Hey pesto!

And just like that the cupboard is re-stocked with staples and stand by instant dinners. I spent the last week of my holiday being domestic and now the pantry has an awesome looking jar of homemade brilliant green pesto just waiting to be stirred into pasta, and a bottle and a half of sweet chilli sauce that packs a killer punch. The biccie jar is also re-filled with jam-drop biccies. Quick and easy to make and even easier to eat. So that means #2 on my list of making my own pestos/preserves/sauces has a big tick next to it :)

Great kitchen disasters

Epic kitchen fail. Most of the just-fresh-out-of-the-oven-smelling-amazing-cake landed on the floor like someone had grabbed squishy handfuls of it and hurled it at the floor in rage. About half the cake was salvageable. The rest I scraped up off the floor. Still in fairly salvageable condition.

I’d been carrying around this recipe since it was handed to me by a promo dude back in May on a visit to Borough Markets in London. It was due a test and as Nigel Slater promises a “Taste of Summer” with his Raspberry & Apricot Cake I thought I’d try to inspire the weather to turn warm again. And I needed a cracking recipe for tonight’s dinner party. It was all going too well. I was too well prepared and organised, making the batter hours in advance and chilling it in the fridge till the roast lamb was out of the oven. That was my first mistake, not letting it come back to room temp as I had to spoon the batter back together. Second mistake was having that extra glass of wine just before attempting to turn the cake onto a cooling rack and having it go splat.

Tasted great though! I still served it. Guess which part I served?

Sweet as a nut

A whole lotta choccie melted down, mix with chopped cashew nuts then shaped into crosses of varying sizes, chilled then assembled and you have your very own Choc Cashew Christmas Tree to devour.

Just for you

I’ve got a bit of a homemade/handmade pledge going on for what’s left of this year and for next. To cook and make as much as I can. My first attempt at jam making is on the stove top bubbling away nicely. The house smells amazing. Of sweet apricots and soft vanilla, interlaced with the fresh pine of the Chrissy tree. The apricots, flecked with vanilla seeds have cooked down so they are soft and pulpy. Now it’s time for the sugar. It’s best to avert your eyes when adding the 1kg bag of it! After cooking for a little further, the crinkle test on a cooled plate is a success! Hurrah! Jam!

Now just a month’s wait till I can crack open a jar for a taste test. The early sneaky taste is promising…

Christmas countdown

I’m not overly feeling the Christmas vibe just yet, I keep forgetting it’s nearly here. I got a shock when I saw a sign in a shop window today exclaiming, ’13 days ’til Christmas!’ Maybe next week when we finally get our tree the it’ll kick in.  Then I can stop being bah-humbug and embrace the spirit, and the food that I know is on the way! In the meantime I’ll hibernate and munch on Lovely Butter Beans with Bacon, teamed with roast potatoes and fried asparagus and beans. Thanks Jamie for the recipe! Not the most summery of foods but it was cold enough for us to have a fire last night, the cats were very pleased indeed.

Foraging

It’s crumble weather. I’ve picked the apples, they are growing on the tree in the backyard, now I just need some berries. On my walk through the fields the other day I noticed a local picking berries at the hedge. Turns out they were sloe (blackthorn) berries for making sloe gin. You add a whole heap of berries, a ton of sugar, water and then let the whole mixture do its thing for a few months until its ready, in time for Christmas. (I know, I know. I mentioned the unmentionable Christmas word). Tucked into the hedges were also a shining jet black crop of wild blackberries so I went back the next day and picked enough for our crumble. And just a little extra, in case. The crumble was buttery and crunchy, the fruit sweet and light. Just the right thing for these miserable grey days.

Taste of summer

One of the best things about the start of summer is the promise of summer fruits -Nectarines, Peaches, Plums, Cherries and of course the short-lived Apricots. So this Raymond Blanc Apricot Clafoutis recipe quickly got earmarked for baking. He describes it as a simple French family dish/pudding. I hope it’s a dish I can master and add to my trademark desserts.

The evening air is heady with fragrant rose blossoms wafting in through the open doors from the garden and the scent of baking Apricots from the kitchen.  Out of the oven and my Clafoutis is ready to go, the sugar sweet sun blushed Apricots that sing with flavour have turned golden and are nestled in a crunchy sugar crusted eggy Custard with sticky wanna-pick-at toffee edges.

End result – 2 helpings later and I’m feeling a little smug. My thanks to Mr Blanc for a cracking recipe. 

Apricot Clafoutis

By Raymond Blanc 

Prep time: 20 mins. Cooking time:  1hr 10 mins. Serves 4-6 (depends on how generous you feel )

Batter can be prepped one day in advance then chilled.

  • 8 ripe apricots – stoned and halved
  • 5 tbspns caster sugar
  • 10g unsalted butter, melted

Batter:

  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 2 medium eggs, pref free range
  • 3 tbspns caster sugar
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract
  • 20g plain flour
  • 60ml full cream/whole milk
  • 75ml pouring cream/whipping cream

1. Toss the apricots with 3 tbspns of the caster sugar in a bowl and set aside for a few hours.

2. Make a Beurre Noisette for the batter. This gives a wonderful rich, nutty flavour. In a small frypan heat the remaining butter over medium heat until it foams and the solid particles turn brown. Allow to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 200 oC (180 oC fan forced oven), Gas Mark 6. Brush the inside of a medium-sized oven proof dish/baking dish (approx 5cm’s deep x 20cm’s – A Bundanoon Pottery baking dish will do just the trick!) with the melted butter. With the remaining 2 tbsnps of caster sugar shake into the dish and scatter about to coat, tip out the excess. This helps to give a sugary crust to the pudding.

4. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, the 3 tbsnps of caster sugar and the vanilla extract. Whisk in the flour. When smooth, slowly incorporate the milk, cream, beurre noisette and a pinch of salt.

5. Add any juices from the apricots and give it one last mix then pour into the baking dish. Plop the apricots on the top, cut side up and arrange evenly.

6. Bake the Clafoutis for 30-35 mins. It is cooked when the surface is slightly convex, if it is still dipped it is undercooked. When ready take out of the oven and sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar then return to the oven for 5 mins. Serve just warm on its own or with crème Fraiche, cream or ice-cream. Tastes fab cold too, just bring to room temperature.

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