24.8.15

The Best Salted Caramel Recipe

You're off to dinner or to a baby shower or to any number of those occasions when the done thing is to bring 'just a little something'. Of course you could buy a bunch of gladioli that are cheap but look generous, or a suitable bottle of wine but why not spend fifteen minutes making your own little gift? Domestic goddess points will fly and the recipient will be more than grateful, I'm sure of it. 

Welcome to the recipe of the moment; salted caramel. Yes, we've all become fully accustomed to it appearing in ice cream or drizzled over a starbucks frappachino but did you know that it's remarkably good slathered on toast or simply eaten straight from the pot (especially at victorious moments like returning from a run - yes, that has just happened). 

All that is needed is sugar, water, salt and double cream and a brave, 'go as dark as you dare' attitude when it comes to the caramel. My recipe is below. Let me know how you get on! 






SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE

Makes 750ml

450g caster sugar
180ml water
600ml Double Cream

1 heaped tsp sea salt

1 In a medium, clean, saucepan heat the sugar and water, over a medium heat, for 2-3 minutes. The sugar will melt and small bubbles will start appearing. Don’t be tempted to stir, this can encourage the caramel to cyrstalise, just swill the pan round using the handle.

2 Once the sugar has started boiling, after about 5 minutes, it should be light brown in colour. Continue boiling until it has become medium brown in color. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the cream into the mixture. It will hiss and spit and seem to solidify but be patient and return to the heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir through the salt and transfer to a glass jar or bowl and let cool to room temperature or pop in the fridge for 20 minutes.


10.8.15

Quick Pea, Mozzarella & Lemon Tart

The forecast said sun has left the country for the next week so there's no option but to create our own. This is one of my favourite from the book. Cooking it is as easy as applying sunscreen. 


SPEEDY PEA MOZZARELLA
AND LEMON TART

Serves 4-6  – Prep time: 15 minutes Plus 10 minutes defrosting
cook time: 35 minutes

This is a real treat of a tart to come home to. Quite simply, peas, garlic and ricotta are slathered on puff pastry and cooked for a few minutes. Then, to give it a professional finish, all you need is a handful of cress, mint and lemon zest to garnish.

500g block of puff pastry
200g frozen peas, left to defrost for 10–15 minutes
3 garlic cloves
250g ricotta, strained of excess water
1 medium free-range egg
1 x 200g mozzarella ball, torn
salt and freshly ground black pepper
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, to garnish
3 tablespoons freshly chopped mint, to garnish
cress, to garnish

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Roll the puff pastry into a rectangle of 30 °— 25cm. Slide
the pastry onto a floured baking sheet and top with a second baking sheet (this acts as a weight while the pastry cooks and prevents it rising too much).

2) Bake the pastry for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. If the base has still puffed up despite the weight, then gently press the top baking sheet down to flatten the pastry. Allow to cool for a minute or two.

3)Tip three-quarters of the peas and garlic cloves and 1–2 tablespoons water into a blender and blitz until you have a lovely rough, bright green paste. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta and egg. Add the green pea mixture to the fresh ricotta and mix very lightly so there are still visible pockets of green and white.

4) Dollop the combined mixture onto the tart base.Top with the remaining whole peas and torn mozzarella.
Season with salt and black pepper and bake for15 minutes, or until the ricotta has puffed slightly
and the edges are beginning to brown.

5) Remove from the oven and garnish with lemon zest, mint and cress. Serve immediately, in generous squares.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

19.7.15

Norfolk's Best Strawberry Jam

Life seems to slow slightly in the summer months. I've spent some  time at home, soaking in the gentle pace and indulging in home cooking. Dad, you see, has turned from communion to conserves, approaching jam making with just the same diligence. 

The creating of strawberry jam lasted a whole day what with driving to a picking field, getting lost en route, buying sugar, realising we needed more sugar, watching the tennis, boiling the jam, re-boiling the jam and eventually the all important jam setting.  We sat and ate our jam exactly 24 hours after we had picked the fruit from the field and I'm sure you could taste the previous day's sunshine. 







2.7.15

Traditional Lemonade

Roll up, roll up, Ice Cold Lemonade

I don’t know about you, but the second I start to see a glimmer of sun peaking through the dark, heavy clouds of winter, I cannot WAIT to get my hands on a pitcher of ice cold, homemade, old fashioned lemonade. Not the fizzy, transparent, saccharine tainted bottled stuff you might think of – but cool, still, tangy and herbaceous homemade lemonade, made from…well…lemons!

There is something about this drink that transports you, instantly, to some wicker rocking chair, swaying gently on the clapperboard porch of a Louisiana country house…no? Just me? Well, maybe this recipe will take you there.

Making your own drinks can seem a little bit of a hassle, especially if you are cooking a big meal or just, you know, living your daily, busy as anything life. And we have to admit that if you can go and pick up a cordial or litre bottle of something that sounds like it’s slightly fancier than your standard Diet Coke, the temptation can be overwhelming.

But the satisfaction of making your own drinks is second to none. Not even cakes or muffins or roast dinners can compete with the sense of self pride, and even smugness, that comes about when you are gulping on something refreshing, charmingly traditional, and beautifully crafted.

The great thing about this lemonade recipe is that it’s like a good vanilla sponge or brownie recipe – you can customise it any which way you want. Like, say you fancied a tropical kick, just add some finely chopped red chilli in the mix. Or if you felt like you wanted something a little boozier, a splash of limoncello or gin would be beaut. The jug is your oyster so get creative.


We’ve decided to stick to a classic combination of lemon and thyme. That’s right! Step back Sunday roast chicken flavourings, you’ve found a new home now and it’s right in my glass. With ice. And preferably 25 celsius outside. The thyme adds a subtle, garden grass feel that works perfectly with the sharp lemon. And it works even more perfectly if enjoyed in said garden with a barbecue and friends. This drink really couldn’t be simpler and is so SO much better when made by your fair hands. So take a look at the recipe below and let us know what you think! Happy squeezing!


Traditional Lemonade 

4-6 tbsp granulated sugar
6 small lemons – zested & freshly squeezed
1 litre/1¾pints water – still 

1.  Using a little detergent wash the lemons to remove waxy coating and rinse well
2. Zest the lemons into a saucepan, avoiding the white pith which will make the drink bitter. Add the squeezed lemon juice and the sugar.
4.  Gently heat, stirring from time to time until the sugar has dissolved.  Taste and add more sugar if needed. 
5.  Leave to cool and to allow the zest to fully infuse.
6.  Strain and dilute with still or sparkling water.  Serve over ice decorated with slices of fresh lemon and thyme.