Easy Hors D’Oeuvre

These hors d’oeuvre were an original recipe of Auntie Ginny’s. They have been passed down from one Mrs Suter, to another and then to me! And they are great, so simple to make and always impressive looking! Minimum effort required with maximum effects! It’s also a little more classy than a bowl of Pringles!

Hor 'devours

Serves 4

Mini Wrap bites

Ingredients

4 plain tortilla wraps

selection of fillings – Boursin, smoked salmon and cream cheese, houmous

Method

  1. Open packet of tortillas and spread on your filling of choice to the edges.
  2. Roll up the wrap into one long sausage shape.
  3. Wrap it in foil and place in the fridge until required.
  4. 30 minutes before serving place it in the freezer (this makes it easier to cut)
  5. Remove from the freezer and cut into 2-3 cm pieces.

Smoked Mackerel Blinis

Ingredients

1 Packet of Blinis

Smoked Mackerel Pate

Chives- chopped finely

Method

  1. Follow the instructions on how to cook the blinis. Allow to cool for 10 minutes
  2. Spread on smoked mackerel pate
  3. Sprinkle a few chives on each blinis

These hors d’oeuvres are so simple and there are so many different toppings and fillings you could use. Give it a go, you will definitely impress your guests!

Pecan Pie

I seriously love pecans, so I wanted to make a dessert with them in it. I got this recipe from the good old BBC Food website. It looks nice and simple (with not too many ingredients)

Pecan Pie

Serves 6

Ingredients

110g/4oz unsalted butter

110g/4oz golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

225g/8oz brown sugar

3 free range eggs, beaten

1 x 245g/8 1/2 oz shop-brought shortcrust pastry case

285g/10oz pecan nuts, halved

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.
  2. Place the butter, golden syrup, vanilla extract and sugar into a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.
  3. When the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 5-10 mins
  4. Add the beaten egg to the mixture and stir well.
  5. Set aside a small handful of the pecan nuts. Arrange the remaining pecan halves evenly in the pastry case and carefully pour over the syrup mixture.
  6. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes – the pie will be golden-brown, but the filling should still be slightly soft.
  7. Leave the pie to cool on a wire tray. As the pie begins to set, decorate the top with the reserved pecan halves. Serve in slices.

Wow! This is a real winner. Everybody loved it. This is probably the most popular dessert I have ever made. It wasn’t difficult either. I actually didn’t use a shop bought case, but I did use shop bought pastry and cooked it myself. I greased a loose bottom flan tin and placed rolled pastry inside. I then screwed up some grease proof paper and put that onto it, with baking beans inside.

I then blind baked the pastry for 15 mins gas mark 6. Took it out of the oven and cut off the excess pastry. Don’t worry about arranging the pecans inside too much, as they all float about! I cooked the pie for 50 mins and it was perfect. Don’t worry if it sinks a bit in the middle, just put more pecans on top! No one will notice. I served with ice cream and it was seriously good.

Double Lemon Drizzle Cake

It’s not often that I will attempt to make a cake, but I have a new oven! So in celebration I have decided to make this cake which I think looks kind of Eastery from Delia’s cakes. I will now be cooking on the full range of temperatures available to me! Of course this does mean I can no longer blame the oven for burning/under cooking anything. Wish me luck as I venture into cooking above 150c!

Double lemon drizzle cake

Ingredients

175g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

175g spreadable butter

175g golden caster sugar

3 large eggs

Grated zest of 3 large lemons

Juice of 1 large lemon

40g poppy seeds

 

For the syrup:

Juice of 3 large lemons

Grated zest of 1 large lemon

50g golden icing sugar

100g golden granulated sugar

 

To finish:

1 rounded tablespoon golden granulated sugar, mixed with 1 rounded teaspoon poppy seeds

A 20cm loose-based cake tin, greased and base lined. Pre-heat oven to 170c, gas mark 3.

 

Method

  1. Start off by sifting the flour and baking powder into a roomy mixing bowl, holding the sieve high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down.
  2. Add the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice and finally the poppy seeds.
  3. Use an electric hand whisk, mix to a smooth creamy consistency for about 1 minute.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the tin, levelling with the back of a spoon, and bake near the centre of the oven for 40 minutes or until centre feels springy.
  5. When the cake is ready remove the tin from the oven and stand on a board, then straight away mix together the syrup ingredients.
  6. Next stab the cake all over with a skewer and spoon the syrup evenly over the hot cake.
  7. Finally sprinkle with the sugar and poppy seed mixture. After that the cake needs to cool in its tin before it can be removed.

This turned out really well. I didn’t have a 20 cm round cake tin so I made it in a loaf tin which was fine. I didn’t line it either, just ran a knife round the sides before I turned it out. It tastes delicious! Very lemony and moist. If I made it again I probably wouldn’t put the extra sugar on the top to finish it as it just doesn’t need it. Apart from that I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

Upside-Down Pear Cake

Upside-down pear cake

Ingredients

200g butter, softened

75g light brown soft sugar

6 tbsp Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur

4 Conference pears, peeled halved and cored

175g golden caster sugar

200g self-raising flour

3 medium eggs, beaten

4 tbsp milk

custard, to serve

Method

1. Heat the oven to 170c, gas mark 3. Mash together 50g of the butter and the brown sugar then mix in 4 tbsp of the Chambord. Spread into the base of a deep, 23cm non-stick cake tin and place on a baking tray. Press the pears, cut-side down, into the mixture.

2. Using an electric whisk, beat together the golden caster sugar, remaining butter, flour, eggs and milk until well blended.

3. Spread over the pears and bake for 45-50 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out. Drizzle over the remaining 2 tbsp Chambord, then slice and serve warm with custard.

 

This smells delicious!! And tastes amazing!! I think it probably could have done with being cooked for a little longer. This would have prevented the top of it running off the plate! It’s always good to entertain the guests whilst serving dessert! It did give me flash backs to the time I attempted Lemon Tart! It did feel firm when I took it out the oven, but I would cook it for another 10 minutes next time. It is quite hard to tell whether the top is cooked as it is on the bottom (if that makes sense). Probably sticking a skewer down the middle to see if it comes out clean would have been a better way of telling if it was cooked. I didn’t bother with the Chambord as I’m not a massive fan of liqueurs. My pears were quite hard so make sure you get them in advance to let them have a chance to ripen.

Also to avoid any ‘Come Dine with Me’ disasters I cooked it the day before. Don’t do this as brown is not a particularly attractive colour for fruit. Overall a very nice pud. I would definitely cook again.

Source: Waitrose Recipe Card

Tangy Lemon Tart

I love lemon tart! It’s one of my favourite desserts because it reminds me of our wedding day. I picked up this recipe card while I was a Waitrose. Heston says you need a digital probe for the pud. Well I don’t have one of those so we will see how it goes!

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

375g Frozen all butter shortcrust pastry thawed

4 Unwaxed lemons (juice of 4, finely grated zest of 3)

170g Unsalted butter, cubed

220g Unrefined, golden caster sugar

5 Medium free ranged eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, beaten

Baking beans

Method

  1. Roll the pastry between 2 sheets of clingfilm to a thickness of 2mm. It should be 10cm wider than the tart case. Preheat the oven to 180c/ gas mark 4. Peel off the clingfilm, roll the pastry around a rolling pin, lift it over a 23cm tart case and unroll it so the edges hang over the sides. Press the pastry to fit the tin leaving the edges overhanging to trim after baking (this will ensure the tart case is unaffected by the pastry shrinking). Prick with a fork and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins.
  2. Take a sheet of parchment larger than the tart tin, scrunch it up and lay over the pastry (this will make it easier to fit into the edges of the tart). Place the baking beans on top and bake for 20 mins.
  3. Remove the parchment and beans and return the tart to the oven for 10 mins until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before running a knife around the tin edge to remove the excess pastry. Carefully lift the tart case out of the tin and place on a serving plate.
  4. While the case is cooling, zest 3 lemons and reserve, then roll all 4 lemons on a work surface with the palm of your hand (to release more juice). Juice them and measure out 150ml.
  5. Put the butter and sugar into a pan with the juice, zest and eggs and place over a medium heat. Stir continuously for 10-15 mins (do not allow to simmer) until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir until it begins to simmer;simmer for 5 seconds only, then remove from the heat. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover with clingfilm to avoid a skin forming, and place the bowl in the fridge to cool for 30 mins.
  6. When cool, pour the lemon filling into the centre of the tart allowing the lemon curd to flow evenly to the edges. Place in the fridge for a least 1 hour or until set, before serving with creme fraiche and fresh raspberries.

Waitrose Recipe Collection: Heston Blumenthal

I wish I had a picture of how this turned out purely for comedy value! It was an almighty mess. It looked beautiful and I was so proud of it until… I cut into it (in front of all my guests!) and the inside of it ran all over the table!! I ended up just spooning it into bowls and laughing it off. Luckly I had some very lovely guests who ate it anyway. One of my guests even asked for more! Massive brownie points thanks Andy x

Maybe it just needed longer to set? Maybe negotiating buying a house whilst cooking it was a bad idea? Who knows? It certainly took a long time to make with a poor result :( Oh well I suppose it was my own fault for repeatedly saying, quote “I am sure people made lemon tarts before electric themometers were invented!” Sorry Heston #eatingmyownhat

Review: Kenwood Hand Mixer HM320

Kenwood Hand MixerI really can’t keep borrowing my Mum’s mixer every time I need to do a bit of mixing! So I have treated myself to a nice new one! Yes I’ve gone all posh and I’ve been on a little trip up to John Lewis. Got a little bit scared when I found myself standing next to a £500 mixer! Swiftly moved out of that section and spotted the one for me at the bargain price of £22.95. I’ve tried it out and it’s really rather good. It came with two sets of stainless steel beaters. One set for making dough (I’ll work up to using them!) and one set of the regular ones. Its got 3 speeds and can fold, mix and whisk. It is absolutely ideal for my needs and it packs away in a neat little box. A brilliant buy, does what it says on the box. It’s actually even cheaper on Amazon.

Spiced Poussin

A friend of mine held a dinner party recently and he served spiced Poussin. It was absolutely delicious! Turns out it’s also really easy to make. So I’ve tapped his brain for the recipe and here it is.

Spiced Poussin

Serves 1

Ingredients

Poussin

Olive oil

Pinch of Dried spice mix – I used one called ‘Condi Spaghettata’ which is a dried mix of chilli, peppers, parsley, garlic, dried tomatoes and salt.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190c/fan 170c/Gas 5.
  2. Remove Poussin from wrapping and cut the string that holds it together.
  3. Trim off any excess fat around the cavity. Then place in a roasting dish.
  4. Drizzle the Poussin with olive oil and rub in dried spice mix.
  5. Pin the legs together using two cocktail sticks.
  6. Place in the oven for 45 mins. Basing the Poussin after 20 mins. Cook until piping hot and juices run clear.

This is a fantastic dish. It is so easy to do and very impressive! I drizzled mine with some balsamic vinegar after it came out of the oven and that was really tasty.

It was also suggested to me that you could stuff the Poussin with roast vegetable cous cous before you pin the legs together and then just serve on a bed of rocket. Excellent idea which is still very easy. This is an excellent dinner party recipe as it can all be done in advance. I love it!

Jubilee Fruity Skewers

The second of the Jubilee parties we have been invited to is an afternoon tea party. Less meat, more cakes! So I have come up with my own idea of fruit skewers. Basically it’s fruit on a skewer in red, white and blue. There is definitely a lack of blue foods about, so black grapes had to step in and pretend.

Jubilee Fruity Skewers

Ingredients

Bunch of black grapes

Punnet of strawberries

Pineapple, cut into chunks

Skewers

Method

Assemble by piercing the fruit onto the skewers making sure they go on in the right order of -strawberry, pineapple then black grape. Ta dah! Job done

These went down a treat. Nice bit of finger food pudding. You really can’t go wrong with these!

Jubilee Savoury Coleslaw

Well we’ve very kindly been invited to 2 Jubilee parties! The first one we’re going to is a BBQ. Mostly probably it will be a wet one, so the boys will stand outside next to the BBQ and the girls will (sensibly) be staying inside. Rain or shine we will all need feeding, so I thought I’d brake up the protein intake by making a yummy coleslaw, Jubilee styley.

Jubille Savoury Coleslaw

Ingredients

half a red cabbage

3 grated carrots

1 white onion finely chopped or grated

squeeze of lemon

mayonnaise

salt and pepper

seeds- poppy, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower linseed

handful of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, coriander, mint, chives

Method

Just put all your chopped/grated veg in a bowl, add enough mayo to coat everything lightly then add your seasoning, lemon, herbs and mix. Add a tablespoon of spice mix like Gourmet Spice’s Fire pit blend for a bit of a warm kick.

Very pretty coleslaw! It certainly brightened up the buffet table. Very yummy as well. Think maybe next time I will just use half an onion, it was a bit eye watering for me! The seeds were a great idea in it and I also added some pine nuts too. I will definitely be using this recipe again, homemade coleslaw is so much more interesting.

 

Recipe from Hazel Paterson

http://www.domesticsluttery.com/2012/05/sluttishly-savoury-colourful-coleslaw.html

Ploughman’s Pie

Now I have attempted this recipe before, but it didn’t go quite to plan. I’m pretty sure Nigel Slater didn’t have to phone his Mum half way through making it to find out why the pastry dough wouldn’t stick together! I am going to try it again, because I won’t be beaten by it!

Ploughman's Pie

Ingredients

250g/9oz plain flour

125g/4oz butter, cut into small dice, plus a bit more for cooking the apples

2 free-range egg yolks, plus an extra egg for brushing the pastry

4 tbsp mature farmhouse cheese, grated, plus a little more for on top

6 medium-sized dessert apples

a pinch of cinnamon

3 cloves

a little milk for brushing the pastry

plain yoghurt, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6.
  2. To prepare the pastry, put the flour into a mixing bowl, add the butter and rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like bread crumbs.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with a fork and mix with the flour and butter, then bring the dough together to form a ball.
  4. Scatter the grated cheese over a large chopping board then put the dough on top. Knead the dough very lightly, pushing the grated cheese in as you go. Put into the fridge to rest, covered in cling film.
  5. To prepare the filling, cut the apples into quarters, remove and discard the cores, then cut the fruit into chunks. Put a generous slice of butter into a non-stick pan over a moderate heat, add the apples and leave to cook, with the occasional stir, until they are lightly coloured and starting to soften. Stir in the cinnamon.
  6. Roll the pastry out into a rough circle about 35cm/14in diameter, then transfer it to a baking sheet or roasting tin. Pile the apples in the centre of the pastry leaving a wide rim around the edge; tuck in the cloves. Pull the edges of the pastry in over the apples, leaving those in the centre quite visible.
  7. Mix the remaining beaten egg with a little milk and brush the pastry with the mixture, then scatter a little extra grated cheese.
  8. Bake for about 40 mins or until the pastry is golden. Serve warm, with yoghurt, if you wish.

Second time round was much simpler. You do need to add at least 3 tbsp of cold water to the dough when you get to section 3. Otherwise the mix is too dry and when you add the cheese you will never be able to roll the dough out. I also only used 5 apples and that was still even a bit too much. Other than that it was actually very easy, a bit messy, but very easy.

Once you get your head around the fact you are essentially eating a pudding for your dinner it’s really very yummy. I mean I like apples, I like cheese and I like pastry, so it all comes together quite nicely.  I served mine hot with salad and yoghurt and there’s definitely enough there to serve 4. I loved the cheesy pastry. My Mum was telling me she used to make cheese straws the same way, so there’s a solution to any leftover dough.

Recipe from Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers