Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Recipes And Tips

Dear readers, the following are a few recipes and tips which will make your Christmas  lunch that extra bit special and stress free. I wish you and your families a very happy Christmas.

Cranberry and orange stuffing
This stuffing is sufficient for a 12lb turkey.
  • 50g Butter
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 300g fresh bread crumbs
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • A handful of  dried cranberries
Hear the butter in a pan , add the onion and cook gently for 7-10 minutes, add the breadcrumbs, orange juice and zest and cranberries. Season well with salt and pepper.

Roasting the Turkey
  1. When I am roasting my Turkey I pre heat the oven to 190Cpreheat the oven to 170 ° C 
  2. Rub the skin of the turkey all over with the butter and season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Stuff the neck cavity of the turkey with the stuffing. Fold the skin back over the stuffing and place under the turkey. 
  4. Weigh the turkey to calculate required cooking time (approx 20-25 minutes per 1lb and add 20 minutes. Resting time 20 minutes). I usually ask the butcher to weigh the Turkey for me and write it on the wrapper.
  5. Loosely wrap the Turkey in foil,. Baste. (Spoon over juice every 40 minutes). Unwrap foil for final 40 minutes to one hour. 
  6. When you push a point of a knife into the leg of the turkey and the juices run clear, it’s ready.
  7. Remove the Turkey from the oven, loosely wrap in foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes.;
Remove the Turkey from tin. Heat juices in roasting tin over a gentle heat. Slowly stir in 1 tbsp flour. Cook for two minutes. Pour in 3 tbsp of port or red wine, gradually slowly add 1 pint stock if you don’t have Turkey stock, use chicken and bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until reduced and thickened. Season to taste.

Cranberry and orange Sauce
I absolutely love cranberry sauce, it is delicious with cheese, pate and of course Turkey.
  • 350g Cranberries
  • 150 mls of freshly squeezed orange juice 
  • 150 mls sugar
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the cranberries burst, about 158-20 minutes. All to cool and store in the fridge.

Pan-fried Brussel Sprouts & Celery with Hazelnut Butter
These little miniature cabbages are in season at this time of the year. They are difficult enough to grow as I discovered this year. When choosing your sprouts choose small ones with tightly packed head. This recipe is a real quicky and makes the most of the wonderful flavour of the sprouts.

Serves 6
  • 750g lbs brussel sprouts, washed and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 75g hazelnuts, skinned
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until golden.  Place the hazelnuts between two pieces of grease proof paper and tap gently with a rolling pin to break up the nuts.

Melt the butter in a large hot pan, add the Brussel sprouts and celery, stir fry until tender but with a slight bite, add the hazelnuts and nutmeg and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.

Check the seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon juice.  Tip into a warmed dish to serve.

Tropical Fruit Trifle
This dessert is a big hit in our house. Its multiple layers with its colors, textures and flavors delight the senses. A pretty glass bowl shows the trifle at its best. Once you are organized with your ingredients, the trifle takes less than 10 minutes to assemble. It is hard get the amount of ingredients exactly right as it really depends on the size of your trifle bowl, so you may need to scale up or down slightly. I mix Greek yogurt and whipped cream together for the topping, the  Greek yoghurts gives a lovely shiny finish and balances the sweetness of the fruit.

Serves 8-10
  • 1 small pineapple, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 x 425g can mango slices in syrup, drained, syrup reserved (I found tinned Mango in Marks and Spencers, if you can’t get your hands on a tin use tinned apricots as an alternative) 
  • 3 passion fruit, halved
  • 300g sponge, such as Madeira cake, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tbsp dark rum (optional)
  • 425g ready made custard
  • 250g tub Greek yogurt
  • 275ml carton cream - whipped
  • 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  1. Strain the mango slices reserving the syrup and roughly chop into chunks. In a bowl mix the chopped pineapple pieces, chopped mango slices and passion fruit pulp. Mix the rum with half of the reserved mango syrup.  
  2. In a large glass trifle bowl, spoon half the fruit mixture, cover with half the sliced sponge, drizzle with the rum infused syrup. Pour half the custard on top and spread over the sponge with a spoon.
  3. Spread the remaining fruit over the custard, top with the remaining sponge, drizzle with the rum infused syrup and pour over the remaining custard. Don't worry if the layers mix together as this is the way Trifles are supposed to look 
  4. Whisk together the Greek yogurt and whipped cream in a bowl until thick.  Spoon over the custard mixture and sprinkle with muscovado sugar. 
  5. Cover and chill for at least 1hr before serving.
This decadent trifle can be made a day in advance, cover with cling film and store in the fridge.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home Made Edible Gifts

Article originally appeared in The Irish Times Saturday, December 10, 2011

Edible gifts are always appreciated, and they're cost effective as well as thoughtful. EUNICE POWER suggests some lovely things to make and bake

HERE IS SIMPLY nothing to surpass a well-presented handmade edible gift. They exude thoughtfulness, care and love. As many of us are more time-rich now than we may have been before, making edible gifts is a great way to bulk up hampers. They also make great hostess gifts and they provide a wonderful arsenal of presents for those last minute moments or unforeseen callers.

I keep an eye out for nice tins and boxes, Kilner jars, pretty bottles and clear wrapping paper at this time of the year - discount stores are often a treasure trove of such items. The trick is to make sure your containers are small, otherwise you will end up having to make a mountain of truffles, for example, to fill just one.

Get creative with your presentation. too. Wrapping your edible gift isn't all about fancy ribbon and shop-bought rosettes - a sprig of holly (berries removed of course) secured by some simple garden twine often makes the perfect finishing touch.

Mulled wine syrup 
  • 1 large orange
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 10 cloves, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Half a nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 litre of water
Peel the rind off the orange with a potato peeler. Juice the orange, sieve the juice and add it to a large saucepan along with the water, sugar and spices. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for five to eight minutes until you have a thick syrup.

Allow the syrup to cool down, then pour it into bottles.

When making mulled wine, I usually add about 50cl of syrup to a 75cl bottle of wine. Heat until almost simmering point - don't allow the mulled wine to boil as you don't want to burn off the alcohol. If you would like to make a non-alcoholic punch, add the syrup to a good quality bottle of apple juice such as Crinnaghtaun apple juice from Cappoquin.

Christmas truffles 

Boxes of these are lovely little gifts and a wonderful addition to a Christmas food hamper. Sometimes I roll them in crushed hazelnuts, coconut, grated white chocolate or pistachio nuts rather than exclusively in cocoa, to give a bit or a variation in colour and texture.
  • 275g dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces, or if you can get your hands on dark chocolate cocoa buttons, even better
  • 250ml cream
  • 50g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g mincemeat
  • 50g cocoa powder
Place the chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream to the boil, pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted. Add the butter, stirring gently. At this point the mixture should be smooth and glossy. Next, stir in the mincemeat. When all the mincemeat is incorporated, allow the mixture to cool, cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

Put the cocoa powder into a bowl. Take teaspoons of the truffle mixture and roll into balls using the palm of your hands. As you do this the outside of the truffle warms up, becomes a little sticky and the cocoa powder will stick to it better. Drop the truffle into the bowl of cocoa, roll it around to get an even coating, shake off the excess cocoa, and then pop into . . . no, not your mouth . . . a tissue-lined gift box.

Christmas biscuits

The following are three of my favourite biscuits. They take about 20 minutes to make and 15 to 20 minutes to bake. They should keep for up to a week in an airtight container. For all three recipes, pre-heat an oven to 170 degrees/gas 3. Line baking trays with parchment paper.

Christmas stars

These little gems are delicious, with a buttery shortbread base and crunchy meringue topping. Recipe makes about 30, this will vary depending on the size of your cutter.

  • 225g soft butter
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 350g flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp of sherry or brandy
Meringue topping
  • 1 egg white
  • 125g castor sugar
  • Sliced almonds
Beat the butter and icing sugar until it is soft and creamy. Add the egg yolk and brandy or sherry. Fold in the flour until the mixture resembles a soft dough. Turn it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly to form a flat round. Wrap it in cling film and chill it for at least 20 minutes before rolling out.

While the dough is chilling, make the meringue. Whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage, then add the sugar little by little, whisking until it is thick, stiff and glossy. Roll the pastry out evenly to about one-centimetre thickness and cut out biscuits with a star cutter. Place a little meringue on the middle of each star, and place a sliced almond on top of the meringue.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the biscuits are cooked. Cool on a wire rack.

Stem ginger cookies

Makes about 30
  • 225g soft butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 275g flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 50g crystallised ginger, finely chopped (from the baking section in your local supermarket)
Beat the butter and sugar together. Fold in the flour, pinch of salt and ginger. Mix until it resembles soft breadcrumbs, then pull the mixture together by hand. Turn it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly to form a flat round.

Break off walnut-sized pieces of the dough and, using lightly floured hands, roll into balls. Place these on the baking tray, flatten each ball by lightly pressing a fork on top of each. These cookies spread when cooking, so make sure to leave room between each one.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

White chocolate, cranberry and hazelnut biscuits

Makes about 30 
  • 200g softened butter
  • 160g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 260g flour
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate soda (bread 95g)
  • 95g white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 40g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 65g dried cranberries
Mix the butter, egg and sugar in a food processor or mixer until it is light and fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and sieve in the flour and bread soda, white chocolate, hazelnuts and cranberries and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

Take teaspoons of the dough out of the bowl and roll them into walnut size balls. Place these on a baking sheet and flatten slightly with a fork dipped in hot water (shake off any access water).

These biscuits will spread out during cooking so allow room for this when you are placing them on the cookie tray. Bake for 15 minutes until golden, then cool the biscuits on a wire rack.


Brilliant buns and tasty tarts

Article originally appeared in The Irish Times Saturday, December 3, 2011

BAKING FOR A CROWD: Eunice Power is back with her baking-made-easy recipes. This time she's rustling up delicious sweet things to bake for a crowd.

IN THE 10 YEARS I've been running my catering business, I have found that when it comes to catering for a crowd, clients are often willing to prepare the main course themselves, but may shy away from attempting starters, finger food or desserts in bulk. In the case of the latter, there is no need to fear baking for larger numbers - like everything else in the kitchen, much of the work can be done well in advance and the overwhelming appreciation from the sweet-toothed among your guests will make it worthwhile.

A few readers have mentioned that the mixed peel recipe published in October didn't work for them. This may be because the citrus fruit they used was very heavily waxed. In that case, the peel may not absorb the syrup, so it might be best to use the deliciously flavoured syrup in desserts and discard the peel. It's always best to give waxed fruit a good scrub before use.

Mince pies, tangerine tartlets, spiced frangipane tartlets - one base, three tops

The size of the tartlets you make depends on the occasion, whether it's a large Sunday lunch where a tartlet accompanied by a dollop of cream is the finale, or perhaps you are hosting a fork supper for 50 where a variety of bite-size tartlets would be an easier option for mingling guests. I have based the following recipes on using shallow tartlet trays, 12 holes in each, the holes six and a half centimetres wide by two centimetres deep. If you would like to make tiny tartlets, using a mini muffin tray, make sure your pastry is thin; you want to leave room for the filling.

When making tarts, the quality of the pastry is of paramount importance. The good news is that if you respect the pastry-making process and stick to a few cardinal rules, you can achieve amazing results. Pastry can be made a day or two in advance, all the tins can be lined and stacked in the fridge, and the tartlets can be finished off on the day they are required.

A good pastry should be short (crumbly) and melt-in-the-mouth. When I'm making pastry, I make sure that I will have no distractions, that I have good space cleared in the kitchen, and that both my mental state and my ingredients are cool and collected.

Tart pastry

This recipe will line two 12-hole tartlet trays. I use icing sugar as its fine starchiness makes for a smooth and more manageable pastry. The pastry can be made a few days in advance and stored until needed in the fridge.
  • 200g flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g very cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • I tbsp ice-cold water
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
Sieve the flour and icing sugar together. Put the flour and sugar in a food processor and aerate it with a couple of quick on/off pulses. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the yolk and lemon juice and water if necessary and process until the pastry just comes together. Turn the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and knead it briefly to form a flat round. Wrap it in cling film and chill it for 20 minutes in the fridge.

If you don't have a food processor work as lightly as possible using your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour. When you add the liquid, pinch the whole thing to make it come together into a dough.

Roll it out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pastry into rounds with a scone cutter a little larger than the cases. Line the tin with the pastry and refrigerate until needed.

Mince pies

A 320g jar of mince meat should make a dozen mince pies. When making the pies, proceed with the pastry as described above, reserving a quarter of the pastry for the tops. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut with a star-shaped cutter to fit the tops.

Put a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat into the pastry case, pop the pastry star on top, and bake at 160 degrees/gas 3, for 15-20 minutes. When they are cooked, allow them to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, with a dollop of cream.

Mandarin meringue tartlets 

This recipe has three different elements, pastry, curd and meringue. Each is made separately and assembled before serving. They can also be assembled a few hours before hand.

For the pastry:
Make the pastry as before and bake the tart shells in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 160 degrees/gas 3, until golden. Allow to cool, then gently remove the shells from the tins and store in an airtight container until needed.

For the mandarin orange curd:
This curd can be made a week or so in advance and kept in the fridge.
  • Juice of 5 mandarin oranges
  • Juice and zest of a lemon
  • 225g of caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
Place all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat, and stir frequently for about 20 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon - do not allow it to boil as the mixture will split. Allow it to cool and pour into a jar or plastic container and store in the fridge until needed. It will thicken up more as it cools. This can be kept for two to three weeks.

For the meringue:
These little meringues are known as kisses. I always have a stock of them at hand - they're delicious sandwiched together with Nutella.
  • 1 egg white
  • 120g of caster sugar
Line a baking tray with parchment. Beat the egg white until stiff, then whisk in the sugar until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe 24 small swirls of meringue, about the size of a one-euro coin.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees/gas 4 for five minutes to crisp up the outside, then reduce the temperature to 120 degrees/gas 1, for a further 40 minutes. These can be stored in an airtight container for a week or so.

To assemble spoon a teaspoon of curd into each tartlet and pop a meringue on top.

Spiced frangipane tartlets
This recipe makes enough filling for 24 tartlets
  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 3 small eggs, beaten
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp brandy
  • 1 tbsp mixed peel
  • I tbsp chopped walnuts
  • Pinch of mixed spice
In a mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter with the icing sugar until thoroughly mixed. Gradually add the beaten egg, mixing well between each addition. Stir the flour and ground almonds into the butter mixture, mixing well, then stir in the brandy, chopped walnuts, mixed spice and peel. Fill the pastry cases with the mixture and bake at 160 degrees/gas 3, for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Christmas buns
All the scents and flavours of Christmas in one bun. Over the years, I have shared this recipe with people who have come to some of my cookery demonstrations and, without fail, everybody rates them as a huge success. I think it might have something to do with the speed at which they are made, and consumed. This makes two dozen buns in muffin trays.
  • 225g butter, at room temperature
  • 225g dark brown sugar
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 225g sultanas, soaked overnight in half a glass of whiskey or brandy
  • 125 glacé cherries, halved
Preheat an oven to 170 degrees/gas 3.Cream the butter and sugar. Sieve the flour and mixed spice. Add the eggs, one at a time, and add a tablespoon of flour after each egg. Add the fruit and mix well. Put mixture in bun cases and bake for 20 minutes.Sieve icing sugar over the warm buns.


Highbank fruit and nut tart

This tart gets its name from the wonderful Highbank Orchard Syrup, which is made just from their own organically grown apples by the Calder-Pott family in Co Kilkenny. The syrup has a lovely tartness which gives an edgy note to counteract the sweetness of the caramel.

But be warned, once you cut this tart you will not be able to keep away - I keep nibbling slivers each time I pass through the kitchen! If you can't find this delicious syrup, you can replace it with golden syrup - with a little lemon juice added for tartness. I have used ground almonds in the pastry, giving the pastry a light crumbly finish

Makes one 24 cm (9 ½ inch) tart (serves 8)

Pastry base
  • 175g/6 oz plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 25g/1 oz ground almonds
  • 25g/1 oz icing sugar - its fine starchiness makes the pastry more manageable 
  • 100g/4oz very cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk plus 1 tbsp cold water or 4-5 tbsp water
Lightly butter a 24 cm (9 ½ inch) tart tin and put it into the refrigerator.

Put the dry ingredients into a food processor and aerate with a couple of quick on/off pulses.  Add the butter and process till the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the egg yolk and water (as necessary) and process until the pastry just draws together.  Turn it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly to form a flat round. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes before rolling out.

Pre-heat the oven the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5

Roll out to a round at least 5 cm (2 inches) larger than the tin, wrap around the rolling pin, lift into place and unroll loosely over the chilled tin.  Gently lift and press the pastry into the tin to line, then roll the rolling pin over the top of the tin to trim the excess pastry.

Line the chilled pastry case with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and cook for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the beans and paper and cook for another 10 minutes or a little longer, until a light biscuit brown.

  • 200g/7 oz mixed nuts, I used roughly chopped walnuts, pistachio nuts, flaked almonds and hazelnuts
  • 50g/2 oz dried cranberries 
  • 90g/3½ oz butter
  • 60g/2½ oz castor sugar
  • 60g/2½ fl oz (4 tbsp) Highbank Orchard Syrup (or golden syrup)
  • 200ml/7 fl oz cream
To make the filling, put all of the ingredients except the cream into a large frying pan, cook stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is golden. Bring to the boil and add the cream, and let it bubble for a minute or two.
Take off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then pour into the pastry base.
Return to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the filling is caramel colour.
Allow to cool, and then remove from the tin.
Serve at room temperature, with crème fraiche or cream.

Sweet potato and ginger mash - delicious with Duck

Serves 6-8
  • 800g/13/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 450g/ 1 lb potato such as rooster, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 70g/ scant 3 oz butter
  • 5cm/ 2 inch piece of fresh root ginger peeled and grated
  • A glug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Put the sweet potato and potato in a saucepan of lightly salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for minutes until tender. Drain well into a colander
While the potatoes are draining, melt the butter with the olive oil in the pan, add the grated ginger and cook for 5 minutes until soft, then return the potatoes to the pan and mash. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Seared duck breasts with balsamic vinegar, rosemary and shallot sauce

This is a perfect main course for a winter's night. The duck can be sealed off beforehand and returned to the oven when you are ready, remembering to allow for 10 minutes for the duck to relax after cooking. In my experience I have found that 6 largish duck breast will feed 8 people, as duck breasts are quite rich and meaty so a little goes a long way. 

Serves 6 -8

6 duck breasts

  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
Balsamic, rosemary and shallot sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 shallots, finely sliced (if you are using larger shallots, such as banana shallots, then 3 will be plenty)
  • 2 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 150ml/1/4 pint  red wine
  • 250ml/9 fl oz balsamic vinegar
  • 175ml/6 fl oz chicken stock
  • 1-2 tbsp fruit jelly, such as apple or redcurrant
  • 55g/generous 2 oz butter, chilled and diced
Pomegranate seeds to decorate (if available)

Preheat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F/Gas 5

Trim any excess fat from the duck breasts and score the skin with a sharp knife. Mix together the marinade ingredients, pour over the duck and leave for 1 hour.

Start the duck off on a heavy based cold pan over medium heat, skin side down, and brown well on both sides. Starting the duck off in a cold pan will help to render the fat and will crisp up the skin. (Don't throw away the duck fat, allow it to cool down and keep it in the fridge for the next time you are  roasting potatoes.)

Remove the duck from the pan, place in a roasting tray and roast in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until still pink.

Cover loosely with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan.  Add the shallots and rosemary, cooking until caramelised, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and balsamic vinegar, bring to the boil and reduce to an eighth of its original volume.  Add the stock and reduce by half.  Whisk the chilled butter to thicken and enrich the sauce.

Serve the duck sliced on warm plates, with the sauce; sprinkle with some pomegranate seeds if wished.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Heaven

This is the perfect cake for any baker who may not be the most confident in the kitchen. It is really easy to make, moist and rich will last up to 5 days in the fridge. Delicious served with vanilla or caramel ice cream.
  • 225g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 340g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 200g sugar
Preheat the oven to 175˚C / 350˚F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 23-cm spring form tin or round cake tin.  If using a spring form pan, wrap a large sheet of aluminium foil around the outside of the tin, making sure it's absolutely watertight.  If using a cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.  Set the spring form or cake pan in a large roasting pan.

In a large saucepan, combine the butter and chocolate.  Set the pan on a low heat ,stir occasionally until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until completely incorporated.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared spring form or cake pan and cover the pan tightly with foil. Pour very warm water into the roasting pan to reach half way up the outside of the cake pan. Bake until the cake appears to be set and your finger comes away clean when you gently touch the centre (it will still feel quite3 soft), about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Remove the cake from the water bath and let cool completely.

To unmould, run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan.  If you've used a spring form pan, simply release the sides.  If you've used a regular cake pan, invert the cake onto a plate, peel off the parchment paper, then re-invert onto a serving platter.

Cut the cake into slices and serve with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

Crab Cakes with coriander and chilli

The flavour and quality of crab varies hugely. I love the Helvic crab stocked in Helvic seafood, it has a wonderfully sweet flavour as opposed to the blandness of pasteurised crab which can often be found on supermarket shelves.

Serves 4 as a starter.
  • 225g crab meat
  • 50g spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 50g mayonnaise 
  • 75g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the crab meat in a bowl with the spring onions, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, egg, coriander and chilli.

Season to taste and mix gently until well combined.  Divide the mixture into eight and then shape into crab cakes.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan.  Add the crab cakes and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side until heated through and golden brown

Arrange the crab cakes on plates with some lightly dressed green salad and coriander sauce to serve.

Coriander sauce
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise 
  • 15g fresh coriander finely chopped
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime
Mix the mayonnaise with the coriander, lime juice and zest. Cover and chill until needed.


Roast Butternut squash, garlic and rosemary soup with feta

What could be nicer that a hot bowl of soup on a cold winters day? This soup is utterly delicious - roasting the vegetables brings out their true flavour. If you are feeling a bit decadent you could always replace a little of the stock with some cream. Please don't be put off by the large amount of garlic, when roasted it becomes sweet, the flavour alters completely to that of raw garlic.
  • 1 large butternut squash weighing about 1kg, cut into chunks
  • 12 garlic cloves, halved
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh rosemary
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, crushed chilli flakes
  • 750 ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander 
Heat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas 4.

Put the butternut squash, garlic, onion, rosemary and oil in a baking tray and sprinkle with a couple of pinches each of salt and chilli. Mix well so that the squash is evenly coated with the oil and roast until the squash, onions and garlic are tender and lightly caramelized, about 45 minutes.

Tip the squash into a large saucepan, add the stock and bring to a gentler simmer over medium heat, using a hand-held blender, whiz until smooth.  Correct the seasoning and adjust the consistency with hot water as needed. Simmer gently to allow the flavours to blend, about 10 minutes.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until nutty about 5 minutes.  Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, sprinkle with feta, pumpkin seeds and coriander and serve at once.