Saturday, 22 October 2011

Crunchy apple pots

These are a de-constructed apple crumble, for days when you fancy a change or haven't got an oven.

Stew some cooking apples (3 big ones for 6 people) by placing peeled and sliced apples, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water into a pan and simmering until soft.

Place stewed apple in the bottom of 6 ramekins.

Make real custard (see recipe). Pour a layer of custard into each ramekin.

Sprinkle each ramekin with granola.

That's it - real simple and very yummy.

Apple veggie burgers

2 tart apples (like Granny Smith), grated, peel on
½ onion, grated or very finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
1 pepper, de-seeded and very finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 cup brown or white rice, cooked and cooled (leftover is fine)
6 tablespoon rolled oats
½ teaspoon salt
plenty of black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable, groundnut or light olive  oil

Place grated apples in a bowl with onions, half of the bread crumbs, pepper, ginger, rice, half of the oats, salt, and pepper. Mix well. 
Shape mixture into patties, adding more bread crumbs if necessary to get a sticky but firm consistency. Press into a ring mould, if you want to be all cheffy. Chill in the fridge for an hour if you want them to firm up. Coat with the remaining oats.
Heat the oil in the frying pan, over medium heat. Fry over medium heat until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. DO NOT MOVE OR DISTURB THE BURGERS UNTIL THEY ARE BROWNED.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Courgette and cheese soup

2 tablespoons vegetable (or light olive) oil
1 large onion (or 2 shallots) chopped
1 clove garlic
3 or 4 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped into small chunks
1kg courgettes, chopped
2 litres chicken stock (see recipe)
250g hard cheese (that will melt without going grainy), grated
Salt and pepper

In a large pan, gently soften the bacon, onion and garlic, without browning them. Add the courgettes, and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes (or until the courgettes are soft).
Add half of the cheese, and blend well in a liquidiser of with a wand blender. Check and adjust the seasoning, and add more cheese to taste. The cheese shouldn’t overpower the flavour of courgette.
Serve with a swirl of double cream, if you prefer.

Escalope of pork in honey mustard sauce

4 pork escalopes
A little vegetable (or light olive) oil
2 shallots, chopped finely
A splash of white wine
250ml double cream
1 tablespoon grainy honey mustard (or 1 tablespoon grainy mustard and 1 teaspoon runny honey)
Salt and pepper

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Oil and season both sides of the escalopes. Reduce the heat to medium. Place the pork in the griddle pan and fry (without moving them) on one side until you can see they are cooked halfway through. Turn them, and repeat on the other side. Remove the escalopes from the pan, wrap them in foil, and set them aside.
Gently fry the onions in the oil that remains in the pan, until they are glossy. Add a splash of wine to ‘de-glaze’ the pan. Add the cream and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low. Add 2/3 of the honey mustard. Return the pork to the pan, with any juices that have seeped out. Check the seasoning and adjust. Add a little more mustard, to taste. Baste the pork with the sauce.
Serve with mash or new potatoes, and the veg of your choice. I like finely sliced cabbage, sautéed in a little butter for 2-3 minutes.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Best ever burgers

500g lean beef mince (chuck steak mince is best)
One large onion, grated or very finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or ½ teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
1 packet salted peanuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon good olive oil
Black pepper, coarsely ground

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, and mix thoroughly (with your hands is best). Form into 4 burgers.
Grill or shallow fry for 10-15 minutes. You can serve these ‘medium’, if the mince is good quality and lean.
Serve in bread buns, with mayonnaise and a bit of salad.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Basic Risotto (for Nikki)

approx 1 litre stock
1 knob of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
400g/14oz risotto rice
2 wine glasses of dry white vermouth or dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
70g/2½oz butter
115g/4oz freshly grated Parmesan

You need two pans for this. Heat the stock in one pan. In the other, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions and garlic, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the onion and garlic have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat. Keep stirring.  After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring.

Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Check the seasoning. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Rhubarb ripple syllabub with Kitty’s homemade ginger wine

6 sticks of young (or 'forced') rhubarb
20g sugar
I vanilla pod – seeds only (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
275ml Stichill double cream
4 tablespoons Kitty’s ginger wine

Pre-heat the oven to 140C.
Trim the rhubarb, and slice into 3cm lengths. Lay it on a baking sheet. Mix the sugar and vanilla, and sprinkle it over the rhubarb. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Reserve a chunk or two of rhubarb for each serving.
Whisk the cream in a large bowl. Add the ginger wine and the remaining rhubarb (including all the syrup from the tray). Swirl, don’t stir, and serve in wine glasses. Top with a chunk of rhubarb.

Bellingham bakery hot cross bun bread-and-butter pudding with Stichill clotted cream

6 Bellingham bakery hot cross buns, sliced vertically, and buttered on both sides
2 Greenbrae eggs
200ml Stichill double cream
200ml milk
50g sugar
Stichill clotted cream

Line up the bun slices in an ovenproof dish, leaning so the tops are at the top. In a bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients. Pour over the buns. Squash down a couple of times. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, while the oven heats up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or so, until the top is crispy and the custard has just set.
Serve with a little Stichill clotted cream.

Northumberland Poultry duck breast with sweet and sour sauce, sweet potato mash

2 Northumberland Poultry duck breasts
A glass of Sloecrafts damson vodka (or a glass of wine)
2 tablespoons Sloecrafts sloe cheese (or any fruit jelly)
A little (30-100ml) white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon tomato puree (not needed if your chutney contains tomatoes)
Salt and pepper

Slash the skin of the duck breasts. Place them skin side down in a hot griddle pan, and press them down. Let them cook for 5 minutes, and drain off the fat as it renders out. Keep the fat for roast potatoes. Get the skin crispy. Turn, and continue cooking for a further 3-8 minutes, depending on how well done you like them.
Remove the duck breasts, wrap them in foil and keep them warm.
Remove any fat from the griddle pan, but keep the sticky and crunchy bits. Add the alcohol, and boil until reduced by half (or flame off the vodka). Add half of the vinegar. Melt in the jelly/chutney, and add the tomato puree. Add a little water, if the sauce is too thick. Add a little more jelly, if the sauce is too sour. Add a little more vinegar, if the sauce is too sweet. Season to taste.
Slice the duck, and serve on a bed of sweet potato mash (just mashed up baked sweet potatoes, with a touch of cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg), or champ potato. Pour over a little of the sauce.

Greenbrae beefburgers with wild garlic pesto

500g Greenbrae minced beef (or get your butcher to mince frying steak)
1 tablespoon wild garlic pesto
1 onion, chopped
1 Greenbrae egg yolk
Salt and pepper

For the pesto
A blender bowl full of rinsed wild garlic leaves
A handful of lightly toasted pine nuts
A handful of grated parmesan
A squeeze of lemon juice
Lots (maybe 1/3 of a litre?) of extra virgin olive oil

To make the pesto, blend everything. Keep adding olive oil until it becomes creamy. Put in jars, and top with a little olive oil. Use within a week or so. Once opened, keep in the fridge and make sure it always has a skin of olive oil over it, to stop it drying out.
To make the burgers, just mix everything together in a bowl, shape into burgers, and fry or barbecue until they are how you like them. Use good beef, and you can serve them medium-rare.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Seared Ridleys roe venison striploin with Bluebell beetroot rosti and hawthorn jus

6 roe venison striploins (from Ridley’s Fish and Game)
6 tablespoons sloe gin
2 sprigs sage, bruised
2 tablespoons Yellowfields rapeseed oil
50g butter, in small pieces
1 heaped teaspoon Vallum Cooking hawthorn jelly
Salt and pepper
2 large potatoes, whole, unpeeled (from Bluebell Organics)
2 beetroots, whole, in their skin (from Bluebell Organics)
100g plain flour (you may not need it all)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dried or fresh sage, chopped
2 tablespoons Yellowfields rapeseed oil
50g butter

Marinade the venison in the sloe gin and sage for 20 minutes.
To make the rosti, boil the potato and beetroot for 8 minutes. Peel and grate, and squeeze out any excess moisture by wrapping in a cloth and twisting.
Place the potato and beetroot in a bowl, mix in the sage, salt and pepper, and enough flour just to bind it all together. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil and butter. Press six ½ cm thick rounds of rosti mixture into the frying pan, and fry on each side for 5 minutes until golden.
While the rosti are cooking, preheat a griddle pan until very hot. Remove the venison from the marinade, and pat dry. Brush with oil, and place in the griddle pan. Fry for only 1-2 minutes each side, depending on thickness. The venison should be crispy on the outside, and cool in the middle. Just as the venison is cooked, strain over the marinade and set it alight. As soon as the flames go out, remove the venison to a warm plate. Add the hawthorn jelly and butter to the pan juices, and melt. Stir once, season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
Slice the venison into 1cm slices, place each sliced striploin on a rosti, and pour over some of the sauce. Serve immediately.

Sticky Chinese-style Kielder Organics pork (serves 2-3)

400g Kielder Organics diced pork, sliced thinly
½ jar (125g) Northumbrian Soup Co plum sauce
¼ jar (55g) Northumbrian Soup Co chilli jam
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2cm cube fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon Yellowfields rapeseed oil, for frying
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a large bowl, marinade the pork with the plum sauce, chilli jam, garlic, ginger, soy, oil and five spice powder, for 10 minutes to 1 hour.
Place a large wok over a high heat, and add the rapeseed oil. Remove the pork from the marinade, drain, and fry until almost cooked. Add the marinade, and reduce until really sticky. Throw in the sesame seeds, stir and serve with plain boiled rice (see recipe).

Askerton mutton koftas

900g minced Askerton mutton
2 onions, finely grated
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons chopped chilli (or dried flakes)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or half parsley, half mint)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Yellowfields rapeseed oil (for brushing)
200ml greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons chopped mint

Soak 8 bamboo skewers in cold water. Pre-heat a heavy griddle pan.
In a large bowl, mix (with your hands) the mince, onions, egg, garlic, chilli, parsley, cumin and seasoning until all bound together. Divide into 8, and mould round skewers into sausage shapes (or form into small balls if you don’t want to use skewers.
Brush the kofta with oil, and griddle over a medium heat (or a barbecue), turning occasionally, until golden.
Serve with a yoghurt and mint dressing (it’s just yoghurt, and mint)

Bluebell spicy parsnip soup (with or without apple)

(All vegetables from Bluebell Organics)

1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Yellowfields rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
500g parsnips, peeled and cubed

1/2 a cooking apple, peeled and cubed (optional)
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
100ml double cream (optional)

In a large saucepan, fry the onion until glossy in rapeseed oil. Add the curry powder, and fry for 1 minute.
Add the parsnips (apple) and stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, liquidise until creamy, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and serve.

Chirnells pain perdu with Bywell bacon (serves 2)

 4 slices Chirnells fruit bread (or brioche)
1 egg
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons white sugar
A pinch of salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons SR flour
150ml milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Leave the slices of bread on a wire rack for an hour, to dry a little.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a pan, and allow to cool. Whisk the egg in a bowl. Whisk in the sugar, salt and spices. Add the melted butter, whisking all the time. Add the flour gradually, whisking to form a smooth paste. Add the milk and vanilla gradually, to thin the batter.
Heat the remaining butter in a large frying pan. Dip each slice of bread into the batter for no more than 30 seconds, allow it to drain, and put it in the frying pan. Cook until golden, then flip and cook the other side.
Serve with crispy Bywell Smokery bacon and maybe a little honey.

Devilled Ravensworth kidneys (serves 2)

4 Ravensworth rare breed pigs kidneys, skinned and cleaned, and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons tomato puree
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
½ teaspoon cayenne or dried chilli
Salt and pepper
2 slices toasted Chirnells bread

Pre-soak the kidneys in a little milk, for 10 minutes. Pat them dry, and trim them.
In a hot frying pan, fry the kidneys in the butter until brown. Whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and pour over the kidneys. Add a little water, if the sauce is too sticky. It should just 'run' in the pan. Cook for a further minute. Serve on toast.

Parsonby rarebit with Allendale ale (serves 2-4)

1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon butter
150ml milk (you may use less, as the sauce needs to be thick)
175g Wardhall Parsonby cheese (or cheddar), grated
150ml Allendale (or other) bitter
1 teaspoon English mustard (or ½ teaspoon mustard powder)
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
4 slices toasted Chrirnells (or other) bread

Toast your bread, and leave it to cool. Reduce the beer and mustard until sticky.
Make a thick white sauce with the flour, butter and milk, and stir in the cheese. Leave to cool.
Add the reduced beer to the sauce.
Stir in the egg yolks, and season to taste.
Spoon/spread onto the toast, and grill until bubbling and golden brown.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Vegetarian wellington

100g basmati rice
½ teaspoon turmeric
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped (or a mix of chestnut, shi-take and oyster)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
Salt and pepper
500g puff pastry (choose ‘all butter’ pastry)
Egg to glaze

Cook the rice with the turmeric and lemon zest (see recipe) and allow to cool.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
In a large frying pan, gently fry the onion and mushrooms in the oil until soft (about 10 minutes). Stir in the cooked rice, herbs, cranberries and eggs. Season well.
Roll the pastry into a large rectangle, about 3-5mm thick. Put the filling mixture down one long side of the rectangle, in a big sausage. Moisten the edges of the pastry with a little water. Fold over the ‘flap’ of the rectangle, into a big parcel, trim, and crimp the edges with your thumb. Brush with beaten egg, and place uncovered on an oven sheet in the oven for 30 minutes until golden. Serve in thick slices.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Cider gammon

1.5kg unsmoked gammon joint (tied, but with rind still on)
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
10 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1L good cider*
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon English mustard powder (or 1 tablespoon ready-made mustard)

Place the gammon joint in a very large pan. Add the onions, carrots, peppercorns, bay leaves, and cider. Add cold water until the gammon is covered by 2cm. Bring to the boil, then put on the lid and let it simmer gently for 2 hours.
Stand the pan off the heat for 30 minutes (or an hour, if you can wait) for it to cool. Leaving the gammon in the liquid, as it cools, keeps it moist.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Remove the gammon from the liquid**, and trim off the rind, leaving ½-1 cm of fat. Score the fat, lightly, into diamonds. Mix the sugar and mustard in a bowl, and pat it onto the fat of the gammon (or spread it on, and press it in, if you used made mustard).
Place the gammon in a baking tray, fat upwards. Protect the bare meat sides with a double layer of foil. Wedge the gammon with skewers or forks, if it might fall over. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the skin starts to colour but not burn (check after 20).
Serve immediately, or when cold.

* You can use 3 cans of coke, instead. Yes, really. The meat will be dark, but taste amazing.
**Don’t try using the stock for soup – it will be really salty.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Roasted winter vegetables

Cooked by Maxine, during coaching (see The Cookery Coach)

6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm slices
6 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks (leave the ‘tails’ about 3cm long)
50ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme leaves (fresh or dried)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons runny honey

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Place all the veg in a large ovenproof tray. Pour on the oil, and toss the veg so it is coated. Sprinkle on the thyme, and a good twist of salt and pepper. Pour over the honey.
Place the tray, uncovered, in the oven for 45-60 minutes. Check after 30 minutes, and turn the veg so they brown evenly. Don’t worry about brown edges – they’re the best bits. Remove when the veg is nicely toasted, and tender.

Stuffed hearts

Cooked by Maxine, during coaching (see The Cookery Coach)

6 lamb hearts
1 mix of stuffing (see recipe)
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
500ml beef stock (see recipe)
1 tablespoon beurre manié (see recipe)

Soak the hearts in a large bowl of salted water for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 140C.
Remove the hearts from the salt water. Trim off any tubes with scissors, and snip the inside of each heart so it becomes one cavity. Rinse the hearts, and place on a large plate. Fill each heart to the top with stuffing mix.
Place the chopped carrots, onion and celery in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Nest the hearts down into the veg, so the hearts stand up with the stuffing upwards. Pour the stock into the casserole dish, around the hearts. Bring to the boil on the hob. Seal the casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid (use foil under the lid, to get a good seal) and place it in the oven for 3 hours.
Transfer the casserole dish to the hob, over a low heat. Remove the hearts to a warmed serving dish. Crush up the veg a bit, with a fork. Add half of the beurre manié and stir. Let the sauce thicken. Add more beurre manié if necessary. Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Strain the sauce over the hearts, and serve.

Almond tuilles

Made by Maxine, during coaching (see The Cookery Coach)

100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
100g egg whites (weighed*)
100g plain flour
15g ground almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 170C. Line two baking trays with buttered non-stick baking paper.
In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale. Gradually add the egg white, a little at a time, beating it into the mixture. If the mixture starts to split, add a tablespoon of the flour. When all the egg white is added, fold in the flour and almonds. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Drop small teaspoons of the mixture onto a baking sheet, and smooth each biscuit to about 2mm thick (ovals or circles) with a palette knife.
Bake each tray for 6-9 minutes, until the biscuits are golden. Leave the tray to cool for one minute, then remove the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.
A 100g mix makes about 20 tuilles.

*However many egg whites you have, just weigh them and then use equal weights of each other ingredient. For example, if you have 4 egg whites ‘left over’ from making crème brûlées, and the egg whites weigh 122g, just make a mix with 122g of each ingredient.

Smoked mackerel pâté

Cooked by Maxine, during coaching (see The Cookery Coach)

3 fillets smoked mackerel
200g soft cheese (cream cheese, soft goats’ milk cheese...)
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Put the cheese in a large bowl, and break it up with a fork. Take each mackerel fillet, remove the skin and break it up into small pieces, removing any bones. Add the mackerel and  half of each of the other ingredients to the cheese. Stir to combine.
Check the taste of the pâté. Add more seasoning, chives and/or lemon juice, until you get the perfect balance of flavours. Too much depends on how strong your fish and cheese are to be able to give precise quantities. Serve chilled.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


3 tablespoons oil (light olive, or vegetable)
2 large onions
4 cloves garlic
1kg lean beef mince
200ml red wine
3 tins chopped plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
900ml white sauce (see recipe)
Salt and pepper
300g grated hard pale cheese (cheddar is fine)
2 boxes dried lasagne sheets
200g grated parmesan

Place a very large pan on the hob, over a low heat. Finely chop the onion and garlic, and fry gently in the oil until glossy but not brown. Add the mince, and continue to fry gently until all the meat is grey (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Turn up the heat to high, and add the red wine. Boil rapidly for 2 minutes, to reduce the liquid in the bottom of the pan by about half. Add the tinned tomatoes, oregano, tomato puree and ketchup. Stir, bring to the boil, and add a good twist of salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
Make a ‘triple mix’ of white sauce (see recipe) and add the grated cheddar to it. Stir, and allow the cheese to melt.
Check the mince filling for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
To assemble the lasagne – take a very large, rectangular, ovenproof dish. Mine is as large as I can get in my oven – 35x25x5cm. You may need two or even three smaller dishes, if you don’t have a huge one. Put a third of the mince filling in the bottom of the dish(es). Add a single layer of lasagne. Repeat another twice, finishing with pasta on the top. Pour over the cheese sauce, easing it down through the gaps in the pasta with a knife. Try to get it all in. ‘Plump up’ the lasagne, to expel air, and add some more sauce. Lift the corners, and sneak in a little more.
Cover the dish(es) with foil, and place in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven.
*Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the lasagne, and return it to the oven (uncovered) at 200C for 15 minutes (or 180C for 30 minutes, if it’s cold when it goes back in for its second cooking time).
*Note: Lasagne needs to be cooked twice, to be perfect, so it’s better if you can allow it to cool completely (or even put it aside overnight) before its second cooking. If you put it straight back in the oven, it will end up a little runny. If you let it cool then re-bake it, it will be drier and the flavours will have matured. Italians always bake their lasagne twice, the second time is often in the pizza oven, in single portions. An Italian friend (and great cook) told me that good lasagne should be “like blankets on a bed, not newspapers in a puddle”.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


1 plain sponge cake (or a packet of sponge or ‘boudoir’ fingers)
300ml very strong cold coffee
100ml marsala or amaretto
500ml double or whipping cream
2 cartons mascarpone cheese
40g icing sugar
100g grated dark chocolate (or 50g cocoa powder)

Get a large rectangular serving dish, about 10cm x 20cm and 5cm deep. Line the bottom with sponge. In a bowl or jug, mix the coffee with the marsala/amaretto. Pour ¾ of it over the sponge, ensuring all the bits are soaked equally.
In a large bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks are obtained. Add the mascarpone, breaking it up with a fork and mixing gently into the cream. Add the icing sugar, and the remainder of the coffee mix. Stir gently. Spoon this topping into little piles on the sponge, and spread it carefully, making sure you don’t drag bits of sponge up. Place in the refrigerator for half an hour.
Sprinkle with chocolate/cocoa and serve. Make sure you don’t turn your back on the table, or there’ll be none left for you.

Rice pudding

150g pudding rice
75g white sugar
1L milk
50g butter
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
500ml double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 140C.
Place a large casserole (with a tight-fitting lid) on the hob, over a medium heat. Add the rice, sugar, milk, butter and nutmeg. Bring gently to the boil, stirring occasionally. Put on the lid (sealing it with a double layer of foil, if it’s loose) and transfer to the oven for 2 hours.
Check after 1½ hours. The pudding should still be quite runny. Add more milk, if necessary. Don’t stir it if you want a good skin.
10 minutes before time, remove the lid (and foil) and add the cream. Again, don’t stir it if you want a skin. Return to the oven for the last 10 minutes.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Boiled rice

375g basmati rice
750ml cold water
1 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat the oven to 50C.
Place a large saucepan on the hob, over a high heat. Add the rice, water and salt. Bring to the boil, stirring only once. Put a lid on the pan, and place it in the oven for 15 minutes. Set your timer.
When the timer reminds you, check the rice (by parting it with a spoon) to see if all of the water has been absorbed by the rice. If not, return it to the oven for another 3 minutes, and check it again. The rice is perfect when all the water has been absorbed.
You can make boiled rice, using this method, for any number of people – just use equal volumes of rice and water, and adjust the salt accordingly. One portion is about half a coffee mug of rice (or more, if you like a lot of rice).
If you want to pimp your rice, add (before boiling) four cardamom pods, half a pepper and half an onion (finely chopped, and fried in a little oil until glossy), 50g sultanas and 1 teaspoon of turmeric (or a pinch of saffron, if you have some).

Fish pie

1 fillet of smoked haddock (un-dyed)
1 medium fillet of salmon
1 large fillet of white fish (cod, haddock, coley, whiting...)
300ml milk
Salt and pepper
Bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
500g floury potatoes
50g butter
50ml double cream
Milk, as required
Salt and pepper
12 king prawns (fresh or coooked)
100g frozen peas

Place a very large frying pan (with a lid), or a large saucepan, on the hob over a high heat. Add the 3 fillets of fish, milk, a good twist of salt and pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, put on the lid, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Put the potatoes on to boil. When boiled, mash them with the butter and cream. Add milk until the mash is quite soft and smooth. Season with a good twist of salt and pepper.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Remove the fish from the milk, to a plate. Make a white sauce with the flour, butter and strained milk (see recipe). While the sauce is cooking, remove the skin and any bones from the fish, and break it gently into flakes and chunks.
In a large oven dish, place the prawns, peas, sauce and flaked fish. Mix around, to distribute evenly. Pipe* or spoon the mash over the mixture, in a layer. Fork the top into peaks (for that lovely crunchy topping).
Place the dish, uncovered, in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and sizzling.
*For a DIY piping bag, take a large plastic sandwich bag. Fill it half full of mash, twist the top closed. Holding the top closed in one hand, cut a corner off the bag with your other hand (using scissors!). Gently squeeze the bag, with the hand holding the top, guiding the pointy end of the bag with your other hand.

Crème brûlée

Made by Maxine, during coaching (see The Cookery Coach)

500ml freshly made real custard (see recipe)
100g sugar (soft brown or caster)

Divide the custard between 6 ramekins. Put them in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Remove the ramekins from the fridge. Sprinkle sugar all over the surface of each. With a blowtorch, burn the sugar. It needs to melt completely, and go brown (with black bits) but not be burnt all over. That’s the skill.  Put the brûlées back in the fridge for 15 minutes.
You might need to make 12, so you can practice on the first six (and eat them, to make sure they’re OK). You can brown the sugar under a very hot grill, but it won’t work as well and isn’t as much fun.
For variety, put some fruit in the bottom of the ramekins before you add the custard. I like stewed rhubarb or gooseberries (made a little less sweet than normal), or fresh raspberries.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Bread and butter pudding (thanks Mum)

50g butter
Half a loaf of stale white bread
150g butter (or more)
100g dried fruit (mixed, currants, raisings, sultanas, whatever)
2 eggs
150g caster sugar
250ml double cream
250ml milk
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 160C
Butter the bottom and sides of a deep oven dish, about 20cm x 10cm. Slice the bread, and butter one side of each slice. Use up all the butter, and add more if you run out. Cut the slices into quarters, as triangles.
With the triangles pointy side up (so you’ll get nice crispy ‘peaks’), arrange them in the dish, starting at one end. Put a bit of dried fruit between each row. If the dish is a bit big, lean the triangles back a bit so the dish becomes full.
Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl, and add the cream, milk and nutmeg. Beat again. Pour the custard over the bread, scraping out any sugar left in the bowl. Leave the pudding to stand for 5 minutes, squishing it occasionally so the bread soaks up the custard.
Place the pudding, uncovered, in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with custard (see recipe).
For a seasonal Easter treat, replace the bread with 10 sliced hot cross buns, and use chopped dried apricots as the fruit.

Potatoes dauphinoise

50g butter
500g new potatoes (sliced thinly – no need to peel)
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
200ml double cream
200ml milk
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Take a 10cm square (or similar size but different shape) ovenproof dish, and butter the bottom and sides. You may as well use up the butter. Spread a thin layer of sliced potatoes over the bottom. Add a thin layer of onion and a few slices of garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat, finishing with a (neat) layer of potatoes. Pour over the cream, and as much of the milk as you need so you can see milk through the gaps in the potato layer. Cover the dish with foil, and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil, and return the dish to the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
If you like, you can sprinkle the top of the potatoes with grated parmesan, before the last 15 minutes of cooking, but I don’t think the dish needs cheese.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


300g breadcrumbs (not the ones that you buy– put stale bread in a blender)
1 onion, chopped finely
2 tablespoons herbs* (fresh or dry, whatever you have)
50g dried fruit, chopped, or grated apple* (whatever goes with the herbs you chose, and the meat)
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Hot, but not boiling, water
25g butter

Place the breadcrumbs, onion, herbs and fruit in a bowl. Add the egg, and a good twist of salt and pepper. Mix. Add enough hot water, mixing while you do, so the mixture starts to clump together but doesn’t become sticky. Stop mixing. Let it stand for 5 minutes, so the bread soaks up the liquid.
Grease a suitable oven tin. The mixture needs to form a layer 2-3cm thick. Spread the mixture into the tin, but don’t press it down too firmly. Just enough to level it out and get rid of any big air pockets. Dot the top with bits of the butter.
Place in the oven with your meat or whatever. The oven temperature isn’t critical, whatever your oven is already set at will be OK, but keep an eye on the stuffing. It needs to be browned, but not burned. About 20 minutes at 220C, to 40 minutes at 150C should be enough.

*Try different combinations. Apple and sage, apricot and rosemary, prune and mint...


500ml milk
200ml double cream
4 egg yolks
50g caster sugar (or use vanilla sugar, and miss out the vanilla below)
3 teaspoons cornflour

1 vanilla pod (or half a teaspoon of vanilla extract)

Place a saucepan on the hob, over a medium heat. Add the milk, cream and vanilla, and bring to simmering (but not boiling) point
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour. Remove the vanilla pod from the pan (if used), and strain the milk and cream over the egg mixture, whisking all the time (you may need a friend for this, as it requires 3 hands).
Return the custard to the pan, and heat gently, stirring with a small whisk or wooden spatula until the custard is the thickness of double cream. This may take up to 15 minutes, but it's worth it. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


300ml milk
100ml water
10g butter
A bay leaf
5 peppercorns
500g smoked haddock (natural, not dyed) in whole fillets
2 tablespoons light olive (or vegetable) oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 tablespoons curry powder (just use your favourite)
500g basmati (or any white, long-grain) rice
1.2L water
3 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
Salt and pepper
200g mushrooms, sliced
200g frozen peas
Three hard boiled eggs, sliced

Place a large frying pan (with a lid) on the hob, over a high heat. Add the milk, water, butter, bay leaf, peppercorns and haddock. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat, put on the lid, and let it stand while you do the rice.
 Place a large pan (with a lid) on the hob, over a medium heat. Add the oil and onion, and gently fry until the onion is glossy but not brown. Add the curry powder, and fry for 1 more minute. Add the rice, water and cardamom pods. Bring to the boil, stir once, put on the lid, then turn the heat as low as it will go and leave the pan without stirring for 12 minutes. If your hob won’t go really low, put the pan in an oven at 50C. Set your timer.
Remove the haddock from its liquid to a plate, remove and discard the skin, then flake the fish into a bowl. Strain the cooking liquid into a jug or bowl, and put aside.
When the timer reminds you, check the rice (by parting it with a spoon) to see if almost all of the water has been absorbed by the rice. If not, leave it another 5 minutes. Add the fish, and the peas. Replace the lid, and let it stand on the heat (or back in the oven) while you make the sauce. If all the water has been absorbed, just turn off the hob/oven.
In a small saucepan, over a medium heat, make a white sauce (see recipe) with the butter, flour, and the liquid you cooked the fish in. As soon as the sauce thickens, add the sliced mushrooms and stir. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Find a really big plate, or an oven dish. Fork the kedgeree once, to mix, and arrange over all the plate/dish. Pour the sauce down the middle of the kedgeree, from end to end, and arrange the sliced egg in a line on top of the sauce. Serve straight away. Get someone else to do the washing up.