Refrigeration time: 6 hours or overnight, plus 2 hours on the day of serving
For the custard
butter, for greasing
4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
40g (1½ oz) caster/white sugar (3 tbsp)
½ tsp vanilla extract
300ml (10 fl oz) single cream/half and half cream (1¼ cups)
300ml (10 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
3 tsp instant coffee granules or coffee essence
For the topping
4 tbsp golden caster/white sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
100g (3½ oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup), if not using a chef’s blowtorch
You will also need 6 x 150ml (5 fl oz) heatproof ramekins
For the custard
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3).
Lightly grease the ramekins with butter and set to one side.
Boil a kettle of water. Meanwhile, line a deep-sided ovenproof dish or roasting tin/pan with a layer of kitchen paper and sit the six ramekins on the paper (this prevents them from slipping).
Next pour both creams into a pan and heat until scalding. Remove from the heat and add the coffee granules stirring until dissolved, or just stir in the coffee essence. Leave to cool a little.
While the cream is cooling, put the egg yolks and sugar into a large bowl and whisk together.
Then gradually pour the cream into the bowl, while whisking at the same time, until the cream is blended into the egg mixture. Strain the custard into a jug and then divide between the six ramekins.
Carefully pour enough of the boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as the custard still needs to have a slight wobble to it. Remove the dish from the oven and leave the ramekins in the water until the water has cooled.
Now take the ramekins out of the water, cover them and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
For the topping, using a chef’s blowtorch
Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.
Caramelize the sugar under a direct flame.
Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.
For the topping, without using a chef’s blowtorch
First, have a piece of parchment paper ready on the counter top. Next, put the sugar in a stainless steel pan and add just enough water to dampen the sugar. Place over a low heat and stir the sugar until completely dissolved. Then increase the heat to medium–high. Without stirring, leave the sugar to bubble fiercely. When the bubbling lessens and the sugar has turned a pale straw colour it will be ready. Carefully, pour the caramel onto the paper (it will be extremely hot) and leave it to become cold.
Now turn the grill/broiler to high and leave for 5 minutes to get really hot.
The caramel will have hardened on cooling. Break it into small pieces and blitz in a food processor or blender until there are really fine granules (finer than caster sugar). Sprinkle evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.
Put the ramekins on a baking tray as close to the heat as possible. Cook for less than a minute, not letting the sugar burn. The heat just needs to melt the sugar.
Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.
1 x 400g tin (or ½ × 796 ml can) chopped/diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée/paste
1tsp chicken bouillon, or 1 × organic stock cube, mixed in 300ml (10 fl oz) (⅔ cup) boiling water
1 tsp sugar
200g (7 oz) spaghetti
½ a small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded (or other green leafed vegetable finely shredded*).
*Savoy cabbage in Canada can be very pale and so I prefer to use something like kale. The dark green colour works well with the spaghetti, although it does sound an unusual combination.
You will also need a large lidded frying pan/skillet.
In a large bowl mix together the pork, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, lemon zest, finely chopped onion, half the garlic and half the sage, a pinch of the crushed chillies, and plenty of seasoning. Once everything is well mixed in, shape into 30 meatballs. Then refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
Heat half the oil in the frying pan/skillet and add the meatballs. Brown over a medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally to brown all sides. This may need to be done in two batches. Remove and set aside.
Now add the remaining oil to the pan, reduce the heat, and add the chopped onions. Cook gently for 5 minutes until they have softened. Then add the remaining garlic and sage and cook for a further minute. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée/paste, stock, sugar, a pinch of crushed chillies, and season. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer for 5–10 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little.
Return the meatballs to the pan, then gently simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted, boiling water, adding the cabbage or other green vegetable for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain.
Serve the spaghetti alongside the meatballs and sauce.
This is a lasagne recipe that I stumbled across many years ago and that has always been a great family favourite. The dish has three layers of pasta, a meaty tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese, topped with Parmesan.
For this recipe you will need a deep sided frying pan/skillet or sauté pan.
Also a 32.5 x 22.5 x 5 cm (13 x 9 x 2 inch) ovenproof dish.
*In the UK the prepackaged grated mozzarella cheese contains only cheese and anti-caking ingredients. In Canada it has more additives, so I buy the block mozzarella and grate it myself. Just pop it in the freezer for ten minutes before grating to firm it up.
A Caesar salad can be served as an accompaniment.
Brown the meat in the frying pan/skillet over a medium heat, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the onion and garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, ⅔ cup water, and seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Many brands of lasagne pasta require no pre-cooking but I have found they benefit from cooking for a short time anyway. A baked lasagne using uncooked pasta isn’t as moist.
So, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a glug of olive oil. Drop 5 of the lasagne sheets into the water one at a time (crossing each one over the other) and boil for 4 minutes. They need to be cooked in two batches or they will stick together while cooking. Remove the sheets with a pair of tongs and rinse under cold water, then lay the sheets separately on a clean tea-towel. Repeat with the remaining four sheets.
To layer up the lasagne. First, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom of the lasagne pan. Then layer 3 lasagne sheets, a third of the remaining meat sauce, and a third of the mozzarella cheese on top. Repeat layering the pasta, meat sauce, and cheese twice more. Finally sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.
Bake, covered with foil, in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving into portions.
This lemon meringue pie is a true family favourite and was one of the first pies I ever baked. The filling is very easy to make from scratch. It gives a mixture that is both creamy and full of zingy lemon flavour to complement the sweetness of the meringue on top.
You will also need an 18cm (7 inch) round deep pie plate with rim
For the pastry
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles fresh breadcrumbs. This can be done by hand or in a food processor.
Sprinkle the water evenly over the surface (if it is not evenly sprinkled it can cause blistering when the pastry is cooked). Start bringing the dough together using a pallet knife and, once it starts clumping, finish off by hand, until the dough is smooth and leaves the bowl clean. Pop in a plastic food bag and refrigerate to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5) and place a baking tray/sheet in the oven to warm up at the same time.
Roll out the pastry onto a floured surface to a thickness of 6mm (¼ inch) and 2.5cm (1 inch) larger than the pie plate. Now cut a 1.25cm (½ inch) strip from around the edge of the pastry. Dampen the rim of the pie plate with water and then use the strip to cover the rim, pressing it down. Next dampen the strip of pastry. Then line the pie plate with the remaining pastry, gently pressing it down into the pie plate and around the rim to make sure no air is trapped but being careful not to stretch the pastry. Remove any excess pastry from around the edge of the rim and prick the base of the pastry with a fork.
Place the pie plate on the baking tray/sheet in the oven and bake blind for 15 minutes.
Then carefully remove the paper and baking beans, and return the pastry to the oven for a further 5–10 minutes until it is cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) (gas 2).
For the filling
While the pastry is cooking, the filling can be prepared. Mix the cornflour with the water in a saucepan. Then stir in the zest and juice of the lemons. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring, until the mixture thickens.
Now reduce the temperature to medium and add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved. Remove from the heat, cool the mixture for a couple of minutes, then beat in the egg yolks. Set aside.
For the meringue
Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Then gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition, until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
The pastry case can either be left in the pie plate or carefully removed. Place the pie plate or the pastry case only on the warmed baking tray. Now pour the lemon filling into the pastry case and then pile the meringue on top, making sure it completely covers the filling. Finally pull the meringue up into peaks using the tip of a knife.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. The meringue will be crisp and lightly browned on the outside but still soft on the inside.
It can be served warm or cold. If it is to be served warm, let it rest for 20 minutes after taking it out of the oven before slicing into portions.