Week Twenty Three

This week’s recipes have been a family collaboration. At the weekend I had a Zoom dinner party with my sister, you may remember that I did my first Zoom dinner party, following the last lockdown, back in July, and was surprised at how successful and enjoyable it had been. So, my sister and I thought that we would have another one during this second lockdown. We once again decided on a menu which would be easy to prepare beforehand and one which would allow us to synchronise the cooking times during our ‘Zoom reunion’. This time we chose to cook my favourite Shepherd’s Pie, a Delia Smith recipe which is topped with leeks and cheese, making it that extra bit special. For dessert we both made the same delicious Chocolate Almond Torte served with strawberries and a dollop of cream. We also shared a cheeky cocktail, an Amaretto Sour, a simple cocktail recipe which I found online.

This week, I am sharing these recipes, plus, in keeping with the ‘family collaboration’, I am also sharing a recipe which my sister has been cooking for years and one which she suggested that I try and test for Menu Mistress – consequently I have discovered a winning recipe, ‘Salmon with Chilli Ginger Sauce’… thank you, Michelle, for the tip! In fact that reminds me, to remind all of you out there, that if you have a favourite recipe please share it with me…you can message me privately through the link on my Contact Page, I just need to know its name and author, and I will search it out!

Anyway, have a great week with these family recipes!…

Menu One

‘My Favourite’ Shepherds Pie (Serves 4)

If you have grown up in the British Isles there is no doubt that you have eaten numerous variations of this traditional dish. Shepherds pie is the perfect winter comfort food, and this recipe by Delia Smith is my all time favourite, the addition of the cheese and leeks, slightly caramelised on top of the mashed potato, takes the dish to a higher level!…Serve simply with peas.

450g minced lamb

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

75g swede, peeled and chopped

75g carrot, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

1 tablespoon plain flour (gluten free if required)

275ml lamb stock

1 tablespoon tomato purée

Salt and black pepper

For the topping:

50g mature Cheddar, grated

2 medium leeks, cleaned and cut into 1cm slices

900g floury potatoes (such as Maris Piper or King Edward)

50g butter

Salt and black pepper

(You will need a buttered baking dish approx. 19cm square x 5cm deep)

  1. Gently heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onions, fry for 5 minutes until slightly browned. Add the chopped carrot and swede and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove all the vegetables to a plate.
  2. Now turn up the heat, and brown the meat, stirring to break it up.
  3. Add a good seasoning of salt and pepper, return the vegetables to the pan along with the cinnamon, thyme and parsley. Next stir in the flour and gradually add the lamb stock, stirring to incorporate. Finally stir in the tomato purée.
  4. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat to low, cook gently for about 30 minutes .
  5. While the meat is cooking, make the topping. Peel the potatoes and cut into even sized chunks, steam until they are completely tender.
  6. Drain the cooked potatoes and mash with the butter and some seasoning (you can use an electric hand whisk, on a low setting, to do this)
  7. When the meat is ready, spoon into a baking dish, level it out, then top, evenly, with the mashed potato. Sprinkle over the leek slices and finally with the cheese.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for about 25 minutes, until the top is crusty and golden.

Menu Two

Salmon with Chilli Ginger Sauce & Fried Swiss Chard (Serves 4)

This recipe is one which my sister recommended to me, she found it in a ‘Hairy Bikers’ cookbook some years ago. I must say that it is a fantastic recipe and it makes a great midweek treat as it is super easy; just remember to marinate the salmon for 30 minutes before cooking it. I like to serve it with Japanese Sticky Rice and Stir Fried Swiss (or Rainbow) Chard (recipe below).

4 salmon fillets, skin on (about120-150g each)

2 balls of stem ginger in syrup (and 2 tablespoons of the syrup)

3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly slices

3 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 orange, juiced (and the grated zest of ½ an orange)

½ large red chilli, thinly sliced

Black pepper

  1. Slice the ginger balls thinly, then slice these into matchsticks.
  2. Place the ginger ‘matchsticks’ in a bowl, with 2 tablespoons of the stem ginger syrup, garlic, chilli, soy sauce, orange zest and juice; mix well. Add the salmon fillets to the bowl and cover with marinade, seasoning with lots of black pepper. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Line a small baking tray with baking parchment. Remove the salmon from the marinade, wiping off any excess bits of marinade. Place them on the baking tray, skin side down. Season with more black pepper.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 12- 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets.
  5. While the salmon is cooking prepare the sauce. Place the marinade ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil, simmer for about 6 minutes until it has reduced and the garlic has softened – you want enough sauce to pour over the salmon but not swamp it!
  6. Remove the salmon from the oven, carefully lift them on to plates, lifting off the skin as you do so. Spoon over the hot sauce and serve with sticky Japanese rice and stir fried swiss (or rainbow) chard (recipe below).

Stir Fried Swiss (or Rainbow) Chard (Serves 4)

I must admit that I only started cooking this vegetable at home more recently; having enjoyed it in numerous restaurants over the years, I finally realised how very easy it is to cook!… I urge you try it!

1 bunch of fresh Swiss Chard

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, sliced

Pinch chilli flakes

¼ teaspoon whole coriander seeds

  1. First rinse out the leaves of the chard, cut away the stalks and cut these into 1inch pieces. Chop the leaves inch wide strips.
  2. Sauté the garlic, chilli and the coriander seeds in the olive oil for about 30 seconds, then add the swiss chard stalks, lower the heat and cover, cook for a bout 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped leaves and turn over in the hot oil, cover once again and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
  4. Taste to check it is cooked – it should be al dente (still have some bite), cook for a little longer if needed. Check the seasoning and serve straightaway.

Menu Three

Chocolate Almond Torte

This is a delicious chocolate cake and the best news is, is that it’s completely gluten free! It has a slightly chewy texture if served straight from the fridge, which I rather like, whilst at room temperature it has a more fudgy consistency – either way it is divine! You could omit the brandy, but I recommend you use it, as it does intensify the chocolate flavour.

200g dark chocolate (I use Lindt 70% cocoa plain chocolate)

200g unsalted butter, chilled and chopped

4 large eggs, separated

1½ tablespoons brandy (optional)

200g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

¼ teaspoon salt

Cocoa powder for dusting

Clotted cream or Crème Fraïche to serve (optional)

Strawberries or raspberries to serve (optional)

(You will need an 8 or 9 inch springform cake tin, buttered and the outside bottom and sides wrapped with foil to prevent leaking)

  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium heat proof bowl over a saucepan of bowling water (baine marie), making sure that the bottom does not have contact with the water, stir until melted. Set aside.
  2. Place the egg yolks and 100g of the sugar in a large bowl and whisk until pale and thick (about 1 minute), stir in the chocolate mixture, brandy, almonds and salt.
  3. Use an electric hand whisk to whisk the egg whites with the remaining 100g sugar until they form thick, shiny soft peaks.
  4. Using a spatula fold in one-third of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture, mix gently until well combined, then fold in the remaining egg whites in a further two additions.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing over the top. Bake in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 30-35minutes until an inserted skewer comes out with moist crumbs – the edges will be set but the middle will still be wobbly. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours until completely set.
  6. Before serving sift over cocoa powder, serve chilled or at room temperature, with clotted cream or crème fraiche (it is also good with strawberries or raspberries).
  7. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and also freezes well!!

Amaretto Sour (Serves 1)

An Amaretto Sour

I discovered this cocktail recently. Amaretto is one of my sister’s favourite liqueurs, so for our recent ‘Zoom’ meet up during lockdown, I thought it would be fun to ‘share’ an amaretto cocktail. I researched a few cocktails(!) and this Amaretto Sour was the winner! So here’s to you ‘Auntie Amaretto’!

(The egg white is optional it just gives the cocktail the extra ‘frothy top’ and will make it a little extra creamy – I must admit that I am quite happy to have it without but a true bartender would probably disagree!…

3 tablespoons Amaretto

1 tablespoon bourbon whisky

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 dashes angostura bitters

1 egg white (optional)

  1. Add the amaretto, bourbon, lemon juice, bitters and egg white (if using) to a cocktail shaker without ice. Shake for 15 seconds.
  2. Add the ice to the cocktail shaker. Shake again for 30 seconds.
  3. Serve in a chilled glass and enjoy!

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