Sunday, 28 February 2010

Lime and Rum Marmalade

Lime and Rum Marmalade

This marmalade was inspired by some home made marmalade I had in Portugal. This is no insipid sweet green jelly. It has an intense flavour, a rich deep colour and is not overly sweet. If you prefer it sweeter use half as much sugar again. I did n’t have a complete recipe so have been experimenting. This is my third attempt and now very close to the original.
…..and then I thought of adding rum…

850g limes
350g Muscavado sugar
650g Golden granulated sugar
½ litre water
Rum to taste (add some to the jam as well if you like!)

Put 5 clean jam jars with lids separate on a baking tray and into an oven on gas mark 1
Leave the limes whole and cook with the water for 15 min in a pressure cooker. In the original marmalade the limes had been sliced first.
Or simmer in an open pan until the rinds are soft, stir and make sure it doesn’t boil dry.
Put in a food processor or Thermomix and process so that the peel breaks into smallish pieces. Add the sugar and cook until the setting point is reached. You’re there when a sample will set on a saucer. I love that bit as I usually get to taste several samples before it is ready.
Pour into the hot jars and immediately screw the lids on tightly.

I have experimented by adding some rum to one of the jars. I didn’t put the lid on this one, waited till it was cool and added some rum.
About 5 teaspoons (25ml) per 1lb pot (454g) tastes good.

With my first 2 attempts it was problems with texture rather than flavour. One was over processed, too watery and didn’t set.
With the other, I cooked the limes in the microwave, the peels were rock hard and there wasn’t enough water!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

A Quick Supper

This was put together in about 10 minutes. I love the combination of flavours particularly the contrast of the horseradish with the smoked fish.
The smoked trout and cooked beetroot (without vinegar) both came from Lidl's. Good quality and very reasonably priced. The washed but unpeeled potatoes were cooked in the microwave for about 6 minutes then cut into chunks while still hot. The dressing for the potatoes is made from 3 parts Hellman's light mayo, 3 parts Onken mild set yoghurt and one part horseradish sauce from a jar. Finished with freshly ground black pepper.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Rosewater and chocolate cakes

I made a basic Victoria sponge mixture. Half the batch was flavoured with Mymoune rose water
and the other half with cocoa. The icing is a light vanilla buttercream . The rose one is topped with a rose petal and the chocolate one with a chocolate covered walnut from Artisan Choclatier (Cerne aux de noix enrobes de chocolat noir)

Friday, 12 February 2010

Lunch at Pied a Terre, Charlotte St, London.

We went on to this restaurant after visiting the Monet exhibition at The Helly Nahmad gallery in Cork Street. Like the gallery the exterior of the restaurant was so discreet that we almost walked past it. It is behind a black paneled and glass façade on the ground floor of a town house.

Ours was a circular table. There was a globe shaped glass vase with gerberas inside it and pretty glass cover plates decorated with a large pink gerbera placed on a silver edged square glass plate. The comfortable seating was a curved banquette for two with cushions. The canvases for the works of art here are white porcelain plates.

White wine Stadt Krems, Gruner Veltliner Austria 2009

Breads: brioche, Guinness and star anise, walnut and pecan, bacon and onion roll, poppy seed roll.


Potato and parmesan gnocchi
Pea pannacotta, Jerusalum artichoke mousse, toasted almonds
Foie gras and poppy seed tuile sandwich

Salt cod and almond mousse, with seared salmon and salmon roe and basil puree.

Red wine Te Mania Pinot Noir New Zealand 2003
Duck, Savoy cabbage

Mango velouté with Coconut and chili foam with coconut crystals and Thai Basil

Coconut crystals are made from the sap that exudes from freshly harvested coconut blossoms. They are naturally sweet and in texture like tiny fragments of meringue.

Chocolate mousse with mandarin Sorbet and walnut velouté with little pieces of Sauterne jelly

Petit fours with Lapsang Souchong tea

There was as interesting variety and combinations of flavours and the quality and presentation of the food was excellent. Service was very good.
With the main course I would have liked a bit more vegetable, maybe some potato, there was only a tiny portion of cabbage hiding under the duck, and less salt in the sauce. I wasn’t sure what the sauce was as the salt dominated the flavour.
Overall a very special meal. For me the highlights were the amazing and unexpected pre dessert and the canelé that came with the canapés. There was a generous supply of lovely breads and the star was the brioche.
Canelés we were told by the friendly and informative waiter are a speciality from Bordeaux. Tower shaped with fluted edges they have a crisp caramelized outer crust and a rich firm custard centre.

Lunch costs £23.50 for a 2 course set menu including canapés. We both made the same choices from the menu. I think this is excellent value for the superb meal that we had. On this occasion we had some vouchers from the Financial Times which meant one of us dined for a fiver!

PS Apologies for the poor quality photos, taken on my moblile.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

More about Macarons

Laduree's rose, chestnut, pistachio, praline, salted caramel and raspberry macarons.
(from Ladurée, Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, London.)
Laduree's macaroons are arranged like gems in the gold covered interior of the shop that opens out into the Burlington Arcade.
These are soft macarons ( French macarons) very similar to meringue with ground almonds. They are crisp on the outside and softer inside sandwiched togther with a smooth creamy filling making a good contrast of textures.
Macarons are believed to have originated in Italy and the English word comes from the Italian word maccarone meaning paste The original Italian macaroon was similar to Amaretti biscuits.
My taste tests reveal that the rose one is my favourite followed by the praline and vanilla. The vanilla one got eaten before the photo was taken. The salted caramel had a lovely caramel filling and was not really salty. I didn't think the pistachio one had a lot of flavour, it is one of their most popular ones maybe because of it's colour and I prefer the creamy fillings to the jam like filling of the raspberry one.
I have read that Yauatacha tearroom in nearby Broadwick Street serves macaroons such as Champagne with gold leaf or kumquat. They are a fusion between Chinese dim sum and European patisserie with Asian influenced flavours so those will be the next for me to try. Jasmine and green tea might be interesting.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ladurée Macaroons

I was on my way to see a Monet exhibition in London today. The no 38 bus stopped right outside the Ladurée macaroon shop. I bought a selection, more about that tomorrow when I have done a bit more research!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Couscous with Ras-el hanout

Couscous with Ras-el hanout

I have cooked couscous before and wanted to try it with Ras-el hanout the traditional Moroccan spice mix. I bought the spice mix online from Seasoned Pioneers. The foil pouches are resealable.
The smell is absolutely wonderful!!! There are 15 different ingredients in the mix. It says on the pack 'An amazingly complex spice blend with a multitude of warming spice and herbal flavours.'
It certainly delivers what it says on the pack.

I cup couscous
2 cups hot water
1-2 tsp Vegetable stock powder (I used Marigold bouillon powder)
1-2 tbs tomato puree
6 sun dried tomatoes chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 medium red onions chopped
handful of raisins
2 tsp Ras-el hanout (I used Seasoned Pioneers spice mix.)
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lime

To make the sauce fry the onions and garlic in the oil until soft and beginning to caramelise.
Add the sundried tomatoes and spice mix and heat for 2-3 minutes more.

Put the hot water into another pan and add the stock powder and tomato puree and mix well, then add the couscous. Simmer on a low heat for 5 mins and leave to stand for a further 2 mins. Fluff up the couscous with a fork then add to the sauce, together with the lime juice and mix everything well. The sauce part could be made in advance.
Toasted flaked almonds can be added but I didn't have any in stock.

I served this with grilled Portabella mushrooms and fried yellow peppers.

Instead of grilling the mushrooms, spoon a generous layer of the couscous mix onto each mushroom and cook for about 30 min in a moderate oven.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Raspberry and Chipotle

I have been dipping in and out of foodblogs for some time now. One of the first that I found was when I was looking online for a chocolate and courgette cake recipe. That blog is called Chocolate and Zuccini. As well as finding the recipe I was looking for I found so much more. There were other lovely recipes of course, interesting comments and insights from readers, French idioms and a store of treasures listed down the side ....... links to other food blogs! One of those links took me to Anne's Food. On Anne's wish list is Raspberry and chipotle sauce. I had never heard of this but as chipotle is one of my favourite ingredients already in the store cupboard and I had raspberries growing in the garden, I thought I would try and devise a recipe. More of that in another post.
I shall hope to feature some of the food bloggers who have inspired me to start this blog as well as with their recipes and their generosity.