Category Archives: Straight Forward

Recipe: Choconana Crumble & Berry ice-cream

Choconana crumble with the chocolate bubbling through the crumble
Choconana crumble: Photograph by Redmum

Ingredients;

225g Plain Flour
60g sugar
145g butter
a pinch of salt
195g Dark Chocolate
6 Tablespoons of cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
half a teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 tablespoon of cognac
115ml Water
6 medium sized bananas

Serves 6

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Making the crumble

Take your flour, 60g of sugar, 115g of butter and a pinch of salt and place them in a bowl, simply scrunch the lot together with clean hands until it looks like breadcrumbs and put this to one side.

Making the chocolate sauce

Take a small saucepan and place it on a low heat, to this add 115ml of water and a tablespoon of sugar. Bring this to a low simmer while stirring. Keep it simmering until all the sugar has dissolved.

Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and add 30g of butter and the dark chocolate while stirring constantly. It’s best to break the chocolate and butter up into small chunks as they will melt quicker this way. Keep stirring until all the chocolate and butter have melted completely.

Next, add the Vanilla essence, cognac and cream and keep stirring until they all combine to give a smooth looking sauce.

Assembly

Peel the bananas and split each of them lengthways into 3. This is done by gently pushing your finger into the end of the banana where that tough seed like lump has been removed and running your finger to the other end. This should leave you with 3 separate segments.

Arrange all the segments in a large oven-proof dish and pour the chocolate sauce over them, making sure that all the bananas are chocolate coated.

Unless you are planning on cooking and eating immediately stop at this point and cover both the crumble and the chocolate+banana and refrigerate until ready to cook.

When you are ready to cook, get your oven up to 200C. Sprinkle the crumble over the chocolate+banana making sure to spread it out evenly. Then pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. If the crumble has not turned a golden brown at this point simply pop it under the grill for a minute or 2 to brown the top and let it stand for a few minutes before serving with a few scoops of berry ice-cream.

Berry Ice-cream

Berry ice-cream
Berry ice-cream

The Berry Ice-cream I make to go with this is based on Kieran’s Banana Ice Cream with Chocolate Shavings recipe over on Ice-cream Ireland. Many thanks for sharing this recipe Kieran, I would have given up on trying to making ice-cream myself long ago without this.

I follow this recipe exactly except for 3 things…

  1. I use 150g of Raspberries and 170g of Blackberries instead of the Bananas
  2. I mash the Rasperry & Blackberry mixture through a sieve as I add them to the custard
  3. I don’t add the chocolate shavings

This gives an ice-cream that while it is sweet and creamy, it is also tart enough to balance the sweetness of the rest of the dish.

Please give this a try, it’s a wonderful dessert. As always we’d love to here about your results and your thoughts on the dish as a whole.

Recipe: Tagiatelle

Fresh (naked) Pasta
Fresh (naked) Pasta

Ingredients;

200g of Tipo 00 pasta flour or plain flour
2 medium fresh eggs
Olive oil

Serves 2

When I started writing out this recipe, it became clear that this is one of those things that is far better to learn by watching rather than to try and read a description of what’s involved. So, with that in mind please take ten minutes out (or take 5, twice :)) to watch the video ‘Making Pasta the Not Junk Food way’

When rolling out your pasta, I would strongly recommend a pasta machine, however my 10 year old niece reliably informs me that it can be done with a rolling pin, but it is hard work.

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Fresh Pasta cooks a lot quicker than dried pasta depending on how thick the Pasta is, for Tagiatelle 3-4 minutes in simmering water (with a little salt, pepper, oregano and a lug of olive oil) is usually enough but this can vary depending on the ingredients so taste it to make sure it’s done. Once the Pasta has been drained I usually toss it in a little olive oil (or truffle oil) to make sure it doesn’t stick together.

Recipe: Turkey stew

Turkey stew with mashed spudsIngredients;

1 knob of butter
1 good lug of olive oil
1 kg turkey thigh meat, diced
1 handful of fresh thyme leaves
1 large leek, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 parsnip, chopped
2 large onions
1 handful of plain flour
1 wineglass of rosé or white wine
1 wineglass of milk
1 wineglass of water
1 small tin of sweetcorn
8 pork sausages

Serves 6-8, can be frozen

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Take your Largest Saucepan, and get it on a Low heat, add a good lug of olive oil and a knob of butter.

Next add your turkey meat, fresh thyme, leek, celery, carrots, sweet potato, parsnips, onions and give it about 15 minutes at a simmer, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks.

Get your pan up to a high heat and add a good handful of flour and stir it in, keep stirring for about 2-3 minutes, then add the wine, let it simmer for a minute. Then add the milk and water and stir throughly until all the ingredients combine.

Then bring this to a simmer for about 1 hour or until the leeks and onion have started to break up.

Add the sweetcorn for the last 10 minutes of the hour.

Take your pack of sausages and squeeze all the sausage meat out of the skins. Roll it into a large marble sized balls (wet hands work best). Do this with all the sausage meat and then stir fry them until cooked and add this to the rest of the stew, stirring them in well.

Serve in a bowl with a warm crusty bread roll or some mashed spuds.

Recipe: Italian Tomato Sauce

Italian Tomato Sauce
Italian Tomato Sauce

Ingredients;

1 anchovy fillet
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 large handful of basil, stalks and leaves separated and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
4 x 400g of tinned plum tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

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Chop the garlic as finely as possibly, remove the leaves from the basil and roughly tear them up, take the green part of the Basil stalks and chop them up reasonably fine. Open the tins of plum tomatoes.

Heat a large saucepan and pour in roughly 2 tablespoons of oil, once this has heated add the anchovy and garlic, you want to stir fry these gently till the garlic starts to colour slightly and the anchovy starts to break up.

Next add the plum tomatoes, oregano, about half the basil leaves, all the chopped basil stalks and stir gently being careful not to break the tomatoes if at all possible. Put a lid on the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil and simmer for at least an hour stirring occasionally. I have let this sauce simmer gently for anything up to 3 hours depending on how much time I have on my hands, this makes the sauce a bit thicker and the flavours stronger.

At this point you can start to break up the tomatoes with a spoon or alternatively use a hand blender to blend it into a nice thick sauce.

Next add the remaining basil and taste the sauce. Then season with salt and pepper to taste, add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and stir them in well.

I’ve found from experience that the better the plum tomatoes the thicker the sauce, however if you find that your sauce is not as thick as you like it, simply simmer it for longer the next time you try.

Recipe: Pizza Base

A naked uncooked Pizza base

Ingredients;

1kg of strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 x 7g packets of dried yeast
1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
625ml of tepid water (tepid = 2 parts cold to one part boiling)
1 handful of cornmeal

Makes 6-8 Pizza bases

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Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl or onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle of it.

Mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork (or your hands) start to stir the liquid in the well while bringing in the flour until the dough starts to come together. Then work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Now place the dough on a flour-dusted surface and knead it around for a 2-3 minutes to push the air out. As you are doing this, work the dough into a giant sausage shape. Divide the dough into six or eight pieces (eight if you like a thin and crispy base) and put them to one side.

Take one of the portions and make it into a ball, then stretch that into a roundish shape about 3-4 inches across and place on a floured surface and grab your rolling pin. Rolling away from you and turning the pizza regularly, roll the pizza base out until it is thin (about an eighth of an inch or less) then flour the pizza base and place on a baking tray lined with cling film – if you don’t have a suitably-sized baking tray, you can substitute with a chopping board or any flat surface that will fit in your freezer.

Fold the cling-film back over the top of the pizza base ready for the next one to be placed on top and repeat until all the portions have been rolled out.

At this point, you can dress one of the pizza bases (simply using passata and cheese) on a baking tray or preferably a pizza stone, either way you will need to sprinkle some cornmeal on before placing the pizza on it to prevent it from sticking.

Then place in a hot oven (approx 220 degrees C) for about 8-10 minutes and enjoy.

You can wrap the cling-filmed pile of bases in tinfoil and put them flat in your freezer to be used later.  The bases, once dressed, will cook from frozen in 8-10 mins as well – perfect for a quick dinner when coming home late from work.