Republished due to several requests…I’ve made this easy Donna Hay  panna cotta recipe many times . Add some raspberries to the bottom of your glasses and sprinkle some muesli on top once set to make a Mother’s Day breakfast/brunch treat!

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon gelatine powder
2 tablespoons water
1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
1 cup (250ml) single cream
1/2 cup (80g) icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 tablespoon honey
1 handful raspberries

Place the gelatine and water in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the gelatine is absorbed.

Place the buttermilk, cream, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the gelatine and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until the gelatine is dissolved. [NB Don’t overheat as the mix will curdle]

Strain and allow to cool completely.

Place 1 teaspoon of honey in the bases of 4 x 1/2 cup-capacity (125ml) glasses. Pour over the cream mixture and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

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Incredibly easy these Masterchef cupcakes are light and fluffy. The orange flavour is subtle and delicate so even the children will like them!

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened and chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
Silver balls and Smarties (optional), to decorate

for the cream cheese icing –

125g unsalted butter, softened and chopped
250g cream cheese, softened and chopped
1 orange, zested
2 cups icing sugar, sifted

Method:

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 12 paper cases.

Using an electric mixer, beat flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, orange zest, eggs and milk on low speed until combined.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat for a further 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Divide batter among paper cases and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make cream cheese icing –

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cheese and orange zest until pale and doubled in volume, then, while beating, gradually add sugar.

If icing is a little soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm. Spread on icing; decorate with balls and Smarties.

A cross between a tart and a pie, another Susie Theodorou recipe. The lemon curd filling can be made the 2-3 days before and stored in the fridge until ready to use.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

for the filling –

finely grated rind and juice of 4 lemons
9 medium eggs
350g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
250ml (1 cup) double (thick) cream

for the pastry –

300g (2 3/4 cups) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
25g (2 tablspoons) vanilla sugar
2 small eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water

to finish –

1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons pine nuts
icing sugar to dust

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Start by making the filling. Put all the ingredients in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook for 1 hour, stirring frequently until thick. Remove the bowl from the pan and allow to cool. (Nb. you can strain the curd if a little lumpy or stringy)

For the pastry, sift the flour, and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter (or use a food processor) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar and vanilla sugar.  Mix the eggs with the water, then combine them with the dry ingredients until large clumps form. Bring the mixture together with your hand, to form a dough. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Press to a thick disc, cover with cling film, and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out two-thirds of the pastry and use to line a lightly greased 23cm fluted, loose-based tart tin 3.5cm deep. Spoon in and spread the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry and use to cover the filling, pressing the edges to seal.

Beat the egg yolk with the milk and brush over the pastry top. Sprinkle over the pine nuts. Bake for 40 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Dust with icing sugar and leave to cool completely for the filling to set.

Mango frozen yoghurt

April 10, 2011

Jamie’s dessert to follow the vegetarian lasagne. You can make this all year round using frozen mango cheeks. It’s delicious and so easy. Serve in champagne coupes for a more grown up dessert.

Ingredients:

1 x 500g bag of frozen mango chunks
2 tablespoons runny honey
1 lime
a few springs of fresh mint
250g natural yoghurt
6-8 small ice cream cones
good quality dark chocolate for grating over

Whiz the frozen mango chunks in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of honey, the juice of 1 lime, a good pinch of mint leaves and 250g of yoghurt. Once smooth, pop into the freezer until ready to serve. Divide between the mini cones or coupes and grate over a little chocolate.

Veg Lasagne

April 10, 2011

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is getting a workout at the moment and this lasagne is another winner. If you need some protein add crispy pancetta to the pea mixture. I used fresh ricotta instead of cottage cheese which worked beautifully. Serve with cherry tomatoes doused in balsamic vinegar or rocket salad.

NB the 30 minute version of this is cooked on the stove top and under the grill. If you’re not in a hurry you can cook in a conventional oven on 180 for approx 40-60 minutes.

Serves 4-6 (depending on how hungry!)

Ingredients:

a bunch of spring onions
1/2 a 30g tin of anchovies in oil
6 cloves of garlic
700g asparagus
500g frozen peas
300g frozen broad beans
a large bunch of fresh mint
300ml single cream
1 lemon
300ml organic vegetable stock
2 x 250g tubs of cottage cheese
500g of fresh lasagne sheets
Parmesan cheese
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme

Half-fill and boil the kettle. Put a large frying pan on a high heat. Turn the grill on to full whack.

Trim and finely slice the spring onions. Pour the oil from the tin of anchoves into the frying pan with half the tin of anchovies, add the spring onions, crush in 6 unpeeled cloves of garlic and toss well.

Trim the ends of the asparagus and finely slice the stems, leaving the tips whole. Set the tips aside and add the stems to the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a splash of boiled water. Keep stirring so nothing catches.

Add the peas and broad beans to the pan of asparagus and stir occasionally. Pick and roughly chop the mint leaves and add to the pan with the cream. Finely grate in the zest of 1/2 a lemon.

Roughly mash and squash everything in the pan, tasting and tweaking if necessary. Cover with stock and bring back to the boil. Add 1 tub of cottage cheese to the vegetable mixture. The consistency should be quite creamy and loose.

Put a large deep sturdy roasting tray (approx. 30 x 35cm) on a medium heat. Spoon in about a quarter of the veggie mixture to cover the bottom of the tray. Top with a layer of fresh lasagne sheets and a really good grating of Parmesan. Quickly repeat the layers til the vegetables run out, finishing with lasagne.

Mix a splash of water into the second tub of cottage cheese and spread it all over the top layer of lasagne. Toss the asparagus tips in the empty frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Tip on to the lasagne. Push everything down with the back of a spoon to help compact it, and finish with the thyme leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and a generous grating of Parmesan.

Turn the heat up under the tray until bubbling, then place under the grill on the middle shelf for 8 minutes or until golden and gorgeous.

Tomato and basil soup

April 3, 2011

An easy soup that’s full of flavour, helped along by roasting the tomatoes. This is from Jamie Oliver’s new book. Omit the chilli if making for children. I serve with country-style bread toasted and spread with goats cheese.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1kg cherry tomatoes on the vine, red and yellow if you can get them
4 large tomatoes
1 fresh red chilli
4 cloves garlic
2 small red onions
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
a small bunch of fresh bashil
a few dollops of creme fraiche, to serve

Turn the oven on to 220C. Put a large saucepan on a low heat.

Pull the tomatoes from the vines, but leave some of their green tops on. Quarter the larger tomatoes, then put all the tomatoes into a roasting tray. Drizzle over olive oil and season. Halve and deseed the red chilli and add to the tray. Crush in 4 peeled cloves of garlilc. Quickly toss everything, then put on the top shelf of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

Peel and roughly chop the onions and put them into the saucepan with a lug of olive oil and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat up to medium and leave to soften, stirring occasionally.

Stir 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into the onions and let it cook away and reduce down.

Take the tray of tomatoes out of the oven and add everything to the pan with the onions.

In two batches, pour the vegetables from the pan into a liquidizer. Add most of the basil leaves and whiz to a rustic consistency. Once finished, mix well, season to taste and top with a dollop of creme fraiche, a few basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

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.