December recipes: Comfort & joy

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We’re offering a taste of Christmas at River Cottage by Lucy Brazier with foreword, essays and seasonal recipes from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury, Priced £22.

Brandade with breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

• 450g fillets of sustainably caught white fish, such as whiting, pouting, pollack, cod or haddock
• 375g floury potatoes, such as King Edward, peeled and cut into even sized chunks
• 40g unsalted butter
• 1 large garlic clove, chopped
• 150ml milk
• 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 75g coarse breadcrumbs
• Flaky sea salt and black pepper

Prep: 25 minutes | Cooking: 15-20 minutes | Serves: 4-6 as main, 8-10 as starter

Method

First, lightly salt the fish. Slice the fillets off their skins and check for remaining bones. Sprinkle a thin, even layer of salt on a board, lay the fish fillets on top, then sprinkle over a further light covering of salt. Leave for 15–20 minutes & rinse off the salt under a cold tap. Pat fish dry with kitchen paper. While it’s salting, cook potatoes in boiling water for 15–20 minutes until tender; drain and return to hot pan.

Melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat, add the garlic and sweat gently for a couple of minutes. Add the rinsed fish to the pan and pour over the milk. Bring slowly to a simmer, cover and cook very gently for another couple of minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Scoop the fish out of the pan with a slotted spoon onto a plate, leaving the hot milk behind.

Add 2½ tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil and a few grinds of pepper to the hot milk in the pan, then tip in the hot potatoes and mash thoroughly. Break the fish into flakes and mash roughly with a fork then add to the potato mash and stir well. Taste and add more pepper if you like.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5. Spoon the brandade into a shallow ovenproof dish. Mix the coarse breadcrumbs with the remaining 1½ tbsp olive oil and scatter over the surface of the brandade. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes until golden and piping hot.

Red cabbage & beetroot pickle

Red cabbage is a familiar element of Christmas lunch. It is often braised, which makes it an easy dish to cook ahead of time, freeze and then reheat at the last minute. I think it is always good to have at least one vegetable you can get on the table with the minimum of fuss but I prefer my cabbage crunchy. This recipe is exactly that, injecting a fresh zing into the Christmas feast and the days that follow. I usually make mine several weeks in advance. You don’t even need to decant it from its glass jar, just plonk straight on the table.

Ingredients:

• 420g beetroot, peeled and grated 500g red cabbage, sliced
• Finely grated zest of two oranges
• 10g cumin seeds, toasted and bashed
• 5g caraway seeds toasted and bashed
• Five juniper berries, lightly crushed

For the pickling liquor:
• 700ml cider vinegar
• 20g coriander seeds, toasted
• 20g fennel seeds, toasted
• 10g black peppercorns
• 20g salt
• One dried red chilli (optional)

You will also need:
• A sterilised 1.5 litre Kilner jar

Prep: 60 minutes | Cooking: Five minutes | Makes: 1.5 litres

Method

First, prepare the pickling liquor. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, pour on 200ml water and slowly bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for an hour.

Meanwhile, put the beetroot, red cabbage, orange zest and spices for into a bowl and toss to mix.

Bring the infused pickling liquor back to the boil, then pour it through a sieve straight over the veg mix. Stir to combine.

This pickle is nice to eat as soon as it cools, but ideally should be packed into a sterilised 1.5 litre Kilner jar, sealed and left for a couple of weeks. It will keep in a cool, dark cupboard for up to six months; once opened, it needs to be stored in the fridge.

We have two copies of Christmas at River Cottage by Lucy Brazier with foreword, essays and seasonal recipes from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, to giveaway this month!

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My Journey as a Belly Dancer

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Elizabeth Gordon’s book details the extraordinary moves that took her from legal secretary to belly dancer

From legal secretary to belly dancer may not sound like an obvious career move but for Elizabeth Gordon it proved to be the perfect one.

Her moves as a belly dancer set her off on a path that would change her life forever and one which she has captured in her book My Journey as a Belly Dancer.

After the breakdown of a relationship in Barrister’s chambers, Elizabeth took herself off to the more exotic climes of Morocco, keen to get away from her broken heart and feeling rather uncertain about her future. Not knowing which direction to take other than to board the plane and bring about a break from her daily routine, she became inspired having watched an Arabic belly dancer perform in a hotel.

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From that moment, Elizabeth says she knew “that I would be in her shoes one day” and on her return home she signed up for classes. Her true story “delves into the glitz and dangers of a world she found herself caught up in, when she began dancing at a Turkish Cypriot restaurant in London”.

Elizabeth features in the book as Shariffa, highlighting her experiences as a dancer in Northern Cyprus in the late 1980s for a couple of months. Here she met Mr Bedis at his taverna and danced for soldiers in the barracks.

Fascinating and insightful, she hopes it will be “an inspiring tale of how anyone can find something new within themselves when they believe all is lost”.

Her book is available to buy on Amazon.

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November recipes: Passage to India

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We’re sharing a taste of From Gujarat With Love – 100 Authentic Indian Vegetarian Recipes by Vina Patel

There is a very special story behind this dish and I must share it. It was one of the first dishes I ever learnt to make (I like to call it the Bachelor’s Dish!) and one of very few I had in my culinary arsenal when I got married and moved to the States. I was an inexperienced cook and served it to my husband’s friends for dinner one night along with fresh hand-rolled roti. I watched them wolf it down, thinking it was typical of hungry young men – but later realised they truly loved it! I shared the recipe with them and was (and still am) delighted to hear they often make it for their families. As a tradition, I serve it every time they visit us, some 30 years later. I love how food connects people, creating lifelong friendships.

Potato and Pea Curry

Ingredients:

• 3 tbsp oil
• 3⁄4 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed or roughly ground
• pinch of asafoetida
• 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
• 1 1⁄2 tsp chilli powder
• 570ml/20fl oz/21⁄2 cups water
• 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm (3⁄4-inch) cubes
• 250g/9oz/2 cups shelled petits pois or peas, thawed if frozen
• 1 1⁄2 tsp Coriander-cumin Powder
• 3⁄4 tsp Garlic Paste
• salt, to taste
• 3 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro)
• 1 tbsp chopped garlic scapes (optional)
• Roti, to serve

Method

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over a medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Once they begin to crackle, add the asafoetida, ground turmeric, chilli powder and water. Bring to the boil, then add the potatoes, peas, coriander-cumin powder, garlic paste, and salt to taste.

Cover partially with a lid and cook for 12–14 minutes over a medium heat. Uncover the pan and add the chopped coriander.

Reduce the heat to low and cook for another two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add another 60ml/2fl oz/1⁄4 cup of water if needed.
Stir in the chopped garlic scapes, if using, and remove the pan from the heat. Serve with roti.

SPICY PEA CROQUETTES KACHORI

Every recipe tells a story, and this one is no exception. When I was pregnant with my youngest, my mother-in-law would make kachoris for breakfasts at the weekends. We feasted on them until we couldn’t eat any more. Here, the coconut adds a lovely Surti element. A food processor speeds things up, if you have one.

Ingredients:

For the filling
• 5cm (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger
• 3 green chillies, stems removed
• 450g/1lb/3 1⁄2 cups shelled petits pois or peas, thawed if frozen
• 1 tbsp oil, plus 700–950ml/24–32fl oz/3–4 cups oil, for deep-frying
• pinch of asafoetida
• 3 tbsp raisins
• 3 tbsp cashew nuts, roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp grated fresh coconut or sweetened coconut flakes
• 10g/1⁄3oz/1⁄4 cup finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
• 3⁄4 tsp garam masala salt, to taste
• 2 tsp fresh lime juice 1 1⁄2 tsp sugar

For the dough
• 200g/7oz/1 1⁄2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
• 3–4 tbsp oil
• 5 tbsp plus 2 tsp warm water
• chutney, to serve

For the filling, peel the ginger and blitz with the chillies in a blender or food processor for 1 minute. Add the peas and blitz for 15–20 seconds to a coarse consistency.

Heat the tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan or skillet over a medium heat. Add the asafoetida and cook for 5–7 seconds. Add the pea mixture and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add the raisins, cashews, coconut, coriander, garam masala and salt and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and sugar and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool slightly so the mixture is easier to handle. Shape into 12 balls, approximately 4cm (11⁄2 inches) in diameter and set aside.

For the dough, combine the flour and oil in a bowl. Mix well and add the warm water. Knead for 2–3 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft. Add a little more water if needed. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a disc, about 10cm (4 inches) in diameter.

Take the filling portions and arrange one in the centre of each dough disc. Bring the sides of the dough together like a parcel and pinch the top to seal. Trim off any excess dough from the pinched end.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep saucepan over a medium heat.

To avoid overcrowding, carefully lower in half the kachori and deep-fry for 2–4 minutes, using a slotted spoon to move them around, until they are golden all over.

Using a metal slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer to a tray lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining kachori, then serve hot with your favourite chutney.

 Extract credit: From Gujarat with Love: 100 Authentic Indian Recipes by Vina Patel (Pavilion Books). Image credit to Jonathan Lovekin.

We have two copies of Vina Patel’s From Gujarat With Love –
100 Authentic Indian Vegetarian Recipes to giveaway this month!

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October recipes: Sweet spot

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Ravneet Gill’s Sugar, I Love You: Knockout Recipes to Celebrate The Sweeter Things in Life, is out this month.

For your eating pleasure, I spent weeks testing variations of chocolate cake. I knew what I wanted: something wonderfully moist, a touch bitter, light, quick-to-make and beautiful. The perfect lazy person’s cake. It had to be a gleaming beauty!

Lazy Person’s Cake

Ingredients:
For the wet cake mix
• 175ml light olive oil & extra
• 2 eggs
• 175ml buttermilk
• 170ml boiling water
• 5g/1 tsp instant coffee

For the dry cake mix
• 125g caster sugar
• 125g light brown sugar
• 80g cocoa powder
• 230g plain flour
• 5g/1 tsp sea salt flakes
• 10g/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 5g/1 tsp baking powder

For the malt chocolate ganache
• 150g 70 per cent cocoa solids chocolate, chopped
• 50g 55 per cent cocoa solids chocolate, chopped
• pinch of sea salt flakes
• 300g double cream
• 1 tbsp malt extract (alternatively use black treacle, maple syrup or honey)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm (8in) cake tins with oil, then line with baking paper. Weigh all the dry cake mix ingredients & stir with a whisk (if the sugar is lumpy, you’ll have to sift it.).

2. Weigh all the wet cake mix ingredients, except the water & coffee, into a large bowl and whisk. Make the coffee in a cup, pour it into the wet ingredients bowl and stir. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and whisk to combine. Divide the mixture evenly between tins. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before flipping on to a wire rack (allow to cool fully before ganache).

3. To make the ganache, put both the chocolates and the salt in a large heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, heat the cream with the malt extract until steaming but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave for 1 minute. Use a whisk to stir from the middle outwards – so as not to whisk in any air – until silky & beautiful. Let ganache sit for 10 mins.

4. Take a large plate with a lip. Place a cooled cake on the plate and spoon over enough ganache to cover the top. Don’t worry if it spills over the edges, we kind of want this. Place the next cake on top. Pour the remaining ganache all over, without a care in the world. Use a spoon to guide it over, making sure plenty of ganache is falling down the sides. Put the cake in the fridge for 20–30 minutes.

5. Remove from fridge and, using a small offset palette knife, scoop up the set ganache from the edges of the plate and spread over the sides to create a smooth finish. It really is that easy and effortless.You’ll have your friends thinking you really care…

This cake keeps best in an airtight container at room temperature for three days. If kept in the fridge, allow to come to room temp before eating – it’ll be nicer! I recommend mircowaving a slice for 20 seconds & pouring cold cream all over it.

We have two copies of Ravneet Gill’s Sugar, I Love You to giveaway this month!

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The Divorce Revolution

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New business launched to help separating and divorcing couples save money and stay out of court

Divorce rates are increasing and relationship experts warn the pandemic-induced break-up curve may not have peaked yet. Some law firms are seeing over a 100% increase in enquiries based on the same period last year and courts are struggling to keep up with the new demand.

Claire Colbert and Rachael Oakes have set up their own business called “Family Mediation and Mentoring” because they want to work with individuals and couples in a way that law firms cannot.

Most people know someone, a friend or family member, who talks about the nightmare of their divorce, the conflict, stress and what seemed like never-ending legal fees.  Well, separation and divorce no longer need to be like this anymore.

At Family Mediation and Mentoring LLP the focus is to keep people out of court, save them money and facilitate the resolution of any issue involving family breakdown, separation, divorce and its financial consequences, arrangements for children and any other kind of family dispute.

We will be supporting couples to achieve an amicable divorce using the skills we have as accredited mediators and drawing on all the knowledge and experience we have each built up working as specialist family lawyers for more than 20 years. We are leaving the world of litigation behind to focus on supporting individuals and couples in a way that will reduce acrimony, legal fees and stress.

Our aim is to become the go-to business for people who find themselves considering separation and divorce and want to know what all their options are and gather as much information as possible about the process before going to lawyers. If the couple wish, we can then mediate to discuss and sort out all the issues that need to be resolved, meaning that they may only need a lawyer at the very end of the process to receive legal advice and draw up a legally binding agreement.

Lawyers cannot meet with a couple together. They are prevented from doing so because it is regarded as a conflict of interest by the rules that govern how lawyers’ practice.

One of the unique services Family Mediation and Mentoring LLP will be providing is a fixed price Family Law Information Meeting.

Whilst working as family lawyers we were conscious that many couples wanted to meet with us together to obtain an understanding of the steps and options involved in divorce situations. Law firms cannot offer this service, they are unable to meet with couples together, but we can.

This is a great first step for any individual or couple wanting to receive as much information as possible about how the divorce process works and enables couples to make joint decisions about next steps. This service can reduce the risk of conflict, help keep legal costs down and assist people who are already representing yourself in the family court.

We can use these meetings to answer all the questions people have that they often think they must go to lawyers to get the answers to. In our experience, once lawyers are involved, many cases are then on the litigation pathway and options to consider and resolve issues amicably have been lost.

In speaking with us people may decide that Mediation is the process that they want to use to reach an amicable agreement about their family dispute. If they do, then we will then provide that extra support and put in place the necessary meetings to take things forward. If mediation isn’t right for any reason, then we can provide recommendations about other professionals who can help.

We are the only local business who are able to provide all of the following services to help and support people resolve their family dispute;

• Traditional Family Mediation where a couple meet with a mediator to facilitate resolution of the practical and financial consequences of separation and divorce.

• The new Hybrid Mediation model where both lawyers representing the couple are involved in meetings so that they became part of finding the solution and stop litigating. Having the lawyers at meetings means that they can provide legal advice to their client as and when it is needed, when discussing proposals for reaching an agreement, and then a binding legal agreement can be drawn up on the day. This significantly reduces the time it can take to reach an agreement with lawyers involved, hand in hand with the costs.

• Meeting with children to ascertain their views about future arrangements so that they have a voice in the process and so they feel they have been consulted about important decisions that are going to impact on their future.

• Mediating for couples to facilitate what might be included in a pre-marital agreement, post marital agreement or cohabitation agreement.

• Coaching people who are having to prepare for or go through the court process. This is a very stressful process and one we know inside out. We can offer real and practical tips that people can use to help them cope.

• Resolving other types of family disputes by mediation.

• Mentoring lawyers who work in the field of family law. This service is led by Rachael who also sits as a Deputy District Judge.

Our business came about after much reflection about the way we wanted to work moving forward and wanting to help couples find a better way to separate and divorce. As Alice Walker said – “Look closely at the future you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming”. We have dreamt the dream, now we are creating our future and a better future for those we will work with.

Our website contains lots of information about all the services we provide and explains all the above options in more detail so please do have a look –  www.familymediationandmentoring.co.uk

Here is a video we have put together to explain a little more about our new business. We very much hope that we can help people and their friends and family find a better way to separate and divorce.

If we can help you or anyone you know, call us on freephone 0800 206 2258 or email us at or

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Hands free!

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Paul Zerdin on his Hands Free show at Camberley Theatre on Tuesday, 21st September

By popular demand, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin is back, with Sam, Albert, Roger the bodyguard and an urban fox, all set for his show & tour. Liz Nicholls finds out more about the “one-man Muppet show”

Most of us have felt as if our wings have been clipped over the last 18 months. But Paul Zerdin and his motley crew of puppets are feeling more than a little liberated ahead of their live tour…

“Cannot bloody wait!” says Paul. “For once I think I know how the puppets feel being locked away after this last year locked down! I’m itching to get back on stage with a load of new gags and just be able to travel again.”

In case you’re uninitiated in his shows, Paul, who wowed the judges to be crowned winner of America’s Got Talent in 2015, describes it as a mixture of stand-up comedy with puppets… “Some sections use animatronic puppets which I control and voice, all live, and so it’s kind of like a one-man Muppet show with me at the helm trying to control my alter egos!”

Over lockdown Paul was kept busy writing the tour script for Hands Free. “It takes me a long time to come up with a new show. Lockdown has been a very creative time for me – I was lucky enough to work all last summer for Butlin’s as they moved their shows outdoors. I also wrote, produced and presented my own TV comedy series for YouTube which took up a lot of time but was enormous fun and am now talking to a major broadcaster about it. I also worked on my culinary skills, worked out at home and enjoyed vodka in the evenings!

“Camberley & Basingstoke [both on the tour] are two venues I know really well as before I was able to tour on my own I used to support a lot of famous names on tour including Brian Conley, Joe Pasquale and Ronnie Corbett. I have nothing but happy memories of touring these venues with what I can remember amazing audiences.”

With the lines of reality blurred in his shows, sometimes it’s confusing even for Paul to know who’s running it. To make sure he remains in charge, Paul is bringing his bodyguard Roger – who claims to be ex-CIA – to help him keep Sam, Albert and Baby in order as well as an urban fox. Hands Free also features Paul giving us a glimpse into his own reality, demonstrating what it’s like to be able to throw your voice in everyday situations where anything and everything can talk back.

If Paul had a magic wand what would he wish for the world? “I’d wish everybody download my Paul Zerdin – All Mouth Live Special on Amazon & iTunes; that way I could spread happiness, laughter and become financially secure!

* To find out more, please visit paulzerdin.com

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Star Q&A: Ed Byrne

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Liz Nicholls talks about life, laughs & lockdown saviours with comedian & dad Ed Byrne, 49, ahead of his live shows in September, including Oxford, Newbury, High Wycombe, Farnham, Camberley & Dorking

Q. Hello! Which comedians did you like when you were young? “I always liked Dave Allen. My brother had a 12-inch album The Pick of Billy Connollly which I remember laughing at with my Ma & Da. And then repeating the jokes (that I didn’t really f***** get but were still funny), to other kids who also didn’t get it, in a bad Glaswegian accent.”

Q. Have you had to rewrite material for your new show If I’m Being Honest? “I’ve done a few outdoor & drive-in shows, so I’ve been able to tinker as I go, see what works and what doesn’t. Now I am making jokes about the fact that jokes in the show are a couple of years old which really changes the joke. It demonstrates that life has been in suspended animation for two years.”

Q. What were your lockdown saviours? “I had visions of having a nice break, then taking myself off to the Scottish Highlands when the kids went back to school…but no! I did manage to film a show interviewing celebrities while hill walking but people love to accuse you of breaking the rules. At home we did a lot of Dungeons & Dragons and Pokemon battles. We divided and conquered in this house, and I was banished to the garden. I dug a vegetable patch, made raised beds, I laid a patio… all in the first flush of lockdown, obviously, before my get up and go got up and went. I taught myself via YouTube. When it comes to practical stuff it’s better to watch someone who’s only slightly more qualified than you cackhandedly find their own way through it first.”

Q. Is it true you shook hands with David Bowie? “It was more than that! I was in Adelaide and was invited on to an evening TV chat show. It was live, and as I was doing my bit, Bowie and his band gathered opposite me next to the cameras and audience. Then he did his interview & he was easily as funny as I was. We had a chat and, despite the enormous disparity in our standing, he spoke to me like we were contemporaries, like equals, which was very sweet, if mad! The following day Steven K Amos did the same TV show and he got to meet… The Wiggles. So I won that one.”

Q. What’s your most memorable heckle? “To this day the most devastating heckle I ever had was in Sydney when woman just stood up and shouted [adopts drunken Aussie accent] BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! That really was all she was hearing.”

Q. You’re a humanist, right? “Yes. Humanists help people organise things differently. A lot of the big things in life; how we mark marriage, babies, death, used to be controlled by religion but now there’s choice. You can be altruistic and an atheist.”

Q. Any up-and-coming comedians worth a shout-out? “When work was scarce, I watched a lot of short videos. I do think it’s fitting that I’m made to feel old by the app TikTok, which sounds like someone pointing at their watch counting my career down. I have enjoyed Alistair Green, Tom Little and Naomi Cooper who are all very funny.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world what would it be? “Wow; big question! That it be disease free. And if we can’t go for disease-free, can we just make the diseases we have slightly less contagious?”

For Ed’s show details & to book, visit edbyrne.com

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September recipes: Coffee & banoffee

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This September, Macmillan Cancer Support’s iconic Coffee Morning event is back on Friday 24th September, however you plan it and whatever your baking talents (or lack of) host your coffee morning your way and help raise millions to support the growing number of people living with cancer

The smallest gesture really can make the biggest difference to those affected by cancer, and every year Macmillan supporters up and down the country help raise millions of pounds just by taking part in Coffee Morning.

M&S, headline partner of Macmillan Cancer Support’s Coffee Morning, want to inspire you to get in the kitchen for this worthy cause by providing a delicious recipe for their M&S Banoffee Banana Bread with Caramel and Popcorn Sauce. So pop your apron on, grab your whisk and give this delicious recipe a go!

Banoffee Banana Bread with Caramel and Popcorn Sauce

Ingredients:

• 25g salted caramel popcorn
• 250g mascarpone
• 150g icing sugar
• 45ml caramel and toasted popcorn flavour sauce
• 2 ripe bananas
• 30g pecans
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 180g self-raising flour
• 20ml black treacle
• 2 medium eggs
• 150g light muscovado sugar
• 100g unsalted butter

PREP:  15 minutes

COOKING: 40-45 minutes

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 19cm loaf tin.

2. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one a time, along with the treacle and mix well.

3. Gently fold in 2 tbsp flour, to loosen the batter. Fold in the remaining flour, baking powder, pecans and bananas.

4. Pour half the batter into the tin. Drizzle 40ml of the caramel sauce on top, then pour the remaining batter into the tin.

5. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool.

6. To make the icing, whisk the icing sugar with the mascarpone until smooth and creamy.

7. When the loaf has cooled, spread the icing on top and finish with an extra drizzle of the remaining caramel sauce and the salted caramel popcorn.

 

Do something amazing today sign up to host a Macmillan Coffee Morning at coffee register.macmillan.org.uk

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August recipes: Rays of sunshine

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We’re serving up two dishes from Sunshine Kitchen: Delicious Creole recipes from the Heart of the Caribbean by Vanessa Bolosier, published by Pavilion Books.

Carnival equals sweet fritters! These treats are traditionally served in the Caribbean every Sunday throughout January and until Ash Wednesday.

Banana & rum fritters

Ingredients:

• Four ripe bananas
• 60g/2¼oz/5 tbsp golden granulated sugar
• Two eggs
• 125g/4½oz/1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
• 1tsp baking powder
• One vanilla pod, cut in half lengthwise
• Grated zest of one lime
• A pinch grated cinnamon
• A pinch grated nutmeg
• 1tbsp white rum
• 1 litre/1¾ pints/four cups sunflower oil
• 1tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar

PREP:  2 minutes

COOKING: 5 minutes

MAKES: 20-30

Method:

1. Peel the bananas, put them in a bowl and mash with a fork. Whisk in the sugar and eggs, then the flour and baking powder. Using a small knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the mixture, then stir in the lime zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and rum.

2. In a deep pan, heat the oil over a medium heat until it reaches 180°C/350°F, or until a cube of bread browns in 30–40 seconds. Make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot and start to smoke. Gently drop tablespoonfuls of the batter into the oil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, turning occasionally, until dark golden all over.

3. Scoop the fritters out of the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve hot.

♥ Tip
I like to add a tablespoon of unsweetened desiccated (dry) coconut to my banana fritters to add texture.

Creole rice

Ingredients:

• Two eggs
• 2tbsp vegetable oil
• Onion, very finely chopped
• One spring onion, very finely chopped
• Four garlic cloves, very finely chopped
• 1⁄2 tsp Colombo powder
• 1⁄2 tsp tomato purée (paste)
• 500g/1lb 2oz/21⁄2 cups jasmine rice
• A can (about 300g/101⁄2oz) sweetcorn, drained
• 500ml/18fl oz/two cups water
• Two chicken stock cubes
• A bay leaf
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Colombo powder:

• 2 tbsp coriander seeds
• 2 tbsp ground turmeric
• 1 tbsp cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp mustard seeds
• 1⁄2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
• 1 clove
• 1 tbsp garlic powder

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 32 minutes

MAKES: 4

Method:

Creole rice (also called riz melangé) is a housewife’s godsend. When she serves this — to which you can add chicken or fish — it means she was either in a rush, or just used whatever was in her cupboard. It’s also a favourite to bring when spending a day on the beach with the family and barbecuing some chicken wings in situ.

Many of the migrants who arrived around 1862 came from southern India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), so this is how their spice mix acquired its name. Make your own by putting all the spices in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle and grinding to a fine powder. Sieve it, keep in an airtight container and use within two or three months:

1. Put the eggs in a saucepan of cold water, bring to simmering point and simmer for 7–10 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, spring onion, garlic, Colombo powder and tomato purée and cook until the onions start to soften.

3. Add the rice and corn. Stir to coat the rice. Add the water, cubes & bay leaf and stir well. Season. Cover and cook over a low heat for 25 minutes, stirring two or three times so the rice doesn’t stick Cut each egg into six and stir into the rice.

4. Remove the bay and serve hot, for example with chicken fricassée.

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Star Q&A: Andre Rieu

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Liz Nicholls asks international classical music champion & dad Andre Rieu, 71, about life, love & music ahead of Together Again which comes to cinemas on 28th & 29th August.

Q. Your concerts look so joyful! How do you create that magic? “Wherever we play in the world, people start to dance when they hear The Blue Danube. Magicians use their wands, I have my violin and my bow. But there is also the joy I feel when I play my music. It’s real, and luckily, my fellow orchestra members share that joy and passion. And then there is this unmistakable interaction with my audience: we face them and they can see our faces too. You know, classical music has been composed for all of us – not only for the elite like some people tend to think. Johann Strauss, Mozart; they were pop stars in their own times. Music is my oxygen!”

Q. How have you coped over the last 16 months? “When a concert was over and we were travelling to our hotel, I used to watch baking tutorials on YouTube. So that’s what I’ve been doing: making cakes, pies and all kind of pastries for the street, haha! One of the most famous cake bakers in the Netherlands (Cees Holtkamp) gave me a masterclass on my birthday, that was a nice surprise! Nevertheless, I missed contact with my audience and my big family; that’s the nickname for all my fellow orchestra members. My saviours? My wife, our sons with their wives and our five gorgeous grandchildren. I am looking forward to touring and returning to the UK in 2022.”

Q. How did your father shape your path in life? “I was raised in a classical family. My father was a symphony orchestra conductor, all my brothers and sisters play one or more instruments, chosen by our mother. She thought the violin would suit me and she was right! No other instrument translates my inner feelings so well. My first violin teacher was an 18-year-old blonde girl with whom I instantly fell in love (I was five years old, haha!).”

Q. What’s the key to a happy marriage like yours with Marjorie? “The key to our blissful happiness is the 100% mutual trust, but also sharing the same sense of humour and giving the freedom the other needs. We’ve been married 47 years, we work together but we’re also still each other’s lovers. Most people forget but it’s important to enjoy life and laugh. In the Netherlands we have a saying: ‘Not having laughed one day is not having lived that same day’.”

Q. What surprising lessons have fatherhood, and being a grandpa, taught you? “Not a single day is the same as another. Try to enjoy every moment because your (grand) children grow quicker than you think. Besides that: freedom is the secret… they’ll come to you as a father or grandfather when they’ll need you. Last thing: I love to spoil my grandchildren once in a while…”

Q. Who would be your dream dinner party guests? “Walt Disney who said: ‘If you can dream it, you can do it!’ Next to him, the one and only true King of the Waltz: Johann Strauss. Albert Einstein because of his knowledge about the universe: Jules Verne and Columbus.”

Q. What wish would you grant the world? “World peace. Not to fight for, let’s say, one year. Try to make music… more fun than weapons!”

For tickets please visit andreincinemas.com

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