Sunday, 29 April 2007

Double Vanilla Waffles

Double Vanilla Waffles - filled with Maple Syrup

I invested in a new kitchen gadget recently. I’ve worked myself up to getting it for a good while now, but I bought a new item related cookbook which helped me think I would use said gadget, and now it has arrived! My waffle maker. So of course I had to use it right away.

I had a quick look through Waffles From Morning to Midnight by Dorie Greenspan (1995) and made the first dessert recipe that I came to that I had the ingredients for in the house. Double Vanilla waffles, so called because they have vanilla bean and vanilla bean extract added into the batter, there was also some browned butter for an extra flavour dimension. There is a vanilla pear sauce in the book suggested as a topping, which would have made a lovely combination, but with our first waffles from the waffle machine we wanted just maple syrup. Ah, like the frozen toasted waffles I remember when I was a teenager – but 100 times better! They were fresh, light, soft, and deeply flavoured with the browned butter and vanilla.

I haven’t actually managed to read the whole book yet, but I’m sure there will be more waffles here, and I’ll give a list of some more of the recipes from it then. I’ve added the recipe for the waffles here, as this book is out of print.

Double Vanilla Waffles

1 ¾ (14 fl oz) cups Milk
½ large soft vanilla bean
5 tablespoons (2 ½ oz) butter
1 ¾ cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Pour the milk into a medium sized saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the black seeds into the milk, add the pod in too. Bring the milk to the boil and leave to infuse covered for at least an hour.
2. Place the butter in a small skillet over a medium heat. Cook until the butter melts and turns golden brown. It will give off a warm, nutty aroma. Take care not to let it burn.
3. Preheat your waffle iron.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to blend. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and whisk in the browned butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and whisk until just combined.
5. Spray or butter your grids of the waffle iron and cook according to the machine’s instructions. Cook in batches until the batter is finished.

Makes about 8 waffles.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Meringue with Strawberries & Chocolate

Meringue with Strawberries & Chocolate

This cake comes from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros. I seem to go in cycles of cooking from Tessa’s books (Falling Cloudberries and Twelve a Tuscan Cookbook being her other two). When I first received AJF I cooked about 20 recipes in close succession. Since then I’ve added one here and one there. The three I have cooked over and over are her Hamburgers with the lovely pink sauce, Peppermint Crisp (which is positively addictive!) and her gorgeous Mango Sorbet.

This recipe is a pavlova meringue mixture that has toasted finely chopped nuts and finely crushed biscuits folded into the raw mix before being baked. It didn’t rise as much as I expected it to, but the picture in the book is flat-ish – well compared to the normal pavlova anyway. Melted semisweet chocolate is then poured over the top before being topped with whipped cream and strawberries. It was good. We liked it and a lot of it disappeared very quickly but I’m not sure that it is separate enough from either straight strawberry pavlova or (Nigella’s Forever Summer) chocolate pavlova, which I always make with strawberries anyway. Though perhaps the nuts in the meringue give it its own identity. It was nice though, nutty, chocolate-y, sweet, creamy a bit crunchy and the juicy strawberries on top. It could have a place in the Summer time, when it’s hot and something a little different is required. If you make this, don’t serve it from the fridge (we found this out with the left over bit), the chocolate layer is a bit hard to crack with your spoon! Keith suggested it would be good with passion fruit, and I think he is right, I’ll give that a go.

I really want to make my regular strawberry pavlova again now I have the taste for it. It isn’t quite the season, but hey, why not! I bought Spanish strawberries and there was no hint of sourness to them. I have a bit of a strawberry habit, and often buy the out of season berries, but the year is wearing on and these were good – good enough to set up a craving for more!

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Extremely Simple Beef and Ale Casserole with Dumplings & Prawn, Almond and Basmati Salad

I Haven’t Forgotten Jo Pratt! I’m managing to cook from other book as well, bit still this book has something here and there to lure you in. Many of the recipes are just so do-able for weeknight suppers. Here are two totally different dishes.

Extremely Simple Beef and Ale Casserole with Dumplings
From Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Food. Comfort chapter.

This is unlike any other beef stew that I have made before, because the beef was not sealed first. I was a little sceptical, but I am sure it made no difference. Now this is a big bonus to me because I don’t like the sealing meat smell at all!

It’s basically beef with onions, carrots, celery and seasonings of demerara sugar, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar, plus the ale. I changed the dumplings from horseradish dumplings to parsley dumplings, because I am not so keen on horseradish and I thought little one would like the dumplings best. The gravy (sauce?) had a great consistency, the beef was so tender and all the vegetables were good, but I don’t think I like ale! I gave what was left to my Mother, and warned her it was quite strong with the ale. She left it in the fridge a day or two and said it had mellowed and was great! Still, I am going to add something different in place of the ale next time, either beef stock or wine.

Prawn, Almond and Basmati Salad

This was a really unusual salad. It’s from Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Food, healthy chapter. It really does feel healthy when you are eating it, by which I mean light and fresh (as opposed to rabbit food!). It’s rice, sultanas, toasted flaked almonds, cumin, prawns, carrots, coriander and onion, with a light lemony dressing. The only thing I thought was a little odd was that the sultanas were cooked in with the rice (before everything else was added) and I thought it made them taste a bit weird. Next time I’ll just add them in with everything else. I thought it was quite pretty too.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Snickery Squares

Snickery Squares

This is another from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking form My Home to Yours. An egg enriched shortbread base, topped with caramelised whole peanuts folded into dulce de leche, and finally chocolate and a sprinkling of some more of the caramelised peanuts, but this time chopped finely (well finely-ish in my case).

They were enjoyable to make, and if you’ve made caramel before it should be easy enough. Actually, although I’ve caramelised nuts before these are definitely my best effort to date. I even managed to break them apart easily. The caramel to nut ratio in the recipe was perfect. My bought dulce de leche was a little more liquid than Dorie’s one, but they tasted lovely. If you like the bar that they are named after you are bound to like these upmarket biscuit versions. The same play between nuts, caramel and chocolate is there, and the shortbread base is a bonus! I think I might take the shortbread base and use it for my millionaires shortbread recipe, because it is really good.

What sets these bars apart for me is the caramelising of the peanuts, it makes something that you know will taste good into a real explosion of flavours. Even better the next day, when they’ve all settled together.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Taiwanese Style Neuromein

Taiwanese Style Neuromein

Another winner from this book that I like a lot - China Modern by Ching-He Haung. This recipe comes from the Traditional Home Cooking chapter. Noodles, beef a few seasonings, a bit of thickening before serving and hey-presto a fabulous dinner for a weeknight. It is actually so easy I can hardly believe how much flavour there is for so little work. Apparently I'm not too embarrased to pass it on though! We all need quick healthy - style meals for some nights.

The beef, chilli and noodles went together so well, I have long been a fan of the chilli beef in Chinese restaurants (beef deep fried until really crispy and doused with a sweet and sharp chilli sauce), but it’s not something that I’d do at home. I couldn’t find the two types of chilli sauce, so used a lemongrass-chilli one that I could lay hands on. For the beef you simmer together stock and seasonings with a few vegetables, and I did this bit a couple of days before we needed it for supper, and the beef was more tender because of this sitting period in the fridge. Just before serving you cook noodles, reheat the beef and liquid, thicken with a bit of cornflour then toss with the noodles and scatter with slices spring onions and coriander. Delicious.

Taiwanese Style Neuromein

1 tablespoon groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
200g stewing beef
400ml vegetable or beef stock
1 tablespoon chilli bean sauce
1 teaspoon chilli sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornflour blended with 2 tablespoons water.
180g dried noodles
I spring onion sliced
Coriander leaves, chopped

Place everything down to (and including) the sugar in a pot, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes.
Cook noodles and add the cornflour blend to the beef, to thicken. Add noodles, sprinkle with spring onion and coriander and serve.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Chicken and Leek Pie

Chicken and Leek Pie

When I received Sophie Conran’s Pies last year this was the first pie I cooked. It has appeared at our table at least once a month since! It is definitely one of our favourite pies. I don’t know if it’s the chicken in its creamy wine sauce, the leeks or the subtle blend of rosemary and tarragon. Maybe it’s just the whole lot with the puff pastry. Whatever it is, it’s a lovely pie.

One of the reasons I was drawn to this book was its pink colour! But it has proved itself as a worthy member of my cookbook collection. I’ve only cooked four pies from this book so far, and that is probably because I keep coming back to this one. The other three are Spanish Chicken Pie, Creamy Chicken with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Classic Fish Pie. They have all been fabulous. I’m hoping soon to try a beef one – Beef with Button Mushrooms & Red Wine and another fish one too – Salmon and Fennel and (you guessed it) another chicken one – Devilled Chicken Pie. The pies aren’t all classic either, there are modern twists too like Pork and Stilton with Polenta Pastry or Chicken with Asparagus and Coconut Milk. A bargain at £12.99, although you can pick it up mostly for under ten pounds, I would certainly have paid more.

As an aside, Sophie also has a range of serving pieces (made by Portmerion), I only have three pieces, but I think they are beautiful. One of them is the round casserole on the front of the Pie book, which I am very attached to. My only disappointment is that there doesn’t seem to be a pie dish for 4 - 6, only individual pie dishes, and although they are cute, I would like a bigger one. Here is the recipe for the pie.

Chicken and Leek Pie

8 chicken thighs (I use 4 chicken breasts and roast for less time)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
salt and pepper
a knob of butter
3 leeks, chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
150ml (5fl oz) whiite wine
150ml (5fl oz) chicken stock
150ml (5fl oz) double cream
1 large handful of tarragon leaves, chopped (I used a small one)
375g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 220oC (425oF/ Gas 7). Put the chicken in a roasting dish drizzel over the olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a large pot , add the leeks and fry gently for a few minutes. Sprinkle oven the flour and stir for a minute, Add in the wine and stock, simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer another 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces, discard all skin and bones. Stir chicken into sauce along with the tarragon. Place in a pie dish. Cover with the rolled out puff pastry and brush with beaten eggs. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

This is another recipe from The People’s Cookbook TV programme. The lady who submitted this recipe honed it to perfection for her wedding day, where she made many cheesecakes for her guests desserts. When we saw the finished cheesecake on TV we just knew we had to give it a go. It didn’t win, but I really wanted it to!

One of our favourite cheesecakes is white chocolate and Baileys (my take on a John Tovey recipe), but it has a fair bit of Baileys and whisky in it, so I wouldn’t dream of giving it to little people! This raspberry one is very user friendly – uncooked and no raw eggs. Not that I have any issues with raw eggs, but I don’t have the courage of my convictions to the extent that I’m willing to serve them to any friends and family in the vulnerable groups. I’m drifting off though, this is a rich and delicious cheesecake, the raspberries seem to really pop with flavour against the creamy cheesecake, it reminded me taste wise of home made raspberry ripple ice cream. The colour of the raspberries suspended in the cheesecake mixture is so pretty too. The white chocolate is there and can be tasted - it was sweet but not too sweet. I think this would be a good BBQ pudding, and that's where I'll serve it next.

The recipe is a little vague, but I’ll tell you that I used 450g chocolate and a 250g box of raspberries. I did buy more to decorate or make a little sauce to go with the cheesecake, but unfortunately we demolished them earlier! The only place where I disagree with the recipe is that it says it would serve 6, I would have said 8, or even 10 if you have something substantial before hand - and I say this as someone who loves rich pudings! Here is the recipe:

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Indonesian Ginger Chicken & Herbed Basmati Rice

I am a big fan of Ina Garten, have all her books and have cooked a good number of her recipes. UKTV Food has started to show some of the TV programmes too, and she’s great to watch. I eagerly awaited her new book last year - Barefoot Contessa at Home. When it came I thought it was good but not fantastic. Well over the last few months I’ve made a recipe here and a recipe there and it has grown on me so much that I think as much of it as say the first Barefoot cookbook or Parties! I actually think that her subtitle ‘recipes that you’ll want to make over and over’ is really accurate.

It’s funny how some books just look great from the start. I thought (and still think) Jamie’s Italy is great. When I received Jamie’s Dinners I was distinctly under whelmed, but over time I haven’t cooked anything (yet) from his Italy cookbook and lots from the Dinners one. I quite like these slow burners, they just sneak up on you and have a good place in your collection of books before you know it.

Here is my latest Ina supper.

Indonesian Ginger Chicken & Herbed Basmati Rice

The chicken comes from her first Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, I have been meaning to make it for well a few years I suppose. It was a combination of seeing Anna’s (of Anna’s Life) picture of it, and then that night when I was looking through Barefoot Contessa at Home I came upon her herbed basmati rice. In the introduction to the rice recipe she says it plays the perfect supporting role to this chicken (and also loin of pork with fennel).

The chicken is marinated in a mixture of honey, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. I halved the recipe and marinated 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I really dislike cooked chicken skin). I basted the breasts while roasting every 5 minutes, then simmered the marinade and thickened it into a sauce. The rice is cooked by the absorption method with a little butter, then spring onions, dill and parsley are forked through at the end. The chicken was delicious, as was the rice and the two went together really well, the mix of parsley and dill in the rice was inspired. I’ll serve them together again next time too. The only vegetable I added was a few spears of asparagus, I wanted to keep the main course light-ish because I had made a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake for dessert – more about this in my next post!

Friday, 13 April 2007

Creamy Orzo & Farfelle with Creamy Mushroom Gorgonzola Sauce

A Couple of Pastas from Giada's New Book

Everyday Pasta by Giada de Laurentiis arrived last week, the third book by Giada, preceeded by Everyday Italian and Giada’s Family Dinners. It is as you would expect full of pasta recipes; but that isn’t all – there are also a chapter for Antipasti & Appetisers and another for Something on the Side.

The pasta recipes are divided into five chapters, Soups & Pasta Salads, Hearty Pastas, On the Lighter Side, Quick & Easy Weeknight Pastas and finally Pasta for Special Occasions. The format of the book is much the same as her previous two. This one also has a short crash course in Italian wines, which I thought was very helpful as I only know a handful of Italian wines, and Marsala is the one we use most often! The first recipe I looked at in this book was Turkey and Cranberry Ravioli. It sounds so delicious, ravioli stuffed with the turkey, cranberry sauce, cheese and parsley. Gravy for the sauce flavoured with chicken stock, cream, cheese and parsley. I am going to try that one out one weekend for sure.

Among the 37 recipes I’ve book marked are cornbread panzanella, Winter salad with sherry vinaigrette, baked penne with roasted vegetables, turkey and artichoke stuffed shells, capellini Piedmontese, chicken in lemon & cream with penne, cheesy baked tortelini, baked gnocchi, rigatoni with sausage, artichoke & asparagus and finally prawn lasagne with creamy marinara.

Creamy Orzo

The first three recipes I cooked from it were creamy orzo, farfelle with creamy mushroom Gorgonzola sauce and sauteed spinach with red onion. The creamy orzo was orzo pasta mixed into a tomato sauce with shallot, garlic, cream, peas and Parmesan cheese. It was good hot, but I liked it even better cold.

Farfelle with Creamy Mushroom Gorgonzola Sauce

This one had a nice creamy edge (although not from cream, only from a full fat milk bechamel sauce) with a pungent bite from the blue cheese, I thought it was lovely, really well balanced and it had added peas and mushrooms, so there was colour and vegetables as well. I don’t know about you, but I like to have vegetables at most lunch and supper meals.
I also made spinach with red onion is a side dish that Giada says she cooks at least three times a week. I forgot to take a picture, but it’s worth a mention as it was a gorgeous spinach dish. One I hope to slot into my weekly cooking.

Next on my list to try this week are an Italian White Bean, Pancetta & Tortellini Soup and Ditalini with Mushrooms and Artichokes.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

You Shall Have a Fishy - Giada’s Salmon Baked in Foil

Giada’s Salmon Baked in Foil

I fell into the habit of cooking salmon once a week for a while a couple of years ago, and eventually I could look at it no more. Recently though the pretty pink fish has made a welcome re-appearance at out table, and this is a truly fantastic recipe from Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Italian. It’s so good I haven’t even played around with it, me a absolute tinterer! I like that it has very little added fat, because it tastes so clean - not to mention fresh and juicy, even if it’s served with something rich the actual salmon doesn’t lose it’s identity. I usually halve the recipe, and this is easy to do. Well actually the whole thing is easy to do, chop, stir, spoon and bake. If you like salmon this is a must have recipe in your collection.

Everyday Italian is a great little Italian cook book, I often cook from it in the summer especially when I’m feeling like cutting down a little, because with one or two exceptions most of the recipes are light and healthy. Expect to see more of Giada in the sunny months! Also, I'll post about her new pasta book soon.

Salmon Baked in Foil

4 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped 2 chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl to blend.

Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

French Chocolate Brownies

French Chocolate Brownies

Today we were out and about, even managed a trip in past a book shop. I came away with one book – the Pret ‘ Food On The Move’ cookbook by Jane Lunzer Gifford. I’m really pleased with it. I like to cook dinner and I love to bake and make sweet things, but my problem meal is often lunch, I just lack gusto when it comes to sandwiches and lunch-y salads. So this sounds like a good book for me, and upon having a look through there are lots of good things in there. My other new book this week was Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Pasta, which I have had on per-order for months. I am a big fan of Giada and her new book didn’t disappoint me, lots of pasta, but also sides for pasta too – I have cooked three recipes from it in four days! More on this later though, I am wandering off here…

I had planned to make caramel peanut topped brownie cake today the picture in the book is fabulous, and I had wanted to do the brownie base in the morning and the topping early afternoon. However, the trip into town meant that I just wouldn’t have time to cook and cool the cake, so I chose another recipe this aftenroon from the same book when we got home - the French Chocolate Brownies from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours.

They are a chocolate cake that Dorie created in her kitchen in France, but are now known as her French Chocolate Brownies after her guests reactions. I managed to make them and served them warm and squidgy (after cooling a little bit) from the oven with whipped cream. They were gorgeous! There was no vanilla added to the mixture, but instead a little cinnamon and rum scented raisins. Cinnamon rum and raisin brownies, need I say more?! I sometimes think that plain brownies are not quite what I’m looking for in a plated dessert (more with tea or coffee), but these were very special. Mmmm!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Easter Cake Bake

Chocolate Cup Cakes for Easter Time
This is my first entry for a bloggers event, and it sounds like a lovely sweet one - it’s for the Easter Cake Bake hosted by Julia at A Slice of Cherry Pie. Here is the link if you’d like to have a look or even take part too!

These come from Proof of The Pudding by Phil Vickery. I bought the book when it was published 3 to 4 years ago, and have been meaning to try these since. We always seem to be quite hectic at Easter weekend, and if it’s beyond Easter – well the eggs have been consumed and are no longer available for baking! So this year I thought, right I’m making them and that’s that.

This recipe is for Chocolate Cup Cakes, now although that is their title in the book, chocolate eggs are listed in the ingredients, so I haven’t added my own touch, well except in the type of eggs used! So they are meant for Easter time. I used my much loved pastel chocolate eggs. Don’t get me wrong I like higher cocoa solids chocolates as well, but these are just so pop-able.

The sponge for the cupcakes is a basic mix with some chopped chocolate chips added. The icing is made deep in flavour with the addition of chocolate, coffee and cocoa powder, and there is a bit of liquid glucose as well so it is super smooth in consistency. I tried one out of the fridge, but the cake part didn’t like the cold, so stored them at room temperature for a little while (under a cake dome) and all was well again. The icing in particular is a real chocolate hit - but I just can’t resist those little eggs.

I will give you Phil’s recipe ingredients as they appear in the book, but I did change the chocolate icing by using half milk and half dark chocolate instead of all bitter chocolate. I have changed the method a little as well, by adding the chopped chocolate to the hot cream. Phil melts the chocolate and combines the hot cream with it – you choose!

Chocolate Cup Cakes

115g unsalted butter, softened
115g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
a pinch of vanilla powder
115g self raising flour
10g cocoa powder
55g bitter chocolate, chopped

for the chocolate icing
175g bitter chocolate, chopped
175ml whipping cream
20ml (4 teaspoons) liquid glucose
2.5ml (1/2 teaspoon) instant coffee
10ml (2 teaspoons) cocoa powder
24 chocolate mini eggs

Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/GasMark 4. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with cases.
Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, gradually add the eggs until incorporated, then the vanilla powder, self raising flour, cocoa and chopped chocolate. Do not over work the mixture.
Spoon into the cases and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Bring the cream, glucose, coffee and cocoa almost to a boil. Take off the heat and stir in the chocolate leave for a few seconds and whisk until smooth. Leave to cook slightly.
When the icing has started to thicken spoon over the waiting cakes, filling right up to the top of the cases and top with the mini eggs. Leave in the fridge to just set.
Makes 12.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Pasta with Spicy Sausage and Cream

Pasta with Spicy Sausage and Cream

This is a fabulous pasta dish from Rachel Allen’s Rachel’s Favourite Food. This I think this is one of my favourite pasta dishes ever, along with Giada’s mushroom and Marsala sauce from Everyday Italian, and Nigella’s meatball pasta from Nigella Bites. Mind you I do have a bit of a thing for chorizo sausage, so that might explain it.

The tomato sauce it a little buttery, a little creamy, garlicy, herby and as spicy as you like with the red pepper flakes. I sometimes make it without the pepper flakes and although it doesn’t give the chorizo added depth my little girl loves it too. I generally make half this amount, and it halves brilliantly. It’s a really easy recipe, and you could easily do it on a weeknight for the family, but it’s special enough for the weekend or friends too. The pasta I use in the picture is small tubes because my little one was eating it, but if it’s for adults then penne is my first choice. I did have mini penne for a while but have run out of it just now. Trip to the Italian Deli in order!

Pasta with Spicy sausage and Cream

25g butter
700g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or use 800g tinned tomatoes)
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp Rosemary, chopped
1 pinch fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp caster sugar
225g chorizo sausage, cut into ½cm slices
1 pinch red chilli pepper flakes
6 fl oz double cream
2 tbsp Parsley, chopped
500g penne, or use rigatoni or farfalle
50g Parmesan Cheese, grated

1 Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and add the chopped tomatoes, garlic and rosemary. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the sugar (the sugar will help bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes).
2. Cook for about five minutes, until the tomatoes have just begun to soften.
3. Add the sausage to the pan with the chilli flakes, cream and half the chopped parsley. Simmer until the mixture has reduced by half, stirring frequently about 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, as necessary.
4. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, until al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce.
5. Transfer the pasta to a large heated serving bowl and scatter with the grated Parmesan cheese and the remaining parsley. Serves 6.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding (and Steak, Salsa, Pasta & Salad)

I’m going to start with the pudding which hails from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours. I only received this book a couple of days ago, but I had to cook something from it NOW!
It is a truly fabulous baking book, the pictures are simply amazing. There are lots of stories, good introductions and fabulous looking recipes. I can see myself cooking from this one for years to come.

Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

Anyhow, I really wanted to try something as soon as possibe, but I’m pretty short on time this weekend, so I picked this pudding four-star no hassle. Dorie said it was best cool, but I served it about 40 minutes out of the oven when it was warm but not roasting hot. I think if I served cold bread pudding my family and friends would think I had lost the plot! We loved it warm with a little cream. It was really no trouble, chop brioche, make a custard mix, soak and bake. The result is good, chocolate to comfort and make the world good once more. There was some leftover, so I tried it myself cold later and it is so very chocolate-y, I might try and serve the leftovers cold tonight and see how it goes! I like it cold as well anyway.

I’m hoping soon to manage to fit in some of the more time consuming recipes like Bbbbbb-Brownies (mint brownies), Applesauce Spice Bars, Snickery Squares, Perfect Party Cake (this one is so pretty), Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake, Chocolate Armagnac Cake – The cake That Got Me Fired, Chocolate Whisky Cake, My Favourite Pecan Pie, The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart, Banana Cream Pie, Tropical Crumble and Unbelievably Good Chocolate Blueberry Ice cream. This isn’t a conclusive list, as I haven’t finished reading the book yet (it’s a big book!) – so I have a few nights of sweet reading and daydreaming left.

Sicilian Pasta

South American Beefsteak with Chimichurri Salsa with
Avocado, Orange and Watercress Salad

This was what we pre-ceded the pudding with and because I didn’t dish up too much pasta it was a light main course. The beef, salsa and salad all come from Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home by Rachel Allen. The beef was good, marinated in garlic, chilli, orange, lemon, parsley and olive oil. The salsa was also good, the pasta was okay, but I like a Giada (De Laurentiis) version that I’ve tried before of the pasta better. The salad on the other had was magical. I only made enough for two, and I would have liked a lot more than I had. We have not tried the avocado and orange combination before and it’s a match made in heaven, made sing by some lime juice and olive oil. I cut down the amount of watercress a bit (from six handfuls to two) and it worked for me! If you haven’t tried this mix of ingredients give it a go.

Avocado, Orange and Watercress Salad

50ml olive oil
juice of ½ a lime
salt and pepper
1 orange, peeled and chopped
2 avocados, peeled, stoned and roughly chopped
two handfuls watercress sprigs

Mix everything except the watercress, then add it in and gently toss.