All American Fluffy Pancakes

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I’ve always love pancakes. As a child I always look forward to fluffy pancakes for breakfast drizzled with real maple syrup. I used to look forward to pancake day and during my recent trip to New York my childhood obsession to pancakes resurfaced when I had this wonderful buttermilk lumberjack pancake at Comfort Diner in 214 East off 45th Street. I then wondered why I haven’t had pancakes in ages. So as soon as I landed in LA the following day I couldn’t resist having pancakes for breakfast again. In LA there’s nowhere better than The Griddle Cafe on Sunset boulevard for the ultimate pancake experience of a life time. An institution in its own right that’s certainly worth a visit when in LA. The Griddle Cafe’s pancakes are the giants of the pancake world. The pancakes are fluffy and tasty and made from buttermilk. Here’s my take on of the ultimate fluffy American pancake. I hope you enjoy it!

KITCHEN KIT:
A spatula, a crepe frying pan, a whisk, measuring spoons.

Makes: 6 pancakes

Ingredients:
1. 150g. plain flour
2. 1 tbsp. baking powder
3. 1/2 tsp. of salt
4. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
5. 1 tbsp. caster sugar
6. 250 ml. of full fat milk or buttermilk
7. 2 medium size eggs
8. 30g. of unsalted butter (cubed into small pieces)

Process:
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the milk and eggs.
2. Pour the milk and egg into the flour mixture and, using a whisk, beat until the batter is smooth.
3. Heat a frying pan over a low heat and add a knob of butter. When it’s melted, add a ladle of batter. When the pancake begins to bubble, turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm (½in) thick.

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Serve with real maple syrup, berries and cream.

Note: To make a fluffier pancake substitute the plain flour with self-raising flour. If you do decide to use self-raising flour you still need to use baking powder.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Many says that this British Classic dessert was invented by Francis Coulson or Brian Sack of Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in the Lake District sometime in the 1970s. But no one really knows for sure the origin of this lovely sponge pudding. All I can say is that whoever invented this must have had a sweet tooth just like me. The sugar, cream and butter involved in making this wonderful dessert was certainly a lot! Though, I’d prefer to forget that when I eat my sticky toffee pudding, after all we only live once. I’d rather live my life to the full and have a Sticky Toffee Pudding or two than not have it at all. As once tasted it cannot be forgotten. It is no surprise that this dessert has made it to the top of the charts as one of Britain’s most love loved desserts of all time. I hope you enjoy my newly created recipe! Bon appetite!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A 23cm tin or 8 ramekins. A food mixer, a small pan, a wooden spoon and a silicone spatula.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
To prepare the tin:
1. 20g of unsalted butter
2. 5g of flour

For the Sponge:
3. 70g of soft unsalted butter
4. 170g of demerara sugar
5. 1 tbsp.of golden syrup
6. 2 tbsp. of black treacle
7. 2 large eggs
8. 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
9. 200g of self-raising flour
10. 220g of pitted, dried and chopped dates
11. 300ml of water
12. 1 tbsp. bicarbonate of soda

For the Toffee Sauce:
13. 50g. of muscavado sugar
14. 50g. of demerara sugar
15. 100g. unsalted butter
16. 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
17. 200ml of double cream

Process:
To prepare the tin:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Brush the tin with 20g of softened butter and then dust with 5g of flour.
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For the Sponge:
2. Cream the butter and sugar together on a slow speed using a food mixer. Gently add the golden syrup, black treacle, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix for 5 minutes on a high speed.
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3. After 5 minutes, set the speed to the lowest setting and slowly add the flour. Meanwhile, place your dates and water on a small sauce pan gently bring it to the boil. Then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Add this into your sponge mixture while it is hot.

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4. Continue to mix all the ingredients in your food mixer for another minute. Then, pour this into your prepared tin. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the sponge is set. You can use a cake tester or a knife and insert this at the centre of the sponge to check if it is baked. If the knife comes out clean your sponge is ready, if it comes out wet then it needs more time to bake. If the edges of your sponge starts to burn and yet the middle is still raw and needs further time to bake, cover your sponge with a foil and place it back in the oven to bake until the sponge is baked completely.
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5.  The sponge can stick into the tin even when it has been greased with butter and dusted with flour. You can easily take out your sponge out of the tin by dipping your palette knife in a hot water and running it along the insides of your cake tin.
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For the Toffee Sauce:
6. Place a small pan in a hob over a low heat, add your butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Once the butter has melted completely add the cream and bring it to the boil. Gently simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.
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Serve with a vanilla ice cream, with just double cream or custard.

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Tips:
I sometimes add 20g of dates to the Toffee sauce to add more depth into the favour of the sauce and to add texture to it too.
You can also use as an alternative just a plain brown sugar to make the Toffee sauce. I prefer a mix of muscavado and demerara sugar. As the muscavado sugar has stronger molasses taste to it and a stickier consistency in comparison to demerara. I kept the demerara sugar as it does give a lovely toffee, honey flavours.
Freezing: You can freeze the sponge and defrost at room temperature the day you need to use it. You can then heat the sponge in a preheated oven for 15 minutes or for 5 minutes in a microwave. If you do decide to freeze the sponge you will have to wrap it tightly with a cling film and then with a foil.
The toffee sauce can be made 2 days in advance but it does need to be kept in an airtight container and kept in the fridge the whole time. To re-heat the sauce I recommend re-heating on the hob and to give it a very good whisk while heating.

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

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I love this simple, humble cake. Easy as it may look, I’ve actually had several disastrous lemon cakes in the past. Some too lemony, some too bitter and some even roasted! There have been times when I’ve over zested the lemon and the bitter whites of the lemon ended up in the cake, making it more of a Bitter cake than a Lemon cake! Yikes!

There have also been times when I thought I could get away with not accurately measuring the ingredients. But after all the trials and tribulations and disastrous experiments! Life taught me to be patient. When it comes to baking, precision and lots and lots of patience are prerequisites. Sadly there are no short cuts and no easy ways around it. If you want to enjoy that cake, you have to learn to wait for it to bake and not open the oven door too early!

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I love that comforting smell of a cake baking in the oven and I certainly love eating them too. Hence, I learnt to sit still and not get over excited. The last time I got over excited, I’ve made the fatal mistake of having an early peep in the oven only for the whole thing to collapse, within seconds of opening the oven. Forcing me to start from scratch all over again! Lesson learnt. Do not get over excited and open the oven when your cake is baking or when anything is baking, cakes simply don’t like to be rush and for their temperature to fluctuate!

I do not know the origin of lemon cake. It is common in England but it is also in France. I’ve also had Lemon cake in Italy. Although, lemons are first thought to have been grown in Assam, Burma and China I don’t think the Indians, Burmese or Chinese would have made lemon cakes!  Wherever it comes from I hope that everyone gets the chance at least once in their life time to try a lovely lemon drizzle cake.

If baked well, it’s so homely and comforting. As such it is my cake of choice when it comes to friends’ presents and birthdays. The scent of the lemon and the sweetness of the cake bring back that happy homely memories for me and I hope that those of you who eat this cake will also enjoy happy memories of home and comfort.

KITCHEN KIT:
A loaf tin, pastry brush, baking paper/parchment, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls, a sifter and a lemon zester.
Alternatives: you can either use two 17 x 7.5 x 6cm H loaf tin or one 19 x 9 x 6.5cm H loaf tin.

Ingredients:
For the lemon sponge:
1. 2 large lemons, zest only (finely grated)
2. 200g softened, unsalted butter
3. 200g caster sugar
4. 3 lightly beaten medium eggs
5. 200g sifted self-raising flour

For the lemon syrup and decoration:
6. 2 lemons, juiced (100ml)
7. 70g icing sugar
8. 1 tsp. of pear sugar/sugar nibs

For the lemon sponge:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease a cake tin and line the bases with baking parchment.

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3. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, salt, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

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4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add them very little at a time to the creamed butter mixture.

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5. Next, fold in the flour into the mixture, mix until well combined and pour the mixture into a lined cake tin.

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6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well-risen and golden-brown on top. Insert a skewer or a cake tester in the middle of the cake sponge, if the skewer comes out clean and not wet, your cake is done.

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7. Remove from the oven and turn the cake out onto a wire cooling rack. Prick the cake all over with a cake tester or a skewer.

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For the lemon syrup and decoration:
8. Squeeze the lemon juices into the sugar and gently whisk to dissolve the sugar. Slowly drizzle over the cake, wait for a few moments before pouring over the syrup, so that it all sinks in the cake.

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9. Decorate with pearl sugar/sugar nibs and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Enjoy!

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‘Some sort of a kind of a Victoria Sponge’

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Aside from enjoying the art of cake eating, baking and cake experimenting. I am also curious about how cakes came about and what makes them special. I’ve read numerous books and blogs to understand what constitute as a perfect cake and how it got its name.

I initially thought that Victoria sponge was created by someone called Victoria. Though, apparently, I couldn’t be more wrong.  It was Queen Victoria who named this cake after herself, she love this cake so much that she named it after herself. It is no secret that she had an incredible sweet tooth. Although it was Anna, the Duchess of Bedfordm, who invented ‘tea time’ it was Queen Victoria who made it a tradition and turned it into an art form, hence the British adoration for afternoon High tea.

By 1885 Queen Victoria was holding formal attire tea parties for her guests and every week royal residencies received a consignment of pastries from the Buckingham Palace kitchens. Different pastries, cakes and sponges were created and named after her during her rein. What makes a traditional Victoria Sponge is however still a mystery to me. Some argue that it must only have strawberry jam, some says jam and cream, while others use butter cream. In my opinion if it tastes good then it must be the way it should be!

I created this recipe recently for my cake club. A friend of mine from work signed me up to our company’s cake club! The cake club consist of cake enthusiasts, we each get an allocated week to bring cakes. Cakes are eaten and reviewed. It’s a fun club to discover new recipes and flavours that I would never have dreamt of combining! And since we are all experimenting on each other. It’s safe to say that whatever the cake looks or tastes like, it’s the learning process that counts in this club. The last time I made this cake it was half burnt, I thought I’d give it another try, completely rewriting the recipe and measurements. I used butter cream as I was not sure how hot it would be in the office and didn’t want the cream to go off. Some of my colleagues told me though that it wasn’t a Victoria sponge because I’d used butter cream. So I named it: ‘Some sort of a kind of a Victoria Sponge’ I hope you enjoy this experiment!

 

KITCHEN KIT:
Two 20cm/8in loose-bottomed cake/sponge tins, pastry brush, baking paper/parchment, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls, a sifter and a lemon zester.

Ingredients:

For the Victoria sponge:
1. 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus some for greasing the cake tins.
2. 250g caster sugar
3. A pinch of fine salt
4. 5 lightly beaten, medium size eggs
5. 250g self-raising flour, plus some for dusting the cake tins
6. 1 lemon (zest only)

For the butter cream filling:
7. 250g softened unsalted butter
8. 200g sieved icing sugar
9. 1 lemon, juice only

For the jam and decoration:
10. A jar of Bonne Maman Raspberry Conserve
11. 200g of fresh raspberries
12. ½ tsp. of silver metallic sugar balls (optional)
13. 1 tsp. of icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

For the Victoria sponge:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease and flour two 20cm/8in loose-bottomed cake/sponge tins and line the bases with baking parchment.

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3. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, salt, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

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4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add them very little at a time to the creamed butter mixture.

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5. Next, fold in the flour into the mixture, mix until well combined and divide the mixture between the two lined cake tins.

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6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well-risen and golden-brown on top. Insert a skewer or a cake tester in the middle of the cake sponge, if the skewer comes out clean and not wet, your cake is done.

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7. Remove from the oven and turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave them to cool completely.

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For the butter cream filling:
8. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, icing sugar and lemon juice.

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For the jam and decoration:
9. Once the cake has completely cooled down, simply spread the jam over the 2 sponge cakes.

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10. Then add some of the butter cream filling and sandwich the two cakes together.

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11. Finally spread over the left over butter cream on top of the cake and add the fresh raspberries on top. You can also decorate the cake with some silver metallic sugar balls and dust the cake with some icing sugar.

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Granny Nelly’s Brownies

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What makes a good brownie? Some like it gooey in the middle, some like it fudge like and some like it crunchy on the top. Everyone has their own preferred brownie texture and taste and I think the only way to know what makes a good brownie is to simply enjoy trying them all and experiment with your own sorts of ingredients! This brownie is my 5th brownie experiment,I have tried them with nuts, with broken cookies, with dates, plain and so far I still haven’t made up my mind which ones I love best. I am still in my life long quest searching for the perfect brownie!
It was Gran’s birthday last week and I know how much she loves her chocolate and sweets.So I decided to conduct my brownie experiment number 5 and since I made this for her 95th birthday present, I decided to name it after, ‘Granny Nelly’s Brownies’
The first 4 brownies I made were made with less sugar, less butter or less chocolate. So far my experiments has proven that more butter, sugar and chocolate is needed! This is certainly the richest brownie I’ve made so far. Although, Gran did say that this is more of a chocolate cake than a brownie. Cake or brownie I hope you enjoy as much as we did! :)

KITCHEN KIT:
A brownie tin, a large baking tray, pastry brush, baking paper, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls and a small sauce pan.

Ingredients:
1. 200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), grated or broken into pieces.
2. 50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), broken into pieces
3. 250g unsalted butter
4. 300g golden caster sugar
5. 3 large eggs and 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
6. 50g plain flour (old recipe is 60)
7. ½ tsp baking powder
8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
9. 2 pinches of salt
10. 50g good quality cocoa powder (old recipe is 60)
11. 50g pistachio nuts (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, brush your brownie tin with some butter, then line it with a baking paper.

2. Place your 200g of your grated chocolate in a bowl, then set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the bottom of the pan doesn’t touch the simmering water). Leave the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Once all the chocolate has melted remove from heat and set aside.You can also melt them in a microwave on low, for 30 seconds.

3. On a separate bowl or a mixing bowl attached to an electric mixer, beat your butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the chopped chocolate pieces and gently stir to combine with the butter and sugar.

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4. Gradually add the beaten eggs on a running electric mixer, do not pour all the beaten eggs in one go, it is best to add them in 3 or 4 stages to ensure it’s thoroughly incorporated before pouring in more of the eggs. Mix the ingredients on a high speed for five minutes until the batter is smoother in texture has increased in volume.

5. Next, gently fold in the melted chocolate, followed by the vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and pistachio nuts.

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6. Spoon the mixture into the brownie tin, and bake for 30 minutes. A few minutes before the brownies finished baking, prepare another baking tray big enough to hold your brownie tray. Pour some cold water over the tray and set aside.

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7. To test your brownie if it is baked, insert a skewer in the middle of the brownie, the skewer should come out with some sticky but not runny and raw mixture. If it does come out with runny raw mixture, place it back into the oven for another 3-5 minutes, then test again.

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8. When the brownies are ready, remove from the oven and place it in a baking tray with cold water. Leave to cool in the water for an hour before removing the brownie from the baking tray and slicing them. Store in an air-tight container; freeze or eat them all on the same.

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Serve by itself of with a yummy Madgascan vanilla ice cream.

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Tarte Fine aux Pommes

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I’ve first discovered these amazing tarts on my first trip to Paris and ever since they came into my life. I’ve longed to eat them at every opportunity that arises! As much as I love pain au chocolat or a freshly baked croissants aux amandes for breakfast, nothing is better for me than a wonderful  Tarte Fine aux Pommes first thing in the morning. Although, many would insist that these should be eaten later in the afternoon or for dessert. I would argue that it is always best to start your morning well. That means wake up early, while half the world is still asleep,  take your time to enjoy the sun and a moment alone with a Tarte Fine aux Pommes! Here’s my take on the wonderful Tarte Fine aux Pommes! Bon appetite!

KITCHEN KIT:
A rolling pin, a 3 ½ inch cookie cutter (or anything round you can use to cut the pastry), pastry brush, a wooden spoon, a small pan and a tart baking tin (optional)

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Ingredients Serves 30:
1. 700g. all butter puff pastry
2. 8 medium size Apples, peeled and sliced into very thin slices ( use Cox or Granny Smith Apples)
3. 1 lemon, zest and juice
4. 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
5. 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
6. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 4 tbsp. apricot jam

Tarte Fine aux Pommes
1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
2. On well floured work surface, roll your puff pastry. Using a cookie cutter, cut the pastry into small round circles.

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3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment/paper, place the pastry circles on top.
4. Place your sliced apples in a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest, lay the apples on top of the pastry, dot the apples with some butter, sprinkle over some sugar and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

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5. Place a small sauce pan over a low heat. Slowly heat your apricot jam and vanilla extract, once warm brush this onto your cooked apple tarts.

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6. Sprinkle over some more brown sugar and place back in the oven to bake for another 3 minutes. If you would like it to caramelise you can set your oven to Grill instead and bake the tarts for 2-3 minutes, you’ll have to keep a constant eye on it to make sure the tart doesn’t burn.

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Serve immediately.

 

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Creme Caramel

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Creme caramel is certainly one of my all time favourite classic desserts. It was a childhood favourite and still is. The best part of this dessert is that it is easy to make and comforting to eat.  Although this dessert has made its way into Micheline starred restaurants, to famous french brasseries of Lyon, Bordeaux and Paris, with its the ‘Egg flan’ equivalent being equally famous across Spain’s many fine restaurants. This dessert for me is still best serve at home made by my lovely Mom! who never fails to supply UNLIMITED creme caramel to me and my sister. I love this dessert so much that I often eat this for breakfast -well on the times when I’ve beaten my sister to the fridge first!!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A small sauce pan, a medium size pan, a large bowl, a whisk, a fine sieve, 4 medium size ramekins, a pastry brush and a baking tray.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the caramel:
1. 2 tbsp. water
2. 125g. golden caster sugar
3. 1 tbsp. unsalted butter (brush your ramekin base with the butter)

For the creme mixture:
3. 500ml. full fat milk
4. 1 tsp vanilla extract  or 1 vanilla pod
5. 2 medium eggs and  3 egg yolks (organic or free range)
6. 125g golden caster sugar

For the caramel:
1. In a small saucepan add your water and sugar, then place the pan on a medium heat. Leave it without stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved, you can gently shake the pan to make sure the sugar dissolves evenly.  Allow to simmer until the syrup turns into a rich brown caramel colour. This takes around 10 minutes.
2. As soon as the colour turns caramel, immediately remove the pan from the heat.Pour the caramel into 4 (buttered)medium size ramekins, gently shake each ramekins around so the caramel coats the base evenly. Transfer the ramekins to a baking tin and set aside.

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For the creme mixture:
5. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C
6. Pour the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla extract and bring it to simmering point for 4-5 minutes.
7. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the sugar. Gently pour your hot milk into your eggs and sugar mixture, whisking all the time.

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For the final stage of making the creme caramel:
8. Pour your creme mixture through a fine sieve into your ramekins with caramel base.

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9. Place the baking tray with the creme filled ramekins in the oven and carefully pour some boiling water in the tray, two-third of the way up the side of the moulds.

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10. Finally, bake the creme caramel for 55–60 minutes, until the crème caramels are just set ( you can check if they are set by gently pressing the middle of the creme mixture with your thumb).
11. Once set, remove from the oven and leave to cool, then place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour (I prefer mine to chill overnight).

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12. To serve, use a knife, soak it in hot water and slide it around the inside edge of the ramekin, place the bottom of the ramekins into a hot water for a couple of seconds and then turn it upside down on to a serving plate.

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Bon Appétit!

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Moelleux au chocolat (The very gooey Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes)

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I love this dessert! In fact I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t fallen madly in love with these gooey little cakes. These cakes are widely available in many brasseries and cafes in France. They are also frequently available in my house-hold due to my serious addiction to these cakes. They are perfect for dinner parties too as they can be prepared a day in advance. They also don’t need to be taken out from the fridge ahead of time before baking, as they need to be bake straight out from the fridge, whilst they are still very cold to get the ‘gooey chocolate lava in the middle’ consistency. Baking the cake cold will make it slower for the heat to penetrate the middle of the cake, making it yummy and gooey!

KITCHEN KIT:
4 Ramekins oven-proof, a whisk, pastry brush, s small pan and heat-proof bowl.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the Ramekins:
1. 10g. of softened or melted unsalted butter
2. 10g. cocoa powder

For the Moelleux au chocolat:
3. 85g. Dark Chocolate use at least 70% cocoa and a very good quality chocolate, broken into small pieces
4. 85g. unsalted butter, softened
5. 85g. light brown sugar
6. 43g. of plain flour
7. 3 eggs, lightly beaten
8. 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
9. A pinch of fine salt

For the Ramekins:
1. Brush the insides of your ramekins with butter, then coat them with the cocoa powder. Tap them a couple of times to remove any excess cocoa at the bottom of the ramekins. Then set the ramekins aside.

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For the Moelleux au chocolat:
2. In a heat proof bowl, add your butter and chocolate, place the bowl in a pan of simmering water (bain marie). Stir the butter and chocolate until melted and well combined. You can also melt them in a microwave on low, for 15 seconds.

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3. Next, whisk the eggs with the melted butter and chocolate, then add the vanilla extract, the flour and sugar. Whisk until all the ingredients are well combined.

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4. Pour the mixture into your ramekins, cover with a cling film but make sure the cling film does not stick into your cake mixture. Place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. The mixture needs to be cold so the centre remains cold when baked making it gooey.

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5. When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 180C. Bake the cake for 18-20 minutes. The sides of the cake should look crisp, and the cake will look more like a little dome, when poked in the middle the chocolate should pour out like a lava. Run your knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the ramekins, making it easier to transfer on a plate.

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Serve immediately with madagascan vanilla ice cream or double cream.

Bon appétit!!

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Palmiers

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This lovely canapés are perfect for a dinner parties or movie nights with friends. Quick and easy to prepare and most importantly they can be prepared a day in advance. You can also freeze them and defrost at room temperature before baking them in the oven. You can also put any fillings you want, you can spread the palmiers with some other types of savoury spreads or just with parmesan cheese or even with those addictive ‘Nuttela’ sprinkled with some chopped hazelnut for a crisp texture, you can also simply use icing sugar and deep them in hot chocolate sauce once baked, Yum! Feel free to experiment and above all enjoy the baking and eating process!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A rolling pin, a fine sieve, a pastry brush and a baking tray.

Ingredients:
For the pastry:
1. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
2. 1 egg, lightly beaten for glazing

For the savoury filling:
3. 4 tbsp. of basil and pine nuts pesto (recipe to make your own pesto: Basil and Pine Nuts Pesto Recipe)
4. 10 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
5. 2 pinches of salt
6. 2 pinches of ground black pepper
7. 10g. grated parmesan cheese

For the sweet filling:
8. 2 tbsp.icing sugar
9.  1 tbsp.cinnamon powder
10.  2 tbsp. mini chocolate chips or chocolate nibs pieces

 

Palmiers:
1. On a well-floured work surface, roll the pastry out into a rectangle about 12 x 14in and the thickness of approx.3mm.

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2. For Savoury palmiers: Spread the basil and pine nuts pesto, sundried tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper over the puff pastry.

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3. For the Sweet palmiers: Sprinkle the cinnamon powder, icing sugar and chocolate chips over the puff pastry.

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4. Take both long edges of the pastry and roll them gently and tightly towards each other to meet in the middle. Brush the centre with some egg so that the two halves stick together.

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5. Place into a large baking tray and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This will make it easier for you to slice them into smaller pieces.
6. Preheat the oven to 200C.
7. Remove the rolled and filled puff pastry from the fridge and slice it into ½in thick pieces. Lay each pieces flat on the baking tray and brush only the top with a beaten egg.
8. Bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes until they all puffed up and golden-brown.
9. Remove the palmiers from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for just a couple of minutes.

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Serve immediately.

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Foccacia

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KITCHEN KIT:
A baking tray, a cling film, a rolling pin, a bread mixer.

Ingredients:
1. 510g.strong white bread flour, (500g for the foccacia and 10g for dusting)
2. 2 tsp. of sea salt
3. 7g.fast action yeast
4. 70ml. extra virgin Olive Oil
5. 250ml. warm water
6. A handful of fresh rosemary
7. Oil or butter spray

The Foccacia:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C and dust your baking tray with strong white bread flour.
2. Put the flour into a large bowl or bread mixer, make a well in the middle and add the water and oil. Next, add the salt and add the yeast (the yeast should be right opposite the salt or the salt will kill the yeast)

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3. Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes or for 5 if using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Poke the dough with a well floured finger and if the indent disappears the dough is ready, if it stays then continue to knead for a couple of minutes longer.

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4. Shape the dough into an oval shape.Then place it in a well floured baking tray. Cover the dough loosely with an oiled/buttered cling film, making sure it is airtight. (You can use an oil or butter spray to oil or butter your cling film, this will then prevent the cling film from sticking to the dough.)

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5. You can now leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

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6. After 45 minutes, roll the dough in a well floured work surface into an oval shape, the length and width can be however you want it to be, you can even shape it as squares or small round balls, or in this case I did an oval shape one.

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7. Once you have rolled the dough, poke some holes all over the dough, you can use the back of a wooden spoon to do this, or use a well floured finger. Insert some rosemary into the holes, sprinkle some more salt all over the top and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. It should rise a bit and have a lovely pale brown colouring all over it.

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8. Once baked, place in a baking tray to cool for 3-4 minutes, drizzle with some more olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper and serve.

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Baked Alaska with lemon curd (Omelette norvégienne)

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KITCHEN KIT:
An electric whisk, a big bowl, 2 of 7′inch round baking tin and a 3′ inch cookie cutter

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Madeira Cake:
1. 75g. unsalted butter
2. 75g. caster sugar
3. 2 medium size eggs. lightly beaten
4. 113g. self raising flour
5. 1/2 lemon, zest only
6. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 1 tbsp. of full fat milk
8. 2 tbsp. Pousse Rapier (alternatively you can use Grand Marnier or other types of Orange Liqueur)

For the Lemon Curd:
9. 2 small lemon zest and juice.
10. A pinch of salt
11. 50g sugar
12. 50g melted unsalted butter
13. 4 egg yolks

For the Alaska:
14. 4 big scoops of good quality Madagascan vanilla ice cream
15. 65g egg whites
16. 50g caster sugar
17. 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
18. Pinch of salt
19. 1 tbsp. of Flaked Alomnds

For the Madeira cake:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and flour your 2 baking tin, line the base with greaseproof paper and grease the paper again.

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2. Next, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the lightly beaten eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well between each one and adding a tablespoon of the flour with the last egg. This process although time consuming will make sure that your mixture doesn’t curdle.
3. After adding the last egg, mix again for a minute, then gently fold in your lemon zest and 1 tbsp. of milk.

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4. Pour your mixture into your baking tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Once your cake is baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Before brushing it all over with Pousse Rapier. Then finally using a cookie cutter, cut the 4 small cakes.

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For the Lemon Curd:
6. Put the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute, add beaten egg yolks and whisk all together.
7. Turn the pan onto a low heat again, whilst constantly whisking. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat. Cover with a cling film once cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Once ready for use, spread the lemon curd on each cakes.

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For the Alaska:
8. First, Pre-heat the oven to 230C.
9. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the lemon curd. Place in the fridge to prevent the ice cream from melting.
10. Then in a clean bowl, add half of the egg whites with the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until soft peaks form.
11. Then add the remaining egg whites, continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks.
12. Spoon the meringue mixture over the ice cream and cake, covering all sides completely. Sprinkle the top with some almonds and bake for 2-3 minutes until the meringue is golden on the top.

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Serve immediately.

Note:
This dish is fantastic for dinner parties, as it can be prepared in advance. You can make the lemon curd and sponge cake a day before or you can also make everything well in advance and freeze. Once you have covered the cake, lemon curd and ice cream with the meringue it can be frozen in the freezer.  It doesn’t have to be defrosted, to cook it simply place it in a pre-heated oven of 200C to bake for 8-10 minutes until golden all over, bake straight from the freezer.

 

 

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Chocolate Soufflé:

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a silicone baking spatula, a whisk and 4 oven proof ramekins

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the pastry cream:
1.  180ml full fat milk
2.  1 tsp vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod seeds
3.  25g caster sugar
4.  25g plain flour
5.  4 tbsp. cocoa powder (for a more intense chocolate flavour add more, I sometimes put more but on this occasion I put less) 
6.  4 large eggs, (yolks only)

For the soufflé:
7.  4 large eggs, (whites only)
8.  55g sugar
9.  ½ tsp. lemon juice
For the ramekins:
10.  1 tbsp butter
11.  1 tbsp golden caster sugar

 

For the pastry cream:
1.  In a medium size pan, bring the milk and vanilla extract/seeds to a simmer.
2.  Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cocoa powder in a bowl until well combined. Slowly add the warm milk mixture into this whisking continuously until well combined.
3.  Return the milk and creamy egg mixture into the saucepan, over a low heat, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until thick and smooth.

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For the soufflé:
4.  Preheat the oven to 170C. Brush your ramekins with butter and dust all sides with golden caster sugar.

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5.  In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, until stiff peaks form.

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6.  Spoon over a quarter of the pastry cream into the egg white mixture. Gently fold and once well combined add the rest of the pastry cream. It is important to do this gently to keep the air on the egg whites. Using a pallete knife smooth over the top of the soufflé, and then run a knife around the edge of the insides of the ramekins to allow the soufflé to rise.

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7.  Finally spoon this over the buttered ramekins, dust the top with some icing sugar and place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

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8.  Dust the top with some more cocoa powder and serve immediately.

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Calvados Soufflé

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This is such a wonderful dessert to have specially if you’ve had a rich  and heavy meal when all you wanted for dessert  is something sweet and light to finish your meal.  I got this idea from a restaurant I’ve recently  visited in Rouen called  ‘Restaurant La Couronne’ this restaurant is a definite must to visit when in Rouen, one of the oldest restaurant in town that has become an institution in its own right and serves amazing  Calvados Soufflé. The Calvados Soufflé I’ve had at La Couronne is certainly more alcoholic than my recipe, I wanted to create a more toned down version, a soufflé that just gives  a slight hint of the calvados flavours. However, if you love alcoholic desserts then simply add more calvados into this recipe for that extra kick. Enjoy : )

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a silicone baking spatula, a whisk and 4 oven proof ramekins

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the pastry cream:
1.  180ml full fat milk
2.  ½ tsp vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod seeds
3.  25g caster sugar
4.  25g plain flour
5.  2 tsp calvados
6.  4 large eggs, (yolks only)

For the soufflé:
7.  4 large eggs, (whites only)
8.  55g sugar
9.  ½ tsp. lemon juice

For the pastry cream:
1.  In a medium size pan, bring the milk and vanilla extract/seeds to a simmer.
2.  Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar,calvados and flour in a bowl until well combined. Slowly add the warm milk mixture into this whisking continuously until well combined.
3.  Return the milk and creamy egg mixture into the saucepan, over a low heat, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until thick and smooth.

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For the soufflé:
4.  Preheat the oven to 170C. Brush your ramekins with butter.
5.  In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, until stiff peaks form.

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6.  Spoon over a quarter of the pastry cream into the egg white mixture. Gently fold and once well combined add the rest of the pastry cream. It is important to do this gently to keep the air on the egg whites. Using a pallete knife smooth over the top of the soufflé, and then run a knife around the edge of the insides of the ramekins to allow the soufflé to rise.
7.  Finally spoon this over the buttered ramekins, dust the top with some icing sugar and place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

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La Couronne’s Calvados Soufflé -  http://www.lacouronne.com.fr/

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Bread and Butter Pudding

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KITCHEN KIT:
A baking dish and a sauce pan.

Ingredients Serves 4:
1. 80g butter, softened
2. 8 slices of slightly stale white bread or panettone, slice into triangles
3. 2 tbsp armagnac or brandy, optional
4. 50g mixed fruit (combinations of currants, raisins, dates, orange peels etc.)
5. 200ml full fat milk
6. 1 vanilla pod seeds or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 100ml double cream
8. 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
9. 3 1/2 tbsp. golden caster sugar
10. 1/2 tbsp demerara sugar
11. 2 Pinches of grated nutmeg

Bread and Butter Pudding:
1. In a bowl combine the dried fruits with the brandy. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave to soak overnight or for at least 1 hour.

2. Next, Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Then slice your vanilla pod into half, scrape the seeds out with the back of a knife, place both the vanilla pods and seeds in a sauce pan, add the milk and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes over medium heat.

3. Remove the sauce pan from heat and set aside to cool for 2 minutes. (Discard the vanilla pod). Add the cream, lightly beaten egg and caster sugar into this and beat lightly until all ingredients are well combined. Save this custard mixture aside.

4. Meanwhile, butter the bread and your baking dish. Arrange the buttered bread slices in overlapping rows inside the dish.

5. Scatter the soaked fruits on top and pour over some of the custard mixture on top. Leave the bread to soak for 20 minutes.

6. Add the rest of the buttered bread in the baking dish, making a second layer, then pour over the rest of the custard mixture on top. Finally scatter pieces of softened cubed butter on top, followed by sprinkling of demerara sugar and pinches of grated nutmeg.

7. Place in a roasting tin and and fill halfway with water to make a bain marie. Cook for 35 – 45 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with more custard or as is.
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Rhubard and Stem Ginger Crumble serve with a warm custard

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KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof dish and a bowl

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Crumble Filling:
1.  450g sticks of rhubarb, sliced into approx. 5 inch in length
2.  2 tbsp water
3.  1 tbsp Armagnac
4.  6 tbsp caster sugar
5.  1 tsp all spice powder
6.  2 tbsp glace ginger

For the Crumble:
7.  90g unsalted butter, softened
8.  90g demerara sugar
9.  150g plain flour
10. 10g chopped hazelnuts

 

For the Crumble Filling:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C. On an ovenproof dish place your sliced rhubarb, sprinkle with water, Armagnac and caster sugar. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
2.  Remove from the oven and mix the glace ginger and all spice powder into the rhubarb.

For the Crumble:
3.  On a bowl, rub the butter into the flour and sugar, until they resemble breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the rhubarb, followed by the chopped hazelnuts. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the crumble topping is crisp and golden-brown.

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4.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Serve with a nice warm custard.

 

 

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Apple Crumble Hazelnut Serve with Crème Anglaise

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My passion for and great love affair with French patisseries is very well known by my family and friends. Though, it always surprises them how a little person like myself can consume so many macaroons and tarte tatins in one day. However what they don’t know about, is my secret love and adoration for the Great British pudding! I adore Apple and Rhubarb crumbles, Ginger syrupy sponge puddings, Eaton mess, Bakewell tarts, Lardy cakes, Victoria sponges, Carrot cakes, Trifles, Minced pies, Scones and perhaps my favourite of all, well in name as least, Fat Rascals! My list is much longer than this, but it would take me days to type them all out, so I will just put them here in my blog as I go along baking and eating them. British puddings for me are the ultimate comfort home food. Enjoyed most of all, on rainy winter days or in my case on any day! There is nothing else I love more than to snuggle on the sofa with a warm duvet, watch an old movie and enjoy the company of a Great British pudding, such as this warm and comforting Apple crumble. My lovely friend, Connie, gave me one of the most memorable presents in the world a few years ago: a gift to the Cotswold Pudding Club, where I enjoyed a night of eating all the best British puddings. Each pudding was presented in such grandeur, with a trumpet announcing each pudding’s entrance. It made me giggle none stop throughout the whole evening. Each pudding was paraded one by one and everyone had to rate each pudding after eating them. I had a terrible headache that evening from the amount of sugar I’d consumed – it almost induced a hyperglycaemic coma! But I must say it was worth the pain! If you ever want to enjoy the best British puddings then try and visit The Pudding Club. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! In the meantime, please try this Apple crumble in the comfort of your home : )

KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof dish, a sauce pan, a whisk, a wooden spoon and a bowl.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Apple Filling:
1.  Approx. 550g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced into small pieces
2.  1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
3.  A pinch of cinnamon powder
4.  1 tbsp. of water
5.  60g light brown sugar

For the crumble:
6.  100g plain flour
7.  60g unsalted butter, cold and soft
8.  Pinch of salt
9.  30g chopped hazelnuts

Crème Anglaise:
10. 50g golden caster sugar
11. 2 large eggs, yolks only
12. 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
13. 250ml full fat milk

 

For the Apple Filling:
1.  Combine all the ‘Apple Filling’ ingredients listed above and place in an oven-proof dish.

For the crumble:
2.  Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
3.  In a large bowl mix all the crumble ingredients listed above, except for the chopped hazelnuts. Rub flour, salt and butter until they start to look more like fine breadcrumbs. Then mix in the chopped hazelnuts for an added texture.

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4.  Add your crumble on top of your apple filling mixture and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble has turned golden brown and crisp.

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For the Crème Anglaise:
5.  In a bowl cream the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
6.  Meanwhile, in a large pan bring the milk and vanilla pods/extract to a boil. Gently simmer for -5 minutes. Then allow it to cool for 30 seconds.
7.  Pour the milk mixture onto the eggs and sugar, whisking continuously until smooth, then gently pour the mixture into the saucepan. Place on a medium heat and stir continuously for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has slightly thickened.  It is important to continuously stir and not allow the mixture to reach boiling point as it will split and you will end up having a scrambled egg rather than a crème anglais (this happened to many times for sure). Your mixture should have a single cream texture rather than a thick custard texture as it will thicken after chilling it in the fridge.

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8.  Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, stir for a few minutes, then place into the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours.

Serve the Apple crumble with a lovely smooth crème anglaise.

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Extra Tip:
Apples:
For thsi dessert I personally prefer to use Bramley a famous Britsh cooking apple or Braeburn apples will do as well, as both types of apples hold their shapes when cooked.

The Crumble:
Your crumble should have that amazing dark golden brown in colour, if you’re afraid that your crumble is starting to look a bit burnt, as I was in some occasions you can cover it with a foil and continue baking it in the oven, before you take off though, remove the foil and place back on grill in the oven just for 1 minute or so to crisp it up.

Crème Anglaise:
I love Crème Anglaise and I can eat by itself anytime. It is important however to use very quality eggs when making this as it does makes a massive difference with both the taste and texture. When I first made this I got distracted and the mixture boiled for a a few seconds and it that short period of time my smooth Crème Anglaise turned into a scrambled egg. I had to start all over again. The second mistake I did was leaving it too long in the hob, trying to get it to have a thicker consistency again another disastrous experience it split. Attention and patience is definitely a must for this one! Do not leave it to boil not even slightly, and do not leave it on the hob for longer than 5 minutes as I have done. The Texture should not be thick, it has to be smooth and has that single cream like texture. Leave it to chill for at least 3 hours and your Crème Anglaise will thickened. You can enjoy it then and no more waiting required.

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Peach Tarts

KITCHEN KIT:
Muffin Tin/mould, rolling pin, pastry brush, cookie/pastry cutter, balloon whisk, large bowl and a sauce pan.

Ingredients:
For the Peach and Custard Mixture:
1.  4 eggs, yolks only
2.  80ml whipped cream
3.  80ml full fat milk
4.  65g golden caster sugar
5.  1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod.
6.  Waitrose tinned Peach halves in syrup, drained and slice into small pieces

For the Pastry:
7.  2x 320g ready rolled shop-bought, all butter puff pastry if you are in hurry or just feeling lazy. Otherwise you can also make your own puff pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
8.  100g unsalted butter, softened (for pastry and for greasing muffin tin)
9.  25g icing sugar

For Glazing:
10. 3 tbsp. milk
11. 10g icing sugar

 

For the Custard Mixture:
1.  On a bowl whisk your egg yolks and sugar until all ingredients are well incorporated.
2.  On a small sauce pan over a very low heat, gently simmer your milk, cream and vanilla pods/extract for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, leave to cool for a couple of minutes, and then pour this into your egg and sugar mixture.
3.  Whisk all the ingredients together. Cover with a cling film and place in the fridge overnight.

 

For the Pastry, baking and glazing process:
4.  Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Butter your muffin tin/mould.
5.  On a flour dusted work surface, roll both of your puff pastry, approx. 3mm in thickness, wide and long enough to cover the entire baking tin, brush the pastry with butter on one side, then sprinkle over some icing sugar on top.

6.  Using a cookie cutter, cut the pastry into discs.


7.  Place 3 pastry discs overlapping each other. Just lightly press them together so that they stick together. We’d like the pastry to puff so best not to roll them together or press them too firmly together, a light touch would do.
8.  Place pastry discs on your muffin tin/mould; gently press the pastry at the bottom and around the edges of the tin/mould.


9.  Pour your egg custard mixture, top with the peach slices and bake in the oven for approx. 15-18 minutes or until the mixture has set with a slight wobble when gently shaken. Remove from the oven once baked and set aside.


10. Switch oven setting to grill, brush the egg tarts with some milk and sprinkle over some more icing sugar on top. Return your egg tarts into the oven and grill just to slightly brown the top of the custard for approx. 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Serve Immediately.

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Spinach and Feta Cheese Quiche

Spinach and Feta Cheese Quiche

KITCHEN KIT
23cm fluted flan dish or tin about 3.5cm deep and a frying pan

Ingredients Serves 6:
For the Pastry, egg and cheese filling:
1.  1 pack ready rolled shop-bought short crust pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “Savoury Shortcrust Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
2.  100g feta cheese, torn into pieces
3.  50g Gruyère cheese, grated
4.  450g crème fraîche
5.  4 eggs, lightly beaten
6.  Pinch of Salt
7.  Pinch of ground black pepper
8.  A handful of thyme, leaves only
For the Spinach:
9.  15g butter
10. 1 clove of garlic, grated or crushed
11. 200g baby spinach leaves
12. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
13. Pinch of Salt
14. Pinch of Ground black pepper

The Pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Roll out pastry into a greased tin. Line it with baking paper so that the baking beans don’t get stuck onto the pastry.
3. Fill the lined pastry with the baking beans- ‘blind bake’ in the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges are light brown and dry. Remove the baking beans and baking paper, set the cooked pastry aside.

Quiche-Bake Blind

The Egg and Cheese filling:
4. Whisk 4 eggs, gruyère cheese and crème fraîche on a bowl. Season with a pinch of salt, ground black pepper and thyme leaves. Set aside.
For the Spinach:
5. On a large frying pan over medium heat, add 15g butter, just when the butter starts to melt add the garlic and stir for 1 minute, add spinach and cover with a lid. Cook until the spinach has just wilted.
6. Season the spinach with grated nutmeg, salt and black pepper.

 

The Baking:
7. Lay cooked spinach at the bottom of your pastry; add the feta cheese, pour the egg and cheese mixture over and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until quiche mixture has set with just a slight wobble when lightly shaken.


8. After baking leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Spinach and Feta Cheese Quiche

Serve warm.

 

 

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All Butter Puff Pastry

Ingredients Makes 700g pastry:
1.  250g strong plain flour
2.  1 tsp. fine sea salt
3.  200g unsalted butter soft butter
4.  50g unsalted chilled butter
5.  150ml cold water

Puff Pastry:
1.  Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, add 50g chilled butter into the bowl. Rub flour, salt and butter until they start to look more like fine breadcrumbs.


2.  Make a well in the middle, add the cold water, mix all the ingredients together until you have firm dough. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with a cling film and place in the fridge to rest for 25 mins.


3.  On a flour work surface, place your chilled dough, score the dough with one stroke, flip the dough tops over and place 200g unsalted soft butter inside the dough. Fold the dough back again, covering the butter. Form the dough in a rectangular shape.


4.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough away from you, until the dough becomes 3 times the width, keep the edges straight. Take the pastry edge nearest to you. Fold one third into the centre and the other third on top. Turn the dough clockwise by a quarter turn.


5.  Repeat Step 4.
6.  Once your dough has been folded and rolled twice. Wrap the dough with a cling film and chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes or freeze it you wish.
7.  Before use repeat Step 4.
8.  Finally you would have done the rolling and folding 4 times the final stage is now to roll the pastry to your required shape and use.

 

 

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Sweet Short Crust Pastry

KITCHEN KIT:
Sieve, bowl, whisk and knife
Ingredients Makes 300g:
1.  225g strong plain flour
2.  Pinch of salt
3.  110g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
4.  2-3 tbsp. icing sugar or caster sugar
5.  2 egg yolks
6.  1 tbsp. full fat milk  

The Short Crust:
1.  Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl; add butter into the bowl and then rub flour, salt and butter with your fingertips until they start to look more like fine breadcrumbs.
2.  Next, stir in your icing sugar onto the flour mixture.
3.  On a separate bowl, lightly beat your egg yolks and milk together. Add into the flour mixture and stir until all ingredients are well combined.
5.  Squidge the dough into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and chill for 25-30 minutes before using.
6.  When ready for use, roll the dough on flour dusted work surface.
Extra Tip:
Alternatively if you prefer to use a food processor- simply put the flour, salt, butter in the food processor and pulse until the butter is rubbed into the flour, which should resemble fine breadcrumbs. Then follow the instructions from step 2 onwards.

You can also add cinnamon powder, vanilla extract or pod into the pastry, if you decide to use vanilla extract, slightly reduce the amount of milk you add into the flour mixture to make sure that the dough doesn’t become too wet.

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Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

KITCHEN KIT:
8’inches round deep cake tin, pastry brush, sauce pan, pallette knife and a whisk

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients Serves 8:

For the Chocolate Cake:
1.  200g butter, softened
2.  200g Muscavado Sugar (or brown sugar)
3.  Pinch of salt
4.  1 tsp vanilla extract
5.  4 large eggs, lightly beaten
6.  200g plain flour
7.  100g cocoa powder
8.  2 tsp baking powder
9.  200ml full fat milk
10. 30g dark good quality dark chocolate made of 85%  cocoa, melted and cooled at room temperature.

For the Chocolate Buttercream:
10. 150g butter, softened
11. 85g good quality dark chocolate made of 85%  cocoa, chopped into small equal size chunks- melted (on a bowl in a hob) and cooled at room temperature.
12. 200g icing sugar
13. Pinch of salt

 

For the Decorations:
14. A handful slices of fresh strawberries or zest of grated orange or lemon. You can also decorate your cake with some fresh flowers or grated milk and dark chocolate.

 

For the Chocolate Cake:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line your cake tin with baking parchment.


2.  Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder all in one bowl. Set aside.

3.  On a separate bowl cream the butter, muscavado (brown) sugar, salt and vanilla extract until fluffy.


4.  Add the eggs one at a time to the cream butter mixture, beat until well combined.


5.  Add the sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the cream butter and egg mixture. Then slowly add the milk and melted chocolate into this.Fold all the ingredients together.


6.  Pour into your cake tin and bake in oven for about 30–40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.


7.  Once baked leave the cake to cool in the cake tin.

 

For the Chocolate Buttercream:
8.  Beat the butter until fluffy, and then add the melted chocolate, icing sugar and salt. If your buttercream is too dense add milk 1 tbsp. at a time to loosen the mixture.

 

For the Decorations:
9.  Once the cake has cooled down completely, spread your chocolate buttercream on top, and then decorate with either fresh fruits, grated orange/lemon zest or grated chocolates. (You can also slice your cake cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a layer of buttercream mixture and orange zest; spreading the remaining half of the buttercream all over the top and on sides of the cake with a palette knife until smooth.  For this you will require more buttercream mixture so simply double the quantity of the ingredients I listed above)

Serve.

Chocolate Cake

 

 

 

 

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Rice Pudding with cardamom, rose water and pistachio (Indian Inspired)

Rice Pudding

KITCHEN KIT:
Sauce pan and 4 ramekins or an oven proof dish.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the pudding
1.  65g basmati rice
2.  500ml full fat milk
3.  300ml coconut milk
4.   4 ½tbsp caster sugar
5.  3 black cardamom pods
6.  ½ tsp rose water

To serve:
7.  2 tbsp Brown Muscavado Sugar
8.  ¼ tsp cinnamon
9.  ¼ tsp ginger powder
10. 5g crushed unsalted pistachio nuts
The Rice Pudding:
1.  Preheat the oven to 150ºC.
2.  Rinse the rice in cold water 3 or 4 times to remove the starch and then drain.
3.  On a saucepan over a medium heat, add rice, milk, coconut milk, caster sugar, cardamom and rose water, bring to the boil.


4.  Lower the heat once it reaches a boiling point and simmer for 10 minutes, gently stirring a few times to avoid the rice from sticking at the bottom of the pan.
5.  Remove from the heat then pour the mixture onto a sieve. Discard the cardamom pods. Transfer the rice pudding mixture in your ovenproof ramekins or ovenproof dish.


6.  Bake in the oven for 1 hour and then leave to rest for at least one hour – this will allow the creamy texture to develop.

Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding
7.  Mix your cinnamon and ginger powder on a bowl. and sprinkle over rice pudding with muscavado sugar. Garnish with crushed pistachio nuts.


Rice Pudding

Serve warm.

Rice Pudding

Extra Tip:
Rice Pudding Consistency:
If you want a creamier rice pudding baked in the oven for 45-50 minutes instead.
If you would like to achieve a firmer and more dense pudding leave to bake for more than an hour.
The Sugar Sprinkles:
Using  Muscavado sugar (darkest one of all the brown coloured sugar) gives an extra height of flavour to your rice pudding, with its very strong molasses flavour that goes well with the cinnamon and ginger and a sticky consistency that goes well with the rice pudding texture. I therefore prefer Muscavado above all other brown sugar with lesser molasses taste.

The Sweetness:
If you have a very sweet tooth like I do, I recommend stirring the muscavado sugar, cinnamon and ginger powder into the rice pudding and sprinkle more on top. This makes the rice pudding extra sweet and the spices makes it lovely.

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Pear Tarte Tatin

Pear Tarte Tatin

KITCHEN KIT:
Pastry brush
Heavy base oven proof pan o tarte tatin pan
Alternatively use a frying pan and a cake tin/cake mould

Ingredients Serves 6 (or Serves 2 if my friend Justin and Tobias are around):
1.  5  pears, cored, peeled and halves
2.  100g butter
3.  120g caster sugar
4.  300g shop bought all butter puff pastry, rolled to an approx 5mm in thickness. Alternatively you can also make your own puff pastry by following the “All Butter Puff Pastry” instruction on the pastry section of this site.
5.  1 vanilla pod or ½ tsp. of vanilla extract
6.  1 egg lightly beaten, for glazing

The Pear:
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Peel, halve and core the pears, then set aside.
2.  On a pan, melt your butter and dissolve your sugar over medium heat. When the mixture turns golden, add vanilla pods/extract do not stir but swirl the pan around instead.


3.  Add the pears carefully as the caramel will be very hot, cook pears on the caramel for 8-10 minutes (4-5 minutes on each side).

 


4.  Once the pear has slightly softened and caramel turns into copper colour, remove from heat. Gently turn all your pears cored side facing upwards.

 

The Pear with Puff Pastry:
5.  Roll your pastry on a flour dusted surface, approx. 3mm in thickness, long and wide enough to cover your baking dish. Place your pastry on top of your pears and tuck in the pastry around the inside edges of the pan. If using a cake tin/mould, transfer pears cored side facing upwards and some of the caramel liquid, then place pastry on top of the pears, also tucking in the pastry around the inside edges of the cake tin/mould.


6.  Using a pastry brush, brush the pastry with beaten egg.  Then using a sharp knife prick the pastry all over and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until pastry is crisp and golden brown.


7.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
8.  Pace a slightly larger plate on top of the pastry, and then very carefully, using oven gloves, invert the tart onto the plate.
Served warm with crème fraîche/ chantilly cream / vanilla ice cream.

Extra Tip:
Tarte Tatin can be kept in the fridge in a tin/cake mould after it is cooked and reheated at 150ºC, 15 minutes before serving.
When making the caramel, don’t use a non-stick pan, using a non-stick pan will crystallize your sugar instead of giving you the nice caramel liquid.
Tarte Tatin- originally made with apples from Rouen, France with Reine des Reinettes (King of the Pippins) and Calville apples. If you prefer to make this tart with apples I recommend using these apples or alternatively Braeburn, Golden Delicious or Granny smith, as these types of apples hold their shapes during the cooking process and does not break apart into a mush.

 

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Ginger and Lemongrass Infused Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée

KITCHEN KIT:
4 ovenproof ramekins, small sauce pan, whisk, strainer or muslin cloth and a blow torch.

Crème brûlée

Ingredients Makes 4:

1. 300ml double cream
2. 2 stalks of lemon grass bashed and slice
3. 30g ginger, peeled and slice into matchsticks
4  3 egg yolks
5. 25g caster sugar
6. 20g demerara sugar

Day 1:
1.  In a small sauce pan over a low-medium heat, bring to boil your cream, galangal and lemongrass. Transfer to a bowl, place in the fridge and let the cream infuse with the ginger and lemon grass overnight.

Day 2:
2.  Preheat the oven to 150ºC.
3.  Strain your cream mixture using a muslin cloth or strainer. Discard the lemon grass and ginger slices. Gently heat your cream in a small sauce pan over a low-medium heat. When it starts to boil remove from the heat.


4.  In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar and then add your infused cream. Ideally try to whisk constantly as you pour the cream in, this will help to prevent the egg from curdling. Alternatively only pour in the infused cream when its cool enough to dip your little finger in the mixture.


5.  Pour your mixture into four ramekins. Place your ramekins in a baking dish, fill the baking dish with cold water to two-thirds of the way up the ramekins (i.e. create a bain marie). Bake for 40 minutes until the custard sets with just a slight wobble when shaken.


6.  Once baked, set aside to cool for 10 minutes and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


7.  Sprinkle over some demerara sugar, caramelise using a blow torch or grill in the oven.

Crème brûléeCrème brûléeCrème brûlée

Serve.

Crème brûlée
Extra Tip:
Use demerara sugar instead of icing sugar, this gives a nice toffee like flavour to this dessert.
Use a blow torch to make it easier to evenly caramelise the the creme brulee. Direct the heat around the corners of the ramekins, this cannot be achieved under a grill.
Bain-marie: although some chefs uses hot water, using cold water works too.
The creme mixture can be made 3 days in advance, kept in the fridge in an air tight container or in a bowl covered with cling film.
Leftover egg whites can also be kept in the fridge for 3 days, also in an air-tight container, or immediately freeze and used within a month or 30 days.
Suggestions for egg whites: make macaroons.

 

 

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Cherry and Almond Madeleines

Cherry and Almond Madeleines
KITCHEN KIT
Madeleine Mould 40cm x 20cm

Ingredients Serves 5:

The Madeleines:
1.  3 eggs at room temperature
2.  133g sugar
3.  150g plain flour
4.  50 ground almond
5.  1 tsp of baking powder
6.  1 lemon, grated zest only
7.  40g  runny honey
8.  40g double cream
9.  1 tsp almond extract
10. 200g melted and cooled unsalted butter
11. Glazed cherries
12. Icing sugar for dusting

Preparation method:
The Madeleines:
1.  Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter and flour a Madeleine mould.
2.  Beat the eggs, almond extract and sugar until pale.
3.  On a separate bowl add flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
4.  Mix the honey and cream with the melted butter. Add the Beaten eggs and sugar onto this mixture. Then slowly add the flour and lemon zest mixture.  Leave the Madeleine mixture to rest for 1-2 hours or overnight if possible.
5. Grease the Madeleine shell mould, sprinkle some flour over.
6. Put a heaped tbsp of Madeleine mixture into each Madeleine shell and press cherries in the mixture.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes. Dust with some icing sugar once cooled.

Serve warm fresh from the oven.

Cherry and Almond Madeleines

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Macaron

Macaroon

My  OCD or obsession for Macaron began in Muswell Hill, London, there is a lovely cafe called Sable D’or near where I used to live- http://www.sabledor.co.uk/ I went to this cafe every Saturday morning to have a nice latte and 5 macarons. The chef makes the best hazelnut macaroon and the staffs are ever so friendly. There were times when I feel blue and I know that a hazelnut macaron will make my day. So I run to Sable D’or hoping they are still open by the time I finish work. Unfortunately, I am not always successful at getting my macarons fix. Since moving out of London, I decided that I could no longer tolerate waiting to go to London, Paris or Lyon to eat macarons so I decided to make them and now can have them then whenever I crave one or two or three.

The best Macaron I’ve ever eaten was at Chocolatier Bouillet in Lyon. Although I will never say ‘no’ to a Ladurée Macaron, for me the macarons I ate at Chocolatier Bouillet in Lyon are still the best, in terms of the variations and combinations of flavours they offer. When I visited them last year I tried each and every single one of their 52 different macarons. I ate every single one with great pleasure and although I couldn’t walk very well after all the macarons I’d consumed, I’d say the temporary discomfort was well worth it and I can’t wait to do it again next time I visit them.

Here’s a my version of my favourite hazelnut macaron.

Macaroon

KITCHEN KIT:
Macaron mould/baking parchment, piping bag, electric whisk or food mixer.

Ingredients Serves 1 just for me:

The Macaron:
1.  130g icing sugar
2.  130g ground almonds
3.  100g egg whites only
4.  Pinch of salt
5.  2tbsp water
6.  100g  caster sugar
7.  ¼ tsp vanilla extract
8.  ½ tsp of food colouring ( I prefer to use the food colouring paste rather than food colouring liquid)

The Hazelnut & Chocolate Ganache:
9.  40g blanched hazelnut
10. ¼ tsp vanilla extract
11. 2 ½ tbsp sweetened condensed milk
12. 60g good quality dark chocolate
13. 2 ½ tbsp whipped cream (optional)
14. Pinch of salt

The Macaron:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C
2.  On a large bowl mix the icing sugar, ground almonds and 50g egg whites. This almond mixture will turn into a paste like texture. (it may not look like the egg whites are enough to transform the ingredients into a paste but it is, so be patient, keep mixing and do not be tempted to add more egg whites or worst water)
3.  On a separate clean bowl, whisk the remaining 50g egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold a medium-stiff peak.
4.  On a small pan gently melt 100g sugar with the 2tbsp of water, boil until the sugar dissolves into thick syrup. (it is important to get the sugar granules completely dissolve or your macaron shells will be grainy and will easily crack, as it happened to me recently so ensure that the sugar are well dissolve)
5.  Slowly pour your sugar syrup onto your whisked egg whites, whisking constantly as you slowly add the sugar syrup,  whisk until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny again.
6.  Gently mix you almond paste onto this, add ¼ tsp vanilla extract and ½ tsp food colouring, mix until the mixture becomes stiff again.
7.  Pour the mixture into a piping bag. Pipe the mixture onto a macaron mould or into a baking parchment. Drop the macarons on a flat work surface 2-3 times to flatten the macaron shells.
8.  If you would like to add hazelnut pieces or pearl sugars as decoration, add it at this stage.
9.  Leave the macarons out to form a dry shell between 30 minutes to 1 hour, the macaron shells must be complete dry, it should not feel sticky or wet when you touch it with your fingertips, if your macaron shells are not completely dry, leave it for a longer period to form a dry shell do not bake it unless the shells are dry or they will not bake properly (the shells will crack). Once the macaron shells are dry, bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, with the oven door slightly ajar/open, this allows the steam to come out of the oven, alternatively you can also bake in the oven with the oven door complete shut and opening it only a couple of times to let the steam out.
10. Remove from the oven, leave to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes before adding the hazelnut and chocolate ganache. (The macaron shells are completely cook if they come off easily from your macaron mould/baking parchment. The shells should not be sticky, if they are sticky they are undercooked)

MacaroonMacaroon

The Hazelnut & Chocolate Ganache:
11.  Roast the blanched hazelnuts in the oven for 5 minutes. Then finely chopped on a food processor until the nuts turned into a paste like texture.
12.  On a small sauce pan, gently melt the condense milk and dark chocolate. Once melted, add onto the hazelnut paste. Blend until the mixture are all incorporated into a smooth paste.
13.  Add cream (optional), vanilla extract and pinch of salt, then mix lightly.
14.  Pipe the mixture on the inside of a macaroon and sandwich together.

Leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Macaroon

Extra Tip:
Macaron Lifeline:
Macarons keep for 5 days in an airtight container and don’t need to be refrigerated.
When cooled (not immediately after taking them out of the oven), they can be frozen in an airtight container, defrost in an airtight container with the container lid on at room temperature. Do not defrost on a plate expose to air it will make the macaroons soft (not to be microwave either).

Baking in the oven:
It is important that the oven temperature is not higher than 180°C degrees otherwise the macaroon shells will crack. Some Macaron recipes suggest a lower temperature but my personal experience so far hasn’t been great, with a lower temperature the macaroon shells remains undercook.

Folding:
Almond paste needs to be folded into the beaten egg whites, just when you no longer see egg whites stripes around your bowl stop folding, over folding will make the macaron shells crack.

The Ganache:
This can be made a day in advance kept in the fridge in an air tight container.
Usually made with whipped cream, I sometimes add whipped cream to the above ganache mixture and sometimes I don’t. If I want to serve the macaroons on the same day I add the whipped cream, making this ganache mixture less dense.
And if I planned to keep the macarons for a few days I don’t add the whipped cream as I found it makes the macaron shells a bit soft after a while.

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Toulouse Cassoulet

Toulouse cassoulet

KITCHEN KIT:
Flameproof casserole pan, frying pan, and ovenproof dish

Ingredients Serves 6:
1.  300g haricot beans (I use canned beans for this dish)
2.  1 clove
3.  1 medium onion, peeled only; left whole
4.  1 medium size onion peeled and chopped in big chunks
5.  4 garlic cloves finely slice
6.  approx 120ml red wine
7.  approx 800 ml of water
8.  A bouquet of garni made of 1 thyme sprig, 1 parsley sprig and 1 bay leaf tied together with a kitchen string.
9.  2 sprigs of thyme leaves only
10. 3 carrots peeled and chopped into big chunks
11. 400g Toulouse sausages alternatively use good quality Lincolnshire or Cumberland sausages.
12. 200g pork rind
13. 300g skinned off belly pork
14. 400g pork collar
15. 4 tbsp of duck fat
16. 4 tbsp tomato puree
17. Pinch of salt
18. Pinch of pepper
19. Pinch of chilli flakes
20. 75g dried bread crumbs

The Cassoulet:

Stage1
1.  Insert the clove on the whole onion, drain your beans and set aside.
2.  Place casserole over a medium heat; add clove-onion, pork rind, pork belly, garlic and 800ml of water, if you have a large pan add more water (the water needs to just about cover all of your ingredients). Partially cover casserole and bring to boil.
3.  Once it starts to boil, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to low and simmer for 4-6 hours, adding water occasionally until the pork rind has softened (almost dissolved). Then stir in your drained beans. Remove heat uncovered and set aside.
4.  Take half of the liquid from your casserole dish and set aside.

Stage 2
5.  Place frying pan over a medium heat, add your duck fat and pork collar for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and cooked, then add the bouquet garni, onions and carrots stir for 2 minutes.
6.  Next add the tomato puree and red wine let it simmer for 5-8 minutes until the alcohol has burned off.
7.  Pour half of the liquid from your casserole dish onto your frying pan, covering the pork collar, bouquet garni, onions and carrots, if the liquid is not enough to cover all the ingredients add some more water. Cover the frying pan and simmer over medium heat for 2 hours.
8.  Add the Toulouse sausages and cook for another 30 minutes.
9.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 180°C.

Stage 3
10.  Once sausages are cooked, transfer all the ingredients from your frying pan onto an ovenproof dish, starting with the sausages, discarding only the bouquet garni. Add the cooked bean mixture from your casserole dish onto this dish as well.
11.  Place in the oven to cook for 4 hours. Remove from the oven then sprinkle over some breadcrumbs. Cook for a further 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs has turned golden brown.

Toulouse cassoulet Toulouse cassoulet

Serve warm with freshly baked Pain De Campagne.

Toulouse cassoulet

Extra Tip: I usually make this dish with the ingredients listed above, though today I had some left over confit de canard and I added this onto the cassoulet as well, if you do have some left over duck legs add it on the cassoulet it would taste just as nice. If a lot of oil comes out of your cassoulet you may want to drain some of it off though this would be more of a personal preference.

 

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Chicken Liver Parfait with Macaroon in Black Cherries Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Macaroons

Chicken Liver Parfait
Usually serve with brioche slices and chutney. But I personally prefer this with macaroons and black cherries balsamic vinegar reduction (as per the picture above).  I got this idea from a foie gras macaroon I had in Lyon, it was heavenly and I have since made the macaroon with either foie gras or chicken liver parfait filling which are both equally tasty. When I haven’t got the time to make the macaroons I have this instead with a lightly toasted brioche with either plum or apricot jam. I love the sweetness of the plum or apricot with the chicken liver parfait.

KITCHEN KIT:
Food processor and a Terrine Mould of approx 12½ inches long. I used to use a 12½ inch mould but as I recently got a lovely ‘Terrine Mould’ present that is approx 10 inches long, I used this now instead, using same recipe below and just pour the excess mixture on a small ramekin/oven proof dish.

 

Ingredients Serves 8:

For the parfait:
1.  400g fresh chicken livers (remove the sinews and gall bladders or it will be bitter) It is also important to get fresh and not frozen chicken liver.
2.  500ml of milk
3.  4 tsp of salt
4.  100ml Madeira
5.  100ml ruby port
6.  60g of shallots, finely chopped
7.  2 sprigs of thyme leaves only
8.  1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated.
9. 50ml Cognac or Armagnac
10. Optional- 2 tbsp of double cream
11. Optional- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg or all spice
12. 5 eggs
13. 400g of melted, unsalted butter
14. A pinch of ground black pepper
15. Optional- Whole pink peppercorns and bay leaf

For the glazing:
16. 60g softened butter
17. 60g softened lard (you can replace lard with another 75g of softened butter)

The Parfait:
Day 1:
1.  On a bowl, add the milk, 2 tsp of salt and chicken liver. Soak overnight or for at least an hour.

Chicken Liver

Day 2:
2.  Drain chicken livers and discard the liquid marinade.
3.  Preheat the oven at 120°C. Grease your terrine mould with butter.
4.  On a sauce pan bring to boil the Madeira, port, shallots, thyme, garlic and Armagnac, until liquid has reduced by one-third and then remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
5.  Once the liquid has cooled down add on a food processor with drained chicken livers and process, slowly add the eggs one at a time. Process until all the ingredients are incorporated and smooth.
6.  Add the butter slowly onto the parfait mixture, as the parfait may split if the butter is added all at once too quickly, season with 2 tsp of salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Process all ingredients.  (Optional: add 2tbsp of double cream and ½ tsp of grated nutmeg or all spice)
7.  Press parfait mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl; add into the terrine mould, then cover the terrine mould with grease foil/terrine mold cover.
8.  Place the terrine in a deep baking tray; pour in boiling water until it reaches two-thirds of the way up the sides of the terrine. Cook for 45 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

The glazing:
9.  Once the parfait has cooled at room temperature, remove the foil and any discolouration on the top. Mix softened butter and lard together, add on top of the terrine, decorate with pink peppercorns or bay leaf.
10. Cover terrine with a cling film. Chill on the fridge overnight, though would be best to give it 2 days to chill.

Day 3:
11. Dip a palette knife/knife into hot water, run through the sides of the terrine to detach the mixture from the terrine mould.

Chicken Liver

Transfer onto a plate and serve or spread over the macaroon shells and sandwich the macaroons together.

For The Macaroon

KITCHEN KIT:
Macaroon mould, piping bag, electric whisk or food mixer

Ingredients:

The Macaroon:
1. 130g icing sugar
2. 140g ground almonds
3. 100g egg whites only
4. Pinch of salt
5. 2tbsp water
6. 95g  caster sugar
8. ½ tsp of food colouring (I prefer to use the food colouring paste as the colour is more intense compared to the food colouring liquid)
The Macaroon:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. On a large bowl mix the icing sugar, ground almonds and food colouring. This almond mixture will turn into a paste like texture.
3. On a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold a medium-stiff peak.
4. On a small pan gently melt sugar with the water, boil until the sugar dissolves into thick syrup.
5. Gently pour your sugar syrup onto your egg whites, whisk again until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny. Add this mixture onto your almond paste mixture. Gently mix together until the mixture becomes stiff again.
6. Pour the mixture into a piping bag. Pipe the mixture onto a macaroon mould or into a lined baking sheet.
7. If you would like to add hazelnut pieces or peal sugars as decoration add it at this stage.
8. Leave the macaroons out to form a dry shell between 30 minutes to an hour, then bake in the oven for 10–12. Remove from the oven, leave to cool at room temperature before spreading over the chicken liver parfait over the macaroon shells.
Leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving.

MacaroonsMacaroons

For the black cherries balsamic vinegar reduction:

KITCHEN KIT:
Small pan

Ingredients:
1. Black cherries in syrup (available in waitrose, picture below)
2. 4 tbsp of Balsamic vinegar
3. Pinch of sugar

Black cherries balsamic vinegar reduction:
1. On a small pan, heat the balsamic vinegar with the black cherries with it’s syrup and a pinch of sugar.Simmer until liquid has reduced by one-third, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Serve on the side of chicken liver parfait macaroon (as per the picture above).

Black Cherries in Balsamic Vinegar

Extra Tip: Leftover Chicken liver parfait can be eaten for up to 3 days, if covered with a tight cling film on the fridge. The cling film needs to be air tight to prevent the parfait from oxidising and discolouring. The addition of the double cream, nutmeg/all spice and thyme gives the parfait a creamier texture and more delicate flavour. If you prefer your parfait to be firmer, with a stronger chicken liver and Armagnac flavour omit the double cream, nutmeg/allspice and thyme from your ingredients. I have tried both recipes and enjoyed both equally.

 

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Blueberry Bran Muffin Lemon Curd

KITCHEN KIT:

Muffin tin size Size 25cm(L) x 19cm(W) x 3cm(H)

Ingredients Makes 12 Muffins:

The Muffin:

  1. 1 cup wheat bran
  2. 1 cup whole wheat flour or self raising flour
  3. ½ cup mixed dried fruits (preferably with chopped dates as it adds an amazing flavour and texture)
  4. 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. ¾ cup milk
  7. ½ cup honey
  8. 2 tbsp butter
  9. 1 egg beaten

The Lemon Curd:

  1. 2 small lemon zest and juice.
  2. A pinch of salt
  3. 50g sugar
  4. 50g  melted unsalted butter
  5. 4 egg yolks

The Muffin:

  1. Pre-heat oven at 180°C. Grease muffin tin with butter or place muffin cases on the tin (as per picture below)
  2. Mixed all ingredients together. Pour mixture onto the muffin tin or muffin cases.
  3. You can also add 1 tsp of lemon curd on top of your muffin mixture if you would like to.  This bit is optional. (Instructions on how to make a lemon curd below)
  4. Place the muffin in the oven for 25 minutes or until the mixture has set. Before taking the muffin out of the oven insert a knife or a cake tester into the muffin, if it comes out clean without some mixture stuck to it, then your muffin is baked and ready.

The Lemon Curd:
1. Put the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute, add beaten egg yolks and whisk all together.
2. Turn the pan onto a low heat again, whilst constantly whisking. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat. Cover with a cling film once cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Serve warm fresh from the oven.

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Savoury Short Crust Pastry

KITCHEN KIT:
Sieve, bowl and knife

Ingredients Makes 300g:
1.  225g strong plain flour
2.  Pinch of salt
3.  55g butter, cold and cubed
4.  55g lard, cold and cubed
5.  2-3 tbsp. very cold water

The Short Crust:
1.  Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl; add butter and lard into the bowl. Rub flour, salt, butter and lard with your fingertips until they start to look more like fine breadcrumbs.
2.  Using a knife stir in 1 tbsp. of water to bind the dough together, if your dough is too dry add another tablespoonful of water.  
3.  Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and chill for 25-30 minutes before using.
4.  When ready for use, roll the dough on flour dusted work surface.
Extra Tip:
Alternatively if you prefer to use a food processor- simply put the flour, salt, butter and lard in the food processor and pulse until the butter and lard is rubbed into the flour, which should resemble fine breadcrumbs. Then follow the instructions from step 2 onwards.

 

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Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

KITCHEN KIT:
Pastry brush and rolling pin.

Ingredients Serves 6:
1. 454g Waitrose Lincolnshire pork sausages (if you can substitute pork with beef or chicken sausage)
2. 320g /1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy. Otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following the “All Butter Puff Pastry” instruction on the Pastry section of this site.
3. 1 small egg for glazing of the pastry
4. Pinch of Salt
5. Pinch of Pepper
6. 1 Gala Red Apple peeled and finely chopped into small pieces.
7. 3 Sprigs of Thyme Leaves Only

The Sausage:
1. Preheat oven at 180°C.
2. Squeeze all sausages out its casing and place sausage meat on a bowl (as per the picture below). Add a pinch of salt, pepper, thyme leaves and finely chopped apples. Mix all the ingredients together. Set aside.
3. On a separate bowl, lightly beat 1 egg. Set aside.
4. Roll the pastry on a flour dusted surface at approx. 3mm in thickness. Cut in half, (as per picture below.)
5. Add sausage meat on the centre of the pastry, with a pastry brush- egg wash one side of the pastry, fold the pastry over on top of each other and finally use the back of a fork to seal the pastry. (picture instructions below)
6. Slice the sausage rolls in small squares approx. 1 inch thick, with a pastry brush- egg wash top of the pastry.
7. To decorate the rolls score the top with a sharp knife, (as per the picture below).
8. Place the sausage rolls on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Sausage RollsSausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

Alternative way of rolling the sausage rolls pastry:
1. Roll the pastry on a flour dusted surface, cut pastry into small rectangles.
2. Add sausage meat on the centre of the pastry, with a pastry brush- egg wash one side of the pastry roll the pastry over (as per the picture instruction below), try not to get any egg washes over the edges otherwise the pastry will not puff up well.
3. To decorate the rolls score the top with a sharp knife, (as per the picture below).
9. Place the sausage rolls on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Sausage Rolls

Serve warm, fresh from the oven.

 

 

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Christmas Cake

Traditional Christmas Cake

KITCHEN KIT:
Large Sauce Pan, Pastry Brush, Cake Tin 13cm

Ingredients Makes 12 of 13cm Size Cakes:
1.  1 kg raisins
2.  1 kg currants
3.  1 kg of mixed dried fruits
4.  300 g glace cherries
5.  300 g dried soft figs
6.  1,200 ml armagnac
7.  900 g butter
8.  550 g dark brown sugar
9.  1 lemon zest
10. 1 orange zest
11. 12 eggs
12. 6 tbsp black treacle
13. 3 tsp almond essence
14. 3 tsp vanilla essence

Dry ingredients:
15. 900 g plain flour
16. 500 g ground almonds
17. 1 ½ tsp ground cloves
18. 3 tsp ground cinnamon
19. 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
20. 450 g chopped walnuts

Cake Decoration:
21.  1 ½ kg candied fruits and peeled mix fruit.
22.  1 tbsp apricot jam, 5 tbsp water.

The Cake:

Day 1:
1. Mix all dried fruits and Armagnac on a large sauce pan, bring to boil, remove from heat, cover once cooled with a cling film and leave the mixture to rest in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:
2. Take the marinated fruits in Armagnac out of the fridge and leave for a few minutes at room temperature to make it easier to mix.
3. Mix all the dry ingredients together on a bowl and set aside.
4. Preheat oven at 150°C. Grease all the cake tins with butter.
5. On a mixer- thoroughly mix butter, sugar, add lemon and orange zest, followed by the eggs adding them onto the mixture one at a time.
6. Add the black treacle, vanilla and almond extract whilst continuously mixing. Finally add marinated fruits alternately with the dry ingredients, mix ensuring that all the ingredients are incorporated together.
7. Pour the cake mixture on a grease cake tin. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.Before taking the cake out of the oven insert a knife or a cake tester at the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean without cream mixture stuck to it, then your cake is baked and ready.
8. Brush the baked cake with Armagnac all over. Wrap in foil and keep on an air tight container for 2-3 weeks for the flavour to infuse.

2 or 3 weeks later:
9. The Apricot Glaze: On a small sauce pan apricot jam and water to a boil. Once it starts to boil remove from heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.
10. Decorate the top of the cake with the candied fruits and peeled fruit mix (as per the picture below). Brush the candied fruits and peeled fruit mix with the apricot glaze (as per the picture below). Leave to cool and set for a few minutes. Wrap in foil and keep on an air tight container. Done.

Christmas CakeChristmas Cake

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Quiche Lorraine Part 1:

Quiche Lorraine

I first had a Quiche Lorraine when I was at a primary school in Macau, my Mom took me to Lord’s Stows cafe in Macau where I discovered Quiche Lorraine. I love it since but only learnt to bake it when I moved to England.

20 different recipes, 20 failed attempts in creating the prefect light quiche, one came out of the oven looking more like a dome and when cooled collapsed on a baking tin, I still remember my relatives when they saw my dome like quiche, not quite French nor it is English, it’s just an eggy dome like, bloated thingy, they ate the 20th quiche I’ve baked as they laughed their heads off. After 20 failed attempts, I finally got there in the end. Thank goodness my family no longer have to endure another dome like bloated quiche.

Tips: Lessons from a bloated dome like quiche:
Baked the pastry forgetting to add the baking paper and baking beans meant that my pastry came out of the oven dome like.
Baked the pastry with the baking beans but forgotten to line the pastry with a baking paper meant when the pastry cooked all the baked beans were stuck on the pastry.
Baked the pastry and mixture at the same time for a longer cooking period than required- the quiche came out bloated and dome like. Lessons learnt; pastry must be baked first lined with baking paper and with baked beans to make sure the pastry doesn’t rise up, mixture then needs to be added and baked again, bake for no longer than 40 minutes.

KITCHEN KIT
23cm fluted flan dish or tin about 3.5cm deep

Ingredients Serves 6:
1. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought short crust pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “ Savoury Shortcrust Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
2. 2 tbsp olive oil
3. 1 medium onion
4. 175g diced bacon rashers
5. 450g crème fraîche
6. 4 eggs
7. Pinch of ground black pepper
8. 15g grated Gruyère or Mature Cheddar cheese
9. Pinch of Nutmeg or parsley

The pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Roll out pastry into a greased tin. Line it with baking paper so that the baking beans don’t get stuck onto the pastry.
3. Fill the lined pastry with the baking beans- ‘blind bake’ in the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges are light brown and dry. Remove the baking beans and baking paper, set the cooked pastry aside.

Quiche Lorraine-Bake Blind

The filling:
While the pastry is baking, prepare the fillings as follow:
1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add diced bacon. Once cooked remove bacon and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add diced onion until soft and translucent. Remove onion and set aside.
3. Whisk 4 eggs and crème fraîche on a bowl, add cooked onions and 10g of grated gruyere cheese, season with pepper and nutmeg or parsley (if using), and add some of the cooked bacon onto the mixture. Leave some of the cooked bacon aside for later.

4. Pour the mixture into the pastry, bake in the oven for 20 minutes, (optional-take the quiche out and add the remaining bacon and cook the quiche for another 20 minutes or until the filling has firmed up.) If you do not want to sprinkle the remaining bacon, just cook the quiche throughout for 40 minutes or until the filing has firmed up.

Quiche Lorraine

5. This bit is optional- Take the quiche out, sprinkle remaining 5g of grated gruyere cheese on top, put the quiche back in the oven on grill for 2 minutes.

Extra Tip: use a cake tester or a knife insert onto the quiche, if it comes out clean without cream mixture stuck to it, then your quiche is ready. I like to make mine look golden on the top, so I usually add a bit of grated Gruyère cheese on top just before the quiche finished cooking it adds a nice golden brown colour on the quiche. Yum!!

Quiche Lorraine

 

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Les Madeleines à la crème au citron

Madeleines

These are traditional soft small cakes from Commercy and Liverdun in the Lorraine region of northeastern France. My love for Madeleines started when I first visited Paris. The Madeleines I had in Paris were sweet and simple. The recipe below is slightly sweeter, contains raspberry, lemon curd and lemon glaze. For me, Madeleines are best eaten warm, fresh from the oven.

KITCHEN KIT
Madeleine Mould 40cm x 20cm

Ingredients Serves 5:

The Madeleines:
1. 3 eggs at room temperature
2. 133g sugar
3. 200g plain flour
4. 1 tsp of baking powder
5. 1 lemon, grated zest only
6. 40g runny honey
7. 40g double cream
8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
9. 200g melted and cooled unsalted butter
10. Raspberries
11. Icing sugar for dusting

The Lemon glaze (optional):
1. 1 large size lemon- juice and zest
2. 150g icing sugar

The Lemon Curd:
1. 2 small lemon zest and juice.
2. A pinch of salt
3. 50g sugar
4. 50g melted unsalted butter
5. 4 egg yolks

Preparation method:

The Madeleines:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter and flour a Madeleine mould.
2. Beat the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar until pale.
3. On a separate bowl add flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
4. Mix the honey and cream with the melted butter. Add the Beaten eggs and sugar onto this mixture. Then slowly add the flour and lemon zest mixture. Leave the Madeleine mixture to rest for 1-2 hours or overnight if possible.
5. Put a heaped tbsp of Madeleine mixture into each Madeleine shell and press a raspberry deep into the Madeleine mixture, raspberry holes needs to be facing upwards towards you so you can pipe a lemon curd inside the hole once the Madeleines are baked.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes.

Lemon glaze (optional):
1. Mix all the ingredients together, once the Madeleines are cool to handle, brush the shell indentations side with the glaze. Leave the glaze to set for a few seconds.

The Lemon Curd:
1. Put the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute, add beaten egg yolks and whisk all together.
2. Turn the pan onto a low heat again, whilst constantly whisking. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat. Cover with a cling film once cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
3. Put the lemon curd into a piping bag, piped the curd on baked madeleines raspberry holes. Lightly dust with icing sugar.

Serve Warm.

Madeleines

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