A Scandinavian dinner

A dinner inspired by spring, the weather, Scandinavian design, great quality ingredients and sharing ideas and recipes with great friend, food writer Mary Cadogan.

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This spring is cold and wet and reminds me very much of the year we arrived in France from Sydney in 2013. We landed in May expecting balmy days and cool but pleasant evenings, but instead it was cold, wet and very grey. Not quite what we had expected but then not much one can do about the weather but get on and do what you love doing best – cooking, eating and sharing meals with friends.

For me inspiration comes from many different things. Travel, shared stories, design, colour, books and loads more. This menu came to Mary and I over a cup of tea (and one of Mary’s delicious ginger cakes) in her kitchen back in early 2014. We decided to collaborate on a Scandinavian inspired dinner and so together we set about creating a meal full of exciting flavours, colours and textures that we felt were all synonymous with the Scandinavian culture.

We start with an apero. Mary’s delicious red currant vodka served with my take on cured herrings. Steep red currants and sugar in a good quality vodka for 2 weeks, turn the bottle and gently shake every few days to help disperse the flavours. The resulting liqueur is vibrant red, slightly sweet and reassuringly warming.

Making the most of the terrific mini blinis so readily available in the supermarket I topped them with smoked herring, creme fraiche, shredded apple and poached quail’s eggs. I like the smoky richness of the fish and the eggs balanced with the freshness of the crisp apple.

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The first course is one of my favourite ways of serving a young goat cheese like the Chabichou from the region. Lightly whipped with a little buttermilk and a good fruity extra virgin olive oil. I then serve it with homemade crisp breads flavoured with dill seeds or anise. The flavours combine well and the starter is light. I love the contrasting colours here too with nigella seeds and a touch of summer with nasturtium petals and a few salad leaves. It tastes as fresh as it looks.

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For the main course we opted for a meat and a fish dish, either as a sharing course, or for those who have a preference for one or the other. Mary’s marinated salmon (barbecued on a cedar plank giving the fish a lovely deep smoky flavour) is served with pickled vegetables to offset the richness of the fish – it is a fabulous example of a well balanced dish.

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Cooking on cedar planks is is actually an ancient way of cooking something that needs to be protected from the fierceness of the flames or heat, as in indirect grilling. The Finnish have loimulohi (blazing salmon) where the fish is nailed to a plank and cooked over coals and the North West coast American Indians used red cedar planks to cook pacific salmon on. Today you can buy varying sizes of cedar planks online or make your own. The wood is pre-soaked in water to prevent it from catching fire. It is fun and does add a light smokiness to the fish.

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Spring heralds the arrival of young lambs born over winter and fed on the tender sweet grass shoots that give the meats it’s lovely flavour. Lamb works well with fruit and although fresh red currants are out of season, they are a fruit that freezes exceptionally well, even still on the stalk (as a stylist every summer I buy excess berries to keep in the freezer for any out of season photo shoots, pictured here). Here though the flavour in the dish comes from redcurrant jelly echoing the Scandinavian love of paring meat with  fruit. A side of mesclun and radish salad and baby new potatoes in a dill dressing round of the dish perfectly.instagram-in-stream_tall___wheatberry-salad-copy.jpg

Wheat berries are packed with fibre, protein and iron, so not only do they add a distinctive nutty flavour and texture to a dish, they are very healthy too. I love the pickled onion and dried cranberries here. The salad is sweet, tart and nutty all at once.

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Queen of baking and desserts, Mary triumphed with two sensational desserts to round off a very wonderful meal. Swedish pancakes are smaller than their European and American counterparts. They are particularly light too and not dissimilar to the French crepe. The ice cream is incredibly simple (Lingonberry jam is available online or from Ikea and some specialist food shops).

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The Norwegians call this cake The World’s Best Cake and they may well be right. A layer of sponge, covered in meringue with toasted almonds, filled with cream and berries – sounds pretty amazing and it is! And just when you thought that sounded good, it even has a tablespoon of vodka in the filling.

This is quite an involved meal so if it seems a daunting task pick and choose the dishes that inspire you the most. There should be something for everyone here. I hope we did Scandinavia proud, I know not everything is authentic but we made avery effort to be as true as we could to the cuisine of the Nordic countries whilst use those ingredients that we could find locally.

THE RECIPES

Smoked herring blinis

Makes: 12

100 g smoked herring

12 quails eggs

1 apple

1 tsp white wine vinegar

12 mini blinis

2 tbsp crème fraiche

a little watercress

extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Make the topping. Cut the herring into small bite size pieces and reserve. Very gently crack the quails eggs into small dishes. Poach the eggs in gently simmering water for about 1 minute until soft set. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool in cold water. Transfer to kitchen towel to dry and set aside.

Just before serving very finely julienne the apple and toss with the vinegar. Spread each blini with a little crème fraiche and top each one with a slice of herring, a poached egg and garnish each with the apple and watercress . Season with salt and pepper and serve drizzled with a little oil.

To make red current vodka

Layer 250g red currents and 175g caster sugar in a bottle and pour in 1 litre of vodka. Screw tight and leave to infuse for 2 weeks, gently turning and shaking the bottle from time to time.

Dill crisp breads with goat cheese

Serves: 6

150 g soft goat cheese

3 tbsp buttermilk

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

a handful of nasturtium flowers (optional)

a sprinkling of nigella seeds

a few salad leaves

crisp breads

150 g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp dill seeds or anise seeds

50 ml cold water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Make the crisp breads. Preheat the oven to 200c/fan-forced 180c and lightly oil 2 large baking trays. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a food processor and stir in the dill seeds. Add the water and oil and process until the ingredients just come together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough into a ball.

Wrap in cling wrap and chill for 15 minutes. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a large thin rectangle about 2 mm thick. Cut into long thin triangles. Transfer to the prepared trays and bake for about 15 minutes until crisp and lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine the cheese, buttermilk, oil and salt and pepper in a bowl until smooth. Spread on a plate and scatter over the nasturtium flowers, salad leaves and the nigella seeds. Drizzle with a little oil and serve with the crisp breads.

Plank barbecued salmon

Serves 6

You will need a thin cedar plank 30cm x 20cm for this recipe, these are available from specialist cookware stores or online.

800g salmon fillet, skin on

2 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp white peppercorns

1 tsp fennel seeds

large bunch dill

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

sauce

2 tsp each dijon and wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp sugar

100g crème fraiche

2 tbsp roughly chopped dill

Line a dish with cling film, large enough to take the salmon. Mix the salt and sugar. Crush the peppercorns and fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar or spice mill and stir into the sugar mix. Finely chop the dill stalks and reserve the fronds for later.

Sprinkle half the salt

mixture over the cling film, then scatter over half the dill stalks. Put the salmon on top and sprinkle with the remaining salt and dill stalks. Cover the fish tightly with cling film and put in the fridge overnight.

The next day, soak the cedar plank in water for 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the mustards, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl with a little salt. Stir in the crème fraiche and dill. Chill until required.

Unwrap the salmon and brush off most of the marinade, pat it dry with kitchen paper. Brush the salmon lightly with oil on all sides and place on the prepared planks, skin side down. Cook the salmon for 12-15 mins over hot coals or on a heated griddle pan, covered with a tent of foil, or the barbecue lid. Serve on the board scattered with dill sprigs with a bowl of sauce on the side.

Swedish pickled vegetables

Serves: 6

600ml water

500g sugar

400ml white wine or cider vinegar

1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tsp white peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 tsp allspice berries

2 cinnamon sticks

250g baby carrots or carrot sticks

250g baby beetroots

1 head fennel

half a cucumber

Put the peppercorns, bay leaf, allspice and cinnamon stick into a large pan and dry roast the spices until they give off their perfume. Add the water, sugar, vinegar and onion and bring to the boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Peel and trim the carrots and trim the beets. Cut the fennel into wedges. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and have ready a large bowl of iced water. Cook the vegetables one type at a time, the beets for 15-20 minutes, the carrots and fennel for 5 minutes. As they are cooked scoop from the water and cool quickly in the iced water. Cut the cucumber into sticks and keep these raw.

When the vegetables are cool transfer to four jars and cover with the pickling liquid. Leave to marinade for 24 hours and eat within 3 days. To serve, drain off the pickling liquid and serve with the mustard cream (recipe above).

Roast glazed lamb with herb flowers and red currants

Serves: 6

2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary with flowers

2 tbsp dried oregano flowers (or fresh from the garden)* available from specialist stores or online

1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed

4 whole all spice berries, crushed

1.75 kg boneless leg of lamb, butterflied

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp red current jelly

mesclun, radish and hazelnut salad

3 handful mesclun leaves

6-8 radishes, very thinly sliced

50 g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

a few red currants, optional

3 tbsp hazelnut oil

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp whole grain mustard

1 tsp clear honey

salt and pepper

Combine the rosemary, oregano flowers, crushed fennel and crushed allspice in a bowl and add some pepper. Place the lamb on a board and using a sharp knife score the flesh in a diagonal pattern all over. Brush with oil and rub the herb and spice mixture into the lamb, cover and leave to infuse overnight.

Preheat the oven to 230c/210c fan-forced. Arrange the lamb on a rack set over a roasting tin with 150ml cold water in the bottom of the pan. Combine the red currant glaze with a little salt and brush all over the top of the lamb. Transfer to the oven, immediately reduce the temperature to 190c/170c fan-forced and roast for 30 minutes until browned. Remove the lamb to a platter and wrap loosely in foil. Transfer the pan juices to a small saucepan, reducing slightly, if necessary and keep warm.

Just before serving, arrange the salad leaves in a bowl and scatter over the radishes, hazelnuts and a few red currants, if using. Blend together the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey and salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad leaves and toss lightly. Slice lamb and drizzle over the pan juices. Serve with the salad.

Potato salad with dill salsa

Serves: 6

1 kg baby new potatoes, scrubbed

1/2 bunch fresh dill

1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley

150 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tsp caster sugar

2 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Scrub the potatoes and place in a large saucepan of lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blend and blend to form a smooth green sauce.

Strain the potatoes and return to the pan, add the pesto and stir well until coated. Serve with the lamb.

Wheat berry salad

Serve 6

300g wheat berries

1 red onion

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

4 tbsp rapeseed oil

100g dried cranberries

50g pistachios, roughly chopped

bunch mint

bunch chives

handful baby spinach leaves

Cook the wheat in plenty of boiling salted water for 25-30 minutes or follow pack timings, then drain well and leave to cool. Peel and thinly slice the onion and mix with the vinegar.

Add the cranberries and pistachios to the wheat berries and mix well. Pick the leaves from the mint and snip the chives, then stir in thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to the onion, then mix in the oil. Tip onto the wheat berries, add the spinach leaves and toss everything together until the berries are glistening.

Lingonberry and cardamom ice cream with Swedish pancakes

Serves: 8

Ice cream

4 cardamom pods

400 ml double cream

400 g jar lingonberry preserve

Pancakes

3 large eggs

350 ml milk

150 g plain flour

50 g butter, melted

3 tbsp caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

butter, for cooking the pancakes

icing sugar for dusting and clear honey for drizzling

raspberries to serve

Make the ice cream. Put a plastic food container into the freezer. Split the cardamom pods, remove the seeds and crush them to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Whip the cream to firm peaks.

Tip the lingonberry preserve into a bowl and fold in the cardamom cream. Transfer to the chilled container and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Make the pancakes. Mix the eggs with about ¼ of the milk in a food processor. Add the flour and process again until smooth. Add the remaining milk and all the ingredients and process briefly to mix. Pour into a jug.

Heat a knob of butter in a small pancake pan. Add a tablespoon of batter and cook until the edges turn brown, then flip and cook again briefly.

Keep warm while you make the remaining pancakes. Serve warm with lingonberry ice cream, a drizzle of honey and a light dusting of icing sugar.

Norwegian cloud cake

Serves 8

100 g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

100 g caster sugar

100 g softened butter

4 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp milk

meringue

4 egg whites

100 g caster sugar

100 g icing sugar

2 tbsp flaked almonds

filling

500 g summer berries

1 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

1 tbsp vodka, optional

300 ml double cream

1 sachet vanilla sugar

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper and draw a rectangle on each, 10cm x 22cm. Turn paper over and fix to the baking sheets with a little butter on the corners.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, add the remaining cake ingredients and beat for 2-3 mins until light and fluffy. Spread half the mixture evenly over each rectangle.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until it forms stiff peaks. Continue whisking while adding the sugars to make a stiff heavy meringue. Spread half the meringue over each cake mixture, spreading it over the edges to enclose it. Smooth one meringue flat and form swirls and peaks with the other. Sprinkle the almonds over the peaks.

Bake the cakes for 30 minutes until the meringue is golden and crisp. Leave to cool on the baking sheets.

Tip the berries into a bowl, halving any that are large and sprinkle with sugar and vodka if using. Stir well, then leave to macerate until the juices flow, about 1 hour.

To assemble the cake whip the cream with the vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)  to stiff peaks. Set a sieve over a bowl and strain in the berries, reserving the juices. Invert one flat meringue cake onto a wire rack, peel off the paper and put the cake on a platter, meringue side down. Spread with the cream and then cover with berries. Invert the other cake, peel off the paper and put on top of filling, meringue side up. Dust with icing sugar and serve cut into thick slices.

 

 

Recipe of the week……….cheesecake

Baked cheesecake with Pedro Ximemez and dried fruit compote

Pedro Ximenez is a Spanish white grape variety. It is used to make the most intensely flavoured, thick, sweet sherry. It pairs beautifully with chocolate and coffee as well as dried fruits and vanilla. Here it adds a festive flavour to a baked cheesecake. Enjoy with an extra glass of this delicious sherry on the side.

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Serves: 8

150 g digestive biscuits, crushed

50 g ameretti bsicuits, crushed

75 g unsalted butter, melted

500 g ricotta cheese

300 ml sour cream

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

150 g caster sugar

grated zest and juice 1 lemon

fruit compote

125 ml Pedro Ximenez, plus extra to serve

2 tbs clear honey

75 g large golden raisins

50 g dried figs, thinly sliced

50 g dried cranberries

1 vanilla pod, split

spray oil, for greasing

Preheat the oven to 150c/fan forced 130c and grease and line the base and sides of a 22cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.

Mix together the crushed digestives, ameretti biscuits and melted butter until evenly combined. Spoon into the base of the prepared tin. Using the back of the spoon smooth the biscuit mixture until flat and well compressed. Chill whilst preparing the filling.

Place ricotta, sour cream, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a food processor and blend until really smooth. Pour over the biscuit base and bake for 1 hour until just set in the middle (it will puff up around the edges this is fine). Turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake inside with the door ajar until cool. Transfer to the fridge and chill for several hours.

Make the compote. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir gently until just boiling, simmer gently for 1 minute and then remove from the heat. Leave to cool. Carefully unmould the cheesecake from the tin, cut into wedges and serve topped with the compote and a glass of Pedro Ximenez.

Tip: If making a day ahead, return the cheesecake to room temperature for 1 hour before serving, this will allow the filling to soften to the perfect texture.

From jewels to jellies…….

Finally I have gotten around to making crab apple jelly! One of my earliest culinary memories is of my mum stirring a bubbling volcano of sweet juiciness, which miraculously ended up on my toast. I thought jelly went with ice cream (well of course this one could I guess?) but I was just as happy with my teatime treat. I am not totally convinced that at that young age, I truly appreciated the wonderful flavour of crab apples, but I certainly do now. So I wanted to share my weekends work in the kitchen and take you through the process from tree to table.

In spring our tree is covered in the most stunning, vibrant pink and white blossoms and then as we come to harvesting, the fruit has transformed into red and yellow, cherry-sized crab apples, hanging in jewel-like clusters on the laden branches. Here we can see the different shades of the apples from red and orange through to a soft yellow colour.

Literally pick as many as you want, discard any that have started to rot and don’t be tempted to pick from the ground, as it is likely that these will have begun to deteriorate. So far I have picked over 8 kilos. I think it will be jelly and crab apple cheese this year. Once picked, discard leaves, stalks and any spoiled fruit. Rinse really well and transfer to a large saucepan.

Add enough cold water to just cover the fruit. Bring to a fast simmer and cook for about 50 minutes, or until the fruit is pulpy. Pour the fruit and all the liquid through a sieve, lined with a double layer of muslin (or large jelly bag) into a large bowl or bowls. Very carefully tie up the muslin to make a bag and find a good place to hang them overnight, over the bowls, to catch all the juices.

Remove the muslin bags and discard the fruit (the muslin can be washed out and re-used). Be very careful as you do this and do not press on the pulp as the liquid will be too cloudy. It should be a delicate, slightly milky pink, which will clear as it is boiled up with the sugar. Because the crab apples do not contain quite enough pectin (the agent that helps set the jelly) I am adding lemon juice, to help the process along. Pour the liquid into a large, clean saucepan, adding the sugar and lemon juice. * At this stage it is really important to sterilise the jars you are going to use. Wash them in hot, soapy water and place in a preheated oven 100c. and leave them there to dry until you are ready to use them – the jars should be hot when filled.

Stir the liquid over a high heat until it reaches a rolling boil. At this point pop a tablespoon into the freezer to get really cold. Continue to boil the liquid, skimming off the scum that rises to the top, for at least 30 minutes. Remove your chilled spoon and pour a tiny amount of the jelly onto the frozen spoon. Leave for a few seconds and then test with your finger – the jelly is ready if it starts to wrinkle and set. Cook for longer if it is not yet ready.

Very carefully pour or ladle the jelly into the hot, sterilised jam jars, taking them straight from the oven. Wear oven gloves as they will be hot, as will the jelly. As soon as you have used up your jelly and filled your jars, top each one with a clear plastic disc making sure it covers the surface of the jelly and then seal the jars.

Leave the jelly to cool before adding a label – if you try to do this now, the label will not stick to the hot jar. Store the jam in a cool, dark cupboard until required. It will last for several years, but if you do get any mould appear on the top of the jelly, discard it.

And now for the recipe.

Crab Apple Jelly

Makes: 6-7 x 500ml jars

4kg crab apples

1.5-2kg granulated sugar

juice 11/2 lemons

Wash the crab apples, discarding stalks, any leaves and any rotten or damaged fruit. Place in a large saucepan (or 2 smaller ones) and add just enough water to cover the fruit. Bring to the boil and simmer over a medium heat for 45-50 minutes, or until the fruit is pulpy.

Cool slightly and then carefully transfer to 2 large sieves lined with a double layer of muslin, or jelly bags, over 2 large bowls. Tie up securely to enclose the fruit. Hang the bags up over the bowls and leave to drain overnight.

The next day very carefully remove the bags, making sure you don’t squeeze at all, or the resulting jelly will be cloudy. Measure the apple liquid and transfer to a large saucepan, adding 7 parts sugar to 10 parts liquid (1 had 2.75 litres of liquid and added 1.75kg sugar) Add the lemon juice, and heat gently, stirring over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Bring the liquid to a rolling bowl and cook for about 30 minutes, carefully removing the scum on the surface as it appears. Meanwhile, place a tablespoon into the freezer to chill. After 30 minutes test the jelly to see if it ha reached the setting stage. Pour a drizzle of the syrup onto the chilled tablespoon and leave for a few seconds. Using a finger push the jelly, which will wrinkle and separate if set.

Using a ladle, spoon the hot jelly into the sterilised jars, top with a clear plastic jelly disc and sell with the lids. Allow to cool before adding the labels.

 

 

 

Seasonal delights……………..Strawberries

StrawberriesHere in France the strawberry season starts off early with the arrival of a small, slightly oblong little strawberry called gariguette. One might expect a rather sharp, watery, bland little fruit but actually gariguettes are renowned for their sweet and well rather strawberry-like flavour – sadly so many strawberries you buy today, because we demand year round availability, share very few similarities to the fruit I remember with such fondness from British summers past. From then on as the weeks pass, more and more strawberries of different shapes, sizes, and flavours appear in the markets and without doubt it is a joy to behold.

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This year, with it’s unseasonably dry and warm spring, strawberries abound in the markets, so it was the perfect excuse to get cooking. To be totally honest I prefer my strawberries as nude and natural as the day they were born, plucked from my fingertips straight into the mouth, but I wanted to preserve their flavour for later in the summer when they will become nothing but a distant memory (until next year anyway). With a fridge also packed full of yogurt it seemed only right to join them together in a richly intense strawberry yogurt ice cream. Wow, that was definitely one of the best food decisions I have made this year – it is sooooo delicious – rather typically the weather has turned and it feels more like January than mid May today, but hey ho, who needs sunshine and warmth to enjoy a little ice cream!

Strawberry ice cream

Strawberry yogurt ice cream

1 kg strawberries, hulled

300g caster sugar

2 tbsp strawberry liqueur or cassis

1 tbsp lemon juice

500g Greek yogurt

Combine the strawberries, sugar, strawberry liqueur or cassis and lemon juice together in a large bowl and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until syrupy.

Transfer to a blender with the yogurt and puree until really smooth. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Transfer the mixture either to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the instructions or to the freezer.

If using a freezer stir the ice cream every 2-3 hours, as it starts to crystallize until the mixture is creamy. Leave until frozen. Remove from the freezer about 15 minutes before serving and scoop into bowls.


And then, just because life would be a little less satisfying without, it was meringues, strawberries and of course cream…………..

Strwberries and Cream

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Cakes and Bakes – fabulous tea time treats

Classic Tarte Tatin

Serves 8

100 g brown sugar

4 tbsp water

250 g puff pastry

75 g butter, diced

1.5 kg russet or other eating apples, peeled, quartered and cored

creme fraiche, to serve

Pre-heat the oven to 200 c/fan-forced 180 c. Make the caramel. Place the sugar and water in an oven-proof frying pan and heat gently over a low heat to dissolve the sugar, increase the heat and boil for 2-3 minutes until the sauce turns golden. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Arrange the apples cut side up in the pan fitting them in snuggly. Return the pan to the heat and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the apples are beginning to brown on the undersides. Check undersides by carefully lifting the apples with a palette knife.

Meanwhile, roll out the pastry to a circle just slightly larger than the pan. When the apples are ready, remove the pan from the heat and place the pastry over the apples, pressing down into the sides of the pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes.Invert the pie onto a large plate and serve warm with some creme fraiche.

Photography by Ian Wallace
Photography by Ian Wallace

Strawberry and goat cheese tartlets

Serves: 8

250 g sweet shortcrust pastry, thawed if frozen

1 egg yolk

35 g caster sugar

125 g firm ricotta cheese

125 g soft goat cheese strawberries

500 g strawberries, hulled and halved

75 g caster sugar vanilla pod, split

Preheat oven to 200°c/fan-forced 180c. Line a roasting tin with baking paper. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface until 2 mm thick. Using a 12 cm pastry cutter, stamp out 6 rounds (rerolling as necessary). Use to line 6 x 10 cm fluted flan tins, trimming away the excess and prick the bases with a fork. Chill for 20 minutes. Line pastry cases with baking paper and baking beans and bake for 10 minutes or until edges are light golden. Remove the baking paper and beans and bake for a further 2-3 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool.

Prepare the strawberries. Place the strawberries, sugar and vanilla pod in the prepared tin. Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes or until softened and juicy. Remove from the oven and leave to go cold. Make the filling. Place the egg yolk, sugar and ricotta in a food processor and blend until really smooth. Add the goat cheese and blend again briefly until smooth. Divide the mixture between the tart cases and serve topped with the roasted strawberries.

Photography Ian Wallace
Photography Ian Wallace

Pistachio honey and rosewater cake

Serves: 8

125 g caster sugar

4 eggs, separated

3 lemons

125 ml Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve

50 g dried breadcrumbs

150 g ground pistachio nuts

100 ml clear honey

2 tbsp rosewater

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/fan-forced 160c. Grease and line a 20 cm round cake tin. Beat the sugar, egg yolks and the grated rind of 1 of the lemons together until pale and creamy. Stir in the yogurt and fold in the breadcrumbs and 125 g of the pistachio nuts, reserving the rest for decoration. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff and fold into the cake mixture. Transfer to the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, until risen and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven, cool in the tin for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile make the syrup: peel the remaining lemons and cut the rind into very thin strips. Squeeze the juice into a small pan and add the honey. Bring to the boil, add shredded rind, and simmer for 1 minute. Cool slightly and stir in the rosewater. Place the warm cake on a serving plate, prick all over with a skewer, pour over the syrup and leave until cold. Sprinkle the cake with the reserved pistachio nuts and rose petals (if using) and serve with some extra yogurt.

Plumb and almond tart
Photography by Ian Wallace

Plum and almond tart

Serves: 8

250 g sweet shortcrust pastry

2 tbsp raspberry jam

125 g unsalted butter, softened

125 g caster sugar

125 g ground almonds

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence
4 plums, halved, stoned and cut into thick slices

maple syrup ice cream

750ml double cream

1 vanilla pod, split

5 egg yolks

125 ml maple syrup icing sugar, to dust

Firstly make the ice cream. Heat the cream and vanilla pod in a small pan until it just reaches boiling point. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the cream. Whisk the egg yolks and maple syrup together and then beat in the cream. Heat gently, stirring until the cream thickens to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Allow to cool and then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions until frozen*

Preheat the oven to 190c/fan-forced 170 c. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to form a 25 cm round and use to line a 23 cm fluted flan tin. Trim off excess pastry and prick the base. Chill for 20 minutes. Line the pastry with baking paper and baking beans and bake for 12 minutes. Remove paper and beans and bake for a further 5-6 minutes until the pastry is crisp and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Using electric beaters, beat the butter, sugar, and ground almonds in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Spread the pastry case with the jam and top with the almond mixture. Gently press the plum slices into the almond mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling is golden and firm. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve in wedges with the ice cream.

Photography by Ian Wallace
Photography by Ian Wallace

Walnut cake with honey cream

Serves: 8

The cake can be made up to a day ahead. Store in an airtight container. Make the honey cream just before serving.

6 eggs, separated

225 g caster sugar

4 tbsp clear honey

250 g walnuts, ground

300 ml thickened cream

4 fresh figs, quartered

 icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 c/fan-forced 160c c. Grease and line a 23 cm round spring form cake tin. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl, add 150 g of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the honey and whisk together until pale. Stir in the walnuts. Whisk the egg whites separately in a clean bowl until soft peaks form and then gradually whisk in the remaining sugar. Stir a large spoonful into the cake mix to loosen, fold in the rest until evenly incorporated and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then run a palette knife around the edge of the cake to loosen from the sides and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Whisk the cream and remaining honey together until thickened. Cut the cake into wedges, dust with icing sugar and serve with the honey cream and figs.