Sunday, 16 July 2017

FAY'S LEMON & RASPBERRY TART

I love a pudding, in fact nowadays it is my favourite part of a meal and at a restaurant, I have been known to choose my pudding before my starter and main. When we had our friends round for supper on Friday I was tempted to go to Cook and buy the Chocolate Salted Caramel Vacherin but it was a bit extravagant as it served 10-12 and there was only 4 of us.....and I didn't want to spend the rest of the week pigging the leftovers myself as I have to get in a bikini in a week!

Instead I decided to cook Fay Ripley's lemon and raspberry tart as I also adore a lemony pudding. This feeds 6-8 people and it took just over an hour to cook and prepare.

Ingredients for 6-8 people:

1 x 375g pack of sweet pastry (this needs to be taken out the fridge about 45 minutes before using)
3 medium free-range eggs
75g caster sugar
220ml double cream
Juice and zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
200g fresh raspberries
Icing sugar, for dusting (I forgot this part)!

Equipment:
24cm loose bottomed flan tin
Baking beans



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

If your flan tin isn't loose bottomed (sounds quite rude!), I would recommend that you line it with baking paper - I didn't which meant the tart was tricky to cut at the end. My tin was also 28cm and so a little big for the pastry.

Roll out the pastry into the flan tin, cover with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and then pop back in the oven for 5 minutes to dry out.







Reduce the oven temperature to 180C / 160C fan / gas mark 4.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs, sugar, cream, lemon zest and juice together.





Scatter raspberries evenly over the base. Pour the filling over the berries and bake for 30 minutes. Cool and then dust with icing sugar just before serving.







I also served the tart with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. 

I have always been a fan of Fay Ripley's cookbooks, in fact her first book inspired me to learn to cook and this recipe did not disappoint. I had made this the day before and I was a little worried as to whether it would still taste as fresh. Thankfully it did. We all loved the combination of the lemon and raspberries and it was light and delectable. A couple of days later, I am just finishing off the last slice....so much for the bikini diet!!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

BAKED FETA WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND GARLIC TOAST

We have barely done any entertaining since our baby was born almost a year ago and I have forgotten how much I enjoy it. In the past year I think I can count on one hand the nights I have stayed up post 9pm! However last night we had our friends Hard and Fran round for supper and so I decided to cook a couple of new dishes. The first one being this baked feta which I did as a starter / canapé whilst we had some drinks. The recipe is from Olive magazine and it was very easy and it took about 25 minutes.

Ingredients for 4 people as a canapé or 2 people as a starter:

Olive oil
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
200g feta
4 slices of sourdough
1 clove of garlic, halved
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
A few leaves of oregano, chopped (I didn't have some so just used dried leaves)



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

Drizzle a little oil in the bottom of a oven proof dish and then add the tomatoes, the feta and season. Add a dash more olive oil and then cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.



Just before it is ready, toast the sourdough, rub with the cut side of the garlic (you don't need to rub too hard - a little goes a long way), and then drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Remove the feta from the oven, drizzle with some balsamic vinegar (I was a little heavy handed here) and sprinkle with some oregano.




If you are into presentation, I would definitely recommend fresh oregano leaves as it will make the dish look so much better. Even though I had used dry herbs, this was still mouthwateringly tasty and I am very pleased to say everyone enjoyed it. It was a little messy to eat - my husband Pascal suggested next time I use bigger slices of toast - but I don't think it mattered. According to my daughter, making a mess is a sign of food appreciation!

This would also make a great lunch and you could serve it with a green salad.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

CUSTARD CREAM BLONDIES

I cannot eat a custard cream without being flooded with memories of my silver Duke of Edinburgh walk in Wales about 20 years ago. Even though I was not a keen camper (I still am not), I did have fun and I think I consumed my body weight in custard creams and Bourbon biscuits. I found this recipe in Olive magazine and decided to cook it for when my ex mother-in-law came for tea - it took under an hour and was very easy.

Ingredients for 12-18 bars (depending on the size):

175g butter, plus extra for greasing
200g light muscovado sugar
125g golden caster sugar
4 tbsp custard powder
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g self-raising flour
Salt
15 custard creams, roughly crumbled
150g vanilla white chocolate, chopped into small chunks



Preheat the oven to 180 C / fan 160 C / gas mark 4. Butter and line a baking tin / dish with baking paper (around 20 x 30 cm).

Melt the butter, both sugars and custard powder gently in a large saucepan. When the mixture is smooth and you can't feel any grains of sugar left, take off the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes. This didn't take long. I used this "cooling" time to cut up the biscuits and chocolate. I was on a diet day so couldn't even nibble the milky bar - it was torture!!




Stir in the eggs, one by one, until smooth. Then follow with the vanilla extract, flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Quickly stir in two thirds of the custard creams and the chocolate chunks and pour into your baking dish / tin. 








Scatter over the remaining biscuit bits and bake for 30 minutes until golden and set on top. Cool the blondies in the tin before cutting into bars.




I found 30 minutes wasn't enough for me - it was still too gooey inside. My daughter loved it but I preferred it a bit more cooked so I did a further 20 minutes, keeping a constant eye on it so it didn't burn on top.

I loved the combination of the custard creams and white chocolate and it made a great lighter alternative to a brownie. It wasn't my favourite though. My daughter on the other hand thought it was incredible and was begging to have some at breakfast as she couldn't wait for tea. Plus luckily my ex mother-in-law enjoyed it too. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

SMASHED CHICKPEA & FETA SALAD

It was so good to see the sun today; like true Brits we were immediately in our flip-flops, the paddling pool was out and a barbecue planned. 

In my family, there is always a disagreement over what side to serve with the meat - I like a vegetable kebab of mushrooms, courgettes, onions and peppers. However that is my daughter Arabella's idea of hell. She would normally opt for something simple such as chopped cucumber but that is far too boring for me. Pascal's ideal would be a pasta or potato salad but I try and push him to something a bit lighter as neither of us are "summer body ready"!! So instead today we compromised on this salad which I found in Olive magazine. It took about 15 minutes in total to prepare.

Ingredients for 4 people:

Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 small red chilli, seeded and diced (optional - we left this out)
2 x 400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 a cucumber, diced
12 baby plus or cherry tomatoes, halved
100g feta, crumbled
A small bunch of dill, parsley or mint, chopped (I used mint as that is what we had in the garden)



In a large bowl, lightly mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or the end of a rolling pin. I didn't realise I was meant to rinse the chickpeas first and thankfully it didn't seem to make too much of a difference. Add the onions, cucumber and tomatoes.





In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon juice, 4 tbsp of olive oil, cumin seeds and chilli (if using) and season generously. Then pour into the chickpea mix and toss together.





Leave to marinate for 5 minutes and then stir through the feta and herbs to serve.




This was a super successful salad. We are all huge hummus fans (despite the effect it has on my husband's bottom) and so love chickpeas. This tasted very fresh and flavoursome and I loved the Greek salad aspect - feta is one of my favourite cheeses. I think my daughter Arabella would have preferred it with goat's cheese which would also work. This was a perfect barbecue side however it would also work on it's own as a main with or without some fresh bread depending on how good (or naughty) you are feeling!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

CREAMED SPINACH

I had been planning on cooking this recipe last Saturday night but I got carried away with the pic n mix selection in Sainsbury's and ended up just scoffing sweets for supper. I really need to give up sugar one day as my sweet tooth is out of control....but I am not ready just quite yet, especially when ice cream season is upon us.

Anyway I had to cook this tonight before the spinach went off and despite the rain, we served it with barbecued steak topped with blue cheese (my favourite). It took around 25 minutes in total.

Ingredients for 4-6 people as a side:

500g spinach, washed and chopped
25g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
200ml milk
150ml double cream
A few gratings/pinch of nutmeg 
75g Gruyere, grated
75g Parmesan, grated



Put the spinach in a colander and pour over a kettleful (or two) of boiling water, to wilt, then cool and squeeze out as much excess water as you can.



Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Keep stirring and gradually add the milk to make a white sauce. After about 5 minutes, stir in the cream and season. Add the nutmeg and Gruyere and cook until the cheese has melted. Stir in the spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes.









Tip into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle over the Parmesan and heat under a hot grill for a couple of minutes until golden and bubbling.





I think the final picture speaks for itself....this was incredible. My husband Pascal was most surprised that this is the second dish he has loved which is made with a white sauce. It went perfectly with our steaks but I would say it would go with anything or you could even serve it on its own. Amazing!