For garnish: chopped pistachios and dried rose petals
Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas
Line a large, flat baking tray with baking parchment. Place the egg whites in a large, grease-free bowl with a pinch of salt.
Using clean, electric beaters, whisk until the eggs hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, whisking well between each addition, until the meringue is thick and glossy, and will hold up in stiff peaks on the end of the beaters. Add the vinegar and cornflour and whisk again until combined.
Using a piping bag, pipe the meringue in even circles onto your baking tray, until the mixture is all used up. Use the back of the spoon to make peaks and dips in the meringue to create an attractive texture.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hr then turn off the oven and leave the pavlova inside to cool for 2-3hrs.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that the mixture is mixed evenly.
Add the rose water, vanilla extract and mix through. beat through the icing sugar one tbsp at a time.
Assemble the mini pavlova’s by piping the cream cheese frosting onto the pavlova’s and sprinkle on the rose petals and chopped pistachios.
For the sponge: 250g unsalted butter, softened 250g caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla bean paste 5 large eggs 100g full fat Plain yoghurt 310g self-raising flour ½ tsp salt 3 tbsp whole milk
For the white chocolate buttercream: 150g white chocolate (I used Green & Black) 250g icing sugar 250g unsalted butter, softened
To decorate: 2 x 328g packs mini eggs
1. Grease and line a deep 18cm round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 160°C (Fan 1500°), gas mark 3.
2. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat together until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula, and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add 1 tbsp of flour if the mixture starts to curdle.
3. Beat in the yoghurt, and then fold in the flour with the salt, beating on a medium speed until the mixture is thick and smooth. Finally, mix in the milk, then spoon into the tin and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until risen and golden. A skewer inserted should come out clean.
4. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
5. Make the buttercream by first melting the white chocolate carefully in the microwave, or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Use an electric whisk to soften the butter in a large bowl, and then gradually add the icing sugar and whisk until paler in colour. Beat in the white chocolate until the mixture looks pale and fluffy.
6. Level off the cake, and then use a serrated knife to divide into three equal layers. Place the bottom layer on a cake stand and spread with a quarter of the icing using a palette knife. Repeat with the second layer before placing the final layer on top. Apply a thin layer of icing over the whole cake to seal in the crumbs, then refrigerate for 20 minutes.
7. Remove the cake from the fridge, and then apply the final layer of icing all over the cake using a palette knife.
8. Starting at the base of the cake, begin sticking the eggs to the cake in colour pairs, repeating the pattern all around the cake. For the second row of eggs, repeat the same pattern of colour pairs but shift the pattern one egg to the right.
9. Build up the layers of eggs one row at a time, shifting to the right each time, until the whole cake is covered. Use the remaining eggs to decorate the top of the cake.
This indulgent white chocolate cake is soft and moist. The mini eggs really do make it extra special… I spent some time separating the colours and assembling the final cake with my daughter. The finished result was certainly worth it!
My new obsession is orzo pasta. Shaped similar to rice grains, the pasta is made from semolina flour and durum wheat. It is often used in soups or Mediterranean dishes as a ‘filler’ and has a starchy outer layer that absorbs or sticks to surrounding sauces. I simply like the texture and variation it offers.
2 cups / 400g Uncooked Orz
1lb / 500g Mushrooms, sliced
1 pack / 12 rashers streaky bacon
3 1/2 cups / 875ml Chicken Stock
1 cup / 250ml Heavy/Double Cream
1/2 cup / 120ml Dry White Wine
1/2 cup / 40g freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup roasted pine nuts
2 tbsp Butter
4 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 tbsp finely diced Fresh Parsley
2 tsp finely diced Fresh Thyme
1 medium Onion finely diced
Olive Oil, as needed
Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
In a large pan over medium heat add a drizzle of olive oil, add the mushrooms and brown on both sides adding a little seasoning to taste. Remove from the pan and leave to one side.
Oven cook the bacon rashers ensuring they are crispy but not burned. Cut into small pieces using kitchen scissors and leave to one side.
Melt 1 tbsp butter into your pan, and add the onions. Fry until they brown/soften, then add in the garlic. Continue frying for another min then pour in white wine. Allow the wine to simmer and reduce for a good 5mins, until it’s almost all evaporated, deglazing the pan as necessary. It’s important to ensure you reduce down the wine or it’ll be too strong in the sauce.
Pour in the orzo and add back in your mushrooms and bacon. Pour in the chicken stock and cream, then sprinkle in parsley, thyme and salt & pepper. Important your cream is at room temp and your stock isn’t piping hot or it’ll curdle the cream. Give it a good stir then bring it to simmer. Keep the heat on low, stirring frequently until the orzo is cooked and the sauce has thickened.
Remove from heat and stir through your second tbsp of butter and your parmesan and roasted pine nuts. If you over reduce the sauce just add a splash more stock.
Quick no bake healthy snacks for in-between meals!
6-7 Medjool dates
1 cup almond flour/ground almonds
1/3 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut, plus 1/3 cup extra for rolling
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp Cocoa
Place dates in a medium bowl and cover with water. Stand for 1 hour. Drain and discard seeds.
Blend together the dates, cashew nuts, almond flour, shredded coconut, coconut oil, protein powder and cocoa until mixture comes together. Transfer to a bowl and knead mixture to ensure fully combined.
Place remaining coconut in a shallow dish.
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Then roll in coconut to coat.
To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter until you have a soft breadcrumb texture. Add enough cold water (about 2 tbsp) to form a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a well-buttered, deep-sided 22cm flan dish. Don’t cut off the excess pastry yet. Chill again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 (Drop temperature to 180°C for fan oven). Line the bottom of the pastry case with baking parchment or foil, then fill with baking beans. Place on a baking tray and bake blind for 10-15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and parchment or foil, and return to the oven to bake for a further 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife trim the excess pastry so that you have neat edges. Set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 (160° Fan oven), and roast the sliced cherry tomatoes for 10mins.
Fry the bacon pieces until crisp, then drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle the cheese over the pastry base. Arrange the roasted tomatoes on the cheese and scatter the bacon on top.
Combine the eggs, milk, and cream in a bowl and season well, add a tablespoon of dill. Pour over the bacon and cheese. Sprinkle any extra bacon or cheese on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.
This recipe is so quick and easy with a little cheat on the pastry this time… quick summertime lunch sorted!
300g Mascarpone or Creme Fraiche
40g grated Parmesan Cheese
3 tbsp chopped Basil
Zest of 1 lemon
375g ready to roll puff pastry
400g Asparagus spears
1tbsp olive oil
Rocket leaves to dress
1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Mix the mascarpone with the Parmesan, basil and lemon zest, then season well with salt and pepper.
2. Roll out the pastry straight into a baking tray (leave on the grease proof paper to absorb excess moisture). Then score around the edges of the pastry to make a thin border. Spread the cheese mixture within the borders.
3. Toss the asparagus in the oil, then arrange neatly in bundles on top of the pastry (these can be stacked a bit for height).
4. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until golden, then serve warm topped with rocket leaves and a few shavings of Parmesan.
One of my favourite crumbles with a bit of a twist
6 rhubarb stalks cut into 3’ lengths
2tbsp mixed frozen summer fruits
8 tbsp caster sugar
3 tsp ginger powder
110g Demerara sugar
200g plain flour
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
Cut the rhubarb into 3in long sticks and place on an oven tray with the mixed frozen summer fruits. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of water and the caster sugar. Roast for 10 -15 minutes. Sprinkle over the ginger and mix well.
Fill an ovenproof dish about 4cm/1½in deep with the rhubarb mix.
Rub the butter into the flour then mix in the demerara sugar to make the crumble topping. Sprinkle over the rhubarb and bake for 35–45 minutes, or until the crumble topping is crisp and golden-brown and the rhubarb filling has softened and is bubbling.
Amazing lamb chops… finger licking good but you must marinade for 24hrs!
Ingredients – marinade to tenderise the meat
1.5kgs lamb cutlets
20g garlic & ginger paste
2tsp malt vinegar
Mix ingredients into a bowl and massage into lamb chops in a shallow bowl. Leave covered in the fridge for 2hrs, whilst you assemble the main marinade.
Ingredients – main marinade
5 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp tamarind sauce or HP sauce
50g chopped coriander leaves
3 tsp garam masala
50g ginger & garlic paste
1 tsp crushed black peppercorns
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
70ml lime juice
10g green chillies chopped
Place the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cloves in a heavy based frying pan and dry roast for 5mins until the scent of the spices is released. Take off the heat and blend/grind to a fine powder and set aside.
Blitz all the remaining ingredients into a paste and then mix in the ground spices and set aside.
After the 2 hrs of the first marinade are complete, cover the lamb chops well covering all with the marinade paste, cover and refrigerate for 24 hrs.
50g butter melted (to brush over the chops)
Mint or coriander leaves
3 tbsp Pomegranate seeds
To cook after the 24hrs, arrange the chops on a foil lined baking tray and brush with butter. Grill for 2-3mins and then turn and continue this process for a total of 15-20mins until cooked to your liking. Allow to rest before serving and garnish with pomegranate seeds, mint or toasted coriander seeds (or all of the above)!