Sunday, 30 January 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

Pin It Now!

It's the last weekend in January, which means tax returns for many of my self-employed friends. I tried to do something to cheer L and H up a little and make sorting through mountains of receipts a little more bearable. I went round to their house and baked my first ever Lemon Meringue Pie. I also wanted it to be a little thank you, as they have been feeding me far too many nights in the last few weeks without me contributing much to any of it. So, girls, thank you! I hope you enjoyed the pie!

I got the recipe from the BBC Good Food website, but have copied it below for ease.


Lemon Meringue Pie

For the pastry:
175g plain flour
100g cold butter , cut in small pieces
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk

For the filling:
2 level tbsp cornflour
100g golden caster sugar
finely grated zest 2 large lemon
125ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
juice of 1 small orange
85g butter , cut into pieces
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg

For the meringue:
4 egg whites , room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
2 level tsp cornflour

For the pastry:

Put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and 1 tbsp cold water into a food processor. Using the pulse button so the mix is not overworked, process until the mix starts to bind.

Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather together until smooth, then roll out and line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottom fluted flan tin. Trim and neaten the edges. Press pastry into flutes. The pastry is quite rich, so don't worry if it cracks, just press it back together. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil, shiny side down, and chill for 1⁄2-1 hour (or overnight).

Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Bake the pastry case 'blind' (filled with dry beans) for 15 mins, then remove the foil and bake a further 5-8 mins until the pastry is pale golden and cooked. Set aside. (Can be done a day ahead if you want to get ahead.)

Lower the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

    While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling:

    Mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. Make orange juice up to 200ml/7fl oz with water and strain into the pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth.

    Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. Beat the egg yolks (save white for meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon.

    Take off the heat and set aside while you make the meringue:

    Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without overbeating. Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick.

    Quickly reheat the filling and pour it into the pastry case.

    Immediately put spoonfuls of meringue around the edge of the filling, then spread so it just touches the pastry (this will anchor it and help stop it sliding). Pile the rest into the centre, spreading so it touches the surface of the hot filling, then give it all a swirl with a fork so you have nice peaks.

    Return to the oven for 18-20 mins until the meringue is crisp and slightly coloured. Let the pie sit in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave for at least another 1⁄2-1 hr before slicing. I like to chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.


    Tuesday, 25 January 2011

    Nigella's Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake

    Pin It Now!

    Well, it's Burns Night, but if you've come looking for haggis I have to disappoint you. I volunteered to bring the pudding to my friend H's Burns Night dinner and I know this isn't even Scottish, but nobody seemed to mind that it wasn't quite in keeping. There was not much left by the end, even though we had all had plenty of haggis, neeps and tatties.

    I didn't have any unwaxed oranges, so left out the orange zest called for in the recipe, but I'm sure it is even better with it in, if that is possible. The cake is really moist and not too heavy. It will sink in the middle after coming out of the oven, but even Nigella's cake in the cookbook looks like that, and if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me.

    Now the only thing I can't wait for is longer days, so that I can take decent pictures in daylight again.


    Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake

    150gr soft unsalted butter, plus some extra for greasing the pan
    2 tbsp golden syrup
    175gr dark muscovado sugar
    150gr plain flour
    1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    25gr best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
    2 eggs
    zest of 2 oranges and juice of 1 orange

    Preheat your oven to 170C/Gas 3 and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper.

    In a large bowl beat the soft butter with the sugar and golden syrup until you have a smooth mixture.

    Sift together the flour, bicarb of soda and cocoa powder in a separate bowl.

    Beat one tablespoon of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter.

    Add one egg and continue to beat before adding another couple of tablespoons of the dry ingredients and the other egg.

    Continue to add the dry ingredients, before finally beating in the orange zest and lastly the orange juice. It says in the book that at that stage the batter might look as if it could be curdling a little but not to worry. That didn't happen with mine though, but as I said I left out the zest and that could have something to do with it.

    Spoon the batter into your prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. If you test the cake with a wooden skewer for doneness it will not come out completely clean as there should still be some moisture at the very centre, hence the sinking of the middle.

    Leave to cool for a short while in its tine, before carefully turning it out and allowing it to cool completely on a wire rack.


    Monday, 17 January 2011

    Roast Haunch of Venison

    Pin It Now!

    If I want to not default on my New Year's resolutions straight away, I better get posting.

    This year I decided not to do the quintessential turkey for our Christmas Dinner and after some deliberating on what to do instead, it was the butcher that decided for me, by having venison haunches on offer. Perfect!

    I apologise for the bad photo, but Christmas Dinner in our house is all about the sitting down together and having a good chat and a laugh, so there was no time for faffing about with my camera and I just got a quick shot of my brother carving in the kitchen. It really doesn't do it justice, but I guess you all know what a roast joint looks like anyways.

    I chose a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe, as when it comes to meat (or most other foods) the man knows what he's doing. I did marinate the venison in buttermilk for 24 hours before preparing it. That removes some of the gamyness and also helps to keep it moist and tender.

    Roast Haunch of Venison (serves 8-10)

    1 haunch of venison, tunnel-boned
    Salt and black pepper
    6 fresh bay leaves
    3 large sprigs thyme or rosemary (I used rosemary)
    10-12 rashers streaky bacon

    For the gravy

    ½ glass red wine
    250ml game stock
    Redcurrant jelly

    Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7.

    Season the haunch, and lay the bay leaves and thyme or rosemary over the meat. Place bacon over the herbs, covering the meat, and secure the package with butcher's string - you might find it helpful to use skewers to hold the fat in place while you work.

    Weigh the joint. Place the joint in a large roasting tray and, if it's under 2kg, roast for 20 minutes, or 30 minutes if it's over 2kg. This 'sizzle' browns the joint beautifully. Turn down the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3 and roast for a further 12 minutes per 500g of meat. This should give you medium-rare meat: just pink in the middle.

    While the meat is resting, make the gravy.

    Skim off any fat from the juices in the roasting tin, then put the tin over a low heat, add the wine to deglaze, stirring well and scraping up all the bits of caramelised meat stuck to the bottom of the tin.

    Add the stock and boil to reduce and concentrate the sauce. When the gravy has reached your required level of intensity, season and stir in a little redcurrant jelly. That hint of sweetness and sharpness is a perfect foil to the richness of the venison.

    Carve the rested meat and serve with the strained gravy.


    Saturday, 1 January 2011

    Happy New Year

    Pin It Now!

    Last year I began the year with a look back at my favourite recipes from the year passed, but I'm ashamed to say that there is not much point in doing that on this first day of 2011, as I was a terribly lazy blogger over the last twelve months and there is not much to choose from.

    So, as I am sat here in a studio overlooking the hills in the Scottish Borders, thinking about and making resolutions and plans for this brand new year, one of the things that comes to mind straight away is to get this show on the road properly again. Well, now I've said it. You can all tell me off if I won't stick to it!

    All the best for 2011 to you all. May some of your dreams come true, may you stay healthy and happy cooking!

    Sylvie x