These biscuits are an adaptation of my favourite sweet shortcrust pastry recipe. They are brilliant for dessert when cut into rectangles and served with blackberry jam, folded into crème fraîche, as a dip.If you don’t have any vanilla icing sugar, I recommend adding half a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the first step.
65g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
225g plain flour
125g slivered almonds
dusting of vanilla icing sugar
- Put the butter, sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and blend together quickly.
- Add the flour and blend again.
- Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour. At this point pre-heat the oven to 356F/180C/FAN 150C.
- Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Once flat, roughly create a single layer of slivered almonds on the surface and continue to roll till the dough is about the thickness of a £1 coin (3-4mm).
- Cut out shapes using a cutter and place on a metal tray lined with baking parchment.
- Place in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, but check on them after 10 minutes. They should end up being a light golden colour.
- Carefully place the biscuits on a cooling rack.
- Once cooled, dust the biscuits with vanilla icing sugar.
makes about 30 little discs
When I was seven I was given a Petra waffle iron for Christmas. Since then it has provided me with hours of entertainment and some very tasty results. The addition of walnuts is genius and adds a little crunch to these light and fluffy waffles (apologies for the many adjectives… I’m starting to sound like Nigella). They also increase in flavour as the nuts are toasted whilst the waffles cook.
4oz plain flour
2oz buckwheat flour
2tsp backing powder
2 eggs, separated
3oz unsalted butter
handful of chopped walnuts
blueberries/ blueberry sauce
Nutella/ chocolate sauce
raspberries/ raspberry coulis
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and add the sugar.
- Warm the milk and butter in a pan till the butter has melted.
- Once the butter has melted and the mixture has cooled a little, add the 2 egg yolks and whisk (you do not want the egg yolks to cook!).
- Pour the milk mix into the flour bowl and whisk till a smooth batter forms.
- Turn on your waffle iron and wait till it has reached the right temperature.
- Meanwhile whisk the egg whites till they form stiff peaks. Stir 1 tablespoon of egg white into the batter so it is thoroughly incorporated. Fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter.
- When the waffle iron is ready, spoon the appropriate amount of batter onto the iron and sprinkle over the prepared walnuts.
- Carefully check the waffles after a couple of minutes. They should be golden brown when ready.
- Apply your toppings of choice and tuck in!
I’m a big lover of ginger, especially in the colder months – it’s so warming and feels like it does some good. Stem ginger works particularly well with créme fraîche in custard based ice-cream. The combination off-sets a lot of the sweetness and richness, which I often find a little too tricky to deal with in creamy desserts… even more so at the end of a big wintery meal.
450ml whole milk
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
170g unrefined caster sugar (I use vanilla sugar)
300ml double cream
300ml crème fraîche
14 small pieces stem ginger (I used the Biona brand)
1.5 tbsp stem ginger syrup
- Heat the milk and vanilla essence in a pan till just below boiling point. Leave off the heat for about ten minutes.
- While the milk is cooling a little, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric whisk till paler and thickened – when you lift the whisk it should drop forming thickish ribbons.
- carefully pour a little of the hot milk into the egg yolk mix whilst whisking, ensuring that the eggs don’t cook. Continue to pour in all the milk, whisking continuously.
- Before the next stage of cooking fill your sink part way with cold water. and place a sieve on top of a bowl big enough to hold the ice-cream mix.
- Pour the mixture back into a heatproof pan and place it under a low heat for about 8-10 minutes, stirring continuously (I use a heat distributor mat). The mixture should thicken slightly (to the point where it thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon). This process can happen very quickly and if you’re not careful it will curdle!
- Once thickened, quickly pour the custard through the sieve into the bowl and place the bowl in the sink so the cold water surrounds it. Whisk the mixture continuously till it has cooled.
- Once cool, whisk in the double cream and crème fraîche.
- Place the ice-cream mix in a blender with 12 pieces of stem ginger and the syrup. Blend till smooth. *If you don’t have a large blender, you can make a concentrate syrup by whizzing the stem ginger and syrup on its own and then stirring it into the mix.
- Try the mix, it should taste noticeably of ginger.
- Finely chop the final 2 pieces of stem ginger and stir in.
- Pour the mix into your ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturers instructions. It may not freeze as well as normal ice-cream due to the ginger syrup, but it will eventually when it’s transferred to a metal tin and put in the freezer (I use a rectangular cake tin).
- If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, just pour the mix directly into your metal tin, place in the freezer, and stir it every 1-2 hours to break up larger ice crystals.
- Remove the ice-cream from the freezer about five minutes before serving, to allow it to soften a little.
This recipe came about when I wanted to make a healthier version of normal American pancakes. I find gluten free buckwheat pancakes on their own very bland. But, by adding oats and toasting the hazelnuts, you are rewarded with a strong nutty flavour as well as a crunchy interior. If you’re feeling gutsy, the melting Nutella and peanut butter centres are a real treat, and I recommend serving your pancakes with lots of maple syrup and crispy bacon. However, if you have the will-power to resist temptation, these also taste great with blueberry sauce or raspberry coulis.
1/2 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
1/2 cup whole rolled oats
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 banana torn into small pieces
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp sour cream
melting middle – peanut butter (I use Meridian crunchy), Nutella
- Put the oats and toasted hazelnuts in a blender and process till the hazelnuts are broken down into smaller pieces, but not ground into powder.
- Tip the oats and hazelnuts into a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and sugar. Mix till fully incorporated.
- Whisk in the egg, sour cream, banana and enough milk to form an american pancake batter consistency, do not over mix! – the oats and hazelnuts help hold the pancake together in the pan.
- Lightly butter a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.
- When the butter has melted pour a tablespoon of pancake batter into your pan. If you want to have a nutella or peanut butter melting middle, dollop a teaspoon of your spread onto the batter at this point and cover the spread with a little more batter.
- When bubbles appear on the pancake and the bottom feels reasonably firm, flip the pancake with a spatula and leave till golden brown.
- Keep these warm in the oven on a low heat before serving with butter, maple syrup and if you really want to treat yourself, some crispy bacon.
Whenever I go to Brighton and I’m in the Lanes I treat myself to a big frozen yogurt from Lick (which has sadly closed down!). The ‘Froyo’ is more acidic and clean-tasting than your normal ice-cream and doesn’t leave you feeling too porky – which is rather deceiving given my preference for gutsy toppings. Last year I was given an ice-cream maker for my birthday. It’s a Cuisinart ice-cream deluxe model and is different to others in that the bowl rotates rather than the paddle which means, unlike my previous model, the motor doesn’t give up when the ice-cream starts to thicken. I base my frozen yoghurt on the SNOG recipe, but add a lot less agave nectar and use full-fat yoghurt rather than the zero-fat malarky which SNOG proposes.
720ml (3 cups) greek yoghurt
360ml (1.5 cups) milk
60ml (0.25 cups) agave nectar
2 tsp lemon juice
- Whisk together all the ingredients and transfer to the bowl of the ice cream maker.
- Churn according to manufacturers instructions until thick, creamy and smooth.
- Quickly transfer the frozen yoghurt from the bowl into a seal lid container and place in the freezer.
- Remove from the freezer ten minuted before serving.
Toppings and other ideas
squeeze of agave nectar or half a teaspoon of sugar
- Place the blueberries in a little saucepan under a low heat and stir gently so as not to crush them.
- The blueberries should break down a little and form a syrupy sauce like consistency. If this is not the case add a little water and continue to heat.
White chocolate sauce
200g white chocolate
- Melt the white chocolate in a heat proof bowl suspended over simmering water – ensure the water is not in contact with the bowl.
- Warm the milk and, once the white chocolate has melted, pour the milk into the chocolate and continue stirring over the heat until they come together.
Other toppings: granola, raspberries, strawberries, butterscotch sauce, seeds, cocoa nibs.
Ice cream cones
I like to buy good quality cones, dip the ridges in melted chocolate and then cover them in sprinkles.
I’ve eaten English custard tarts before and sadly wasn’t impressed by their general soggy texture and bland appearance. However, I was bowled over by the rustic looking Portuguese custard tart – though similar in name, the two are incomparable in all other domains. A family friend gave me an amazing recipe book called ‘Coffee and Bites’ by Susie Theodorou. Her recipe for these tarts is easy to follow and the custard is so delicious I now use it in other recipes. I’ve taken a few photos so pastry preparation is easier to understand.
Makes about 8
Butter (for greasing)
200g (7oz) ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed if frozen
300ml (10floz) double cream
150ml (5floz) milk
1 vanilla pod halved lengthways (1tsp vanilla extract)
50g (2oz) vanilla sugar (or caster sugar)
6 egg yolks
icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 240C, 220-230C fan, gas mark 9 and place a heavy-based baking tray in the oven to heat up.
- Grease about 8 holes in a muffin tray with butter and place a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each.
- Cut 8 1cm wide strips from the width (shorter) end of the pastry and role each one up like a wheel, then flatten each with a rolling pin. Stamp each of these into about 5cm diameter circles.
- Roll the remaining pastry to a 2mm thickness. Cut out 8 strips each 4cm (1.5 in) wide and 25cm (10in) long.
- Loosely line the inside of the muffin moulds with the long strip and then place the circular piece in the bottom using your fingers to seal the pastry together forming a pastry case.
- Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill and then prick the bases. Meanwhile make the custard.
- Put the cream, milk, vanilla pod/ extract and sugar into a pan and heat gently whilst stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring to just below boiling point and remove from the heat. Remove the pod and scape the seeds into the cream mix.
- Beat the egg yolks and, once it has cooled a little pour the cream mixture over the top whilst stirring with a spoon.
- Strain the custard into a jug and pour into the pastry cases half way.
- Place the muffin tray on the preheated baking tray in the oven and top up the custard so the tarts are nearly full (this is to avoid spillages when transferring the tarts). Dust with icing sugar.
- Bake for 25 minutes until the custard has puffed up and caramelised in places and the pastry is golden brown.
- Cool for ten minutes then remove from the tin and place onto a wire cooling rack.
These taste great when they are still warm or you can reheat them later.
I love eating dates stuffed with peanut butter – it’s a match made in heaven. So I thought I’d make a granola recipe out of this dynamic duo. The quinoa adds even more crunch and using coconut oil rather than other oils makes it that little bit yummier. If you want even more coconutty flavour I recommend adding 30g desiccated coconut.
4 tsp coconut oil
2 tbs peanut butter
6 Hadrawi dates
2 tbs agave syrup (maple flavour by Biona) – or add half a tsp maple syrup to the agave
- Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan
- Melt the coconut oil in a metal pan and add the oats – stir until the oats become golden in colour then remove from the heat and add the quinoa.
- Put the peanut butter, dates and agave syrup in a food processor and blend till it forms a paste and the dates are in little pieces.
- Mix the peanut butter paste and oats together and then place in the food processor – you want to pulse the mix so the paste is spread throughout the oats but not so much that the oats become powder!
- Pour the granola into a tray to form a shallow layer. Place in the oven and cook for about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven.
- Once cooked remove the granola from the oven and leave it to cool before storing in an airtight jar.