Why do I write?

cookbooks

I have been asked (occasionally by myself) why I endlessly try out new recipes, spend half my time in the kitchen and write this blog.  There are several reason but the fundamental ones remain the same.  For the first I refer you to the About page above.  It describes how as life changes so what we need from our kitchen and cookbooks also changes.  From supper parties for my London crowd, through feeding my babies/children and on to now – still cooking for my family (honestly my raison d’etre) but also cooking up a storm for friends and their children which I love to do.   I needed recipes for all these situations and despite a mountain of cookbooks there were recipes missing so I decided to come up with my own.   That I was then the first to offer a suggestion when friends asked for ideas on what to cook for tea/lunch/supper/dinner etc prompted them to ask me to put them all in writing somewhere.

Also, I have never been keen on “kids” food and was (possibly blindly) determined that my babes would, as soon as practical, eat the same as us.  Partly because from an early age they would eye what we were eating with far more enthusiasm than their pureed veg so it made sense to give them a taste from our plates, encouraging their palates to happily experience new flavours.  Also for ease.  I want us to sit around a table together every day laughing, chatting, shouting, arguing (the latter two in a good way obviously) but primarily eating the same thing.  My experience has shown that giving into demands for the same food on a loop causes problems when the customer is presented with something new or unfamiliar….  Anyway, this is how I try and do it – not without its problems of course.  Whilst my daughter will eat anything (but ideally meat and potatoes) my son is a little more particular (his ideal being hummus and tomatoes).  It drives me a slightly mad but I continue in my merry way, put a variety of things (old and new) on the table and hope for the best.  The point is food is such a fabulous part of life and I would like my children to try everything*, have a healthy and happy approach to food and also to be able to cook, to feed themselves when the time comes.

One more reason springs to mind.  In the picture above you see some of the collection of books in which I write my recipes.  Scribbled as I cook, endlessly splattered with food, marked by crossings out and additions.  Some dishes never make it beyond these pages but many are eaten on a regular basis in our house.  So I had some dreamy idea of handing over the fabled book of recipes to each of my children when the dreaded day comes that they leave home.  Handing it over like the baton of life.  Huh, said another voice in my head, what if neither of them wants it and hands it back to you, you’ll feel a right fool.  Thus the obvious answer was to put it all onto a blog, this way they could dip into it whenever they pleased, cook things they love and have grown up eating but I would never know if they didn’t….

 

*This has backfired on me, in my quest that nothing is off limits, to be open minded and everything deserves a taste I have had to buy both pot noodles and pop tarts.  Once.

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Chorizo Meatballs with Tomato Sauce, Greens and Dirty Rice

Chorizo meatballs 2

Do you ever wonder what to cook for supper?  Despite spending a considerable number of my waking moments thinking about food I do struggle to come up with new recipes to present to my family.  Just as I get bored of cooking the same things I’m sure they tire of eating they same old same old.  I have never been one for Monday means roast chicken, Tuesday means sausages etc although I’m sure it can make life easier to fall into such a routine.

So I made a list of all the things my lot love, took note of what some of them really don’t like (a list whilst not long, is certainly frustrating) and came up with various new ideas.  These chorizo meatballs are one such.  The whole family love meatballs but I wanted to jazz my usual recipe up and this was the route I took.  The spices add a pleasing warmth and the combination of the greens, pilaff and tomato sauce just work really well.  Blob a little yogurt and chilli sauce over the whole if you like and some toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds are another welcome touch.

Make a big pile of this, however much I rustle up, it all goes everytime…

Chorizo meatballs

 

Chorizo Meatballs

I stick with the two paprikas in this and add a little chilli sauce separately if the mood takes me but do by all means add some cayenne pepper or similar if your family like heat.  Should you have minced beef and pork left over may I point you in the direction of my Meatloaf, Sliders and Meatballs (November 2015).  You can use all pork mince if that is what you have, just as delicious.  I know this looks like a great long list of ingredients but many will be in your cupboard and remember, it is essentially, four different recipes – just make as many as you want (although the combination of all is fantastic!)

1 tablespoon olive oil plus a little extra

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

50g breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

250g minced beef

250g minced pork

Tomato sauce -

1 tin chopped tomatoes or similar amount of passata

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic finely chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

Kale or Spring greens finely shredded

Knob of butter

200g rice

400ml chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Chopped parsley/coriandr, yogurt, chilli sauce or toasted seeds to serve (optional)

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and gently cook the onion until soft then add the garlic.  Stir for a couple of minutes but don’t let the garlic colour, tip it all into a bowl along with the breadcrumbs and milk.  Add  the mince, both the paprikas and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and mix well.  Divide into small balls approximately the size of a walnut.  Add a small amount of oil to a large frying pan and cook the meatballs, turning gently to colour all the sides.

Meanwhile for the tomato sauce put the second tablespoon of oil into a small pan with the garlic, heat gently and as soon as it sizzles add the tinned tomatoes, sugar and a good pinch of salt.  Let this simmer for twenty minutes.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the rice, cumin and salt followed by the stock, stir well.  Simmer gently for 4 minutes then remove from the heat, put a tea towel under the lid to absorb the steam and leave for a further 20 minutes then fluff up with a fork and check the seasoning.

Wash the greens and put into a large pan, cover with a lid and cook gently – the water left from rinsing them will be enough for them to cook in.

When you are ready to serve tip the rice into a warm bowl, top with the greens followed by the meatballs, then the tomato sauce.  Finally sprinkle over some parsley or coriander if using and the yogurt and seeds.  Serves 4.

 

 

 

 

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Moutabal

Moutabal

I just love a mezze type lunch.  The table spread with an array of different things to pick and weave through, a bit of this and a bit of that.  More often than not I have a bit too much as it is all to easy to sit, chat and graze.  Not that that should be an issue, one of the best things in life is sitting around a food laden table with both family and friends.  Usefully I find all these little tapas like dishes a great way for the children to try new things.  Whilst a whole plate of something new and unfamiliar might raise an eyebrow, a little taster alongside old favourites works well.    Regulars to our table include Artichoke Crostini (March 2013), Tomato Bruschetta (July 2013), Focaccia, wild garlic or otherwise (May 2014), Green Beans with Tomato and Feta (June 2014), Herby Ricotta with Pickled Cucumber (September 2014), Roast Cauliflower (February 2015), Cannellini Bean, Parsley and Lemon dip (April 2015), Grissini (May 2015), any of my salads and this Moutabal.

I believe I first tasted this with my Grandfather, an amazing and inventive cook.  He cooked all manner of things which seemed both unusual and exotic to me when I was young, often containing huge amounts of ginger and garlic.  Many middle eastern dishes which involved much pounding with his enormous mortar and pestle which I was lucky enough to inherit.  He was familiar with spices now taken for granted but which, at the time, I felt came direct from Ali Barbars’ caves.   One such was this Moutabal.  Grandpa loved aubergines and true to form it has a hearty smack of garlic along with softening tahini and yogurt.  Delicious though it is no doubt I eyed it with great suspicion, it is not a looker.

Anyway, I implore you to see past its drab appearance and give it a go, it is divine on toast but my current chosen route is to serve it with roasted sweet potatoes and a good sprinkling of sunflower seeds, just fabulous.

Moutabal

You can put the foil wrapped aubergine in the oven whilst something else is cooking if that suits rather than putting it on for one thing.  You can also cook it on a barbecue.

1 large aubergine

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon tahini

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

1/4 bunch parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200, wrap the aubergine in foil and cook for 40 minutes or until very soft.  When you can handle it peel and discard the skin and let the flesh fall into a bowl.  Add all the other ingredients and mash well, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 4 alongside other things or two with some roast sweet potato wedges (which you can do in the oven at the same time).

 

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Blackcurrant Mousse

Blackcurrant mousse

What? you cry, what is going on?  Blackcurrant Mousse in January?  I know, crazy though it may sound that is indeed the recipe for today.   I am usually one to bang the gong  for seasonal produce and wouldn’t dream of buying Peruvian asparagus or the suchlike at this time of year.  That said the sky was grey and gloomy last week, the ground squelchy with the mass of recent rain and I felt we needed a blast of sunshine, a promise of summer.

After discussion I found that my children were also keen for a break from my repertoire of apple puddings of which I am so fond at this time of year, the endless array of apple tarts, pies, crumbles, turnovers and strudels was wearing a bit thin.  I knew the last of the blackcurrants we picked in the summer were languishing in the freezer plus a bag of raspberries kindly donated by lovely Hayley when ours had produced their last.

So it was based on these various factors that we ate mousse upon mousse last week.   The first was the raspberry version, mouth puckering in its tartness with that amazing raspberry fragrance still present in abundance.  The second version was the blackcurrant, heady with the smell of blackcurrant leaves and packed with fruity deliciousness.  My bubble was pricked somewhat by my children not liking the bits of fruit I had added to give a little texture, you might want to go the totally smooth route if this complaint resonates with you.

I highly recommend you try one if not both of these puds – whilst I wouldn’t buy fresh berries at this time of year, too well travelled and too expensive, I think frozen fruits are a saviour in the chillier months.   Raspberries, blackcurrants, forest fruits, mixed berry – the choice is up to you.

Blackcurrant or Raspberry Mousse

I had 500g of raspberries but only 478g of blackcurrants – it didn’t make a dot of difference so don’t get too hung up on it if you are a little short of one or the other.

500g frozen raspberries or blackcurrants, thawed

120g golden caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

3 leaves of gelatine

2 egg whites

150ml cream

Put the berries, sugar and water and cook over a gentle heat until the sugar is melted and the fruit broken down.   Pass the fruit through a sieve into a bowl.  Meanwhile soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water until completely soft then add it to the warm fruit puree, stir well and leave to cool, giving it the odd stir.  If the fruit puree had cooled completely you will need to warm it a little before adding the gelatine as this needs to melt.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then using the same beaters whisk the cream (in a separate bowl) until it just holds its shape.  Don’t do it the other way round or the cream residue will stop the egg whites whisking.   Gently mix the egg whites into the fruit mixture followed by the cream.  It will still look rather runny and unpromising but persevere.  Pour into dishes or glasses and chill for at least 4 hours.  Serves 4 generously but could stretch to 6.

 

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Gougeres and Christmas do ahead tips

Gougeres 5

My daughter asked yesterday whether we could be super organised this Christmas so that I could spend loads of time with the family and not be fiddling in the kitchen….  I usually try to get a lot done and stashed away in the freezer before the main event but last year, as we were a smaller gathering than previously, I left more to do on the day.  This may be to what she was referring.  Whilst I was still fairly organised I could, as I was told many times at school, have done better.

The mistake I made was not to slavishly refer to all my do ahead tips.  I am all for whipping things out of the freezer and cooking them in the stylish silver containers (Christmas sparkle) they were frozen in.  I will then transfer them to warm serving dishes, chuck the foil containers and won’t have a mountain of sauce pans glaring at me from the sink.  On this point I implore you to heat your serving plates – there are many components to the Christmas feast and getting them from the stove to peoples plates takes more than a minute of two.  You want it served hot and warm dishes and plates makes a huge difference, that and piping hot gravy too.

So this year I will be making and freezing the stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread sauce (add a little milk on heating) and gravy (add meat juices after resting to boost this) for the big event.  Don’t laugh I will even be parboiling and freezing the roast potatoes (see tips).  Sausage rolls, Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt (December 2013) and Gougeres (recipe below) will be frozen in good time to accompany drinks alongside Spiced Cherries in Bacon which I am preparing now (and recommend you do the same!).  Firecracker red cabbage (November 2013) to serve with Christmas Eve’s baked ham, a curry, a stew and lots of mince pies will also make their way into the frozen holding pen.

Have I mentioned my Christmas tips (Do ahead Christmas tips and Spiced Cherries November 2013 and Feta and Spinach Parcels a couple more make ahead tips November 2013)?!   I will be referring back to them again and again.  It may sound bossy to suggest you do too but I know they make a world of difference on a day that is notoriously hectic.

To get you started here are my Cheese Gougeres, warm little clouds of cheesy savoury deliciousness.  I honestly struggled not to eat all the ones you see in the pictures.  Very easy to make (baked not fried despite their light and fluffy appearance) and they freeze and reheat a dream.  Make them now then open freeze flat on a tray, once frozen tumble into a bag or plastic tub.   Serve these warm with drinks and you will undoubtedly be the hostess with the mostess.

Gougeres 4

Cheese Gougeres

A good strong cheese is required here.  I use a mouth tingling cheddar or a combination of cheddar and parmesan.  You could take an Alpine route with gruyere to great effect.  I sometimes like to add mustard or cayenne pepper for further pep and bite in which case sprinkle some tiny dried chilli flakes on the gougeres before you cook to indicate heat.  Other times I might add thyme leaves or sprinkle grated parmesan as in the picture above but am just as happy to leave them unadorned and boldly goldly resplendent.

100g butter

250ml water

1 teaspoon salt

150g plain flour

100g strong cheese

4 eggs

Mustard powder/cayenne pepper/thyme leaves – see above.

Preheat the oven to 200 and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment.  Put the butter, water and salt in a pan, heat until the butter is melted then whoosh in the flour in one go and beat hard.  Add the eggs one by one (the mixture will become a little sloppy between each addition but persevere) then add the cheese and stir until well combined followed by any additional flavourings (mustard/chilli).  Either pipe small blobs onto the baking sheet or use two teaspoons dipped in hot water.  I am no piping expert but find it the easiest route with this thick and sticky mixture.  With a wet finger push down any pointy bits as these may catch and burn in the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, they need to be a good burnished gold and feel crisp if you tap one (cautiously).  If underdone they will deflate on cooling.  Cool on a wire rack if you are going to freeze (or keep in a tin for a day or two) or serve straight away.  Reheat in a hot oven for 5 minutes.  Makes 20-30 depending on size.

Gougeres 2

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…Turnovers and leftovers

Apple turnovers

There is nothing more satisfying than fashioning the proverbial silk purse out of a pigs ear.  By that I don’t mean I regularly keep pigs’ ears in the fridge – although why I don’t know as they can be a proper treat.  No rather that it pleases me immensely to make something out of leftovers or those hotch potch random ingredients that sometimes peer at me from the fridge.  If it turns out to be delicious and a recipe to keep then so much the better.

I can’t bear throwing things away and will search my memory long and hard for any ideas or snippets gleaned from my endless reading of recipe books and magazines if it helps to keep a sad carrot or scrap of cheese from the food bin.  Many vegetable soups have been created from such fridge clearing, trays of roasted veg and bubble and squeak too. Overly soft berries go in a smoothie and orchard fruits head for crumble heaven.  Hard bits of old mousetrap end up as cheese sables or gougeres  and so it goes on…

Following hallowe’en there were a lot of apples left from the bobbing.  Those with rows of teeth marks went to the chickens but the pile of untouched ones have been gazing balefully at me for a week or so and the time had come to crack on.  Apple sauce with last Sundays pork belly was a happy way for two or three to go and a crumble waits for tea today.  Yesterday I made these apple and cinnamon turnovers and on this occasion rather than my usual shortcrust or puff pastry route I chose to use up the half pack of filo left from the samosa recipe published previously.  With butter, sugar and cinnamon being on hand I had nothing to trouble the shops for and served warm with vanilla ice cream the children were thrilled too.   Happy customers 1 – Food bin 0.

Apple turnovers 3

Apple and Cinnamon Turnovers

If you keep some filo in the fridge these would make a speedy and easy pudding over Christmas (or anytime).  The extra dusting of icing sugar combined with cinnamon would give a suitably snowy finish and what could be more festive than cinnamon.

3 good size eating apples

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for dusting if you like

Large knob of butter, melted

3 sheets of filo, halved longways

Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 and line a baking tray with parchment.  Peel and finely slice the apples, put them in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon, stir well and leave for 10 minutes.  Lay out a sheet of filo with the short end facing you, brush lightly with melted butter, put a spoonful of apple on the top corner and fold the pastry over to the side, keep folding the parcel towards you, it will form a triangle (see pictures on previous recipe). Make the other 5 triangles, brush any remaining butter over the top and bake for 20 minutes turning half way until crispy and golden.  Cool a little then dust with icing sugar (add a little cinnamon to this if you want).  Makes 6 which are wonderful served warm with ice cream or cream.

Apple turnovers 2

 

 

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Spiced Samosas…

Samosas-2

There is something universally appealing about a delicious little treat served with drinks or as a snack.  Whether a fancy pants canapé with drizzles and micro herbs or just a warm sausage with a spicy dip.  Nothing brings out the greedy pig in me more and I have often positioned myself at the kitchen end of a marquee or party to be first in line.  Maybe it is a throw back to handing around the olives and cheese straws at my parents dinner parties or a reminder of being on the other side of the green baize door creating hundreds of tiny treats I don’t know.

Around Christmas the shops are awash with a myriad of bite size treats ready to be popped into the oven with the hard work done for you.   They aren’t really my thing though.  Its not just that I love cooking, the general fiddling around in the warm fug of the kitchen, although I do.  More that the making of these little mouthfuls is part of the fun, the warm up to a party at any time of year and totally worth it when you see happy greed on your friends faces.   If all that Pollyanna style gladness isn’t enough to push you over the edge, here are some more ideas to go with your samosas.

An all time easy favourite are my Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt (December 2013) or Cannellini Bean Dip (April 2015).  I adore crostini and bruschetta as both the toasts and topping can be prepared ahead so Artichoke Crostini (March 2013) and Pepper and Caper Crostini (April 2014) come to mind.  Before supper in the summer I don’t think you can beat Tomato Bruschetta (July 2013).  Or go for  the moreish Crunchy Seeds (Things with drinks October 2012) or Grissini (May 2015).   Finally an absolute favourite, particularly with children (and me) is the Onion Tart (November 2014) cut into little squares, I promise you they literally disappear.

Samosas 2-2

My husband particularly likes a samosa which is how these came about and they have gone down pretty well with everyone else.  They are not too spicy, feel free to add a little chopped fresh chilli to the filling if you wish, so appeal to younger palates too.  I like them dipped in chutney but a minty raita would be just perfect too.

Spiced Samosas

It is up to you whether you make these picnic size or canapé size, simply cut your filo accordingly.  If you do make them very mini you might want to adjust the cooking time too.

3 sheets of filo (this will make 6 good size or many mini ones)

1 medium potato peeled and chopped in small cubes (a bit bigger than a pea)

2 teaspoons oil, plus extra for brushing

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 heaped teaspoon medium curry powder or garam masala

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

60g peas, frozen are fine

A squeeze of lemon juice

A few sprigs of coriander, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200 and line a baking sheet with parchment.  Cook the potato in boiling water until just soft then drain.  Warm the oil in a frying pan and gently cook the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt until soft but not brown.  Add the curry powder or garam masala and cook for a few minutes followed by the onion seeds, cooked potato and peas.  Leave this on a gentle heat until the peas are defrozen then add the squeeze of lemon juice and taste for seasoning.  Cool a bit and then add the chopped coriander before assembling.  Cut the filo in half lengthways for the larger size or smaller if you are going the canapé route.  With a short side closest to you, brush lightly with oil then place a little filling on the top and fold the pastry over and then down until you have a triangle.  Repeat until you have used up the pastry and filling then bake for 15-20 minutes turning half way, until crispy, golden and irresistible.

Samosas 5

Samosas 7

 

 

 

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Hallowe’en

Cobweb cake

There always seemed to be Hallowe’en parties when I was young.  No trick or treating in my day, I think that is a more recent import but certainly apple bobbing, eating doughnuts off pieces of string for some reason, pinning a nose on a witch and the like.   A lot of little girls dressed up as traditional witches in black with pointy hats and broomsticks but I can’t  for the life of me remember what the boys came as.  Anyway, as this years’ Hallowe’en nearly falls in half term my children thought it a bonza excuse for a party and away we went.

Meringue bones 2

We have cut out bats from black paper, ghosts from white paper and of course pumpkins from orange.  Many, many cobwebs have been fashioned out of newspapers (just google it and you can find out how to fold, cut and create a cobweb).  Pumpkins have been carved, old cans punched with holes and filled with candles and many, many lanterns adorned the garden.  We have really gone to town.  What I have particularly enjoyed is the homemade aspect, that we have all sat around the table snipping and sticking, it takes me back.

Graveyard puddings

As you might expect I have also been busy in the kitchen and share with you here some ideas should you need them.   To kick off we had marshmallow toasting by the bonfire and lots of paper cones filled with popcorn upon which I drizzled butterscotch sauce.   For tea, Chilli (February 2014) – not too spicy but with enough heat to warm the children up after charging around outside served with rice and cornbread.   The array of sweet treats included meringue bones – whip your egg whites and sugar until super stiff then pipe out and bake, they look fabulous and taste great too.  Spooky cobweb cookies (October 2014) and finally Graveyard puddings.  These were simply lime jelly topped with a gravel of whizzed up Oreos and I made some little chocolate biscuits iced to represent gravestones.   To finish a triple layered chocolate cake with a white chocolate cobweb piped onto the dark chocolate ganache adorned with a large spider.  Have fun!

Mocha Cookies 3-3

 

 

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Brown Sugar Meringue Cake with Blackberries and Lemon Cream

Blackberry and Lemon meringue 2

It feels as if autumn may be rapping her chilly fingers on the door.  There was a frost this morning and a proper mist coming up off the river.  Whilst I am not ready to immediately dive headlong into winter stews and duvets of syrup puddings I am certainly happy to wrap up a little and enjoy the cool air and changes in the landscape.  Leaves are turning bronze and starting to flutter down into crunchy piles demanding to be kicked, cobwebs in the hedges are highlighted by the frosty dew and birds are collecting, swooping and considering a winter in the sun.  Relish these September days, before you know it we will be hearing about Hallowe’en and Christmas.

So, this is  belter of a pudding, just the ticket for this time of year whilst there are heaps blackberries around.  It is also very straightforward, you can make the meringue discs days in advance and I  have used a good store bought lemon curd.  Do make your own if you have the time and the energy, I didn’t and was perfectly happy with a shop version on this occasion.  Crunchy and chewy meringue, dusky and toffeeish from the brown sugar, vibrant lemony curd marbled into whipped cream and the deepest dark purple berries.

Most of the year the brambles are a pest in the garden, catching and scratching you endlessly.  At the moment though, I am delighted to see their little berries almost as black and shiny as the jet buttons on a Victorian governess.  Take delight in them as like all other seasonal treats they will be gone in a flash.  You could make this with those big, blowsy blackberries you can buy in the shops but that misses the point of these autumn treasures.  I picked the ones you see here whilst the meringues were cooking.

So have a go at this, it really is as stunning as it is delicious and if you miss the boat with the blackberries try it with some late autumn raspberries.

Blackberry and Lemon meringue 3

Brown Sugar Meringue Cake with Blackberries and Lemon Cream

The first time I marbled the lemon curd directly into the whipped cream and then spread it onto the meringue discs but I found it got a little lost.  I then blobbed the lemon curd onto the cream once this was already spread and then marbled it a little which I prefer as it is more distinct.  Obviously do as you choose.  Likewise use as much lemon curd as you like, I used just over half a jar.

3 egg whites

100g soft brown sugar

50g golden caster sugar

600g double cream

1/2 -3/4 jar good lemon curd

Blackberries, as many as you want

Zest of one lemon (optional)

A little icing sugar to dust

Draw two 20cm circles on baking parchment and put them onto baking sheets.  Preheat the oven to 140c.  Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and then add both sugars a spoonful at a time whisking well until you have a shiny, stiff mass.  Divide this between the two baking sheets creating two 20cm discs, smoothing the tops.  Bake for one hour swapping the tins half way and then turn off the heat but leave in the oven to cool with the door ajar.  When they are cool peel away the parchment and put one onto your serving plate, whisk the cream until just holding its shape and spread half onto the first meringue disc.  Dollop lemon curd over the cream and marble it slightly with a knife then scatter over some of your blackberries.  Place the second disc on top of this and repeat this time using up the rest of your blackberries.  Grate over a little lemon zest if you want and dust with icing sugar.  Serves 6.

Blackberry and Lemon meringue 5

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Strawberry Granita (or sorbet)

Strawberry Granita

For me this granita is summer in a glass.  Unadulterated strawberry flavour, no frills or furbelows, cream* or meringues – just that intense heady fragrance that says Wimbledon, Henley and lunch in the garden.   We have been having a fabulous summer so far, lots of long hot sunny days interspersed with cool swims and trips to the beach.  On occasion we have needed something chilled and delicious to temper the heat and this is just the job.  A matter of minutes to make and then you have the most perfect summer pudding or simple afternoon refresher.

If you have an ice cream machine then a few minutes churning will make this into a smooth tangy sorbet.  I am just as happy with a granita, even easier and the seeds don’t bother me in the icy rubble whereas in a sorbet I employ the sieving step.  Do make this whilst our own fabulous British strawberries are still around.

Strawberry Granita 2

Strawberry Granita

If you leave the granita too long in the freezer without mixing just leave the container out for 15 minutes and then scratch it all up and freeze until you are ready to serve.  I haven’t given you much of a serving suggestion in the pictures but the colour was so vibrant and glorious I wanted to show it off.  Serve this in small glasses either on its own or *you could try it with a big blob of lightly whipped cream on top – see, strawberries and cream.

450g strawberries

150g golden caster sugar

500ml water

Juice of 1 lemon

Whizz all the ingredients in a blender.  If the seeds bother you sieve it then pour into a plastic box with a lid.  Freeze for an hour then remove and stir the slushy mixture around.  Repeat this step several times scratching it all up into gorgeous icy crystals.  Alternatively pour into an ice cream machine and churn for sorbet.  Keep frozen and serve in small glasses.  Serves 6 with seconds.

If, like me, you love a granita then why not try my Iced Tea Granita (July 2013) or Blood Orange Granita (February 2013) as well.

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