My life and passion for food.

I'd like to welcome you to my blog. If you love food & cooking then you've come to the right place.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Blitzens





Poor Blitzen......why should Rudolf get all the attention? I wanted to devise a little treat for grown-ups over the Christmas period. These Apricot, Amaretti, Almond squares are based on the kiddies Rocky Road. They're chewy thanks to the Rolos & have a little crunch from the addition of Maltesers. I've just upped the anti and given them a little twist and a touch of sophistication for the adult palate. Just leave out the Amaretto if serving to children and perhaps use milk chocolate instead of the bitter dark.

Really easy to make as there's no baking required just a few hours of chilling in the fridge.  They will be perfect with coffee after Christmas lunch instead of the usual Mince Pies or After Eight mints.

Ingredients

200g/7oz good quality 70% solid Dark Chocolate (I used Green & Blacks)
3 tbsp. Golden or Corn Syrup
150g/5oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp. Amaretto liqueur (optional)

Melt all of the above in a large bowl over simmering water. Remove from heat as soon as it's all melted & combined.

100g/3½ oz dried apricots chopped
75g/ 3oz flaked almonds
100g /3½ Amaretti biscuits lightly broken
a packet of Rolos slice them in half
130g approx. 4oz White Maltesers

line a 9"/23cm tin with baking parchment

Reserve around a third of the melted chocolate mixture
Reserve around 20 Maltesers & half of the chopped apricots for the top

Add all the dry ingredients to the melted chocolate and mix well together
Pour over the remaining reserved chocolate
Decorate with the remaining apricots & Maltesers and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight
use a really sharp knife to cut into 20 equal squares.  
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge they should keep for at least a week.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Key Lime Pie



I just love to have visitors to my blog, I've taken some time to prepare this recipe and to blog it so I would be so grateful for some feed back. Please leave a comment or better still visit come over & visit me on my Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/la.difference.catering where I'm available all day most days .

Light, fresh and tangy , I'm sure there couldn't be a better dessert to finish your summer dinner with.
Once the pastry case is made it's just a matter of zesting some juicy limes and squeezing out the juice to add to condensed milk & eggs. The recipe is so simple and the result is just amazing. This recipe should serve 10-12 people.

I used a deep 11" 28cm loose bottomed quiche tin oiled well.

The pastry (unsweetened shortcrust as the filling is sweet enough)

4oz/125g cold unsalted butter cubed
4oz/125g Vegetable shortening (Trex or Cookeen)
1lb plain white flour
pinch of salt
approximately 3tbsp cold water to bind.

In a large bowl rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add a couple of tbsp. of cold water and bring the pastry together to form a ball adding a little more water if needed,

Flatten, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until you are ready to bake it.

Gently roll out the pastry quite thinly. (you will have plenty enough left over to make jam tarts)
Line the greased tart tin with the pastry carefully pushing it into the edges. Leave an overhang of around 1" of pastry in case it shrinks while baking.
Refrigerate again for around 20 minutes.
Set the oven to 190c/375F/gas 5

Scrunch up a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the tin and fill with baking beans, rice or whatever you use.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 12 minutes
Remove the paper & beans and continue baking until the pastry is golden & crisp approximately another 7 minutes.
Remove from the oven & trim off the excess pastry to the top of tin.

For the filling.  

6 to 8 Limes depending on the size
 you will need to zest 5  and you will need around 200ml/7fl oz lime juice in total
2 13oz/400g tins of condensed milk
6 large eggs separated
whipped cream & lime slices to decorate

set the oven to 190c/375f/gas 5

Whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry
whip together the egg yolks & condensed milk
Slowly add the lime zest and juice, mix well
Fold in a few tbsp. of the egg white to loosen the mixture
Then fold in the rest.
Pour into a large jug

Place the tart case on an oven tray and place it in the centre of the oven
Carefully pour in the batter until it almost reaches the top of the pastry. Do not overfill any spare mixture can be cooked in an oven dish (cooks treat)
Bake for around 20 -25 minutes or until the filling is set.
Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before gently removing from the tin.

Decorate with whipped cream and slices of lime






Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dor's Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake

Dor's Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake


I just love to have visitors to my blog, I've taken some time to prepare this recipe and to blog it so I would be so grateful for some feed back. Please leave a comment or better still visit come over & visit me on my Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/la.difference.catering where I'm available all day most days
 
Rhubarb & Ginger has to be one of my favourite combinations so it wasn't too hard to figure out how to use up some of the glut of rhubarb that I had in the garden. Along with that I found 3 tubs of Philly in the fridge, I'm always tempted to buy too much when there's a supermarket offer going.

I usually make this baked Cheesecake with a digestive (Graham Cracker) base but I used Ginger Nuts to add to the ginger flavours in the topping.

The recipe will make around 12 portions but just 6 of us managed to polish this one off in one sitting. Okay we're just damn greedy but we don't eat it every day.

Here's the recipe.
You will need a 9/10" loose bottomed Springform tin, greased then lined with parchment paper to come about an inch or so above the tin.

For the base

a 300g packet of Ginger nuts crushed to a fine crumb
100g unsalted butter melted
3 tbsp.sugar

Mix well together, press into the bottom of the tin and refrigerate to set it (about 40 minutes)

For the Filling

750 gms of Philly or another good quality whipped cream cheese
300ml of sour cream or double cream if you can't get it
6 eggs separated
150g caster sugar
the zest of 1 lemon
1 dessertspoon of vanilla extract
2 tbsp. of corn flour (corn starch)
a sprinkle of sea salt ( about ½ tsp)

Using a hand whisk, place the egg whites in a bowl and whip until stiff but not dry
in another bowl place everything else and using the same whisk beat until smooth.
Fold in the egg whites making sure there's no white bits of egg white to be seen
Place the batter over the biscuit base to about 1" below the top of the tin
There may be a little too much batter so don't overfill your tins just pour it into a dish and bake later (cooks treat)

Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven 170c/325f/gas 3 for around 1& 10 mins hour. Don't be tempted to open the door, keep a keen eye on it though in case it browns too quickly. Turn the oven off and leave cheesecake in the oven for a least a couple of hours to really set up. There should be no wobble at all at this stage.
 Place on a wire rack to cool completely and leave in the baking tin until you are ready to serve it.
I left mine in the fridge well wrapped overnight and it was perfect the following day.

For the Rhubarb topping

1lb young rhubarb stalks
150g or so of caster sugar
around 2 level tsps of cornflour or arrowroot to thicken the juices
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
around 4 or 5 pieces of crystallised ginger chopped
or 1 tsp of ginger powder added to the rhubarb before cooking

Chop around 1lb/500g washed rhubarb into about 1½"/ 3cm pieces and place in a non metallic oven dish with around 150g of caster sugar (according how sharp you like your rhubarb) and 1 tbsp of water.
Cover with foil and bake at 180c/350f/gas4 for around 30 minutes or until soft
Baked this way the rhubarb holds it's shape.
Place the rhubarb in a sieve and collect the juices. You'll find that it will keep making a little more as it sits.
Place the juices in a pan and add a little slaked corn flour/starch/arrowroot and the redcurrant jelly and cook until it starts to thicken. It should be of a thickened but still pourable consistency

To assemble

remove the cheesecake carefully from the tin and remove the parchment paper.
Place on it's serving plate
Arrange the rhubarb over the top.
Scatter over the chopped ginger
Carefully spoon over the slightly cooled thickened juices and serve.


   


Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sultana Scones


I just love to have visitors to my blog, I've taken some time to prepare this recipe and to blog it so I would be so grateful for some feed back. Please leave a comment or better still visit come over & visit me on my Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/la.difference.catering where I'm available all day most days

For a perfect afternoon tea. These scones served while still warm with strawberry jam & clotted cream cannot be beaten. Omit the sultanas if you prefer a plain scone or add any other dried fruit that you prefer to the basic scone dough .

to make about 20 2" scones

400g of self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
(sift these dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl)
3 tbsp caster sugar
80g soft butter
2 beaten eggs
80 gms sultanas
enough milk to form a soft but not wet dough
an egg yolk with a tbsp water whisked in for the egg wash glaze

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, mix in the sugar
Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and enough milk to make a soft but not wet dough
Handle it as lightly as you can or it can become rubbery if overworked and bring together to form a ball.
Roll lightly to about 1" thick and cut into rounds using a 2" cutter.
Place on a greased oven tray
Brush with a little egg wash
Bake in a hot oven 220c/ 425f/gas 7 for around 12-15 mins until they are well risen & golden brown
Leave to cool on a wire rack
Best eaten when still warm with strawberry jam & clotted cream

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Scone (Cobbler) Ring


I just love to have visitors to my blog, I've taken some time to prepare this recipe and to blog it so I would be so grateful for some feed back. Please leave a comment or better still visit come over & visit me on my Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/la.difference.catering where I'm available all day most days


This is a savoury version of my Scone Ring. I suppose you could call it an upside-down Cobbler where the base is baked first and then topped with what ever takes your fancy. It can be used for hot & cold fillings. A sweet version filled with lemon curd & raspberries with swirls of lightly whipped cream would be fabulous for a dessert. My friend Jo Wheatley suggested that it could be filled with a ploughman's lunch, ham, cheese & pickles now wouldn't that be fabulous.

I filled this one with sauteed leeks & mushrooms, strips of seasoned chicken that I quickly fried until almost cooked, and  sweet baby tomatoes. I sprinkled over lots of Parmesan and popped it back into a hot oven for 5 minutes until everything was piping hot.








Here's how I made it

For the savoury scone mix

400g of self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
(sift these dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl)
80g soft butter
2 beaten eggs
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
enough milk to form a soft but not wet dough
an egg yolk with a tbsp water whisked in for the egg wash glaze

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, mix in the chives
Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and enough milk to make a soft but not wet dough
Handle it as lightly as you can or it can become rubbery if overworked and bring together to form a ball.

Half the dough

form the first half into a disc around 8/9" round and place on a greased oven tray
roll out the other half to about the thickness of a £1 coin and cut into 2" rounds.
I made around 14 .
Wet the edge of the ring with the egg wash
Place slightly overlapping rounds of scone equally around the edge
Brush the top with egg wash
Bake near the top a hot oven 220c/425f/gas 7 for around 12 minutes until cooked through & golden brown.
Remove from the oven and either leave it to cool completely or fill it straight away if serving hot and pop back in the oven until everything is piping hot and serve immediately.

If you want to make a sweet version.
omit the salt, pepper and chives
add 3 tbsp caster sugar to the mix after you've rubbed in the butter.

I will make a sweet version and add it to this post soon.


Monday, 15 April 2013

Sweet Potato Curry with Nigella Seeds




Perfect for Vegetarian alternative for a curry night. This sweet potato curry is also a great side dish for your Indian Banquet as an alternative to Bombay Potatoes.  We had this lovely dish with a really hot & spicy Beef Madras, steamed rice, lime pickle & lots of Naan to mop up all the sauces.

Ingredients to serve 3/4 portions or more  as a side dish

1lb/ 450g of sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into large dice
2  onions diced
2 chillies red or green (De seeded) finely chopped
Fresh Coriander (cilantro) around 2tbsp chopped
a spring onion to garnish chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
lemon juice to finish

The spices

5 curry leaves

½ tsp of each of the following spices
dried red chilli flakes (optional)
powdered cumin
turmeric
black onion seeds
fennel seeds
mustard seeds
Nigella seeds ( toasted & reserved to sprinkle over)

Par boil the sweet potatoes in salted water for around 8 mins until starting to go tender
Add the oil to a frying pan, heat till very hot add the curry leaves & chilli flakes and cook very quickly to a golden brown, turn down the heat  
Add the chopped onions, fresh chillies, fresh coriander and all the other spices.
Cook on a medium heat until the onions are soft
Add the par boiled sweet potatoes with a 3/4 tbsp of water
Turn the heat to it's lowest setting and continue cooking for around 10 minutes.
Turn out onto a serving dish, squeeze a little lemon juice over & scatter over the spring onions & toasted Nigella seeds.









 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Baked Cashew Nut Chicken Fillets



I'm a real nut lover and I think that Cashews could be my favourites. I use them such a lot especially when I cook a Chinese & Indian Meals. I like to buy a big bag of raw cashews when I visit the Chinese Supermarket. They're great roasted in the oven with chilli and maple syrup for a drinks party, or dry fried in a frying pan for a few minutes to ready to add to stir fries, curries and Moroccan cous cous. 

Here I have added them to this lovely crunchy coating for chicken fillets which are then baked in the oven for around 25 mins. Fabulous served hot or cold and would be great for a packed lunch or picnic. We enjoyed a couple of left over pieces served up in a tortilla wrap with salad for lunch the following day.

 I served this with a simple minted yoghurt with a little red chilli added but I'm sure the kids would enjoy it more with a dollop of tomato ketchup .

Heat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6

The ingredients will serve 4

4 chicken fillets cut in half lenghthwise to make 8 pieces in total
4 oz  raw cashew nuts (if you can't find them use roasted & salted but omit the salt from the recipe)
2 slices of yesterday's bread ( made into breadcrumbs)
1 spring onion roughly chopped  including all the green part
1 tbsp chopped coriander or parsley if preferred
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil

flour, spread onto a plate
2 eggs beat and place onto a plate

Squeeze of lemon to finish

Method:

To make the coating just whizz everything (except the chicken & cashews) in a food processor until well blended then add the nuts & the oil and lightly blitz to break up the nuts slightly. Place on a plate & leave to one side while you prepare the chicken.

Line 3 plates up,  1st with the flour, then the beaten eggs  then the crumb coating

Dip the chicken into the flour,  then the egg, then finally roll into the cashew nut mixture making sure it's well coated

Place each piece onto a large baking tray

Bake in a hot oven 200c/400f/gas6 for around 20 mins ( check after 15) until cooked through and golden brown.

Serve hot or cold with a squeeze of lemon sprinkled over