Salted Caramel & Vanilla Panna Cotta “boiled eggs” for Easter

Easter panna cotta salted caramel egg-5

Happy Easter! I decided to try something a bit different this year that incorporated one of my all time favourite things: salted caramel. Panna cotta is one of the easiest desserts to make, the only tricky bit of this recipe is actually peeling the duck eggs.

I did a few different experiments ranging from the REALLY easy (simple moulded vanilla with salted caramel topping) to the slightly trickier panna cotta with hidden salted caramel  centre. We are very lucky here in Melton Mowbray to be able to get hold of fresh duck eggs very cheaply so I used those as the white shell looks fab. You can use any egg shell though, sadly my chicken doesn’t lay those very pretty pastel blue eggs otherwise I would have used those.

This recipe makes a nice big jar of salted caramel sauce that will keep nicely in your fridge for a couple of weeks, not that it will last that long as it’s highly addictive.

The easiest of the lot is to make a simple vanilla panna cotta:

vanilla and salted caramel panna cotta

Ingredients:

  • 350ml double cream
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 vanilla pods, split and seeds removed
  • 3 1/2 sheets gelatine (if making the “boiled eggs” use 4 1/2)

Salted Caramel Sauce:

Method:

  1. Pop the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water to soak. Put the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla seeds and pods into a saucepan and heat gently until it simmers then remove from heat.
  2. Squeeze any excess water from the gelatine sheets then stir them into the cream mixture until completely dissolved, remove the vanilla pods, pour into ramekins and put them in the fridge to set for about 2 hours whilst you make the caramel sauce.
  3. Put the butter, sugar and water into a saucepan over a low heat. It’s important that you don’t stir it, simply swirl the pan to mix everything and agitate it every now and again, it will start to bubble and get darker. After about 3 -4  minutes of bubbling very quickly whisk in the double cream and add the salt. Taste and add more salt if needed (If you want a darker caramel let it bubble longer before adding the cream).
  4. Once the panna cottas have set simply turn out onto a plate, top with a dollop of caramel sauce and a few more flakes of vanilla sea salt. If you are having trouble getting the panna cotta out of the ramekin just pop it in a bowl of boiling water for about 10 seconds to loosen the sides and turn out.

Easter panna cotta salted caramel egg-6

Now, if you wanted to make the ‘boiled eggs”:

  1. First you need to remove the tops from your duck eggs, this recipe makes about 12 eggs.
  2. egg cutters

    I picked this little gadget up for 99p and have FINALLY found a use for the bloody thing. It neatly nips the top of a raw egg.

  3. Pour out the raw egg into a bowl and put in the fridge to use for something else (I made kickass duck egg pasta).
  4. Make the caramel sauce and panna cotta mix as above using the extra gelatine sheet.
  5. Pour the panna cotta mixture into each egg (stand them in the egg tray to keep them nice and upright). *If you want a hidden yolk see note below.
  6. Place in the fridge to set then scoop out a small bowl in the centre of the panna cotta and fill with caramel sauce, sprinkle with more vanilla sea salt so it looks like salt and pepper

*OR  if you want a hidden yolk like the egg on the right in the above pic, carefully peel the shell away from the egg turn upside down so you get the vanilla seeds on the top, carefully slice the top off then scoop out a little bowl in the centre, fill with sauce and replace lid.

This also gives me an excuse to pop a clip of a panna cotta wobble I filmed when I made my coconut panna cotta for Domestic Sluttery last year:

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Easy Easter Baking: Chocolate Mini Egg Swirls

 

Easter mini egg swirls

I love chocolate mini eggs and I REALLY love the fact that Easter means that they’re usually on special offer, I even love them enough to want to get the pastry out and get baking.

If you haven’t bought the book Bread Revolution by Thoughtful Bread yet or borrowed it from the library then I highly recommend it, thanks to that ace book I made the best cinnamon swirls ever which were my inspiration for these little beauties.

Instead of making a dough I just bought a pack of ready made, ready rolled puff pastry, it cost just £1 and was brilliant, life’s too short for making your own puff pastry I reckon.

Ingredients: Makes about 10 swirls.

  • 150g soft brown sugar (I used dark)
  • 100g plain flour
  • 120g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 x 375g pack ready rolled puff pastry
  • 300g chocolate mini eggs
  • milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Combine the sugar, flour, butter and ground almonds in a food processor and blitz until completely mixed and powdery.
  2. Lay out the puff pastry, brush with some milk then cover with the flour mix then dot with the mini eggs.
  3. Roll up the pastry very tightly and brush the ends with more milk to help the seams stick, then using a very sharp knife cut a thick slice (about 3cm thick) then use a second knife to help transfer the slice onto a baking paper covered roasting tray. Repeat leaving about 3cms around each round.

Easter chocolate mini egg swirls5. Bake for 15minutes on the middle shelf then reduce temp to 180C and continue to            cook for about 8-10 minutes or until pastry is lightly golden. My oven is really  temperamental so just keep an eye on the first batch. Once cooked transfer onto a cooling rack, dust with vanilla icing sugar whilst hot then once again when cold if you have any swirls that made it that long without being snaffled.

Easter chocolate mini egg swirls

Great to make with kids over Easter

Beetroot, Chocolate and Cardamom Brownies

squidgy, fudgy brownies that count towards your 5 a day…

Oh brownies how I love you and your squidgy, gooey wonderment. Yesterday I headed into the BBC Radio Leicester studio to see presenter Ben Jackson with whom I do the Food friday radio cooking sessions with and gardening guru, chilli head and all round ace guy Ady Dayman. I decided to bake them something using goodies from my tiny garden and despite managing to set fire to the baking parchment TWICE during cooking the brownies turned out pretty damn awesome.

Ben and Ady enjoying the brownies during the phone in…

I managed to get to the studio whilst they were still warm and joined Ben and Ady for the Gardening phone-in, you can listen to us giving seasonal gardening and food tips by clicking here. It was a fab afternoon and the brownies went down a storm, even with Ben’s producer Nam who is somewhat vegetable averse! That’s the secret to people who don’t like vegetables, cover them in CHOCOLATE 🙂

They are really easy to make too:

Ingredients:

I use a mug to measure everything out in, my mug holds 350ml water.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 mug caster sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cardamom powder (or 8 crushed cardamom seed pods)
  • 1/2 mug  good rapeseed oil (or olive oil would be nice also)
  • 1 capful good vanilla extract
  • 2 beetroot (about tennis ball size)
  • 1 mug plain flour
  • 3/4 mug cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
Method:
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Put some gloves on or you will get very purple hands from handling the beetroot. Peel the raw beetroot, chop roughly and put into a food processor until chopped finely. If you don’t have a processor just grate the beetroot.
  2.  In a large bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and cardamom powder until quite creamy (I use an electric whisk but a hand whisk will be fine) then whilst still whisking pour in your oil in a steady stream.
  3.  Tip in your beetroot and stir in until fully mixed together.
  4. Sift in your flour, salt and cocoa and fold into the mixture completely.
  5.  Line and grease a 20cmX30cm tin, pour in your brownie mix and bake for about 25-35 minutes or until you can insert a skewer into the centre and just a few crumbs are stuck to it.  Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating if you can manage to resist, sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar and serve warm with some good vanilla ice cream.
If you find that your brownies are still too squidgy for you just pop them back in the oven for a little bit longer.

Smoked Butter and Chicken Risotto

Mondays are usually risotto days at Wyldelight Cottage as we tend to have roast rooster for Sunday lunch. Tonight I tried something a little different and it was bloody lovely so thought I’d do a quick post.

I love smoked Welsh butter. Caernarfon Butter is lovely and salty and when smoked at the Derimon smokehouse on Anglesey it produces the most wonderful creamy, smoky butter that is invaluable in my kitchen. Now I know this is no traditional Italian risotto but it’s delicious never the less as the sweet nutty sherry, smoky salty butter and cheese and fresh lemon and fennel just make my mouth all happy.

Ingredients:

  • smoked Welsh butter
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Carnaroli rice
  • wineglass of cream sherry
  • homemade chicken stock
  • dried garlic slivers
  • leftover roast rooster
  • chopped fennel fronds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper and sea salt
  • Grana Padano cheese

Method:

  1. Have your stock simmering away in a big saucepan. Melt a big knob of smoked butter in a pan, add your fennel seeds then soften your onion.
  2. Add your rice, stir to coat in the butter and gently fry until the rice grains start to crack then add your sherry and give a good stir.  This will quickly be absorbed by the rice.
  3. Start adding your hot stock a ladle full at a time and storing until it is absorbed before adding the next.
  4. When nearly done add your cooked rooster and garlic slivers and stir.
  5. Continue to add the hot stock until the risotto is creamy but still has a bit of bite to it then add another knob of smoked butter and a handful of grated Grana Padano, taste and season before covering and letting it sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Chop some fennel fronds and stir through the risotto just before serving. Plate up, zest the lemon over the top, sprinkle with more fennel, some more Grana Padano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Radio Leicester food friday: ginger and caramel trifle

The lovely Ben Jackson from BBC Leicester in my kitchen

So every month the wonderful Ben Jackson heads out to my cottage in Melton Mowbray to record a cooking session.  Last time we made my divine Melton Mess which went down a storm with the radio team and listeners so this time I made another really simple dessert, in real time, for people to make this weekend:  I made a rum, ginger, chocolate trifle….yum!

What happens each time is that Ben arrives, we spend about an hour and a half catching up, geeking out about food and inevitably about knives! I was at the BBC Good Food Show on Wednesday and saw the gorgeous Natalie from I.O.Shen knives and came home with the most beautiful new Sahm Khom knife. Now Ben loves a good knife just as much as I do so when he felt it slice through a potato using just it’s own weight it really was love at first slice!

This link will take you to the recording, I am 1hr:42 into the show .Now I’ve just listened to it again as lots of people have sent me messages saying how rude it sounds! Yes, I *may* have sniggered at the name “Willy” but it would seem the whole 10 mins is all a bit naughty…something to do with the sounds of the cream and custard being whipped and our noises….

The mini version with oozy caramel filling

Ingredients:
  • 1 x Jamaican Ginger Cake
  • 35-100ml Golden or dark rum (depending on how boozy you like it, obviously I used 100ml!) or for non  alcoholic version use stem ginger syrup.
  • 100g milk/dark chocolate
  • 1 x 500g pot fresh custard
  • 1 x capful vanilla extract
  • 300ml pot whipping cream
  • 1 x 400g tin dulche du leche/tinned caramel (or make your own from a tin of  sweetened evaporated milk)
  • buttons/grated chocolate to garnish
Method:
Slice your ginger cake and lay it on the bottom of your trifle dish and pour over your rum and spoon over a layer of dulce du leche. Melt the chocolate, add your vanilla extract then whisk in your pot of custard.  Allow the custard to cool then layer it over the caramel. Whip your cream, spoon it over the chocolate custard and garnish with your grated chocolate/chocolate buttons. See, dead easy!

I always open my cupboards and introduce him to fab food products that I come across and send him home with a bit of a goody bag! We spent a long time talking BBQs, Ben has just acquired his first Weber and so I introduced him to the wonderful Laissez Chef new Orleans spice blend, yep he fell in love with that too! Her is now also a new convert to Essential Cuisine powdered stocks having tried their powdered veal and Little Doone Ginger Balsamic which I discovered at the show which also blew me away.

So I will be cooking again in 4 weeks time with Ben but in a couple of weeks I am taking him around my local Farmer’s Market so he can meet my favourite producers. Ahhh we can geek out about food all morning!

Fiery Carrot and Beetroot Slaw

The beetroots that I planted this time last year are still providing me with plenty of leaves and veg but I need to make space for this year’s planting so I’m eating a lot of them at the moment*.  I also have a massive amount of carrots at the moment so this coleslaw was thrown together to tackle the bounty.  Beetroot has a really earthy flavour so it can take other strong ingredients being thrown at it so the dressing has a big kick.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large beetroot, peeled and V-Sliced into matchsticks
  • 6 carrots, prepared as above.
  • 1 finely sliced red onion
  • poppy seeds (blue and white)

Dressing:

  • 1 heaped tablespoon hot english mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Ikea Dill sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

Make your dressing, pour it over the rest of the ingredients, mix and eat, simples.

*Eating beetroot can give you a bit of a fright when you go to the loo, your poo is purple! Don’t panic, it literally  scares the crap out of me every time!

Slow Cooker Smokey Ox Cheeks

Ox cheeks are another massively underrated cut of meat.  A good butcher will order you in some (they don’t get the beast’s head anymore). Generally muscles that do the most amount of work have the most amount of flavour but are tougher as a result of all the work they do, hence why a Beef fillet is very tender but low on flavour in comparison to say, a Rib Eye.  The cheeks need long, slow cooking so all that delicious flavour just melts in your mouth and it creates an unctuous gravy.

This is another really lazy recipe that lets the slow cooker do all the work. I get quite a few Ox cheeks in at a time and freeze them.  I find that if I put the frozen cheeks in the slow cooker then the onions and chickpeas still retain their bite despite the long cooking time, which is perfect, so I have written the recipe down exactly as I did it.  You can always use fresh ox cheeks dredged in seasoned flour and fry them (and the onions if you like) before you pop them in the slow cooker but I prefer the way that entails the least amount of washing up!

3 frozen ox cheeks

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic

1 x 400ml jar of passata (or tinned tomatoes if you prefer)

1 can cooked chickpeas

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 pinch good quality Lapsang Souchong strands (I had run out of Smoked Paprika)

1 pinch ground coriander

pinch cayenne pepper

salt and pepper

Squeeze of tomato puree (double concentrate)

1 tablespoon cornflour mixed to a paste with a little water

2 tablespoons Sweet Chestnut Honey (or any honey/golden caster sugar)

Cup of good beef stock to top up the slow cooker

Capful of good Balsamic vinegar

Just throw it all in your slow cooker in the morning and by dinner time the ox cheeks will be meltingly gorgeous and the sweet, smoky gravy will be divine! If just before serving you want your gravy more concentrated just ladle out some of the liquid into a pan, reduce to intensify then pop back in the slow cooker.

I served it with homemade wholemeal Dukkah bread and an almond Chermoula dip:

Chermoula

Chermoula is a Moroccan marinade but for me its an amazing dip for bread as I really love strong, punchy  flavours.  Sometimes  I mellow it out with ground almonds as today:

6 cloves garlic finely grated on a microplane

zest and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons

heaped teaspoon ground coriander

heaped teaspoon ground cumin

pinch of ground Sumac

pinch cayenne pepper (depending on hot you like things)

teaspoon sweet paprika

Pinch of Rose and Coriander salt (From Gourmet Spice but any flaked sea salt will be fine)

Ground black pepper to taste

finely chopped fresh coriander

2 tablespoons ground almonds

Enough olive oil (rapeseed if you prefer) to loosen the mix

I add a couple drops of water just to get the right consistency without using too much oil

Just, mix everything together in a bowl and you are done!  I usually sprinkle the top of the dip with some of my homemade Super Dukkah (recipe also features in the January issue of Great Food Magazine) to give a bit of crunch.  All the quantities can be varied to suit your taste and what dish its accompanying, no rules just make what tastes good to you really.