Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Apple Cheesecake and Galette aux Cerises

With lots of people to feed for Sunday lunch comes the perfect excuse to make a pudding (or two). As it was a grown-up affair, I side-stepped anything made with chocolate and settled on two fruit-based desserts: a totally indulgent apple cheesecake with butterscotch sauce and a Galette de Rois. The latter is traditionally puff pastry filled with frangipane sans fruit (rather like a big almond croissant)  and is served in France to celebrate Epiphany. I first tried some when my friend, an amazing cook, gave me a piece filled with apples which was delicious. To avoid an apple theme however I filled mine with (canned) cherries which was equally good and veered towards the flavours of a Bakewell tart. After a lunch of slow cooked lamb with anchovies, spiced rice and braised shallots, baby carrots, peas and lettuce everyone found some room to try a little of each and it seemed like thumbs up all round. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Digital Scraps

Ever since I can remember I have been a scrapbook fanatic. I know this is neither 'cool' nor stylish but I love how you can preserve bits such as pictures or articles from magazines or bobs like theatre tickets and postcards that could easily have been horded in a box and never looked at again. Additionally, I enjoy the aesthetics that come into practice and the jigsaw-like placement of images and words onto A4, then the cathartic cutting and sticking involved. 

Although I still always have a scrapbook on the go, I have noticed how I go back to it less and less. This is partly due to lack of time and the end of my teenage love affair with buying endless magazines. But mainly due to the internet. The constant bombardment of images means that I rarely go back to one twice so I try to save any image I like to a file on my computer. So, having racked up a few folders full of random saved images, I though, in the guise of a good spring clean, I'd post some of my favourite recent pictures...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Chocolate Souffle with Salted Caramel Ice Cream

It must be that irresistible savoury/sweet combination that has everyone mad about salted caramel. From dripping provocatively down the face of Nigella on thecover of Stylist magazine to being name checked on every hip restaurant’s dessert menu, it is the flavour du jour. I’d been thinking for a while about making a salted caramel ice-cream and made one this weekend, adapting the River Café's ice cream recipe I normally use. The addition of the caramel made for a slightly richer ice cream which went well with a chocolate soufflé. You need to be really brave with the salt though as when you freeze the mixture the flavours mellow, I used about a tsp but it could take two.

I used this Gordon Ramsey chocolate soufflé recipe which was foolproof, though for some reason I ended up with almost double the mixture!?: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2922/hot-chocolate-souffl-

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
  • In a large, heavy saucepan combine 400ml Double Cream and 125ml Milk. Heat until just below boiling.
  • In a bowl beat 5 Egg Yolks and 80g Sugar slowly for 5-10 minutes until they are pale and thick. Whisk in a little of the warm cream into the mixture to loosen it, then pour it all into the saucepan of cream and place on a gentle heat.
  • Stir constantly to stop the mixture from curdling and keep cooking on a low heat until the mixture has thickened to a thin custard consistency and has come to just below the boil. Strain into a clean bowl.
  • Place a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan onto the heat and add 50g Caster Sugar. Heat gently and without stirring until the sugar has melted and turned a deep golden. Take off the heat quickly so it doesn’t burn and add 4 tbsp Cream, swirling it around until you have a caramel sauce. Add 1-2 tsp Salt.
  • Mix into the bowl of custard and leave to cool before churning in an ice cream maker.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Amelie and Friends, Chichester

I’d heard good things about Amelie and Friends - a laid-back restaurant which opened in Chichester in the summer - and finally got there today. I really liked the chic and restrained interior (white tiled counters, stark wooden tables and utilitarian lighting) which was the perfect foil for the bowls of colourful, exotic salads and trays filled with enticing cakes. Lunch was simple and delicious. The blackboard was full of enticing specials like kedgeree risotto and twice cooked pork belly but we opted for the main and salad option where you choose from the variety on offer on the counter. The shaved fennel, kohlrabi and orange salad with poached salmon with dill mayonnaise was light and moreish leaving lots of room for some coffee and ginger cake with caramel butter icing - yum!

I’m a sucker for packaging and I love their fabulous retro takeaway boxes which feature the restaurant’s punchy branding. Naturally, we couldn’t resist taking home a brownie and plum pastry.