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

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


  1. Method
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. Preheat the grill to high.

  8. 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.

  9. Brown under the grill for about 3 minutes.

  10. Serve with seasonal vegetables.

  11. Tip
  12. 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.

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
Prepares: 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
  • 450g (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
  • 28g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 600ml (20 fl oz) chicken stock (2½ cups)
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) crème frâiche (1¼ cups)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch

  • To serve
  • serve with tagliatelle and a green salad

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


  1. Method
  2. 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.

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

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

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

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

  11. Serve over tagliatelle and a salad on the side.

Updated: December 28, 2019

Tuna and Egg Pasta

Tuna and Egg Pasta

 

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.

 

Tuna and Egg Pasta
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: about 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes (oven)

  • Ingredients
  • 170g (6 oz) penne (2¼ cups)
  • ½ onion, finely sliced
  • 85g (3 oz) butter (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
  • 55g (2 oz) flour (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 500ml (20 fl oz) milk (2½ cups)
  • 2 x 160g tins (170g cans) chunk light tuna in oil, drained
  • 3 eggs, hard boiled
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 115g (4 oz) mature/old Cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 55g (2 oz) breadcrumbs (1 cup)

  • You will also need a 1.14 litre (2 pint) (6 cup capacity) ovenproof dish


  1. Method
  2. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)

  3. Cook penne and onion together in a pan of boiling, salted water for as long as directed on the packet of pasta. Drain and set aside.

  4. Meanwhile melt 55g (2 oz) (¼ cup, or ½ stick) of the butter in a pan and then stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Cook over a low heat for 1 minute.

  5. Then slowly stir the milk into the roux until the sauce is smooth. Bring to the boil, stirring, until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat.

  6. Next add the cheese and seasoning, and stir until the cheese has melted.

  7. Mix in the penne and onion.

  8. Then gently mix in the tuna, breaking up any large pieces.

  9. Now spoon into the ovenproof dish.

  10. Shell the eggs and cut into quarters. Arrange over the top of the pasta and gently press down.

  11. Finally, melt the remaining butter in a pan and fry the breadcrumbs until crisp. Scatter over the top.

  12. Bake in the oven for 20–30 minutes until bubbling around the edges and browning on the top.

Updated: December 18, 2019

Salmon and Prawn/Shrimp Filo Pie

Salmon and Prawn/Shrimp Filo Pie

 

This is one of my favourite fish pies which is really good to serve to guests as it looks so scrumptious and different when baked. Filo pastry keeps it light and is used in a decorative way as a topping. The herby cream cheese filling which is added to cubes of salmon and prawns/shrimp is so smooth and delicious too.

 

Salmon and Prawn/Shrimp Filo Pie
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes
  • Resting time: 12 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 3–5 sheets filo* pastry
  • 40g (1½ oz) butter, melted (3 tbsp)
  • 450g (1 lb) salmon, skinned and cubed
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 200g cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.)
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill or tarragon, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 115g (4 oz) large prawns/shrimp

  • *filo pastry is also known as phyllo pastry

  • Serve with a green salad.

  • You will need a 20cm (8 in) loose-bottomed flan tin, 3.75cm (1½ inches) deep, buttered, and a baking tray/sheet. Also a deep sided frying pan/skillet.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) gas 6.

  3. Pop the baking tray/sheet in the oven to heat up while preparing the pie.

  4. Now bring some water to the boil in the frying pan/skillet. It will need to be deep enough to cover the salmon. Then add the salmon and bring back to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, cover the pan/skillet and leave for the water to poach the salmon, about 2–3 minutes, until it is just cooked. If the prawns/shrimp are uncooked, they can be cooked in the water at the same time as the salmon.

  5. With a slotted spoon, remove the fish and leave on a plate to cool completely.

  6. Meanwhile, beat together the crème fraîche, cream cheese, eggs, herbs, and seasoning until the mixture is smooth.

  7. You are going to need five sheets of the pastry which will be large enough to line the flan tin and overlap the edge. Brush one sheet with melted butter, then lay a second sheet on top, rotating it slightly so the edges don’t line up. Brush this sheet with melted butter. Now lay a third sheet on top, again rotating it slightly, and brush with butter. Lay the fourth sheet on top, slightly rotated.

  8. Lift these pastry layers and line the flan tin, gently pressing the pastry down into the tin, and leaving the edges extending over the rim. Brush the top layer of pastry with melted butter.

  9. Brush the remaining piece of pastry with melted butter and put to one side so it doesn't dry out.

  10. Mix the cold salmon cubes and prawns/shrimps with the cream mixture and tip into the flan tin.

  11. Now bring the edges of the pastry up over the the filling around the edge, leaving it roughly scrunched up.

  12. Tear the remaining piece of pastry into long strips. Scrunch these up and use them to cover the exposed filling.

  13. Place the flan tin on the hot baking sheet and loosely cover with foil. Then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

  14. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 3–5 minutes until the pastry is crisp and turning golden in colour.

  15. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes for the filling to set.

  16. Now carefully lift the pie from the tin but leave on the base. Let it cool for 2 minutes then gently slide off the base onto a serving plate.

  17. Serve cut into wedges along with a green salad.

  18. Notes:
  19. Filo pastry dries out very quickly, so keep it covered until needed to be used.

  20. As the pastry does not contain any fat it can be refrozen. Remove the packet from the freezer to thaw, keeping it covered. Then when the pastry is needed, unroll it and remove the 3 or 5 sheets, depending on the size of the sheets. Now carefully roll the remaining pastry back up, return it to its wrapping and place back in the freezer.

Updated: December 16, 2019

Tarte au Citron

Tarte au Citron

 

A light pastry base is filled with a creamy, citrus filling that makes this tart very refreshing.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tarte au Citron
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Standing time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 50 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the pastry
  • 225g (8 oz) plain/all purpose flour (1¾ cups)
  • 2 tsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 115g (4 oz) cold butter (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • a pinch of salt

  • For the filling
  • 3 lemons, juice only (9 tbsp)
  • ½ orange, juice only
  • 225g (8 oz) caster/superfine sugar (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 140ml (5 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (⅔ cup)

  • To serve
  • icing/powdered sugar

  • You will also need a 27cm (10½ inch) loose-based tart tin, greased and floured.


  1. Method
  2. For the pastry
  3. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

  4. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour. Rub in the butter, at the same time lifting the flour well out of the bowl to incorporate as much air as possible.

  5. When the mixture resembles dry breadcrumbs, add the sugar.

  6. Then sprinkle over 3 tablespoons of cold water and, using a palette knife, bring the mixture together until it begins to form clumps. Add a little more water (no more than 1 tablespoon) if the mixture seems dry. Using your hands, bring together into a ball by kneading lightly. Cover in cling film/plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to relax the pastry.

  7. (Alternatively, use a food processor.)

  8. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is 5cm (2 inches) larger than the size of the tart tin. Carefully transfer to the tin without stretching the pastry. Gently press down into the sides of the tin, then trim by running the rolling-pin over the top to cut the pastry level with the rim. Return to the fridge for a further 20 minutes to firm up.

  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas mark 6).

  10. Prick the pastry base all over, line with baking paper and add baking beans, making sure they spread to the edge. Bake for 15 minutes.

  11. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10–15 minutes until golden. Put to one side to cool a little before filling.


  12. For the filling
  13. Meanwhile, make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) (gas mark 2).

  14. Strain the juice of the lemons and orange into a bowl.

  15. Add the sugar, eggs, and egg yolks and whisk just enough to blend in the eggs. Whisk gently to avoid the mixture becoming too frothy.

  16. Stir in the cream.

  17. Then strain the mixture into a jug.

  18. Carefully remove the tart shell from the tin and place on baking sheet. Pour the strained mixture into the tart shell. Very carefully slide onto the oven rack and bake for 20–25 minutes until just set. Then leave to cool.

  19. Just before serving dust icing/powered sugar over the lemon tart using a small sieve. Serve at room temperature.

Updated: November 19, 2019

Coffee Meringues Drizzled with Chocolate

Coffee Meringues Drizzled with Chocolate

 

These meringues are flavoured with coffee and, when cooked, a little melted chocolate is drizzled over. Serve on their own or with whipped cream or ice cream. Whatever you choose, they just melt in your mouth.

 

Coffee Meringues Drizzled with Chocolate
Prepares: 8 meringues
 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Chilling time: about 15 minutes


  • Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules or coffee extract
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only
  • 170g (6 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 85g (3 oz) dark chocolate

  • You will also need 2 medium baking sheets/trays lined with baking parchment


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F) (gas 1).

  3. If using coffee granules, dissolve in 1 teaspoon of hot water and leave to cool.

  4. Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until just stiff. Now gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes very thick and glossy. Then sprinkle over the coffee and whisk until it has thoroughly mixed in.

  5. Dab a little meringue on the corners of the baking sheets/trays which will prevent the parchment paper from slipping. Then line each sheet/tray, pressing the baking parchment down at the corners. Spoon 4 mounds of meringue onto each baking sheet/tray, spacing them well apart. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. The meringues should feel hard to the touch and lift off the parchment paper easily.

  6. If you like your meringues crisp on the outside but chewy in the centre, then remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack. If you prefer them crisp all the way through, then leave in the oven until it has become cold.

  7. Meanwhile break the chocolate into small pieces, put in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of just simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth, then remove from the heat and leave until it has become cold.

  8. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the meringues. Leave in a cool place for the chocolate to set.

Updated: November 16, 2019

Mediterranean Lamb Cutlets with Potatoes Dauphinoise

Mediterranean Lamb Cutlets with Potatoes Dauphinoise

 

A dish that is full of flavour and very scrumptious. Lamb cutlets sit on a base of garlic roasted vegetables with a hint of basil and rosemary and served with thinly sliced potatoes cooked in a garlic cream sauce.

 

Mediterranean Lamb Cutlets with Potatoes Dauphinoise
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 55 minutes
  • Cooking time: 50 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the ratatouille and lamb cutlets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium aubergine/eggplant
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded
  • 2 courgettes/zucchini
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 8 lamb cutlets
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 400g tin cherry tomatoes (small can)
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

  • For the potatoes dauphinoise
  • 800g (1 lb 12 oz) potatoes (5 medium)
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) whole milk (1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1 cup)
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • whole nutmeg


  1. Method
  2. For the potatoes dauphinoise
  3. Peel, wash and cut the potatoes into 5mm (¼ inch) thick slices.

  4. Slowly bring the milk to the boil in a sauté pan with the garlic.

  5. Reduce the heat and stir in the cream, seasoning, and a little grated nutmeg.

  6. Now add the potato slices and turn to coat. Simmer very gently for 20–25 minutes until they are just tender. Turn every 5 minutes so all the slices cook evenly and they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

  7. Tip into an ovenproof dish 28 x 20cm (11 x 8 inches).

  8. They will need to cook in the oven for a further 20–25 minutes until bubbling and the top is starting to brown. Before putting in the oven, though, prepare the vegetables for the ratatouille. The ratatouille will need to cook for the same length of time as the potatoes and so they both go into the oven together.

  9. For the ratatouille and lamb cutlets
  10. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) gas 5.

  11. Pour the oil into a roasting tin/pan and put in the oven while it is heating up.

  12. Cut the aubergine/eggplant, pepper and courgettes/zucchini into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes.

  13. Tip into the roasting tin/pan and sprinkle over the rosemary and seasoning. Turn in the oil to coat, then return to the oven and roast for 20–25 minutes until tender. (At this point, also put the potatoes in the oven.) Turn the ratatouille halfway through cooking.

  14. Meanwhile preheat a griddle pan or heavy based frying pan/skillet.

  15. Season the cutlets and then spread over the garlic. Over a moderate heat, cook for 5–10 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your cutlets are.

  16. While the cutlets are cooking, empty the tomatoes into a medium sized pan and place over a gentle heat.

  17. Once the ratatouille is cooked, add it to the tomatoes and stir through. Now add the torn basil leaves.

  18. To serve
  19. Divide the vegetables amongst four plates and top with two cutlets each. Serve with the potato dauphinoise alongside.

Updated: November 16, 2019

Luxury Fish Pie

Luxury Fish Pie

 

A buttery puff pastry makes this luxury fish pie a delicious alternative to a traditional potato topping. The salmon and prawns/shrimp are in a creamy sauce with sweetcorn and mushrooms.

 

Luxury Fish Pie
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Standing time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 450ml (15 fl oz) milk (2 cups)
  • 450g (1 lb) salmon, skinned
  • 170g (6 oz) tiger prawns/shrimp
  • 170g (6 oz) frozen sweetcorn (or canned) (1 cup)
  • 55g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 55g (2 oz) flour (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) white wine (⅔ cup)
  • 115g (4 oz) button mushrooms, halved (about 6)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 225g (8 oz) packet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten (for glaze)


  • You will also need a pie dish.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)

  3. Pour the milk into a large pan. Cut the salmon into cubes and add with the prawns/shrimp to the pan. Bring the milk to the boil and then remove from the heat. Cover the pan and leave for 5 minutes to cook the fish.

  4. Now drain the fish, reserving the liquor, and place in the base of the pie dish with the sweetcorn.

  5. Next, melt the butter in a clean pan. Add the flour and mix to form a paste. Cook over a low heat for 1 minute.

  6. Then gradually stir in the reserved liquor and keep stirring until the sauce is smooth. Increase the heat and stir the sauce until it is really thick, about 2 minutes.

  7. Now stir in the wine and add the mushrooms. Simmer for 3 minutes.

  8. Season to taste and add the dill.

  9. Pour the sauce over the fish and give everything a good stir so the sauce coats the fish and vegetables. Leave to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

  10. Trim the pastry to fit the top of the pie dish.

  11. Dampen the rim of the dish with water and use the trimmings to cover the rim of the dish.

  12. Now dampen the rim of pastry with water. Cover the pie dish with the large piece of pastry pressing down around the rim of the dish to seal the pastry. Knock back the edges.

  13. Make 2 holes in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking.

  14. Brush the top of the pastry with egg glaze.

  15. Place on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden.

  16. Serve with green beans or carrots.

Updated: November 10, 2019

Coffee Crème Brûlée

Coffee Crème Brûlée

 

Coffee crème brûlée – a lovely creamy coffee custard topped with caramelized sugar. This recipe gives two methods of creating the caramelized topping, with or without using a chef’s blowtorch.

 

Coffee Crème Brûlée
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30–45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes
  • Cooling time: 2 hours
  • Refrigeration time: 6 hours or overnight, plus 2 hours on the day of serving


  • Ingredients
  • For the custard
  • butter, for greasing
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 
40g (1½ oz) caster/superfine sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 
½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) single cream/table 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, granulated sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup), if not using a chef’s blowtorch

  • Note: If using a blowtorch, superfine sugar is finer than caster sugar and begins to melt too quickly once it is spooned onto the custard. Granulated sugar works better.

  • You will also need 6 × 150ml (5 fl oz) heatproof ramekins


  1. Method
  2. For the custard
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3).

  4. Lightly grease the ramekins with butter and set to one side.

  5. 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).

  6. Then have a kettle of boiling water ready.

  7. Next pour both creams into a pan and heat until scalding.

  8. Remove from the heat and add the coffee granules stirring until dissolved, or just stir in the coffee essence.

  9. Leave to cool a little.

  10. Meanwhile put the egg yolks and sugar into a large bowl and whisk together.

  11. Gradually pour the cream into the bowl, while whisking at the same time, until the cream is blended into the egg mixture.

  12. Strain the custard into a jug and then divide amongst the six ramekins.

  13. Now carefully pour enough of the boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

  14. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as the custard still needs to have a slight wobble to it.

  15. Remove the dish from the oven and leave the ramekins in the water until the water has cooled.

  16. Then take the ramekins out of the water, cover them and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  17. For the topping, using a chef’s blowtorch
  18. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.

  19. Caramelize the sugar under a direct flame.

  20. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

  21. For the topping, without using a chef’s blowtorch
  22. First, have a piece of parchment paper ready on the counter top.

  23. Next, put the sugar in a stainless steel pan and add just enough water to dampen the sugar.

  24. Place over a low heat and stir the sugar until completely dissolved.

  25. Then increase the heat to medium–high and, 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.

  26. Carefully, pour the caramel onto the paper (it will be extremely hot) and leave it to become cold.

  27. Now turn the grill/broiler to high and leave for 5 minutes to get really hot.

  28. 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 (just like superfine sugar).

  29. Sprinkle evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.

  30. 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.

  31. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

Updated: November 4, 2019

Meringue Layers with Red Plums

Meringue Layers with Red Plums

 

For meringue lovers – this is another recipe that is delicious at the end of summer. Juicy red plums lie on freshly whipped cream, sandwiched between meringue, topped with chopped nuts.

 

Meringue Layers with Red Plums
Prepares: 6 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 5 minutes, plus cooling time for meringues
  • Chilling time: 2 hours

  • Ingredients
  • For the meringue layers
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only
  • 170g (6 oz) caster/white sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts or walnuts

  • For the filling
  • 8 large red plums
  • 2 tbsp caster/white sugar
  • 284ml carton double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)


  1. Method
  2. For the plums
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

  4. Wash the plums and cut in half following the natural line. Twist the halves in opposite directions to separate. Remove the stones.

  5. Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish, cut sides up. Sprinkle with the sugar and add 2 tablespoons of cold water.

  6. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

  7. For the meringue layers
  8. While the plums are cooking, the nuts can be roasted. An easy way to do this is by tipping the nuts into a small non-stick frying pan/skillet placed over a medium-low heat. Cook until they just start to smell ‘nutty’, stirring occasionally. This only takes a few minutes.

  9. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

  10. Once the plums have cooked, lower the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) (gas 2)

  11. Prepare the meringue while the oven is cooling down to the right temperature.

  12. Draw a 20cm (8 inch) circle with a pencil on two sheets of baking parchment. (Using a 20cm (8 inch) up-turned plate makes this easy.). Turn the sheets over and lay on two baking sheets/trays.

  13. Whisk the egg whites to a stiff peak and then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition. Finally, whisk in the lemon juice.

  14. Add a dab of meringue on the four corners of the baking sheets/trays, pressing the baking parchment down to keep in place. Then divide the the meringue evenly between the paper lined sheets/trays, spooning it into the centre of each circle. Using the back of the spoon, level the top of the meringue on one of the sheets/trays. Keep the top of the meringue rough on the other sheet/tray and then sprinkle the nuts over the meringue on this one.

  15. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Turn out the oven but leave the meringues inside until the oven has become cold.

  16. Lift the meringue layers from the paper and slide the base one onto a serving plate.

  17. For the filling
  18. Whisk the cream until stiff and then spread over the base meringue layer.

  19. Pour off any juice from the plums and reserve. Top the cream with the plum halves with the cut sides facing downwards. Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of reserved plum juice being careful not to allow it to get too close to the edge or it will run down the outside of the bottom meringue layer.

  20. Cover with the top meringue layer and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.

  21. To serve
  22. When slicing the meringue into portions use a long bladed knife that has been dipped in a jug of hot water. Shake off any droplets of water before cutting and wipe the blade clean between each cut.

Updated: October 26, 2019

Fruity Delight

 

A really scrumptious dessert. A shortbread base is topped with a light, creamy cheese mixture, topped with glazed raspberries and strawberries and then dusted with icing sugar.

 

Fruity Delight
Prepares: 8 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Standing time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the base
  • 120g (4 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (1 cup less 1½ tbsp)
  • 28g (1 oz) icing/powdered sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 55g (2 oz) butter, softened (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 1 egg yolk

  • For the topping
  • 225g (8 oz) full-fat cream cheese (1 cup)
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp icing/powdered sugar
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 170g (6 oz) strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 170g (6 oz) raspberries, washed (1⅓ cups)
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • icing/powdered sugar to dust


  1. Method
  2. For the base
  3. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl.

  4. Rub in the butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

  5. Now gradually add enough egg yolk, a little at a time, until the mixture starts to bind together. Using a palette knife to bring the mixture together will keep the dough light. Once it is binding together then knead lightly to form a ball.

  6. Roll out the dough to a 20cm (8 inch) round, then lift onto a baking sheet. Decorate round the edge of the dough using the tines of a fork and prick the centre. Using a knife, mark the pastry lightly into 8 equal sections.

  7. Chill while preheating the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).

  8. Bake the base for 15 minutes until just starting to brown. Re-mark the sections while it is still hot to make it easier for serving. Then cool on a wire rack.

  9. For the topping
  10. Put the redcurrant jelly in a small pan and stir in 2 tablespoons of water. Gently heat to dissolve the jelly. Then leave it to cool while preparing the rest of the topping.

  11. Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy. Then beat in the crème fraîche, icing/powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.

  12. Now spread over the shortbread base, inside the decorative edge. The marked sections should still be visible.

  13. If the strawberries are large, halve or quarter them so that the raspberries and strawberries are of a similar size. Toss together and then pile on top of the cream cheese mixture.

  14. Carefully brush the fruit with the cooled jelly and then, just before serving, dust with icing/powdered sugar.

Updated: October 26, 2019

Oats and Walnut Plum Crumble

Oats and Walnut Plum Crumble

 

Choose some dark, juicy plums and cook them with a little brown sugar and a hint of cinnamon. Then bake with an oat and walnut topping for a crunchy crumble.

 

Oats and Walnut Plum Crumble
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 450g (1 lb) plums, halved and stoned
  • 55g (2 oz) light muscavado/light soft brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 40g (1½ oz) plain/all-purpose flour (⅓ cup)
  • 40g(1½ oz) wholemeal/whole wheat flour (¼ cup)
  • 55g (2 oz) butter, cubed (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 28g (1 oz) walnuts, chopped (¼ cup)
  • 28g (1 oz) jumbo porridge oats/large flaked oats (⅓ cup)

  • You will also need an ovenproof dish.

  • To serve
  • Cream or ice cream.


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).

  3. Put the plums into a pan with 1 tablespoon water, 14g (½ oz) sugar, and the cinnamon. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, until softened but still holding their shape.

  4. Tip the fruit into the dish and put to one side.

  5. Sift both flours into a large mixing bowl, adding the bran that is left in the sieve.

  6. Rub in the butter.

  7. Now stir through the remaining sugar, walnuts, and porridge oats.

  8. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit.

  9. Bake for 20–25 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and soft, and the top is golden.