Which sugar for meringues?

Hi all North American friends

I was really pleased to find superfine sugar in my grocery store some time ago and have been using it in many recipes where, in the UK, one would use caster sugar.

Having used it on numerous occasions now, I have come to the conclusion that it really works well when baking but I have not been as pleased with the results when making meringue.

Granulated sugar is finer than granulated sugar in the UK and superfine is finer than caster sugar. Not a lot but enough that, when whisking the sugar into the egg white, granulated sugar gives a stiffer result. So I have gone back to using granulated sugar for meringues here in Canada.

Hope you are all enjoying this lovely summer weather at last.

Italian Cottage Pie

This recipe is a quick and tasty twist to a regular cottage pie. The beef is cooked with chopped onions and red peppers in a tomato base, seasoned with Italian herbs. This is then topped with a creamy, cheesy, mashed potato and then browned under the grill/broiler.

Italian Cottage Pie

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 675 g (1½ lb) potatoes (4–5 medium)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 450 g (1 lb) minced/ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tin/can condensed tomato soup, Campbell’s
  • 180 ml (6 fl oz) milk (¾ cup)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 140 g (5 oz) cheese, grated (1¼ cup) shredded

To serve

  • A Chinese cabbage really goes well with this dish or any other green vegetable.

Equipment

  • You will also need a 1.2 litre (2 pint) (5 cup) flame-proof dish.
  • Method
  • Peel and cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces. Place in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Add a little salt and then simmer for 20 minutes until tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the beef and brown over a medium heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and put to one side.
  • Now reduce the heat and add the onion and pepper to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes to soften.
  • Next return the beef to the pan and stir in the soup, milk, and Italian seasoning. Then gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the beef mixture is simmering, warm the flame-proof dish and preheat the grill/broiler.
  • Once the potatoes are tender, drain and add the butter and cheese. Mash until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.
  • Now spoon the beef into the flame-proof dish and top with the mashed potato.
  • Grill/broil until the potatoes are golden on top.
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Fish and Chips with Homemade Tartare Sauce

Fish and Chips with Homemade Tartare Sauce

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 45 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • For the chips
  • 900 g (2 lb) potatoes (about 6 medium)
  • 3 tbsp flavourless oil
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • For the fish
  • 4 x 140 g (5 oz) boneless haddock fillets, skinned
  • 2 lemons
  • 170 g (6 oz) fresh breadcrumbs (3 cups)
  • 28 g (1 oz) fresh parsley, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 2 tbsp flavourless oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 eggs
  • For the tartare sauce
  • 90 ml (3 fl oz) plain yogurt (⅓ cup)
  • 2 cornichons, drained and chopped
  • 2 tsp capers, drained

To serve

  • Peas
  • Method
  • For the chips
  • Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
  • Line a large roasting tin/pan with baking parchment (which prevents the chips from sticking) and add the oil.
  • Heat in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile wash and peel potatoes. Slice into 1.25 cm (½ inch) thick rounds and then into 1.25 cm (½ inch) thick strips.
  • Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and then add the chips and parboil for 5 minutes.
  • Drain well and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  • Carefully add the chips to the hot oil, turning to coat.
  • Season.
  • Cook in the oven for 40 minutes, turning halfway through, until they are golden and crisp.
  • For the fish
  • Meanwhile, put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl.
  • Zest the lemons and add to the breadcrumbs. Cut one of the lemons into wedges and put to one side. You won’t need the other lemon.
  • Now add half the parsley, seasoning and oil to the bowl and toss everything together. Spread out on a chopping board.
  • Lightly beat the eggs in a shallow bowl.
  • Then grease a baking sheet large enough to take the fish in a single layer.
  • Now dip each fish fillet first in the egg and then coat with the breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs down onto the fish so there is a thick layer. Lay them on the baking sheet.
  • When the chips have been cooking for 30 minutes put the fish in the oven. The fish will need just 10 minutes to bake.
  • For the tartare sauce
  • While the fish is baking, the tartare sauce can be prepared. Just mix together the yogurt, the remaining parsley, cornichons and capers and spoon into a small bowl to be served separately.
  • Serve the fish with the lemon wedges.
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Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinned
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 rashers smoked back bacon/side bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 225 g (8 oz) closed-cup chestnut mushrooms (about 2 cups)
  • 450 g (1 lb) Chantenay carrots/baby carrots*
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) good chicken stock (1¼ cups)
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) red wine (⅔ cup)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme

To serve

  • Purple sprouting broccoli/broccolini

Equipment

  • You will also need a large wide-based pan with lid.

Note

  • *Chantenay carrots are very sweet, small carrots which I can’t get in Canada and so I substitute them with baby carrots, about 16.
  • Method
  • In a large bowl, toss the chicken in the flour with a little salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil in the pan and add the chicken in a single layer with the bacon. Brown over a medium heat for 5 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through. Remove the chicken and bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side.
  • Reduce the heat and add the onions, mushrooms, and carrots to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, tossing frequently. Then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  • Return the chicken and bacon to the pan. Add the stock, wine, bay leaves, and thyme. Season. Now bring the sauce to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered with the lid.
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One-Dish Beef Casserole

One-dish Beef Casserole

This easy beef casserole is made from chunks of steak, braised slowly with carrots, onions and potatoes in a tomato-based beef stock. Once prepared and in the oven there is nothing more to do!

One-Dish Beef Casserole

4 servings
  • Preparation time: about 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 2 hours 45 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 700 g (1½ lb) stewing steak
  • 28 g (1 oz) flour (3 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 450 g (1 lb) carrots, sliced (6 medium)
  • 700 g (1½ lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced (4½ medium)
  • ground nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 x 400 g tin whole tomatoes (½ x 28 fl oz can)
  • good beef stock
  • 225 g (8 oz) peas (optional) (1½ cups)

Equipment

  • You will also need a lidded casserole dish and a frying pan/skillet for this recipe.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)

  • Place the flour in a medium-sized plastic food storage bag and add salt and pepper. Shake the bag to mix. Cut the steak into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes and add to the bag. Shake again so the flour coats the steak. Remove the steak from the bag but reserve any remaining flour.

  • Heat the oil in the pan/skillet over a medium heat and, when just beginning to smoke, add the steak. Toss the steak so it will sear on all sides. This will need to be done in a few batches as you don’t want to overcrowd the pan or the cubes of steak will steam rather than sear. Put to one side.

  • Now reduce the heat in the pan/skillet and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When it is hot add the onions and carrots and gently cook for 5 minutes.

  • Now layer steak, onions, carrots, and potatoes in the casserole dish, sprinkling each layer with a pinch of nutmeg and some seasoning as you go.
  • Sprinkle the remaining flour from the bag over the meat and vegetables and then add the tomatoes.

  • Finally pour over enough hotstock to come just over halfway up the ingredients.

  • Cover and cook for 2½ hours.

  • Peas can be added 15 minutes before the end of cooking.
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Updated: March 9, 2020

Sweet Mustard Pork

Sweet Mustard Pork

Succulent pork tenderloin marinaded in a sweet mustard sauce and then roasted.

Sweet Mustard Pork

4 servings
  • Preparation time: about 30 minutes
  • Marinading time: at least 30 minutes, overnight if possible
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes hob; 35 minutes oven
  • Ingredients
  • 450 g (1 lb) pork fillet/tenderloin
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • Vegetables to serve
  • roasted diced potatoes and carrots
  • peas

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 small roasting pans.


  • Method
  • For the marinaded pork
  • Mix together the maple syrup, mustard, garlic, oil, and seasoning. Then pour into a shallow dish.

  • Now add the pork and turn to coat in the marinade.

  • Cover the dish and refrigerate for at at least 30 minutes; overnight if possible.

  • For the mustard pork
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5).

  • Remove the pork from the fridge and leave to come up to room temperature.

  • Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Parboil a few potatoes and carrots for 7 minutes. Drain and leave for a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Then chop into small chunks and put in a bowl. Toss with a glug of olive oil.

  • The vegetables and pork are roasted at the same time. So tip the vegetables into a small roasting pan along with the olive oil and roast for about 35 minutes until they start to brown and crisp.

  • Transfer the pork to the second pan and pour over the marinade. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue roasting for a further 10 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through and the juices run clear when tested with a skewer.

  • Slice the pork and pour over the sticky pan juices. Serve with the roasted vegetables and accompany with peas.
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Updated: February 17, 2020

Pork and Cheese Crumble

Pork and Cheese Crumble

Tasty pork, baked on a bed of tomatoes and onions, and topped with a crispy, cheesy crumble. This is a quick dish to prepare. Just serve with seasonal vegetables.

Pork and Cheese Crumble

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour

  • Ingredients
  • 4 pork chops OR
  • 450 g (1 lb) pork fillet/tenderloin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 x 400 g tins or 1 x 28 fl oz can whole tomatoes
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 55 g (2 oz) cheese, grated (½ cup)
  • 4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs

Equipment

  • You will also need an ovenproof dish with lid.


  • Method
  • Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

  • First, prepare the pork. Remove any bone and excess fat from chops. If using fillet/tenderloin, cut into four equal pieces and then flatten each piece a little by covering the pork with cling film (plastic wrap) and bashing it with a rolling pin.

  • Now melt the butter in a frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Then add the pork, and sauté for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

  • Meanwhile, spread the onions over the bottom of the ovenproof dish. Cover with the tomatoes, season, and sprinkle over the sugar.

  • Place the pork on top of the tomatoes.

  • Toss the breadcrumbs and cheese together, then sprinkle over the meat.

  • Cover and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes.

  • Remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 15 minutes to brown the top.

  • Serve with seasonal vegetables.
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Updated: February 8, 2020

Stuffed Sole

Stuffed Sole

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.

Stuffed Sole

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes, oven
  • Ingredients
  • 8 sole fillets, about 140 g (5 oz each)
  • 55 g (2 oz) cream cheese, softened (¼ cup)
  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs, 1 slice bread with crusts
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • lemons
  • freshly milled black pepper
  • paprika

Equipment

  • You will also need an ovenproof dish large enough to take 4 fillets in a single layer, lightly greased.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)

  • Zest half a lemon and set aside.

  • Tip the breadcrumbs into a large frying pan/skillet and, over a medium heat, toast them until quite crispy, 2–3 minutes. Shake the pan often to turn the crumbs.

  • Now tip the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and add the cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of the chopped parsley, black pepper, and the juice of the whole lemon. Mix to combine.

  • Place four of the fillets in the ovenproof dish in a single layer. Spread the filling over the four fillets and then top with the four remaining fillets.

  • Squeeze the juice of the half lemon over the fish.Then sprinkle a little paprika and the lemon zest on top.

  • Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 20 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

  • Garnish with the remaining parsley.

  • Serve with asparagus when in season. It is delicious with this dish as it complements the delicacy of the sole. Serve with whole green beans at other times.

Note

  • This dish can also be microwaved, covered, on high for 8 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.
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Updated January 30, 2020

Greek Pasta Bake

Greek Pasta Bake

A tasty baked dish of lamb, pasta and tomatoes covered in a white sauce and topped with grated cheese.

Greek Pasta Bake

4 servings
  • Preparation time: About 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes hob (30 minutes oven)
  • Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 450 g (1 lb) lamb mince/ground lamb
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée/paste
  • 2 × 400g tins or 1 × 28 fl oz can chopped/diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) good beef stock (⅔ cup)
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 28 g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 28 g (1 oz) plain/all purpose flour (3 tbsp)
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) milk (1¼ cups)
  • 140 g (5 oz) macaroni (1¼ cups)
  • 55 g (2 oz) Cheddar cheese, grated/shredded (½ cup)
  • To serve
  • Accompany with a green salad

Equipment

  • You will also need a 2 litre (3 pint) (8 cup) ovenproof dish.


  • Method
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until softened.

  • Increase the heat, add the lamb, and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes until browned all over, breaking up any clumps as it is cooking.
  • Now reduce the heat and stir through the tomato purée/paste and cook for 1–2 minutes.

  • Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, stock, and seasoning. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35–40 minutes.
  • 15 minutes before the meat sauce has finished cooking preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
  • Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water as directed on the packet. Drain well.

  • Meanwhile make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, then tip in the flour and stir to make a smooth paste. Cook over a low heat for 1–2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Then cook for 4–5 minutes on a low heat, stirring until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Add the macaroni to the meat sauce and then tip in the ovenproof dish.
  • Pour the white sauce over the top and spread evenly to cover the mixture.
  • Scatter with the cheese.
  • Bake for 25–30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edges.

Tip

  • A foolproof way to make a smooth white sauce:

  • Once the butter has melted, tilt the pan so all the melted butter rests in one corner. Tip the flour onto the pool of butter. It will then be easier to stir to a smooth paste. Also preheat the milk in a microwave, on high, for 1 minute, then gradually whisk it into the roux. Adding warm milk gradually will make a smooth sauce without any lumps.
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Updated: December 29, 2019

Spicy Oven Chicken

Spicy Oven Chicken

Succulent chicken pieces with a spicy flour and cheese coating, cooked in butter in the oven and served with sautéed diced tomatoes and a creamy spice sauce.

Spicy Oven Chicken

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes, oven 25, hob 5
  • Ingredients
  • 140 g (5 oz) butter (½ cup + 2 tbsp, or 1¼ sticks)
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp curry powder or chilli powder
  • 4 chicken portions, breasts, legs or quarters, skins left on
  • 6 tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) chicken stock* (⅔ cup)
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) single cream (table cream) (⅔ cup)
  • 4 tomatoes, diced

Tip

  • *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.


  • Method
  • 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.

  • Meanwhile melt the remaining 28g (1 oz) (2 tbsp) butter in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the tomatoes and cook over a medium heat. 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. Bring to the boil while continuing to stir and then simmer until the sauce has thickened as is smooth. This will only take a minute or two. Remove from the heat.

  • Serve the chicken with the tomatoes and sauce.

  • Chunky Home Fries go well with this dish.
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Updated December 29, 2019

Shepherd’s Pie Napoletana

Shepherd's Pie Napoletana

The traditional shepherd’s pie can be quite bland and my basic Shepherd’s Pie recipe has extra seasonings to liven it up. This one brings a touch of Italian using a Napoletana sauce and with grated Parmesan on the top.

Shepherd's Pie Napoletana

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 450 g (1 lb) minced lamb/ground lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig or a large pinch of dried
  • 225 ml (8 fl oz) red wine (1 cup)
  • 500 g (16 fl oz) Napoletana pasta sauce or similar (2 cups)
  • 900 g (2 lb) potatoes, floury (about 6 medium)
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 55 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (½ cup)


  • Method
  • Brown the lamb in a large pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently to break up any lumps, about 7 minutes. It should be really well browned. Then remove from the pan and set aside.

  • Add the onion to the pan with the rosemary and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. There should be enough fat left from browning the meat not to require adding any oil.

  • Now, return the lamb to the pan and stir in the wine. Loosen any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan and then leave the wine to bubble gently until roughly half of it has evaporated.

  • Stir in the pasta sauce and then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into large chunks. Put in a pan of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–25 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the hot pan to dry off any excess moisture. Mash with the butter and half the Parmesan.

  • Preheat the grill to high.

  • Spoon the meat sauce into a medium-sized ovenproof dish. Top with the potatoes, no need to smooth the surface, then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

  • Brown under the grill for about 3 minutes.

  • Serve with seasonal vegetables.

Tip

  • The dish can be prepared ahead of time up to the grill stage. Cover the dish then refrigerate for up to two days. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and cook the pie for 25–30 minutes until heated through and golden on top.
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Updated: December 28, 2019

Lamb Meatballs in a Creamy Sauce

Lamb Meatballs in a Creamy Sauce

These tasty nutmeg seasoned meatballs are cooked in a creamy, wholegrain mustard sauce and served with tagliatelle.

Lamb Meatballs in a Creamy Sauce

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 50 minutes
  • Refrigeration time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 1 hour (oven)
  • Ingredients
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 450 g (1 lb) lamb mince/ground lamb
  • 2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), beaten
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 28 g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 600 ml (20 fl oz) chicken stock (2½ cups)
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) crème frâiche (1¼ cups)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch

To serve

  • Serve with tagliatelle and a green salad

Equipment

  • You will also need a large frying pan/skillet and a deep sided casserole dish


  • Method
  • Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into rough pieces. Place in a bowl and moisten with the milk. Mix with a fork to break up into crumbs.

  • In a large bowl, mix together the soaked breadcrumbs, onion, lamb, eggs, seasoning, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.

  • Shape into 32 meatballs, using wet fingers. Just keep a small bowl of water nearby. (Fingers dipped in flour will just become sticky.) Place them on a plate, cover, and chill for 1 hour to firm up.

  • Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

  • Meanwhile, heat half the butter in the pan/skillet over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add half the meatballs. Shake them in the pan to keep them moving and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to the casserole dish using a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding extra butter if needed.

  • Pour the stock into the panskillet. Bring to the boil, scraping off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then stir in the mustard. Pour over the meatballs.

  • Cover the dish with foil and cook above the centre of the oven for 45 minutes.

  • Next mix the crème frâiche and cornflour/cornstarch together in a bowl, then stir into the casserole until well blended.

  • Return the dish to the oven for a further 15 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and has thickened.

  • Serve over tagliatelle and a salad on the side.
Print Recipe

Updated: December 28, 2019