Christmas preparations

 

The apple harvest always heralds the start of Christmas as I make the incredibly simple seasonal mincemeat with home-grown fruit.

I’ll be demonstrating this and other apple basics on Monday 13 September at 1030.   You can sign up for a free ticket at:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/167476539839

If you have any problems, one of the Open Sight staff can help with registering: 02380 646 378

This week, I’ve been experimenting with honey cake.   I think that the last effort was in San Francisco using the recipe of Steve Edwards, winner of Professional Masterchef.   This weekend, at a gathering of local beekeepers, I learned about their “Hampshire honey cake” https://drive.google.com/file/d/1a3vl4wLeIcanNKMusmMAU0ph5SNCb0T2/view?usp=drive_open
I confess, having checked it out, I wouldn’t waste the ingredients.   One of the issues with using honey instead of sugar is that it contains about 17% water (23% for heather honey) which can make a much wetter mix.   One way to offset the water is to add more flour whereas my alternative here is to use some gentle heat to try to persuade the dry fruit to absorb the liquid.   The honey-soaked sultanas, even when coated with flour, still had a tendency to sink but I was too mean with the honey to rinse them.   The orange zest is just to offset the sweetness.   Using a ring mould means that the heat can get to the centre of the cake more easily but the wetter mix still needs longer cooking time to reach the cooked temperature – I prefer something over 95C (in this case, 98C).

And cooking with warm honey, sticky fruit and wobbly cake moulds is particularly testing when you can’t see!   Lots more cleaning up.

 

175g sultanas.

475g honey.

250G butter (one pack).

4 eggs.

250g self-raising flour.

zest of one orange.

 

Place the honey and sultanas in a pan and heat until warm (still comfortable for a finger).   Cover and leave to cool and the sultanas to absorb water from the honey (overnight) – repeat the following day.

On day three, gently reheat the honey until warm enough to drain the honey into the mixing bowl.   Allow to cool.

Whisk the butter into the honey until light and fluffy.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.

Fold in most of the flour, leaving a tablespoon or two to mix in with the sultanas.

Fold in the sultanas, coated with flour and the orange zest.

Place the mix in a lightly buttered and floured silicone ring mould.

Cook in a preheated oven at 180C, Gas 4 for 20 minutes before turning in the oven.

Cook for a further 20 minutes, covering loosely with foil if the top is getting too brown.

Allow to cool before turning out.

Next time, I might ignore the sultanas, add 100g chopped walnuts with the flour and top the cooked cake with a warmed honey glaze and walnut halves dry-roasted in a pan with a little honey added to make them sticky at the end!

 

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Scallops the professional way.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be taught by the BBC’s Masterchef Professionals 2013 winner, Steven Edwards.  He showed us how to deal with scallops that arrived in their shells and turn this delicacy in to an amazing starter with roasted cucumber and his own special marmite bread.

You can watch me make them on YouTube

He showed us how to prepare the scallops direct from the sea.  I found a long palette knife worked best: slip between the two shells opposite to the square hinge end of the shell and gently but firmly run down the inside of the flat shell.  This should loosen the scallop meat and enable you to separate the two shells.  Gently work the knife under the scallop away from the rounded shell.  You might be surprised at the amount of sand etc in the “skirt”.  Gently separate this from the scallop meat, pull out the “comma” shaped roe.  Throw out the sandy skirt.  Don’t let the scallops spend more than about 30 seconds in the water as you wash them – and change the water if necessary to get rid of all the sand.

Check out the scallop meat: one flat side will be larger than the other.

Penny

MasterChef cookery Day

You can watch me on YouTube or download the recipe here

Rather stupendous cooking sessions with Steve Edwards, winner of the BBC’s 2013 MasterChef competition who now runs his new restaurant “Etch” near Brighton. At the magnificent Lainston House hotel.  The demonstrations and our individual cooking stations were top quality, with excellent behind-the scenes support to keep us constantly cleaned down and fully stocked with the ingredients needed.  Best of all from my perspective was the personal support of Sylvain, the Cookery School Manager, who was completely unperturbed by having a blind cook in their midst and made sure that I was completely included and every step was wholly accessible.

In reality, I got the best deal of the day through Sylvan’s own massive experience as the sous chef at the hotel.  All the others on the one-day course were equally inclusive and supportive so it was a great experience all round.

Steve shared some of his own recipes: from Marmite bread to accompany the scallops and roast cucumber starter through very straightforward Ballantine of guinea fowl (simply wrap in prosciutto and roll up with cling-film to poach) to the honey cake he is confident won him the Masterchef prize.  He’d specially designed every element of the menu so that the dishes are easy to make at home and kindly allowed us to video throughout the day and share his recipes.

What an exceptional day – it was a gift from the team that helps me here.

 

Penny