Monday, 31 May 2010

Lamb stew

Today, I found out that stewed! were running a competition to find a British addition to their stew pot range (the competition was part of 30 Days of Food and Drink). It would also seem that today was the last day I could enter. Cue day of frenetic stew based activity - trying to work out an original recipe, get the ingredients and try it out.

I came up with this lamb stew with chunks of lamb rump, carrots, peas, leek and Cheshire cheese dumplings.

Unfortunately it wasn't as good as I had hoped. It was tasty but I didn't think it would win a competition. The celery was unnecessary and the dumplings didn't turn out quite as I'd hoped: not nearly as cheesy as I wanted. Maybe some wine would have added a richness of flavour. However, the mint sauce (mint and vinegar) at the end added a wonderful sour note.

Anyway, this is the recipe for my lamb stew as I would do it next time. Although I'm not sure how to improve the dumplings.

750g lamb rump steak, cubed (any stewing joint such as shoulder can be used)
100g seasoned flour
1 large leek, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced
~200g frozen peas
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1tsp dried rosemary
1pint lamb or chicken stock
For the dumplings: (these need improving)
5oz flour
2oz suet
2oz Cheshire cheese, crumbled
½tsp rosemary
~75ml water
Handful of mint, finely shredded
White wine vinegar

1. Toss the lamb in seasoned flour and fry in batches to brown.
2. To the same pan add the leek and carrot to sweat until soften.
3. Once softened add the garlic, rosemary and bay leaves. Fry for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the lamb back to the pan and cover with the stock.
5. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30minutes.
6. Whilst the stew is simmering make the dumplings. Combine all the dry ingredients and gradually add enough water so that a dough can be made.
7. Divide the dough to make 8 dumplings, rolling each into a ball.
8. Add the dumplings to the stew and allow to cook for 30mins.
9. Add the frozen peas and allow to cook for a further 5mins.
10. Serve in bowls garnished with the mint sauce.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Karen's seasonal treat: Sea bass, Jersey Royals and asparagus followed by Rhubarb crunch

May is a great month for English asparagus. 6 weeks to gorge on the finest asparagus in the world, infinitely better than that cr@p imported from Peru all year round. It infuriates me that supermarkets have created this public acceptance that all food should be available all year round. I can't think of a single redeeming feature of being able to have all produce available all year round. Eating with the seasons couldn't be more natural. It's exciting when the asparagus season gets here and you know that only for a few short weeks can you have this delicacy (each shoot takes about 3 years to grow). It's your duty to enjoy as much of it as possible, to support the English farmers and fight back against the globalisation of the food chain.

It was with this in mind, that I realised I really hadn't eaten enough asparagus or Jersey Royals or rhubarb (still available this late in the year due to the harsh winter), so I had to have K round to indulge in the season's best with me.

Unearthed selection
Sea bass with a crushed Jersey Royals, asparagus and a mustard sauce
Rhubarb crunch

Unearthed selection
We had an incredibly rich Breton duck mousse and a meaty Breton coarse pate with duck liver on some melba toasts. Then a pot of posh cheesey beans! Very tasty.

Sea bass with a crushed Jersey Royals, asparagus and a mustard sauce
A sea bass fillet (skin replaced with a crispy slice of Parma ham), sitting on Jersey Royals and asparagus in plenty of butter.

Rhubarb crunch
A spring version of rhubarb crumble. The rhubarb was roasted to keep its shape and topped with a nutty "crumble".

Sea bass with a crushed Jersey Royals, asparagus and a mustard sauce (serve 2)

Bunch of English asparagus (~250g), woody ends removed and peeled
300g Jersey Royal new potatoes
2 light fish fillets, such as Dover sole, skinned
2dsp crème fraîche
2tsp whole grain mustard
2 slices Parma ham

1. Season the fish and fry on each side for about 2/3mins. Then remove from the heat and allow to rest.
2. In the fish pan fry the Parma ham slices until crisp.
3. Cook the potatoes either in the microwave (~7mins) or in a pan of salted water (~20mins) until tender.
4. Once cooked, lightly crush and add 2oz of butter and season. Leave to one side to allow the potatoes to cool and soak up the butter.
5. Cook the asparagus in a shallow pan of salted boiling water until tender (~4mins). Once cooked refresh and slice obliquely into 1" batons and gently mix into the potato.
6. For the mustard sauce heat the mustard and the crème fraîche gently. Add milk until the desired consistency is achieved.
7. To plate, put the potato and asparagus in the middle of the plate. Top with the fish and ham. To finish drizzle the mustard sauce around the plate.

Rhubarb crunch (serves 2)

400g rhubarb, cut into 2" batons
Juice of an orange
4tbsp demerara sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
1oz ground almonds
1½oz chopped pecans
1½oz butter
1½oz demerara sugar
1¾oz plain flour
Crème fraîche, to serve

1. To make the crunch topping, mix all the dry ingredients then rub in the butter to create breadcrumbs. Spread over a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 20mins. Toss halfway through to ensure ensure even cooking and maximum crunch.
2. Mix all the ingredients for the rhubarb in a bowl. Transfer to a baking tray and bake at 180°C for about 10mins, or until just tender.
3. Once both elements have cooked, turn off the oven and leave in the oven until ready to serve.
4. To serve, remove the rhubarb from the cooking liquor (it should have a thick syrup consistency) and stack in a bowl. Top with a the crunch. Spoon over some of the cooking liquor and finish with crème fraîche.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Newsy stuff

A few little things have happened recently.
  • I saw restaurateur David Moore (owner of two-starred Pied à Terre and more widely know as one of the judges on the BBC's The Restaurant) eating in Haozhan in China town. I knew it was good!
  • I've won tickets to Taste of London care of toptable, so look out for an extensive post about that in late June.
  • Chefs Unite has been launched, offering the chance to win some unbelievable experiences with some great chefs for the price of a £10 raffle ticket, all in aid of Children with Leukaemia. I'm just wondering how many tickets I can afford...

Monday, 24 May 2010

ICCHFC - Week 35: Plum crunch cake

Hannah's poll lead me to an ethical dilemma this week. I really wanted the plum cake, but clearly it's not the time for these autumnal purple orbs. Peaches are little better although not quite in season. Consequently I just had to vote for the chocolate cake, which Hannah has been wanting to make for ages. It would seem that not every one is as concerned with food miles as I (it turned out the plums were from Australia!), and the plum cake won hands-down.
To be fair Hannah produced another cracker. I was surprised by the strong citrus note of the cake, but it worked well. Also I think a crunch topping of sugar cubes has to be the single best thing I have learnt since we've been going. It's just a stroke of absolute genius and really does add another dimension to cakes.

Interestingly, the subject of people not getting to bake the cake that they've wanted to reared its head again. consequently the next round of cakes is going dictatorial: no voting! Marianne's also desperate to include some kind of cake prediction game. We'll have to see how that pans out.

Hannah's Plum crunch cake (taken from Tasty Recipes)

2 eggs — plus 1 egg yolk
5oz butter — softened
5oz golden caster sugar
5oz self-raising flour
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
7 1/2 oz plums — stoned, half roughly chopped into pieces and half cut into wedges
For the topping:
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
7oz golden caster sugar
1oz rough sugar pieces (or sugar cubes) — roughly crushed

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3/fan oven 140°C. Butter and line the base of a 1 kg/2 lb loaf tin.
2. Lightly beat the eggs and egg yolk with a pinch of salt.
3. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Pour in the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Fold in the flour with the orange zest and two tablespoons of the juice, then fold in the roughly chopped plums.
5. Spoon into the prepared tin and scatter the plum wedges over. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack.
6. Mix the remaining orange juice with the lemon juice and caster sugar. Spoon over the cooling cake and sprinkle with the crushed sugar pieces. Cool until set.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Frankfurter slice

I made this very satisfying frankfurter slice for tea tonight using left-overs.

Puff pastry
Franfurters/hotdogs (the proper kind that come in a jar or vacuum pack and contain actual pork as opposed to mechanically reclaimed chicken)
1 egg yolk
2tbsp mascapone
2tsp wholegrain mustard

1. Roll out the puff pastry to just bigger than the lenght of the sausages and about 3" wide. Brush the edges with water and press on a 1cm wide strip of pastry. Egg wash the pastry and dock the base with a fork. Bake in an oven at 200°C for 10mins.
2. Beat together the mustard, cheese and egg yolk.
3. Halve the sausages lengthwise.
4. One the pastry has cooked. spread the cheese mix over and the place the sausages on top (cut side down).
5. Bake for a further 20mins.

Monday, 17 May 2010

ICCHFC - Week 34: Lemon cream cake

As far as I'm concerned, bad cake is better than no cake. Not the most encouraging of starts to a Cakers post, but this week's baker did not reach the culinary heights she was looking for.

I think she was aiming for something like this:

But her Lemon cream cake turned out like this:

Now, this cake was so deliciously lemony, the only experience I can compare it to is sucking a lemon, that was very sweet. The cake was so moist from the lemon syrup and the icing offset the richness brilliantly.

Things may have not gone completely to plan, but, by golly, it was still a VERY tasty treat.

If only everyone had voted for the espresso and walnut cake that I wanted, maybe things would have been different...

Lemon cream cake (taken from Good to Know Recipes)

For the cake:
8oz butter, softened
8oz caster sugar
8oz self-raising flour
3 medium eggs
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
For the syrup:
4tbsp caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
For the topping:
150ml carton double cream
6tbsp lemon curd
8" round cake tin, lined with baking parchment
Disposable piping bag

1. Set the oven to gas mark 3 or 160°C. To make the cake, tip the butter, sugar, flour and eggs into a bowl and beat until smooth then beat in the lemon zest.
2. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and level the surface. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 1-1¼hrs or until the sponge feels firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean after being inserted into the centre of the cake.
3. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Pour 4tbsp of water into a pan and add the sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves, and boil it rapidly for 1-2 mins. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice.
4. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup over it. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 mins, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. To prepare the topping, pour the cream into a bowl and whisk until it starts to thicken. Add 4 level tbsp of the lemon curd to the cream and continue whisking until it's thickened then spread the lemon cream over the top of cake. Put the remaining lemon curd in the piping bag and cut off the end of the bag to give a small hole. Pipe random lines over the top of the lemon cream. Keep the cake chilled until ready to serve.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Primula challenge

Just recently my thoughts have turned to (that most natural of products), Primula. (I'm not quite sure this is, maybe I had some subtle encouragement from somewhere).

Anyway, the idea of a Primula based challenge has stuck. It was suggested that maybe a 100m Primula sprint might be feasible i.e. how fast can a person eat 100m worth of Primula (this would probably require the use of some sort of mechanical distribution device in order to ensure a smooth supply of the squeezy cheese to the challenger.

With my interest piqued by this thought, I had to give it some further investigation.

It would seem that laying a 1m trail of Primula is quite difficult. ensuring an even level of pressure is used to get a uniform cheese stripe is more taxing than you'd think. Also Primula is more elastic than I think anyone would ever give it credit for.

It turns out that 1m of Primula weighs 48g, so eating 100m would mean eating 4.8kg, which is equivalent to 34 tubes. At a cost of £40.12!

So maybe the 100m Primula sprint is out.

There must, however, be some way of combining sporting prowess and Primula. Maybe the 1m Primula lick dash? How fast can the contestant lick up 1m of Primula? Maybe an event could include edible hurdles over which the Primula is laid and they must be eaten along with the Primula.

Any thoughts on what could be included? Surely Primula based sports have been missing for far too long, haven't they?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Mandy & Jo return for lettuce and goat's cheese, duck and plum sauce and rhubarb pavlova

The last time Mandy and Jo came round for some post-work dinner, I hadn't actually started the blog, which goes to show just how long ago it was. This time, however, the stakes were raised as the girls had some pretty stiff requirements to test me out:
  • Starter - Something mini/canapé-ish with goats cheese
  • Main - Your take on crispy duck (to include or not include pancakes, but definitely plum sauce to be involved)

  • Dessert - Fruity moussey meringuey thing (in a glass) with a crumbly or flakey (as in from a Cadbury’s Flake) bits on the top
To fulfil their brief I gave them:

Baby gem lettuce and goat's cheese
Duck pancakes with chilli plum sauce
Roast rhubarb pavlova

Baby gem lettuce and goat's cheese

A warm lettuce half topped with grilled goat's cheese, together with the remaining lettuce leaves dressed with goat's cheese and lemon.

The cooked lettuce was a particularly good revelation.

Duck pancakes with chilli plum sauce

A spring onion pancake stack, layered with duck breast, and batons of spring onion and cucumber served with a chilli plum sauce. This was accompanied by steamed pak choi.

I was more worried about this than anything I've cooked for a long time. I think this was because I just didn't expect it to live up to the weight of expectation. Who can cook duck rolls with plum sauce better than the Chinese? I'd had a massive nightmare in getting any duck and in the end bought a whole duck rather than just breasts as I'd planned to get. I was also worried that the chilli sauce was way too hot. However, it turns out that I am completely pathetic when it comes down to chilli heat. The girls lapped it up.

It turned out that this nothing like they were expecting and they really liked it (there were no left-overs!), which was a massive relief.

Rhubarb pavlova
Individual meringues filled with cream and then topped with roast rhubarb.

Not the chewy meringues I was after but still pretty good. That's another thing to add to the list of things to perfect.

I also gave the girls a selection of additional toppings of caramel shards, marshmallows and ginger nuts. Jo bought a Flake, to ensure that part of the brief was fulfilled despite my protestations that chocolate and rhubarb are not natural bedfellows. These were their final desserts.

Overall, I was very happy: two very well fed guests, a culinary challenge successfully beaten and a fun night, which is always the point of having people round for dinner.

The recipes.

Baby gem lettuce and goat's cheese (inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall)

1 baby gem lettuce per person
Semi hard goat's cheese
Olive oil

1 lemon

1. Discard the outer leaves of the lettuce and cut in half. Remove the majority of the hard core.
2. Brush the cut side of one half of the lettuce with olive oil and season. Place cut side down on a hot griddle. Cook for about 3mins or until the stem is starting to soften.
3. At the same time griddle half a lemon until the surface has caramelised.
4. Liberally grate the cheese over the lettuce, season with pepper and trickle over a tiny amount of olive oil. Then place under a hot grill to melt the cheese. It's ready when the cheese has lightly browned.
5. Whilst the lettuce is cooking dress the remaining leaves with a dressing made with grated goat's cheese, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning.
6. To serve put the warm lettuce and cold dressed leaves on a plate together with the lemon half.

Duck pancakes with chilli plum sauce

Ingredients (serves 3):
2 duck breasts
3 spring onions, sliced into thin batons
Half a cucumber, de-seeded and cut into thin batons
3 pak choi, halved
1tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
For the spring onion pancakes:
2 spring onions, finely sliced
100ml milk
2 eggs
75g plain flour
For the chilli plum sauce:
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 red chillies, finely sliced (leave the seeds in if you like it hot)
Cinnamon stick
3oz caster sugar
2fl oz red wine vinegar (rice wine vinegar would be better, but about 5fl oz would be needed)
6 plums, stone removed and cut into eight

1. Firstly make the plum sauce. Fry the chilli and onion in oil until softened. Add the cinnamon and fry for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the plums are cooked but retain some texture.
NOTE: Taste the sauce for balance. If it needs correcting, strain the sauce and return the liquor to the pan. If the sauce is too vinegary add more water and reduce. Don't forget to season.
3. Once the plum sauce is to your taste, purée (including the plums) half of it. Warm the sauces before serving.
4. For the pancakes make a batter and then add in the spring onion.
5. Fry to make 3 or 4 pancakes and leave to cool. Once cooled cut small discs from the pancakes. you will need 3 pancake discs per portion (9 in total).
6. For the duck score the skin and fry the duck skin side down to render out the fat. Cook until the skin had crisped (about 4 mins). Turn and fry for another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to rest.
7. Whilst resting, fry the pancake discs in a little butter until crisp.
8. Steam the pak choi for about 3 minutes and serve sprinkled with the sesame seeds.
9. To serve, carve the duck breast into thin slices and mix with the non-puréed plum sauce. Place one pancake in the centre of the plate. Add layer of duck and plum. Then top with the raw spring onion and cucumber batons. Repeat the layers and top with a final pancake. Decorate the plate with some of the puréed plum sauce.

Roast rhubarb pavlova

Zest and juice of half a lemon
400g rhubarb, cut into 2-3" pieces
4tbsp demerara sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
A small pot of double cream
Half a tub of mascapone
For the meringues:
3 egg whites
6oz caster sugar
1tsp vinegar
2tsp cornflour

1. For the meringues whisk the egg white until stiff.
2. Gradually add the sugar and whisk until very stiff and glossy
3. Gently fold in the cornflour and vinegar.
4. Spoon the meringue mix onto a baking tray lined with silicon paper. Try to build up the walls of the meringue.
5. Put the meringues into an over pre-heated to 180°C, immediately reduce the temperature to 140°C and cook for 60minutes. Turn off the oven and leave to cool in the oven over night.
6. For the rhubarb, toss the rhubarb in all the other ingredients.
7. Spread over a baking tray and bake at 200°C for about until the rhubarb is just cooked (probably about 10-15minutes).
8. To construct, fill a meringue with whipped cream beaten together with mascapone. then top with rhubarb.
NOTE: I made some caramel shards to top the meringues with. to do this I heated ½cup of caster sugar and ¼cup water over a low heat until the sugar had dissolved. Then turn up the heat and boil until golden (about 12 minutes). Pour the caramel onto a greased baking sheet and leave to cool. Once hardened break into pieces (Very satisfying!).

ICCHFC - Week 33: Madeira Cake

John made a good citrus-y Madeira cake this week. It was a funny old week with cake on Thursday instead of Monday. It was forgotten on Monday, then on Tuesday and Wednesday there were Cakers out of the office so we ended up all having some on Thursday!

It was worth waiting for and the extra few days of anticipation had matured the cake wonderfully.

We also had a very revealing conversation about the fact that some people haven't ever got to bake the cake that they wanted to, thanks to the democratic cake selection process.

Equally the cake I want hardly ever gets selected either. I was the only one to vote for the yoghurt cake (the cherry and almond cake got the remaining two votes). I think because I feel quite confident baking I always want the most interesting or different cake, whereas other people are happy with what they know they like. I think this was also borne out in the cake sales we've had. The traditional cakes, like Victoria sponge, are always the first to go. Or is this because people are wary of the quality so stick with a classic? Yet again the vagaries of behaviour leave me puzzled.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Bleeding Heart Bistro

I met Robin from Source it, Cook it, Eat it tonight who took me to the Bleeding Heart Bistro in the heart of his manor.

I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been accompanied I would never have found the place. The bistro is on one side of a small courtyard which pulls off a TARDIS type trick and somehow manages to house three other Bleeding Heart venues: Restaurant, Tavern and The Crypt.

As we walked through the door, there was a buzz in the air of people enjoying each other's company over plates of good food. My expectations were set high.

And I was not disappointed.

My Salade Lyonnaise had plenty of crispy smoked bacon, garlic croutons and a perfectly poached egg. amazingly Robin hadn't tried confit duck before. I'm pretty sure he was glad that I persuaded him to try the salad of confit duck gourmande.

For main I had a darne of hake with a Provençal rouille, pomme purée and Basque sauce Piperade. The hake was a meaty flavoursome chunk which the peppery sauces complemented well although this seemed to be at odds with the (admittedly well made) potato. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to clear my plate.

Robin went for the brutish rib eye of Scottish beef with pommes frites and Béarnaise. As soon as I clocked his plate of meat making its way towards our table, I had food envy. Needless to say the beef satiated all Rob's primeval desires.

We were both a quite full but managed to fit in some desserts. I had the (curiously out of season) pear tarte du jour and Robin a selection of ices cream and sorbet. Neither of us was disappointed with a fitting end to this most satisfying of French evenings.

Despite being held firmly in grip of The City, it was as if a small piece of France had been transported to Holborn for us to have our dinner. The sign on the door said "bistro" and that is what I got: moderately priced, simple, traditional French food. The excellent and knowledgeable French front of house staff gave the place more than an air of authenticity. I'm jealous that Robin has such a little gem on his doorstep. It's my turn to suggest a venue for our next meal and I know I'm going to have trouble equalling this. If I'm ever in need of lunch or dinner and I'm in Holborn, I would definitely return to this place, as long as I can find it again.

Bleeding Heart on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 6 May 2010


Went to Platform tonight for an impromptu catch-up in London Bridge, this time for something to eat.

Despite rocking up at 1830 without a booking we were immediately whisked upstairs to a table. It turned out we were the first diners of the night. Consequently the service was attentive which was OK as our waiter was very friendly too. This was their "Get Out of Jail" card as our request for asparagus as a starter was ignored/forgotten (and I was so looking forward to getting my first hit of this year's crop).

The quality of the mains accompanied by some good scrumpy also helped us forget the AWOL asparagus.

I had the pork and apple pie which was pretty big (the picture doesn't do the size of it justice) and very tasty. Meltingly tender pork, large pieces of apple and a beautiful short pastry lid: a pie of kings. I loved the (delicious) crackling shard dramatically spearing the pie.

H had the liver with spinach, sultanas and almonds. The liver was excellently cooked and the dish very well balanced.

I also have to mention the interior. Most of the fixtures and fittings are reclaimed and add to an incredibly appealing interior. The massive mirror behind the bar and the glitter ball add to the quixotic atmosphere.

So, the food's good, the service's good and the place has real character, you just know there's a but coming don't you? Well here it is. The restaurant is on a mezzanine level above the bar, so the noise from the bar easily makes its way up the staircase and fills the dining area. We had to talk quite loudly just to hear each other. Now, I am not one of those people who wants to eat in an atmosphere of hushed reverence. The hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant/bar, is always enjoyable but Platform seemed to be a bit too much bar to really enjoy the restaurant experience.

Another point to note, rather interestingly, is that for all their bluster about the "gate to plate" concept, Platform isn't a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

I really want to shout about Platform and recommend it heartily but I just can't, yet. There's so much to like. I'll reserve final judgement until I've been back when the bar isn't so rowdy.

Platform on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Chez Gerard

Went to Chez Gerard in Waterloo tonight for a very casual post work meal to catch up with a pal and had a very predictable chain restaurant meal. I booked us on the toptable deal using the Prix Fixe menu, a very respectful £16.95 for two courses (not including the £1.95 cover charge for bread [which came with an anchovy butter that was so subtle as to render the addition of anchovies completely redundant] )

To start I had a Salade du berger with goat's cheese and beetroot - excellent bedfellows - and hard boiled eggs. Hard boiled eggs and goat's cheese. I'll give you a moment just to consider the texture of that combination, let alone the taste. Let's just say it's not something I will be trying to recreate, ever.

Mains were much better. A had the steak-frites, a well cooked flavoursome rump steak with plenty of slender crisp sticks of potato.

My Coq au vin was good. The aroma was wonderful and engulfed us both even before it had reached our table. The chicken was tender and the vegetables and broth savoury and comforting. The mashed potato was a good accompaniment too.

The atmosphere was good and there was a pleasing "buzz". The interior was decorated with a nod to the nearby railway and pleasantly lit, despite being on the basement/ground floor.

Overall, a pretty solid performance and what you'd expect from a well established chain.

Chez Gerard on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

ICCHFC - Week 32: Black forest swiss roll and Meringue roulade with chestnut and cream filling

It was my turn to bake this week and I went off on a Swiss roll tip:
Now I thought that it was an absolute, bolted-on, certainty that I'd be making the raspberry and marshmallow Swiss roll. I could not have been more wrong. It was tied three all between the other two options.

The Dice of Destiny chose the black forest Swiss roll, but since Monday was a bank holiday and I had plenty of time on my hands I decided to try and please everyone and make both.

They turned out pretty well.

As ever with these sorts of things, I was overgenerous with the filling, which was more of a problem for the levels of cleanliness of my kitchen rather than to the detriment of the cakes. Also the roulade was unbelievably sticky and managed to stick to some specially bought silicon paper.

For the roulade I used chestnut puree and added a dash of Nutella. The Swiss roll was the first Jamie Oliver recipe I have ever used and was pretty goo although the filling is a touch to orange for me and almost overwhelms the cherries.

The cakes bought out some nice comments from the gang, despite the slight mishap I had on the way to work. I managed to completely total it on the steps up to the station sending cakes a flying. Fortunately, there were two cakes and sufficient slices survived the fall.

Anyway, on to the recipes:

Meringue roulade with chestnut and cream filling (adapted from this BBC recipe)

For the meringue:
4 large eggs, whites only
5oz caster sugar
1tbsp corn flour
1tbsp lemon juice
3oz toasted hazelnuts, chopped
For the filling:
290ml double cream
½ tin of chestnut purée
125g caster sugar

1. To prepare the meringue beat the egg whites and lemon juice to soft peaks (using an electric mixer ). Start adding the sugar and cornflour gradually while still beating. Stop beating when you reach very stiff and glossy peaks.
2. Place a sheet of parchment paper (not greaseproof paper, the meringue will stick to it) on to a baking sheet. Brush it with vegetable oil. [Miss this out at your peril!] Pour the mix evenly in the shape of the sheet.
4. Sprinkle the nuts over the meringue. Put in the oven at 150°C. Bake until the top is pale golden brown and the centre is still soft. About 25-30 minutes.
5. Leave to cool in the fridge before rolling.
6. For the cream filling, whip the cream to stiff peaks. Beat together the chestnut pureé and sugar, then gradually fold into the cream until you get a good texture and the flavour is to your liking.
7. Gently warm the nutella and spread over half the meringue. Spread the cream mixture onto the meringue.
8. Roll the meringue tightly but gently with the help of the parchment sheet.
9. Chill, wrapped in the parchment, until ready to slice.

Black Forest Swiss Roll (Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver)

4 eggs
4½oz caster sugar
2¼ butter, melted
3½ozplain flour, sifted
1oz cocoa powder, sifted
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
3tbsp caster sugar
400g tin of black cherries in syrup
100g dried sour cherries
350ml double cream
100g dark chocolate

1. With an electric mixer beat together the eggs and sugar until a thick ribbon stage is reached i.e. when you lift the beaters out you should be able to leave a ribbon trail over the mix that does not immediately disappear.
2. Carefully in the melted butter then fold in the flour and cocoa powder. Fill a lined Swiss roll tin (25x35cm) with the mix and bake for 15 mins at 180°C
3. For the cherry filling, warm the orange juice and zest until the sugar is dissolved. At this point add all the cherries and cook for 5 mins.
4. Leave to cool, strain the cherries and return the liquid to the pan. Reduce the liquor to a thin syrupy consistency.
5. For the chocolate filling, bring 100ml cream to the boil. As soon as it starts bubbling, take off the heat and gently stir in the chocolate pieces. Mix to a uniform consistency and leave to cool.
6. Whip the remaining cream to stiff peaks.
7. To construct the Swiss roll, brush the sponge with the syrup. Next, spread the chocolate cream over the cake, followed by the cream. Finally top with the cherries.
8. Using the greaseproof paper roll the cake over. Chill, wrapped in the paper, until ready to slice.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Bread (including recipe for a white loaf)

Made my first loaf of white bread today. And it was good. So much so that I just could not resist having a warm slice slathered in butter.

Quickly followed by another and some excellent Tiptree raspberry jam.

It was a very satisfying process at each stage from the physical exertions of kneading to cutting through the thin crisp crust for the first time.

This bread has six simple ingredients compared to the 10+ in the last loaf I bought (if you want to know the ingredients were: wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, spirit vinegar, soya flour, emulsifier: mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, vegetable oil (rapeseed, sunflower, palm), flour treatment agent: asorbic acid)

Tasty as it was, I think I'm on the edge of obsession though. Thoughts of researching kneading method, using different flours and making more interesting loaves have been occupying most of my idle moments...

White loaf recipe

500g strong white bread flour
1oz butter
1tbsp sugar
1½tsp salt
1 sachet dried yeast (7g)
~12fl oz warm water

1. In a large bowl rub together the butter and flour
2. Add the sugar, salt and yeast. Slowly mix in the warm water to make a soft dough.
3. Knead, on a lightly floured surface, for about 10mins, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Put the dough back in the bowl, covered with a tea towel, and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
5. Knock back the then place in a 1½lb loaf tin. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for about ½ an hour, until it has doubled in size.
6. Bake at 230°C for 15 mins then turn down the oven to 200°C and bake for another 15mins.
7. After this time is up, take the bread out f the oven and the tin. Tap on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow then the bread is ready.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Cinnamon Challenge

The Cinnamon Challenge is simple. Take 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon and attempt to swallow it within 60 seconds without the use of water.

Go on, give it a try..

Find out more at or just go to YouTube and search for "cinnamon challenge"
Related Posts with Thumbnails