Recipes for deliciously easy sauces, condiments or preserves. Also includes edible decorations for plating.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Sauce

sticky toffee pudding dessert

Dribbling with sticky toffee sauce

Why don’t the French do sticky toffee pudding? OK, it’s PUD. It’s sometimes pud that can arrive with a thud. Serve too much of it at the end of a meal and my slender French lady friends would secretly panic: you could be made silently responsible for damaging their elegant silhouettes (known as taille de guêpe – literally translated as having a corset waistline like a wasp.)

These beautiful French girlfriends have made me learn so much over the years – simply because I wanted to be just like them. Now if the puddings were poshly presented as individual minis on large, look-at-me plates and surrounded by zigzags of sticky toffee sauce, then it’s definitely accepted: we’re in chic-land.

My French parents-in-law returned from the UK recently and ever since, even they are hooked on “steecky tofffeee puddeeng”, like some of our French friends. In the UK we all fond of our sticky toffee pudding.  So much, that mention the initials, STP, and most people know what you’re talking about.  With Granny and Grandpa, we soon realised that my kids had already sussed our ‘secret code’. “Are they allowed some STP, Mummy?” Before even answering, my kids would promptly jump up and down, chanting: STP, STP, STP, pleeeeease! So much for me being the French Police (yes, that’s my nickname back in Scotland, would you believe it?)

Sticky Toffee Pudding is so popular that it tends to be on most British restaurant dessert menus. As the book was originally aimed at British readers, I couldn’t resist making sticky toffee pudding macarons (see p.86), plus I added a sticky toffee giant macaron dessert (p.118) which is just as wicked as the original puddings but as they’re macarons, they are much lighter in calories and completely GLUTEN FREE.

The French (et al ;-)) adore salted caramel sauce.  This darker toffee sauce is just so quick to make and extra sticky – ideal for dribbling over waffles and pancakes, but also handy for jazzing up desserts such as chocolate fudge cake, brownies, ice-cream (see p.125 of the book) and the giant sticky toffee macaron puddings.

For Christmas, I saw in Delicious Magazine last year that you could make a Cranberry version (their recipe included Brandy, so you could replace the rum with it.) Just add 100g of cranberries to the sauce and hey toffee, you’ve made a festive version to jazz up your puddings.

Update: I also just discovered that my friend, Carolyn of All Day I Dream about Food made special gluten-free, low-carb Sticky Toffee Puddings for a guest post over at Cara’s Cravings. Worth checking out for anyone who is looking for a sugar-free version.

Sticky Toffee Sauce

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

150ml double cream
85g dark muscovado sugar
100g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup (or corn syrup)
2 tbsp dark rum

  1. Put the cream, sugar and butter into a saucepan, stir and bring to the boil.  Cook for 3 minutes, then stir in the syrup and rum.
  2. Cook for a further minute, until the sauce is smooth and thickened.
  3. Set aside until needed and warm before serving.

Licking the spoon is acceptable but I strongly urge you to resist temptation of licking the plate (at the table, anyway.) I’m sure you agree that is definitely not in chic-land.

Don’t forget the International Giveaway of Mad About Macarons over at The Three Little Piglets.
Today is the last day for entries so hurry over now!

Basil & Lime Pesto: Quick and Saucy

Could you get me some basil, please? Antoine came back from the market with not just a few leaves but two huge plants of my favourite herb. There was only one thing for it; while it was so fragrant and fresh, I needed something that was quick to make: PESTO and pronto!

 

Only one problem: as I was finishing up stocks in the fridge before going on holiday, I had run out of fresh parmesan (and also the traditional pecorino) cheese.  So, the cheese was simply replaced with more toasted nuts and the juice of a lime.  Hey pesto, this could be adapted to add to all sorts of sauces at the last minute. It’s a great flavour enhancer to add to all kinds of dishes – even Thai rice noodles.  Adapt it to your own taste, using cashews or walnuts instead of pine nuts; add a red or green chili for some heat; use coriander instead of basil…

What’s more, the sauce freezes well.  As it’s oily, it won’t be a complete solid mass when frozen so you can use the amount needed without having to defrost a whole jar.

Hey pesto!

Basil and Lime Pesto

For 2 jam jars

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

2 basil plants, leaves only
2 garlic cloves, peeled and inside core removed
60g toasted pine nuts (or cashew)
1 untreated lime, zest and juice
140ml olive oil
seasoning

Throw all the ingredients in a blender, adding the olive oil gradually while mixing.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Creamy Lemon, Prawn and Asparagus Spaghetti

This has to be one of my favourite pronto pasta dishes after home-made pesto.  It’s “fast food”, easy, scrumptious and what’s more – it uses up egg yolks!  I mentioned this recipe briefly in the egg yolk pages in the book’s annex, but here it is in more detail.

I played about with a fish recipe for John Dory with Sorrel in my tattered and splattered Crème Fraîche Cookbook (Boutron/Ager) one night, since the photo had fresh noodles and called for egg yolks and lemon.  And since I only had prawns to hand and some fresh asparagus, this just evolved.

Vegetarians can omit the prawns and have a lovely lemony cream sauce with the asparagus.  I’m using asparagus, as it’s the end of its season here, but you can omit this and toss in fresh or frozen peas instead. It’s as simple as that.

My sincere excuses to my Italian friends for this photo.  As you can see, I do love pasta with my parmesan. Parmesan isn’t normally served with seafood pasta dishes, but I personally adore it.  Each time I sprinkle it on, my Corsican Mother-in-Law reminds me. Constantly; with that disapproving half-eye cringe. But I still love it, even if my feet shuffle under the table.

prawn lemon and asparagus spaghetti

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 minutes

12 giant prawns
3 egg yolks
2 lemons, untreated
20 cl tub crème fraîche
50g freshly grated parmesan
1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme
bunch of green asparagus (optional)

1. Firstly, get some freshly cooked prawns and shell them.

2. Cook dried spaghetti in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes or until al dente.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the yolks, the juice and zest from the lemons, crème fraîche (or cream if you’re feeling decadently creamy), the parmesan and herbs, then season.

Mix lemon zest/juice, yolks, cream and parmesan

4. If using, break the stems off the asparagus (where they break naturally, about quarter up from the bottom) and cook them for about 5 minutes until al dente in boiling salted water.

5. Drain the pasta and in the same pasta pan, add in the sauce and toss the pasta in it.  Add the prawns, asparagus and decorate with extra fresh herbs such as lemon thyme or chives.

Serve pronto with a chilled glass of Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay.

Here I omitted the prawns and tossed in some roasted chicken leftovers…

Creamy lemon spaghetti with asparagus, lemon thyme & chicken

Et voilà. Keep the egg whites for a batch of macarons!

A huge thank you to my friend, Manu, from Manu’s Menu: she has been very generous in passing on a Versatile Blogger Award, plus others.  It means so much coming from Manu, as I’m always in awe of her fabulous Italian recipes:  her detailed step-by-step guides make it possible for us all to recreate her perfect dishes in our own kitchens.  Merci, Manu!  Congratulations to you, on winning the May Recipe Challenge at Food Frenzy with your Macarons with White Chocolate and Mint Ganache!  They are amazing. 🙂

Guest Recipe: Caesar Salad Dressing with Croutons

Fancy a change of scene?  Well, this week we’re heading into the country.  We’re dropping in on my friend, Brandie, in Southwest Virginia, for a recipe to help us use up our egg yolks. Imagine the scene near the Appalachian mountains: it’s like a setting for a movie!

When I first discovered Brandie’s blog a few weeks’ ago, The Country Cook, I was instantly made welcome with her down-to-earth style of recipes and wonderful sense of humour.  Since then, her warmth and charm continue to ooze out of her blog; you get the feeling you live just next door and are dropping in to say hello, exchanging recipes, tips and discussing kids and life in general.

If you don’t know Brandie already, you soon will.  Don’t you just feel from her dazzling smile that you know her already?  Voici la belle Brandie – here she is, my friends!

Brandie, The Country Cook

First, let me say thank you to Jill for inviting me here today. Getting invited to do a guest recipe post on Jill’s “Le Blog” is kinda like getting invited to an elegant dinner party. You immediately start thinking,

“What should I wear?”

“What sort of hostess gift should I bring?”

“I’m definitely going to have to shave my legs.”

“Please, please, please do not let me drop anything down the front of my dress.”

You get the point.

It was such an honor for me to be asked by Jill to showcase a recipe on her blog and I certainly did not want to disappoint her or her lovely readers.

Jill tasked me with coming up with a recipe that uses egg yolks (since so many are leftover from making her lovely macarons).

I mulled it over for a bit and decided to share a recipe that is one of my favorites – Ceasar Salad Dressing.

I just adore Caesar Salad with homemade croutons and sometimes with grilled chicken. Jill tells me this goes best with a glass of California Chardonnay – and I would have to agree.

If you’ve never attempted to make your own salad dressing, I implore you to try it now. The depth of flavor just cannot be captured in a bottle. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not above using the bottled stuff but sometimes I want to bring something special to the table and this really does the trick. Especially if the salad is going to be the main star of your meal.

This is a two-for-one special today. I’m also going to share a homemade crouton recipe. They are so easy to make and the great thing about homemade croutons is you won’t break a tooth on them like you do the prepackaged ones.

Caesar Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves (if your cloves are on the small side, use 3)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. granulated white sugar
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. Dijon Mustard
salt & pepper to taste (about ¼ to ½ tsp each)

Directions

In a food processor, finely process the garlic until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

How easy is this recipe?

Put dressing into a lidded container and pop it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to give the flavors time to blend together (trust me –this makes a big difference in taste).

Cook’s Notes: If you are squeamish about using a raw egg yolk in your dressing, I would suggest purchasing pasteurized eggs. However, if you are using very fresh eggs, you should have no problems with your egg yolks. Just crack it into a separate bowl first, to ensure the color and texture look normal for an egg.

Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

½ loaf of stale French bread, cubed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). In a medium bowl, add cubed bread.  Drizzle olive oil all over the cubes until lightly coated. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and a little garlic powder.

Place cubes on baking sheet and bake for about 10-14 minutes until lightly browned.

Thank you again to Jill for letting me share this recipe with y’all today. I really hope you enjoy it and I hope  you’ll come by and see me sometime over at The Country Cook.

Enjoy!

Brandie

Thanks so much, Brandie, for sharing such a tasty recipe. Shave your legs for doing the post….see what I mean, folks? She has you in stitches! I don’t know about you, but I’m making double portions since it’s one of my favourite salads.

Now that we’ve tasted that delicious dressing and crispy crrrroutons, I’ll continue sipping that glass of chilled Chardonnay and head on over to Brandie’s blog.  She’s continuing to cook up a storm in her kitchen, so check out more of her mouth-watering recipes at The Country Cook. Don’t forget to say cheers from me!

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Nettles are full of healthy nutrients.  So this Stinging Nettle Pesto is particularly high in iron, packed with other minerals and vitamins, plus it’s a great detox for the liver.

Nettles are best in the Spring.  Ideally, pick nettles that are quite high (you don’t want them “sprayed” by animals) and the younger leaves are best since the older, outer leaves can be quite bitter.  Never pick nettles from the side of the road, as they are in danger of being sprayed by herbicides.  It’s best to get them far into the forest, as nature intended. Check out my previous post about picking nettles in the forest.

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Like classic pesto, this nettle variation is handy to have in the fridge.  It can keep for 3-4 days (just keep topping it up with olive oil after use) and it freezes well, too.  Pesto is SO quick and easy to make, it’s a crying shame if you buy that mass market stuff sold in jars at the supermarket. Although – this nettle version does take a bit longer but it’s worth it.

stinging nettle pesto

 

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Ingredients

100g stinging nettle leaves, stalks removed
30 pine nuts, (or walnuts) toasted
2 cloves garlic, core removed
40g parmesan, freshly grated (reggiano, although grana padano will do)
1 tsp sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
200ml extra virgin olive oil

1.  Keep your gloves on at this point, as the nettles still have their sting!

Don’t forget the gloves!

2.  Remove all the leaves from the stalks then soak them in cold water for a few minutes.

3.  Still with gloves on, plunge the leaves into salted boiling water for 2 minutes.  The salt keeps the green colour bright.  Blanching the nettle leaves like this removes their sting.

4.  Strain the leaves and cool.  You could reserve the cooking water (for stock, soups etc.)

5.  Once cool, squeeze out any excess water and place in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients. Add the cheese at the end.

Toss the pesto into cooked pasta.  There is no need to heat the sauce.  That way you get all the beautiful flavours oodling their way between the noodles…

stinging nettle pesto

 

Garnish the dish with crispy nettle leaves which have been deep fried for 30 seconds in 150°C and left to drain off excess oil on kitchen paper.  That way you get Le Crunch and not a sting…

Enjoy with a glass of red Bordeaux, such as a Fronsac, a chilled fruity rosé or a white Vermentino.

Santé! To your good health!


Guest Recipe: Blueberry Curd

Blueberries are guarded like the crown jewels by my daughter.  When Julie was a toddler she called them black balls.  Not very poetic, I know, but since they are packed with anti-oxidants and many more healthy benefits eating plenty blueberries is to be encouraged, whatever you call them.

When Erin from BigFatBaker.com came up with a blueberry curd, it was time to rejoice.  She was just in time to add a touch of blue to my first batch of Royal Wedding inspired macarons in honour of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Big Day.  Stay tuned for Monday’s post with a Royal Macaron procession.

blueberry sapphire macarons

Will Kate say yes today?

 

I am delighted that Erin said yes and has returned to share her fruit curd recipes with us.  They use up your egg yolks, are gluten free and can be used to fill your fruity macarons – that’s if there’s much left after relishing it by the spoonful!  Let me hand you over to Erin now while I find my hat for a Royal Wedding Party.

Erin, BigFatBaker.com

Having a second opportunity to write a guest post for Jill is truly an honor. I am in love with her egg yolk section, and I can only imagine what recipes we will see in the future.

Speaking of recipes, have you checked out my pineapple curd recipe? And what about Manu’s recipe for Genovesi? Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I can’t wait until I have a chance to make that one for myself!

To continue on the egg yolk journey I made a delicious and thick organic blueberry curd. It is sweet, but balanced and I can only imagine how amazing it would taste sandwiched between some of Jill’s vanilla macarons.

Making this blueberry curd recipe is just as simple as any other curd recipe out there.

Blueberry Curd:

6 tbsp unsalted organic butter at room temperature

10-12 oz. organic blueberries

3 large egg yolks

¾ cup white sugar

pinch of salt

¼ cup water

First, defrost the frozen berries, or rinse fresh ones (if you are lucky enough to find them). In a small saucepan combine the water with the berries and cook down until the berries have burst, and there is a slightly syrupy liquid forming in the pan.

Go ahead and remove the pan from the heat, and smash the berries with a spoon. Strain the contents of your pan through a fine mesh strainer. Be sure to press on all the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Dispose of the remains in the strainer.

In the same saucepan whisk together the sugar and butter. Slowly add in the egg yolks and mix until fully combined. Mix in the blueberry juice and salt.

Set the pan over low heat, and gradually increase the temperature of the mixture while stirring frequently. Gradually, over the next 5-7 minutes, increase the heat to medium while constantly stirring. At this point the mixture should be starting to thicken up.

Cook without boiling for 5-7 more minutes, or until the mixture has reached 170ºF. Do not forget to stir constantly!

Remove the pan from the heat and stir for 5 more minutes, and allow the mixture to cool slightly (about 5-10 minutes). Once it has cooled, pour into a pint sized jar for storage.

This curd turns out to be fairly thick compared to a traditional lemon or lime curd. I recommend allowing the curd to sit out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before trying to spread on something soft like bread or macarons.

But, there are many ways to enjoy this delicious curd. One of my new favorites is a peanut butter and blueberry curd sandwich, yum!

The curd will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

A huge thanks to Erin for sharing this with us to further our repertoire of egg yolk recipes.  Don’t forget to pop by BigFatBaker.com and say hello to Erin from me and check out many more wonderful organic recipes.