Monthly Archives: April 2011

Pimm’s cupcakes to celebrate the Royal Wedding

In case you haven’t heard (since there wasn’t any media coverage of it or anything), there was a Royal Wedding earlier today.  If you’ve vaguely followed the run-up to the wedding, you’ll know that William and Kate Catherine met at the University of St Andrews, so whilst they’re generally loved across the country, I think we all have a particular soft spot for them up here.  St Andrews is full of bunting (I have a secret love for bunting) and Union Jacks and a lot of people have been throwing parties, or attended the Royal Breakfast hosted in St Salvator’s quad, and have just generally been using today as an excuse for a celebration (it’s a busy weekend anyway with the May Dip on Sunday morning).

Unfortunately, I have a dissertation to write (which is why things have been a little quiet on the blog lately – I’ll start posting regularly again soon, I promise!), so no partying for me…  (Don’t be too sad, I’ll make up for it once the dissertation has been handed in.  iPlayer.  Royal Wedding Drinking Game.  Enough said.)  Instead I’ve spent the morning in the Bute computer lab with Kat, watching the Wedding on one computer and dissertating on another, whilst eating cupcakes.

Since they were in celebration of the Royal Wedding, they couldn’t just be any old cupcakes.  I decided to attempt Pimm’s cupcakes, because Pimm’s is just so quintessentially British and summery, with the added bonus of being super tasty, too.  They didn’t turn out as Pimm’s-y as I was expecting, but they were still lovely and fruity, and I think they can be declared a success.  Hurrah!  My dissertating, on the other hand was not such a success…  (30 words in 4 hours?  Epic fail.)  Never mind, the lack of productivity was worth it – the Wedding was beautiful to watch, Kate was beautiful (no surprises there) and so was her dress.  Though I would just like to say that I absolutely loved Pippa Middleton’s maid-of-honour dress – it suited her perfectly and she looked absolutely stunning in it.  So before I go off and dream about one day managing to look that exquisite (ha ha, good joke right there), I’ll just share these cupcakes with you for this wonderfully British celebration.  I’d also like to offer my congratulations and wish all the best to William and Catherine – I think they will make an absolutely superb royal couple.

Pimm’s cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Adapted from BakeSpace

This recipe isn’t quite as time-consuming as it looks, mostly because the glaze can be prepared whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, and the icing whilst they are cooling.  This would be a perfect street party food (to be kept in mind for the next royal event?)  I usually make Pimm’s with strawberries, but the raspberries worked really well with the cupcakes as they cut through the sweetness of the cupcakes perfectly.  I’m sure these would be wonderful served with a jug of Pimm’s.  Yummy!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
225g butter, softened
200g brown sugar
230g self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
4 eggs
3 shots Pimm’s No. 1
Handful fresh mint, chopped (or you can use 1 tbsp dried mint)

For the glaze:
8 tbsp Pimm’s
2 tbsp brown sugar
Handful of raspberries
Further 6 tbsp Pimm’s No. 1 (optional)

For the icing:
170g butter, softened
370g icing sugar
Zest & juice of 2 limes
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
Fresh raspberries (to decorate)
Fresh mint, finely chopped (to decorate)

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Line a muffin with tin with 16 paper cases or set out silicone moulds.

2.  Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl.  Add all the other batter ingredients and mix well.

3.  Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.

To make the glaze:
4.  Whilst the cupcakes bake, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan and mush in the raspberries.  Set on a low heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until a little syrupy.

5.  When the cupcakes are done, remove from the oven, poke a few holes into the tops of each (I used a pointy chopstick) and spoon about 1 tsp of the glaze per cupcake into them.  Spoon in a bit of extra Pimm’s over the top of the glaze (optional, but so good).  Allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing:
6.  Cream the butter and icing sugar (be prepared for an icing sugar explosion).  Add the rest of the icing ingredients (except the raspberries and chopped mint) and continue mixing until smooth.

7.  Pipe the icing over each cupcake once they have fully cooled.  Sprinkle with some raspberries and freshly-chopped mint before serving.

Enjoy!

Right.  I should probably get back to the dissertation now…  Joy.

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We Should Cocoa #8: Easter chocolate & marzipan biscuits

The secret ingredient for April’s We Should Cocoa challenge, which is being hosted by Choclette at the Chocolate Log Blog, is “Marzipan.”  It’s funny because I tend to associate marzipan more with Christmas than Easter – my mum always makes marzipan-stuffed dates and so on, so that’s probably why.  Actually, when I think of marzipan, marzipan-stuffed dates immediately spring to mind, but they’re not particularly relevant to the challenge.  Plus, it’s not Christmas.

I came across a recipe on the Waitrose site that involved chocolate and marzipan and was entitled easy peasy Easter biscuits.  If you follow my blog regularly or know me in person, you’ll know that I’m in the middle of Dissertation Horror, and I’m a little (!) strapped for time (yet I refuse to give up on the blog challenges that I follow – imprudence or dedication?).  Anything that has “easy peasy” in the title suggests that it will be straightforward and shouldn’t take too long, and that is exactly what I need right now.  The recipe is effectively marzipan eggs stuck on top of some chocolate cookies rather than incorporating the two, and I wasn’t sure if this was kind of cheating, so I made my own marzipan to make up for it.  Conveniently, this also meant that I got to use up some of the “crappy Amaretto” that somebody brought it to a party once and that needs to be used up (I find this particular brand too sweet to drink).  I had fun dyeing the marzipan into different colours, although I dyed about half the kitchen green when I forgot to screw the lid back on and accidentally knocked the bottle over.  I then covered the other half of the kitchen in chocolate, oops.  Sometimes I wonder how my flatmate puts up with the mess I create in the kitchen!  Anyhow, these turned out rather yummy, if I do say so myself, and the biscuits would be lovely just on their own without the marzipan as well.  Or with mini chocolate eggs.

Easter chocolate & marzipan biscuits

Makes 24 cookies
Cookie recipe from Waitrose
Marzipan recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

These cookies would also be yummy just on their own without marzipan, or with those mini chocolate eggs that you can buy.  There will be some leftover marzipan, which can be wrapped in cling film and stored in the fridge for about a week (or just eat it…).

Ingredients

For the cookies:
75g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
100g unsalted butter
110g all-purpose flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g light brown muscovado sugar
1 egg

For the marzipan:
250g ground almonds
175g icing sugar + extra for kneading (potentially)
175g caster sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
Up to 3-4 tbsp Amaretto
Red, green & blue food colouring (optional)

For decorating:
50g milk chocolate

Directions

To make the cookies:
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line several baking trays with baking paper.

2.  In a small saucepan and over a low heat, melt the butter and dark chocolate (roughly broken into chunks) together.  Pour into a heat-proof mixing bowl and allow to cool.

3.  Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix well.  Then add the sugar and egg and beat until thoroughly combined.

4.  Roll heaped teaspoons of batter into balls (to minimise the cookies spreading into a funny shape) and space them out widely and evenly on the baking sheets (they will spread).  Bake for 8-10 mins and allow to rest on the tray for about 1 min before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the marzipan:
5.  Whilst the cookies are cooling, prepare the marzipan.  Sift the ground almond and sugars together and mix well with a spoon.  Beat the egg and yolk together in a small bowl, then add to the almond and sugar mixture and begin to mix with the spoon.  Use your hands to knead it so that it is properly mixed.  Add Amaretto if too dry, or icing sugar if too wet.

6.  If making colour eggs, evenly split the marzipan into three parts.  Add one of the food-colours to each part and knead well to mix the colour through thoroughly.  Pinch off 24 small balls of each colour and roll into an egg shape.

7.  Place an egg of each colour in the middle of each cookie (add a dab of melted chocolate under each to hold them in place a bit).  Melt the milk chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl over a saucepan, and drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies and eggs (use either a teaspoon or piping bag).

Enjoy!

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The Guid Cheese Shop, St Andrews

Before I launch into this, I feel I should add a disclaimer that I’m not a professional reviewer of any description, and these are just my rambling thoughts.

If you’re familiar with St Andrews, you are probably aware of the I.J. Mellis cheesemonger on South Street (they also have shops in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow).  The cheeses that they stock are all of very good quality, but I find that the choice isn’t nearly as extensive as it could be, and having been here for nearly four years, I’ve thoroughly exhausted their selection.  Many times over.  As well as the limited and rarely-changing selection, there are very few exciting or unusual cheeses on offer.  There is the exception of Mont d’Or, which Mellis HQ appears to think is a Christmas cheese (whilst it is seasonal, it is available from September to April), and the brief appearance of Morbier back in third year, also labelled as a Christmas cheese (which it most certainly is not, as it is produced year-round), which are both two of my favourite cheeses.  But aside from those, the selection is rather… dull?  Now, of course, small shops can’t stock every single cheese under the sun, but that doesn’t stop them from stocking new cheeses from time to time.  The staff are all friendly, and from talking to them, I feel that this is more of an issue that stems from Mellis HQ rather than the St Andrews branch itself, but it’s an issue all the same, and I’ve been feeling a bit dissatisfied for a while.  I must admit, I also miss the Manager/Assistant Manager combination of Finn and Zak, who were always up for a good chat (though it did mean that buying a slice of cheese took about half an hour) but have both left.

As a massive fan of cheese, I used to drop in at least once a week, usually for myself, but regularly on French Society business, too, and I was definitely a loyal customer, though customer loyalty was a bit of a default with only one cheesemonger in town…  You may have noticed the switch to past tense – Mellis is definitely still up and running, but I’m no longer a loyal customer.  So what happened?  Well, Mellis is no longer the only cheesemonger in St Andrews – a new cheese shop has opened!  I’m ashamed to admit that it took me about two months to venture into The Guid Cheese Shop, but when I (eventually) did, wow, what a wonderful surprise!

I think the first thing that I said (after “hello,” obviously) to Svetlana, the super-friendly proprietor, upon entering the shop was “oh my gosh, you sell Morbier!!”  In the moment that I saw that beautiful piece of cheese with its trademark black charcoal line running through it, a good part of my customer loyalty to Mellis evaporated.  Most of the rest of it was dispelled by the wide selection of French cheeses sourced from small producers, which I may have gotten slightly over-enthusiastic about.  I’m pretty sure Svetlana thought I was bordering crazy when I got so excited about all the different varieties.  Since then, almost every time I’ve dropped by (which is fairly often, as we’re using The Guid Cheese Shop to supply the cheese at the next French Society Wine & Cheese evening), Svetlana has a new cheese to try, or that she’s thinking of ordering in.  You can tell straight away that she is passionate about cheese (who isn’t?!), and has put a lot of work into sourcing interesting varieties, and different cheeses to the relatively well-known ones stocked by Mellis.  Of course, she also stocks very good Roquefort, Brie and Comté, but it’s the artisanal cheeses that have me completely sold.  I should say that I’m mostly basing my opinion on the French cheeses on offer, as I’m most familiar with them, and feel comfortable sharing my thoughts about them.

I’ve already mentioned that Svetlana is clearly passionate about cheese, and I think the best illustration of that is that she’s been putting on Cheese tastings and courses in the shop, as a way of introducing people to different varieties of cheese.  Now, as a cheese enthusiast, if there’s any event involving cheese, I’m so there.  An event involving cheese and wine, well, you’ll have difficulties keeping me away.  Although, not only am I a cheese fiend, but I’m also a snob, so it has to be good cheese and good wine.  Due to previous commitments and so on, I was unable to go to the first few cheese evenings, but Craig and I went along to the Cheese & Wine course on Saturday evening, which was also a launch for the range of wines that are now also sold (sadly Kat couldn’t make it).  We may have dropped the average age by about 20 years, but it was a great evening (and inspired me to write this post about the shop).  Svetlana’s knowledge and enthusiasm was evident, but I think what really shone through was her obvious wish to simply introduce people to the wide variety of cheeses that are available.  She was actually telling me earlier today that she has written a book in Russian to explain various cheese-making techniques and types and introduce some of the more artisanal and lesser-known cheeses to Russia, where during and after the Soviet Era, the only cheeses available were industrially-produced.  That is amazing dedication to the cause of good cheese!

Whilst the staff at Mellis are also clearly passionate about what they do, I feel they are somewhat limited by Mellis HQ, which deals with all the orders and stocking of the various shops – I get the impression that they are not a fan of change, or if they are, apparently this is not filtered down into the St Andrews shop.  Perhaps if Mellis were more innovative in their cheese varieties, they would be able to compete with the Guid Cheese Shop, but as it stands, I really don’t think that they can.  A cheesemonger should have the standard favourites, but also always have new varieties for customers to discover, so that they don’t get bored.  And that’s exactly where Mellis falls down – I’m thoroughly bored with their stock.  I can only hope that Svetlana at the Guid Cheese Shop continues to source out small producers and lesser-known cheeses.  If so, then combined with her passion and enthusiasm for educating people about cheese, I definitely think she’s onto a winner!

Since I will (in theory) be graduating and sadly leaving St Andrews this summer, I will only be able to follow the progression of the Guid Cheese Shop from afar, though I do hope that the discount that she has given French Society members (15% off cheeses – one of the many reasons to join French Society!  Shameless advertising over…) will contribute positively.  So if you are in St Andrews, do take the time to drop in!

The Guid Cheese Shop
Burghers Close
141 South Street
St Andrews KY16 9UN

That turned into a mini essay.  Woops.  I blame the dissertation (I currently can’t write anything in less than 1000 words and just end up repeating myself several times over).

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Cupcakes fit for a Masquerade Ball

The four weeks between the end of Spring Break and the beginning of revision week and exams are full “Ball Season” in St Andrews.  There are at least five balls happening (that I know of – I’m sure there are more) in the next four weeks, and I have a ticket for three of them, plus two Wine & Cheeses (dissertation?  What dissertation?) and various other events.  It’s the last few weeks of my final semester here, so I might as well make the most of it…

Even outwith “Ball Season,” I think St Andrews must hold one of the highest numbers of balls compared to other British universities – between those organised by societies, those thrown by the various halls of residences and those put on by the Sports Clubs, there are a lot of balls held throughout the year.  Most balls are Black Tie, so I now associate anything Black Tie-themed with St Andrews (because there are so many Black Tie-themed things around obviously…).  Black Tie cupcakes are no exception, and when I saw these I knew that I was going to have to make them.

I came across the original recipe for Black Tie cupcakes back in February, and they’ve been playing on my mind ever since.  I’ve been waiting for a good excuse to make them (well, not that I need an occasion to make cupcakes, but these sound rather special).   Tonight is the Masquerade Ball, so I think that counts as an appropriate Black Tie occasion.   I’m quite looking forward to it – for some reason I couldn’t go last year (I think it clashed with some other event) – so I decided to jazz up the cupcakes a little bit…

A ball is, of course, synonymous with the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol (well, to the students of St Andrews at least), so I obviously had to substitute some sort of liqueur instead of the vanilla essence.   A clear and colourless liqueur (so that the icing would stay as white as possible) that would go with dark chocolate and cream cheese icing was required.   Cointreau was decided upon (sadly I highly doubt gin would go with this combination).   The original ganache recipe requires corn syrup, which I don’t have, so I just used the tried-and-tested ganache recipe that I use for filling macarons, which also has the added advantage of being fairly alcohol-laden.  I decided to go with the masquerade theme as inspiration to decorate the cupcakes, hence the little masks made of chocolate on top.  Well, that’s what they’re supposed to be anyway.   So there you have it, Masquerade Black Tie cupcakes.   A lot of fun to make, totally presentable and rather tasty, too.

Masquerade Black Tie cupcakes

Makes 20
Cupcakes & icing recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

These cupcakes are yummy, though very alcoholic (just a warning).  You can use vanilla essence, though try and use clear vanilla essence for the icing (if you can get it) so that it stays as white as possible.  I want to try these again with white crème de cacao, which I think would also go well.  It’s quite time-consuming to make them, but well worth the results!  If you don’t have any buttermilk, use the same amount of milk, add 1 tsp lemon juice and allow to stand for about 10 mins.  To make the masks, I just melted some dark chocolate down and then used a fine piping tip to draw the masks out onto a baking paper-lined baking tray and allowed them to cool in the fridge.  Store these in an airtight container in the fridge.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
65g cocoa powder (at least 70%)
190g all-purpose flour
300g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp coffee granules dissolved in 175ml warm water
175ml buttermilk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp Cointreau

For the ganache:
40ml single cream
150g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
50ml Cointreau

For the icing:
225g cream cheese
45g unsalted butter
455g icing sugar
2-3 tsp Cointreau

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C, and line a muffin tin with 20 liners, or set out 20 silicon moulds.

2.  Sift the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl and mix together.  Add the eggs, dissolved coffee granules, buttermilk, oil and Cointreau and, using an electric whisker, mix until fully incorporated.

3.  Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners/moulds, filling them no more than ⅔ full, and bake for 18-22 mins.

4.  Transfer to a wire rack to allow to cool fully.

To make the ganache:
5.  Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, make the ganache filling.  Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the chocolate (broken into pieces) and the Cointreau, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?).  Allow the mixture to thicken in the fridge for about 30 mins.

6.  When the cupcakes are fully cooled, use an apple corer to hollow out a hole in the top of each (make sure not to go through the bottom of the cupcake).  Fill this hole with the ganache filling (make sure you push the ganache down so that it’s properly filled).

To make the icing:
7.  Using an electric whisk, cream together the room temperature cream cheese and softened butter until fully combined.

8.  Set the mixer to low, and gradually add the icing sugar (be prepared for icing sugar clouds if you aren’t careful) and mix until smooth.  Add the Cointreau and mix until fully combined.

9.  Fill a piping bag with the icing, pipe it over the cupcakes and decorate with masks or a dusting of cocoa powder.

Enjoy!

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Breakfast Club #10: Fig, orange & honey pancakes

This month’s Breakfast Club is hosted by Krithi’s Kitchen and she has chosen “Pancakes” as the theme.  Now, I have a confession: whilst I make crêpes from time to time, I’ve never made pancakes before.  Oh my God, shock horror, etc.  Yes, I am 22 and have never made pancakes.  I actually just never really think to make them, perhaps because they’re not something my mum ever made for me (they’re not very French).  Though having said that, my mum never really made muffins either (they’re also not very French), and I absolutely love them and bake them on a regular basis.  So that’s actually a bit of a crap excuse.  Whatever the reason though, the point is that I’ve never made pancakes.

Whilst this means that I get to try something completely new (to me), it also means that I don’t have a tried-and-tested basic pancake recipe to expand on.  Or any pancake recipes in general actually – though the internet rapidly solved that issue.  The only rules for this challenge were no beef (easy), no pork (easy) and no alcohol (I’m a student, so uhmmm…  Just kidding – I can cope) which gave me a wide scope for experimenting.  I had some dried figs that I wanted to use up, and decided to pair them up with orange  after nearly taking myself out when I knocked off a jar of orange blossom honey of a shelf in my cupboard (things falling from the sky is not my usual source of inspiration, but whatever works).

So having decided on a combination of fig and orange (which work wonderfully well together, by the way!) I found a blueberry pancake recipe online that looked straightforward enough, and sort of adapted it as I went along.  This could have gone horribly wrong, but thankfully didn’t.  I’m actually quite happy with my first attempt at pancakes – whilst they might not be all that presentable, they tasted lovely.  The dried fig sweetened the pancakes up a little as did the honey (unsurprisingly), whereas the orange zest and juice made them taste quite fresh and light.  Because the recipe made 12 pancakes and there’s only 1 of me, and well, it’s “Ball Season” at the moment, so becoming obese isn’t really one of my goals (getting all my dresses altered would be a bit of a pain), I had a bunch of leftover pancakes.  I toasted some of them for breakfast this morning and guess what?  Scrumptious!  Though the amount of honey that I drowned them in drizzled all over them may have somewhat nullified my whole I-probably-shouldn’t-eat-12-pancakes thought process.  Oops.  Totally worth it though, and I’ll just take a little trip to the gym – sorted!

Fig & orange pancakes

Makes 12
Adapted from Verses from my Kitchen

Make sure to chop the fig as finely as possible and spread the chopped fig out a little so that you don’t end up with a clump of fig bits in the middle of the pancake.  The pancakes can be made as big or as small as you like, though you’ll obviously have to adjust the cooking times accordingly.  Any leftover pancakes can be stored in an airtight box and toasted for breakfast the next day and served with honey or butter.  I served these with orange blossom honey because I happened to have some, but acacia honey would also be lovely.

Ingredients

80g dried figs
1 unwaxed orange
125g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
About 250ml milk
20g butter + extra for cooking
Honey, to serve

Directions

1.  Chop the dried figs as finely as possible, and mix with the finely-grated orange zest in a small bowl.  Sift and mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

2.  Juice the orange and make the liquid up to 300ml.  Add to a medium bowl with the egg and whisk together.  Make a small well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid progressively, whisking until smooth.  Gently stir in the melted butter, chopped figs and orange zest.

3. Melt a knob of butter over medium heat in a large non-stick frying pan.  Drop about 2 large tbsp of into the pan for each pancake (you’ll have to do this in batches) and cook for around 3 mins or until small bubbles start to form on the top surface.  Flip and cook further for about 2 mins.

4.  Serve drizzled with honey and extra chopped figs if you have any.

Enjoy!

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Random Recipe #3: Red onion & anchovy pasta

What was your first ever cookery book?  Does it immediately spring to mind or do you have to think about it?  Do you cherish it and remember flicking through the pages of exciting new recipes?  Do you still use it?  Are you wondering why I’m asking all these questions?  Well, this month’s Random Recipe has to come from our first ever cookery book.  After a bit of thought, I realised that mine is La Cuisine des paresseuses (Cooking for Lazy People).  Whilst it’s a great little book (full of quick and straightforward recipes – very useful as a student), its main sentimental value is that it was an 18th birthday gift from my French Aunt and Uncle rather than it being the first cookery book that I ever owned.  Before moving to university, I’d always used my mum’s many recipe books and cuttings, and consequently, on reading the challenge, I immediately thought of Je sais cuisiner by Ginette Mathiot, a stalwart of French cookery books.  I’ve flicked through that book countless times, and though I’ll be honest and admit that I didn’t cook that often, I did a fair amount of baking from it, so I’m definitely attached to it.  But I don’t actually own it.

So, cookery book memories aside, I got out La Cuisine des paresseuses.  Although I already used it for last month’s Random Recipe, I’m rather relieved, because as I’ve already mentioned, it’s full of straightforward recipes, and I have a dissertation deadline approaching far too rapidly for my liking, as well as a report and a presentation both due in for tomorrow.  (Before reading the challenge I had visions of having to attempt something insanely difficult from Le Larousse des desserts.)  The random number button on my calculator directed me to page 31, which was a recipe for… a basic vinaigrette.  Now I know I’d been hoping for something quick and easy, but really?  I wasn’t convinced that making a bog-standard vinaigrette quite fitted the idea behind the challenge, particularly since I always make my vinaigrette from scratch, and do so several times a week…  So I took the liberty of hitting the random number button again and turned to page 57: red onion and anchovy pasta.  Definitely sounds like student food…

As expected, the recipe was easy and fairly quick to prepare (hurrah!).  Most importantly though, it was tasty!  The red onions caramelised slightly to give a hint of sweetness, but this was counter-balanced by the anchovies, and the pine nuts added a subtle extra little something.  I was a little bit apprehensive about there being no mention of cheese anywhere in the recipe (pasta without cheese is an almost alien concept to me), but thankfully it turned out yummy anyway (which is probably why there was no mention of cheese in the first place – duh!).  My only issue with the recipe was the quantity that I ended up with – 250g of pasta to serve 2?  To be fair, the book doesn’t specify 2 of what – people, lions, elephants, dinosaurs?  With that in mind, it’s definitely one to make again!

Red onion and anchovy pasta

Serves 3-4
Recipe from La Cuisine des paresseuses

When I first made this recipe (thinking it served 2 people) I ended up with loads of leftovers.  Luckily it reheats very well in the microwave (though add a little bit extra oil so that it doesn’t dry out).  I also tried it with parmesan, which didn’t really add all that much to the flavour, so I’d say that’s optional.  If you don’t have any fusilli, any short pasta would work fine.

Ingredients

250g fusilli pasta
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions
6 anchovy fillets in oil
4 small handfuls of pine nuts

Directions

1.  Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the cooking instructions on the back of the packet whilst preparing the rest of the dish.

2.  Finely-chop the red onion and the anchovy fillets.  Gently fry the onion in the olive oil in a frying pan.  After about 5 mins, add the finely-chopped anchovies and some black pepper and continue frying until the onion has softened, but not browned (I kept mine going on a really low heat until the pasta was done).

3.  Whilst the red onions are cooking, grill or toast the pine nuts for a few minutes in the oven or in a small non-stick frying pan (be careful not to burn them).

4.  Once cooked, add the pasta to the onion and anchovy mixture and mix well.  Split the pasta between plates or pasta bowls and sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Enjoy!

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An April adventure at the St Andrews Farmers’ Market

I finally got myself organised and went to St Andrews Farmers’ Market for the first time last month, bringing home some fantastic cheddar, as well as some Mojito jelly from one of the condiments stands.  The cheese was eaten pretty rapidly, but I haven’t used the Mojito jelly yet, mostly because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with it.  The man who I bought it from suggested simply serving it with lamb (as you would serve mint sauce), and the idea of Mojito lamb has been playing on my mind ever since, though I felt like it should be kept for a special occasion, so I hadn’t really pursued the idea further.

A special occasion presented itself on Saturday evening – Craig’s birthday dinner.  Perfect.  Conveniently, Saturday morning was also this month’s Farmers’ Market, so I decided that I’d get lamb from the market in the morning, and then it could marinate in the afternoon as necessary.  It all sounded like a great idea, but I just had to work out exactly how to do it.  None of my recipe books had anything remotely resembling Mojito lamb (the closest recipe I found was tequila chicken, and it really wasn’t very similar at all), and searching online wasn’t especially inspirational either.  When I stopped by Luvian’s (my local bottleshop) to get wine to go with it, Rich sounded rather unconvinced (though it might have helped if I’d known exactly how I was doing it – “uhm, well there will be rum, mint, sugar.  I’ll probably marinate it, oh ya, throw in some lime zest, too.  Might fry it, or roast it, depending on the cut, or something like that.  I have no idea what I’m serving it with, possibly couscous of some description.  And I haven’t decided what kind of rum I’m using yet either” probably isn’t the world’s best explanation).  Kudos to Rich for managing to make sense of my haphazard description, but I came out feeling distinctly doubtful of the whole thing.

By Saturday morning, I still wasn’t really sure what I was doing.  This resulted in a good 10 minutes of dithering in front of the lamb stand trying to decide which cut I wanted.  I like my meat cooked very rare (practically galloping off the plate in fact), Kat likes hers well done, and Craig likes his somewhere in-between.  A roast was never going to please everybody, so I went with leg steaks, so that they could all be fried for different lengths of time and (hopefully) everybody would be happy.  One of the fundamental rules of having people over for dinner (particularly when it’s a special occasion) is to have previously tested the recipe (which by default means you should have a recipe in the first place).  Consequently, I committed a serious dinner-hosting sin – when I eventually got around to doing the marinade a couple of hours before dinner, I very much made it all up as I went along (there was definitely no recipe, never mind a tried-and-tested one).  I’m not sure how, but thankfully it turned out fine.  More than fine actually – when fried, the lamb acquired a slightly caramelised flavour from the sugar, which was counter-balanced by the rum and lime zest, as well as the chilli and lime zest in the couscous that was served on the side.  Thank goodness!  Oh, and I should add that I completely forgot to add the Mojito jelly to the sauce as I’d originally thought I might.  Oops.

Mojito lamb

Serves 4
Recipe from my imagination

This is actually a fairly quick recipe to prepare, since everything is more or less just mixed together and left to marinate before frying.  I served it with couscous to which I had added a finely chopped de-seeded chilli pepper, the zest of 1 lime and about 5 finely chopped and sautéed shallots.

Ingredients

For the marinade:
150ml spiced rum (add more as you feel necessary)
50g demerrera sugar
15g fresh mint leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lime (keep the lime, the juice is needed later)
4-5 tbsp olive oil

650g lamb leg steaks
Juice of 1 lime
Mint leaves to garnish (optional)

Directions

1.  Mix all the marinade ingredients together with some ground black pepper in a large dish or bowl.

2.  Trim any fatty bits off the lamb leg steaks and add them to the marinade, making sure that they are well coated.  Cover the dish or bowl with a lid or cling film and allow to marinate for at least 1 ½ hours in the fridge.

3.  When ready to cook, drain the steaks, though reserve the marinade.  Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry the leg steaks for several minutes on each side, until done to your liking (this will depend on the thickness of the steaks and also on your personal preference).

4.  Remove the steaks to a serving plate and cover with tin foil to keep them warm.  Deglaze the pan with the lime juice, then add the marinade and allow to simmer down for a few minutes.

5.  Serve the leg steaks garnished with some fresh mint (optional) with the Mojito sauce on the side (a bit like a gravy) and a shallot, chilli and lime couscous.

Enjoy!

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Zoosday Tuesday: Meerkat birthday cake. Simples!

Today is the first Tuesday of April, which means that it’s Zoosday Tuesday, and I’m excited about the cake that I’m about to share with you…!

I’ve just realised that I could have done a Cakes for Craig mini-series of posts – last week I told you about the Gin & Tonic macarons that were his birthday present, then on Sunday I shared the chocolate délice that I attempted for his birthday dinner.  Today is the final installment (so I guess that makes it a trilogy?): the surprise cake that Kat, his housemate (who I shall call H for now, as I forgot to check if I could use her name) and I made for his birthday party, which was about ten days ago.  Kat and I previously ventured into the world of animal-themed cakes back in January with a seal pup cake.  We had so much fun that we wanted to make another animal-themed cake.  Now, Craig loves meerkats, so this is the cake we made for him…

Here’s a little secret: Kat and I have actually been planning this since January.  Before you accuse us of having too much time on our hands, let me just say that it’s amazing the amount of procrastination you can get out of designing a cake (and we’ve had a lot to procrastinate from – exams, review essays, practical reports, our dreaded dissertations…).  H helped us make it, and most importantly, was in charge of hiding it from Craig so that it would be a total surprise.  Since we didn’t want to arrive at the party with the cake, thus giving the game away, we took it round whilst he was out and H did a brilliant job of hiding it, because he clearly had no idea.  SUCCESS!!!

The cake itself was straightforward enough – we used the same chocolate cake and glaçage as the seal cake, but sprinkled it with gold sugar to resemble sand (meerkats live in the desert).  In keeping with the general chocolate theme, the meerkats were chocolate rolled cookies.  We scoured the internet for meerkat cookie-cutters, but to no avail.  Which is surprising, considering the whole meerkat craze at the moment.  I mean seriously, I have a shark cookie-cutter – do they really make shark cookie-cutters and not meerkat ones?!  It would appear so.  Astounding.  Anyway, I digress.  So Kat drew out a stencil instead and we used that to cut out the cookies by hand.  The icing was originally going to be a straightforward (American) royal icing, but well, we’re alcoholics students, and this was a birthday party, so the obvious thing to do was to lace the icing with kirsch (to go with the kirsch in the cake and in the cookies, the recipe of which we’d already altered to include some kirsch).  And by lace, what I really mean substitute kirsch for water.  We then used some edible glue to attach toothpicks to the backs of the meerkat cookies to so that they would stand up on top of the cake (this also made it easier to transport because we just stuck the meerkats into the cake once at Craig’s).  The cake was served with kirsch-infused whipped cream, well, actually, I may have surpassed myself and accidentally made cream-infused whipped kirsch (oops).

Getting the whole cake together took us about six hours.  But the cake nearly rendered Craig speechless (quite a feat) and he clearly deeply appreciated it, which makes the effort totally worth it (and we had so much fun with the icing).  He actually mentioned it in the sweetest post, and after a recent episode of somebody very obviously not eating a cake that I made them (despite it being tasty according to everybody else who tried it), cake appreciation means a lot to me.  I have to admit, I’m still amazed at how realistic we managed to make the meerkats, so here’s another photo (all photos thanks to Kat, by the way):

Chocolate rolled cookies with kirsch icing

Makes 5 meerkat cookies and a lot of stars
Cookies adapted from Glorious Treats
Icing adapted from Joy of Baking

If you want to make the whole cake, then follow this chocolate cake and chocolate glaçage recipe, and sprinkle gold sugar over the top of the cake before the glaçage hardens (so that it sticks to the cake). The cookie dough makes a lot of cookies – we only made 5 meerkats but we used the rest of the dough to make star cookies.  Luckily the dough freezes quite well in a zip-lock bag, just thaw it out in the fridge before using it (otherwise it will be too hard to roll out).  The icing would make enough to decorate at least 8 meerkats.

Ingredients

For the cookies:
375g all-purpose flour
45g cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
225g unsalted butter, softened
135g granulated sugar
110g brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp chocolate liqueur (I used dark crême de cacao)
1 tsp kirsch

For the icing:
1 large egg white
Kirsch
250-280g icing sugar
Food colouring pastes (we used hazelnut & black)

Directions

To make the cookies:
1.  Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together into a bowl, and mix them together.

2.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and two sugars together using an electric whisk, until light and fluffy.  Mix in the egg, chocolate liqueur and kirsch.

3.  Gradually add the cocoa powder and flour mixture to the butter mix roughly 100g at a time, making sure that it was been well incorporated before adding the next 100g (the mixer may slow up a bit towards the end).

4.  Once fully incorporated, split the dough into two or three balls (this makes it more manageable to work with later on), and put each into a zip-lock back and chill in the fridge for 1-2h or about 20mins in the freezer (don’t forget about it in the freezer or you’ll have to let it thaw out after).

5.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.  Line a few baking trays with baking paper.  (This is a good time to make stencils if that’s what you’ll be using.)

6.  Remove one ball of dough from the fridge (if you’ve chilled the dough in the freezer, move the other balls to the fridge so they don’t freeze completely) and place it on a lightly floured surface.  Place a piece of baking paper over the top of the dough (this minimises the amount of flour that you have to use) and roll out to a thickness of around 4mm.  Use cookie cutters (or cut around the stencil you’ve made) to cut out the cookies and place them on the baking trays.  Make the excess dough back into a ball and roll it out again, making sure that the surface you are rolling it out onto is lightly floured.

7.  Once you’ve got a full baking tray, chill it in the freezer for 5 mins (to help the cookies keep their shapes), then place it directly into the oven and bake for 7-10 mins (this will depend on the thickness and shape of your cookies).

8.  Allow the cookies to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

To decorate the cookies:
9.  As the cookies are cooling, prepare the icing.  Set out small bowls or tupperware boxes for the number of different colours you need (we had two – one large to make the icing in, and a small one in which to mix the black), and prepare the tips and icing bags that you will need (we used a Wilton #2 for the lining, a syringe for the flooding, and a Wilton #5 for the brown stripes and shading).

10.  Using an electric whisk, beat the egg white and 1 tsp of kirsch together until just mixed, before adding the sifted icing sugar.  Whisk until smooth and the correct consistency for lining the cookies.  If the icing is too runny, add a little more icing sugar.  Pour as much of the icing as you need into one of the bowls, and cover the big bowl so that the rest of the icing doesn’t dry out.  Add some black colouring to the small bowl and mix well (add more as necessary).  Spoon the black lining icing into a piping bag with a thin tip and outline the cookies.  You can extend the lining to define the paws, too.  Once done, put the icing bag aside, in an airtight box if possible – it will be required later for the eyes and nose.

11.  As the black lining dries on the cookies, prepare the flooding icing.  Uncover the large bowl of icing, add 1 tsp and mix well.  Add another 1 tsp of kirsch and mix well once again.  Continue adding a little bit of kirsch at a time until the icing is of the correct consistency (scoop some icing out of the bowl and drop it back in – it should disappear within 5s).  Add a tiny amount of hazelnut colouring and mix it in well, to achieve a beige colour (add a tiny bit more if necessary – err on the side of caution with quantities as it’s easier to add a tiny bit more than it is to remove any!).  Once the correct colour is achieved, spoon about ⅔ of the beige icing into a piping bag (or syringe) with a medium-sized tip, and cover the rest of the icing so that it doesn’t dry out.  Flood the cookies within the lining, using a toothpick to spread the icing as necessary.

12.  Once the cookies have been flooded, add more hazelnut colouring to the remaining icing and mix well to make a darker brown (you may have to add a sliver of black colouring, too).  Once the correct shade of brown is achieved, spoon the icing into a piping bag with a small tip (but not as small as for the lining), and pipe on the stripes on the back.  Each stripe consists of 3-4 dots, joined together with a toothpick, and mixed a little to make them less defined.  Add a few dots at the end of the tail, paws and around the nose, and blur them slightly with a toothpick.  Draw ears, too.

13.  Get the icing bag with the black icing back out again and draw the nose and eyes.  If you’re feeling adventurous, you can always add a tiny bit of shading to the ears with a toothpick.  Allow the cookies to dry a little before attaching the toothpicks to the back using edible glue and a fine paintbrush. Be careful when handling the cookies (to avoid smudging the icing)!  Allow to dry fully (this may take several hours) before decorating the cake or storing in an airtight box.

Enjoy!

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Raymond Blanc’s chocolate délice… With a slight twist

I’m not really what I would call a “television person” – if I have some time to kill, I’d rather flip through recipe books, surf the internet or read.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t even usually think of watching TV, which I realise might sound a little strange.  As a result, I’m not really familiar with all the TV chefs here in the UK.  Sure, I’ve heard of Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith, etc.  But though I see their various cookbooks whenever I’m in a book shop (because I can’t go into a bookshop without perusing the cookbook section) I’ve never really watched their shows.  However, one chef I hadn’t heard of until recently is Raymond Blanc.  I first came across him a few weeks ago when Craig told me about his show, Kitchen Secrets, on the BBC, and how “incredibly French” he was.  A little bit of Googling revealed that Raymond Blanc is from Franche-Comté, the same region in France as me!  Very few people that I’ve met have ever even heard of my beloved Franche-Comté, never mind actually hailing from there, so I was immediately intrigued that a Franc-comtois chef had somehow ended up on British TV.  I headed over to iPlayer (the BBC’s re-watching programmes online thing) and watched the Cakes & pastries episode.  I have to say, I think he’s brilliant, and I may or may not secretly wish that I was related to him (we are from the same region, so it’s not that weird…) just so that he could teach me to cook.  I love his attitude to food, it’s so very French (funnily enough) – would you ever see a British chef nearly reduced to tears over the beauty of a sublime macaron-based chocolate délice?  I’m not so sure.

When we were later discussing the programme, Craig mentioned in passing that he wished Raymond Blanc would make that chocolate cake for him (the macaron-based chocolate délice mentioned above – the one that nearly reduced Raymond Blanc to tears).  Knowing that his birthday was coming up, I duly agreed that it looked scrumptious though maybe too rich for me (which was completely true), made a mental note to myself and never mentioned the cake again (to Craig – Kat has had to put up with my ideas for it for the last, I don’t know, month?).  I wanted to attempt the cake for his birthday, but we’d already planned a cake for his party (which I will tell you about in my next post, for Zoosday Tuesday), so I was faced with a bit of a problem.  There was really only one solution: cooking a Birthday dinner.  This happened last night – conveniently yesterday was also the Farmers’ Market in St Andrews, so I acquired some wonderful Scottish lamb for the main course (look out for a blog post about my slightly crazy ambitions for the lamb soon).

Now, because I’m a bit special, I wasn’t content with just following Raymond Blanc’s recipe.  No, that would be way too straightforward and sensible.  I have a precious jar of Griottines (cherries preserved in a kirsch liqueur – the exact recipe of which is secret – by a regional producer, brought over for me by mum the last time she went back to Franche-Comté), and it struck me that they might make a lovely addition to the chocolate délice.  Plus, they’re cherries preserved in alcohol.  It couldn’t possibly go wrong, right?  (Famous last words.)  I popped a few Griottines on top of the macaron base of the cakes (I didn’t have a giant chef’s ring, but I had smaller ones, so I made individual cakes rather than one big one) before pouring the chocolate délice mixture over the top.  I think I can say that the addition of the Griottines was a rather wonderful idea…  (In other words: thank goodness it worked.)  The cakes were decorated with some drizzled dark and white chocolate, a sprinkling of icing sugar and a few mini macarons, including number-shaped macarons on Craig’s cake, just in case he’d forgotten his new age (which would be rude if I wasn’t older than him).  Even if I do say so myself, they looked rather pretty – one could almost pretend they were from a pâtisserie.  Ok, perhaps I’m pushing it a little, but Craig enjoyed them, and that’s pretty crucial for a birthday cake, so hurrah!

Chocolate macaron-based délice with Griottines

Makes 4 x 9cm cakes
Recipe from Raymond Blanc’s
Kitchen Secrets (original idea here and délice recipe here)
Macaron shell recipe based on Mad About Macarons!

As I suspected, this is a very rich concoction, but so tasty!  One 9cm cake was enough for 3 of us (after a filling meal).  You could also make one larger cake of 16cm diameter with these quantities.  Use your imagination for the decorations made from the leftover macaron shell mixture – teardrops, numbers, hearts, etc.  One of the best things about this dessert is that it can easily be prepared in advance.  Pour any leftover délice mixture into a ramekin and let it set in the fridge – it’s super yummy just on its own.

Ingredients

For the macaron shells:
100g aged egg whites (age them for 4-5 days in a sealed jar in the fridge)
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
7g cocoa powder (at least 70%)

For the délice:
24 Griottines, well drained (optional)
140ml whole milk
325ml double cream
2 eggs
340g dark chocolate (at least 70%)

Directions

To make the macaron shells:
1. Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.  Prepare a piping bag with a plain nozzle.

2.  Blend the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder together (don’t skip this step!)  Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl.  Sift them again if necessary.

3.  Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites at room temperature (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand) to glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.

4.  Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well.  Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture.  Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes.  The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.

5.  Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out 4 circles of 10-11cm diameter for the bases.  Use the rest of the macaron mixture to pipe small shapes to decorate the cakes with later, such as teardrops, lines, hearts, small circles (or numbers!).  Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.

6.  Leave to set for about 30mins (this helps to produce the feet).  Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C.  When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.

7.  Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 11-13mins for the larger rounds and 8-10mins for the smaller shapes (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3mins longer).  Leave them to cool on the baking trays.

For the délice:
8.  Once the big rounds have cooled fully, use 9cm diameter chef’s rings to cut a circle in each, using a knife to cut away the excess macaron.  Place these on a baking tray or plate lined with baking paper (it helps if the tray or plate has slightly upturned edges, just in case some of the délice decides to ooze out).

9.  Roughly chop the dark chocolate and set aside.  Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and gently heat them together over a medium heat.

10.  Whisk the eggs together in a large heat-proof bowl.  When the milk and cream have just started to boil, pour them over the eggs and whisk constantly until smooth and slightly thickened.  Add the chocolate and continue to whisk until the chocolate has completely melted and the whole délice mixture is wonderfully smooth.

11.  Place 5 or 6 drained Griottines on each macaron base (optional) before carefully pouring délice over the top – fill the rings up as high as you wish (remember that the délice mixture is quite rich though).  Chill in the fridge overnight.

12.  Heat the rings with a hot cloth (or a blowtorch if you have one, which I do not) so that they are easier to remove.  Decorate the délices as you wish – sprinkle with cocoa powder or icing sugar, drizzle with dark and white chocolate, place the smaller macaron shapes around the sides or on top.

Enjoy!


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Poisson d’avril: Crab slippers

It is, of course, April Fools’ Day today, a day of jokes and pranks, etc.  I feel I should post something funny or jokey, but well, let’s just say that being witty isn’t exactly my forte.  So I’m not even going to try and come up with something that inevitably won’t be all that funny – I’ll leave the amusement of the day up to the BBC (though I doubt they’ll ever top their 1957 Panorama report about the Swiss spaghetti harvest).  Instead, I’m going to be taking the French route.

In France, the 1st of April is know as “poisson d’avril” or “April fish,” and small children run around trying to stick or hook paper fish to people’s backs without them noticing (people they know, I should add).  It makes total sense as a child.  Thinking about it now though, not so much.  Anyhow, let’s skip over that.  When I was younger, we were never in France for the 1st of April, so I never got to partake in the whole tradition.  Despite not living in France or the UK as I grew up, we still followed quite a few traditions, such as Burns Night, the 14th of July (French National Day), or Galettes des rois for the Epiphany.  This isn’t one of them – try sticking a paper fish to a non-French person’s back and explaining yourself when they turn around and ask you what on Earth you’re doing?  Actually, don’t.  They’ll think you’re really weird, and you won’t even be able to trot out the I’m-6-years-old-therefore-I’m-still-allowed-to-do-slightly-strange-things excuse.  Unless you are actually 6 years old, in which case, go right ahead and let me know how you get on (though I’m not sure why you’d be reading this in the first place…).

So rather than attempting (and failing) to be funny, I thought I’d do something fish-related (because it’s poisson d’avril – April fish.  See what I did there?).  I realised the other day that I haven’t had crab in forever, and thus I decided to do something with crab.  So actually when I said fish-related, I really meant seafood-related – I’d be a pretty horrific Zoology student if I wasn’t aware that crabs are crustaceans, NOT fish.

I’d been thinking about chaussons aux pommes (“apple slippers” which are essentially stewed apples baked in a puff pastry casing) earlier this week and suddenly realised I could do a savoury version using crab!  “Crab slippers” (cue the rather entertaining mental image of a crab wearing slippers) struck me as a suitably odd-ball name for a recipe to be shared on April Fools’ Day.  I eventually realised that my awesome-sounding crab slippers were actually just crab pasties.  Sad times – pasties just don’t sound quite as fun as slippers!  Never mind though, the main point is that they had to taste good!  I obviously needed something to go with the crab – lime and chilli appealed to me, with a touch of cream.  It’s not a particularly ground-breaking combination, but I’ve never really used it before, so I decided to go for it.  I made these crab slippers pasties for dinner on Wednesday, and had the leftovers cold for lunch yesterday, and thankfully they turned out rather yummy both ways!  The only serious issue that I ran into was when I tried to make little pastry crabs to top the pasties.  It was too fiddly to make them anatomically correct, and they ended up with six appendages instead of ten.  It was pretty traumatic so I only made one.  (That’s not an April Fools’ joke by the way – that sort of thing actually upsets me…)

Crab, chilli & lime pasties

Makes 10 small pasties
Recipe from my imagination

One pasty per person would be enough for a starter, but you’ll need two per person (or even three if you have super-hungry guests) for a main course.  They are equally tasty hot or cold, so perfect to take on a picnic.  Ready-made puff pastry works perfectly for this recipe (that’s what I used), but make sure to use good-quality pastry made with real butter. If you have any leftover pastry, you can use it to decorate the tops of the pasties.

Ingredients

2 onions
650g puff pastry
2 dressed crabs (about 250g of cooked meat)
2 red chilli peppers
2-3 tbsp crème fraîche
1 unwaxed lime
1 tbsp of milk
1 egg yolk

Directions

1.  Butter 2 or 3 baking sheets (depending on how big they are) and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Dice the onions and allow them to soften in a bit of butter over a low heat, until just golden.  Allow them to cool whilst preparing the rest of the pasties.

3.  Roll out the pastry into a rectangular shape with a thickness of about 4mm.  Cut out 10 squares of about 10×10 cm and lay them out side-by-side.

4.  De-seed the red peppers, chop them as finely as you can and add them to a large bowl with the crab.  Add the zest and juice of the lime and stir the crab mixture well.  Add the onions (it doesn’t matter if they’re not fully cooled, but don’t add them if they’re still really hot), some black pepper and the crème fraîche and mix well.

5.  Divide the mixture between each of the 10 laid-out squares of pastry (don’t let the mixture go right to the edge, since the pasties have to be sealed).  Brush two perpendicular edges of each pastry square with a tiny bit of milk, fold the square over and seal (the milk helps the pastry stick together), using the tines of a fork to crimp the edges.  If you’re adding decorations to the top, brush the bottom side of the pastry decoration with a bit of milk before sticking to the pasty.

6.  Whisk the egg yolk with a few drops of water, and brush it over the pasties.  Use a sharp knife to cut three small slits in the top of each pasty (I doubt you want exploding pasties), and bake for about 30 mins until the pasties are golden.

Enjoy!

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