Crème brûlée

A timeless classic that works so fluently at dinner parties. I’ve been making these for many years, but this is the first time that my little boy Felix has got involved. At his special request, we made Crème brûlée together and adapted the recipe that has been scribbled in my notebook since 2009.

Ingredients:

(makes about 8)

  • 500ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod (or 1tsp good vanilla paste)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 140°C (non-fan).
  2. Pour the cream into a pan, add the split, scraped and chopped vanilla, and then gently bring to the boil and simmer to infuse.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy.
  4. Slowly whisk in the hot vanilla infused cream.
  5. Sieve the mixture into ramekins, removing the pieces of vanilla pod, if using.
  6. Place the ramekins into a tray and fill halfway with hot water (Bain marie).
  7. Carefully slide the tray into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Allow the brûlée to cool to room temperature. They can now be stored in the fridge until your ready to serve.
  9. Sprinkle a little demerara sugar on top and caramelise with a blow torch or under a hot grill to form a thin, crisp shell.

Alternative flavourings such as pistachio are delicious, and I’ve also tried adding fresh raspberries before baking.

creme brulee or more accurately Crème brûlée

Scalded Rye Sourdough

A dark, dense, moreish loaf that will sit so stoically supporting your avocado and eggs or cream cheese, dill and luscious cured salmon.

Ingredients

  • 375g leaven (recently fed sourdough starter)
  • 375g boiling water
  • 500g organic dark rye flour
  • 12g fine salt
  • 30g black treacle

Method

This recipe starts with your sourdough starter, which you can make using this recipe HERE if you don’t already have one. The night before your bake, refresh your starter and feed it with equal quantities of flour and water to make up your 375g leaven.

I make this bread using a stand mixer (trusty Kitchenaid) with a dough hook, as it’s particularly sticky and difficult to handle.

  1. Pour the hot water over the rye flour, mix together, cover with a shower cap or damp tea towel, and leave to autolyse for 4 hours.
  2. Add the leaven, treacle and salt.
  3. Mix/knead for 10 minutes.
  4. Cover and leave to proof for 4 hours.
  5. Heavily flour a material-lined banneton basket.
  6. Tip your dough out, squash it all together and pop it into the banneton with the help of a dough-scraper.
  7. Cover the basket and leave it to proof for another 4 hours.
  8. Preheat your oven and baking stone or dutch oven if using, to 250°C.
  9. Bake at 180°C for 1 hour.
  10. Remove your bread and leave it to cool on a wire rack.

This bread will improve in flavour if given a couple of days to mature.

Homemade Russian scalded rye sourdough bread

Tomatillo Time

August has brought the first crop of Tomatillos to the UK. Rarely grown here, I eagerly await their arrival and celebrate the short season with the ultimate green salsa that elevates barbecue to ridiculously insane heights of deliciousness.

Repeat after me: [toh-muhtee-oh].

Physalis philadelphica

Physalis philadelphica and Physalis ixocarpa are part of the nightshade family – similar to the more common Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) found in most supermarkets here, but larger, and green. Think green tomato with a papery husk.

Fresh, zingy and packed with complexity, this classic salsa is like nothing else. If you make your own from scratch, it blows any shop-bought version out of the water. The magic happens when you char the ingredients over fire before blending it all together. If you see tomatillos, buy them. Buy them all.

Ingredients:

  • 400g fresh tomatillos
  • 2 green jalapeños
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Remove the husks from the tomatillos – give them a little wash as you’ll find that the flesh is a little sticky underneath. Pop the fruits on the bbq along with the onion and Jalapeños to blister the skins. (You could or grill them in the oven or colour them in a pan if you don’t have access to a bbq).
  2. Chuck everything in a food processor and blitz it up into a rough salsa. How easy is that!

blistering tomatillo and jalapeno fruits

 

tomatillo salsa

 

Best. Salsa. Ever.

Sourdough Pizza

Another dangerous path of culinary adventure that requires tightrope level skills to maintain the balance between joyous deliciousness, and an inevitable descent into morbid obesity. Thankfully, unlike flatbreads, this recipe takes many hours to execute, which will hopefully prevent it becoming a regular go-to carb snack.

There are literally thousands of sourdough pizza recipes out there that use wildly different methods, but this is the first time I’ve really been happy with the end product and content that it will give consistent results.

Sourdough pizza

I think it’s fair to say that the cooking method is probably more important than the ingredients for once – controversial, and something I never imagined I’d be writing.. If you’re lucky enough to have a proper wood-fired oven, you’re likely to get great results with literally whatever kind of dough you’ve got going. For me, the little burnt bubbles and flecks around the crust are the holy grail of pizza, and almost impossible to achieve with a crappy conventional oven.

If, like the majority of the population you don’t have access to a fabulous oven, I’d recommend at the very least investing in a decent baking stone and getting it as hot as your conventional domestic oven will possibly take you.

Ingredients:

  • 300g sourdough starter (See HERE if you don’t already have one)
  • 15g salt
  • 500g strong white flour (I particularly like Tipo ’00’ and always use organic)
  • 250g water

Method:

Like anything in the sourdough world, this recipe is all about time.

Make sure your sourdough starter has been fed recently and is raring to go – bubbly, lively and buoyant if you drop a teaspoon of it in water.

Mix together all of your ingredient and then knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and silky.

Split your dough into three (or more) and shape it into tight balls. Pop them into the fridge (covered) until the following day. This is where the sourdough culture really does its thing, developing your dough and taking it from pedestrian to the sublime.

sourdough pizza dough

The following day, your dough is going to need a few hours out of the fridge (still covered) to come back up to room temperature.

Stretch or roll out your dough to the desired thickness using plenty of fine semolina and you’re all set and ready to go.

Add your toppings, bosh it in your super-hot oven and cook until it looks done and on the verge of burning.

sourdough pizza

Toppings:

TOTALLY. UP. TO. YOU – but just don’t overload it, or you’ll end up with a pie. If you’re making a few, you may as well make the first a classic tomato, mozzarella and basil margarita to act as a gauge and really show-off your dough.

Pizza

Alternatively:

If you’re looking for a faster (and slightly less awesome) pizza, click HERE for a non-sourdough version.

Godspeed.

As ever, get in touch via here or social media if you have any questions, suggestions or special requests!

Sourdough pizza

Spiced Cucumber Pickle

A quick recipe post for an Instagram follower. I hope you like this one @emmaloulalala – it’s great with a winter cheeseboard.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 75g muscovado sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp kalonji (nigella) seeds

Method:

Sterilise a glass jar by washing it thoroughly and popping it into a hot oven for 10 minutes.

Slice the cucumber in half along its length and scrape out the seeds with a spoon, then finely slice. Place the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with salt to draw out some of the moisture.

Mix the other ingredients together in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Take the mixture off the heat and add the cucumber.

Fill your jar, pop the lid on and allow it to cool down. Store your pickle in the fridge.

preserved cucumber