Monday, 1 September 2014

random recipes #43 - random recipes - lavender sugar swiss roll with strawberries and cream

... on occasion, when i'm luck enough to find myself a quiet and rainy Sunday afternoon and there's nothing much happening I like to play a little game I call random recipes... sometimes I pull all my favourite books off the shelves and sit on the floor surrounded by them.  I close my eyes, lift up my arm, point my finger and let it land randomly on one of the books...  I then pick up that book and let it fall open it at a random page... sometimes I will look at the recipe and think euch, there's no way i'd ever eat that and then I pick again but more often than not I will cook what I find on that page and I like to try my hardest to follow the recipe and the method to the letter, even if it's a dish I may have cooked before, my way, just to see what it is that makes this particular recipe tick...

... this Sunday I chose page 137 from the WI's Cakes by Liz Herbert, funnily enough it's my most used random recipes cook book but it's a pretty fail-safe baking book and always nice to turn to for a classic bake...

lavender sugar swiss roll with strawberries and cream
i've made many a roulade in my day but the method for making a swiss roll is quite different and i'd seen the 'roll when it's still warm' method on GBBO and had really wanted to try it so this was an ideal random recipes to chose... if i'm honest I was a little disappointed with the sponge.  I was expecting it to be exceptionally light and fluffy and even though it tasted great the sponge was quite tough and i'm at a loss to know what it was that made it this way as I followed the recipe and the method to a 't'...

for the sponge:
115g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
3 heads of lavender flowers - fresh or dried
3 large free-range eggs
115g plain flour
1 tablespoon boiled water

for the filling:
225g fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons icing sugar
150ml double cream
a few drops vanilla essence

grease and line a classic swiss-roll tin and pre-heat the oven to 180C, prepare a large sheet of greaseproof paper on your work surface and sprinkle liberally with some of the lavender sugar

you'll need to place the heads of lavender in the sugar and wrap tightly in cling film a least 24hrs prior to making this recipe

in a large bowl placed over a pan of hot water (not boiling) beat the sugar and eggs for 10 minutes until they are thick and creamy, remove from the pan and fold in the flour very gently so that you don't lose any air.

pour the batter gently into the swiss roll tin, spread out and bake for 8 minutes

once it's out of the oven, turn the tin over onto the greaseproof paper, remove the lining paper from the tin, trim the ends and place another sheet of paper on top of the sponge and roll the sponge up tightly from the short end and set it aside to cool.

in a large bowl, whip the cream and sugar, then add the strawberries and vanilla and whip again, break the strawberries

once the sponge is cool, gently unroll it and slather it generously with the whipped cream and re-roll it nice and tightly

...if you'd like to play along with random recipes this month then here are the rules:

1. randomly select any book from your collection, how you do this is up to you... I like to number my books and then use a random number generator.

2. take that book and open it at a totally random page. 

3. create the exact recipe on this page and don't cheat... do it with a friend in the room who will make you stick to it... it's a challenge after all and you're only cheating yourself... this is specifically designed to take you out of your comfort zone...!

4. you may change the recipe for dietary, monetary or seasonal availability reasons only.

5. post it up on your blog, with a link to this page and then email me a link to your post so I know you've joined in, you can also attach the random recipes challenge badge to show people you're taking part.

6. tweet your entry including the hashtag #randomrecipes and I will retweet all I see

7. challenge deadline is Sept 28th and I will post the round-up on Sep 29th

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

random recipes #42 round-up - bloggers scream for ice cream

... I know.  I know.  I've been pushing you an awful lot lately but the whole point of random recipes is to take us out of our comfort zones and make us more aware of all the incredible recipes hidden within those cookbooks we cherish.  This month was all about ice cream and frozen desserts.  It's a tough one at the best of times so I hugely appreciate those that found the time between holidays, this lousy autumnal weather and getting the kids back to school in one piece to make an entry.  I hope you're all still enjoying the challenge and I promise that next month I will take it easier on you, just a little bit...

... so here are your wonderful entries...

let's start with my blog sister Kavey from Kavey Eats and her White Chocolate Vanilla Ice Cream randomly selected (after 2 selection fails) from Divine Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with a Heart by Linda Collister

next up is secret bed-reading Craig from The Usual Saucepans and this rather naughty looking Caramel Ice Cream Chocolate Crispy Cake randomly selected from Kitchen Hero by Donal Skehan

dear sweet Choclette from the Chocolate Log Blog came up trumps with this very tempting Chocolate Lavender Parfait randomly selected from Ultimate - The Green and Blacks New Collection which she selected very cleverly via Eat Your Books

here's Alicia from Foodycat and a very stylish Glace a l'abricot that was randomly selected from French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David... we're lucky she didn't go for her first random selection of Iced Ham Mousse!

next up is little old me from Belleau Kitchen with this bloody gorgeous Salted Caramel Custard Ice Cream taken from a recipe found randomly in Dessert Island Dishes by Maldon

here the gluten-free entry from Kate the Gluten Free Alchemist with a wonderful no churn Rhubarb Ice Cream randomly selected from The Baking Beauties

you may have to sit down for this next one as it's an actual successful entry from Jane from Onions and Paper with a glorious sounding G&T Slush Puppy taken from the BBC's Good Food - Food That Does You Good

next along the ice-cream wagon is Laura from Law Students Cook Book and a delightful Strawberry Ice Cream taken from the kings of all things frozen Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and Dessert Book

next up is Corina from the brilliant Searching for Spice and a mistake ice cream that turned into a miraculous Chocolate Ice Cream Mousse, randomly selected from Eggs by Michel Roux

and finally this month it's the always gorgeous Karen from Lavender and Lovage and an extremely tempting Hot Fudge Sundae randomly selected from Delia Smith's Summer Collection... she also has an amazing ice-cream maker giveaway on her blog, so I would pop over there and name your favourite flavour!

and that my friends, is that... as always, we appreciate your glorious entries so do play along next month if you can, I promise you an easy ride in September...

Thursday, 28 August 2014

golden raspberry and apple crumble

... as regular readers of this blog will know, I am lucky enough to live in a charming village with neighbours who have become good friends.  We rely on each other for support when a cup of tea and a shoulder is needed, when a dog is stuck in and needs a walk, when bicycle tyre is flat and only an electrical pump will do or even when a harvest of golden raspberries needs turning into a crumble... it seems that i've most definitely become that guy that people turn to when they need something baking... got a glut of apples, give them to Dom... it's been known for us to come home and there be a bag filled with produce hanging on the door-handle.  No note, no-one to explain from whence it came.  of course i'm not complaining, bring it on I say, so it was very sweet when my neighbours grandchild Lydia turned up the other day with a bright pink sandcastle bucket filled with golden raspberries with the strict instructions to 'make a crumble'...

golden raspberry and apple crumble
I think that the good people at Linwoods sent me a selection of their flaxseed mixes way back at the beginning of the year and it took me ages to think how I would use any of them in my food... i'm just not the 'sprinkle it in' kind of guy... but over the course of the last few months i've been using the flaxseed, cocoa and berries mix more and more in things i've been baking.  There's something wonderful about the combination of sweet cocoa, sour berries and flax that works so very well in a lot of dishes, particularly fabulous mixed into a crumble topping...

for the crumble
225g plain or wholewheat flour
75g butter - I used salted but unsalted would be best
100g soft brown sugar
100g Linwoods flaxseed, cocoa and berries mix - or any other grains, nuts, seeds and cocoa powder

for the filling
a bucket full of golden raspberries
3 medium tart apples - cut into chunks
3 or 4 tablespoons of soft brown sugar

pre-heat the oven to 170C

i'm a firm believer in not cooking the fruit first, particularly when it comes to berries such as raspberries as they simply turn to mush, plus I like my fruit with a little bite in it

I foolishly didn't weigh the raspberries but there was enough to fill the bottom of my ceramic dish.  Don't wash them either.  Make sure they're clean and dust off any little critters or mud - the whole dish is going to be blasted in an oven for 30 minutes so there's unlikely to be much left in the way of bug-life

lay the cut apple pieces randomly on top and then sprinkle the whole lot with sugar.  I use only a little sugar as I like it nice and tart as I like the cream that i'm going to pour all over it do the work... set aside

put the flour and butter into a large bowl and rub together with your fingertips until you have a crumbly texture, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together

sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit and press down firmly, then gently run a fork across the top

bake for 30 mins until golden and serve

... as you can see from the pictures, i've left my crumble unadorned ready for the topping of your choice... so how do you eat yours?  Purists would say piping hot, dripping in custard but I love mine ice-cold from the fridge, drenched in cream... heavenly!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

stuffed courgettes with gressingham duck ragu

... as I said when I slow roasted duck last week, i've always wanted to make duck ragu... it's just one of those things i'd seen either on a menu or on a blog or in cook book and it must have lodged itself into the deepest corners of my memory... it's one of those dishes where you just know the richness of the duck will work so wonderfully with the acid of the tomato sauce.  I'm also using some rather wonderful Stella Artois Raspberry Cidre in the ragu sauce as the tartness of the apples and berries will marry so perfectly with the duck... I think the whole thing combined makes for an incredibly summery dish that is surprisingly warming and rich for this time of year... it's raining like a bastard today anyway so it's an ideal dish for hanging around at home for...

... as I always try to do, i've made a veggie version of this dish so that The Viking can join in too.  As you don't add the duck until the end I was able to take out half the sauce and set it aside before adding the duck, I placed a couple of nobs of butter on each of the courgettes before roasting just to add a little much needed fat and they tasted perfect...

stuffed courgettes with gressingham duck ragu 
there seems to be an incredible glut of courgettes this year, not entirely sure what it is with this years harvest but the combination of a very wet early summer followed by these recent weeks of warm sunshine has meant for a wonderful abundance of them, so I’ve taken advantage of this and created an unusual way to serve the ragu… it's so unbelievably simple and is a nice alternative to serving the ragu with pasta... I hope you like it.

for the slow roast duck
1 large whole Gressingham duck
2 large tablespoons of smoked maldon sea salt flakes
4 or 5 twigs of thyme or lemon thyme if you can get it
1 large carrot - roughly chopped

for the ragu sauce
2 large onions – finely chopped
1 large fennel bulb – finely chopped
1 large carrot – finely chopped
4 large courgettes – sliced lengthways with the middle scooped out
2  x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
a selection of fresh herbs – I used 1 twig of rosemary , 2 twigs of thyme and a bunch of oregano
150ml of raspberry cidre – Stella Artois make a good one
150ml good quality vegetable stock
olive oil and butter
100g strong cheddar cheese – grated

pre-heat the oven to 180C

place the carrots and the duck giblets into the bottom of a large oven-proof roasting tin and lay the duck, breast-side up, on top

rub half the salt onto the breast skin and stuff the inside with the thyme, then turn the duck over and rub the underside with salt

place in the oven, breast-side down for one hour, then carefully turn the duck over and roast for a second hour until gorgeously dark golden brown - set aside uncovered for 10 minutes before consuming but don’t forget to leave half the bird for your ragu

using two forks, finely shred the left-over duck and set aside

now you can make the ragu… in a large casserole dish or deep-sided pan, gently heat a little olive oil and butter and then throw in the onions and let them caramelize for a good 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

next add the carrots, courgettes and fennel alongwith the fresh herbs and let them saute for 5 minutes or so, then place the lid on, turn the heat very low and let them sweat for a further 5 to 8 minutes until all the veg is soft

add the rest of the ingredients, stir it all together and with the lid off let it simmer on the lowest heat for at least an hour or until the liquid has reduced by half – if you're making a veggie version of this dish, now is the time to take out half the ragu, stir in a large handful of grated cheese and set it aside...

add the shredded duck to the remaining half and simmer again for another 20 minutes, then add half the grated cheese and stir well in

pre-heat the oven to 170c and line a roasting tin with parchment paper.

lay the hollowed out courgettes skin side down in the roasting tins, drizzle with a little olive oil and season well with salt and pepper

stuff them liberally with the duck ragu and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes, after which time, sprinkle on the remaining cheese and bake again for another 10 mins

the veggie version looks just as beautiful and tastes incredible too!

i'm proud to say that I developed this recipe for the good people at Gressingham and a version of this recipe appears on the Gressingam website

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

clotted cream cake with clotted cream salted caramel - a rodda's hamper giveaway

... with the local Village Show still bitterly burning a hole in the back of my mind I can't help thinking about what really constitutes the perfect scone.  Who are we to say that one scone recipe is better than the other and how can we be judged on that one teeny slither cut by a little old lady from the WI particularly when we all know that the humble scone is merely the vehicle for jam and clotted cream.  Ok, there may be a few of us who like the odd nibble of a scone naked, fresh and still warm from the oven but you can't beat it smothered in butter, spread with raspberry jam and topped with something thick and creamy... and of course if you're striving for perfection there is only one place to go to for the best in clotted cream and that is of course the wonderful, the traditional, the classic, the very Cornish... Rodda's.  I've been a fan for years and I know that many of you out there are also fans, so hopefully you'll enjoy this little post and giveaway...

clotted cream cake with clotted cream caramel
to celebrate the creation of their gorgeous new video highlighting the beautiful cornish landscape and the origins of the traditional cornish cream tea the good people at Rodda's have commissioned me to work with them to develop some simple and delicious recipes... as you can imagine I found this process dreadfully difficult to partake in, the things I have to put myself through in the name of this blog... but I struggled through the mounds of thick, fresh, clotted cream and came out the other side to deliver you this stunning cake for starters... I also think I invented the clotted cream custard ganache by pure accident, although as in all things food, i'm sure there's someone out there who may have got to this first...

... plus (as if giving you pictures of this cake isn't enough) because the kind people at Rodda's don't want me to be the only one relishing in all things creamy, they've been good enough to offer one lucky reader of my blog the chance to win a hamper stuffed to the gills with yummy Rodda's goodies, including the new clotted cream custard so you can have a go at inventing your own ganache too!  All you have to do to be in with the chance of winning the hamper is watch the beautiful film and answer a simple question which you'll find in the rafflecopter gadget below.

for the cake
2 large free-range eggs
225g white caster sugar
2 teaspoons best quality vanilla essence
1 x 225g tub of Rodda's Cornish Clotted Cream
A large pinch of salt
200g self-raising flour - sieved twice

I used a 20cm loose bottom cake tin which I greased and double-lined with parchment paper (this cake is very pale and turns golden quickly)

for the salted clotted cream caramel sauce
200g sugar
80g salted butter
100g clotted cream
60ml double cream
2 tsp sea salt flakes

start with the caramel sauce by gently heating the sugar in a large pan (choose a pan larger than you would imagine you need) and stir it constantly until it melts completely and begins to turn a caramel colour

next add the butter and the clotted cream and stir - be careful at this point as the butter will make the sugar bubble up the pan... stir until the butter and cream have melted then slowly pour in the double cream and stir all the time

allow the caramel to come to a boil for one minute or so and then remove from the heat and stir in the salt - set aside to cool

pre-heat the oven to 170C

remove the clotted cream from the fridge - it needs to be room temperature before you use it

put the eggs, sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and whisk until you get a very pale very fluffy consistency and the eggs begin to thicken, then add the salt and whisk in

spoon in the cream followed by the flour and then, using a rubber spatula gently fold the mixture together until thoroughly combined... don't knock the bowl, you want to keep the air in the eggs.

pour into your cake tin, smooth the top and bake in the oven for 40 - 50 minutes until golden and risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean - set aside on a wire rack to cool

serve by pouring the clotted cream caramel course over each slice and crumble over some clotted cream fudge... enough clotted cream?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

eat and of course, enjoy!



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