The Greedy Frog Has Been Interviewed!

The lovely people at Gourmandize UK have made yours truly Blogger of the Day!

I have to admit that I am very excited about this, so please go and check it out when you have a minute!

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Looking for Comfort Food? Quick, Over Here! Chicken, Butternut Squash and Feta Pie

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If I had my way, it would be Summer all year round. I love warm weather, summer dresses, ice cream and long evenings, barbecues, and brightly coloured nail polish on my toes. I wish I could banish cold weather, umbrellas,  wellies and especially snow shovels.

If I love Summer so much, what am I doing in Northern England, might you ask. Well, I shall let you know once I have worked out a plausible answer.

In the meantime, I shall offer you the first pie recipe of the season, because if I cannot change the weather, I can at least make it more bearable with a bit of comfort food.

You will need:

For the rough puff pastry:

500 g cold butter, diced

500 g flour

2 pinches salt

About 250 ml iced water

1 egg, beaten (for glazing)

For the filling:

1 small butternut squash, cubed

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped dried sage

2 chicken breasts, diced

200 g feta

Method:

Make the pastry. In a large bowl (or directly on a work surface), make a well with the flour, and add the butter and salt in the middle. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips, until the texture is grainy with the odd flake of butter. Add the iced water gradually, mixing with your hands as you go, until it forms a cohesive dough. Knead a few times, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 min.

Roll the pastry out into a rectangle about 40cm x 20cm. Fold the top third down towards you, then fold the bottom third up on top of the rest. Give it a quarter turn then repeat the rolling and folding. Wrap in cling film again, and refrigerate for 20 min.

Repeat the rolling and folding as before, and refrigerate for 20 min again, still wrapped in cling film. The pastry is now ready to use, and will happily wait in the fridge for a few days. You will need half of it for this recipe, the other half will freeze for up to a month.

Make the filling. In a large sauté pan, heat up 2 tbsp olive oil. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 1 min, add the sage and butternut squash, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook on a low heat for about 20 min or until tender (add a bit more water if it starts to stick). Season the mixture, then tip into a bowl and reserve.

In the same sauté pan, heat up the last of the oil, and gently fry the chicken until brown on all sides and cooked through (about 4 to 5 min). Mix with the cooked squash and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C/ fan 190⁰/ Gas 6.

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin, and to a size slightly larger than your dish (I use a 28 cm Ø round pie dish).

Crumble the feta over the bowl containing the filling, mix well, then tip into a large pie dish.

Wet the edge of the pie dish, cover with the rolled out pastry. Using a sharp knife, cut away the extra pastry along the edge of the dish. Press all around the rim with the prongs of a fork, then cut a small hole in the middle.

Brush all over with eggwash, then if you wish, thinly score the pastry with wavy lines made with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through.

Bake for about 20 min, or until nice and golden brown.

 

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Lemon and Raspberries Layer Cake

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I made this for Mr Greedy Frog’s birthday. We gathered a few friends and relatives and had a lovely, relaxed barbecue in our garden. This cake was the perfect conclusion to the meal: it is special enough to be a Birthday cake, yet it isn’t too fussy. And it is also very easy to make, which is always a bonus when you are entertaining. I made the sponge the night before, then made the filling and assembled the cake on the day. Easy, peasy!

You will need:

For the sponge:

225 g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

200 g caster sugar

200 g butter

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp milk

Zest 1 lemon

For the filling and topping:

400 g medium-fat soft cheese

Zest and juice 1 lemon

100 g icing sugar + 1 tbsp for dusting

4 tbsp lemon curd

200 g raspberries

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4. Line a deep, well-greased 18cm round tin.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into a large bowl and whisk until well combined (or use a stand mixer). Add the milk and gently stir it through.

Pour the batter into the tin, and bake for 50 to 60 min or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the tin for 10 min, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

When the cake has cooled down, make the filling. Beat the cream cheese, zest, juice and 100 g icing sugar until smooth. Reserve.

Cut the sponge into 3 layers of equal thickness. Spread the bottom layer with a third of the filling, top with the middle layer and more filling, then the top layer. Spread the remaining filling over the top of the cake, dollop the lemon curd all over, and finish with the raspberries. Dust with icing sugar.
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A Frog in Copenhagen

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I have recently come back from a surprise trip to Copenhagen (thank you Mr Greedy Frog!) and I totally and utterly fell in love with the city! We had a fantastic time strolling along the canals, and taking in the atmosphere, and obviously sampling a fair bit of the food!

Every restaurant and café we visited offered great food, and the service was friendly and efficient everywhere. Add to this the unbelievably relaxed feel of the city, and the beautiful surroundings… I never wanted to leave! Here is a quick summary of our trip with a few recommendations for those of you considering a visit to the Danish capital.

We stayed at Kong Arthur Hotel, which was lovely and very comfortable, and also well situated to explore the city on foot. On our first morning there, we had brunch at Kafe Klimt, a stone’s throw from the hotel. For me, a few picks from the brunch menu: bread, butter, jam, pastries, cinnamon rolls, pancakes with a chocolate sauce, and a fantastic parmesan soufflé, served with crispy Serrano ham. Mr Greedy Frog opted for a club sandwich, which turned out to be a towering creation composed of crispy bacon, grilled chicken, cheese, peppers, onions, tomatoes and more, held together with 3 slices of toasted seeded bread. And all of it was delicious!

Unable to walk for very long after such a feast, we decided on a canal cruise, which gave us a great introduction to the city. Then after a few drinks in some of the canal-side bars of Nyhavn, we had dinner at Det Lille Apotek. This restaurant has been in existence since 1720, and serves traditional Danish food in a décor that has barely changed over the last century.

Perfect chips at Det Lille Apotek

Perfect chips at Det Lille Apotek

I enjoyed my butter-fried, breaded plaice fillets, which were gorgeous and golden, and served with chips, and parsley sauce. The chips were a-ma-zing, the best I have eaten in a very, very long time. My husband went for the Apotek steak, topped with crispy bacon, and cheese. We then shared a traditional Apple dessert: a sweet apple compote with a crumble topping. The wine wasn’t bad either but to my shame I can’t remember what it was; I probably enjoyed it a bit too much, actually!

On the following day, we had a quick breakfast at a bakery in the indoor market off Linnesgade, then visited the Rundetårn (Round tower), which was designed so that King Christian IV could ascend it in a horse-drawn carriage.

Walking up the Rundetarn

Walking up the Rundetarn

Then we made a stop at the Nationalmuseet and visited, among other things, the Viking exhibition (the longship definitely deserves a visit!)

Lunch was a traditional Danish affair, with smørrebrød at Brooklyn Café. Smørrebrød consists of a slice of butterd bread (usually rye) lavishly topped with meat, fish, salad, etc. We sampled beef, horseradish and gherkins; and breaded plaice, fresh prawns and lemon. In the afternoon, the hotel spa beckoned and we relaxed in the sauna, steam room and hot tub.

My Smorrebrod

My Smorrebrod

For dinner, we opted for Peder Oxe, and spent the evening congratulating ourselves on our good judgement. Mr Greedy Frog went for Chateaubriand steak, served with a jacket potato, cherry tomatoes, and a lovely creamy sauce. The steak was unbelievably tender and perfectly cooked. I had wild roast duck, with wild mushrooms, roasted pumpkin, hazelnuts, and lovely small potatoes. It was so delicious, I would happily eat this meal over and over again for years to come. We followed this up with a cheese platter, and for dessert a very moreish hazelnut ice cream, served with ripe juicy plums, and buttery crisp waffles. Heaven!

Wild duck at Peder Oxe

Wild duck at Peder Oxe

Hazelnut ice cream

Hazelnut ice cream

On our last morning in Copenhagen, we were treated to a rather fierce storm, complete with torrential rain, thunder and lightning, so we wisely elected to stay at the hotel for breakfast. The buffet there was lovely and varied, with a great selection of teas, organic juices, fresh pastries, bread, and savoury choices.  A very tasty conclusion to a lovely trip!

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Raspberry and Rose Cheesecake Sandwich

raspberry and rose cheesecake sandwich

I created this cake for a competition I entered. I had in mind a cross between a cheesecake and a Victoria sandwich, and I must admit I am rather happy with the result!

It took a little bit of work to get the texture right for the filling, as it needs to be dense enough to support the sponge on top and keep its shape, while still being creamy and light.

I am no cake decorator, hence the simple topping of fresh fruit with a dusting of icing sugar (almost anything looks fancier with icing sugar!).

I didn’t win the competition, by the way, and I realised that I am actually quite a bad sport: never mind the taking part, I really wanted to win! 🙂

You will need:

 For decorating:

About 150 g mixed raspberries and strawberries
Icing sugar
1 pink rose
1 egg white
2 tbsp granulated sugar

 

For the sponge:

4 eggs
225 g caster sugar
225 self-raising flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
225 g butter, at room temperature, diced
50 g raspberries

 

For the raspberry coulis:

50 g raspberries
2 tbsp icing sugar
3 tbsp rose water

 

For the cheesecake filling:

150 g double cream
50 g crème fraîche
250 g cream cheese
200 g cottage cheese
100 g caster sugar
30 ml rose water
8 g gelatine (leaves)

 

Method:

 The day before:

Gently peel the petals off the rose, rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper. Lightly wisk the egg white. Dip the petals in it one by one, shaking off any excess and arrange them on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar, and leave to dry for 24h.

 On the day; make the sponge.

Switch the oven on to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4. Grease and line 2 x 20 cm Ø sandwich tins.

Whisk the eggs, butter and sugar together until just combined, then fold in the flour and baking powder, being careful not to over mix. Finally, add the raspberries.

Divide the batter between the two prepared tins and bake for about 25 min, or until golden and springy in the middle, and the edges are coming away from the tin. Cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

 Make the coulis:

In a small pan, put the raspberries, icing sugar and rose water and bring to the boil over a low heat, lightly crushing the raspberries with a spoon. Leave to simmer for about 5 mins or until slightly reduced and syrupy. Leave to cool.

 Make the filling:

Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water.

Mix the double cream and crème fraîche and whisk to stiff peaks.

In another bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, cottage cheese, sugar and rose water.

Squeeze the softened gelatine to release excess water. In a small pan, boil 1 tbsp water, add the gelatine and stir to melt, then pour straight away into the cream cheese mix and stir through. Gently combine the cream cheese mix with the whipped cream.

Mix 1 tbsp of the filling into the raspberry coulis, then pour the coulis into the filling, stirring once or twice to get a marble effect.

 Assemble the cake:

Place one of the cakes on a serving plate, and top with big dollops of the filling; keep going until the filling is all used up. Use a palette knife to straighten the edges and flatten the top, but don’t worry about being too tidy at this stage. Refrigerate for about an hour, then top with the other sponge and use the palette knife to neaten the filling up a bit. Chill for another hour.

Just before serving, top the cake with the raspberries and strawberries, dot with the candied rose petals, and sprinkle with icing sugar.

 

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Saturday Night Pasta with Olives, Tomato and Chili

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Staying in this Saturday night? Lucky you: it is the perfect time to cook yourself some delicious, easy pasta, open a nice bottle of wine, and catch up on Ray Donovan or whatever else you are into at the moment. Don’t worry about the washing up, either: you only need 2 pans!

Have a lovely weekend!

You will need (for 2):

4 tbsp olive oil
2 anchovies in olive oil, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small red chili, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers in brine, drained
About 10-12 mixed green and black olives, halved
250 g cherry tomatoes
250 g wholewheat fusilli

salt, pepper

Method:

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil over a medium heat, and add the anchovies and chili. Cook for 2 min, stirring, then add the garlic and cherry tomatoes. Cook for about 8 min, then add the olives and capers and leave to cook until the pasta is ready. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan, tip the sauce into the pan and combine. Serve with grated Parmesan, if you like.

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Chocolate Charlotte

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I made this as a treat for Mr Greedy Frog and my father-in-law on Father’s day (which shows how long it took me to actually post this recipe!).

This recipe has been in my family for a long time; my grandmother used to make a bit of extra money by helping a local caterer with food preparation, and this is one of the recipes she learnt in this job. Her boss was renowned for her Chocolate Charlotte, and for every event she catered for, they would make a large number of these. This was in the days before food processors and other gadget went mainstream, so a strong arm was essential to cream all this butter and sugar!

I am taking what my grandmother would see as an easy way out: I use my beloved KitchenAid for this recipe; if you are doing it by hand, make sure you don’t cut corners during the creaming stage or the end result will be a bit grainy.

*Warning: This dessert contains raw eggs and a teeny bit of alcohol, so if you are pregnant you will need to bookmark it for later; if you are a teetotaller you can try using rosewater, or maybe coffee extract.

You will need (for 6 to 8 portions):

125 g butter
125 g caster sugar
125 g good quality dark chocolate
4 eggs
300g to 400g sponge fingers (depending on size)
4 tbsp dark rhum

Method:

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth.

Separate the eggs; keep the whites for later and add the yolks to the preparation.

Melt the chocolate then add to the bowl. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and add to the rest of the preparation.

In a shallow dish, mix the rhum with 4 tbsp water. Quickly dip the sponge fingers in the rhum, then use them to line your Charlotte tin (or a pudding basin). Tip in half the chocolate mixture.

Add another layer of sponge fingers, then the rest of the mixture.
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Finish with another layer of sponge fingers. Cover with a small plate slightly smaller than the tin, and press down firmly. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

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