Monday, 25 April 2011

Tiramisu Trifle

No Meal Planning Monday for me today as I've had a busy couple of weeks and feel all cooked out. I know that tonight we're having Souffled Macaroni Cheese and tomorrow it's the Roasted Pepper, Pancetta and Mascarpone Risotto that I never got around to making last week but beyond that it's anyone's guess!

Instead, though, I can tell you about this fantastic Tiramisu Trifle that I made at the weekend. This is just perfect for high days and holidays at any time of year. I've made it many times at Christmas and it went down very well at our outdoor barbeque yesterday.

The custard and mascarpone make it rich and creamy and the Amaretto/coffee combination make it smell amazing and taste even better. Oh, and of course it's easy to make too!

Tiramisu Trifle
(adapted from Good Food Magazine, January 2003)

1/2 pint/300ml strong coffee
6 fl oz/175ml amaretto
500g tub mascarpone
500g fresh vanilla custard
9 oz/250g sponge fingers
3 oz/85g dark chocolate, chopped, plus extra to decorate
4 tbsp toasted flaked almonds

1) Pour the coffee and Amaretto into a wide dish.

2) Whisk the mascarpone and custard together using a hand whisk or blender.

3) Take a third of the biscuits and dip each one in the coffee/Amaretto mixture and then place in the bottom of a 2 litre serving dish.

4) Sprinkle a third of the grated chocolate over the biscuit layer and then follow with a third of the mascarpone and custard mixture. Repeat this process twice more to create three distinct layers.

5) Place the trifle in the fridge and leave for at least two hours or overnight.

6) Just before serving, sprinkle the trifle with the almonds and extra chopped chocolate.

Serves 8 - 10 generously

Monday, 18 April 2011

Meal Planning Mondays - 18 April 2011

Just a quick post this week. As I mentioned last week I had accumulated enough recipes on my to-do list to last me a couple of weeks so it didn't take too much time to put together my meal plan for this week.

Hopefully I'll find the time to fit in a bit of baking too. I've already made a banana loaf today and no doubt Easter Nests will be part of the program at the weekend.

Monday - Cottage Pie and Veg - meant for yesterday but we enjoyed a lovely day by the sea which included an excessive amount of fish and chips for lunch and so the pie was put in on hold until today

Tuesday - Chicken and Leek Pie and veg

Wednesday - Asparagus, Ham and Cheese Tarts with Salad and Potatoes followed by Lime and Passionfruit Meringue Pie

Saturday - Tomato Pasta

Sunday - Easter Sunday so Roast Dinner and lots of chocolate!

So what are you cooking this week?

Monday, 11 April 2011

Meal Planning Mondays - 11 April 2011

Ever since Mrs M began posting her weekly meal plans on her blog, At Home with Mrs M, I've been intending to follow suit, however life, as always, has got in the way and this only my second post on the subject. I meant to post my meal plan last week but I'd just returned from a few days holiday and was still in that "really wish someone else was doing the cooking" phase and my foodie mojo was nowhere to be seen. I've since spent some quality time with a generous pile of cookbooks and now have a to-cook list that should last me a couple of weeks.

So, the plan this week is as follows:

Monday - I am out having dinner cooked for me - hurrah

Wednesday - Smoked Mackerel & Salad

Thursday - Out again to celebrate my husband's birthday and my parent's visit - double hurrah. I think we've decided to go to The White Horse in Whepstead, just outside Bury St Edmunds

Friday - Potato, Bacon and Blue Cheese salad - stolen, I confess, from Mrs M's meal plan last week. I made this week last week and liked it so much that I intend to make it again already.

Saturday - Gnocchi with pesto, chicken and tomatoes

Sunday - Cottage Pie and Veg. After a lot of searching I finally have a go-to recipe for this which I must blog about sometime soon.

I will also do a pudding at some point but I'm not sure what yet. I loved the Lemon Meringue Pie I made on Saturday so much (please don't ask how much of it I ate) that I may make it again, or maybe the Chocolate Key Lime Pie I made a few weeks ago. Or maybe I'll just find something new!

What are you planning on cooking this week? Do let me know by leaving a comment or, if you've done your own blog post, add it to the bottom of Mrs M's weekly post.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

Wow, the weather here in Suffolk has been fantastic for the last few days and today we even dusted off and fired up the barbeque. I was looking for a light springtime pudding to follow the burgers and sausages and decided that a meringue pie would be the way to go. I considered one of my all-time favourite desserts, Rhubarb Meringue Pie, but in the end decided to try the classic lemon version instead as I've never actually made this from scratch before. I don't know why as it's another one of my favourite desserts with it's wonderful mix of flavours and textures.

I searched through a few cookbooks and eventually found a recipe I liked the look of (I found one in the Hummingbird Cookbook but it used 8 lemons - 8!). The following recipe only needs 3 lemons (which was handy as that was all I had) and produced a pie that served four generously with almost half of the pie left for later.

I was really pleased with how this turned out. The lemon filling stayed nice and firm, even when the pie was still warm, and the generous layer of sugar on top of the meringue, which gave it a wonderful crunch, was an inspired touch. Perfect for a sunny day in the garden.

Baking Beans

Lemon Meringue Pie
(adapted from The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis)

140g/5oz plain flour
70g/2 1/2 oz butter, cut into small cubes
Cold water

Juice and zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
300ml/10 fl oz water
45g/1 1/2 oz cornflour
3 large egg yolks
60g/2oz butter, cut into small pieces
80g/2 1/2 oz vanilla caster sugar (I just used regular caster sugar)

3 large egg whites
120g/4oz vanilla caster sugar (as above)

1) Grease a 23cm fluted tart tin and preheat the oven to 190c/375 fan/gas mark 5.

2) Make the pastry by rubbing the butter and flour together until you have fine crumbs, or blitz them together in a food processor. Then gradually add the cold water until the dough begins to clump together. You should need approximately two tablespoons of water. Once you have a single ball of dough wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

3) Roll out the dough on a floured surface (or use my no-mess-no-stress method and roll it out between two sheets of cling film) and use to line the tart tin then put the tin back in the fridge for another 20-30 minutes.

4) When you're ready to bake the pastry, line the tin with baking parchment or foil and fill with baking beans (see picture above), or dried rice or lentils, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the parchment/foil and beans and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Leave to cool.

5) Make the filling by putting the lemon zest and juice in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (a double boiler). Add the cornflour and whisk in with 2 tablespoons of the water until you have a smooth paste. Bring the remaining water to the boil, add to the lemon mixture and keep whisking over simmering water until the mixture is thick and bubbling (my mixture thickened up as soon as I added the water). Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs yolks, sugar and butter. Leave to cool slightly.

6) Make the meringue by whisking the egg whites until stiff and then adding a third of the sugar. Whisk again until stiff, fold in another third of the sugar and fold it in with a metal spoon. Spread the lemon mixture over the pastry, top with the meringue and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving (and it is just as good when cold).

Serves 6 generously

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Egg and Bacon Pie

Look at this for a great weeknight supper. A tortilla/frittata of sorts but cooked in the oven rather than in a pan on the hob. There are a few stages to the recipe so it takes a little while to prepare but once all the component parts have been prepared you can just put it in the oven and relax. I should point out, though, that this did NOT take the 20 minutes to cook stated in the recipe, not even close! This one was in the oven for 40 minutes and still wasn't set in the middle (and my tin was definitely the right size). In the end I gave up and put it under the grill for a few minutes to finish if off.

Don't be put off though, this is a great, filling dish with a good balance of carbs, protein and veggies so you could serve it just as it is if you wanted to. Otherwise a nice salad on the side would be great too. Just make sure you all some extra cooking time when planning your evening!

You can find the recipe here on the the Delicious Magazine website.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Hotel Chocolat - Easter Egg Review

I was very excited to find another delicious parcel on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago - a fabulous Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg.

This particular specimen goes by the name of The Eggsibitionist, which is one of Hotel Chocolat's fantastic range of Extra Thick Easter Eggs. Wrapped up in a handsome, sturdy box and bound with black ribbon, it consists of a chunky milk chocolate Easter Egg cleverly hiding a dozen dinky little miniature eggs. The mini eggs come in six varieties...

Caramel Egg - Liquid caramel in a 50% milk chocolate shell

Milk Praline Egg - Smooth hazelnut praline in a 40% milk chocolate shell

Mousse au Chocolat Egg - Dark and rich chocolate ganache in a 70% dark chocolate shell

Strawberry Egg - Sweet white chocolate shell covering a delicious strawberry ganache

Vanilla Custard Egg - Soft and custardy vanilla ganache in a smooth milk chocolate shell

Chocolate Brownie Egg - Milk chocolate shell surrounding hazelnut praline and cocoa crispies

Don't ask me to pick a favourite - they were all equally gorgeous!

The egg itself is a wonderfully thick shell made from Hotel Chocolat's classic milk chocolate. which I think is fast becoming my favourite. It's milk chocolate without a doubt but with just a hint of darkness in the background to counterbalance the sweetness.

This egg was a real hit with me and my husband (I generously shared some of it!) and, although not the cheapest egg on the market, with 400g of chocolate in the box you do get a lot for your money. If you're looking for something special to buy someone who loves chocolate this Easter then this would fit the bill perfectly.

You can find details of the full range of Hotel Chocolat's Easter Eggs and Easter Gifts here.