3 kilo lamb shoulder on the bone
2 x large Spanish onions
5 cups basmati rice
6 cloves of garlic (peeled)
Middle Eastern 7 spice mix
Salt and pepper
2 x bay leaves
Sprinkle liberally with almonds
Wedges of lemons
Place the lamb in a large casserole and boil in water, with 5 cardamon seeds, bay leaves, salt and pepper and whole onion roughly cut. Boil until meat is tender (around an hour a quarter). In the meantime, slice aubergine thickly (one inch / 3 cms thick), with skin on, fry in a little oil just enough to caramelise and brown on both sides. Take the lamb out of the liquid and leave the liquor to one side for use later.
Slice the remaining onion. In a large cooking pot / casserole, lay out a bed of sliced onion, lay the lamb joint on top of the onion bed, lay the fried aubergine on top of the lamb. Then add the 6 cups of basmati rice on top of the aubergine, sprinkle the garlic and turmeric, season well with salt and pepper and finally add enough of the cooked lamb water to cover the rice plus 3 cms more. Cover with cling-film and then cover with the pot lid and simmer on the hob on for an hour and a half.
Turn the pot onto a big beautiful serving place and slowly turn the contents out upside down. I recommend garnishing with almonds and parsley, wedges of lemon. Serve with Greek yoghurt and cucumber.
200g unsalted butter
3 banana shallots, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
500g chicken livers (see tip, below left, for how to prepare)
100ml double cream
3 medium eggs
Brioche or bread, toasted
3 sheets leaf gelatine
50g golden caster sugar
a few thyme leaves (optional)
Melt butter in large frying pan, add shallots, herbs and season, cook gently until soft (10 mins).
Decant the cooked shallots to food processor – discard the herbs – pour the melted butter into a jug, leaving 1 tablespoon’s worth in the frying pan.
Turn up the heat in the pan and add the livers. Season and fry for 30 secs on each side or until just browned all over. They will still be fairly raw inside. Take out of the pan and put in the processor. Splash the Sauternes into the hot pan and reduce by half, scraping up any tasty bits as it bubbles. Tip onto the liver and shallots.
Blitz the livers in the processor until totally smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in the cream and add the eggs, one by one, then the warm butter. Season with 2 tsp sea salt and some pepper, but don’t taste the mixture as it’s still raw. Pass through a sieve, using a spatula to help.
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and boil a full kettle. Put 6 heatproof glass tumblers, small Kilner jars or large ramekins into a roasting tin. Pour the parfait into each one. Pour hot water around the parfaits, letting it come as far up the sides as is safe for you to carry. Bake for 45 mins until the parfaits have set without a wobble and risen a little in the middle. Cool at room temperature (I make this more speedy by filling the pan with cold water and letting the whole thing stand on a wire rack), then chill.
To make the jelly, soak the gelatine in cold water until it is totally floppy. Heat the wine and sugar until it dissolves, then remove from the heat. Squeeze out as much water from the gelatine as possible, then stir into the wine until totally dissolved. Set aside. When cooled but still liquid, pour this over the top of the parfaits, adding a few thyme leaves here and there. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 30 mins. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Serve with toast and cornichons.
Ingredients for the sponge
175g/6oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
175g/6oz caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g/6oz self-raising flour
300ml/10½fl oz double cream
Icing sugar, for dusting
Fresh raspberries or strawberries
140g/5oz butter, softened
280g/10oz icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
few drops food colouring
Preheat the oven to 190C(170C fan)/375F/Gas 5.
Lightly grease the tins with butter.
To make the cakes, cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
Sift the flour into the bowl and fold in carefully.
Divide the mixture between the mini sandwich tin cups and level with a teaspoon.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15 minutes until golden-brown and springy to the touch.
Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for two minutes and then ease onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
Whip the cream to soft peaks and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle.
Cut each cake in half horizontally with a bread knife.
To make the icing, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Beat in the milk, if necessary, to loosen the mixture. Stir in the food colouring until well combined.
Pipe the icing into the middle of each cake base, place the sponge tops on and lightly sift icing sugar over the cakes. Adorn with a fresh rasperry or strawberry.
Valentine’s Day! Love it or loathe it, what better excuse to eat cake.
We’ve pulled together a couple of little recipes to top and tail your evening’s meal. Just add a sprinkle of happiness, stir in a pinch of joy and remember to strain out as much cynicism as you can.
Chicken liver paté with a Sauternes jelly
Mini Victoria Sponge cakes
Wimbledon has been and gone but there’s no excuse to not revel in glorious strawberries and cream – and why not combine them with cake for a completely splendid afternoon tea feast! Here’s a relatively simple recipe that looks great and doesn’t take very long to create.
225g – softened butter
225g – caster sugar
4 large – eggs
225g – self-raising flour
1 ½ tsp – baking powder
1 tsp – good quality vanilla extract
50ml – double cream (or much more depending on how decadent you’re felling)
1/2 tsp – vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan. Line and grease three 6″ sandwich tins.
Use your mixer to beat the sugar and butter until smooth. Gradually add the eggs – add a little of the flour if the mixture is beginning to curdle. Add the flour and baking powder until thoroughly blended. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level out.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until well risen and the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Whisk together the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract and continue until stiff peaks form.
Once the cakes are cool. Place a third of the cream on top of one of the cake layers add come chopped strawberries then repeat until all the two layers are completed.
Oh the joys of seasonal eating! We’re now entering into prime seasonal-scoffing territory; asparagus, broccoli, jersey royal new potatoes, lettuce & salad leaves, new potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, rocket, samphire, spinach, spring onions, watercress, wild nettles – they’re all ready to go at the moment and it gets better, the strawberries are coming in June.
Believe it or not, despite the hideous recent onslaught of rain and hail, May marks the start of the asparagus season. Here are a few facts for you to chew on:
- Asparagus is a member of the lily family.
- Asparagus first came to Britain with the Romans.
- Asparagus also comes in shades of purple and red, which turn green only when cooked.
- Sizes range from slender, young ‘sprue’ to the thicker-stemmed, jumbo-sized ‘kitchen’ grades.
- It takes about three years for asparagus plants to become established, and even longer to reach a fully productive state.
- In the UK, asparagus is traditionally grown in the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire, and East Anglia.
- Try accompanying asparagus with butter, hollandaise, vinaigrettte, a poached egg, bacon or pancetta.
- White asparagus is grown by creating mounds of soil around the growing spears, hiding them from the light and resulting in their blanched, pale look. It is particularly labour-intensive to harvest, as experienced eyes are needed to spot the spear tips in the soil.
- The ancient Egyptians were the first to record a love of asparagus. Pharaoh Ikhnaton and his queen Nefertiti called asparagus a food of the gods.
When buying, look for firm but tender stalks with good colour and closed tips. Smaller, thinner stalks are not necessarily more tender.
Once picked, asparagus rapidly loses flavour and tenderness, so it really is worth eating it on the day you buy it. Wash in cold water and snap off the bottom ends. Boil or steam quickly until just tender, around 4 to 7 minutes depending on thickness.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook …like…share…join!
We’re bursting with excitement at Fait Maison as the eagerly anticipated opening of our Salon du thé is set for the end of the week.
It’s been quite a journey and what a fabulous transformation for our beautiful new home, which we think you’ll agree needed a little tlc!
We’re nearly there and just putting the finishing touches in place.
You can follow our progress here… on our special Salon du thé page
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook …like…share…join!
Chicken and Asparagus Salad
The asparagus season comes but once a year and if you’re anything like us you’ll have been gorging on this fabulous treat for the last couple of weeks. To add a little variety why not try this Fait Maison house recipe – Chicken and Asparagus Salad – it’s going down a storm in our all our branches, but we’re not greedy….it’s the perfect entertaining summer salad, so why don’t you try it at home.
8 chicken breast fillets
8 to 10 asparagus stems
4 tsp Tandoori spice mix
200ml natural yoghurt (more if necessary)
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
Mixed leaves of your choice
White wine vinegar
- First separate the chicken breast fillets into two bowls, four in each. Mix the Tandoori spice mix into a separate small bowl of yoghurt and stir well, then add to one bowl of chicken. Make sure the chicken breasts are thoroughly coated, then cover in cling film and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.
- Add the mixed herbs and a drizzle of olive oil to the other bowl of chicken breasts.
Prepare a hot griddle, then proceed to cook the chicken fillets charring each side evenly and cooking for 4 to 5 minutes on each side; or until cooked through. Leave to rest.
- Meanwhile, prep your asparagus and tie in a bundle before adding a large pot of boiling water. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 to 6 minutes. When ready, remove, drain and leave to cool. Then cut each asparagus spear in half.
- When ready to serve, add the mixed leaves to a large bowl, then add the asparagus and the chicken. For your dressing, you want one part vinegar to one part olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to either whisk or blend thoroughly to emulsify. Then drizzle a bit at a time into the salad bowl, to give a light sheen over the asparagus and leaves.
- To serve, each portion should have two fillets (one from each marinade), four pieces of asparagus and a handful of leaves. Leave extra dressing on the side.
Voilà, a fantastically fresh celebration of early summer.
OK, so it’s not really a festival so much as a day of pancake flipping and scoffing at the Tea House in Ravenscourt Park. 20% of all proceeds will be donated to Comic Relief.
If you’re not able to attend then all is not lost, see below for a good reliable recipe. The big decision really what to fill it with? Fried bananas, golden syrup, chocolate spread or good old traditional lemon and sugar.
Basic pancake batter ingredients
- 110g plain flour
- A pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk mixed with 75ml water
- 50g….or so of butter
- Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl
- Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Begin whisking the eggs using an electric whisk or a balloon whisk – incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl.
- When the mixture starts to thicken add small quantities of the milk / water mixture, still whisking.
- Ensure you have scraped all lumpy bits from the size into the batter and whisk until smooth.
- The pan needs to be hot, then turn the heat down to medium, add a blob of butter and melt and, you’re off. Ladle some batter into the frying pan. The first pancake could be a disaster but persevere. When the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. If you have any holes in it, add a teaspoon of batter to fill the holes up. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be.
- Flip the pancake over and cook the other side for a few seconds only.
- Serve with the topping of your choice!