30 September 2013

Coconut panna cotta and passion fruit coulis

"Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey,
Your first kiss thrilled me so,
Sweets for my sweet sugar for my honey,
I'll never ever let you go..."
The Drifters 1961

It's a truism that we could be criticised for not paying enough attention to the sweeter side of life. Yes there are very few desserts on this blog and it must be admitted that it is not really our area of greatest expertise. But let's try to rectify this omission and learn some easy and quick puddings together.

Behind the scenes we have been  busy developing a new line of desserts,  largely it has to be admitted driven by the necessity of providing a sugary conclusion to our buffet, cocktail and dinner party menus and fortunately our shot glass desserts have become very popular. In line with our general ethos we endeavour to produce menu items which blend east and west with a twist or to coin a popular phrase "fusion"!

Here's a panna cotta dessert we developed recently and it has just made it's debut onto our party menu lists. Literally "cooked cream" it makes a wonderful foil for all sorts of accessories. Here it is shown with a passion fruit coulis but goes equally well with other fruit toppings such as cherry jam for example or chocolate sauce. To add texture try a biscuit crumble.

Panna cotta with a summer berry jam. 

300 ml Double Cream
400 ml Thick coconut cream (1 can)
4 Sheets gelatine or agar agar
Castor Sugar to taste
1 Vanilla Pod
Pinch salt (optional)

3 Ripe passion fruits
Juice of half a lime
Castor Sugar to taste

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 - 10 minutes. Meanwhile combine coconut milk, double cream sugar and vanilla in saucepan. Squeeze gelatine and add to the pan. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes in medium heat (Do not boil) Sieve liquid into serving dishes and allow to fall to room temperature before placing in the fridge for a few hours or preferably overnight.


Scoop out middle of passion fruit and add sugar and lime juice and simmer for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved and liquid has become syrupy. Before serving pour coulis over panna cotta and garnish with tropical fruit.

Posted by incredibly fed

13 September 2013

Fregola Grossa

A few months ago a very lovely foodie friend of ours gathered up her savings, took her courage in both hands and headed up the hill to Highgate to fulfil the dream of a lifetime. Emine found a rundown little shop carried out a major upgrade and launched "Limone" a new bijou delicatessen. Conveniently its just up the road from our good friend and sometime co-chief Rebecca. Behind its cute Victorian window the shop is bursting with hand baked breads, rare olive oils and bespoke goodies which are already proving a wonderful, much needed and very popular addition to the Highgate high street scene!

Shortly after the opening we were sitting at one of the little bistro tables wedged between the wicker baskets of crusty loaves sipping an oversized beaker of delicious hand roasted coffee and nibbling a delectable home made chocolate and walnut cake.  We had the perfect opportunity to eye up Emine's very personal and unusual selection of foods and vowed to take home some ingredients which we had never cooked before. Among those items which prompted our curiosity were the packages of fregola grossa which could easily be mistaken for very large irregular grains of cous cous or even a breakfast cereal crunch but is actually an unusual (here at least) type of pasta made with semolina dough from Sardinia.

If you decide to give this one a go you will wind up with a delicious dish which is similar to a risotto or paella but made with pasta of course. Classically it is cooked with tomato sauce and clams and is a wonderful and very filling winter warmer. The recipe below is a basic version but please feel free to try your own variations. If you are feeling really indulgent try adding your own favourite shell fish such as prawns or mussels or a strongly flavoured chorizo or smoked sausage. For added flavour and appeal sprinkle each serving with flakes of parmesan cheese before serving.


100g Fregola grossa
1 Litre carton Tomato juice
1 Red onion (finely chopped)
2 Large Tomatoes (chopped)
2 Gloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 large glass white wine
2 large bacon rashers coarsely diced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 or 3 bulbs fennel cut into quarters
Large knob butter
Handful coriander
Dash Woscester Sauce
Dash Tabasco
Salt and Pepper


Melt the butter in a deep frying pan and add the onions garlic then the bacon and tomatoes and fennel cook gently for a few minutes until the onions become translucent and the fennel begins to soften. Add the wine and cook for a further few minutes to burn off the alcohol before adding the tomato juice. Pour in the uncooked fregola and stir through the liquid. Allow the pasta to absorb the liquid slowly. Add the Woscester sauce, lemon juice, tabasco and seasoning. Cover and stir occasionally until the fragola is soft but still slightly al dente. Further season to taste and garnish with torn coriander leaves.

Posted by incredibly fed

5 September 2013

Forager's Crumble

Forager's table at Tatjana's

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow 
in an English country garden..?
...How many insects come here and go 
in an English country garden..?
...How many song birds fly to and fro' 
in an English country garden...? 
Jimmie Rodgers 1962 

Last Sunday the Indian summer was in still in full gear so we got up early to visit the first-Sunday-of-the-month Chiswick car boot fair... Quite an entertaining experience for the princely sum of £1.00 and very reminiscent of another of our favourite old haunts  - Incants flea market in Barcelona. If you, like us fancy a good rummage well then there are no better places. Just stick a few bob in your pocket and go with an open mind and see what appears. Having made a modest purchase to support the traders we continued on to the nearby farmers market for fair trade coffee and then to Tatjana's allotment where late summer's wonderful bounty was ripe for the picking. Tatjana's plot neighbour John has an extensive plantation with just about everything that grows in this climate on offer. It is undoubtedly one of the best allotments on the site with neat rows of trellis and raised beds between manicured paths and trimmed bushes and trees. Thanks to their generosity we staggered away at the end of the day with all we could carry and have been cooking ever since.

One favourite which we tried out the next day on some of Ghaz's girlie friends to great effect was undoubtedly the forager's crumble. To give this very popular dessert a twist and to make it our own so to speak we played around with both the filling and the topping using up ingredients that were to hand. Making the basic topping is easy but to make it more interesting many recipes recommend that you also add various breakfast cereal type ingredients such as muesli or porridge oats or even crushed biscuits of various sorts. In our case we added an assortment of ingredients which we found in the cupboard and which needed to be used up - namely coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts and toasted almonds. Keep in mind that you are seeking to achieve a slightly sweet and crunchy topping to compliment the soft stickiness of the fruit filling. Similarly for the fruit filling many candidates are eminently suitable, a base of apples is a good start but the possibilities are really only limited by your own imagination! The exact amounts will vary depending on the amount and nature of your chosen ingredients so the recipe below is intended as a guide only.

Forager's Crumble
4 - 6 Cooking Apples
Handful of Blackberries
Handful Pineapple chunks
Handful of sliced Plums
20g Butter
50g Castor sugar
Tsp Cinnamon powder
2-3 Tbsps Cherry Brandy

Crumble (Basic)
100g Flour
50g Butter
Sugar to taste (Several tblsps)

Slice the apples into small chunks and place in a deep pan with the butter and sugar and cinnamon and cherry brandy. Melt the butter and cook for a few minutes until all the ingredients come together to make a good syrupy filling. Softer fruits such as berries and plums should be added when you turn off the heat. Allow to cool. In the meantime place the butter, flour and sugar in a bowl and rum with you fingers until the mixture forms a breadcrumb like structure. Rub for a few minutes but do not over do it! Mix in whatever other nuts and seeds etc you might like to use. Place the cold fruit mix into a baking dish or individual ramekins and cover generously with the crumble topping. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes or until the topping is a pleasing golden brown.

Posted by incredibly fed