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!


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

sausage and caramelised onion focaccia



... back in the big smoke for a meeting or two and I think we're now very sadly well and truly past the summer here in the UK.  We've still experiencing some warm sunny days but I think those lusty heatwave days of June and July are behind us as there is most definitely a chill in the evening air... and yes it is more than possible that we'll recover from this and have a glorious Indian summer in September but let's not kid ourselves here... we had it good and now it's over.  Let's pack up the bikini's and the skimpy shorts, pull out the duvets and the warm baggy jumpers and get on with Autumn like good boys and girls.  I for one am glad all the sweating, sucking-in and salad eating is over and The Viking and I can finally pull on the elasticated pantaloons and eat proper food...


sausage and caramelised onion focaccia
the fine people of Edinburgh may be up for a laugh at this time of the year but they're not giggling so much when it comes to sausages which they take very seriously... particularly the incredible Crombies who very kindly sent me a selection of their infinitely superior sausages... and yes I thought, like you're probably thinking, how can one sausage really be so much better than any other but believe me, these are particularly good sausages.  Old-fashioned in the good kind of way - they split beautifully down the middle when baked - yet firm enough to sit nicely on a fork or make it into a sandwich. Most of the sausages they sent me didn't get any further than breakfast but I saved the Pork with Caramelised Onion and the Piggy Black (made with black pudding) for these focaccia bread pizza's...



the viking just had to have his with an egg this morning

... being the good boy I am I also made a veggie version for The Viking using Quorn sausages...


makes 2 focaccia loaves in two 30cm x 20cm baking trays

for the focaccia
800g strong white bread flour
650 ml water
2 teaspoons easy bake yeast
2 teaspoons salt
plenty of extra virgin olive oil
2 or 3 large sprigs of rosemary
plenty of sea salt or kosher salt flakes

2 very good quality sausages (or veggie sausages) of your choice - thinly sliced

for the caramelised onions
3 large white onions - halved and thinly sliced
olive oil
butter
seasoning and fresh rosemary

start with the onions... heat the oil and a generous amount of butter in a pan, then turn down the heat to a low-medium, add the onions, stir and let them gently caramelise for at least 30 minutes.  Stir regualry so they don't catch and season half way through with salt and pepper and some rosemary... you don't want them completely golden, more a pale gold as they will go darker in the oven - set aside

I have a step by step photo guide to the low-knead method here but it's not too hard to follow with these notes:

place the flour, yeast and salt into a very large ceramic bowl and then pour over the water and bring it all together with a rubber spatula until you have a sticky mess - clean the spatula as you'll need it again shortly, then cover the bowl with a tea towel and set aside for 10 minutes

drizzle a generous amount of oil onto your work surface and spread it around with your hand, then with the oiled hand remove the dough from the bowl and place it onto the oiled surface, use the spatula to scrape out the bowl.  Take some oil and drizzle into the bowl and wipe around the inside of the bowl.  Now knead the dough 8 times then place back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel.

repeat this twice more then cover the bowl in cling film and set aside for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size

oil your surface one final time and remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down, fold it over itself and punch down again, turn one quarter, fold and punch, repeat twice more and set aside

sprinkle some olive oil into both baking trays and spread around with your hands, now cut the dough in half and place each half into one of the baking trays and push it out to the edges... it won't fully cooperate but play with it quite freely and it will stretch, then set aside for 30 mins and during this time it will fill the trays and rise a little

oil your finger and push regular indents into the dough, and spread each focaccia with the onions, then the slices of sausages - I then drizzled the veggie version with a little more olive oil before it went into the oven

bake on 190C for 20 mins or until it starts to turn golden then remove from the oven and generously drizzle the top of each focaccia with more olive oil and then sprinkle with salt... you can be as generous as you like here, I like it very salty but the viking was not so keen

set aside to cool for a few moments before tearing apart with you teeth


the veggie version... just as good

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 18 August 2014

salted caramel custard ice cream - a random recipe



...this weekend was the local village show and even though I have great fun taking part, it still gets me every time quite how aggressively competitive the natives are.  One imagines a sea of grey-haired dears hand-beating scones and gently offering them up for the judging but it's more like an apron-wearing army of baking bad-ass ninja warriors intent on proving that they're better at baking than me... and some of these women are my friends!  It was a mixed bag this year for me... I won the 'small bread loaf' category but came third in the 'Party Cake' category when my chocolate cherry cake, which was initially placed first, was marked down because one of the judges thought it was burnt... which upon cutting and sharing out, turned out not to be the case... my scones and victoria sponge didn't even get a look-in this year.  I really should know better and not put myself through this misery but something tells me I won't heed my own advice and the scone wars will continue anew next year...


salted caramel custard ice cream - a random recipe
as many of you will know, this month I'm sharing random recipes with my blog-sister Kavey from Kavey Eats who hosts her bloggers challenge Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream, so it's all about random ice cream recipes although you are free to submit any ice or frozen based recipe such as frozen yoghurt or home-made ice lollies... it is funny though how we've had such an incredible run of hot weather this summer and then the moment we hit August we've kind of slipped into an autumnal dip so ice cream has not really been on anyones radar.  Saying that, i'm more than happy to scoff the stuff all year round, so do join in if you can, we'd love to have you on board...

... I found my recipe by randomly opening the brilliant Desert Island Dishes which is a book introduced by the inimitable Jay Rayner and contains recipes from the world's top chefs celebrating 130 years of the incredible Maldon sea salt... and there on page 166 is a recipe for salted caramel ice cream... I really cheated here as I used the new Rodda's clotted cream custard instead of making my own but I did make my own caramel sauce with some gorgeous Rodda's clotted cream so I feel slightly vindicated, anyway, it was the random recipe which inspired me...

you don't need an ice-cream maker for this, you can simply freeze the vanilla custard but I used my basic ice cream maker and it does of course speed things up... as long as you remember to put it into the freezer 24 hours before you need it.

for the custard
200ml egg yolks - roughly six eggs
200g caster sugar
500ml double cream
500ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

... or you can cheat and use two pots of ready-made, good quality custard

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

to make the custard, beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl, until there are no lumps - then set aside

boil the cream, milk and vanilla, then pour half the hot mixture over the the sugary egg yolks and whisk quickly to incorporate, then pour the whole lot into the remaining hot milk and cream and gently heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens... if you do this gently and stir constantly it shouldn't split - once nice and thick, take it off the heat and pour it into your ice cream maker (if using) or into a tuppaware container and into the freezer...

once the ice cream begins to harden, pour in the runny (but cooled) caramel sauce and stir it in, then place it back in the freezer to fully set

the left-over caramel sauce will keep for two weeks in a sterilised jar in the fridge.


don't forget you have until the 28th of the month to enter random recipes bloggers scream for ice cream

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

slow roast duck with fennel and plum slaw



... I was working at an event this week when my client and now dear friend H took me to one side to accuse me of sugar-abuse.  She explained that she was trying to detoxify and had done pretty well, eliminating wine and caffeine, cutting back on fatty food and carbs but every day, as she scrolls through my facebook feed she's been finding herself drooling at my pictures of cakes and scones... the thing is, she explains, is that she had never considered herself a sugar person, in fact cakes had always pretty much passed her by but she realised that being such a huge wine lover and wine being very high in sugar, she had now cut a massive intake of the glorious golden sweet stuff out of her life and my baking was setting her teeth on edge...  I love this... it really makes me giggle and I had ti agree that I have been doing a lot of sweet baking of late... so this duck is for you H...


slow roast duck with fennel and plum slaw
i've always wanted to make duck ragu.  Other than the fact that it sounds gorgeous I really have no idea why... it's not as though i've ever eaten it, it's just one of those things that to me, sounds gorgeous.  of course to make duck ragu I need some succulent shredded duck so this recipe for slow roast duck is perfect to get the meat I need.  I'm really not much of a duck cook, in fact I can't quite recall the last time I cooked with duck so when the remarkable duck people at Gressingham asked me if i'd like to try some of their gorgeous duck and develop some recipes for them I was of course delighted but also a little nervous, so this slow roast duck is also a great way to ease ones self into duck cooking and the most simplest of levels and now that i've cracked this I can turn my skills to something a little more adventurous... the plum and fennel slaw is, in my opinion, the perfect bed-fellow for this meal as the tartness of the raw plums cuts through the rich, sweetness of the duck and the fennel adds a glorious aniseed top note that I adore...

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 slaw
1 large fennel bulb
2 large victoria plums
1 teaspoon cidre vinegar
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
freshly ground pepper
the juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon almond slithers

pre-heat the oven to 180C

place the carrots and the duck gibblets 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 whilst you make the slaw

thinly slice the the fennel bulb and the plums and place them in the bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together before serving

shred the duck using two forks to serve

oh and this is perfect for those of us who are a little bored with our Sunday lunches and fancy trying something a teeny bit left of centre.


I have some more duck recipes to come and i'll be featured on the Gressingham website and in their newsletter soon but if you've ever wondered about the best way to cook duck breast they have a fantastic easy to follow video on their site.

eat and of course, enjoy!

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