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Friday
Aug242018

Strawberry Meringue Layer Cake a Seasonal Sensation

INTRODUCTION

This is another Oz-emanating recipe, one I scribbled down from a friend once after a gardenside, Sunday’s summer lunch. And you should know that I have never made it myself without some other friend asking me, in turn, for the recipe as well. Pavlova meets Victoria sponge is, give or take, what it is: but, as lazy luck would have it, much simpler to make than that or its ceremonious title would suggest.

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 8

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 7 tablespoons very soft unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups superfine sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces strawberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Line, butter and flour 9-inch Springform tins.
  2. Weigh out the flour, cornstarch and baking powder into a bowl.
  3. Cream the butter and 1/2 cup of the superfine sugar in another bowl until light and fluffy. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks into the butter and sugar, saving the whites to whisk later. Gently fold in the weighed-out dry ingredients, add the vanilla, and then stir in the milk to thin the batter. Divide the mixture between the two prepared Springform tins.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add the remaining 200g superfine sugar. Spread a layer of meringue on top of the sponge batter in each tin, and sprinkle the almonds evenly over.
  5. Bake for 30–35 minutes, by which time the top of the almond-scattered meringues will be a dark gold. Let the cakes cool in their tins, then spring them open at the last minute when you are ready to assemble the cake.
  6. Whip the heavy cream, and hull and slice the strawberries; that’s to say, the bigger ones can be sliced lengthways and the smaller ones halved. Invert one of the cakes on to a plate or cakestand so that the sponge is uppermost. Pile on the cream and stud with the strawberries, letting some of the berries subside into the whipped whiteness. Place the second cake on top, meringue upwards, and press down gently, just to secure it.
  7. If you’ve got any more strawberries in the house, hull and halve them, and serve them in a dish on a table to eat alongside; it gives the cake a more after-lunch, less afternoon-tea kind of a feel, but it’s hardly obligatory.

Recipe from "Nigella Summer," Available here.

Tuesday
Jul312018

Cheesecake Ice Cream Perfect Summer Treat

INTRODUCTION

This started off as something of a culinary conceit: I wanted to recreate the flavour of cheesecake in ice-cream form. I don't claim it's an original idea - I'd once eaten cheesecake ice cream in a restaurant in LA, scooped into a lozenge-shaped ball and served alongside a mini blueberry pie - but striving for originality is frankly a grievous culinary crime.

Anyway, this works exceptionally well, and is in some respects easier to make than regular cheesecake. I love to fold crushed digestive biscuits into the smooth, familiarly sharp-sweet mixture once it comes out of the ice-cream maker but isn't yet frozen solid, but you can leave the ice cream palely pure and sandwich it between two intact digestives as you eat.

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 6-8

METRICCUPS
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 3 sheets crumbled graham crackers (optional)

METHOD

  1. Heat the milk in a pan, and while it's getting warm, beat together the sugar, Philadelphia, vanilla and egg in a bowl. Still whisking, pour the hot milk into the cream cheese mixture and pour this back into the cleaned-out pan and cook till a velvety custard. I don't bother with a double boiler, and actually don't even keep the heat very low, but you will need to stir it constantly, and if you think there's any trouble ahead, plunge the pan into a sink half filled with cold water and whisk like mad. It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes, this way, for the custard to cook. And when it has thickened, take it off the heat, pour into a bowl and let it cool, at which time add the lemon juice and then the heavy cream, lightly whipped.
  2. Freeze in an ice cream maker or place into a covered container, stick it in the freezer and whip it out every hour for 3 hours as it freezes and give it a good beating, folding in the crushed digestives - if using before the ice cream is set solid.

More at https://www.nigella.com/

Tuesday
May152018

Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese 

From Nigella Lawson's "Simply Nigella"

I’m just going to say it: this is the best macaroni cheese I’ve ever eaten – better than the macaroni cheese I ate as a child; better than the macaroni cheese I brought my own children up on when they were little (they don’t agree); better than any fancy restaurant macaroni cheese with white truffle or lobster; better than any macaroni cheese I have loved in my life thus far, and there have been many.

I don’t feel it’s boastful to say as much, as the greatness lies not in any brilliance on my part, but in the simple tastes of the ingredients as they fuse in the heat. That’s home cooking for you.

Serves 4
sweet potatoes 2.5 pounds
pennette 1 1/3 cups pasta
soft unsalted butter 4 tbsp
plain flour 3  tbsp
full-fat milk 2.1 cups
English mustard 1 tsp
paprika ¼ tsp , plus ¼ tsp to sprinkle on top
feta cheese/or other sharp cheese 1 cup
mature cheddar 1 cup, grated, plus 1.2 cup to sprinkle on top
fresh sage leaves 4
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put on a large-ish pan of water to boil, with the lid on to make it come to the boil faster.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them roughly into cubed pieces. When the water’s boiling, add salt to taste, and then the sweet potato pieces, and cook them for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Scoop them out of the water into a bowl – using a “spider” or slotted spoon – and lightly mash with a fork, without turning them into a purée. Don’t get rid of this water, as you will need it to cook your pasta in later.

In another saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the flour, whisking to form a roux, then take the pan off the heat, slowly whisk in the milk and, when it’s all combined and smooth, put back on the heat. Exchange your whisk for a wooden spoon, and continue to stir until your gently bubbling sauce has lost any floury taste and has thickened. Add the mustard and the ¼ teaspoon of paprika. Season to taste, but do remember that you will be adding cheddar and salty feta later, so underdo it for now.

Cook the pennette in the sweet-potato water, starting to check 2 minutes earlier than packet instructions dictate, as you want to make sure it doesn’t lose its bite entirely. Drain (reserving some of the pasta cooking water first) and then add the pennette to the mashed sweet potato, and fold in to combine; the heat of the pasta will make the mash easier to mix in.

Add the feta cheese to the sweet potato and pasta mixture, crumbling it in so that it is easier to disperse evenly, then fold in the white sauce, adding the 1.5 cups grated cheddar as you go. Add some of the pasta cooking water, should you feel it needs loosening up at all.

Check for seasoning again, then, when you’re happy, spoon the brightly sauced macaroni cheese into 4 small ovenproof dishes  (or 1 large rectangular 2quart dish). Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over each one, dust with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of paprika, then shred the sage leaves and scatter the skinny green ribbons over the top, too.

Put the pots on a baking tray, pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes (or, if you’re making this in a larger dish, bake for 30-35 minutes), by which time they will be piping hot and bubbling, and begging you to eat them.

Friday
May112018

LINGUINE WITH LEMON, GARLIC AND THYME MUSHROOMS

Perfect for Warm Days Ahead

This is one of my proudest creations and, I suppose, a good example of a recipe that isn't originally from Italy, but sits uncontroversially in her culinary canon. I don't think it would be too presumptuous to name this linguine ai funghi crudi. It is about as speedy as you can imagine: you do no more to the mushrooms than slice them, steep them in oil, garlic, lemon and thyme and toss them into the hot cooked pasta.

If all you can find is regular button mushrooms, this pasta is still worth making - so no excuses.

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 4-6

METRIC CUPS
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt flakes (or 1½ teaspoons table salt)
  • 1 small clove garlic (crushed)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves stripped off)
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (or to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice the mushrooms finely, and put in a large bowl with the oil, salt, crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest, and marvellously scented thyme leaves.
  2. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain loosely, retaining some water. Quickly put the drained pasta into the bowl with the mushroom mixture.
  3. Toss everything together well, then add the chopped parsley, grated cheese and pepper to taste, before tossing again, and eat with joy in your heart.
Friday
Apr132018

Shortcut Sausage Meatballs

Total:
1 hr 5 min
Active:
30 min
Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausages
  • 2 tablespoons garlic-flavored oil
  • 4 fat or 6 spindly scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
  • Two 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, plus water to rinse 1/2 can
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)

Directions

Squeeze the sausage meat from the sausages and roll small cherry-tomato-sized meatballs out of it, putting them onto a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet as you go. Your final tally should be around 40.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan or flameproof Dutch oven and add the meatballs, frying them until golden; as they become firmer, nudge them up in the pan to make room for the rest, if you can't fit them all in at first.

When all the meatballs are in the pan and browned, add the scallions and oregano and stir about gently.

Add the wine or vermouth and diced tomatoes, then fill half of one of the empty cans with cold water and tip it into the other empty can, then into the pan. The can-to-can technique is just my way of making sure you rinse out as much of the tomato residue as possible.

Put in the bay leaves and let the pan come to a fast simmer. Let cook like this, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the meatballs are cooked through. Check the sauce for seasoning, adding some salt and pepper, if you like.

During this time you can cook whatever you fancy to go with the meatballs, whether it be pasta, rice, whatever.

Once the meatballs are ready, you can eat them immediately or let them stand, off the heat but still on the stove, for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken up a bit on standing. Should your diners be other than children who balk at green bits, sprinkle with parsley on serving.