Jerk poussins

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Ingredients

  • 4 higher-welfare poussins
  • 1½ sticks cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 handful fresh thyme , leaves picked
  • 4 limes , zest and juice of
  • olive oil
  • 10 tablespoons fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 1 handful fresh mint , finely chopped, baby leaves reserved
  • 1 red chilli , deseeded and finely sliced

Method

For this recipe I’ve used poussins, which are a real joy. They’re really good fun to eat, as each person gets one bird – a ready-made portion! The meat is also lovely and sweet.

First of all you need to spatchcock the poussins. It’s best to ask your butcher to do this, but you can do it yourself if you need to.
Basically you’re removing a bit of carcass and flattening out the birds, almost like open books, so that they all touch the barbecue at the same time and cook evenly and more quickly.

Take your largest chopping knife and position it right inside each bird next to its backbone – the blade should be over the middle of the parson’s nose – I tend to use a rolling pin to then thump the back of the knife until it cuts all the way through the bird. Open out the bird on to a board, then press down on the breasts until you hear the breastbone crack.

With a sharp knife, slash the meat all over the thighs and legs to help them cook quicker and take on more flavour.

In a pestle and mortar, bash up your cinnamon sticks then add your spices, thyme leaves and the zest and the juice of 3 of your limes. Add a small lug of olive oil to get the flavour going and add 1 pinch of sea salt for each bird. Mix well. Rub this marinade onto your poussins. Pop them in sandwich bags and put them in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour. You can leave them in there overnight if you want to.

Remove your birds from the fridge 1 hour before cooking, but keep them out of the sun. When ready to cook, drop the poussins onto the hottest part of your barbie. Give them a couple of minutes on each side and make sure you move them any time that flames come up – you want them to be golden, not black! Once you’ve got a nice colour, move them to the cooler part of your barbie to finish cooking – they’ll need about 20 minutes. You can tell they’re cooked through when you can easily pull the thigh meat away from the bone.

Stir the juice and zest of your remaining lime and the finely chopped mint through the yoghurt. Serve the poussins with a good dollop of minty yoghurt, sprinkled with the chilli and baby mint leaves. Delicious.

 

Christmas pudding spoons

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Ingredients

  • 142 ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 250 g custard , warmed
  • 450 g Christmas pudding , heated
  • 1 handful flaked almonds , toasted and chopped, to decorate
  • 1 orange , zest of

Method

Yes, real custard is nice… but there’s nothing like a nice bit of ready-made custard with your Christmas pudding. You’ll need 30 spoons for this recipe.

Whip the double cream and caster sugar together until stiff.

Lay out all your spoons on serving plates and put a blob of custard on each one – not too much or they will overflow when you add the pudding. Take a teaspoon, scoop out lumps of the hot Christmas pudding and drop them onto the custard. Top with a dollop of the whipped cream.

Scatter with the almonds and grated orange zest and serve while warm.

Cherry brownies

Cherry brownies

Ingredients

  • 130 g butter
  • 150 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 55 g cherries
  • 55 g roasted pecans
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 55 g cocoa powder
  • 75 g plain flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 50 g milk or dark chocolate , optional

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Line a 20cm square baking tin (or the equivalent) with greaseproof paper.

Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water).

Destone the cherries and roughly chop them along with the pecans. Stir into the melted chocolate, then take off the heat.

In another bowl, add the sugar, then sift in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and stir till well combined.

Beat the eggs and mix in. Roughly chop and stir through the milk or dark chocolate (if using).

Transfer the mixture to the tin, then bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You want them a little gooey in the middle.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tray, before cutting into squares.

Christmas pudding scones

Christmas pudding scones

Ingredients

  • 80 g unsalted butter , (cold)
  • 20 g dried cranberries
  • 1 orange
  • 250 g self-raising flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 30 g golden caster sugar
  • 70 g leftover christmas pudding or cake (any icing or marzipan removed)
  • 1/2 tesapoon mixed spice
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 4 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk , plus extra for glazing
  • 1 tablespoon treacle

Method

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas 6. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Chop the butter into small cubes, roughly chop the cranberries and zest the orange.

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Add the cubed butter and rub into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Crumble in the leftover pudding or cake, then tip in the cranberries, orange zest and mixed spice, then gently stir to combine.

Beat the egg with the milk, add to the dry mix and use an eating knife
to bring it all together to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. Fold in the treacle right at the end.

Tip out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll
to about 2.5cm thick and use a 5cm cutter to press out 8 rounds.

Place on the baking sheet, brush with a little milk and bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until risen and golden.

Ultimate flapjacks

Ultimate flapjacks

Ingredients

  • 250 g unsalted butter , plus extra for greasing
  • 250 g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 100 g mixed nuts , such as hazelnuts and pistachios
  • 150 g mixed dried fruit , such as cranberries, apricots and figs
  • 350 g rolled porridge oats

Method

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/gas 2. Grease and line a rectangular cake tin (roughly 20cm x 30cm).

Place the butter, sugar, honey and salt in a medium pan over a low heat, then allow the butter to melt, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, roughly chop the nuts and any larger dried fruit, then stir them into the pan along with the oats.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, smoothing it out into an even layer. Place in the hot oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Leave to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve.

Confetti cake

Confetti cake

Ingredients

  • butter , for greasing
  • 115 g plain flour
  • 140 g icing sugar
  • 8 large free-range egg whites
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon
  • BUTTERCREAM
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 100 g butter , at room temperature
  • 1 splash of milk
  • hundred and thousands, to decorate

Method

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Grease and line a 4-litre cake tin.

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a free-standing mixer, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.

With the mixer still running, add the caster sugar, cream of tartar, vanilla and a tiny pinch of sea salt and whisk to stiff, glossy peaks.

Sift the flour and icing sugar again, fold it into the egg whites with a metal spoon, then finely grate and mix in the lemon zest.

Spoon the mixture into your tin (it should be about two-thirds full), tap it gently on your work surface to knock out any air pockets and smooth it level.

Bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make a buttercream icing by beating the icing sugar and butter in a free-standing mixer for 4 to 5 minutes, until pale, then mix in the milk.

Use it to cover the cake, then finish with hundreds and thousands.

Salted caramel brownies

Salted caramel brownies

Prep:20 mins
Cook:30 mins
Makes 16 larger or 32 bite-sized brownies

Ingredients

200g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
100g chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
100g chocolate, 50% cocoa solids
397g can Carnation caramel
1 tsp flaky sea salt, plus a little extra for the top
200g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
100g plain flour, plus 2 tbsp
50g cocoa powder

Method

1.Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease then line a 23cm square traybake tin with baking parchment. Melt the butter in a medium pan, break in all the chocolate, then remove the pan from the heat and wait for the cubes to melt.

2.In a small bowl, mix 175g of the caramel with 1 tsp sea salt – it will loosen up. Put the rest of the caramel in a large bowl with the sugar and eggs, and beat with an electric hand mixer or balloon whisk until even.

3.Whisk in the chocolate and butter. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa and a good pinch of table salt, then sift this on top of the chocolate mix. Beat briefly until smooth.

4.Pour half the brownie batter into the tin and level it with a spatula. Using a teaspoon, spoon half of the salted caramel on top of the batter layer in 5 thick, evenly spaced stripes. Spoon the rest of the brownie batter on top and smooth it out, trying not to disturb the caramel beneath. Top with the rest of the caramel in the same stripy fashion. Drag a skewer or tip of a knife through the caramel to make a feathered pattern on the top.

5.Scatter with a little more sea salt, then bake for 25-30 mins or until risen all the way to the middle with a firm crust on top. When ready, the brownie will jiggle just a little when you shake the tin. Let it cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.

Banana Split Bombe

Banana Split Bombe

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE BOMBE
2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 very ripe banana, mashed (1/2 cup)
1 cup heavy cream
2 pints pistachio ice cream, softened
2 pints chocolate ice cream, softened
Banana Cake
FOR THE HARD CHOCOLATE TOPPING
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/4 cup chopped pistachios, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1.Make the bombe: Spread vanilla ice cream in an even layer on bottom and up sides of a 5-quart heatproof bowl with a 9 1/2-inch-diameter rim. Ice cream should form a concave layer that comes up to the rim of the bowl. Freeze until set, about 20 minutes. Using an offset spatula, smooth the surface of the ice cream layer. Freeze again until very firm, at least 1 hour.

2.Meanwhile, place chocolate and banana in a heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan until bubbles begin to form around edges. Pour over chocolate and banana, and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk until combined. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk until chocolate melts. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.

3.Spread chocolate-banana mixture in a thin, even layer over entire surface of vanilla ice cream layer. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

4.Spread pistachio ice cream in a flat, smooth layer over chocolate-banana mixture, but not up sides. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

5.Spread chocolate ice cream in a flat, smooth layer over pistachio ice cream. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

6.Place banana cake over chocolate ice cream, top side up, and press gently until cake fits snugly against ice cream. (If vanilla ice cream and ganache layers extend beyond top of cake, trim them with a sharp knife.) Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze overnight (or up to 3 days).

7.To unmold bombe, dip bowl in a larger bowl of very hot water or use a small kitchen torch to warm outside of bowl. Continue dipping or torching bowl until bombe releases when inverted onto a serving platter. Remove bowl, wipe ice cream drips off platter, and freeze until bombe is very firm, about 1 hour.

8.Make the topping: Place chocolate and shortening in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until chocolate and shortening melt. Let cool slightly, then slowly pour on top of bombe, spiraling in concentric circles to create a solid center with long drips down the sides. Sprinkle pistachios on top, and freeze until chocolate is set, about 10 minutes.

9.Run a large knife under hot water, and dry well. Use it to slice bombe into wedges, as you would a cake, wiping knife clean between cuts.

Ultimate gingerbread

Ultimate gingerbread

Ingredients

  • 400 g shortbread
  • 170 g coarse demerara sugar
  • 3 level teaspoons ground ginger
  • 40 g mixed peel , chopped
  • 40 g crystallized ginger , chopped
  • 70 g plain flour
  • 1 pinch baking powder
  • 40 g golden syrup
  • 40 g treacle
  • 70 g unsalted butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/gas 3 and find a baking tray about 20x35cm. Put the shortbread, sugar and 2 teaspoons of the ground ginger in a food processor and whiz until you have crumbs. Remove 100g of the mix and keep this to one side. Add the remaining teaspoon of ginger to the processor, along with the mixed peel, crystallized ginger, flour and baking powder, and pulse until well mixed.

Melt the syrup, treacle and butter together in a saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients. When melted, add the mixture from the food processor and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is thoroughly mixed together. Tip into the baking tray and spread out evenly. Press the mixture down into the tray, using your fingers or something flat and clean like a potato masher or a spatula. When the mix is a flat, dense and even layer, pop the tray in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven and sprinkle the hot gingerbread with the reserved crumbs, pressing them down really well with a potato masher or spatula. Carefully cut into good-sized pieces with a sharp knife, and leave to cool in the tray before eating.

Chicken tikka masala

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Ingredients

  • 1 level teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 heaped teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 heaped teaspoons garam masala
  • 3 lemons
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 6 heaped tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 800 g skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 fresh green or yellow chillies
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1–2 fresh red chillies
  • 30 g fresh coriander
  • olive oil
  • 1 level tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 level teaspoons turmeric
  • 6 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 2 x 400 g tins of light coconut milk
  • For the paratha breads (optional):
  • 300 g wholemeal bread flour
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 400 ml semi-skimmed milk

Method

Without question, chicken tikka masala is a brilliant curry that makes people very happy. Of course it’s inspired by fantastic Indian cooking, but is in fact an Anglo-Indian evolution, created to suit British palates. When you make it, you’ll be super-proud – you can use top-quality chicken, it’s loads of fun to marinate and grill, the method rocks, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll find a better expression. I love to make my own paratha breads to serve with it, too – check out the recipe at the bottom of the page. Dig a hole in the garden and get grilling!

Put the cloves, cumin and 1 heaped teaspoon each of paprika and garam masala into a small pan and toast for 1 minute to bring them back to life, then tip into a large bowl. Finely grate in the zest of 1 lemon, squeeze in all its juice, crush in the garlic, peel and finely grate in the ginger, and add the yoghurt and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Cut the chicken breasts into 5cm chunks, then massage all that flavour into the meat. Skewer up the chicken chunks, interspersing them with lemon wedges and chunks of green or yellow chilli, but don’t squash them together too much. Place on a tray, cover with clingfilm and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

For the sauce, peel the onions and garlic, then finely slice with the red chillies and coriander stalks (reserving the leaves for later). Put it all into a large casserole pan on a medium-high heat with a lug of oil and cook for around 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring regularly. Add the ground coriander, turmeric and remaining 1 heaped teaspoon each of paprika and garam masala. Cook for 2 minutes, then add and toast the almonds. Pour in the tomatoes, crumble in the stock cube and add 300ml of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk. Simmer for a final 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, then season to perfection.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, drizzle it with a little oil, then grill on a hot barbecue, in a screaming hot griddle pan or under a hot grill, turning until it’s very golden and gnarly on all sides. Slice the chicken off the skewers straight into the sauce, reserving the lemons. Simmer for 2 minutes while you use tongs to squeeze some jammy lemons over the curry, to taste. Swirl through some more yoghurt, sprinkle with the coriander leaves, and serve with parathas or fluffy basmati rice.

Tips

Here’s a nice little game-changer – make your own paratha to enjoy with your chicken tikka. For 8 people, put 300g each of wholemeal bread flour and plain flour into a bowl with a good pinch of sea salt. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 400ml of semi-skimmed milk, mixing until combined, then knead for a few minutes on a flour-dusted surface. Leave to rest for 20 minutes, then divide the dough into 8 and thinly roll out each piece to A4 size. One-by-one, drizzle and rub lightly with oil, roll up into a loose log, roll the log up like a Catherine wheel, then roll out with a rolling pin again to a flat round just under ½cm thick. Cook in a hot oiled frying pan on a medium heat for 3 minutes on each side, or until nicely charred, then sprinkle lightly with salt. Transfer to a board and smash together to expose the layers.