I thought my last post of the year should be something suitably festive and suitable for New Year’s Eve, so my mind turned to Hogmanay, in Scotland, they really know how to bring in the New Year in true party fashion. And what could be more Scottish than Cranachan a delicious blend of cream, oats, raspberries, and whisky. I first learned about Cranachan from Donald, the Scottish born pastry chef at the Island Hotel, Tresco. Now I know this isn’t the raspberry season, but it is well worth the expense and you can then make the recipe again during the abundant summer growing season.
Fresh Raspberry Cranachan with Granola
My Cranachan recipe is entirely my own twist which I first used in a restaurant in Jersey with fresh raspberries folded into cream flavoured with honey, whisky and the crunch of delicious homemade Granola*. As it ticks the alcohol and cream boxes how could I resist Cranachan and well oats lower your cholesterol don’t they?
*You can use the remaining Granola for breakfast.
Cranachan serves 4
300 gr fresh Raspberries
350ml double cream ( I use thick Jersey double cream)
6 tablespoons homemade Granola
30 gr Caster Sugar
2 tablespoons Scottish Heather Honey
2 to 3 tablespoons good quality Whisky
Mint and Icing Sugar to garnish
First purée half the raspberries and caster sugar in a blender and sieve. Whisk the double cream until just set, thick Jersey cream really only takes a few turns of the whisk, then gently stir in the honey and whisky. Do not over whip or the mix will separate.
Fold in the raspberry purée in light ripples then serve in bowls alternating layers of the cream, the granola, and the remaining whole raspberries. Chill before serving and top with raspberries, mint, and dust with icing sugar.
After the excesses of Christmas, I quite often want something with plenty of flavour but that is perhaps not too substantial and relatively simple to create. It can be very easy with lunches out with family and friends between Christmas and the New Year celebrations to easily be over faced with just too much food. In my case that is quite difficult but never the less still possible, so here is a recipe for Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg that is very tasty and quite light and very easy to make.
Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo
In this recipe for Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg, I use braised Chorizo, which is a staple in our kitchen at home great for flavouring stews, soups and casseroles. If you cannot get Portobello mushrooms, open-cap field mushrooms area perfect substitute.
Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg serves 4
4 Portobello Mushrooms, peeled and stems removed
150 gr braised Chorizo, drained, plus reserved oil
2 large handfuls of Baby Spinach, washed and dried ( optional )
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with foil. Place the mushrooms, gills side up, on the baking sheet, drizzle with a little braised Chorizo oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for ten minutes. While the mushrooms are cooking, heat a little more Chorizo oil in a frying pan, over medium heat, and quickly toss in the baby spinach, season and remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
Remove the mushrooms from the oven and divide the spinach between them. Top with the braised Chorizo and sprinkle with fresh Thyme leaves. Place back in the oven for ten more minutes before removing once more and cracking an egg into each. Place back in the oven and bake for a final ten minutes. Remove and serve with a little lightly dressed herb salad.
I love garlic, I adore garlic, I cook with absolutely loads of garlic like today’s recipe for Spaghetti with Parma Ham and Roasted Garlic. I could actually employ a full-time garlic peeler, knee deep in discarded garlic husks. A manager I worked with regularly joked I could not cook a dish without garlic, cream, and alcohol, including the desserts.*
But here is a but – I LOATH BURNT GARLIC. I jump up, gesticulate, shout and scream at the number of cookery programs where poor, innocent, sweet, comely garlic is tossed into woks and pans of smoking hot oil.** I am pretty certain every single person who utters the frankly unbelievable phrase ‘ it doesn’t have garlic in it does it, I really don’t like garlic ‘ is the result of a traumatic exposure to such cooking travesties. Burnt garlic is a cheek sucking, eye-watering experience, an awful culinary disgrace.
Hence a recipe for roasted garlic, I swear all the disbelievers could be converted with this delicious way of cooking garlic. The slow roasting with just a little oil highlights the natural sweetness and tempers any harsh raw flavours. I first encountered roasted garlic when I worked as a manager at the Bel and the Dragon, Cookham served with rustic, crusty bread and olives and olive oil, the garlic squeezed out and spread on the bread as a kind of pungent pate. Wow!
I keep some roasted garlic cloves covered in oil in the refrigerator now handy for lots of cooking especially this simple full flavoured lunch or supper dish recipe Spaghetti with Parma Ham and Roasted Garlic. Post the Christmas and Boxing Day excesses I think it is nice to have something really tasty and easy to cook. The Parma ham and roasted garlic can be cooked in the last few minutes of your pasta cooking. The chilli provides a little bite but is not there to overpower this wonderful dish, however, if you want to add a little extra go for it, one of the joys of cooking is experimenting. Enjoy.
*The garlic cream rum babas were perhaps a little ahead of their time. ** Just add the garlic later during the cooking process when the heat is lowered or with more ingredients that dissipate the heat.
Spaghetti with Parma Ham and Roasted Garlic serves 4
50 to 65 gr Spaghetti per person ( I grab a generous handful but I’m greedy )
Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C/ Gas mark 6. Remove the tops of the garlic bulbs, place on to a baking tray. Sprinkle liberally with olive oil, the herbs and plenty of salt and pepper. Roast for twenty-five to thirty minutes until the bulbs are soft. Cool and squeeze out as required.
For the Spagehetti
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for eight to ten minutes until ‘ al dente ‘ or with just a little bite left in the pasta. The old student technique of seeing if sticks to the wall is not necessary, just remove a little of the spaghetti and bite between your front teeth. While the pasta is cooking gently heat the olive oil in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed frying pan. Add the chilli and garlic, sauté for two minutes. Add the ham and season, cook for a minute. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and stir in the parsley. Drain the spaghetti and stir thoroughly into the frying pan, ensuring all the spaghetti is coated with the oil, chilli and parsley mix. Plate and serve with a little extra chopped parsley.
Coquilles St. Jacques is a classic of French cuisine, gently poached scallops and mushrooms in a rich, cream sauce, garnished with enriched mashed potato and gratinated. It is a real dinner party staple from the 1970’s but definitely none the worse for that, done right Coquilles St. Jacques is a real pleasure to eat. I love scallops and my style of cooking when I first trained definitely used lots of cream and butter so this soon became a favourite dish of mine. Coquilles St. Jacques is still a very popular dish now and always sells out when we put it on the specials boards in any of the restaurants I work in.
Coquillies St. Jaques
Coquilles St. Jacques serves 6
The great thing for the home cook is Coquilles St. Jacques can be prepared early, left on the shells and chilled then baked later for five or ten minutes longer than indicated in the recipe below. Be careful when poaching the scallops to not overcook as they can soon go rubbery.
For Mashed Potatoes
800 gr King Edward potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons salted Butter
2 tablespoons Double Cream
1 Egg Yolk
A pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
Sea Salt and freshly ground White Pepper
For Scallop filling
12 Scallops, trimmed and patted dry on kitchen paper
Place the potatoes into a large pan and cover with water and add a half teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes for twenty minutes until tender. Remove from the heat and drain, return to the pan and put back on the heat to steam dry for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat again and the pass through a moulis. Add the butter, cream, egg yolk, and nutmeg and beat in to thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
In a medium saucepan bring the water, wine, bouquet garni, and lemon juice to a low boil. Carefully add the scallops, and simmer for three minutes. Remove the scallops with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper. Drop the mushrooms into the simmering cooking liquid and cook for ten minutes. Remove from the heat and strain out the mushrooms keeping the cooking liquid.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the shallots, cook over a moderate heat until very soft, but not coloured, stir in the flour to make a roux. Cookout for a couple of minutes until golden then whisk in the hot scallop poaching liquid. Add the cream and vermouth and cookout covered with a cartouche on the lowest possible simmer. After half an hour taste to see if the floury texture is cooked out and season as required. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Slice the scallops in half lengthwise and add to the sauce with the mushrooms and chives.
Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4. Spoon the filling into six scallop shells or small gratin dishes and pipe around the edge with the mashed potatoes. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the cheese and top with the breadcrumbs then bake in the oven for about fifteen minutes, until the cheese and potatoes are golden brown. Carefully remove from the oven and serve.