My sister made this wonderful lemon pudding for a special occasion. Adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe, this pudding cooks in layers with a soft lemon custard underneath and a light cake texture on top.
To make enough for 8, cream 100g (3½ oz) of butter with 230g (8 oz) of sugar and the finely grated zest of 2 lemons. Add 4 egg yolks and 110g (4 oz) of self-raising flour and combine well before adding the juice of the 2 lemons and 600ml (20 fl oz) of low-fat milk. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold the rest of the mix gently into the egg whites until fully incorporated. Pour into a buttered oven dish and place the dish in an oven tray with water coming half-way up the sides. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.
These beef and lamb koftas are simple to make and taste great cooked on a BBQ.
Combine lamb mince with double the amount of beef mince. Add crushed garlic, cumin powder, mild paprika, parsley, a handful of breadcrumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Shape into long meatballs and cook over medium heat until just cooked through.
For some fiery heat use this home-made harissa as a condiment. Soak 40g (1½ oz) of Chinese long red dried chillis for at least half an hour. Roast and grind 1½ tablespoons of cumin seeds and 1½ tablespoons of coriander seeds. Finely dice 4 cloves of garlic. Drain the chillies and place in a food processor with the spices, garlic, salt to taste, 2 roasted red peppers, ½ a cup of tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Process while adding ½ cup or more of good extra virgin olive oil until a good consistency is achieved. This keeps well in a jar if there is enough oil to cover the top of the chillies.
Try the koftas with this fragrant couscous.
Dice 6 dates and set aside in a bowl with ½ a cup of currants. In a large fry-pan toast ½ a cup of slivered almonds and add them to the dates and currants. Using the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add 2 cups of couscous. Stir to coat the couscous in oil and toast it a little then set aside in the bowl with the almonds and fruit. Wash and cut 285g (10 oz) of green beans into short lengths. Heat some more olive oil in the pan and add the beans. Cover and cook, tossing occasionally, for 4 minutes. Meanwhile grate some orange rind into the bowl of couscous then juice the orange and set aside. Boil 2 cups of water. Uncover the beans and add the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and continue to cook until the couscous is quite dry and separate. Serve garnished with fresh mint.
A great combination of prawns (shrimps) and broccolini with saffron, chilli, capers and lemon.
As usual I cooked this risotto in a pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can achieve the same result by traditional methods. I used 400g (14 oz) of arborio rice and 4 cups of chicken stock. First preheat the stock adding ¼ of a teaspoon of saffron threads and ½ a teaspoon of salt. Meanwhile heat a little olive oil and add the rice, stirring to coat it, and cook until the rice turns opaque. If cooking by a more traditional method you would add the stock slowly but for pressure cooking add it all at once. Close the pressure cooker and allow the pressure to build then lower the heat and cook for exactly 7 minutes. Cool the pressure cooker under cold water to open. If the rice is still too wet continue to cook on low heat until the consistency is correct. Meanwhile, in another pan, gently fry some garlic in olive oil then add a bunch of broccolini (a hybrid of broccoli and kale) washed and cut into short lengths. Add crushed dried chillies to taste and stir well. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the broccolini is starting to soften. Remove the lid and add prawns (6-8 per person). When the prawns are just cooked combine this mixture with the rice and add a handful of capers, 8 thin half slices of lemon, ½ a cup of finely grated pecorino cheese and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir to combine and serve immediately.
Serve this simple filo pie hot with cream or ice cream as a winter dessert or cold at any time of day.
Butter a pie dish. If you prefer this can also be made as a free-form pie on a flat baking sheet. Line the bottom and sides of the dish with at least 6-8 sheets of filo pastry, brushing every second one with a mixture of butter and oil. Peel, core and dice 6 sweet apples and place in a bowl with 1½ cups of frozen or fresh raspberries, 1-2 cups of almond meal (this will absorb the juice which comes out of the fruit), ½ a cup of sugar (or more to taste), and the grated rind and juice of half a lemon. Mix well and transfer to the pie dish. For the top, crumple some sheets of filo pastry making sure they are a few layers thick and leave a few holes for the steam to escape. Brush or drizzle with more butter and oil mix and bake in a moderate oven until the filo pastry is crunchy and golden.
My husband David cooked this perfect piece of salmon on a delicious bed of mash.
Preheat the oven and warm the plates. For the mash, dice an onion and finely dice 2 cloves of garlic. Fry them gently in some olive oil until soft and translucent then set aside. Steam potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potato (more potato than the others) until soft. Mash them with butter, ground black and white pepper and salt then stir through the onion and garlic mix. Keep warm in the oven. Heat oil and butter in a pan until hot but not smoking. Season the fish with salt and pepper and pan-fry with the skin side down. After 3-3½ minutes (depending on the thickness of the fillet) add a splash of white wine and turn the fish, cooking for another 3-3½ minutes. In these last few minutes of cooking prepare the plates with some mash on each and when the fish is cooked lay it on the mash skin-side down. Keep warm in the oven. Using the same pan, add a little more oil, some diced tomatoes, sliced spring onions and fresh thyme. Cook until just softening then add a splash of white wine. Top each piece of fish with some of this mixture. Serve with a fresh green salad.
Simple and satisfying this meal is perfect for an alfresco lunch or, in smaller portions, as a first course.
Wash, peel and halve a bunch of baby beets. Place them in a shallow saucepan, season with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the beets are tender. Remove and allow to cool retaining any cooking liquid. Arrange some lettuce leaves around the edge of each plate adding sliced fresh tomatoes, cucumber, salad onion, walnuts and the baby beets. Toast 1 piece of bread per person (I used a good sourdough rye) and top with a generous amount of soft white goat cheese (chèvre). Place under a hot grill until the cheese is just beginning to brown a little. Meanwhile add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar and 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard to the cooking liquid from the beets. Whisk and season to taste before spooning over the salad. Place the toast with grilled goat cheese in the centre of the salad to serve.
Before leaving Vietnam it would be remiss of me not to mention the sweet courses which are not necessarily eaten after dinner but often as an afternoon snack.
Some of the most popular desserts are chè, a term which describes sweet drinks, soups and puddings. The various ones I tried were multi-textured, delicious and not too sweet. They are often made with azuki beans, black-eyed peas, mung beans, red beans, glutinous rice, tapioca, taro, or cassava. Other ingredients include lotus seeds, corn, sesame seeds, peanuts, tofu and water chestnuts. Coconut milk is often used as flavouring, many tropical fruits and sometimes ginger or honey. Jelly and tapioca pearls provide texture as well. Here is a typical chè with jelly, tapioca pearls, water chestnut and coconut milk.
Thạch or jellies, like in most Asian countries, are made with agar-agar which has a firmer texture than gelatine and less springiness in the mouth.