Coconut penny toffees

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Ingredients

  • 50 g unsalted butter , (cold)
  • 25 g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon glucose


Method

Line a baking sheet with baking paper and have it standing by alongside a large basin of iced water. Cube up the butter. Lightly toast the coconut until golden.

Put the sugar and glucose in a medium-sized heavy-based pan with 2 tablespoons of water. Pop in a sugar thermometer and heat gently over a medium heat, until the sugar has melted and begins to caramelise.

Once it reaches 150ºC, remove from the heat and quickly set it in the basin of iced water to halt the process. Immediately remove and whisk in the butter until incorporated. If it begins to separate, place back on the heat and continue to whisk and emulsify.

Using 2 tablespoons, drop spoonfuls of the toffee onto the lined tray. Sprinkle immediately with the desiccated coconut. To make lollipops, press the sticks into the toffee now, almost all the way across the discs, so that they hold in place.

Set aside to cool and harden. Store between sheets of greaseproof paper or cellophane in a sealed container and eat within 10 days.

December scones

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Ingredients

  • 2 clementines
  • 4 cloves
  • 150 g dried cranberries
  • 150 g unsalted butter (cold)
  • 500 g self-raising flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 heaped tablespoons golden caster sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk , plus extra for brushing
  • 3 tablespoon quality cranberry sauce
  • FILLING
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 1 clementine
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar
 

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Method

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas 6.

Grate the clementine zest into a food processor and set aside. Squeeze all the juice into a small pan, add the cloves and simmer over a low heat for 4 to 5 minutes, then remove the cloves. Add the cranberries and cook until they’re fully rehydrated and have sucked up all the clementine juice. Leave to cool a little.

Roughly chop the butter and add to the zest in the food processor. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar and a pinch of sea salt and pulse to fine breadcrumbs.

Crack in the eggs and pulse again. Add the milk a splash at a time and pulse until it comes together into a dough, then tip out onto a floured board and put the blade back in the processor.

When the cranberries have cooled slightly, blitz in the food processor until finely chopped. Tip onto the dough and gently knead – it’s important to handle the dough as little as possible so you end up with short, crumbly scones. Add a touch more flour as you go, if needed.

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper, or if you’re planning to freeze the scones, prepare a few trays that will fit in your freezer.

Roll the dough out to roughly 2cm thick, then stamp out the scones with a round 5cm fluted pastry cutter. Roll out any off-cuts and re-shape to use up the dough.

Poke the middle of each scone with your floured finger to make a well, brush the top with milk and add a little cranberry sauce, Jammie Dodger-stylee!

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the scones have risen and are golden. Leave to cool slightly before serving.

For the filling, gently whip the cream to soft peaks, then grate in the clementine zest and fold through, along with the almond extract and icing sugar. Refrigerate until needed, then serve with the cranberry scones and a pot of tea.

If you don’t want to bake a whole batch of scones, freeze them after you’ve cut them out. That way, you can come home from work and simply pop the frozen rounds in the oven at 180ºC/gas 4, and in 20 to 25 minutes you’ll have hot, golden scones.

Roasted pear with walnut & ginger filling

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Ingredients

  • 5 comice pears
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 70 g walnut halves
  • 20 g pine nuts
  • 20 g stem ginger , optional

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Halve and core the pears (you’ll be using 1 for decoration), and place them all cut-side up in an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle over ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon and the caraway seeds and pop in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re just browning at the edges and the flesh is soft. Allow to cool.

Place the walnuts and pine nuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes – the pine nuts won’t take long to turn golden, so keep an eye on them. Set aside a few toasted pine nuts for serving.

Once the pears have cooled, scoop most of the flesh out of 4 of the halves, leaving just enough so the sides don’t collapse.

Chop up 4 other roasted pear halves and pop in a food processor with the scooped-out pear flesh and toasted nuts. Add the stem ginger and the rest of the cinnamon and blitz. You want a paste that’s quite textured, not totally smooth.

Divide the pear mixture between the scooped-out pear skins. Peel and core the reserved pear, slice it thinly lengthways and arrange a couple of slivers on top of each stuffed pear.

Decorate with a few chopped toasted pine nuts and serve, warmed through or cold. It’s great with a little peppery salad, like rocket leaves, on the side.

Profiteroles

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Ingredients

  • 50 g shelled pistachios
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 100 g dark chocolate (70%)
  • CHOUX PASTRY
  • 85 g unsalted butter , plus extra for greasing
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 3 large free-range eggs

Method

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas 6 and grease a baking sheet.

For the choux pastry, melt the butter in a saucepan with 220ml of water then bring to a rolling boil.

Sift the flour and 1 pinch of fine sea salt onto a piece of folded greaseproof paper, then quickly pour into the boiling water.

Beat the pastry mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth and the bottom of the pan is beginning to fur, then spread out on a plate and leave to cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Crush the pistachios. Place the cream and most of the pistachios in a small saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse until ready to use.

Beat the eggs. Once the pastry is cool, return it to the saucepan and gradually beat in the beaten egg until the pastry mixture reaches a consistency that lazily drops off the spoon (you may not need all of the beaten egg).

Using teaspoons, space out small dollops of pastry mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Once cooked, use a skewer or drinking straw to pierce holes in the bases of the profiteroles, then leave them upside down on a wire rack to dry completely.

When you’re ready to fill the profiteroles, strain the cream and discard the pistachios. Whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla essence until it holds its shape. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe a teaspoonful or so into the centre of each profiterole.

Break the chocolate into bites, then melt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (without letting the bowl touch the water).

Arrange the profiteroles on a platter and drizzle over some of the melted chocolate. Serve the leftover chocolate in a small jug on the side.

Roasted chicken breast with creamy butternut squash and chilli

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Ingredients

  • 1 higher-welfare chicken breast
  • ½ fresh red chilli
  • 2 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • a little single cream
  • grated nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Put 1 chicken breast, with its skin left on, in a bowl. Deseed and slice up half a fresh red chilli and add to the bowl with the leaves from a couple of sprigs of fresh marjoram or oregano and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss together. Very carefully cut a medium butternut squash into quarters. Remove the seeds and slice one quarter of the squash as finely as you can. Place the chicken breast and flavourings from the bowl into the tray and snugly fit your squash slices around the chicken. Carefully pour a little single cream around the squash (not on the chicken). Season with grated nutmeg and salt and pepper then drizzle with some olive oil and cook in the middle of the oven for 25 to 35 minutes.

Black pudding, poached egg and soldiers

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Ingredients

  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 200 g quality black pudding
  • 2 x 5cm-thick slives of bloomer loaf
  • 2 large free-range ggs
  • unsalted butter
  • Marmite or Vegemite

Method

Put a pan of water on to boil and add a pinch of sea salt and a splash of vinegar.

Heat a medium frying pan to high and add a little oil. Pull the skin off your black pudding, then crumble it into the pan. When it starts to crisp, pop your bread in the toaster.

When the pudding looks and tastes done spoon it onto kitchen paper to drain while you poach your eggs.

Stir the boiling water to create a motion that will help the egg white wrap around neatly. Don’t make a fuss, just crack in the eggs (you might want to do 3 in case you break one, as I often do). They will cook in a few minutes, depending on how you like them.

Butter your toast then smear it with a thin layer of Marmite or Vegemite. Cut each slice into soldiers.

Serve a poached egg next to the toast, sprinkle over the black pudding and dig in.

Poached eggs

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Ingredients

  • sea salt
  • 4 large free-range eggs

Method

Get yourself a wide, casserole-type pan and fill it with boiling water from the kettle. Bring it to a light simmer over a medium heat, add a pinch of sea salt.

Crack one of your eggs into a cup and gently pour it into the water in one fluid movement. Repeat with the rest of the eggs. You’ll see them begin to cook immediately – don’t worry if the edges look a little scruffy. Depending on your pan, a really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes and a soft to firm one will need 4 minutes (it depends on the size of the eggs and whether you’re using them straight from the fridge). To check whether they’re done, remove one carefully from the pan with a slotted spoon and give it a gentle push with a teaspoon. If it feels too soft (use your instincts), put it back and give the eggs a minute or two more in the water to firm up.

When they’re ready, remove them to some kitchen paper to dry off and serve with buttered toast and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Jamie’s top tips
Use the best-quality eggs you can afford. Remember: the better the quality, the better the flavour. You can tell whether an egg is fresh by cracking it on to a saucer. If the yolk stands up and the white isn’t watery, it’s as fresh as a daisy. The simplest way to store eggs is in the box you buy them in. Egg shells are porous and can absorb the odours of other foods so try to keep them away from anything strong-smelling, like fish.

Protein pancakes

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Ingredients

  • 100 g oats
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 100 g cottage cheese
  • 1 banana
  • 1 pinch of baking powder
  • 1 splash of almond milk
  • groundnut oil
  • TOPPINGS
  • 4 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons runny honey
  • 4 tablespoons fat-free Greek yoghurt
  • 4 fresh figs
  • 1 pear
  • 1 apple
  • 1 handful of pomegranate seeds

Method

Blitz all the pancake ingredients (except the oil) in a blender until smooth, adding an extra splash of almond milk if it’s too thick.

Prepare all your toppings in small bowls, slicing the figs. Core and coarsely grate the pear and apple, then toss with the pomegranate. Set aside.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, brush with oil, then pour out any excess.

Drop heaped tablespoons of the batter into the pan and cook for 3 minutes, or until little bubbles start to form on the surface.

Carefully flip with a palette knife and cook for a few more minutes, or until the pancakes are lightly golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate.

Layer the pancakes up with the fruit and almond butter, drizzle over the honey and spoon on the yoghurt.

Hot cross muffins

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Ingredients

  • 225 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 200 g light muscovado sugar
  • 150 g ground almonds
  • 100 g buckwheat flour (see tip)
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1½ teaspoons gluten-free baking pow
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large orange
  • 3 large free-range eggs (at room temperature)
  • 175 g mixed dried fruit (ideally with candied orange in it)
  • 50 g dried cranberries
  • 1 eating apple (125g)
  • 100 g icing sugar , plus extra for dusitng

Method

Heat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line two muffin trays with paper cases or squares of baking paper. In large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric beater until pale and fluffy.

Combine the almonds, flour, mixed spice, baking powder and salt in
a bowl, then sift it on top of the creamed butter and sugar. Add the orange zest, 3 tablespoons of the juice and the eggs to the bowl as well. Beat everything together until you have a thick batter, then stir in the dried fruit, cranberries and apple.

Dollop the mixture into the muffin cases so they’re three-quarters full. Bake for 35 minutes, then turn down the heat to 160C/gas 3 and bake for
a further 20–25 minutes, until the muffins are well risen and golden, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Gradually mix the icing sugar with 4–5 teaspoons of the orange juice to make a thick icing. Spoon into a piping bag with a round nozzle, or into a sandwich bag, snipping off one corner. Pipe crosses onto each muffin, dust with extra icing sugar and leave to set.

Tips

Buckwheat, despite its name, is not related to wheat at all and is totally gluten-free. The flour has a light nuttiness. You’ll find it in most supermarkets and health food shops.

Mushroom soup with stilton, apple & walnut croûtes

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Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 organic chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • ½ a bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms
  • 100 g basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon single cream
  • 1 teaspoon truffle oil
  • For the croûtes
  • 8 chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 ciabatta loaf
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 eating apple
  • ½ a bunch of fresh curly parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 50 g Stilton cheese
  • 1 small handful shelled walnuts
  • For the soup
  • 2 onions

Method

Ingredients out • Kettle boiled • Oven grill on high • Large lidded pan, medium heat • Griddle pan, high heat • Stick blender

START COOKING
Peel, halve and finely slice the onions and put them into the large pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil • Crumble in the stock cube, add a pinch of salt and pepper, strip in the thyme leaves and squash in 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic through a garlic crusher • De-stalk the chestnut mushrooms and place the tops on the griddle pan, turning when charred • Tear the chestnut stalks and portobellos into the onion pan, add the rice and cook for a couple of minutes • Pour in 1 litre of boiling water and boil with the lid on

Cut 4 slices of ciabatta at an angle and add to the griddle pan • When charred on both sides, rub with a halved garlic clove • Coarsely grate or slice the apple into matchsticks and toss with the roughly chopped parsley and a little lemon juice • Place the chestnut mushrooms on the toasts, crumble over the stilton and walnuts, then pop under the grill until the cheese is melted

Use the stick blender to purée the soup to a consistency you like, then season to taste, if needed, and swirl in the cream and truffle oil • Top the toasts with pinches of apple and parsley and serve on the side