I was fortunate enough to attend a glitzy awards dinner in London’s Mayfair this month. The reception was alive with bright cummerbunds, jewels and pretentious air kisses. Angela Lamont, ‘as skinny as a rain drop down a window’, hosted the event with a swarm of cameramen at her feet and‘voice of the balls’, Alan Dedicoat compèred from the wings. It promised to be a really good night and I was sensible enough to be wearing an elasticated waist.
I’m usually keen to analyse function menus, as I’m fascinated as to how these events are designed and run. I knew there were nearly 500 of us eating a four-course meal over a tightly controlled 90 minutes. We started with sea bream with fennel sauerkraut and crushed potato salad in a sauce of some kind. This was rather too cold for my liking, but we washed it down with an oaked Chardonnay that complimented the dish well. Other than missing the blue cheese foam from our gooseskirt beef dish (must ask Buttlings what cut gooseskirt is), the main course was comforting, tender and looked spectacular. I tweeted about the lack of blue cheese foam, which caused a rush of tweets from fellow diners (it was a technology awards ‘do’ after all. Seems table 26 wasn’t the only table missing its blue cheese foam.)
What made the biggest impression on me was the garnish on our dessert. We were served a very light mousse, beautifully presented with a perfect disc of raspberry jelly on the top and a dehydrated orange slice carefully balancing in the centre. Now, dehydrated citrus fruit slices look great on a Christmas wreath or in a bag with cinnamon sticks and pinecones, but you don’t expect to eat them. One of my fellow guests gave his a nibble. His reaction was unexpected – he clearly liked it and put the whole thing in his mouth. I had to follow his example and took a nibble of my own – it was like a biscuit perfectly crisp, sweet and orangey. I wasn’t mistaken, it certainly was a dehydrated orange slice not a biscuit at all, that looked as if it had been pressed and baked, perfectly flat, very thin and precisely round – extraordinary.
I have been reading about dehydrated fruits recently as I was tempted to buy myself a dehydrator to make fruit leathers and fruit and vegetable dried chips. I plan to write about fruit leathers next summer, when hopefully I will have the produce to work with and have suffered the trials and errors on your behalf. I came across some interesting fruit leather recipes using sea buckthorn, autumn olive and rose hips on a forest garden course.How delicious. Fruit leathers would make a lovely present for friends or a packed lunch surprise – Truly Scrumptious readers will need to wait until next summer for how to make these.
The recipe for this month is the very best of cheesecakes, just perfect for Christmas entertaining. According to the notes in my well-thumbed Joy of Cooking book I first made this recipe when living in Munich in 1979. How well it would go with dried, crisp and sweet orange slices…..I may buy that dehydrator after all.
Best wishes for the holiday season and happy, creative entertaining.
Sour Cream and Cinnamon Cheesecake
Approx. £7.80 when all ingredients bought at Ludwell Stores
For the crust base
150 g digestive biscuits
2 tbsp Icing sugar
100 g melted butter (preferably unsalted)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cheesecake mix
2 well-beaten large eggs
350 g soft cream cheese
100 g caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice or ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the sour cream glaze
300 g thick soured cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180ºC / gas mark 4. (AGA roasting oven, rack on bottom shelf with cooling shelf above)
1. Crush or blitz the biscuits in a processor or bash with a rolling pin into fine/small pieces in a plastic bag
2. Add the warm melted butter, icing sugar and cinnamon and mix well
3. Pat your crumb mix into the bottom of a greased or lined, loose bottomed 9 inch tin. Press down hard and chill for a few minutes
4. Mix the cheesecake ingredients (excluding the cinnamon) together until smooth
5. Pour the mix onto the biscuit base
6. Bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes or until firm. There should not be a wobble, neither should it crack but shrinking from the sides is good
7. Dust with the cinnamon and allow to cool
Raise the oven temperature to 220ºC / gas mark 7 (remove cool shelf from AGA and raise shelf to top)
8. Mix together the glaze ingredients and pour over the top of the cooled cheesecake
9. Bake for 8–10 minutes to glaze the cheesecake – watch it carefully
10. Leave to cool then refrigerate for 6–12 hours before serving with cream or chocolate curls (or be a smarty pants and try with crisp orange slices)
A truly, truly scrumptious dessert for the festive season.
Being told by an equally immature and giggly schoolgirl that someone we both knew had “a bun in the oven”, would have us spluttering and tittering like the fatheads we were. I didn’t know what it meant or alluded to, other than in the literal sense believing that we knew lots of people, usually girls, who enjoyed baking. It must have been a funny ‘ha-ha’ hobby, if it had everyone giggling so much. Fortunately I grew up and learnt better. So without the slightest titter, I am confident to tell you that as I write, I have a bun in the oven – five in fact.
I’m making brioche – that wonderful French slightly sweet yeasty bread, rich with butter and eggs. I hadn’t made it before this last month, believing it to be temperamental and hard work, which it certainly is not.
Reputably a favourite breakfast dish in France with its soft texture, rich flavours and colour, brioche allows you to consume a packet of butter almost singlehandedly. Baked as a loaf, sliced and served toasted with even more melted butter and marmalade or jam is an absolutely must for Sunday breakfast. Brioche also makes beyond-belief French toast served with crème fraîche and summer fruits or berries or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or maple syrup. Brioche buns are traditionally cooked in fluted tins with a topknot – I don’t have any of these so the buns currently baking are in muffin cases having placed a small ball of dough on the top to match the style.
Many recipes use brioche as a base to a dish, in puddings particularly (in a bread and butter pudding, it’s a must). However, replacing some of the butter with cheese makes savoury brioche. This is a quite a different thing – equally delicious however, served with wild mushrooms, spinach, duck, chicken livers; bacon – all sorts of things.
Anyway, where has this brioche devotee in me come from? I was recently asked to Sunday lunch with friends – offering to bring something, as I politely like to do but usually regret, the friends suggested ‘pudding’ for five. My heart sank. I’m not a pudding person. These friends are fans of Ottolenghi, a phenomenal chef developing wonderful Mediterranean creations. So I reverted to one of his first cookbooks with the uninspiring title The Cookbook. My copy is splattered and covered in notes having made most of my niece’s wedding reception evening party dishes for 150 guests from this book. I decided to make Ottolenghi’s brioche galette for my host and fellow guests. This ‘substantial treat’ uses a brioche base, mascarpone and crème fraîche filling with icing sugar and crushed star anise, topped with fresh figs, berries and with a crumble mix. Cooked till just golden. Whoa…. FAB-UL-OUS.
Of all the brioche recipes I have tried – and believe me there have been many recently – this works and, whilst it only makes a small loaf, is ideal for most uses.
Makes a small loaf (500g), approx 5 small buns or one base for a galette or tart.
Approx. £1.45 when all ingredients purchased in Ludwell.
2 tbsp lukewarm water
1 tsp active dried yeast
190g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
20g caster sugar
2 medium fresh eggs, at room temperature, plus 1 egg beaten for glaze
75g cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
1. Put the lukewarm water together with the yeast in the warmed bowl of an electric mixer. Gently stir or swish about until the yeast dissolves. Leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
2. Add all the rest of the ingredients apart from the butter and work together with a wooden spoon or spatula.
3. Using the dough hook on your electric mixer, attach the bowl to the machine and work on a low speed for around 3–4 minutes. The dough will become smooth and sticky.
4. Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium high and slowly start adding the cold butter pieces. This is a slow gradual process and could take up to six minutes – scrape down the sides if required to get a good mix.
5. Once all the butter is in keep working until the dough is shiny and smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl (possibly another 4–5 minutes).
6. Remove the dough from the bowl and place in a very lightly oiled plastic container or bowl. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.
7. Place the dough, still covered in the fridge for 16 hours minimum – up to 24 hours
8. Don’t expect the dough to change in size over this time – it’s still fine.
9. Prepare your tin (500g loaf tin – individual tins or muffin cases; flat tray for a ‘free-form’ tart or galette), by brushing lightly with melted butter or line with greaseproof paper.
10. Place the dough in the centre of a lightly flour dusted work-surface; knock down carefully (punch it gently!) then shape into the size of your tin/tins.
11. Place the dough inside the tins and cover with cling film. Leave your dough at room temperature in its tin for 1–2 hours or until twice its size.
Preheat the oven – 170°C / Gas Mark 3 / AGA roasting oven with cold shelf on middle rack
12. Brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg and place in the hot oven for 15 minutes (loaf – check after 8 minutes if making buns) – test with a skewer which should come out clean and dry.
13. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, take out of the tin to cool completely.
Toast, dunk or eat as you like – as always it’s ….truly, truly scrumptious.
Our second guest contributor (and what sounds like Donhead’s own domestic goddess), Michele Andjel-Davies tells us about her love for her family, work and baking.
There are countless evenings when I call my husband Phil on my way home from work asking him to make a 5.30 pm dash into Ludwell Stores as I have an urge to make something unusual for supper or just HAVE to try a recipe from the latest issue of delicious or have come across a new dish at work and want to try it out. Each time I am so thankful for the range and quality of ingredients in a shop less than five minutes walk from our front door. Who needs Borough Market when there is local organic meat and vegetables, stunning bread and every kind of fresh herb, sauce and seasonal ingredient just down the lane?
Food, and cooking in general, plays a huge part in my life as all my friends know. Phil and I both work in the travel industry so have spent many years nurturing this love, both in the UK and abroad. I am also lucky enough to work, and be friends with, many chefs and foodies so, whilst some people travel to Manchester for a meeting, I get to spend five days with celebrity patissier, Eric Lanlard, exploring the bakeries and patisseries of Scandinavia or hosting a spice masterclass with Atul Kochhar...it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. (Meanwhile, Phil’s left holding the fort with two small children, school run, homework and a full time job!)
Having said that, all I really want to do is be at home, be a proper Mummy and make sure that there is always a cake in the tin for when the children come home. I cook to relax and to wind down. Some people watch television, some play on the internet, some do sport but to me there’s nothing more soothing than an evening of weighing and measuring ingredients, kneading dough, collecting wild garlic for pesto or flicking through The Ginger Pig to find something interesting to do with the cuts of pork from our now sadly departed pig, Crackling Rosie. I take days off work just so I can spend the day making Seville orange marmalade, raspberry, rhubarb jam and chutneys.
Normally at this time of year I can do all this looking out of the kitchen window at the first sprigs of lavender coming through and turning their heads up to the early summer sun. Instead, we are all living in monsoon conditions with the plants and flowers bravely trying to open despite the onslaught of water. Ever hopeful though, I have included a recipe which uses lavender, as surely at some point soon our flower beds will be full of this fragrant flower which I use so much in puddings and pannacotta. A similar recipe to this one was given to me by Cake Boy himself, Eric Lanlard (www.cake-boy.co.uk), but this is my version, combining my favourites of lemon and almond with summer lavender. It is simple to make and fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma and keeps very well wrapped in foil. It will be ideal to take to the Jubilee picnic or just to keep in the tin for a teatime treat.
Jubilee Lemon, Lavender and Almond Cake
Approx. £7.50 to make when ingredients bought from Ludwell Stores
225 g soft unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
4 large free range or organic eggs
50g plain flour
225g ground almonds
½ tsp almond essence
2 large unwaxed lemons – zested and squeezed
2 tsp dried lavender
Preheat the oven – 180°C / Gas Mark 4 / AGA roasting oven – grids shelf on floor – cold shelf above
1. Cream together the butter and sugar until almost white
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little of the flour after each egg until all eggs and flour are used
3. Stir in the ground almonds, almond essence, lemon zest, juice and lavender
4. Pour the mixture into a well greased and lined tin
5. Cook for around 60 minutes but cover with foil half way through
6. Test with a skewer after 50 minutes. (AGA users, test after 30 mins and watch carefully)
7. When skewer test leaves the skewer clear, turn out the cake carefully, and cool on a wire rack
8. Serve with lemon or lavender ice cream
A truly, truly scrumptious cake or pudding for any celebration
Many thanks to Michele
If you would like to be a guest contributor to Truly Scrumptious, please let us know. email@example.com
I start by saying a big thank-you to Jo and Phil James for writing a stonking guest article and for sharing their Turlu Turlu recipe with Truly Scrumptious readers in the last Digest, but also thank them for providing all the ‘ravishing’ locally sourced foods that has resulted in our Ludwell Stores being awarded the Countryside Alliance ‘Britain’s Best Village Shop / Post Office’ award 2011.
Without Ludwell Stores and Buttling’s we wouldn’t have had any of the recipes covered in this column. I have an unwritten rule that the main ingredients, if not all of those contained within the Scrumptious recipes, must be available in the village. I have rarely been short of ideas. Inspiration flies off the shelves and from the counters as I visit these two shops. The staff have volunteered some weird and wonderful ideas for recipes too although I resisted some of them – not believing readers were ready for novel uses of offal for example!
Sometimes, a food event, seasonal display or special days influence my musings – and there have been many food events celebrated by someone somewhere in the past couple of months. We have had National Sausage Day in February and National Pie Week in March. We’ve also had Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday as it is known in some places, marking the start of Lent. I was in Darlington on Shrove Tuesday this year and there wasn’t a whiff of a pancake to be had, so felt I should make up for this, and did so with gusto.
Pancakes are not complex but classic to make and the end result always delicious, they can also be whisked up in a sensible amount of time. For sweet or savoury, mixing poppy seeds or fresh herbs into the batter gives a lovely flavour and crunch (but not an attractive look if you get either of them stuck in your front teeth). In experimenting with this month’s recipe, which is perfect for Easter weekend, I found it took longer to cook a pancake (all of about 90 seconds!) than it did to eat one with lemon and sugar and I must have eaten at least four before disciplining myself and start stacking them as they came off the production line, ready to try this new recipe.
I write this at the end of Fairtrade Fortnight, another food-related community project. The Donheads were very fortunate to help mark this with an evening of live music and chat. Donhead St Mary Village Hall was decorated with candles and twinkly lights, as 20 plus of us listened to some moving stories through music and words from Gareth Davies-Jones in a relaxed informal setting. It was truly one of the best evenings I have spent together with friends and neighbours for a long time. Thank you Simon and Julie Lewis for hosting the evening and reminding us that supporting Fairtrade food is well within all of our reach as, naturally, it’s found on the shelves at Ludwell Stores. AIF
Lemon Curd Soufflé Pancakes
Approx. £2.60 when all ingredients purchased in Britain’s Best Village Shop (Ludwell Stores). Please buy Fairtrade or local when you can…..
Pancake mix (makes approx. 10) Ludwell Stores sells ready-made pancakes!
2 whole eggs
2 tsp caster sugar
100g plain flour
dash oil (try Green Weald rapeseed oil from Cranborne Chase)
Cooking oil (as above)
2 tbl lemon curd (not straight out of the fridge!)
50g caster sugar
6 egg whites (room temperature)
Preheat the oven – 200°C / Gas Mark 6 / AGA roasting oven with cold shelf on top rack
1. Make the pancakes by beating the eggs with the caster sugar, adding the milk and sift in the flour.
2. Whisk in the salt and the olive oil – leave for 10 minutes or more.
3. Heat a small crêpe pan and then add some cooking oil, enough to coat the base of the pan with a thin film. Heat until barely smoking
4. Ladle approx 2 tablespoons of the batter into the pan. Tilt and rotate until the batter is spread evenly. Cook for 30–60 seconds on each side.
5. Repeat with remaining batter and oil. Cool on large plate, stacking them between greaseproof paper or cling film.
For the soufflé mix
6. Whisk the egg whites until semi-stiff.
7. Add 25g sugar and whisk for just 10 seconds more.
8. Fold in the lemon curd.
9. Line a metal tray with greaseproof paper. Alternatively use a shallow dish or individual ear dishes (no need to grease).
10. Lay out the pancakes individually and spoon a portion of the egg and lemon curd mixture on to one half of each pancake and wrap over the other side.
11. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and bake in the middle of the preheated oven for ten minutes or until puffed up, golden and crisp.
Serve straight away with Fairtrade chocolate shavings or warmed stewed blackberries; blackcurrants or raspberries with cream. Alternatively, make a fruit (blackcurrant/raspberry) coulis by blending 150g fruit with a mixture of 25g sugar and 100ml water and use half in place of the lemon curd, serving the remaining warm coulis with some additional fruit.
A truly, truly scrumptious pudding any time of the year
There has been a little curtain twitching in Ludwell these last weeks. Peeking is not a sport reserved for the cast of Coronation Street as we haven’t been able to stop ourselves watching the ‘goings on’ at The Grove Arms. Builders, decorators, gardeners and skips have come and gone; intriguing parcels and packages have been delivered and then this week, a removal van pulled into the car park. Purely in the interest of the Digest readers, you understand, I ventured over there this morning to get the low-down on who, what, why and when The Grove Arms will be back open for business. A whistle stop tour tells me all I need to know to guarantee I am going to be one of their first and hopefully regular customers.
From the welcome to the décor, The Grove Arms has been transformed. And none-too-soon in my opinion. I found Anne and Ben Brown with their daughter Lorna dusting, polishing and picture hanging. The cavenous dining area has been reworked into small, bright, fresh rooms and spaces to eat and drink, and cosy corners to chat and enjoy a pint of lager or real ale. Ben grew up in the licensed trade and is a previous winner of the Cask Marque award, which stands for the exceptional quality and care put into the beer served. Anne is a keen foodie and that makes them a partnership made in heaven. Lucky us.
The Brown family has moved from the Rushmore Clubhouse, where their award winning food and drink attracted many more than the golfing set. They plan an informal menu. ”Not gastro” says Anne, “but rather 4 star, British, seasonal food”. The menu will be dictated by the availability of fresh local produce, for example local prime steer beef, Cranbourne Chase cheeses - a particular favourite of Anne’s, local vegetables and seasonal summer fruits when they arrive. Anne, who will be in the kitchen two or three days a week, also makes all her own pickles; marmalades and sauces!
I asked Anne what I might enjoy from the menu and the choice sounded fabulous - I could start with the pressed ham hock terrine with homemade piccallili, followed by smoked haddock fishcakes with mild curry sauce, or field mushroom and stilton rarebit or slow roast belly of pork with apple and sage mash. Triple chocolate brownies and ice-cream to finish off - or possibly sticky toffee pudding or local seasonal fruit crumble. No, maybe the local cheese board…. A brand spanking new bean to cup coffee machine will ensure freshly ground coffee every time too. Oh I can’t wait, what a choice and it's only over the road for me! See you there! aif
Ludwell’s luxury, extravagant fridge cake for the over 18’s!
Makes approx. 20 squares or fingers - A great gift or to serve after dinner with coffee.
£10.25 when all ingredients purchased at Ludwell Stores.
(These quantities can easily be doubled or halved if required.)
150g Golden raisins
4 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau
200g Orange-flavoured dark chocolate (Green and Blacks Maya Gold is perfect) or plain dark chocolate - the classy sort (70% cocoa)
120g Unsalted Butter - cubed
120g Hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and roughly chopped
150g Orange or lemon shortbread biscuits, roughly broken up
80g Candied orange/lemon peel, cherries, ginger or other good quality crystallized fruit - chopped 50g White chocolate for drizzling or icing sugar to dredge - optional
1. Send the kids to tidy their rooms.
2. Soak the raisins in the alcohol for as long as possible - at least an hour, or overnight for extra plump and drunken fruit.
3. Line a 20cm tin or tray with cling-film.
4. Break up the chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl with the butter.
5. Melt the two together over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl).
6. When soft, add the raisins (drained if necessary) together with the toasted hazelnuts; broken shortbread and candied peel, and stir gently until well mixed.
7. Scrape every morsel into the lined tin and spread evenly. Cover with cling film.
8. Lick the bowl and spoon clean, remembering to wipe your mouth and cheeks of all incriminating evidence.
9. Allow to set at room temperature for an hour or so.
10. Decorate by dribbling melted white chocolate over the top, or dredge with icing sugar.
11. Cut into small squares with a very sharp, wet knife.
12. Eat as much as you can before storing what’s left in an airtight container and hide in a cool place or fridge.
13. Reward the room tidying with a crisp, juicy apple.
As it’s nearly Easter, we should not be selfish as children love chocolate too - A child friendly, less extravagant version can easily be made by the children themselves by substituting the alcohol with orange juice, the shortbread with plain shortbread or any of the Moore’s biscuits sold in Ludwell stores; the chocolate with any good dark or milk chocolate (melt down their Terry’s Chocolate Orange - I dare you!) Rather than the candied peel try dried apricots, mango or other soft, ready to eat dried fruits of their choice. Enjoy.
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.
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