Pear and Almond Tart

Some ingredients are just made to go together and pears and almonds are two of the them. 

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with pears.  When they are perfect they’re hard to beat.  The only issue is that they are like granite and inedible, and then turn to mush within about 20 minutes.  They are the ultimate passive aggressive fruit!

Frangipane filling

This recipe is great for using pears that are too hard to eat if you can’t be bothered with the game of chicken involved in waiting for pears to ripen.

This is a pretty rich recipe, but isn’t meant to be eaten every day and looks really impressive if you’re cooking for friends. 

It’s important to blind bake the pastry case first

You can make the pastry case and the frangipane filling in advance, which means you can have more time with your guests. You could even use shop bought pastry if you don’t have time (home made is better though). This is really good on it’s own but a little fresh cream or ice cream also doesn’t hurt if you want to be properly indulgent.

Yummy with ice cream

Ingredients

For the pastry case

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter (chilled and cut into small cubes)

1 Tbsp Caster sugar

1 Egg yolk

For the frangipane filling

115 Grams Butter (at room temperature)

115 Grams Caster sugar

115 Grams Ground almonds

1 Tsp Vanilla extract (optional)

2 Eggs

2 Large pears

Method

  1. In a food processor add the flour, sugar, and butter. Whizz until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs (you can run the butter and flour in together by hand if you prefer)
  2. Add the egg yolk and a small amount of cold water and whizz again until the mix starts to come together. Start to press the mix together to form a dough, adding a small amount of cold water if necessary. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  3. Grease a 9in x 9 in loose bottemed flan tin. When the pastry has chilled, place on a floured surface, and roll out in a circle approximately 1/2 cm thick.
  4. Lay into you prepare flan tin making sure that it’s pressed into the edges. Place a sheet of baking paper on top and baking beans (I use old dried rice) to weigh down the pastry and blind bake in an oven pre heated to 180 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes before taking the case out if the oven, carefully lift the the baking paper by the 4 corners taking care not to spill any of the baking beans/rice onto the pastry case.
  5. Return the pastry case to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing to cool
  6. To make the filling, add the butter and sugar to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until light and creamy. Add the vanilla, almonds and eggs and beat in until combined
  7. Peel, core and quarter the pears, before cutting into slices about 1cm thick
  8. Spread the almond mixture into the pastry case. Arrange quarter of the pear so the narrow part is towards the centre of the tin and wider part is towards the outside work as quickly as you can to prevent the pear discolouring
  9. Once you have arranged the pears, return the flan tin to 180 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the centre is just starting to set (it will continue to cook as it cools). Allow to cool in the tin for another 15 minutes before attempting to cut.

Cinnamon and Apple Blondies

It’s cold, dark, and miserable outside, I’m having a “big” birthday and there is nowhere open to go out and celebrate.

Combine the cake mix thoroughly before adding the apples.

To try and stave off the impending dispair this will bring, for the mean time I’m all about the comfort food.

Toss the apples in a little flour before adding to the mix.
Apple should be folded into the mix with a metal spoon.

I’ve made blondies before and they have a similar texture to brownies but as they don’t use chocolate, they have more of a caramely flavour. This works really well with apple and cinnamon. This time of year these are the flavours I love.

Yummy with ice cream

These are great with a cup of tea or coffee, but they’re also fantastic with custard or ice cream as a dessert. These freeze well, and will last 2-3 days in an air tight tin.

Ingredients

2 Apples (peeled, cored and cut into 1cm cubes)

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

100 Grams Soft brown sugar

100 Grams Caster sugar

1 Tsp Cinnamon

275 Grams Plain flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 Egg

100 Grams Butter (melted)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and line a 8 in x 8 in baking tin
  2. Add the eggs and sugar to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until light and fluffy
  3. Gradually whisk in the melted butter (allow to cool a little before adding)
  4. Hold back 2 tablespoons of flour, but gradually add the rest of the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and fold into the sugar and eggs mix with a metal spoon
  5. Once you have peeled and chopped the apples toss the pieces in the 2 tablespoons of flour
  6. Fold the chunks of apple into the batter until evenly distributed
  7. Transfer the mix to the baking tin, and bake for 50 minutes. Check . Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before cooling on a wire wrack

Fun Times with Funghi

I love love love mushrooms of any kind. I usually stick to regular field mushrooms, as the fancy ones are usually pretty expensive. Mushrooms are a fantastic source of vitamin D, are low in fat and carbohydrates and provide texture and a great savoury kick for vegan dishes.

Due to the recent lockdown I was able to buy a mushroom block from a grower who normally supplies restaurants.

Baby oyster mushrooms just starting to grow

Two days after I ordered it a large lump of compressed saw dust wrapped in plastic arrived. I was a bit sceptical, but my love of oyster mushrooms spurred me on. I hate gardening and pretty much kill every plant I come in contact with. But these were super simple, basically it’s a stump of pressed sawdust impregnated with fungi spores and it just needs sprayed with water once or twice a day.

In less than a week later I had my first crop, and it’s still going. Like most mushrooms these can be added to pretty much anything. My favourite way to eat them is just fried in a little butter.

Delicious

If you love mushrooms and want to give your loved ones a gift idea I would definitely recommend trying this. It’ll bring out your inner nerd and you will love it. It’s also a great project with kids and helps them understand where food comes from.

Fried in a little olive oil and top some avocado and toast for a quick and simple lunch.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I can’t take credit for this, the recipe comes from Mary Berry. Sometimes if something is perfect you shouldn’t mess with it.

It’s an incredibly easy cake to make and perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. I also like it as a dessert with ice cream or custard.

I’ve tried a pink grapefruit version of this and it was a really nice change, but either one is delicious.

Ingredients

For the cake

175 Grams Self raising flour

175 Grams Butter (softened)

175 Grams Caster sugar

3 Eggs

3/4 Tsp Baking powder

Zest of one lemon

For the Icing

100 Grams Caster sugar

Juice of one lemon

Method

  1. Sift the flour and sugar in to a bowl and add the other cake ingredients
  2. Pre heat an oven to 180 degrees, line a loaf tin with baking paper
  3. With an electric whisk, whisk all the ingredients together for 5 minutes until fully combined
  4. Transfer the mix to the loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes
  5. Mix 100 grams of caster sugar with the juice of one lemon to make the icing
  6. When you have removed the cake from the oven, pour over the icing while the cake is still warm
  7. Allow to cool before serving

Black Magic Cake

I made this as it was Halloween. Yes, this Halloween will be a bit more subdued, but hey any excuse for chocolate cake.

This is by all accounts a really old recipe that was originally developed by Hershey Chocolate, to highlight their cocoa powder.

I used supermarket own brand and it worked fine. Please don’t be tempted use powdered drinking chocolate, it will not taste good.

You’ll see there is coffee in this cake, don’t worry about this. I don’t like coffee flavoured desserts either. I promise you won’t taste the coffee, but it does bring out the flavour of the chocolate.

Yes this is very rich, but its not something that you’re going to eat everyday. You won’t be disappointed, this is definitely going in the pure filth file.

Deep, dark, and delicious

Ingredients

For the cake

230 Grams Plain flour

70 Grams Cocoa powder

400 Grams Sugar

2 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda

2 Tsp Baking powder

1 Tsp Salt

2 Eggs

250ml Buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, a 1 Tbsp of lemon juice to ordinary milk and allow to sit for a few minutes)

250ml Strong black coffee (or 1 Tbsp of instant coffee dissolved in 250ml of hot water)

125ml Vegetable oil (Best to use a flavourless oil like sunflower oil)

1Tsp Vanilla extract

For the icing

200 Grams Dark chocolate

175ml Double cream

50 Grams Butter

Method

  1. This is a super easy cake to make. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and grease and line 2 x 8 inch cake tins
  2. For the cake part, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl
  3. Add the wet ingredients and mix for 90 seconds with an electric whisk
  4. Pour the mix evenly between the two prepared baking tins and bake for 35 minutes
  5. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow cool in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling wrack and allow to cool completely before adding the icing
  6. For the ganache icing, break up the chocolate and add to a heat proof bowl.
  7. Heat the cream in a saucepan until just before boiling and pour on top of the chocolate, and whisk.
  8. Melt the butter and whisk into the cream and chocolate and you will soon have thick and glossy icing. Allow to cool to room temperature
  9. Place one of your cake layers on a plate or cake stand. Spread about one third of the icing on top of the cake and spread evenly with a palate knife
  10. Top with the second cake layer and pour one third of the icing on top, spreading evenly with a palate knife again. Spread the remaining icing around the sides, and add any other decoration you might want

Blueberry Galette

I love a galette, mainly because you don’t need to be a super talented baker. Galettes are open free form pies, so you don’t have to be a whiz with pastry to make something great.

I make different versions of these, both savoury and sweet and usually try to use seasonal fillings. They are really versatile, and if you’re organised you can make a double batch of pastry and freeze it for the next time you bake. You can of course use shop bought pastry if you’re short on time, but home made pastry will taste better. I’ve included some sugar in the pastry but if you want to make a savoury galette just leave it out.

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter

2 Egg yolks (1 yolk goes into the pastry, and the second yolk is for brushing the pastry with)

1 Tbsp Caster sugar

Zest of one lemon (optional)

For the filling

400 Grams Blueberries

1 Tbsp Cornflour

1 Tbsp Caster sugar (reduce or increase depending on the sweetness of your fruit)

Method

  1. In a food processor add the ingredients and pulse until resembles breadcrumbs (you can use the rubbing in method if you prefer)
  2. Very gradually add cold water until it starts to come together. Turn onto a floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  3. After your pastry has chilled, remove from the fridge and allow it to come back to close to room temperature (it will be too difficult to roll out otherwise)
  4. Pre-heat your oven 180 degrees. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment
  5. On a floured surface, roll out your pastry to make a circle about 1.5cm thick. Transfer your pastry to the parchment (if you’re not especially confident with pastry, just put your ball of dough on the parchment at the start and roll it out (means you don’t have to transfer it)
  6. In a bowl add your fruit, corn flour and sugar and combine
  7. Place the fruit in the middle of the pastry, leaving a border of about 5-6cm around the edge of the pastry
  8. Brush the border with beaten egg yolk, start to pleat the pastry border together to bring the border towards the centre. Brush the pastry crust with the remaining egg yolks
  9. Bake the galette for 40-45 minutes until golden brown, allow to cool a little before dusting liberally with icing sugar. I love this served ice cream, or whipped cream

No Churn Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

This is inspired by a recipe I saw from Katie’s Cucina, and I knew I had to try. I’ve tweaked the proportions of her recipe but it’s pretty straight forward. The hardest thing about it will be not going back and forth to the freezer to “check it’s OK”.

Spread the marshmallows evenly on a tray before placing under the grill

It has only 3 ingredients, and doesn’t need all the faff most ice creams recipes involve, like needing stir it constantly or having to have an ice cream maker.

Remember to keep an eye on these so they don’t burn

This tastes spectacular as it is, but teams really with anything chocolate related. Really the taste of toasted marshmallows is something else. This is definately a pure filth recipe. But there is always room for a little filth in your life.

Ingredients

200 Grams Mini marshmallows

250 ml Condensed milk

125 ml Double cream

Method

  1. Line an oven proof tray with tin foil and rub this with a thin film of oil
  2. Turn on your grill to high, spread the marshmallows evenly across the tray
  3. Put the tray under the grill and watch closely. You’re looking for toasted but not burnt, and this can happen in a matter of seconds if you don’t watch out
  4. In a bowl with the cream and condensed milk together with an electric whisk until it thickens. You can use a stand mixer if you have one
  5. Add the toasted marshmallows gradually (they’ll want clog up the whisk otherwise) and whisk at a medium speed until thoroughly mixed. You’ll see little flecks of brown from the toasted parts of the marshmallow but this where the flavour is.
  6. Freeze for 8 hours (and do your best not to eat it all yourself)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Little nuggets of yummyness

On a wet crappy Sunday afternoon I was craving something sweet and couldn’t be bothered going out. I had a rummage through the cupboards and came up with these. I have saved this recipe under “pure filth”. They may sound pretty healthy, but in reality there is a substantial amount of sugar and butter in these cookies (and is probably part of the reason they taste so good).

Mix ready to be scooped into cookies

This is based a round an American recipe, so these will be soft cookies, rather than a crunchier biscuit. If you like a crunchier biscuit just bake these for longer, (be careful they don’t dry out too much). When I made these I didn’t have enough raisins, so I made up the difference with dried cranberries and they were great. So be brave and don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of dried fruit.

Makes 24

Ingredients

150 Grams Butter

150 Grams Sugar (preferably brown, but use what you have)

125 Grams Plain flour

1 Tsp Baking soda

1 Tsp Cinnamon

150 Grams Raisins

125 Grams Desiccated Coconut

2 Eggs

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and line to two baking sheets with baking parchment
  2. In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together (I use an electric whisk), add the eggs and mix well
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined
  4. I use a tablespoon to scoop out enough mixture for each cookie (you can make these bigger or small if you prefer, just remember to adjust your cooking time) and place spoonfuls of the mix evenly on your baking sheets (leave enough room in case they spread a little)
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, and then allow to cool completely on a wire wrack before storing in an airtight box

Smoked Mackerel Pate

This is a total crowd pleaser. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love this (apart from those people who totally hate fish).

When people hear pate, they tend to think it’s going to be complicated. This recipe has only 5 ingredients, and takes 5 minutes to make. It makes a brilliant starter with crusty bread, or I enjoy it on a toasted bagel for lunch. It also makes a good topping for baked potatoes.

The pate has lots of flavour, but if you want to mix it up a bit you can swap out the parsley and lemon juice for coriander and lime, with some finely chopped chillies.

Ingredients

200 Grams Smoked mackerel

100 Grams Cream cheese

Juice of half a lemon

Small handful of chopped parsley

Ground black pepper

Method

  1. Remove and discard the skin from the fish
  2. Break up the mackerel in a bowl, and flake with a fork
  3. Add the cream cheese, lemon juice, and parsley and mix until the pate is smooth. Taste and add black pepper to taste (you can also add more lemon and parsley if you prefer)

Hazelnut and Raspberry Eton Mess

Chewy meringue, luscious cream, and juicy raspberries

Most of my baking is throw it in a bowl give a quick stir and throw it in the oven. Every now and again I like to go a little bit fancier, not as fancy as those creations you see in French patisseries that are total works of art, but a bit more involved than a tray bake.

As with some of my favourite recipes this came together as the result of an accident. I was in a supermarket and meant to lift ground almonds but lifted ground hazelnuts instead. If you can’t find ground hazelnuts, just give whole hazelnuts a whiz in the food processor, just don’t go too fine with them or else the hazelnuts will start to release their natural oils which is death for a meringue. I used raspberries in this, but oranges or strawberries also go really well.

I’ll be honest, I was trying to make pretty frou frou little meringue nests. It went horribly wrong (I have a checkered past with meringue and it beat me once again. I think I need one those beautiful very expensive mixers, just saying in case anyone would like to send one to the Sunnyside Kitchen and break my meringue curse). If you are better with meringues than I am please give the little nests a try I think they would look adorable.

My meringue nests didn’t really work out.

So I had a pile of ugly meringues, and rather than waste these I just adapted what I had and layered broken meringue, cream, chocolate and fruit to make a version of Eton mess, it tasted fabulous! This is also a fantastic gluten free dessert.

I like to think of cooking as a metaphor for life, sometimes you end up with something you didn’t want or didn’t ask for. Sometimes things don’t work out as you hoped or planned. But with a little imagination and the right attitude you can still create something great.

Served in little jars or glasses these make a delicious dessert.

Ingredients

Meringue

150 Grams Hazelnuts (ground)

7 Eggs whites

385 Grams Caster sugar (if you don’t have caster sugar, whiz ordinary granulated sugar in a food processor of a couple of seconds)

1/2 Tsp White wine vinegar

Filling

100 Grams Chocolate (use the the type you prefer and grate or scrap into curls

1 Punnet of raspberries

250 Ml Whipped Cream

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees, line two baking sheets with baking parchment, drawing on circles (if making meringue nests)
  2. Separate your eggs and whisk the egg whites until they resemble stiff peaks, whisk in the sugar a tablespoon at time and then add the vinegar.
  3. Gradually fold in the ground hazelnuts with a metal spoon, and then pipe or spoon onto the prepared baking trays
  4. Bake for 25-30 mins and remove and allow cool before carefully removing from the baking parchment
  5. When the meringue are completely cold, start to layer them up with the whipped cream, prepared fruit and grated chocolate. I use little jam jars, but these also look really good served in tall glasses. If you have any whole hazelnuts left you could also toast these in a pan and allow them to cool before topping the desserts to give some crunch