Cherry & Rose Cupcakes

Rose might not be a flavour to everyone’s taste but I think the people that like it really love it. I definitely fall into that camp and actually rose was a very traditional flavour in the UK until it was usurped by vanilla. If you love the rose flavour too I highly recommend Zymurgorium Turkish Delight gin liqueur. Despite the name, it’s made in my hometown Manchester as symbolised by the bee on the label – the worker bee is the symbol of Manchester and can be seen all over the city. This recipe I found in Lola’s cookbook was actually for cherry blossom cupcakes but I thought that if rose pairs well with raspberry it can also pair well with cherry and I was happy with the result.

Makes 9 larger cakes or 12 smaller

Ingredients

  • 100g self raising flour
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • 95g butter + 125g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Morello cherry jam
  • 2 tbsp almonds
  • 500g icing sugar
  • rose water

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C

2.) Melt the 95g butter in a bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds.

3.) Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.

4.) In a stand mixer (or by hand with a wooden spoon), beat the vanilla, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one and beat afterwards.

5.) Add the flours to the mixture, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp rose water and beat until fully mixed.

6.) Heat up 90g morello cherry jam in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it a bit runnier. Stir the jam through the batter but leave swirls.

7.) Put the cupcake cases in the cupcake tin. Divide the batter between the cupcake cases.

8.) Sprinkle the cakes with the almonds and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

9.) Whilst the cupcakes are baking, make up the icing.

10.) Melt 125g butter in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften. Add to the bowl of the stand mixer, beat with 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3/4 tsp rose water.

11.) Warm up 75g Morello cherry jam for 20 seconds in the microwave and add to the butter.

12.) Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat until fully combined. Sift in the rest of the icing sugar and beat again until fully combined.

13.) Set up an icing bag with a nozzle and add the icing sugar. Chill in the fridge until the cupcakes have cooled.

14.) Once the cupcakes have cooled, ice the cupcakes by starting on the outside of the cupcake, following the outside then spiralling inward to a point.

Sausage Rolls

These little babies are the last part of my Apprentice ‘party’ as you can’t have a party in Britain without these things. I used Richmond’s vegetarian sausages which are the closest I’ve found to the real deal. Rough puff pastry as used in this recipe gives you a lovely flaky pastry, you can see the layers on the photo above, but is pretty fool proof compared to normal puff pastry. I got the pastry recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake’ then just wrapped it round the sausages. Serve with some ketchup or even better – Piccalilli which is a British spin on Indian chutneys.

Makes about 32 rolls

Ingredients

  • 8 vegetarian sausages
  • 225g plain flour (and more for dusting)
  • 200g butter
  • 150ml cold water
  • 1 egg

Method

1.) Chop up the butter into small cubes and add to a big bowl with the flour.

2.) Rub the butter into the flour. You want a few chunks of butter. (You could do this bit in a food processor but don’t tell Paul Hollywood!)

3.) Add the water and form a ball with your hands.

4.) Dust a surface with flour and roll out the dough to a large rectangle, about 1cm thick. (I can never get this into a perfect rectangle but to be honest – it doesn’t really matter).

5.) Fold over the two sides into three, like folding up a letter.

6.) Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

7.) Roll out the pastry again into a rectangle and again fold into thirds, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

8.) Repeat this twice.

9.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Roll out the pastry again. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.

10.) Place sausages along the width of the pastry and roll up until the pastry meets. Cut across with a knife. Repeat until all the pastry is used up.

11.) Cut the spaces between the sausages then cut each sausage into 4 pieces.

12.) Line them all up on the baking tray with a little space in between.

13.) Separate the egg and whisk up the egg yolk with a fork.

14.) Wash the knife and put slices across the rolls with a sharp knife. Not enough to go through the pastry.

15.) Brush the rolls with some egg.

16.) Bake the rolls for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Curry Sweetcorn Soup

This tasty soup is another recipe from ‘Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Cookery Course’ – I’m really smashing it this week but it’s another winner. Gordon uses a tin of creamed corn which I was assuming was some sort of old British staple like corned beef but the supermarket didn’t have it so I just used a normal tin of sweetcorn and added a bit of coconut cream (conveniently left over from when I made Urap Urap). I would serve this with a naan.

Serve 4

Ingredients

  • oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 litre stock
  • 3 x 200g tins sweetcorn
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes/powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

1.) In a casserole pan, lightly toast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant. Move to a mortar and give them a mash with the pestle.

2.) Peel and dice the ginger and garlic, add them to the mortar and add the turmeric, salt and chilli. Mash everything together.

3.) Peel and finely chop the onion.

4.) Add some oil to the casserole dish and heat up. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes.

5.) Peel and chop the potato into chunks and open the tins of sweetcorn.

6.) Add the curry paste to the casserole dish and cook for another 2 minutes. Add some more oil if dry.

7.) Make up the stock.

8.) Add the potato and stir around in the casserole dish. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat then add the tins of sweetcorn, Simmer for about 15 minutes until the potato is cooked through.

9.) Add the coconut cream and stir to break it up. Blitz to a thick soup with an immersion blender.

Yorkshire puddings

Yorkshire puddings are one of my favourite things in the world and because I don’t often eat roast dinners every Sunday (or any Sunday apart from at Christmas really) like many of my country people I don’t eat them nearly often enough. There’s a bit of controversy over when you can eat them with some pedantic people (like my in laws) not serving them unless it’s alongside a joint of roast beef (or in toad in the hole). I say just ignore this nonsense and serve them as often as possible. This is Jamie Oliver’s recipe – I didn’t want to go wrong on Christmas Day!

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut fat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100ml milk

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 225 degrees C

2.) Add a 1/2 tsp coconut fat to each muffin hole in a muffin tin

3.) Put the muffin tin in the oven for 10 minutes

4.) In the meantime, in a measuring jug, whisk up the eggs, flour and milk until there’s no lumps.

5.) Carefully pour the mixture in the hot oil. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Port & Stilton Sauce

When I first met my now husband, we used to cook together on the weekends and he introduced me to port and stilton sauce which was an instant hit with me even though I wasn’t at that point fully sold on port (oh how things change). I decided to serve it with our Christmas dinner this year as I don’t often have a reason to make it as it’s a usual accompaniment to steak. It did go very well with our fake turkey joint though. I used the recipe from Waitrose but I thought it needed a touch more stilton. Maybe it depends on your blue cheese. We had a lovely port and stilton hamper from my sister in law for Christmas – it’s almost as if she knew our dinner plans.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 100g stilton
  • 200ml milk
  • 50ml port
  • pepper

Method

1.) Weigh out the butter, flour, stilton. Add the milk and port to a measuring jug.

2.) Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Stir to make a paste then cook off for a couple of minutes.

3.) Crumble in the stilton and melt in the pan.

4.) Add the milk and port mixture gradually until everything is combined, whisking out all the lumps and adding more liquid once the sauce thickens up.

5.) Season with pepper.

Frangipane Mince Pies

Mince pies are a traditional Christmas treat in the UK. Generally it’s a mince pie and some sherry that gets left out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Mince isn’t a meat but a mixture of dried fruits, nuts, rum or brandy and spices. It’s really easy to find jars of the stuff around wintertime in the UK but if you can’t it’s not a particularly difficult thing to make. There are a lot of odd people that don’t like mince pies. Admittedly, mince pies are pretty commercially produced when shop bought and the pastry has to be a bit robust to survive. I think these mince pies taken from the Baking Bible that is Nigella Lawon’s ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ would convert the hardiest of doubters, the pastry is so light with the icing sugar and the frangipane goes beautifully with the spiced fruit. I think the almond flavour of frangipane just makes it extra Christmassy, reminiscent of marzipan and stollen. Serve one of these with a cup of mulled wine for the ultimate winter treat.

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 175g plain flour
  • 30g ground almonds and another 90g for the frangipane
  • 65g icing sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 125g unsalted block of butter and another 90g for the frangipane
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g mincemeat
  • 90g caster sugar

Method

1.) For the pastry, add the icing sugar, flour and 30g almonds and a pinch of salt to a food processor.

2.) Chop the 125g butter into small cubes and throw them into the food processor.

3.) Pulse the mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.

4.) In a bowl, separate 2 egg yolks and add a tbsp iced water. Pour into the food processor and continue to pulse until the pastry is starting to clump together around the food processor.

5.) Bring it together with your hands and form two discs. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6.) Roll out one of the discs and stamp out 6 circles. Use these to fill the inside of a cupcake tin. Repeat with the other disc. I only had a muffin tin so I had to do a bit of a cut and paste job with the rest of the pastry which was fine but it was a bit difficult to get the pies out of the tin in the end.

7.) Refrigerate the mince pies for another 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

8.) Divide the mincemeat among the twelve tarts.

9.) To make the frangipane, melt the other 90g butter in the microwave for 20 seconds, beat with the other two eggs, the 90g caster sugar and the 90g ground almonds.

10.) Add dollops of the frangipane onto the top of the mincemeat. Cook for about 15 minutes. (Mine may look a bit brown but weren’t burnt at all!)

11.) Let them cool to room temperature before removing from the tin.