Category Archives: Recipe

Recipe: Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

One of my favourite (and incredibly easy) things to make is an indulgent chocolate tart. Made with dark chocolate it is a delicious and pretty adult dessert. If dark chocolate isn’t your thing, you can swap it out for milk chocolate and enjoy a more family friendly pudding. I’ve jazzed up my usual chocolate tart for Easter and, well it was so popular that is disappeared within the hour!

Easter is undoubtedly a time for chocolate. If you can’t indulge your sweet tooth now, then when can you? This chocolate tart is really very simple to make, especially if you cheat and buy ready made pastry, and would be fun for kids to join in with too.

Recipe: Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

Ingredients:
For the pastry –
4oz plain flour
2oz butter, cubed
A pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons of cold water
-or- a packet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

For the filling –
150g single cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
150g good quality dark chocolate, or milk chocolate if you prefer

2 bags of mini eggs to decorate, 3 if you’re a nibbler!

Recipe: Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

Method:
Tip the flour, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Use a knife and stir in just enough cold water to bind the dough together. Do this gradually as you don’t want your pastry to be too wet. Once you’ve made the dough, cover the bowl and chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so before rolling out.

Or if you’re using shop bought, ready rolled pastry, take it out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to use it.

Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5 or 190°

Take your pastry and roll it out to the thickness of a pound coin. You can either roll it out on a floured surface, or between two pieces of baking parchment. I find the baking parchment method quicker and a lot less messy.

Grease a 20cm tart tin and carefully put the pastry in the tin, pressing it against the sides. Let the pastry hang over the sides of the tin, you can trim it later. Prick the base all over with a fork. Top the pastry with a sheet of baking parchment and cover with baking beans, bake in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the baking beans and parchment and pop back in the oven for another 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, carefully with a sharp knife trim the pastry so it is flush with the top of the tin.

While your pastry is cooling, warm up your cream and sugar in a saucepan. Finely chop the chocolate and once the cream is simmering, turn off the heat and add the chocolate to the pan. Leave for a minute and stir until the mixture is smooth, like really thick hot chocolate.

Carefully fill the tart case with the melted chocolate mix, level it off and make an artistic swirl or ripple on the top if you want. Decorate with your mini eggs however you want. Put your tart in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, or overnight if you wish.

This chocolate tart is very, very rich, so a little goes a long way. It also makes an excellent pudding for Easter!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might like these mini egg cookies or these peppermint crunch slices!

Recipe: Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

Vegetarian Recipe: Aubergine Bruschetta

AD/Complimentary ingredients. Aubergine is probably one of my favourite vegetables. Admittedly it took me a while to warm to it, if it’s not cooked properly it can be pretty disgusting. These days I am probably cooking with aubergine once a week. My recipe for imam bayildi is a firm family favourite, as well as the delicious dip, ikra, but I’ve also added Aubergine Parmigiana to my repertoire.

If I’m cooking a casual lunch for friends, I like to make a few simple things to go with a big salad. One of my favourite things to make are these tasty aubergine bruschetta. They’re packed full of vegetables, they’re pretty healthy and they always go down a storm.

Vegetarian Recipe: Aubergine Bruschetta

This week I ordered a Local Box from Creamline Diaries. With the Creamline Best of Local Box scheme, you can get brilliant locally produced food from independent producers delivered to your door. The meat is from my local butchers, the bread is from a fantastic local baker and fresh fish from the fishmongers. The fruit and veg are fresh from the market each day and you can even stock up your store cupboard. 

Vegetarian Recipe: Aubergine Bruschetta

My Creamline box was brilliant and contained pretty much everything I needed to make this delicious aubergine bruschetta. It’s just the thing if you want to shop local, but don’t really have the time to visit all your local shops, or if you just can’t carry all your shopping home. 

Aubergine Bruschetta

Ingredients:

1 large aubergine
1 medium onion, finely diced (I prefer red, but a white onion works too)
2 cloves of garlic
1 pepper, finely diced. It’s traditional to use green, but I used red for colour
Olive oil
12 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
Big handful of chopped parsley
Tomato purée, if you think it needs it
1 teaspoon of sugar
Salt & pepper
Ciabatta bread
A ball of mozzarella cheese.

Method:

I find it best to chop all the veg before I start cooking, so finely dice your onion and pepper, quarter your cherry tomatoes and put to one side while you prep the aubergine. Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and finely dice one half. With the other half, slice lengthways it in thick, 1cm slices.

Add a generous glug of olive oil to a deep sided frying pan, add the onions, pepper and aubergine and begin to soften the veg. This should take around half an hour on a low heat, stir occasionally. Add a splash of water to help the veg soften. After you’ve been cooking this for around 15 mins, add your tomatoes, garlic and a generous amount of salt and pepper. It’s cooked when all the veg are soft and the aubergine is melty and isn’t woolly. Once cooked, throw in a handful of chopped parsley and stir.

Vegetarian Recipe: Aubergine Bruschetta

As ever, taste the aubergine and add more seasoning if you think it needs it. I sometimes add a little bit of chilli sauce to add a bit of spice, but that’s up to you.

Meanwhile, take your aubergine slices and put them on a baking tray, add a very generous amount of olive oil and cook in a 200c oven, loosely covered in foil until they are soft and floppy, this will take about half an hour, turn them over about half way through.

To assemble your aubergine bruschetta, toast or griddle thick slices of ciabatta brushed with olive oil, top with your aubergine and veg mix, then artfully decorate with your slices of aubergine, some torn mozzarella and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. You can eat this hot or cold, though I like them still warm, but not piping hot.

For more information about Creamline Dairies, visit their website.

Vegetarian Recipe: Aubergine Bruschetta

Note, we were sent this box in exchange for a blog post mentioning the box scheme. 

Cooking with Kids: Quick Herby Flatbreads

When school finished on Friday, my son was sent home with a pack of work to keep him busy while the schools are closed. The pack was full of maths and English worksheets, instructions for projects and lots of serious academic stuff. He’s in Year 4 and the emphasis right now is getting them up to speed for a big times tables test. In amongst the serious stuff was a copy of the curriculum for the rest of the year, tucked away in a dark corner were the words “bread making” so I’ve decided to break up the hardcore academic stuff with a series of bread making sessions, starting with these herby flatbreads.

I think that learning to bake bread is a pretty essential life skill. Where I live I’ve been struggling to find bread in the shops, so we’ve been mostly going without. I reckon being able to knock up some simple bread at home will tide us over. Bread making isn’t just about feeding ourselves, you can learn other lessons too, like maths (measuring out) and science (how yeast makes bread rise, etc).

Cooking with Kids: Quick Herby Flatbreads

Lunchtime was nearly upon us, so bellies rumbling we put together these really simple herby flatbreads. You can make them without the dried herbs if you prefer, but they were so much nicer with them. We ate them with hummus and carrot sticks, but they’d be brilliant with a curry or stew. They’re more snappable than bendy, almost like an Armenian lavash bread than a tortilla. Delicious.

Cooking with Kids: Quick Herby Flatbreads

Quick Herby Flatbreads

Ingredients
200g plain flour
¼ teaspoon of salt
100ml warm water
2 tablespoons of oil, I used vegetable, but olive or sunflower would work too, plus extra for cooking
1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
Ground pepper

Method
Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, make a well in the middle and trickle in the warm water, mixing as you go. We used a metal knife to mix with, but if you don’t mind getting messy, you can use your (very clean) hands.

Once the flour, salt and water are all mixed together, add the oil, the dried herbs and some black pepper and knead the dough with your hands. If the dough is too sticky, add a some more flour, if it is too dry add a drop more water.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for five minutes. Try stretching the doings and folding it back on itself, my son loved punching the dough. You knead the dough to develop the gluten in it, this is what makes the bread springy and nice to eat.

Cooking with Kids: Quick Herby Flatbreads

Divide the dough into six balls, and on a clean, floured surface roll out each ball of dough using a rolling pin. Try and roll them into circles, but don’t worry if they aren’t perfect. They need to be as thin as you can make them; that way they will cook all the way through and be crispy and delicious.

Heat a frying pan, if you have a pastry brush, brush some oil over the pan; if not, dribble a tiny bit of oil in the pan and swirl it around. Once your pan has heated up a little, put your first herby flatbread in the pan. Cook each flatbread for about two minutes on each side, flip it over with a spatula. Ben said it looked like a bit like a pancake.

Cooking with Kids: Quick Herby Flatbreads

Once each side was cooked, we gobbled them up with some hummus. Ben said they tasted like the kind of bread we had with curry. If you wanted, you could try making your own butter to go with your herby flatbreads, it’s easy and lots of fun too!

These quick herby flatbreads are really easy to make with children. They’re quick, tasty and are a good introduction to bread making. We have plans for soda bread, focaccia, a crusty loaf and maybe some brioche. He will be a bread making genius by the time he goes back to school!

Cooking with Kids: Quick Herby Flatbreads

Recipe: Courgette Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Courgettes are one of my favourite vegetables. They might not be very exciting, but they’re great with pasta and vegetable bakes and as I discovered this week, they’re very good in cakes too. Vegetable cakes are nothing new, but this was the first time I’ve baked a courgette cake and it won’t be the last. My courgette cake was light, moist and delicious; delicately spiced and devoured almost immediately by my greedy family.

Recipes: Courgette Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Despite what you may think, the cake really doesn’t taste like it’s packed with courgettes, it just tastes like good cake. With the frosting it looks really pretty too, and for my money is a great way to sneak a nutrient rich vegetable into an unsuspecting child.

Courgette Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Ingredients
150ml vegetable oil
200g soft brown sugar
3 medium eggs
1 lemon, finely grated and zested
200g coarsely grated courgette
1 heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon
250g self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the frosting
50g unsalted butter, softened
85g icing sugar, sifted
pinch ground cinnamon
180g soft cheese

Recipes: Courgette Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Method
Preheat oven to 180°c or gas mark 4. Grease and line a large loaf tin, I use loaf tin liners which are so much easier. In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil, soft brown sugar, and eggs until smooth. I used my hand mixer, but a wooden spoon works just as well.

Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and the grated courgette. Tip in the sifted flour and bicarbonate of soda and fold in gently until it’s all mixed together well. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for around one hour until risen and golden. If you’re not sure, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and if it comes out clean, then it’s cooked.

Leave the cake to cool fully on a wire rack for a few hours. The cake has to be fully cool before you pile the frosting on top, or it’ll melt.

With an electric whisk beat together the unsalted butter, cinnamon and icing sugar until it comes together and is smooth. This will take a little while, so persist with it. It will look unpromising and like breadcrumbs for a while. Once it is smooth, add the cream cheese and beat quickly until it’s soft and smooth. Do not over-beat the frosting, or the cream cheese may split and become runny. Spread over the top of the cake with a palette knife or an offset spatula, it might be mice to sprinkle chopped nuts over the top, or more lemon zest if you like. I just made some decorative ripples, then popped the cake in the fridge for the frosting to firm up.

The courgette cake without frosting would happily keep in a tin for a few days, with the frosting it’ll need to be kept in the fridge, or the cream cheese frosting might go off.

Recipes: Courgette Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

If you love carrot cake, or chocolate beetroot cake, try this easy and delicious courgette cake recipe, you’d never know what was in it!

Recipes: Courgette Cake with Cinnamon Frostinge

Frugal Food: Cheesy Leek Gratin

The start of the year is always the longest, leanest time for me. There have been many evenings lately that I have peered into the fridge and wondered what I could cobble together for tea.

A few days ago I picked up some leeks from the greengrocers for not many pence, and being leek fans, I decided to throw together a lovely, comforting cheese leek gratin. It’s remarkably simple and fairly frugal vegetable dish and even my fussy about veg 9 year old asked for seconds!

Frugal Food: Cheesy Leek Gratin

Cheesy Leek Gratin

Sliced leeks, I used six, but you can use more if you want
A little butter for frying
50g butter or margarine
50g plain flour, or sauce flour if you have it
1 pint of milk (maybe a little more, maybe a little less)
100g mature cheddar cheese
30g Parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper and dried chilli flakes
Breadcrumbs

Method
Slice your leeks and fry gently in a bit of butter until they are soft.

Whilst your leeks are softening, melt the butter in a saucepan, once melted, tip in the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Mix until it’s a paste and then cook the flour out for a minute. Add a splash of milk and stir until it turns into a paste again. Keep adding milk in splashes and mixing until it starts to turn into a silky sauce. The amount of milk will vary, but I’d say you need at least a pint of milk. If it looks lumpy and unpromising, just use a whisk until it turns into a lovely smooth sauce.

Grate your cheese and add it to your sauce. Set aside about 30g of the cheese to top your bake with. Stir, stir, stir your sauce and season with salt and pepper. I also like to add ground chilli flakes for a bit of a gentle kick, but you can leave that out if you prefer. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning; if it’s not cheesy enough for you, now is a good time to add more cheese. Now is also a good time to pre-heat your oven to 220°.

Once your leeks are soft and your sauce is cheesy and smooth, tip them both into an ovenproof dish and mix together. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon and sprinkle over your reserved cheese. I usually top bakes and gratins with breadcrumbs. It gives a lovely texture and makes it look extra tasty. If I can be bothered I something whizz up some stale bread in the food processor and use that, but I have a tub of ready made breadcrumbs in the cupboard because sometimes life it too short to make your own. I sprinkle whatever I have over the top, use as much or as little as you want.

Frugal Food: Cheesy Leek Gratin

Put your cheesy leek gratin in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the top is brown and the sauce is bubbling beneath. I’ve made this several times now and it’s a regular veg dish as part of a winter roast. It’s great with chicken or sausages, or even on its own with a crusty piece of bread.

If you enjoyed this, you might like my recipe for slow cooker vegetable stew.

Frugal Food: Cheesy Leek Gratin

Recipe: Cranberry and Pomegranate Jelly

Puddings at Christmas time can be a bit on the heavy side. All that booze soaked fruit and extra thick cream can get a bit much, plus if you’re feeding the whole family, Christmas pudding is not a universally popular choice. What is always, always popular is jelly. Last Christmas I made a mulled apple cider jelly, but this year I’ve decided to make a jelly that everyone family can enjoy – cranberry and pomegranate jelly!

The really good thing about this jelly is that it’s one my whole family can enjoy together – it’s vegetarian which means we can all tuck in. It’s made with Dr Oetker Vege Gel which is incredibly easy to use and it sets quite quickly too.

Recipe: Cranberry and Pomegranate Jelly

The jelly is made with cranberry juice and a tub of pomegranate seeds. You can leave the seeds out if you prefer, but I set the jelly in a Christmas tree mould and the seeds made it look really festive, like it is full of little glittery red baubles.

Cranberry and Pomegranate Jelly

Ingredients:

1 pint of cranberry juice
80g tub of pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons of sugar
A sachet of Dr Oetker Vege Gel

How to make Cranberry and Pomegranate Jelly:

Take about 200mls of the cranberry juice and stir the Vege Gel into it, make sure all the powder dissolves.

Add the sugar and bring the remainder of the cranberry juice to the boil, once it’s boiling, add your 200mls of juice and Vege Gel into the pan and stir, stir, stir. Tip your tub of pomegranate seeds into the juice mixture and give it a quick stir, then it’s ready for the mould.

Make sure you have your mould or moulds ready for your jelly as it will start to set really quite quickly. I used a Christmas tree shaped mould, but you could use some pretty glass dishes if you prefer.

Pour your jelly carefully into your serving dishes and put them in the fridge until it’s set properly. This took about two hours, but if you can it is probably worth leaving the jelly overnight in the fridge.

I turned my jelly mould out onto a serving plate, be careful when you do this so not to break the jelly. Serve with good vanilla ice cream or a blob of whipped cream.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try –

Recipe: Cranberry and Pomegranate Jelly

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

For his birthday every year I bake my son a birthday cake. Each year he presents me with a set of grand plans for the cake, and each year I tone down his idea a little to something I can manage with my limited skills. Over the years I’ve learned how to bake pretty darn good cakes, but decorating them is where I fall down. I don’t like to disappoint, so when he asked for a Pokemon birthday cake, then rattled off an extensive list of characters I decided it would be best to make a simple Pokeball design with a colourful rainbow sponge inside.

It’s actually very simple and you don’t need loads of cake decorating skills to do it. If you can roll out icing and cut shapes out with a knife, you’ve got all the skills you need.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

The finish of my cake was not perfect, but I had already spent a lot of time faffing about with the rainbow layers, and no one cared really. He was thrilled with his birthday cake, which is all that matters really.

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

You will need:

5 layers of sponge cake, rainbow coloured if you like
Vanilla buttercream, I used 2 tubs of Betty Crocker
1 packet of marzipan
2 packets of white ready to roll royal icing
Red ready to roll royal icing
Black ready to roll royal icing
Icing sugar
Water
A cake board

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

To begin with I baked the rainbow layers. I made up a double batch of my victoria sponge recipe and using a set of scales divided it into equal portions. I then mixed through a few drops of the colouring from this set of 8 food paste colours. When you do this remember that the colour darkens in the oven, so mix it a shade or two lighter than you’d like. Once baked, leave them until they’re completely cool before assembling the cake.

To stack the cake, using a palette knife put a dab of the buttercream in the centre of the cake board. If you’re using rainbow cake, decide which order your rainbow layers will go and place the bottom layer on top of the blob of buttercream. This will help to anchor your cake in place and stop it sliding about.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Spread a layer of buttercream on top of your first layer and top it with your next cake, cover that with buttercream and continue until all the layers are stacked.

Now it’s time to apply the crumb coat, which just means cover the whole of the cake in a thin layer of buttercream. This is so the cake crumbs stay where they should be and it will also help stick the marzipan to the cake. Once you’ve done this, put the cake to one side, somewhere cool.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now it’s time to roll the marzipan out. I used icing sugar to stop it sticking to my work surface and rolling pin. Roll it out as thin as you please. My marzipan was pretty thin, but not so thin it could easily tear; perhaps about the thickness of a pound coin. You’ll need to roll out quite a big piece of marzipan to cover the cake in one go, and it might be worth measuring how much area you need to cover with a piece of string.

Lift the marzipan with the rolling pin and drape it over the cake. Use your hands to smooth it down and all over the cake. You may need to trim some of the folds back so the finish is smoother. It doesn’t matter how this layer looks because it will be covered with the royal icing, but it does need to be pretty smooth and even all over. Take your time doing this.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now for the hardest bit. Take your white royal icing and put some to one side for later. Then roll out the rest of the icing, again using icing sugar to stop it sticking to the work top. When you’ve rolled out a piece as big as you need, brush the marzipan all over with water and carefully lift the icing onto the cake. Take as long as you need to gently smooth the icing over the cake. I find the warmth of my hands helps to smooth it out. This layer needs to be super smooth, so take your time to get it right.

After that you probably need to sit down with a cup of tea for a bit, so do that before you do the next bit.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now it the time to turn your plain white cake into a Pokeball. Just like before, roll out the red royal icing. Take one of your cake tins and use it to trace a semi circle the size of the cake. I then used a shot glass (don’t judge me) to cut out a small semi circle on the straight edge of the icing. Brush half of the top of your cake with a little bit of water, not too much as your colours may start to run and gently press on the red semi circle of icing.

Roll out the black icing and cut out a black circle the size of a shot glass. Using a knife cut out a circle so you have a black ring. Then cut out a long strip of the black icing the diameter of the cake. Have a look at the picture below and using a dab of water fix the icing where it should be.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Finally cut out a circle of white royal icing to sit in the black ring. Stick it in place with a dab of water and your Pokeball birthday cake is done.

It’s a really straightforward design and frankly if I can do it, I’m sure you can too!

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday CakePokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

If you enjoyed this you might also like to try and make these birthday cakes –

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Last year I treated myself to a bundt tin and I’ve been baking the prettiest cakes in the world in it ever since. My current favourite bake is a Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt and it’s one I take along as an offering whenever a cake is required. It’s really easy, looks as pretty as a picture and it tastes fantastic. This cake also gives people the impression I’m a much better baker than I really am, it’s just a foolproof recipe and a fancy tin.

Lemon drizzle is an absolute classic and one which has been a staple of mine for a few years now. Everyone loves a lemon drizzle, but this version with blueberries really takes it up a notch.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Ingredients

250g caster sugar
250g softened butter
4 eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
250g fresh blueberries

For the icing –

150g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of half of the lemon

How to make your Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt:

Pre-heat the oven to 190° and liberally grease your bundt tin with melted butter.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and juice and give them a really good mix. Add the fresh blueberries and stir in gently.

Pour the mixture into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Once baked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and make up the drizzle icing. Do not even attempt to drizzle the icing on until the cake is fully cooled.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest. I like a thicker drizzle, so add the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.

Prick your cake all over with a skewer and carefully spoon your icing over, try to get some of it down the little holes in your cake. Leave it in a cool place for the icing to set a little, then serve with a pot of tea.

It’s as light as a feather and an absolutely fabulous spring bake. If you don’t have a bunt tin, you can always bake it in a regular cake tin, just adjust the cooking time as you see fit.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try this lemon and ginger drizzle cake.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with blackberry sauce

Last year Brockmans Gin asked me to come up with a recipe using gin. Now I’m the kind of girl who will happily slosh a glug of gin into almost any recipe which demands a bit of white wine, so this was an assignment I was very happy to try. After some serious consideration, I decided that a whole Camembert baked with gin, garlic and herbs, served with crusty bread and a fruity sauce which matched the gin would be the way to go, and boy was I right!

The recipe is really simple, and if you don’t fancy making the sauce, then maybe try a dollop or two of cranberry sauce instead.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Ingredients:

1 whole Camembert in a wooden box
Sprig of thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ tablespoon of Gin, I used Brockmans
Pepper, freshly ground
For the sauce
1 tablespoon of water
100g fresh blackberries
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
Pepper, freshly ground

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Unwrap your Camembert and put back in the wooden box. Carefully cut a circle out of the top of the cheese rind and scatter a crushed clove of garlic, a good amount of thyme leaves and a grind or two of black pepper on top of the cheese. Carefully add your gin and replace the lid. Loosely cover the Camembert in foil and put in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s gone wobbly in the middle.

While your Camembert is baking, put 100g of fresh juicy blackberries in a saucepan. Add the water and sugar and cook on a low heat, stirring regularly until the blackberries have softened and are starting to collapse. At this point, add the balsamic vinegar and the black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning or sugar if you need to depending on how sweet your blackberries are. Once cooked, pour into a small dish and leave to cool a little.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Once your Camembert is cooked, carefully take it out of the oven and place the cheese in its wooden box on a platter; garnish with a couple of sprigs of thyme and serve with your warm blackberry sauce and crusty bread. A gin and tonic on the side is entirely optional!

A whole baked Camembert makes for a lovely lunch to share with friends. This gin soaked version is a real treat for a gin lover. Don’t skimp on the crusty bread, it is just what this melty dish of cheese and fruity sauce needs.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this Baked Russet Squire Crusty Bread Bowl I made.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Every year in March and April, the hedgerows and lanes hereabouts are abundant with wild garlic. When the wind blows in the right direction, we get a gentle whiff of garlic and off I go with a paper bag to collect a few leaves to cook with. One of my favourite ways to use it is in wild garlic and parmesan scones, which go really well with soup, or as a savoury snack with some good butter.

Of course when you’re foraging it pays to know a little of what you’re doing. Wild garlic can look pretty similar to other plants, some of which may be poisonous, but you can generally tell what is and isn’t wild garlic by the smell, which is, well, garlicky.

When you go foraging it’s important not to pick too much of anything. Take just what you need and save the rest for the wildlife or other foragers. If you’re foraging for wild garlic, you don’t need much anyway. It’s pretty pungent and a few leaves go quite a long way. I tend to try to pick the younger leaves in spots where I think (hope) dogs haven’t been. I always wash my wild garlic leaves before I use them anyway. You can find out more about wild garlic here.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

These wild garlic and parmesan scones are very delicious. They’re everything you want from a savory scone. I sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the top which makes them extra delicious. This recipe makes about 8 big scones, though you could cut them smaller if you prefer.

Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Ingredients:

125g butter
450g self-raising flour
50g finely grated parmesan cheese
5 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Big pinch of salt
Milk to mix, I used about 1/3 pint
Rock salt

How to make Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones:

Pre-heat your oven to 190° and put a sheet of baking parchment on a large baking tray.

In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the parmesan, wild garlic, bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt and toss together. Little by little add the milk, mixing with your hands until it makes a soft dough.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and pat or roll it until it’s 1.5-2cm thick. I usually shape the dough and pat it down with my hands because it gives a slightly more rustic finish which I like. Cut the dough into rounds, don’t twist the cutter because this can prevent the scone from rising.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Put the cut scones on the baking tray, brush them with milk and if you like sprinkle a pinch of rock salt on the top of each one. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they’re nice a brown and hollow when you tap them underneath.

Serve hot from the oven with lashings of butter, or with soup or a ploughman’s lunch.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these blueberry and buttermilk scones.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones