Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Summer Fruit Millefeuille


The last day of June provided an appropriate occasion to test this recipe from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection.

It was excellent, a view hopefully confirmed by our guests, R + J + M.

The recipe is here. We used a purchased roll of puff pastry to make life easy.

Also, advertisement free, see the annotated version below:


5 oz (150 g) raspberries, hulled
5 oz (150 g) strawberries, hulled
2 oz (50 g) redcurrants, stalks removed [We used blueberries as Sue doesn’t like redcurrants.]

For the caramelised flaky pastry: [we used one roll of bought puff pastry]

4 oz (110 g) flour with a pinch of salt added
2½ oz (60 g) butter, weighed carefully (too much makes too soft a pastry), wrapped in foil and left in the freezer for 1 hour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
2 level tablespoons icing sugar

For the pastry cream filling:

1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 oz (25 g) caster sugar
7 fl oz (200 ml) whole milk
¾ oz (20 g) plain flour
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To finish:

5 fl oz (150 ml) double cream
1 rounded tablespoon caster sugar
icing sugar for dusting


You will also need a baking sheet, greased.


To make the pastry, first sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then take the butter from the freezer and, holding it with foil, dip it into the flour and grate it on the coarsest blade of a grater – dipping it into the flour once or twice more until it is all in the bowl.

Now take a palette knife and flick the flour over the grated butter, cutting and tossing until the flour and butter look evenly blended.

Next, sprinkle in the lemon juice, then, using your hands, gently bring the dough together, adding a few drops of water to make a firm dough that leaves the bowl clean. Wrap it in a polythene bag and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).

Next, take a rolling pin and a tape measure, and roll the pastry out to a square measuring 12 x 12 inches (30 x 30 cm). [More like 26 x 36 if using bought puff pastry.] Using the rolling pin to roll the pastry round, carefully transfer it to the baking sheet.

Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork thoroughly and brush it all over with beaten egg, then place the baking sheet on a high shelf in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes – but do watch it carefully (no answering the phone etc) because ovens do vary.

What you need is a very brown, crisp finish. Then, to get it extra crisp, pre-heat the grill to its highest setting, sprinkle the pastry with 1 level tablespoon of the icing sugar and then literally flash it under the hot grill – don't take your eyes off it till the sugar caramelises, which it will do in just a few seconds.

Remove the pastry square from the grill and, using a sharp knife, cut it into three equal strips.

Turn them over, sprinkle the rest of the icing sugar over, and flash them under the grill once again. Once the pastry has cooled on a wire rack, it is ready to use and can be stored in a polythene box with each layer separated with a strip of silicone paper (parchment).

The pastry is very delicate, so handle it carefully, but if any strips do happen to break, don't panic – you can use them as bottom or middle layers of the millefeuille. [Using the bought pastry, the strips didn’t break, but a bit more ‘pricking’ was needed half way through the baking process.]

To make the pastry cream, break the egg into a medium-sized mixing bowl, then add the egg yolk and sugar. Next, put the milk on to warm over a gentle heat while you whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture becomes thickened and creamy – about 1 minute with an electric hand whisk on the first speed. Then sift in the flour and whisk that in.

Now turn the heat up to bring the milk to boiling point and then whisk the milk into the egg mixture. After that return the whole lot to the pan and continue to whisk, this time with a balloon whisk, over a medium heat until the mixture becomes very thick – keep the whisk going all the time because the mixture can catch very easily if you don't.

As soon as a bubble on the surface bursts, remove the sauce from the heat and quickly pour it into a bowl, then stir in the vanilla extract.

Cover the pastry cream with cling film to prevent a skin forming, and leave it to get completely cold.

When you come to assemble the millefeuille (which shouldn't be before about an hour before you want to serve it), whip the double cream and caster sugar together till fairly stiff, then fold the pastry cream into it. To assemble, place the bottom layer of pastry on a suitably sized plate or board and spread it with a quarter of the cream.

Top this with half the fruit and a further quarter of the cream.

Now place the next layer of pastry on top, pressing it gently down to fix it in place, and cover this with another layer of cream followed by the rest of the fruit and the rest of the cream.

Finally, arrange the last layer of pastry on top, dust with icing sugar and serve cut into thin slices using your sharpest knife. [Serrated bread knife was ideal.]


Monday, 1 June 2015

Chardonnay chicken with artichoke hearts

This chicken casserole goes well with creamy mashed potato or basmati and wild rice.
There is plenty of sauce so the recipe is very flexible, so you can do 2 thighs per person,
or add more to serve more people.

These ingredients will serve 6-8 people


12 chicken thighs, on or off the bone, skin removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
15 gm / ½ oz butter
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp caster sugar
25 gm / 1 oz plain flour
300 ml / ½ pint Chardonnay or dry white wine
225 gm / 8 oz small chestnut mushrooms, whole
1 x 400 gm can artichoke hearts
2 tbsp full-fat crème fraîche
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1       Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in a large deep frying pan (we use a Le Creuset casserole pan) and brown the chicken thighs all over, using more oil/butter as needed. Lift out onto a plate.
2       Add the onions, garlic and sugar to the oil remaining in the pan and cook over a low heat for about 15-20 minutes until tender.
3       Turn up the heat and allow the onions to brown. Sprinkle in the flour, thoroughly blending, add the wine and stir well. Bring to the boil, stirring until thickened.
4       Return the chicken to the pan with the mushrooms, season and bring to the boil. Simmer (covered) over a low heat, or transfer to a slow oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas 3 and cook with the lid on until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes.
5       Drain the artichokes, cut them in half, and add to the chicken. Heat through gently then add the crème fraîche, check the seasoning and stir in most of the parsley.
6       Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve with creamy mash or basmati and wild rice

cook now, eat later TO PREPARE AND COOK AHEAD
Prepare to the end of step 4. Cool quickly, cover and keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Reheat until piping hot, stirring in the artichokes towards the end of reheating. Stir in the crème fraîche and parsley to serve.

Cool quickly and freeze at the end of step 4 for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat until piping hot. Continue with steps 5 and 6.

Recipe From Mary Berry’s Book
’Cook now, Eat Later’

This entry was triggered by a complaint about  that I received whilst on the TGO Challenge. The person concerned claimed there was not enough liquid. I usually use greater quantities, which may make a difference, so on return from Scotland I cooked a batch exactly as prescribed by the recipe. There was plenty of liquid, as you can see from the picture. I don't know what the complainant was doing wrong; perhaps she left the lid off the casserole...

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Martiflette (2 servings)


This is a dish based on the traditional 'Tartiflette' that we enjoyed with French friends earlier in 2015. When I told Chantal that I included mushrooms in my recipe, and that I didn't use Reblochon cheese, she said "That's not Tartiflette, you can't call it Tartiflette". So this is my take on this traditional Alpine dish, perhaps also suitable for a cold March day in Timperley.


350 gm potatoes (waxy/red are good) - thinly sliced
250 gm bacon (smoked is good) - get two hand-cut slices from the butcher and cut into small squares (or buy lardons)
4 shallots or a small red onion - sliced
2 cloves garlic - crushed
150 gm chestnut mushrooms - sliced
200 ml double cream
250 gm Linset Chaorce cheese
White wine

Salad ingredients of your choice


1 Heat oven to 200 degrees C.

2 Boil the potatoes in salted water until they soften (6-7 minutes).

3 Drain and cool the potatoes.

4 Fry the bacon, garlic and onion/shallots with a dash of olive oil for 5-6 minutes until they soften, then add the sliced mushrooms and continue frying for 4-5 minutes.

5 De-glaze the pan with white wine.

6 Put the bacon mixture in a buttered gratin dish, then layer the sliced potatoes on top.

7 Pour the double cream evenly over the top of the potatoes.

8 Season with salt and pepper.

9 Overlay with slices of Chaorce cheese. This is more readily available in the UK than Reblochon, which can also be used, as can other soft, melty cheeses.

10 Bake in the oven at 200C until the cheese is golden and bubbling.

Enjoy with some green, or more elaborate, salad.


Based on a Tartiflette recipe from Robert, the . Thanks Robert.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Baked Lemon Pudding

Baked lemon pudding - logo!

One of the simplest and most appreciated items on our recent Eskdale menu was Baked Lemon Pudding, a recipe taken from my first cookbook, 'Katie Stewart Cooks' (1971).

It’s quick and easy and often enjoyed by our family as part of Sunday dinner.  Delicious.

Baked Lemon Pudding


4 ounces (113g) self-raising flour
pinch of salt
4 ounces (113g) butter
4 ounces (113g) castor sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1-2 tablespoons milk to mix
castor or icing sugar for decoration


4 ounces (113g) castor sugar
2 level tablespoons cornflour
juice of one lemon, made up to ½ pint (275ml) with hot water


1. Sift together the flour and salt and set aside.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then gradually beat in the lightly beaten eggs and grated lemon zest.

3. Add a little of the sifted flour along with the last few additions of egg, then fold in the remaining flour and enough milk to mix to a medium soft consistency.

4. Spoon into a buttered 2-2½ pint baking dish and spread evenly over the base of the dish. Set aside while preparing the sauce.

5. In a mixing basin, combine together the sugar and cornflour, then stir in the mixed lemon juice and hot water.

6. Blend well and pour over the pudding.

7. Place immediately just above the centre of a fairly hot oven (190C/375F/Gas No 5) and bake for 40 minutes.

While baking, the cake mixture will rise to the top and the sauce will go underneath.

When baked, sprinkle with castor or icing sugar and serve the pudding with its own delicious lemon sauce. Other additives, such as double cream, crème fraiche, etc, are permitted.

This recipe is suitable for 4 portions.

It’s sadly not very photogenic, but I’ll try to add an image in due course.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Raspberry Soufflé

We took this along the other night to accompany my TransAlp slide show.  It’s delicious.  The recipe is both here, and is set out below.

Raspberry Soufflé

Raspberry Soufflé

This light dessert can be largely prepared in advance and is ideal for dinner parties.

First you need to make a Crème Patisserie - this quantity is for 8 small (125ml) ramekins


225ml full milk
150ml double cream
60gm unrefined caster sugar
5 egg yolks
25gm plain flour
20gm corn flour


1. Warm the milk and cream together in a heavy based pan.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale in colour. (Do this only when ready to make the custard, otherwise the sugar will cook the egg yolk.)

3. Add the flours to the egg yolks and mix well.

4. Pour the warm milk/cream slowly onto the egg yolks, mix well using a spoon or whisk, and return to a clean pan.

5. Bring to just before boiling point, stirring all the time. (To at least 72C, to kill Salmonella and remove the egg taste.)

6. When thickened, pass through a sieve into a flat plastic tray, and cover with cling film, whilst warm, (directly on top of the custard, not stretched over the container) to prevent a skin forming.

Note: Sieving may be unnecessary; just beat the Crème Patisserie well so that it is smooth.

This 'custard' will keep in the 'fridge for 3-4 days.

Raspberry Soufflé - this quantity is for 8 small (125ml) ramekins


120gm raspberry purée (sieved)
5 egg whites (best up to 3-4 days old)
70gm unrefined caster sugar
1 batch of Crème Patisserie (as above)

Method (ensure clean equipment)

1. Pre heat an oven to 250C.

2. Prepare the raspberry purée using frozen or fresh raspberries. [Eg use 250-300gm fresh raspberries plus 3 tbsp sieved icing sugar, and whiz in a food processor, then press through a fine sieve to remove pips - this provides your 120gm for the soufflé; to the left over raspberry purée add more icing sugar to taste and use this as a sauce to pour into the middle of the cooked soufflés.]

3. Coat the soufflé ramekins with melted butter, stroking the butter upwards with a small brush. and rolling around to get a full coating with caster sugar, shaking off excess.

4. Stir the raspberry coulis into the cold Crème Patisserie.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peak, then slowly add the sugar until glossy and thick. Fold this gently through the raspberry mix - use a small amount to start with and fold in from the edges using a spatula, avoiding knocking out too much air.

6. Divide into the ramekins and level over the tops with a palette knife. Run a finger or thumb around the top edge of each ramekin so the soufflé will rise above the ramekin rim.

7. Place the soufflés into the oven on the top shelf and turn the oven down to 230C for approx 8-9 minutes or until risen and golden brown.


1. For an attractive finish sprinkle with icing sugar. You could also do a criss-cross glaze with a hot poker.

2. Instead of raspberries, you could use passion fruit, fruits of the forest, etc, and you could add a little alcohol.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Brussels sprouts gratin with bacon, cream and almonds

“Dad, if we are coming to yours for Christmas Dinner, we must have ‘The Sprouts’.”

“Or we may not come!”

My dear daughter can be quite forceful at times.

Christmas dinner in recent years has been graced (inter alia) by ‘The Sprouts’ side dish, which everyone loves.  It’s a Sophie Grigson recipe for 8, but don’t bank on there being any left over even if you have fewer than that number for dinner.

It’s delicious.  The quantities shown below are pretty flexible – you may like to halve some of them, but leave the topping the same, to give it a bit more substance.

The picture shows a portion for two.

A small quantity of 'The Sprouts', for sharing between me and Sue


  • 900g/2lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 20g/¾oz butter
  • 4 tsp sunflower oil
  • 150g/5oz bacon lardons (or rindless back bacon, cut into short fat strips)
  • 20g/¾oz flaked almonds
  • 400ml/14fl oz double cream
  • 2½ tsp lemon juice
  • 5½ tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

  2. Place the sprouts into a saucepan of simmering salted water and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost, but not quite, cooked. Drain thoroughly, allow to cool slightly, then cut in half.

  3. Place the butter and oil into a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon lardons and almonds and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned.

  4. Add the sprouts and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

  5. Add the cream and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil for 2-4 minutes, until the cream has reduced to a rich sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  6. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and spoon into an ovenproof gratin dish.

  7. Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together in a bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the sprout mixture.

  8. Place into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and the cream visibly boiling.

  9. Remove from the oven and serve in the gratin dish (when the dish has cooled slightly).


For a winter supper you can add mushrooms and/or left over veg at stage 4 to make a sort of Brussels sprouts pie, garnished with rocket leaves, or even a fried egg or two.


Friday, 20 August 2010

Layered Crunchy Summer Pudding

Layered Crunchy Summer Pudding Last night we enjoyed this lovely dish together with Andrea and Thomas, our valiant house-sitters.  We hope they enjoyed the treat, which after a champagne, olive and stuffed pepper start, moved on to crab, melon, cucumber and watercress salad with a dressing of ginger, lime, mint, olive oil and sugar.  Delicious.  Thanks go to Nigel Slater for that – June 24 in his Kitchen Diaries.

Our main course was from the same source – August 7 – grilled Fleetwood monkfish with rosemary, served with garlic mayo, accompanied by green beans, stir fried cabbage and mushroom, and pan fried new potatoes.

The Layered Crunchy Summer Pudding that followed reminded me of one of the desserts I enjoyed at the Loch Tummel Inn when I stayed there in May, on the TGO Challenge.  It was delicious.  Here’s how Sue concocted it (for 4 people):

6 slices of medium-cut white bread, veering towards being a little ‘tired’
icing sugar, for dusting
140gm mixed strawberries and raspberries
35gm icing sugar
1 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam, at room temperature
170gm raspberries
340gm strawberries, hulled
100ml double cream
35gm icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped (optional)

1.  Heat oven to 180C/fan160C/gas4.  Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and dust well with icing sugar.  Toast the slices of bread, remove the crusts, then cut through the width, splitting each into two very thin squares.  Scrape away any excess crumbs from the untoasted sides, then cut each slice into a 7.5cm disc using a cutter, so that you have 12 discs.  (A scone cutter can be used.)

2.  Place the discs, untoasted side up, on the baking sheet.  Dust the tops generously with icing sugar.  Cover with another sheet of greaseproof paper, then top with a second baking sheet.  This will prevent the natural curl of the melba toasts when exposed to heat.
(Do this in batches with the bread fully flattened between the baking sheets.)

3.  Bake for about 12 mins, or until dry, crisp and golden.  Remove from the oven and transfer the toasts to a cooling rack.  Dust 4 of the melba toasts with more icing sugar and grill-mark with a heated skewer to create four lines, then do this again at a different angle for a criss-cross finish.
(For a heated skewer – Sue used a cake tester – hold one end of it over a gas flame until very hot, or heat under a hot grill.  Beware of burns.)
The toasts can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept in foil or an airtight container to retain their crispness.

4.  Place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until puréed.  Strain through a sieve for a smooth finish.
This can be made up to 2 days ahead.

5.  Arrange the raspberries and strawberries around the edge of 8 crisp melba toasts, trimming the strawberries at the hulled end to give a level height.  Place the trimmings and any remaining fruits in a bowl and crush to a chunky purée with a fork.  In a separate bowl, softly whisk the double cream, sugar and vanilla seeds.  Stir in the crushed fruits.

6.  Spoon a dollop of cream into the centre of each toast.  Place one toast onto each plate then top with another one.  Continue to give 4 stacks, topping each with a skewer-marked toast.  Drizzle sauce around, offering any extra sauce separately.
(Sue made the bottom layer with strawberries, the second layer with raspberries, and by some standards flooded the plates with sauce, but it was absolutely delicious.)

And I’ve just realised why it may be similar to the dessert I had at Loch Tummel – their dessert chef trained under Gary Rhodes, and this is based on one of his recipes.

Shame about the lighting in the picture, but Thomas was desperate to tuck into his pud!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Goat's cheese and beetroot salad

2601beetroot With the clocks about to change, and the evenings lengthening, perhaps it's time to reduce the soup intake in favour of something more 'summery'.

This recipe for four is very quick, easy and Seriously Tasty.
It's very suitable for splitting into two (or more) for use as a quick mid-week starter.

We hope you enjoy it.

10 oz/300 gm cooked beetroot - fresh or vacuum packed, not from a jar
8 oz/200 gm log of firm goat's cheese, eg Capricorn or Sainte-Maure de Touraine
4 handfuls small-leaf salad, containing rocket and herbs

1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp clear honey
4 tbsp walnut oil

1 Thinly slice the beetroot, either with a very sharp knife or on a mandolin if you have one.

2 Arrange overlapping slices over 4 dinner plates.

3 Put all the dressing ingredients into a jar, replace the lid, then shake well to mix.

4 Drizzle a little dressing over the beetroot.

5 Slice the goat's cheese into 12 slices and put 3 slices on top of each serving of beetroot.

6 Toss the salad leaves in a little dressing, then place a small pile of leaves on top of each serving of cheese.

7 Drizzle with the remaining dressing.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Saturday and Sunday 10/11 January 2009 - À La Carte at Ashburton

As a special treat, for a special occasion, Sue and I enjoyed a weekend at Ashburton Cookery School.

1001ashburton1 We were students on the two day 'Express Dinner Parties Plus' course.  Eight of us were guided through some inspirational menus by Joe 'passionate about food' Bartlett.  We had great fun all weekend, not least enjoying the products of our efforts.

Saturday involved cooking for lunch and dinner, whilst on Sunday we enjoyed a light lunch and an early dinner, enabling us to start the long journey home by 4pm.

Saturday Lunch

Selection of canapés (crab and avocado bread tartlets, parmesan biscuits, and stilton and sesame biscuits)
Creamy mussels with leeks, bacon and smoked paprika (below - getting this ready for 'service')1002ashburton2

Saturday Dinner

Leek, garlic and sweet potato soup (to take home)
Roast duck breast with a cassis jus, Dauphinoise potatoes and glazed green beans
Apple tarte tatin with crème fraiche

Sunday Menu

1003ashburton3 Chicken liver paté with red onion marmalade (to take home)
Mini aromatic seafood parcel (a delicious snack for lunch)
Roasted chicken breast wrapped with parma ham stuffed with red onion marmalade and goats cheese, together with pesto new potatoes and balsamic dressed salad leaves (above)
Seasonal fruit sabayon with lemon shortbreads (below)1004ashburton4
We also made copious quantities of vegetable stock and white bread rolls.

Thank you, everyone, for making this such a pleasurable weekend.
In particular, thank you to Maureen and Trevor in Exeter for their hospitality on Friday and Saturday - their skills as former B&B proprietors remain undiminished despite several years of retirement.

For a small (13 images) album of snaps from the weekend, click here.

Bon appetit...

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Drop Scones

0404dropsconesWe've enjoyed these scones twice this year, first on New Year's Day after our return from the hoar frost of the Sandstone Trail.  Our stalwart house minders (they've been busy over the past year), Andrea and Thomas, joined us and very much enjoyed this little treat, so I promised to put the recipe on the web site.  But before doing that an image was required, and we had eaten them all.  So I  made some more the other day.

The recipe was given to me by my mother when I headed off to be a student at UMIST, in the days when steam trains still huffed and puffed along the viaduct that splits the Sackville Street campus. 

The scones take a good 5 minutes to make, so they can be produced whilst the kettle boils - highly recommended as a mid afternoon snack at this time of year.

Drop Scones

4 oz (110 gm) plain flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
1 oz (30 gm) caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
¼ pint (140 ml) milk
1 tablespoonful of cooking oil (keeps scones moist)

Sieve together all the dry ingredients.
Beat in the egg, then the milk.
Stir in the cooking oil.

Grease and heat a griddle (or frying pan).

Test by dropping a small spoonful of mixture onto the griddle.
If it bubbles the griddle is ready.

This simple recipe makes about 20 scones. They soon go!
If you double the quantities, don't double the amount of baking powder.

Even the Pie Man should cope with this one!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Friday 11 April 2008 - All Aboard for a Week in Torridon

We probably won’t be blogging again, due to a lack of facilities, until Monday 21 April.
This is where we will be until then.
The header picture on this link is supposed to be our view from the cottage. It looks comparable to the view across Loch Broom (the header picture of this blog) from Tigh na Mara in Ullapool, where we have spent the corresponding week for the past three years.

This week has been busy, with little in the way of exercise, hence the lack of blogs (and I was exhausted after writing up last weekend’s exploits).
But the route cards are now printed and laminated, the car is loaded with food for 6 people for a week, and with 4 food parcels for our TGO Challenge, to be delivered to various places on our journey home. These will be added to in the morning as Heather T-S flings in her own food parcels as we whizz past her at a café near Kendal.
Sue has even cooked a huge lasagne for tomorrow night, and we have CCS (see here, and here for the recipe) coming out of every ‘orifice’ (so to speak!).
Incidentally, CCS also features heavily (literally) in our food parcels. Disturbingly, the Braemar package weighs in at about 6 kg. Luckily my porter is carrying the tent and food, whilst I trot along with ‘The Kitchen’, but I’m sure she will want to divest some of the weight at Lochcallater Lodge!

This week we have also fixed the venues for all this year's evening walks, on which anyone is welcome to join us. Note that it has become a matter of pride to beat Notchy to the pub and greet him with a pint before we start! Details are here.
[These walks aren't very energetic.]

Finally, after watching our local news presenters whinge about various things today, I’d like to record that:
our bins were emptied on time,
the journey to the supermarket in the rush hour involved no hold-ups,
there was no queue at the checkout,
the butcher was busy, but had time to offer to vacuum pack our meat when he realised it needed to travel well,
the air hose at the garage worked (I have to say, this is rare!),
it rained, but we missed the showers,
and so on – I think you get the picture.

On the other hand, my marker pen did run out of ink…

That's all for now. We look forward to reporting on the Torridon trip when we get back.

Enjoy the lovely Spring weather!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Sunday 23 March 2008 - Braised Five Hour Lamb

Today we enjoyed one of our easiest and favourite main courses, and are delighted to share it with you…Enjoy!

Braised Five Hour Lamb with wine, veg and all that (to serve 6)

This is a very easy meal, oft repeated as a Sunday dinner.


1 large leg of lamb
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
6 rashers of thick streaky bacon
3 red onions, peeled and quartered
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 good handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, bay)
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 large carrots, scrubbed and halved
3 parsnips, scrubbed and halved
1 bottle of white wine

Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/gas 3. In a large casserole pot or a deep seated roasting tray, fry the well-seasoned lamb in a couple of tbsp of olive oil until brown on all sides. Add the bacon, onions and garlic and continue to fry for 3 more minutes. Add the herbs and veg, pour in the wine and an equivalent amount of water, bring to the boil, and tightly cover with kitchen foil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 5 hours until tender, seasoning the cooking liquor to taste.
To serve, pull away a nice portion of meat, take a selection of veg (you may need to dig deep for the onions and bacon) and serve with some crusty bread to mop up the gravy.

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver's excellent book - 'The Return of the Naked Chef'.

In other words, and with the assistance of a trusty Swiss Army Knife:

Capture one of these:

Using the knife, amputate a leg,
and trim it to look a bit like this:

Put the leg into a big casserole dish with the other ingredients and cook for 5 hours to arrive at this…

Don’t forget to bake some fresh crusty bread to absorb the juices that aren’t shown in the photo due to a minor technical problem.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Wednesday 26 December 2007 - Whisky Cake (aka Chocolate Mousse)

Boxing Day brings its usual Family Gathering.
This is perhaps the only time in a normal year (ie one without weddings or funerals) that we get to meet up in this way. Aside from the usual controversies – weighty matters such as disputes over the rules of Uno – there is no doubt about the quality of the food. Main dishes provided in situ by my brother David, and desserts transported to the venue by yours truly. This year those desserts comprised the Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding described on 30 November, and the ‘Whisky Cake’ described below. Needless to say, only the empty containers returned to Callum Hord Towers. The whisky cake was especially enjoyed by my niece, Ellie Banfield, an eminent scientist who sadly doesn’t currently ‘Google’. So this is an experiment at Ellie’s request, to see how fast Google picks up her name from this blog. She is pictured at the foot of this entry, with fiancé Jason, enjoying the party.

Whisky Cake

One box of sponge fingers
4 large eggs
150 gm caster sugar
150 gm plain chocolate – 70% plus cocoa solids
150 gm butter
3-4 tbsp whisky
Double cream to decorate

6 inch round tin with removable base

Cut about 1½ cm off enough sponge fingers to go round the inside of the tin, then rub their edges in butter and also lightly butter the inside of the tin.
Place the sponge fingers upright around the inside of the tin.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Separate the eggs.
Beat the yolks and fold into the butter and sugar mixture.
Chop up chocolate and melt it in a bowl (microwave with great care, or simply place over a pan of hot water), then add to the mixture.
Gradually add the whisky to the mixture, stirring to avoid curdling.
Beat the egg whites and fold in to the mixture.
Add the mixture to the tin after removing any excess butter from the inside of the fingers.
Refrigerate until set.

To Serve
Remove from the tin to a serving plate and scrape off any butter stuck to the outside of the fingers.
Whip the double cream and use as decoration and / or accompaniment.

This pudding can be made with or without whisky or other flavouring. It is best made at least 24 hours in advance to enable the flavour to permeate the sponge fingers. You can adjust the size of the cake tin, or the trimming of the fingers, or the quantity of filling, to suit requirements.

Try it. Time and again.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Friday 30 November 2007 - Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding

Tomorrow is our annual pilgrimage to Center Parcs at Sherwood Forest, where our group of nine will do sporty things all day and then enjoy a meal and a slide show in the chalet. This is one event we don’t get involved in organising – it’s all down to Rob and Lyn – well done and long may your travails continue, R&L!
They even organise the food, and I have volunteered a dessert to follow lamb and apricot hotpot, so I spent an hour this morning preparing this pudding, which needs no further attention until the oven tomorrow night. It’s easy and delicious. Here’s how, for 9 people, but it can just as easily be made for any number of folk. (Excellent for two, actually.)

Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding

14 slices of 5mm thick good quality white bread, one day old, from a large loaf
225 gm dark chocolate with 75% cocoa solids, chopped
600 ml whipping cream
6 tablespoons dark rum
165 gm caster sugar
120 gm butter
¼ tsp cinnamon
5 small eggs

To Serve
Well chilled double cream

Ovenproof dish, lightly buttered, approx 15x30 cm base x 5 cm deep (smaller for reduced quantities)

Remove the crusts (whizz them into breadcrumbs for future use) to give roughly 10 cm squares. Cut each one into 4 triangles.
Place the chocolate, whipping cream, rum, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water (or allow granny to suck the eggs)! Wait for all the ingredients to melt and for the sugar to dissolve. Then remove the bowl from the heat and give it a good stir to amalgamate the ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then pour the chocolate mixture over them and whisk again very thoroughly.
Spoon a 1 cm layer of the mixture into the base of the dish and arrange half the bread triangles over the chocolate in overlapping rows. Then pour half the remaining mixture over the bread as evenly as possible and arrange the rest of the triangles over that, finishing off with the rest of the chocolate. Press the bread down gently so that it gets covered evenly with the liquid.
(At this stage it looks like the above picture.)
Cover with clingfilm and allow to stand at room temperature for two hours. Transfer to refrigerator for a minimum of 24 (but preferably 48) hours before cooking.
Preheat oven to 180C. Remove the clingfilm and bake on a high shelf for 30-35 minutes. The top will be crunchy and the inside soft and squidgy. Leave to stand for 10 min before serving with chilled double cream.
[Adapted from the recipe in Delia Smith’s Winter Collection]