Tag Archives: cream

A Diamond Jubilee Diadem

This is my Jubilee tribute recipe which appears in the special edition of My St Margarets Magazine, out this week…

A crown of asparagus, surrounding a rich salmon mousse, topped with a 'cucumber caviar'.

My Diamond Jubilee Diadem of Salmon and Asparagus with Cucumber Caviar

Serendipitously a customer called in to ask if I could recommend a cheese for using in a salmon mousse just days after I had created this regal treat. And whilst the other principal players celebrate the best of British at this time of year – as well they ought for such a dish – the cheese which works best here is the French Delice de Bourgogne [or any of its triple cream cousins]. English asparagus is in season now so there is really no excuse for using anything else, and salmon are plentiful whether from the ocean or one’s own private loch. Though right royal purists might even opt for trout instead which was on the Queen’s coronation menu, right before the ‘Poulet Elizabeth’. Admittedly the Tonka bean is not native to the British Isles, but it does give a splendidly summery grassy note to the dish. I make no apologies for the fact that some effort is required for this recipe – it’s a celebration after all, and you’ll only have to make it once every 60 years!

This is a rich dish, again quite apt under the circumstances, so you need only small servings and very little by way of accompaniment – perhaps some melba toast points, or some Fine Cheese Co apricot and pistachio crackers. This quantity will make 6 to 8 servings depending on the size of your moulds, and any leftovers can be spread on toast as an indulgent supper, or used as a rather smart sandwich spread with some thinly sliced cucumber.

  • 240g poached salmon
  • 100g Delice de Bourgogne
  • 75g butter
  • 3 tbsps good French mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • Blade mace
  • Tonka bean
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Paprika – a pinch
  • 1 tbsp single cream
  • Dill – a tbsp chopped
  • Cucumber
  • Chinese rice vinegar
  • Asparagus spears – enough to line your  5cm ring moulds when halved.

Trim your asparagus spears to the desired height – the tips should just stand proud of your ring moulds – and steam until tender, then refresh in iced water, drain, cut in half lengthways, and pat dry.

Melt the butter and add a few blades of mace and some finely shaved Tonka bean [no more than a quarter of a bean], and leave to infuse. Pop the salmon, mayonnaise, cream, cheese, and paprika into a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. Pour in the melted butter through a strainer to remove the mace and blitz again. Turn out into a bowl and mix in the chopped dill and finely grated lemon zest by hand.

Cover a flat baking sheet with cling-film and place your rings on top. Put the salmon mousse into a piping bag and pipe a half centimetre layer into the bottom of each ring mould. Take your halved asparagus spears and carefully place them cut side outwards all around the edge of each mould, pushing the bottom of each into the layer of mousse. Finally use the piping bag to fill the centre of each ring; a smaller nozzle will help to push the mousse right up to and between the asparagus. Chill well, for a couple a hours or more.

Very finely dice [c.1mm] some cucumber and pat dry. Mix with some more chopped dill and sprinkle with a little rice vinegar. When you have carefully removed the diadems from their moulds top with a teaspoon or two of this ‘cucumber caviar’.

Easter Eggsess – Again!

Sorry, not had much time to post lately. Bloody working for a living and all that. So until normal service resumes here’s a repeat from last Easter which went down very well at the time – both online and on the plate!

A rich chocolate and bourbon tart, topped with mini Easter eggs

Apologies for the James Martin style egg puns but this is an ideal recipe if you find yourself with too much Easter chocolate on your hands, especially if that includes 350g of dark chocolate and a packet of Cadbury’s mini eggs. I can take no credit for the recipe which belongs to Dan Lepard of the Guardian – only the  decorative tweaks and techniques are my own.

Dan’s recipe produces a very easy to work crust [although I used an extra egg yolk and a splash more water] which can be rolled to less than the thickness of a £1 coin. The key thing is the freeze chilling. I also doubled the quantity of bourbon in the filling [hic!].

To make a well in the centre which can be filled with mini eggs or whatever you fancy [raspberries would be good when in season] pour half the filling into the baked pastry base and chill to set. Meanwhile keep the rest of the filling liquid over a barely simmering bain marie [see the temperature guides in the original recipe]. When the first half has set [after about 10 to 15 minutes] place a glass or jar in the middle and pour the rest of the filling around. The first time I did this I used a metal moulding ring which was a mistake – a glass or jar gives you more purchase when you come to gently twist and remove it which you should do once everything is completely set and after the tart has been out of the fridge for a few minutes.

If using fruit pile it high and allow it to spill over the edges of the centre well. This is less easy however with chocolate eggs. And if you haven’t spent enough time recently in your local cardiac unit you could serve this with cream, but it is easily rich enough without.

Christmas Pudding Ice-Cream

Serving suggestion – holly garnish optional!

Christmas Pudding Ice-Cream decorated with holly leaves and berries

It turns out, at least according the Barrister down the pub last night, that not everyone has leftover Christmas pudding to hand come February. Who knew? If you are such an unfortunate soul you can now buy them year round, or you could try this with just the soaked and spiced fruits from my pudding recipe. Or even make another pudding – why confine something so good to the depths of December after all?

With this I managed to combine Christmas pudding with Christmas present as I was lucky enough to receive, in a hamper of gourmet treats, a jar of tonka beans. Wrinkly little wonders they are too, with a perfume like vanilla and hay. Sorry US readers but apparently they’re illegal in the States, though it sounds as though the odd speakeasy-style foodie boutique will smuggle you in a few if you know where to ask! Something to do with a supposed toxicity which relies on you eating your own body weight of beans in one sitting. No such worries here in Europe, and so far no-one who’s eaten this has died.

My esteemed friend and colleague the Shropshire Statistician had also just delivered me a dozen spankingly fresh eggs straight from her own hens, which made a gloriously golden custard. If you don’t have a chicken coop handy do lay your hands on the freshest eggs you can find.

To make about a litre of ice-cream

  • 300ml double cream
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 6 medium egg yolks
  • 1 dessertspoonful vanilla paste
  • 1/3 of a tonka bean, finely grated
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • a good glug of brandy
  • 100g clotted cream [optional]
  • 150 – 200g of Christmas pudding, crumbled

Combine the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and tonka bean in a pan and heat to just below boiling. Whisk the egg yolks. Add a ladelful of the hot liquid whisking all the while, then tip this back into the pan and cook, stirring ceaselessly, over a very low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, by which time the custard should just coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the brandy.

Allow the custard to cool completely, even overnight. Or, as I did the other day, improvise your own blast chiller by taking a stainless steel bowl of custard out into the garden and packing all around with the snow from the garden table. Cover with clingfilm and a tea towel and, one bottle of wine down the pub with your mates later, it’s totally chilled – and so are you…

Whisk the clotted cream [if using] into the chilled custard and churn in an ice-cream machine for an hour, adding the crumbled pudding [or soaked, spiced fruits] for the last five minutes.  Freeze.

Juniper in January

Juniper berries in a bowl

There are many wintry casseroles which are pepped up by these piny purple pearls – I’m thinking venison braised slowly in red wine for starters – but lately I’ve gone a bit juniper mad and seem be slinging it in just about everything. If it carries on like this I might be getting an additional pepper grinder and filling it with juniper berries [hmmm, that’s actually not a bad idea…].

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s partly to blame after he devoted an entire Guardian Weekend article to it in November. I’d be quite happy with any of those dishes but getting the Shopkeeper to eat rabbit is frankly more trouble than it’s worth – he’s seen through my “it’s chicken” ruse before now and is on constant bunny alert – so I’ll save that one for another day. And whilst I was rather taken with the sound of the gratin I decided instead to use the idea of juniper infused cream in a parsnip and potato mash to go with coq au vin, and again as a topping for a red wine rich cottage pie. When I mentioned this on Twitter food writer Fiona Beckett said it sounded ‘totally delicious’ – and I don’t think she was wrong.

Then this week I decided that an onion gravy needed a juniper hit. I’d ended up buying some sausages in Fortnum and Mason’s [long story] and was in the mood for a saucy experiment worthy of my bling bangers. I always use Nigel Slater’s recipe as a base and to the caremelised onions I added crushed juniper and some slivers of sweet black garlic, and replaced the Madeira with a good glug of Hendrick’s gin. I will be doing this again.

But it’s not just a winter thing. Once the sun returns, assuming that it bothers this year, try making a simple vinaigrette and adding a few crushed juniper berries and a bruised garlic clove and allow to steep overnight. The next day make a salad of leaves and sweet little tomatoes, crumble in a mild lactic cheese like Wensleydale, or even a milder fresh goat’s cheese, anoint with the dressing and watch the juniper fall in love with the cheese.

And of course we can’t talk about juniper and not mention gin. Actually I find it difficult to have a conversation of any sort and not mention gin, especially when conversing with bar tenders. There’s more on the subject here if you’re thirsty for it.

Pina Colada Ice-Cream

Pina Colada Ice-Cream

I recently ordered a Pina Colada in a chi-chi Kensington cafe at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon – I was in the mood for one, it happens! – only to be told, a tad too frostily I thought, that cocktails weren’t served before 6:00. We were celebrating for heaven’s sake, and the waitress seemed to be implying that I was some sort of lush. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the first time that such an accusation’s been lobbed in my general direction, but normally by people with whom my acquaintance extends to more than just the passing of a menu. A menu which, I hasten to add, mentioned nothing about this cocktail curfew. 

Now it’s not every day that I crave a Pina Colada, and it happens more often round a Caribbean pool than in the grey of a London summer, but once decided the disappointment of a thwarted craving rankles. And it was rankling still when my friend Richard started pressing me for coconut recipes, which is where the plot thickens.

Richard and some other dedicated souls are embarking on The Three Peaks Challenge to raise money and awareness for the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust after his friend and colleague Francesco Anstey tragically and unexpectedly died of brain tumour earlier this year, aged just 23. Coconuts, somehow, have become an emblem for the team’s efforts – there’s even talk of having a coconut shy at the top of each mountain – and hence Richard’s request for coconut based help. Which I’m more than happy to give if pottering around in the kitchen gets me out of yomping up a mountain or three. 

So I’m having my Pina Colada, as an ice-cream, in a glass. And Francesco, I’m raising that glass to you. 

You can find out more about the challenge on facebook or by following @fa3pc on twitter. And if you enjoy this recipe please consider making a donation of whatever size through the just giving page here. 

Makes one litre – ish 

  • 120ml double cream
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 240ml milk
  • 140ml coconut flavoured rum [I used Malibu]
  • 100g caster sugar
  • The juice and zest of half a lime
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 75ml pineapple juice
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 10 maraschino cocktail cherries
  • 2 tinned pineapple rings

Whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Combine the cream, milk, coconut milk, pineapple and lime juices, sugar and vanilla paste in a pan and heat to simmering point whilst stirring. Add a ladleful of the hot liquid to the eggs, whisking all the while. Add the egg mixture back into the pan and cook on a gentle heat with constant stirring for five minutes, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, cool, and then refrigerate until completely chilled. 

Whilst the mixture chills chop the cherries into small pieces, and pineapple rings almost to a pulp. What happens next will depend on the instructions for your ice-cream maker, but you’ll need to set the mixture churning and then five minutes before the end of the churning / chilling time add the cherries, pineapple and grated lime zest. Transfer to a sealable container and freeze overnight.

Any remaining pineapple and cherries can be used to garnish the ice-cream, cocktail style. Paper parasols optional.

 Eat within one month, if you can wait that long.

#pinacoladaicecream

One Year Older – Any The Wiser…?

Well blow me down, but a whole year has gone by since my first post on Independence Day 2010 [so Happy Birthday to America too while we’re about it]. I really had no idea what to expect when I started all this, but to the thousands of visitors I’ve now welcomed along the way I’d like to say a huge thank you for your support during my first year in the blogosphere.

Looking back I find that I’m clearly more interested in purple foods than I ever realised [I’m going to have to add that as a tag now!] and a quick glance at the tag cloud over to the right tells me that garlic, cream, eggs and butter are frequently featured. A quick glance at my waistline could probably have told me the same.

Looking forward, I see also that the tag ‘recipe’ has been the most used to date and so far these have mainly been my own. In future I think I’ll also tell you more about my experiences with other people’s, and maybe even include the odd review or opinion piece. Travel, too, will hopefully also feature more.

But for now, summer fruits are everywhere – so let’s have pudding!

To fill a 1.1 litre pudding basin

  • 6 or 7 slices day old white bread
  • About 1kg mixed summer fruit [I used strawberries, raspberries, black currants and blueberries, but vary according to what you fancy or is available]
  • 3 tbsps sweet fruit liqueur* [plus more to finish]
  • 3 tsps caster sugar [or vanilla sugar]

*I had some crème de framboises lurking in the drinks cabinet but I can highly recommend one of the offerings from Bramley and Gage if you’re shopping.

Put the fruit, liqueur and sugar into a pan and cook gently for about 5 minutes so that the fruit juices start to run but the fruits still retain some body and shape. Using a sweet fruit liqueur like this significantly cuts down on the amount of sugar you’d otherwise add.

Drain the fruit in a sieve into a bowl to catch all the juices. Cut a circle from the middle of one slice of bread. Remove the crusts from the other slices and cut through the middle at an angle, thus:

Shows the angle at which to cut bread slices for summer pudding.

Dip the circle of bread into the reserved juices and place in the bottom of the bowl. Do the same with the cut pieces and arrange in overlapping layers around the sides. Fill with fruit, and top with more juice-dipped pieces of bread, tucking the ends of the side pieces over this base. Sprinkle over a little more fruit liqueur if it’s for a grown-up party! Wrap with clingfilm, set the bowl into a shallow dish to catch any drips, place a saucer or small plate on top, and top this with a heavy weight [or a couple of tins of beans].

Refrigerate for 24 hours, and when ready to serve unwrap, place a plate over the bowl and invert. A couple of sharp taps or a good shake should see the pudding break free from the bowl, usually with a satisfying ‘schlurping’ sound.

If you have juices remaining reduce them in a pan to a syrupy sauce and pour this over the pud. And if you’re in the mood add another sprinkle of the fruit liqueur too. All you need now is some clotted cream. And a spoon.

Curried Crab and Hot Smoked Salmon Spaghetti

AKA “Spaghedgeree” if you’re feeling all Spike Milligan, or are four years old.

Curried crab and hot smoked salmon spaghetti

So, there I am mooching around the farmers market in the sunshine, the asparagus and strawberries are in the bag, and I’ve already got my eye on some lovely looking crabs at the fishmongers stall, and I’m thinking that dinner’s a done deal. Spaghetti with crab and chilli (about which I’ll post another day). When all of a sudden I come across a fascinating little stall selling dishes from India to the Philippines and stopping at a few fun sounding places along the way. I’d have happily scoffed several there and then if I hadn’t already stuffed my face with a lamb bourek from the nice couple on the Algerian stall. One of their offerings was a kedgeree fish cake, and now I’m craving warm curry spices with the crab. I need to pimp my pasta, kedgeree style, and luckily there a couple of hot smoked salmon fillets in the fridge to provide the required smoky notes. Raj era bureaucrat’s breakfast it may not be, but we’re having it for tea…

For two

  • I medium brown crab [brown and white meat, and claws too if you have them]
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 150g hot smoked salmon, flaked
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • 180 ml double cream
  • 220g spaghetti
  • 20g parmesan
  • A splash of vermouth
  • Some chopped fresh coriander
  • A mild green chilli, deseeded and chopped

Cook the spaghetti as directed until al dente. Sauté the onion in the oil until softened then add the spices and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the vermouth and quickly bubble away to almost nothing. Add the cream and once bubbling toss in the crab, the salmon and the parmesan [fish and cheese? yes, but it’s really more of a seasoning here], taste and season with salt and pepper. Throw the spaghetti into the sauce with a ladle of its cooking water, strew the coriander and chopped chilli over the top, stir, and you’re done.

I had some halved boiled quails eggs with mine for the full kedgeree effect, but left them out for the Shopkeeper whose egg aversion seems to be growing ever deeper roots.