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saffron pavlova with passion fruit and raspberries

silky smooth fluffy and white

I am having my annual xmas dinner party under the frangipani tree… thought a nice Pavlova would work for dessert. 

Inspired by two of my favourite chefs and cook book writers; Nigella and Jamie.  I used Nigella’s recipe from TV (….yes I do jot down recipes I see on TV) as it is a big one, but followed Jamie’s method which involved a bit more mixing (from his book ‘Cook with Jamie’). I decided to add a twist with a good pinch of saffron at the end to see how this would taste.

recipe:

  • MERINGUE:
  • 8 egg whites (free range and fresh, separated very carefully)
  • 500gms caster sugar
  • 4 tsp corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • TOPPING:
  • 500 ml fresh cream – whipped
  • 1 Tbls icing sugar
  • 10 granadilla – pulp scooped out or 2 x small tins
  • 2 punnets of fresh raspberries (Nigella does a raspberry sauce using frozen raspberries blitzed with sugar and then drizzled over the pav, but this looked like the pavlova had been attacked by a wild animal and a bit messy — so I’m using whole fresh instead). Nigella’s recipe also included slices of lychee’s but I ran out of time before the dinner party to peel and slice up so left this off, but think it could be really nice next time.

I have attempted meringues in the past with some success but it’s definitely something I want to perfect and innovate with.  I know all the theory and its very important to follow this:  Clean bowl, fresh eggs (I ONLY ever use  free range/ organic  it makes all the difference), no egg-shell or yolk in the whites, add the sugar very slowly and steadily and basically beat the hell out if it.

how to make:

  • preheat oven to 150 degrees c (as per J.O. – N.L recommends 180 preheated and then immediately turn down to 120 degrees when you put the pavlova in….i went with just 150 degrees)
  • beat egg whites on medium until they hold a stiff peak
  • while mixer still on, very slowly add the caster sugar
  • then beat for about 8 – 10 minutes until when you rub the meringue between your fingers you don’t feel any of the sugar crystals
  • then turn off the mixture and add all the other ingredients and fold in gently by hand
  • dot the 4 corners of the baking paper and stick these down onto the baking tray (such an awesome tip — both Nigella and Jamie offered this — then the paper doest flap around in theoven)
  • spread the meringue mixture into a roughly 20cm round and pile up (you could also do a square or rectangle)…I quite like it a bit messy with peaks but you could also keep it flat like Nigella does as she turns hers over so the top side then becomes the underside thereby forming a firmer base
  • bake for 1 hour then turn off the oven and leave it there until it has completely cooled or overnight
  • when you are about to serve, add all the toppings: first a layer of whipped cream (500 ml) with a Tbls of icing sugar to sweeten, drizzle over about 10 passion fruit / granadilla pulp scooped out (or tinned pulp), and then sprinkle over raspberries (as many as you like)…you could really add anything you like here.  Roasted chopped nuts, cherries or any other fruit etc. I also decorated with redcurrents around the base to make it extra christamssy.

It turned out perfectly.  Crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside (not chewy) but yet firm and sliceable.  The saffron was not really noticed, so next time I will infuse the safforn first in a Tblsp of hot water in order to release the colour and flavour and perhaps make small meringues…..I really like the idea of the bright yellow and think it will add an exotic twist.  The rest of the menu had a North african / Morrocan vibe going on — so this would have been perfect had it worked out.

about to be baked

One  of my friends phoned me the next day to say he woke up and his first thought was of my pavlova (music to my ears).

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rocky road

sprinkle with icing sugar

This is inspired by Nigella’s Christmas TV show and I have a LOT of chocolate.  Kind of just did my own recipe as I needed to make a lot for two more xmas parties (its relentless).

You could halve the recipe and make a smaller batch etc…..

recipe:

  • 450 – 500 gms milk chocolate (can use dark or milk or a combo)
  • 200gms marie / tea biscuits bashed up in a plastic bag
  • 200gms toasted almonds chopped and bashed up (some small pieces and some bigger pieces)..brazil nuts would work very well here – in fact pretty much any nut you like
  • 100gms of whole glace cherries (optional) – could use dried cranberries or other dried fruit here
  • about a cup of mini marshmallows
  • some icing sugar for dusting

how to make:

  • melt chocolate in a pot
  • as soon as its melted add all the other ingredients – the chocolate should just coat everything so its ‘dryish’
  • tip into a foil  tray or any other suitable dish
  • allow to cool, turn out, cut into squares and dust with a bit of icing sugar for a christmas vibe

Nice little crunchy, chocolatey, fruity bites…..a total success and think Im going to have to bang out another batch or two before this xmas season is over.

make a whole pile for christmas

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turkey stuffing with sage, cashew nuts, sesame seeds and dukkah

my table

I think stuffing has to be one of the easiest things to make and I wanted a slight Moroccan taste this year… in a subtle kinda way.  Instead of mixing up the cumin, cinnamon sugar etc, I just added some dukkah (north african spice mix of roasted nuts, sesame seeds and spices). It turned out very well with some nice crunchy texture which I love. I added too much salt — you really don’t need to add any.

recipe:

  • about 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup toasted cashew nuts (you could use less) – chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • sage (about 10 leaves)
  • parsley (about a handful chopped)
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 3 Tbls dukkah
  • 6 pork sausages – meat squeezed out
  • 1 egg to bind
  • a good few twists of black pepper (salt not necessary)

how to make:

Fry the onion in the butter until light golden and then add all the other ingredients together in a bowl and mix. Proceed to stuffing the turkey.

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very juicy roast turkey cooked with herbs and rose

just out the oven

I tried this recipe on a chicken recently and it was so amazing — so figured I would adapt it and do a turkey this way. People are always saying they don’t really like turkey because it’s too dry so I wanted to make the juiciest possible bird.  I have never really understood all the fuss around cooking a turkey as it’s really as easy as a chicken it just takes a bit longer.

I looked at Nigella’s guidelines around cooking times in ‘How to eat’ and she recommends 2 hours @ 180 degrees for a 4.5kg Turkey.  Well I have to say that this is not accurate at all.  I cooked my 4kg Turkey for just over 3 hours at 200 degrees c. (cut the recipe in half if you are doing a chicken)

recipe:

  • 1 x turkey stuffed and trussed (ie legs tied together)
  • 2 cups (500ml rose / or white wine)
  • 4 cups /1 litre chicken stock (hot)
  • about 2 cups of herbs –then chop up finely (I used parsley, sage (small quantity as its very strong), rosemary, thyme and a little bit of basil)
  • 5 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 4 Tbls of Dijon mustard.

how to make:

  • preheat oven to 200 degrees c
  • mix the garlic, mustard, wine and herbs in a bowl and then pour over the turkey
  • pour the chicken stock into the roasting pan (deep sided one works best)
  • cook uncovered for about 3 hours depending on the size of your bird
  • I cooked with the breast up for 30 minutes, then turned over so back up for about an hour then flipped and did the final hour and a half with breast up again.  If the top is getting a bit too brown, loosely cover the bird with a piece of foil. baste every half an hour or so.

There is a lot of liquid  so baste often.  As its being cooked open, a lot of the liquid will reduce to form a lovely saucy gravy.

I carved up the whole turkey and put the meat in a large serving platter. I don’t mind that it doesnt look very pretty at this stage and some of the pieces are more chunky than neatly sliced. I then poured over all the herby wine sauce so the meat just wallowed in this.  So succulent and delicious and got a generous quota of comments about it being the best turkey ever eaten.

I stuffed the turkey with my roasted cashew nut, sesame seed and dukkah stuffing.  I served with roasted potato wedges, roasted butternut slices and a big green salad with my best vinaigrette.

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crispy potato wedges with rosemary

I made these potato wedges for a xmas lunch party I went to yesterday.

Cut the spuds into wedges (quartered lengthways)……. I used medium in size mediterranean potatoes (WW). Put in a pot and just cover with water, add salt. Bring the pot to a boil and boil for about 8 – 10 minutes depending on how many spuds. drain and allow to ‘steam dry’ (they are almost done). Spread in a single layer on a baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil and coat the spuds. Sprinkle salt and pepper and dried rosemary …I think dry is best here.  You could also sprinkle chilli flakes, egyptian dukha, cajun spices, mixed herbs, lemon zest and salt or anything that you desire.  Bake in a 200 degree oven until golden brown (about 45 minutes)

Crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.  They were delicious with the roast  stuffed turkey, glazed gammon and salads.

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