Rhubarb Upside-Down Pudding

Rhubarb upside-down cake recipe

When a recipe’s first instruction is to pour 100ml golden syrup into the bottom of a cake tin my sweet-tooth’s knee-jerk reaction is “Do it! Make it! Do it! Make it!”. Naturally I did and it was delicious!! This is a recipe by Lucas Hollweg from the Waitrose magazine, February 2014. I often pull out his recipes from the seasonal section and finally a year a few months later I have made this pudding. It is really easy and only requires 20 minutes’ preparation and 35 minutes in the oven: perfect for a laid-back Sunday afternoon. I have altered the ingredients slightly from the original recipe as I didn’t quite have everything so instead of light brown sugar I used dark brown (my favourite!) and instead of ground ginger I used allspice.

What you need:

A cake tin at around 20cm diameter

100g unsalted butter (and a little more for greasing the cake tin)

125g golden syrup

450g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into pieces 1cm long

Zest of 1 orange

100g dark brown sugar

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 free-range eggs

50g ground almonds

50g self-raising flour

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C, 170C (fan).

2. Grease the cake tin with butter.

3. Pour 100g golden syrup into the cake tin and place the rhubarb pieces on top, packed tightly together.

4. Scatter half the orange zest over it.

5. Beat the butter, sugar, remaining syrup, remaining zest, ground allspice and cinnamon together.

6. Beat one egg in at a time with 25g of ground almonds.

7. Fold the flour in, then spoon the mixture onto the rhubarb pieces and smooth it so it is evenly spread.

8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. It is ready when a fork comes out of the batter clean.

9. Remove it from the oven and leave it to stand for 15 minutes. Carefully turn it onto a plate and eat it with cream, ice-cream or crème fraîche. It is also delicious and very moist on its own.

I think I may even have some for breakfast! (It is good to start the day with fruit.)

Rhubarb and orange zest for rhubarb upside-down cake recipe

The rhubarb and zest on a sticky bed of golden syrup

Rhubarb upside-down puddingrecipe

Devouring has started!

Walnut Shortbread with Chocolate Drizzles

Walnut shortbread

Walnut shortbread with chocolate drizzle recipe

Sometimes I have a deep strong urge to have biscuits. I don’t usually have packets in the flat so it inevitably leads to baking my own. Shortbread is one of my go-to recipes as it is easy and always delicious. You can alter the recipe too by adding bits like nuts, chocolate, seeds, and so on, as it is a good base. You can also use caster sugar or icing sugar to get a slightly crumblier texture with the former than the latter. However, this is if you aren’t staunchly conservative about how shortbread should be made, i.e. traditionally. I once made”disco ball shortbread” by adding silver sugar balls which was quite fun and silly (picture at the end) .

This recipe takes 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to bake so from urge to satisfaction can be as little as 30 minutes!

What you need:

75g walnut pieces

250g plain flour

175g unsalted butter, softened

85g icing sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C.

2. Roast the walnuts in the oven for 5 minutes, remove and set aside.

3. Beat the softened butter  with a wooden spoon until it is really soft and smooth.

4. Add the icing sugar, dessert spoon at a time, and mix it in until it is blended well with the butter.

5. Add the half teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix that in well.

6. Add the flour and blend it with the buttery mixture, adding the nuts as you mix.

7. Take pieces of the dough, around the size of a ping pong ball, and flatten them into circles at about a centimetre thickness.

8. Place them on a greaseproof lined baking tray, not too close together, and bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn the trays around half way through so the shortbreads bake evenly.

9. Once the shortbreads are lightly golden, remove them from the oven and allow to cool.

10. Melt the chocolate over a gentle heat and drizzle it over the shortbreads and voila, they are ready to satisfy the urge!

Disco ball shortbread

Disco ball shortbread!

Raspberry Ripple Custard Tarts – from Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet”

Raspberry Ripple Custard Tarts recipe

I was given Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet” for my birthday a couple of years ago and I love it. It is full of baking techniques from making breads to tarts to éclairs. I have been making Dan Lepard’s recipes for years as he writes baking columns for papers and every recipe always sounds and looks scrumptious!

I made his Raspberry Ripple Tart recipe for dessert when friends came over for dinner. Instead of serving little ones I made one large one with a huge swirl of raspberry through the custard. I also made several small ones (pictured) for dessert the next day – always necessary!

The recipe is relatively simple and definitely a crowd-pleaser. The raspberry ripple is simply raspberries crushed with sugar so if you don’t have time to make the pastry you could buy shortcrust pastry and just make the custard. If you do have time though it is worth the effort.

This is a good dessert to make in advance as the pastry needs to be chilled and the custard needs to cool as well so it will need about an hour and a half to make overall.

Here’s how to make it:

For the shortcrust pastry (once made it will require 30 minutes to chill) –

250g plain flour

50g icing sugar

150g unsalted butter (cold)

2 egg yolks

15ml ice cold water

A pinch of salt

For the custard –

325ml milk

Half a vanilla pod, split lengthways

75g caster sugar

3 tablespoons plain flour

2 egg whites (reserved from the eggs used for the pastry)

300ml double cream

For the ripple –

150g raspberries

75g caster sugar

Method:

1. First, make the pastry by putting the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.

2. Cut the butter into little pieces, put them in the bowl with the flour, sugar and salt and rub the butter into these ingredients until it has blended with them.

3. Stir the egg yolks with the water, pour this into the bowl with the flour mixture and combine it to form a soft and smooth paste.

4. Shape the dough into a block, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes before using it.

5. Heat the oven to 160C/ 180C fan.

6. Once the pastry has chilled, take it out of the fridge and roll it out thinly. Sprinkle some flour on the surface and rolling pin to avoid it sticking.

7. If you are making a large tart, line a greased tart tin with the pastry and, if you are making small tarts, cut circles of pastry and line each pocket of a greased muffin tray with the pastry.

8. Put a large piece of baking paper on the pastry (if you’re using one large tin) or muffin cases on the pastry (if you’re using a muffin tray), and fill them half-way with baking beans or dry rice.

9. Bake the pastry for 20-25 minutes until dry and golden. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and then remove the greaseproof paper or muffin cases with the baking beans or rice.

10.  Whilst the pastry is cooling, you can make the custard. Start by heating the milk with the vanilla pod on a medium heat.

11. In a bowl whisk the sugar, flour and egg whites until smooth. Beat the hot milk into this mixture in the bowl, then pour it all back into the pan and heat until boiling whisking the whole time.

12. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the vanilla pod and cover the pan with a plate (to stop a skin forming). Leave until the custard is cold.

13. Whilst the custard is cooling crush the raspberries with the caster sugar.

14. When the custard is cold, whip the cream until soft peaks form and fold it gently through the custard.

15. Put the pastry case/s on a plate or cake stand and spoon the custard into the pastry case/s and swirl the raspberries through it.

16. Devour!

Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard

Beautiful cover. Beautiful book.

Raspberry Ripple Tarts recipe

If that isn’t a tempting dessert photo, I don’t know what is!

Last weekend I attempted my first coffee Paris-Brest (a recipe from “Short and Sweet”) which are small choux pastries cut in half with coffee custard in the centre and flaked almonds and caramel on top. The choux pastry puffed up a lot (as it does in general due to the water content) which meant that they turned out nothing like the photo in the book! I need to attempt these again but I can certainly say that coffee custard and choux pastry are sublime together!

Paris-Brest

Not so Paris-Brest!

Strawberry Jam Recipe and Seal Spotting in Norfolk

Strawberry Jam recipe

Strawberry Jam recipe

I recently went to Norfolk for a weekend escape from London. It was so refreshing! Long walks on the beach, a boat trip to spot seals at Blakeney Point and homemade strawberry jam made for a very good weekend indeed! We stayed in Brancaster which you can drive to in about 2 and a half hours from London. It’s a little village with its own bay and a very good pub, The Ship, which serves local seafood. I made jam the day before for the first time to take on the trip. The reason for finally making jam was that I had bought two punnets of strawberries at Borough Market and they were, sadly, tasteless!

I had always thought that jam making would be a difficult affair with thermometers, pectin, sieves and muslin but it wasn’t! All I did was halve the strawberries and boil them with sugar and water until the mixture was fizzing and almost cascading down the outside of the pan. It was a little looser than bought jarred jam but none the less delicious!

I had been given a book called ‘Let’s Preserve It’ by Beryl Wood (Square Peg) which is full of recipes for jams, jellies and chutneys. It was first published in 1970 and it is full of beautiful little illustrations of the ingredients. It is organised alphabetically by ingredient. The start of the book has several pages explaining the general rules of making jams, jellies and chutneys but the actual recipes have the bare bones of instructions. For example it didn’t say whether to leave the strawberries whole or to cut them. So, I decided to halve them which seemed to be an on the fence compromise! I thought that this would also make them more manageable in the jam if they didn’t reduce much.

What you need:

900g strawberries
600g sugar
A touch of water

Lemon juice (from one lemon) is one of the ingredients but I didn’t have any and the jam was yummy without but do add some if you feel like it. The type of sugar wasn’t specified so I used caster.

What you need to do:

1. Wash and hull the strawberries, then halve them.

2. Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed large pan with a splash of water.

3. Put the pan on the hob and turn the heat to medium. Let the sugar melt and form a syrup with the water.

4. Once the sugar has dissolved and you have a syrup, add the strawberry halves and simmer.

5. Keep simmering. The mixture may boil and fizz which is fine! It did alarm me a little though!

6. When the strawberries have reduced and it is starting to look like a jam scoop a little out on a teaspoon a put it on a plate. If it is quite runny it needs to be cooked more. If it is quite dense and sticky it should be ready. You can tell for sure if it is ready by seeing if the surface of the jam wrinkles as it cools.

7. When it is ready let it cool a bit then pour it into a jar or tupperware.

Enjoy with some delicious bread!

Wells-next-the-Sea

Wells-next-the-Sea

Seals at Blakeney Point

Seal spotting at Blakeney Point.

Seals at Blakeney Point, Norfolk

Seals enjoying the sun.

Cantering in the sea, Norfolk

Riding on the beach – how nice indeed!

Lightning struck tree, Wells

We found this twisted and torched tree in the wood next to the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea and wondered if it had been struck by lightning.

Norfolk Llamas

Llamas being taken for a walk!

Lets Preserve It

‘Let’s Preserve It’ by Beryl Wood full of jam, jelly and chutney recipes.

Quick Supper: Smoked Salmon, New Potatoes and Beetroot

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I love cooking but sometimes when I get home from work I just want to make something quickly and unwind – preferably with an episode of “Parks and Recreation” which has only just arrived here on the BBC and is so funny! So that’s where having something you can cook in under 30 minutes and simply cut things that are already edible comes in very handy. Cue new potatoes, a pack of smoked salmon and a pack of boiled beetroot.

I love the colours on this plate: orange, purple and the yellow of the ceramic!

This is a pretty healthy dish but then you can see in the photo below that I dolloped creme fraiche on it! Ha! But look how the white highlights the pink of the beetroot juice!

Takes 20 mins // serves 2

What you need:

400g new potatoes

250g cooked beetroot

200g smoked salmon (oak smoked if possible)

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

a few dollops of creme fraiche (optional)

What you need to do:

1. Wash and cut the new potatoes in half or into three if they are big ones.

2. Boil them until tender and you can stick a knife easily into them.

3. Whilst they are boiling cut the beetroot into bite sized pieces, cut the salmon into strips and place them together in a big bowl with the beautifully purple beetroot juice.

4. Drain the new potatoes and mix them amongst the beetroot and salmon in the bowl.

5. Drizzle a bit of olive oli on top with a touch of salt and pepper.

6. Serve and add a couple of dollops of creme fraiche if desired.

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Dauphinoise Potatoes with Mackerel

There are lots of recipes for Dauphinoise potatoes and they sometimes involve cheese but this is the way I like them – super creamy with mackerel. My mother used to make this a lot and friends always love it when I make it for them. I had this the other evening with a delicious salad from Ottolenghi’s book “Jerusalem” – dates, almonds, thinly sliced red onion, baby spinach and lemon juice. The salad is so good that I’ve been eating it for lunch every day this week!! In the photo above it looks as though the cream has split, it hasn’t, I took the photo the day after I made the dish and it had been in the fridge. Not the best image but the sunlight is beautiful!

Takes 10 minutes to prepare // 1 hour 20 minutes to cook // serves 4

What you need:

600ml double cream

1kg new potatoes

3 dessert spoons of mustard with seeds

250g smoked mackerel

A large baking dish

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 170C.

2. Wash and slice the potatoes into lengths and 2-3mm wide.

3. Mix the mustard into the cream.

4. Break the smoked mackerel into bite sized pieces.

5. Lay the potato slices in the baking dish overlapping and on top of each other with the mackerel spread about evenly and pour the cream and mustard mix over it.

6. Put the dish in the oven and bake for an hour and 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the potatoes are tender when you put a knife into them.

Happy Shrove Tuesday! Sweetcorn Pancakes with Crème Fraîche and Nutmeg Recipe

Sweetcorn Pancake

Have you eaten pancakes today? If pancakes are ever on a menu I dive in. I love them with a simple squeeze of lemon and shaking of sugar to dripping with a melting nutella centre or savoury with goats cheese and tomatoes. Despite being Shrove Tuesday I haven’t actually eaten any today but I made these pancakes with sweetcorn in the mixture recently. I love how versatile pancake mixture is. You can add anything from mashed banana to crushed nuts and eat them with anything too. The possibilities are endless! So, the other day I thought I would make a pancake a little bit like a sweetcorn fritter or patty.

Takes 10 mins to prepare/ 15 to cook/ makes 2 large or 4 small pancakes

What you need:

2 eggs

100ml milk

50g wholewheat flour

A pinch of salt and pepper

200g sweetcorn

A knob of butter

A few dollops of creme fraiche

Freshly ground nutmeg

What you need to do:

1. If you are using frozen sweetcorn cook it for 3 minutes in boiling water.

2. Beat the eggs in a large jug or bowl, add the milk, salt and pepper, a bit of freshly grated nutmeg and stir.

3. Add the flour and stir in well with a fork or a whisk, then add sweetcorn and stir them in well.

4. Put a knob of butter in a frying pan and warm on a medium heat. As it melts, swirl it around so the pan is covered in the butter.

5. Pour or ladle some of the mixture onto the pan. If the sweetcorn is in one pile in the middle gently push them with a fork to spread out more evenly. Cook the pancake for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for two minutes on the other side. Make sure both sides are lightly browned.

6. Remove the pancake once done and repeat with the rest of the mixture.

7. Serve the pancakes in a pile with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg.

You might also like Coquina Squash Pancakes.