watercress and two thirds of the cheese, mix well.

3. Make a well in the centre, add buttermilk and mix with a round bladed knife into soft dough.

4. Very lightly knead on a floured surface, then use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to a thickness of 2.5cm. Use a 6cm plain round cutter to press out circles of the dough, rerolling lightly, as necessary. The mix should make nine scones.

5. Place the scones on an oiled large baking sheet. Brush each with a little buttermilk (or milk), top with a sprig of watercress, then scatter the remaining cheese on. Dust with a pinch of cayenne if liked, then bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins or until golden on top. Leave to cool for five mins before serving warm.

Chocolate, orange & watercress brownies

…with chocolate ganache topping

Chocolate, orange and watercress may not seem the most obvious combination but by golly, it works! The sharp pepper of the watercress contrasts deliciously with the citrus flavours and bitterness of the chocolate to make a truly mouth-watering treat.

(Prep: 40 mins, Cooking: 40 mins, Makes: 16 squares)

Ingredients:

• 300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 200g unsalted butter
• Zest of one orange
• 350g caster sugar
• Four large eggs
• 100g plain flour, sieved
• 50g cocoa powder, sieved
• 50g watercress, finely chopped

For the topping:

• 250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 250ml double cream
• 1 tbsp Cointreau (optional)

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line a square tin with greaseproof paper. Place 200g chocolate, all the butter and orange zest in a heatproof bowl and microwave, full power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring and repeating. Be careful the chocolate doesn’t get too hot and burn.

2. Use an electric whisk, or stand mixer with whisk attachment, to beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Leave the chocolate mix to cool for at least five minutes before stirring in, then mix in the flour and cocoa. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate and watercress, then pour into the tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes, using a skewer or knife to test it’s cooked. Remove and cool completely.

3. Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan, being careful it doesn’t boil over. Remove from heat, then stir in the chocolate, stirring until melted and mixed. Finally, stir in the Cointreau if using.

4. Allow the ganache to cool a bit, then pour on the brownies in the tin. Smooth using a palette knife or spatula, then leave for 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

5. The brownies can be kept for three-to-five days in an airtight tin or frozen (up to three months).

Visit www.thewatercresscompany.com for more recipes. For details about Alresford Watercress Festival visit www.watercressfestival.org

Pancake Day!

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Recipes

Follow our easy recipe and then make any day Pancake Day.

EASY PANCAKES

Makes 12-14 pancakes

Ingredients

• 2 large eggs
• 100g plain flour
• 300ml milk
• 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a little extra for frying

Method:

Add the flour, eggs, milk, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug.

Whisk to a smooth batter. Set the mix aside for 30 mins if you have time, or just start cooking.

Set a medium frying pan over a medium heat and carefully wipe it with oiled kitchen paper. Once the pan’s hot, cook your pancake for 1 minute on each side until golden.

Keep the pancakes warm in the oven on a low heat while you carry on cooking the full batch.

Serve classic with lemon and sugar, or get creative with any toppings you fancy.

Tag us in your impressive pancake posts!

Life of pie: March recipes

Round & About

Recipes

Homity pie

Popular in the 1970s and ’80s, homity pies were often seen as somewhat worthy – leathery, unappetising with a smug crust. But we thought this pie deserved a second look. This recipe is the grandson of those early pies and – we bashfully believe – a great improvement. We’ve cut down on the potatoes to make it less heavy and added some broccoli and other root veg – although you can vary these as you like. Celeriac and swede would also work well. A great veggie dish that can be enjoyed by all.

(Prep: 10 mins – Cooking: 20 mins – Serves: 4-6)

Ingredients:

• 400g waxy potatoes, diced
• 300g carrots, diced
• 150g turnips, diced
• 200g small broccoli florets
• 15g butter
• Two onions, thickly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 175g Cheddar cheese, grated
• 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
• 50ml milk or water
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 200ml double cream
• Sea salt
Pastry:
• 125g plain flour
• 125g wholemeal flour
• 150g cold butter, diced
• 1 egg, beaten

Method:

Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and just enough cold water to bind. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film, and chill in the fridge.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add potatoes, carrots and turnips and bring back to the boil. Cook for four minutes, then add the broccoli. Cook until the vegetables are just done but still with a little bite – about another two minutes. Drain and leave to cool. While the veg is cooking, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft and lightly coloured. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes. Remove pan from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Put the cooled veg into a large bowl, add 100g of the cheese and the parsley, mix and set aside. Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm cake tin or a deep pie dish. Spoon the filling over. Whisk the milk and mustard to make a thin paste, then stir this into the cream. Season with a little salt. Pour this mix in a slow and steady stream over the filling so it soaks through the layers of vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the pastry is crisp and cheese has melted and started to brown.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Salmon pie with spinach

 

Not many people know this about us but we are both keen fishermen. One time when we’d caught loads of trout in a river in Scotland we made this pie and it was so good that we wanted you to have some too. We found it tastes even better with salmon which is harder to catch but easy to find in the supermarket!

(Prep: 10 mins, Cooking: 20 mins, Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

• 4–5 tbsp hollandaise sauce
• 500g salmon fillet
• 450–500g baby leaf spinach
• 375–500g pre-rolled
puff pastry
• Grated zest of one lemon
• 1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon (optional)
• One egg, lightly beaten
• Sea salt and black pepper

Method:

Make hollandaise (recipe in our book!) and leave to cool by putting the bowl of sauce into a larger bowl of iced water.

Put the salmon in a large pan and add cold water just to cover. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave for a further five minutes. Strain off the liquid and leave the salmon to cool then flake the flesh, keeping the pieces as large as possible.

Wash the spinach, then without draining it too thoroughly, put it in a pan. Place the pan over a medium heat and push the spinach down with a wooden spoon. When it has completely collapsed leave to cool, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Unroll the puff pastry. Arrange half of the salmon over the bottom half of it, leaving a 2cm border along the bottom. Season with salt and pepper, and top with half the spinach. Stir the lemon zest and tarragon (if using), into the hollandaise, then spread half of the sauce over the spinach. Repeat these layers with the remaining salmon, spinach and hollandaise. Brush the border and exposed pastry with beaten egg. Fold the pastry over and roll the edges to seal. Brush the pie with egg and cut a few slits along the top.

Bake for 35–45 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed up and is a rich golden-brown and the filling is piping hot.

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