Date Archives August 2012

Lime and Coconut Pannacotta with Lime Melts

Next weekend I’m helping cater a sit down Birthday lunch and this is the dessert……so……..naturally I had to greedily sample the recipe for myself before inflicting the sweet, creamy and fresh mouth watering dessert on the poor awaiting guests. The sampling was hard. I may have to do it again tomorrow too.

If you’re fed up with the rainy English weather, this will help you melt away into the tropical Caribbean…

  • 250ml double cream
  • 250ml coconut cream/milk
  • 2 ½ gelatine leaves
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 lime, zest and juice of ½
  1. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water
  2. On a low heat, warm the double cream, sugar and lime zest and juice in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves, and the mixture is thin and smooth and bring up to near boiling point
  3. Just before the boil, remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk/cream. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and whisk into the hot cream until dissolved.
  4. I served mine in ramekins to remove the hassle of having to turn them out but if you want to do this then fill into a greased mould (makes about 4 large or 5 small ones)
  5. Once the mixture has cooled, chill in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight!

Lime Melts

  • 6 oz unsalted butter
  • 110g Icing sugar
  • Grated zest of 3 limes
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200g flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • ¼ tsp salt
(I have converted this from American cups to grams so hopefully it works out, although use your instinct to get the right consistency of the dough which should be like shortbread)
  1. In a food processor, cream the butter and 40g of the icing sugar until fluffy. Add the lime zest, juice and vanilla and cream again
  2. Sieve the flour, cornflour and salt into the bowl and process until combined
  3. Split the dough in half and roll into logs of the size biscuit you want and wrap in parchment
  4. Chill for 1 hour
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with parchment. Slice the dough into rounds and place on the baking tray
  6. Bake for about 12minutes until barely golden and then leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
  7. While still warm, sieve the remaining icing sugar into a sealable bag and place the cookies inside. Toss in the sugar-filled bag until coated.
(The logs also freeze well!)

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

Today the sun made a rare and facetious appearance in this so-called summer season we seem to be laden with this year. So naturally as Brits, we grabbed the opportunity to have a barbie. My most inspiring idol in the food industry, Jamie Oliver, has been the backbone of my passion for food and cooking ever since receiving a copy of Jamie at Home when I was a teenager. The titled spine of this book, after many years of use, is holding tightly (but dare I say unsuccessfully) to the binding of the splattered cover and greasy pages. This book is a staple in my assembly of cookbooks and always makes an appearance especially in the summer sunshine. This tasty and delicious little salad is therefore courtesy of my mate Jamie (I wish) which went down guilt free with our charred meat and roasted beets and goats cheese.

  • 500g small carrots (mixed varieties if available)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed dried chillies
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 thyme sprigs, leave picked
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 4 x 1cm thick ciabatta/sourdough slices, toasted
  • 2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves
  • 1 punnet cress
  • 4 tbsp mixed seeds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Parboil the carrots whole, in salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain and place into a deep roasting tin
  2. While the carrots are boiling, grind the cumin seeds, chillies and salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic and thyme and smash to a paste. Add a swig of oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.
  3. While the carrots are still warm in the tin, cover with the this paste. Place the halved orange and lemon cut side down in the tin and roast the carrots for 30 minutes.
  4. While the carrots are roasting, toast the bread slices. Tear into pieces and add to the sliced avocados on a serving plate. Add the salad leaves and cress and toss.
  5. When the carrots are ready, remove from the oven and, using tongs, squeeze the juice from the lemon and orange into a jug and add an equal amount of oil and a swig of red wine vinegar and season.
  6. Add the carrots (along with the spices and marinade left in the roasting pan) to the bread and salad mix. Drizzle with the lemony dressing and scatter with toasted seeds. Serve!image

Sweet Potato and Goats Cheese Tartlet


I’m not turning vegetarian- honest! Not that there’s anything wrong with being vegetarian…..I even know a few (wink wink) and meat does not rule my dinner table. However, life without meat is a little…..well….inconvenient as many of my staple bible recipes contain meat which provides that much needed flavour and protein. I know however, that many vegetarian dishes can be just as punchy, satisfying and tasty especially if you have ever read the Ottolenghi cookbook which is a must have for any passionate herbivore. This little tartlet is a tasty example of a vegetarian alternative for those days when you just fancy something simple. Its also great for those cheeky veges at your dinner parties……they’re probably fed up of quiche by now….

(Serves 4)

  • 250g puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 4tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 100g soft goats cheese
  • Caramelized balsamic red onions (see red onion recipe)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C . Peeled and chop the sweet potatoes into cubes about 2cm. Place in a roasting tin and season with salt and pepper and scatter with the cumin seeds. Drizzle generously with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes until soft.
  2. Roll the pastry out to about 3 mm thick and cut into 4 rectangles about 15cmx7cm and place on a lined baking tray. Using a sharp knife, score a border about 1cm in from the edge, making sure you don’t cut all the way through. Brush with beaten egg.
  3. Spread the base of each pastry rectangle with the cream cheese. Top with the sweet potato cubes, crumbled goats cheese and pumpkin seeds.
  4. Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes until golden.
  5. After this time, top with the red onions and return to the oven for a further 2 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed.
  6. Remove from the oven and scatter with the chopped parsley and drizzle with olive oil.
  7. I served mine with a watercress, chive and sugar snap salad. Enjoy and think of the poor pig or cow you spared!image

Caramelized Balsamic Red Onions

These are yummy and I always have some in a jar in the fridge. They are great to top salads, pizza’s, tarts and quiches.

  • 5 red onions, halved and sliced thinly
  • 100ml balsamic vinegar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Slice the onions and place in a deep roasting tin
  2. Add the sugar, oil and vinegar and season. Stir to combine.
  3. Place in a 180°C preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes, tossing every so often.
  4. After 30 minutes, take out the oven and leave to cool. Store in a sterilized jar and keep in the fridge. They will become sticky and sweet once cooled.


I cooked Mum and I a fresh and summery lunch yesterday- Black pudding and watercress salad topped with a minted pea puree…

Indian Fish Pie

This should really be called ‘Indian inspired fish pie’ as I highly doubt you’d find it on the streets of Delhi……however, it has a nice spicy touch! This recipe can be left completely untouched and authentically English without the Indian influence but if you fancy a twist on your usual fish pie then it adds a really interesting and tasty alternative. It reminds me of a ‘kedgeree pie’…….

  • 500g mixed fish fillets (salmon, smoked haddock and cod) chopped in large chunks
  • 1 large handful prawns
  • 1 handful peas
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp curry paste (optional) mild or hot- I used Patak’s Curry Paste
  • 1 egg (hard boiled, peeled and chopped)
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 250g puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 35g unsalted butter
  • 35g flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Heat some olive oil in a pan and soften the chopped onion for about 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for a further 2 minutes, then set aside.
  2. Next, make the white sauce. Warm the milk in a pan with a bay leaf before melting the butter in another pan over a medium heat until it starts to bubble. Then remove from the heat and stir in the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon to form a paste. Return to the heat and cook the paste, mixing all the time, for 1 minute.
  3. Add a ladle of milk to the paste, whisking hard to prevent it going lumpy, until thickened and continue adding the milk until the sauce is thick and smooth (remove the bay leaf). Bubble briskly for about 5 minutes until thick enough. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.
  4. Add the curried onion mix to the sauce, along with the peas, prawns, chopped egg, parsley and fish and stir to combine. Transfer to a suitable serving dish and using the beaten egg, coat the edges of the dish so the pastry lid will stick better.
  5. Roll the puff pastry on a floured surface, to the correct size to fit as a lid and cover the fish filling. With the overhanging pastry, scrunch up the excess and stick it to the edges of the dish to get a big pastry crust around the edge (the best bit)image
  6. Brush the whole pie with beaten egg and transfer to a preheat oven at 180°C for about 35-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden and puffed and the filling is hot!

Macaroons, macaroons, macaroons……….macaroons

These little mouthfuls of Parisian gastronomy are without a doubt the most beautiful, mouthwatering and delectable patisserie that would even make a botoxed WAG smile. Strangely, my first taste of these delights was in a cafe in L.A whilst I was traveling and was without doubt the best I’ve had. I love to cook these on a sunny afternoon when there is nothing else to do and I have all the time in the world. Although no matter how much I concentrate, I’ve never reached the standards of my first experience. If you’ve never sampled a macaroon before, I suggest doing so before trying your hand at them but make sure you find a proper cafe in London (or if you want to be extreme- Paris) and do NOT buy the pre-boxed ones found in Waitrose- they are hard and dry!

There is so much scope for experimentation using different colours, flavours and fillings! I’ve made flavours such as pistachio, lime and basil, coffee, salted caramel, coconut, amaretto, Pimms and strawberries and cream. These little delights remind me of my oldest friend so this recipe is dedicated to Miss Rhi Nokes…

Salted caramel Macaroons

  • 175g icing sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 3 large free-range egg whites
  • 75g caster sugar


  • 125g caster sugar
  • 80ml double cream
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 160g salted softened butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment
  2. Place the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor and blitz until fine, then sieve into a large bowl
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt to form soft peaks. Then spoon in the caster sugar bit by bit and whisk until glossy (If you want to experiment, add the colouring and extracts here e.g. peppermint, rosewater, coffee, lime, almond etc)
  4. Fold in half the almond/icing sugar mixture, using as few folds as possible. Then fold in the remaining half until you have a loose mixture
  5. Using a good quality piping bag with a 1cm round nozzle, fill with the mixture and stick the parchment to the trays using a small bit. Then pipe round and consistent circles onto the parchment (about 2.5cm wide) leaving room between.image
  6. Lift the tray about a ft from the work surface and drop sharply or tap sharply onto the counter to establish a good base to the mixture. Then leave them for 15 minutes to allow the surface to dry.
  7. Then place in the oven for 15 minutes until they can be easily peeled away from the parchment but are not too dry and crispy. Leave to cool
  8. Meanwhile make the filling. Mix the caster sugar with 5tbsp of water and heat to dissolve the sugar. Then increase the heat and bubble for 2-3minutes until the mixture turns caramel colour and thickens.
  9. Quickly remove from the heat and add the cream, vanilla and salt (Careful as the hot sugar may splutter) Allow to cool.
  10. Beat the icing sugar and butter together and mix in the cooled caramel
  11. When the macaroon halves have cooled, pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto one halve and sandwich together with another halve
  12. Then devour them allimage

PS. You can use any macaroon recipe you find. I have used the French meringue technique here by adding sugar to the egg whites. However, I have also tried the Italian way by adding the sugar as a hot syrup. Both were pretty similar in their outcome!

A chocolate virgin……well almost

This morning I had chocolate for breakfast. ‘Big deal’ you might sigh but, for me, it was rather momentous. After giving up chocolate for lent 8 years ago, when treating myself to a well earned piece 40 days later, I was shocked to find I didn’t much like it. It was sweet and sugary with such a pathetic cocoa content that it was arguably even legally approved of the title of ‘chocolate’. So, I stopped eating it. To the dismay of a close friend, who simply could not grasp the concept, a popular phase among conversations sadly become ‘Jessie doesn’t eat chocolate!!!!!!’. She’s only just stopped offering a bite of her cake or a harmless minstrel so I am cheekily afraid to say that her efforts are now wasted.

However, to contradict this, there is one manufactured, popular and recognized chocolatey product I have been missing in my life……..Nutella. Just the pungent hazelnut aroma brings back fond memories of childhood holidays to France, buttery croissants and sunny beaches. So this morning I had my first chocolate for 8 years. And you it was delicious. I have however recently dabbled into the world of dark chocolate, with the likes of 100% bars where only a small square is enough. This I much prefer.

So to Holly and Rhi, my chocolate fanatics…..’Jessie eats chocolate!’…………Sometimes….

Hazelnut Frangipane Tart

This tart is, I must admit, courtesy of the infamous Skye Gyngell, whose seasonality, simplicity and quality of recipes I admire. This is the most moreish and sophisticated dessert that will leave you on cloud nine with no leftovers. Its delicious….what more can I say apart from I recommend you make two to save yourself the anguish of realizing how quickly the first one was eaten. I served mine with a sweet rhubarb puree and creamy vanilla ice cream.

Shortcrust Pastry

  • 125g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp water


  • 300g shelled hazelnuts
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 300g unsalted butter, cubed
  1. Begin with the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour to form a breadcrumb like mixture
  2. Add the water and mix with a knife to form a dough (you will probably need more water but add it little by little to prevent it becoming too wet)
  3. Knead lightly on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Grease and line a fluted tart tin with a removable base (25cm diameter and 2.5cm deep tin)
  5. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 3mm thick into a large round. Lift the pastry onto the rolling pin and drape into the tin.
  6. Press the pastry into the well greased tin and up the sides and prick all over with a fork. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  7. Preheat the oven to 190°C and when the pastry case has rested, line with parchment, fill with baking beans and blind bake for about 15-20 minutes and a further 5 minutes without the beans until the case is precooked and golden.image
  8. To make the filling, roast the hazelnuts in the oven for about 5 minutes until warmed to release their flavour. To remove the skins, wrap in a tea towel and roll lightly and they should come away easily.image
  9. Tip the nuts into a food processor with the sugar, eggs, lemon zest and butter. Pulse to combine.
  10. Fill the precooked case with the filling and bake for about 35-40minutes until golden and set, but still soft in the middle. Cover with foil if it begins to brown too much.
  11. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar with a rhubarb and vanilla puree and ice cream.image

Rhubarb and Vanilla Compote

  • 700g rhubarb
  • 15tbsp dark brown soft sugar
  • ½ vanilla pod, halved and seeds removed
  1. Cut the rhubarb into 2cm chunks on the diagonal and place in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the sugar and the vanilla seeds and the pods.image
  2. Heat gently to begin with until the sugar begins to melt and the rhubarb releases its juices. Then cook covered for about 15minutes
  3. Remove the lid and bubble gently for a further 15minutes until the rhubarb is broken down and sauce like. Discard the vanilla pod and serve warm with the tart.

The Best…….Peanut butter cookies


I have been making these moreish cookies since I was old enough to open my A4, 1cm thick copy of ‘My First Baking Book’! When there is no need to ever have to look anywhere else for a recipe you know its the best. After a recent trip to America I was craving these little morsals, made extra special by the addition of some American produce in the form of a squashed and tempting bag of Reese’s peanut butter chips!

  • 125g unsalted butter softened
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125g crunchy peanut butter
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 large handful of Reese’s peanut butter chips (optional)
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl
  2. Beat in the egg and peanut butter, then sift in the flour and combine well
  3. Add the peanut butter chips
  4. Roll the mixture into golf ball sized balls and place on a lined baking tray, leaving room for them to spread. Using the back of a spoon, gently flatten the top of the ball slightly
  5. Bake at 180° C for 15 minutes and leave to cool on the tray before removing and devouring