Eggs Benedict and Heston Blumenthal's Perfectly Poached Eggs

Hubby is mildy addicted to eggs Benedict - he frequently orders it for working breakfasts, and you can see from some of his comments that he has many, many criteria he applies to the dish.  Consequently I'm often reluctant to cook it at home - but hey, it's Christmas - the man deserves his favourite breakfast at Christmas surely?!

Thermomix Sauces: Béarnaise

There are conventionally five mother sauces, of which hollandaise is the probably the richest, with it's combination of egg yolks and melted butter.  I'm not always massively fond of hollandaise, as it often lacks flavour beyond the butter.  However I absolutely adore a number of variations, especially blood orange hollandaise (Maltaise sauce), beurre blanc, and most particularly béarnaise sauce, with its fragrant addition of tarragon.

Heston Blumenthal's Macaroni Cheese

Whenever I get a little bored, or I'm sitting in the bath, I delve into my i-pad espisodes of How to Cook Like Heston...  I like the combination of science, technique and, ultimately, gastronomy - it always has my food brain working overtime... After a particularly late night hosting our annual Christmas quiz, I delved into the episodes again, and looking at my groaning cheese boards (yes, plural), thought I'd better get stuck into some of his cheese recipes.

Black Olive, and Caraway and Onion Rolls

I have several, no, many bread books, which get used to varying degrees. However when I need a basic do-ahead recipe which will be transformed into a variety of uses, I head straight for Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day.

I've made any number of variations of this recipe - sun blushed tomato bread, cinnamon and raisin, but my favourites are onion and caraway, and olive bread. The joy of this recipe is that the dough can sit in your fridge until you're ready...

Beetroot and Kummel Cured Salmon, with a cucumber salad

I was at a shooting party recently and was served beetroot and vodka cured salmon as a starter - it was absolutely delicious.  Light, tangy, the cucumber salad adding a refreshing bite.  I found a number of variations on-line which I've adapted to produce my perfect variation - it's a bit more Scandinavian than the original, and a little more fragrant.

Chocolate Fondant

Chocolate fondant, the nemesis of many a Masterchef contestant!  I've no idea why they will insist on trying to make a fondant without choosing a recipe which guarantees success.  This recipe by the charming Mark Lloyd is delicious (I had it at his pop-up in London), and it's always struck me as more likely to succeed because of the addition of the liquid glucose.  I can assume you it works perfectly!

Carrot Cup-Cakes with Cream Cheese Fosting...

I've been wanting carrot cake for ages - not entirely sure why - but I came across this recipe by the lovely Dan Leppard, and thought they were exactly what the doctor ordered.   If you get your kids to do the grating, you can have them up and ready in no time at all :0)

Philip Howard's Foie Gras Ballotine...

For well over a decade The Square has been one of our favourite restaurants.  The chef-proprietor is Philip Howard - a very talented, if mercurial chef, and The Square has held two michelin stars since 1998. So you can imagine that I couldn't have been happier when The Square cookbook finally thudded it's way through my door...  

Steamed turbot, crushed potatoes with crab, and buerre noisette...

My on-going lack of a gas supply has resulted in me turning to some alternative methods of cooking.  I wanted to pan-fry some turbot, in a loose tribute to Tony Fleming's dish, but actually as his was steamed, it suddenly motivated me to get the steamer out of the cupboard - I'm quite sure it's not even been used a dozen times - but now it was going to come into it's own!  Needless to say the children had eaten all my lovely tomatoes - so the sauce vierge was also going out of the window.  I swapped over to a beurre noisette and capers - and here you have it...

Creme Patisserie [Thermomix]

Whenever people ask me what I make in my Thermomix, the first thing that springs to mind is flawless, effortless creme patisserie.  It's just ridiculously easy in a Thermo, and rather time consuming when made in the conventional way.  Once you have creme patisserie, you can make perfect fruit tarts, glorious soufflés and immaculate pain au raisin!

Lobster Bisque...

The recipe for this gorgeous mouthful of sea was donated to me by the lovely Tony Fleming - it's the recipe he uses at the Angler restaurant.  I promised not to give away all his secrets, so here I've documented a similar recipe to help you along your way, together with my photos...  Do try this, it may be laborious, but it's well worth the effort!

Lobster and Scallop Ravioli, with Buerre Blanc...

The lovely Tony Fleming kindly gave me the recipe he uses at the Angler restaurant, and it was delicious.  I agreed not to print his recipe in full, so instead I've included a couple of master recipes that are very similar to help you along your way, and I can show you the pics...

Marco Pierre White's Raspberry Soufflé

For Gemma, from the Independent

Frozen raspberries are actually better than fresh for the pureé (or coulis) which is used as the base of this soufflé. They contain more moisture than fresh, and are much cheaper.

Compressed Watermelon, with Basil Oil and Pink Salt

I certainly can't claim to take any credit for this recipe, for a start it's really just a technique - and it's not even mine...  The subject of compressed watermelon came up last year on twitter, and an Australian chef, Michael Moore posted a picture of it!  I'd seen pictures in a few books, one had a cube with a tiny scoop cut out and a drop of watermelon, and Catherine Loubet mentioned that Bruno also has a variation.  So, I'm hoping that you won't notice that it's November, and technically out of season - because I had to give it a go with my new gadget.  Michael recommends compressing at 15 bar psi, and leaving it for at least two days.  I haven't quite worked out how to do that yet, so I compressed it at the normal psi, but for a shorter period of time, around 20 seconds.  I popped in some basil oil, and himalayan pink salt.  This is it curing...  I have to say it tastes fantastic. The first batch never made it to an audience - I ate the lot :0&

Confectionary: Vanilla Fudge; Peanut Butter Fudge; and Golden Syrup Fudge

I know, who blogs about fudge? But, as I'm making a job lot for the school's fireworks party, it seemed silly not to take the opportunity to pass on some sugary tips! Personally, I love making confectionary of all kinds, and have the odd burn mark to prove it.

Cured Confit of Salmon, cooked sous-vide

The day has finally arrived, my kitchen finally has a chamber vacuum packer! This immediately means that I can sous vide items which contain marinades, or confit them in olive oil.  My first thought was a piece of salmon, though today I have watermelon compressed with pink salt and basil oil in my fridge, and the Sunday beef sitting in my Grant waterbath!  In a moment I will be sealing the soused raw vegetables I made to accompany the salmon, which will mean they remain fresh until next weekend - what a difference this machine is going to make to my kitchen.  Having said that - it's flipping enormous!  I was assured this new machine had been specifically designed for the home cook, but given the size and weight of it. I'm going to have to find a permanent home for it in my back kitchen...

Basic Measurements

I've culled these measurements from sites all over the web, but if you click on the header it will take you to the originating site :0)

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing [Thermomix]

I've been making a lot of macarons lately, and when I'm completely happy with the process, I'll put a post up.  But in the meantime I've come to realise that whilst a perfect macaron shell is lovely, actually what the majority of people remember are the fillings.  Macarons are vehicles for flavour, and I guarantee most people won't know if your 'feet' have separated, or your shells are hollow.  What they will remember is the texture! 

Agar gels... A possible filling for macaron?

We've all seen them dotted around the plates of certain chefs, but when Nigel Haworth had an agar gel on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen, it suddenly seemed very mainstream.  Had to make one didn't I? I have lots of recipes for agar gel, but I thought I'd make this one, using blackberries instead of blackcurrants.

Halibut, with Salsa Verde and a Citrus Dressing...

I have finally found a decent fish supplier - hurrah! Despite the fact that I live less than three miles from a harbour, it's almost impossible to buy fish locally.  I think most of it seems to disappears straight out of the town. I was bemoaning this fact to Matthew at the michelin starred Montagu Arms, and he introduced me to their suppliers - Premier Fish... A quick look on their web site sent me into small ecstasies - there's brill, turbot, halibut, lobster, prawns, clams, anything you can think of - fabulous.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to do something "big", so, meet my chum, the 3kg halibut, dubbed Herbert by the 11 year old.

Thai Steamed Palourde Clams...

Seriously, I'm not sure that there could be a faster or more delicious supper, or perhaps starter.  The entire thing takes no more than ten minutes to make!  As long as you have good palourdes (or mussels, razor clams, etc), you're good to go!  In fact this is so easy, I'm getting the 11yo to cook it.

Sous-Vide Beetroots, with Herb Crusted Lamb and Lettuce Sauce...

Beetroot, with herb crusted
lamb, lettuce sauce and jus
Ever since I first saw candy beetroot (the one's with the pink rings) and golden beetroot, I've been obsessed with showcasing their beautiful colours.  Needless to say, as soon as you try to cook them, they tend to lose their colour, or their colour bleeds into everything else - saving that colour has become a bit of a holy grail for me.  Usually I've resorted to serving them raw, which isn't exactly a hardship.  However, on The Great British Menu, the lovely Simon Rogan sliced his very finely, and cooked them sous vide in a water bath... That's been in the back of my mind ever since.

The Scandilicious Chelsea Bun...

I've been following Signe on twitter for ages now, and there's always something very familiar about her flavour combinations and recipes...  That's not to say that I've found them available widely, on the contrary, but having grown up in Germany there's something about the Scandinavian palate that resonates strongly with my childhood.  We spent a lot of time living around Bremen, and Hamburg, right at the top of Germany and not far from Scandinavia proper.  And since Signe released her new Baking book, I've been dying to delve into it to try something.

Heston Blumenthal's Meat Fruit

I recently had dinner at Dinner, by Heston Blumenthal. For various reasons the Hubby and I weren't actually going to order "Meat Fruit", but the kitchen sent us one, and we were completely blown away by the texture of the parfait, and the contrasting acidity of the jelly.  The dish is light, but rich, moreish, very slightly palate cleansing - and yes - I accept that those are complete contradictions.  It's the mandarin jelly - it really does release something in the palate that allows the very rich parfait to not become overly cloying.

Petit Fours: Pâtes de Fruits

Of all the petits fours presented at the end of the meal, I always have a soft spot for pâtes de fruits, the little cubes of fruit jelly.  A petite bite of acidic sweetness, it's always stuck me that it's the perfect way to combine sweet and sour, and intense fruitiness too.  This acidity is achieved by including citric or tartaric acid into the recipe, and the light mouthfeel is achieved by using pectin, rather than gelatine.  This allows the jelly to melt in your mouth, which releases both the sweet and acidic elements of the jelly at the same time.  Don't store the finished product in the fridge - the granulated sugar will begin to dissolve.

The Harwood Arms Venison Scotch Egg

The Harwood Arms Scotch Egg
I had lunch at the Harwood Arms recently, and arrived late :0) What a marvel - to arrive late and to be presented with a gorgeous Scotch egg within moments of being seated, and having spent nearly an hour in traffic to travel about four miles!  It was delicious, spicy, well flavoured and with a soft gorgeous yolk in the centre - yummy!

Risotto, with mushrooms, cep roasted chicken, and summer truffle

Risotto, with mushrooms,
cep roasted chicken, and summer truffle
There are a thousand different ways to make risotto, but how do you make risotto memorable?  In the last twenty years there are four that I can recount in vivid detail:
  • In Lucca, we had an amazing barolo risotto with gorgonzola - umami heaven - salty, blue notes, rich, dense, it was utterly heavenly.

Roasted Salmon in African Volcano PeriPeri Sauce

I've been eating for two weeks... This may seem like a bit of a dream for some people, but my palate is jaded, I needed something much more comforting and zingy.  I've also been up since 4am this morning, and I'm definitely not in the mood for one of my elaborate cookery sessions - so it has to be fast!

Michel Roux Jr's Iced Red Berry Soufflé

Continuing with my soufflé obsession, here we have an iced soufflé.  Unlike a chilled soufflé which uses gelatine to stabilise the dish, a frozen soufflé can be much lighter because it's obviously frozen.  The obvious drawback in the average kitchen, I would suggest, is that you need enough free shelf space to sit the dishes for 12 hours.

On the plus side, you can make it in advance, and can actually use up those bags of frozen fruit we all seem to have in our freezer.  Use the space you free up to set the soufflés!  The perfect summer dinner party dish, if we ever get enough sun to truly call it summer...

Vietnamese Summer Roll

One of my favourite things to eat are Vietnamese Summer Rolls, or Gỏi Cuốn.  Served cold, they can include pork, and in the UK I've had them with crispy duck in, which is lovely.  However the more typical variant is a prawn roll.  The wrapper is made from rice flour, but unlike a wonton wrapper that you might use for a spring roll, these become translucent when dampened in water.  The wrappers are assembled with this in mind, so that the prettiest ingredients are placed at the centre of the roll.

Tribute Dish - Verveine's Deconstructed Sherbet Dab

Last week I went to a fish restaurant locally called Verveine, in Milford-on-Sea. Verveine is run buy Chef Patron David Wykes, with a fishmonger at the front and a restaurant at the back.  David and his team cook a variety of traditional and modern dishes.  The one I particularly loved - we all loved - was a deconstructed sherbet dab. An intensely deep and rich liquorice ice-cream is topped with a scattering of sherbet - in this case icing sugar and Texturas Fizzy.  I immediately ordered some Fizzy from my favourite supplier Infusions for Chefs, and got cooking.

Roux Brothers Soufflés Suissesse

This savoury soufflé is one of the Roux Brother's signature dishes, and is one of their first and finest.  The soufflés are cooked in a cream sauce at the last minute to add to the richness of the dish.  The recipe was demonstrated on the Roux Legacy documentary in 2012.

Heston Blumenthal's Lemon Tart [Thermomix]

Without doubt the best lemon tart I've had, light, just set and vibrant with citrus flavours.

I've actually made this recipe several times now, and have gradually refined the process so that now the 11yo actually makes it on her own! The first time I ignored all of the instructions about sticking it into the freezer, and I paid the price. Firstly the dough was far too soft to handle, and broke as I was transferring it to the case. Secondly it went golden far too quickly, and lastly it absolutely fell apart when I mis-handled the tin. Make sure you follow the instructions exactly, use an oven thermometer, your digital thermometer, and if you have one, your laser thermometer too!

Flavoured Butter [Thermomix]

Of course we all know how to make flavoured butter, but in the Thermomix it's even more insanely easy! Today I made on flavoured with 1 lime, 1 lemon, and 1 blood orange, then chopped some herbs into it.  Used it to pop under the breast skin of my roast chicken - yum yum.

Vanilla-Ice Cream, and Chocolate Ice-Cream

Yes, I'm still making ice-cream at a ridiculous rate since I got the Thermomix, but it's now so easy I'm determined never to buy another tub of ice-cream again.  This way I know exactly what's gone into it!

Tribute Dish - the Roux Pre-Dessert - panna cotta, jelly and granita... [Thermomix]

At Roux Parliament Square, the pre-dessert is a panna cotta, topped with a jelly, and then a refreshing granita. On the day I went we had a coconut/passion fruit/lime, but I notice from trawling reviews that they also do apple/apple/cucumber (yum!), pineapple/coconut/kaffir lime, strawberry/strawberry/meringue.  So it's a very successful formula, onto which you can put your own twist.  If you're going to do this regularly, you'll need some better glasses than mine, I'm on the lookout for something far prettier, a little like this...

Pierre Koffman's Pistachio Souffle [Thermomix]

Pistachio soufflé with hibiscus flower ice-cream
We all know I love a soufflé, but now I have a thermomix I'm going through my recipes seeing how I can adapt them accordingly.  This Pierre Koffman soufflé was an absolute doodle in the thermo, the creme patisserie is now so simple to do, that soufflés are now a very real option for every day eating (though perhaps not to be recommended!).  It also means that it's a very simple and viable option for a dinner party - the creme patisserie has to be made in advance anyway, but whilst your thermo gets on with that, you can be prepping the rest of your meal!  Watch this space, soufflés are going to be flooding out of my kitchen...

Hibiscus Flower Ice-Cream [Thermomix]

Having made the lavender ice-cream so easily, I thought I should see what else I could do with my thermomix!  This time hibiscus flower ice-cream.

Lavender Ice Cream [Thermomix]

Lavender Ice-Cream
I found a lavender ice-cream recipe on the Telegraph website, and thought it would be a good one to adapt for the thermomix.

Blood Orange Sorbet

I'm a little bit obsessed with blood oranges at the moment, and served this with a chocolate tart.  It's based on a recipe by Galton Blackiston.

Tribute Dish: Tony Fleming's Duck Egg with Truffled Soldiers

This dish is based on one create by Tony Fleming at Axis.  Lovely dish, packed full of flavour!  In an ideal world you'd have a truffle around which you can finely shave over the finished product, but here you can achieve a pretty good effect with more accessible truffle products :0)  Now the point of a tribute dish is to try to achieve a similar effect using normal home tools - we're not going to make our own stock - it's not to do a perfect dish - it's supposed to be fun! Don't get too hung-up on the finesse of the thing, cook it - eat it!

Tribute Dish: Ben Spalding's Slow Cooked Duck Egg

I think we all know that I love Roganic, I certainly seem to talk about it enough :0)  One of my favourite dishes is the sous-vide duck egg, which Ben has served us in a couple of different ways.  Recently I was determined to make proper use of my sous-vide machine, which can often languish in the cupboard, unloved and unused.

Lemon Meringue Tart

The quest for a suitable pudding for Sunday lunch is a long and arduous one - with four children to please, let alone the Hubby - I'm never going to please everyone all of the time.  But we seem to have discovered a new favourite: lemon meringue pie!  A couple of weeks ago I bought one, and frankly it was pretty meagre and insipid.  I didn't want them to think this was actually lemon meringue pie, and I remembered that there had been a tart in the Great British Bake-Off book.  Not being a massive pudding fan, I knew a tart would work for the grownups too!  The result? A zingy, luscious curd, a crisp base, a dense high tower of soft meringue...

Bara Brith

If I'm baking, this is the recipe I must make the most often.  Bara Brith is a Welsh speckled bread made with tea soaked fruits.  It's an absolute doddle to make, and can sit perfectly happily in an airtight container for several days.  I always have so many people in my house, that I usually double up the batch and make two loaves at the same time.  I use the recipe from The Great British Book of Baking, just because it's always near the top of my book pile, and never makes it back onto the shelf!

Rachel Allen's 30 Day Muffins

Yes, more muffins.  Actually this time because I have a shocking cold, and I can't sleep.  Seemed as though it might be fun to make breakfast muffins for everyone to have in the morning!  Adapted from Rachel Allen's 30 day muffin mixture, the theory is that you can leave the mixture in the fridge for 30 days until you next want to make muffins... Does it work? Absolutely!

Breakfast Tart

I've been away all week, and there's so little left in my fridge.  I was trying to work out what to make everyone and was flicking through my copy of Breakfasts, when I came across this recipe.  What could be nicer than pastry, bacon and eggs on a Sunday morning?

Calorific Soups for Cancer Patients : Lemon Sole Soup

My father-in-law is suffering from oesophageal cancer, and whilst he's undergoing treatment, he finds it very difficult to maintain his calorific intake.  Not only does oesophageal cancer affect the oesophagus (the muscular tube that moves food from the mouth to the stomachmaking it difficult to swallow), but the cancer drugs affect his taste-buds, his appetite and fills him with nausea!

Dan Lepard's Wholemeal Soda Bread

I'm a massive sourdough girl - I feed my sourdough starter every day and have been known to take it with me if it's looking a little unwell - it really is like having a (fifth) child!

Now some people appreciate the complexity of my sourdough, on twitter there are a core few who I'll talk particulars with (the Breadmakers) - but almost universally the bread people ask me about is sodabread.  Yes.  Irish sodabread.

Toffee Fudge Muffins

Okay, forget that New Year's promise of dieting for a moment, and have a toffee fudge muffin on me :0)  The little fudge chunks at the bottom of the muffins turn that bottom bit into a pseudo treacle sponge - delicious!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Bloomin' cheek... Pointed the toffee muffins out to the Hubby, who remarked rather pointedly that he only eats lemon poppy seed muffins.  Then he popped off for a quick run... Well.  The 10yo and I weren't going to stand for that, so we found a recipe, and made some while he was out!!!

Truffled Camembert with Crudités...

Another quick and yummy supper to share - crudités with a baked truffled camembert! Amazing what I rediscover unused in my fridge after Christmas!  Bake the camembert in the oven, then shave a few slices of white truffle over the cheese, and drizzle with some good olive oil - absolutely scummy!