This is a thick tomato soup made with plum tomatoes and chopped basil leaves to give it an Italian flavour. The bowls of soup are sprinkled with mozzarella cheese and garnished with extra basil leaves. Just serve with lovely, fresh crusty bread.
I recently made some chocolate choux buns and, whilst making the choux pastry, I decided to try whisking the eggs into the melted butter mixture using an electric hand whisk. I had picked up on the fact that this is supposed to incorporate air into the mixture as you are whisking in the eggs, resulting in a lighter pastry.
Having had success with these choux buns, I will now use this method when making the pastry for the religieuses and so I have amended the method for making the choux pastry in that recipe to show this (see here).
I like trying new ways of doing things. They don’t always work but this one certainly did.
Choux buns filled with a sweet, vanilla cream and topped with a thick coating of chocolate – what could be more heavenly?
55g (2 oz) butter, cut into cubes (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
70g (2½ oz) plain/all purpose flour
2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), lightly beaten
For the filling
480ml (16 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp caster/white sugar
100g (3½ oz) plain/dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
40g (1½ oz) butter, cut into cubes (3 tbsp)
For the choux buns
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) (gas 7)
First sift the flour onto a piece of kitchen paper.
Place the butter in a heavy-based pan along with 150ml (5 fl oz) (⅔ cup) of water. Heat the mixture over a gentle heat until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Now bring the mixture to a rolling boil and then immediately remove from the heat and quickly tip in the flour. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
Now cook the mixture over a low heat, stirring constantly, until it comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a soft ball, about 2 minutes. The mixture will also dry out a little at this stage. Then transfer to a mixing bowl and leave until it feels cool to the touch, about 15 minutes.
Next, using an electric whisk, gradually add the eggs, whisking well between each addition. Not all the egg may be needed. Just add enough until the mixture is smooth and shiny and forms a soft peak. (Using an electric whisk will allow air to be incorporated into the mixture as the eggs are added.)
Sprinkle or spray a little water over the baking sheet. (When in the oven the water will create steam which will help puff up the mixture.) Put eight large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the lined baking sheet, spaced evenly apart.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5). Cook for a further 20 minutes or until the buns are well risen and golden brown. (Don’t open the door of the oven during the first 20 minutes of cooking.) Remove the choux buns and turn off the oven.
Pierce a small hole into each bun with a skewer or make a small cut with the tip of a knife, which will allow steam to escape, then return to the oven for 5 minutes to dry out.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Then cut in half and remove any uncooked pastry. They are then ready to be filled.
Put the butter and half the chocolate in a heavy-based pan and melt over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat, add the remaining chocolate, and stir until it has melted and the mixture is of a smooth consistency. Set to one side to cool.
For the filling
Whisk the cream, vanilla extract and sugar together until stiff.
Cut the buns in half and fill with the cream mixture.
Once the chocolate is cool, thickly coat the top of each bun.
These are best eaten within a few hours after they have been filled. Once filled with the cream mixture, the pastry will tend to soften.
4 x 175ml (6 fl oz) (1 cup) pudding basins or similar small rounded dishes
A deep sided tin/pan large enough to hold the four basins
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Grease the four pudding basins and put 1 tablespoon of jam in the bottom of each. Set aside.
Grate the zest from half the orange and set aside. Then squeeze the juice from the orange and pour into a small jug.
Beat the zest into the butter using an electric hand mixer. Add the sugar and beat until light and creamy. Then gradually whisk in the egg. Fold in the flour, adding sufficient orange juice to give a soft dropping consistency. This is best done one tablespoon at a time.
Alternatively, use a free-standing mixer. Mix all the ingredients together, except for the orange juice. Then add the orange juice, one tablespoon at a time, until a soft dropping consistency is reached.
Divide the mixture between the four basins and smooth the tops.
Butter four pieces of foil, each large enough to cover the basins, and fold over the sides. Then put the covered basins in the tin/pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basins. Bake for 45 minutes until the tops of the sponges spring back when lightly pressed.
Carefully lift the basins out of the pan. Run a small palette knife round the edge of the sponges, then turn them out onto four plates or dessert bowls.
12-cup bun or muffin tin lined with 9 or 12 paper baking cases. (The standard size baking cases are smaller in the U.K. and so the mixture will be enough to make 12. Being larger in North America, they will only make 9.)
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)
Sift the flour into a bowl and put to one side.
Lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a small bowl using a balloon whisk. Again, put to one side.
Now cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy using a free-standing mixer or hand-held electric mixer.
Next, gradually beat in the eggs and 2 tablespoons of the flour.
Fold in the remaining flour adding the milk to make a soft consistency.
Spoon into the baking cases, filling them two-thirds full.
Bake for 15–18 minutes until the top of the cakes spring back when lightly touched with the tip of the finger.
Leave for one minute and then remove the cakes to a cooling rack to become cold.
For the buttercream filling
Beat the butter until it is really soft.
Slowly add half the icing/powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Then beat in the remaining sugar along with the vanilla extract until soft and creamy.
Cut a cone from the centre of each cake using a small pointed knife held at angle. Cut each cone in half to create two wings.
Next, spoon a generous portion of buttercream into each hole and carefully place each pair of ‘wings’ on top with the cut edges facing down into the buttercream.
675g (1½ lb) potatoes, cut into even sized pieces (about 5 medium)
115g (4 oz) cooked ham, diced
340g (12 oz) baby spinach leaves, chopped
28g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
28g (1 oz) flour (3 tbsp)
150ml (5 fl oz) milk (⅔ cup)
150ml (5 fl oz) hot chicken stock (⅔ cup)
salt and ground black pepper
150ml (5 fl oz) single/table cream (⅔ cup)
85g (3 oz) Gruyère cheese, grated (¾ cup)
1.5 litre/2½ pint (6 cup) ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Put the chicken, onion, carrot and bay leaf into a pan and cover with water. Bring the water to the boil, then cover the pan and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and discard the water and vegetables.
Blanch the potatoes in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, dice into 1cm (½ inch) cubes.
Dice the chicken and put into a large bowl along with the ham and spinach. Toss to mix, then spread over the base of the ovenproof dish.
Melt the butter over a medium heat. Turn the heat down and quickly stir in the flour and mix to a smooth paste. Gradually add the milk and stock, stirring continuously until there is a smooth sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat. Add the seasoning, cream and cheese and beat well.
Pour half the sauce over the chicken mixture. Spread the cubed potato over the top, then spoon the rest of the sauce over.
Bake above the centre of the oven for 40 minutes until the potato is tender and has started to brown.
With seasons changing and days becoming cooler, now is the time I start thinking of heartwarming soups for lunch. I made the Country Vegetable soup this week and thought you may be interested in some of the tips I have picked up on making soups generally. See Tips for Making Soups
I have also added a few suggestions of garnishes that can be used when serving up bowls of soup.
284ml (10 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
8 good scoops vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
*1 lemon should yield 3 tbsp
4 sundae glasses
To make the raspberry sauce, put the sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with 225ml (8 fl oz) (1 cup) of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly thick and syrupy.
Put the raspberries in a blender or food processor and pour the hot syrup over the top. Purée until smooth, then strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds.
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.
Drizzle two tablespoons of the raspberry sauce round the inside of each sundae glass. (It will run down the insides of the glass and leave a layer on the bottom.)
Add two scoops of ice cream or frozen yogurt to each glass.
Now add a large dollop of whipped cream and then slowly drizzle two tablespoons of raspberry sauce over the top, allowing the sauce to run down through the layers.