Chocolate Snowball Truffles

Chocolate Snowball Truffles

 

Christmas is the best excuse to devour far too much chocolate! And what is more indulgent than chocolate truffles?!

Truffles are great at any time of the year, but rolling them in a little desiccated coconut turns them into the perfect festive treat!

These make great little stocking fillers for friends and family, who will be amazed at their deliciousness (just don’t tell them how easy they are to make!)

Chocolate Snowball Truffles
Makes 20-30 Truffles

Ingredients:

100g Good Quality Milk Chocolate (35-40% Cocoa)

100g Good Quality Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa)

200ml Double Cream

200g Desiccated Coconut

Method:

1) Break the chocolate up in to a large glass bowl. Pour the double cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat.

2) Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and stir continuously with a spatula until the chocolate has melted and is well combined. Allow to cool then cover and place in the fridge until the mixture is fully set (minimum of 3 hours – preferably overnight).

3) Scoop out small balls of the mixture with a melon baller or teaspoon. Roll into small balls using the palms of your hands and fingertips. Roll the truffles in the coconut until evenly coated.

Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

Spiced Lamb Meatballs

Spiced Lamb Meatballs

 

I owe a great debt to Ottolenghi for this glorious recipe. His newest publication – ‘Jerusalem’ masterfully depicts the beautiful cuisine of his native Israel and is the origin of this recipe (with a few small tweaks)!

Lamb meatballs are spiced with cinnamon and allspice and cooked in a wonderfully rich stock alongside dried figs and banana shallots. Cooking slow and low ensures the stock reduces to a delicious consistency – packing a seriously rich punch, the sweetness working in harmony with the salty, herby meatballs.

Ask your butcher for freshly twice-minced lamb shoulder (around 75% lean) to ensure the meatballs remain tender and moist. Topped with greek yogurt and an abundance of fresh herbs – the dish works perfectly with fresh lemon and sultana couscous.

Spiced Lamb Meatballs
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Meatballs: 500g Minced Lamb Shoulder, 1 Medium Onion (Finely Chopped), Large Handful Flat Leaf Parsley (Chopped), 2 Garlic Cloves (Crushed), 1/2 tsp Allspice, 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon, 50g Dried Cranberries, 1/2 Medium Egg (Beaten).

For the Sauce: 4tbsp Sunflower Oil, 5 Banana Shallots (Peeled), 200ml White Wine, 400ml Chicken Stock, 2 Bay Leaves, 3 Thyme Sprigs, 1 tsp Caster Sugar, 150g Whole Dried Figs.

To Finish: 200ml Greek Yogurt, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Large Handful Torn Fresh Herbs – Coriander, Dill, Mint.

Method:

1) Combine the minced lamb with the other meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands until fully combined. Divide into approximately 15 meatballs.

2) Place a large, heavy based pot (a Le Creuset casserole is perfect) on the stove top over a medium heat. Cook the meatballs in the sunflower oil until well browned all over. Remove from the pot and set aside.

3) Brown the shallots in the oil for around 10 minutes. Turn up the heat, add the wine and let reduce for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat back to medium. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme and caster sugar. Bring to the boil.

4) Add the meatballs and figs to the stock, dispersing amongst the shallots. Ensure there is enough liquid to just about cover the meatballs. Cover and cook for 20 minutes over a very low heat.

5) Cook to cook uncovered over a very low heat for around 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced considerably (by around two thirds).

6) Serve the meatballs with the sauce. Top with a little greek yogurt and generously sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Enjoy!

The Perfect Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise Sauce

 

Béarnaise sauce is the best partner for steak. Nothing else even comes close. It strikes the perfect balance between rich and sharp.

It is a common misconception that béarnaise is troublesome to prepare. It is; however, difficult to perfect – I have been honing this recipe for some considerable time. Dispense with the food processor and get back to basics with a whisk and bain-marie to create the perfect consistency. And whatever you do, do not scrimp on the egg yolk and butter – you will be left disheartened with a feeble sauce.

This is my recipe for the perfect béarnaise sauce.

Béarnaise Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients:

250g Unsalted Butter
3 Large Egg Yolks
4tbsp Chopped Fresh Tarragon
75ml White Wine Vinegar
1 Shallot Finely Sliced
1 Strip Lemon Peel
5 White Peppercorns
1 Small Bay Leaf
Sea Salt
Freshly Cracked White Pepper

Method:

1) First make the vinegar reduction. Combine the vinegar with 2 tbsp of the chopped tarragon, shallot, lemon peel, peppercorns and bay leaf in a small saucepan. Simmer over a medium heat until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and leave to stand, removing the bay leaf.

2) Next clarify the butter. See this article by Edward Schneider at the NY Times for a concise guide.

3) To make the béarnaise – beat the egg yolks with a whisk over a barely simmering bain-marie until thick and light in colour. Be careful that the water does not get too hot and does not touch the bowl. Ensure no egg yolk sticks to the side of the bowl.

4) Strain the vinegar mixture into the egg yolk to taste and continue to whisk to maintain the thick texture.

5) Turn the heat off the bain-marie. Slowly add the clarified butter a little at a time whilst whisking. Do not rush this stage or you risk the sauce splitting. The sauce should be thick and smooth with an even sheen.

6) Remove the sauce bowl from the bain-marie. Stir in the remaining chopped tarragon and season to taste with sea salt and cracked white pepper. You may need to add a little extra vinegar reduction if you like it extra tangy!

If your sauce does split whilst cooking – do not despair! Remove from the heat and quickly add a small ice cube. Continue to whisk and the sauce should re-emulsify.

Enjoy!

The Best Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

 

Gluten-free baking is most definitely an exact science – one wrong move and you are likely to have a stodgy mess on your hands! And unless you have a cracking recipe – the outcomes can tend to be a little hit and miss. However, when you do find something that works (such as this carrot cake) you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between the gluten-free and ‘normal’ varieties.

Carrot cake is one of my favourites and is great at any time of the day. But it has to be moist – there is nothing that annoys me more than a dry, insipid cake.

After much trial and error, I consider this to be the best recipe for carrot cake – gluten-free or otherwise. A big whack of cinnamon keeps it festive and drizzling the sponge with clementine syrup keeps it super moist.

I give the recipe for the sponge below which works great without icing. To make it even more indulgent I have sandwiched and topped with orange cream cheese frosting; however, please experiment with different icings!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

For the Sponge: 100g Walnuts (Toasted and Chopped), 200g Gluten-Free Plain Flour, 175g Soft Dark Brown Sugar, 200g Grated Carrot, 2 Large Eggs, Juice and Zest of 2 Clementines, 150ml Sunflower Oil, 1tsp Xanthan Gum, 1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda, 100g Sultanas, 3tsp Ground Cinnamon

For the Drizzle Syrup: Juice of 2 Clementines, Juice 1 Lemon, 75g Soft Dark Brown Sugar

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line two 8″ round baking tins.

2) Beat the eggs, sugar, clementine juice and zest and oil together in a large bowl. Fold in the (sifted) flour, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda and ground cinnamon to make a smooth batter.

3) Into the batter mixture, fold in the carrot, walnuts and sultanas.

4) Divide the mixture evenly between the two sandwich tins (I usually weigh them).

5) Bake in the middle of the oven for around 35 minutes – or until a metal skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

6) Meanwhile make the syrup by combining all the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat. Heat to dissolve the sugar but do not boil.

7) When the cake is ready, remove from the oven and pierce each cake several times with a metal skewer. Pour the syrup over each cake. Allow to cool in the cake tins.

8) Once cooled, remove the cakes from the tins. Sandwich the cakes with your favourite icing – saving some for the topping!

Enjoy!

Chestnut Tagliatelle

Chestnut Tagliatelle

 

Searching for a quick, comforting pasta recipe to cheer up these gloomy nights, my mind cast back to a recipe published in Gourmet Magazine a few years ago. Despite having since lost the recipe, I have racked my brains and identified the constituent ingredients.

This pasta dish is beautifully rich yet not heavy. Chestnuts are in abundance at this time of the year and pair perfectly with the crispy pancetta and sage. I guarantee everyone will love this quick dish.

Using a little of the pasta water in the sauce ensures it does not dry out – but be liberal as most will be absorbed by the pasta by the time it reaches the table!

Chestnut Tagliatelle
Serves 2

Ingredients:
300g Fresh Tagliatelle
75g Cooked, Peeled and Crumbled Chestnuts
75g Diced Pancetta
Small Handful Chopped Sage
1 Small Onion Diced
Small Handful Chopped Parsley
1 tbsp Unsalted Butter
Small Handful Grated Parmesan
Juice 1/2 Lemon
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 – 1 Cup Reserved Pasta Cooking Water

Method:
1) Sauté the pancetta and onion in a large pan over a medium heat.
2) Meanwhile cook the pasta.
3) Whilst the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce. Combine the pancetta and onions with the sage, chestnuts, butter and lemon juice. Add the reserved pasta water. Keep warm over a low heat.
4) Once the pasta has cooked, drain and add to the pancetta mixture. Toss through with the parsley, parmesan and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Add a little extra pasta water if required.

Enjoy!

Winter Halloumi Salad

Winter Halloumi Salad

 

Salads are fast becoming a fundamental constituent of my pre-Christmas, healthy eating regime!

With a craving for halloumi, I took inspiration from my Autumn Harvest Salad to concoct this simple, satisfying dish.

I love pomegranate and normally go crazy with it at this time of the year – sprinkling its glorious seeds over everything I get my hands on!

This salad is delicious – the salty halloumi perfectly complemented by the sweet Crème Fraîche dressing. It would be great scaled up as a dinner party starter or side salad.

I detail the elements of the salad below for inspiration!

Winter Halloumi Salad

Ingredients:

Halloumi – Sliced and lightly fried in olive oil

Crème Fraîche Dressing – With lemon and orange juice

Pomegranate Seeds

Toasted Pain de Campagne

Speck

Watercress

Basil – Finely chopped

Mozzarella – Torn

Charred Baby Onions

Homemade Hummus