Crepe

A Crepe for Candlemass

A crepe for Candlemass. I don’t really need an excuse to make pancakes at home, but this is one of those festivals with a food connection that I adore. So I am indebted to a foodie friend for posting about having crepes today in Paris and the Candlemass tradition. It is a pity I couldn’t quite get to Paris but the girls were happy with Daddies efforts.

Candlemass

Candlemass is a Christian Holy Day celebrating when Jesus was presented at the Temple. It is celebrated on the second of February and is the last feast of Christmas. In some countries the Christmas decorations are taken down on Twelfth Night in others they remain in place until Candlemass. Many Christians take candles to be blessed in a church which are then used for the rest of the year. The candles symbolise Jesus as the ‘ Light of the World ’.

A stack of Crepes
A plate of Crepes

The tradition of eating crepes is attributed to Pope Gelasius distributing pancakes to pilgrims arriving in Rome. The round golden pancakes are also said to be symbolic of the sun and celebrate the arrival of Spring. This tradition could date back to Roman times and offerings of made of cake. Today in France when making the pancakes they are flipped from the pan in the right hand while holding a gold coin in the left to ensure household prosperity for the rest of the year.

Crepes and Pancakes

A crepe griddle
An electric Crepe griddle

A crepe is a very thin pancake which can be made in a pan or on a cast iron griddle plate. These plates were placed over a fire but now are electrically heated. Crepes are cooked across France, Northern Europe, and North Africa. Crepes can be sweet and served with sugar and lemon juice, fruit, whipped cream, Nutella and Maple syrup. The classic recipe is Crepe Suzette with the pancakes skilfully made and served at the table. They are flambéed in a sticky caramelised sauce of sugar, butter, orange juice, and zest and orange liqueur.

Crepe Suzette
Classic Crepe Suzette

Savoury pancakes or galettes are often served for lunch and can be filled with ham, cheese, sautéed mushrooms, baby spinach, and ratatouille. Pancakes are commonly made from wheat flour, but you can make them with buckwheat which will make them suitable for coeliacs and people who are gluten intolerant.

Candlemass Crepes
Crepes for Candemass
For a sweet pancake add a dessert spoon of caster sugar to the beaten egg and milk.
Sable pastry Christmas cookies

Christmas Biscuits – Great for making with the kids

My Christmas biscuits or cookies are a definite family favourite. They are great if you want to make something with your children to decorate the Christmas tree. But don’t worry they are very tasty too. 

My Christmas biscuits or cookies

sable Pastry

The recipe is a variety of Sable pastry a rich egg and butter enriched recipe from France. You can use sable pastry for making tart cases, Linzer biscuits and wonderful festive mince pies. The classic central European Christmas recipe Linzer torte is made from a sable pastry. It is filled with jam and topped with a pastry lattice. The word “sable” is French for sand which you will see perfectly describes the grainy texture when you make the biscuits. The end result is a fine crumbly texture.

Sable dough

Decorating your biscuits

You may decorate your biscuits however your choose. It is great fun with my two girls as we have a rather over stocked baking cupboard and they run riot. You can purchase a wide range of decorations now in good supermarkets and speciality baking shops. Alongside old favourites such as hundreds and thousands you can buy edible glitter, gold and silver decorations and many more. You can use royal icing to decorate your finished biscuits if you have some from decorating your Christmas cake. If not you will find a recipe for a basic water icing which is perfectly suitable.

Decorated Christmas biscuits

You can find more recipes for festive biscuits and Christmas bakes here. Enjoy.

Rich buttery biscuits made from a Sable style pastry. If you want to hang your biscuits on your tree make a hole in the dough before baking. You can use a pen top or small sharp knife. Make sure you don’t make the hole to close to the edge.

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree – A Great British Classic Recipe for British Food Fortnight

Love British Food logo

As a country we are lucky to have so many culinary influences, down I guess in no small part to having been a trading and seafaring nation with ships and merchants travelling across the globe and openly accepting many different peoples and cultures into our own. Today in any major town and city you can eat authentically cooked food from around the world in fine dining restaurants, family-owned corner cafes and from street vendors and pop-ups. Now one of the most influential of all these cuisines would be Indian and spices, curries, and chutneys now play a major part in our cooking and dining habits from the mildest Butter Chicken to the hottest Phall, an Anglo-India mix of tomatoes, ginger and Scotch Bonnet peppers. Supermarket shelves are full of pastes, sauces, pickles and poppadums and fridges full of every type of curry imaginable, and you are never far from an Indian* restaurant.

There is an Indian influence to kedgeree, but it is a particularly British interpretation. Kedgeree is thought to have originated with the British colonial servants returning to Britain after working in India. It was traditionally served at breakfast and is still popular in grand hotels and gentlemen’s clubs. The classic kedgeree is made from curried rice with flaked fish and perhaps some sultanas and quartered hard-boiled eggs. I like to serve my kedgeree with soft boiled eggs, a sprinkling of flaked almonds, maybe you could throw in a few prawns ( entirely my own corruption ) and a jug of fruity curry sauce and yes, I do eat it for breakfast and for lunch too as it makes for a wonderful brunch.

*Often of Bangladeshi origin

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree with soft boiled egg

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree

For the kedgeree

400 gr naturally Smoked Haddock Fillet

300 gr easy-cook long grain Rice, rinsed under running water

600 ml quality Fish Stock

Approximately 300 ml full-fat Milk

4 large free-range Eggs, at room temperature

3 medium Onions, peeled

A small handful of frozen Garden Peas, defrosted

A small handful of flaked Almonds

A small handful of Parsley, washed and finely chopped

A small handful of Coriander, washed and finely chopped

4 tablespoons of Butter

2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 tablespoon Medium Curry Powder

1 teaspoon ground Coriander

1 teaspoon ground Turmeric

1 Clove of Garlic, peeled and very finely crushed

2 Bay Leaves

2 Cloves

Sea Salt and freshly ground White Pepper

For the Fruity curry sauce

1 small Onion, peeled and very finely chopped

1 small tin of Pineapple Rings, drained and roughly chopped

1 large Cooking Apple, peeled and diced

1 small handful of Sultanas

100 ml quality Chicken stock ( or vegetable stock )

100 ml Coconut Milk

2 tablespoons Mango Chutney

2 tablespoon medium Curry Powder

Zest and freshly squeezed juice of a Lime

A pinch of Chilli flakes

Sea Salt and freshly ground White Pepper

First to prepare the curried rice finely chop two of the onions and heat half of the oil and two tablespoons of the butter in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan, add the onions then over a moderate heat cook for twenty to thirty minutes until soft. Add the garlic and spices and half a teaspoon of salt and continue to cook, stirring continuously for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stock and bring up to a gentle boil. Cover the pan and simmer for ten minutes. Remove from the heat and without removing the lid leave to finish cooking for a further fifteen minutes.

While the rice is steaming in the pan, place the smoked haddock into a small heavy-bottomed pan and cover with milk. Halve the remaining onion and stick the bay leaves to the onions halves with the cloves to make a cloute. Add these to the pan containing the smoked haddock. Place on a low heat and bring up to the lowest possible simmer and poach for ten minutes. Remove the fish from the milk and allow to cool. The milk can be reserved to make chowder. When the fish is cool flake into thumbnail sized pieces and put to one side.

Place a pan of water on to boil and once simmering add the eggs placing them in with a spoon. Start your timer and simmer for six minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately plunge the eggs into iced cold water. When cool you can peel the eggs and set to one side. To serve the kedgeree add the remaining oil and butter to a sauté pan and over a medium heat cook the peas for two minutes then add the fish, rice and flaked almonds. Stirring constantly fry the mix until it is thoroughly warmed through, then season and stir in the chopped parsley and coriander. Cut the boiled eggs in half and serve them on top of the plated rice with some crispy fried shallots and a jug of sweet curry sauce.

For the sweet curry sauce, melt half the butter in a medium-sized heavy-bottom saucepan and add the onion, pineapple, and apple. Sauté carefully for ten minutes to start to soften the onion. Add the curry powder, chilli flakes, sultanas, coconut milk, and stock and bring to the boil and gently simmer for twenty minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mango chutney and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then puree in a food processor and pass through a sieve to form a smooth glossy sauce. Return to a pan and add the lime zest and juice, season and gently reheat stirring frequently. Because of the high sugar content, the sauce will easily catch and burn so heat very gently.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour  Raw Fish Milk  Crab

Please see the Allergens Page

 

Smoked Haddock, Prawn and Herb Fishcakes

How to make Great Fishcakes

Fishcakes are incredibly versatile, they can be a great starter like the Thai style crab cake, flavoured with lemongrass and chilli with a sweet and sour dipping sauce or a crisp golden-fried fishcake as a main course, a staple of many pub and restaurant menus. Fishcakes are really simple to make, and you can use potato to bulk up what can be expensive fish and seafood. You can choose from any number of combinations; a simple white fish such as cod, haddock or coley with a piquant brown caper and parsley butter for added zing, smoked salmon and dill ( ask your fishmonger if he sells smoked salmon trimmings ), extravagant salmon and lobster topped with sour cream and caviar or today’s recipe that punches plenty of flavour, smoked haddock, prawn and herb.

Smoked Haddock, Prawn and Herb Fishcakes
Smoked Haddock, Prawn and Herb Fishcakes

This is a very tasty fishcake for a light lunch, al fresco dining on a hot summer’s day with a crisp salad and some Tartar sauce or as simple supper served on a bed of creamed leeks or Ratatouille. The smoked haddock gives a lovely rich smoky flavour perfectly complimented by the herbs and light fluffy potato. Panné is the technique for breadcrumbing any food from fish to the classic Chicken Kiev to make this recipe you can use stale bread processed into breadcrumbs, Panko or as I have polenta or coursed cornmeal. Dip the fishcake in seasoned flour, then egg and milk mix then in the coating. Further dip in the egg mix and coating a second time for a crispier finish.

For more information on how to Panné visit A Cook’s Compendium


Crispy Smoked Haddock and Prawn Fishcakes

1kg Fluffy Potatoes, washed and peeled

750ml Milk

250g Smoked Haddock, skin removed and de-boned

250g Mixed Fish ( Cod, Whiting, Salmon ), skin removed and de-boned*

250g Prawns, roughly chopped

50g Shallots or Spring Onions, peeled and very very very finely chopped 

50g Jersey Butter

1 small Onion, peeled

25ml Jersey Double Cream

20g finely chopped Chives

20g finely chopped Parsley

10g finely chopped Chervil

2 Cloves

1 Bay leaf

Sea Salt and freshly ground White Pepper to taste

Seasoned Flour, Egg and Milk, Course Cornmeal

*Your fishmonger may sell this using his offcuts

Stud the bay leaf to onion using the cloves, this is called a cloute. Pour the milk into a medium sized heavy-bottomed pan and add the cloute and the fish. Place on a low heat and bring to a simmer, and gently poach the fish for five minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and cool, the milk can be used to flavour  a chowder or a velouté sauce. When cool break the fish into large chunks. At the same time as you are poaching the fish boil the potatoes in another pan for mashing. When soft steam dry to remove excess moisture then gently mash with the cream, butter, salt and pepper. Combine the mashed potatoes, fish, prawns, onions and herbs together trying to keep the fish in large flakes throughout the mix. Correct seasoning.

Allow the mix to cool sufficiently so that you can safely handle it and then shape the mix into balls then squash slightly into fishcakes. Place the fishcakes on to a lightly floured baking tray and chill thoroughly, this will make the next stage much easier. Panné the fishcakes in the seasoned flour, egg mix and breadcrumbs, passing twice through the breadcrumbs. To cook gently shallow fry in a little oil for around five minutes on each side then finish in a preheated oven at 350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4 for around twenty minutes until golden brown and hot throughout.

Wine

 

What to Drink? Why not try your fishcakes with a crisp dry white wine like a chilled Soave or New Zealand Semillon.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour  Raw Fish Milk  Crab

Please see the Allergens Page

Dark Chocolate Mousse

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse

Valentines Cover

So, you have successfully shucked the oysters, the steak was cooked to perfection and you matched your meal with a perfect bottle of wine, Valentine’s Day is going according to plan now you need something simply stunning to finish the meal. I have chosen something stunningly simple to make, that can be kept in the fridge and will wow your dinner companion. And the bonus, there will be a couple left over for the morning.

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Dark Chocolate Liqueur Mousse

Many chocolate mousses are made with a mix of cream and eggs and often use gelatine as a setting agent so they can be quite heavy, this recipe is lightness itself relying on the flavour of the dark chocolate, the liqueur, and the airy whipped egg whites. The squeeze of lemon helps stabilise the egg whites when they are being whipped and prevent over whisking, if you over-whisk the egg whites they will collapse and separate and you will lose all the air that you have whisked in and the resulting mousse will be very heavy.  Follow the instructions carefully and be patient whilst folding in the whipped-up egg whites so that you lose as little volume as possible and you will be rewarded with light, fluffy chocolate mousse.

For your chocolate mousse, you can use a choice of liqueurs, but my favourites are orange or coffee based which are natural partners with dark chocolate.

Chocolate Liqueur Mousse     makes 4

200 gr premium Dark Chocolate ( a minimum 60 % cocoa solids )

7 free-range Egg Whites ( use the egg yolks in your Bearnaise Sauce )

50 gr Caster Sugar

4 tablespoons of Coffee or Orange Liqueur

A squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice

Place a medium glass or metal bowl over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water) and add the chocolate. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, meanwhile put the egg whites and lemon juice into a second large, clean bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Sprinkle over the sugar and continue to whisk until firm peaks form when the whisk is removed. Do not whisk beyond this stage.

When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add one-third of the egg whites, and whisk them into the hot chocolate very quickly. This is important as the cool eggs can cause the chocolate to start to set if not mixed in speedily and the resulting mousse will be lumpy.

Using a spatula or the side of a large metal spoon fold the remaining egg whites and the liqueur into the chocolate mixture, the egg whites need to be totally incorporated but not over mixed as this will start to knock out the whisked in air bubbles. Carefully spoon the mousse mixture into four glasses or serving dishes and place in the fridge for at least a couple hours to set.

Wine and Beer

 

What to Drink? Chocolate mousse pairs well with sweet dessert wines and more unusually fruity Australian Barossa Valley Shirazes. For a beer why not try a Cherry or Raspberry Kriek beer.

Allergens in this recipe are;

     Milk   Eggs

Please see the Allergens Page

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day Oysters Blonde and Blue

Valentine’s Day Cooking the Perfect Steak

Valentine’s Day Bearnaise Sauce

Whisking Bearnaise Sauce

How to make a great Bearnaise Sauce

Valentines Cover

A Bearnaise sauce is simply an egg yolk, a shallot, a little tarragon vinegar, and butter, but it takes years of practice for the result to be perfect.”

Fernand Point, French chef, and restaurateur

Bearnaise is a classic accompaniment for a Valentine’s Day steak particularly a Côte de bœuf or Chateaubriand, the rich luxurious sauce pairing excellently with the meat, it can also be served with fish such as Brill and Turbot. Bearnaise was most likely created by chef Collinet who also graced the culinary world with pommes de terre soufflées. The sauce is believed to have first been served at the 1836 opening of a restaurant near Paris, named after King Henry IV of France, who was born in the Béarn region, hence the name.

Whisking Bearnaise Sauce
Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise is a derivate of the master sauce Hollandaise, an emulsion of beaten egg yolks and warm butter and distinctively flavoured with the aniseed like Tarragon ( some recipes also contain Chervil ). You can use a good quality white wine vinegar, Champagne vinegar for fish or for an extra hit of tarragon use some homemade tarragon vinegar.

Bearnaise Sauce                     for 4 to 6

300 gr Unsalted Clarified Butter

4 fresh free-range Egg Yolks

2 largish Banana Shallot, peeled and finely sliced

5 tablespoons White Wine, Champagne or Tarragon Vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh chopped Tarragon, reserve the stems

1 Bay Leaf

3 of 4 crushed White Peppercorns

Sea Salt and Cayenne Pepper

First clarify the butter by gently warming it in a small, heavy-bottomed pan. When the butter starts to foam, remove from the heat and leave it on the side to cool and for the buttermilk and impurities to sink to the bottom of the pan. Carefully ladle out the butterfat and pass through a fine sieve and discard the solids.

Clarifying Butter
Clarified Butter

Pour the vinegar into a small aluminium saucepan and add the shallots, tarragon stems, bay leaf and crushed peppercorns. Place on a medium heat and bring up to a gentle simmer and reduce the amount of liquid by half. Remove from the heat and allow to completely cool then strain.

Reduced White Wine
Tarragon infused White Wine Reduction

Lightly beat the egg yolks with a splash of cold water in a medium glass or metal bowl, then whisk in the infused vinegar. Carefully suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water ( do not allow base of the bowl to touch the water as this will overcook the eggs and cause them to quickly scramble). Whisk the egg yolks continuously until they have thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon and they have tripled in volume.

Remove the pan from the heat leaving the bowl suspended over the hot water and slowly pour in the clarified butter in a thin stream, whilst whisking continuously until the mixture is thick and smooth. Fold in the tarragon leaves and season, to taste, with salt and a pinch of Cayenne pepper.

Whisking Bearnaise Sauce
Bearnaise Sauce

Your Bearnaise will keep warm set above the warm water covered lightly with tin foil for fifteen to twenty minutes. If your sauce splits or curdles you have probably tried to add the butter too quickly, a couple of teaspoons of freshly boiled water whisked vigorously into the split sauce may help retrieve it. If this does not work, you can whisk up a further egg yolk in a fresh clean bowl then slowly add the split hollandaise whisking all the time.

Allergens in this recipe are;

 Milk Eggs   There may be Sulphites in Vinegar

Please see the Allergens Page

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day Oysters Blonde and Blue

Valentine’s Day How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse