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Showing posts from 2013

THE EASIEST CHOCOLATE & SALTED CARAMEL TART

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I've just made this as an alternative to Christmas Pudding (which I don't like). It is stupidly easy to make, yet looks very impressive and professional, and can be prettied up with a dusting of edible gold shimmer for a really festive touch.

The chocolate element is from The Best Chocolate Tart, and the ingredients given will yield a tart which will comfortably serve 8, or 6 generously with seconds. Serve with clotted cream, double cream, vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

1 ready made sweet pastry case (such as this one from Waitrose)
1 x 397g tin Carnation condensed milk caramel
A generous pinch of sea salt flakes (I use Maldon Sea Salt)
200g dark chocolate broken into small pieces (I like Waitrose Belgian chocolate; Green & Black's dark is also excellent for this recipe) 250ml single cream 40g unsalted butter Spread the caramel evenly over the base of the pastry case. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Put half of the cream in a saucepan and once near boiling add the chocola…

PEANUT BUTTER ICE CREAM

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I first encountered Reeses Peanut Butter Cups when I was a student at Exeter University in the mid-1980s. An American girl on my corridor in the hall of residence where I lived in my first year had Reeses Peanut Butter Cups shipped over on a regular basis, perhaps to remind her of home, and she would generously share them with the rest of us whose rooms were close to hers. I loved the salt-sweet combination of peanut butter and chocolate. We tried to recreate that special flavour combo using peanut butter and chocolate spread (on toast) but we never quite achieved the glorious moreish sickly-sweetness of the original Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

For a long time, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups were only available in specialist retailers, usually near an American enclave. For example, Garsons Farm, near Esher, Surrey, used to sell them, along with other all-American foodstuffs. It was a bit too far to drive to Garsons Farm just to buy Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, though I would stock up if I was…

CULINARY CURIOSITIES - BACON JAM

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I was recently sent a box of foodie goodies by a PR company to help me create "the prefect Bonfire Night feast" - two packs of Spoilt Pig sausages, some deliciously sweet Denhay maple-cured bacon, Tracklements mustard and proper old-fashioned tomato ketchup, and a condiment called 'Bacon Jam'. The sausages and bacon didn't make it to Bonfire Night: my son and I had a fry up and devoured nearly everything in one sitting the day after the food box arrived.



Packaged in a small jar, not unlike caviar, the Bacon Jam went into the cupboard where I keep my condiments and was forgotten about for a few weeks. I wasn't sure what it was for: did one smear it on rashers of bacon as they were cooking, or was it a relish or chutney? One day, my curiosity - and greed - got the better of me and I tried the Bacon Jam, on a spoon. Sweet and smoky, with a distinctly "bacony" flavour, overlaid with sweet onions and, strangely, coffee, Bacon Jam proved to be very curio…

HELL'S KITCHEN "NO KNEAD" BREAD

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This method for bread came to me via my friend and regular supper guest Nick, who declared, on recently leaving his job, that he was going to "learn how to make bread". The description "no knead" (AKA "minimalist bread") is absolutely apt - the dough requires almost no kneading and relies simply on a long proving time (up to 24 hours), a super hot oven, and a Le Creuset-style cast iron casserole dish. It goes against all the received wisdom of traditional bread-making - the kneading (by hand or in a mixer), proving, knocking back and the second proving. I suspect Paul Hollywood, baking god and co-judge of The Great British Bake Off, would be horrified. I admit I am am rather late to this method: a quick internet search revealed that this simple formula has been doing the rounds for some years now.

The recipe/method was developed by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in the Hell's Kitchen district of New York City . The resulting loaf could easily pas…

ELBULLI: FERRAN ADRIA & THE ART OF FOOD

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Before Heston Blumenthal, there was Ferran Adrià, head chef of the now-legendary elBulli restaurant at Cajal Montjol on Spain's Costa Brava, a man who brought risk, freedom and creativity to food and cooking, and whose innovative and daring approach has had a lasting influence on how food is cooked, presented and perceived. No longer simply nourishment, food has been transformed into a science and an art form. A new exhibition at Somerset House, the first to focus on a restaurant, celebrates the "Art of Food", and the enduring influence of elBulli. The restaurant has now closed, to make way for a new organization called the elBullifoundation, which will nurture the raw materials of cooking – creativity and talent.

Read my full review for OneStopArts here


WAKE UP TO A 'FARMHOUSE BREAKFAST'

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Today marks the start of 'Farmhouse Breakfast Week', and a great excuse to enjoy good old-fashioned breakfast staples such as bacon, eggs, sausages and relishes.

We don't often have "fry ups" or proper cooked breakfasts in this house, tending to prefer "healthier" options such as cereal or yoghurt with fruit. But there's nothing quite like a good "full English" is there? When we go camping (rarely) a cooked breakfast is obligatory, a reward for having got through the night on airbeds and something to set us up for the rest of the day.

Thanks to Denhay Farms Ultimate Breakfast Box, we have enjoyed not one but two Farmhouse Breakfasts this weekend, consisting of Denhay's sweet hand-cured bacon (which my son declared "very very tasty!", Spoilt Pig sausages, and Burford Brown eggs with the most wonderful marigold-yellow yolks. Alongside these hearty delicacies, some delicious Tracklements relishes and real tomato ketchup. Rather…