Mango & Passion Fruit Sorbet with Exotic Fruit Salad

This is as lush as a fruit salad can get!  Not too sinful but so full of flavour and deeply refreshing on a hot summer day, oh yes!  As the sun made its first appearance this year I could not wait until summer to make this! This sorbet is easy to make and you don’t need an ice cream maker; you just need a good-sized tub to freeze the sorbet in and some room in your freezer.  You can do all the fruit prep in advance and then just chuck it all together at the last minute!


I suggest making the sorbet the day or so before you need it as you will have to take it out three times to break up the ice crystals that will form in the preparation – I would say check on the sorbet every hour for the slushy stage.  You can use an ice cream maker if you have one – which will be easier; but the tub method really isn’t too much work! There are a couple of supermarkets that now sell ready-shaved coconut (coconut shavings) Waitrose, I believe, being one of them!

Mango & Passion Fruit Sorbet with Exotic Fruit Salad

This serves 6 and takes about 25 minutes to prep plus the freezing time.

You need:

125g of caster sugar
Juice of 2 limes
2 medium sized mangoes
5 passion fruit
1 small pineapple
1 ripe papaya
9 lychees (a can in juice would do just fine)
1 pomegranate
1 tablespoon of clear honey
1 small, fresh, coconut

Do it:

Place your sugar in a pan with the juice of 1 lime and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Peel and chop the mangoes.  Halve the passion fruits, scoop out the pulp and set half aside and half rub through a sieve.  Place the mango, passion fruit juice and syrup in a blender and whizz until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large freezer container and thoroughly mix in the un-sieved passion fruit pulp pips and all.  Pop into the freezer and leave until slushy (around an hour or so) then take out and whisk to break up the ice crystals – you can use a food processor, an electric whisk, a fork or a blender to do this.  Return the tub to the freezer and repeat this process two more times then allow to freeze until needed.  If you are using an ice-cream maker then just follow your instructions.

Onto your fruit salad – cut the top and base from the pineapple; peel, remove the brown ‘eyes’ and cut into wedges then slice crosswise to make half-moon shapes. Halve your papaya and remove the seeds (which is a bit tricky so take your time) and slice.  Peel your lychees and halve away from the stone, saving any juice.  Alternatively, if you are using a can then reserve about a tablespoon of the juice. With the pomegranate you need to cut in half and, holding over a fairly deep bowl, whack the living daylights out of it with a wooden spoon (or something similar) until nearly all the seeds, and juice, have fallen into the bowl.  Do the same with the other half and then just pick out any seeds that are still attached to the skin and any sour yellow membrane that may have fallen into the bowl.

Just before serving juice your reserved lime and mix into the honey.  Crack your coconut, prise the flesh away from the shell and with a potato peeler shave some curls from the coconut flesh.

Take your sorbet out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you need to serve and pop in the fridge to soften. To plate up all you need to do is arrange your fruits on plates and sprinkle over the reserved fruit juices, honey and lime juice; scoop a large portion of the sorbet onto the fruits and scatter over the coconut shavings.


Shoulder of Lamb with a raisin & rosemary stuffing

All of a sudden, the sun is shining and spring seems to be here!  Hooray for that!  Lamb is that quintessential spring meat and some fantastic Welsh lamb should be appearing very soon in your local butchers and supermarkets.  Not to put a damper on New Zealand imported lamb as it is very tasty – but, thinking about carbon footprints it is much more preferable to eat meat that is far closer to home.  Looking forward to Easter I sometimes feel that the traditional, humble, lamb has been usurped by the fattened turkey!  Terrible, terrible; think again if you are planning on turkey this Easter.

Lamb has an element of sweetness, especially the shoulder; pair that with a slightly sweet stuffing and they compliment each other so well.  Lamb does take well to sweet vine fruits and, also, other fruits such as apricots and dried figs!  This would make a very special Easter roast and is more of a spring roast than a wintery recipe.  The stuffing takes very few ingredients from scratch and takes very little time to prepare.  Just remember to have some butchers string to tie up the meat – I get mine from my local butcher.

Shoulder of Lamb with a raisin & rosemary stuffing 

Shoulder of Lamb with a raisin and rosemary stuffing

Shoulder of Lamb with a raisin & rosemary stuffing

Serves 4 and takes around 2 hours to prepare and cook

You need:
1kg boneless lamb shoulder

25g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
100g fresh breadcrumbs
50g raisins
The juice and zest of 1 orange
A few sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped

Do it:

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

Melt the butter in a small pan and add the onion and garlic, cook until soft.  Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl and add the butter and onion mixture along with the raisins, rosemary and the orange juice and zest.  Season it all with some salt and pepper and mix to bind the stuffing together with your hands.

Open the lamb out flat and spread the stuffing over then gently roll the lamb and tie with some butchers string.  Any remaining stuffing could be put in a small ovenproof dish and covered with tin foil and then cooked in the oven with the lamb.

Place the lamb in a roasting tin and cook for around 80 minutes.

Serve with some buttered baby leeks and new potatoes.

Mini Sausage Bridies

It’s been some time since I put a new post up (methinks must do better!) and Christmas is upon us!  Time flies wether you are having fun or not.  Last year after my operation I really couldn’t do too much.  I tried to cook the Christmas lunch but flailed at the last hurdle!  This year my thoughts have turned to Bridies!  These are Scottish in origin said to have been ‘invented’ by a Forfar baker in the 1850s. They are similar to pasties, but because they are made without potatoes, are much lighter in texture.  Mine are a tad different – and here is the story on them.  I shared a flat with my friend Linda and when she returned from Scotland after the Hogmanay festivities she brought home a big batch of these little ‘mini’ Bridies which were filled with a morsel of seasoned sausage meat.  Her father was a Master Baker and would make these as an alternative to sausage rolls.  I decided to recreate them for a party my neighbours were holding – I made about 100 and took the first batch down on a large plate, returned to my flat and came down with the second batch (about 20 minutes later) on another large plate – I was pretty much shocked to find the first batch had been scoffed!  A similar thing happened when I made them for a concert at the church where I worked a few years back.  So, with all that scoffing as a recommendation, I now make them for Christmas!  In essence, they are fundamentally a ‘sausage roll’ which is enclosed in pastry!  So please try them and see what you think!

A few words about the pastry – you can buy shop-bought puff pastry but it is very inferior to making your own.  I had some in my fridge so the first batch I made were with this pastry.  But instead of just using it straight from the packet – I flicked over a few butter cubes and rolled and folded and chilled twice to give the pastry a good flavour ‘and’ some lightness which I feel shop-bought puff pastry just doesn’t have!

Making your own puff pastry really is a doddle – but, yes, it does take up a bit of time – however, you can make two days before and store in the fridge or for longer keeping time you can actually freeze it for a month!  I would suggest you freeze it in 500g batches to use for recipes!

Mini Sausage Bridies

Mini Sausage Bridies

So here is the recipe for my Mini Sausage Bridies!  Starting with the pastry.


Easy to make – for the pastry approx., 2 hours rolling and chilling.  Making the sausage meat stuffing approx., 20 mins.  Assembling and cooking 50 mins.  All timings are approximate. This recipe makes approximately 27-30.

For the pastry:
250g plain flour
250g butter – cut into small cubes of about 1cm
A good pinch of fine sea salt
150 mls of cold water (approx) see recipe

For the filling:
5 spring onions – topped and tailed
250g sausage meat
2 garlic cloves – crushed or grated
a tsp of dried sage
a good grating of fresh nutmeg
a good turn of the pepper mill

A whole beaten egg for glazing

Sift the plain flour and salt into your food processor bowl with the paddle attached – the mixing blade and not the cutting blade (or a large mixing bowl) then throw in the butter cubes pulse a couple of times so they are evenly distributed and coated with flour (if you are doing this by hand just mix them around in the flour and ensure they are all coated with the flour).

Now gradually add about 50mls of the cold water – pulsing a few times with the blender or stirring if you are working by hand.  Now repeat this with another 50mls of cold water and check how damp your mixture is.  With the final 50mls add this gradually until your mixture comes together – you really do not want it slopping around the bowl – the flour should be marbled with the butter!  Take it out of the bowl and bring together – pop into a freezer bag or a clean bowl covered with cling film and chill in your fridge for 20 minutes.  This will make the dough easier to work with.

Prepare your worktop for rolling by sifting over some plain flour and rub flour over your rolling pin, then when the 20 mins are up take out your pastry and ‘lightly’ knead together into a rectangle shape ready for rolling.  Now roll the pastry out in one direction only (we are building up layers here) until it is roughly about 20 x 50cm.  Do not worry about the butter that you can see – this will eventually disappear.  Try to keep the edges straight down the sides and I know this is difficult – on the first rolling I fold them lightly inward if need be.

Building up the flaky layers.  
Fold the top 1/3rd of the pastry dough down to just past the centre and then the bottom 1/3rd over it.  Now turn the pastry by a quarter so the bottom is now on your right hand side and roll the pastry to 3 times its length – do not work on the width only the length – and once again roll the top 1/3rd to the middle and the bottom 1/3rd over that.  Repeat this once more and then pop in a freezer bag (or cover with cling film) and refrigerate for another 20 minutes.

You are going to repeat the rolling and chilling 2 more times.  It is easy to remember if you think of 3’s – you roll and fold 3 times, you chill, you do this 3 times.

The filling
I use a food processor for this with the chopping blade attached – but they are just as easy to make by hand – just takes a bit longer.  For the food processor – chop your spring onions into 1 inch lengths and place in the processor bowl (by hand chop them up very finely and drop into a mixing bowl) now add the sausagemeat and pulse a few times to mix everything.  If you are working by hand you need to mix the sausagemeat and the onions together with your hand to ensure they are fully mixed.  Grate or crush in your garlic cloves, add the teaspoon of sage, the nutmeg and the pepper and pulse a good few times until they are all mixed thoroughly.  By hand just keep on squashing it all together until mixed and soft.

Put into a bowl or bag in the fridge to keep cool until needed.

Preheat your oven to gas mark7/425F/220C and once your pastry is ready after the final chilling, take it out of the fridge and roll out the pastry fairly thinly (I do this in two batches as I find it easier) – take a large mug or a large cutter (about 10cm in diameter) and cut out your pastry circles.  Re-roll the scraps by layering them on each other rather than rolling into a ball as this will keep the layers intact.

Beat your egg in a small bowl and line your baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment.

Take the sausagemeat filling out of the fridge and using your fingers put about a teaspoon full in each and then paint around the exposed edges with the egg-wash.  Fold over your Bridie into a half-moon shape and press seal the edges together.  Repeat with all of them. Next you need to make sure all the edges are properly sealed together so, using the end of the pastry brush or the handle of a knife, indent the edges of the pastries.  Next, using a pastry brush, glaze generously with the egg wash and place on your baking sheet – give them about 1cm between each Bridie.  Pop into the oven for 10 minutes – then take out and reglaze with the egg wash (this will give a nice pastry crust and a gorgeous ‘burnished’ finish) turn the sheet around and bake for another 10 minutes.

Mini Sausage Bridies

Filling and sealing.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.  Repeat with the remaining Bridies until all are cooked.

Mini Sausage Bridies

Just baked, waiting to cool a little before moving to a cooling rack.

You can store them in the fridge for 3 days and rewarm in a low oven, on a baking sheet, for about 10 minutes until heated through.  You can also freeze them at this stage (I do this in manageable batches in freezer bags but you can layer them in a large freezer box interleaved with some baking parchment).  To reheat from frozen – bring to room temperature and pop onto a baking sheet and into a low oven for about 15 mins.

You can crate your own fillings such as minced lamb with fresh mint and parsley, onion and garlic and a little cinnamon or cumin.

Mini Scottish Bridies

The filling inside these little bites!

MSG truth ….. mothers’ milk and a packet of cheese’n’onion crisps have rather more in common than you would think!!!

A very good synopsis on the history of MSG and worth a read to expand your thoughts on glutamate!

Read more here!

Smoked Salmon Risotto

Smoked Salmon Risotto

Smoked Salmon Risotto

I am a massive fan of smoked salmon – even a heinous bout of food poisoning after eating it at a very swanky restaurant in a very swanky hotel many moons ago didn’t put me off!  This … is a super summer lunch dish – and as today is too hot to cook in the evening I am limiting my cooker and kitchen to lunchtime and lunchtime ONLY!!  The elegant taste of the warm salmon in a light, creamy, unctuous, risotto is so moreish.  Served with a lightly dressed green salad on the side is an absolutely perfect spring into summer supper dish!

Setting summer aside (but not too quickly) – this is also a great dish for making after the Christmas revelries using up the left over smoked salmon and blue stilton that always seems to be hanging around after the big day (well maybe not the smoked salmon so much) and making that break from all the heavy food of the season.

It’s pretty inexpensive to make if you choose smoked salmon trimmings: you can get them from all supermarkets – Tesco’s are pretty good and currently the cheapest by far!  You will have to feel through the trimmings for any stray bones and cut off the darker or drier edges of the fish – but I think it is well worth the bother to reduce the cost.  Get two packs and if there is any left over salmon use the next day with some cream cheese (or beat up any left over stilton with a little crème fraîche) and slather in a bagel for a lunchtime treat!

Serves 2 but can easily be doubled.  Takes around 30 minutes from bag to table.

You need:

175g risotto rice
600ml of chicken stock
100g smoked salmon
200g of good quality baby plum tomatoes
100g of mature blue stilton (use any blue cheese if you wish or even cheddar!)

Do it:

Heat a non-stick frying pan and cook the risotto rice for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender (be gentle with the stirring as you don’t want to break up the grains too much).

Meanwhile, slice the smoked salmon into strips and halve the tomatoes.  Grate the blue stilton.

When the rice is ready, gently fold the tomatoes into the rice and cook for two minutes – stirring gently.  Now add the salmon and cheese to the rice and, again, fold in gently enough just to mix and then cook until the salmon and cheese are heated through (should take just a couple of minutes at the most).  Season to taste and serve immediately.

Sinful Venezuelan Chocolate & Disaronno Ice-cream

I recently came across a recipe for an Amaretto Ice Cream – I tried the recipe and it failed miserably (I think because the blogger had ‘not’ actually made this herself!) my initial instinct was that there was far too much alcohol for the ice-cream to freeze!  Unfortunately, I was £’s lighter and totally correct!  I tipped the unfrozen mixture into a blender and added a little more Amaretto and it ended up making an exceptional ‘grown-up’ chilled chocolate shake.  Straw essential – little umbrella optional….!!!!

I loved the taste and still wanted to make this ice-cream.  So it got me thinking and experimenting until I came up with this sinful (as in your wallet and on your hips) and utterly delicious recipe!  It’s not at all hard to make and you really don’t need an ice-cream maker; although it is easier if you do own one!  This is a rich, decadent and expensive ice-cream – but you can cut costs and for some people 100% cocoa might be too bitter for their taste-buds!  For me this is an extravagant dessert (read ‘grown up’ dinner party) ice-cream.  

A little rant here: my blog may not be the fastest on the net; but, everything I post up I have actually made myself in my tiny kitchen – and credit where credit is due nearly every food blog I follow does the same….. so, it does irk me when someone claims to have made something (and includes pictures which they claim they took) of a recipe that ‘cannot’  scientifically work – yet they have tons of their friends telling them how great the recipe is – it’s only when the responses are read closely does one realise that no-one seems to have made it and questioned the impossibility of the recipe! Oh well – rant over and onto the recipe!

For the ice cream I have used a 100% cocoa chocolate – it is made by a company called ‘Willies Supreme Cacao’ and is Venezuelan Black Carenero Superior. It can be obtained from most Waitrose stores in the baking section and costs £5.99 for 180g – which is quite expensive.  You can replace this with any high cocoa chocolate but try to get something over the 70% mark;  two recommendations are Co-op’s 85% Ghanian Fair Trade chocolate – or Green & Blacks Organic Dark Chocolate 85%.

Sinful Venezuelan Chocolate & Disaronno Ice-cream Recipe

This makes around 750mls and will serve 4 large scoops with a little left over (chef’s perk!).

Just a word on the milk – I have used Alpro’s Almond milk as it is slightly sweeter and complements the almond liqueur – but don’t shy away from using other milk … for example you can use a rich, full cream Gold Top Jersey cow’s milk or simply a full-fat cow’s milk – experiment maybe and use coconut milk for an interesting twist?  Don’t forget to keep the egg whites and make some meringues or a pavlova out of them – you can freeze them or keep them in the fridge for 2 days!

4 large egg yolks
125g golden caster sugar (ordinary caster sugar will be fine if you don’t have golden)
300ml Alpro almond milk (or milk of your choice)
300ml double cream
30ml (2 tablespoons) of Disaronno liqueur
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or vanilla paste if you have it – recommended)
180g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (see above for recommendations)
1 teaspoon of Camp coffee liquid (this is optional)

Place the egg yolks and the sugar in a bowl and beat for about 3 minutes with an electric beater until thick and pale or you can use a balloon whisk but this will take a little longer.

Place the cream, almond milk, vanilla and Disaronno in a saucepan over medium heat. Then heat the mixture until it is just below boiling point (do NOT allow to boil) stirring gently, before removing from heat and allow to cool to, at least, room temperature.

Once your cream/milk mixture is cooled add a small amount to your beaten eggs and then slowly add the rest of the cream/milk mixture beating all the time. Once all of the cream mixture is combined with the eggs, pour this into a clean pan over low heat (use a heat diffuser if necessary).

You are now making a ‘custard’ – so cook over a gentle heat and stirring all the time until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon (drag your finger down the back of the spoon and it should leave a definite trail in the coating which will remain).

Take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate (and Camp coffee liquid – if using) and allow it to melt into the custard – give the chocolate time to melt but if you feel it isn’t melting in then just put the pan back over the gentlest of heats until the chocolate has melted in – but do keep on stirring consistently!

Once the chocolate has melted and combined with the custard it is time to chill – allow the custard to cool to room temperature then pour into a non-metallic bowl and chill in the fridge for an hour.  

Once the mixture is completely chilled, take it from the refrigerator and pour it into your ice cream maker and follow instructions OR make by hand using a 1.0/1.5 litre lidded tupperware-type bowl (if you don’t have a lid use some cling film) – pour the ice-ceram mixture into the bowl; pop into your freezer and leave to freeze for around 3 hours, or until the edges have crystallised; then take it out of the tub into a (preferably chilled) sizeable bowl and beat with a hand mixer or a fork to break down the icy edges, then pour back into the tub and refreeze for another 2 hours then repeat the beating, once again breaking down the ice crystals – do this another two times to gain a really silky smooth ice cream (the ice cream will become stiffer in texture but smoother and you will feel this each time you beat)!  

When you are ready to serve – take out of the freezer and leave at room temperature for 10 minutes or in your fridge for 20 minutes – scoop and serve!  I have served mine with some fresh cherries and a shot glass of Disaronno for those who want a stronger liqueur taste!

FOODtips of the Day!

Every so often I come across some tips, cheats and helpful ideas that I feel are worth saving as you never know when you might need them.  Here are the latest:

Add a spoonful of custard powder to fruit pie pastry and the result will be a golden yellow pastry!

Slice an onion thinly and freeze in plastic bags. Using a rolling pin on the frozen slices in their bags breaks them into small pieces, just as if they had been finely diced!

Half a chicken stock cube, dissolved in hot milk gives a lovely flavour to mashed potatoes!