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.
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A Taste of Malt – Supper Club, Saturday, 5th September

The commoTaste of Malt Tablen ingredient throughout all three courses for this Supper Club was a 12 year old Malt Whisky!  Diners were offered a shot of the Malt at the start of the evening, and continued to enjoy the smooth, rich taste of this Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky, produced by Strathisla –  Strathisla 12 Year Old Scotch Malt Whisky 70 cl – Strathisla is the oldest distillery in the Highlands of Scotland.  The three courses, together contained almost two 70cl bottles to serve 9-10 people, making it quite an expensive meal to produce, but well worth it!
The first course was Whisky and Chilli Tiger Prawns, coated with a sweet whisky and chilli glaze, baked in the oven and topped with a little finely slivered lime zest.

The main course consisted of a whole roast fillet of beef, cooked to medium rare, cut into steak medallions, dressed with a whisky, grain mustard and cream sauce and served with crispy potatoes and roasted mushrooms. Recipe here.

Dessert was an all time favourite of mine …. marmalade and whisky bread and butter pudding.  Served with fresh oranges marinated in Whisky and sugar syrup making the dessert sublime!

Fillet of Beef with Whisky & Grain Mustard Cream Sauce

Steak in Whisky Cream Sauce Ingredients (to serve 8)

Fillet of Beef
1 tablesp. olive oil & a knob of butter
4-6 banana shallots
6 tablesp. whole grain mustard
20g brown sugar
Approx 600 ml double cream

1. First make the cream sauce:  Heat the butter and oil in a heavy based frying pan and add the shallots, stirring occasionally until just lightly golden.

2.  Add the whisky, bring to the boil and cook briskly until reduced to about two-thirds.

3.  Add in the grain mustard, brown sugar and double cream. Simmer the whisky sauce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside until required.

4.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the fillet of beef and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for approximately 25 minutes.  The fillets needs to reach a temperature of 63-65 degrees C for medium rare, 70 degrees for med and approx 75-77 degrees C for well done (I used a probe to check).  Leave to rest for approximately 10 mins and then slice into thick steaks.

5.  Reheat the cream sauce and drizzle over and/or around the steaks.

Whisky & Chilli Prawns

whisky_and_chilli_tiger_72921_16x9Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 limes, 1 juice and zest, 1 juice only
90ml/3½fl oz whisky
180g/6½oz soft light brown sugar
24-32 raw tiger prawns, peeled, deveined
1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2. Heat the lime juice, whisky and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring gently, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has all dissolved, stop stirring, turn up the heat and boil for 5–7 minutes, or until the mixture becomes syrupy and thickens. To tell if it is ready, dip a wooden spoon in the mixture and tap off the excess – some glaze should still stick to the spoon, but it will not be as thick as honey. (Sometimes the whisky catches alight and you will see a blue-orange flame coming from the pan. Just take it off the heat and the whisky will burn itself out. )

3. Stir in the finely grated lime zest, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

4. Put the prawns in a shallow ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the chilli. Brush the prawns with the oil and then with the glaze. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, or until the prawns turn opaque. Remove from the oven and brush with more glaze, reserving any extra glaze for dipping, and set aside to cool slightly before serving.

Cheese & Pancetta Bread

Ingredients 400g Strong White Bread Flour
100g Rye Bread Flour
10g salt
15g fresh yeast or
7g fast action dried yeast
20 ml olive oil
300 ml cool water
150g pancetta lardons, fried & cooled
200g cheese – cheddar, comte, gruyere or other hard cheese – cut into 1 cm cubes

IMG_16541.  Using a Kenwood Chef with a dough hook or a Thermomix (on the dough setting) put the flours into the bowl, add the salt and stir to disperse.  Add the olive oil, fresh or dried yeast (if using fresh, I like to mix mine in with a little water first) and the lardons, including the residue fat left in the pan.  Process in the Kenwood for 6-7 minutes, initially on Speed 1 for a minute and then increasing to Speed 2.  For the Thermomix, mix on Speed 3 for 10 seconds until the dough starts to come together and then, using the dough setting, process for 6 minutes.

2.  If using a Thermomix, transfer to a bowl and leave to prove for approximately an hour, covered with cling film, otherwise leave in the Kenwood bowl.

3.  Oil a 20cm springform cake tin.  Divide the dough into three and roll out one third to a circle to cover the base of the tin.  Scatter over half the cheese.  Roll out a similar disc of dough and lay on top.  Add the rest of the cheese.  Roll out the final circle of dough and place on top.  Dust with flour, or if liked sprinkle some extra grated cheese on top.  Leave to prove for about an hour covered lightly with a tea towel.

4.  Meanwhile, heat the over to 220 degrees C and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Leave the loaf in the tin for approximately 10 minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Gourmet Beefburgers (Rita’s Recipe)

Ingredients for 6-8 Beefburgers (depending on the thickness of your burgers)

1 kg lean beef mince
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lg onion, chopped finely
2 tsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 red chilli, finely chopped

1.  Lightly sautee the onions and garlic until translucent but not coloured.  Leave to cool.

2. In a large bowl mix together the mince, onions, garlic, tomato ketchup, mustard, egg, and chilli.

3. Dive in with your hands and mix until the ingredients are well blended. Either shape into patties or to get each the same size, push into ring moulds approximately 9 cm in diameter.  I like to make my burgers quite thick as they shrink in cooking, but if you want to extend to 8 then make them a little thinner.

4. Get a griddle pan and heat on a high heat.  Slide a little olive oil on each side of the burgers with your fingertips or a pastry brush and then making sure the pan is really hot, griddle for a minute or two on each side to get a good colour.

5. Finish off in a medium hot oven (200 degrees C or Mk 6) for about 10-15 minutes (depending on thickness).

6. Serve with brioche buns (I got mine from Ocado – much better than Waitrose or Heston’s) and some salads.

A Taste of Fire – Supper Club, Saturday 1st August 2015

Fabulous dining guests lingered around the wrought iron table set for our BBQ meal on Saturday’s “A Taste of Fire” Supper Club event, which was held at a venue in Wraysbury.  This was my sixth meet up since starting the Supper Club and some of my diners were already old friends – regulars who had already attended more than one of the Supper Clubs that have been going now since February of this year.

IMG_1659The menu:

Spicy Rum RibsSticky Chicken Wings  | Gourmet Beefburgers in Brioche Buns

Sides:  Tomato Salsa |  Broad Bean, Pea & Beetroot Salad | Tomato Salad | Green Salad | Mediterranean Potato Salad | Guacamole | Cheese & Pancetta Bread | Sundried Tomato & Basil Bread | Moroccan Zatar Bread

Dessert:  Tropical Fruit Salad in a Rum Sugar Syrup served with Chantilly Cream.

The evening kicked off with a Raspberry Summer Punch, which wasIMG_1654 enthusiastically received by all –  a mix of wine, cranberry juice, raspberries, mint & lemonade over ice.

As I was cooking for 10, I decided it might be prudent to cook or part-cook some of the meat in the oven, to receive a final kiss on the BBQ griddle bars, before being served with an array of sides and home made breads, the most popular of which was the cheese and pancetta bread pictured above.

I was particularly pleased with my home made gourmet burgers, to which I added to the leanest beef mince I could get, some sautéed onions, garlic, chillies, tomato ketchup and Dijon mustard.  These delicious beef patties were sandwiched between soft, sweet brioche buns (the only food that wasn’t home made – unfortunately, I had no time) and I chose to squeeze some guacamole inside of my own, which made it even more unctuous !

There was plenty of food to accommodate second helpings …. and even some left over for a quick, light lunch on Sunday!