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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

berry roulade

This is pretty much a fool proof way to make a roulade but watch your oven temperature does not exceed 17OC. You don't want the meringue to brown too quickly. Overcooking the meringue gives a brittle result causing cracks to appear once rolled.

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients for roulade:

6 egg whites
1.25 cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Ingredients for filling:

1 cup double cream
2 punnets of berries: blueberries, raspberries
2 tablespoons grated dark chocolate

Method for roulade:

Preheat the over to 170C. Line a Swiss-roll pan with buttered baking paper.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add half the caster sugar then beat in the remaining caster sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold in the cornflour and lemon juice.

Spread the meringue evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until pale golden, allow to cool for 1 hour. Place another sheet of baking paper the same size on the work surface and dust with icing sugar and cocoa powder. Turn the meringue onto the baking paper. Carefully remove the top sheet of paper.

For the filling:

Beat the cream until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the meringue. Evenly place the fruit on the cream and grate the chocolate over the top.

Use the paper to help roll up the meringue from the short end. Once rolled, dust with a little extra icing sugar. Ease the roulade, seam side down, onto a serving dish and refrigerate for one hour or until ready to serve in thick slices.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

ricotta cakes

Use your imagination to restyle a traditional serving of a classic dish.

A thick slice of baked ricotta loaf makes an ideal presentation for lunch but for a change use a fluted pastry cutter. The loaf, scaled down, becomes an appealing starter instead.

Ingredients: (serves 6 sliced or 10 little cakes)

3 eggs
750g full fat ricotta
400g grated parmesan, freshly grated
6 springs lemon thyme, leaves picked
Extra virgin olive oil
Roast tomatoes halves or whole TINY cherry tomatoes
Basil oil
Black olives, pitted (tiny ones for cakes)


Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly whisk eggs in a large bowl and stir in ricotta. Mix in the parmesan, thyme and season well. Grease a loaf tin with olive oil and spoon in the mixture. Place the loaf tin in a large baking tray and pour in the water so it comes half way up the sides of the loaf tin. Bake approximately 45-50 mins, test with a skewer or until ricotta is firm and golden brown – a piece of foil may be required on top if it browns too quickly.

Remove from the water bath VERY CAREFULLY and allow to cool to room temperature. Invert onto a serving plate and refrigerate until cold.

To serve: cut thick slices from the loaf. Cut circles from the slices, using a fluted pastry cutter. Place the cakes onto individual plates, top with tiny confit tomatoes and tiny olives, a sprig of basil and a few drops of basil oil on the side.

Tomatoes & Olives:

Preheat the oven to 150C . Place a handful of tiny/or normal sized cherry tomatoes and a handful of olives onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with sea salt, a teaspoon sugar and fine slices of garlic from one clove. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and cool.

Basil Oil:

A quick way to flavour herb oil is to blanch a handful of fresh basil or other herbs, leaves only, then whizz them in an electric food chopper with a little oil. Strain the liquid into a jug and use as directed. Discard any remaining oil after use.

Note: Do not attempt to serve these little cakes hot. The loaf needs to be cold or very cool for sharp, clean cutting. A zap in the microwave might be a good idea if you prefer a little warmth.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

curse of the canapé

I love eating tasty little mouthfuls of delicious food then I get to try everything, well almost everything, at someone else's cocktail party. But my patience wears thin when we have a party of our own and I have to make them myself. All that work and they're devoured in a flash.

Stuck for an idea today and a promise to bring a plate I suddenly remembered a simple recipe for pesto balls. I say simple and they are if you have a food processor and what I call a blitz machine. A small electric food chopper. If you don't happen to have either buy minced chicken and very finely chop everything else by hand.

Ingredients: 35 x 3cm diameter balls

700gm chicken (I used breast) minced in a food processor
1 small to medium onion, blitzed
3 cloves of garlic , blitzed
100gm pine nuts, blitzed
4 slices white bread, crumbed (processed)
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
Half teaspoon white pepper, ground
Half teaspoon black pepper , ground
Plain flour to dust
Oil for frying – grape seed, canola or sunflower


Blitz and process each ingredient separately and combine together in a large bowl, expect the flour and oil.

With wet hands roll the ingredients into 3cm sized balls. Dust in flour, shaking off the excess and cook for 5 minutes in enough hot oil to cover the pan. Shake the pan frequently, rolling the balls for even browning. When cooked through drain on kitchen paper.

Pile the pesto balls hot or cold on a plater with a small bowl of chilli sauce for dipping, on the side.