Classic Crème Brûlée

Classic Crème Brûlée

These crème brûlées are so creamy they make just the perfect dessert. Egg yolks, sugar and cream flavoured with vanilla make the creamy custard, and it’s topped with brittle caramel.

I have shared two methods for creating the caramelized topping, one using a chef’s blowtorch and the other using the grill/broiler.

Classic Crème Brûlée

6 servings
  • Preparation time: 25–40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes
  • Cooling time: 2 hours
  • Refrigeration time: 6 hours or overnight, plus 2 hours on day of serving
  • Ingredients
  • For the custard
  • butter, for greasing
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 40 g (1½ oz) caster/superfine sugar (3 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) single/table cream (1¼ cups)
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
  • For the topping

  • 6 tbsp golden caster/granulated sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster sugar/granulated sugar (½ cup), if not using a chef’s blowtorch
  • You will also need 6 x 150 ml, 5 fl oz (⅔ cup)heatproof ramekins


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

  • Lightly grease ramekins with butter and put to one side.

  • Have some boiling water ready.
  • Meanwhile, line a deep-sided ovenproof dish or small roasting pan with a layer of kitchen paper and sit the six ramekins on the paper (the paper prevents the ramekins from slipping).
  • Next pour both creams into a pan and heat until scalding. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

  • While the cream is cooling, put the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  • Then gradually pour in the cream, while whisking at the same time, until the cream and egg mixture is blended together.
  • Strain the custard into a jug and then divide amongst the six ramekins.
  • Carefully pour enough of the boiling water into the ovenproof dish or roasting pan 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 ramekin dishes out of the water, cover them and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  • For the topping, using a chef’s blowtorch
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly over the custard in each ramekin. The sugar needs to cover the custard completely.
  • Now 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 a chopping board.
  • 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 on the grill/broiler to high and leave for 5 minutes to become 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/superfine 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/sheet and place under the heat source, as close 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.
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Updated: May 17, 2020

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

4 servings
  • Preparation time: about 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes (oven)
  • Ingredients
  • 170 g (6 oz) penne (2¼ cups)
  • ½ onion, finely sliced
  • 85 g (3 oz) butter (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
  • 55 g (2 oz) flour (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 500 ml (20 fl oz) milk (2½ cups)
  • 2 x 160 g tins (170 g cans) chunk light tuna in oil, drained
  • 3 eggs, hard boiled
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 115 g (4 oz) mature/old Cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 55 g (2 oz) breadcrumbs (1 cup)

Equipment

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


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

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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

  • Mix in the penne and onion.

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

  • Now spoon into the ovenproof dish.

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

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

  • Bake in the oven for 20–30 minutes until bubbling around the edges and browning on the top.
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Updated: December 18, 2019

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar

A batch of crepes folded into quarters then drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with sugar make a very light version of the traditional English pancake.

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar

8 –10 large crêpes
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Standing time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: About 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 110 g (4 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1 cup less 2 tbsp)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk (1 cup)
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) water (¼ cup)
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter, melted (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • To serve
  • caster/superfine sugar
  • 2 lemons, juice only
  • You will also need a 25.5 cm (10 inch) heavy gauge aluminium frying pan/skillet.


  • Method
  • First mix the milk and water together.

  • Then sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break in the eggs.

  • Using an electric whisk or a balloon whisk, whisk the eggs into the flour gradually adding the milk and incorporating the flour from around the edge of the bowl. Scrape any remaining flour down from around the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and whisk again until all the mixture is smooth. It should be the consistency of thin cream.

  • Spoon 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into the batter and whisk again. Reserve the remaining butter.

  • Let the mixture stand for 20 minutes.

  • Place five plates in a warm oven.

  • Get the pan/skillet really hot, then turn the heat down to a medium setting.

  • Smear a little of the reserved butter over the base of the pan/skillet between cooking each pancake.

  • You will need about 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. It is easier to measure this into a ladle or measuring cup first. Then pour the batter quickly into the centre of the pan/skillet, at the same time tipping the pan/skillet around from side to side to get the base evenly coated. If there are any holes, just fill them in with extra batter using a teaspoon. It should take less than a minute for the underside to turn golden. Check by lifting the edge with a palette knife.

  • Flip the pancake over with the palette knife and cook the other side until golden. This side will need less time to cook. Then slide it out of the pan onto a warmed plate.

  • Continue making the pancakes until all the batter is used. Stack them on the warmed plate as they are ready. Keep them warm in the oven, covered loosely with foil.
  • To serve, fold each pancake into quarters and divide them amongst the four warmed plates. Pour the lemon juice over the pancakes and then generously sprinkle with sugar.
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Updated: April 24, 2019

Gammon Steak with Roasted Baby Potatoes

Gammon Steak with Roasted Baby Potatoes

For that time when you need something quick and simple to prepare, this British favourite fits the bill. A gammon steak, topped with a soft poached egg, and roasted baby potatoes instead of fries, makes for a very enjoyable meal.

Gammon Steak with Roasted Baby Potatoes

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 575 g (1 lb 4 oz) baby potatoes
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 gammon steaks
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  • Wash the potatoes, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces and place in a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic cloves, and seasoning. Toss together to coat the potatoes.
  • Tip into a small roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender, turning a couple of times to make sure they brown evenly.
  • Preheat the grill/broiler.

  • Remove any rind from the gammon steaks, then brush with the remaining olive oil. Grill/broil for 3 minutes on each side until they are starting to brown and are crisping at the edges.

  • While cooking the gammon, also cook the eggs. Pour some boiling water into a non-stick frying pan/skillet to a depth of 3.75 cm (1½ inches). Gently heat the water so that it produces just a trace of tiny bubbles over the base of the pan. Next stir the white wine vinegar into the water, which will prevent the whites from spreading as they cook.
  • Now, holding the cracked eggs as near as possible above the water, slip them gently into the water and cook for exactly 1 minute to let the eggs settle.

  • Cook for a further 3 minutes, occasionally basting the top of the eggs with the water.

  • Once the eggs are cooked, lift them out of the water with a flat slotted spoon, resting the spoon on a sheet of kitchen paper to absorb any water before slipping the egg off the spoon onto the top of a gammon steak.

  • Serve with the roasted baby potatoes.
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Updated: July 7, 2018

Fish Pie Florentine

Fish Pie Florentine

A fish pie made with chunks of white fish and salmon in a zesty cream sauce, with baby spinach and egg, topped with mashed potato sprinkled with cheese.

Fish Pie Florentine

6 servings
  • Preparation time: 50 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes

  • Instructions
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) potatoes (about 7 medium), cut into chunks
  • 85 g (3 oz) butter (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
  • 55 g (2 oz) flour (½ cup less 1 tbsp)
  • 420 ml (14 fl oz) milk (1¾ cups), plus extra for creaming the potatoes
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) white wine (¼ cup)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • nutmeg
  • 450 g (1 lb) white fish fillet (e.g., haddock), skinned
  • 450 g (1 lb) salmon fillet, skinned
  • 55 g (2 oz) baby-leaf spinach
  • 3 eggs
  • 115 g (4 oz) Cheddar cheese, grated/shredded (1 cup)

To serve

  • petit pois

Equipment

  • You will also need a large ovenproof dish.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
  • Put the potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil, and cook for 20 minutes, until tender.

  • Add the eggs during the last 10 minutes (saves on another pan!). When the eggs are boiled, remove from the pan and run them under cold water. (This will prevent a dark rim forming round the yolk while they are cooling.)
  • Drain and mash the potatoes with 28 g (1 oz) (⅛ cup, or ¼ stick) of the butter and a little milk, until creamy. Set aside.
  • Next, melt the rest of the butter in a pan and, once foaming, tip the pan and quickly add the flour. Stir to form a smooth paste and then cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, stirring it into the roux until the sauce is smooth.
  • Now stir in the wine.
  • Bring  the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat and gently cook for 5–10 minutes until it is very thick, stirring occasionally. (The sauce needs to be very thick because once the fish is added and cooks in the sauce its juices will thin it.)
  • Next add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and a good grating of nutmeg.
  • Chop the spinach and cut the fish into bite-sized chunks. Mix into the sauce and then spoon into the ovenproof dish.
  • Peel the eggs, carefully cut into quarters and scatter them evenly over the top of the fish.

  • Cover with the mashed potato and sprinkle with the cheese.

  • Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the foil then cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling around the edge.
  • Serve with petit pois.
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Updated: April 14, 2018