Saturday, 17 December 2011

Rioja-braised lamb shanks with chorizo and garlic

  •     4 lamb shanks
  •     salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •     oil, for frying
  •     350ml/12fl oz Rioja or 350ml/12fl oz good-quality beef stock
  •     250ml/9fl oz balsamic vingear
  •     1 garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally
  •     2 bay leaves
  •     1–2 tsp paprika
  •     handful black peppercorns
  •     4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  •     300ml/10fl oz beef stock
  •     125g/4oz chorizo
  •     1 large red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  •     2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  •     dash honey, to taste

Preparation method

  1.     Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 3.
  2.     Season the lamb well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle oil into a heavy-based saucepan pan set over a high heat. Turn down the heat slightly and brown the lamb shanks all over.
  3.     Pour the wine and balsamic vinegar into a casserole dish and boil for five minutes. Add the lamb shanks, garlic, bay leaves, paprika, peppercorns, half the rosemary and the stock. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil.
  4.     Once boiling, place the dish into the oven and cook for two hours.
  5.     Remove the dish from the oven and add the chorizo, onion, carrots, honey to taste, if using, and the remaining rosemary, then return to the oven and cook for another hour, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
  6.     Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
  7.     Place the casserole dish onto a high heat and boil for 8–10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  8.     Serve the meat and vegetables with creamy mashed potatoes and lashings of the sauce.

By Lorraine Pascale From Home Cooking Made Easy

Graffiti cake


For the sponge
  • 200g/7oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g/7oz soft light brown sugar
  • ½ a vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or 2 drops vanilla extract
  • 4 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200g/7oz self-raising flour
For the sugar syrup
  • 200g/7oz granulated sugar
  • 200ml/7oz water
  • For the buttercream
  • 400g/14oz butter, softened
  • ½ a vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or 2 drops vanilla extract
  • 800g/1lb 12oz icing sugar
For the graffiti writing
  • 250g/9oz granulated sugar
  • 130ml/4½fl oz golden syrup or liquid glucose
  • 125ml/4fl oz water
  • few drops food colouring
  • few drops vanilla extract
Preparation method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line two
20cm/8in cake tins.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until soft and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and a little beaten egg and beat until well combined.
Add half the remaining eggs and two tablespoons of flour and mix
until well combined. Then add the remaining eggs, another two
tablespoons of flour and mix until well combined. Add the rest of the
flour and mix until well combined.
3. Divide the mixture between the two tins, smooth the mixture and
bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into
the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean.
4. Meanwhile for the sugar syrup, heat the sugar and water in a small
saucepan over a low-medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase
the heat and let the mixture boil for two minutes. Remove the pan
from the heat and set aside.
5. Remove the cakes from the oven and brush the tops liberally with
sugar syrup. Once cool, place the sponges in the freezer for 20
minutes. (This will make them easier to ice.)

 6. For the buttercream, place the butter and vanilla in a large bowl and
beat well with a wooden spoon until light and creamy. Add the icing
sugar gradually, and beat until well combined.
7. Spoon some of the buttercream onto the middle of the cake board.
Place one of the cakes on top. Spread the cake with buttercream and
place the remaining sponge on top.
8. Spread the buttercream on the top and side of the cake. (Spread it
quite liberally at first, then smooth around the edges and over the
top, removing any excess, to give a neat first layer.) Chill the cake in
the fridge for 1-2 hours, or until firm. Remove the cake from the
fridge and spread over another layer of buttercream.
9. For the graffiti, heat the sugar, golden syrup (or liquid glucose) and
water in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Swirl the pan
gently. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and bring
the mixture to the boil. If there is any sugar stuck to the side of the
pan, brush it with a wet pastry brush. Cook the caramel for 10–15
minutes or until it reaches 150C/300F (the 'hard-crack' stage).
Remove the pan from the heat.
10. To test whether the caramel is ready: remove a small piece of the
sugar mixture with a teaspoon and place it into a cup of cold water.
Leave it there for a minute or so to cool down. Feel the sugar
mixture on the end of the spoon: it should be hard and form hard,
brittle threads that break when bent.
11. Add the colouring and flavouring and swirl the pan gently until well
combined. Pour the caramel into a heatproof jug. (CAUTION: the
caramel will be extremely hot at this point) and set aside to cool
slightly for 1-2 minutes.
12. Lay a 65cm/25in wide piece of greaseproof paper out on the work
surface widthways. Drizzle overlapping circles of the caramel the
whole width of the paper (they should be the same height at the
cake). Repeat the process so that you have a thick band of
13. Remove the cake from the fridge. When the 'graffiti' is firm but still
pliable, carefully peel off the back of the greaseproof paper and
stick around the cake. Cut off any excess with scissors.

By Lorraine Pascale From Home Cooking Made Easy

Friday, 16 December 2011

BBC - Food - Recipes : Moussaka

BBC - Food - Recipes : Moussaka


75ml/6fl oz olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
675g/1½lb lamb mince
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1.25ml/¼tsp cinnamon
1.25ml/¼tsp allspice
2 x 400g/14oz tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh, soft thyme leaves
175ml/6fl oz white wine
4 medium aubergines, cut into 1cm/½in slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plain flour, for dusting

For the topping

85g/3oz unsalted butter
85g/3oz plain flour
900ml/1½pt milk
85g/3oz parmesan, grated
115g/4oz gruyère, grated
2 free-range egg yolks
1 free-range egg


Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large casserole dish. Add the onion and cook gently for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft, but not coloured. Brown half the lamb in a frying pan and add to the onion. Add the garlic and break up the meat with a wooden fork until it has a loose texture. Brown the remaining lamb.
Stir the cinnamon, allspice, chopped tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves and thyme into the casserole. Add the rest of the browned lamb and de-glaze the pan with white wine. Pour straight into the casserole dish, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour.

Place the aubergines in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes. This draws out any bitter juices.

Meanwhile make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan and stir in the flour. Take off the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Return the pan to the heat and stir continuously until the sauce thickens. Simmer over a gentle heat for 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in 55g/2oz of the parmesan and 55g/2oz of the gruyère cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Rinse the aubergines and pat dry. Dust the aubergines with flour and fry in batches in the remaining olive oil until golden on both sides, about 8 - 10 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper. Set aside until ready to construct the moussaka.

The white sauce should now have cooled enough to whisk in the egg and egg yolks.
Cover the base of an ovenproof dish (30 x 20cm/12 x 8in) with a third of the mince then cover with half the aubergine slices. Repeat the layers, ending in the last of the mince, then pour over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and gruyère. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas4 for 50-60 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Allow the moussaka to settle for 5 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
Serve the moussaka with a chunky tomato, cucumber, parsley and mint salad and crusty bread.

Sunday, 4 December 2011



  • 225g/8oz self raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 25g/1oz caster sugar
  • 150ml/5fl oz milk
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten

Preparation method

1. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter.
3. Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.
4. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a
round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and
place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough
and stamp out more scones to use it all up.
5. Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15
minutes until well risen and golden.
6. Cool on a wire rack and serve with butter and good jam and maybe
some clotted cream.

GreatBritishBakingClub: Almond Biscotti

GreatBritishBakingClub: Almond Biscotti: I have been wanting to try and make biscotti for a while now, ever since seeing Yasmin Limbert's chocolate pistachio variety on the Great British Bake Off. Biscotti is one of those recipes that I never really thought about trying before, but when I read the method I was really intrigued to see how it worked.

  • 90G Plain Flour
  • half a tsp Baking Powder
  • 55g Sugar
  • 60g Hotel Chocolat Cinnamon Almonds roughly chopped. (You could substitute for any nut, fruit or chocolate, feel free to get experimental.)
  • 1 whole Egg
  • half a tsp almond flavouring
The method I used slightly differs from Yasmin's, my first attempt to make them went horribly wrong, it was all the BBC's fault as they changed her recipe on their website so no matter how hard I tried it just wouldn't form a dough! It just formed a weird crumble like dry mixture which wouldn't come together no matter how hard I tried.

Thanks to the Lovely Urvashi on twitter I managed to salvage it and get some pretty delicious results.

I started by roughly chopping the Almonds.

I then combined the sugar, egg and almond flavouring and whisking using an electric whisk until the mixture was light and well combined.

I then added the flour, baking powder and chopped nuts and formed a sticky looking dough. With well floured hands I then plonked the dough onto a lined baking tray and smooshed it into a long log shape.

I baked at 180 for around 25 minutes, until lightly browned.

(I took mine out after 20 minutes, but it probably could of done with that extra 5 minutes)

I then allowed it to cool completely (this is important as it is much easier to cut when cool) and cut horizontally to make the traditional biscotti shape.

They then baked again for 7 minutes, then were flipped over and baked for another 7 minutes.

It may seem faffy in places but it is honestly incredibly easy and they make fantastic edible homemade Christmas gifts, just pop them in a cellophane bag and tie with a nice Christmassy ribbon!

Are you making homemade gifts this year? What are you making?

Jamie Olivers Turkey Gravy


  •     2 celery sticks, trimmed and roughly chopped
  •     2 carrots, roughly sliced
  •     2 onions, peeled and quartered
  •     5 fresh bay leaves
  •     5 fresh sage leaves
  •     4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  •     2 star anise
  •     2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, the best quality you can afford
  •     8 chicken wings
  •     Olive oil
  •     Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •     4 tbsp plain flour
  •     Optional: 60ml sherry or port
  •     2 heaped dessertspoons cranberry sauce, for finishing


How to make Jamie's get-ahead turkey gravy

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Put the veg, herbs and star anise into a sturdy bottomed roasting tray. Scatter the bacon on top.

2. Break the chicken wings open then put them onto a board and bash the bones up with the end of a rolling pin; this will release more of their flavour. Put them in the pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over a few pinches of salt and pepper then toss everything together and put the tray in the oven to cook for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

3. Take the pan out of the oven, and put it on a hob over a low heat and use a potato masher to really grind and mash everything up. Keep mashing, moving and scraping all the goodness from the bottom of the pan as you go. Gradually mix in the flour to thicken the mixture. The longer you let everything fry, the darker your gravy will be. When the flour is combined pour in 2 litres of hot water, turn the heat up and bring to the boil for 10 minutes, till thickened, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want to add 60ml sherry or port for flavour, do that now.

4. When it's reached the consistency you're looking for, check the seasoning then push it through a sieve into a large bowl. Really push and mash everything through so you get as much flavour as possible. Discard anything left behind. Once it has cooled down to room temperature put it into containers or freezer bags and pop it in your freezer. You'll finish it off on Christmas Day.
Finishing the gravy

5. To finish the gravy, take it out of the freezer when you're ready to cook your turkey. That way, it will defrost as your turkey cooks. When the turkey is perfectly cooked, put a carving fork inside the cavity and use that to pick the bird up and tilt it over the pan so all of the juices inside run out.

6. Spoon away as much of the fat as possible, then pour your pre-made gravy into the pan with the rest of the turkey juices. Bring it to the boil over the hob and scrape all those flavourful bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan. Have a taste then add the cranberry sauce. It won't taste sweet but it will add a wicked background flavour.

7. Once your gravy is piping hot, strain it through a sieve and into a pan. Leave that on the lowest heat to tick away until you're ready to serve. Skim away any fat that rises to the top and add any extra resting juices from the turkey before serving.