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Grilled blood orange granita

Blood oranges are in season now and this is one way you can make the most of them. I find that grilling tends to intensify the flavour and sugars as well as making these a bit juicier. You need to be careful not to grill too long otherwise they dry out. A little bit of char adds an edge to the flavour, so you have a slight citrussy, smoky bitter note.

8 blood oranges halved
250g sugar
100ml water

Set your barbecue up for direct cooking at 200c, add a handful of pecan and hickory chips to the coals, let the white smoke die down before starting to cook
Start to cook the oranges flesh side down on the griddle, until they are lightly charred for about 10 minutes
Place to one side and allow to cool
In a pan heat up the sugar and water and boil until it reaches 108c on a sugar thermometer, place to one side to cool
Juice the oranges, you need about 400ml juice
Add 100ml of the sugar syrup and stir until well combined
Allow to sit in the fridge for at least four hours to cool completely

Ice cream maker method
Set your ice cream maker for granita setting and churn until ready
Place in freezer for an hour or so before serving

Using a food processor
Pour the granita mix into an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours
Remove from the freezer and scoop out into a food processor and whizz until the mix has loosened up slightly
This helps to aerate the mix
Serve immediately

Making by hand
For those of you making this without an ice cream maker then pour the mixture into a baking tray and place in the freezer
To get the granita effect you need to take the mix out every hour and scrape it with a fork to get a grainy effect before putting it back in the fridge to refreeze
Continue to do this until all the mix has been flaked up

Rotterdamse oude, leek and wild garlic pie

Oude Rotterdamse kaas or old Rotterdam cheese is a recent favourite of mine. It has a lovely nutty flavour and I thought it would work well with this pie. The oude or old refers to the fact it has been matured longer for extra flavour. For those of you without access to this Dutch cheese, Keens cheddar is always a nice substitute. 
Wild garlic is just starting to come into season and has a lovely kick to it, reminiscent of a cross between garlic and chives and works well with the cheese and leeks in this dish.

This makes enough for 1 pie in an 8 inch 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 yold and then some of the water 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 

See steps in pictures below
Next, get your 8 inch pastry ring 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 pastry ring, make sure there are no air bubbles 

Trim any excess pastry from the edges of the ring using a knife 
Roll out the rest of the pastry until it is slightly bigger than the pastry ring about 5mm thick, this will be your lid
Place the lined pastry ring and rolled out pastry in the fridge for 30 mins

Pie filling
250g cheese grated
70g leek finely chopped
70g wild garlic finely chopped
50g creme fraiche
15g dutch mustard (or Dijon)
30g butter
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the leeks off in the butter on a low heat until soft and glossy and place to one side to cool
In a bowl, add the cooked leeks, cheese, creme fraiche, mustard and garlic and mix together
Season to taste with the salt and pepper
Fill the bottom of the pastry ring with the pie mix

Brush the sides with the egg wash and place the lid on top of the pie, trim off the excess pastry

Press the sides of the top to ensure it is all sealed, see pictures below

With a knife make a small slit in the top to allow steam to escape

To finish glaze with the beaten egg
Bake at 190c (fan), 200c (normal) for 30 mins and the pastry is golden brown in colour

Mussel chowder

I give cookery lessons to a couple of friends on a monthly basis. They asked me to teach them how to make a chowder style soup, not just any chowder but one they had on a visit to Ireland last year. After many pictures and descriptions of tastes and smells that passed to and fro, I managed to get something close to what they had. I know that you are thinking you could have contacted the restaurant and got the recipe, I did, and they never came back to me, so had to improvise. 

1 kg mussels
100ml water to cook the mussels
1 stick celery finely diced
100g finely chopped leek
100g carrot peeled and finely diced
300g small salad potatoes quartered
1 litre shellfish or fish stock
30g cornflour slaked in 100ml milk
10g smoked paprika flakes
5g smoked sweet paprika
150g smoked pancetta
20g creme fraiche
15ml oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pan place the mussels and water and bring to the boil, turn the heat down, place a lid on the pan and simmer until all the mussels have opened, discard any that have not
Strain the liquid through a sieve into a jug and place the mussels in a bowl to cool down
Once cooled, remove the mussels from the shells and place to one side
In a saucepan fry off the onions, celery and carrots on a low heat for about 15 minutes until soft and glossy
Add the bacon, paprika and paprika flakes and cook for a further 10 minutes
Pour the fish stock and cooking liquid into the pan with the vegetables and bacon and add the potatoes, cook for a further 15 minutes
Add the mussels
Pour in the cornflour and milk mix, stir until the chowder has thickened
Add the creme fraiche and stir through

Madras salmon en croute

I decided to stray from the usual classical style salmon wrapped in pastry dish and pep things up a bit with Indian spices. This makes a great dinner party dish and will certainly impress your guests. 

Definitely worth the effort and can be made in advance so you can just put it in the oven when you are about to kick off your dinner.
The trick with this is to salt the salmon for about an hour before you wrap it in the pastry, this draws out any excess moisture and helps to season and firm up the salmon. It also eliminates any soggy pastry worries too! You can use shop bought puff pastry for this dish, if doing so use a quality all butter puff pastry.

250g puff or rough puff pastry
500g salmon fillet skin removed
20g salt
250g finely chopped chestnut mushrooms
10g madras curry powder
2g turmeric powder
10g finely grated ginger
5g cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic finely grated
1 shallot finely chopped
10ml oil for frying
1 beaten egg for egg washing the pastry

Place the salmon fillet in a deep dish and cover all over lightly with the salt, you may not need to use all of it
Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour
Fry off the shallot, ginger and garlic in the oil on a low heat until soft, add the madras, cumin and turmeric and cook for a further 5 minutes
Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until all the moisture has come out and the mixture resembles a dry paste
Remove to one side and allow to cool
Next roll out the pastry until it is 5mm thick, cut out 2 pieces that are slightly wider than the salmon that you intend to wrap them in
Remove the salmon from the fridge and wipe off any excess moisture and salt
Put the bottom layer of the pastry on some non stick baking parchment
Spread half the mushroom mix over the bottom layer of the pastry about the same size as the salmon, place the salmon on top and spread the rest of the mushroom mix over the salmon
Brush the sides of the pastry around the salmon with egg wash
Lower the top layer of the pastry over the salmon and push down around the edges gently to seal, I use a fork to do this
Brush the beaten egg over the pastry and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the pastry to firm up
Pre-heat the oven to 180c (fan), 190c (normal) place a flat baking sheet in the oven to warm up (I find this helps the bottom crisp up and prevents it going soggy)
Once the oven is ready, place the salmon on the pre-heated baking sheet and cook for 30 - 40 minutes or until the salmon reaches 63c - 64c in the deepest part and the pastry is golden brown
Remove from the oven and serve with a masala style sauce or tomato and cucumber raita

Goats yoghurt and honey ice cream with beetroot drizzle

This ice cream was inspired by a trip to BAK restaurant in Amsterdam late last year, they had a goat ice cream on their menu which tasted divine. I did ask for the recipe but they never gave it to me so I decided to try and replicate a version for myself. I decided to go for honey as the sweetener as it works well with goats cheeses and yoghurt. The result is a tangy ice cream with a soft deep honey flavour. The beetroot drizzle compliments it nicely. Beets are out of season now but shop bought beetroot juice will work just as well. 

300ml full fat goats yoghurt
100ml full fat cream
100g honey
10g cornflour mixed with 20ml full fat milk

Heat the cream, honey and milk (not the cornflour) in a pan until just before boiling point 
Add the cornflour mix and keep stirring for about 5 minutes
Take off the heat and allow to cool
Once cooled add the yoghurt and stir well to combine
Allow to sit in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or preferably overnight
Set up your ice cream maker and switch on and get the paddle running
Add the ice cream mix and churn until ready

Beetroot drizzle
Juice of 1 beetroot or 150ml beetroot juice reduced in a pan over a high heat until it is thick and sryupy
Allow to cool before pouring over the ice cream

Steamed pork, prawn and shiitake Siu Mai

I love dim sum type dishes, nothing better than heading out with friends and picking lots of dishes to share. It took me a while to get the hang of making these, especially trying to fill and shape them exactly like you see in restaurants.There were many misshapen efforts before they vaguely resembled proper ones. 

For this dish you will need a steamer or steamer basket. Chinese steamer baskets are easily found online or in Chinese supermarkets. All you need to do is to ensure you have a good amount of water in a pan, set the steamer above the pan on the lip, and ensure that the water does not touch the basket. The water must be on a rolling simmer and not boiling. 

10 dried shiitake rehydrated and finely chopped
200g pork belly minced
100g rose prawns
50g carrot finely diced
50ml soy sauce
20ml shaoxing rice wine ( if you can't get this then use a dry sherry)
2 cloves garlic finely grated
10g fresh ginger finely chopped
4 scallions finely chopped
10g corn flour
5ml sesame oil

1 pack won ton wrappers

Mix all ingredients (but not the won ton wrappers) together until it is well combined
Form a circle with your thumb and forefinger and place the won ton wrapper on top with the middle pushed down slightly
Place a teaspoonful of pork and prawn mix in the middle and then push down until you have a cup shape
Before placing in the steamer ensure you place non stick parchment in the steamer to prevent the won ton sticking to it, you may need to make small holes in it to ensure the steam gets through, or try and get steamer parchment which will already have perforations
If using metal steamer, oil the basket beforehand
Place in the steamer and steam for 15 - 20 minutes, if your steamer has a temp setting, then 110c for 15 minutes

Thai spiced gimlet

I'm a big fan of Thai aromatic spices and fancied a change from the usual gimlet. Its origins date back to the 1860's when lime juice was carried by British ships to prevent scurvy. the officers on board preferred to drink their lime juice with gin rather than rum so the gimlet was born. The lime syrup that was used in the cocktail was invented by Lauchlan Rose as a way of preserving the lime juice in sugar rather than alcohol. 
I however have made my own lime cordial as Roses Lime cordial can be difficult to get hold of here in the Netherlands. 
Make sure your saucepan is very clean otherwise your syrup will crystallise

Lime cordial
4 limes (preferably unwaxed)
6 lime leaves (I use the ones you can buy frozen)
400g sugar
150ml water
5g citric acid

Wash and scrub the limes thoroughly in very hot water to remove any excess wax if you cannot get unwaxed limes
Peel the limes, taking care not to go to far into the white pith ( it can leave a bitter aftertaste)
Place the peel into a large saucepan with the sugar, lime leaves and water
Bring the pan to the boil and cook until you have a clear solution, roughly 1-2 minutes and the sugar has dissolved
Add the lime juice and citric acid and stir though
Let the cordial mixture sit for at least an hour to allow the flavours to infuse
Strain into clean airtight container or sterilised bottle or jar
It will keep for a couple of months in the fridge

Gimlet 2 slices fresh ginger finely diced
4 lime leaves finely shredded
1/2 inch lemongrass sliced
4 slices red chilli
20ml lime juice
40ml lime cordial
60ml genever

First muddle the ginger, lime leaves and lemongrass with the sugar syrup
Add the chilli, genever, lime juice and cordial, top with ice and shake
Strain and serve in a cocktail coupe