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Bread/ Recipes

Pièce de résistance Pain de Camembert

Pain de Camembert

This is my party Pièce de résistance!

A great get-ahead starter that can be prepared hours in advance. Crusty artisan french bread stuffed with warm oozing camembert, coated with crispy prosciutto and flecked with sundried tomatoes. This is a rough and rugged tear & share not for the faint-hearted!

Pain de Camembert, best served in the company of friends!

Pain de Camembert

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Featured/ Pasta

Rachel Whitread & Form Filled Ricotta and Mushroom Ravioli

Rachel Whitread & Ravioli

Getting out of your comfort zone and doing something different is often difficult when you’re ‘not feeling it’, or you maybe haven’t got the way or the will to do so.

I often get crablike and insular, avoiding the outside world, staring at the inside of my protective shell, wondering why nothing is really going on. It’s usually worse in the winter months, when hibernation suits, but it tends to become claustrophobic and self-destructive. Fear and loathing set in, self-doubt rules the roost, whilst I try to make sense of the crazy world around me.

I left the house early in the morning with my son D (who has had the mother of all Christmas holidays – nearly 4 weeks to be exact) for a final holiday adventure into London. He’s been desperate to go to the Design Museum and I wanted to see his little face light up and I desperately need a dose of the real world – so off we went.

It was a particularly baltic Wednesday, more ferocious winds and grey skies, but the Design Museum however, was like walking into a fuzzy warm oversized bedroom, the suspended ceiling duvet-like, waiting to envelope us. It was good, but not as good as the last-minute decision to hoik it over to Tate Britain to catch the Rachel Whitread exhibition before it ends.

The exhibition was truly phenomenal. We looked at the stark reliefs of everyday objects. D absolutely jumped for joy when he identified the forms and shapes before him. It was like trying to recognise a world back to front and inside out. Details, so tiny now cast, questions and more questions – lying on the floor and looking up – amazed by the scale and size and the space these objects filled – mausoleum like.

He said it now makes him look at objects inside out – he also imagines the negative space of inanimate things – filled with something solid. Getting out and about and experiencing someone else’s world, definitely helps to put your own life into perspective.

So what better food to make than a filled form ravioli in honour of Rachel Whitread – who literally (along with the weather) blew us away.

Rachel whitbread ravioli Day out with D Rachel whitbread ravioli 

Mini Ricotta and Mushroom Ravioli

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 Cooking Time: 10 mins

Ingredients

  • You will need mini sheet form ravioli tray
  • For the Pasta dough
  • 200g '00' flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • Olive oil
  • For the Filling
  • 100g ricotta
  • 75g grated pecorino or parmesan
  • Fresh oregano
  • Black pepper
  • For the topping
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • 2 shallots
  • chopped garlic
  • 200g mushrooms
  • Grated parmesan
  • 50g cream

Instructions

1

To make the pasta dough, make a well in the middle of the flour and add the egg yolks.

2

slowly kneed and mix the the flour into the egg.

3

Add a small slug of oil to make the dough a little more elastic - but not too sticky.

4

Kneed for a further 5 minutes into a ball and wrap in cling film. Set aside whilst preparing the filling.

5

Mix the ricotta, parmesan and oregano together and season with salt & pepper.

6

Toast the pine nuts in a pan and set aside.

7

chop the garlic, shallots and mushrooms and return to pasta dough.

8

Lightly flour a work surface and split the ball into to 4 equal size pieces, roll out ( or use a pasta machine, if you have one) until you have it around 3mm thick.

9

Layer the sheet of pasta on top of the ravioli tin and gently push into the form of the tray, being careful not to break the pasta.

10

Now carefully spoon a small amount of the mixture into each centre - not too much, or they will burst!

11

Brush the edges with a small amount of water.

12

Take the the next sheet and carefully layer it ontop, take the rolling pin and gently roll it over the surface of the tray to seal the edges of the ravioli, tip out onto a lightly floured surface and repeat the process until you have two ravioli duvet-like bedsheets!

13

Heat a large lidded frying pan filled with water. Add a pinch of salt and a spoon of olive oil to the water.

14

Once boiling, slowly lower the two sheets into the water and reduce the pan to a simmer. Cook for 4 minutes.

15

Heat another frying pan, add a small amount of oil, heat and fry the garlic, shallot and mushrooms.

16

Add the grated parmesan with the cream once the mushrooms are cooked through. Season to taste.

17

Using slotted serving tools, remove the ravioli sheet from the water onto a plate ( you could serve this on top of a bed of prepared salad or spinach).

18

Spoon the creamy garlic mushroom and shallot mix on top, add some more grated parmesan and the toasted pine nuts you prepared earlier, season and serve!

 Rachel Whitread Ravioli

Featured/ Soups

Shredded chicken, ginger and lentil soup

Restorative soup to help combat the rain, followed by howling wind followed by more heavy,  persistent rain. Thats basically how January is panning out so far and I’m in the need for a pick me up!

A golden bowl filled with sunshine, warming spices and ginger to blast through damp days and winter sniffles, topped with tender shredded chicken, this is a real save the day type of soup.

I’m tired of the new year, new me literature filling up my world.  Thinking about all the things I should be doing, eating, saying, bills I should be paying.  So, for one day I hit the pause button. I stay inside, hide and make this sensational soup.

As the rain hammers down, the smell of slow simmering  lentils lifts the roof the roof as well as my spirits!

The weather and the mood of the day

                                             

Shredded chicken, ginger and lentil soup

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 3hrs

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 10 pieces of garlic
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 4 boned chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • Fresh coriander
  • 2 Spring onions
  • 200g yellow split peas (soaked for an hour)
  • 1+ litre of water
  • Sunflower oil
  • White pepper and salt

Instructions

1

Rinse and soak 200g yellow lentils for at least 1 hour prior to making soup.

2

Chop all of the vegetables and throw into a large pan with a spoon of sunflower oil.

3

Add the turmeric and crushed coriander seeds, lightly sauté for a few minutes.

4

Grate the ginger, chop the garlic and add to the mix.

5

Add the pre-soaked lentils and coat them with the sautéed vegetable and spice mix.

6

Remove the skin from the chicken and place into the same pan.

7

Cover with water, season and simmer with the lid on, on a low heat for approx 1.5 hours.

8

Check the texture of the lentils, if they are still slightly under, give them another 20 mins.

9

Add more water if requires (it depends on your preferred consistency - I like mine broth like)

10

Whilst the lentils are cooking out, carefully remove the chicken.

11

Remove the bones and shred the chicken using a fork.

12

Place the shredded chicken back into the soup.

13

Turn off the heat, add freshly chopped coriander and spring onion and season to taste.

14

Serve, enjoy and go back for seconds!

Featured/ Pasta

Pecorino, Pecan & Mushroom Ravioli

Pecorino, Pecan & Mushroom Ravioli, rich and decadent for a dull and uncertain January weekend. Let these intense earthy parcels transport you on pillows to pasta heaven!

Pasta-licious

For years I worked at a factory in Warrington preparing Italian ready meals. I worked a various number of shifts, the graveyard shift being the worst( 6 in the evening until 2 am the next morning) 5 days a week. Known as ‘The Pasta Factory’ this is probably the place where I gained some of my most valuable life lessons. At the time, I can honestly say I hated it. People asked me why I stayed doing something I disliked so much… I guess it came down to options – at that time I didn’t have many…

As if Warrington wasn’t bad enough I also worked in another Pasta Factory, Barton-Upon Humber near Hull… this was also grim, but not nearly so bad as the Pork Pie factory in Wellingborough…but that’s another story!

It’s fair to say I’ve moved around a lot during my life-time and whilst those long, gruelling factory night shifts were not sustainable the friendships I made in those places were. Joined together by a collective crap experience, thrown from all walks of life, stood opposite each other for 8, 12 hours solid, repeating a task really helps you understand a person and get to know what makes them tick. I learned all of my people skills on the cold, wet, concrete factory floor including my ability to make pasta, although on a somewhat scaled down version.

Now that I’m not involved in producing nearly 12 tonnes per day, I can finally face making it!  No more bulk, cheap ingredients feeding the masses, instead focusing on a few simple quality ingredients.

For me what can turn a simple pasta dish into something truly sensational depends on the cheese you choose! Skip the cheddar, go for something special.  Find a market, a deli, somewhere that sells something a little different. For this recipe, I used a black truffle based pecorino, heavy, rich, creamy and salty, Perfect to pack a punch to these delicate pasta parcels.

Best eaten with good friends in times of uncertainty, on cold, dull days when you cant see the end in sight – this helps! ( well it helps me!).

For the PASTA RECIPIE

Pecorino, Pecan & Truffle Ravioli
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 60g dried porcini mushrooms
  • Basil flavoured olive oil for frying and drizzling
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, half slice, half very finely chopped
  • 100g ricotta
  • 50g pecans
  • 50g black truffle pecorino (or another type of hard Italian cheese)
Instructions
  1. To prepare the filling.
  2. Soak the dried porcini in 140ml freshly boiled water for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat with a glug of oil and fry the onion until soft
  4. Add the crushed garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, drain and finely chop the porcini (discard the soaking water), add to the pan.
  6. Turn up the heat add the chopped chesnut mushrooms to the mix, fry until they start to colour.
  7. Turn off the heat and cool.
  8. Stir in the ricotta
  9. Grate in the black truffle pecorino and bring the mixture together
  10. Taste and season.
  11. Using the prepared pasta, fill the parcels with the mix and rest for 5 minutes.
  12. Boil a large pan of salted water, turn down to a rolling simmer
  13. Carefully add the ravioli to the water and cook for 4-5 minutes (depending on size)
  14. Place the pecans in a bag and crush with the end of a rolling pin
  15. Add the pecans and sliced mushrooms to a hot pan, fry gently in olive oil or basil flavoured oil.
  16. Carefully remove the ravioli from the boiling water( do not attemt to drain!)
  17. Scatter the mushroom and peacn mix over the ravioli and drizzle a small amount of basil oil.
  18. Season with pepper and the remaining grated black truffle pecorino

 

Featured/ Puddings

Star-shine Clementine & Cointreau Christmas Pudding

Star-shine Citrus Christmas Pudding

The Christmas pudding to end all Christmas puddings

So this is Christmas… time on my hands to slowly steam the most decedent, clementine & Cointreau Christmas pudding. Bursting with citrus, laced with liqueur and shimmering with star-shine sparkle.

Christmas is often quiet for me, with a small family there are no pulls, no conflicts just peace, hibernation and often sickness! As the hum-drum of daily life grinds to a full stop and the Christmas holidays begin I make plans, mostly with food but also plans for the future. New year, new you and all that…

Sick and tired….

Last year, after hours of preparation, I fell sick and I mean really show-stoppingly sick, just as I was serving up dinner! 3 weeks later I emerged fragile and depressed. Vowing never to stay at home for festive breaks and yuletide logs, I made plans (mostly in my head) to escape to the sun. The trouble is, I love Christmas. I love the present giving, the roaring fire and the unadulterated hours spent preparing and scoffing food and so abandoning plans to escape I started this years festivities with a works party, one to many ‘mince pie martini’s’ (never again!) promptly followed by the mother of all colds!

And here I was again, Christmas: sick & tired with a whole host off food preparations. To distract myself  from illness I started with  this pudding, working very slowly, the stir of  plump fruit and the simmering of clementine definitely lifted my snotty spirits. Unfortunately I was unable to drink a complementing  glass of desert wine, instead it was served with a honey & ginger medicinal tea, by the bucket load.

Whilst I lacked sparkle and star-shine, this gooey, rich and decadent pudding helped put a smile back on my face.

Merry Christmas everyone, may it be filled with things that are real, meaningful and a little but of star-shine!

Star-shine Citrus Christmas Pudding

 

Star-shine Clementine & Cointreau Christmas Pudding
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 small Bramley apple
  • 1 carrot
  • 100g almonds (whole)
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • 200g suet (vegetarian)
  • 300g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp nutmeg (freshly grated)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (ground)
  • 175g plain white flour
  • 150g sultanas (pre-soaked/drained)
  • 150g raisins (pre-soaked & drained)
  • 100g dates (chopped & pitted)
  • 4 eggs, large & organic
  • 3 tbsp marmalade
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 3 clementines (zest and juice)
  • Unsalted butter (for greasing)
  • For the candied clementine slices
  • 50g Unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 1 Clementine(s) (sliced)
  • For the Cointreau cream
  • 300ml Whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp Icing sugar
  • Zest of 1 Clementine
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • Edible gold lustre dust
Instructions
  1. For the candied clementine slices – which can be made a day or two ahead
  2. Dissolve the 50g sugar in 50ml water in a small pan over a gentle heat, stirring to make sure the sugar doesn’t stick.
  3. Simmer the clementine slices, in the syrup, for 30 minutes, turning halfway.
  4. Transfer the slices to non-stick baking paper to cool.
  5. For the Pudding
  6. Core and peel then grate the apple, carrot and chop the almonds.
  7. Place all three ingredients into a large mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs, suet, sugars, spices, flour and dried fruit, and stir to mix.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the marmalade, Cointreau and clementine zest and juice, then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir everything thoroughly together.
  9. Heavily butter a 1.5 litre pudding basin, brushing the inside with edible gold lustre dust.
  10. Line the basin with the candied clementine slices (save some back for finishing)
  11. Tightly pack the rest of the mixture around taking care to keep the slices in place.
  12. Cut a large square of non-stick baking paper and butter one side of it. Cut out a square of kitchen foil the same size and place both on top of the basin, with the buttered side of the baking paper face down first.
  13. Make a pleat in the middle of the paper and foil, folding them together - this will give room for the pudding to expand as it cooks.
  14. Tightly secure the foil and paper with a double-length string around the top of the basin, then cross the string over the top and secure it on the other side - this will make a handle that can be used to lift the hot pudding out of the pan once it is cooked.
  15. Steam the pudding for 4 hours, making sure the water stays at a gentle boil and top with boiling water to keep the water level consistent.
  16. Leave the cooked pudding to cool. Once cold remove the paper and foil and replace with a fresh set, then store the pudding in a cool, dry place until Christmas Day, when it will need a further 2 hours steaming.
  17. For the Cointreau cream
  18. Whip the chilled cream with the icing sugar, then fold in the zest and a little Cointreau
  19. Serve with the pudding, with a sprinkle more edible gold lustre dust and top with the leftover candied clementine slices.

Featured/ Puddings

Jaw-breaking Sticky Toffee Pudding

Jaw-breaking Sticky Toffee Pudding

For hammering out indecision

This Sticky Toffee Pudding is Jaw-breakingly good! Packed with sticky dates and smothered in a velvety sauce it will undoubtedly set your teeth on edge, bounce you into sugar rush central, place you back on earth with a sticky smile on your face and hopefully help you hammer out any indecision.

It’s blowing a gale outside, and I’m stuck with some turbulent, job related decision making. I’ve never been a fan of toxic environments, where people tear each other down rather than supporting each other and building something up. I needed something to smash through my indecision, help me put things into perspective and to break the problems down into bite-size pieces. What better than this glorious British favourite to help cut through the crap.

Eating Conditions

Best eaten in your favourite armchair, in front of a windswept window on a cold autumn afternoon. Feet up, phone off, thinking cap firmly in place!

Jaw-breaking Sticky Toffee Pudding

Jaw-breaking Sticky Toffee Pudding
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the pudding
  • 200g fresh pitted dates
  • 90g softened butter
  • 170g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • For the sauce
  • 200ml double cream\80g butter
  • 80g dark soft brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp black treacle
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200oc and grease 8 x 150ml dariole moulds.
  2. I have also been known to use 2 x large foil take away trays to make loaf style pudding, this is a great option if you want to freeze half!
  3. Place the dates and 300ml water in a pan and bring to the boil
  4. Whisk the butter and sugar until fluffy
  5. Gradually add the syrup, treacle, vanilla extract and the eggs to the mixture
  6. Then add the self-raising flour and mix well until all is combined
  7. Using a blender, puree the date & hot water mix, add the bicarbonate of soda
  8. Quickly add this to the egg and flour mix, stirring to combine
  9. Fill the moulds, bake in the oven for 20-25 mins, if using the foil trays, it will need an extra 7-10 mins - check the top is firm to touch before removing
  10. For the sauce
  11. Place all the ingredients in the pan and bring to the boil
  12. Simmer for 3-4 mins until glossy
  13. Remove the puddings from the moulds/ portion pudding and pour the sauce over the top
  14. Serve with clotted cream, ice cream or eat it just as it comes!
  15. Sugar rush- jaw-breakingly delicious!