This week we’ve had a couple of nights where it feels quite cool – it seems as though the time has come to say goodbye to summer and all those lovely berry desserts.
The coming of fall, although a beautiful but short season here in Ontario, will mean that winter is just around the corner. Now being a summer person, that is not my favourite time of year. It means there is often a very reluctant dog (our yellow labrador) and us to venture out on walks. The bright sunny, even snowy days, are a delight – it’s the ice and wind I could do without!
So – where I was going – it seems that it’s now time to start bringing out the fall recipes with that bit of comfort food about them. The first one we had again for supper last evening – a Lemon Surprise Pudding – which has just been added to the blog. I hope that you will want to try it.
This Lemon Surprise Pudding makes a lovely, citrus dessert. The mixture creates a thick, very lemony sauce that is covered with a really light and airy sponge.
These tasty little shepherd’s pies are made in a small gratin dish and are quick to prepare. The lamb is mixed with beans and a minted tomato sauce, and then covered with a creamy mash potato and topped with cheese and cherry tomatoes.
170g (6 oz) sliced ham, cut into strips (about 6 slices)
225g (8 oz) mozzarella cheese, chopped
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
A green salad or caesar salad
You will also need a deep ovenproof dish measuring 22cm x 30.5cm (8½ ins x 12 ins) and 6.5cm (2½ ins) deep.
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Now turn up the heat to moderate, add the meat and brown, stirring often to break up any lumps, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the oregano, thyme, wine, and plenty of seasoning. Continue to cook until the wine has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Next, stir in the passata, 240ml (8 fl oz) (1 cup) water, and add the bay leaf. Cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time the consistency should be that of a loose ragù. Add a little more water if it is getting too thick.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F)( gas 5).
minutes before the ragù has finished cooking, start cooking the pasta. Add the pasta to a large pan of boiling salted water and let it cook for 2 minutes less than the recommended time on the packet. Drain.
Add the peas to the ragù and then remove the pan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf.
Now to layer the dish. Spoon a thin layer of the ragù over the base of the ovenproof dish. Add half the pasta and then spoon over half the remaining ragù. Top with all the ham. Now scatter over half the mozzarella plus 2 tbsp of the Parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta then spoon over the rest of the ragù. Finally scatter over the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes until piping hot and golden.
Serve with extra Parmesan sprinkled on the top and a salad.
225g (8 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour, plus extra for dusting (1½ cups + 1 tbsp)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
85g (3 oz) butter, chilled and cut into small cubes (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
40g (1½ oz) caster/white sugar (3 tbsp)
3 tbsp milk
14g (½ oz) melted butter (1 tbsp)
For the filling
340g (12 oz) strawberries (1 pint container)
150ml (5 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (⅔ cup)
icing/powdered sugar for dusting
You will also need a 20cm (8 in) sandwich tin that is 5cm (2 in) deep and brushed with a little melted butter.
For the filling
Wash the strawberries and pat dry. Hull, then slice them lengthways and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to coat. Put to one side for at least 1 hour to draw out the juices.
For the shortcake
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips.
In a smaller bowl, add the egg, and whisk with a fork to break up. Next whisk in the sugar and milk to mix. Now pour the mixture liberally over the dry ingredients and, using a table knife, cut through the mixture to begin bringing it together. Then with floured fingers continue bringing the mixture together to make a rough, soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly a few of times to smooth the surface.
Divide the dough in two equal pieces and gently pat each half out to a circle that will fit the buttered tin. With floured fingers, lift one circle of dough and lay it in the tin. Brush the surface of the dough liberally with the melted butter. Now place the second circle of dough on top.
Bake the shortcake for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Using the tip of a palette knife, gently separate the two pieces of shortcake. The melted butter separating the two layers will have allowed them to remain separate.
Place the shortcake base on a serving plate. Cut the top into 8 equal slices, which will make cutting the dessert easier to serve.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
Now spoon the strawberries and their juice over the base and then cover with the whipped cream. Place the 8 slices on top in exactly the order they were cut so they will fit back together perfectly.
Dust with icing sugar/powdered sugar using a small sieve and serve immediately.
Summer for me has always been about enjoying strawberries. I can remember when the season was very short because you could only buy locally grown ones. Memories of watching Wimbledon Tennis with a bowl of strawberries and cream – a wonderful combination where neither lasted long enough! Well perhaps the strawberry season lasted a little longer. Now newer varieties are grown in many areas which extend the season and have a longer shelf life too. Meaning they are available in the stores for many months over the summer.
In U.K. stores they are mainly U.K. grown and here in Canada most are imported from the States, but wherever we have lived the best for me are those grown locally. Because they are not picked to travel far they tend to be left to ripen just that little bit longer which means they are sweet and full of flavour with an aroma which is always more intense. The best are those you can find being sold by the roadside outside the main towns.
A strawberry cheesecake recipe is always a must and here is my classic version. I hope you will enjoy it too.
This is a classic strawberry cheesecake. It has a sweet crumb base and a creamy cheese filling then topped with heaps of sliced strawberries and a gorgeous strawberry sauce.
Prepares: 8 servings (images show 4 servings size)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: about 15 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
For the base
170g (6 oz) Graham cracker crumbs (1¼ cups) OR
170g (6 oz) plain digestive biscuits (12)*
55g (2 oz) sugar (¼ cup)
55g (2 oz) butter, melted (¼ cup)
*In North America you can buy packaged baking crumbs ready for using in desserts like cheesecakes. In the U.K. these aren’t readily available, so use plain digestive biscuits and just put them in a large plastic food bag and crush them with a rolling pin until they are broken into very small crumbs.
For the filling
2 pkgs (250g each) cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
140g (5 oz) caster/white sugar (¾ cup less 2 tsp)
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the topping
675g (1 lb 8 oz) strawberries (a quart container)
115g (4 oz) redcurrant jelly (2 tbsp)
You will also need a 23cm (9 inch) springform pan or loose-bottomed pan.
For the base
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Mix the crumbs and sugar together in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to coat the crumb mixture.
Press into the pan, pushing some of the crumbs up the sides to form a rim about 2cm (¾ inch) high and 1.25cm (½ in) wide.
Bake for 10 minutes then remove and leave to cool, about 20 minutes.
For the filling
Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) gas 4.
Beat the two packets of cheese together until soft and creamy, using a food mixer or electric hand mixer. Now add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract one at a time, beating well between each addition until smooth. Pour into the cooled crumb crust.
Bake for 35 minutes until the cheesecake is just firm around the edge and just set in the middle. There still needs to be a slight wobble as this will prevent it cracking when cooling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. If you have time, leave to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar. This will allow it to cool down very slowly which again helps prevent cracking. Then refrigerate for 2 hours.
For the topping
Wash, pat dry and hull the strawberries.
Set aside 170g (6 oz) (about ½ pint container) and purée. Then strain through a sieve so you are left with a smooth sauce.
Melt the redcurrant jelly in a small pan over a low heat, stirring in the purée until blended together.
Remove from the heat and pour into a small serving jug. Set to one side to cool.
Slice the remaining strawberries.
No more than one hour before serving, carefully remove the cheesecake from the pan and decorate the top with the sliced strawberries.
Serve, cut into wedges and pour the strawberry sauce over the top.
A fish dish that is full of flavour and looks very colourful on the plate.
Salmon brushed with butter and lemon juice is then roasted and served sitting on a bed of buttery spinach with buttery tomatoes alongside. Slices of potato are roasted until crisp to complete the dish.
large bag (plastic container) baby leaf spinach, about 500g (18 oz)
a dash of white wine vinegar
You will also need a roasting tin/pan for the potatoes and an ovenproof dish large enough to lay the fish in a single layer.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
For the potatoes
Peel and cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces. Place in a pan and cover with water. Bring the water to the boil and then simmer for 7 minutes. Drain and leave for a few minutes until the potatoes are cool enough to handle.
Now thickly slice and add to a large bowl. Season, add the oil and toss to coat. Tip into the roasting tin/pan and roast for 30 minutes, turning a couple of times.
For the fish
Lightly oil the ovenproof dish, add the fish and brush with the melted butter. Season and then squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 18 minutes.
For the tomatoes
Tip the tomatoes into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let the juice bubble for 5 minutes to reduce.
Now gradually stir in the cubes of butter over a low heat and then add the sugar. Season to taste.
For the spinach
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the spinach leaves. Cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes.
Next stir through a dash of white wine vinegar, then tip into a colander and press out the liquid.
Divide the spinach among four serving plates and place a salmon portion on top. Spoon the tomatoes around one side of the fish and the crispy potatoes on the other.
Serve with buttered, baby potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli/broccolini.
You will also need a large frying pan/skillet with a lid for this recipe.
First, warm a plate in the oven.
Then trim any fat from the pork and slice into 2.5cm (1 inch) slices.
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Next, quarter, core, and slice the apples (do not peel).
Now heat the oil in a pan and then fry the pork slices over a medium–high heat for 2–3 minutes on each side until nicely browned. This will probably need to be done in two or more batches. Once the slices are brown, transfer them to the warmed plate and cover with foil.
Add the onions to the pan, reduce the heat and then gently cook for about 5 minutes to soften.
Stir in the flour until it soaks up all the juices in the pan and then gradually add the stock, stirring continuously, until the sauce is smooth.
Next stir in the mustards and the cream. Add the apples, thyme and seasoning. Return the pork to the pan along with any juices. Stir everything together, cover the pan, and then gently cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened.
3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only
170g (6 oz) caster/white sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
2 tsp coffee essence
For the filling
300ml (10 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
For the decoration
1 level tsp cocoa powder
You will also need a large piping bag fitted with a medium sized nozzle.
For the meringues
Preheat oven to cool, 140°C (275°F) (gas 1).
Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff. Gradually whisk in the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking well between each addition. Sprinkle over the coffee essence and whisk again until blended in. The meringue should form stiff peaks and be glossy.
Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Dabbing a little meringue on each corner of the baking sheets first will keep the linings in place.
Spoon the meringue into the piping bag and pipe 20 swirls of meringue onto the paper. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes until the meringues are dry. Allow to cool, then remove from the paper.
For the filling
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and use it to sandwich the meringues together in pairs.
Dust a coating of cocoa powder over the meringues using a small sieve.
If you like your meringues really crisp and have the time, leave them to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.
You will also need an ovenproof dish, greased. It should be large enough to lay the fish in a single layer.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) gas 4
Bring rice to the boil in 360ml (12 fl oz) (1½ cups) of lightly salted water. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. For brown rice simmer for 15 minutes and for white rice simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the skin from the tomatoes. Put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Then leave for one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and gently peel away the skin. (It should come away very easily.) Set aside.
Lightly season the fish with thyme and pepper.
Once the rice has finished simmering for the appropriate time, spread the rice and the remaining water from the pan in the ovenproof dish. (It will not be fully cooked at this point.) Then lay the fish on top of the rice in a single layer and pour over the wine. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top.
Now melt the butter in a frying pan/skillet, add the onion and garlic and cook over a low heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Mix in the breadcrumbs and parsley, then scatter over the tomatoes.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through and the topping is golden brown.
Cut the lemon into four slices and use to garnish.
Cut the chicken into strips and put in a glass or ceramic shallow dish.
Combine the lemon juice, oil, garlic, and herbs with 2 tablespoons of water and pour over the chicken. Cover and leave to marinade for 1 hour, turning halfway through.
Meanwhile prepare the croutons. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) (gas 2)
Remove the crusts from the bread and tear into large chunks. Put in a bowl.
Now sprinkle over the olive oil, add the pepper and toss together.
Spread over a baking tray/sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Once the chicken has marinated begin cooking the bacon. Cut each rasher into three, heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet and cook the bacon until it is crispy. Remove from the pan/skillet and drain on kitchen paper.
While the bacon is cooking, drain the chicken and pat dry. Once the bacon has been removed from the pan/skillet, pour off most of the fat and then add the chicken to the pan/skillet. Cook over a medium heat for 4–5 minutes, turning frequently, until golden and cooked through. Put to one side with the bacon.
Now prepare the lettuce. Pull the leaves apart and plunge into iced cold water for 15 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
Meanwhile prepare the dressing. Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, oil, and garlic until well combined. Then stir in the fromage frais and season.
Tear the lettuce leaves into bite size pieces and add to the serving bowl. Now add the chicken, bacon, half the parmesan flakes and pour over the dressing. Toss everything together. Add the croutons and toss again.
Sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and serve immediately.