Beef Madras

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Now that spring is creeping in, with its sporadic sunny, but chilly days it’s tempting to get work done in the garden. However, I know fine well that if I’m going to be working in the garden all day the last thing I’ll feel like doing when I get in is cooking a decent meal from scratch. I think a hot bath to take the chill from my bones (helped along by a warming glass of wine or two) will be a much stronger calling. So it was with a great deal of foresight that I prepared this beef madras in the slow cooker before I headed outside the other day.

The beauty of using the slow cooker to cook a curry is that it allows the spicy flavours to permeate into the casserole beef throughout the whole day while the slow cooking process also tenderises the meat. As a result, you’ve got a wonderful meal to come home to after a hard day’s work with very little effort and minimal prep work involved.

Upon tasting this beef madras, I discovered that it was a bit on the spicy side for my family so I kept my (dairy-free) portion aside and added double cream into the rest. I don’t mind quite a generous amount of heat in my curries, but the addition of the cream seemed to be a resounding success with my family because it tamped down the heat of the chilli in the curry while adding a luxurious richness. Equally, you could omit the madras curry powder and use a garam masala curry powder instead, which will add flavour, but not heat.

If you like meals that involve very little work to prepare and curries with plenty of body and flavour then this beef madras is definitely one for you to try.

Ingredients:

450g Casserole beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2tsps hot Madras powder
1 tsp (heaped) ground turmeric
2 tsps Marigold stock boullion powder
1 tsp salt
2 peppers (diced)
1/2 packet coconut cream (grated)
1/2 pot Elmlea double cream
Serve with basmati rice
Method:
Set your slow cooker on low and put the beef, chopped tomatoes and coconut cream in.
Put the stock, Madras curry powder, salt and ground turmeric in a jug and add around 100ml of hot water to it and stir before adding to the slow cooker. Stir until everything is mixed together.
Leave the beef madras to putter away all day. About twenty minutes before serving add your diced peppers. Taste to see if you need to add any more salt. Make your rice.
When you’re ready to eat, serve as it is or add double cream (or a dairy-free cream) if you feel it’s a bit too spicy or if you just want to make it richer.
Serve with rice, naan breads or poppadums and fresh coriander.
Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

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Orange and White Chocolate Pavlova

Orange and White Chocolate Pavlova by The Fat Foodie

Orange and White Chocolate Pavlova by The Fat Foodie

This orange and white chocolate pavlova is one of the easiest desserts you could ever make and I’ll bet it’s one that’ll be eaten the quickest too. I don’t know about your house, but few sweet things are demolished faster in our household than a pavlova, particularly one which merges a good zesty fruit with sweet sugary shards of meringue and rich, lightly whipped double cream.

The combination of creamy orange curd spread over layers of thick meringue which is crisp, but still just  slightly chewy, and sandwiched by silky whipped cream is a great marriage altogether. Although I’ve used orange in my curd you could easily opt to use lemon, lime or even passionfruit instead and any of them would give you a great result.

Orange and White Chocolate Pavlova by The Fat Foodie

Orange and White Chocolate Pavlova by The Fat Foodie

As easy as this orange and white chocolate pavlova is to make there are just a few small, but important, rules you must follow in order to get the best results:

1.) Don’t get any fat in the egg whites. Egg whites will not whisk properly if there is any fat in them whatsoever, so crack each of your eggs into a small bowl before tipping the egg whites one at a time into the bowl you’ll be whisking them up in. That way if you accidentally break an egg yolk you’re only throwing away one egg rather than the whole bowlful. Also, make sure your bowl and electric whisk beaters are spotlessly clean of any residual fats.

2.) Use room temperature eggs as they will be much more voluminous than fridge-cold ones.

3.) Use caster sugar. The egg white bubbles are so delicate that they’ll break more easily if they’re in contact with large pieces of granulated sugar. Therefore, using the smaller sized caster sugar granules will help to retain as much air within the egg whites as possible.

4.) Add a little cornflour to stabilise the egg whites and to create a slightly chewy texture to your meringue.

I made my meringues the night before I was intending to make the pavlova which meant that they could cool down slowly in the oven overnight, ensuring their crust did not crack very much, but you could just use them immediately once they’ve been cooked and have cooled down. Trust me, if you follow these tips you’ll be rewarded with beautiful, big meringues that’ll be just begging to be topped with whipped cream and an assortment of fruits.

Ingredients:

For the meringues:

6 egg whites

375g caster sugar

2 tsps cornflour

For the orange curd:

1 large orange

The zest and juice of 1 orange

6 egg yolks

150g butter

225g caster sugar

For decoration:

A carton of double cream (about 284ml)

100g white chocolate

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Put greaseproof paper on two large baking sheets.

Separate 6 eggs and put the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until firm and then whisk in the cornflour and sugar.

Spread three equal circles of meringue mixture onto the baking sheets.

Put in the oven and then turn the oven down to 150C/130C Fan/300F/ Gas mark 2. Bake for 1 hour and then leave the meringues to cool.

To make the curd:

Put all of the curd ingredients into a small saucepan and over a low heat gently whisk it together until it is hot and the curd leaves a thick coat on the back of a spoon dipped into it.

Strain it through a sieve into a bowl and leave it to cool.

To assemble the pavlova:

Break your white chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Leave the chocolate to melt by putting this bowl into a larger one filled with hot water. (Make sure no water gets into the chocolate though, otherwise it’ll seize and will be unworkable.)

Whip the double cream.

Put the first meringue on a serving plate and spread it with the cooled orange curd and then a layer of double cream.

Put the second meringue on top and put the rest of the curd on it, followed by another layer of cream (reserving a little cream for the top).

Put the top meringue on and spread with the last of the cream.

Put the melted white chocolate into a piping bag and drizzle over the top of the pavlova. You could just use a spoon to drizzle it over the cake though if you don’t have a piping bag.

Serve with aplomb to the astonishment and adoration of those around your dinner table and be prepared for people to come back for seconds or even thirds.

Orange and White Chocolate Pavlova by The Fat Foodie

Orange and White Chocolate Pavlova by The Fat Foodie

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Banoffee Swiss Roll

Banoffee Swiss Roll by The Fat Foodie

Banoffee Swiss Roll by The Fat Foodie

This week I made a delicious banoffee Swiss roll, but it didn’t go entirely to plan. I’d been in a shop at the end of last week and I came across a jar of Biscoff biscuit spread. I don’t know if you’ve ever had Lotus Biscoff biscuits, but they’re a lovely little crunchy caramel-flavoured biscuit that’s often served with coffee in Europe. They happen to be a favourite of mine, so when I read the jar and it said that it was a cookie butter made from crushed Biscoff biscuits I knew that if I bought a jar it’d find its way into one of my bakes soon.

When I saw that this week’s Great British Bake Off was setting the contestants the challenge of producing a Swiss roll I realised that the caramel biscuit-flavoured Biscoff spread would work really well as a substitute buttercream icing within a Swiss roll. When I saw that I had an overripe banana waiting to be used up in the fruit bowl too it led to the idea of making a banoffee Swiss roll.

Although the flavours worked really well I made a rookie mistake because when I looked at the completed sponge mixture I was convinced that I needed to bake it in a much smaller baking tray than the Swiss roll tin I’d originally anticipated using. As it turns out, I should have trusted my original instincts and stuck to using the large Swiss roll tin because by baking it in a smaller tray it turned out to be quite a thick, but still light, sponge which meant I couldn’t get many rolls to my overall cake.

However, this didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things because although aesthetically the inside of the banoffee Swiss roll wasn’t filled with multiple rolls of sponge, it was still absolutely gorgeous and genuinely tasted like a banoffee pie thanks to the chocolatey butterscotch-flavoured sponge, the biscuit spread, the ripe banana, and the sweetened rich double cream.

I’d happily make this again because it was a very simple bake to make, but next time I’m not going to second guess my baking tin which will hopefully make for a larger, thinner sponge. Although let’s be honest, when something’s tasty enough it doesn’t really matter about whether it looks perfect or not, does it?

Ingredients:

125g caster sugar

100g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

1 tsp butterscotch (or caramel) flavouring

3 large eggs (room temperature)

1 ripe banana (mashed)

150ml double cream

1 tbsp. icing sugar

A 200g jar of Lotus Biscoff biscuit spread (I only used two thirds of it though)

For the topping:

Icing sugar (to dust)

White chocolate (to drizzle over the cake)

10g plain chocolate, grated

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/Gas 4. Line a Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper.

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a large mixing bowl or jug until the mixture has tripled in volume and is very thick.

Fold in the plain flour and once it’s fully combined pour the mix onto the greaseproofed baking tray and spread it out so that it fills the whole baking tray. Put it in the oven and bake it for 10 minutes.

(Don’t over-bake this sponge otherwise it’ll crack when you try to roll it, so take it out of the oven while it’s still soft to the touch. 10 mins in the oven should be sufficient, but have it in for less if your oven’s particularly fierce.)

While it’s baking lay out a fresh sheet of greaseproof paper on your worktop.

Once baked, remove the greaseproof it was baked on and put the sponge on the new sheet. Keeping the sponge on the greaseproof, roll your sponge loosely into a Swiss roll and leave it to cool.

Whisk your double cream and 1 tbsp. of icing sugar until it is firm and then mix in the mashed banana.

Start melting the white chocolate by putting a bowl of white chocolate over a larger bowl filled with hot water.

Once cold, unroll the sponge and spread it with the Biscoff spread and then add the layer of banana cream.

Slowly re-roll the Swiss roll (but not too tightly or all your filling will be squashed out).

Dust with icing sugar, drizzle with melted white chocolate and sprinkle grated plain chocolate on top. Serve.

Banoffee Swiss Roll by The Fat Foodie

Banoffee Swiss Roll by The Fat Foodie

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James Martin’s Sticky Toffee Pudding (serves 6)

Sticky Toffee Pudding by The Fat Foodie

Sticky Toffee Pudding by The Fat Foodie

When it comes to desserts, sometimes you just want to eat something comforting that’s got an unreasonable amount of sugar and fat in it in the form of a really good cake with a well-flavoured sticky sauce to accompany it. There’s only one pudding in my book that fits this bill and it’s sticky toffee pudding.

This is a James Martin recipe for a sticky toffee pudding that’s truly to die for. Initially when I was making it I was really concerned about how liquid the mixture was because of the watery date paste it asks you to add, but it turned out really well. It’s a recipe which creates a really dark, fudgy, moist cake that acts as a lovely contrast to the light, creamy, caramelly butterscotch and it soaks up the sauce beautifully.

It’s really easy to make this cake (and the butterscotch sauce) and it smells wonderful while it’s baking in the oven, filling the kitchen with a syrupy, vanilla fug which teases you right up until it’s baked. I made this for a family dinner and it was very well received. But then again, what weirdo doesn’t like sticky toffee pudding?

Ingredients for the cake:

55g butter

170g brown sugar

1 tbsp golden syrup

2 eggs

2 tbsp treacle

200g self-raising flour

300g dates (chop 100g of the dates into small pieces, but leave 200g whole)

290ml boiling water

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

For the butterscotch sauce:

110ml double cream

55g butter

55g dark brown sugar

2 tbsps treacle

1 tbsp golden syrup

Method:

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, gas mark 5.

Prepare a baking tin or individual moulds.

Blend 200g of the dates with the boiling water until it is a paste.

Cream the butter and sugar together and then add the golden syrup, treacle, vanilla, eggs and mix.

Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix.

Stir the dates into the mix.

Pour the cake mix into the baking tin or individual moulds.

In the case of individual puddings in moulds, cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are springy and golden-brown. For a whole cake cook for around 30-40 mins, but you’ll know it’s cooked if a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

To make the sauce:

Put all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Let it boil for a couple of minutes and then take it off the heat.

Serve the cake warm with a generous drizzle of butterscotch sauce and (should you fancy a cold contrast with the hot sauce) ice cream.

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Raspberry Meringues

Raspberry Meringues

Raspberry Meringues

For all that I enjoy cooking and baking complex things involving a number of components, sometimes it’s the simplest marriages of ingredients which result in being the tastiest meals.

My mother-in-law came along the other evening with a little treat for us which was very welcome indeed. It wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t complicated, but it was sweet, fresh and creamy and was the perfect light dessert for eating while sitting in the garden on a summer’s evening.

The beauty of this dessert is the way the crisp meringue breaks into sugary shards in your mouth while being encapsulated in the sweet cream, but then a raspberry will explode between your teeth, zapping your tastebuds with sharp, yet sweet, fruit juice. When you taste something as perfect as this, it reminds you that it truly is the simplest things in life which bring the most pleasure.

Ingredients:

Meringue nests

Freshly whipped double cream (Add a little icing sugar while whipping to sweeten the cream, if you’d prefer)

Raspberries or sliced strawberries

Method:

Top each meringue nest with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then place your fruit on top. Enjoy.

strawberry Meringues.

strawberry Meringues.

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