Crêpe suzette flambé au Grand Manier for a hen party near Burford, Oxfordshire

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
"We were after a sophisticated hen party...." said the organiser as we were setting up " naked men or willy straws, so this is perfect!"
We laughed. In 8 years we've seen it all. And more! Being more down to earth we can handle - no problem!
The hen had specifically requested crêpe suzette flambé au Grand Manier - always a first time! Actually always wanted to try it. Used this recipe for the pancakes & sauce (always so well tried & tested) and we put it all together at the house before serving the starter. When the recipe says 'a little extra Grand Marnier, for flaming' I took a little to mean a lot. Why do things by halves? It helped that the kitchen and dining room were combined so they didn't have far to go to the table & stay alight. I also added candied orange zest on top.

The ones we served didn't have quite so much sauce as the lake above - it had taken a couple of times to grab a pic of the Grand Manier alight (why I'm a chef not a food photographer).....
Pancakes heating in the sauce
"They look a bit... orange" said Shannon who was waitressing. I rather thought that was the point.
Previous posts - other pancake ideas
Eton mess sourdough pancakes

Blueberry pancakes with banana jam

Gingerbread pancakes with  grilled mango

Original french style crepe and American style pancake recipes


Add some flavour to your veg - Grilled leeks

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Also searching through old pics I found this from 25 March 2011 - exactly 3 years ago! Where do those years go?
As I remember this was taken in the small hours of the morning - busy times! Grilled first to get the grilled flavour then finished cooking in the oven (white wine, foil over to steam) at the event. Have no idea what they went with now - but would be good with fish, chicken & lamb.......

Related posts:

Grilled vegetables
How to hold butternut squash down on the grill pan - also useful for the leeks!

Blueberry and passionfruit cheesecake

Monday, March 24, 2014
So as I was looking through old food pics for the April A to Z challenge I found this from 26 November 2011. Nice biscuit base, blueberry and white chocolate filling and passion fruit topping. The topping on a cheesecake can change anything!
Passionfruit cheesecake
I use my basic recipe here - but with this one leave out the lemon zest - orange zest might go well though. You can change the cottage cheese for quark, marscapone etc. You can also add in white chocolate - in which case reduce the amount of cornflour.
For the jelly topping:

Scoop out 3 passionfruit
Mix with c. 200 mls passionfruit juice
Soften 3 leaves gelatine in cold water. Add to warmed passionfruit and allow to melt. Stir and pour on top of cooked & chilled cheesecake. Set in fridge - needs to be absolutely level or it can end up with some patchy bits not covered, while other parts have thick jelly. This can rectified by making another jelly topping and setting a second layer on top.

Related posts

Amaretti and milk chocolate cheesecake
White and dark chocolate marbled cheesecake
Black forest cheesecake
Goats cheese cheesecake with strawberry granita
Raspberry and ricotta cheesecake
Strawberry and mango cheesecake


Pflaumen baisertorte - Flavour King plum meringue pie with pistachio ice cream for our annual Cheltenham Race Week dinner

Sunday, March 16, 2014
"You're eating that ice cream..... like a teenage girl!" says Henry at last Thursday's dinner party [#kitchenbanter]

You know that pistachio ice cream you get at Italian geleaterias? Disappointing huh? Never quite tastes how you want it to. I've been meaning to try making it for years. Last Wednesday night I finally got round to it. It is now my new favourite ice cream!
There are 2 routes you can go down with ice cream - the custard based route or the Phildelphia style (without egg - not because it contains Philadelphia cheese) route. I much prefer the Philadelphia version for my events - saves so may problems with pregnant guests, who, although I would use pasteurised egg still are wary of eating it.  Better safe than sorry!
I use the Philadelphia ice cream recipe from the book (now fallen apart at the spine) that I got in '95 - the summer I'd finished A levels and tested many of the recipes during that summer with the fruit from our garden - Ices: The Definitive Guide.
Pistachio ice cream. Precious.
Take a basic Philadelphia style ice cream mix and add pistachios. Lots of them! I think that's where ice cream manufacturers go wrong - there's no point scrimping on the main ingredient! To make another type of ice cream you can miss out the pistachios and add something else using the same recipe - fruit puree for example or another of my favourites is a ginger version - add ginger wine (about 150 ml) and chopped stem ginger.

375ml   Milk
50g      Caster sugar
125ml  Condensed milk
250ml  Double cream
Pinch of salt
250g   Green pistachio nuts.

Should make 1 litre. (I doubled this)
Heat a small bit of the milk in a pan with the sugar till the sugar melts. No point putting all the milk in - just takes longer to cool down, so longer time till you can start making ice cream. 
Blitz the pistachios in your food processor. Pulse it first so the pistachio nuts are just crushed. Take away maybe 1/5 of these pulsed nuts to add in at the end. Then carry on blitzing the remaining nuts to infinity - or as long as you can manage. Eventually it turns into a paste like the above - a ball of nutty madness. 
Blend all  the remaining ingredients + reserved pistachios together with the sugar/ milk mix and churn in the ice cream machine. If you don't have an ice cream machine there is a link to still freezing method here

FAQ How much ice cream for one portion?

500 ml ice cream does 8 scoops.
Mini plum meringue pie for a lunch buffet delivery the following day.
Oh - you want a recipe for the plum meringue pie as well? Well no time - there's the weekend just gone to clear up from, washing up to do, emails to answer and a new week to organise.

But, like every dish just break down the prep:
  • Pastry case tips here
  • Vanilla poached plums mixed with a little bramley apple puree to thicken it. Actually I roasted them this time - same way you do with rhubarb.
  • Italian meringue using this recipe. Pipe it on top & blow torch it/ bake it. If you bake it you can also heat up the plum filling.  

Random fact

Pistachio nuts are not nuts. They're fruit.

Related posts:

Lemon meringue pie
Baileys ice cream
Vanilla poached plums
Zwetschgenkuchen - German plum cake


Pulled pork for a 60th birthday lunch near Tewkesbury

Saturday, March 08, 2014
A big massive thank you for the fantastic lunch.  It was a wonderful surprise for my Husband who was celebrating his 60th Birthday.
Everyone loved the lunch, the Pulled Pork was amazing as was the Birthday dessert.

Please thank the team, they made it so special for all of us.
Linda Workman
 Everyone's made for the pulled pork! Oh and the crackling. Luckily Henry had been washing up the night before and personally tested it to make sure it was ok to serve.
Pork shoulder or leg? This time I used leg with my own blend of spicy rub - onion, tomatoes, smoked paprika, chilli, garlic, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, fenugreek, onion seeds, caraway seeds, thyme, rosemary, orange zest, nutmeg etc. Pulse all of this in the processor and smother the pork leg. Some people dry roast it, I added cider - keeps slow cooked meat moister I find - and baked it open first to set the crust on top, then covered it in foil to pot roast it, then removed the foil and let the cider evaporate - about 7 - 8 hours cooking in all - soft and succulent!
The crust becomes a paste once it's cooked. I scraped it off and put it in the middle of the serving platter with the pulled pork around so you can combine it at the table (depending on whether you like spicy or not - you have to cater for all tastes, especially when there are children). It's the paste that makes it the pulled pork you have at festival stands and sandwich delis.

Zwetschgenkuchen - German plum cake

Friday, March 07, 2014
Zwetschgenkuchen - German plum cake from this recipe using South African Flavor King plums - I think flavorking should be  a verb - the 2014 equivalent of 'twerking'. When your trying out/ inventing new recipes you're 'flavorking'!
Flavor King plums taste like a cross between plums and apricots and have a bubble gum type flavour - so nice, so morish!
 It was interesting cooking at the South African fruit meal for MsMarmitelover then following via twitter her trip to South Africa where the fruit is grown:

25 year + investment! Promise of high returns, but also such a risky business - who knows what demand and the market in general is going to be like in 25 years? They are taking a leap!
Also so many other factors involved - exchange rates, seasonality: the South African stone fruit season is in the UK winter so we don't naturally think of buying plums, nectarines, peaches etc because for us they seem out of season at that time, whereas in fact they are peaking and so amazing! Add in that our fruit consumption is actually going down anyway, pest control, other stone fruit markets which could increase their yields (China, Australia, Chile etc) and it's a really tough business!

Pretty sad isn't it - 3 times more money spent on promoting vodka than fresh fruit? But also telling of our times. I have also been aware of this supermarket mark up of fruit and veg for the last few years - compare it with what we pay wholesale in the catering industry and you see why supermarkets are making such high returns. Along with that, however, is the high level of wastage which supermarkets have with fruit and veg - this is all incorporated into the high prices.

I liked the scientists' answer to the fruit fly problem though - isn't technology amazing!? 

From all of that.... to these:

Amazing to think of the industry behind the food you eat ain't it!?

What a tosser! Eton mess sourdough pancakes for Shrove Tuesday

Tuesday, March 04, 2014
You're going to be fasting for the next 40 days and 40 night right? So why not go out on a high! 
 New year's resolutions - ever keep any? One of mine was to conquer sourdough this year. So last Wednesday I made my first sourdough starter. Before I get to make a sourdough loaf it was just ready in time for pancake day!
Lucky I had labelled it - it would have been thrown away last night when someone else was clearing up while I was out doing a wedding tasting session. 
 Came up with the eton mess pancake idea at 7am on Sunday - must have had cravings! But then a suggestion back from  on twitter which just made it even better - folding the meringue through the pancake mix.

Used this sourdough pancakes recipe - always trust a bloggers recipe! 
 Then topped with vanilla chantilly, berries, coulis and chopped pistachio. After the first bite though realised it was missing something - sprinkled more meringue over the top. You can never have too much meringue!
Got next year's pancake idea ready - pina colada pancakes!

Previous posts - other pancake ideas
Blueberry pancakes with banana jam

Gingerbread pancakes with  grilled mango

Original french style crepe and American style pancake recipes

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