Crème Brûlée (and what to do with all those leftover egg whites!)

Crème Brûlée | Gather and Graze

A few weeks ago, I paid good money to eat the worst Crème Brûlée in my life. In retrospect, I should never have ordered it… should have known that it would be ‘average’ at best! As a Birthday treat, we took our children to the local ‘Gold Class’ Cinema, where you sit in jumbo-sized, reclining arm chairs and can order dinner, drinks and dessert to come out at different stages of the movie. It was here that the dubious, sub-standard, so-called Crème Brûlée was served. Curdled custard underneath, with thick as a brick toffee, concealing underlying sugar which hadn’t melted, so was still granular and gritty. Honestly… they couldn’t have got it more wrong!

The one positive to come from this experience was that yesterday, I decided to challenge myself to see how hard it really is to make a superior Crème Brûlée. After doing some research on ingredients, quantities and cooking techniques… as well as drilling my friend Sandra for tips, the following is the recipe that I came up with. The underlying vanilla bean custard tasted gorgeously smooth, creamy and rich… as any good Crème Brûlée should… and was topped with the finest layer of toffee enabling that child-like pleasure of cracking through the surface.

In future I’ll definitely be a little more discerning when choosing the right restaurant/venue from which to order a Crème Brûlée. Or better still… I’ll make it myself.

Crème Brûlée | Gather and Graze

  • 600ml (about 2⅓ Cups) Pure (Heavy) Cream
  • 1 Vanilla Pod (split and seeds scraped out)
  • 6 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • 60g (¼ Cup) Caster Sugar (I used raw) + extra for the toffee coating
  • Pinch of Salt

Pre-heat the oven to 140°C/275°F. Fold a clean tea towel to fit on the base of a large roasting tin and place 4 x (¾ Cup capacity) ramekins on top. My ramekins are about 10cm/4in in diameter and are quite shallow, which is perfect for Crème Brûlées.

Place the cream and vanilla pod (along with the seeds) into a small saucepan and place over medium heat. When it has almost come to the boil and you can see bubbles forming around the edge, remove from the heat immediately and remove the vanilla pod.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until the mixture has paled and thickened.

Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously as you do so, to ensure that you don’t end up with scrambled eggs. At this stage, if there is a layer of froth on top of the mixture from whisking, scoop it off with a large metal spoon and discard it. Strain the mixture through a sieve, into a large pouring jug, then pour evenly into the 4 ramekins.

Pour some boiling water into the base of the roasting tin so that it comes up to about the halfway mark on the side of the ramekins. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes. The custards should still have a little (jelly-like) wobble to them.

Remove the ramekins from the roasting tray and allow to cool for about half an hour at room temperature, before covering with cling film and placing into the refrigerator to cool completely (about 6 hours).

When ready to serve, evenly spread about 2 teaspoons of caster sugar over the top of each custard and use a kitchen blow torch to heat and transform the sugar into toffee. Allow a few minutes for the toffee to harden before serving.

Lovely served with a few fresh raspberries, if in season.

Crème Brûlée | Gather and Graze

Rather than making a pavlova or batch of meringues with the leftover egg whites (from using 6 yolks in the recipe above), these two fabulous recipes for Italian flour-less Biscuits/Cookies will make for a wonderful change. They are recipes posted by blogging friends of mine over the past month or two. The Acetani (orange and almond) I’ve made four times already after seeing them on ‘Stefan’s Gourmet Blog’ and the Ossi Du Mordere (chocolate and hazelnut) were made for the first time yesterday, after spotting them on Sandra’s ‘Please Pass the Recipe’.  If you click on either of the photos below, it will take you directly through to the recipes.

Acetani | Gather and Graze


Ossi Du Mordere | Gather and Graze

Ossi Du Mordere

Strawberry Cream Baskets

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

A special dessert, remembered from my childhood… this was one that Mum used to serve on occasions at their very grown-up Dinner Parties. I clearly recall hovering in the kitchen as she made the little baskets, secretly hoping that at least one of them would break or crack as she moulded them into shape, so that I could nibble on the broken bits.

We made this together last week when we stayed with my parents up in Southern Queensland. The strawberries are in season up there right now (being somewhat warmer than chilly Canberra), so we picked our own from a local strawberry farm and set to work on this fabulous dessert. They’re as delicious as I remember them from childhood… and now a firm favourite of my own children.

Thanks Mum! It was lovely to spend some time with you… and Dad too, of course! xx

The original recipe, which I’ve adapted slightly (including the substitution of strawberries for raspberries), came from a classic cookbook ‘A Taste for All Seasons’ (first published in 1975) by Beverley Sutherland Smith

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

For the Biscuit/Tuile Baskets:

  • 50g (⅓ Cup) Plain Flour (sifted)
  • 40g (⅓ Cup) Icing (Powdered) Sugar (sifted)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 60g (4 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter (melted)
  • 1 Large Free-Range Egg White (stiffly beaten)

For the Strawberry Cream:

  • 250g (1 Punnet) Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon Caster Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cointreau/Orange Liqueur (optional)
  • 125mls (½ Cup) Pure/Heavy Cream
  • ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 30g (1oz) Dark Chocolate (grated)

To make the Biscuit/Tuile Baskets:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line a baking tray with baking/parchment paper.

Stir together the sifted flour, icing sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and stir to combine, then add the beaten egg white and stir until the mixture comes together nicely.

Place a heaped teaspoonful of mixture at each end of the prepared baking tray and use a knife to spread them into large, very thin circles (approx 13-14cm in diameter).

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 5-6 minutes, until the biscuits are golden around the edges.

When the biscuits come out of the oven, lift them immediately from the baking tray (using a spatula) and while they are still hot, press them gently into a small bowl to create the baskets. Note: It’s best if the bowl has a flat base, so that the baskets will stand up nicely once they are removed and ready to serve.

Continue to make another 2 sets of biscuits in the same way, until you have 6 baskets.

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

To make the Strawberry Cream:

Set aside 6 strawberries to decorate the top of the desserts with. Chop up the remaining strawberries and place them in a small bowl along with the caster sugar and cointreau (if using) to macerate for about 30 minutes.

Whip the cream and vanilla extract until you reach soft peaks, then gently stir in the grated chocolate and macerated strawberries.

To assemble the dessert:

Spoon strawberry cream into each of the biscuit baskets and decorate the top with the remaining strawberries. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Cream Baskets | Gather and Graze

  • Slightly adapted from a recipe by Beverley Sutherland Smith in her book ‘A Taste for All Seasons’
  • For an even easier dessert option, you could simply scoop good quality ice cream (flavour of your choice) into the tuile baskets and top with fresh berries. A drizzle of chocolate or berry sauce would be fabulous too!

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie

Beef Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

It’s doubtful that I’ll ever reach the stage where creating gels, foams or other Heston-esque kitchen creations becomes part of my everyday cooking repertoire… however now and then, there are days when I’m up for the challenge of preparing or cooking something that might have seemed a little daunting before. De-boning quail for Sandra’s Pan Fried Quail with Vincotto Glazed Grapes is a prime example… and then making my first ever ‘Rough’ Puff Pastry from scratch on this past weekend is another.

The prevalent thought for me at such times is that surely I’m going to botch the job completely, rendering dinner inedible for my poor, dear family. Though without taking these risks, we would simply never find out just how easy some things are to produce; how the flavour can be in such stark contrast with it’s shop-bought alternative; and what a great sense of accomplishment can be felt when the challenge pays off and the family dinner is actually, really quite edible!

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

For the Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Filling:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Brown (or Red) Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Leeks (white and pale green parts only, washed and sliced)
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves (finely chopped)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (crushed)
  • 750g (about 1½lbs) Diced Beef (I used a mixture of Chuck and Blade Steak)
  • 250mls (1 Cup) Red Wine (I used a nice Aussie Shiraz)
  • 250mls (1 Cup) Good Quality Beef Stock
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons Concentrated Tomato Paste
  • 2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 15g (1½ Tablespoons) Cornflour (mixed together with 3 Tablespoons Water)

For the Rough Puff Pastry:

  • 300g (2 Cups) Plain Flour
  • 5g (1 Teaspoon) Sea Salt
  • 250g (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter (diced into small cubes)
  • Approx 125mls (½ Cup) Chilled Water

To make the Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Filling:

Place a medium sized saucepan over low-medium heat and sauté the onion, leek and rosemary (with a pinch of salt) in the olive oil until soft and translucent (about 8-10 minutes). Add the crushed garlic in the last couple of minutes to sauté gently. Remove the cooked vegetables to a bowl and set aside for the moment.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

Add a little more olive oil if required and over medium-high heat, brown the diced beef (in a couple of batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan). When done, return the cooked onion and leek to the pan and pour in the red wine, allowing it to simmer for about 5 minutes, to burn off the alcohol. Then add the stock and bay leaves. Stir and allow to simmer (covered) for about 1½ – 2 hours, or until tender.

Once the meat is tender, add in the tomato paste, worcestershire sauce and the cornflour liquid and stir to combine. Simmer gently for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the gravy has thickened nicely. Allow to cool completely before using the filling in the pie.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

To make the Rough Puff Pastry:

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and roughly rub in the small cubes of butter.

Add about three quarters of the water and mix it in (adding a little more water gradually if required) until it comes together nicely as a dough. It should be neither too sticky or too dry and you should be able to see little flecks/small chunks of butter within.

On a floured board, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, with the short side closest to you.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

Fold the end furthest away from you in by a third and then fold the bottom third over the top of this (a little like folding a business letter). Turn the dough a quarter turn and once again roll it out into a large rectangle. Repeat this process a further 4 times. Cover the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 – 40 minutes, before rolling it out for the pie.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

To assemble the pie:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut the dough into 2 portions (one a little larger than the other). Roll out the larger portion first, to an appropriate size to fit your pie tin (mine is about 22cm x 17cm). Line the tin, trimming any excess around the edges – these bits can be used for decorating the top, if you wish).

Scoop the meat filling into the pastry lined tin and then roll out the other portion of pastry that will cover the top. Be sure to first brush the edges with a little water, before laying the sheet of pastry on top of the pie. Use a fork to press around the edges to seal the pie and place a couple of slits in the middle, using a sharp knife, to allow steam to escape. Decorate with the excess bits of pastry if you wish.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and golden brown on top.

Allow to cool slightly, before serving with a side of mashed potatoes and other steamed vegetables.

Beef, Rosemary & Red Wine Pie | Gather and Graze

Notes on Cooking:

  • This could also be made into 4 individual pies, though you will most likely need to make a larger quantity of pastry in order to do so (depending on the size of your pie tins).
  • Feel free to substitute or add other vegetables to this recipe… carrots and other root vegetables would work particularly well.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

A pudding so easy that it almost feels like cheating. If you have access to beautiful, buttery, flaky croissants, then the hard work is all done for you and you can expect grand results with this delicious, wintery dessert. I’ve never been overly fond of Bread and Butter Pudding, but this is Bread and Butter Pudding with a difference… one that has converted me for life… evidently, you just need the right type of bread (or croissant)!

Two more months of winter to endure… though with the recent passing of the winter solstice, I’m at least relishing the thought of our daylight hours ever lengthening for the six or so months to come.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding

  • 3-4 Croissants (day old are perfect)
  • 120g-160g (6-8 Tablespoons) Raspberry Jam
  • 2 Free-Range Eggs
  • 40g (3 Tablespoons) Caster Sugar
  • 375mls (1½ Cups) Whole Milk
  • 125mls (½ Cup) Heavy or Double Cream
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Lightly grease a medium sized baking dish.

Slice the croissants in half and spread a tablespoon of jam over the top of each. Sandwich them back together, cut into 3 pieces and place into the baking dish.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until a little paled in colour and slightly thickened.

Place the milk, cream and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat immediately and slowly pour over the egg/sugar mixture (being sure to whisk all the while, to avoid scrambling the eggs). When completely combined, pour this mixture evenly over the croissants. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, for the croissants to soak up a little of the liquid.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 45-50 minutes, until the custard has just set.

Allow to cool slightly, before serving as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Croissant & Raspberry Jam Pudding | Gather and Graze

Notes on Cooking:

  • Optional additions – fresh/frozen raspberries (or other berries)… or chunks of chocolate (white, milk or dark). A variety of other flavour jams would also work beautifully here.
  • ‘Pain au Chocolat’ or sliced brioche could also be substituted for the croissants.

Poached Pear Chocolate Puddings | Winter Menu | Dessert

Gather and Graze:

My friends, this is the last of the recipes for a little while on ‘The Dinner Party Collective’ – our fabulous new collaborative food/wine blog. Please come through to have a look at this winter-warming dessert that I’ve prepared to go with our seasonal menu. Thanks so much for your support as we get TDPC up and running! Cheers, Margot

Originally posted on The Dinner Party Collective:

Poached Pear Chocolate Pudding | The Dinner Party CollectiveBy this stage of the Dinner Party you should be feeling totally relaxed, especially in the knowledge that your beautiful little desserts have been totally prepped and are almost ready to go. So sit back, enjoy the flowing conversation, have another sip of that gorgeous wine… the oven will do the rest of the work for you.

Poaching pears is such a lovely way of celebrating this seasonal winter fruit. The spices I’ve used in the poaching syrup are some of my personal favourites… though feel free to adapt as you wish. Cardamom, cloves, allspice, ginger and citrus peel all go wonderfully too. With a dollop of cream or ice cream, poached pears can be a delicious dessert in their own right, but by taking them that one step further by surrounding them in a rich dark chocolate pudding, it lifts them to new heights.

We truly hope you’ve enjoyed…

View original 41 more words

Sticky Lemon Pudding

Sticky Lemon Pudding | Gather and Graze

What better way of getting through winter than with a warm, lemony pudding!

The rain has been falling softly, yet constantly over the past few days. On days like this, soccer training for the boys is thankfully cancelled and the afternoons and evenings slow right down to a beautiful, relaxing pace. There is time for slow-braised meats… and puddings make it onto the dinner table too. Everyone is the happier for it… The very best kind of comfort food!

Sticky Lemon Pudding

  • 80g (⅓ Cup) Unsalted Butter
  • 160g (⅔ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • Zest of 1 Lemon (Finely Grated)
  • 3 Free-Range Eggs (Separated)
  • 75g (½ Cup) Plain Flour (Sifted)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Whole Milk
  • 80ml (⅓ Cup) Lemon Juice (I used Meyer lemons)
  • Icing (Powdered) Sugar (for dusting)

Pre-heat oven to 180°C | 350°F | Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease a 1.5 Litre capacity Baking Dish.

In an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the 3 egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the sifted flour and salt, alternating with the milk, until you have a smooth mixture, then stir in the lemon juice. Note that the mixture will seem quite runny at this stage.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they reach medium peaks, then fold them gently into the rest of the mixture with a large metal spoon.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sit this dish within a larger roasting tin (half-filled with water). Bake for about 50-55 minutes, until the top has set and gone a beautiful golden brown, giving way to a soft lemon curd-like base below.

Sticky Lemon Pudding | Gather and Graze

Remove from the oven and dust with a little icing sugar. Serve straight away with cream and/or ice cream.

Sticky Lemon Pudding | Gather and Graze

When life gives you Lemons…

Lemons | Gather and Graze

I mean that literally, not proverbially… life is actually pretty good around here, however it’s well and truly time that I got creative with the glut of Meyer Lemons that my 3 little potted trees have produced this year. Since fully ripening, they’ve been waiting patiently in the fridge for the past couple of weeks, until I could find the time to make something wonderful with them. Not just one thing wonderful, but four different delights that can be created in next to no time.

The kitchen has truly smelt amazing over the past couple of days, with the scent of lemon zest and juice lingering in the air.

Meyer Lemon Curd

  • Servings: Makes about 1 Litre (4 Cups)
  • Print

  • 6 Large Free-Range Eggs
  • 300g (1⅓ Cup) Caster Sugar
  • 250mls (1 Cup) Meyer Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely grated Meyer Lemon Zest
  • 125g (½ Cup) Unsalted Butter (cut into small chunks)

Place eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest into a large heat-proof mixing bowl and whisk well to combine.

Sit the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (not allowing the base of the bowl to touch the water). Continue to whisk from time to time, as the mixture thickens. When it reaches the stage that it will coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove from the heat and little by little, add in the chunks of butter, continuing to whisk as you go, until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth and curd-like.

Scoop the lemon curd into sterilised glass jars and keep for up to 3 weeks, refrigerated.

  • Spoon lemon curd into a shortcrust pasty shell to make a ‘Tarte au Citron’.
  • Layer lemon curd and softly whipped cream to make an easy dessert. Top with some crushed shortbread/biscuits for a little crunch/texture.
  • Slather over hot sourdough toast, freshly made scones or pancakes.
  • Top a pavlova with lemon curd and fresh berries.
  • Use to make a creamy, zesty ice cream/gelato.

Homemade Ricotta

  • Servings: Makes about 375g (1½ Cups)
  • Print

Homemade Ricotta | Gather and Graze

  • 1 Litre (4 Cups) Whole Milk
  • 250mls (1 Cup) Heavy Cream
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 60mls (¼ Cup) Lemon Juice

Place the milk, cream and salt into a medium sized saucepan and place over medium low heat. Stir regularly as the mixture gets frothy on top and comes almost to a boil. Remove from the heat immediately, pour in the lemon juice and give a gentle stir to combine. Let the mixture sit (without any further stirring) for about 10 minutes. You will find that curds have formed and the whey (thin watery liquid) will be beneath.

Sit a fine mesh strainer/sieve (lined with a damp piece of muslin/cheesecloth) over the top of a deep mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into the sieve, allowing the whey to drip through into the bowl beneath. You may need to discard some of the whey that’s collected in the bottom of the bowl from time to time, if it becomes too full. Allow the curds to drain like this for about half an hour, until it reaches your desired consistency. The longer you leave it, the thicker and drier it will become.

Ricotta has many uses, but I enjoyed my first couple of spoonfuls, slathered over some crusty sourdough slices, with a little lemon zest sprinkled over the top, seasoned with freshly ground pepper and salt and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The rest will be set aside in the fridge, to make Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni tomorrow evening… hopefully another post in the making!

Meyer Lemon Salt

  • Servings: Makes about ½ Cup
  • Print

Not really a recipe, but well worth mentioning!

  • 8 Tablespoons Sea Salt Flakes (I used Maldon Salt)
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely Grated Meyer Lemon Zest

Place the salt and lemon zest in a small mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Allow to sit for a couple of hours for the zest to dry out a little, then store in an airtight jar, until required.

Use as a finishing salt or sprinkle over potatoes/vegetables before roasting in the oven.

Lemon Salt | Gather and Graze

Meyer Lemon Cordial

  • Servings: Makes about 1.25 Litres (5 Cups)
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Please visit my friend Sandra of ‘Please Pass The Recipe’ for this fabulous recipe that I used for her Mum’s Lemon Cordial. We’ve already tried and tested the cordial with soda water and still water and it’s totally delicious… though in Sandra’s Lime Cordial version, she suggests mixing 2 parts cordial with 3 parts gin and adding a twist of lime to create a ‘Gimlet’. Sounds even better to me!

Berry & Custard Cake

Berry Custard Cake | Gather and Graze

You might think that I’m trying to ignore the fact that winter is fast approaching… and well, you might just be right! One more week and the season of my discontent begins. A tendency to indulge in bear-like hibernation will become intensely strong… with the kitchen, my lair of warmth and comfort.

This cake is far from being considered seasonal right now, however it’s a recipe that shines just as brightly, whether you opt to use fresh or frozen berries… and quite frankly, sometimes you need a little hit of summertime flavours, before you get plunged into the dark, cold days of winter!

One of my husband’s colleagues made the following cake not so long ago, when a group of us were invited over for a lovely afternoon of drinks and nibbles. She very kindly passed on the recipe, for which I am truly grateful. It was a cake that she had seen in a food magazine, but no longer had the details of which magazine it was… so unfortunately I’m unable to attribute the recipe to it’s original chef/creator.

Berry & Custard Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Print

For the Cake:

  • 150g (1 Cup) Plain Flour
  • 100g (⅓ Cup + 1 Tablespoon) Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 1 Free-Range Egg
  • 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 1½ Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 400g (3 Cups) Fresh or Frozen Berries (I used a mix of Raspberries and Blueberries)

For the Topping:

  • 500ml (2 Cups) Sour Cream
  • 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 1½ Tablespoons Custard Powder
  • 2 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Lightly grease and line a 23cm spring-form cake tin.

Mix together all of the cake ingredients, except for the berries. Note: this will be quite a heavy mixture – almost more of a slice, or loose cookie dough consistency. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared tin and cover with the berries.

Whisk together the topping ingredients in a mixing bowl and then pour evenly over the top of the berries.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 50-60 minutes. When golden (and not too wobbly) on top, remove from the oven and allow to cool somewhat (the custard topping will continue to set a little more as it cools). Run a knife around the edge of the cake to make sure nothing is sticking, before removing from the spring-form tin and transferring carefully to a serving plate.

Beautiful served with a dollop of double cream on the side.

Berry & Custard Cake | Gather and Graze

  • I made the mistake of using only 250ml of sour cream when I made this today and it still turned out to be wonderful… just a little less custardy on top, perhaps.

Please forgive me if things are a little quiet around here over the next few weeks… My time and attention is required over at The Dinner Party Collective right now, as we start putting the finishing touches on our very first menus to be released in early June! Come have a look and discover what it’s all about… if you haven’t already! Cheers, Margot

Roasted Beetroot, Sweet Potato & Feta

Beetroot, Sweet Potato & Feta | Gather and Graze

Not really so much of a recipe… more of a “hey, let’s bring these things together, because it works!” As many of you know already, or will have gleaned from ‘Gather and Graze’, vegetable sides are simply not my forte. Just have a look at my Recipe Index and you’ll see what I mean… For the most part, a drizzle of olive oil and a little seasoning over the likes of carrots, green beans, asparagus, broccoli etc is what appears on our family table through the winter time. Occasionally, if they’re lucky… I’ll go wild and sprinkle a little sumac or toss through some herbs! ;) So as you can appreciate, this combination of beetroot, sweet potato and feta cheese is a notch up from the usual… but I’m going to recommend that you try it, all the same! It goes so well with the likes of roasted chicken, lamb or beef.

Beetroot, Sweet Potato & Feta | Gather and Graze

For the Roasted Beetroots:

  • 3-4 Medium Beetroots (washed and tops trimmed)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Honey
  • Salt

For the Sweet Potato:

  • 1 Large Sweet Potato (chopped into chunks)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

To Serve:

  • 150g Marinated Feta Cheese (broken into chunks)
  • A couple of sprigs of Fresh Thyme (leaves removed from the stem)
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (for drizzling)

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Place the beetroots on a large piece of foil and drizzle with the olive oil, vinegar and honey, then sprinkle with a little salt. Fold over the foil and crimp the edges to make a sealed parcel with the beetroots within, place on a baking tray and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 1 hour (until tender when pierced with a knife).

Once the beetroots are on, line a separate baking tray with baking paper (for easy clean-up) and scatter the chopped sweet potato on top. Toss the pieces with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake for about 40-45 minutes (until tender inside and slightly crispy on the outside).

When the beetroots are cooked, remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before peeling and cutting into wedges.

Place the beetroot and sweet potato into a serving dish and scatter with chunks of feta cheese and fresh thyme leaves. Finish with a drizzle of EV olive oil and a little extra salt and pepper if required.

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream | Gather and Graze

How does one get to my age without having made a Swiss Roll? It’s such a classic cake! Rest assured that I’ve already begun making amends for this shameful oversight… I’ve made two in the past week and with the flattering comments flying from the mouths of my boys, you can be sure I’ll be making these regularly in future.

Such a simple procedure that yields beautiful results… whether it be a classic jam-filled roll or a delicious combination of chocolate and hazelnut as you see here! The options for flavouring the sponge and the filling are endless. With our lemons ready for the picking, I can feel a Lemon Curd Swiss Roll coming on!

Recipe from the ‘River Cottage Handbook No.8 – Cakes’ by Pam Corbin.

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream

For the Cake:

  • 50g (⅓ Cup) Plain Flour
  • 25g (scant ¼ Cup) Cocoa Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3 Free-Range Eggs (at room temperature)
  • 75g (½ Cup) Caster Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Warm Water

For the Filling:

  • 100ml (⅓ Cup + 1 Tablespoon) Pouring Cream
  • 100g (⅓ Cup) Nutella (or other chocolate hazelnut spread)

To finish:

  • Caster Sugar (for dusting)
  • Icing Sugar (for dusting) – optional

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C. Grease and line a Swiss Roll tin (20x35cm) with baking/parchment paper.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a small mixing bowl and set aside for the moment.

Place the eggs and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for about 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. The mixture should almost quadruple in volume and be able to hold it’s shape.

Add the tablespoon of warm water to the egg/sugar mixture and using a large metal spoon, fold it in carefully. Sift in half of the dry ingredients and continue to fold lightly and carefully (keeping as much air in the mixture as possible), before doing the same with the remaining half.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out gently and evenly (using a spatula) to ensure it reaches into all four corners. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, until firm to the touch in the centre.

While the sponge is in the oven, place a large piece of baking/parchment paper (about 10cm larger all round than the swiss roll tin) onto a clean work surface and lightly dust it with caster sugar.

As soon as the sponge comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edges (to ensure it won’t stick to the tin), then turn it out onto the sugared baking paper. Remove the tin and carefully peel away the baking paper that the sponge was cooking on.

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream | Gather and Graze

While its still hot, roll up the cake from the short side, rolling the sugared paper inside the cake as you go. Place the rolled up cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream | Gather and Graze

To prepare the filling: Stir together the cream and Nutella in a mixing bowl until well combined and then using a whisk attachment whip until the mixture reaches soft peaks.

Carefully unroll the cake and spread the Nutella cream over the top. Using the baking paper as a guide, re-roll the cake. Place it seam side down on a serving plate and dust the top with a little more caster or icing sugar before serving.

Chocolate Swiss Roll with Nutella Cream | Gather and Graze

* Because of the cream filling, this cake is best eaten on the day it is made… any leftovers should be refrigerated and eaten the following day.

** For a traditional Swiss Roll, omit the cocoa powder and up the amount of flour to 75g. Fill with a layer of your favourite jam and some whipped cream.