June recipes: Cupcakes & kindness

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Dust off your baking bowls, whip out your whisks and unite against dementia by signing up for Cupcake Day

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

Ingredients:

• 125g Dark Chocolate (minimum 56% cocoa solids)
• 125g Unsalted Butter
• 1.5 tsp Instant Coffee
• 90ml Boiling Water
• 120g Plain Flour
• 30g Cocoa Powder
• 1.5 tsp Baking Powder
• 100g Golden Caster Sugar
• 150g Light Brown Sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 95ml Sour Cream
• 1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

For the icing:

• 360g dark chocolate
• 450g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
• 450g icing sugar

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 25 minutes

MAKES: 4

Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer and affect 1,000,000 people by 2025. Each cupcake sold this Cupcake Day, June 17th, will help Alzheimer’s Society reach more people, find out more about how you can help at cupcakeday.org.uk

Method:

1. Set the oven to 160C/150C fan/Gas Mark 3. Set out 12 cupcake cases in cupcake trays.

2. Melt together the chocolate and the butter in a medium pan. Separately, mix the instant coffee with the boiling water and then stir into the chocolate mixture until smooth.

3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and sugar. Give it a quick mix to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract.

4. Mix together the wet ingredients, then fold into the dry ingredients.

5. Fill each case 2/3 of the way up and bake for around 25 minutes or until firm to the touch and a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.

6. Cool in the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

For the icing:

1. Melt the chocolate in a small pan and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the icing sugar until pale and creamy (at least 4-5 minutes).

3. Fold the chocolate into the mixture, and use to ice the cooled cupcakes.

Very Berry Vegan Cupcakes

Ingredients:

• 240g self-raising flour (or gluten-free flour)
• 220g caster sugar
• 5 tablespoons rapeseed oil
• 225 ml almond milk
• 190g fresh strawberry purée
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 50g dairy-free margarine
• 300g icing sugar
• 50g fresh strawberry purée
• Fresh strawberries for decoration
• Multi-coloured sprinkles (optional)

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 15-18 minutes

MAKES: 12

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes and line a cupcake tin with 12 large cupcake liners.

1. Sift the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl.

2. In another bowl, blend the strawberry purée, oil, almond milk and vanilla extract.

3. Pour the strawberry mixture onto the dry ingredients and use an electric whisk to combine until the batter is smooth.

4. Fill 12 cupcake liners two-thirds full with the batter and bake for 15-18 minutes.

5. Set aside and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the sumptuous strawberry icing place the margarine in a large mixing bowl and sift in the icing sugar in stages, whisking well to ensure the icing is fluffy and smooth. Add the pureed strawberries to the mixture.

7. Once the cupcakes are cool, spread or pipe the icing onto the cakes and decorate with multi-coloured sprinkles and a fresh strawberry. The fresh strawberries in the decadently fruity icing means it’s best to ice the cakes immediately before serving.

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May recipes: Watercress wonders

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Suze Morrison, founder of Gourmet Glow, has teamed up with The Watercress Company to offer some healthy meals

Burrata, strawberry & passionfruit sambal, pineapple & watercress salad

Ingredients:

• Two balls of burrata
• One pineapple
• 200g strawberries, chopped into 0.5cm dice
• 3cm ginger, minced
• Four cloves of garlic, minced
• 4 red chillies, finely chopped
• 80g caster sugar
• Pulp of two passionfruit
• One lime, juiced
• 1 tsp white miso
• 1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
• 200g watercress

Fruity cashew confetti:

• 50g cashews, roasted for 15 minutes at 160C
• 10g freeze-dried strawberries
• 20g dried pineapple (from pineapple above)

PREP: 30 minutes & four hours drying

SERVES: 4

May heralds the start of the UK watercress season when the lush, peppery, vitamin-filled green leaf is available in abundance on supermarket shelves, freshly harvested from farms in Hampshire and Dorset, where watercress has flourished for over 150 years.

Watercress is a uniquely grown crop with its roots clinging to the gravel base of the beds, while the plants sway in the nutrient-rich spring water that flows past. The water is pure and clean, forced up from deep underground aquifers and filtered through the chalk of the South Downs.

Method:
1. Begin with the pineapple crisps. Set the oven to the lowest it can go and slice half the pineapple as finely as you can (if you have a mandolin, use this)

2. Lay the slices on baking paper and dry for four hours, or until crisp throughout. Set aside to cool.

3. Take 20g of this pineapple and blitz to a ‘confetti’ with the freeze dried strawberries and cashews. Set aside in an airtight container.

4. Chop the remaining pineapple into chunks
and grill in a griddle pan until lightly charred, soft and sweet.

5. For the sambal, combine the strawberries, ginger, garlic, chilies, sugar, passionfruit, miso and coriander in a bowl. Taste, it should be tangy, sweet, spicy and lightly salted. Adjust with more lime, sugar or salt if needed.

6. When ready, divide each burrata in two. Divide the watercress and sambal between four bowls and top with the burrata and grilled pineapple.

7. Sprinkle with the confetti and serve.

Masala fried red mullet with potato & watercress salad

Ingredients:

• Four red mullet fillets (or mackerel, salmon, sardines etc)
• One onion, finely sliced
• 800g baby potatoes, skin on
• 4 tbsp oil
• Pinch of salt
• 2 tsp nigella seeds
• 200g watercress
• 20g basmati rice
• Lemon to serve

Masala spice blend:

• 1 tsp turmeric
• 2tsp chilli powder
• 1 tsp cracked black pepper
• 1 tsp salt

Raita:

• 300g full-fat Greek yoghurt
• ½ cucumber, seeds removed, julienned
• One clove of garlic, minced
• ½ tsp cumin seeds
• ½ tsp nigella seeds
• 1 tsp oil
• Pinch salt

PREP: 60 minutes

COOKING: 35 minutes

SERVES: 4

Method:

Begin with the roasted rice. Add the rice to a dry frying pan, heat to the highest heat & toast, shaking the pan until it turns golden brown and smells nutty. Remove, allow to cool then grind to a coarse crumb in a blender. Set aside in a jar (this keeps for ages and adds great crunch to salads)

2. For the raita, mix the yogurt, cucumber, garlic and salt in a bowl. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin and nigella. Fry until beginning to pop then pour the whole lot into the yogurt bowl. Stir in and allow to rest.

3. Add the potatoes to a pan, cover with cold water and cook until just tender. Remove, drain and allow to steam until dry. If you have time transfer to the fridge on a wire rack to dry more.

4. Rub the spice mix over your fish fillets. Set aside.

5. Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion until crisp & golden. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and set aside.

6. Add the potatoes to the hot oniony oil and lightly crush with a fork You want to retain some shape but give crumbly edges to go super crispy. Fry for 2-3 minutes, sprinkle with the salt & nigella and flip. Cook until all the edges are crisp (you may need to fry in batches). Set aside.

7. Heat a splash more oil in the pan and add the fish fillets skin side down. Have the heat on medium high to prevent the edges from curling up. If they do, the heat is too high, and the skin may scorch. Cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and rest.

8. Lay the watercress on a platter and tumble over the potatoes. Spoon over the raita, top with the fish and finally the crispy onions and 2 tbsp roasted rice. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.

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April recipes: Baking power

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We’ve cooked up a sneaky slice of The National Trust Book of Baking by Sybil Kapoor, which is out on 15th April, with these heart-warming spring recipes.

Easy leek tart

Ingredients:

• 225g/8oz puff pastry (see below if making fresh)
• 680g/11⁄2 lb untrimmed leeks
• 1⁄2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 225g/8oz taleggio cheese

For the puff pastry

• 225g/8oz plain flour pinch of salt
• 225g/8oz cold butter about 120ml/4fl oz cold water

PREP: 15 minutes & 30 minutes rest time

COOKING: 25 minutes

SERVES: 6

Method:

1 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a large rectangle about 3mm/1⁄8 in thick. Using a 20 x 30cm/8 x 12in Swiss roll tin as a giant pastry cutter, cut out a rectangle of that size. If you are using homemade puff pastry there will be quite
a lot of leftover pastry, so carefully fold up the trimmings and freeze. Take a sharp knife and lightly run it about 1cm/1⁄2 in inside the pastry edge, so that you score a line to create a rim for the tart. Prick the internal rectangle with a fork. Place on a non-stick baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to fan 200°C/gas 7.

2 Trim the leeks of their roots and darker green leaves. Remove the tough outer leaves then slice lengthways through the green- coloured section of leaves. Wash thoroughly in a sink of cold water. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the leeks, return to the boil and cook briskly for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and cool under the cold tap. Squeeze out the excess water and pat dry on kitchen paper.

3 Slice the leeks and spread them over the pastry, taking care not to cover the rim. Scatter with the chopped tarragon and lightly season. Remove the rind from the cheese and slice or break into pieces. Dot over the filling.

4 Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the cheese is bubbling and flecked gold.

Puff Pastry:

The pastry itself doesn’t take long to make, but it needs to be rested regularly in between rollings. The chilling times are the minimum period of time you should leave the dough, but you can leave it several hours if you like.

1 Mix together the flour and salt in a food processor. Cut 30g/1oz of the cold butter into small dice, add to the flour and whiz until it forms fine crumbs. Tip into a bowl and mix in enough cold water to form a rough dough. Lightly knead into a ball, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Return the remaining butter to the fridge.

2 Fifteen minutes before you are ready to roll, take the remaining 200g/7oz butter out of the fridge and let it soften slightly. Place the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper or baking parchment and use a rolling pin to flatten it into a 2.5cm/1in thick rectangle.

3 On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle that is three times the length of the butter and about 2.5cm/1in wider than the butter. Place the butter in the centre of the dough and then fold over the top and bottom flaps of dough, so that the butter is completely covered. Using the rolling pin, lightly press down on each edge so that the butter is sealed in. Give the dough a half-turn clockwise.

4 Using short sharp strokes, roll out the dough so that it returns to its original length (three times that of the butter) but retains the same thickness. Then fold in the top and bottom ends, press the edges with the rolling pin and give a further half-turn clockwise. If the butter is breaking through the pastry or the pastry is becoming warm, stop, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. If not, you can repeat the rolling process one more time before resting the dough. Make a note of which way the dough is facing before chilling, as you will need to continue with the clockwise half-turns.

5 After 30 minutes’ chilling, replace the pastry on the floured surface in the position that you left off and continue with a further two rolls and half-turns. Chill for another 30 minutes and then make two more rolls and half-turns. Wrap and chill until needed or cut in half and freeze.

Strawberry cream cake

Ingredients:

Whisked sponge

• 85g/3oz caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
• 85g/3oz plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
• pinch of salt
• 3 medium eggs

Strawberry filling

• 310g/11oz strawberries 1 tablespoon kirsch
• 2 tablespoons caster sugar 225ml/8fl oz double cream

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 8

This cake is the picture of summer if you place a freshly opened rose on its sugary top. Perfect for June birthdays. As it is a whisked sponge, and contains no fat, it is best eaten on the day it’s baked. The sponge freezes well and makes a wonderful trifle.

Method:

1 Preheat the oven to fan 170°C/gas 4. Lightly oil two 18cm/7in cake tins. Line the base of each with baking parchment and lightly oil. Dust the sides of each tin with caster sugar and then with flour.
2 Sift the flour and salt together and set aside. Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. If you have an electric whisk, beat until the mixture is pale and thick and leaves a trail when you lift the whisk. If you’re whisking by hand, place the bowl over a pan of just-boiled water (off the heat); whisk until it is pale and thick, then remove from the pan and continue to whisk until cool.
3 Tip the flour over the surface of the whisked egg mixture and, using a flat metal spoon, gently fold the flour into the mixture. Divide between the two tins and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Test by lightly pressing the cake with your fingertip: it will spring back if cooked.
4 Leave the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Turn out the cakes and peel off the baking paper. Dust the top of one cake (baked-side up) with caster sugar. Leave until cold.
5 Meanwhile, hull, halve and slice the strawberries. Toss with the kirsch and 2 tablespoons caster sugar.
6 Once the cakes are cold, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold in the strawberry mixture. Spread over the bottom sponge, leaving a clear edge for the cream to squeeze into when you
add the top. Gently squash on the sugared top and add a further dusting of caster sugar.

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March recipes: Spice of life

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Mandira Sarkar of Mandira’s Kitchen serves up a wonderful suggestion for Mother’s Day: spiced biscuits & masala chai to deliver to your mum’s doorstep if you live close enough to her…

Nankathai cookies & masala chai (hearty spiced tea)

Ingredients:

• 100g ghee (clarified butter)
• ½ cup powdered sugar
• 1 cup plain flour
• ½ cup semolina
• ½tsp powdered cardamom
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• Nuts for garnishing

For the masala chai:
• 1/4 cup milk
• One green cardamom
• ½ tsp grated ginger
• Two crushed peppercorns
• Two cloves
• 1 tsp loose leaf tea

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, 14th March. But, even if you can’t be with your mum, we thought this was a good excuse for tea & biccies.

Mandira, who can’t be with her mum as she is in Calcutta, tells us: “My earliest memories of tea time remain interspersed with the sounds of the Jeep arriving at the porch signalling Dad coming home at the end of his ‘kaamjari’, excited barking of the dogs and my sister and I running across the long verandah to greet him.

“Signalling the close of a working day, the world seemed at peace with itself… the setting sun casting its beautiful glow over the emerald green tea bushes and the blazing bougainvilleas looking as though someone had set off a light within…

“A very heavily laden three-tiered trolley would shortly make its way from the kitchen wheeled in to the verandah where we would all sit for tea… everything was arranged in some sort of predetermined order – the plump tea pot covered with a hand embroidered tea cosy filled with fresh brew straight from the factory and glasses of steaming milk from the cows (all children usually had their personal cows!) sat on the top tier with accompanying plates, starched napkins and cutlery… The second tier had savouries whilst the bottom tier cakes and biscuits. I still find it amazing how we had high tea every single day of the year with at least four things but no two days did the menu look or taste remotely similar. There were seasonal specialities like samosas made with a delicate homegrown potato and cauliflower filling – a sign that winter was nigh… Hot roasted ‘bhutta’ or corn on the cob picked straight from the ‘maalibari’, served with butter and slivers of lime in midsummer.

“These were melt-in-the-mouth nankathais that would put a Parisian bakery to shame and sandwiches with the most exciting of fillings from ‘chutney’ to ‘sausage’… Every different Memsaheb and cook had their own specialities. Given that there was no equipment like electric beaters, piping bags or even a temperature controlled oven, it is astounding the standard and quality of what came out of those huge wood-fired Agas and cool tile-lined kitchen counters…

“Those days are long gone… Most cooks like Monglu, our cook have passed on and the Memsahebs now live very different, albeit social, lives in bustling metros… However I cannot help thinking those tea times live on in their own way in the homes of the numerous ‘chai ka baby and babas’ scattered all over the globe … Through recipes… Embroidered linen, little silver bells… In my house it is my mum’s tattered Duliajaan cookbook handed down to me, those amazing chutney sandwiches, white fluffy nankathais or even the light of the early evening sun on a summer evening falling on my freshly mowed lawn…

Here is Mandira’s recipe for Nankathai cookies & masala chai (hearty spiced tea)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat the ghee and sugar until light and fluffy. To this add the flour, semolina, baking powder and baking soda, after they’ve been sieved. Mix to form a soft dough. Make small balls (the size of marbles) and put on a greased baking tray – they will spread so make sure there is adequate space in between.

Put a cashew nut or almond as garnish and bake the cookies for 15 minutes making sure they cook but do not brown.

Gently remove from the tray whilst hot and put on a baking rack .
These melt-in-the-mouth crumbly cookies are best served with masala chai.

To make this, boil one cup water with 1/4 cup milk and add the green cardamom, grated ginger, crushed peppercorns and cloves until the flavours are infused – which should take about eight minutes. Add one tsp of loose tea leaves and then strain and serve.

Order a special Indian inspired afternoon tea from mandiraskitchen.com/product/mothers-day-afternoon-tea & use the code AboutMum for free chilli chocolates

Slow-cooked duck with duck gravy

Ingredients:

• 2 large Aylesbury ducks, about 2kg each
• 3 tsp ground mace

For the duck gravy:

• 500g duck bones and wings, chopped A little vegetable oil for cooking
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
• 4 celery sticks, cut into 3cm pieces 1 onion, peeled and diced into 3cm pieces
• 1 garlic bulb, cut across in half, through the equator
• 150g runny honey
• 4 cloves
• 2 litres chicken stock
• 50ml soy sauce
• About 500g unsalted butter
• Lemon juice, to taste (optional)
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 90 minutes

SERVES: 4

Some dishes end up defining you, chef and restaurant. This is one of them. I cooked it at the Great British Menu banquet for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. That raised our profile into the stratosphere: everybody suddenly wanted to book a table at The Hand & Flowers and order duck and chips!

Method:

Remove the legs and wings from the ducks and take out the wishbone (reserve for the faggots, gravy etc., see right and overleaf). Remove the excess fat and skin, placing it all in a frying pan. Now carefully cut away the backbone; you should be left with the crown.

Place the pan of fat and skin over a low heat to render the fat out. Set aside for later use.

Score the skin on the duck crowns and rub in the mace. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the duck crowns and sear on all sides for 5–10 minutes to render the fat and give the skin a good golden colour. Remove the duck crowns from the pan and allow to cool.

Put each duck crown into a large vacuum-pack bag and vacuum-seal on full pressure. Immerse in a water-bath at 62°C and cook for
1½ hours.

Lift out the vacuum-pack bags and remove the ducks. Carefully cut the breasts from the crowns. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Duck gravy:

Preheat the oven to 205°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6–7. Put the chopped duck bones and wings into a roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown and caramelised.

Heat a little oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the chopped carrots and colour until darkly caramelised. Add the celery, onion and garlic and similarly colour until well browned.
Remove the duck bones and wings from the roasting tray and add them to the saucepan. Drain off the excess fat from the roasting tray, then add the honey and cloves to the tray. Place over a medium heat and take the honey to a dark golden caramel.

Add a splash of the chicken stock and the soy sauce to deglaze the tray, stirring to scrape up the sediment. Add the liquor to the duck bones and vegetables. Pour in the rest of the chicken stock and reduce down by half, to 1 litre.

Pass the liquor through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pan and skim off any excess fat from the surface. Add 250g butter to every 500ml duck liquor and reduce down until it has emulsified into the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice if required. Set aside for serving.

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Pancake recipes: From Bonne Maman

Liz Nicholls

recipes

Today is Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday. We’ve teamed up with Bonne Maman UK to offer you some great recipe ideas.

Vegan Apricot Crêpes with Toasted Nuts & Seeds

Ingredients:

For the crêpes

• 150g plain flour
• pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp caster sugar, optional
• 250ml oat milk
• 1 tbsp melted sunflower spread or coconut oil, plus extra for the pan
• splash of vegan beer, about 2tbsp

For the filling

• 60-100g mixed nuts and seeds such as hazelnuts, almonds, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin
• pinch ground cinnamon or mixed spice
• 400g tub Greek-style, vanilla, non-dairy yoghurt
• 335g jar Bonne Maman Intense Apricot

METHOD:

1. Spread the nuts and seeds for the filling on a foil-covered baking sheet and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Toast in a hot oven or under the grill until golden brown. This will only take a minute so keep an eye on them. Set aside.

2. To make the crêpes, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt and the sugar, if using. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking gently as you go, then whisk in the melted spread or oil. Set the batter aside for about half an hour if time allows, then finally whisk in the beer.

3. Heat an 18-20cm crêpe pan and wipe over the base lightly with butter or oil. Stir the batter – it should be the thickness of single cream – and pour a small ladle of batter into the pan. Working quickly, tilt the pan so that the batter runs all over the surface then hold the pan over the bowl of batter and let the excess tip out. Trim the lip of cooked batter away from the edge and return the pan to the heat. The base should be covered in batter but not quite thin enough to see through.

4. Let the crêpe cook for a minute or so until the underside is golden and comes easily away from the pan. Lift one edge up with a palette knife and carefully flip it over. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes. The flip side will only cook in spotted brown patches, not as evenly as the first side. Tip the crêpe carefully on to a plate. Wipe the pan with a little more oil and continue until you have used up all the batter. Keep the crêpes warm, covered with foil in a low oven.

5. When ready to serve, spread the warm crêpes generously with the vanilla yoghurt, add large spoonsful of Intense Apricot and finally sprinkle with the toasted nuts and seeds. Enjoy!

Lemon Curd & Raspberry Crêpes

Ingredients:

Crêpes

• 6 Large French Crêpes

For the filling

• 12 tbsp Bonne Maman Lemon Curd
• 300g fresh raspberries
• Icing sugar to dust
• 6 tbsp crème fraiche or vanilla ice-cream
• zest of 1 lemon
• 25g toasted shredded almonds
• a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme

METHOD:

1. If the crêpes are not freshly made, wrap in foil and warm in a low oven for 10 minutes.

2. Spread each warm crêpe generously with about 2 tbsp lemon curd.

3. Add a small handful of raspberries into the centre and a spoonful of crème fraiche. Fold the crepe in half.

4. Dust lightly with icing sugar and top with lemon shreds, almonds and lemon thyme. Add a few more berries and enjoy straight away

TIP:

If fresh raspberries are out of season use thawed frozen berries.

Add a splash of Crème de Framboise or Crème de Cassis to the berries before using.

For extra flavour and crunch, stir a tablespoon of toasted almonds into the crepe batter before cooking.

Find more Bonne Maman recipes here bonnemaman.co.uk and see our other recipes here

Love local with fresh food boxes

Liz Nicholls

recipes

Love local! Fresh food delivery boxes so you can make restaurant-quality meals

Our hospitality industry has, of course, been brutally battered over the last 12 months. This is part of the reason we’re celebrating our food & drink heroes in our R&A Good Cheer Awards.

Crop To Kitchen is one of the many valiant businesses which has had to evolve to survive – and keep us well fed. Ordinarily, the team supply restaurants in London and the home counties – including Michelin-starred eateries and five-star hotels – from its Maidenhead base. These include iconic settings such as Cliveden House, the Hind’s Head and The Groucho Club.

MD Peter Codling says: “Like many, we have had to think on our feet. What was also important was that we helped the local farms and growers whose top produce was no longer needed by the trade. We wanted to avoid food waste and serve the community so they can enjoy great food at home.”

Their home delivery boxes, containing the finest ingredients, have won rave reviews. Customers can build their own order or choose a pre-selected box. As well as the best fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs, the Crop To Kitchen team also rose to the challenge in the first lockdown, sourcing items in short supply including fresh pasta. Foodies should also keep an eye on the website for new lines of produce, normally only supplied to the best restaurants, so that you can replicate the same level of excellence in your own meals.

The social media feed is filled with delicious recipe ideas. They offer free next-day delivery within a 10-mile radius, including Cookham, Bourne End, Burnham, Ascot, Slough, Windsor, Bray, Cookham Dean, Taplow, Bisham, Marlow, Henley and all the villages in between.

All orders are delivered in reusable and fully sanitised crates and plastic packaging is avoided when sourcing and delivering to fit the green ethos. The drivers pride themselves on meticulous presentation and comply with social distancing guidelines, using full PPE.

Crop To Kitchen also dreams big, with plans on the horizon including offering specific areas of land or poly tunnels for restaurants, once back on their feet, to grow their own bespoke produce. Peter is also going to rustle up some live-streaming nights featuring chef cook-alongs.

Get your box for Valentine’s Day – or to find out more, visit croptokitchen.co.uk.

We’ve teamed up to offer a box bundle to one lucky winner – watch this space for the competition which will go live at the start of March!

For some of our own recipe ideas, click here

Maymessy: Recipe for life

Karen Neville

recipes

Social enterprise Maymessy is helping families learn valuable life skills.

Food shopping and cooking for a family can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget, but help is at hand from a Wantage-based social enterprise.

Maymessy at Garlands Farm, West Challow, believes in giving marginalised groups and disadvantage young people better wellbeing through cookery classes and wellness activities.

It was launched in 2017 by Anna Richards who turned a disused cow shed into the cookery barn supporting young carers, young people in the care system, families struggling financially, those with special needs and refugee families.

Maymessy works with eight local charities and youth groups helping young people to understand the importance of teamwork, build their confidence and self esteem and enjoy time outside in the shared garden as well as giving them greater knowledge of healthy eating and wellbeing.

Maymessy at Garlands Farm

This year, it has branched out to support adults from charities such as Refugee Resource and Style Acre with those who visit working in the vegetable plot and getting to grips with the pots and pans before sitting down to tuck into a plate of their own yummy and nutritious food.

Maymessy can also offer ad hoc work experience, volunteering and mentorship to the young people who go there.

Anna said: “As a qualified teacher with nutritional accreditation and a mother of twin girls, I know how food shopping and cooking for a family can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget or using a food bank.

“As a local community interest company, I wanted Maymessy to help these families by providing a safe and comfortable space to learn these essential life skills.”

And this year Maymessy has been supporting the NHS in Oxfordshire with weekly deliveries to around 100 Covid-19 special care staff.

Anna added: “At the end of lockdown, we also collaborated with Ray Collins Charitable Trust to provide care packages to the staff of the John Radcliffe Children’s hospital. It was there that we had the idea that we could partner to provide support to local families in Wantage – providing our cooking expertise to the families using the [Wantage Coronavirus] Support Group.”

The WCSG has been working closely with local families over the last seven months supplying much-needed shopping and over this time realised the difference these classes could make.

Anna Richards: Founder of Maymessy

Ray said: “Shopping and cooking on a tight budget is never easy and in some cases can lead to friction and tension in the home. So the Sustainable Wantage, Ray Collins Charitable Trust and the Coronavirus Support Group want to help out by organising cooking classes for parents and hopefully older children to learn new cookery skills together and how to plan and budget for meals.”

To find out more about the work of Maymessy visit www.maymessy.com

Read about the R&A Good Cheer Awards and nominate who has helped in your community.

Patrick Ebbs: Ciceri e Tria recipe

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recipes

Try the traditional dish of Ciceri e Tria (Chickpeas and Pasta) as recommended by Godalming author Patrick Ebbs in his book about all things to do with Puglia, Reale Italian Cooking – Italian recipes from Reale Italians.

This is a very traditional and popular Salento dish. Tria is Salento dialect and originates from the Arab word ‘triya’ meaning pasta. Its name is probably a legacy of the Arabs who once invaded southern Italy. With this recipe, most of the pasta is boiled as per normal, but about a quarter of it is fried until it is golden brown, giving the dish a lovely, crispy texture. The recipe is included below.

Ciceri e Tria (Chickpeas and Pasta)

Ingredients:

• 400g chickpeas
• 1 potato, peeled and chopped
• 1 celery stalk, chopped
• 5 tomatoes, chopped
• parsley, a handful
• water
• 1 garlic clove, peeled & chopped
• salt and pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 400g fresh pasta, tagliatelle
• 1 onion, chopped

Note: you can use tinned chickpeas if you wish (1 tin)

SERVES: 4

Method:

If not using tinned chickpeas, soak the chickpeas overnight in lukewarm water.

Next day, thoroughly wash the chickpeas, drain and rinse. Put them in a pan and cover completely with water.

Bring to boil and simmer for about 2-3 hours until cooked.

Skim the excess foam from the top – ensure that the chickpeas are always covered in water whilst cooking.

In another pot, heat some olive oil. When hot, add the celery, parsley, garlic, bay leaf, onion, potato and tomatoes.

Fry for 2-3 minutes, then add a litre of water and cook for about 2½ hours over a medium heat. Then drain and just keep the liquid, discarding the vegetables.

Drain the chickpeas when cooked and take 5 tablespoons of them and blend with a little of the stock. Add this back to the stock.

Combine the stock and the chickpeas together. Season with salt and pepper.

Take a quarter of the pasta and cut it into 10cm strips and fry in olive oil.

Meanwhile, cook the remainder of the pasta and when cooked combine with the fried pasta.

Then add to a large warmed serving bowl with the chickpeas.

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February recipes: Blooming lovely

Round & About

recipes

Star chef & hospitality champion Tom Kerridge’s new Hand & Flowers cookbook is helping us find reasons to be cheerful. We’ve teamed up to share recipes for you to cook at home.

Chocolate ale sponge with salted caramel

Ingredients:

• 350g plain flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 400ml dark ale
• 100g cocoa powder
• 220g unsalted butter, softened
• 550g soft dark brown sugar
• 4 large free-range eggs

Salted caramel

• 100g caster sugar
• 40ml water
• 3.5g sea salt

PREP: 10 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 12

The Hand & Flowers is a pub. Pubs serve ale. We always needed an ale cake! So that’s the idea behind this particular recipe, which grew out of my first book and TV series, Proper Pub Food, where I taught people how to cook the simpler pub classics at home.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line a 33 x 26cm deep baking tin with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together; set aside. In a small bowl, slowly mix the dark ale into the cocoa powder to form a paste.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the cocoa paste and flour mixture alternately, a little at a time.

Spread the mixture in the prepared baking tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the sponge from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, cut the chocolate sponge into 2cm cubes and put
to one side.

Salted caramel:

Melt the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, then bring to the boil and continue to cook the sugar syrup until it forms a golden caramel. Add the chopped sablé paste and cook, stirring, for a minute.

Pour the sablé caramel onto a silicone mat and leave to cool slightly.

When it is cool enough, roll out to a thin sheet. While still warm, press a 4cm cutter into the sheet make sablé discs. Leave until cooled and set then lift the sablé tuiles off the mat.

Slow-cooked duck with duck gravy

Ingredients:

• 2 large Aylesbury ducks, about 2kg each
• 3 tsp ground mace

For the duck gravy:

• 500g duck bones and wings, chopped A little vegetable oil for cooking
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
• 4 celery sticks, cut into 3cm pieces 1 onion, peeled and diced into 3cm pieces
• 1 garlic bulb, cut across in half, through the equator
• 150g runny honey
• 4 cloves
• 2 litres chicken stock
• 50ml soy sauce
• About 500g unsalted butter
• Lemon juice, to taste (optional)
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 90 minutes

SERVES: 4

Some dishes end up defining you, chef and restaurant. This is one of them. I cooked it at the Great British Menu banquet for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. That raised our profile into the stratosphere: everybody suddenly wanted to book a table at The Hand & Flowers and order duck and chips!

Method:

Remove the legs and wings from the ducks and take out the wishbone (reserve for the faggots, gravy etc., see right and overleaf). Remove the excess fat and skin, placing it all in a frying pan. Now carefully cut away the backbone; you should be left with the crown.

Place the pan of fat and skin over a low heat to render the fat out. Set aside for later use.

Score the skin on the duck crowns and rub in the mace. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the duck crowns and sear on all sides for 5–10 minutes to render the fat and give the skin a good golden colour. Remove the duck crowns from the pan and allow to cool.

Put each duck crown into a large vacuum-pack bag and vacuum-seal on full pressure. Immerse in a water-bath at 62°C and cook for
1½ hours.

Lift out the vacuum-pack bags and remove the ducks. Carefully cut the breasts from the crowns. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Duck gravy:

Preheat the oven to 205°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6–7. Put the chopped duck bones and wings into a roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown and caramelised.

Heat a little oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the chopped carrots and colour until darkly caramelised. Add the celery, onion and garlic and similarly colour until well browned.
Remove the duck bones and wings from the roasting tray and add them to the saucepan. Drain off the excess fat from the roasting tray, then add the honey and cloves to the tray. Place over a medium heat and take the honey to a dark golden caramel.

Add a splash of the chicken stock and the soy sauce to deglaze the tray, stirring to scrape up the sediment. Add the liquor to the duck bones and vegetables. Pour in the rest of the chicken stock and reduce down by half, to 1 litre.

Pass the liquor through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pan and skim off any excess fat from the surface. Add 250g butter to every 500ml duck liquor and reduce down until it has emulsified into the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice if required. Set aside for serving.

Smoked haddock omelette

Ingredients:

• 12 medium free-range eggs
• 4 tbsp unsalted butter
• 100g aged Parmesan, finely grated
• Sea salt & ground pepper

Poached smoked haddock:

• 1 side of smoked haddock, 600g, skin and pin bones removed
• 600ml whole milk

Smoked fish béchamel:

• 250ml smoked haddock poaching liquor (see left)
• 15g unsalted butter
• 15g plain flour
• Sea salt & ground pepper

Omelette glaze:

• 4 tbsp warm smoked haddock béchamel (see left)
• 4 tbsp hollandaise sauce
• 4 medium egg yolks
• Sea salt & ground pepper

PREP: 10 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 4

A delicate, beautiful omelette is one of those pure dishes that makes you realise great food does not have to be about hundreds of ingredients on a plate. It’s about allowing a simple product to sing.

Method:

Check the smoked haddock for any tiny pin bones. Bring the milk to the boil in a wide-based saucepan. Carefully lay the smoked haddock in the pan, ensuring it is covered by the milk. Place a lid on the pan, turn off the heat and leave the fish to poach in the residual heat for about 10 minutes.

Once the haddock is cooked, remove it from the milk and gently flake the fish into a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cover the tray with cling film and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
Pass the milk through a fine chinois into a clean saucepan and keep to one side.

Smoked fish béchamel:

Bring the smoked haddock poaching liquor to a gentle simmer.

In a separate pan over a medium-low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually ladle in the warm poaching liquor, stirring as you do so to keep the sauce smooth. Cook gently over a very low heat for 20 minutes.

Pass the sauce through a fine chinois and cover the surface with a piece of baking parchment or cling film to prevent a skin forming. Set aside until needed. (You won’t need all of the fish béchamel but you can freeze the rest.)

Omelette glaz:

Gently warm the béchamel in a saucepan then pour into a bowl and whisk in the hollandaise and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pass through a chinois into a warm jug or bowl. Keep warm to stop the glaze from splitting.

To assemble & cook the omelette:

Crack the eggs into a jug blender and blend briefly to combine. Pass through a chinois into a measuring jug. Place 4 individual omelette pans (we use Staub) over a low heat.

Take the smoked haddock from the fridge, remove the cling film and lay on a grill tray. Warm under the salamander or grill.

To each omelette pan, add 1 tbsp butter and heat until melted and foaming. Pour the blended egg into the pans, dividing it equally. Using a spatula, gently move the egg around in the pans until they start to firm up. Remove from the heat; you want the eggs to be slightly loose, as they will continue to cook off the heat.

Season the omelettes with salt and pepper and sprinkle the grated Parmesan over their surfaces. Divide the flaked smoked haddock between the omelettes, then spoon on the glaze to cover the fish and extend to the edge of the pans. If the glaze spills over the side of the pan, wipe it away, as this will burn on the side when blowtorching.

To finish, wave a cook’s blowtorch over the surface of the omelettes to caramelise the glaze. Allow the glaze to become quite dark, as
the bitterness will balance out the richness of all the other ingredients.

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January recipes: Right angles

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In her new book, award-winning writer Nicola Graimes tells us how the right carbs can promote good health

Quick roast chicken with white bean & rosemary mash

Ingredients:

• Between six & eight chicken thighs on the bone, skin on
• Two red onions, halved and each cut into six wedges
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 large unwaxed lemon, halved
• Three bay leaves
• Two sprigs of fresh rosemary
• 300g/101⁄2 oz small vine-ripened tomatoes
• Sea salt and black pepper

For the white bean & rosemary mash
• 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• 270ml/91⁄2 fl oz/scant 11⁄4 cups whole milk
• Three bay leaves
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled & halved 40g/11⁄2 oz/3 tbsp unsalted butter 2 tsp Dijon mustard
• 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 35 minutes

MAKES: 4

Much as I love potatoes, this herby white bean mash makes a fantastic right-carb alternative. You can either mash the beans roughly with a potato masher so they retain
a bit of texture, or blend using a stick blender into a smooth and creamy sauce. Chicken thighs are not only full of flavour, they’re much cheaper than breasts – try to buy organic, free-range, if you can.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place in a large roasting tin (pan). Toss the onions in the oil and place around the chicken. Squeeze over the lemon juice and cut the halves into chunks and place in the tin. Tuck in the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove the rosemary and add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the white bean and rosemary mash. Put all the ingredients, except the rosemary, in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. When it almost starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered with a lid, for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside for the flavours to infuse while the chicken is roasting.
When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and either mash with a potato masher or blend using a stick blender until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the rosemary and warm through.

Serve the chicken with the tomatoes and onions, spooning over any juices from the tin, and the white bean mash on the side.

White fish with butternut & ginger mash

Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 3cm/11⁄2 in piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
• 4 thick hake fillets, or other sustainable firm white fish, such as haddock
• 20g/3⁄4 oz/11⁄2 tbsp butter sea salt and black pepper
• steamed long-stem broccoli and lime wedges, to serve

For the butternut & ginger mash
• 1kg/1lb 2oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
• Four garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
• 5cm/2 in piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds
• 2 red jalapeño chillies, deseeded and diced
• 115ml/33⁄4 fl oz/scant 1⁄2 cup unsweetened drinking coconut milk
• juice of half a lime, plus extra if needed
• Two handfuls chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra to serve

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 15-20 minutes

SERVES: 12

all delicious, as are canned beans! This golden mash has an Asian feel thanks to the coconut, ginger, chilli and coriander leaves.

Method:

Make the mash. Put the squash in a saucepan with the garlic and ginger, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and pick out the ginger. Return the squash to the hot pan and add half the chilli, most of the coconut milk and the lime juice. Mash until smooth, adding the rest of the coconut milk, if needed. Season with salt and pepper and stir in three-quarters of the coriander leaves. Taste and add more lime juice if needed.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, add the ginger matchsticks and fry for 2 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Season with salt & pepper. Add the remaining oil and the butter to the frying pan and heat over a high heat. Place the fish, skin-side down, in the pan, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 3/4 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden and you can see the flesh has cooked two-thirds of the way up. Turn the fish, baste with the buttery oil and cook for a further 2 minutes or until just done and the fish is opaque and flaky. Warm the mash if need be and spoon on to four serving plates. Top with the broccoli and fish and scatter over the crispy ginger, the remaining chilli and coriander leaves before serving.

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