Another delicious Skye Gyngell Autumn recipe. It’s lovely without the Gorgonzola if you’re not keen on a richer soup.  You can cheat and buy a yummy pear relish that works well!


1 medium cauliflower
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 smallish yellow onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lt chicken stock)
1 cup Gorgonzola cheese
100ml creme fraiche
parsley for garnish

Pickled pear relish

1 tablespoon currants
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 comice pears, unpeeled and finely diced
1 golden delicious apple, unpeeled and finely diced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar (I think the sharper cider vinegar works better here)
2 tablespoons castor (superfine) sugar  (I used regular sugar)
1 cinnamon stick
4 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper, if desired

For the relish –

Soak the currants and dried cranberries in a small amount of warm water to plump them up and soften them.

Saute the fruit in the butter until it is soft which will be about five minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar, dried cranberries, currants, cinnamon, and thyme to the fruit and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.

Taste for seasoning and add the optional salt and pepper if desired.

For the soup –

Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and break it into small florets (don’t bother to remove the stalk – it only adds to the flavor). Set aside. Melt the butter gently in a saucepan (large enough to hold all of your ingredients) over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat gently for 5 minutes or so until translucent.

Add the cauliflower, thyme and bay leaves. Season with little salt and pepper, to allow the flavours to adjust and find their feet. Pour in the stock, stir and bring to a simmer. Then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the cauliflower is very soft.

Crumble in the Gorgonzola and stir over a low heat until it has melted into the soup. Add the creme fraiche and stir to combine.

Pick out the bay leaves and thyme stalks, then blend the soup until really smooth.

Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Taste and add a little more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.

Ladle unto warm bowls, serve topped with chopped parsley and Pickled pear relish.

Serves four.


Vanessa’s Eton Mess

March 15, 2011

A variation on an English summer classic…

4 egg whites (at room temperature)
pinch of salt
240g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

450ml milk
150ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split lenghways
120g caster sugar
6 egg yolks

250g raspberries

for the meringues –
Preheat the oven to 150C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and add the salt. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites slowly at irst until they break down and brigin to froth. Increase the spped and beat until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating all the while. Finally beat in the vanilla. The mixture should be stiff and glossy. Place generous spoonfuls on the baking tray, spacing apart to allow room for them to expand. Place in the oven and immediately turn the setting down to 120C. Cook for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the meringues to cool completely in the oven before removing. Store in an airtight container lined with greaseproof paper for up to 3 days.

for the creme anglaise –
Put the milk and cream in a heavy-based saucepan with the vanilla pod and place over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then imediately remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together in a bowl for a minute or two until the mixture is slightly paler in colour. Return the cream to a low heat and warm through. When it is just hot, pour on to the yolk mixture, stirring with a whisk as you do so.

Pour the custard ba into the pan and place back on the lowest possible heat. Using a wooden spoon and using a figure-of-eight motion, stir continuously until the custard thickens enough to cling to the back of the spoon. This  may take as long as 10 minutes. When you have the correct consistency, remove from the heat, strain through a fine sieve into a cold bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. Cover and place in the fridge to chill thoroughly.

When ready, pour the custard into serving glasses, add the raspberries and then crumble the meringues over the top.

From one of my favourite books, A Year in My Kitchen,  Petersham Nurseries’ Skye Gyngell’s recipe is the perfect salad for a lazy lunch where you can prepare the elements the day before, or morning of in my case! Don’t be put off by the different components, it’s worth the effort! Everything can be done ready before guests arrive and then assembled at the last minute. Cook the beef 10 minutes longer if you prefer medium rare.

Serves 4


800g piece fillet of beef
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
600g little new potatoes
300g fine green beans, topped but not tailed
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp EV olive oil
handful of mixed salad leaves
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

Slow roasted tomatoes
6 roma or plum tomatoes
10g/2 tsp caster sugar
10g/2 tsp sea salt
10g/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Roasted red onions
5 medium red onions, peeled
100g caster sugar
seal salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g balsamic vinegar
50ml extra virgin olive oil

Basil oil
2-3 bunches of basil
1 garlic clove, peeled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200ml extra virgin olive oil

Horseradish cream
200ml creme fraiche
3 tbsp freshly grated horseradish
1 tbs Dijon mustard

for the tomatoes –
Turn your oven to the lowest possible setting – probably 100C. Halve the tomatoes lengthways and lay them, cut side up, in a single layer on a large baking tray. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt and pepper, then sprinkle all over the cut surface of the tomatoes. Roast, undisturbed, for 3-4 hours until they shrivel up. Remove and set aside.

for the red onions –
Preheat the oven to 180C. Slice the onions into pinwheels about 3mm thick, and spread out on a baking tray. Sprinkle with the sugar and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Pour over the balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mix together lightly with your hands. Roast for 30 minutes or so, turning them and basting halfway through cooking. The onions will be deep purple when ready.

for the basil oil – 
Pull the basil leaves from their stalks and put them into a food processor with the garlic and a good pinch each of salt and pepper. Process until the basil is finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly trickle in the extra virgin olive oil and continue to blend until you have a beautiful moss green puree. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour into a jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This basil oil will keep in a fridge for up to a week.

for the horseradish cream – 
Put the creme fraiche in a bowl and add the grated horseradish and  mustard. Stir to combine and season with salt.

for the salad –
Preheat the oven to 200C. Trim the meat of any sinew and fat, then season generously all over with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan over a high heat, then add 1 tbsp olive oil. When smoking, add the beef and sear to colour on all sides. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 12 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and seat aside to rest for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Bring another pan of  salted water to the boil and add the green beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and reresh in cold water, then pat dry with a clean cloth. Drain the potatoes as soon as they are cooked and cut in half lengthways.

Pu the warm potatoes in a bowl, season with a little salt and pepper and dress with the lemon zest, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Allow to cool, then add the salad leaves and green beans. Toss lightly and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Slice the beef into 5mm thick slices. Layer the beef slices and salad on serving plates, piling it high and adding 2 or 3 roasted tomato halves, some roasted red onions and a spoonful of horseradish cream to each plate. Finally, drizzle the basil oil over the top and serve!

The last gasp of summer – I couldn’t resist these zucchini flowers with beautiful baby zucchini attached at the market yesterday and they were delicious! Vary the filling to your taste – adding herbs, lemon zest or different soft cheeses. I serve these with slow roasted mini roma tomatoes, but a tomato salsa would also taste delicious.

Serves 2 as an entree


100g plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
sparkling water
4-6 zucchini flowers (preferably with baby zucchini attached)
100g goats chevre
1 tbsp capers
olive oil


For the tempura batter, mix the flour, baking powder and enough sparkling water to make a batter the consistency of single cream.

Rinse the zucchini flowers, pat dry and remove the stamen from inside the flower.

Mix the chevre, capers and a drizzle of olive oil. You just want to loosen the cheese slightly, not make it too wet.

Spoon a small amount of cheese mixture into each flower. You don’t want to over fill these as the cheese will ooze when frying, but enough to fill the petals so they can close without the cheese showing through. Twirl the tops of the petals to close shut.

In a fry pan, heat about 1 tbsp olive oil. Dip each flower in flour and then roll through the batter. Place in the heated oil in the pan and fry gently turning until each side is golden.

Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with roasted tomatoes or salsa.