Tag Archives: easy

No Oven? No Problem – Make an Orange Charlotte!

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Hi there. It’s been a while, I know. Since I last posted here I have changed jobs twice, and I now have quite a long commute and a lot less time for blogging. I have also become a bit lazy and keep forgetting to take pictures as I cook. I have missed my blog though, and I am ready to revive it and start posting again ; probably not every week but hopefully regularly enough.
So here goes : the return of the Greedy Frog!

I was cooking a bit of a special lunch for our family last weekend . When planning the menu I decided on a Carbonnade à la Flamande (aka Belgian Ale and Beef stew) because it is delicious and can be made ahead and then just reheated in the oven (Nigella’s recipe in case you were wondering). This solved one problem,  namely how to serve a slow-cooked casserole for lunch without needing to get up at dawn to prepare it. It however created another problem: the carbonnade left no room in the oven for a baked dessert. This is an issue for me because baked desserts are by far my favourites, both to eat and to make so I haven’t got many recipes for no – bake options.

I also have an irrational aversion for fridge cheesecakes (it is a cheeseCAKE for crying out loud, it needs to be baked!!!) so this was really not an option. 

As I was leafing through cookbooks looking for inspiration, I remembered one of my Mum’s dinner-party staples from when I was a kid: the fabulous Orange Charlotte (yes I did grow up in the 80’s). It always looked stunning and drew a lot of oohs and aahs from the guests; and it tastes pretty good too. I remember thinking at the time that it was a rather decadent and terribly sophisticated dessert; nowadays I am not quite so awed by it anymore, but I still think it is rather special and a lovely centrepiece.   

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A word of warning: Us French people usually like to sneak quite a bit of alcohol in most recipes, and this one is no exception. Just remember that this Charlotte is not cooked (apart from the custard) so if you are catering for children or teetotallers make sure you omit the booze. Or put it in and just send the kids to bed early, your choice.

You will need (for an 18 cm Ø Charlotte mould):

3 oranges

500 ml milk

250 ml double cream

6 egg yolks (freeze the whites to make meringues another day)

220 g caster sugar

7 tbsp orange liqueur (optional, see intro. You can replace it with orange syrup)

1 tbsp. cognac (optional)

8 gelatine leaves (or enough to set 1 litre of liquids, check the packet instructions)

24/30 sponge fingers

Method:

Line the charlotte mould with cling film (if you can’t get hold of a charlotte mould, find a deep bowl or cake tin of the correct diameter with sides roughly the same height as your sponge fingers; a pudding basin works well too). Put your gelatine leaves to soak in a bowl of cold water.

Make the custard: Pour the milk into a large saucepan and grate the zest of 1 orange into it (reserve the orange to make the syrup). Bring to the boil then leave to cool a little. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 150 g of the sugar until pale. Add the milk gradually, whisking briskly (the milk should be warm rather than hot to avoid curdling the egg yolks). Pour the mix back into the saucepan and set on a low heat to thicken. This should take about 20 min, but make sure you stir constantly to stop it catching, and keep the heat low or the eggs will scramble. Patience is key here! When the custard coats the back of the spoon, take it off the heat. Drain the gelatine then add it to the custard, along with 2 tbsp. orange liqueur if using. Leave to cool.
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Meanwhile, make the syrup: Squeeze the juice of the reserved orange into a measuring jug; make it up to 200 ml with water, add 1 tbsp. sugar, and transfer to a small pan with the squeezed-out halves and simmer on a low heat until reduced and syrupy. Drain into a jug, pressing the skins well to get as much flavour into the syrup as possible.

In a large bowl, whisk the double cream to a stiff Chantilly. Add the cooled custard gradually, mixing delicately to avoid knocking the air out of the Chantilly.

In a shallow bowl, pour the orange syrup and add 3 tbsp. orange liqueur (if using). Quickly dip the sponge fingers into the syrup on both sides, and line the bottom and sides of the mould. Fill the mould with the custard / Chantilly mix almost to the top, and finish with another layer of sponge fingers dipped in syrup (you can break off bits of the sponge fingers to fill in any gaps).
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Refrigerate for at least 6 hrs or ideally overnight.

To decorate, peel the leftover oranges, separate into segments and remove all the peel and pith. If you have time, finely cut the peel and blanch it for a minute in boiling water with 2 tbsp of sugar mixed in. Drain.

To serve, simply invert the charlotte onto a serving plate, and arrange the orange segments around and on top of it, and the peel if using.

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Filed under Cakes, Desserts

The Best Strawberry Cheesecake

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This is the cheesecake recipe I turn to when time is in short supply but I still want to make something delicious for the following day.  I started making this at 8 pm tonight,  less than an hour later,  it was ready to come out of the oven!

You can vary the recipe depending on what is in season (or which tinned fruit is languishing at the back of your cupboard).  I used rosewater as a flavouring but natural vanilla extract or lemon zest would be lovely too.

You will need :

8 digestive biscuits
50g melted butter
600g cream cheese (I use 300g full-fat and 300g light)
2tbsp plain flour
175g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater
2 eggs +1 yolk
142 ml sour cream
400g strawberries
1 tbsp icing sugar

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4. Butter a 20 cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.

In a food processor,  crush the biscuits into fine crumbs. Mix thoroughly with the melted butter and press into the base of the tin with your palm. Bake for 5 min.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream cheese, flour, sugar, rosewater, eggs, egg yolk and sour cream until well mixed and fluffy.

Wash half the strawberries,  hull and cut into quarters.

Pour the mixture delicately over the biscuit base, then scatter the strawberries over the top and push them down slightly. 

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Bake for 40 min until set but still wobbly in the middle.

Cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar, then carefully ease out of the tin when cool and transfer to a serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Keep 3 or 4 strawberries to one side, and wash, hull and quarter the rest. Put in a small pan with the icing sugar and cook on a low heat for a few min until soft. Blend to a smooth purée.

Before serving, thinly slice the remaining strawberries, and arrange on each plate with a slice of cheesecake and a drizzle of strawberry purée.

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Filed under Bakes, Cakes, Desserts

Bring Some Excitement Into Your Life! Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Seed Bread

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If you are bored of your everyday bread, if the thought of yet another white sliced loaf makes you want to scream, if you are crying out for something to break the lunchtime sandwiches tedium… Then this is the bread for you.

Why should this be the answer to your problems, you may ask? Well, not only does it look lovely, with its rich golden colour dotted with tempting pumpkin seeds, but this bread also has the advantage of partnering equally well with sweet or savoury toppings. I am pointing this out because sadly it isn’t the case with a lot of other speciality breads (onion bread with jam, anyone? ) so it is perfect for busy households where the same loaf needs to be used for toast at breakfast and to make sandwiches to take to work.

Don’t like sweet potato? Or pumpkin seeds? No problem. This works equally well with the same amount of potato, pumpkin or squash, and you can use sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc.

You will also be pleased to know that this lovely bread is also rather good for you, with its vegetable goodness and healthy pumpkin seeds.

So, to sum up: this bread is good-looking, versatile, tasty, and healthy.

It will change your life.

Bake it.

You will need:

250 g sweet potato, cooked then mashed

1 x 7g sachet dried yeast

350 g strong white flour

110 g pumpkin seeds

10 g salt

1 tbsp. olive oil

250 ml warm water

Method:

In  a large bowl, mix the sweet potato, flour, yeast, salt, pumpkin seeds and olive oil. Gradually add the water to form a consistent dough (you may need a little bit more or less water), then knead for about 10 min until smooth and soft.wpid-20140209_140641.jpg

If using a mixer, knead with the dough hook for 5-10 min.

Shape the dough into a ball and leave to rest, covered, for 1 to 2 h or until well-risen.wpid-20140209_144329.jpg

Press down gently with your fingertips to deflate the dough, then either shape into a ball again on a floured baking sheet, or fill a lightly oiled 900 g loaf tin. Cover and leave to rise again for 30-45 min.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/ fan 200C/ gas 8. Bake the bread for 25-30 min until dark golden (the loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom).

Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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Filed under Bakes, Bread, Breakfast, Vegetarian

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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Filed under Mains, Pasta, Vegetables

Rhubarb and Orange Cake

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You will need:

500 g rhubarb
4 eggs
200 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest 1 orange (thinly sliced or grated)
160 g self-raising flour
30 g chopped almonds
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
30 g butter (for the tin)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220ºC /fan 200ºC /Gas 7.

Butter a 20 cm Ø  springform tin, then line the base with buttered greaseproof paper.

Trim and peel the rhubarb, then cut into 1 cm cubes.
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Find a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over one of your medium-sized saucepans.

Bring some water to simmering point in the pan. Break the eggs into the bowl and add the sugar and the vanilla. Place the bowl on top of the pan of simmering water, and beat with an electric whisk for a few minutes until light and foamy.
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Take off the heat.

Sift the flour over the mix in batches, mixing gently in between. Whisk to a smooth consistency, then stir through the orange zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and tip the rhubarb over it. Press gently down on the rhubarb cubes to help them sink. Scatter the almonds over the top, then the golden caster sugar.

Bake for 30 to 35 min.

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Paprika Chicken with Peas and Lardons

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Here is a nice, tasty and easy way to jazz up the classic trinity of chicken, peas and potatoes. A real crowd-pleaser, this dish is ideal for a relaxed meal with friends.

You will need (for 4 people):
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
4 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp rapeseed oil (or other cooking oil)
2 large onions
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp paprika
800 g potatoes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp tomato purée
A splash brandy (optional)
500 ml chicken stock

For the peas:
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 medium onion, chopped
200 g peas, fresh or frozen
80 g lardons
1 bay leaf
400 ml vegetable stock

Method:

Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized chunks. Peel the onions and cut into wedges. Peel the potatoes and cut in 2 or 3 depending on size.

In a large, heavy based pan or casserole, heat up half of the oil. Flour the chicken, then fry in batches until nicely coloured on all sides. Reserve on a plate covered with kitchen paper.

Warm up the rest of the oil in the same pan, add the onion wedges and the peeled garlic cloves and cook gently for about 2 min. Add the paprika, then the potatoes and stir well. Add the tomato purée, leave to cook for a minute, then add the vinegar and brandy.

Put the chicken back in, add the stock and bring to the boil. Cover, and leave to simmer for about 15 min, then take the lid off and simmer for a few more minutes until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. Check the seasoning, and adjust if necessary.

Meanwhile, make the peas:

In a saucepan, heat up the oil, and gently fry the lardons and onions. When the onions have softened a bit, add the peas and stir.

Add the vegetable stock, bay leaf, and a bit of black pepper. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 min. Using a fine sieve, drain any remaining stock out, and transfer to a warm serving dish.

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Filed under Mains, Meat dishes

White Chocolate and Orange Cookies

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I have made several versions of these cookies over the past few months, changing the type of chocolate used, adding different types of nuts etc., and they always come out tasting great. Always.

So, what is the secret, you might ask? What guarantees perfect cookies every time? The answer is actually pretty simple, although some of you might not like it. The secret to an amazing cookie is an equal ratio of butter and sugar, and the two combined should weigh more than the flour. In other words, sugar and fat taste great. It is hardly breaking news, but it still remains true!

 

You will need (for 20 cookies):

125 g caster sugar

125 g brown sugar

250 g butter, softened

2 pinches bicarbonate of soda

2 eggs

400 g plain flour

200 g good quality white chocolate, chopped

zest 1 orange, thinly cut

Method:

Mix the butter and sugars thoroughly, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well inbetween each addition.

Add the flour and bicard gradually, mixing well, then fold in the chocolate and zest. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 1h.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 190ºC/ gas 6. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, roll each into a log, and cut each log into 5 roughly equal slices. Shape each slice into a little ball, and arrange these balls onto the prepared trays, squashing them a little as you go.

Bake for 9-10 min until lightly golden on the edges and still soft in the centre. Cool on a wire rack.

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Filed under Bakes, Biscuits, Breakfast, Cakes, Desserts