I’m a huge fan of a puddingy type of tart. What’s that? Well, there probably isn’t a correct definition because I made up the word, but what I mean is something that’s got a custard or a nice soft filling. I’ve always loved a good pudding or custard and this is a more grown up version of that kind of dessert. This recipe is really easy to make, a gentle mix of the custard, some chopping of fruit and the oven does the rest. So far I’ve only tried this with figs, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be really nice with other soft fruits like peaches or plums – think I’ll give them a try too.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 50 minutes to an hour
Serves 6 to 8 3 x sheets of filo pastry (I use 40cm / 16in. x 40cm / 16in.), if frozen, thaw them out first.
4 x tbsp of unsalted butter – melted
6 x medium figs, each cut into 6 or 8 wedges
50gr / 1.7 oz. plain flour
50gr / 1.7 oz. caster sugar
4 x eggs
400ml / 13.5 fl. oz. milk (full fat)
The seeds of one vanilla pod
A little icing sugar for dusting
Set your oven to heat to 190°C / 375°F.
Brush a baking tray (29cm / 11.5in. x 19cm / 7.5in. ) with the melted butter and lay the sheets of filo in it, brushing each layer with butter. With the size of sheets I use I normally cut about a third off, and layer it up that way so that I get about 6 layers in total. Cut any large pieces excess filo off with scissors.
Place the figs evenly over the filo base.
Put the flour and sugar into a bowl, then add the eggs and about ¼ of the milk. Whisk until smooth and then whisk in the rest of the milk and the vanilla until everything is incorporated evenly.
Pour over the custard mix over the figs and place in the oven.
Bake for an hour or until the filo is brown and crispy and the custard is golden and has set. This time may vary depending on your oven, so check after about 45 minutes.
Tips and Variations
Ripe figs give the tastiest result.
Remember not to leave your filo lying around as it will dry out very quickly and you won’t be able to use it. If you need time, lay it out and keep it covered with a damp tea towel.
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There’s no better way to celebrate the start of summer than with some of your very own home made Strawberry Jam. The thought of making jam can be a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before. All those foodies who love to scare you with the science of jam making can put you off, but I can tell you, first I’m not a technical cook and secondly I am definitely not into making things more difficult than they have to be – and jam is easy to make. Just be careful when working with hot sugar, follow this simple recipe and you can’t go wrong.
Ingredients for approx. 700gr / 1.5 lb. 450gr / 1lb strawberries, washed, dried, stalks removed. If large you can chop them in half or quarters.
400gr / 0.9lb jam sugar.
2 x tbsp lemon juice
Equipment 1 large heavy bottomed pan to make the jam in.
1 wooden spoon to mix the jam.
1 side plate to test for setting point.
1 metal dessert spoon to test for setting point.
1 large metal spoon to remove impurities and to spoon the jam into jars
1 small bowl to collect any impurities.
Sterilized jam jars and lids
A metal dessert spoon in each jar to help conduct the heat from the glass to prevent cracks.
Place the strawberries in the pan and heat gently.
Add the sugar and lemon juice, stir until the sugar has melted.
Boil rapidly until setting point is reached. You can check for the setting point by spooning out one dessert spoon of the liquid, pour it onto your plate, let it cool and push it back either with a spoon. If the mix wrinkles it will set, if not and it stays runny, let it boil some more and repeat your setting point check until you get the desired wrinkling effect.
Spoon into jars, remove the spoons, cool and cover.
Tips and Notes
This whole process should only take about 15 to 20 minutes.
It is very important that you do not taste or allow the jam to touch your skin while it boils or before it is cool. Boiling sugar is very dangerous and sticks to your skin, giving very serious and painful burns.
It is a good idea to use a pan that holds the mixture with lots of space left as you don’t want the mix splashing out of the pan.
You may notice that some scum appears as you are boiling the mix. To give a clearer jam, you can just skim this off and discard as you go along.
There are also lots of technical ways to check for setting points with thermometers, but I like to use this tried and tested family method. It has worked for generations, so who am I to argue.
Jam sugar is just granulated sugar, but contains some pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring element in some fruits and helps the jam set. Some fruits have more pectin than others. I find using jam sugar is the easiest way to guarantee a good set.
I always put the metal spoons in my jars, just because all the jam makers in my family did it – you can try it without, maybe the quality of the jars are better these days and they won’t crack.
There’s not much I’ll miss about winter, but I already know I’ll pine for porridge with apple and cinnamon. I’ve always been a huge porridge fan, I can’t help it, I’m Scottish, it’s in our blood (that and whisky of course), but this winter I made a change. I played around with my porridge and added a little spice (of which I am also a huge fan) and this was the result.
Hmmm, do you think I’ll be allowed to eat porridge in the summer too? Yeah, why not.
Preparation Time: 3 minutes Cooking Time: 3 to 5 minutes
Ingredients for 4 servings 200gr / 7 oz. porridge oats
400ml / 13.5 fl. oz. water
½ tsp of salt
½ tsp of cinnamon (or to taste)
A few drops of vanilla extract
4 to 6 tbsp of apple compote
4 x tsp of honey
8 x tbsp of milk
Place the water, oats, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a non stick pan, and put on a high heat and bring to a boil.
Turn down to a medium high heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the oats soften and the mixture takes on a creamy texture. You can keep cooking and the mixture will become thicker if you prefer.
Divide into bowls, drizzle over the honey and the milk and add a spoonful or so of the apple compote to each serving.
Tips and Variations
Great with some fresh berries, raspberries would be the real Scottish choice.
For a richer version, swap the milk for single cream, or you can start by cooking the oats in a half water, half milk liquid.
If you dare, you can add another Scottish touch, a wee dram of whiskey in every portion!
To make the Apple Compote
Ingredients 150 ml / 5 fl. oz. water
4 x medium apples peeled, cored and roughly diced
Place the apples, water and cinnamon in a heavy bottomed pan, bring to the boil, then allow to simmer until the apples are soft.
Mash with a fork for a rougher texture or liquidize it with a hand mixer for a smooth result
As well as serving this with porridge it goes great with meat, especially pork or roast chicken.
Tips and Variations
The amount of water can depend on the apples, so if you feel it is getting to dry while cooking, just add a little water. Or , if you feel there is too much water, just turn the heat up and let it evaporate as steam.
This sauce keeps in the fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze it.
Due to Russia’s boycott on Dutch produce such as vegetables, dairy and meat, we, as consumers can expect prices to drop. A good thing? Well, maybe short term for the individual shopper, but not good in a broader sense for the producers or for the Dutch economy. While we wait for the EU to decide whether or not they are going to help our farmers by compensating them for this loss in income, the least we can do is use the produce that is piling up. Reports state that top of the list are strawberries and tomatoes. So, my very small contribution will be to make loads of strawberry jam and tomato and chili jam. Want to join me? Yes? Download these recipes and get jammin’!
It’s not often you see a cherry recipe from me. Not because I don’t like them, in fact, the opposite. I LOVE them! That’s the problem you see. When cherries come into season and I spot them for the first time, my brain starts running around with recipe and ingredient combination ideas. I spend the first few weeks of the season buying loads of cherries with all sorts of cooking intentions. Sometimes I even manage to get them home without eating them. If they make it through the front door, it usually doesn’t take long before I’ve scoffed the lot. This week, I have been disciplined enough to keep my hands off, long enough to make this delicious clafoutis anyway.
Preparation Time: 40 to 50 minutes Baking Time: 30 to 40 minutes
The ingredients in this recipe fit a pie dish of 25cm /10in. in diameter and 5cm / 2in. deep. Serves: 6 to 8
For the Cherries 500gr / 1.1lb Cherries with the stones removed
3 x tbsp Marsala wine
A couple of tsps unsalted butter to grease your pie dish
3 x tbsp sugar plus a little more to coat your pie dish
For the Batter 75gr / 2.5 oz. plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
3 x eggs
Seeds from 1 x vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract
125ml / 4.2 fl. oz. whole milk
125ml / 4.2 fl. oz. single cream
75gr / 2.5 oz. sugar
To Finish A light dusting of icing sugar
Grease your pie dish with the butter, then add a couple of tbsp of sugar, swirl around until the sugar coats the pie dish by sticking to the butter. If you have some areas not coated, use a little more sugar.
Place your pitted cherries in the pie dish, drizzle over the Marsala wine and sprinkle over the 3 tbsp of sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Mix the batter ingredients with an electric whisk or by hand until smooth, set aside for 30 minutes.
Whilst you wait for your cherries and batter, pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F
Pour the batter over your cherries in the pie dish and place in the oven to bake for about 35 minutes (check after 25). Your clafoutis is ready when it is golden brown and you can insert a knife into the middle and it comes out clean. It may also puff up a little.
Allow to cool a little before dusting with icing sugar. I like to serve with a little pouring cream or some marsapone or Greek yogurt.
Tips and Variations
Serve warm or cold. I prefer my clafoutis cooled to room temperature before eating.
This recipe works with other pitted fruits like plums, apricots, nectarines.