Fry a couple of tablespoons of onion (red, spring, white – any sort, even leek) in a mixture of butter and olive oil until soft. Add some garlic, one or two cloves, and some mushrooms if you like. Fry for a further 2-3 minutes. Now throw in a few handfuls of green beans. Stir, then add a glass of white wine and some salt and pepper. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for up to twenty minutes. If the pan is going dry, add a little water. When the green beans are tender, add a tin of flageolet beans. Warm through, then serve garnished with spring onion or parsley.
Take one pork fillet (500g) and cut in half lengthways. Cut each piece into cubes (2-3 cm) and pop into a bowl.
Put a pinch of saffron into a cup with 2 tablespoons of boiling water and allow to infuse while you prepare the other spices.
Grind half a teaspoon each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Add 3-4 cloves of garlic, a ripped up bay leaf and half a teaspoon of salt and mush them all up together. Add a dessertspoon of olive oil and a dessertspoon of red or white wine vinegar and mix. It doesn’t need to be a smooth paste.
Pour the spice mix and the saffron-infused water over the pork, mix it together and leave it covered in the fridge for a minimum of two hours.
Thread the meat onto metal skewers and finish each one with a green chilli. Cook on a hot barbecue until well charred and cooked through on each side.
To be honest, the cream’s a bit much. But apart from that, lovely! So, first make the chocolate sauce:
Put 200g dark chocolate (broken into pieces), 100ml double cream, 100ml whole milk and 3 tablespoons of golden syrup into a pan. Warm gently until all of the ingredients have melted, then pour the sauce into smallish cups and leave it to cool.
Meanwhile, make the churros. Put 250ml water, 120g butter and a pinch of salt into a medium-sized pan. Bring to the boil, then whisk in 130g strong white bread flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder and a few drops of vanilla essence. It will become unfeasibly thick but try to keep beating it over a low heat for a few more seconds. Take the pan off the heat and beat in an egg, and then a second egg. It should look a bit less worrying now. Cover the mixture and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes to a couple of hours.
When you are ready to cook, put sunflower oil into a large frying pan. It should be 2-3cm deep. Heat it to maximum. Put the churros mix into a large piping bag with a star nozzle. When the oil is very hot, squeeze in lots of chipolata-sized churros, snipping or cutting them each time from the nozzle. Be careful! Turn them after a couple of minutes to cook the other side. Place a large colander over an even larger pan. With a slotted spoon, fish out the churros and place them into the colander as they turn golden-brown. Once you have them all in there, shake the colander carefully to remove the oil, then sprinkle over some golden caster sugar and give them another shake.
40g icing sugar
125g butter, straight from the fridge and cubed
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons tap water
Mix the first 4 ingredients in the processor, pulsing. Keep pulsing as you add the egg/water until it starts to clump. You might not need all of the liquid. Gently press into a lump and wrap in clingfilm. Keep in the fridge for 20 minutes or until you’re ready.
Roll your pastry and gently lift it using the rolling pin to help into your flan dish. Ease it in and tidy up the edges. If the pastry rips, just patch it up with some of the excess. Remember that it will shrink as it cooks. Don’t blind bake it. Just stick it in the fridge till you’ve made the filling.
100g butter, melted but no longer too hot
100g golden caster sugar
120g ground almonds
zest and juice of a lime
2 level tablespoons self-raising flour
3 tablespoons raspberry or apricot jam
2-3 sliced peaches
Whoosh up all of the filling ingredients except for the jam and the peaches in the food processor. Make sure it’s well blended.
Spread the jam carefully over the pastry base, then pour the filling mix evenly over the top.
Decorate with the peaches.
Bake for 20-35 minutes at 180 degrees. When you start to smell it baking, check it, turn it round and if necessary, turn the oven down. When the middle bounces back, it’s ready. Do check, because all ovens are so different. In mine, it only takes about 25 minutes at 170 degrees.
3 tablespoons apricot jam
juice of one lime
As soon as the frangipane comes out of the oven, gently warm the glaze ingredients in a small pan until just melted. Push through a tea-strainer into a mug, then brush evenly over the whole pie.
Serve at room temperature.
600g strawberries, quartered; 2 eggs; 100g golden caster sugar; 400g mascarpone;
100g Amaretto; 200g sponge fingers or madeira cake; 50g grated milk chocolate
You want an electric whisk for all of this, probably. Whisk the two egg whites together until they form peaks.
Now, in a second large bowl, whisk the two egg yolks with the caster sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the mascarpone and beat well. Now, fold in the egg whites.
Slice the madeira cake thinly, if that’s what you’re using. Otherwise, sponge fingers at the ready. Put a thin layer of either cakey thing at the bottom of your trifle dish or martini glasses. Drizzle over a little Amaretto. Cover with a layer of mascarpone cream, then sprinkle with the grated chocolate. Add some strawberries. Repeat the layers, finishing with strawberries.
Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Still pretty gorgeous the next day though too!
Four or five large potatoes, diced
One onion (or three shallots), sliced or diced
Four or five handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
Mix the vegetables in a large bowl. Add half a teaspoon each of turmeric, ground coriander and chilli powder. Add a rounded teaspoon each of ground cumin and sea salt. Grind in some black pepper. Mix well with your hands. Add 300g of gram flour, mix, then add a few drops of water, mixing all the time, until you can form clumps with the mixture.
Heat up a large, deep-sided frying pan with oil. When the oil is really hot, drop in four or five balls of the sticky vegetable mix (about a heaped tablespoon per pakora). Cook for 4-5 minutes until nicely browned, then keep warm in the oven while you do the rest.
Sophie Dahl’s ‘Voluptuous Delights’ has seen me through my whole shopping list and menu this week. I can’t understand why this book is selling for £3.99 in bargain bookshops already – it’s wonderful! Paris Mash on Monday, Aubergine Parmigiana on Tuesday, Grilled Salmon and Baked Onions on Wednesday…a meatless delight of a week.
I’ll certainly be making these again, as they were deliciously sweet and cheap to make. Here is the recipe, slightly adapted.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
Peel four smallish onions and boil them whole for twenty minutes, or until the centres are trying to burst out.
Cut them in half and place them inside-up into an ovenproof dish. Individual enamel dishes are perfect. Season with sea salt and pepper. Pour over about 150g single cream and sprinkle with up to 50g parmesan or grana padano.
Bake for 25-30 minutes and serve with grilled salmon, Sunday dinner, sausages, a pork chop, anything!