September 11, 2023
August 27, 2023
Some years ago I posted about a Rachel Allen recipe for a strawberry tiramisu (see here) and some time after that a reader left a scathing comment about it. Apparently this person got as far as assembling the dish before they realised it contained raw egg yolks, was disgusted that they hadn’t been warned about that, and had to throw all the ingredients in the bin! (The word used was "trash" so I presume the reader was from the other side of the Atlantic somewhere.)
I remember thinking it weird that someone would (a) not read a recipe through before starting to cook it and therefore not realise the eggs were raw and would (b) throw expensive ingredients away without thinking of a different way of using them. However, I did afterwards label all recipes that contain raw eggs although there are only a few!
Anyway, the other week a friend served us a delicious tiramisu made without any eggs at all. The recipe was, she said, a John Torode recipe. I eventually found it in one of my cook books, "Masterchef kitchen bible" and made it myself for visitors the other day. She said it was a quick and easy tiramisu and it is definitely both of those as well as utterly divine!
It differs quite a bit from my previous tiramisu recipe, apart from there being no eggs in it. The alcohol used is coffee liqueur not Amaretto and there is no sprinkling of cocoa powder on the layers other than on the top. Which just goes to show that, just like a fruit trifle, there are lots of different ways of making it and they are all delicious!
I modified the recipe a bit to account for the fact that a pot of mascarpone generally contains 250g, not the 350g in the original and I didn't want to have to buy two pots (the supermarket only had one pot on the shelf and supermarkets are a good distance apart here in rural France!). I also found that my 20cm square Pyrex dish was perfect for it, creating the right depth of layers, but I did have to use more sponge fingers than stated due to its dimensions. Happily there was still just the right amount of coffee liquid mixture to soak all of them. The end result was a slightly denser, more cakey texture. It wasn’t quite the same as my previous recipe (see here) being more creamy but somehow less rich but it was lovely. As always it was even better the next day once the ingredients and flavours had melled together. Note to self: always make tiramisu the day before you want to serve it!
120ml espresso coffee, cooled
75ml coffee flavoured liqueur such as Kahlua
250g pot mascarpone cheese
3 tblsp caster sugar
250ml double cream
14-20 sponge fingers (Boudoir biscuits) depending on the dimensions of your dish
cocoa powder to decorate
coarsely grated dark chocolate (optional)
Mix the coffee and liqueur together and pour into a large flat dish such as a lasagne dish so that it's in a shallow layer.
In a large bowl whip the mascarpone and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
In another bowl whisk the cream until it holds its shape then fold into the mascarpone mixture. Spread 2 tblsp of this mixture into the bottom of your serving dish.
Dip the sponge fingers one at a time into the coffee mixture, turning once until just soaked both sides, and arrange in a single layer in a serving dish. A 20 cm square dish worked perfectly for me.
Cover the fingers with half of the mascarpone mixture then repeat with more sponge fingers and the remaining half of the mixture.
Level the top, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Dust liberally with cocoa powder just before serving. Add a sprinkling of grated chocolate if you like.
Serves 6-8, depending on the portion size!
August 26, 2023
With guests arriving for dinner I was flummoxed when, on removing my blind baked quiche pastry from the oven there was a large crack in it and a couple of small ones. It was bound to leak.
Rats!! What to do, what to do? There was no time to make a batch of pastry, or to pop to the shops to buy another pack. I put my thinking cap on and came up with a solution.
I had half of a "wonderloaf" in the house. The pappy white sliced bread that’s neither very nutritious nor tasty but is good for cucumber sandwiches and toast with marmalade. I pinched a bit out of a slice, rolled it into a small sausage, brushed one side liberally with some of the egg filling and squashed it into the cracks with the back of a fork. I hoped it would stick sufficiently to plug the gap.
It worked! There was still a little leakage but nothing major. I shall have to remember this for future and presumably any kind of bread would work. The quiche was delicious and nobody knew how close the leaky leek and goats cheese quiche was to becoming a frittata instead!
One week after the event/almost baking disaster it has just occurred to me that the thing to do would be to save the pastry trimmings until after the quiche shell comes out of the oven.
I could have easily used a bit of the pastry trimmings to plug the hole if I hadn't already discarded them. Hmmm........I'll try to remember that in future!
August 18, 2023
August 16, 2023
It's a marvellous yet humbling feeling, being so well supplied with fresh produce when so many people can't afford to eat properly. Hence I feel even more determined to use it all and not waste any.
We gave two enormous tomatoes and some courgettes (green and yellow) to a friend who sent me a message the next day to say she had made them into a delicious chicken traybake. I thought that was a good idea but on looking at the contents of our fridge found no chicken but a pack of two salmon fillets. So "why not" I thought.
Roasting is now my preferred way to cook salmon fillets as I find the timing and the result more reliable. Sometimes I sprinkle a few herbs on the top but otherwise I just bake them. The days of foil parcels with herbs and lemon slices and having to peek inside to see if it's done are a distant memory!
The veg are roasted for a while before the salmon goes in as they take much longer to cook and it's very easy to overcook the fish.
1 large or 2-3 smaller tomatoes
2 salmon fillets
olive oil or Olive Fry Light
Herbes de Provence or fresh herbs of your choice (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.
Wash and chop the courgette and tomatoes into large dice and place in a single layer in a suitable baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over or spray with Fry Light, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over some H de P.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until nearly done, tossing them once if they begin to brown.
Remove from the oven, place the salmon fillets skin side down on top (coated with herbs if you like) and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. By this time the salmon should be pink and tender and the veg soft. If you need to cook for longer do it for only a minute at a time as the salmon quickly becomes overcooked.
Serve with potatoes, rice or pasta and extra veg if you like.
August 12, 2023
The weather here in the middle of France has been rather English this summer. However, it's still been warm enough for us to get a bumper crop of delicious tomatoes. This is in contrast to last year when heatwave followed heatwave, our tomato plants virtually gave up and struggled to produce any fruit at all.
This year I'm scouring my cook books and the internet for imaginative ways to use them up.