Archive for the ‘Felicity Cloake’ Category

Pesto (Felicity Cloake)

July 23, 2018

Prep 20-25 min
Makes 1 small jar

2 tbsp pine nuts
1 pinch salt
250g fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove (optional)
25g parmesan
25g pecorino
300ml extra-virgin olive oil

1 Toast the nuts

Heat a frying pan on a medium flame, then toast the pine nuts, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and starting to colour. Pine nuts, especially the fat Italian kind, aren’t cheap, so many commercial pestos use cashews; pistachios or almonds also make decent substitutes. (Always taste pine nuts before use: they go rancid very quickly.) Tip out on to a plate and leave to cool completely.

2 Grate the cheese

Meanwhile, get everything else ready. Finely grate the cheese: parmesan and pecorino (I like a combination of the two: the former for its richness; the latter for its cleaner, saltier flavour) are the traditional choices in pesto’s Ligurian homeland, but many commercial pestos use cheaper grana padano; indeed, pretty much any very hard cheese will work.

3 Prep the basil

Pick the basil leaves until you have 250g: discard the stalks, because they discolour quickly and give an unpleasantly fibrous texture to the pesto. (This may seem extravagant, but pasta and pesto is still a pretty cheap meal, especially if you buy the basil in large bunches at a market or greengrocers, where it tends to be cheaper than the supermarket.)

4 Mortar v food processor

Choose your equipment: purists insist that pesto can be made only with a pestle and mortar, because the action is less violent than a food processor. There’s a surprising logic behind this – experiments show that more coarsely chopped basil retains more flavour – but you can still make great pesto in a machine, so long as you use it with care.

5 Start pounding (garlic optional)

Lightly crush the nuts with a pinch of salt, then gradually add the basil, pounding or pulsing just until you have a thick paste. Work as quickly as possible, so the basil retains its vibrant green colour, but be careful not to overwork it, especially if you’re using a food processor. You can also add a garlic clove, although I don’t.

6 Add the cheese and oil

Stir in the cheese, then gradually beat in the oil, keeping a little back for the top of the jar. Extra-virgin olive oil is the usual choice, but you need to exercise caution: some are so strongly peppery that they will overpower the basil, so taste before use. To keep costs down, mix with a neutral oil, as commercial manufacturers often do.

7 Leftovers

Pesto is best eaten fresh, but if you have any left over, spoon into a sterilised jar, then cover with olive oil to form a seal. It should keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, though always taste a little before adding it to anything. Alternatively, it freezes surprisingly well: ice-cube trays are a good receptacle for individual portions.

8 Traditional extras

To make classic Genovese pesto pasta, seek out trofie: these little twisted pasta pieces hold the sauce perfectly, but strozzapreti, linguine or any long pasta will also do. Boil in well-salted water and toss with the pesto, a handful of blanched green beans and some boiled, peeled and cubed waxy potatoes – a dash of pasta cooking water helps emulsify the sauce.

9 Variations

The word “pesto” comes from “pestare”, meaning to pound or crush, but what you choose to crush is up to you. Pesto alla Siciliana, or pesto rosso, is made with tomatoes, almonds and occasionally mint instead of basil; pesto alla Calabrese uses tomatoes, roast red peppers and ricotta. I often make a British version with wild garlic or parsley, walnuts and goat’s cheese.

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Perfect chocolate crispy cakes (Felicity Cloake)

October 9, 2017

(Makes about 25)
100g dark chocolate
75g milk chocolate
50g butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp golden syrup
135g puffed rice

Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Break the chocolate into roughly equally sized pieces and add to the bowl along with the butter. Melt, stirring occasionally to help it along.

Meanwhile, put the puffed rice in a large bowl and line a tin about 20cm square with foil.

Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the syrup and cocoa until you have a smooth mixture. Pour into the bowl of puffed rice and mix well, then spoon into the tin. Press down very firmly with the back of a spoon, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours until set. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container well out of easy reach.

Perfect Penne All’arrabbiata (Felicity Cloake)

October 9, 2017

Serves 2
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to finish
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
400g good tinned chopped tomatoes
200g penne
1/4 tsp red wine vinegar
Handful of basil leaves

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the chilli. When it begins to darken, stir in the garlic and cook just until it colours slightly, then add the tomatoes and a generous pinch of salt, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon.

Simmer for about 15 minutes while you cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until just al dente. The sauce should be thick by this time – if it looks too dry, add a splash of the pasta cooking water.

Stir in the vinegar and season to taste, then drain the pasta and stir into the sauce. Cook until the sauce coats each piece, then divide between bowls, drizzle over a little oil and tear over the basil leaves.

British Pancakes (Felicity Cloake)

January 12, 2016

Makes about 8

125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
225ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
Small knob of butter

1. Sift the flour in a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, and pour the egg and the yolk into it. Mix the milk with 2 tbsp water and then pour a little in with the egg and beat together.

2. Whisk the flour into the liquid ingredients, drawing it gradually into the middle until you have a smooth paste the consistency of double cream. Whisk the rest of the milk in until the batter is more like single cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
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3. Heat the butter in a frying pan on a medium-high heat – you only need enough fat to just grease the bottom of the pan. It should be hot enough that the batter sizzles when it hits it.

4. Spread a small ladleful of batter across the bottom of the pan, quickly swirling to coat. Tip any excess away. When it begins to set, loosen the edges with a thin spatula or palette knife, and when it begins to colour on the bottom, flip it over with the same instrument and cook for another 30 seconds. (If you’re feeling cocky, you can also toss the pancake after loosening it: grasp the handle firmly with both hands, then jerk the pan up and slightly towards you.)

5. Pancakes are best eaten as soon as possible, before they go rubbery, but if you’re cooking for a crowd, keep them separate until you’re ready to serve by layering them up between pieces of kitchen roll.

Why don’t we eat more pancakes in this country – and which recipes are good enough to change our minds? What are your favourite toppings, and do you have any top tips for foolproof flippi

Perfect Custard Tart (Felicity Cloake)

November 14, 2015

(serves 6-8)
For the pastry
225g plain flour
115g cold butter, grated
85g caster sugar
Fine salt
Nutmeg, to grate
3 egg yolks, beaten, plus 1 whole egg (for brushing)

For the custard
375g whipping cream
90g creamy milk
2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
60g caster sugar, or to taste

Rub together the flour and butter or whizz briefly in a food processor until you get coarse breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar, a good pinch of salt and a generous grating of nutmeg then add the beaten yolks, a little at a time, until the pastry begins to come together; you may not need them all. Form into a ball, flatten then wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.

Get the pastry out of the fridge to soften slightly while you grease a 21-23cm tart tin well. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface as thinly as possible and use to line the tin, being careful not to stretch it, and using a ball of excess pastry to ease it into the sides. Leave it overhanging the edges and prick the base with a fork. Put in the freezer for 45 minutes, or the fridge for 1.5 hours.

Heat the oven and a baking tray to 180C. Line the tart with foil and baking beans or rice, and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove the beans and foil, patch up any holes with excess pastry and bake for another 10 minutes, then brush with the beaten whole egg and bake for another 2 minutes. Set aside to cool completely and turn down the oven to 120, leaving the tray in.

Put the cream and milk in a heavy-based pan and bring slowly to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream mixture into the bowl, whisking continuously, then add more sugar to taste. Strain into a jug.

Put the tart shell into the oven and carefully pour the custard into it (this makes it less likely to spill). Grate nutmeg over the top and bake for about 35-45 minutes until there is just the faintest wobble in the middle when shaken. Allow to cool completely before trimming the sides of the pastry and cutting.

Perfect Tarte Au Citron (Felicity Cloake)

November 5, 2015

Perfect Tarte Au Citron (Felicity Cloake)

Perfect Steak and Ale Pie (Felicity Cloake)

November 5, 2015

Perfect Steak and Ale Pie (Felicity Cloake)

Perfect Potted Shrimp (Felicity Cloake)

November 5, 2015

Perfect Potted Shrimp (Felicity Cloake)

Perfect Tartare Sauuce (Felicity Cloake)

June 19, 2014

2 egg yolks
Generous pinch of salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
125ml sunflower or groundnut oil
125ml olive oil
2-3 tbsp pickling liquor from cornichons, to taste
1 heaped tbsp salted capers, rinsed and chopped
1 heaped tbsp cornichons, chopped
1 heaped tbsp chopped parsley
½ tbsp chopped chives

Mix the egg yolks, salt and mustard together in a food processor, or with electric beaters, or a whisk. Once well combined, very gradually drip in the oil, beating all the while, until you have mayonnaise – don’t be tempted to add it too fast, especially near the beginning, or it will curdle. It will be very thick at the end, but don’t worry, the pickling liquor will thin it down.

Stir in the pickling liquor, followed by the remaining ingredients. Taste and see if it needs seasoning, or indeed any extra pickle juice. Serve at room temperature.

Perfect Goulash (Felicity Cloake)

April 3, 2014

(serves 4)
600g shin of beef (or chuck steak if unavailable)
3 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp lard
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, cut into rounds
Juice of 1 lemon
150ml sour cream (optional)
Chives (optional)

Cut the beef into large chunks. Mix the paprika, flour, salt and caraway seeds together in a bowl then add the beef and toss to coat. Heat the oven to 140C/gas mark 1.

Melt the lard in a heavy-based casserole dish over a medium-high heat, and then brown the meat in batches, being very careful not to crowd the pan. Remove when golden and crusted, and set aside.

Scrape the bottom of the pan and add the onions and pepper, adding a little more fat if necessary. Cook until soft and starting to brown, then pick out the peppers and set aside. Stir the remaining flour and spice mixture into the onions and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Return the beef to the pan and add water just to cover. Scrape the bottom of the pan again, then put in the oven for 2.5 hours.

Stir the peppers and lemon juice into the goulash and cook for another half hour, or until the meat is very tender – you can remove the lid to let the sauce reduce if you like. Check the seasoning, then dollop the sour cream, if using, on top of the goulash and snip the chives over it all before serving with crushed boiled potatoes or egg noodles.