Rhubarb and custard profiteroles with rhubarb glaze

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So this year’s Comic Relief had me watching celebrities panic with choux pastry (with varying success) so I figured I’d give it a go myself, and why not mix a French and an English classic?! Spring is here and it’s rhubarb season. I love this bright, tart plant and paired with rich custard, we have a beautiful combination.

DSC_0114For the crème pâtissière custard

1 egg yolk
16g caster sugar
4g plain flour
4g cornflour
75ml semi-skimmed milk

Whisk together yolk and sugar until pale golden.
Gently warm the milk until it is just steaming. Slowly pour this into the egg mixture, whisking as you do so.
Add the mix back to the pan along with both flours.
Heat this gently, whisking all the time until it is thick and smooth. It should get to a custard consistency.
Allow this to cool then cover the top with clingfilm and place in the fridge to chill.

For the rhubarb compote

3 stems of rhubarb
3 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp soft brown sugar

Chop the ends off the rhubarb and slice into 1cm sections. Place this, along with the sugar and juice, into a heavy bottom saucepan and heat gently. Stir every so often for 10 minutes, until the rhubarb has broken down. Set aside.

For the choux pastry
25g butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
36g plain flour
1 egg

Plus
1 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Melt the butter in a saucepan in 75ml water.
Add the flour and stir until the dough forms a ball.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the dough to cool slightly, before adding the egg and beating in.
Add a tablespoon of boiling water and stir in, before spooning the mix into a piping bag (in my case, this consists of a freezer bag with one corner cut off).
Pipe around 20 blobs onto parchment paper. Smooth them slightly with a wet finger and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Leave to cool, then slice them in half.
Spoon about half a teaspoon of custard into each, followed by half a teaspoon of compote. Ensure at least one teaspoon of compote is left for the glaze.

Mix 1 teaspoon of the leftover compote with the icing sugar and 2 teaspoons of boiling water. Place the tops back on the profiteroles and pour over the glaze.

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(Blood) Orange and ricotta pancakes with honey caremelised orange

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pancakes1Do you celebrate pancake day? Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent begins. Lent was the time for fasting so traditionally, Shrove Tuesday was the day to use up all of the perishable ingredients that you would not be allowed to eat during Lent by making pancakes! So, sticking with tradition, these pancakes should be as rich and delicious as possible, and what better way to do that than by adding cheese!?

These ricotta pancakes are so fluffy and delicious. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find the blood oranges I really wanted to use in this recipe, though they are in season. Normal oranges make a delicious substitute.

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(Adapted from theKitchn)

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 oranges
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tsp honey
Butter, for the pan

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Zest the orange. Combine ricotta, milk, egg yolks, vanilla and orange zest in a separate mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the ricotta and milk mixture, and combine.

Beat the egg whites with a handheld electric mixer until stiff. Stir a small scoop of the egg whites into the pancake batter to lighten the batter, then fold in the remaining whites with a spatula. Slice about a quarter off either end of the oranges and cut the central sections into 4 slices each. Juice the remaining ends and stir the juice into the honey in a small bowl.

Melt a small amount of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Spoon the mixture into the pan. Cooking time will vary depending on the size/thickness of your pancake but fry for about 3 or 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden and you see a few bubbles popping through the pancakes. Flip the pancakes and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, until golden. Repeat with the remaining pancakes.

Remove the pancakes from the pan and immediately add the honey-orange juice mixture. Keep over a high heat and place in the slices of orange. Allow the orange and honey to reduce into a think caramel and flip the orange slices to coat on both sides.

Serve the pancakes with slices of orange on top.

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Buttery leek, swede and chorizo cloud hand pies

Cloud hand pies?! What are these? I’m calling them cloud hand pies because, though rich, biting into on of these is like biting into a fluffy little cloud! They turned out so much better than I expected: so worth making!

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Note: I miss cut the top and smoothed it over, hoping it wouldn’t notice but the gap opened up on cooking. It wasn’t meant to have a face, but look how happy it is!

As soon as spring arrives, it’s time for sweet, buttery leeks. I combined this with lovely, earthy swede and chorizo for some added flavour and richness. The combination works perfectly.

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Ingredients

1/2 a swede
2 leeks
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cream
salt and pepper
100g chorizo (sausage or chunks)
200g shortcrust pastry
milk

Cube the swede into roughy 1 inch chunks. Bring a large pan of water to boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the swede and simmer for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain.
While the swede cooks, add the oil to a large frying pan and begin to heat. Slice the leeks into 1 cm pieces and add to the pan over a medium heat. Stir until the leek begins to soften, then add 1 tbsp butter and coat the leek in melted butter. Cook for a further 5 minutes until the leek is soft.
Place swede and leek into a food processor with the remaining butter and cream and process until smooth but leaving some of the leek in larger pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
If the chorizo is in sausage form, slice it into 1/2cm slices.
Roll out the pastry to about the width of a 10p coin.

Crystal orange brownie

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DSC_0015I always find that this time of year begins to drag. The cold seems to creep right down to my bones and I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun. So this is citrus season? It feels like the closest I can get to the sun in this weather is a beautiful piece of citrus fruit. Just the smell of orange is enough to bring some life back into me. It turned out as I sat outside the little cafe at my university that it was “cookie hour”: a hot drink and a cookie for £1.60, and with dark chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. When I’m this cold and tired, I just can’t resist and I’m finding myself giving into temptation whenever it appears. These dark, dense, gooey brownies with a tang of citrus are just what I need.

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Ingredients
3 large unwaxed oranges
180g granulated sugar
350g dark chocolate, broken in small pieces
250g unsalted butter
3 eggs
250g dark brown sugar, preferably muscovado
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Peel the oranges and but the peel into strips, about 1/2 cm in width. Put it in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins. Drain, and cover with 250ml fresh cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins.
Add the granulated sugar to the pan, stirring to dissolve and simmer for 30 mins until the peel is translucent and soft. Leave to cool in the syrup, then remove with a slotted spoon and arrange in 1 layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.

Heat the oven to 170°C/338°F and line a 22cm square cake tin.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth and silky, then set aside to cool a little.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar until frothy.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and stir until combined.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and combine with a metal spoon.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and scatter on top the candied peel.

Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the surface is set. Leave to cool completely in the tin then cut into slices.

Kimchi season and a mozzarella and kimchi grilled cheese

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This morning brought with it a smattering of glitter across our pavements and my breath billowed before my face as I cycled in to uni. it is the epitome of a crisp, clear winter’s day. As beautiful as it is, even the plants on the windowsill in my utility room are looking a little sad. Eating seasonally is not always easy in winter but this is the time of year when the preserve comes into its own. There has to be a preserve for every taste: sweet, salty, spicy, smoky, tangy, or bitter. I decided to try something I’d been meaning to for a long time: Kimchi.

It’s hard to make pickled, fermented cabbage sound sexy but Korea has done it. The first time I tried this was at a beautiful little Korean restaurant in York that I never would have found were it not for a bit of expert googling by my sister.

DSC_0105Tucked away in an unsuspecting alleyway, at the suggestion of the wonderfully friendly owner, we ordered a plate of homemade kimchi to share. It’s spicy, crunchy, tangy: a mouthful of flavour and texture. It’s the sort if simple thing you could add to a plain dish to turn it into something magnificent. It’s also fantastically easy to make.

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I used the recipe given at chow.com , which gives about four jars. You’ll want to make it about a week in advance it’s so worth it. Particularly as it is the key to making one of the world’s most important sandwiches:

Mozzarella and kimchi toastie. Make one. Make one now.

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Bilbo’s seed cakes

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“’I don’t mind some cake – seed-cake, if you have any.’
‘Lots!’ Bilbo found himself answering, to his surprise; and he found himself scuttling off…to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.”

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We are on the cusp of the New Year. It is a quiet time where the mornings are painted silver with mist and frost. It is the time to don thick scarf and gloves and venture out into the chill air. Let the frost bite at you lips and fingers. Let it get you moving. This time of year, more than any, is time for adventure. But as the hobbit well knew: before you step out of the door, you must make sure you’re fed and provisioned for your adventures.
As with traditional seed cake, these rustic yet ever so delicate treats are flavoured with caraway seeds. Wholemeal flour and root vegetables add a wholesome touch. The favourite of wizards and dwarves alike, they are the perfect thing to set you up for the long road ahead.

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Bilbo’s Seed cakes:
80g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
60ml groundnut oil
100g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon caraway seeds

50g root vegetables: carrot or parsnip
3 tablespoons mixed seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and poppy seeds make a good mix)

Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Begin by mixing the sugar, eggs and oil together until smooth and silky.
Whisk together the flour, bicarb and caraway seeds in another bowl. Add these to the wet ingredients and stir.
Grate the root vegetables with a fine grater or in a food processor. Add these to the mixture along with the milk and mix until combined and dropping off the spoon.
Grease a shallow 12-cup muffin tin with a layer of groundnut oil then dust with flour. Shake the tin so a fine layer of flour covers it, then tip out the excess.
Place a tablespoon of mixture into each cup of the tin. Top each with around half a teaspoon of the seed mix.
Bake for 15 minutes, until your kitchen is a-waft with the warm smell of baking.

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New years eve red fruit and white chocolate tart

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New year’s eve is one last night to indulge before the new year’s resolutions begin. Christmas is for excess but new year’s calls for something a little more slinky, a little more subtle, but equally luscious. So here it is! Red fruit and white chocolate tart. Rich silky white chocolate ganache is balanced by the mouth-tingligly tart filling and the crumbling oatmeal crust adds an almost savory depth of flavour.

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For the crust

  • 95g rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 55g cranberry sauce
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 20g soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp water

For white chocolate ganache

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp single cream

Place the oats in a large, dry frying pan and spread in an even layer. Heat over a low-medium heat for 3 minutes until the oats are slightly golden. Shake the pan every minute or so to make sure the oats toast evenly.
Place the oats in a food processor and process to debris (a little less fine than a powder).
In a medium bowl, mix butter and sugar. Stir in the egg yolk. Add this mix and the salt to the food processor and pulse until crumbly. Tip out the mix and use your hands to bring it together into a ball. Place this to chill for twenty minutes.
The crust doesn’t need to be rolled out. Simply press it into a 5 inch tart tin. In my opinion, anything oatmeal needs to look a little rustic but you can make this as neat as you want. Bake at 190 C/375 F for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool
For the filling, place all of the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir for about 3 minutes and set aside to cool, then spread over the cooled tart base.
Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and add the cream. Stir until it is smooth and glossy then pour over the tart and leave to set.

The Ultimate Leftovers Pie and Mincepie Gravy

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“You cannot give up on the gravy. No gravy, no pie.” – Hot Pie

Wise words if ever there were some.

I don’t know whether mince pies are a thing in other places. You see, it amazed me that a Colombian friend had never had an advent calendar before this year. Christmas is so utterly swathed in tradition for me that I don’t stop to remember that my traditions aren’t everybody’s traditions. Anyway, for those of you unlucky enough never to have had a mince pie, they are delicious little mouthfuls of dried fruit and spices, wrapped up in a pastry case. Traditionally they have beef suet in too. This may sound weird, but it gets odder: they used to be made with actual minced meat. It’s like having meat in your Christmas pudding (do they have those around the World..?). But if you consider that we often mix sweet and savoury, it seems less strange. Actually fruit and meat make a delicious pairing. So for this recipe, I spiced it up (literally) with the best gravy you will ever taste. You can just use ordinary gravy but personally I think that would be a big mistake…

If you just want to make the gravy (also good) you might want to strain the bits from it but for a pie, they’re nicer left in.

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For the hotwater crust pastry

150g butter, firm but not chilled
250g plain flour
A large pinch of salt
60ml water recently boiled
1 large egg to glaze

For the filling
2 large cups leftover boiled vegetables (an even mix of cabbage/Brussels sprouts and parsnips works perfectly!)
2 large cups leftover turkey/chicken/goose (whatever you have)
1 1/2 cups mince pie gravy

For the gravy
Either, make from scratch, or add 3 tbsp mince meat to your gravy

The roasting tin after you cooked your poultry with the fat and juices at the bottom
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp plain flour
1 small glass red wine
350ml stock
3 tbsp mincemeat
salt and pepper

Start by making the gravy. Slice the onion into quarters and separate the layers. Place this in the roasting tin along with the garlic and stick it back in the oven for about 20 minutes at 180°C/356°F.

Remove the tin from the oven and find a good, non-scratch spatula. Pour about 2/3rds of the fat from the tin and add the flour. Start to cook out. Add the red wine, scraping the caramelised parts from the bottom of the pan the whole time. Add the bay leaf and begin to add the stock, a little at a time, allowing to reduce over the heat. Continue to stir and scrape as you add the stock. Keep stirring over the heat until you have a thick, glossy, rich gravy. Remove the bay leaf and add the mincemeat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the pastry, cube the butter and add to a large bowl with the flour. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until it’s the consistency of breadcrumbs. You can also do this in a food processor. Add the hot water (yes, it is enough!). Sir in with a spoon, then bring together into a ball with your hands and leave to cool at room temperature.

Once the pastry is a little cooler than body temperature, cut off one third and set aside. Roll out the remainder on a lightly floured surface and line an 8.5 inch pie dish. This pastry is so forgiving, so if it breaks, just patch it ups with the scraps.

Tip about one third of the vegetables into the base of the pie dish, then top with a mixture of the meat and vegetables. When the dish is about three quarters full, pour the gravy over the filling. Finally top off with the remainder of the vegetables. Roll out the remaining pastry and use it to make a lid for the pie.

Heat the oven to 200°C/392°F. Beat the egg and brush the top of the pie. Bake for an hour. Cover the top with foil for the last 15 minutes to stop it browning too quickly.

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