Showing posts from March, 2011

Hazelnut and White Chocolate Friands

The weather has warmed up a little at last, the bulbs are flowering and I’m beginning to believe that there is an alternative to winter. And, even better, sitting on my desk at the moment are the first goose eggs I’ve managed to find this year. That means simply the best scrambled egg known to man or woman – or at least known to me. All that and a new album by Elbow – things are really looking up. While I was thinking nice thoughts about the spring I decided to make some friands using hazelnuts rather than almonds. Quite why hazelnut cakes make me think of spring I shall probably never know, but they are light, very tasty and make me happy so they seem suitable. The last time I made friands I got into a discussion about what the difference might be between friands and financiers. You could consider at length differences in flavourings and techniques, but essentially I think it comes down to the fact that friands are a funny shape and often speak with an Australian or New Zealand a

Black Pudding on Socca with Apple and Parsnip Mash

By the end of winter I feel as if I’ve eaten several lorry-loads of parsnips since Christmas and I’m looking around for something different to do with them. This recipe is based on one way I saw them being cooked in France, although I've complicated the dish quite a bit. I've often heard British people say that the French don't use or even know about parsnips – in fact I heard Mr H Fearnley-Whittingstall say something to that effect on the telly not so long ago. That might have been true once upon a time but parsnips turn up in a large number of French recipes and restaurants these days. This dish is very straightforward, but you have to start a few hours before you want to eat in order to allow time for the socca batter to rest. Of course, if you happen to have a wood-fired oven sitting around doing nothing, then feel free to cook the socca in that. I used slices of excellent Bury black pudding, but, if you can find it, Stornoway black pudding is also excellent and mig

Chocolate and Pear Cake with Lime Curd and Mascarpone Topping

For the March We Should Cocoa challenge Chele of Chocolate Teapot has chosen lime as the ingredient to be used with chocolate. My first thought was to combine these two with mango, which I know can work well, but that felt a little too summery to me. So it was chocolate cake time again. The cake in question is a flourless sponge with added grated pear. The pear is there partly because I think pear and chocolate work well together in cakes but is mostly there to keep the cake moist. The effect is to produce something that, for me, is a bit like a lighter version of a brownie. The idea of adding fruit comes from an Australian recipe (a Dov Sokoni recipe, I think) that I saw a dozen or so years ago. That recipe added apple to a chocolate cake – sounds odd but I promise it works. For the topping, I’ve used a very simple frosting based on lime curd. The recipe below will make too much lime curd for the cake (in fact, it will make about 2 standard jars) but I don’t think it’s very prac

Gâteau aux Noisettes – A Random Recipe

It’s Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe challenge time again and for this month’s challenge the magic number is 18. So I chose the bottom shelf of books and counted 18 from the left. My random choice last month was a chef’s book of French recipes and so, for a complete change, this month’s random choice is a chef’s book of French recipes. (Not all of my books are cheffy French recipes, I promise). This month’s book is Pierre Koffmann’s ‘La Tante Claire’ published in the early nineties. (M. Koffmann, incidentally, has fairly recently resurfaced in Knightsbridge .) On the random page – 21, as it happens – is the recipe for ‘Gâteau aux Noisettes’. My first thought was that this would be a cake made with ground hazelnuts but it’s actually quite different. The finished dish is more like eating a French tart with a crisp base and a softer topping, filled with nuts. It makes a pleasing and easily-made dessert, although only if you really like hazelnuts. Although the gâteau isn’t large, it

Cavolo Nero and Chervil Pasta Sauce

About this time of year I begin to really miss the days of summer when I can wander out to the garden and pick fresh veg and herbs. There's not much out there at the moment but two things that have survived the winter and are still looking good today are the Cavolo Nero and some late-sown chervil plants. It was too tempting to ignore. So this recipe is loosely based on a River Café pasta dish combined, probably rather inelegantly, with a French sauce made of chervil, garlic and walnut oil. A week or so ago I heard a pompous Italian gentleman saying that all civilised people would agree that Italian olive oil is the best in the world and buying anything else would be a form of madness. A few days later I heard a pompous Frenchman saying pretty much the same thing about French olive oil. As a result I used Spanish olive oil for this dish. This should be enough for 2 people. Italian varieties of kale aren't essential for this recipe, but the flavour and colour of cavolo nero