Asparagus and Parmesan Fritters

This makes a very tasty starter or can be used as a supper dish accompanied by a mixed salad. You will need:

Light olive oil for frying;

Salt and pepper;

A bunch of asparagus (the thin spears work best);

4 eggs;

½ lemon;

75g freshly grated parmesan;

and 4 tablespoons chopped parsley with extra to use as garnish.

Remove the woody ends of the asparagus spears and cut off the heads (these can be used raw in your salad). Chop the spears us into small pieces. Put on a pan of salted water and when it is boiling add the chopped asparagus for 1 minute then pour into a colander and run under cold water to stop further cooking and drain.

In a bowl whisk the eggs, add in the lemon juice and season. Then mix in the grated parmesan, the drained asparagus and the parsley.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and carefully drop in a few spoonfulls of the mixture which you can then shape into fritters using the back of the spoon or a spatula. Cook over a medium heat until golden on both sides and drain on kitchen paper before serving. Add more oil to the pan with each new batch.

I serve 4 per person with plenty of salad and garnish with chopped parsley or chopped spring onions. With a light, crisp wine they are a great way to welcome in the Spring.

Creamy Vanilla Fudge

This is a smoother version of the recipe I referred to above. As it involves boiling sugar, an adult must be present to help.

You will need:

• 18 cm square tin and baking parchment to line it
• A large non-stick pan and a wooden spoon for stirring
• 125g salted butter (and extra for greasing the baking tin)
• 170g can of evaporated milk (Carnation is the best)
• 4 tablespoons of milk
• 450g Demerara sugar
• 1tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Begin by lining the baking tin. To do this, melt a 1cm cube of the extra butter and smear it onto the baking paper whilst it is lying flat on the counter. Then take the parchment and ease it into the baking tin so that it lines it. Don’t worry about any creases, they will make the fudge look even more interesting!

Next, cut the butter into small cubes and put into the pan with all the other ingredients.  Heat the pan over a low heat to melt the butter and sugar. You will have to stir the mixture constantly to combine the ingredients and check that the sugar has melted.

Increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring all the time. Lower the heat so that the mixture continues to bubble, but does not boil over and cook for 10 minutes, stirring all the time. This is where an adult must take over as boiling sugar is extremely hot and dangerous. 

Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then tip the mixture into the tin, smooth it out and allow to cool completely. 

Your fudge is now ready to be cut into squares and enjoyed!

If you want to experiment, you could add nuts, dried fruits or chocolate to the mixture when it is cooling down. 

Your fudge will keep for about 2 weeks, but it will have been eaten up long before then!

Colourful Coconut Squares

This is a simple way to make delicious sweets. No cooking required, just plenty of willpower to resist tasting the mixture!

You will need:

• A board or baking tray to rest the mixture on
• A large bowl to mix the ingredients in
• A rolling pin
• 200g condensed milk
• 250g icing sugar and exra for dusting
• 200g desiccated coconut
• Pink and/or green food colouring (optional)

Put the condensed milk and icing sugar into the bowl and mix together. Then work the coconut in. This is hard work because the mixture will now become very stiff so it is a good idea to use your hands rather than a spoon.

If you are going to colour some of the mixture, split it into 2 or 3 equal parts. Knead the pink food colour into one part and the green into another so that you have 3 mixtures: white, pink and green. (I only make white and pink cubes so I just divide the mixture into two parts). 

Dust the surface of your counter with icing sugar and shape each part into a rectangle and roll out with the rolling pin, constantly reshaping into a rectangle about 1.5cm thick. Repeat so that you will finish up with three rectangles, one in each colour.
 
Place on a board or baking tray and leave overnight to set.

Next day cut into squares and serve. You can keep the cubes in an airtight container for 4/5 weeks. 

If you want dual colour cubes, place the pink or green mixture over the white and combine with the rolling pin until the two sheets are about 2cm thick, then leave to cool and cut up.

Grilled Radicchio with Pear and Somerset Brie

Ingredients

• 1 Head of radicchio
• 1 Ripe pear
• 125G (4.5Oz) Somerset Brie thinly sliced

For the Dressing

• ½ Tablespoon of red wine vinegar
• ½ Teaspoon of dried oregano, or dried Greek rigani
• 1 ½ Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper

Preheat grill. Cut radicchio into quarters right through the stem end, so that each wedge holds together. Whisk the vinegar with the oregano, salt and pepper and gradually whisk in the oil.

Quarter and core the pear, then immediately turn in the dressing to prevent premature browning. Turn the radicchio quarters in the dressing too.

Arrange the pears and radicchio in a heatproof dish and pour over the last of the dressing. Slide under the hot grill and grill for @ 5-6 minutes, turning the pieces once or twice, until browned outside.

Remove and lay the brie over the radicchio and the pear, return to the grill for a few minutes until the cheese is oozing and runny. Eat while its hot and sizzling.

P.S.
This is my favourite kind of cooking, easy, quick and delicious. The recipe comes from my favourite cook book; “Vegetables” by Sophie Grigson.

Red Beans and Ricely Yours

This is how the legendary Louis Armstrong, signed off all his correspondence. Born and raised in New Orleans, soul food was on offer everywhere. From oyster po boys to chicken and sausage gumbo ya ya and a whole lot more. There’s crawfish, shrimp, red fish and many other delights to be sampled as well as quail and Cornish hens. However here’s Satchmo’s take on the most famous Creole dish of all …

“I thought her Creole gumbo was the finest in the world. As for her red beans and rice, well. I don’t have to say anything about that.
It is my birth mark.”

So what are the origins of this humble dish?
In most cities Monday is known as the dreaded day when the weekend has ended. In New Orleans, locals look forward to one very tasty Monday tradition, red beans and rice.

Monday was always wash day in New Orleans and traditionally the women would put on a pot of red beans to cook gently all day while they tended to the laundry. This would be flavoured by the left over ham bones from Sunday dinner and could be left to cook slowly. 

Monday may no longer be laundry day but red beans and rice is still served religiously and everyone has their favourite place to eat it.
I love it served with pork chops but really you can make it your way and enjoy it anytime you want a rib sticking dish of deliciousness!

You will need:

1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over
3 tablespoons bacon grease
¼ cup chopped ham
1 ½ cups chopped onions
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped green peppers
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
½ pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthways and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound smoked ham hocks
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock or water
4 cups of cooked white rice 
¼ cup of chopped spring onions to garnish

Method:

Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches.
 
Let soak overnight, drain and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the bacon fat over a medium high heat add the ham, cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the onions, celery and peppers, season with salt, pepper and cayenne cook till soft (about 4 minutes) add the bay leaves, parsley thyme and ham hocks and sausage and cook, stirring to brown the sausage and ham hocks (about 4 mins.)

Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. Add the beans and stock, stir well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender and starting to thicken about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about ¼ cup at a time).

Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about ¼ of the beans against the side of the pot. 

Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.

Serve over rice and garnish with spring onions.

Enjoy!

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

This is far and away the best recipe, totally fool proof and delicious. It is from Sophie Grigson’s amazing book, “vegetables”.

Sweet Potato Pie
 
1.5kg sweet potatoes (about 3 large potatoes)
300g sweet shortcut pastry
30g softened butter
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons double cream
1 egg
3 egg yolks
 
Meringue topping
 
3 egg whites
150g caster sugar
 
Heat the oven to 375f/gas 5/190c.
Put the sweet potatoes in to bake.
 
Line a 23-25cm, (9-10 inch) tart tin with pastry; prick the base with a fork, chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Line the pastry case with clingfilm and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 10 minutes then take out and remove the beans and the clingfilm. Return the case to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Leave to cool.
 
Once the potatoes are cooked, scoop out the flesh and weigh out 950g, (2lb2oz). Beat in the butter, sugar and vanilla extract and the spices while the potato is still hot. Next beat in the cream, then the egg and then the yolks. Scrape the mixture into the pastry case, smooth it down and return to the oven. Turn the heat down to 350f/gas4/180c and leave to bake for around 20 minutes, until almost set.
 
As it cooks, whisk up the egg whites until they stand up in peaks. Sprinkle over half the sugar and whisk again until the meringue is light and glossy and billowing, fold in the remaining sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the hot baked pie, spreading right out to the edge. Make swirls and peaks in the meringue and return too the oven. Bake for 15 minutes until the meringue is browned.
 
Serve cold with plenty of cream or vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Pancakes with Honey Butter

To make these you will need:
 
Two large mixing bowls
A skillet/thick bottomed frying pan
Soup ladle
1½ cups/12oz/350g plain flour
4 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Milk (whole or semi-skimmed) 1½ cups/12 fl oz/350g
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup/8oz/225g fresh blueberries
Vegetable oil for cooking
 
If you want to keep the pancakes warm, pre-heat the oven on a very low light to store the finished pancakes in.
 
In one of the bowls combine all the “dry” ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cornmeal. Mix these together and put on one side.
 
In the second bowl mix together the “wet” ingredients: milk, vanilla essence and the egg and then pour into the bowl containing the dry ingredients.
 
Gently combine the two sets of ingredients. Do not whisk them together too briskly, just fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and then add in the blueberries. Let the finished mixture rest for at least 3 minutes. There is no need to put it in the fridge if you are going on to cook it straight away. If you make it the night before, leave it in the fridge and don’t add in the fruit until the morning.
 
Heat the skillet over a medium heat until the pan is hot. Carefully pour some vegetable oil into the pan, enough to coat it and a bit more as the mixture will soak some of it up and the pancakes could stick.
 
Once the oil is hot, use the ladle to pour some of the mixture into the pan. To test the heat, drip a little of the batter into the pan, if it sizzles then the temperature is high enough, if not, raise it a little and try again. Depending on the size of your pan you could cook 3 or 4 pancakes at one time.  When bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancake (generally after 3 or 4 minutes) flip them over. Cook for another 1 or 2 minutes and put on a plate in the oven to keep warm. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.
 
Serve with maple syrup or honey butter (see below)
 
Honey butter
 
4oz salted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons of good quality honey
(If you prefer unsalted butter, then add ½ teaspoon salt)
 
Allow the butter to soften and then mix the ingredients together in a food processor, or by hand with a wooden spoon.
 
Turn the mixture out onto a sheet of clingfilm and mould into a log. Put in the fridge to re-harden or into the freezer to keep until needed.
 
All you need is a cup of your favourite coffee or tea, a juice and the morning papers…weekend bliss!

Grilled Salmon with Ginger and Lime

Ingredients:
 
6/7oz fillet of salmon (skin on)
1 medium lime
Ginger root, finely chopped and stored in a light vegetable oil
½ tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper (white or black)
Frying pan
 
Method:
 
Turn your grill on a high setting to heat up.
 
Rinse the salmon under cold water and pat dry on kitchen paper. Season with salt and pepper.
 
Heat the olive oil in the frying pan over a high heat until the oil is steaming and small bubbles appear. Place the salmon, skin down, in the pan and cook on a high heat for 2/3 mins until the skin becomes crisp and the fish starts to cook (you will see the colour begin to change). 
 
Take the pan off the stove. “Dot” the chopped ginger on the fish and then squeeze half the lime over the top. Transfer the pan to the grill and continue cooking for a further 3/5 mins depending on how well done you like your salmon. 
 
Place the cooked salmon on a plate, garnish with the remaining half lime and a generous salad or serving of buttery new potatoes.
 
Delicious and good for you!

Lemon and Coriander Pesto


This recipe will take you right through the Summer with ease. Grill fish or chicken or BBQ and use it as a dressing. Drizzle over grilled vegetables or add a dollop to some fresh linguine for a delicious supper. Spread thinly on hot toast and add your favourite cheese. Substitute fresh mint for the coriander and serve with grilled leg of lamb steaks. The possibilities are endless all you need is some imagination, hot sultry weather and a blender!

In a food processor blitz 4 handfuls of fresh coriander, 1 handful of fresh, flat leaf parsley and one peeled clove of garlic with  7 dessert spoons of olive oil. Then add a handful of shelled pistachio nuts and blitz again for a few seconds until you achieve the texture you require (I like it quite chunky but you can play around until you find what suits). Stir in 60g of finely grated cheese, I use Pecorino or Parmesan.
 
Then all you need to finish it off is the juice of half a lemon and season well with salt and pepper. Add extra olive oil and/or lemon juice to taste.
 
N.B. I always try to leave it in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 12 hours so that the flavours really develop. Keeps for a week in the fridge.

GLUTEN FREE DIET (GFD)

This dish is suitable or can be adapted to be suitable for those who are on a Gluten Free Diet.

As part of our Inclusive NOT Exclusive initiative we have introduced many new dishes and tweaked some of our long standing favourite dishes so that they can be enjoyed by those with specific dieatary requirements.

DAIRY FREE / LACTOSE FREE DIET

This dish is suitable or can be adapted to be suitable for those who are on a Dairy Free or Lactose Free Diet.

As part of our Inclusive NOT Exclusive initiative we have introduced many new dishes and tweaked some of our long standing favourite dishes so that they can be enjoyed by those with specific dieatary requirements.

VEGAN/RAW DIET

This dish is suitable or can be adapted to be suitable for those who are on a Vegan or a Raw diet.

As part of our Inclusive NOT Exclusive initiative we have introduced many new dishes and tweaked some of our long standing favourite dishes so that they can be enjoyed by those with specific dieatary requirements.

THE PALEO DIET

This dish is suitable or can be adapted to be suitable for those who are on The Paleo Diet.

As part of our Inclusive NOT Exclusive initiative we have introduced many new dishes and tweaked some of our long standing favourite dishes so that they can be enjoyed by those with specific dieatary requirements.

Celebrate Thanksgiving at Ffiona’s.

Lunch and dinner on Thursday November 28th 2024
Bookings from 12pm to 8.30pm (last sitting)
£75 per person.