If you’re quick you may just get to the last of the wild garlic in a shady spot. The distinctive smell should guide you!
This is a quick easy supper that takes advantage of the wild food available for such a short season. Although, I admit, I grow some ‘wild’ garlic in a container in my garden for convenience and I always find gnocchi very satisfying after a long day in the garden!
1 pack gnocchi (I use giant gnocchi here but regular ones work just as well)
200ml double cream
2 tbsp green pesto
a good handful of wild garlic leaves, washed and slices into ribbons
4 tbsp* freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano *at least
- Cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions.
- Gently heat the cream and pesto in a small saucepan. Do not allow it to boil.
- Add the garlic leaves and Parmigiano Reggiano and make sure it’s piping hot through.
- Pour the sauce over the gnocchi in bowls.
- Excellent with some crusty bread and a crisp Riesling after a long day in the garden!
Filed under Easy, Mains, quick
This Marsala Cream Chicken is a lovely little dish to rustle up on a Friday night. A tiny bit fancy, a whole lot delicious, and it pairs brilliantly with simple steamed veg to keep things from getting too unhealthy. Yes, there’s a good amount of cream in there. So what? A little bit of indulgence is no bad thing! You can switch to creme fraiche for a slightly healthier option without any trouble. The deep earthy flavours will satisfy your tastebuds without leaving you hungry!
1 large chicken breast (most supermarket chicken breasts these days are HUGE! If not, use two small ones)
1 tbsp herbes de Provence
150g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
3 tbsp Marsala
150ml double cream
salt and pepper to taste
– Split your chicken breast in two if using a very large one.
– Rub all over with a little olive oil and the herbes de provence.
– Get a solid frying pan (cast iron is great!) and get it nice and hot.
– Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook until blackening. (At least 5 minutes! You should be able to see the meat cooked at least halfway up.)
– Turn over and cook the other side until nice and dark. (If you think its browning too fast and is still raw inside, turn down the heat!)
– Push the chicken to one side of the pan. (Quick visual check here to make sure the chicken is cooked through, we don’t want undercooked chicken!)
– Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry until just cooked. (This should only take a minute or two.)
– Add the marsala, give it a quick swirl.
– Add the cream and season with the salt and pepper.
– Heat it until the cream is just boiling and everything is piping hot.
– Serve with steamed veggies.
A good old-fashioned staple this one. We used to make these a lot as kids. I’ve made these a little more complicated by dipping them in chocolate and decorating them to look like little Christmas Puddings. They’re a little sticky but all sweets are and they’re great fun to make. Better yet the basic peppermint creams are really quick to make.
300g icing sugar (plus up to 50g more)
2 tbsp double cream
1 egg white
– Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl.
– Dependent on how big an egg you’ve used you may need more icing sugar to get a thick enough paste.
– Once the mixture is not longer sticky but soft and mouldable dust your hands with icing sugar and pinch off small amounts of the mixture and roll it into balls.
– Place on a tray or chopping board covered in cling film and if you’re making flat discs press down gently with the heel of your hand.
– Continue until all of the mixture is used up.
– Leave to dry overnight.
– The next day if you want chocolate dipped ones melt down 100g of chocolate and allow to cool until just warm to the touch. If it’s still hot it will melt the peppermint creams.
– Then dip them in it. If you want to cover the whole thing then gently drop the peppermint cream into the chocolate, fish out with a fork, making sure it’s totally coated, and then tap firmly on the side of the bowl to get rid of any drippy chocolate. Replace the peppermint on the tray or chopping board to dry.
To make Peppermint Puddings keep the peppermint cream as a round ball and dip in melted chocolate. Then once that’s dried put a small spoon of melted white chocolate on the top and then mix food colouring and white chocolate together. This will make the chocolate go weird but you can pick it up with your fingers and carefully shape the leaves and berries. Simply press on to the white chocolate while it’s still tacky.
I love this dish. It’s much more fiddly than simply steaming some potatoes it’s true but it’s such a delicious side dish that I think it’s well worth the effort. I first had this only a year or two ago in France and it was the high point of possibly the best meal of my life. I have to apologise for this being another recipe which really needs specialist bits and bobs but I’ve had the mandoline out and I’m in love with another kitchen gadget! It’s magic, I was so impressed with how easy it made slicing everything up so thinly. I may even have to try making my own crisps. I’ve also made this dish with celeriac recently and I have to recommend that as an excellent way to eat it. I hate celery with a passion, it’s one of the Five Foods of Doom that I will not eat, so I was a bit worried but celeriac dauphinoise was a delicious introduction to the vegetable and not celery-y at all. The creamyness of this dish goes very well with beef, I’ve had it with steak, boeuf bourguignon and, tonight, roast beef.
Serves 4 generously
approx 3 large potatoes (Use your head and cater for how big a dish you want to fill and how big your tatties are.)
splash of milk
2 cloves garlic, very finely sliced (I used a mini mandoline, also very useful!)
2 tsp thyme leaves
– First peel your potatoes and slice finely, preferably with a mandoline if not be careful!
– Heat the cream, butter and milk in a pan until piping hot but not boiling.
– Grease an oven proof dish and pour in a shallow layer of cream.
– Lay potato slices on top of this, scatter with a few garlic slices, sprinkle with a bit of thyme and season with salt and pepper.
– Spoon more cream over this then another layer of potatoes on top, scatter with garlic and thyme, season and repeat until you reach the top of your dish or run out of potatoes. (I try to keep back enough good slices to make the top layer aesthetically pleasing and bury the tatty bits in the middle.)
– If you have any cream left pour this on top.
– Cook in the oven at gas mark 7 for an hour, placing foil on top to prevent burning half way through.
– Test with a sharp knife to see if it’s cooked through, there should be little to no resistance.
This was really the Pièce de résistance of the whole meal. It is actually quite a simple dish but looks so impressive. You could do this with any small squash that will stand up on its own (so Harlequin is out!) or you could do it with a larger kabocha as a main dish and serve it in bowls. I think that the individual squash are much more impressive though. When choosing your butternuts go for the smallest, best looking ones you can find and make sure they don’t fall over! I had to go to 3 supermarkets to find the right size so forward planning is vital. Luckily squash keep well so if you see them, snap them up! I have much-loved gratin dishes but if you’re careful you could bake them in a larger dish then transfer to bowls to serve.
Serves 3 (just increase the amount of cream to fill whatever you’re filling)
3 small butternut squash
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp thyme leaves
– Heat the oven to gas mark 2.
– Prepare the squash by slicing in half and scooping out the seeds.
– Place the squash in a baking dish.
– Heat the cream, milk, garlic and thyme in a pan and season well. Heat through until piping hot.
– Pour into the prepared squash.
– Put the lids back on and pour a splash of water into the bottom of the dish to stop it sticking.
– Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Turn up to Gas mark 6 for the last 15 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes before serving with fresh bread. (These are very, very hot straight from the oven!)
For those wondering you eat it by scooping the flesh of the squash out into the cream. You can then eat it with chunks or somehow mush it up to be orange soup as my mum did. How she did it with a just spoon I’m unclear but she was happy! Dipping warm bread rolls in it was sublime too!
An interesting variation would be to add some chopped chilli to the cream for a spicier alternative.
Filed under Easy, Starters
This was the main course of our Halloween feast and thus called “Bat Wing Fillets with Poisonous Funghi”. It’s something of a stock recipe for me, I often make it with reduced fat creme fraiche, ordinary mushrooms and minus the brandy but this occasion needed somthing a little bit more special. It was going to be served with spinach gnocchi but that didn’t happen. It’s equally good with regular gnocchi or pasta.
3 chicken breasts cut into strips
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced into quarters
125g oyster mushrooms, sliced
small handful dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 200ml water, finely chopped once soaked
splash of brandy
– Heat a little oil in a large pan then add the chicken and cook until just starting to brown.
– Add the chestnut mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stiring frequently.
– Add the oyster mushrooms and porcini and stir through. Cook for another 5 minutes until all of the mushrooms are cooked.
– Add the brandy and cook for another 5 minutes, stiring frequently.
– Add the cream and season. Cook until the cream is hot and simmer for 5 minutes.
– Serve hot.
This came about because I’d seen a picture of a Strawberry Charlotte and thought it looked cool. I was also thinking of trying out a tiramisu recipe and I had bananas and dulche de leche that needed to be used up before I go on holiday. So I combined them all! I thought that it might be like the Summer Pudding, looks easy, really not, but it turned out to be very simple. A little fiddly in places but other than that it was much better than I had hoped. Then it came to whether or not it would actually have worked or not. Would mixeing the three things be too much of a good thing or a delicious dessert invention? I am very happy to announce that it is definitely the latter. It looks impressive and tasted great too!
1 pack of sponge fingers
250ml whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp Kahlua
1 can Carnation Caramel or Dulce de Leche
6 squares plain chocolate.
For the syrup:
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tbsp Kahlua
– Line a 7″ loose bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
– Mix all of the syrup ingredients in a small bowl and set aside to cool.
– Whip the cream in a bowl.
– Mix together the marscapone, vanilla, icing sugar and Kahlua in a large bowl.
– Gradually add the whipped cream to this mix.
– Carefully cut the very end off enough sponge fingers to line the cake tin so you have a straight edge.
– Carefully place the sponge fingers around the circumference of the tin.
– With the rest of your sponge fingers dip them in the syrup for 1 second and then line the bottom of the tin with them.
– Spoon over half of your dulche de leche.
– Place a layer of banana slices on top of that.
– Spoon the cream over the bananas then smooth down with the back of a spoon.
– Grate chocolate over the cream.
– Again dip and place the sponge fingers on top of the cream.
– Add the rest of the dulche de leche.
– More banana slices.
– The rest of the cream.
– Smooth down the cream with the back of the spoon and then grate chocolate over the top.
– Place in the fridge overnight.
– To remove from the tin find a small bowl or large glass that is taller than the cake tin. Place the tin on top of this and gently push down on the ring being careful not to knock the fingers.
– Pick up the base plate and use a pallate knife to gently slide the dessert on to the serving plate. I say just leave the baking paper on the bottom and don’t tempt fate but if you’re feeling brave you can try to separate the paper and pudding in the same manoeuver.