Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Cherry and Chocolate Mile High Pie

Cherry and Chocolate Mile High Pie! If that doesn't set your mouth watering then nothing will.

This pie was born on a day when we had been lucky enough to buy lots of cherries for a song or in reality 5 kg for E5. Now if that's not a song then nothing is. we gorged on them for a day or two and then I just had to make something with them. I don't know if you know this, but black cherries freeze really well and this pie was made with defrosted cherries.

100 g ripe black cherries (fresh or defrosted frozen)
2 tbs sugar (you may need less if the cherries are very ripe and sweet)
2 tsp of cornflour
250 g mascarpone
100 ml double or whipping cream
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
grated chocolate
1 cooked pie shell (about 24 cm in diameter.

Mix the cherries with the sugar and the cornflour and cook gently in a shallow saucepan until the juices run from the cherries and the sauce thickens. It will thicken more as it cools.
Beat the cream, sugar, vanilla and mascarpone together until the mixture is firm but not too hard. you are aiming for soft peaks here.
Fold into the pie case alternating with the cooled cherry mixture.
Sprinkle the grated chocolate over the top.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Polenta hot cakes

How many of you have made polenta and not eaten it all? Have you then tried to do what all of the trendy magazines tell you to do? Fry it that is. Did it stick in the pan? I'd be surprised if it didn't. Mine always does and I've even tried to deep fry the stuff.

Well these polenta hot cakes may well be the answer to your dreams and you'll even make polenta just to have them.

There isn't a recipe as such. All that you need to do is add 1 egg and enough plain flour to make a dough that you can roll out. If you have lots of polenta then add two eggs. If you have more than that , then all I can say is, 'don't make so much.' A little salt may be needed if the polenta was underseasoned.

When the dough is rolled out to about 1cm thick, cut it into rough squares and fry in vegetable oil until crispy.

I served them in the photo with stracchino cheese and fresh asparagus but the are wonderful with bacon and tomatoes.


Sunday, 30 May 2010

Torta di Ricotta my way

Torta di ricotta is an Italian version of cheesecake but it a very light one compared with the usual American version. In the picture you can see a fairly yellow cheesecake and this is because the eggs in Italy are a beautiful yellow colour and all of the things that are made with them look delicious.

This kind of cake often has pine nuts sprinkled on top but, while I like pine nuts on things, they are expensive in Italy and I prefer almonds so that is what I used.

What you will need:
150 g flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
75g softened butter
50g sugar

250g tub of ricotta
grated rind of 1 orange
100g sugar
100ml double cream
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon of cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
apricot jam
flaked almonds
icing sugar

Make the pastry by rubbing the ingredients for the pastry together and add a little water to bind.
Roll out and line a greased, deep flan dish. I used an 8 inch dish that was about 2 inches deep.
Bake blind for about 15 minutes and remove from the oven. When the pastry case has cooled a little spread a thin layer of jam on the base.

For the filling
Bring the cream to scalding point.
Blend the sugar the eggs and the cornflour and pour on the hot cream, stirring well to avoid getting any of those so annoying lumps.
Add the ricotta, the grated rind of 1 orange and vanilla essence and mix quickly together to get a smooth cream.
Pour over the jam lined pastry and sprinkle with as many flaked almonds as you like.
Cook at 160C for about 30 mins. The cooking time really will depend on your oven. What you need to aim for is a filling that is set but still slightly wobbly. It will set up as it cools.
When cool dust with icing sugar and enjoy.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Chocolate and Apricot Muffin Cake

Chocolate and Apricot are two of my very favourite ingredients along with muffins so what could be better than this scrummy cake? An easy to make one!

So the wish for an easy to make cake is granted and this is what you'll need:

250g self raising flour
125g soft butter
125g sugar
2 eggs
a couple of spoons of milk or more, depending on the consistance of the batter.
100g chopped dark chocolate
100g chopped dried apricots
a few drops of almond essence.

  1. Put all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together
  2. Melt the butter and add the egg and the milk.
  3. Pour over the dry ingredients and give it a swift mik to blend the ingredients but please do not over mix otherwise you'll have a heavy stodge of a cake. Now is the time to add a little more milk if you think that the batter is too dry.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased shallow tin aboput 10 inches by 8 inches. The bigger the tin the thinner the cake. If you would prefer a deeper cake then cook in a smaller tin but remember that it will take longet to cook.
  5. Bake at 170 C for about 45 mins, or until brown and dry in the middle when tested with a skewer.
  6. When the cake has cooled dust with icing sugar and cut in to squares.

This cake is wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee for a mid morning break.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake

A couple of weeks ago we had a party for my grand daughter's second birthday. As I had lots of cooking to do for the party, so, the things that I made had to be put together fairly quickly and this cake, may look complicated but it is really easy to make.

Many of you may well have seen a cake similar to this one in patissierie shops. They are called fraisiers. The filling is usually a butter cream but this one has my trusty cream cheese filling which whips up in a trice and tastes divine.

First you will need to make the sponge. Get together:
2 eggs
80g castor sugar
70g self raising flour
A few drops of vanilla extract.

To make the sponge:

Preheat oven to 165C/fan, 185C, 350-375F. Line 2 X 8 inch sponge tins
Seive the flour.
Whisk the eggs and then whisk in sugar. This is best done over a pan of simmering water to give the eggs plenty of volume. When the mixture leaves a trail it is ready.
Fold in flour and divide between the 2 tins., or if you don't have 2 tins, in one deep tin and when the cake is cooked and cool slice it in half.
Remember that you don't want a deep cake as it will only hold the filling which is the star of the show.

To make the filling:

Put all of the ingresients in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. It's that easy!

You will also need a large punnet of strawberries and some raspberried for the middle. These can be frozen.

To assemble:
Put one round of cake at the bottom of the spring sided tin and sprinkle with the kirtsch. put a little of the cheese mixture in the tin and then line the outside of the tin with the strawberries. Make sure that they are all about the same size. If they aren't trim to size. You should have the cut side of the strawberries outermost. Fill the space in the middle with the cheese mixture, the raspberries and press the remaining cake on top. Sprinkle with yet more liquere and put in the fridge to firm up. This should not take more than an hour.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.

Buon appetito.

Almond Croissants

Don't you just love almond croissants? They are the prize of the flavoured croissants as far as I am concerned and as far as my husband is as well. So it's a good thing to know that they can be reproduced easily and far more cheaply than those in the supermarket. However, you will need to rely on the supermarket for the basic butter croissants that are used here. I haven't gone the whole hog and made the croissants myself.

I don't know if you are aware of it but almond croissants were originalt produced by French bakers to use up stale croissant that they didn't want to dump. Someone had the bright idea of filling them with a frangipain mixture and the almond croissant was born and thank God for that is all that I can say.

These almond croissants are really easy to make and this recipe will make the filling and the topping for 6.

6 stale croissants... buy the reduced croissnts that the supermarket sells off. They are perfect for this and so cheap.

1 egg
70g of ground almonds
70g butter
70g caster sugar
a few drops of bitter almond essence
flaked almonds for the topping.

All you need to do is mix all of the filling ingredients, except the flaked almonds, together until you have a smooth paste.
Slice the croissants in half horizontally and fill with the croissant mixture. Be sure to keep some back to spread on top of the croissants and then sprinkle with flaked almonds as shown in the picture above.
Cook in a medium oven about 180 degrees C for about 10 to 15 mins. watch them as you don't want te mixture on top to over cook. The filling should still be a bit soft. It will continue to cook for a few minutes even when taken out of the oven. See the picture below.
Now, if you can resist and I do recommend that you do, leave them alone for about 10 minutes. This will allow the filling to finish cooking and the croissants to cool down to an acceptable temperature. They are not good if they burn your mouth.