Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Goosnargh Cakes (pronounced 'Goozna')

These little beauties are easy to make, they can be served as a sweet or savoury biscuit/cake, and not only that, they come from my favourite cookbook of the moment - British Regional Food by Mark Hix. These tasty little cakes, or biscuits, come from the north west, Lancashire to be precise. They can be dusted with sugar for a sweet kick or served with some cheese if you are that way inclined. This week I have been mostly eating Goosnargh cakes with cheese at my desk at 11am. Satisfying it has been.

They may remind you of shortbread with a caraway kick. Pretty darn good.

275g plain flour, sieved
225g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
20g caster sugar
2tsp caraway seeds
icing sugar to dust (optional)

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together with your fingers until you achieve a breadcrumb-like consistency.
Add the caster sugar and caraway seeds and mix well. It should now be a smooth dough (mine was a little sticky so I added a bit more flour). If you think the dough is warm chill it in the fridge for ten minutes.
Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to about 1cm thick. Cut into rounds, I used a 7cm cutter.
Dust with sugar (or not if you're taking the savoury cheese route).
Bake for about 20 minutes until they just begin to colour.
You can dust again while hot and cooling on a wire rack.

Thanks Mark.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Harry Potter marathon sweets

If like us, you are planning a Harry Potter marathon, in order to watch all seven spectacular films before the final battle arrives on our screens in July, it may be wise to take a few minutes to consider what sweets to serve. The films are long and require much snacking. We are now over half way through, having watched four films and the list below details the sweets which have worked well for us so far:

Strawberry liquorice wands
Popping candy (super loud)
Bertie Botts every flavour jelly beans
Jelly snakes
Chocolate caramel frogs
Jelly babies

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Green Gazpacho

Summer Soup: fresh and green as pastures new

Selecting the starter for Supper Club numero dos was a drawn-out affair. I was feeling despondent after weeks of making roasted vegetable terrines that did not set, when Charlotte stumbled across this recipe from Plenty by Ottelenghi. It ticked all the boxes: seasonal, light and a perfect match for Rachael's delicious ricotta and sun dried tomato stuffed chicken which would be making its debut as our Main.

A somewhat risky choice to feed a room of strangers (cold soup?!) but the guests lapped it up and cried for more (they didn't get it, we were carefully controlling portions so that they had room for the main, trio of desserts and exquisite macaroons we had in store).

The reason for its success? The nuts and basil give it a rich, full flavour; the chilli gives it a kick. And if you put that combination of delicious green things in a glass it can only lead to one thing: a taste fresh as a summer's day.

I served the soup with croutons made from homemade soda bread. Baking your own bread is a bit extravagant for croutons and not strictly necessary, but that's just how we roll in the Keston Kitchen.


Jules xxx

Green Gazpacho
(Serves 6 - big portions)

2 celery sticks (including the leaves)
2 small green peppers, deseeded
1 large cucumber (weighing about 350g), peeled
3 slices stale white bread, crusts removed
1 fresh green chilli
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp sugar
150g walnuts, lightly toasted
200g baby spinach
25g basil leaves
10g parsley
4tbsp sherry vinegar
225 ml olive oil
40g Greek yoghurt
250g ice cubes
2tsp salt
white pepper preferably, but black works too)

2 thick slices bread
4tbsp olive oil

To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 190C. Cut the bread into 2cm cubes and toss them in the olive oil and a bit of salt. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 mins or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Roughly chop up the celery, peppers, cucumber, bread, chilli and garlic. Place in a blender and add the sugar, walnuts, spinach, basil, parsley, vinegar, oil, yoghurt, water, half the ice cubes, salt and pepper. Blitz the soup until smooth.
(n.b. our blender is small so I had to do it in batches).

Lastly, add the remaining ice and pulse once or twice to crush it a little. Serve at once with the croutons.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Ginger, Lemon and Garlic Baked Salmon

Ginger, Lemon and Garlic Baked Salmon. By Ceri.

This is a really fresh fish dish, perfect for Spring or Summer and is one of my favourites from my contribution to the Keston Kitchen Calendar for the month of May. I was given this recipe by my previous boss, Jill. My colleague, Sarah and I would poise with our notepads at the ready whilst she dictated recipes to us. The flavours go really well and the end result is succulent fish and tasty spring greens, full of flavour. A lot of people have asked me for this recipe, so I'm happy to be sharing it. It will also work with trout and most other types of fish.

Serves 4

4 well sourced salmon fillets

2 large cloves of garlic, crushed

A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

300 ml olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

Baby leeks

Baby corn

4 spring onions chopped

600 g fresh baby leaf spinach

Salt and Pepper

1 large roasting tin

Preheat the oven to 180 / Gas mark 4.

Pour the lemon juice and olive oil into a bowl and stir it together with a fork. Add the garlic and ginger, mix and season with salt and pepper (ideally, make this an hour before baking so the flavours infuse). Put the spinach into the roasting tin. It may look like a lot of leaves, but it cooks down considerably when baked. Press it down into the dish if necessary. Now place the salmon fillets on top of the spinach and add the spring onions, leeks and baby corn around the side.

Finally pour the sauce over the entire dish and bake for 35 minutes. When you remove from the oven, the spinach will have cooked down and the sauce will have doubled due to the water from the veg with all the flavours soaking into the spinach. Serve with roasted sweet potato wedges or mash. You will have some sauce in the bottom of the dish which you can put on the table in a jug for your guests to add extra if they wish.