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Wild garlic cannelloni with a basil and ricotta filling

The first time I had proper cannelloni was at Vasco and Pieros pavilion restaurant in London, an age old Soho stalwart. It was 20 years ago and the memory of the dish still stays with me, the cannelloni I had was a simple spinach and ricotta dish. I wanted to do a seasonal tribute with wild garlic and went a step further and made the pasta with it. 

250g tipo 00 flour
50g pureed wild garlic leaves (ensure you squeeze out any excess moisture)
2 eggs

Whizz all the ingredients up in a food processor until they come together in a dough
Roll into a ball and cover with cling film
Place in the fridge to rest for an hour

Ricotta filling
1 egg beaten
300g ricotta
20 basil leaves finely chopped
100g grana padano finely grated
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients bar the salt and pepper together
Season to taste with salt and pepper

Tomato sauce
1 tin chopped tomatoes
50ml red wine
2 shallots finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
50ml olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry off the shallots and garlic in the oil on a low heat until soft and glossy
Add the tomatoes and wine and turn the heat up high for 1-2 minutes
Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes
Place to one side to cool 

To make the cannelloni
Roll the pasta out relatively thinly
Cut into 6 inch sheets, you want about 10
On the narrow end of each sheet place a dollop of the filling so it goes end to end
Start to roll up the sheet gently so as not to cause the filling to come out
Place in a baking dish
Repeat the process until all cannelloni are finished
Top with the tomato sauce and ensure the canneloni are covered well 
I also like to add some mozzarella to the topping as well, just tear and dot all over

To cook
My preference is to cook this on the BBQ
Set the BBQ up for indirect cooking at 190c and cook for 40 minutes

For oven cooking cook at 180c (fan) 190c (normal) for 40 minutes

Chocolate and lemon mousse

Chocolate mousse isn't as difficult as you think to make, the trick is to act quickly once all the ingredients are ready otherwise the chocolate seizes up. I like the combination of lemon and chocolate together. I use a 55% chocolate as it works better with the tangy lemon, any darker and you will get a clash in flavour. 

3 egg whites
10ml lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
50g icing sugar
80g chocolate (roughly 55% cocoa content)
30ml double cream
1g salt

Whisk the egg whites, lemon zest and salt until you get medium peaks
Start to add the icing sugar and lemon juice gradually while it is still whisking
Continue to whisk until you get glossy stiff peaks
Place the chocolate and the cream together in a pan and heat gently until the chocolate has melted
Allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes otherwise it will cook the egg whites when you add it to them
Take a dessertspoonful of the egg white mix and add to the chocolate mix and stir well to loosen it up
Next pour the chocolate into the egg white mix and stir gently to incorporate, you don't want to break up the volume of the egg whites
Pour into bowls and place in the fridge to set

Asparagus and wild garlic tartlets

With asparagus season in full swing I wanted to make a quiche using this lovely vegetable. The wild garlic adds a little more edge and flavour to the dish. If you have no access to wild garlic, then you can use chives as a replacement. The pastry is a nice rich buttery shortcrust that just melts in your mouth.

This makes enough for 6 tartlets in 10cm tartlet rings or one large quiche using an 20cm pastry ring
To make the pastry
170g plain white flour
85g butter
45ml iced water
Pinch salt
Beaten egg yolk to glaze the pastry

Rub the butter and flour together until it resembles bread crumbs 
Add the egg yolk and water and bring the mixture together until it forms a stiff dough
(This can also be made in a food processor, simply whizz the flour and butter mix until it resembles bread crumbs, then add the egg yolk and then some of the water and pulse until it comes together)
Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour to rest
Once the pastry has rested, roll out to 5mm thick 
Next, get your tartlet case and cut out the pastry using the ring as a guide, ensure you have excess pastry around the edges
Then take the cut out pastry and press into the edges of the tartlet case, make sure there are no air bubbles 
Place the lined tartlet case in the fridge for 30 mins
Preheat the oven to 190c (fan) 200c (normal)
Take the the tartlet cases out of the fridge and prick the base with a fork taking care not to pierce all the way through (this helps to stop the pastry rising)
Cut out enough parchment paper to cover the tartlet cases and place it over the tartlet
Add some baking beans or rice to weigh the paper down and to prevent the pastry from colouring while blind baking
Place the tartlets in the oven for 10 minutes with the parchment on and then for a further 5 minutes with it off

3 eggs
6 spears of white asparagus peeled and thinly sliced length ways and then cut to fit the tartlet case
100ml crème fraîche
50g parmesan 
100ml cream
Salt and pepper to season
70g finely chopped wild garlic or chives 

Whisk all the ingredients together except the asparagus, salt and pepper
Season the egg mix with the salt and pepper
Line the bottom of the cases with the asparagus
Pour the egg mix into the tartlets
Place in the oven at 150c (fan) 160c (normal) for 15 minutes or until the top is set

Penne with four cheese sauce

There's nothing better than a bowl of pasta with a nice cheesy sauce, many of you will be familiar with macaroni cheese, but I like to make this a bit richer with the addition of mascarpone, gorgonzola dolce and parmesan and if you really want to push the boat out add a drizzle of truffle oil at the end.
50g butter
50g plain flour
200ml milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Tablespoon of dijon mustard
250g penne - cooked
100g cheddar or strong cheese, grated
50g parmesan -  grated
50g mascarpone 
50g gorgonzola dolce
2 cloves garlic finely sliced
1 shallot finely chopped
Oil for frying

Pre-heat the oven to 180c (fan), 190c (normal)
If cooking on the BBQ set it up for indirect cooking at 180c, throw in some oak chips about 15 minutes before its ready to go on, wait for the thick white smoke to die down
If cooking on the BBQ ensure your baking dish is suitable for use, if not use a good cast iron pan
In a pan fry off the garlic and shallots in the oil on a low heat until soft and glossy, remove from the pan and place to one side
Next make the roux sauce, in a sauce pan melt the butter and then add the flour stirring all the time
Cook the flour out for at least 5 minutes on a low heat
Take the pan off the heat and add the milk gradually, still stirring, and then put back on the heat stirring until it thickens
Add the Dijon and the cheeses, stir to incorporate
The sauce will thicken considerably after adding the cheeses, if it is too thick then add some more milk to loosen it slightly
Finally add the garlic and shallots, mix through and taste before seasoning with the salt and pepper
Put the penne into a baking dish or cast iron pan and then add the sauce, mix thoroughly and then place in an oven or BBQ for 25 mins

Smoked maple syrup and pecan ice cream

I've been wanting to do a smoked ice cream for quite some time. Decided on using pecan wood as it has a subtle smokiness and would work well with the sweetness of the maple syrup and pecan nuts. Rather than smoking the custard base I hot smoked the cream for a nice backnote. 

I used dry, not pre soaked woodchips, soaking them only produces thicker smoke and lots of steam which you do not want. 
4 egg yolks
10g sugar

100ml maple syrup
500ml cream

80g unsalted pecans

For the Pecan smoked cream
Set your BBQ up for indirect cooking with pecan wood chips at 130c and allow the initial white smoke to die down

Once you have thin blue smoke, the BBQ is ready for cooking
Place the cream in a heavy duty pan and place in the BBQ continue to heat the cream until just before boiling point (90c) and take off the heat

You will now be finishing the custard base on the hob
Whisk the sugar maple syrup and egg yolks in a bowl
Pour the cream, milk and vanilla pod mix slowly into the sugar and egg yolk whisking as you do
Pour the mix back into the pan on the hob and continue to whisk slowly on a low heat until it reaches 70c, keep it at 70c for at least 5 minutes which will pasteurise the custard

Allow to cool and place the in fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight
Turn the ice cream maker on for at least 5 minutes before using
Next strain the custard into a jug using a fine mesh sieve
Turn on the ice cream function and pour in the infused custard
The mixture will take about 35 - 40 minutes minutes to churn
Add the pecan nuts in the last 5 minutes of churning

Chipotle chicken quesadillas

I haven't made quesadillas in a long time and used to make a version of this recipe with tomatoes and madeira. I decided to keep this version a little simpler and added some chorizo, as well as chipotle in adobo for an extra earthy note. I've also added wild garlic to this recipe as its in season and I have easy access to it but it is optional. 

3 boneless chicken thighs
150g cheddar
15ml chipotle in adobo paste
5g smoked paprika flakes
50ml creme fraiche
4 scallions finely chopped
10 wild garlic leaves finely chopped (optional)
50g chorizo finely chopped
10g pork fat for frying
Salt and pepper
4-6 tortillas

In a dry frying pan on a medium heat fry off the chorizo until it starts to release its oils
Remove the chorizo pieces to one side and leave the oil in the pan
Turn up the heat, add the chicken thighs and brown on both sides
Place a lid on the pan, add the smoked paprika flakes and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes
Once cooked turn off the heat and allow to cool and rest in the pan
Place the chorizo, cheddar, scallions and wild garlic in a bowl and mix well to combine
Mix the sour cream and chipotle together and add to the cheese mix
Remove the chicken from the pan and shred with a fork, there will be resting juices in the pan, do not discard
Place it back in the pan (no heat) with the juices and season with salt and pepper, stir to moisten the chicken
Add the chicken then to the cheese mix and stir through
Clean down the pan and add the pork fat, put the pan on a medium heat and allow the fat to melt
Take one tortilla and fill half with the chicken and cheese mix, fold over the other half on top and press down on the top to seal, you need to ensure the mixture doesn't fall out of the sides
Don't fill them too much, repeat with the other tortillas
Next add the tortillas two at a time to the pan and fry until golden brown on each side, repeat until all have been cooked

Crispy goats fry with wild garlic chimmichurri

What is fry I hear you ask. The word is often used as a generic term for offal such as sweetbreads, heart, liver or in this case testicles. This is not a recipe for the squeamish or faint of heart but does reap rewards in tasty morsels at the end of all your hard work.
Like most offal it is best to keep the dish simple, in this case after preparation I coated them in flour, egg and bread crumbs and fried in butter. The taste is less gamey than liver and is worth giving a try. 

You will need to ask your butcher or goat farmer for these specifically as they are not normally available. When you do get them they will look like this.

Not a pretty sight, but bear with me, the preparation is simple enough. 
First of all, you will need toplce them in a bowl soak them in water and milk overnight (roughly 50/50 milk to water until they are covered).
As you can see in the above picture they are covered in a membrane, you will need to cut gently through this making an incision and it will peel off easily. 
Often there will be a second membrane underneath, repeat the incision and it should come off easily again. 
What you are now left with is the meat, this can now be sliced into small rounds ready to be coated in breadcrumbs.

2 goats testicles
200g panko breadcrumbs
1 egg beaten
75g flour seasoned with salt and pepper
50g butter for frying

Place the flour on one plate, the egg on another, and the breadcrumbs on a third
Using one hand, dip the slices first into the flour, then into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs ensuring they are well coated on both sides
Repeat the process for the other slices
Place each slice to one side until you have coated them all and are ready to cook them

To cook the testicles
Place the butter in the pan and ensure it is on a high heat
Place the testicles in the pan
Brown on both sides quickly and then lower the heat and cook for a further 2 minutes keep turning to ensure the breadcrumbs do not burn and the testicles cook through

50g wild garlic leaves finely chopped or 4 cloves of garlic grated
30g flat leaf parsley finely chopped
30g red onion finely chopped
5g chilli flakes
10g dried oregano
50ml olive oil
75ml rose cava vinegar

Mix all ingredients together until well combined

Serve drizzled over the testicles