Burger time!

With the Fourth of July recently behind us and the weather perfect for eating out of doors, this week it seems a burger recipe might be in order. Add to that the ultimate coleslaw and a fantastic watermelon slushie with a kick, and there’s little else needed for a great weekend. Read on and enjoy!

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First up, the only drink you’ll need all summer.

WATERMELON BALSAMIC COCKTAIL SLUSHIES

Ingredients (makes two cocktails):

  • 90ml vodka
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 30ml simple syrup (1 to 1, sugar to water)
  • 15ml balsamic vinegar
  • 310g watermelon cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 280g ice
  • Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish

Directions:

  • Start by cubing your watermelon.
  • Add to a container, cover, and place in the freezer for an hour to chill.
  • Add all the ingredients (except the mint) to the blender, cover, and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses, garnish with mint, and serve immediately.

Recipe reproduced with thanks from honestlyyum.com.

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Drum roll for the main event…
 

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The ultimate burger, from a real Texan who ought to know about this sort of thing.

Texas Tailgate Burger

 

Author Notes: In Texas we take football and tailgating PRETTY seriously. I developed this burger at the start of college football season a couple years ago as a way to combine some tailgate favorites: burgers, barbecue, and chips. You will need either a cold beer or a Texas tea to wash this bad boy down!

Makes 6 burgers

  • 900g ground chuck
  • 130g pickled jalapeños, chopped
  • 1teaspoon kosher/sea salt
  • 1teaspoon black pepper
  • 1teaspoon chili powder
  • 360ml barbecue sauce (either use your favourite, or use the recipe at the end of instructions)
  • 200g grated (smoked if possible) sharp cheddar cheese
  • 75g diced onion (white or red, your choice!)
  • onion hamburger buns
  • Barbecue-flavoured crisps (kettle style is best)
  • Sliced dill pickles (in English English, gherkins with dill)
  • Chopped iceberg lettuce (we are going for crunch, not vitamins, here!)
  1. Heat your barbecue/griddle to medium-high. Brush with oil to prevent sticking.
  2. To make the patties, combine the chuck, jalapeños, salt, pepper, and chili powder in a large bowl, handling it as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties to fit the bun size. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  3. Note: Here’s how I form my patties. Grab a softball-sized handful of meat and gently form it into a ball. Then, I sort of do a back and forth hand-to-hand motion for a few tosses (kind of like how you’d make a tortilla by hand), then I pat-pat-pat the meat into a flat disc while corralling the edges with my thumb to keep them smooth and uniform. Finally, make a small thumb-sized indentation in the middle of the patty. That way you get a nice patty without over-handling the meat. That is, if you don’t drop it.
  4. Prepare the barbecue cheese: Mix the barbecue sauce, cheese, and onions and set it aside. Do not refrigerate (you will be using it shortly and you don’t want it to be really cold).
  5. Place the patties on the grill rack and cook, turning once, until they’re cooked to your preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. In the last 3 minutes of grilling, carefully place equal amounts of the barbecue cheese on each patty. During the last 2 minutes of grilling, place the buns cut side-down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.
  6. To assemble the burgers, place an equal layer of barbecue kettle chips on each bottom bun. Add a cheese-covered patty on top, followed by a layer of pickles and an equal amount of lettuce. Add the bun tops and serve with an ice-cold beer or a big ol’ pitcher of tea.
  7. If you are so inclined, here’s my BBQ sauce recipe. Simply mix all of the ingredients together: 120ml ketchup; 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard; 2 to 3 dashes hot sauce (Louisiana style or Tabasco); 4 to 5 drops liquid smoke; 1 tablespoon chili powder; 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce; 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses.

Recipe reproduced with thanks from aargersi, via Food52.com.

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Finally, a good old Southern slaw to accompany your fantastic burgers. Enjoy!
 

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Creamy Buttermilk Coleslaw

Serves 4

Note: If you are planning to serve the coleslaw immediately, rinse the salted cabbage in a large bowl of ice water, drain it in a colander, pick out any ice cubes, then pat the cabbage dry before dressing.

Bridget note: The recipe says to salt the cabbage for 1-4 hours, but I’ve had better results when I err on the long side of that range.

1 pound/454g cabbage (about ½ medium head), red or green, shredded fine (6 cups)
table salt
1 medium carrot, shredded on box grater
240ml buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
½ teaspoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Toss shredded cabbage and 1 teaspoon salt in colander or large mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Let stand until cabbage wilts, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Rinse cabbage under cold running water. Press, but do not squeeze, to drain; pat dry with paper towels. Place wilted cabbage and carrot in large bowl.

2. Stir buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, shallot, parsley, vinegar, sugar, mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper together in small bowl. Pour dressing over cabbage and toss to combine; refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. (Coleslaw can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

 

Recipe reproduced with thanks from Cooks Illustrated via crumblycookie.net.

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Strawberries and spaghetti

Happy new month (almost)! With Wimbledon well underway it seems only fair to take a quick look at the noble strawberry. Enclosed are a couple of unusual recipes for the sunny little chaps which we urge you to try – strawberries and steak, anyone?

First off, though, it is with great excitement that we can give you a tip to make hulling the things a million times easier! Somewhere, a blessed genius noticed that it becomes instantly far neater aand less wasteful by simply pushing a drinking straw through the strawberry from underneath, which pushes the hull out on top – similar to coring an apple. There’s a picture on the right just in case, click to enlarge – you’re welcome!)

Right, on to serious business!

As confirmed foodies (surprise!) we scouted a couple of unusual but extremely worthwhile things to make with strawberries, to help you do justice to this glorious fruit and avoid the usual slide into the monotony of just serving them with cream (and the less overdone it is, the more lovely when you do have them together)!

First, a strawberry salsa from Southern Living, perfect, piquant and refreshing alongside grilled anything – seafood, antipasti or a good steak (they recommend catfish, isn’t that wonderful?). This salsa is also an essential part of the kit for surviving the current heatwave!

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170g red pepper jelly (recipe here if you can’t find it in the shops! You could also use a different tangy/spicy conserve as an alternative)
50g chopped fresh chives
50g chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon lime zest
60ml fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
200g chopped fresh strawberries
40g sweetened dried cranberries
1 small avocado, diced

Whisk together red pepper jelly, chives, cilantro, lime zest, fresh lime juice, and dried crushed red pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in strawberries and sweetened dried cranberries; cover and chill 1 hour. Stir in diced avocado just before serving. Serve with grilled or pan-fried meats, poultry, or seafood.

Reproduced with thanks from myrecipes.com via Southern Living.

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Next up, this totally unexpected but totally delicious strawberry spaghetti recipe straight from New York – if you do only one thing today, just try this and have your mind blown.

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Sfoglia’s Spaghetti with Strawberries
450g good-quality dried spaghetti (like Setaro)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
450g ripe strawberries, cleaned and halved
2 tablespoons good aged (eight-year-old) balsamic vinegar
225g San Marzano tomato purée
7 tablespoons reserved pasta water
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. (1) In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil and half of the strawberries over medium heat. Cook until the strawberries start to release juice. Add balsamic and reduce by half. (2) Add tomato purée, the rest of the strawberries, and the reserved pasta water, and reduce by half again until the sauce thickens. Season to taste. (3) Toss with spaghetti. Finish with olive oil and black pepper.

Reproduced with thanks from Sfoglia via NY Magazine.

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And finally, needing no introduction – a gloriously traditional recipe from the other side of the pond – strawberry shortcake.

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D.I.Y. Strawberry Shortcake

Biscuit
120g plain flour
40g white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (3 teaspoons or 12g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
115g butter
1 egg
240ml single cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Strawberries
700g strawberries
1 lemon, zest & juice
50g granulated or caster sugar

Cream
500ml whipping cream
60g powdered sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Heat oven to 205°C. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients for the biscuits together, then cut the butter in and work in with your fingers until it’s in pea-sized lumps. Beat the egg with the cream and vanilla and add. Work in just until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured countertop and cut into rounds. Bake for 10 minutes or until just barely golden.

Hull and chop the strawberries, and macerate for at least an hour with the lemon zest and sugar.

Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the sugar, vanilla and salt.

To serve, split each biscuit into two and layer with strawberries and cream.

Note – For a gorgeous alternative you could swap the lemon juice for balsamic vinegar when macerating the strawberries (the older the better) and add chopped mint and they will be delicious!

Recipe reproduced from The Kitchn with thanks.
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Enjoy the sunshine and the tennis!

Capital Cooking

Drink, anyone?

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The weather is glorious and it’s a Friday afternoon, so I think we can all agree you deserve a sit down and a drink. What better than this limonada de coco recipe to cool off and enjoy the summer afternoon?


Frozen Coconut Limeade [Limonada de Coco]

This drink is as tart as a good glass of lemonade and as refreshing as a slushie with the decadence of a milkshake. It’s barely sweet, simple as written and, I imagine, endlessly tweakable with whatever sounds good to you. I don’t think it would be unwelcome with mango or pineapple chunks blended in. I bet you could use canned cream of coconut (the sweet stuff) or sweetened condensed milk as a sweetener instead of sugar. You could add cinnamon or nutmeg on top, Caribbean-style. You could add white rum, grownup-style. You could make it sweeter, kid-style. But we had it just like this, and we’re going to do it again all summer.

Yield: 3 cups/720ml (divides into 4 smallish glasses)

2 1/2 cups crushed or small ice cubes
1 cup coconut milk, well-shaken if from a can
1/3 cup lime juice (from about 3 limes)
3 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar (more or less to taste)
Lime slices for garnish

Blend everything until it reaches your desired consistency — almost smooth, for a crunchier effect, or fully smooth, for a milkshake/creamier effect. Pour into glasses, garnish with lime and don’t forget to share.

Thanks for the recipe to Smitten Kitchen.


If you’re still a bit peckish despite the drinks, how about a baked goat’s cheese salad? Inspired by a star dish at Californian restaurant Chez Panisse, this should definitely be in everyone’s repertoire!


Alice Waters’ Baked Goat Cheese with Spring Lettuce Salad
Serves 4

12 ounces fresh, mild goat’s cheese (such as Haystack’s Boulder Chèvre)
Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme, chopped
Leaves from 1 small sprig rosemary, chopped
235ml extra-virgin olive oil
80g panko breadcrumbs
1/2 baguette loaf, cut into eight 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons walnut or extra-virgin olive oil
225g baby lettuces or salad mix, washed and dried
110g toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Shape the goat’s cheese into eight 1 inch-thick discs and put in a container just big enough to hold them in one layer. Sprinkle cheese with herbs and pour on olive oil. Cover and chill at least 12 hours and up to a week. One hour before baking, pop them in the freezer to firm up.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Remove cheese from marinade and roll all sides in panko, pressing gently so the crumbs adhere. Arrange on a large baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15 minutes, turning over halfway through. Add baguette slices for last 5 minutes of baking.

Whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper, and walnut oil. Put lettuces in a large bowl, drizzle with just enough dressing to coat, and toss gently and thoroughly.

Divide lettuces among 4 plates, sprinkle with walnuts, and to each plate add 2 goat-cheese disks and a baguette slice. Serve immediately.

Reproduced with thanks from the Kitchn.


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Fresh food for Earth Day 2015!

 

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Afternoon all, and happy Earth Day! To mark the occasion we present to you some recipes which are fresh, delicious and easy on the waistline and the planet. To start, citrus scallops, followed by stuffed peppers reinvented with quinoa and feta; finally, some incredible sweet potato brownies which you absolutely have to try. Enjoy, and if you know anyone who will like them please share!


Citrus Scallops

Lemon and lime add a boost of vitamin C to this super healthy seafood starter. Serve alongside whole-wheat couscous, quinoa or cauliflower rice.

Serves 4

1 lemon
1 lime
0.23 tsp. salt
0.23 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
1.25 lb. sea scallops
3 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 bag baby greens
0.25 c. fresh parsley leaves

From lemon, grate 1/4 teaspoon peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. From lime, grate 1/4 teaspoon peel and squeeze 1 tablespoon juice. Set juices aside. In small bowl, combine peels, salt, and pepper.
Place scallops on paper-towel-lined plate; pat dry. Sprinkle with citrus-peel mixture.
In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium 1 minute. Add scallops; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until opaque throughout, turning once. Remove from pan; cover.
To skillet, add 1 teaspoon oil and shallot; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in Dijon mustard and citrus juices, scraping up browned bits; cook 1 minute. Toss sauce with greens; place on plates. Top with scallops and chopped parsley, and serve with whole wheat couscous, quinoa or cauliflower rice.

Reproduced with thanks from Delish.

Hemsley & Hemsley’s Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Feta

Here we give the Seventies dinner party classic, the stuffed pepper, a makeover. For a more elegant dish we’ve sliced Romano peppers lengthways and instead of rice or couscous we’ve stuffed them with quinoa – protein-rich seeds – for more nutritional oomph.

peppersweb
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Lay the peppers flat-side-down and slice in half lengthways – this makes a less wobbly base and makes them easier to fill.
  3. Roast cut-side-up on a baking tray for 12 minutes.
  4. Place the soaked and drained quinoa in a pan, cover with the broth or water and bring up to the boil. Simmer on a low heat for 12 minutes until the quinoa is tender.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the remainder of the ingredients. Combine them with the cooked quinoa and taste for seasoning – remember the feta will be salty.
  6. Preheat the grill.
  7. Stuff the pepper with the quinoa mix, top with crumbled feta and grill for 3-5 minutes until golden and bubbling. For a dairy-free version, substitute feta with pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds.
Recipe reproduced with thanks from Hemsley & Hemsley.

To finish, some brownies which are spectacularly good for you. They’re basically medicine.

Sweet potato brownies

Makes 10 brownies.

  1. 1.2 medium to large sweet potatoes (600g)
  2. 2/3 cup of ground almonds (80g)
  3. 1/2 a cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour (100g)
  4. 14 medjool dates
  5. 4 tablespoons of raw cacao
  6. 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  7. a pinch of salt

Start by pre-heating the oven to 180ºC, then peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into chunks and place into a steamer for about  twenty minutes, until they become really soft.

Once they are perfectly soft and beginning to fall apart remove them and add them to a food processor with the pitted dates – this will form one of the sweetest, creamiest, most delicious mixes ever!

Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl, before mixing in the sweet potato date combination. Stir well.

Place into a lined baking dish and cook for about twenty minutes, until you can pierce the brownie cake with a fork bringing it out dry. Remove the tray and allow it to cool for about ten minutes – this is really important as it needs this time to stick together! Remove the brownies from the tray, leaving it another few minutes before cutting them into squares – then dig in and enjoy!

Reproduced with thanks from Deliciously Ella.

Sunshine, antipasti and white wine

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Afternoon all!

In the spirit of this glorious weather we’ve brought you a sparklingly fresh couple of recipes and a wine suggestion to help you make the most of these blue skies. We also have some useful information in store – a guide to the best foods of the season, and an online wine school for those interested in learning a little (or a lot) more about the wines they’re drinking. It’s a fascinating read!

This beautiful weather has us looking forward to the season ahead – the endless opportunities for summery outdoor barbecues, garden parties and weddings… If you’re dreaming of putting on an unforgettable event this summer do contact us, and we’ll take care of every detail while you enjoy your party!

With this gorgeous weather we wanted to share a hearty summery salad with you all. Spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and spring onions are all in season right now; griddle the latter two until slightly blackened and toss with baby spinach and cherry tomatoes (avocado, feta and toasted pine nuts would also be lovely), with a lemon and olive oil dressing. In this weather some easy antipasti would also be gorgeous – griddle spring onions, little gem, peppers and artichoke hearts with some olive oil until slightly blackened. Griddle some bread alongside (so much better than toasting!), and guzzle the lot in the sun with a big glass of white wine.

To make a decent meal of this some of Jason Atherton’s decadent grilled sardines on toast – done the right way – would be gorgeous (add some blanched and buttered samphire to be uber seasonal), and we’ve provided the recipe below.

Of course, we’re all about the hidden benefits of foods – from the sophisticated sardines and salad you’ll get a generous dose of calming Omega-3s and assorted healthy fats, more iron than you can shake a stick at, plenty of lutein to keep the eyes in sparkling condition, immunity-boosting vitamin C and a hearty dose of sunshine. If this doesn’t perk you up nothing will!

We also have to tell you about the fantastic Triptych Wines online wine school which we’ve recently discovered and can’t keep a secret! If you fancy learning more about a different wine each week with abundant visual guides to help you navigate a sometimes daunting world, do have a look!

In season right now:

Lamb and wood pigeon are the meats of the season at the moment. On the fish front, it’s a perfect time to have lobster, cockles, crab, red mullet, prawns, whitebait, shrimp and sea trout. Windward bananas, kiwi fruit and rhubarb are lovely right now, as are chives, dill, sorrel, broccoli (green or purple sprouting), jersey royals, lettuces, samphire, spinach, spring onions, watercress and nettles.

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Jason Atherton’s Grilled sardines on toast

Serves 4

8 sardine fillets, butterflied (filleted and opened flat)
25g pack basil, leaves picked, stalks reserved
400g cherry tomatoes, about 35-40, halved
2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
4 tbsp sherry vinegar
120ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1½ lemons, in halves ready for squeezing
4 rashers of streaky bacon, left whole
120g tin sardines in tomato sauce
4 slices of thick country bread (ciabatta or sourdough)
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
Vegetable oil, for frying

1 Check the sardine fillets for bones, cover and refrigerate.  Set aside some of the basil leaves for garnish and put the rest into a bowl with half of the cherry tomatoes.

2 Add the onion, sherry vinegar, olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon to the tomatoes. Toss gently and season with salt. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3 Meanwhile, heat a little vegetable oil in a small wide pan and fry the bacon rashers until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper, trim to neaten if you like, and set aside.

4 Into the same pan, tip the tinned sardines in tomato sauce, basil stalks and remaining cherry tomatoes. Stir and let simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the juice of ½ lemon. Transfer to a small blender and purée until smooth, then press through a sieve into a bowl. Season.

5 Heat up a griddle or grill. Char-grill or toast the bread until golden brown, and scorched if using a griddle. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with the cut garlic clove.

6 Heat a good splash of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Pan-fry the sardine fillets, skin side down first, for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked. Season with a little salt and add a squeeze of lemon.

7 To serve, place the griddled bread on the plate and top with the puréed sardine mix, top with the tomato salad and fresh sardines and garnish with the bacon, remaining basil and lemon.

Reproduced with thanks from Jason Atherton for Waitrose.

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Enjoy your evening!

Capital Cooking

Happy Easter!

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Happy Easter one and all!

I know, I know, it’s been an age since you last heard from us, and I’m sorry! Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. Hope you missed us all, we did you!

We just wanted to check in, see everything’s all right, wish you a lovely and relaxing Easter and suggest a couple of crafty recipes to change up the normal routine of hot cross buns and rapidly-disappearing chocolate eggs.

First off, chocolate hot cross bun and butter pudding. A decadent twist on the traditional bread-based dessert, this one will be a fantastic way to use up any spare or stale hot cross buns, once they finally lose their appeal!

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Chocolate hot cross bun pudding

6 chocolate hot cross buns (or whichever variety are to hand!)
30g unsalted butter, softened
125g roughly chopped good-quality dark chocolate
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
600ml thin cream
600ml thickened cream, plus extra to serve (optional)
Zest of 1 orange
4 eggs
170g caster sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) brandy (optional)
Icing sugar, to dust
Select all ingredients

Split the hot cross buns and butter each half. Lay the bases in a 2-litre (8-cup) baking dish, sprinkle with the chopped dark chocolate, then place the bun tops on the bases.

Place the vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan with the creams and zest, and heat over low heat until just simmering. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs, sugar and brandy until just combined, then pour into the warm cream, stirring continuously. Strain the custard evenly over the buns and set the pudding aside for 30 minutes for the buns to soak up some of the custard. (The pudding can be prepared to this stage several hours in advance and refrigerated – just bring to room temperature before baking.)

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 170°C.

Place the pudding dish in a large roasting pan and pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the custard is set. Dust with icing sugar and serve with extra cream if desired.

Reproduced with thanks from www.taste.com/au; originally from ‘delicious.’ magazine.

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Next, toasted marzipan ice cream, for those occasions when you just have too many Simnel cakes.

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Toasted marzipan ice-cream

300g marzipan (this was my yield from an 8in cake)
350ml double cream
350ml milk
pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
50g caster sugar

Crumble the marzipan into roughly pea-sized pieces, spreading two thirds on a lightly oiled baking sheet and reserving the last third. Place the baking tray under a hot grill to toast the marzipan nuggets, letting them darken but being careful not to let them burn. Remove and allow to cool and harden slightly before transferring to a bowl and reserving for later.

In a saucepan, gently warm the cream, milk, salt, and remaining crumbed marzipan. Heat the mixture until it almost comes to the boil, stirring to prevent the marzipan sticking to the bottom, then remove and allow to infuse for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thickened and pale yellow. Returning to the pan, whisk the milk and cream to make sure all of the marzipan pieces have melted into the liquid, then gently reheat for a minute before pouring the warmed liquid over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until combined. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and return to a low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for between five and 10 minutes. When the custard has thickened, leave to cool with a piece of clingfilm against its surface to stop a skin from forming.

When cool, you can either freeze the ice-cream in an ice-cream maker, or in a plastic container in the freezer. If you do the latter, you should remove it from the freezer after an hour and process it again. Repeat this several times.

When the ice-cream has almost frozen, transfer to a tub or loaf tin, layering toasted marzipan nuggets with the ice-cream, and gently swirling the mix. Top with more toasted marzipan and return to the freezer. Serve alone, or with a spoonful of salted chocolate fudge sauce.

Reproduced with thanks from the Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog.

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Finally, for those who are feeling a bit nostalgic (it’s a rather Cath Kidston time of year after all), a simple and satisfying lardy cake recipe. There are several variants; this one contains currants and milk, which makes it a Northumberland version – or possibly a Wiltshire one, on account of the fruit and spices. In any case, it’s not a Hampshire lardy cake, which contains no fruit at all. Enjoy!

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Northumbriwiltshire Lardy cake

Serves 8

250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
150ml warm water
5g powdered dried yeast
5g salt
160g lard
50g sultanas
50g currants
50g chopped candied peel
50g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon (ideally freshly ground in a spice mill)

Greased, deep, 20cm square baking tin

Put the flour, water, yeast and salt into a bowl and mix to a soft dough. Melt 10g of the lard and incorporate it into the dough, then turn out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Put into a clean bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
In a separate bowl, toss the dried fruit and candied peel together with the sugar and cinnamon. Cut the rest of the lard into small dice. Tip the dough out on to a clean work surface and press all over with your fingertips to deflate. Roll out to a rectangle, about 1cm thick. Scatter over half of the dried fruit mixture and lard pieces, then roll up from a short side to enclose the filling.

Give the dough a quarter-turn and roll it out again to a rectangle, as before. Scatter over the remaining fruit and lard and roll up again. Now roll out the dough to a 20cm square and place in the prepared baking tin. Leave to rise for a further 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Bake the lardy cake for 30–40 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Leave to cool slightly in the tin for 10–15 minutes, then invert on to a wire rack to finish cooling. Placing the lardy cake upside down will allow the melted lard to be reabsorbed into the dough as it cools. Serve sliced, warm or cold.

Reproduced with thanks from The Telegraph Food and Drink; originally from River Cottage.

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We hope you have a go at a couple of the recipes; we’d love to see how they turn out! Have a very happy Easter.

Capital Cooking

Capital Cooking

capitalcooking.co.uk
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Food to ring in the Year of the Goat!

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Happy Chinese New Year everybody – xin nian kuai le! Today opens the Year of the Goat in the Chinese lunar calendar, and with it come a whole raft of celebrations.

New Year is a time when those living away from home return to their family (the largest annual human migration in the world!), and marks fifteen whole days of celebration among roughly a sixth of the world’s population – surely it’s only right we celebrate too? London claims to have the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside the country itself (although San Francisco think theirs is bigger), so if you’re around look out for the Chinese New Year Parade this Sunday, starting at 10 am from Duncannon Street, by Trafalgar Square.

Numerous foods are traditionally eaten at this time of year, often because of their auspicious associations – dumplings represent wealth, chicken is served whole to represent family unity, and shrimp are eaten for happiness, since the Cantonese for shrimp (ha) sounds like the word for laughter.

Not least, of course, the food is also delicious. We’ve collected a few recipes for your own celebrations, some fairly straightforward and others more a labour of love. Have a crack at some of them and why not let us know the results of your efforts – enjoy!

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Quick and simple! Steamed sea bass with pak choi, from BBC Good Food.

Ingredients:
small piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
splash of sherry (optional)
2 x 140g fillets sea bass (halibut, bream or even trout would substitute well)
2 heads pak choi, quartered

Method:
In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients, except the fish and the pak choi, together to make a soy mix. Line one tier of a two-tiered bamboo steamer loosely with foil. Lay the fish, skin side up, on the foil and spoon over the soy mix. Place the fish over simmering water and throw the pak choi into the second tier and cover it with a lid. Alternatively, add the pak choi to the fish layer after 2 mins of cooking – the closer the tier is to the steam, the hotter it is.
Leave everything to steam for 6-8 mins until the pak choi has wilted and the fish is cooked. Divide the greens between two plates, then carefully lift out the fish. Lift the foil up and drizzle the tasty juices back over the fish.

From BBC Good Food.

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Next up, traditional dumplings, also called potstickers, a wonderful snack any time of the year but eaten over New Year for wealth. It can’t hurt to try…

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These are a bit more fiddly, but so, so worth it!

Authentic Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi), from Eat Boutique:

Ingredients

1 Napa medium/large cabbage, chopped to yield approximately 10 cups (once you add 1/2 tablespoon salt to wilt cabbage, the yield will be approximately 4-1/2 cups)
1 pound lean minced pork
1 pound raw chopped shrimp (optional)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1-1/2 tablespoon light soya sauce
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Packages of store-bought Dumpling Wraps, or make your own.

Homemade Dumpling Wraps
Makes about 80 wraps

Ingredients:

600g flour
600ml lukewarm water
If the gods and the stars align, you will have just enough wrap and filling. If you don’t, then do what we do: make an omelette with the extra filling, or use the extra dough to make Chinese spring onion pancakes.

Finely hand chop the cabbage (or pulse in a food processor being careful not to over pulse and end up with puréed cabbage). Put in a colander set in the sink or a bowl, and mix in a 1/2 tablespoon of salt and let stand 10 minutes. This will draw out the juice from the cabbage. Squeeze out the excess liquid and add the cabbage to a large mixing bowl with rest of the filling ingredients. Mix with hands until well combined. Refrigerate this mixture while you make your dumpling wraps.

To make the dough, take a large bowl and add 600ml water to 600g flour. The ratio is always 1:2 by volume, but it’s better to have a slightly wetter dough that you can add flour to if you find it too sticky. Use chopsticks or a spatula to mix until you get a shaggy dough. Dump onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Let it rest 10 minutes.

Take a quarter of the dough (work with a bit at a time, and cover the rest with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out) and roll out to a big long snake shape, about an 1″ in diameter. Cut the dough into approximately 3/4″ thick pieces. Generously dust one piece with flour and flatten into little discs with the palm of your hand. Use a rolling pin, and with a back and forth motion, roll along outside edge, turning dough as you go. The idea is to have a thinner edge all around and thicker middle to support the filling. While this is time consuming, it’s well worth it if you want a hearty, chewy skin. If this rolling method is too challenging, just roll each piece flat throughout.

Don’t have the patience or time for all this? Don’t worry. Store-bought wraps are fine too. It all ends up in your stomach just the same, so do your best.

Brush the excess flour from the surface to be sealed and spread some filling on top. Get as much in as you comfortably can, but do not over fill so that it bulges out. You want a clean seal of the edges without pieces of meat filling in between. Especially important if you plan to boil the dumplings; the water will leak in and dilute the flavour.

Pinch the middle firmly together, and make a pleat towards the centre from each side across the top, making a crescent shaped dumpling. Make sure all edges are tight and well sealed all around. If you are using store-bought wraps, you will need to run a wet finger (have a small bowl of water handy) along half the edge to seal together. Fresh dough does not need water.

Place them on a floured tray and freeze. Once frozen, store in a large Ziploc bag. You can pan fry or boil from frozen, or cook it from fresh.

To fry, you need a large non-stick frying pan with lid for steaming. Drizzle some vegetable oil and arrange your dumplings like sardines, it’s okay that they touch. Over high heat, let it sizzle for a minute or two, then add water so the level is about one third the way up the side of the dumplings. Cover and let it steam on high heat.

Keep an eye on the pan so it doesn’t completely dry out and burn the bottom of its precious cargo. Depending on whether the dumplings were frozen or extra large (please don’t make them too humongous), you may need to add a little bit more water and keep steaming. It should be done when the dough on the top looks cooked. Take the lid off the pan, letting the rest of the water cook off and the bottoms of each dumpling crisp on the pan. Watch closely so they don’t burn! This takes only a few minutes. Check underneath with a spatula for golden brownness and remove immediately from heat.

Serve with bottom side up so that the skin stays crispy. Dip in your favorite dipping sauce or eat the traditional way with Chinese soy vinegar and garlic chili sauce. Caution: Watch out for the hot soup that squirts out on the first bite!

From Eat Boutique.

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For dessert, the almond-flavoured steamed New Year cake will ensure an auspicious year ahead. Although you might not have the required ingredients on hand, the only essential one is glutinous rice flour; all others can be substituted! It’s not all that difficult so treat yourself – pay a quick visit to an Asian supermarket and give it a try!

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Again, a little fiddly, but worth it for all the good luck you’ll get!

Traditional Chinese New Year cake:

Total Time: 20 mins, plus 3 hrs steaming time

Makes: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:
480ml water, plus more for steaming
1 (1-pound) package Chinese brown sugar (whatever sugar you have on hand can be substituted!)
1 pound sweet rice flour – about 360g
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for coating the pan
2 teaspoons almond extract
10 dried seedless Chinese red dates, also known as jujubes, for garnish (optional)
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

This traditional steamed Chinese New Year cake, known in Mandarin as nian gao (“higher year”), is flavored with almond extract and Chinese brown sugar. It’ll bring you good luck in the new year! After a few days, the chewy cake will harden up; Grandma Ruby, who gave us this recipe, dips hardened leftover slices into beaten egg and pan-fries them in vegetable oil to soften the inside and crisp up the outside.

Method:
1. Place the measured water and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat and stir occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 10 minutes. (Do not let it boil.) Remove from heat and let cool until warm to the touch.

2. Meanwhile, fill a 14-inch wok with about 1 1/2 inches of water and place a 12-inch bamboo steamer inside. (The water should not touch the bottom of the steamer.) If you don’t have a wok and a bamboo steamer, use a large frying pan and foil as described above in “Special equipment.” Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with vegetable oil; set aside.

3. Place the rice flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the sugar-water mixture, beating until smooth, about 2 minutes. If needed, stop to scrape down the sides of the mixer with a rubber spatula.

4. Add the measured oil and continue beating on low speed until the batter is smooth and the oil is incorporated, about 5 minutes. Add the almond extract and beat until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

5. Carefully place the pan in the bamboo steamer or on top of the foil coils. Cover the bamboo steamer with its lid or cover the wok or frying pan with a tightfitting lid or a sheet of aluminum foil. (Do not cover the cake pan directly with a lid or foil.) Steam until the cake is very firm to the touch, about 3 hours, checking every hour and replenishing the wok or pan with hot tap water as needed. While the cake is still warm, garnish with the dates (if using) and sesame seeds. Let cool on a rack to room temperature. Run a knife around the outside of the cake, then slip a thin spatula under the cake to lift it out. Serve it sesame seed side up.

NB: You can bake this if you don’t have a steamer! Heat the oven to 180°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown and the top is just set (a bubble may form, but it will flatten as the cake cools. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Wrap leftovers tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

What to buy: Chinese brown sugar is made from unrefined cane sugar. It can be found in the dried goods section of Asian markets and is sold in 1-pound bricks that separate into slabs.

Sweet rice flour, also known as glutinous rice flour or mochiko, is produced from sticky rice grains and is actually gluten-free. It’s available at Asian markets in the starch section. Regular rice flour, which is produced from long-grain rice, will not yield the same results.

Dried Chinese red dates, also known as jujubes, are olive-sized, sweet, and prunelike, and are used in both savoury and sweet dishes. They can be found in the dried goods section of Asian markets.

Special equipment: If you don’t have a large bamboo steamer, create your own steamer. Take two 24-inch-long pieces of aluminium foil and loosely roll and crumple each one widthwise into a 1-inch-thick piece. Form each piece into an “S” shape and place both in a large frying pan or a large straight-sided pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add an inch of water and bring it to a simmer. Proceed with the recipe, placing the cake pan on top of the foil coils rather than in a bamboo steamer.

From Chowhound.

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Have fun, and happy new year

Capital Cooking

capitalcooking.co.uk
020 8244 3039
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The menu for Valentine’s day!

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By now there’s scarcely a soul alive who isn’t well aware of the approach of Valentine’s Day. For anyone faced with cooking on this most Marmite of days, we are coming swiftly to your rescue with this fantastic menu to seduce anybody in your path. Some effort might be called for but it’ll be totally worth it.

For starters, some light, delectable Alaskan crab cakes; to follow, Rack of lamb with mustard and shallot sauce, and for a spectacular finish a chocolate fondant with sour cherry sorbet alongside. Read on for the recipes!

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Alaskan crab cakes

Ingredients:
500g of Alaska king crab, meat weight
2 tbsp of red curry paste
2 kaffir lime leaves, fresh
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of lime juice
2 tbsp of coriander, finely chopped
6 green beans, finely chopped
2 chillies, fresh, finely chopped
peanut oil, for deep frying
Cucumber dipping sauce

1 cucumber, deseeded and thinly sliced
95g of caster sugar
235ml of water
120ml of white wine vinegar
20g of ginger, grated
1 tsp of salt
2 red chillies, finely sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
coriander leaves

Method:
Begin by preparing the crab. Using your fingertips or a fork, shred the crab meat, ensuring that there is no shell or cartilage remaining. Add to a blender with the curry paste, lime leaves and juice, onions and fish sauce. Blitz to form a smooth paste.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the coriander, beans and chilli until combined. Using your hands, roll the mix into balls and place on a tray. Store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set.

For the dipping sauce, combine the sugar, water, ginger, vinegar and salt in a small saucepan. Stir over a low heat, not allowing the sauce to boil, until the sugar dissolves.

Place the cucumber in a bowl and pour over the dressing. Sprinkle in the chilli, onion and coriander, cover the bowl and set aside in the fridge until chilled.

Heat enough peanut oil in a large wok (or, alternatively, in a deep-sided frying pan) to submerge the balls, then deep-fry the crab cakes in batches until golden brown and cooked through – this should take 3-4 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper.

Serve the crab cakes alongside the cucumber dipping sauce and some wedges of lime (optional).

Reproduced with thanks from greatbritishchefs.com.

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Rack of lamb with mustard and shallot sauce

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1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
One 2 1/2-pound French trimmed rack of lamb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
60ml dry white wine
60ml chicken stock
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp chopped thyme

Preheat the oven to 205°. In a medium oven-safe frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Add the lamb to the pan, fat side down, and cook over moderately high heat until richly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the lamb fat side up and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the rack for about 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 52° for medium-rare. Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.
Discard the fat in the pan. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and the shallots to the frying pan and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the whole grain and Dijon mustards and the thyme. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Carve the lamb into chops and arrange on warmed plates. Spoon the sauce over the lamb and serve.

With thanks to foodandwine.com for the recipe.

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And to finish, a trustworthy staple from the undisputed queen of indulgent desserts – Nigella’s Chocolate Fondants, with a sour cherry sorbet alongside.

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These are the acceptable face of culinary cute: their intensity guarantees the triumph of chic over prettiness. And, what’s more, they’re easy to make. You can make the mixture up a few hours in advance and put it ready and waiting in the prepared tins in the fridge until you want to cook them, which must be at the moment you’re ready to eat them. You might think that preparing the tins sounds fiddly, but in fact the job is just demanding enough to make one feel uncharacteristically competent in a Blue Peter kind of a way, but not so much that any actual dexterity is required.

Ingredients:
50 grams soft unsalted butter (plus more for greasing)
350 grams best dark chocolate
150 grams caster sugar
4 large eggs (beaten with pinch of salt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50 grams plain flour (or italian 00)

Method:
You will need 6 individual pudding moulds or ramekins, buttered.
Unless you are making these up in advance, preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6/400ºF, putting in a baking sheet at the same time. Lay 3 of the moulds on a sheet of doubled baking parchment. Draw round them, remove, and then cut out the discs as marked. Press them all into the base of the tins.
Melt the chocolate and let it cool slightly. Cream together the butter and sugar, and gradually beat in the eggs and salt, then the vanilla. Now add the flour, and when all is smoothly combined scrape in the cooled chocolate, blending it to a smooth batter.
Divide the batter between the 6 moulds, quickly whip the baking sheet out of the oven, arrange the little tins on it and replace in the oven.
Cook for 10-12 minutes (the extra 2 minutes will be needed if the puddings are fridge-cold when you start) and as soon as you take them out of the oven, tip out these luscious babycakes onto small plates or shallow bowls.
Serve these with whipped double cream, the same unwhipped in a jug, creme fraiche, creme anglaise or ice cream.

Recipe courtesy of www.nigella.com

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Sour cherry lambic sorbet

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510g pitted cherries, sour if possible (e.g. Morello)
180ml sugar syrup
240ml cherry lambic beer (known as Kriek)

In a blender, puree the cherries until smooth. Stir in the Sugar Syrup and the cherry lambic beer. Pour the sorbet base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Pack the sour-cherry lambic sorbet into a plastic container. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the sorbet and close the container with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, 4 hours.

Thanks to foodandwine.com for the recipe.

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capitalcooking.co.uk
020 8244 3039
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Cheer up with some espresso banana bread!

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And so we come to Sunday afternoon, after a whirlwind week. Where does the time go?

On offer for today, something quick and wonderfully tasty. As a project, a dessert or something to cheer up this chilly afternoon – not to mention a tempting breakfast for Monday morning! – how about having a go at making this delicious espresso banana bread from Food 52?

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3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
1 large egg, at room temperature (the temp here is important because a cold egg will congeal the oil/butter)
2 tablespoons sour cream, or creme fraiche, or Greek yogurt
2 ounces shot of espresso (or absurdly strong coffee)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules
75g melted coconut oil (or melted, unsalted butter)
150g granulated sugar
192g all purpose flour (whole wheat pastry flour would also work well)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Heat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9X5-inch loaf pan. In a medium-large mixing bowl, stir the mashed bananas together with the egg, sour cream, espresso, and vanilla extract, until everything is well combined. Stir in the instant espresso granules (you can omit these if you want, but if you use only brewed espresso, the bread will have a very subtle coffee flavor — adding instant espresso as well pumps up the coffee flavor. I think it’s good both ways.) Next, stir in the melted oil/butter until it is completely incorporated. Follow this by stirring in the sugar until everything is well mixed. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Dump this mixture into the wet ingredients and stir just until there are no dry streaks left. The batter will still be lumpy. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the oven until a tester inserted into the loaf comes out clean, about one hour. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the loaf pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edge of the bread and turn it out of the pan. Finish cooling the bread on a cooling rack. I think the flavor of banana bread gets better if you let it sit for a while, but who can help themselves from having at least one piece while it’s still warm, right? But, it’ll be even better on day two! Accompanied by espresso! Because espresso is good.

With thanks to Food 52 for the recipe!

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Take care,

Capital Cooking

capitalcooking.co.uk
020 8244 3039
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The weekend wind-down

Happy Saturday everyone! Here’s to a restful, relaxing and restorative weekend. What better to celebrate a day or two off than a glass of wine? Perhaps, if you’re feeling baroque, accompanied by tapas and good company – or, if you’re hibernating after a long week, perhaps just a warm Camembert and a spoon. We don’t judge. This begs the question, though, of what to drink alongside for maximum satisfaction?

Stand by for the answer to your prayers. This, my friends, is a rather helpful chart depicting how best to pair wine and food for quick reference – of course, it could never be comprehensive, but it’s a great guide, especially if you’re in a hurry, out of ideas or confused!

Although the infographic is a useful quick reference, there’s plenty more information to be found in the accompanying article here and across Winefolly’s website for those who want to delve deeper.

Many thanks to Winefolly for their wonderful chart!

You’re welcome.

Love,

Capital Cooking