Observer Food Monthly and Guardian

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“We also have recipes from Blanche Vaughan’s brilliant new book Egg, including kale and chorizo on toast, poached egg, lentil and egg curry, and chocolate, almond and orange cake”.. Nigel Slater

My new book, Egg, was featured in the March issue of OFM. They chose some of the most beautiful pictures and inspiring recipes to give everyone a sneak preview. I hope you managed to buy a copy!


 

Moroccan Chicken

Blanche Vaughan’s Moroccan Chicken buried in couscous (Chicken Medfoun) Photograph: Jean Cazals for Observer Food Monthly

The January 2015 edition of Observer Food Monthly ran a piece on “one pot” dishes that feed four people for under a tenner. My Chicken Medfoun was included amongst other wonderful dishes supplied by Bruno Loubet, Lindsey Bareham and Sam Harris of Zucca. See Observer Food Monthly online for more..

Adapted from In One Pot by Blanche Vaughan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, RRP £18.99). 


 

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Apple Dragons from Blanche Vaughan’s Egg book Photo credit Paul Winch-Furness

These little fried cakes are a derivative of Welsh cakes (hence the name dragon, the symbol of Wales). The recipe uses grated apple to give a softer texture and some natural sweetness.

Makes about 12
self-raising flour 175g, plus extra to dust butter 70g, unsalted, cold, diced
sugar 35g
ground cinnamon 1⁄4 tsp
nutmeg a few gratings
raisins 40g
sea salt a pinch
eating apple 1, about 100g, peeled and grated egg 1, beaten
butter for frying
caster sugar about 2 tbsp , to dust

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs (you can also do this in a food processor).

Add the sugar, spices, raisins and salt and combine. Then add the grated apple and egg and bring the mixture together to a sticky-soft dough. Dust with extra flour if the mixture is too sticky then shape it into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Liberally sprinkle flour all over a clean work surface and lightly roll out the dough, coating in more flour if necessary, to a depth of barely 1cm. Using a 7cm pastry cutter or similar, cut out 12 circles, pressing any offcuts together and re-rolling.

Melt a little butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the cakes for about 2-4 minutes on each side. They will expand slightly and get nice and brown.

Sprinkle with caster sugar while still hot and serve.


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OBSERVER FOOD MONTHLY, 2015

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Egg book is voted one of the best food books of 2015


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Using only one pot reminds us that simple cooking can often be the best: flavours and textures coming together to create a whole and balanced dish. And it’s not just about rich stews and slow cooking; recipes can be bright, fresh and quick to make, too – a spring risotto with lemon, or a filling salad of butter beans, cherry tomatoes and tuna with a sherry-vinegar dressing. Summer soups, autumn vegetable dishes and even decadent puddings can be made without cluttering the kitchen with pots and pans.

Many of us don’t have time to make complicated recipes or be the perfect host with several dishes on the go. Let’s leave that sort of co-ordination to chefs. One-pot cooking is about conviviality of a less formal type. A bowl of steaming fish stew put on the table for everyone to help themselves or a pot au feu adorned only with mustard and cornichons, and robust red wine. That’s how I like to cook when I have friends coming over.

Less can be more when it comes to cooking – whether it’s number of ingredients, kitchen equipment or components to a dish. Simplicity lets the ingredients do the talking.

Courgette and herb frittata

Serves 2

unsalted butter 15g

spring onions 4, finely sliced

courgette 1, medium, sliced

mixed herbs a chopped handful of parsley, coriander, dill and mint

allspice ½ tsp, ground

feta 100g, crumbled

eggs 6

salt

freshly ground black pepper

A frittata is a sort of baked Italian omelette which puffs up during cooking like a cake. It’s incredibly simple to make, and using this method you can alter the ingredients as you choose. Spinach and ricotta or asparagus and herbs are two of my other favourites.

Preheat the grill to a medium setting. In a small ovenproof saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the spring onions along with a pinch of salt and sweat gently until they soften slightly. This will take a couple of minutes.

Add the courgette slices and continue to cook gently for 5-10 minutes, allowing them to brown slightly and soften.

Put the herbs in a bowl with the onions, courgettes, allspice and feta. Crack in the eggs and beat lightly, keeping parts of the egg white and yolk separate. Season well.

Pour the mixture into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes over a medium heat or until the bottom has set and browned slightly. Then put the pan under the grill for about 12 minutes. The frittata will puff up and turn a golden brown, but should still be a little runny inside when cut open.

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Spanish butter bean and tuna salad

Serves 2

garlic 1 clove, crushed to a paste with salt

sherry vinegar 2 tbsp

extra-virgin olive oil 4 tbsp

red onion ½, finely sliced

butter beans 1 tin, rinsed (400g)

cherry tomatoes 250g, halved

pitted black olives 50g

flat-leaf parsley 20g, roughly chopped

tuna 1 tin (200g), sustainably sourced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

This full-flavoured salad is one of my favourite easy-to-make lunches. Apart from the tomatoes and parsley, all of the ingredients can be found in the store cupboard, so it’s a great dish to throw together at the last minute and take with you as a packed lunch.

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onion, butter beans, tomatoes, olives and parsley and mix well. Gently stir in the drained tuna, being careful not to break it up too much.

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Black risotto with squid

Serves 4-6

olive oil 2 tbsp

red onion 1, finely diced

garlic cloves 3, finely chopped

thyme leaves 1 tsp

dried chilli flakes ½ tsp

fennel seeds 1 tsp, ground

squid 450g, including the tentacles, cleaned and cut into strips

risotto rice 300g

white wine 100ml

cuttlefish ink 12g (about 4 sachets)

hot fish stock or water 1 litre

unsalted butter a small knob

flat-leaf parsley 2 tbsp, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

A spectacular-looking dish to serve to friends. The black ink from the cuttlefish gives this dish its wonderful colour; you can buy it in sachets either from the supermarket or a fishmonger. The risotto has a deep and unusual flavour, but the method is the same for any risotto.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion along with a pinch of salt and gently fry until it begins to soften but not colour. Now add the garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the thyme leaves, chilli flakes and fennel seeds. Finally, add the squid pieces and fry briefly until they start to curl. Pour in the rice and stir well, coating every grain so it looks shiny. Season with salt and pepper.

Now add the wine, stirring for a minute before adding the cuttlefish ink. Stir until every grain of rice is coated in black ink, then add the hot stock, a ladle at a time. Stir gently until all the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladleful.

Continue stirring and adding the stock a ladle at a time for 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is soft, but still has a bit of bite and the liquid around the rice is creamy. Stir in the butter and chopped parsley. Check the seasoning before serving.

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Date and orange cake

unsalted butter 150g, plus extra for greasing

light brown sugar 100g

eggs 2

self-raising flour 200g

cinnamon 1 tsp, ground

almonds 75g, ground

salt a pinch

oranges 2 or 3 large, the zest of one and a total of 175ml juice

dates 200g, chopped

candied peel 30g, plus extra for decorating

icing sugar 50g

Lightly spiced, moist and naturally sweet with dates, this cake makes a wonderful pudding served warm with just a dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche. Any leftovers can be eaten up at tea time.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Butter a 1 lb loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one by one, adding 1 tbsp of flour after each. Gently fold in the remaining flour, cinnamon, almonds and the salt. Add the orange zest, then loosen the mixture with 100ml of the orange juice to make a smooth batter. Fold in the chopped dates and candied peel and spoon the mixture into the lined loaf tin.

Bake for 1-1½ hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and use a skewer to pierce holes in the top of the cake. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before turning out and peeling away the baking parchment.

Mix the remaining 75ml of orange juice with the icing sugar to make a smooth glaze. Pour this over the cake then sprinkle over the reserved candied peel.


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It’s Easter, time to look forward to spring and the colour, fresh produce and new life that it brings. Tender new growth is starting to appear, the first asparagus shoots will be piercing through the soil, and crisp red radishes are arriving at the market. I’ve chosen recipes to celebrate this new phase: young vegetables, gently braised chicken and fresh, lemony meringue tart.

À la grecque is a classic French method of poaching vegetables in a bright, flavoured broth. Young leeks, asparagus and carrots are cooked until tender then topped with a sauce of parsley, capers and chopped egg for added richness. This could be a starter or even a light lunch, eaten with good bread and butter.

The chicken braised with purple baby turnips and pink-red radishes is both colourful and wonderfully simple to prepare. Look for turnips with leaves attached, otherwise large-leaf spinach or purple-sprouting broccoli work well.

I was reintroduced to the pleasure of lemon meringue tart in France recently, its bright sharpness balanced by sweet, cloudlike topping. The chef who made it kindly explained his secret of using the Italian method, which produces the fluffiest meringue. I’m now a convert. Overall, it’s a more failsafe version of making meringue – which can often be tricky. The whites are cooked by pouring hot sugar syrup into the bowl while whisking, and all it needs is a short time in the oven to produce golden-brown peaks and to firm it up enough so it can be sliced with a knife. If you’ve never made it before, I would recommend using a thermometer, just to see what the syrup looks like at the correct temperature.

And the beauty of making tarts is that you can make the pastry and line the shell the day before, which almost halves the preparation time.

Spring vegetables à la grecque with chopped egg sauce

Serves 4

For the sauce:

eggs 2

small capers 1 tbsp

flat-leaf parsley a small bunch (10g)

Dijon mustard 2 tsp

good red-wine vinegar 2 tsp

extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

leeks 4, medium-sized, well washed

carrots 3, medium-sized, peeled

cauliflower ½ (300g)

asparagus a small bunch (300g)

celery stalks – preferably the tender ones from near the heart 4

For the poaching liquor:

lemon ½, juiced

white wine 100ml

coriander seeds 1 tsp

peppercorns ½ tsp

bay leaf 1

sprig of thyme 1

fennel fronds or parsley stalks a few

To serve:

extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce, boil the eggs for 12 minutes, then drain and cool before peeling. Roughly chop the capers and finely chop the parsley. Mix in a bowl with the mustard, vinegar and oil. Grate or finely chop the eggs, add to the bowl and season to taste.

Prepare the vegetables so they are roughly the same size: cut the leeks into short lengths, the carrots into sticks and the celery and asparagus into similar lengths, and break the cauliflower into small florets.

In a large saucepan put all the ingredients for the poaching liquor and add a litre of water and a tsp of salt. Bring to the boil then add the chopped leeks. After a minute add the other vegetables and gently boil for 3 minutes, or until the vegetables feel tender but still have a little bite. Remove with a slotted spoon into a serving bowl. Pour over a spoonful of the poaching liquid, season and dress with a little olive oil.

Add another spoonful of the poaching liquid to the egg sauce and stir to loosen it slightly. Serve the warm vegetables with the sauce spooned over the top.

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Chicken with braised radishes and turnips

Serves 4

chicken 1.5kg, jointed into 8 pieces

olive oil 2 tbsp

butter 25g

white onion 1, finely sliced

thyme a few sprigs, leaves chopped

radishes a large bunch (about 300g)

baby turnips 400g, with leaves if possible (or 4 medium turnips)

white wine 150ml

chicken stock 250ml

greens turnip tops, purple sprouting broccoli, spinach or chard – a large bunch

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the chicken pieces generously on both sides.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and put in the chicken pieces, skin-side down. If they don’t all fit in one layer, you can cook them in batches.

Turn the heat down to medium and brown the chicken gently for 5-10 minutes on each side, so it’s almost cooked and golden all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the butter to the pan and let it melt and start foaming before adding the onions and chopped thyme with a good pinch of salt. Cook gently for several minutes so the onion becomes soft and sweet. Turn up the heat and add the radishes and turnips, season well and fry for a minute or so to give them a bit of colour. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, tucking them in among the vegetables, and pour over the wine. Let it bubble and reduce for minute before adding the stock. Bring to a simmer and cover with a piece of baking parchment. Cook like this for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the greens. Drain, dress with olive oil, and season.

When the chicken pieces are cooked, remove them with the vegetables from the pan into your (heated) serving dish and reduce the sauce a little. Strew the cooked greens over the top and pour on the sauce.

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Lemon meringue tart

Makes one 23cm tart

For the pastry:

plain flour 140g

unsalted butter 75g, very cold and cut into small pieces

icing sugar 40g

egg yolk 1 (save the white for the meringues)

cold water 1-2 tbsp

flour for rolling

For the filling:

fresh lemon juice 200ml

caster sugar 160g

cornflour 25g

egg yolks 3 (save the whites for the meringue)

unsalted butter 25g, cut into small pieces

For the meringue:

caster sugar 200g

golden syrup 1 tbsp

egg whites 4, at room temperature

cream of tartar 1 tsp

To make the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Add the butter and mix together, using a food processor or your fingertips, until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs. Sift in the sugar and mix briefly. Stir in the egg yolk and just enough water to bring the mixture together to form a firm dough. If I’m using a food processor, I often do this final part by hand, to make sure I don’t add too much water and make a sticky dough. The firmer the dough, the shorter the pastry will be. Wrap it in clingfilm and pat it into a disc shape. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

(If you’re making this the day before, you can then roll out the pastry and line the tart shell. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to use.)

Heat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and line the tart shell. Press it into the bottom corners and trim off any excess around the sides. (Save this for later in case you need to patch up any cracks.)

Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans (they’re not essential, so don’t worry if you don’t have any, but this can help prevent shrinkage). Bake for 20 minutes then remove the paper and beans, if using, and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the base is golden and feels firm and sandy. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

To make the filling, put lemon juice, sugar and cornflour into a small pan and whisk to combine. Bring to the boil, stirring, while the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, then add the butter, stirring until it melts and the mixture becomes smooth. Pour into the tart shell and allow it to cool and set while you make the meringue.

To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Put the sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan and just cover with water. Heat, undisturbed, until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil, without stirring, until the syrup registers 120C on a thermometer (firm- ball stage). This will take a couple of minutes, so in the meantime you can get the egg whites whisking.

Whisk the egg whites with a mixer on low speed until starting to get foamy, then add the salt and cream of tartar. Increase the speed to medium, and whisk just until soft peaks are starting to form. Turn off the mixer at this stage while the syrup reaches the right heat.

When the syrup is ready, start whisking the whites again on a low speed while pouring hot syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream. When all the syrup is added, increase the speed to high and continue whisking for about 10 minutes, or until the bowl feels cool to the touch. During this time, the whites are cooking in the heat of the syrup and they will become voluminous, thick and smooth looking.

Spread the meringue all over the top of the tart right up to the sides, and make some little peaks on the surface with a knife for decoration.

Cook for 15 minutes, or until the top has slightly browned and the meringue feels a little firm. Remove and allow the tart to cool slightly before eating.


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Toad in the hole

The key to perfect toad in the hole is to have a sufficiently hot oven and to get the tray and oil really hot before putting the batter in.

Serves 6
plain flour 125g
cold milk 150ml
cold carbonated water 150ml
eggs 3, beaten
sea salt 1½ tsp
chipolatas 12 (chipolatas give a better ratio of batter to sausage)
oil 6 tbsp (a mixture of sunflower and olive oil works well)

The quantity of batter given here will also make 12 individual Yorkshire puddings: simply pour a little oil into the holes of a preheated muffin tray and pour the batter in. You will need to reduce the cooking time by about 15 minutes.

First make the batter. Sift the flour into a bowl and put the milk, water, beaten eggs and salt into a jug.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the milk and egg mixture into it, a little at a time, stirring as you go to bring in the flour bit by bit. Keep pouring and continue to stir until you have a smooth batter. Set aside to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Fry the chipolatas in 2 tablespoons of the oil until they are well browned all over. Pour the remaining oil into a medium-sized roasting tin or baking tray and put into the oven to heat for a few minutes.

Carefully remove the tray filled with the hot oil and lay the sausages into it, scraping the delicious, gooey sediment produced by the sausages from the frying pan into the tray. Pour the batter all over them, so they become partially submerged and put it into the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 20 minutes, by which time the top will be golden and crisp and the batter will have risen dramatically. Resist the temptation to take the pudding out of the oven earlier when the top looks cooked, as the batter at the base won’t be cooked enough.

Kale and chorizo on toast with poached egg

Kale Chorizo
 Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness

If you don’t fancy using kale, chard or large-leaf spinach are good substitutes. The eggs are poached, but you could just as easily use a soft-boiled instead.

Serves 4
kale 400g, tough stalks removed, roughly chopped
olive oil 2 tbsp
cooking chorizo 200g, sliced
garlic 1 clove, sliced
red chilli 1, seeded and sliced
cumin seeds 2 tsp, dry-roasted and ground
poached eggs 4
toast 4 slices
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the kale for 4 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the chorizo slices on both sides until brown. Add the garlic, chilli and cumin and fry a little to soften the garlic, without allowing it to brown.

Add the cooked kale and season to taste. Toss the pan a little to coat everything with the chorizo-flavoured oil.

When you have cooked your eggs, pour a little oil over each slice of toast and cover with the kale and chorizo mixture. Place a poached egg on top of each and serve.

Lentil curry with eggs

Lentil Curry.
 Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness

This meat-free dish provides all the protein you need. Not only is it spicy and filling, it can also be put together in no time.

Serves 4-6

brown lentils 400g
fresh ginger 30g, peeled
garlic 4 cloves, peeled
red chillies 2, stalks removed
onion 1, roughly chopped
sea salt 1 tsp
vegetable oil 2 tbsp
tomatoes 4, skinned, seeded and chopped (you could also use tinned peeled plum tomatoes, drained, seeded and chopped)
hard-boiled eggs 4, peeled
fresh coriander 20g, roughly chopped
natural yoghurt 4 tbsp

For the spice mix
cardamom pods 1 tsp
cloves 6
cumin seeds 3 tsp
turmeric 2 tsp
bay leaves 2
cinnamon stick 1

Put the lentils into a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tender, topping up the water if needed.

Meanwhile, make the spice mix. Place a large frying pan, without any oil, over a medium heat and add the cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds. After about 30 seconds they should start to give off a toasted, fragrant aroma. Shake the pan gently and cook for another 30 seconds then immediately remove from the heat and grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Once partially ground, you can remove and discard the papery husks of the cardamom, releasing the black seeds inside. Continue grinding until you have a coarse powder. Add the turmeric, bay leaves and cinnamon stick and set aside.

Put the ginger, garlic, whole chillies, onion and salt into a food processor and blitz to make a paste. Return the frying pan to the heat and add the oil. When it is hot, add the paste and fry over a medium heat for a few minutes. Then add the spice mix and the tomatoes and cook on a low heat for another 5 minutes or so.

When the lentils are tender, strain them to remove any excess liquid (reserving the liquid) and return the lentils to the pan. Add all the aromatic spice mixture and the boiled eggs to the pan and stir well. If the mixture looks too dry add some of the reserved liquid to make a loose sauce.

Cook the lentils for another 5 minutes so they become infused with the spice flavours. (Up to this point, everything can be done in advance and reheated when needed.)

When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle with the chopped coriander and stir in the yoghurt to make a creamy sauce surrounding the lentils and eggs. This is delicious on its own although you could serve with some sauteed spinach and steamed basmati rice.

Herb and potato frittata

Herb Frittata
 Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness

You will need an ovenproof frying pan with a fairly small diameter (about 15-20cm). This will produce a lovely deep frittata which can be cut into thick slices. This is a good, quick dish to make if you have leftover cooked potatoes, and the method also works for a variety of alternative fillings. A good frittata is never too crowded with ingredients, just keep the combinations simple.

Serves 4-6
Charlotte, Roosevelt or other slightly waxy potatoes 450g or about 3 medium
butter 15g
shallot 1, sliced
sea salt
mixed herbs, such as parsley, basil or marjoram 60g, roughly chopped
eggs 8, lightly beaten
nutmeg a grating
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil 1 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Cut the potatoes into quarters lengthways, then into ½cm slices. Rinse the potato slices then cook in a large pan of boiling water for 6-8 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in the frying pan and add the sliced shallot and a little salt. Cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes or so until soft but not coloured.

Put the chopped herbs and shallots in a bowl with the potatoes. Pour in the eggs and carefully stir to create a loose mixture. Grate over a little nutmeg and season well with salt and pepper. (If you plan to eat this cold, remember to add a bit more salt than you usually would.)

Heat the oil in the same pan that you cooked the shallots. When the oil is almost smoking hot, pour in the frittata mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes, to allow the bottom to get brown and set, then slide the pan into the preheated oven to cook the top. This should take about 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness, but keep testing it by pressing the middle gently. It should feel just firm.

When it is done, remove from the oven and slide a palette knife around the edge to loosen it, before inverting it onto a plate.

Rhubarb meringue tartlets

Rhubarb Tarts
 Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness

You can make this as one large tart, but soft meringue can be tricky to cut into slices, so use a hot knife for a clean cut.

Makes 6 small tarts
For the sweet pastry
unsalted butter 80g
caster sugar 50g
fine sea salt a pinch
egg yolk 1
plain flour 160g, plus extra for dusting

rhubarb 300g, washed and sliced into 5cm lengths
vanilla pod ½
brown sugar 15g
orange juice of 1
sweet pastry 1 quantity (see above)

For the meringue
caster sugar 240g
golden syrup 1 tbsp
eggs whites 4, fresh, at room temperature
fine sea salt a pinch
cream of tartar 1 tsp

Both the pastry and rhubarb can be prepared in advance; the tart can also be served the day after baking if required.

Preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. To make the pastry, mix the butter and sugar with a pinch of salt in an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld blender, until smooth and creamy. Add the yolk and continue to mix so it is well combined.

Add the flour and mix briefly, then scoop the mixture into a clean bowl, add a tablespoon of cold water and, using your hands, bring the pastry together. Add another tablespoon of water if necessary to form a cohesive but firm dough. Wrap in cling film and allow to rest for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge.

Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to 5mm thick and use to line 6 loose-bottomed tartlet tins, approximately 12cm in diameter. Place in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

Line each tin with baking parchment and baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove and leave to cool.

Put the rhubarb pieces in a single layer in an oven dish. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod (put the pod into a jar of caster sugar to make vanilla sugar) and add the seeds to the rhubarb along with the sugar and orange juice. Bake for 30 minutes, or until just tender. Leave to cool.

Pass the rhubarb through a sieve, reserving the liquid to make a sauce later. Mash the rhubarb pulp together to make a spreadable mixture and then spread over the base of each tart shell.

To make the meringue, put the sugar and golden syrup in a small pan and just cover with water. Heat gently, without stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil, again without stirring, until the syrup reaches 120C (on a thermometer), this will take a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer on low speed until it starts to foam, then add the salt and cream of tartar. Increase the speed to medium and whisk just until soft peaks start to form.

When the syrup is ready, start whisking the whites on a low speed while pouring the hot syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture stops steaming or the bowl feels cool to the touch. This can take up to 10 minutes. During this time, the whites are cooking in the heat of the syrup and they will become very thick and smooth.

Spread the meringue over the tops of the tarts and make little peaks on the top with your knife. Alternatively, use a piping bag and nozzle. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or use a blowtorch to lightly brown the tops. Reduce the reserved rhubarb liquid in a small pan, adding a little more sugar if necessary, to serve alongside the finished tarts.

Baked apple pudding

Apple Pudding
 Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness

This is an old-fashioned pudding of pureed, spiced apple with a fluffy, crunchy top. The recipe uses breadcrumbs instead of flour. It’s a good excuse to seek out a better quality white sourdough or pain de campagne and turn the leftovers into crumbs.

Serves 4
unsalted butter 220g
lemons 2
Bramley or cooking apples 4, medium, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
bay leaf 1
cloves 2
caster sugar 180g
eggs 2, separated
plain flour 2 tbsp
ground cinnamon a pinch
fine white breadcrumbs 200g

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and butter a deep 20cm ovenproof dish. Melt 20g of the butter in a pan over a low heat. Pare the zest of one lemon into large strips and add to the pan, along with the squeezed juice. Add the apples, bay leaf and cloves. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the apples are soft and collapsing.

Push the cooked apple through a large sieve or colander, discarding the bay leaf, cloves and zest, to make a smooth puree. Set aside to cool.

Beat the remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the egg yolks and mix well. Fold in the flour, cinnamon and breadcrumbs, and grate in the zest of the remaining lemon.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Stir a large spoonful of them into the cake mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

Put the apple purée into the bottom of the prepared dish and spread the cake mixture on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden and slightly risen. Serve hot, straight from the dish, with cream on the side.

Rich chocolate, almond and orange cake

Rich chocolate cake
 Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness

A wonderfully rich and intense chocolate cake, loosely inspired by the dense sachertorte from Vienna.

Serves 6-8
dark chocolate 85g, good-quality, minimum 70% cocoa solids
unsalted butter 120g
caster sugar 120g
ground cinnamon 2 pinches
ground allspice 2 pinches
vanilla extract 1 tsp
orange zest of ½
eggs 3
milk 2 tbsp
ground almonds 150g
plain flour 60g
baking powder ½ tsp

For the glaze
dark chocolate 80g, minimum 70% cocoa solids
sugar 1 tbsp
unsalted butter 20g
orange marmalade 4 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and butter and line a 23cm round springform or loose-bottomed cake tin.

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is just above the water. Add the chocolate to the bowl and heat until it melts completely.

Put the butter, sugar, spices, vanilla extract and orange zest in a separate large bowl and beat until light and fluffy, using an electric whisk if you have one. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the milk and ground almonds, followed by the melted chocolate. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold everything together.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes. Test to see if the cake is done by inserting a skewer into the middle; it should come out clean. Allow to cool completely before turning out onto a wire rack.

To make the glaze, put the chocolate, sugar, butter and 2 tablespoons of water in a pan and melt very gently over a low heat. It should become smooth with a loose, pouring consistency. If not, add a little more water.

Put the marmalade in a separate pan with a tablespoon of water and bring to the boil. Pour through a sieve to remove the pieces of rind, so you are left with a smooth jelly.

Spread a layer of the marmalade over the top of the cake, then pour or spread the chocolate glaze over the top, letting it dribble down the sides. Use a palette knife to then smooth it over the cake and around the sides.

Chocolate, almond and pear Eton mess

Eton Mess
 Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness

This is a richer version than the usual Eton mess. The dark chocolate, almond meringue and pears make an even more delicious and decadent alternative. For best results, when whisking egg whites don’t use the very freshest eggs. You can also store separated whites for a few days in the fridge, or freeze them and defrost when needed. This recipe can easily be made up to 2 hours in advance and kept in the fridge.

Serves 4-6
For the meringue
egg whites 4, medium (about 140g)
fine sea salt a pinch
caster sugar 280g (or double the weight of the whites)
ground almonds 80g

For the mess
comice pear 1, large, very ripe, peeled and cored
lemon juice 1 tsp
dark chocolate 40g, minimum 70% cocoa solids
double cream 250ml

Preheat the oven to 110C/gas mark ¼. To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks. Continue whisking, adding a few large spoonfuls of sugar at a time, making sure it’s all incorporated before you add the next bit. The mixture should start to become silky and thick. When it’s all incorporated, keep mixing for a few more minutes until glossy, thick and forming stiff peaks. Fold in the ground almonds into the mixture.

Lay a piece of baking parchment on a baking sheet and scoop large spoonfuls of the meringue mixture onto the paper, leaving enough space around the sides so that there is room for them to expand in the oven. Bake for 1½-2 hours, or until they are dry and crisp and easy to lift off the paper. Allow to cool before crumbling into pieces.

Cut the pear into small pieces and sprinkle with the lemon juice to prevent discolouring. Slice the chocolate into thin shards, or grate it through the largest holes of a grater. Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks, taking care not to over whisk.

Carefully fold the meringue pieces, pear and chocolate into the cream, reserving some chocolate. Serve in individual bowls or glasses with the reserved chocolate sprinkled on top.

 

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