The results came in as follows:Noah loved it and had more, so I won the carrot halwa war that no one else was fighting.Maya spat hers out in the bin and asked for a yoghurt instead.Read More
This week's recipe is a good one to make with and for the children now the Christmas holidays have started. A simple recipe for simple minds, if you will...You may not have children of your own, in which case, feel free to borrow some. They will devour these little sponge biscuit treats in a flash if they are anything like the gannets that mine turned into when a plateful of these alighted on the kitchen table. It was like the pigeons of old in Trafalgar Square.The shop bought version of these are crisper, so you could add more sugar to the mix if you like, but these ones are softer and lean a little more toward madeleines crossed with sponge fingers. I filled the first lot with some of mother in law Sue's chocolate sauce that she had mistakenly left lying about the place, the next batch used spoonfuls of Nutella. Both were delicious.If you want to make your own chocolate sauce, melt good, dark chocolate, a little milk chocolate, some honey, cocoa powder and butter together with a little splash of water until glossy, smooth and rich. This will keep in a jar, probably for eternity, highly unlikely that will happen though. Just reheat to pour over ice cream as and when.The week ahead should bring plenty of opportunity for fun meals, but with the big day approaching you may want a few simple meals such as the sausage, lentil and potato stew I made for Saturday lunch after the children's swimming lessons. Red and white onions, a tin of tomatoes, garlic, carrots and celery gently simmered in the oven while we decorated the tree. It was wholesome and tasty and practically cooked itself.Maybe you'd also like chicken thighs braised with a creamy mushroom and Dijon mustard sauce and some buttered, shredded savoy cabbage to keep out the cold. Or perhaps a big bowl of orzo with tomato and gently spiced meatballs. Whatever you eat in the run up, I wish you a happy Christmas.Ingredients4 eggs100g icing sugar100g plain flourChocolate sauce, Nutella or JamA madeleine tin, or similarMethodSeparate the eggs and whisk the whites to a light snow.Cream together the sugar and egg yolks then gently fold in the whites. Add the flour a little at a time and mix well.Spray the moulds with cooking oil or grease with a little butter then spoon the mix into each mould.Bake at 170c for 10-12 minutes until turning a delicate gold. Immediately make a large dent in the middle of each with the back of a spoon or your thumb. Fill with the chocolate and leave to cool.This weekSaw:London Mozart Players Christmas concert at the incredible St. John's Church on Auckland Road. It's like a local cathedral. Featured Noah's choir singing 'Yesterday Like You & Me' by composer David Braid. Also a fantastic recital of Winter, from the Four Seasons. Uplifting.Read:Deliverance from 27,000 feet. An incredible tale of death and survival on Everest from the New York Times. You'll need to set aside a little time to read it though.Listened to:Michael Bublé's Christmas album. Come on, it's great. Also, the soundtrack to White Christmas.Eat:Mince pies, stollen, mince pies, pannetone, mince pies, gianduja. Mince pies.
Although I firmly believe sugar to be the devil, I will occasionally find myself face down in a cake or suchlike. And when I say occasionally, I probably mean more like once a week. Or twice if you count the new 'tradition' I've invented of sharing an entire tub of Magnum almond ice cream with Bee while watching Antiques Roadshow on Sunday evening. That is how we roll round these parts.And yesterday, all I had to eat was two slices of homemade sourdough with a couple of eggs and sliced ham topped with herb salt and pickled sliced cucumber, so today, a little sugar is hardly the end of the world. And really, meringues are mainly air, so I count this as breathing.I first made came up with this recipe on a recent shoot and we eat them with strawberries, a little lemon thyme and a lot of gentle noises, which to the outsider could have sounded pretty rude. Hazelnuts, toasted and sprinkled through and on top of the crisp meringues gently giving way in the mouth to a soft, chewy interior with the sweet and sharp fruitiness of proper balsamic is pretty much the actual best. And it's so easy to make; as long as your equipment is clean, you can almost let the machines do all the work. And sometimes, there's nothing wrong with making life a little easier, especially when the result is quicker and better.Ingredients3 egg whites120g icing sugar60g golden caster sugarGood quality balsamic vinegarA handful of chopped hazelnutsA handful of chopped pistachiosMethodClean your mixers bowl and whisk thoroughly before you start and just give the inside of the bowl a rub with half a lemon before drying it with kitchen paper. This will ensure there is no grease inside which will make your meringues mewrongs.Whisk the eggs until they start to form peaks, somewhere between soft and stiff. With the whisk running, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until, incorporating well before adding the next one. You can make more mixture if you like, just remember the simple 60g of sugar per egg white and use a mix of icing and caster as I've done, or all caster or all icing. Up to you. Golden caster will give you a more caramel colour and flavour though, so choose wisely.Whisk until all the sugar is in and the meringue mixture is shiny, smooth and stiff. Heat the oven to 100c/gas 1.Using a spatula, gently fold in some balsamic vinegar until you have nice ripples through it then shape four beautiful dollops onto a lined baking sheet.Sprinkle with nuts and bake for about two hours, leaving to cool in the oven.Serve with coffee, or as I did, because there wasn't enough sugar going on some melted hazelnut and chocolate sauce. You can make this easily by melting together 2 large teaspoons of gianduja paste (you could use Nutella if you prefer), 1 tsp of honey and 2tsp of butter until smooth. This, however, is entirely optional and may lead to needing a little lie down.