Winter Trifle

winter trifleIngredients: 

4 tbsp Grand Marnier
100g (3 ½ oz) dried cherries
100g (3 ½ oz) dried sultanas
250g (8oz) Jamaican ginger cake
600ml (20 fl oz) chilled custard
Toasted flaked almonds, to serve

For the Syllabub:

Grated zest of ½ lemon
2-3 tbsp caster sugar
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) sweet white wine
300ml (9 ½ fl oz) cream

Serves:  8    Prep time:  25 mins, plus refrigeration and standing time

Step One:  Soak the dried fruit in the alcohol for 6 hours or overnight.  Strain, reserving both the fruit and alcohol.  Cut the cut into slices 1 cm (½ in) thick and arrange a single layer over the base of a large glass trifle bowl.  Pour over the fruit and alcohol.  Pour the custard over the cake covering with cling film and chill for at least 3 hours.

Step Two:  To make the syllabub cream, mix together the lemon zest, sugar and wine and leave for 30 minutes.  Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl, then add the cream and whip until the mixture just holds it shape.  Be careful not to over whip it.

Step Three: Spoon the cream over the trifle and return it to the fridge until you are ready to serve.  Just before serving, decorate with toasted almonds and silver dragees, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Fattouche (Middle Eastern crunchy salad)

FatoucheThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serves: 4-6   –   Prep time: 25 mins, plus standing time   –  Cook time: 5 mins
Cals per serving: 161 cals   –   Fat : 8g

Ingredients:  2 pitta breads or Lebanese breads; Olive oil for brushing; 3 baby cos lettuces; 1 red onion, finely sliced; 4 radishes, sliced; 200g (6 ½ oz) cherry tomatoes, halved; 1 cucumber, peeled and diced; 1 red pepper, finely diced; 4 tblsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped; 4 tblsp mint, roughly chopped; 1 tblsp ground or crushed sumac; ¼ tsp allspice; Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

For the dressing: Juice of ½ lemon; 3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1 tsp ras el hanout (optional)

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Split the spread in half and brush each piece with olive oil.  Bake for 5 minutes until crisp.
  2. Slice the lettuce crossways into 1cm (½ in) strips and place in a large bowl with the onion, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, parsley and mint.  Season well.  Sprinkle the sumac and allspice over the top, then drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.  Toss well and set aside for 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
  3. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small screw-top jar and shake to combine.
  4. Pour enough dressing over the salad to lightly dress it, and toss it through.  Break the bread into pieces and mix through the salad.  Divide the salad between four plates and serve immediately.
Sumac:

Another cookbook:

Foolproof Carrot Cake

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Foolproof Carrot cakeThis cake is light with a soft texture.  It is based on a simple pound cake recipe, but the butter is replaced with vegetable oil and a luscious cream cheese and orange icing added on top. Make this in a shallow rectangular brownie tin and serve it cut into squares.

Serves : 12   –   Prep time : 25 mins   –   Cook time : 40 mins

For the cake: 250ml (8 fl oz) vegetable oil; 250g (8oz) caster sugar; finely grated zest of ½ orange; pinch of salt; 3 large free-range eggs, beaten; 250g (8oz) self-raising flour, sifted; 250g (8oz) grated carrot (about 3 large carrots)

For the icing: 400g (1oz) cream cheese (reduced fat, if you prefer); 75g (2 ½ oz) icing sugar, sifted; finely grated zest of ½ orange; 1-2 tblsp orange juice

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, extending the paper 5cm (2 in) above the edge of the tin, to help remove the cake later.
  2. Place the oil, sugar, orange zest and salt in an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until well beaten.
  3. Transfer the beaten eggs to a jug.  Reduce the speed of the mixer and, with the motor running, gradually add the egg to the mixture, followed by an occasional spoonful of the flour.  Sift over the remaining flour and gently fold in with a large metal spoon until smooth.  Fold in the grated carrot.
  4. Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then, using the overhanging baking paper turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, use a hand-held electric beater to combine all the ingredients until smooth and light.  Spread over the top of the cake. Cut into 12 squares and serve.

Bacon, Cheese and Onion Slice

Serves: 4

Ingredients: 1 tblsp cooking oil; 2 onions, finely chopped; 8oz (225g) puff pastry; English or Dijon mustard; 4oz (100g) smoked bacon, chopped; 4oz (100g) cheddar cheese, grated; sesame seeds, to garnish

  • This slice makes great canapés, finger snacks or an accompaniment to soup.
  • Most people buy ready-made puff pastry but if you want to make your own, here’s how. Melt 2oz (50g) butter, cool. Leave 5oz (150g) butter to soften. Sift 7oz (200g) plain flour and pinch of salt into a bowl. Make well in centre, pour in about 4 fl oz (120ml) cold water, a few drops lemon juice and the melt butter. Knead lightly, then leave to rest for 20 mins. On a floured board, roll pastry from 4 sides, leaving a lump in centre – dough should look like a crossroads. Sit remaining butter on the centre lump of the dough and fold over each pastry flap. Pat into a rectangle measuring about 6 x 12in (15 x 30cm), refrigerate for 10-15 mins. Roll pastry lengthways until double in length. Fold both ends into centre, then fold once more. This is called a double turn. Complete process a further 3 times. Always roll with folded edge on left and leave to rest for 20-30 mins in fridge before each turn. Leave pastry in fridge for a further 30 mins before using. This makes roughly 1 lb (450g) of pastry but you can freeze the excess.
  • In a large frying pan, heat oil and fry onions for a few minutes until softened. Make sure onions do not brown. Allow to cool.
  • Roll out puff pastry very thinly into a 12in (30cm) square. Cut square in half and on one half only, spread a little mustard, according to your taste. Then spread with the onions, bacon and cheese and cover with the remaining pastry half. Roll up pastry parcel like a Swiss roll, then leave to rest in fridge for 1-2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas Mark 7. Remove roll from fridge, cut into ¾ in (18mm) slices, place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 12-15 mins until golden.

Bacon and Potato Omelette

Serves : 2   :    Cals per portion: 430

  • In a medium sized frying pan, dry fry four rashers of streaky bacon for 2-3 mins until just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and cut each rasher in half, then set aside.
  • Beat five eggs with 45ml (3 tblsp) milk and season. Add a large knob of butter to the pan and when it’s foaming pour in the eggs. Cook for 2-3 mins until just beginning to set.
  • Cut two plum tomatoes into wedges and add to the pan with the bacon strips and 225g (8oz) cooked and sliced new potatoes. Place the pan under a preheated grill for a further 3-4 mins until just set and golden brown.
  • Serve straight from the pan sprinkled with ground black pepper and fresh chopped chives, if liked.

Cod Fish Fingers

A Gary Rhodes recipe

This delicious dish works just as well with salmon as cod. Once you’ve made it, you’ll see the humble fish finger in a whole new light.

These really are just fillet of cod cut into fingers. I normally take 4 x 6-8oz (175-225g) fillets and cut them in strips/fingers allowing 3 per portion. This recipe can also be used for canapés. Just cut the fish, cod or salmon (both work), into 1 in (2.5cm) cubes. Then crumb and deep-fry before sitting on cocktail sticks. These are good fun and very tasty with the sour tartare sauce.

Serves : 4
Ingredients: 1 tblsp freshly chopped parsley; fresh breadcrumbs made from 10-12 slices white bread; zest and juice of 2 lemons; salt and pepper; 2 eggs, size 2; 2-3 tblsp milk; 4-6-8oz (175-225g) cod fillets, cut into fingers; plain flour for dusting; 1 dsp each chopped shallots, capers and gherkins; 5-10 fl oz (150-300ml) sour cream; oil for deep-frying

  • In a large bowl, mix ¾ of the freshly chopped parsley with the white breadcrumbs and the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and milk.
  • Season the fish fingers with salt and pepper and then lightly dust with flour. Dip into the egg mix then into the crumb mix. These are now ready for frying or can be re-dipped in the egg and re-crumbed to give a thicker, crunchier finish. Set aside.
  • To make a sour Tartare sauce to accompany the fish fingers, mix the chopped shallots, capers and gherkins with the remaining parsley and the sour cream. Season then add the lemon juice to taste. Pour into a small serving dish.
  • Heat the oil to 170oC/325oF in a deep-fat fryer. The fish fingers can now be deep-fried in batches for 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Serve with the homemade Tartare sauce.

Asparagus, Red Pepper and Halloumi Salad

Serves: 4; Takes: 25 mins plus marinating; Calories/Fat: 304 cals /22g; Sodium/Added sugar: 1.2g/0.4g

Ingredients: 2 tblsp olive oil; 1 garlic clove, crushed; 2 sprigs of fresh thyme; 3 red peppers, deseeded and quartered; 400g (14oz) asparagus, trimmed; 1 x 250g Halloumi cheese, thickly sliced; 2 tblsp sweet chilli sauce; Salt

  • Mix the oil, garlic and thyme and marinade the veg and cheese, reserving a little, for at least 15 mins or in the fridge overnight.
  • Barbecue the peppers first (they can take up to 10 mins), turning occasionally. When the peppers are almost ready, add the asparagus for one min and then the Halloumi for 30 seconds on each side.
  • Skin the peppers and mix with the cheese and asparagus. Season with salt. Stir the chilli sauce into the remaining marinade and drizzle over the warm salad.

Would you like to try to make Halloumi?

An Asparagus cooker when not grilling as in this recipe.

Mozzarella and Tomato Bruschetta

Serves: 6; Prep: 10 mins; Cost: £5.35; Cals per portion: 250

Ingredients: 3 beef tomatoes, sliced; 3 x 100g pkts mozzarella di bufala; extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle over ingredients; salt and freshly ground black pepper; 18 fresh basil leaves; 6 slices olive Ciabatta bread; 2 cloves of garlic, peeled

  • Arrange the tomatoes and sliced mozzarella on a platter then drizzle with olive oil. Season and scatter over the basil leaves and olives. Set aside in a cool place until ready to serve.
  • Just before you are ready to eat, toast the slices of Ciabatta until golden, then rub the surface of each with the garlic. Drizzle a little olive oil over the bread and serve warm with the salad.

Menu idea: Chicken with sage and prosciutto; Garlic and herb roast potatoes; Peppers with fennel; Mascarpone and chocolate cassata

Do you have problems when slicing Mozzarella? Maybe this will help?

Brie with Redcurrant Sauce

Serves: 4; Cals per portion: 328; Prep time: 15 mins; Cook time: 10 mins

Ingredients: 8oz/225g Brie; 1 egg, size 3, beaten; 2oz/50g dried wholemeal breadcrumbs; 1oz/25g mixed chopped nuts; oil for deep frying; lambs lettuce to garnish.

For the sauce: 4 tblsp redcurrant jelly; 2 tblsp ruby port

  • Trim the brie into four equal triangles. Place the egg in a shallow dish and mix the breadcrumbs and nuts in another.
  • Dip the Brie into the egg to coat, then into crumb and nut mixture, making sure all the sides are well coated. Shake off any excess.
  • Heat the oil for deep-frying to 350oF / 180oC. Fry the Brie in two batches for 2-3 mins, or until the coating is golden. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the redcurrant jelly and port in a pan until the jelly is melted.
  • Place the fried Brie on a serving plate, spoon a little sauce around it and garnish with lambs lettuce.
  • Serve with the remaining sauce.

Sticky Chicken Wings

Even a complete beginner can make these – they’re so easy and delicious.

Serves: 8; Prep: 5 mins; Cook: 25 mins; Cals per portion: 218

Ingredients: 16 large chicken wings; 8 tblsp runny honey; 1 tsp English mustard powder; 8 tblsp sesame seeds

  • Preheat oven to Mark 6/400oF/200oC. Arrange chicken wings in a large roasting tin. Season them generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  • Brush chicken wings with honey to coat them, then sprinkle them with mustard powder and sesame seeds.
  • Bake wings for 25 mins, turning and basting once until golden and tender..