And for my Vegetarian family: Walnut Mushroom & Gorgonzola Tart!

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Pastry:

200g plain flour

pinch of salt

50g walnut

120g butter

1 large egg yolk

3 tablespoons icy water

Filling:

25g dried porcini mushrooms

3 tablespoons white wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 red onions, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

10 sprigs of fresh thyme

200g of mushrooms of your choose, i use portobello

2 large eggs

150ml single cream

60g Gorgonzola thinly sliced

50g walnut pieces

black pepper

1 × 23cm deep loose-based flan tin; a baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 190 ° C/ 375 ° F/ gas 5.

Dice the butter and put it in the freezer for 10 min. Bring the pastry together in a food-processor by putting the flour, salt and walnuts into the processor bowl and run until the nuts are finely chopped and the mixture looks sandy.

Add the chilled butter and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Mix the egg yolk with the icy water then add to the mixture. It will come together to form a ball of dough. Flatten the dough to a thick disc, then wrap with Clingfilm and chill for about 20 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worktop to a circle larger than the tin. Roll up the pastry around the rolling pin and lift it over the tin, then unroll the pastry slowly so it gently drapes over the tin. With your fingers gently press the pastry onto the base and sides of the tin, pressing out any pockets of air. Roll the pin over the top of the tin to cut off the excess pastry. Use your thumbs to ease the pastry just slightly higher than the rim of the tin, to allow for shrinkage. Prick the base well with a fork and chill the case for another 20 minutes.

To ‘blind’ bake the pastry line the pastry case with a sheet of crumpled greaseproof paper and fill with pennies (they are made from copper and they conduct the heat fabulously well). Bake for 12– 15 minutes until the pastry is firm. Carefully remove the paper and pennies, then return the tin to the oven and bake for a further 5– 7 minutes until the pastry is thoroughly cooked and starting to colour.

Remove it from the oven and set aside on a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 ° C/ 350 ° F/ gas 4.

While the pastry case is chilling, make the filling. Bring the wine and 2 tablespoons of water to the boil in a small pan, remove from heat and add the dried mushrooms; leave them to soak while you get on with the rest.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the sliced onions, garlic and thyme and stir well. Cover with a dampened disc of greaseproof paper, pressed directly onto the surface of the onions and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the paper and add the fresh mushrooms together with the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 to 5 minutes until the mushrooms are softened. Remove from the heat and season with plenty of pepper. Leave to cool.

Beat the eggs into the cream then stir into the cooled mushroom mixture. Spoon the mixture into the pastry case. Scatter the cheese over the top followed by the walnuts.

Bake for about 35 minutes until the filling is set in the middle. Leave the tart to settle for about 5 minutes before carefully removing the pastry case. Yam yam!

Orange Cardamom Coffee Chocolate Cake

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Sponge Mix:

250g unsalted butter, softened

250g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

250g self-rising flour

pinch of salt

Chocolate mix:

30g cocoa powder

2 tablespoons milk

Orange Cardamom and coffee mix:

Zest of 2 oranges

12 cardamom pods

12 coffee beans

2 tablespoons dark shaved chocolate

Chocolate Ganache:

100gr of chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

100ml of double cream

 

1 cake tin, greased

Put the butter into the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer and beat until very creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar and the vanilla essence. Keep beating (scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time) until the mixture is much lighter in colour and very fluffy in texture.  Gradually add the eggs and the flour, 1 tablespoon of flour with 2 tablespoons of the bitten eggs, to prevent the mixture from curdling. Sift the remaining flour and the salt into the bowl and gently fold in using a large metal spoon until you can no longer see any streaks or specks of flour.

Preheat the oven to 180 ° C/ 350 ° F/ gas 4.

Transfer half the sponge mixture to a second mixing bowl.

Sift the cocoa powder onto one portion of sponge mixture, add the milk and fold in until completely mixed, with no streaks of cocoa.

Ground the cardamom and coffee beans and use an espresso machine to filter the mixture. Use 2 tablespoons of the espresso coffee produced (drink the rest is divine!). Alternative (if you do not have an espresso machine) you can ground the pods to a powder and use 2 tsp of instant coffee into 2 tbsp of water to dissolve them.

Add the cooled coffee liquid to the other portion of sponge mixture with the orange zest and stir until thoroughly combined.

Spoon the mixtures into the prepared tin, adding a spoonful of each alternately and scattering the shaved chocolate over the mixture. Gently bang the tin on the worktop to eliminate any pockets of air. Marble the 2 mixtures by drawing a knife swirling it and gently smooth the surface.

Bake for 1– 1 ¼ hours until the cake is well risen and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Set the tin on a wire rack remove the cake and leave to cool completely. Spread the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake. Happy coffee time!

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Chocolate éclairs!

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Choux Dough:

100gr “00”flour

A pinch of salt

75g unsalted butter, diced

3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

Filling:

175ml of double cream

1 tablespoon of amaretto

Glaze:

50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

50ml double cream

 

Preheat the oven to 175 ° C.

Sift the flour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and set aside until needed. Put the salt, butter and 175ml water in a pan and heat gently until the butter has completely melted. Tip in the flour all in one go.

Take the pan off the heat and beat furiously with a wooden spoon as you beat it should turn into smooth, heavy dough.

Put the pan back on low heat and beat at a more gentle speed for a couple of minutes to slightly cook the dough until it will come away from the sides of the pan to make a smooth, glossy ball.

Tip the dough into a mixing bowl and let it cool then use the mixer to gradually introduce the eggs. Add enough of the beaten eggs to make shiny, paste-like dough that just falls from the spoon when lightly shaken; you may not need all the beaten eggs (it depends on the size of the eggs). The dough must be stiff enough to pipe.  If it is too wet it will spread out rather than puff up in the oven.

Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and spoon the dough into the piping bag fitted with the 2cm plain tube and pipe on 12 éclairs, each about 15cm spacing them well apart to allow them room to expand. Bake the éclairs in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden-brown. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool.

Get on with the chocolate glaze by breaking the chocolate into even-sized pieces and put into a bowl seating on a bain marie. Heat the cream until lukewarm then pour in a slowly over the chopped chocolate, stir gently until melted and smooth and glossy. Leave to cool and thicken slightly. One at a time, dip the top of each éclair into the mixture to glaze, lift vertically and wipe off excess from the lower end your finger or use a brush to paint on the chocolate glaze. Place on the rack and allow to set.

To make the filling simply whip the double cream and add the amaretto until is stiff, fill the piping bag fitted with a 5mm nozzle. Using the tip of the nozzle, pierce the underside of the éclairs in several places along their length and gently fill each éclair evenly.

I like mine quite generous with cream so I slice the éclair open and pipe with the bigger nozzle the cream inside. The choice is yours, it still tastes divine. Keep in the fridge. 🙂

Yummy buns!

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(10 bun recipe)

Dough:

500g white “00” flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

1 × 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast

300ml milk

40g softened unsalted butter

1 egg

Vegetable oil

Filling:

25g melted unsalted butter

Grated zest of 1 orange

75g soft brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon all spice

175g dried berries and cherries (whatever you fancy)

100g sultanas

Glazing:

 1 heaped tablespoon orange peel marmalade and water

200g icing sugar and water

1 deep baking tray laid with baking parchment lightly greased

 

Preheat the oven at 25C while you are mixing the dough. Put the flour and salt into a large mixer bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast. Heat the milk in a saucepan until lukewarm. Melt the butter (usually I use the microwave for 1 minute in medium power is enough). Add both to the flour mixture with the egg and knead for 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer feels sticky. I use the mixer with a dough hook and it seems to work fine but you are very welcome to knead by hand in a lightly floured surface.

Lightly grease a bowl with vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn until it is covered all over with oil. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to rise in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough to its original size and on a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to a rectangle about 40cm long and 5mm thick. Brush all over with the melted butter (microwave again). Mix the orange jest, sugar, cinnamon, all spice, berries and sultanas and spread generously all over the dough.

Begin to roll the long side tightening the roll each time you turn it – you should end up with a Swiss roll lookalike. Cut across into 10 pieces about 4cm wide. Place them cut side up in the baking tray, leaving a little space around each slice. Cover with clinfilm and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.

Take the buns out of the oven and increase the oven to 190 ° C/ 375 ° F/ gas. When temperature is reached, bake the buns for 20– 25 minutes until risen and golden brown. After 15 minutes cover the buns with foil if they are getting too brown.

Transfer the buns to a wire rack allow to cool.

Meanwhile put the jam in a small saucepan with a splash of water and melt gently until smooth. Brush the jam and the orange peel over the buns to glaze. Allow to cool.

Shift the icing sugar in the mixer bowl and add 2 tablespoons water, use the mixer for 5 min. You might need a little more water while is mixing; it is ready when it falls from the spoon when lightly shaken. Drizzle the icing over the buns let it set and Enjoy!

Pasta with spicy meatball marinara.

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Great one for sharing or indulging by one’s self. (Recipe for 4)

 

6 Italian sausages (or your favourite ones it will still taste great)

50gr Butter, salt & pepper

1tsp of ground cinnamon

1tsp of all spice

1tsp of ground cloves

1 cup of red wine

500ml of vegetable stock

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

5tbsp of ketchup

1 red chilli finely chopped (remove the seeds)

Pancetta cubes (I usually use 100gr but this can be adjusted to your taste)

100gr of Chorizo cubes

2 carrots finely chopped

1 large red onion finely shopped

500 gr of dried pasta (any kind it takes your fancy)

250gr of hard cheese (Manchego is one of my favourites, cheddar will do nicely as well)

 

Over high heat use a big sauce pan add the Chorizo, pancetta and 50gr of butter. Remove the sausages skins (I usually hold one end of the sausage and push so all the meat pop out from the other end) and I shape to meatballs then add them to the pan and fry them until golden brown.

Follow with the red chilli, red onion and carrots, a little salt and pepper and the spices and stir well. Deglaze the pan by adding the wine and then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, the ketchup and half of the vegetable stock. Turn the heating in low and let it simmer for 20 min.

Use the rest of vegetable stock plus as much water as you need for boiling the pasta (8 minutes for dried pasta), drain and add the pasta in a baking tray (well-buttered) add the sauce give it a got stir and then sprinkle the cheese on top and leave under the grill for 10 minutes at 175C until golden brown on the top.

Wash it down with a good red wine. The family loves it and we usually enjoy it when we have big gatherings; it is easy to prepare in advance and bake in the oven a bit longer straight from the fridge on the day.

Spicy it up! 🙂

Zoe’s fillo cheese soufflé

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Ingredients:

200 gr. Emendal

200 gr. Gouda

200 gr. Regato

200 gr. Feta

200 gr. Manchego

 

Grated or in really small cubes

 

1 1/2 cup milk (3,5% fat)

4 eggs

1 packet of fillo 

200 gr of margarine, melt half of it in microwave

Pepper & salt

 

Mix the cheeses together and keep some to sprinkle on top later. Butter your baking tray well. Preheat your oven to 175C.

Melt half of the margarine in the microwave and butter one of the fillo sheets then fold it in half. Place a little of the cheese mixture in the middle and fold like a parcel then place it in the baking tray. Do the same until the bottom of the tray is covered and then add the rest of the margarine in little cubes and the rest of the cheeses on top. You will probably need about 8 sheets for a medium size tray.

In a bowl mix the eggs, pepper add the milk and then introduce the mixture to the baking tray leaving the fillo to absorb for 15 to 20 min. Sprinkle the leftover cheeses on the top. Bake for 30 minutes at 175C, the colour on the top will go a very appealing gold to light brown.

 

We can always add pancetta cubes, sausages or chilli if we like in the recipe and change the cheeses to our favourites; is like making your own pizza toppings. I do not think this needs any addition of salt because of the cheeses that are involved but if you prefer to add cheese like mozzarella do add a pinch of salt as well.

This is comfort food and you know when you need it the most 🙂. It will put a smile on your face. Enjoy!

Easy pizy orange easy pie.

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Orange, pie famously easy: cooking time 30 min, prep time 15 min

You will need:

1 pack of filo pastry

1 cup of corn oil

1 cup of sugar

orange zest of at least 4 oranges

2 tsp of vanilla essence or even better half vanilla pod

4 eggs

250 gr of Total greek yogurt (for the health conscious even the 0% will be absolutely fine)

20 gr of baking powder

And for the syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup orange juice

lemon peel and a cinnamon stick in the pot as well

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Here we go: in a large bowl combine the corn oil, sugar, zest, vanilla essence, eggs and yogurt and bring together by wising them lightly. Dissolve the baking powder to a small amount of orange juice and add to the mix. Open the filo pastry and shred with your hands or with scissors in the bowl with the mixture. Every filo sheet should be shredded individually and the smaller the pieces the better the result.

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With hands we make sure that all the filo has been soaked with the mixture.

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Lay a 35 cm baking tray with baking parchment so it covers the bottom and the sides as well; heat up the oven to 175C. Bake the pie for 30 to 40 minutes. Use a knife to check to test that the pie has finished baking. If the knife is dry when it comes out then the pie is ready.

Make the syrup (about 15 minutes it takes) and as it hot drizzle on the top of the pie and let it soak.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, cream or on its own.

ENJOY!