Passion Fruit & Cream Pots

In her latest book “Foolproof Cooking”, published by BBC Books in 2016, Mary Berry brings us this “divine, delicious, delectable…” dessert – as described by her own words. I am her big fan, and I truly enjoy following recipes from her books, as well as watching her presenting them on tv.

This recipe is so simple, and the result is incredible. It has become an instant favourite of our home, and am sure will stay with us for long. Or more like forever. Smile.

It is a particularly great idea for a dinner party – the pots can be made ahead,  they do not demand any long preparations, truly easy to make and still able to impress your guests – especially when served in pretty glasses. A lovely touch of luxury.

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You need 600ml double cream, 100 g caster sugar, 6 passion fruit, juice of 1 lime.

Pour cream in a saucepan, add the sugar and stir on lower heat until it dissolves completely, then increase the heat and boil for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Scoop the pulp, seeds and juice of 5 passion fruit and place in the blender, then pour through sieve, add all the juice to the warm cream and stir well. Discard anything left in the sieve. You will notice how the cream starts to thicken after a while, it is such a fascinating process – I love watching it! The cream will thicken further as you add the lime juice.

Pour the cream into glasses – this amount of cream makes either 4 larger glasses (see images in this blog post) or 6 smaller pots, such as shot glasses.

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Place them in the fridge, where they will need up to 3 hours to set, but you can also make this in the evening and use them the next day.

Serve them topped with juice and pulp of the remaining passion fruit. They will give you lots of love. Wink.

 

 

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Couscous With Butternut Squash

It has been a sort of a rule for us that Saturdays always called for a little simpler cooking, in order to give us less time spent in the kitchen and more time outdoors.

The Couscous & Butternut Squash is an ideal meal for that reason, it is so quick – and so nice!

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Peel and scrape the seeds out of the butternut squash ( I usually use half a plant for one meal), dice it into cubes (1x1cm approx), place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and smoked paprika. Cover with kitchen tin foil and roast in a preheated oven (200 ºC / 180 ºC fan ) for about 30 minute till soft.

Prepare couscous according to the packaging instructions, use a 100g couscous, with 150ml boiling hot liquid. I usually use vegetable stock with it. But you can always do with just hot water. I also add a knob of butter in the end and stir it lightly in, couscous tastes milder with it. This takes just a few minutes. Fluff your couscous with a fork, try not using spoons, it would stick the grains together, and that may make them look and feel mushy.

Heat up 2 tbsp olive oil in a deeper pan, then stir fry a small finely diced onion, three chopped sundried tomatoes and two small red and orange peppers till golden (I usually buy a package of these peppers, they’re very sweet and juicy, each of them just between 5 – 10 cm large, see the photo above).  Stir in couscous and gently fold in the squash cubes.

Serve warm, with freshly chopped mint leaves and add chopped roast pine nuts for an even better taste. We love it.

Chicken & Sausage Leftover Makeover

Sometimes I think I could apply for a “leftover makeover” degree if such a thing existed. On one hand, you can think it’s not proper meals, on the other, who dictates how exactly the ingredients were meant to be used?

Adding to that, it is also a good thing to teach my boys not to be wasteful, rather on quite contrary be a bit creative and inventive.

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Like these Chicken & Sausage Creamy Linguine – a recipe which I didn’t really test as many times as the other usual recipes. I just made it, liked it a lot, and thought it to be a good idea to share for all the above mentioned reasons. I will also not use exact measures, simply because you never know what & how much there will be left in your fridge. The main rule is to use the leftover ingredients well combined, and you surely will end up with a great brand new meal.

These linguine take very little effort to prepare! They’re an ideal way to go with your Sunday roast chicken, which, as we know, is wonderful when freshly made, but not so amazing the next day – yet still good enough to be used for something else.

Follow the packaging instructions to cook your pasta, and while that is being done, you’ll have a plenty of time to get the meat mixture and the cream sauce ready.

In a large sauce pan, on few tablespoons of olive oil, shortly stir fry some roughly chopped spring onions with one handful of fresh thyme. Add cubes of pancetta, and the sausage meat. Stir fry well for a few minutes until crisp golden. Then add your chicken meat – you need to have that pre – prepared, meaning, take any nice good meat from the bones, and cut into smaller pieces before, and add that into the meat pan. Chicken meat is already done, so it is enough to stir fry the mixture now for just as long as all is properly hot through.

For the sauce you will need leftover single cream (I had more that 150ml), add that into a large pan with 50g grated hard cheese (I used pecorino romano) and 1 – 2 crushed garlic cloves. Stir well till the cheese dissolves completely, season to your taste with salt and freshly – ground black pepper.

Remove pasta from the heat once done, saving half a cup of the cooking water aside. Add linguine into the cream sauce, pour in some of the saved water, stirring all well, and by the thickness of the sauce add some more of the water. Stir in the meat mixture, adding some more fresh thyme leaves if you like. Serve straight away piping hot, topped with a little more grated cheese.

This recipe is really easy, takes no time and most definitely will transform your leftover ingredients into a lovely new dish!

Tarragon Chicken Soup

Beautiful combination of chicken, tarragon and lemon makes this soup a simple delight, its main ingredients being a sort of invitation to its refreshing and light spring or summer tones. This works very well especially when having quite enough of those heavier comfort stews of the late winter eves. This soup is to wake you up and set you off for more of those brighter days!

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I tried and adapted the original recipe, which was published in “Homemade Soups”, my treasured soup recipe book by Grace Mulligan & Dilwen Philips, for The Women’s Institute, 2012.

To make it, heat 25g butter in a saucepan, add 1 finely chopped onion, sweat for 5 mins, let it soften, but do not brown it. Add 2 tbsp plain flour, stir well & constantly while letting cook for another minute. Add 1 l  chicken stock, gradually, while taking care of blending the flour well by constant stirring. Add finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, let simmer for 10 mins. Here I also added 1 tbsp of concentrated chicken stock to enhance the flavour.

Add 300g cooked, cubed chicken breast, and 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, let simmer for another 5 mins. After that, remove the soup from the heat, let cool for a while, and stir in double cream – anywhere from 50 – 150ml. I tried the full amount of 150ml as suggested by the original recipe, but found less cream more pleasant for us. Reheat the soup, season with salt and white pepper to your liking.

Use some of the lemon zest and tarragon leaves, or even edible flowers (e.g. viola) as mentioned in the original recipe, to garnish and serve.

Colourful Noodle Salad

This Vietnamese – style noodle salad has been a pure joy from the beginning till its last noodle.

It is full of colours and bursts with flavours – nicely combined to your full satisfaction.

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I got inspired to try it after seeing an episode from BBC‘s brand new Mary Berry‘s cooking series, Foolproof Cooking, and was happy I did, too, because this salad is so absolutely worth it.

I opted for not using carrots, red pepper and bean sprouts, due to our little  home demands, and swapped them for steamed sliced baby fennels and baby corn, adding bamboo shoots, too.

A little amendment, to make the smaller eaters more comfortable, which hasn’t made the original recipe’s idea short of nothing – we had crayfish tails, ginger, garlic, cucumber, spring onions, chillies, fresh herbs (corriander & mint) and fine rice noodles, all seasoned with salt & pepper, tossed together and served with an amazing dressing.

That is also as easy to make as well as to remember – it’s the 3 x 3 +1 combination: 3 tbsp of each fish sauce, lime juice, light muscovado sugar and 1 tbsp of sesame oil.

Serve with chopped peanuts if you like.

This salad, originally meant as a summer recipe, has the ability to get you through any of these last grey winter days in a jiffy! We loved it so much!  I am sure you will, too, so get the ingredients, and start your happy chopping & tossing! Wink.

 

For the image I used natural light from above and 1 o’clock, diffused, blocked by a V-flat from the left, reflected with mirrors, silver reflectors and a white card. My camera settings were: ISO 125, f/2.8 at 1/20s shutter speed.

Find the original recipe using this link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/oriental_vegetable_99308

 

 

Leek & Blue Cheese Soup

I drink lots of hot teas and coffees nowadays, light many candles in pretty lanterns like crazy, or turn on the fairy lights very early – and yet, three o’clock in the afternoon and it is getting dark already.

I know I cannot fight the nature. But I have something I can fight the gloomy feeling with.

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The sheer simplicity of making this soup is not allowing me to go round much about it.

There’s a very straightforward link between these two for me: cold, dark days & warm, comforting food.

And that’s what this recipe basically is about.

It is a classic, of course, and I suppose there have been few version you have already tried and liked.

If you haven’t done so yet though, and all you think you can manage doing tonight is to pop in a few simply prepared ingredients in one pot, wait a very short while, then either snuggle up and not crawl out of your blanket burrow for a day, or keep your feet up and just relax while the rest of the world does whatever they have to do.. then go, grab some pretty leeks & very blue cheese on your way from work this afternoon, and your evening is safe!

You will need to  stir and let soften 1 large potato, diced, and 3 medium leeks, thinly sliced – on 3 tbs of oil. Stir not to let them stick to the bottom of the pan. When soft, add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 500 ml boiling hot water with 2 vegetable stock cubes and 1 tbsp of chicken stock concentrate. When stock cubes are dissolved completely, and the soup bubbles lightly, add 100 g of nice blue cheese, coarsely grated. When it’s matured well, it is rather soft, so watch your fingers!

Turn the heat off, remove from cooker and place your pan on a safe board. Use a hand blender, or food processor to blend all the ingredients on low speed. If you want very light texture, you can also pass the soup through a sieve. I personally don’t do that, but it is an option.

Bring the soup back on fire, and add 50 ml double cream, 100 ml single cream and 100 ml full fat milk. Stir well, bring to the boiling point, but lower the heat quickly and let just gently simmer for a minute.

Season to your taste with salt and pepper as the very last bit – keep in mind the blue cheese can be quite salty, and so can be the stock, so taste the soup before you add any more salt.

Serve with fresh artisan bread, as it is, or toasted and diced to make small croutons. I also like few tiny bits of blue cheese melt in from top of the soup.

That’s it! Hope you like it as much as I do. Wink.

 

Sweet Chilli Salmon & Potato Salad

Now that even the Indian summer’s gone – seemingly for good, and those good old rainy misty mornings and days are here – seemingly to stay, it feels quite nice to comfort yourselves with something warming – which this salad with its vibrant reds and chilli tones definitely comes up to.

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And it also is simple to make – a very cliched expression, but you know I wouldn’t bother you with that if it weren’t such undeniable truth.

Boil baby potatoes, keep skin on, of course, till they’re tender. These themselves are so sweet and crisp, ideal for any salad – warm or cold. While still hot, add a table spoon of butter and sprinkle salt over them, give them a light shake in the pan – this way the butter melts easily and covers them all.

The second hero there is the honey roast salmon – which I had bought in portions, and each package has about 200g. But use as much as you fancy – both with potatoes and salmon, it’s entirely up to you, depending how many people will have the dish. Count about 100g salmon per person, with about roughly 200g potatoes per portion.

Fork flake or use fingers to break larger or smaller chunks of  salmon, slice as many as you like French breakfast radishes ( I prefer them to the usual round radishes because I find them juicier and somehow more mellow… but naturally, the usual ones are just as perfect as French breakfast ones), finely chop a good handful of fresh parsley leaves.

Stir potatoes with sliced radishes and parsley in a bowl. Sprinkle juice of a quarter of lemon over and give another light stir. In a separate bowl with the flakes and chunks of salmon, drizzle well with sweet chilli sauce – here again, it is about what you prefer better – I love the lighter one, but should you enjoy the hotter one more, add that one.

Finally, place the sauced salmon chunks over the potato base served in the salad bowl – and enjoy!

This salad is so season versatile – chilled in the summer days, and warm & chilli hot in autumn or winter – its colour, texture and taste will definitely kick in some hue and life to the grey days ahead this autumn!