Based on Nigella’s recipe for snow-flecked brownies. Half the recipe quantity was perfect for the square tin.
melt 190g chocolate + 190g butter over bain marie, cool
whisk 160g sugar and 2 large eggs until pale and thick
combine chocolate and egg mixtures
add 50g mixed nuts
fold in 115g plain flour
bake at 180°C for 30mins until top is dry
The recipe uses 100g white chocolate buttons, when I first made it I used dark chocolate but this time I just used nuts, and a smaller quantity because I didn’t want the brownie to be overwhelmed by nuts. We had peanuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews in a snack jar so that was what I used. Although I cut it into 3x3 squares for presentation, 4x4 squares is probably a more reasonable serving size.
There is a debate about whether brownies should be cakey, gooey or fudgy. These were somewhere in between gooey and fudgy. The tops were crispy and the inside quite dense without being too sticky. The rich chocolate taste came through, which is always important.
The kitchn described panna cotta as the perfect dessert because it’s easy to make, using standard ingredients. It is also incredibly versatile: substituting ingredients or reducing the sugar level doesn’t seem to bother the recipe at all. Last time I made it, it was a little too firm. Tasted good, but it was like cream flavoured jelly.
This is a slightly healthier version of the traditional panna cotta, with less sugar and uses yogurt instead of a lot of the cream. Recipe from smitten kitchen and all credit goes to Deb Perelman for converting her American measurements to metric.
- 475ml mixture of milk and cream — use as much or as little of each, even 100% milk or 100% cream, using just a little cream will make it so much richer; I used 200ml whipping cream and the rest was reduced fat milk
- 450g yogurt — most recipes use greek yogurt, it just happened that mum made natural yogurt which worked equally well
- 75g sugar — recipe says between 50-100g
- 4 tbsp water
- 2.5 tsp gelatin powder
- 2 tbsp lime juice — recipe says lemon juice but we ran out of lemons so I substituted lime
Dissolve the gelatin in water, set aside
Combine the yogurt with half the milk+cream
Slowly heat sugar and the remaining milk+cream to a gentle simmer, then pour onto the dissolved gelatin
Add the milk+cream mixture to the yogurt mixture, whisk until smooth
Add lime juice
Pour into oiled containers and set in fridge
There was richness from the cream, tartness from the yogurt and the texture was suitably wobbly and creamy. Strawberries and other berries are expensive recently so mum suggesting using nutella. I tried to do a little fancy decoration with the thick spread and some museli crumbs. The chocolate and crumbs actually went well with the panna cotta.
Another request from mum. Recipe from bbc goodfood.
200g SR flour
pinch of salt
knob of butter, melted
Sift flour, bp and salt into a large bowl. Lightly whisk egg and add to milk. Create a hole in the dry ingredients and slowly add the wet ingredients, mixing to get a thick smooth batter. Add melted butter and 100g blueberries.
Drop a large tablespoonful of the batter into a hot pan and cook until bubbles form on top, then flip and continue cooking till browned. Serve with remaining blueberries and maple syrup.
We didn’t have syrup (golden or maple) so we substituted honey and the lemon curd I made earlier. Recipe says it makes 10, I got 12 out of it.
Based on a bbc recipe. Lemon and blueberries go so well together.
200g SR flour
100g greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon curd
zest & juice of 1 lemon
punnet of blueberries (around 100g)
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs. Add yogurt, lemon curd, lemon zest & juice. Fold in flour.
Spoon half the mixture into tin, sprinkle half the blueberries. Add the other half of the mixture, and the rest of the blueberries.
Bake at 180°C for about 45mins. Serve with more lemon curd and blueberries.
Mise en place to me isn’t just weighing out and prepping the ingredients, it’s the process and equipment too. To prepare homemade preserves like jams and marmalade, the first thing to do is to sterilise the containers. I washed them very thoroughly in soapy water, then placed the jars in an oven at 150°C. The lids I put in a pot of boiling water.
The lemon curd recipe itself is from bbc and very straightforward:
- zest and juice 5 medium lemons (recipe was for 4 large lemons) — I measured the juice, I had 175ml
- mix the zest, juice with 100g butter and 180-200g sugar in a bowl over a bain marie — the jar lids were still boiling away in the main pot
- lightly whisk 4 eggs and add slowly to the lemon butter mixture
- cook for 15-20mins over the bain marie, stirring constantly, until thick and coated the back of a spoon
I’d used slightly less sugar than the recipe, measured out 180g and added about an extra tablespoon when I was tasting at the end. The resultant lemon curd was really wonderful — lovely and smooth and glossy, still a little tangy because of the reduced sugar, it will become a favourite I hope.
First attempt at chocolate fondant, recipe from the guardian.
60g dark chocolate
30g sugar — recipe says 60g, I didn’t think we need so much
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp plain flour
Melt chocolate and butter over bain marie and set aside to cool. Whisk egg, egg yolk and sugar until pale and thick, around 5-10mins or the time it takes for the chocolate to melt. Combine chocolate and egg mixtures. Fold in flour, pour into greased tins. Bake at 200°C for 10mins, until the top is just set.
Leave in tin for 30-60 seconds then turn out.
Probably a little tiny bit overdone. The recipe says 12mins, I took them out at 10mins, may be that was even a minute too late.
The recipe for regular chocolate mousse is very rich, almost 500ml of cream total. So we wanted to find a less fattening alternative, and Mum found a chocolate yogurt mousse recipe that uses greek yogurt. I bought her a yogurt maker a long long time ago, and she’s been making her own yogurt occasionally.
We didn’t exactly follow the recipe, skipped the coffee and there was a step with boiling water that didn’t work. Skipped the sugar too.
85g chocolate — we used 100g, a whole dark toblerone
1tbsp cocoa — not even sure it’s necessary, will skip next time
2 egg whites, whisked to soft peaks stage
50g greek yogurt — that’s not a lot, we added an extra tablespoon
Melt the chocolate over a bain marie, add cocoa powder. At this point the recipe said add a couple of tablespoons of boiling water to soften the chocolate. Argh! Adding water to melted chocolate makes it lumpy and solid. I had to rescue it using vegetable oil and a bit of egg yolk.
Add yogurt to chocolate mixture. Fold in egg whites. We tasted at this point and decided no sugar was needed. Leave in fridge to set.
The end result is definitely light, although still very chocolate-y. Can taste the slight sourness of the yogurt, in a pleasant but not overpowering way. Quite soft and doesn’t hold its shape that well — it’s fine in a glass but spooning it out on a plate for presentation will end up being chocolate milkshake. To make it more solid, may be add the egg yolks or whisk the egg whites to stiffer peaks? I want to add more yogurt but it’ll make it too sour. Hmm, more research needed.
In an early Naked Chef program, Jamie Oliver made semifreddo with maltesers, berries and some other stuff that he just threw into the mixture. That was the first time I came across semifreddo, which is Italian for “half cold.” Somewhere in between a frozen mousse and an ice cream is the best description.
This chocolate semifreddo recipe is itself adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe. I didn’t want to make a big batch, so this is half the recipe.
125g dark chocolate (I used toblerone)
2 medium eggs + 1 egg yolk
75g sugar — this was too much, next time I’ll use 50g or less
225ml whipping cream
1tbsp good quality cocoa
Melt chocolate over a bain marie and set aside to cool. Once melted it won’t set again. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk and sugar over a very slow bain marie until pale and thick — by hand it took 10mins and the mixture had more than doubled its volume. I periodically took the bowl off the heat so the eggs don’t cook. Take the bowl off the heat completely and continue whisking as it cools, another 5-10mins. The mixture by now was glossy and had the consistency of soft meringue. Fold in the melted chocolate.
In another bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks stage and add the cocoa. Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture.
Line a rectangular tin with clingfilm. I actually used one of those takeaway plastic boxes, it was the right size and had a lid. Pour the mixture into the tin/box and leave to freeze overnight.
It was absolutely like mousse and ice cream. Very rich, smooth and chocolate-y. Quite dense, a small slice was enough. Because it was made from eggs and cream it had very little water content so didn’t need to be constantly stirred like ice cream. Could have actually scooped it out like ice cream too. Next time I won’t waste the remaining egg white, I’ll whisk it up and add it with the cream. May be serve it with strawberries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
We saw someone make braised beef cheeks on an Australian cookery show recently, and wanted to try. It’s a cheaper cut but because there’s only 2 cheeks per animal, not as easy to get as we thought, Mum had to ask the butcher at the market to reserve them for her. They are HUGE when they came out of the packet, I didn’t weigh them but each felt at least 500g, more because there were lots of trimmings. Took me a good half an hour to trim the 2 cheeks, the trimmings were tough and the meat itself also quite tough. I cut them into large chunks.
Usual braising method. Browned the meat, remove from pan. Added mirepoix, tomato paste and returned the meat to the pan. Added 1/3rd bottle of red wine (picked a strong Melbec this time, it was on sale 2-for-1) and because we didn’t have stock, just water. Seasoned, brought back to the boil and braised in oven at 160°C for 3hrs.
By the end of the cooking, even the tough tendon and fat from the trimmings were soft and edible. I originally kept them in the pan for flavour, so it was a bonus to have more to serve. Two cheeks could easily serve 6-8 people. We had them with roast potatoes and salad. In terms of taste, the cheeks had a nice beefy flavour. In terms of texture, a bit like brisket.
Mum came back from the market with bananas asking if I could make banana bread. Of course! We have sugar, flour, bp, eggs but not enough butter so I needed to be creative.
I don’t like walnuts so I never make the traditional banana walnut bread. I needed 4oz butter for the recipe: I ended up using 2oz butter, 1oz margarine (from a tub we found in one of the fridges) and the rest was made up using olive oil. Creamed with 4oz sugar, added 3 eggs (these were small eggs, normally it’s 2 large eggs), 3 bananas, 8oz plain flour and 1tsp bp. A splash of milk to loosen the dough. Baked at 180°C for 1hr.
Didn’t matter that it was the round tin again, it was another good bake. Light, fluffy and not too sweet with a crunchy crust. The butter-margarine-olive oil combination didn’t hurt the recipe at all. In fact, it was easier to cream, important because I was doing it by hand. Everyone’s pleased with the result.
Going to mm’s place tomorrow. After some discussion, she requested lamb. I went to the frozen meat supplier and got a rack of lamb, 7-8 ribs. The supplier cut them in half at my request but otherwise the rack was not prepared. This is an interesting shop, they supply hotels and restaurants; the shop is lined on all sides by huge freezers with ominous looking steel doors like giant cadaver lockers. Good prices though, almost wholesale.
I wanted to french trim them, like I see on tv. Not 100% clean off the bone at the ends, but not too bad for a first effort. They will marinade in olive oil, garlic, rosemary, pepper and a bit of worcester sauce overnight before roasting in the oven. I generally don’t add salt in marinades but I do add a few drops of worcester sauce especially to meat.
The lamb racks turned out pretty well. I had two batches. The first batch roasted in mm’s oven at 200°C, but hers is a small countertop oven and I didn’t notice that we had it on grill only. Once we turned both top and bottom elements on, it only took 10mins more to get to rare, by that time they’ve been cooking for about 30mins. The second batch I seared first then put in my oven at 180°C for 20mins. I can control it better with my own equipment. Then again, I also burned my palm on the handle of the pan.
At parents’ and trying a new recipe for fake cheesecake made from yogurt and tofu. Supposed to be a quick recipe. The problem is, mum doesn’t have a cake tin. So I made the digestive crumb in dessert glasses. Combined 250g firm packaged tofu with 300g mango yogurt. The mixture was pretty lumpy, the recipe said to mix in a food processer which obviously we don’t have, so I sieved it. Added some diced mango and a little gelatin to set.
The mixture was still pretty lumpy, and there was probably too many mango pieces. When set, it looked like rather unsuccessful rice pudding. Tasted nice though, especially topped with even more delicious fresh mango pieces and a small drizzle of honey. It’s like sweet tofu, but with a little creaminess from the yogurt. I can see how the fake cheesecake version may be good. Only for people who like tofu though, and the idea of sweet tofu isn’t to everybody’s taste. Nice low calorie dessert. Will try with mixed berries yogurt and strawberry topping next time.
I really have to work on following recipe portions and presentation.
Okra seems to be an acquired taste. I’ve always been suspicious of it because it’s slimy and I never know how to prepare it. Then we had it at a Japanese buffet, where they served them grilled on skewers, and they were really nice. There are methods to lower the slime quotient which basically minimises how long the okra is in contact with water.
Bought a couple of bags from the market, not expensive at all. Typical southern cooking method is to deep fry it, or use it in gumbo. What I did, I just heated the grill pan to smoking hot and grilled them quickly for 10mins. Didn’t cut off the tops until just before throwing into the pan. Seasoned with s&p. Simple, crunchy, not slimy at all and very nice.
I have very little comprehension of American southern food. It seems that everything is fried and there’s a lot of carbs, although I understand how frying makes everything taste good. To be honest and like many non-Americans, I’m horrified by Paula Deen but on the other hand I secretly want to try her restaurant just once. Preferably during the latter stages of marathon training when my metabolism is turbo-charged and I can eat whatever I like.
So, I have a couple of catfish filets in my freezer. Normally I’d just grill them or lightly pan-fry but I was surfing around and it turns out that fried catfish is a typical southern dish. It’s coated with cornmeal and fried. May be worth trying.
I have no cornmeal, it’s an ingredient I’m unfamiliar with. I doubt I can find it — or it’d be extremely expensive. I do have polenta except the box isn’t opened and I don’t want to use it yet. So I breaded the fish with a packet of instant grits. It’s either that or normal flour, or oatmeal. Grits is basically a coarser version of cornmeal, right?
Standard breading procedure — flour, eggwash, grits. The grits were flavoured with s&p, a little paprika and some oregano. (I felt like oregano, it’s not obviously a southern herb.) Then fried. I was using the grill pan for courgettes so I just used the same pan for the fish, ideally I should have used a normal frying pan.
Tasted great, even though it didn’t look that good. Fish was succulent and the breading was crispy. I know, I need to work on my presentation.
The apple tart recipe is from Michel Roux Jr, I saw him make it on Food & Drink and it looked straightforward.
Roll out 180g puff pastry into a 25cm round, chill in fridge. Spread over apple compote (an apple stewed with a bit of water and sugar) and lay over sliced apples. Eggwash the pastry edges, sprinkle 2tbsp sugar and dots of butter, glaze. Bake at 200°C for 30mins until golden brown.
Except it wasn’t straightforward. The pastry didn’t rise properly and the tart ended up with what Paul Hollywood would call soggy bottom. I have no idea why. May be the pastry wasn’t cold enough, may be the compote and apple slices weren’t cold enough, may be the compote was too wet, may be the oven wasn’t hot enough. I can bake fairly competently and have no problems with crumbles and choux pastry. I’m just not very good at regular pastry.
I pan-fried a slice in a regular frying pan and the bottom was crispy. Overall, the flavours were fine so it’s a matter of mastering the puff pastry.
1.7l (3pt) milk
1 vanilla pod
300g arborio rice
5 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
I saw this recipe for orange rice cake on Two Greedy Italians and it looked so fabulous that I couldn’t wait to try it. So I made it for my parents.
Bring the milk to a boil together with the sugar, vanilla pod and large pieces of lemon zest. Add the rice all at once, stir at low to medium heat until the rice has absorbed the mlik, around 25-30mins. The mixture should be creamy and slightly thick. Remove from heat and cool, discarding the vanilla and lemon zest.
Separate the eggs. Mix the yolks with cointreau. Whisk the whites until firm. Once the rice mixture has cooled, add the egg yolks, raisin, orange zest then fold in the egg whites. Bake at 180°C for about 1 hr. Can be served hot or cold.
A long time ago, I had a moist, custardy, slightly heavy cake from France. It’s a bit like canalé but with dried fruit. This tasted a bit like that. There’s a lot of custard flavour, the rice gives a different texture and the citrus is a good contrast. Flourless, butterless but still very rich and yummy.
What I ate today. Veal rib roast with cabbage, tomato and rocket salad for lunch. Roasted from frozen, 770g took about 1.5hrs for rare. No, I didn’t eat the whole joint, just one chop. It was nicely pink and very juicy.
For dinner I had roasted butternut squash and carrot soup, totally homemade, even the stock which was from the bones I had in the freezer. Not sure what exactly they were, hehe, my freezer bones are normally a mixture of chicken, duck and it may have even included guinea fowl and squab. The butternut squash made the soup so, so sweet. Crumbled a bit of stilton when serving, to give a bit of creaminess.
Over at the kitchn they were asking for ideas for a british foods for an olympics dinner party. Surprisingly, there were some authentic and good ideas. One of the better ones is for Eton Mess.
There’s been a resurgence and attention for this very English dessert. Takes no time to make too. I used mascarpone (broken up with a little milk and sweetened with a tbsp of sugar) instead of cream. Spoon over meringue nests, add some strawberries and blackberries. I did one pretty-ish presentation, but as befits the name, it needs to be messy.
I’m at home most of this week, no need to go out or eat out till Friday, so plenty of opportunities to eat simply. Weeks like this, I want to try to have at least one vegetarian day. Made yellow and red pepper stuffed with mushroom, halloumi and Israeli couscous. This is my favourite stuffing, I can just eat it by the spoonful. The Israeli (aka giant aka pearl) couscous adds taste and chewiness that regular couscous, being too small, doesn’t have.
Cooked the white and green asparagus we bought yesterday in Stockholm. There are recipes that say serve white asparagus with hollandaise, viniagrette or other sauces. Since we eat plainly at home, I just steamed them. Steamed the green asparagus and broccolini first, then kept warm before steaming the white asparagus by themselves for about 15mins. Mum bought beef kebab skewers and pork sausages so we had those with the vegetables. Last time I had white asparagus I found them a bit tasteless, this time was such a huge difference — they are sweeter and have a more delicate flavour. Yes they are expensive (8 spears each cost almost £20) and the season is short, all the more reason to savour them and treat them right.
I like shopping at Waitrose because they have more unusual stuff. Yesterday I saw prepared guinea fowl and quail. I haven’t had small game birds for a while so I bought the quail to try. They are already trussed up ready for the oven. Season and roast for 25mins at 190°C, basting a couple of times, and they are ready. They are quite small, so 2 of them, especially on a running day. Great to eat with fingers. Very tasty, succulent and not dry at all.
It’s been a while since I did wholesale home cooking. Dinner today was something I’ve had before — roast gressingham duck, carrots & parsnips and cabbage. Didn’t need sauce, the duck was very tender. I also stuck a few slices of orange into the cavity as it was roasting to give it a slight tangy flavour. I also made roast chicken thighs for lunch, sautéed savoy cabbage, baby corn and the said carrots & parsnips.
This is from thekitchn. What caught my eye was that they could be made in advance, although I don’t see why they can’t be made on the day. I managed to get 3 large beets which cut up into nice rounds. I used the larger ends of the sweet potatoes and the rest went with the roast.
To assemble, start with a slice of beet, then goat’s cheese, sweet potato and top with beet greens. Repeat to make a stack. Reheat in the oven for about 15mins. I made a vinaigrette from orange juice, mustard, balsamic and EVOO to go with it. Very simple, and tasted great. The sweetness of the potato and the vinaigrette plus the beets and everything held together by the goat’s cheese. It was difficult to eat the stack, I ended up breaking them into 4 smaller half-stacks.
Visually, it’s pretty stunning. If only I were able to get better produce. The beets were okay, but i ended up with white sweet potatoes which, while tasting sweet and wonderful, have a tendency to go grey and woody. I probably should have soaked them in water when I was prepping them. Sigh. Imagine if I was able to make this dish with yellow beets and purple sweet potato, what a switch up, wow. And then serve with something a little crunchy: the recipe had toasted walnuts and fried onions, so obviously I omitted them. Could probably have done with a sprinkling of panko, or to be real fancy, some sort of tuile on top. You know, just to be chef-y.
Some recipes, you see it for the first time and you know you have to try it out. This was the case with this 101 cookbooks recipe for sparkling cranberries.
Time consuming, but extremely simple. Macerate fresh cranberries in simple syrup (same volume sugar and water as the cranberries) overnight, which for me turned into a few days in the fridge cos I didn’t have time. Drain the cranberries and toss in caster sugar, let dry on a baking sheet overnight, toss again in granulated sugar. Mine didn’t turn out as picture perfect as Heidi’s, but I’m happy. They are delicious, with the sharpness of the berries contrasting with the sweetness of the sugar. And very, very Christmasy.
Oxtail soup to chase away the blahs, it being so cold and gets dark so early. Been on a soup kick lately, but there is something about homemade soup. The oxtails were very lean, from the market only £5 for the whole tail. Browned it with garlic and red onion, added carrot, potato, celery, tomato, tomato paste and fresh thyme. Just water, no need even for stock. 3 hrs at a gentle simmer, then stand overnight to skim off the fat. It’s thick, it’s warm and it’s filling. Perfect.
I bought a couple of fresh seabass when I was at Brixton market yesterday. The fishmonger cleaned them, but left them whole. I debated whether to cook them whole or to filet them and decided that I really don’t like eating any fish that still has bones. I have a fish knife, and I know how to take the skin off, but I’d never really tried fileting before. It wasn’t too difficult, although there was more wastage than I would have liked. I even managed to get rid of the pin bones, luckily it’s a fish that doesn’t have bones that are too small or fiddly.
Pan frying took about 1 minute each side. I served it with the vegetarian caviar I got a while ago, sauteéd prawns, scampi, roasted baby potatoes and asparagus. It was a running day, so I had a cider with it too.
I’ve been wanting to try this kale with tahini recipe for ages. I’m not familiar with kale, but I have a good idea of how it could taste like. It’s very easy, just sautée garlic and kale until soft, then toss in a mixture of tahini, water, lemon juice (I used lime), sesame oil and salt. It’s really good. The kale never lost its vibrant green colour, and was cooked until just soft. I went running today, so I’m allowed lamb. Had a couple of chops with the kale and some grilled asparagus.
I wanted to try to make pea and broad bean bruschetta that I tried at Jamie’s Italian last week. Don’t really need a recipe, but this is one from bbc good food is a good reference.
Cooked the shelled fresh peas and double-podded broad beans in water until just done. Roughly crushed with a fork with freshly chopped mint (I bought a mint plant especially for this), s&p, a little olive oil and a tiny bit of parmesan. Toasted a whole mini-baguette and spread a generous portion of the pea mixture on top. Heh, this is one of those dishes that I can only eat on a running day without guilt. And yes, I did 20k before lunch.