Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wild Garlic Pesto

A Spring recipe - Spring has finally sprung! I'd love to say I picked the wild garlic myself, but unfortunately I doubt there is much of it growing in London (not in my neighbourhood anyway!). I got mine through my organic veg box scheme, you may also be able to find it at farmers markets. If you do live in a more rural area, have a look out for it. It likes shady wooded areas and is in season now. It has oval shaped leaves and white flowers - you will usually be able to smell it before you see it!

Wild garlic leaves

Warning: this is a seriously garlicky pesto! It has a strong pungent flavour so garlic lovers will adore the taste, but if you are not fond of regular garlic, I would stay away from this! 

Serve as you would basil pesto - it is delicious served with pasta, or can also be used to dip bread or flatbreads into.  

Makes around 500ml of pesto - or two small jars

-100g wild garlic leaves, washed, dried and chopped
-50g chopped almonds (or other nuts such as pine nuts, cashews or walnuts would work well)
-50g grated parmesan style cheese
-Zest and juice of half an organic lemon
-100ml good olive oil (more or less may be needed according to desired consistency)
-Black pepper

1. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you get a smooth paste. Add more olive oil if you prefer a more liquid consistency. You can also use a mortar and pestle to pound the pesto into a paste which will give a more chunky texture, however this will obviously require more time and elbow grease!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chocolate Orange Ganache Tart

 My New Year's 'de-tox' is well and truly over... Re-tox with this indulgent dessert!

Serves 6 - 8


-400g dark chocolate
-350ml double cream
-50g unsalted butter
-25g melted unsalted butter
-1 tsp liquid glucose (optional)
-100g candied orange peel (I made my own)
-200g 'sablé' type biscuits

1. First make the base -whizz the biscuits into crumbs in a food processor then pour in the melted butter, whizzing again to combine. Pour this mixture into a well greased 23cm loose based tin (you may not need all of it). Using a palette knife, smooth down the biscuit crumbs pressing into the corners and up the slide of the tin. Use the palette knife to press down and compact the biscuit crumbs as much as possible. You are looking for a thickness of about 0.5cm of compacted biscuit crumbs lining the tin. Cover with cling film/ foil and place carefully in the freezer until required.

Biscuit base

2. To make the ganache filling, place a large heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water (make sure the bowl is not in contact with the water). Break the chocolate into pieces and put these in the bowl with the cream, liquid glucose (if using) and remaining butter. Melt this very gently, stirring now and again and making sure it does not get too hot (if the chocolate gets to hot it will turn into a grainy texture). Chop the candied orange peel (reserving a few slices for decoration) and add to the ganache, then leave to cool for 5 minutes or so.
3. Remove the base from the freezer, and carefully pour in the ganache. Use a palette knife to smooth the surface, then leave to cool completely. Once cooled, refrigerate until needed (remove the tart 30 minutes before eating). Top with the remaining candied orange peel to decorate (Tip: use a sharp knife dipped in boiling water to slice).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

English Muffins

After a recent Spring clean it was decided that we were in need of a new toaster. The one we had was ok, perfectly capable of toasting I suppose, but we had had it for a while and I thought it was probably time to upgrade. After much umm-ing and ahh-ing, and comparing of tech specs of various toasters (oh yes, I took it very seriously. This is how 'rock and roll' my life is.), we found our ideal toaster. 4 'extra wide' slots, a bagel warming function, and apparently capable of toasting 120 slices an hour... I haven't tested that yet.

Anyway in honour of my new kitchen gadget I made these English muffins. I have to say they are best freshly cooked, simply sliced and buttered, but of course they will also be delicious toasted. They are made from a basic bread dough, and dusted with semolina before cooking which gives them their typical crunchy crust. They are much more substantial than shop-bought muffins, and even if I say so myself, a thousand time more delicious.

English Muffins - makes 10


-500g strong white bread flour
-1 tsp quick yeast
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-325ml water
-1 tbsp oil (I used rapeseed, sunflower or olive oil could also be used)
-Pinch of sugar
-Semolina for dusting

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Gradually pour in the water and then the oil, mixing with your fingers. Bring together into a ball of dough, then knead on a floured surface until smooth (around 15 minutes). Alternatively, use the dough hook of a food mixer to knead the dough.
2. Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size (around 1 hour).
3. Knock back the dough and divide into 10 equal pieces. Dust a large wooden board with semolina. Using the palm of your hands roll the lumps of dough into a ball, then flatten. Dust well with semolina then place on the board. Repeat with the rest of the dough, then leave to rise again for around 30 minutes (cover the board with a large plastic bag to prevent the dough from drying out).
4. To cook the muffins, ideally you will need two heavy based frying pans, however I used a pancake pan and a large cast iron saucepan and they both worked ok. Heat your pans on a medium heat (you do not need any oil), then place three to four muffins on each. Leave to cook for around two minutes, then flip over. Continue cooking in this way for 10 - 15 minutes - until they are puffed up and browned on each side, and they have become lighter.  Adjust the heat if they are cooking too quickly/ slowly.

Enjoy fresh or toasted, split and spread with butter.