Flower Pot Desserts. - Adapted from Heston Bleumanthal’s tiramisu recipe
These are my chocolate mousses that I serve in flower pots with a flower. If you walked into a room and saw these you’d be forgiven for thinking they were actual, real flower pots!
For the chocolate soil you will need;
200g white caster sugar
80g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (minimum 60% cocoa solids)
To make the soil put 75ml cold tap water and the sugar into a saucepan and place the pan over a high heat. Bring to the boil and continue to heat until the temperature of the liquid reaches 135ºC or until the syrup at the side of the pan begins to colour.
Remove from the heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate. Whisk to incorporate the chocolate and continue to whisk until the liquid has completely crystallised.
Pour the chocolate crystals onto a parchment-lined baking tray and allow to cool. This can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
For the Mousse you will need;
4 large Egg whites
300 ml Double Cream
200g Milk/dark chocolate
Firstly, melt your chocolate carefully in a Bain Marie being careful not to stir too much which could make the chocolate stiffen up. When melted set aside.
Whip your double cream until thick and trails appear in the cream.
Whip your egg whites until light, fluffy and soft peaks appear.
Fold your chocolate into your cream and mix thoroughly. Then, with a large metal spoon, fold your egg whites carefully into your chocolate and cream mixture.
Once mousse is fully mixed, pour into clean flower pots and chill. When mousse is set, top with chocolate soil and “plant” your flower of choice.
This mousse recipe is just a basic example. Experiment with flavours! My most recent ones were ‘After Eight’ flavour (which was gorgeous) and an unusual “Milk chocolate and balsamic vinegar” flavour, though, having not worked with the two flavours before I wasn’t sure how much vinegar to put in, as a result you couldn’t taste it!
Have fun, surprise your friends, and make dessert times generally more memorable!
So, today I set myself the challenge of trying to recreate one of my favourite biscuits.. The Oreo! Not the easiest of tasks as they don’t exactly post the recipe on their website! I believe today, I failed my task. What I created was indeed a fine tasting chocolate sandwhich biscuit with a vanilla flavour filling but it was not an Oreo.
After some research I discovered that Oreo use a different kind of cocoa which is ‘Dutch - Processed’ from what I understand alkaline is added to remove the acidity of the cocoa. Its a much darker and milder flavour cocoa. I used Cadbury’s bourneville which is the wrong kind of cocoa. Green and Black’s cocoa powder is ‘Dutch - Processed’ which I now own and will use next time I try and make them. By using a different cocoa the flavour, although pleasant, was different to that of the Oreo.
The other problem I had was that the consistency of the filling was far too much like butter cream and not a stiff filling like the Oreo has. I’ll have another stab at this at somepoint, but, I have a feeling it may be easier and quicker to just go to the shop and buy a pack of Oreos!
In the couple of years I’ve been into foraging, one ingredient that continues to surprise me is the common dandelion. So far I’ve used it in curries, stews and soup. Today I want to share two recipes with you that I think are great and both are really easy!
Dandelion Honey - tweaked from a recipe taken from about.com
This is great, I was a little skeptical when I heard about this but the results are really good. You have to have a little patience with this one, it is time consuming going out to pick the dandelion heads so do it a nice sunny day off work! When you’ve collected all your dandelion heads then you have to pick off all the petals. (I did this with an episode of spooks on tv, other tv shows are available!) anyway, on with the recipe!
4 cups dandelion petals
4 cups water
3 (1/4-inch) thick slices lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half (or vanilla essence)
2-1/8 cups granulated white sugar
Pick dandelion flowers during the daylight while in full bloom, remove petals, then measure petals only.
Place petals in a heavy saucepan along with the water, lemon slices, and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 6 hours.
Strain dandelion tea through fine sieve and discard solids. Place in a heavy saucepan and bring to a low boil. Gradually add sugar while stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat and let simmer to desired syrupy thickness, I was in a rush so went for a nice runny honey and simmered for 1.5 - 2hrs, if you want it thicker allow to simmer for longer!
Dandelion Honey is great on toast, muffins, pancakes, and biscuits.
Dandelion Pesto - taken from davidlebovotz.com
12 ounces (350g) washed and cleaned dandelion leaves
1 cup (250ml) olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6 tablespoons (40g) pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 1/2 ounces (70g) Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
1. Put about one-third of the dandelion greens in the food processor or blender with the olive oil and chop for a minute, scraping down the sides. Add the remaining dandelion greens in two batches, until they’re all finely chopped up.
2. Add the garlic cloves, pine nuts, salt, and Parmesan, and process until everything is a smooth puree.
3. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. If it’s too thick, you can thin it with more olive oil or water.
With the dandelion leaf being bitter you should expect a slightly bitter flavour from the pesto, but it’s a nice bitter! And paired with the right things, you really don’t notice the bitterness at all!
Will keep in the fridge for 4 days or you can freeze for up to 2 months.
With easter vast approaching, I thought I’d get back on the blog with a recipe for some lovely hot cross buns. Why not make a batch and give them to friends or neighbours as an easter treat?
625g/1.3lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground mixed spice
45g/ 1.5 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
1 lemon, zest only
1½ tsp fast-action yeast
1 free-range egg
275ml/10fl oz tepid milk
125g/4oz mixed dried fruit
For the buns, sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest and yeast.
Beat the egg and add to the flour with the tepid milk. Mix together to a form a soft, pliable dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Carefully work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined. Knead lightly for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Grease a large, warm mixing bowl with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove.
Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Cover the buns again with the tea towel and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Wrap the tray with the buns on it loosely in greaseproof paper, then place inside a large polythene bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so that no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.
Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 8.
Meanwhile, for the topping, mix the plain flour to a smooth paste with 2 tablespoons of cold water.
When the buns have risen, remove the polythene bag and the greaseproof paper. Spoon the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.
Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the hot golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack
Recipe for these lovely rhubarb and banana muffins can be found by following this link http://www.rhubarb-central.com/banana-rhubarb-muffins.html
I’ve been catching up on River Cottage lately and this recipe stood out to me.
Beetroot chocolate brownies. This is the recipe from the river cottage website.
Ingredients • 250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes • 250g dark chocolate (about 70 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces • 3 medium eggs • 250g caster sugar • A pinch of sea salt • 150g self-raising flour (I use wholemeal, but white works well too) • 250g beetroot, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and grated
Grease a shallow baking tin, approximately 20 x 25cm, and line the base with baking parchment. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the oven at 180 degrees celsius/Gas Mark 4 and put the bowl in it for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter start to melt. Stir, then put back into the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely. Of course, you could melt them together in the traditional way, over a pan of hot water, but it seems a shame not to exploit the warming oven. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until combined, then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth. Combine the salt with the flour, sift them over the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the grated beetroot - be careful not to over-mix or it will make the brownies tough. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes; when the brownies are done, a knife or skewer inserted in the centre should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Don ‘t be tempted to overcook them or they will be dry. Remove the tin from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool before cutting into squares. Variation Plain chocolate brownies With a little more sugar and a little less flour than the beetroot version, these are dense and fudgy - a classic brownie. They’re very good served warm as a pud, but also excellent cold.
Exciting times ahead for Jono’s Kitchen as I’ve just been employed as a chef at pub/restaurant ‘The Barley Mow’ in Milford. I am very excited to be taking on a job that involves doing something that I love and also keen to develop my skills and go from amateur cook to professional chef. It’ll be great to learn all the proper techniques and hopefully serve up some proper good grub!
I have always been interested in growing my own veg but never had the space to do it. My dad has now given me some space in his garden so I’m now giving it a go! Got some tomatoes and runner beans in so far. Will keep you updated on my progress!
Freeganism is in theory quite a cool thing. Essentially a freegan is someone who looks in supermarket bins for stuff that has been thrown away because it has not sold or has reached it’s sell by date. If it’s good, why let it go to waste?! It’s an idea I can fully get behind and support.
The story of my first and last ever “bin dive” follows;
It was around 11.30pm on maundy Thursday, since my sister told me about her experiences of bin diving in France, the thought of doing it here had been playing on my mind. So, I went outside to the garage, waking up my parents and hearing an ‘Oi’ from my perplexed dad. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Erm… Just popping out…” I replied knowing he was suspicious of such an activity so late at night. I got out my mum’s bike, and cruised on down to the local co-op.
So, there I was, by the bins of the holmcroft road co-op. After a couple of minutes of routing i found a bag of oranges. “Score!” I thought “That was easy” I wanted more, so thought I’d nip down to the co-op on stone road. Jackpot, a massive bag of veg, I imagined making a nice batch of soup with it… Just as i pulled the bag out of the bin, I saw flashing blue lights.
I got caught, (unaware of legality of what I was doing, I pleaded ignorance.) cautioned and searched by the police, who then ran my details through the police database. 2 more police cars came as backup, I thought I was going down, 5 to life… They made me put my bag of oranges back!
So, I would suggest that although the principal and idea behind bin diving to avoid unnecessary wastage is a good thing, it’s probably not worth getting arrested over. Remember, there is plenty of stuff in the hedgerows and growing on the ground that is freely and legally available to us.
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main meal
I recently started using dandelion leaves in cooking. There is so much of this around in the spring and summer it seems a shame not to use it! It is renowned for its bitterness so boil it for 5 minutes, change the water and boil again.. repeat until bitterness has softened.
Ingredients: 50g Dandelion leaves, washed thoroughly and boiled to remove bitterness 100g Mushrooms 1 Stick Celery 1 Small Onion 500ml Chicken/Vegetable Stock Salt and Pepper to taste Knob of butter/1tbsp Olive Oil
Put your butter or oil into a saucepan and gently heat, add your onions and celery and fry for 5- 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add your mushrooms and dandelion, cook for a further 5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Next, add your stock. Bring to the boil then let simmer for 5 - 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool before transferring the contents to a blender. Whizz up until smooth then place back on the heat. Add a pinch or two of salt and pepper and stir, give it a taste adding more seasoning if desired. Serve immediately.