Archive | Pudding

Recipe | Cherry Pie

Make America Bake Again

To start with a completely different subject ….

I would love you to come and watch my cookery demo at the Game Fair at 12 pm on Saturday 29th July. I will be sharing some delicious ideas on what to do with game along with cookery writer Tim Maddams. The Game Fair is at Hatfield House (just 20 min by train from London Kings Cross) and is a fantastic day out for anyone interested in the countryside, shooting, fishing , horses, dogs, falconry and of course food !

Meanwhile back in the USA….

“I’m having a little trouble with my tackle” chortled the fisherman…

He had been quietly fiddling with it for at least ten minutes without the desired effect and being British I wasn’t sure what was the polite thing to do. Do I offer to help or is it one of those things you just leave them to until you see their rod waving high in the air ready for action?

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Recipe | Spiced Sticky toffee apple and pear cake

Season Eatings…

Season greetings to you all, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

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Currently at an airport waiting to board my next flight I wanted to send you a quick christmas postcard but I am seriously distracted by the festive flavours going on in the coffee shops, although not at all tempted.

I simply can’t imagine what Gingerbread house latte laced with elf shavings would be like or how eggnog essence mince pie tea topped with Santa’s beard sprinkles would work on the palate. However it is amazing how quickly even the thought of some flavours can make a dish be Christmassy.

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Over the last few days back at base, unable to tear myself away from the stove, light on the festive flavours I was not. Unctuous Cinnamon and star anise slow cooked local beef Brisket with clementine’s and ginger went down a treat, super tender with a crackling crunch free range pork belly with plum sauce and five spice was gobbled up and there is not a trace left of the chocolate, chestnut and brandy log.

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Although not strictly speaking a traditional Christmas food household there are certain foods I will always make sure are in stock around this time of year. Layers of locally smoked trout, wedges of Dorset Blue Vinny, home made mince pies ( I am still working my way through the pots of 2013 filling that I over enthusiastically made), mint chocolates ( currently stocking six different varieties) and of course mountains of clementines.

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The other staple that I like to have waiting in the wings for those unexpected guests or hungry family members or even a pre breakfast breakfast is plenty of cake after all mince pies alone are not a balanced diet.

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So, just before I dash, for this postcard recipe I want to share with you my sticky toffee apple and pear cake, obviously laced with festive spices.

 

This week

Turkey cooked: 27 kilos

Spice cupboard : much depleted

Brandy used : 1 bottle ( yes that’s a lot…it made its way into a fair few cocktails )

Clementine bowl : now empty

 

Apple and pear caramel cake

5 small Apples

1 tbs Demerara sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

Caramel sauce

150g salted butter


110g golden caster sugar


60g dark muscovado sugar


260ml double cream

Cake batter

250g soft salted Butter

250g caster Sugar

250 g Self Raising flour

4 organic Eggs

2 tsp ground Cinnamon

½ grated Nutmeg

1 tsp Ground ginger

2 pears

Line a 10 inch deep cake tin with baking paper.

In a small saucepan gently bring all the ingredients for the caramel sauce to a simmer and cook for five minutes.

Pour half on the sauce into the cake tin.

Peel and core the apples then split in half horizontally toss with the 1 tbs demerara sugar and 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 ts ground ginger. Place into the cake tin and move around to coat with caramel sauce then arrange flat side up.

To make the batter

In a bowl beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.

Add half the flour, all the spices and 2 of the eggs. Gently beat until combined then add the rest of the eggs and flour and gently beat again.

Grate the pears , sin and all but discarding the core. Stir through the batter then pour on top of the apples.

Bake on the middle shelf for 40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean ( its just the batter you don’t want to see on the skewer – there may be caramel sauce

Leave to cool in the tin then turn out on to your serving platter.

Gently arm the rest of the sauce and pour over the top of the cake.

This is delicious with whipped cream or even brandy butter.

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Next stop… Val d’Isére.

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Recipe | Pumpkin pie

A pumpkin pie is for life…not just thanksgiving.

Defra and the City of London Pollution control team, are currently analysing some mysterious anomalies in their data for the end of November. With readings off the charts and new territories reached on the Decibel scale I hear they are truly puzzled.
Well… I will fess up. It was us!
Thanksgiving celebrations, west London area, a bajillion children and a lot of excited American ex pats celebrating their grand federal holiday. It was my first one and I loved it!

For those of you who have never celebrated thanksgiving think levels of Christmas preparation, planning and excitement just without the carols and presents.

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Thanksgiving is generally thought to have come about from the 102 Pilgrims who set sail on the Mayflower back in 1620. It was a very harsh first winter so most of them stayed on their ship. About half of them died and those that survived were understandably not in great shape. When they finally all came ashore come spring time they were met by local Native Indians who taught and helped them grow, hunt and gather food in order to survive in their new environment .

The pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in November 1621 and invited some of the local Indians which many consider the first of thanksgiving. Over the years the tradition of giving thanks around harvest time spread to other areas but it wasn’t until 1863, during the civil war, that President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving would take place on the last Thursday each November. For a while the date was moved forward a week, this was done during the great depression in 1939 by Roosevelt to help boost sales but as so many objected in 1941 a bill was signed placing it on the forth Thursday of November where it remains set to this day.

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( above are the welcoming margarita clementine cocktails)

Over time it is not just the date that has changed but the menu as well.

Turkey meat was unlikely to have been part of the earlier Thanksgiving suppers, although they would have been some wild ones living around the Plymouth area where the pilgrims landed. It is likely they eventually got incorporated into the feast, as they were large enough to feed a crowd plus could be spared as they don’t lay lots of eggs (unlike chickens) or produce other useful produce like milk.

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Although I wouldn’t place Turkey at the top of my favourites list I was amused by the idea that every year in the States it has become custom for the president to pardon one.
From thousands of birds around 80 are randomly selected from the National Turkey federation. They are fed a quick fattening diet of grains and soybeans so they can look the part if they go on to be the ‘chosen one’. The 80 turkeys are put into celebrity turkey training camp and exposed to flashing camera lights, loud noises and given exposure to large crowds. Twenty finalists are then chosen to live on and are closely monitored to see which are the best behaved, most good-looking and largest. Eventually two ‘chosen’ ones will be named by The White House and then finally one will go on to be Americas next top turkey and the ‘pardoned’ one.

 

The tradition of giving turkeys to Presidents had been going on for many years but it was only since Reagan that they started being pardoned and not until 1998 in George HW Bush time that the tradition really set in. Once the razzmatazz of being spared is over the turkey will live out the rest of its days either in a petting zoo (in which case I cant help but feel the turkey may have preferred to get the chop rather than deal with being manhandled by hundreds of visitors a day), or on a farm probably in Virginia or even go to Disney land where it becomes the honorary marshal of the Thanksgiving day parade. I kid you not. One should note however as the turkey is encouraged to become in what human terms we call obese it doesn’t live that long anyway.

2016-11-30_0001 The thanksgiving meal I cooked for happened in two sittings. First came the bajillion children and then the adults. My morning was spent weight lifting huge turkeys from lidgates to the house , roasting and peeling mountains of chestnuts and sceptically making the star of this postcard recipe a, Pumpkin Pie.

Before you pumpkin pie fans raise your eyebrows at my scepticism (or you pumpkin pie non converts click away) let me explain. I am of the opinion if a certain dish was that good or that well loved it would appear more than just once a year, the British obsession with turkey at Christmas being my prime example.

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Pumpkin pie has never really been adopted by us Brits and from what I can tell only really gets attention the other side of the pond around thanksgiving. Well this has got to change ! Pumpkin pie it turns out is totally delicious and should be eaten for life (ok when is season) and not just for Thanksgiving .

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When the job was done and as I was saying my good byes we discussed what fun it was and I expressed how much I enjoyed cooking for my first Thanksgiving.
“Great” my clients said …
“Next year we will get you a baseball cap to cook in “! they yelled as I headed out the door
“ but perhaps maybe some ear plugs too ” I muttered as I headed down the street on to my next job …

So for this postcard recipe I give you… Pumpkin Pie.

This week

I love : Pumpkin pie
Every home should have : Alexa
Favourite pumpkin trivia : In 1705 the Connecticut town of Colchester famously postponed its Thanksgiving for a week because there wasn’t enough molasses available to make pumpkin pie.
Turkeys spared : 1 ( by Obama not me)

Pumpkin pie

You may wonder why I use squash when the title suggests I should be using pumpkin, basically squash is much less watery,  tastes better and close enough so allowed in.You may also wonder why there is no photo… basically  it got eaten before it could be papped !

Serves 8
You will need a 28 cm pie dish

For the pastry
250g plain flour plus extra for rolling
1 tbs icing sugar
1 x orange, zest only
50g cream cheese
100g butter, chilled
1 – 2 tbs iced water

1 medium butternut squash
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbs demerera sugar
200ml maple syrup
4 tbsp brandy 
4 medium eggs, beaten
150ml evaporated milk

To make the pastry ,
In a food processor blitz the flour with the icing sugar and orange zest.
Grate in the butter and add the cream cheese in small spoonful’s. Pulse a few times.
Add the egg yolk and ½ tbs iced water and blitz. Stop as soon as the pastry starts to form into a dough (you may need to add a little more water.
Lightly flour a piece of baking paper and roll out the dough to line  your pie dish. Press well into the edges and reline with the sheet of baking paper.
Pre heat the oven to 200 °C
Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins then pour in baking beans and cook for 15mins , then remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 10( it should be lightly golden).
Leave to cool.

Reduce the oven to 175 °C.
Peel, deseed and chunk the squash into 1inch pieces. Toss with the cinnamon, ginger and the sugar.
Roast on a flat tray for 40mins or until soft.
Place in a food processor (scraping in a any spice bits from the tray) and blitz to smooth.
Place a clean thin tea towel or muslin cloth in a colander set over a bowl or pot and scoop in the squash puree. Leave to drain for 1 hour then weigh out 300g. You don’t need the remainder for this dessert so I popped mine into a celeriac and squash gratin but could go into a soup cet.).

Place the weighed puree into a bowl and hand whisk in the syrup, brandy, eggs and evaporated milk, you are just doing this to mix rather than to add volume or air into the mix.
Taste to see if it needs extra spices then pour into the pastry and bake for 40 mins – 1 hour or until set.
Leave to cool then serve in slices with whipped cream and plenty of American cheer.

Next Stop… Pheasant weekend shoot in Perthshire

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Recipe | Poached quince

Not the apple of my eye

I will admit I go through obsessional phases with certain foods. Looking through my October menus, despite there being a broad range of occasions – think Jewish New Year to Partridge Shoot Suppers, there has definitely been a lean towards one certain ingredient.

Pomegranates, anchovies, star anise, honey, caraway, venison… are some of the foods that have had their moments as the centre of my culinary attention, though thankfully with not too much overlapping but right now, clients are highly likely to see me suggest Quinces on their menu as I cannot seem to get enough of these mysteriously rewarding fruits.

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History and literature also seems to have had its fondness for the Quince over time with the first records of them being planted in 1275 at the tower of London during Edward I reign. Paris gave Aphrodite a quince in exchange for the love of the most beautiful women in the world, Helen of Troy and it is often seen in her hand (Aphrodite’s) as a symbol of love. Up to the 18th century the soon to be father in law would often give a basket of quince to the bride to be to bring happiness to their marriage (admittedly not necessarily a sure fired method but at least something to throw if things quickly turn sour) and we must not forget this fruit was also part of the marital feast for the surprisingly romantically entwined couple, ‘ The owl and the pussy cat’

‘They dined on mince, and slices of quince,’

The Rosh Hashanah supper I was asked to cook for at the beginning of the month, which celebrates the beginning of the Jewish New Year, despite having plenty of traditional and symbolic foods that had to be woven into the feast also managed to accommodate some quince.   On a tangent to this blogs quince centric theme I found planning the food for the Rosh Hashanah a fascinating task as there is so much symbology with the food.

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The meal starts with honey, apples, pomegranates, dates, challah and blessings and then moves on to other dishes like fish, meatballs and of course dessert. Below are a few of the foods and why they are included in the feast.

Apple and honey: to bring in a sweet new year

Round loaves of Challah: to symbolise the continuity of creation (as with any foodie groups the callah had to be bought from the best bakery in London which meant queuing for hours at night ( admittedly not by me ).

Pomegranates: representing a new fruit in season, is to wish our good deeds for the new year will be as many as the seeds in a pomegranate and to be thankful for bringing us into the new year.

Fish complete with head: to symbolise the start of the year and moving forward and to remember it as the ancient symbol for fertility and abundance.

Leeks: the word for leeks is related to the work to cut kareyt, so the leeks symbolize cutting away those who wish to harm us.

Dates – similar in Hebrew to a word translating to end, so dates are eaten in hope that enemies will cease. Also it is generally believed that when Israel is referred to the land of milk ad honey that to refers to date honey.

Beetroots and their leaves: The Hebrew word for beets is selek and is similar to the word for “remove.” Beetroots are eaten in hope of causing the departure of our enemies.

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Then later in the month there was the partridge shoot weekend near Chichester that of course also managed to accommodate quince based dishes.

2016-10-23_0008  It is worth noting while we are in the hight of shoot season that Quince goes really well with game as its fragrant flavors contrast well to the earthiness of the meat.

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For this postcard recipe I will give you a basic method of cooking quince which you can then use to add the fruit to other dishes.

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This month

Quinces cooked with: 87

Dishes involving quince: 15

Cocktails drunk with quince juice: count unreliable but lets say more than one.

Every home should have: a quince tree.

Peter Quince : is a character is Shakespeare’s, A midsummers night dream

The apple of my eye : is in fact a quince

Baked quince with brandy, cinnamon and star anise

The recipe below can be seen as just a starting point. Once the quince is cooked you can simply serve as is with cream, ice cream, crème fraiche or yogurt or to take it further you can chop it up and add to apple pies, crumbles, stewed brambles ( blackberries) to eat as a compote, whizz it up and make into sorbet or one of my favourite uses adding the fragrant cooking liquid to cocktails.

Serves 8

8 quinces

3 sticks of cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

2 star anise

400g light brown sugar

water

1 and a bit glasses of Brandy

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Peel the quinces and chop in half vertically.

Place in a pan with spices, the sugar, top up with water and add a glass of brandy.

Bring to a simmer then pop on a lid and cook until the quinces are all soft – this can vary greatly in time but start checking after 30 minutes.

Once cooked add a splash more brandy and serve two halves each, warm or cold, in a bowl with some of the juice and a dollop of cream,

The quinces will keep well In their juice in the fridge for at least a week ( unless I am around).

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Next stop…. Cawdor.

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Recipe | Almond, cherry, lime and tequila cake

The girl who played with a wood fired oven

I felt like a real party pooper as I sat soberly on the plane heading from Edinburgh to Ibiza. It was around midday and the rest of passengers were clearly well on their way to tipsy land. Amusingly as soon as the seatbelt sign went off the entire plane (minus me and a chap who had already passed out) got up to use the ‘facilities’ then once that kerfuffle was over the drinks trolley became like a moving god down the isle . Ibiza is of course known for its excellent clubbing scene and fun nightlife however for those who have discovered it there is also an island of great beauty, food, secluded alcoves and paradise like beaches.

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Recipe | Raspberry Jell – O and honey baked cheesecake

Philippa Davis and the Sundance Kid

Utah, the 45th state, is known for various things, The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day saints, mining including copper, gold and silver, the 2002 winter Olympics, a staggering collection of Dinosaur bone finds, Jell – O particularly of the green variety and where we were heading (Sundance) and the talented Robert Redford.

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When we arrived at the airport at Salt Lake city, a mere five hour hop from New York City, it was dark and so our journey towards the Sundance resort in the mountains was filled with

“ ooh I bet there are some fantastic views from here”

“You can imagine the mountains that must be in the distance”

“we must be driving down one of those incredibly impressive rocky valleys”

In reality of course we could see nothing besides pitch black and the endless industrial lights that lined the massive road we were heading along.

It wasn’t until the morning that we got our first glimpse of our surroundings, which were indeed spectacular.

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Food wise Utah is famous for a few culinary delights. The scone, totally nothing to do with our West Country variety. In true American fashion it is a doughy deep-fried feast the size of a dinner plate. Jell – O or jelly, served weirdly kind of as a salad with fruit and occasionally vegetables set into it, raspberries from Bear Lake and honey.

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Our group had travelled to Utah to celebrate a 40th birthday, well actually six 40th birthdays but we decided that 240 candles on the cake would have probably burnt our lovely lodge down. With various activities in what is a ski resort in winter but a brilliant place for hiking, riding, relaxing, water sports and more in summer, helping to feed the crowd of 25 was quite a feat.

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The shops meant a trip down the mountain, I think the supermarket managers thought I was a bit crazy the first few days whilst trying to stock up, pushing in total about 5 trolleys overflowing with stuff. I have become hardened to the quizzical looks from others and tutts from fellow shoppers behind me in the queue. I have to say however that Harmon’s where I did most my shopping was one of the friendliest supermarkets I have ever used and by day four they were opening checkouts for me and practically welcoming me with a brass band and flags. So with sales targets more than reached for that month the manager can rest easy. It also has one of the most impressive car park views I am ever likely to come across.

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Food wise there was a good selection of vegetables and some tasty beef. Fish I tended to avoid as didn’t look great altough this is no surprise as the nearest ocean or sea was a few states away.

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I was also fascinated to visit what many consider the home of the Mormons in Salt Lake city and learn more about their history, although a comparatively short one. Having been drummed out of New York and various other places along the way began to settle in Utah around 1847. They have strong family beliefs and so one of the best libraries of family records (of mormons and non Mormons) in the world. They are anti taking addictive substances including caffeine and alcohol and due to their hardworking ethos originally adopted the beehive as a symbol, which is now also a state symbol. There are now over 15 million Mormons in the world and roughly 50 % of the population of Utah belongs to their church. However after the winter Olympics in 2012 and an increase in immigration into Salt Lake City their population is now much more diluted.

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For this journeys postcard I wanted to include a few of the states food icons including raspberries, honey and Jell – O , I of course couldn’t do the Utah scone as being a west country girl I had to disown the deep-fried monster. So here I give you a raspberry, honey Jell – O baked cheesecake that we served at the birthday dinner and were made to promise to save some for the Sundance kids whom had to go to bed before the party started.

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This week

Eggs eaten: 232 (almost enough to give the shooting weekend a competition)

Lemongate happened: discretion forbids me telling more…

I’m loving : mountain walks where I spied snakes, stags and squirrels

Every lodge should have: giant comfy beds ( no joke I had to basically run and jump to get into it each night) .

I’m driving: a big American Chevrolet that could seat an entire village

 

 

Raspberry Jell -O cheesecake

Serves 12

You will need a 10 inch spring form cake tin

Pre heat the oven to 170 °C

For the base

180 g graham crackers or ginger nut biscuits

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbs honey

110g salted butter

Finely grind the crackers or biscuits and mix in the cinnamon

Melt the honey and the butter in a saucepan on a low heat.

Stir the ground crackers into the melted butter then press firmly into the tin.

Bake for ten minutes then take out and cool. Increase the oven temperature to 200 °C.

Filling

1 kilo cream cheese

150g white sugar

2 tbs runny honey

450g sour cream

6 eggs

2 yolks

3 lime zest

2 tsp vanilla

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In a bowl whisk the cream cheese, sugar and honey until light and fluffy ( about three minutes).

Then whisk in the sour cream, eggs, lime zest and vanilla.

Pour into the base and bake for 15 mins then turn down the temperature to

110 ° C and bake for a further 1 hour 20 mins .

The cheesecake should have a slight wobble in the middle.

Leave to cool mostly in the oven with the door slightly wedged open ( I use a wooded spoon) for about 2 hours. Take out and leave in the fridge to cool fully for at least 3 hours.

Jelly

Make up ½ pint of jelly (I used fresh raspberry juice, honey and gelatine and followed the packet setting instructions but you can use jelly cubes) and pour, once cool, over the set cheese cake. Place back in the fridge to set (approx. another 2 hours) . I confess by luck rather than design I got a lovely ring of jelly/jello around the side of the cake where it had cooled and shrunk away from the sides.

Serve in slices with fresh raspberries on top.

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Next stop….Ibiza .

 

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Recipe | French Apple Tart

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Car parks, whisky, wine and tarts

The recent weeks have involved cooking for a Shabbat in West London, a whisky tasting lunch and photographic exhibition in a Soho car park, a wine tasting at the fabulous Whirly Wines down in Tooting Bec, working on an brilliant Dorset book project and a trip to Nice and Monaco.   2016-03-09_0006

I was excited to cook for my first Shabbat, a day of rest and celebration in the Jewish week.   The Middle Eastern themed meal was to take place in a very cosmopolitan feeling Kensington. When designing the menu there were certain rules I had to bare in mind, so of course no pork, no shellfish, fish with only gills and scales – meaning no turbot, monkfish, catfish etc.. and it was also important not to mix meat and dairy so couldn’t include yogurt sauces with some dishes in the Middle eastern feast.

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The Shabbat meal begins with candle lighting and blessings then the food is bought in and the feast begins. Here was their menu :

 

Children’s Supper

Home made burgers, potato wedges and broccoli

Adults Canapés and cocktails

Vodka, champagne and rhubarb fizz 

Beetroot hummus with garlic and lemon on crisp breads

Chicken and orange blossom pastries with harrissa

Adult Mains

Roast Bass with ras al hanout, white wine and garlic with roasted squash and herbed couscous, chopped salad with lime and sumac.

Slow roast shoulder of lamb with cinnamon, cumin and coriander with saffron pilaf, tomato and chickpea sauce, crispy onions, pomegranates and tahini sauce.

Desserts 

Children   – Chocolate caramel brownies

Adults – Pressed chocolate cake with roasted rhubarb

Apple tart tatin and cream

As kosher meat is salted in order to help remove the blood it is recommended that you wash it before cooking, also you need to be more sensitive when seasoning.

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The whisky tasting lunch in the trendy car park was all rather jolly helping to celebrate the launch of an exhibition by the photographer James Stroud. The photographs were of the Balvenie Distillery on Speyside. The party kicked off with whisky based cocktails and canapés and then continued with three courses all of which were paired with various aged whiskies. Tentatively reflecting on it the next day I am not fully convinced that it is a great idea to have whisky pre lunch AND with every course but I am totally won over by serving it with the cheese.

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Though in fairness to the whisky it probably didn’t help that in true trooper chef style, having said my thank yous and goodbyes to the whisky infused crowd, I headed south for a wine tasting. For anyone enthusiastic about interesting wines from small producers around the world, Whirly Wines is a place I would highly recommend to visit. When we arrived at the tasting there were some top foodies around the table including chefs from Bibendum, the Begging Bowl and people from some of London’s most interesting wine clubs as well as locals, passing by that were then drawn in by the merriment kicking off inside.

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The next day my much needed detoxing had to wait, as I was on a plane heading to the somewhat warmer Riviera.

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So much wonderful food originates here, Salad Nicoise ( though shockingly I didn’t actually experience or see particularly good ones), socca – thin chickpea flour pancakes (the perfect snack with an ice cold beer), daube – a beef stew , deep fried courgettes flowers, farcais – veal stuffed vegetable, Pissaladiére   – sweet onion and anchovy pastry tart and tourtes de blettes – a chard tart with raisons and pinenuts. All of which I managed to sample.

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The stand out show stopper of the culinary tour however has to have been the apple tarts (I tried several) that are so ubiquitous in French bistros. Very simple – no spices, no purees and very delicious, they can make even those who find it hard to stop, linger for a few moments extra at the table.

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So for this postcard I would like to share my French Apple tart recipe, the perfect way to end a lunch, enjoy the moment and toast absent friends

This week:

Lunches in car parks : 1

Wine tastings in Tooting Bec:1

Not nice Nicoise salads : 2

Shabbats cooked for:1

I joined Facebook : please like my page here  Philippa Davis face book 

 

French Apple Tart

Makes 8 – 10 6 cm individual tarts

Pastry

180g plain flour

20g icing sugar

100g cold salted butter

1 egg yolk

2 – 4 tbs iced water

6 -8 large crunchy Apples like Gala, Braeburn, Pink lady, Jazz.

8- 10 tsp soft butter

8- 10 tsp golden caster sugar

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbs milk

4 tbs apricot jam

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In a food processor pulse the flour and icing sugar a couple of times.

On the large side of the cheese grater, grate the butter then add to the flour. Pulse a couple of times.

Add the egg yolk and pulse a couple more times.

Add 2 – 4 tbs of the very cold water, whilst pulsing, until the pastry only just starts coming together into a ball.

Tip into a bowl and bring together.

Flatten out into a 2 cm fat disk, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for ½ hour.

Once rested…

Pre heat the oven to 180 ° c

Roll out the pastry to a couple of mm thick then cut out 8 – 10 circles and lay them on flat baking sheets lined with non stick paper (you will need to re ball and re roll the pastry but try not to over handle it).

Brush the pastry with the egg yolk and milk mix,

Peel, core and chop the apples into thin crescents.

Lay them in a pretty pattern on top of the pastry circles trying to get them slightly upright.

Dot on the butter and sprinkle on the sugar.

Bake for 45 mins until golden and the apple is soft.

Once cooked melt the apricot jam with 1 tbs water in a pan on a low heat and brush onto the tarts.

Enjoy hot or cold but certainly with a big pile of cream.

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Next stop, a party in Mayfair to celebrate the start of the rowing season.

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Recipe | Matcha Eclairs with white chocolate icing

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From Singapore with love

Despite the mass splattering of red decorations sputtered over every street in Singapore in readiness for Chinese New Year my focus for the week was on preparing a party feast for Russian New Year, all be it a late one.

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Russian cuisine I admit would not be one of my chosen Mastermind topics however this was nothing a few evenings with Google could not change, or at least help with.   Well that and a Russian cookbook from the 1990s my mother thrust into my case as I bounded out the door a few weeks before.

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Whilst the host and I enthusiastically went through the menu I tentatively mentioned that from what I could gather Russian cuisine centres on dill, vodka and sour cream.

“Da“! They explained “Da, Da, wery good, you have it “!

(Ok – they don’t normally speak in a Russian accent but I felt it added to the story).

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With this concept nailed here was our party’s menu:

Cocktails

Russian mules  – vodka, ginger beer, lime

Cosmopolitans  – vodka, cranberry, triple sec and lime, garnished with orange.

Canapés

Smoked salmon blini with sour cream and caviar

Smoked herring on cucumber slices with dill and apple.

Main

Beef stroganoff with rice

Satsivi – Roasted chicken with garlic, coriander and saffron

Fish Po Azovsky  – baked fish with white wine, spinach, stewed tomato and parsley.

Sides

Beetroot, smetana and walnut salad

Russian Potato salad

Cucumber and radish salad with dill, sour cream and spring onions

Dessert

Apple Sharlotka

White Russian Ice cream with chilled vodka coffee syrup

Chocolate and ginger torte

Midnight snack

Potato, mushroom and cheese pirozhki

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Some of the dishes took on a more Georgian slant as they have slightly more ingredients incorporated into their cuisine like the coriander and saffron in the chicken dish.   The star and saviour of the midnight munchies for many of us were the pirozhki , small bread parcels that can be stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables. These little beauties should make a midnight appearance at all good parties and will certainly be appearing again on my menus over 2016.

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The rest of the week was spent cooking for (slightly less wild) dinner parties, shopping at various markets and eating steamed dumplings.

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I confess after my time out here I am slightly in love with dumplings especially the Xiao Long Bao  (pictured above) which traditionally contain pork and a scalding hot liquid that bursts into your mouth once you bite into the steaming little juicy morsels.

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For this postcard recipe as much as I would like to share with you the pirozhki I feel I should be giving you a far more Eastern inspired recipe like the Matcha eclairs I made one night for dessert. Matcha is a powdered green tea from Japan and China.  It lends a superb green colour to dishes and has a delicate, delightful, exotic  and somewhat unusual taste.  It works extremely well in noodles, ice cream, kit-kats and eclairs.

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By the end of the week, having eaten as many dumplings as I could and everyone feeling thoroughly well fed and entertained it was time for me to once again pack my bags and head on to the next adventure…

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This Week

Every party should have: pirozhki

Vodka and champagne drunk: xxx (private chef code of conduct and Asia’s top lawyers deny me from divulging these figures)

Modes of Transport: boats, planes , MTR , MRT.

We are listening to :From Russia with Love and  Ra Ra Rasputin (very loudly)

Dumplings consumed : 36

Its all about : dill and sour cream

 

Matcha Green Tea Éclairs

Yes this is a multi stage and multi bowl washing up extravaganza BUT incredibly delicious and makes a rather interesting and light dessert.

Éclairs

50g butter cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing

150 ml water

65 g plain flour

1 dsp caster sugar

2  eggs lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 220 °C

Line a large flat tray with baking paper.

Place the butter and water in a small saucepan to melt the butter and bring the water just to the boil.

Take off the heat, tip all the flour and sugar in at once and stir.

Once in a ball return to a low heat and cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 10 minutes – this stage is really important as if you add the eggs in when the mixture is two hot your éclairs are doomed.

Once the mix is cooler add 2/3s of the eggs and beat till combined. You want to form a paste you can pipe and it still holds its shape so add as much egg as needed.

Scoop into a piping bag and pipe out 12  strips about 7 cm long, two strips wide and two layers high  – leaving space in-between each eclair 

Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven to 170 °c and bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and pierce each éclair at one end with a skewer to release the steam and leave to cool on a rack.

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Matcha Créme Pâtissèrie

500 ml whole milk

1 vanilla pod

3 egg yolks

100 g caster sugar

60 g cornflour, sifted

2 tsp matcha powder, sifted

35 g butter, cut into cubes

Weigh out all the ingredients

Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the scraped seeds and the pod. Gently bring to a boil.

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks with sugar then add the corn flour and matcha.

Whisk in the just boiled milk (discarding the pod) then pour back into the

saucepan.

Using a spatula and occasionally a whisk slowly cook the mix for a couple of

minutes. It should be think and by the end not taste of raw corn flour.

Take off the heat and stir in the butter. Scrape into a bowl , cover with cling film

and leave in the fridge to cool completely.

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White chocolate icing

Make this just before you are ready to use it.

100 g white chocolate

1 tbs double cream

Melt the white chocolate with 1 tbs double cream in a pan on a low heat till smooth .

Matcha green dribble

1 tbs icing sugar

1 tsp matcha

1 – 3 tsp water

Mix the icing sugar and matcha together and stir in enough water to create a paste that can be dribbled.

To assemble

Cut each éclair lengthways, fill a piping bag with the matcha crème pâtissèrie  and pipe a good layer onto the bottom half then place the back the top of the eclair 

Spoon on top a thin layer of white chocolate icing. Leave this to set then dribble over some green matcha icing.

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Nest stop, Dorset….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe | Honey, lime and yogurt sorbet

whisk

Game of Drones.

Here in the UK we are using the week to pay homage to that wonderful sweet sticky substance that is made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Yes, National Honey Week is here and it’s time you too got stuck in.

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Besides from keeping the peas on your knife (only joking Mr Debrett, I know that’s what ketchup is for) honey has many culinary uses. It can add an amazing new level to dishes and having been more liberal with it than usual this past week I can confidently say it’s incredibly versatile. All the food dishes photographed in this postcard recipe have honey in them, well apart from one but I liked the photo so I wanted to include it.

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A few years back I remember a phase where practically every client had me out looking for mānuka honey, produced by bees in New Zealand and said to have particularly good medicinal properties. A friend of mine bought some, handing over £30 for the jar with high expectations of it containing the elixir of life. A few spoonfuls and days in to the jar they decided that although delicious, they would have been just as happy in life and wellbeing with a jar produced by local bees and at least £20 better off.

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Depending on what the bees forage on the honey produced will vary greatly. For instance heather honey in comparison to chestnut honey couldn’t be more different. This week as I was cooking lots of game I decided to use mostly Scottish heather honey, which naturally pairs well with that “of the hill” herby flavour of the wild meat. I noted that as we kept the jar by the salt, pepper and olive oil, ingredients that are constantly used, the honey became almost a 4th staple seasoning. As it is thought that over heating honey destroys some of its benefits I generally try and add it at the end of cooking or raw on top. Though this view does make me wonder why honey, lemon and a wee dram of hot whisky makes such a good medicinal drink…

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When buying honey it is really worth checking out the label and answering these questions. Is it from the UK? Is it a blend? Has it been pasteurised or is it raw? All of these factors will not only affect taste but also the benefits it can give you. There is this great company ‘Hive & Keeper’ (hiveandkeeper.com) which I just love the concept of. It is set up to sell unique jars of honey from different beekeepers dotted around the UK (sadly the majority of honey currently sold here is a blend and a lot of it imported). So you have the choice and can buy jars of honey made in Clapham Common in London or maybe a jar produced in North Lincolnshire (a perfect idea for Christmas prezzies). With bees foraging within a 3 mile radius of their hive every batch will be unique.

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The garden at home has 3 hives and earlier in the spring I thought it would be a wonderful idea to plant a wild flower meadow around the apiary along with rows of lavender. Secretly thinking I was the next Gertrude Jekyll I ignored the sceptics and enthusiastically scattered seeds into the rocks and stones around the hives convinced that when I returned in a few months there would be a flourish of life and colour. The below…
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Is not what I returned to and instead there was an impressive jungle of weeds.

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Apparently in a good year bees can produce 2 – 3 times more honey than needed to keep them going through the winter.  Even though many gardens may have looked a perfect bees playground many bee keepers have found the 2015 harvest has been very poor with a wet, windy and cool summer to blame.

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Despite the rest of the garden putting on a magnificent display our little darlings did not make enough honey for us to take any, I’m not really cross but if they don’t buck up there ideas for next year I am considering swapping them all for a llama.

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For more information on bees and what you can do to support them visit the British Bee Keepers Association ( bbka.org.uk )

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For this weeks postcard I want to share with you my Honey, lime and yogurt sorbet recipe. I served it with a tart lemon tart with orange and vanilla pastry but it would be perfectly happy starring on its own.
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This week:

Bad week: for those with melissophobia
Good week: for apiarists
Dishes made incorporating honey: 23
Honey coated spoons licked once finished with : 100%
Lb’s of honey used: 3 ½
I’m loving: the project Hive & Keeper, unique jars of honey from pockets of the UK.

Honey and lime yogurt sorbet

Makes 1 ½ litre (approx 16 scoops)
3 tbs honey (preferably local to you)
3 limes – zest and juice
900ml yogurt
2 egg whites
1 tsp cater sugar

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Mix the honey, lime zest and juice together (if the honey is hard gently heat it until runny enough to mix).
Stir the honey mix into the yogurt.
Churn in an ice cream maker till almost frozen then spoon into a large bowl.
Whisk the egg whites and sugar until soft peak stage then fold through the frozen yogurt.
Freeze completely (this will take at least 3 hours).
To get good balls of the frozen yogurt dip your ice cream scoop into hot water between every serving.
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Next postcard…from the Big Smoke..

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