Spiced Plum Crumble (from Jame’s Desserts by James Martin)

Ingredients (Serves 8)

15-16 Dark Plums, halved, stones removed
50g butterplum crumble
1 vanilla pod, split
1 star anise
Few gratings nutmeg
2 Cinnamon sticks
100ml red wine
3 tablesp. honey
3 tablesp. caster sugar
50 ml water
For the crumble

150g butter, softened
300g plain flour
150 g demerara sugar

  1.  Preheat over to 200 degrees C / 400 degrees F / Gas Mark 6
  2. Saute the plums with the butter in a hot frying pan for a few minutes.  Add the split vanilla pod, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, red wine, honey, sugar and water, then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 6 – 8 minutes.
  3. As the plums break down to a thick, syrupy texture, put them in an oven proof dish.
  4. To make the crumble, mix the butter and flour together until the mixture resemble breadcrumbs (best done in a food processor), then mix in the sugar.  Sprinkle the crumble over the plums and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with ice cream or custard.

Marmalade & Whisky Bread & Butter Pudding

Bread-and-Butter-Pudding---recipe Ingredients (Serve approx. 6)

8 slices day-old crusty white bread
50g very soft butter
4 tbsp Seville orange marmalade, plus 4 tsp
300ml full-fat milk
248ml pot double cream
3 large eggs
seeds 1 vanilla pod
4 tbsp golden caster sugar
90 ml whisky

1. Butter each piece of bread on both sides, then spread one side each with the marmalade. Cut into triangles and nestle in rows in a large baking dish. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.

2. Beat the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar and whisky together, then pour over the bread. Leave to soak for at least 30 mins.

3. Dot the remaining marmalade all over the top of the pud and dust with sugar. Bake for 45 mins-1 hr or until puffy and starting to caramelise where the bread breaks out of the custard. Serve hot or warm.

Vodka & Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Seasonal Berries

For 4 people:

IngredientsPanna Cotta

300ml/11fl oz double cream
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out
110g/4oz caster sugar
4-5 leaves gelatine, soaked for 5 minutes in cold water, squeezed out
350ml/12fl oz buttermilk, at room temperature
25ml/1fl oz vodka
2 punnets summer fruit, such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries
1 – 2 teasp. caster sugar
2 – 3 tablesp. creme de cassis

1. Heat the double cream, vanilla pod and seeds and 100g/3½oz of the sugar in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove the pan from heat, add the soaked gelatine and buttermilk and whisk until well combined, then stir in the vodka.

2. Pour the mixture into dariole moulds, leave to cool, then chill in the fridge for at least two hours.

5. Mix the summer berries with caster sugar and the creme de cassis.

6. To serve, put the dariole moulds into a bowl of hot water for a few seconds to loosen the panna cottas, then turn out onto serving plates and garnish with the berries.

Ricotta Tart with Limoncello Icecream

This recipe from Georgio Locatelli’s ‘Made in Sicily‘ proved to be a little troublesome for me.  I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth and so it’s not often I make desserts, unless I am entertaining.  I can therefore claim to be no pastry chef!  The pastry recipe in Georgio’s book  was very tricky to handle.  I attempted it twice.  Knowing that pastry needs to rest in order for it to be handled and stretched, I made sure the first lot was rested overnight,IMG_1262 and the second attempt for another several hours.  Despite this, I found the pastry impossible to handle without disintegrating into pieces!  Not to be defeated, I decided to use my own foolproof sweet pastry crust recipe and thus managed (finally) to achieve the tart pictured to the right!

The recipe below incorporates my own shortcrust recipe and NOT Georgio’s eggy creation (sorry Georgio!)

Pastry Case:

200g plain flour

100g butter

50g icing sugar

Approx. 2 tablesp. water to bind.

  1. Place the flour in a bowl and add the Lurpak spread. Rub in with fingertips and the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add about 2 tablesp water and work the mixture into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 mins.
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry and use to line a 23cm round, loose-bottomed fluted tart tin and pop into the freezer for 10 mins.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C / Gas 6. Line the pastry with baking paper and baking beans and blind bake for 10 mins. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 mins or until the pastry is dry and pale golden.

Ricotta Filling:

450g fresh ricotta

80g almonds, chopped (best to chop by hand as a food processor can yield mixed results of sawdust and large chunks)

80g sultanas

Zest of 2 lemons

5 Egg Whites

75g Caster Sugar

Creme Patisserie (Pastry Cream)

300 ml whole milk

4 egg yolks, at room temperature

140g caster sugar

30g plain flour

1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / Gas 4.

2.  Roll the pastry out into a circle to about the thickness of a pound coin and line the tin. (I recommend lining the tin with a circle of greaseproof paper if you want to easily remove it on to a plate later).  Line the top of the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans, or rice, or pulses to weigh down.  Bake for about 7 – 10 mins until pastry has dried out but not coloured.  Take out of the oven and remove the greaseproof paper and beans.

3.  To make the pastry cream, warm the milk in a pan to just below simmering point, then take off the heat.  In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and flour, then add to the warm milk and return to the heat, whisking continuously until the mixture thickens.  Take the pan off the heat, leave to cool, then put through a fine sieve to make sure there are no lumps.

Note:  If you own a Thermomix, then the whole process is incredibly simple:  Put all the ingredients into the jug and cook on 90 degrees at speed 4 for 7 minutes.  Voila!

4.  Add the ricotta, almonds, sultanas and lemon zest to the pastry cream.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the sugar until they form peaks (don’t do this by hand – your arm will fall off before you reach the peak stage – use an electric whisk!) then add to the mixture.   Pour into the pastry case and put back into the oven for 25 – 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Limoncello Icecream

Limoncello- 100 ml (I originally used 200 ml, but the ice-cream doesn’t hold … once on the plate it reverts to a soup like consistency)

Freshly grated lemon zest – 2tbsp

Icing Sugar- 150 gm

Double Cream- 500 ml

Good quality Vanilla Bean Paste (also available from Waitrose) – 1 teasp

1.  Whisk Limoncello and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk until the icing sugar dissolves.

2.  Add vanilla and give it another whisk.

3.  Now, add your double cream and whisk until its light and fluffy.

4.  Add lemon rinds to the cream.

Pour the mixture into an airtight container and freeze overnight.