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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Lemon Mousse / Raspberry confit / flaked almonds

image courtesy of the
*part of the sizzling staffordshire menu series*

This mousse is gentle, pleasurable and enjoyable. Providing the classic citrus element through lemon, it presents an uplifting and pleasing dessert that is light and also, moderately healthy.The health conscious of you will also benefit from the antioxidant greatness that raspberries present, with the added nutrients of the almonds also. those of you who don't care all that much, will enjoy it nonetheless.

You will need (makes roughly 8):
175g caster sugar
2 sheets of leaf gelatine
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
2 medium egg whites
200ml reduced fat creme fraiche

Raspberry confit:

250g raspberries, washed
3 tbsp caster sugar or honey
2-3 tbsp lemon juice (obtained from the lemons above)

Combine the raspberries and sugar in a pan and heat gently together until the sugar has dissolved and the blueberries have begun to fall. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.transfer to a bowl and chill.

The doing bit:

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a few minutes to soften. in the meantime add the lemon juice to a measuring jug and top up with water to 200ml. Add to a saucepan then add half the sugar, and simmer on a moderate heat to dissolve the sugar. simmer for about a minute then take off the heat. Drain the gelatine leaves and squeeze out any excess water, then add the gelatine to the lemon syrup. Leave to cool completely.

Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until the form soft peaks. Add the remainong sugar one tsbp at a time continuously beating until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is firm.

In another bowl lightly beat the creme fraiche then stir into the cooled lime mixture. fold the egg white mixture into this until uniform then decant the mix into 8 equal glasses. Place in fridge few a few hours until they have set, then use the raspberry confit, lemon zest and flaked almonds to garnish.

Poached Pears in red wine with yoghurt sorbet

Image courtesy of
*part of the sizzling staffordshire menu series*

Here we present another fruit dessert, with a rather enjoyable sweetness that is luxurious and enjoyment but ultimately quite healthy. Its quite warming in a winter sense, but is acceptable year round as a light dessert.

You will need (serves 4):

750ml bottle of red wine
4tbsp caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
2 slices of orange
1 stem ginger in syrup halved
4 ripe but firm pears

Pour the red wine and sugar into a saucepan with the orange slices, cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger. Slowly bring to a simmer stirring occasionally, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Peel the pears leaving on the stork and de core them pears using a teaspoon or a melon baller. Lower the pears into the wine, and place a piece of crumpled greaseproof paper with a small hole cut out of the centre on the top. This will help keep the pears submerged.

Poach the pears for about 20 minutes at a gentle simmer, and pierce with a cocktail stick or similar to test if soft all the way through.

Transfer the pears and liquor to a bowl and allow to cool. Cling film and refrigerate preferrably overnight, or until required.

Serve warm, either by reheating in a pan or even using a microwave, alongside a scoop of yoghurt sorbet.

Yoghurt sorbet

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This is a refreshing alternative to ice cream, and can be used as a great medium or vehicle for a variety of flavours if youre wanting to make different flavoured sorbets. Its phenomenally easy and cheap to produce, and also tastes exceedingly good.

You will need (makes a batch of about 8 portions):

350ml water
225g caster sugar
3 tbsp liquid glucose
300ml natural yoghurt
100ml fromage frais

In a pan add the water, sugar and liquid glucose and palce over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Beat the yoghurt and fromage frais together in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Mix in the cooled syrup.

Pour into a shallow tray and freeze, removing from the freezer every hour and beat together with a whisk until returning to the freezer. When the mix freezes smooth, it is ready.


Baked Plums with crushed amaretti

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*part of the sizzling stafforshire menu series*

Fruit desserts in my opinion are often overlooked in favour of heavy dairy and chocolate fixes. it's a shame because there is a hell of alot of natural flavour in fruit, and can balance well with a variety of other flavours also.

This dessert is unwavering in its simplicity, and provides a means of a cheap and quick, and very fulfilling dessert that is also extremely healthy. Its kind of halfway towards a crumble, without the guilt factor. With this in mind, you can do alot with this dish to change it if you wish, and develop it further.

You will need (serves 4):

500g ripe plums (make sure theyre firm and not too soft)
1/2 tsp for each plum
3 tbsp sherry, marsala or even creme de cassis.
30g amaretti biscuits
Natural yoghurt to serve
Optional herbs for aromatics

heat the oven to 200C. cut the plums in half and remove the stones, arrange the plums hole side up, in a lightly greased baking dish. Drizzle over the sherry. At this point i like to add a few springs of rosemary into the dish just to give an extra dimension of flavour, you can also use lavender.

crush the amaretti either manually or using a food processor for a very short burst. Sprinkle over the plums. Put small amount of butter on each plum and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Serve warm with a dollop of each yoghurt.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Vanilla Panacotta with blueberry compote

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Its a simple dessert, but I find pannacotta to be one of those pleasant and light desserts that is a welcome treat after a hearty meal. As a concept I find pannacotta to be a great vehicle for a variety of flavours and combinations, ranging from the simple vanilla to the mind blowing complex elements that can be incorporated into such a dessert. This recipe also presents a healthy approach.

You will need (makes a batch of 6):

600ml semi skimmed milk
1 vanilla pod, split
125g caster sugar
4 sheets leaf gelatine
200ml natural yoghurt

Blueberry compote

250g blueberries, washed
3 tbsp caster sugar or honey
2-3 tbsp lemon juice.

The doing bit:

In a pan add the milk and scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and add the seeds and the pod too. Add the sugar and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a simmer. Meanwhile soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a few minutes to soften them. As soon as the milk begins to bubble remove from the heat. Drain the gelatine leaves ans squeeze out any excess moisture, then add to the milk mixture. Stir to dissolve, then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.

Once the milk is cooled, add the yoghurt and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into moulds (i find that plastic cups work well for this), then cover with cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for a few hours (or even overnight).

For the compote:

Combine the blueberries and sugar in a pan and heat gently together until the sugar has dissolved and the blueberries have begun to fall. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.transfer to a bowl and chill.

To unmould: place each plastic cup in hot water for a few seconds. Remove, then turn out gently onto a serving plate. Serve with compote aside.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Healthy Banana & Blueberry Muffins

These blueberry muffins are ideal as a breakfast item, or elevenses, or even just the occasional snack. The use of wholemeal flour, no added sugar and the boon of fibre and antioxidant rich blueberries gives rise to even the most health conscious. They're extremely easy to make, and delciious when warm.

Did i happen to mention that each muffin is approx 180 calories?

You will need (serves 12):

225g mashed bananas (roughly 2)
1 egg
125ml water
125ml vegetable oil
250g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
150g fresh or frozen blueberries

The doing bit.

In a mixing bowl mash the bananas, then add the oil, flour and egg and beat to a uniform paste. Add the water and mix. add the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, mix well, and leave to rest for a few minutes. add the blueberries, then spoon the mixture into muffin cases.

Put into preheated oven at 180 degrees C, and bake four roughly ten minutes (or until done). Remove from oven and allow to cool.