*Golden syrup isn’t readily available in North America. I can find it in some grocery stores and I know I can get it in the small stores that sell British products. If it is impossible to find, liquid honey would be a substitute. Golden syrup is very thick so you don’t want anything too runny.
2 large baking trays/cookie sheets
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Put the sugar, butter and syrup into a large deep-sided pan and gently heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, stirring to combine the ingredients well.
Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool a little.
Meanwhile lightly grease the trays/sheets.
In a separate bowl sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda/baking soda then stir through the oats.
Now add the dried mixture into the pan a couple of spoonfuls at a time stirring to combine.
Shape into 24 balls and place on the trays/sheets spacing well apart. Then flatten the balls a little. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays/sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
4 x 170g (6 oz) steaks, (rib eye, sirloin or other good quality steak)
For the Béarnaise Sauce
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 shallot, chopped
2 egg yolks, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
115g (4 oz) butter, cut into small pieces (½ cup, or 1 stick)
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
fries and peas
For the steaks
Heat a large frying pan/skillet and add the butter and oil.
Season the steaks then add to the pan. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes each side for medium rare, 3 minutes for medium, 5–6 minutes for well done. Or BBQ. Transfer to a hot plate, cover and let the steak rest for a couple of minutes.
For the Béarnaise Sauce
While the steak is cooking, put the vinegar and shallot in a small pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer to reduce to about 1 tablespoon. This will only take a minute or two. Strain and leave to cool for a few minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with some seasoning. Whisk in the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of warm water. Place the bowl over a pan of just simmering water and add the butter, a knob at a time, stirring until each knob has melted before adding the next. Continue stirring until the sauce is shiny and thick. (The sauce will remain quite thin for a few minutes and then start to thicken very quickly.) Once it has thickened, stir in the chopped tarragon.
Spoon the sauce alongside the steaks and serve with fries and peas.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Gradually whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking well between each addition, until stiff and glossy.
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Dab a little meringue on each corner of the baking sheet first to keep the lining in place.
Spoon six mounds of meringue onto the baking paper. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. The meringues should now lift easily from the paper. Leave to cool.
For the Eton Mess
Wash, hull and halve the strawberries. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle over the sugar and drizzle with the Grand Marnier if using. Mix gently and leave for 30 minutes at room temperature.
In a separate bowl, break the meringues into bite-sized pieces.
Whip the cream until it just forms soft peaks. It should still fall from a spoon.
Put 20 strawberry halves and about a quarter of the broken meringues to one side for decoration.
Now gently mix the cream into the strawberries in the large bowl and add the remaining meringue pieces. Divide between the glass dishes and top each dish with an equal quantity of the reserved strawberry halves and meringue.
3 spring onions/green onions, finely sliced (optional)
salt and pepper
parsley sprigs to garnish
For the vegetables
4 large tomatoes
3 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
For the fries
800g (1 lb 12oz) potatoes (5 medium)
2 tbsp oil (not olive oil)
salt and pepper
For the fries
Adjust oven rack to lowest level. Preheat to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Peel potatoes and slice into ½ inch thick rounds and then into ½ inch thick strips. Pat dry and place in a bowl.
Drizzle with oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Stir until evenly coated.
Spread out on a baking sheet, covered with baking paper, and bake for about 30 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times until browned and tender.
For the vegetables
Cut the tomatoes in half, put a knob of butter on each cut half, and season. Place on a small baking tray then put in the oven during the last 10 minutes of cooking time for the fries.
For the gammon
Meanwhile, trim any rind off the gammon steaks.
If you have a double-oven or two single ovens, preheat the grill/broiler, preferably to medium but if you only have a low or high option, choose low. If you have a single oven and are using this for the fries, then the gammon can be cooked in a sauté pan on the hob.
Either cook the gammon under the grill/broiler for 6–10 minutes turning halfway through, or in a lightly greased sauté pan, over a medium heat, for 6 minutes, again turning halfway through. The gammon should be slightly crispy.
Place 1 pineapple ring on each gammon steak. Mix together the cheese, onion, if using, and seasoning. Top the pineapple with the mixture and place under the grill/broiler until the cheese starts to melt and brown slightly, about 5 minutes. (If you are using a single oven, place under the grill/broiler once the fries have finished cooking. Just keep them warm, covered.)
Serve the gammon with the tomatoes and fries alongside and garnish with a sprig of parsley.
Summer is in full swing now. Lots of very hot, sunny days and being a summer person this is definitely my time of year. However, Shandy, our labrador, does not agree with me – he finds it just too hot. Even choosing the woods to take him for a walk, where the umbrella of the trees definitely cuts out the blazing heat of the sun, only gives a little respite. For him its indoors lying in a cool spot with the air conditioner turned on!
There is invariably something to see on our walks and we were surprised by a young deer with its mother wandering through the trees. They are so elegant and much larger than the muntjac deer we were used to seeing in Oxfordshire.
All that aside, the time I choose to be in the kitchen is less during the summer months and the following recipe is one from my summer collection. There was some lovely wild cod at the fish counter which is very rarely available, so I just had to buy some. It was thick and the flesh was, oh so white. I used it for this recipe. We really enjoyed it and hope you will want to try it too.
A very tasty way to serve cod that is super quick to prepare and cook.
Sun-dried tomato and butter are spread on the cod before topping with the cheese and plum tomato slices. It is then simply grilled/broiled and served with the buttery sauce, peas, green salad and crusty bread. A complete meal in no time.
A heat resistant dish that is large enough to lay the 4 pieces of cod in a single layer.
If it is possible, set the grill/broiler to medium. If you only have a high or low setting, option, turn it to low.
Lay the fish in the dish. Spread the tomato paste over the fish and then dot with the butter. Place two pieces of cheese on each piece of fish and top with the sliced tomatoes.
Grill/broil until the fish is cooked through. This should take about 10 minutes under a medium heat and 15 under a low heat. Increase the heat to high for a further two minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to brown.
Meanwhile, cook the peas. This will take just 2 minutes in a microwave.
Serve the fish with all the buttery juices and the peas spooned round the fish. Season.
Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric hand mixer or food mixer. Once the mixture is creamy, gradually beat in the egg and then the vanilla essence/extract.
Sift the remaining ingredients into the bowl and blend into the mixture using a spoon until just combined. Now gently knead by hand until a soft dough has formed.
Take the dough and roll it out on a floured surface to 0.5cm (¼ inch) thick. Then using the large cutter, cut rounds from the dough and place them onto the baking sheets/trays. Now using the smaller cutter remove the centre of half the rounds. (Don’t try to remove the centres before placing the rounds on the sheets/trays as they will become misshapen.) Keep re-rolling the leftover dough and cutting out the rounds, making sure there are an equal number of the whole rounds and cut-out rounds. There should be enough dough to make about 18 finished biscuits.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are just starting to brown. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Spread a thick layer of strawberry jam over the whole rounds and then place the cut rounds on top. Finish by dusting with icing sugarpowdered sugar. The sugar will melt on the jam but will remain on the biscuit. Store in an airtight container.
Summer has now arrived and we can look forward to a few months of hot sunny weather. This is certainly my time of year and I have just made one of my favourite desserts – creamy iced lemon pots.
I tend to make them for the summer because they are very refreshing and very creamy.
Very easy to make too. Four ingredients – cream, milk, the zest and juice of 2 lemons, and sugar. Basically, it is all mixed together and frozen. I make up a batch which will fill 8 glass ramekin dishes and, because they are frozen, you can just take as many out of the freezer as you need at a time. They are a great little standby when you want something quick for a dessert.
Perfect for a hot summer’s day. These little pots are so refreshing and so creamy.
Very easy to make. Basically mixing together cream, milk, the zest and juice of two lemons and sugar then freezing.
This recipe makes 8 pots so you can take as many out of the freezer as you need and leave the rest for another day – a super little standby.
300ml (10 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
340g (12 oz) caster/white sugar (1¾ cups)
600ml (20 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (2½ cups)
150ml (5 fl oz) whipping cream or heavy cream (⅔ cup)
1.5 litre/2½ pint plastic container with lid
8 glass ramekin dishes
Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks.
Zest the lemons and add to the cream. Squeeze out the juice (they should yield 6 tablespoons of juice) and add to the cream along with the sugar and milk. Whisk on the lowest setting until thoroughly mixed, then pour into the plastic container, cover with the lid, and freeze for at least six hours until firm.
Break into chunks and put in a blender, then liquidise. Mix until smooth and creamy.
Pour into the ramekin dishes, cover and freeze overnight.
To serve, remove the ramekin dishes to thaw for 10 minutes. Meanwhile whip the cream and put a small spoonful on the top of each lemon pot. Cut four thin slices from the lemon and cut these into two. Twist each piece and place on top of the cream for decoration.
These will keep in the freezer for up to a month. Just remove from the freezer for the 10 minutes and decorate.
Looking for a quick and easy supper from cupboard staples? Then here’s a tasty Tuna and Egg Pasta dish. Penne and a couple of cans of tuna are folded into a cheese sauce and topped with egg and crunchy buttered breadcrumbs.
Cook penne and onion together in a pan of boiling, salted water for about 11 minutes, or as directed on packet. Drain and set aside.
Melt 55g (2 oz) (¼ cup, or ½ stick) of the butter in a pan, stir in the flour until smooth and cook over a low heat for 1 minute.
While leaving the roux to cook, warm the milk. (The easiest way is to microwave on high power for one minute.) Then gradually blend into the roux, stirring continuously, until smooth. Bring to the boil, stirring, until thickened.
Next add the cheese and seasoning and stir until the cheese has melted.
Stir through the penne and onion, then mix in the tuna, breaking up any large clumps. Spoon into the ovenproof dish.
Shell the eggs, cut in half and then into thirds and scatter over the top, gently pressing them down.
Melt the remaining butter in a pan and fry the breadcrumbs until crisp. Scatter over the pasta.
Bake in the oven for 20–30 minutes until bubbling around the edges and browning on the top.
A very simple fish dish that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook. Salmon fillets are baked with freshly squeezed orange juice and dotted with butter. The result – a lovely buttery orange sauce to complement the salmon.
This dish is good served with Creamy Garlic Potatoes (recipe below) and fine green beans.
If accompanying the salmon with the Creamy Garlic Potatoes, prepare the potatoes first. Then, when they have gone in the oven, prepare the salmon. Put the salmon in the oven 10 minutes after the potatoes have gone in. Everything will then be ready at the same time.
an ovenproof dish, well greased
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Lay the salmon fillets side by side in the ovenproof dish. Dot with the butter and pour over the juice of 1 orange, then season.
Cover with foil and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes, until salmon is firm to the touch.
Thinly slice four pieces from the second orange, then cut each slice with one cut from the centre to the edge. Twist either side of the cut in opposite directions and place each one along the top of each fillet. Garnish with dill and serve with the orange butter sauce poured over the fish.
This chicken dish just takes 20 minutes to cook – one to choose when time is short. The chicken breasts, chunky potatoes and garlic are sautéed in olive oil and butter until crisp and then covered in a white wine sauce.
Preheat the oven to a low heat and put the serving dish in the oven to warm.
Peel and cut the potatoes into small chunks. Bring a pan of water to the boil and simmer the potatoes until just tender, about 15 minutes.
Season the chicken breasts.
Divide the butter and oil between the two pans.
Place one pan over a medium heat and when the butter is foaming add the chicken breasts and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and continue to cook the chicken until it is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain the potatoes when they are just tender and leave for a couple of minutes to dry out while you place the other pan over a medium heat. Once the butter is foaming add the potatoes with the garlic and turn to coat. Continue to cook until the potatoes are golden and crisp, turning occasionally.
When the chicken is ready, transfer it to a warm serving dish and keep warm in the oven. Add the potatoes and garlic once they are ready.
Pour the chicken stock and wine into the pan the chicken was cooked in and let it bubble over a high heat until reduced by half. Stir occasionally and scrape all the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan.
Pour over the chicken, potatoes and garlic and serve garnished with the parsley.
For chocoholics in the family, this is a delectable chocolate cake. The chocolate flavoured sponge is very light and and the chocolate icing is a little fudgy and is used as a filling too. Of course, you have to finish it off with more chocolate, and slivers of chocolate are used decorate the top. The only non-chocolate addition is apricot jam that is used before adding the icing and this makes it more moist.
good quality plain/dark chocolate for the decoration
2 × 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Blend the cocoa powder with the hot water in a small bowl and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. (Either use a free standing mixer or electric hand mixer.) Add the butter, sugar and eggs. Then pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Beat for 2 minutes until creamy.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 25–30 minutes. The cakes should have shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin and will spring back when lightly pressed with a forefinger.
Leave in the tins for 2 minutes then carefully remove, peeling off the lining, and cool on a wire rack.
For the filling, icing and decoration
Place the chocolate for the decoration in the refrigerator to become cold as it will be easier to work with.
Now for the filling and icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
Put the butter in a medium-sized pan and melt over a low heat. As soon as it has melted, mix in the cocoa powder and cook over a very low heat for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk. Add the icing sugar /powdered sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time, beating well between each addition. You may not need all the sugar. Just add enough to make a coating consistency.
Leave to cool a little. while preparing the apricot glaze.
You can buy apricot glaze in a jar in the U.K. which is ready to use, so just warm through about 6 tablespoons. In Canada, not being able to find apricot glaze, I use apricot jam. Add 1 tablespoon of hot water to 6 tablespoons of apricot jam to thin it a little and gently heat to warm through. The jam will now be of a consistency to pass through a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit.
Invert one the the sponge layers and place on a serving plate. Using a palette knife, carefully coat the top with about a quarter of the glaze, then top with two good tablespoonfuls of the icing. Spread evenly over the jam.
Place the second cake on top and gently press down. Spread the sides and top with the remaining glaze using just enough to coat. Then spread the remaining icing over the whole cake.
Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and, over a plate, pull a potato peeler along the long smooth edge. This will make tiny slivers of chocolate. You will need about 28g (1 oz). Scatter these on top of the cake to decorate.