Category Archives: fruit

Spiced apple cake

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This has been a weekend of cooking with seasonal food.  Today’s seasonal ingredient was apple, more specifically Russet apples.  I was very fortunate to be given a huge bag of Russets by a friend when I went to visit her at her family’s farm outside of London and I have been slowly using them up over the course of the last couple of weeks.   Russet apples are good to cook with as they tend to hold their form which is great if you bake them in a cake and have a wonderful tangy flavour.

This afternoon I used some of the apples to make a spiced apple cake.  I used a combination of fresh and dried spices to make this cake, simply because I have fresh ginger in my fridge at the moment however using all dried spices in the recipe would be fine and if you can’t get your hands on Russets, then use any other variety of tangy eating apple to make this cake.

This cake is great for afternoon tea, however I would also say that it would also make a fantastic pudding served with some cream or crème fraiche.  This cake has a lovely warmth from the spices, but the overriding flavour comes from the tanginess of the apples.  This recipe is well worth a try -enjoy!

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Spiced Apple cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 Russet apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1” fresh ginger (peeled and finely grated) (If using dried ginger use 1 tsp)
  • 150g soft margarine
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 or 2 tbsp milk
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 170C Fan.
  2. Line the base of a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Spoon the honey into the cake tin and spread around the base of the tin.

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  1. Prepare the apples then place in a bowl with the lime and ginger and mix together gently.
  2. Place the apples carefully in the base of the tin in a decorative fashion.
  3. Prepare the cake batter using the ‘all in one’ method. Place the margarine, sugar, eggs, flour and spices in a bowl.  Using an electric whisk beat the mixture together until you have a smooth thick batter with a consistency of clotted cream (use the milk to loosen the batter as needed).
  4. Pour the batter into the cake tin and level it out gently using the back of a spoon.
  5. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
  6. Once cooked, remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.
  7. Just before you serve the cake sift over a little icing sugar.

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Thai beef salad

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Last year I bought a couple of new “toys” for my kitchen, namely, a food processor and a slow cooker and they have been invaluable!  I mentioned in my last blog that I have been throwing a number of dinner parties recently and half of the meals that I have been making really would not have been possible if I did not have these two appliances for a mid-week dinner party.

I use my slow cooked to make all manner of things, ranging from pulled pork, rice pudding, tagine, curry and stews.  I suspect you are thinking that these are really winter dishes and to an extent you are right, but there really are some lovely summer dishes that you can make in your slow cooker, for example this Thai Beef Salad.

I use my food processor to make anything from, hummus, cakes, pastry, coleslaw, focaccia to mackerel pate.  Yes I admit it is a pain to wash up but it saves me masses of time in terms of preparation.   If you can afford to get one and have space in your kitchen to it is a worthwhile investment!

I am a huge fan of Vietnamese and Thai food and their fresh and fragrant flavours.  This salad is a flavour explosion and has so many things going on at any one time ranging from sharp, spicy and sweet, to tangy, smoky and cool.

The key to this meal is in the preparation and forward planning, I cook the meat overnight, so that it may cool whilst I am at work during the day. The dressing can be made in advance as it will keep over several days and will just need to be shaken up just before serving. Then it is simply a case of preparing the salads, which if you can use a food processor really takes no time at all.

It may look like a lot of effort to make this salad, however, I cannot recommend it enough.

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Thai beef salad (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

  • 650 – 750g beef brisket (cut into 1” chunks and any sinew and fat removed)
  • 500-750g thin fresh rice noodles

Beef marinade:

  • 2″ ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 1 chilli (finely sliced)
  • 150ml light soy sauce
  • 5tbsp honey
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1tbsp hot sauce (or sweet chilli sauce)

Mixed Salad:IMG_3659

  • 4 carrots (peeled and finely sliced)
  • 8 large radishes (finely sliced)
  • 1 cucumber (peeled, halved and de-seeded, then cut into slices)
  • 2 large mangoes (peeled, de-stoned and cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 5/6 spring onions (roughly chopped)
  • 1 large handful sugar snap peas (roughly chopped)
  • 1 sweet red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 handful mint (roughly chopped)
  • 2 handfuls coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 1 small bunch chives (roughly chopped)
  • 2 limes (cut in wedges)

Green Salad

  • 1 Romaine lettuce (roughly sliced)
  • 2 bags mixed salad/stir fry leaves (ideally a combination spinach, kale and pak choi)

Dressing:IMG_3664

  • 5/6 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 2/3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 limes (juice)
  • 1″ ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp hot sauce (or sweet chilli if you prefer)
  • 2/3 tbsp olive oil

Serve with:

  • Chilli (finely sliced)
  • Peanuts (roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar)
  • Prawn crackers

Steps:

Stage 1 – Slow cook beef

  1. Place the beef and all the ingredients for the marinade into a slow cooker.
  2. Put the slow cooker on a low setting and cook for around 6-10 hours stirring occasionally. You will know that the beef is ready when it is slightly caramelised and falls apart when you use two forks to shred it.
  3. When you are happy that the beef is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and place in a bowl, drizzle over some more honey and soy sauce (roughly 3tbsp of each) stir thoroughly and leave to cool completely.

Stage 2 – Salads

  1. Prepare the salads if you have a food processor use it to slice all of the vegetables finely.
  2. In a large bowl combine the, carrots, radishes, cucumber, sugar snap peas, mango, sweet red pepper, mint, chives and coriander. Garnish with the lime wedges.
  3. In another bowl mix together the green salad of the Romaine Lettuce and the mixed leaves.

Stage 3 – Dressing

  1. In a large jam jar shake together the dressing ingredients until they are completely combined.
  2. Add more soy sauce, Hoisin sauce or lime juice as required according to your own tastes.

Stage 4 – Noodles

  1. Just before you are ready to serve, shred the beef with two forks.
  2. Heat some oil in a large pan, then flash fry the noodles adding the beef to warm slightly in the last two minutes

Stage 5 – Serving

  1. To serve place some of the green salad on a plate.
  2. Add a spoonful or two of the mixed salad.
  3. Top with some of the beef noodles.
  4. Pour over a little dressing and add the chilli and peanuts according to your own tastes.
  5. Serve with some prawn crackers.

Stilton and fig tart

photo 3I have an abundance of Stilton in my fridge leftover from my brother’s wedding and I have been trying to think up things to make with it. Tonight having seen that figs were on sale in the local supermarket I decided to make a very simple tart. It is a fantastic option for a midweek supper especially if you are having one or two friends over as it takes a matter of minutes to prepare and you can happily chat away whilst it is cooking in the oven.

Whilst I enjoyed it as a main meal with a simple salad, this would make a great starter which you could make into individual portions just by cutting the pastry up into small squares and then following the same steps. This is definitely worth giving a go. A simple and very tasty supper!

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Stilton and fig tart (serves 4)

Ingredients:

– 1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
– 100-150g Stilton (cut into small cubes)
– 3 figs (sliced into roughly eighths)
– 1 handful of lardons or bacon bits
– 1-2 tsp honey
– 3-4 sprigs of parsley (chopped)
– 2 tbsp milk
– Olive oil
– Seasoning

Steps:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. On a high heat fry off the lardons for a couple of minutes. Set to one side and allow to cool slightly.

3. Lay the pastry out on a piece of baking paper on a shallow baking tray, fold over roughly 1cm of the pastry all around the edges to create a lip.

4. Taking a pastry brush, brush a little of the milk all over the pastry.

5. Scatter the stilton and lardons over the pastry then place the pieces of fig evenly over it.

6. Season with pepper and drizzle over a little olive oil before placing in the oven a baking for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

7. Remove from the oven, drizzle over some honey and scatter over the chopped parsley.

8. Serve warm with a salad. Enjoy.

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Nectarine and almond tart

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I caught up with some of my old school friends last week at a dinner party, we each got designated a course to bring. I have to say I do not think that I have eaten that well in a long time, we had four courses of scrummy food and the company was excellent.

My offering was a nectarine and almond tart.  With soft fruit coming into season at the moment it seemed a shame not to make a pudding that incorporated it some how.  I haven’t worked with pastry in a while, so I decided to make a dish that incorporated the two. The trick when making this pudding is to use fruit that is not too ripe so that it holds its form and doesn’t produce too much liquid when it is cooking which will cause the frangipane (which is an almond sponge) to become quite dense.

This tart can be eaten both hot or cold and is a great pudding to have in your repertoire for dinner parties or picnics.  Enjoy!

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Nectarine and almond tart (Serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

Pastry:image

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 4oz butter (at room temperature)
  • 1oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg

Frangipane:

  • 3 eggs
  • 5oz sugar
  • 3oz ground almondsimage[1]
  • 3oz plain flour
  • 6oz soft margarine
  • 1/4tsp baking powder

Decoration:

  • 2-3 firm-ish nectarines cut in wedges
  • A few flaked almonds to decorate

Steps:

Pastry:

1.      Grease and flour a 20cm loose bottomed tart tin.

2.      Place butter, sugar and flour in a bowl and crumb together using your fingers. 

3.      Add the egg and bring the pastry together, be careful not to over work it.

4.      On a floured surface roll out the pastry until it is large enough to fit in your tin, place in the tin and gently push the pastry into the edges and using any excess pastry to patch any holes. Dont cut off any excess that goes over the edges yet .  Afterwards lightly prick the pastry with a fork, place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill. 

5.      Remove from fridge and trim the edges of the tart pressing down slightly as you do so, place a sheet of baking paper over the tart and fill with baking beans.

6.      Blind bake pastry for 15 mins at 190C and then remove beans and bake further 5 mins.

Frangipane:

1.      Whilst your pastry is cooking prepare your frangipane.

2.      Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together with an electric whisk for 2 minutes.

3.      Once your pastry is cooked. Leave to cool for 5 mins, before spooning in the frangipane, decorate the tart with the nectarine wedges and almond slices.

4.      Place the Tart in the oven and bake at 170C for 35-50 mins.

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Lemon cake with mascarpone icing, lemon curd and summer berries

photo 2With my brother’s wedding fast approaching I thought I had better try out another cake idea that I have had for his wedding.  As it was my birthday and it is tradition at work to bring in cake I thought I would take the opportunity to try this cake out on a lot of people.  In the end I think around 40 people ended up trying the cake with a number of people sneaking back for seconds…

As I mentioned in an earlier blog (An idea for a wedding cake) my brother and his fiancé have decided to have a “bake off” at their wedding and are encouraging their guests to bring a variety of baked goods.  It is my understanding that the cakes will be judged on both creativity and presentation.  At the moment I am thinking that this is going to be the cake that I bake as I think will all the colours of the summer berries it is visually very pleasing, however, I think that I am going to have to make a few refinements to the cake to make it more structurally sound as ideally I would like to make the cake several tiers higher.

I ended up icing and decorating the cake at work as I could not face the idea of taking the finished cake onto the London underground.   I popped into the work canteen at around 8.30am and put the cake together within about 10-15 minutes.  All in all it was a stress free process as the beauty of this cake is that is does not matter how messy the cake looks after you have iced it because the berries will cover any mishaps that you may have.

So, why do I think that this is going to be the cake that I make for the bake off?  Well, as the wedding is at the end of August and we are all crossing our fingers that the weather is going to be lovely, I felt that a light cake that has a beautifully creamy filling which is countered by the sharpness of the lemon curd and summer berries would be the type of cake that people would want to eat.  However, we shall just have to wait and see how it turns out.

I would definitely say that this is a cake to try.  If you do not want to make such a large cake, then halve the recipe and bake the cake in a 10″ tin and you will have a lovely cake for either afternoon tea or a summer pudding that your guests will love.

photo 1Lemon cake with mascarpone icing, lemon curd and summer berries

Ingredients:

For the cake:

8 eggs
400g soft margarine
350g caster sugar
400g self raising flour
zest of 2 lemons
1tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp milk

For the mascarpone icing:

250g mascarpone
150g- 200g icing sugar
zest of a lemon

For the filling and toppings:

1-2 heaped tbsp lemon curd (per layer of sponge)
1 punnet strawberries
1 punnet blueberries
1 punnet blackberries
1 punnet raspberries

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 170C and line a 10″, 8″ and 6″ round cake tin with baking paper.

2. Beat together in a bowl the soft margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs, flour, zest, baking powder and milk, then beat together using an electric whisk for 1-2 minutes.

4. Divide the cake batter up between the 3 tins and bake for around 15-20 minutes for the 6” and 8” tins and 35-45 minutes for the 10” tin or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.

5. Leave to cool completely before cutting each of the cakes in half.

6. Make the mascarpone icing by beating the mascarpone in a bowl until soft, add the lemon zest and a little of the icing sugar at a time until you get a consistency of a smooth butter cream.

7. Place one half of the 10” sponge onto a plate then smooth over a little of the mascarpone icing, add 1-2tbsp of lemon curd on top and smooth over with a palette knife. Repeat the process until all of the sponges are stacked on top of each other. (Make sure you don’t use all of the mascarpone icing as you will need some left over to act as the glue to stick the fruit on the cake.)

8. Once the cake is stacked up, then spread the remainder of the mascarpone icing all over the cake before decorating with the berries.

Tip:  If you want to make the cake more special decorate with roses and sprigs of mint interspersed between the berries!

 

Banana and chocolate loaf

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I am not a huge fan of very ripe bananas so when I found myself with several fairly black looking bananas I had to think of something to do with them.  Fortunately one of my colleagues happened to mention fairly recently that their favourite cake is banana loaf so my decision was easy.

First up I should say that banana and chocolate loaf is definitely a cake and not a bread – it is a fairly dense cake and goes extremely well with a cup of tea.  This is the type of cake that doesn’t like to be rushed in the oven, don’t be over anxious and open the door regularly as you will cause the cake to sink and it won’t change the cooking time.  So my advice is be patient, put your feet up read a book and wait for your cake to be ready!

Banana and chocolate loaf

Ingredients :

  • 6oz bananas (peeled and mashed)
  • 4oz soft margarine
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 8oz plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1tbsp rum
  • 1 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  • 4oz plain chocolate (broken into small pieces)

Steps:

  1.  Preheat oven to 150C (fan).  Grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Cream the soft margarine and sugar together in a bowl using an electric whisk.
  3. Slowly beat in the eggs (add a little flour if the mixture looks as if it might curdle).
  4. Whisk in the flour, salt and baking powder.
  5. Then add the mashed banana, crème fraiche, chocolate and rum and mix well.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin.  Place in the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.
  7. Leave the cake to cool before serving.

Salmon fillet served with a rice salad and mango and avocado salsa

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I have been trying out a couple of new ideas for fresh and healthy suppers whilst the weather has been so hot.  During the summer months I normally resort to green salads with bread and cheese or cured meats as they are so easy to make.  However, as a friend of mine was coming over to celebrate her recent engagement I wanted to cook something a little bit more impressive than just a salad…

At the moment the markets around me are full of ripe mangoes and avocados so I thought I would buy some and make a sweet and tangy salsa.  Provided you have a food processor this salsa can be made in a matter of minutes.  If you don’t have a food processor then dice the ingredients to make a slightly chunkier version of the salsa that will be equally as delicious.

For the rice salad, I used leftover rice that I had cooked for supper the previous day and then added a combination of vegetables that are all in season at the moment which meant the salad was packed full of flavour and different textures.  The salad was incredibly fresh and complimented the delicacy of the salmon.

Whilst I enjoyed the combination of the rice salad, salsa and fish I would recommend trying the salsa with grilled chicken and/or tortilla chips and the rice salad would be a good and slightly different side dish at a picnic or BBQ so it worthwhile giving a go.

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Mango and Avocado Salsa

Ingredients:

  • ½ a red onion
  • 1 avocado (peeled and stoned)
  • 1 ripe mango (peeled and stoned)
  • ½ -1 chilli (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 small handful of fresh coriander (finely chopped)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1.  Place the red onion and chilli in a food processer and blitz until they are finely chopped.
  2. Then add the avocado, mango, coriander and blitz in the food processor till smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture out of the food processor into a bowl and stir in the lime juice, lemon juice and coriander season as necessary then decant into another bowl for serving.

Note:  If the salsa is kept covered it will keep in the fridge for a few days.

 

Rice Salad (serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

  • 150g pre-cooked basmati rice
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes (finely diced)
  • 3-4 radishes (finely diced)
  • 2” cucumber (finely diced)
  • 1 avocado (finely diced)
  • 2tbsp fresh coriander (chopped)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • Seasoning

Steps:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season well and serve.

 

Salmon Fillet (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  •  paprika
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • Seasoning

Steps:

  1. Place olive oil in a frying pan and heat on a medium temperature.
  2. Add the salmon fillets (skin side down)
  3. Season the salmon and sprinkle over a little paprika.
  4. Cover the frying pan with a lid, turn the temperature down slightly and cook for 7-10 minutes (or until the salmon is cooked).  Serve on a bed of rice salad with a little of the salsa on top.  Enjoy!

 

 

Vanilla and lemon panna cotta

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A few months ago one of my friends cooked me supper, the whole meal was absolutely delicious however the pudding was exceptional and I have been wanting to try to make it ever since.  The perfect opportunity presented itself a few weeks ago as I was cooking supper to celebrate my birthday with friends and family.  Given that panna cotta needs to set I made it a couple of days in advance which meant I didn’t have to do anything other than wash the berries on the day.

Thanks to my French housemate my kitchen is packed full with every cooking utensil and serving dish that you could possibly want which meant I was able to serve the panna cottas in individual cocottes which was quite fun and very easy for presentation purposes.  So if you can get your hands on mini-cocottes then all the better, otherwise,  ramekins would do the job just as well.

The flavour of the panna cotta is delightful and is a nice balance of sweet, tangy and creamy.  By serving it with raspberries it adds a slight sharpness that cuts through the panna cotta complimenting it beautifully.  This is a brilliant summer pudding good for special occasions or as a bit of a treat.

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Vanilla and lemon panna cotta served with fresh raspberries (makes 6)

Ingredients:

  • 400ml double cream
  • 400ml yogurt
  • 3 gelatine sheets (softened in water)
  • ¼ vanilla pod and seeds
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 100g caster sugar

To serve:

  • 1-2 punnets of fresh raspberries
  • juice of 1 lemon
  •  1-2tbsp caster sugar

Steps:

  1. Place the yogurt, lemon zest and vanilla seeds in a bowl and stir together.
  2. Put the cream and sugar and vanilla pod into a pan and heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Add the gelatine to the pan, and cook until the gelatine is dissolved.
  4. Sieve the cream and sugar mixture into the yogurt (this is to ensure your panna cotta is completely smooth).
  5. Stir the mixture together and then carefully pour into 6 mini cocottes.
  6. Leave to set over night.
  7. Before serving, mix together the fresh raspberries, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl and serve with the panna cotta. Enjoy!

A couple of pork based pâtés

About a month ago I made a series of pâtés at the same time that I posted a blog about a rabbit and pork terrine.  The pâtés have now been sampled and I thought it was about time I wrote them up…

Locally, pâtés tend to be very simple often consisting just of: pork meat (ground relatively coarsely), pig’s liver, eggs (one to every kilo of meat) and seasoning.  It is incredibly simple and tastes very nice particularly when served with gherkins or good chutney.

On finding out that it was possible to buy good quality pâté meat (by this I mean a combination of coarsely ground pork and liver that had been pre-seasoned) from a local store for the reasonable price of 3€ a kilo, Mumsy and I bought 15kg and spent a day mass producing various types of pâtés .  I decided to ‘free style’ a little and try out a few recipes using slightly different ingredients, for example hazelnuts that we had picked and frozen earlier in the year,  whereas Mumsy followed some tried and tested recipes.  All of the pâtés have come out well and make a nice addition to bread and cheese at lunch time as well as a good starter or pre-supper nibble to go with an ‘apéro’ or two.

Pork meat can be quite fatty,  do not be alarmed if when you follow one of the recipes below it looks as though you have a lot of fat around the inside of the jar, it is normal, just cut the fat off before serving.  The second thing to note is – if you are making a number of different types at the same time, make sure you label them properly before putting them into the pot to cook (we thought we had marked our pots sufficiently with a pen, however, when we removed them after cooking we realised all markings had come off, so it has been a ‘lucky dip’ scenario whenever we get out a new pâté …).

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Fruit and Nut Pork Pâté (makes 5-6 pots)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5kg pre-seasoned pork meat for pâté (alternatively use a combination of pork belly, pork shoulder and pig liver and season well)
  • 2 handfuls of hazelnuts
  • 1 good handful cranberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 heaped tsp ground mace
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries (ground in a pestle and mortar)
  • 1tsp peppercorns (ground in a pestle and mortar)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 50ml cognac

Steps:

1.  Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well.

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2.  Spoon the mixture into sterilized jars (preferably Le Parfait, Mason or Kilner jars)  making sure you do not overfill the jars; the pâté should stop just below the lid line.  Make sure the tops of the jars are clean before closing up the jars.  [Depending on the type of jar you are using don’t forget to place an intermediary lid (to create a seal) on before screwing on the lid tightly.]

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(Due to the quantity of pâté that we made, we used a large outdoor burner that could hold 20-25 pots at a time.   A large pasta saucepan would be perfect if you are making smaller quantities.)

3.  Place all of the jars in a large saucepan. (When you do this place a couple of tea towels at the bottom of the saucepan to prevent the jars on the bottom cracking and make sure that the pots can’t move about by packing them in with other tea towels or pieces of broken tile.  Finally, weigh them all down with something heavy like a brick as shown in the pictures above.) Cover the jars completely with water, cover with a lid and bring up to a boil and then simmer for 2-3hrs.

4.  Allow to cool in the saucepan and then remove and store in a cool place.

 

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Sweet and Spicy Pork Pâté (makes 5-6 pots)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5kg pre-seasoned pork meat for pâté (alternatively use a combination of pork belly, pork shoulder and pig liver and season well)
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 dried chilli (finely sliced)
  • Armagnac (to brush the pots with)

Steps:

1.  Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well.

2.  Spoon the mixture into sterilized jars (preferably Le Parfait, Mason or Kilner jars) make sure you do not overfill the jars; the pâté should stop just below the lid line.  Make sure the tops of the jars are clean before closing up the jars.  [Depending on the type of jar you are using don’t forget to place an intermediary lid (to create a seal) on before screwing on the lid tightly.]

3.  Place all of the jars in a large saucepan. (When you do this place a couple of tea towels at the bottom of the saucepan to prevent the jars on the bottom cracking and make sure that the pots can’t move about by packing them in with other tea towels or pieces of broken tile.  Finally, weigh them all down with something heavy like a brick as shown in the pictures above.)  Cover the jars completely with water, cover with a lid and bring up to a boil and then simmer for 2-3hrs.

4.  Allow to cool in the saucepan and then remove and store in a cool place.

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Warm salad with pear and parma ham

After all the rich food that I have been ‘blogging’ about lately I felt it was about time to do something a little healthier…  This recipe is a great starter that looks good and takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare.  The chicory/endive gives the salad slightly sharp taste and a nice crunchy texture, whilst the warmed and slightly caramelised pear counters that sharpness adding sweet undertones.  There is not much else that can be said about this dish other than give it a go…

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Warm Salad with Pear and Parma Ham (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pears (sliced lengthways roughly 3mm in thickness)DSC_0274 (3)
  • 8 slices of Parma ham
  • 3 spears of chicory/endive (finely sliced)
  • knob of butter
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pepper (to season)

Steps:

1.  Place the butter and oil in a frying pan and heat.

2.  Once the butter has melted add sugar and stir until it dissolves.

3.  Add the pears to the frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning them over after about a minute.

4.  Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further minute stirring gently being careful not to break up the pears.

5.  Then plate up – place chicory at bottom of each plate, add the pears, drape over two slices of Parma ham and drizzle over the juices from the pan.

6. Finally season with a little pepper and serve.