Autumn Blog 2019
Friday 8th November 2019
On the afternoon of September 30th Malcolm and I left “Rainy Britain” to spend 2 wonderful weeks on the beautiful Greek island of Crete. Temperatures reached 28 degrees every day we were there, with blue skies meeting blue sea, enhancing the dramatic and picturesque scenery.
We stayed in two different hotels, the first, we have visited about five times now, set in the hills above the teen’s night clubbing capital of Crete, Malia! Nothing could be more different to the vibrant night life that is the “strip” in Malia. Set in pretty gardens with mango and orange trees, the royal Heights Resort and Spa is set in the hills high above Malia and is a true home from home as accommodation is offered in detached two story villas, each with a private garden and spacious accommodation, including a full kitchen, bathroom, plus a second small shower room.
Our second choice of hotel, just across a minor road from the long sandy beach, was a two and a half hour scenic drive to the East of the island in the medium size town of Sitia. For once we were delighted that we had booked half board as normally we prefer to venture out each evening to sample the wares at the local tavernas. However the well themed and delicious buffets changed nightly and did not disappoint once on the six nights we chose to eat there. Freshly cooked and tasty food was replenished frequently and always offered imaginative and delicious dishes. As well as Greek food such as lamb moussaka and lamb slow cooked in the oven with olives and Feta, we were also offered Italian, Chinese and Indian Buffet nights which actually presented a welcome change to the Taverna food which, though almost always delicious does tend to be a little samey.
Sitting on my sun lounger, one sunny morning, my mobile rang and I found myself speaking to the presenter of a TV channel named Spun gold TV. Kat was charming and explained that she was seeking a food consultant to work on a programme scheduled for November with Escoffier/ Downton Abbey type food!
For a week I was mega exited as I hoped they might choose me to be their “foodie” of choice. Sadly it was not to be and I learned that on this occasion they had decided to go with someone who had a little more experience in this field! However, I was extremely flattered to have been seriously considered and Kat has told me that she hopes to work with me on another project soon.
I thought I would share with you two of the recipes I developed for the project.
Summer Fruits and Port Wine Blancmange
8 gelatine leaves
350g fresh raspberries
350g frozen summer fruits, de-frosted overnight in fridge, then drained
300ml whole milk
150g caster sugar
2 level Tsps. Granular sweetener, I used truvia sweetener
40g ground almonds
1 Tsp. almond essence
450 ml. double cream
About 12 small strawberries to decorate
You will need 1 x1.4 litre ring or jelly mould, a medium size piping bag and a 9mm rose nozzle
- Soak gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water for 5-8 minutes.
- Using a food processor, blitz raspberries and summer fruits to a puree.
- Pass through a sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in the port.
- In a large size mixing bowl, mix cornflour to a smooth paste with a little of the milk. Stir in remaining milk with the sugar and sweetener.
- Pour in to into a large non-stick pan. Stir in the ground almonds.
- Stirring continuously, bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring frequently for 4 minutes, until thickened and smooth.
- Remove pan from the heat.
- Squeeze excess water from gelatine leaves and then add the sheets to the pan. Stir gently, until dissolved. Stir in the almond essence.
- Stir in the cream and the fruit puree. Mix well to combine and pour into the wetted jelly mould.
- Chill in fridge for at least 5 hours.
- When ready to serve, whip remaining cream in a mixing bowl, using an electric whisk, until thickened.
- Using a piping bag, fitted with a large rose pipe, pipe stars round top and base of blancmange.
- Decorate with the fresh strawberry haves and serve.
Bundt Chocolate Cake with Raspberries and Fresh Figs
Makes one 22cm cake, Serves: 10
You will need a bundt cake tin, 22cm. diameter.
5 large eggs
175 ml milk
150g dark muscavado sugar
250g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
2-3 drops chocolate essence, or use vanilla essence
225g SR flour
50g cocoa powder, sieved, plus extra for cake tin
1 Tsp. baking powder
50g dark chocolate, 70 % cocoa content, roughly chopped
200g frozen raspberries, de frosted in fridge overnight
75g icing sugar, sieved
Juice half lemon, approx.
3 fresh figs, quartered
- Pre-heat oven to 180C, 160C Fan, Gas 4.
- Grease the bundt tin with a little softened butter, then add 1 dessert spoon cocoa powder to the tin and rotate tin to coat.
- In a medium size mixing bowl, and using a hand held electric mixer, beat eggs and milk together. Set aside.
- In a second bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, ground almonds and baking powder. Mix gently.
- In a large mixing bowl, and using a hand held electric whisk, beat together the butter and sugar, until light and creamy. Gradually beat in the milk, alternating with table spoons full of the dry ingredients.
- Continue to beat until all the flour mixture and milk have been incorporated, and a soft cake batter results.
- Fold in the chopped chocolate and lastly fold in the defrosted raspberries, using a large metal spoon or spatula.
- Transfer cake mix into the prepared bundt tin and level surface.
- Bake for 50-55 mins. Until risen and surface is starting to crack. Test by inserting a skewer which must come out clean.
- Leave cake to cool for 10 mins, then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to become cold.
- To make the icing, put the sieved icing sugar into a bowl. Add sufficient lemon juice to form a stiffish icing, stirring continuously. Drizzle over top of cake, using a teaspoon. Top immediately with the quartered figs.
The first is a tasty fruit puree and cream blancmange with plenty of zingy flavour. The second recipe is a rich chocolate cake made with melted dark chocolate, ground almonds and raspberries, finished with lemon icing and decorated with fresh figs.
Both recipes are easy to make and each serves 8 people. They would make wonderful additions to Christmas Buffet table.