Date Archives April 2013

Bloody Mary Prawn Salad

One of the reasons I have a huge but justified love of Jamie Oliver is his casual, instinctive and rustic approach to cooking which is what inspired me at a young age to cook. This recipe is just those things, rustic and casual and can be instinctively thrown together with a few alterations in flavours or ingredients that you love. Using his basic concept, I tweaked a few bits to make it the perfect starter at a recent dinner party. If you’ve got guests who enjoy fish, nothing excites and pleases them more than being presented with a platter of succulent shellfish with a tangy dressing and lemon for all. This is light and perfect to kick start the meal although in greater quantities it was all agreed we could have eaten it for mains as well…..

(Serves 6-8 as a sharing starter)

  • 2 small cos lettuce
  • 2 red chicory
  • 1 punnet cress
  • 1 large handful chopped dill
  • Celery leaves from celery tops
  • 2 ripened avocados
  • 2 slices of stale bread, cubed into croutons size
  • 400g cooked, juicy prawns
  • 200g brown shrimp
  • Crevettes (enough for one each)
  • Green lip mussels (enough for one each)
  • 200ml ‘Big Tom’ spiced tomato juice
  • 2 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 heaped tsp creamed horseradish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Splash of vodka
  1. Clip the leaves off the lettuces so that you get ‘edible cups’ from the leaves to nestle your prawns and dressing. Scatter these over a couple of serving dishes.
  2. Scatter the prawns and brown shrimp over the top filling the cups.
  3. Make the dressing by placing the big tom juice, mayonnaise, lemon juice, horseradish, vodka, a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some seasoning in a processor and blend to combine. Taste and add a touch of whatever it is lacking for your tastes like Tabasco. However, make sure it is a bit too punchy and a bit over the top as when it is combined with everything else it will be blunted slightly and hold its own.
  4. Get a griddle pan on a high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Cut the avocados into thick slices and char on the griddle, seasoning generously with salt and pepper, for a few minutes each side to warm through and soften. In another pan, heat some more oil and add your cubed bread with some seasoning and fry until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
  5. Scatter the hot avocados and croutons over the salad and prawns. Drizzle with the Bloody Mary dressing and scatter with the chopped dill, cress and celery leaves. Place the crevettes and mussels boldly on top and serve with lemon wedges as a sharing platter for an indulgent starter or light lunch…..

Cinnamon Madeleines



Today I wish I was in France….on a sunny beach in Cannes, drinking French wine and tanning on the golden sands…..Damn I am in cold England revising for some pretty impossible approaching university finals with no current future job prospects lined up and ready….anyone looking for a keen foodie employee? I can make a good cuppa….???

That leads me onto these madeleines which are the perfect match to a comforting brew. The French atmosphere was easy to implicate by the simple addition of a batch of these light and sweetly spiced French madeleines (However you will need a madeleine tray mould experience France this way…). And to add another shine to my day, my mum’s return from the supermarket with a bulging bag of obese and bearded mussels and some skinny frites was enough to satisfy my French envie. After recently making some ’Carrot Cake Ice Cream’, I was inspired to make something to pair with its creamy flavour which resulted in these spiced madeleines coated in a crunchy cinnamon sugar. Ok so I’ve probably created an American ‘doughnut-style’ finish to what is essentially a classic French treat which I’m sure any Parisian would never admit to approving of. However, revision depression called for it…..icing sugar is your nest best thing….

Makes about 12

  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Grated zest 1 orange
  • 50-100g cinnamon sugar (made with a ratio of 1 large tbsp: 300g golden granulate sugar)
  1. Whisk the eggs and the caster sugar together until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, spices and orange zest and lightly whisk in with the melted butter to prevent overdeveloping the gluten.
  3. Set aside in the fridge for anywhere up to 3 hours. Apparently, the longer you leave the batter to chill the better as it chills and hydrates the flour. This helps to give you that bump on the back that is characteristic of a madeleine.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease your madeleine tray with a little melted butter and a dusting of flour if it is liable to sticking..
  5. Fill the moulds making sure you don’t overfill. The mixture will settle into place in the oven so don’t worry about smoothing them out.
  6. Bake for 8-12 minutes depending on how big you made them and how large your madeleine pan is.
  7. Once golden and cooked, remove from the oven and, while warm, coat in a generous blanket of cinnamon sugar and then leave to cool on a wire rack before eating.

In case anyone was wondering where the cake stands were from (from recent photos) I make them…..if anyone wants one, let me know and I can make them to order.



Serve with a strong cuppa or with some carrot cake ice cream

Mocha Macaroons



After my frequent delicious sessions of ice cream making I always find myself making macaroons with the surplus of egg whites that sit patiently in the fridge, aging unnecessarily but making them (apparently) all the better for creating the perfect macaroon. I’d hate to see them be turned into a batch of brittle powdery meringues which are one of my foodie hates. So before they could be whisked up into a stiff peaked meringue hell I stole them for some macaroon experimenting. Results….a cheeky invented edible ‘mocha macaroon’ which was much more satisfying than an expedition to Costa! (I would just like to add that although I hate meringues, my mum’s version are great if there are ever to be any knocking around and would categorically NOT be powdery or brittle). Now with my back covered……..

  • 60g egg whites (about 2)
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 110g icing sugar (minus 2 tbsp)
  • 12g Green & Blacks cocoa powder


  • 75g unsalted softened butter
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water, cooled
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with parchment
  2. Blend the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa together in a food processor until fine and then sieve.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the caster sugar a spoon at a time until glossy stiff peaks form.
  4. fold in 1/3 of the almond mixture to loosen it. Then fold in the rest, being gentle not to knock the air out.
  5. Spoon into a pipping bag with a round ended nozzle and pipe consistent circles of mixture evenly. Give the tray a sharp slap on the surface to level them and leave for 20 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes. They are ready when they come away easily from the tray. Leave to cool.image
  7. Make the buttercream filling by combining the ingredients in a processor and then spooning into a smaller piping bag.
  8. When cool, pipe small amounts onto macaroon halves and sandwich together!


Gruyere and Onion tarts

This recipe (that is religiously made every year on Christmas eve in the Wardlaw house), is courtesy of Delia and has always been the most deliciously simple combination. For some reason we didn’t make it this Christmas eve, so feeling cheated I found myself whipping out a batch for a warming lunch in this Christmas provoking weather….


  • 2 eggs
  • 75ml single cream/creme fraiche
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • 75g Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 25g butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • Cayenne pepper


  • 175g flour
  • 75g butter
  • 50g cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  1. For the pastry, rub the butter and flour together and add the cheese, mustard and cayenne pepper. Add enough water to bring together to form a dough and then wrap and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease some small tart tins. Roll the pastry out thinly and line the tins. Bake the cases blind with baking beans and parchment for about 15-20 minutes until turning a pale brown. Remove the beans/parchment for the last 5 minutes to cook the base. Leave to cool in their tins while you do the filling.
  3. Melt the butter in a frying pan and sweat the onions until soft and beginning to turn a golden colour. Do this slowly to get a good flavour (about 20-30 minutes). Set aside.
  4. Mix the eggs, cream and mustard powder together in a jug adding a pinch of cayenne according to taste.
  5. Fill the tart cases with the onion and grated gruyere and fill with the egg mixture. Scatter over a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  6. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before tucking in.

I made a tomato salsa to top mine by finely chopping a mixture of coloured cherry tomatoes, some bruised thyme leaves, salt and pepper and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil. Leave to infuse and serve at room temperature atop your tarts with a green salad.

Carrot Cake Ice Cream



What could be better than combining the forces of a good cake and its  slutty partner in crime ice cream? This recipe is adapted from the Babel Restaurant in South Africa, Babylonstoren, whose ‘cookbook-come-brochure’, is to die for. As a spicy ice cream, they suggest serving it with chilli grilled pineapple slices, but hey, whats wrong with serving it with a slice of carrot cake….?

  • 500ml double cream
  • 180ml milk
  • 180ml caster sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 125g carrot, boiled and grated
  • 5ml ground cinnamon
  • 2ml ground nutmeg and ginger
  • 125g walnuts/pecans toasted and roughly chopped
  1. Start with the custard base. Heat the milk in a saucepan with 90ml of the sugar and the seeds from the vanilla pod until just coming to the boil.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl (a wide shallow bowl helps) with the remaining 90ml of sugar until combined.
  3. When the cream is hot, tip a third of it in a slow stream into the egg yolks whisking continuously and vigorously to prevent it scrambling. Make sure it is all combined then add the rest and whisk together for a few minutes.
  4. Tip the mixture back into the saucepan and place over a low heat stirring with a wooden spoon continually until the mixture begins to thicken and it coats the back of the spoon and leaves a mark when you run your finger through it. keep the heat low and keep stirring to prevent getting scrambled eggs….
  5. Strain through a sieve into another wide shallow bowl. Whisk in the ground spices.
  6. Peel about 2-3 carrots (depending on their size) and boil whole in water for about 5 minutes, until soft. Cool under cold water and then grate into the custard base and mix to distribute. Leave to cool and then place in the fridge.
  7. Meanwhile, toast the nut in a dry frying pan for a few minutes or in a hot oven for 5 minutes and leave to cool.
  8. When the custard is cool, churn in an ice cream maker for about 15-20 minutes until thick and beginning to freeze. Once it begins to thicken during churning, tip in the toasted nuts. Place in a container and freeze.

Coffee Ice Cream



A perfect Easter lunch dessert to keep everyone awake in front of the roaring fire………although this year the cold weather seems to be doing that for us brrrrrrr! If you’re a coffee fan then this ice cream is an instant (see what I did there) and satisfying winner!

(Serves 8)

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 300ml single cream
  • 2 heaped tbsp instant coffee
  1. Warm the cream in a pan over a medium heat. When it looks like it is just beginning to simmer, remove from the heat and whisk in the coffee until it had dissolved.
  2. Pour the condensed milk into the cream and stir to combine
  3. Chill and then put into a container and freeze overnight…no churning needed! Although if you want an instant ice cream, churn for about 30 minutes and eat!


I served mine with a mini version of my hazelnut frangipane tartlet (see here) drizzled with dark chocolate, half a lightly poached vanilla pear and some teeth shattering hazelnut praline. For the vanilla pear, lightly poach half a cored and peeled pear in sugared water for about 20 minutes with a splash of vanilla extract or a halved and de-seeded vanilla pod, until soft.


Hazelnut Praline

  • 60g caster sugar
  • 40g hazelnuts
  1. Toast the hazelnut in a hot oven for about 6 minutes. Then remove, wrap in a towel and rub the skins off
  2. Lightly bash in a pestle and mortar or in a plastic bag with the back of a rolling pin to coarse crumbs. Sprinkle sparsely over a piece of greaseproof paper
  3. Heat the caster sugar in a dry frying pan over a high heat and leave to melt, stirring every so often until the sugar turns liquid and golden brown. Watch it as it will easily burn.
  4. As soon as it is a pale golden brown and the sugar has all dissolved, remove from the heat and quickly pour over the hazelnuts in a thin layer. It will set fast so work quickly (it will be EXTREMELY hot though so make sure you don’t touch it)
  5. Leave to cool in a cool place or place the caramel on a hard marble surface to speed it along. When cool, break in shards and mind your teeth.