Tag Archives: recipes
I realise that it’s been a while since I last did a Comfort Food post and as I’ve been having thoughts about banana custard for a while, I thought now would be as good a time as any to do a new recipe post.
Things have been a little stressful lately what with work issues and wanting to move house. I thought back to one of the most stressful periods of my life when I was in my mid-teens, and do you know what got me through it? Puddings! It’s no secret that I’ve got a sweet tooth and all sorts of sweet, warm yummy puddings proved to be a real comfort and help with all that teenage angst. And one pudding in particular that proved to be a real godsend was banana custard. Now I am well aware that banana custard might not be to everyone’s tastes and I’m sure some people might liken it to baby food and think it’s just for kids but I absolutely love it. It’s simple yet delicious and warming – although it can also be eaten cold.
I love creamy, custardy type desserts, and I’m also fond of bananas so it was inevitable that banana custard and I were going to get on well like a plate of bacon and eggs! There are many variations of this classic dessert some of which include mascarpone, chocolate, cake or biscuit pieces, whipped cream, meringue topping etc. which all sound incredibly scrummy but I still say that the simplest and old-fashioned version is the best – home made custard with chopped or mashed bananas folded in. Of course if you’re pushed for time or you find making custard a challenge (I do understand – it’s not as easy as it looks!) you could always opt for the ready-made stuff and simply fold the bananas in yourself, though personally I do think it’s worth the effort to try and make the custard yourself. And it’s also a great way to use up bananas that are beginning to over-ripen. And it’s also quite versatile as a dessert because the banana custard can be used as the filling for a pie, cake or crumble. You can also caramelise the bananas first, and even make a baked version of this pudding.
So here’s a recipe for the dessert that made my teen years taste so much sweeter. It’s yumtastic!
- 300 ml full fat milk
- Contents of 1 vanilla pod
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 3 large bananas, sliced or mashed
- A splash of rum (optional)
1. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and place over a medium heat.
2. Add the vanilla and pod and bring the milk to the boil.
3. While the milk is heating up, tip the egg yolks into a bowl, along with the cornflour and sugar.
4. Whisk together until the mixture is thick and pale.
5. As soon as the milk comes to the boil remove the pan from the heat.
6. Scoop out the vanilla pod and pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture.
7. Whisk continuously until well combined.
8. Pour the custard mixture back into the pan and heat gently over a low heat, stirring all the time, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
9. Slice the bananas into the custard and stir to combine.
10. Add rum if desired.
11. Pour the hot banana custard in dishes.
12. Serve hot or cold.
I am so excited with my latest purchase. This afternoon I bought a copy of Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and it brought back so many memories. This cook book accompanied the 1993 BBC series which used to be broadcast once a week on a week night which I used to watch when I should have been doing my homework!
I’ve pretty much grown up with Delia; it’s no secret that my mum was a huge fan of TV cookery shows – she still is – so I got my liking for such shows from her. And Delia Smith was probably the first TV cook I watched in the early 1980s and her career started long before I was even born. I’ve watched all of her TV series as I was growing up which I’m sure contributed to my interest in food, cooking and trying new culinary delights. And I have to say it – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Delia Smith’s Christmas.
Delia is most definitely on a different plane when compared to today’s TV chefs. Not that I’m saying anyone’s better or worse as I have a lot of respect for those guys, but whereas they’re more fast-paced, energetic and often prone to tantrums, Delia is a lot more calmer with a no-nonsense approach. She reminds me of a school teacher with a great deal of patience! She also had a reputation for complex dishes and for using obscure ingredients that were difficult to source but flicking through Delia Smith’s Summer Collection, there’s very little evidence of that. Many of the dishes seem extremely easy to rustle up with ingredients that are easily obtainable. I was also surprised to see some recipes for Thai and Sri Lankan dishes so I’m guessing the British public were starting to become more adventurous when it came to food just over twenty years ago!
There are a lot of tasty recipes in here, as well as ones I remember her making from the show such as Coconut ice-cream with lime syrup, ice-tea, and coconut lime cake. That last one is especially interesting because I’ve never been much of a fan of desiccated coconut but it looked so fantastic on the show that I wanted to try it!
So here’s the recipe for coconut lime cake taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection which I will also be attempting soon. Go on – inject a little sunshine into winter!
|2 oz (50 g) desiccated coconut|
|6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour|
|6 oz (175 g) caster sugar|
|6 oz (175 g) soft margarine or butter|
|3 large eggs, lightly beaten|
|2 level tablespoons dried coconut milk powder|
|1 rounded teaspoon baking powder|
|For the icing:|
|8 oz (225 g) icing sugar|
|Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).|
|You will also need two 8 inch (20 cm) round sponge tins 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, greased and the bases lined with silicone paper (parchment).|
For the cake, start off by grating the zest of the 2 limes on to a small saucer, then cover that with clingfilm and set on one side. Next, measure the desiccated coconut into a small bowl, then squeeze the juice of the limes and pour this over the coconut to allow it to soften and soak up the juice for an hour or so.
To make the cake, just take a large, roomy bowl and sift in the flour, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Then simply throw in all the other cake ingredients, including the lime zest and soaked coconut, and with an electric hand whisk, switched to high speed, whisk everything till thoroughly blended – about 2-3 minutes. Now divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins, smooth to level off the tops and bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the centres feel springy to the touch. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely, carefully peeling off the base papers. They must be completely cold before the icing goes on.
To make the icing, begin by removing the zest from the limes – this is best done with a zester as you need long, thin, curly strips that look pretty. Then, with your sharpest knife, remove all the outer pith, then carefully remove each segment (holding the limes over a bowl to catch any juice), sliding the knife in between the membrane so that you have the flesh of the segments only. This is much easier to do with limes than it is with other citrus fruits. Drop the segments into the bowl and squeeze the last drops of juice from the pith. Now, sift the icing sugar in on top of the limes a little at a time, carefully folding it in with a tablespoon in order not to break up the lime segments too much.
When all the sugar is incorporated, allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, then spread half of it on to the surface of one of the cakes and scatter with half the lime zest. Place the other cake on top, spread the rest of the icing on top of that and scatter the rest of the zest over. Then place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the icing before serving.
This Comfort Food post is a little bit of a strange choice for me because although I love cake, I am not a fan of cherry cake because of the glacè cherries in it. But nonetheless it does bring back memories for me of my childhood Christmases – which makes me think that perhaps this post would have better suited to December – but watching Mary Berry show viewers how to make the perfect cherry cake has inspired me. So cherry cake it is!
A cherry cake is traditionally a sponge cake that contains halved or quartered (usually) red glace cherries, which is then topped with icing, flaked almonds and more glacè cherries. Even though a freshly baked cherry cake is not my idea of bliss due to the use of ghastly glacè cherries, they most definitely do take me back to childhood Christmases back in the 1980s. When my sister and I were younger – before we were joined by our two other siblings – Mum used to bake an array of baked goodies every Christmas. In fact she used to bake so much, there must have been more than enough for the entire neighbourhood! Of course one of these bakes included cherry cake which was one of Mum’s favourites.
Even though I’ve disliked glace cherries since I was a very young child, I did like Mum’s cakes, so I would always have a slice – and just picked out the cherries. But what was most memorable about these cakes was that, we always had a slice of cherry cake after we got home from midnight mass. So cherry cake – offending glace cherries or not – always bring back happy memories of Christmas, midnight mass, and Mum’s large-scale baking!
But even though I have mixed feelings about cherry cake, I know that most people, like Mum, absolutely love it! It is a very old-fashioned, very traditional English cake which I’ve been told is usually linked to Easter, rather than Christmas. It’s a very versatile cake and fits the bill for just about everything: picnics, afternoon tea, lunch boxes, bake sales and it is the mainstay of traditional tearooms, not to mention one of the most popular cakes to be baked among the Women’s Institute. And although it may sound simple to make, quite often it isn’t as the cherries are notorious for sinking to the bottom of the cake. However people have their own methods for preventing this from happening. One of them being to rinse of the sticky syrup from the cherries before dusting them with flour. Delia Smith believes n mixing two-thirds of the cherries into the cake mixture before poking the remaining third through the top of the cake just before it goes into the oven.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love cherries just not glace cherries. But I’m wondering if I can substitute the glace cherries in the cake for dried, fresh or tinned cherries. I’d definitely have no problems with eating it then! But despite my reservations regarding cherry cake, nothing can take away the fact that cherry cake is a very memorable part of my childhood and evokes memories of Christmases gone by…
So here’s a recipe for cherry cake from Mary Berry for a traditional cherry cake. Try it and enjoy!
- 200g/7oz glacé cherries
- 225g/8oz self-raising flour
- 175g/6oz softened butter, plus extra for greasing
- 175g/6oz caster sugar
- 1 lemon, finely grated zest only
- 50g/1¾oz ground almonds
- 3 large free-range eggs
- For the decoration
- 175g/6oz icing sugar
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 15g/½oz flaked almonds, toasted
- 5 glacé cherries, quartered
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter.
- Cut the cherries into quarters.
- Set aside five of the quartered cherries for the decoration later.
- Put the rest of the quartered cherries in a sieve and rinse under running water.
- Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper and toss in two tablespoons of the flour.
- Measure all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for two minutes to mix thoroughly.
- Lightly fold in the cherries.
- Turn into the prepared tin.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
- For the icing, mix the icing sugar together with the lemon juice to a thick paste.
- Drizzle over the cooled cake using the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the toasted almonds and reserved cherries.
In a my previous post about the iconic cookery program, Farmhouse Kitchen, I mentioned that there were books available which accompanied the series, and that I would dearly love get hold of these. Well I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been able to do just that. I am now the proud owner of Farmhouse Kitchen, Book One – and I am thrilled!!!
WHERE DID I FIND IT?
I was just walking down a busy high road, minding my own business as I always do, when I saw a book in the window of a second-hand bookshop that stopped me in my tracks. On closer inspection, I realised it was the first book in the Farmhouse Kitchen series. There was no question of me purchasing the book. I rushed in and grabbed it before you could say rough puff pastry. And it was mine for the grand sum of £1.49. I just couldn’t believe that someone would want to part with a little piece of television history – not that I was complaining of course! And it was still in great condition – in fact it barely looked as if it had been used.
SO WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This A5 book which contains just under two hundred pages, has a scene from a nineteenth century Yorkshire Kitchen as it’s front cover. The old Yorkshire Television logo is also on the front cover- a logo I’d seen many times during my childhood and I was surprised to find that I actually miss it (I need to get out more!) The book’s synopsis explains that:
Farmhouse Kitchen Book One includes traditional country recipes for everyday soups, main courses and puddings as well as preserving and pickling for the store cupboard.
So not much for fans of pulled pork or Piri-Piri chicken then! And for those who are used to huge colour photos in recipe books, this one may seem a little stark as there’s not much in the way of pictures except for the odd few illustrations – and absolutely no colour at all. It might put some people off but I didn’t mind at all. It had a very nostalgic vibe and reminded me of many of the recipe books my mum used to own.
Open the book, and there’s a brief introduction from the show’s presenter, the late Dorothy Sleightholme. There’s also a footnote explaining that all the recipes in the book – over four hundred of them which have been derived from the recommendations of Dorothy and the show’s viewers- have all been prepared by Dorothy herself. Now that’s a lot of food prep!
The book is divided into twelve chapters with everything from pies and pastries to pickles and preserves to homemade wine, beer and pop. The culinary theme Farmhouse Kitchen is based on good hearty, country-style cooking and traditional British fare – and the book stays true to form. There are recipes for Lancashire hot-pot, Cullen Skink and steak and kidney pie. This book doesn’t necessarily do food trends but there’s a touch of the exotic from Italian inspired recipes such as risotto and minestrone.
Food trends may have changed over the years but there are still plenty of recipes in this book which are still relevant today. And I was delighted to see a recipe for good old Baked Alaska! However, there were a few I don’t think I’ll be trying: pig’s kidney stuffing, Kidneys in red wine sauce, stuffed hearts… no thank you!
Many of the recipes in Farmhouse Kitchen have been devised by Dorothy and there are even a few named after her. But there are also recipes by the lovely Mary Berry as well as, of course, recipes that have been sent in by the shows viewers.
I’m having a great time going through this book and will be making some of these dishes soon. I’m delighted to have found this book and so far have kept it hidden from my mum for fear that she’ll soon make it part of her recipe book collection. I’m on the lookout for Farmhouse Kitchen Book Two but in the meanwhile, here’s a recipe for another one of my childhood favourites, baked bananas, taken from my latest most prized possession!
2oz. desiccated coconut
2oz. little rum (optional)
- Lay peeled bananas in a lightly buttered, shallow, fireproof dish.
- Sprinkle with lemon juice, then with coconut and sugar mixed.
- Add shavings of butter and a sprinkling of rum (optional.)
- Bake at Gas4, 350ºF for about 15mins.
- Serve with custard or cream.
Love those old school measurements!
Summer is on it’s way out, and along with it some of my favourite fruits which I will not see for another year. Two fruits which I love and have been readily available these last few months are raspberries and peaches – two reasons to love Summer! Needless to say our refrigerator has been stuffed with these fruits, as well as other seasonal goodies, which I’ve put into puddings, fruit salad, or eaten them just as they are.
As both raspberries and peaches are the chief ingredients of a peach Melba, it wasn’t long before thoughts turned to this retro pud. As a child I was very familiar with peach Melbas because they were EVERYWHERE! Not only was my mum a huge peach fanatic, but it was also served up in restaurants and at dinner parties; featured in the recipe section of magazines, and appeared on cooking shows. Peach Melba was as common a dessert back in the ’80s as panna cotta is now.
But as with many of my childhood desserts, the dish which Nigella Lawson rightly describes as ‘summer on a plate’ went from being everywhere to disappearing without a trace. Even Baked Alaska made an appearance on The Great British Bake Off this week!
Peach Melba is such a delicious dessert which I hope (please, please!) counts towards your five-a-day. Peaches and raspberries are a gorgeous combination and it’s a great way to make use of the two fruits are in abundance at the moment. It’s just a shame everyone’s forgotten about it!
SO WHAT IS PEACH MELBA?
The peach Melba is a simple, well-known, classic dessert. This creamy, cool, and fruity pud consists of vanilla ice-cream, peaches and a raspberry sauce – in some ways, a kind of ice-cream sundae.
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE DESSERT
The dessert was first created in the 1890s. it’s something of an international dessert because it was created in London by a French chef – Georges Auguste Escoffier – in honour of the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba who this dish is named after. Incidentally Melba toast is also named after her.
The original peach Melba is believed to have been poached, skinned, and sliced before being sprinkled with sugar and cooled. This was then placed onto vanilla ice-cream and then drizzled with a sweet, seedless raspberry sauce. Escoffier insisted that the dessert should be served in a silver dish.
But the version we are more familiar with sees the peach halved before being poached in a sugar syrup.
WHEN WAS IT POPULAR?
I know Peach Melba was all the rage in the 1980s when I was growing up until about the early ’90s. I’m sure it must have been very popular in the preceding decades to but it’s hard to determine when it was at it’s most popular as there’s so little information available.
DECLINE IN POPULARITY
It’s not known why this dessert isn’t as popular now as it once was. It’s just simple gone out of fashion just as clothes and hairstyles often do. It could be that it has quite an old-fashioned image or perhaps it’s considered to be too simplistic and has been ousted by more seemingly sophisticated desserts which everyone now has more of a taste for.
THE LEGACY LIVES ON…
Peach Melba isn’t altogether ‘off the menu.’ Some chefs have revamped the humble Peach Melba for the twenty-first century in terms of appearance and ingredients so it’s shaken off it’s retro image. The combination of peaches and raspberries is still very much used in cooking, which isn’t a surprise because the flavours and colours work so well together. So even though the actual dessert isn’t so common now, the flavour profile is still very much evident, and the fact that any dish containing peaches and raspberries is referred to as ‘Peach Melba’ indicates that this classic pud still continues to live on albeit in a different form. So now we have Peach Melba cheesecakes, trifles, pies, tarts, tortes, ice-creams, roulades, martinis, smoothies, sorbets and even a Peach Melba… Baked Alaska!
So if you’d like to set your senses alight to the fabulous flavours and textures of a Peach Melba, here’s a recipe for Nigella Lawson’s take on this pud for you to try.
for the peaches
- 750 ml water
- 700 grams caster sugar
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 vanilla pod (split lengthways)
- 8 peaches
for the raspberry sauce
- 375 grams raspberries
- 25 grams icing sugar
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 large tub vanilla ice cream
- Put the water, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla pod into a wide saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring the pan to the boil and let it bubble away for about 5 minutes, then turn the pan down to a fast simmer.
- Cut the peaches in half, and, if the stones come out easily remove them, if not, then you can get them out later.
- Poach the peach halves in the sugar syrup for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on the ripeness of the fruit.
- Test the cut side with the sharp point of a knife to see if they are soft, and then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
- When all the peaches are poached, peel off their skins and let them cool (and remove any remaining stones).
- If you are making them a day in advance, let the poaching syrup cool and then pour into a dish with the peaches.
- Otherwise just bag up the syrup and freeze it for the next time you poach peaches.
- To make the raspberry sauce, liquidize the raspberries, icing sugar and lemon juice in a blender or else a processor.
- Sieve to remove the pips and pour this fantastically hued puree into a jug.
- To assemble the peach melba, allow two peach halves per person and sit them on each plate alongside a scoop or two of ice cream.
- Spoon the raspberry sauce over each one, and put the remaining puce-tinted red sauce in a jug for people to add themselves at the table.