Archive for January, 2009

Lemon cake for any sweet tooth

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

As is the case with most food, nothing compares with dishes or desserts that are freshly made. Not only are home baked cakes a treat, they are a great way to get children interested in the kitchen.

This glazed lemon cake needs to rest for an hour after being removed from the oven so that the glaze can harden. The cake can also be made one day in advance, and is delicious with morning coffee or afternoon tea.

Glazed lemon cake; serves ten

Cake mixture Ingredients

Finely-grated zest of 2.5 lemons

5 whole eggs

350g (12oz) caster sugar

A pinch of salt

Juice of 1 lemon

150ml (5fl oz) double cream

275g (10oz) plain flour

10g (1/4oz baking powder

100g (4oz) unsalted butter, melted Butter and flour for lining baking tin

Glaze Ingredients

Juice of half a lemon

100g (4oz) icing sugar

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

Equipment

30cm x 10cm x 8cm cake tin

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine the lemon zest, eggs, caster sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk at top speed for five to seven minutes until the mixture has thickened. Add the lemon juice towards the end.

2. Place the bowl on a work surface and fold in the cream. Sieve the flour and baking powder over the mixture and fold in delicately with a spatula. At this stage, add the melted butter, little by little, folding and lifting the mixture gently.

3. Grease the inside of the cake tin with butter, then dust with flour – about 10g (quarter ounce) of each. Turn the tin over and knock it against the table to remove excess flour.

4. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, ensuring that the mixture reaches up to 2cm from the top. Place on the middle rack in the preheated oven and cook for 55 minutes.

5. The cake will be cooked when the top is slightly convex. To be certain, slide a needle into the middle of the cake and wait two seconds. Remove the needle, which should be very clean and hot.

Remove the cake from the oven, and turn on to a cooling rack for at least an hour until cold.

6. Increase the oven temperature to 200C.

7. To glaze the cake, thoroughly mix the lemon juice and the icing sugar until you get a loose, homogeneous mixture.

8. Warm the orange marmalade in a small casserole. Place the cake on a pastry sheet and, using a pastry brush, glaze the top and sides with the marmalade. This forms a base onto which the icing can fix itself.

9. Cool down for five minutes. Lightly heat the lemon and icing sugar for one minute until just warm, then brush over the cake. Place the cake in the oven for 30 seconds.

10.Remove the cake from the oven and allow to rest for a further hour so that the glaze can solidify. When it is completely cold, it is ready to serve.

Quick, easy and satisfying

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

This dish is quick and easy to prepare, and bound to satisfy on cold evenings. Depending on taste preference or budget, the cuts of steak that can be used are fillet, rump or sirloin. The tangy sauce and sautéed potatoes make perfect accompaniments. If you prefer your steak cooked rare, decrease the sauté time by two minutes per side. Serve this dish with roasted root vegetables or a purée of carrots and parsnips.

Pepper steaks with Dijon mustard sauce and sautéed potatoes (serves four)

Sautéed potatoes Ingredients

1kg Rooster potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

40g butter

8 leaves of fresh thyme or rosemary

1 clove of garlic (whole and unpeeled) Sea salt

Freshly milled pepper

Method

1. Peel and cut the potatoes in half, and then into slices 1cm thick. Wash them in cold water after peeling and dry them with a towel before cooking.

2. Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan. When it starts to foam, add the potatoes, thyme or rosemary and garlic.

3. Cook over a medium heat for about ten minutes, ensuring you shake the pan frequently to brown the potatoes evenly and avoid sticking.

4. Remove from the heat and season with sea salt and pepper.

5. Finish cooking in the oven (preheated to 180C) for about ten minutes. Remove and check the seasoning to taste.

Pepper steaks with Dijon mustard sauce

Ingredients

2 tblspns (15g) whole peppercorns

2 steaks (10oz or 300g each)

Sea salt

30g butter 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

100ml créme fraíche or double cream

Method

1. Place the peppercorns on a chopping board and crush them with a rolling pin to a coarse finish. Press down on the rolling pin as you crush them.

2. Lightly salt the steaks and roll them in the peppercorns, pressing down on them as you do so. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before cooking.

3. Heat the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add the steaks and sauté over a high heat for five or six minutes on each side. Remove the steaks from the pan (retaining the pan without washing) and place in a warm oven while you make the sauce.

4. Remove the frying pan from the heat, stir in the mustard and the cream and scrape the bottom of the pan to dissolve any remaining meat juices.

5. Place the pan back on the heat and cook until it almost reaches boiling point, but don’t allow it to boil. Taste and season if necessary. Remove steaks from the oven, pour the sauce over the meat and serve.

Soufflé is a breath of French air

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Soufflé is a delicious, light dessert, but one that requires perfect timing in order for it to be enjoyed at its best. It will remain risen for only a minute or two, so ensure your guests are seated and ready once the soufflés leave the oven.

A little pre-preparation is best for this recipe. Firstly, ensure your soufflé moulds (ramekins) are properly prepared before starting, as otherwise the soufflé may not rise evenly. You will need six 150ml ramek in dishes for this recipe.

Prepare the ramekins by brushing the inside base and sides with a generous layer of melted butter using vertical strokes. Refrigerate until set. Brush again with a second layer of butter, and then coat the inside of the ramekins with grated chocolate by sprinkling in the chocolate and rotating the ramekin, so that the sides and the base are evenly coated.

Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees centigrade (gas mark5 ).You can prepare the cre’me pátissie’re base in advance if you like and keep it chilled.

Citrus Souffle´ with Grand Marnier (serves six)

Créme Pátissiére base Ingredients

150ml milk
100ml double cream
40g caster sugar
15g plain flour
10g cornflour
3 large egg yolks (free-range)

Method

1. Sift the flour and cornflour together in a bowl. Heat the milk and cream in a heavy based saucepan with one tablespoon of sugar, until it starts to boil.
2. Beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar together in a large bowl, then beat in the flour a little at a time. Slowly pour on a third of the hot milk, whisking well so the mixture stays smooth. Whisk this back into the pan.
3. Simmer gently, whisking continuously for about three or four minutes until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Remove the mixture from the heat and put in a bowl. Cover and cool, stirring the mixture occasionally so that a skin does not form.

Soufflé mixture

Ingredients

Créme Pátissiére base
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 large orange
500ml freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons grand marnier
2 large free-range egg whites
50g caster sugar
To coat the soufflé moulds
40g unsalted butter (melted) 4-6 tablespoons grated chocolate

Method

1. Mix the citrus zests into the Créme Pátissiére base. Pour the lemon juice and all of the orange juice into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 200ml.
2. Stir into the Créme Pátissiére and allow to cool. Mix in the grand marnier.
3. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until they are stiff. Gradually whisk in the sugar, then carefully fold the egg whites and sugar into the Créme Pátissiére mixture using a wooden spatula. Ensure you fold from bottom to top, starting from the centre and going towards the left. At the same time the bowl is rotated in the opposite direction. This will ensure the soufflé mixture is well mixed while the whites keep their fluffy consistency.
4. Soufflés are always served in the moulds in which they are cooked. Ensure your moulds are correctly prepared and spoon the mixture into the dishes. Use a knife to level the mixture at the top of the mould.
5. Place on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes until the soufflés are risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately — remember you only have a minute or two before they start to lose their air and deflate.

Place the ramekin dish on a dessert plate and serve with a spoon of vanilla ice cream or a sorbet of your choice.

You can also pierce a hole in the top of the soufflé and pour warm chocolate sauce into the centre for added decadence.