FENNEL SALAD


FENNEL SALAD


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 cup (225 ml) of blueberries
  • 1/4 cup (56 ml) olive oil
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • salt, QB
  • pepper, QB
  • Wash your fennel, cut off stems and fronds. Discard the stems, set the fronds aside for a garnish if you want. With a mandolin or a knife cut the fennel bulb into very thin slices. Dice a small red onion. Put them both into a mixing bowl. Add blueberries. Now add olive oil, juice of an orange, salt, pepper. and mix it together. This can be made in advance or served immediately. The fennel won’t lose its firmness and will absorb the flavors. If you want, you can garnish with some of the fronds. I often substitute pomegranate seeds when in season, for the blueberries. It gives the dish a beautiful color and adds a nice crunch and tartness.

Zucchini Meatballs


Zucchini Meatballs


INGREDIENTS:

Meatballs:

  • 3 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup/250 ml smoked scamorza, cubed, or as much as you need
  • 1 cup/250 ml Pecorino cheese, cubed
  • Small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup/250 ml bread crumbs, plus extra for coating
  • 1 1/2 cups/375 ml extra-virgin olive oil, for frying

Tomato Salad:

  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup/50 ml extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  • For the meatballs: Add the chopped zucchini to salted boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain the excess water from the zucchini. Transfer the zucchini to a baking dish and allow to cool. Squeeze out the excess water from the boiled zucchini.
  • In a mixing bowl, add the zucchini, scamorza cheese, Pecorino cheese, fresh mint leaves, eggs, and bread crumbs. Mix well until the ingredients are evenly distributed. With your hands, shape the meatballs into the size of golf balls. Coat the meatballs in the bread crumbs.
  • Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan. Gently place the meatballs into the hot oil and let fry until golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with an absorbent paper towel to drain the excess oil. Serve with the tomato salad.
  • To make the tomato salad: Add the cherry tomatoes, basil, and salt to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and mix together.

Tomato sauce (salsa)


 

Tomato sauce (salsa)


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (60ml)
  • 28oz canned peeled plum tomatoes, pureed (790g)
  • dried chili peppers, crushed
  • 5 basil leaves, torn
  • Salt to season
  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add onion, garlic, and chili peppers. Gently fry ingredients together.
  • Add pureed plum tomatoes to saucepan. Simmer on low to medium heat for 10 minutes.
  • Salt to season. Add basil leaves at the very end.

The best cherry & chocolate cheesecake


The best cherry & chocolate cheesecake


I’ve used cherries here because they take two things that are already delicious together – cheesecake and chocolate – to a whole new level. You really can’t beat a good cheesecake and this one is mega.


Ingredients:

For the cheesecake:
150 g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
300 g dark chocolate digestives
100 g golden caster sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
900 g full-fat cream cheese
2 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic
100 ml double cream
1 orange
50 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
For the cherries
300 g dried sour cherries
3 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
1 orange
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
1 splash rum, brandy or grappa
For the chocolate sauce:
100 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
200 ml single cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 24cm springform cake tin with butter. 
  2. Finely crumble the biscuits into a bowl then mix in the melted butter. When it’s well combined, spoon it into the cake tin, spread it evenly so it covers the base, then press it down. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, then let it cool. Turn the oven up to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. 
  3. To prepare the cherries, add them to a pan with the sugar, the zest of the orange, the juice of half, and the cinnamon. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and put them to one side. Add a splash of rum and the vanilla pod to the pan, then put it on a low-to-medium heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and leave to cool. 
  4. To make the cheesecake, combine the sugar and cornflour in a bowl, then add the cream cheese and beat well. Add the eggs and beat again until the mixture is smooth and light. Slowly beat in the cream, then add the reserved vanilla seeds and zest of the orange, and beat again. 
  5. Using a slotted spoon, take half the cherries out of the pan and gently fold them into the cheesecake mix with the chocolate. Spoon this over the biscuit base, and gently shake the cake tin to level out the surface. Pop a few cherries on top and gently press them in. Scoop the remaining cherries and juices into a small bowl to serve with the cheesecake. 
  6. Put the cheesecake in the centre of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is lightly brown and the edges have set. If it looks like it’s browning too much, cover the top with some tin foil for the rest of the cooking time. When the time’s up, take the cake out of the oven and either leave it to cool at room temperature, or, if you like your cheesecake really firm, pop it in the fridge until completely chilled. 
  7. Just before serving, make the chocolate sauce. Pour the single cream into a small pan and place over a low heat. Cook until it just starts to bubble, then add the chocolate and whisk gently until it has all melted. 
  8. Serve your gorgeous cheesecake with the bowl of reserved cherries and a jug of warm chocolate sauce on the side so people can drizzle over as much or as little as they like.

Beef Stew


Beef Stew


SERVINGS: 4


Chocolate & beetroot cake


Chocolate & beetroot cake


Tip: 
Flavour wise beetroot is sweet, which is why even though its a vegetable it works really well in cakes. You can grate it by hand using a box grater, if you prefer, depending on how much time you have.


Ingredients:

olive oil
plain flour, for dusting
300 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
250 g raw beetroot
4 large free-range eggs
150 g golden caster sugar
120 g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon good-quality cocoa powder
natural yoghurt, to serve

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

2. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm springform cake tin with olive oil.

3. Use scissors to cut out a circle of greaseproof paper, roughly the same size as the bottom of the tin, and use it to line the base.

4. Dust the sides of the tin lightly with flour, then tap the tin to get rid of any excess.

5. Break 200g of the chocolate up into small pieces and add to a heatproof bowl.

6. Place the bowl on top of a small pan of simmering water over a medium heat, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water, and allow to melt, stirring occasionally.

7. Once melted, use oven gloves to carefully remove from the heat and put to one side – beware of the steam when you lift up the bowl.

8. Use a Y-shaped peeler to peel the beetroot (you might want to wear gloves to do this), then quarter them on a chopping board.

9. Push the beetroot through the coarse grater attachment on the food processor, then tip into a large mixing bowl.

10. Separate the eggs, placing the whites into a large clean mixing bowl and adding the yolks to the beetroot, then wash your hands.

11. Stir the sugar, almonds, baking powder, cocoa powder and melted chocolate into the beetroot and mix together well.

12. Use an electric hand whisk to whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks.

13. Use a spatula to fold a quarter of the egg whites into the beetroot mixture to loosen, then once combined, fold in the rest but try not to over mix.

14. Add the mixture to the prepared cake tin and spread out evenly using a spatula.

15. Bake in the hot oven for around 50 minutes, or until risen and cooked through.

16. To check if it’s done, stick a cocktail stick or skewer into the middle of the sponge, remove it after 5 seconds and if it comes out clean the cake’s cooked; if it’s slightly sticky it needs a bit longer.

17. Allow the cake to cool slightly, then carefully turn it out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

18. When you’re ready to serve, melt the remaining chocolate (in the same way as above), then serve each slice with some yoghurt and a little drizzle of the melted chocolate.

Prune & Armagnac cake


Prune & Armagnac cake


Ingredients:

50 ml Armagnac
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
130 g semi-dried prunes
250 g 70% cocoa dark chocolate
200 g salted butter
5 free-range eggs, seperated
100 g caster sugar
75 g plain flour
75 g ground almonds
Cocoa powder , for dusting

Method:

1. You can do this step well in advance, otherwise, make it the night before. Place the Armagnac in a pan with the zest and spices and bring to the boil. Pop the prunes in a bowl, pour over the spiced Armagnac, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge. 

2. When ready to make the cake, line a 20cm cake tin and preheat your oven to 180C/gas 4. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally, until melted, then take off the heat. 

3. In a spotlessly clean bowl, whip the egg whites with 1 tablespoon of the sugar until it forms hard peaks. Place the yolks and remaining sugar in another bowl and whisk for about 5 minutes, until you can draw a figure of 8 in it and it retains its shape. 

4. Pour the chocolate into the whisked yolks and stir to incorporate. Roughly purée the prunes in a food processor, then fold them into the mixture. 

5. Combine the flour and ground almonds in a bowl then fold into the chocolate mixture. Carefully fold in the egg whites, in three stages, so you don’t lose any of the air you have whisked into it. 

6. Once everything is thoroughly mixed in, pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 1 hour, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool slightly before turning out onto a plate and dusting with cocoa powder. Serve with more hot Armagnac-soaked prunes on the side.