Pear and Goat’s Cheese Salad with Quick Pickled Onions

pears

I love pickled stuff.  This salad was lunch a few days ago, the pears were so ripe I could smell them every time I walked past the fruit bowl.

This ‘salad’ really is just cutting stuff and arranging it on a plate – except for the pickle bit, which you can absolutely not bother with and it will still be delicious.

I thinly sliced two rings from a red onion, set them in a bowl and tossed them with about half a teaspoon of salt and set them to one side.  Next up, two small pears cut fairly thin and a couple of chunks from a roll of Kidderton Ash goat’s cheese, it’s delicate mould-fluff has speckles of black ash and it is delicious.  Of course other goat’s cheese would be just as lovely, so would some salty feta (although in this instance I would not pickle the onions), brie, halloumi, roquefort.. many cheeses.

By now the onions had left a little pink juice in the bowl.  I shook them off and plucked apart the rings to lay over the pears and cheese.  Drizzle over some honey, a little balsamic vinegar and crack some black pepper.  Finito!

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Blackberry Flaugnarde

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Just in time for the weekend! This would be pretty amazeballs after a Sunday lunch. Apparently you’re not supposed to accompany a flaugnarde, not even a little cream.  In my mind though, it’s starting to get a little cold outside so some softly whipped cream would be a delight.

Most importantly though – this dessert is simple. S.I.M.P.L.E. You mix together four ingredients, pour it over fruit and the oven does the rest. That’s it. Done. Finito. Means you can get on with your weekend relaxing, lounging in pyjamas (can’t be just me, can it?) And still be rewarded!

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I ended up using 450g blackberries cause they’re so damn delicious right now, but you could use cherries (which would turn this flaugnarde into a clafoutis!) or blueberries.. some raspberries.. Go for it.
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So. This recipe really should sort out four of you.. especially if you’re taking me up on that cream offer.. but the two of us hungrily devoured it. Oops.

Four big tablespoons of plain flour (or 1/2 C)
Five big tablespoons of caster sugar (or 1/2 C) and some extra for dusting
3 eggs
1 capful of almond extract (I mean it’s lid.. not a cup, dear god!)
350ml milk
450g blackberries
Icing sugar for flinging on top whilst it’s hot

Set the oven to work, about 180c.
Grab your dish.. the flaugnarde will rise in the oven and then settle down so choose something that will hold all the fruit and have a little extra height.  Butter the dish and dust it with sugar.
Turf in the fruit.
Add the flour and sugar to a mixing bowl and stir it together. Add the three eggs and mix it well but quickly, overworked flour goes rubbery.
Add the almond extract and the milk.
stir it all together and pour over the fruit.
Into the oven for about 40 minutes but keep an eye on her.

flaugnard

Eat it hot, warm, cold.. just eat it. I’m off to make another one.

No. Really.

Blood Orange Curd

blood-oranges-cut (1)Guys, it’s been one of those weeks two of those weeks. I just don’t know what happened. Every time I set out to cook something or to bake something I managed to sabotage it.

I’d been lusting over the blood oranges in season and was determined to make a *deep breath* double-stuffed-blood-orange-meringue-pie-with-a-pistachio-biscuit-base-and-tall-Italian-meringue (scented with orange blossom water). I made it, and it was a thing of beauty, but I was impatient. An hour after it was out of the oven I unclicked the ring of the tin – because I didn’t want any biscuity sides on my pie – and lifted it away to watch the still hot and absolutely not set filling slide outwards. I was too angry to cry.

 

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I absolutely stuffed in a few hot forkfuls in the hopes that it would taste the way I hoped (it did!).

The week went on and I didn’t feel like cooking anything when I got home – let alone trying to photograph it in the late afternoon in a basement flat.
(The idea of wrestling with low lighting just made me sink into the sofa).

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Then last week I sat down with a wonderful woman I work with. We’ve been saying for six months how we should run a Supper Club because we love to cook, love to feed people and are constantly disappointed by restaurants within our price range.

We’re going for it! We’re doing a Portuguese supper club and it’s given me the kick up the rear I needed to leave my pity party and get back in the kitchen!

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Portuguese dessert prep has begun and as a result I have a multitude of egg yolks hanging around, but what to do with my hoard of blood oranges? Curd of course! To fend off this typically British spring weather.

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Blood Orange Curd

Makes approximately 1 cup – I doubled it

3 blood oranges
1/4 cup of sugar
5 egg yolks
113g butter

Zest and juice all the oranges.
Put everything in a small saucepan.
Put it on a low heat, whisk constantly and watch it like a hawk.
As soon as it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leave a line in, it’s done!
Pack it up and let it cool.
I ate mine on digestive biscuits. It was one of those days!

Silver Dollar Pancakes

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I’m better late than never, right?

I was pretty excited that Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day!) fell on my day off.  So excited that I didn’t even manage to have pancakes.  I know – such unbidden excitement is a rare and annoying, disappointing beautiful thing.

It’s ok.  I just had them for breakfast today instead when everyone else had gone back to boring Weetabix. Hah.

There are many pancake recipes out there.  A hoard, if you will (and that’s a lot), but  I just can’t bring myself to make the flat dense English pancakes.  Can’t and won’t.  They will always be American Hotcakes in my house.

When I was younger (over twenty years ago), it would be a ‘treat’ supper for me, which meant an easy one for my Mama.  A stack of fat fluffy hotcakes with crispy bacon, maple syrup and extra butter.  We never really had them for breakfast, that’s become my adult waking ‘treat’.  Particularly if I sneak in some chocolate chips and a banana.

They don’t take any special ingredients.  You can sour the milk, or use buttermilk if you like.  Sometimes I do, today I didn’t.  Everything else will be in residence in your kitchen cupboards.  The best way to cook them is in a cast iron frying pan with bravery – no oil and no butter!  I imagine a non-stick Teflon magic frying pan would work, I just don’t own one.

Pancake batter in the pan

The Silver Dollar part refers to the size of them, one serving spoon of batter (two tablespoons) make one pancake.  They’re dainty and because of this you can have a piled high stack and feel special without complaining of carb overload.  Of course you can make them larger, make them as big as you can handle!  I’m not a tosser I’m afraid, I can barely move the cast iron pan around the kitchen let alone making it loop-the-loop with my wrist.

Flipped silver dollar pancakes

I have a feeling that this well used family recipe came from a 1950’s copy of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  It is about three inches thick and has a red gingham print on the cover.  It’s such a battered copy, but it’s a wonderful cook book.  No messing around, it wins with every recipe.

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top-view-pancake-stack

I got 26 silver dollar sized pancakes from this

1 1/4 cup of plain flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
4 tbsp caster sugar (make it 1 if you don’t want them a little sweet. More if you want them really sweet)
1 cup of milk
1 beaten egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Mixed berries and honey

Put your cast iron pan on low to warm up. If it goes higher it will be too hot because they really hold the heat! Other pans I’d say medium to low – better be on the safe side.

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk it around to remove any lumps.

Mix together the wet stuff and make sure the egg is well incorporated.

Add the wet to the dry – mix it gently until the dry ingredients are wet.  Do not worry about lumps, and for God’s sake don’t beat it until it’s smooth!  The pancakes will come out like rubber.  Yuck.

Add serving spoons of batter to the pan, I managed to fit three or four in mine at once.

Wait for a few bubbles to appear, with a fish slice/flipper lift an edge gently to see if it’s nicely brown.  Mine took just over a minute on the first side.

Flip them over one by one and give them another minute.  You can always lift to peek at their progress.

I stacked mine up with a little honey and a berry or two between each and threw some extra honey on top and berries on the side for good measure.

Eaton Mess.

Last Saturday I had finished work at 4pm.  I was loitering at the bar with a G&T (Sipsmith’s, delicious!) when a friend – who always seems in a permanent hustle – breezed in.  I’m not good with time off – I don’t know what to do – so I told said friend they would be coming home with me for chats and dinner.

On Saturday night, even though I don’t get the same weekend as other working folk (bar staff and other shift workers will know my plight), I still wanted Saturday-Night-a-Little-Bit-Special-Dinner.  Also, had company.  Must make a little effort.

It was Smothered Potatoes with lemon greens and STEAK.  What better to follow a hunk of peppery protein than mounds of cream, meringue, fruit and nuts.

The only effort required here is the whipping.  Maybe cutting the strawberries in half could be included but it all happened alongside conversation and the continued consumption of gin.  (At home it was Edinburgh gin, always with Fever Tree tonic).

So, to Mess!  This ended up being enough to serve six people.  I cannot cook for two.  I don’t know how.

1 300ml tub whipping cream
1 300ml tub crème fraîche
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (essence would work)
8 small meringue nests – mine were from Waitrose
3 Cadbury’s crunchie bars bashed up in their packets with a rolling pin
1 punnet of strawberries – tops off and halved
1 punnet of blackberries
1 punnet of blueberries
200g flaked almonds

So, while you’re standing around in the kitchen talking up a storm pop the whipping cream into a bowl big enough to hold everything by the end (or do it in a stand mixer and have more dishes to wash). Whip your cream until it makes peaks, not too stiff. You want it to fall from a spoon with just a little coercion. Fold in the vanilla.
After this, crumble in the meringue with your hands. Pour the crème fraîche on top. Add the crunchie mess, the fruit and the almonds. Fold everything gently.

Done. Dish up and retreat to the sofa so when the cream coma hits you’re in a safe place.