2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), well beaten
For the crème pâtissière
200ml/7fl oz full-fat milk/whole milk
50g/2 oz caster sugar/fine white sugar
2 egg yolks, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
20g/¾ oz cornflour/cornstarch
20g/¾ oz butter, cut into small pieces
For the icing
225g/8 oz icing sugar
5 tsp boiling water
Two nylon piping bags, one fitted with a plain 1cm/½ inch nozzle for piping the choux pastry and the other with a long thin nozzle for filling the éclairs.
A large baking sheet
For the choux pastry
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
The ingredients need to be measured out first.
Put the water in a pan together with the butter and put to one side.
Next weigh out the flour and sieve onto a piece of parchment paper with the sugar. Set to one side. Using the parchment paper like a funnel will allow the flour to be tipped into the melted butter very quickly.
Now, place the pan of water and butter over a moderate heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter has melted and the mixture comes to the boil. The pan needs to be removed from the heat as soon as the mixture boils to prevent too much evaporation of the water. Holding the paper like a funnel, immediately tip in the flour and sugar. Beat vigorously with the wooden spoon or use a hand held electric whisk. Keep beating until the mixture has become a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the pan clean.
Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition until the paste has become smooth and glossy.
Lightly grease a baking sheet and then sprinkle on a little cold water. This will create steam and will help the choux pastry rise.
Spoon the pastry into the piping bag and pipe eight, 7.5cm/3 inch lengths, onto the baking sheet.
Bake the éclairs on a high shelf for 10 minutes, then increase the temperature to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 and bake for a further 8–10 minutes until lightly golden.
Remove to a wire rack and gently make a small hole with a skewer in the side of each éclair to allow any steam to escape. This will prevent them from becoming soggy. Leave to cool completely.
For the crème pâtissière
Pour the milk into a pan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.
Put the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour/cornstarch in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Pour a little of the hot milk onto the mixture, whisking continuously to loosen the mixture a little. Then gradually pour in the remaining hot milk and whisk until smooth. Return to the pan and, over a low heat, cook the mixture, stirring continuously, until it thickens.
Remove from the heat and beat in the butter until it has melted. Leave to cool, covering the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming on the top. Refrigerate to chill.
Once chilled, spoon into the piping bag fitted with the long thin nozzle. Using the hole that was made with the skewer, carefully fill the éclairs with the crème pâtissière.
For the icing
Measure the boiling water into a small bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Beat well to mix. The icing should be stiff. More water or sifted icing sugar can be added to achieve the right consistency.
Cover the top of the éclairs with the icing and smooth with a palette knife.
This cheesy chicken cobbler is a great way to use up any leftover chicken from a roast. Pieces of chicken are stirred into frozen mixed vegetables and cream of tomato soup, then topped with a cheesy cobbler. Just pop in the oven for a quick supper.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Then in a medium bowl, stir together the chicken, frozen vegetables, soup and some seasoning. Spoon the mixture into the ovenproof dish and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add 40g/1½ oz of the cheese and set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the milk, egg and oil. Then pour onto the flour mixture. Using a palette knife, bring the two mixtures together until a dough is formed. It should come together in clumps. Add a little more milk if it seems too dry.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a rectangle, roughly 9cm x 15cm/3½ in x 6 in. Cut the rectangle into 8 equal squares and arrange the scones on top of the chicken mixture.
Brush each scone with a little milk and then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the scones have risen and are golden, and the filling is bubbling around the edges.
The meatballs, vegetables and sauce are best prepared before starting to cook the dish.
For the meatballs
Mix the pork, garlic and breadcrumbs and season well. Divide mixture to make 24 balls, put them on a plate and cover. Refrigerate to firm up a little while preparing the vegetables and making up the sauce.
De-seed and slice the peppers, peel and slice the carrots, crush the garlic cloves and peel and grate the ginger. Set to one side.
For the sauce
Squeeze the juice from the orange and pour into a small bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk well to combine.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan/skillet and brown the meatballs over a medium heat, for about 5 minutes. Shake the pan frequently so they brown all over. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper in a single layer so any fat can be absorbed.
Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the pepper and carrot, and stir-fry for 5 minutes to soften a little. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for a further minute.
Pour in the sauce, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes.
Sole fillets are a delicate fish and here they are cooked with a cream cheese, parsley and lemon stuffing, which adds to the flavour of the fish without overpowering it. Cooks in just 20 minutes for a delicious meal.
4 chicken portions (breasts, legs or quarters, skins left on)
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
150ml (5 fl oz) chicken stock* (⅔ cup)
150ml (5 fl oz) single cream (table cream) (⅔ cup)
4 tomatoes, diced
*The sauce is enhanced by using a good stock. In Canada I can recommend ‘Better Than Bouillon’. It really makes a tasty stock and doesn’t contain a lot of additives. In the U.K. I would choose the organic range.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Mix the flour, seasoning and curry or chilli powder together and spread on a plate. Spread the Parmesan cheese on a second plate.
In a small roasting pan, melt 115g (4 oz) (½ cup, or 1 stick) of the butter in the oven. This will only take about 1 minute. Then remove.
Turn the chicken pieces in the butter, shaking them a little when lifting to remove any excess butter. Coat in the flour mixture and then the cheese. Reserve remaining flour.
Return the chicken to the pan in a singe layer, skin side down. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil, turn the chicken and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to crisp up.
Melt the remaining 28g (1 oz) (2 tbsp) butter in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the tomatoes and cook over a medium heat while making the sauce. Shake the pan frequently to keep turning the tomatoes.
Take the chicken out of the pan and keep warm while making the sauce.
Mix the reserved flour into the buttery residue in the pan and stir well, scraping up any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Over a low heat, cook for 1 minute. Slowly blend in the chicken stock and then add the cream. Stir well and bring to the boil to thicken. Remove from the heat.
Apple strudel is one of the most popular dishes in Austria, the oldest record being a handwritten recipe from 1696 housed in the Vienna City and State Library. However, it’s likely to have been adopted from other countries that made up the Habsburg Empire. Early recipes used a pastry made from unleavened dough and today it’s usual to use filo/phyllo pastry – a modern version. It is delicious served with ice cream, cream, or vanilla sauce.
1kg/2 lb 2 oz tart dessert apples, Granny Smiths are good
1 lemon, juice only
4 tbsp caster sugar/fine white sugar
85g/3 oz walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 tbsp sultanas
1 tsp ground cinnamon
85g/3 oz ground almonds*
16 sheets filo/phyllo pastry**
50g/2 oz butter, melted
icing sugar to dust
*The almonds will absorb any excess juices which will prevent the pastry from becoming soggy.
**Filo pastry dries out very quickly. Remove only the number of sheets from the packet that are required for the recipe and keep these covered with clingfilm until needed.
1 large baking sheet, oiled
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Peel, core and roughly chop the apples into small pieces. Put them in a mixing bowl and toss together with the lemon juice. Add the sugar, walnuts, sultanas, cinnamon and almonds and mix well. Set aside.
Now to make the four parcels.
Using four sheets of pastry, take one sheet and lay it on a clean tea towel then brush lightly with the melted butter. Place another sheet directly on top and brush this one with butter. Repeat with the other two sheets. Spread a quarter of the apple filling lengthways down the middle of the pastry, flattening it out and leaving a 2.5cm/1 inch border on the shorter edges.
Brush a little butter along the long edge that is furthest away from you and both the shorter edges. Using the tea towel, lift the long edge nearest you over the filling and then continue rolling to form a sausage shape with the seam finishing up underneath. (The extra butter round the edges will seal the parcel.) Carefully transfer it to the baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining sheets of pastry until there are four parcels.
Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Cover the pastry during the last 10 minutes if it is colouring too quickly.
Just before serving, dust the parcels with icing sugar using a small sieve.
Then cut the parcels into thick slices (a pizza slice does this brilliantly). It can be served warm or cold.
The ginger snap is the biscuit to dunk in your tea or coffee. There are many different recipes for this humble biscuit which originally dates back to the early 1800s in England. This is one of my recipes for this great little biscuit.
55g (2 oz) butter, cut into cubes (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
85g (3 oz) golden syrup* (½ cup + 2 tbsp)
115g (4 oz) self-raising flour/self-rising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp caster sugar/white sugar
*Golden syrup isn’t readily available in North America. There are some supermarkets that sell it in Canada. Otherwise I manage to get it in the small British stores that are around. The closest alternative would be runny honey. It is not quite as stiff as golden syrup but close, and it does have some flavour too.
2 x insulated baking sheets/insulated cookie sheets
(I first discovered these insulated cooking sheets when we first came to Canada and use them all the time now to cook biscuits and cookies. They produce a very even bake and I have no problem with the underside or edges crisping up before the centres are done. They aren’t as widely available in the U.K. but John Lewis and Amazon stock them.)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Put the butter in a small pan and weigh in the golden syrup. Over a low heat, melt the butter stirring it into the golden syrup. When melted and well mixed in, remove from the heat and set aside.
Sift the flour, soda, ginger and cinnamon into a mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar then stir in the golden syrup mixture until well blended. Leave to firm up for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and, using floured hands, roll each into a ball. Space them apart on the baking sheets and flatten them a little.
Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Baked sponge puddings are similar to my steamed sponge puddings (click to view), but they take half the time to cook. The texture is that of a cake and so I tend to keep my steamed puddings for cold, winter days and use this basic recipe at other times. Again, there are a number of variations using the basic recipe, as shown below.
Put the eggs, sugar and 45ml (3 tbsp) milk in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
Pour the remaining milk into a pan with the vanilla essence and bring slowly to the boil.
Gradually pour the milk onto the egg mixture stirring until smooth. Then strain and return to the pan. Stir over a medium heat until the mixture thickens. It should coat the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil.
* You can buy good frozen puff pastry that is made from butter. Making it from scratch is just one step too far for me.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
Pour the milk into a large saucepan. Cut the salmon into cubes and add with the prawns to the pan. Bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for 5 minutes to cook the fish.
Drain the fish, reserving the liquor, and place in the base of the pie dish with the sweetcorn.
Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and cook over a low heat for 1 minute to cook the flour. Gradually stir in the reserved liquor until smooth. Increase the heat and stir until thickened. Stir in the wine and add the mushrooms. Simmer for 3 minutes. Season to taste and stir in the dill.
Pour sauce over the fish and mix in. Leave to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
Trim the pastry to fit the top of the pie dish. Dampen the rim of the dish with water and use the trimmings to cover the rim of the dish. Dampen the rim of pastry with water and lift the large piece of pastry over the top. Press down around the rim of the dish to seal the pastry and knock-back the edges. Make 2 holes in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking.
Brush the top of the pastry with egg glaze. Place on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden.
200ml/7½ fl oz semi-skimmed milk mixed with 75 ml/2½ fl oz water
50g/2 oz butter
Caster sugar/fine white sugar
1 lemon, halved
A 25.5cm/10 inch heavy gauge aluminium frying pan
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Using an electric whisk or a balloon whisk, whisk the eggs into the flour gradually adding the milk and incorporating the flour from around the edge of the bowl. Scrape any remaining flour down from around the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and whisk again until all the mixture is smooth. It should be the consistency of thin cream. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2 and place five plates in the oven to warm.
Melt the butter in the pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the butter into the batter and whisk it in. Pour the remainder into a small bowl and reserve it to smear the pan between cooking each crêpe using a wodge of kitchen paper.
Get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to a medium setting.
Use about 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. It is easier to measure this into a ladle or measuring cup first and use this to tip the batter into the pan in one go. Using the ladle or cup, pour the batter quickly into the centre of the pan at the same time tipping it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated. If there are any holes, just fill them in with the batter using a teaspoon. It should take less than a minute to for the underside to turn golden. Check by lifting the edge with a palette knife.
Flip the pancake over with the palette knife and cook the other side until golden. This side will need less time to cook. Then slide it out of the pan onto a warmed plate.
Continue until all the batter is used. Overlap the pancakes on the warmed plate as you go, keeping them warm in the oven covered loosely with foil.
Serve with some juice of the lemon squeezed over the pancake and a generous sprinkling of sugar. They can then be rolled or folded into quarters.
Quick Mediterranean chicken combines strips of chicken fillets with peppers and penne cooked in a herb flavoured soup. This is a really quick dish to prepare and cook. Great for those nights when time is short.
10 fl oz can tomato, basil and oregano soup (Campbells)
300ml/10 fl oz water
salt and pepper
170g/6 oz penne (De Cecco is my favourite)
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Serve with sautéed courgettes/zucchini and broccoli florets.
Large frying pan/skillet or saute pan
Heat oil in the pan over a medium heat. Add the chicken, pepper and garlic and stir fry for 5 minutes.
Stir in the soup and water. Season to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and peppers are soft.
Meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil. Add the pasta to the pan and cook according to the directions on the packet. Drain. Stir the pasta through the chicken and peppers.