Some recipes


The famous Tiramisu

Cassata Siciliana

Chilli Sweet Potato Gratin

Pea fritters (much nicer than they sound)

Thai fish cakes

Steamed glutinous rice with coconut

French Onion Soup

South-East Asian Gastrique

Grandma's scones

Whiskey and Ginger Pickled Herrings

Chilli Jam

Vanilla vodka

Digestive biscuits



Kugelhupf/Gougelhopf is an Alsatian/Germanic fruit loaf.  There are various spellings, and without having looked into the history, I always think the spiritual home is in Alsace, the strip of land that has changed hands so many times between Germany and France.  If you don't have a kugelhupf tin, then you can make it in a large loaf tin, though then it will be fruit loaf, not kugelhupf.

Soak the fruit in the rum for 30 minutes or more to plump them up (if you don't want to use rum, use another 100ml of warm water).

If the yeast you are using needs to be activated, follow the instructions, using some of the water specified above.

Put the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl.  Add the liquid from soaking the fruit and warm water - you want to add a total of about 300ml of liquid).   Add the vanilla, butter, eggs, yeast and (if you're making it by hand), the fruit and mix together until it forms a thick, claggy dough. I usually mix it with a metal spoon, as I can't see the point in scraping the gooey mixture off my hands and - inevitably - wasting some.  If you're going to use a mixer or a breadmaker to mix and knead the dough, then it's best to wait until the machine's finished before mixing in the fruit, as the machines can break up the fruit a bit.  But you really don't need to use a machine at all.  The following method is based on Dan Lepard's minimal knead method for breadmaking.

After mixing all the ingredients (except the almonds) into a thick, claggy dough, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it to stand for 15 minutes.  Oil your worksurface lightly. Turn the dough out onto it and knead it briefly (Dan Lepard says 10 seconds, but that hardly seems worth the effort, so I give it about 30 seconds.  Return it to the bowl and recover for 10-15 minutes, and then knead briefly again. Repeat the rest and knead process again.  Return it to the bowl and leave to rest for 45 minutes to an hour. (I find that timings don't really matter in this process, as long as you give it the minimums.)  
Butter the mould and place an almond at the base of each runnel (these will come out on top of the cake).
Spread the dough out on the oiled worksurface and then roll up into a sausage shape,  and then put it into the kugelupf mould, pushing it well down.  Cover with a tea towel and leave it to rise until it fills the mould, or almost does so.  This is likely to take at least an hour, quite likely more.
In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 190ºC and place a tray of water in the oven to create a steamy atmosphere.  Bake the kugelhopf for 45-50 minutes (or more if it needs it).
Allow to cool slightly, and then turn out.  If any of the almonds have fallen out, you can glue them back in with a bit of apricot jam.  
llow to cool, and then dust with icing sugar.




(serves 12)

This is based on Franco Taruschio's recipe from when he had the Walnut Tree Inn.

Whisk the egg yolks with two-thirds of the sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract.

Stir the mascarpone to loosen it up a little and then stir it into the egg yolk/sugar mixture by hand.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff

Fold in the beaten egg whites. Instead of the egg whites you could add a similar quantity of whipped cream.

Mix in a measure of rum [say one and a half capfuls]

Put the espresso into a shallow bowl and if you want add some more rum, take your savoyard biscuits [or sponge cake], dip them into the coffee mix and layer across the bottom of the serving dish. Pour the mascarpone mix over, give it a good shake to settle it.

Depending on your dish, you can add another layer of soggy cakes and then another layer of mascarpone mix.

[This is the stage at which to worry about all the left of coffee & rum mix: you could always strain the crumbs out of it, add sugar and get something like Tia Maria.]

Refrigerate for about four hours.

When you're ready to serve, sift chocolate powder across the surface.


If you're worried about raw eggs, you could probably do the whisking of the egg yolks and sugar in a bain-marie (I think the eggs have to reach a temperature of 50ºC) or you could even use a shop bought custard, though that will mean you get a bit of a different result overall. Of course, you'd also need to replace the egg whites with whipped cream as suggested.

You could use whatever alcohol you want, I suppose. Amaretti di Saronno liqueur is nice, and you could crush up some Amaretti biscuits and add them to the mascarpone mix (they're no good as the base as they break up too much). I doubt white spirits like vodka would be much good though. On the other hand, I might try it one day with my vanilla vodka.



Cassata Siciliana

Whether your real Sicilian would recognise this, I'm not sure, but it's more likely than the ice-cream stuff in the freezers at the supermarket.

Remove the seeds from the melon and discard (or whatever you like to do with melon seeds).

Remove the flesh and purée it - if it's very watery, try to drain off some of the water.

Combine the melon flesh, ricotta and icing sugar (you might want to use a food processor!)

Chop the candied fruits and chocolate, fairly coarsely, and fold it into the ricotta mixture.

Line a suitable dish with cling film and pour in the mixture: 'suitable' depends how you want to serve it. If you want to do individual portions, then put it into timbales, or you could put it in a bowl or cake tin and turn it out, serving it as wedges, or it could go into a terrine or bread tin and be served in slices.

If you're lucky, you might have a firm enough mixture to hold up on its own as it is now, in which case you could serve it like that. But this is unlikely. And in any case you might want to serve it frozen.

Either transfer to an ice-cream maker if you've got one (not that it seems to need much churning or stirring at all), or freeze it in the 'suitable' dish(es). When you serve it, it should be just able to hold its own shape and not collapse into a sludgy puddle, so if it's rock hard, you'll have to let it thaw a bit before serving.

Finely chop the pistachio nuts and blend with the almond paste (you might feel like putting a bit of green colouring and/or pistachio extract in - that's up to your conscience). Roll out the paste and use it to wrap the cassata for serving.



Chilli Sweet Potato Gratin

(serves 6 to 8)

Preheat oven to 190°C


In a large saucepan simmer enchilada sauce, water, chillies and garlic with salt to taste, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Peel potatoes and cut crosswise into 5 mm thick slices.

In a shallow baking dish layer one fourth of potatoes in concentric circles, overlapping slightly, and sprinkle with some of the cheese. Continue to layer remaining potatoes and cheese in same manner, ending with cheese.

Some chopped nuts can be added to one of the layers to give some variation in texture.

Pour sauce slowly over potatoes, letting it seep between layers, and bake gratin set in a shallow baking pan (it may bubble over) in middle of oven 1 hour, or until potatoes are tender. Gratin may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat gratin, covered, in oven.



Pea Fritters

These are a lot nicer than they sound, and look fab. They're like a bright green scotch pancake! You might want to make double this recipe, as it's virtually impossible not to eat half of them as they come out of the pan!

Blanch the peas in boiling water for no more than a minute. Set aside 50g of the peas.

In a food processor or blender, blend 200g of the peas with the egg until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl, season, and fold in some of the flour until you end up with a light batter - you might not need all the flour.

Heat a frying pan over a moderate heat. Pour some relatively flavourless oil into the pan, swirl it round and then pour most of it off again. Like cooking pancakes, you only need the smallest amount of fat.

With a large spoon pour in the pea batter to make rounds about 6 cm in diameter and about 6-8 mm deep. Fry gently, but don't let them colour too much.

Drain on kitchen roll & eat.



Thai Fishcakes

Whiz the fish (skinned of course!), egg, coriander, sugar and curry paste in the food processor until smooth.

Combine the mixture with the beans.

Sometimes, I find when moulding the cakes that there isquite a lot of liquid in the mix (maybe I put some fish sauce or something in as well). Now would be a good point to give it a good squeeze to remove some of the liquid.

Roll the mixture into balls (probably about 2 level tbsp per ball) and flatten them slightly.

Deep fry fish cakes until well browned and cooked.

Now throw away a pan full of fishy oil.



Steamed glutinous rice with coconut

Put the rice into a bowl, add water to cover and leave at least 4 hours or overnight.

When the rice has soaked, drain it.

Put the rice onto a sheet of muslin and wrap it up. Steam, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile gently fry the chilli, ginger, lemon grass, spring onion and garlic, but keep them soft and fresh. You can add other vegetables or even thin strips of meat, but don't overdo it.  You can also mix the vegetables in with the rice before steaming. It's not the same, but I can't say which method is really the better., though the latter is easier and one less pan to wash up.

When the rice is cooked, plop it into a bowl and gently mix in the coconut milk and nuoc nam. Try not to break up the rice too much. When the rice has loosened slightly (it will have been a sticky congealed lump when you took it out of the steamer), add the other ingredients and stir them in.

You could at this stage set it aside and reheat in a steamer later when you want it.  If you want to be really posh, wrap it in banana leaves before re-steaming.



French Onion Soup

Take about 2 to 2.5 pounds of ordinary onions and slice them thinly (this will look like far too much onion, but don't worry it will cook down to about a quarter of its bulk, if not less). Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, add oil and butter. Add about a third of the onions, and sprinkle a dessert-spoon of sugar over. Repeat twice. Cook for a few minutes, then stir. Crush a large clove of garlic and add it along with a generous pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of tomato purée. Then let it cook gently, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked down to a caramel colour. (You will become very hungry during this process on account of the smell of onions cooking).

Turn up the heat and add a glass or two of white wine, and maybe even a dash of brandy. Let that bubble away for a minute or so and add a pint and a half of good stock (beef stock, particularly with a bit of cowheel or pigs trotter in to add a bit of gelatine, gives the most lip-smacking, rib-sticking results, but any good stock will do.) If you're using a lighter stock such as chicken or vegetable, you might want to make use of one of garlic's many magic properties - to thicken the stock and hence the soup (fry the peeled, sliced cloves from about 3 small bulbs of garlic gently for 10-15 minutes, taking care not to let them brown, add them to about 5 pints of water or stock and simmer for 30-40 minutes, by which time the garlic will probably have virtually dissolved: if it hasn't blitz it in a blender). Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

To serve, put in oven proof serving dishes and add slices of French bread, sprinkle with grated gruyere cheese and either put in a hot oven or under the grill until the cheese starts to colour and bubble.

After all that, you really are just as well going to buy Marks & Spencer's Fresh French Onion Soup, which is nearly as good, and probably much cheaper.  (Well, that was the case around 2000 - don't know what it's like now.)




Vanilla Vodka

Take one bottle of cheap (but 40% or higher) vodka. Open it. Drop two vanilla pods in. Close the bottle, and leave it in the cupboard for between three and five days, shaking it every now and then. Don't leave the vanilla in too long, or it becomes too powerful.

Empty into a jug, remove the vanilla pods (which can be left to dry out [hic!] and used for whatever else you like to use vanilla pods for) and pour the pale brown vodka back into the bottle.





South-East Asian Gastrique

A gastrique is a sauce made from caramel and vinegar, often served with meat, especially pork. Apparently there is a Vietnamese version, and this one falls somewhere between the two. For a similar recipe, have a look at a recipe for a pork tournedos with blackberry gastrique.

Put three ounces of ordinary white sugar in a small saucepan and over a medium to high heat, let it caramelise. It should turn a mid brown, approximately the colour of the fish sauce (nuoc nam or similar) which you are about to add to it. So add about four tablespoons of fish sauce, but be careful as it is quite likely to splatter and molten sugar will give you a really nasty burn. Best let an adult do this bit.

Reduce the heat to just below medium and add the shallot, garlic and ginger. Allow to cook gently for 5 minutes or so.

Stir in the sherry vinegar and citrus juice.

If you want to enrich the sauce and westernise it a bit, you can stir in about 1.5 to 2 ounces of butter before serving. (Monter au beurre, as they say.)





Grandma's scones

My grandma's scones were always very popular. Several batches seemed to be made every week. They always went down well with us in the family, but were apparently rapidly devoured by the Mothers' Union at St Paul's in Marton, Blackpool.

Nobody was quite sure why they were so popular, until we found the recipe ... (note the amount of sugar!)

No instructions are given, other than bake at Gas Mark 7. So here's my instructions:

Cut the marge into the flour to which has been added a pinch of salt.

Beat the egg lightly and add with the sugar and raisins. Of course you can reduce the amount of sugar to "normal" proportions, but then they'll not be grandma's scones.

Add just enough milk to make a very stiff dough. Don't overwork the dough. Roll out, or preferably just flatten out with your hand, to a thickness of about half an inch.

Cut out and bake in a hot oven till done.



Whiskey and Ginger Pickled Herrings

6 spanking fresh herrings, scaled and filleted

First of all you need to "cure" the herrings a bit - this effectively dissolves all those nasty little bones, and part "cooks" the herring. Prepare a brine from equal quantities of vinegar (anything sort of vinegar other than malt vinegar) and water - say half pint vinegar and half pint water to which has been added about half a cup of salt. Pour the brine over the herring and leave in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours.

Discard the curing brine and wash the herrings well to remove the salt. Cut each fillet into two.

Put the wine vinegar and water into a saucepan, bring to the boil. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar mix, and leave to cool. When cool add the bourbon and other ingredients.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the herring, ensuring the solid ingredients are well dispersed.

Put it all in the fridge for 3 days.

To serve, with a slotted spoon allow some of the solid ingredients to drain a little, then place in the middle of the plate. Allowing about three of the herring pieces per person, place the herring on top of the onion, apple and carrot. Top with a few salad leaves, dressed with a little olive or walnut oil only. Serve with triangles of Swedish rye bread.



Chilli Jam

A good substitute for a tomato ketchup or chutney, where a little more fiery-ness is required. This is my recollection of what I saw Paul Rankin cook once on TV.

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, cover and leave to stew over a low flame for two or three hours, stirring occasionally.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and process till all is combined and it's a relatively smooth mix.

Sieve to remove the chilli seeds.

Goes well with the Thai fish cakes.



Digestive Biscuits 

Scribbled down in haste while watching Gary Rhodes bake them on television.  If G. Rhodes Inc thinks this breaks his copyright, then please contact me asap and I'll remove this.

Mix together.

Rub in 100g butter chopped into small cubes, as for making pastry

Add c. 1 tbsp milk (not sure how necessary this is - I added about 0.5 tbsp and it made it rather claggy and I did wonder if it might have been easier to handle without it)

Roll out to 2mm thickness between two sheets of cling film (getting two sheets of cling film flat on the worksurface was the most difficult part of the whole operation)

Cut them out with a digestive biscuit sized cutter, pop them on a lightly greased baking sheet (one of those non-stick sheets on a roll worked well for me)

Bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 mins.

He said that you could refrigerate before cutting out as that could make it easier, but it didn't seem worth the effort.

If you want chocolate digestive biscuits, let them cool, then melt some dark chocolate and cream together and apply the chocolate to the biscuits with a palette knife or some other suitable utensil.





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Last updated: 9 July 2011