Saturday, 28 May 2011

M is for... Mango macaro(o)ns, mandarin madaleines and macadamia nut and maple truffles with mint tea

Whether you call them macarons or macaroons is up to you. Some people assume that macaroons are the British coconut confection drizzled with chocolate and stuck on a sheet of rice paper and that macarons are their more elegant French cousin - the chewy almond meringue biscuits made famous and brightly coloured by Ladurée. But Ladurée call them macaroons on their English website and macarons on their French, which makes me wonder - are British speakers who call them, and indeed spell them, macarons simply forgetting a small matter of the French to English translation? Although I do concede that missing an "o" does make marking their difference from our stodgy (but equally delicious) British variety easier. Especially for those too lazy to precede the British kind with the word with "coconut".

Mango macaro(o)ns

Mango ganache filling

100g white chocolate, chopped
100ml fresh mango purée (simply blitz fresh, ripe mango flesh in a liquidiser)

Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place the mango purée in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once the mango begins to boil, remove it from the heat and leave to stand for 1 minute before pouring over the chocolate. Mix together carefully with a rubber spatula until all the chocolate has melted and leave to cool completely. Once cold, scoop the filling into a piping bag. Only snip the end off just before using.


I forgot to bring back some piping nozzles to my home kitchen from work so my macaro(o)ns weren't quite as neat as they could have been. Still, no matter, they tasted good. If, however, you want your's to be neater than mine or you can't trust yourself to be tidy with a snipped bag alone, you'll need a no. 8 nozzle. Incidentally, I know it seems a bit much to weigh egg whites, but macaroons need to be very precise and the weight of individual eggs varies greatly, but to make things a little simpler, 90 g is usually and roughly just under 3 eggs. Do weigh them if you can though.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan)

5 oz/ 125 g icing sugar
5 oz/ 125 g ground almonds
3 1/2 oz/ 90 g egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp water
4 oz/ 100 g caster sugar
The tip of a tsp of tangerine food colouring paste

Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the ground almonds and mix them all together. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until at the soft peak stage and gradually whisk in the caster sugar until stiff. Add the food dye to the meringue and stir through until it is all one even colour, adding more if required. Sprinkle the almond mixture over the meringue and fold in. Place the mixture in a piping bag (fitted with a nozzle if you have one) and snip the end off. Pipe circular blobs of about 1.5 inches in diameter on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Leave at least an inch between each disc. Let the macaroons skin over for half an hour or so before popping them in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven and lift the baking parchment with the macaroons on it to a wire rack to cool. Once cold, peel the macaroon discs off the paper and sandwich together with a generous blob of mango filling.

Mandarin madeleines

Madeleines are madeleines because of their shape, so you will need a madeleine mould for this recipe. Having said that, if you don't have one, you can still follow the same recipe to make delicious fairy cakes with the batter instead.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). This recipe is enough to make 24 madeleines.

2 large eggs
The finely grated zest of 2 mandarins
5 oz/ 125g icing sugar
3 oz/ 75g plain flour
1 oz/ 25g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 oz/ 125g melted butter, cooled

Rub your madeleine trays with butter and dust them with flour before shaking off any excess. 

Whisk together your eggs, sugar and mandarin zest until very pale and frothy (this will take at least a few minutes with an electric whisk). In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almonds and baking powder and fold into the egg mixture in three stages. Finally, fold in the melted butter before pouring the batter into the moulds 3/4 of the way up and baking for 10-12 minutes.

Once cooked, leave the cakes to cool for about a minute before turning them out of their moulds and leaving them to cool completely on a wire rack - bottom side down so you don't get grid marks on their shell-like tops. Once completely cool, sift over a little icing sugar before serving.

Macadamia and maple truffles

As I've said before, when making truffles, it's much easier to think metrically than imperially (I'm usually the opposite) as the number of grams of chocolate used should match the number of millilitres of cream. You'll need the butter in these, otherwise the ganache won't set because of the large volume of maple syrup required before you can really taste it. I put the syrup in neat as I've heard (though I've done nothing to test it) that maple syrup loses strength of flavour when heated.

100g dark chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
3-4 tbsp maple syrup
2 oz/ 50g unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped
A bag of whole macadamia nuts, shelled
Sifted cocoa powder for dusting

Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the butter. Scald the cream in a saucepan over a medium heat and pour it over the chocolate and butter. Leave to stand for 1 minute before stirring until all the chocolate and butter have melted. Stir in the maple syrup and taste for maple-y-ness, adding more syrup if necessary. Leave to cool and once cold place in the fridge to firm up.

Scoop a spoonful of set ganache out of the bowl, pop a macadamia nut in the centre and, using your hands, roll the ganache into a ball with the nut in the middle. Roll the truffle in cocoa and repeat until you've used up your ganache.

I served my mango macaro(o)ns, mandarin madeleines and macadamia and maple truffles with fresh mint tea, which you make simply by placing a generous bunch of mint in a teapot, pouring over boiling water and leaving to stand for 3-5 minutes before pouring.

M is for... M cheeseboard

Morbier, Maroilles, Munster, Manchego, Sainte-Maure de Touraine and Moelleux du Revard served with malted grain crackers

M night was a real treat for cheese lovers. Richard popped down to Paxton and Whitfield for these, mostly French, beauties.

Morbier is a semi-soft French cows milk cheese, fruity and almost yeasty in flavour, Morbier has a distinctive flash of ash running through its middle, giving it a strikingly elegant appearance on top of its aromatic, nutty flavour.

Maroilles is another semi-soft French cows milk cheese which was apparently created in the 10th Century by a northern French monk. Maroilles is usually square and has a deep orange to brick red washed rind. The flavour is fruity with a smoky edge and was the firm favourite of our Parisian diner, Caroline.

Munster is a deliciously stinky soft French cows milk cheese. Munster is usually round with a sticky, orange washed skin.

Manchego is a hard Spanish ewes milk cheese which has a nutty and almost peppery tang. An excellent addition to any cheeseboard as well as a marvellous melter which can play a happy substitute for cheddar for those with a cows milk intolerance.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine is a French goats milk cheese shaped into a small log. The cheese is soft, salty and white under a charcoal grey mouldy rind. The cheese has a piece of straw running through its centre which is marked with an AOC seal and a number indicating its producer. The straw also works to keep the roll of cheese together in the making.

Moelleux de Revard is a semi soft French cows milk cheese with a salty herbal finish.

M is for... Marron meringues with a multi marron mousse marquise (marron chocolate cake topped with a layer of marron mousse and chocolate and marron mousse and marron praline), marron ice cream and marron butterscotch sauce washed down with Moscatel

I love chestnuts. I knew when I was planning my menu for the letter C, that as I couldn't include chestnuts back then (they weren't in season), then by gum I'd get them in for M. Which, incidentally isn't a cheat by Alphabet Soup's rules, as long as I don't use the same ingredient by two names, I'm in the clear. I just wish I hadn't been so quick to call a courgette a courgette given the veritable feast of possible vegetables already beginning with C compared to the sad and paltry list of edible anythings beginning with Z. The fact that M's menu ended up with a French feel has meant that it's all worked out rather nicely in the end. 

Marron meringues with a multi marron mousse marquise, marron ice cream, marron butterscotch sauce and marron praline

I'm not going to lie to you. This pudding is quite a fiddly and time-consuming undertaking. I really didn't mind though as I really do love chestnuts. It's one of those dishes that evolved to have more and more components as I was making it, with thoughts of "ooh hang on, wouldn't it be cool if"s. This isn't unusual in itself, but it probably meant that I wasn't as efficient as I could have been. I've tried to write  the recipes down here in the order of stages that make most sense for timings.  

Marron purée

This was an essential ingredient for all the components in this dish, but I didn't buy quite enough chestnuts so I had to cut my purée with a little ready made chestnut purée. To peel chestnuts, score their tops heavily with an "X" shape using a sharp knife. Place them in a saucepan of boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. Leave the nuts in the water while peeling a few at a time. Make sure you remove the thin brown inner skin too.

1 lb 4 oz/ 500g peeled chestnuts (see above)
12 fl. oz/ 350 ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways with the seeds scraped out
4 oz/ 100g caster sugar

Place the chestnuts, milk and vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about half an hour or until soft. Remove the vanilla pod, add the sugar and use a stick blender (if you have one, otherwise shove the lot in a liquidiser/ food processor) to blend into a smooth purée. Leave to cool. 

Marron praline

10 chestnuts, peeled
12 oz/ 300g caster sugar

First, boil the chestnuts in water until soft and then drain and dry. Place the sugar in a large frying pan, so that the sugar covers the pan in an even layer. Heat the sugar over a medium flame and leave to caramelise (be extremely careful here as boiling sugar can cause horrific burns). Once the sugar has melted and turned into a lovely caramel add the chestnuts, stir around a bit and leave for another minute or so. Tip about 4 tbsp of the caramel (without the chestnuts) into a small saucepan for the marron butterscotch and pour the rest out onto a baking parchment lined baking tray (don't use greaseproof paper unless you oil it first, or it will stick). Tip the caramel away from you for safety. Quickly level it out with a palate knife and leave to cool and harden. Once cold, roughly smash up the praline and blitz it in a food processor, using the pulse button. It's best if some of the praline is quite chunky and some is a fine powder.

Marron butterscotch sauce

Reserved chestnut caramel, still warm
2 oz/ 50g unsalted butter
5 fl. oz double cream

Over a gentle flame, add the butter to the warm chestnut caramel and stir until melted. Tip in the cream, stir through and increase the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil for about a minute before pouring the butterscotch sauce into a cold jug and leave to cool completely.

Marron meringues

Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C Fan)

4 large egg whites
8 oz/ 200g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
1 tsp of vinegar 
1 heaped tsp of cornflour
A splash of vanilla extract
Marron praline (minus 2 tbsp for scattering later)

In a spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form. Continue to whisk and gradually, one spoonful at a time, add the caster sugar. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, your meringue should be stiff and glossy. Whisk in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla and then fold in the marron praline. On a baking parchment lined baking sheet, carefully create even mounds (about 2 tbsp's worth of meringue in each) you can use a fork to create a pretty spirally imprint if you wish. Make sure you leave about a 2 inch gap between each meringue to allow them room to spread and pop them in the oven for about an hour or until crisp. Turn the oven off and open the oven door and leave the meringues to cool at the same rate that the oven cools. This way your meringues will have beautifully crisp outer shells and soft marshmallow-y middles. 

Marron and chocolate cake base

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)

6oz/ 150g dark chocolate
2 oz/ 50g unsalted butter
4 oz/ 100g marron purée
3 eggs, separated

A pinch of salt

4 oz/ 100g caster sugar
3 oz/ 75g plain flour
2 oz/ 50g ground almonds

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites and salt together until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy, mix in the ground almonds, the marron purée and melted chocolate and butter. Sift over the flour and stir it through. Fold in the egg whites and tip the mixture into a baking parchment lined roulade tin, level it with a palate knife and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cake is no longer sticky to touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Marron ice cream

4 egg yolks
4 oz/ 100g caster sugar
12 fl.oz/ 300ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
4 oz/ 100g marron purée

First, make a custard. Whisk together the yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Place the cream and vanilla pod in a saucepan over a medium flame to scald the cream. Pour the scalded cream into the egg and sugar mixture, stir it vigorously and then tip the whole lot back in the saucepan and place back over a gentle heat. Stir continuously until the custard thickens, but be careful not to curdle it. Strain the thickened custard into a cold jug, top with cling film and leave to cool. Once cold, whisk in the marron purée and place the jug in the fridge to get very cold before pouring the mixture into an ice cream maker (follow the manufacturers instructions). Once set, pop the ice cream in a tupperware box and stick it in the freezer. Remember to remove the tub from the freezer 20 minutes before serving to allow the ice cream to soften slightly.

Marron mousse and marron and chocolate mousse

for custard

4 egg yolks
4 oz/ 100g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
12 fl.oz/ 300 ml double cream

Whisk together the yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Place the cream and vanilla pod in a saucepan over a medium flame to scald the cream. Pour the scalded cream into the egg and sugar mixture, stir it vigorously and then tip the whole lot back in the saucepan and place back over a gentle heat. Stir continuously until the custard thickens, but be careful not to curdle it. Strain the thickened custard into two cold jugs, so you have an equal quantity of custard in each. Top the jugs with cling film and leave to cool. 

Marron mousse

1 jug of custard (see above)
4 oz/ 100g marron purée
2 leaves of gelatine
2 tbsp boiling water
2 egg whites

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, whisk the marron purée into the custard. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Drain the gelatine and squeeze out any excess water. Return the gelatine to its soaking bowl and whisk in the boiling water until the gelatine has completely dissolved and stir this liquid into the marron custard. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites.

Marron and chocolate mousse

1 jug of custard (see above)
4 oz/ 100g marron purée
4 oz/ 100g dark chocolate, melted
2 leaves of gelatine
2 tbsp boiling water
2 egg whites

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, whisk the marron purée into the custard, followed by the melted chocolate. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. 
Drain the gelatine and squeeze out any excess water. Return the gelatine to its soaking bowl and whisk in the boiling water until the gelatine has completely dissolved and stir this liquid into the chocolate-y marron custard. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites.

Multi marron mousse marquise with marron praline 

Oil the insides of 8 ring moulds. Use the ring moulds to cut out a circle of cake, leaving the cake to sit in the bottom of the ring. Place each ring on a baking parchment lined baking sheet and make sure the cake is pushed to the very bottom of each ring. Pour in marron mousse to halfway up the ring mould and place in the fridge for about an hour or until the mousse has set. Next pour a layer of marron and chocolate mousse into the rings up the the top of each, levelling each with a palate knife. Return the mousses to the fridge for at least an hour until the top layer has also set. Sprinkle over some marron praline which you reserved from earlier.


Place one mould at a time on top of an upturned egg cup, use a blowtorch or a hairdryer to heat the outside of each ring so that you can slide the ring off, pushing it downwards. Use a palate knife to lift the marron marquise off the egg cup and place on a serving plate. Repeat until you have un-moulded each one.

Plating up

Next to each marron marquise, place a marron meringue and drizzle over some marron butterscotch sauce. Use two spoons to make a quenelle of marron ice cream and place next to the meringue and serve with a chilled glass of Moscatel.

Friday, 27 May 2011

M is for... Mojito sorbet

There was an audible groan of relief from my over-stuffed guests when this course came out. It felt like a bit of a holiday after all the rich cream- and meat-based foodstuffs we had gorged on up to this point. I have to admit that I'd always thought of sorbet as something of a none event and rather a sorry excuse for pudding. But, after visiting our good friends, Lily and Alex, in Paris a few years ago, I had my mind surely and sharply changed. Lily ordered an apple sorbet. After scoffingly describing her dessert choice as "a cold, wet yawn" she insisted I have a spoonful, and by God I'm glad she did. Yes, it was cold, and yes, it was wet - in fact, it was positively dripping in Calvados - but no, there wasn't a yawn in sight. It was delicious. So fresh, so palate-cleansing, so... apple-y. I don't think, up to that point, I'd ever had a proper home-made sorbet. My mum loves the stuff but, as far as I can remember, has never made sorbet from scratch. She always insisted on having a constant stash of shop bought sorbet in the freezer at all times and it always tasted of well... a cold, wet yawn. So I always avoided it and I didn't see any reason to change my ways until Lily's Calvados-soaked apple sorbet touched my lips. Now I like sorbet - though let's be honest, there are still almost always more appealing menu options on offer when dining out. I like making sorbet too and this little booze injected mint and lime number worked brilliantly as a pre-pudding palate cleanser.

Mojito sorbet

15 oz / 375 g caster sugar
17 fl. oz/ 500 ml water
1 tbsp finely grated lime zest
8.5 fl. oz/ 250 ml freshly squeezed and strained lime juice (about 12 - 15 limes)
A generous bunch of fresh mint, chopped
Several fingers of white rum

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan with a few pinches of the lime zest over a gentle heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, let the syrup come up to the boil, turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Once cool, stir in the juice and remaining zest and pop the mixture in fridge for at least an hour before pouring into an ice cream machine - follow your specific model's instructions. Once it begins to set, chuck in the chopped mint. If you don't have an ice cream machine, just pour the lime syrup into a tupperware box and stick in the freezer, stirring vigorously every half hour or so to prevent ice crystals forming. It will take at least four hours to set. Take the sorbet out of the freezer about 20 minutes before serving, scoop into glasses and pour over a generous glug of white rum. 

M is for... Mandarin-stuffed mallards with a Madeira, maple, mandarin and marjoram reduction, served with mange-tout and mash

After M night's detour to that most British of British dishes: mutton stew (though I did stick a bouquet garni in it, does that count?), I wanted to return to the loosely Frenchified theme of the night with magret de mallard - in English: mallard breasts. I ordered them from The Wild Meat Company and I was excited! I waited in for them to be delivered for a whole day. And then I waited the next day. Then I waited some more. And after waiting a little longer still, I stopped waiting and started to panic. I rang The Wild Meat Company who apologised, but said there was very little they could do about it now that my meat was in the hands of the delivery company. They gave me a tracking code that didn't work and it became abundantly apparent that there was very little I could do about it either. Except that I could hope for the best and... wait. Great.

Well bugger that, I thought, I can't get on with anything until I've at least got a plan B in place and anyway, I thought, if the meat arrives now, it will probably have gone off, having been left out of the fridge for a considerable length of time. I rang the usual suspects, Moens and Chadwicks, but they couldn't get any mallard in for me that day. I rang Allens of Mayfair, who had run out. I rang the meat departments of all the overpriced poshy toshy stores - Fortnum and Mason, Harrods and Harvey Nic's. Nothing. Sacrebleu!

I wasn't very happy with The Wild Meat Company at this point and told Richard in no uncertain terms that they were clearly a bunch of idiot holes for using such an unreliable delivery service. Richard, as is Richard's wont, tried to see it from a different, more reasonable perspective - "we have an annoying and archaic vehicle gate system...." and  "maybe the van came, but couldn't get in". Blah blah blah. I wasn't having any of it.  I'm not proud, but I think I even stamped my foot.  I'd already tried to buy moose meat and failed. It's impossible to get hold of in this country apart from in ready made meatballs in IKEA and I even read somewhere (though alas, I have since lost the link) that moose meat is only legal to consume if you have actually hunted and killed it yourself. I really hope that's true. Either way, a quick trip to Finland or Alaska seemed a little de trop. And who knows what kind of troubles I'd have had with customs even if I had gone to that kind of effort.

There was nothing else for it but to go to Borough Market and if I still had no luck (which I didn't expect to at this time of day), perhaps it really was time to admit defeat. I just had to quickly pop into Waitrose on the way first, to pick a couple of bits up...

... And there they were! Looking magnificent, drawing me towards them with what seemed like a magnetic ray of transcendental light: mallards! Loads of the buggers! And on offer too! Oh, Waitrose, I really do love you. I don't care if people think you're too middle class for your own good. I don't care if people say Sainsbury's is cheaper (I have looked into this and have found little evidence to support it). I love you! I love your well oiled trolleys, your wide aisles and helpful staff. I love your ethical sensibilities and your calming spring green colour scheme. I think you're top and I thank you, deeply and sincerely from the bottom of my heart, for stocking mallards. You saved M day! 

Obviously I'd have preferred it, Waitrose, if you had stocked magret de mallard instead of just the whole birds, but I also understand that, in this life, we can't expect to have everything. Can we.

But it all worked out rather well, instead of just making a mandarin, marjoram and Madeira sauce, I stuffed the birds with the fruits too and then added a little maple syrup to the sauce, just for an extra touch of earthy sweetness.

A couple of weeks later, a package arrived from The Wild Meat Company. It was the mallard breasts I'd ordered and it was decidedly whiffy. The instructions for delivery and the nature of the contents could not have been more explicit. It really wasn't The Wild Meat Co.'s fault at all but still they gave me an immediate refund. Good. I have used them since and their meat was delicious and it seems they have now changed to a more reliable delivery service. Excellent. 

Madeira, maple, mandarin and marjoram sauce

1 onion, chopped
1 pint duck/chicken stock
1 pint Madeira
The zest and juice of 2 mandarins
A generous bunch of marjoram
Salt and pepper
A splash of maple syrup
The juices from the roast mallards

Place the onion and stock in a saucepan over a medium heat and leave to simmer until reduced by half. Top up with the Madeira, mandarin zest and juice and marjoram and leave to simmer again until reduced by half again. Tip in the juices from your roasted mallards (below), a splash of maple syrup and season to taste. Reduce again by half and strain the sauce through a sieve into a warm jug or gravy boat.

Mandarin-stuffed mallards

Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan)

4 mallards
8 mandarins
Salt and pepper

Generously season the cavity of the birds, pop a knob of butter into each and stuff them tightly with mandarins. Rub more butter over the skin and season again. Place the mallards on a baking tray and stick them in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes. Take the birds out of the oven and leave to rest and catch the juices to add to the sauce.


It feels somewhat ridiculous to write down a recipe for mashed potatoes, but having watched several thousand episodes of Come Dine With Me where I've witnessed people do all manner of strange things to make mash, I thought I'd put my tuppence worth in on the matter. My only real point of note is to use a masher. That's what they're for. Don't stick cooked potatoes in a Magimix and don't use an electric stick blender. OK, you'll definitely get the lumps out, but you'll also be left with a gloopy, gluey and sorry excuse for mashed potatoes and not the soft, buttery and fluffy plate of heaven you should expect. As for the milk or cream debate - I tend to use milk for an everyday meal but cream when a bit of extra indulgence feels necessary. White pepper or black? I really couldn't care less, but if you don't want to spoil its pure creamy colour with speckles of ground black pepper, I suggest you go white. Other than that, you can do what you like with it - add a dollop of mustard, horseradish or even stir in some cheese, but I mostly prefer my mash simple and unadulterated.

1 kg of potatoes (King Edwards or Maris Pipers are always a good bet)
A generous knob of butter
A generous glug of double cream
Salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Place them in a big saucepan of salted boiling water and cook until soft. Drain the spuds place them back in empty pan, add the butter and cream and mash until smooth. Season to taste and serve.


No tips here, just steam and salt then top with a knob of butter if you like.

M is for... Mutton, mace, marrowfat pea and Maplemoon ale stew

There are so many great things about stew. You can use the very cheapest cuts of meat and a stew will thank you for it. If you unexpectedly have a few extra guests at your door, you can chuck some spuds in the pot, knock up a batch of dumplings for its top, you can stick a tin of beans in (kidney, cannellini, flageolet, whatever's in the cupboard or to hand), or you can even cover it with a pastry lid and suddenly it has been transformed into pie. With very little effort, your stew can start to resemble the magic porridge pot. Quantities aren't really important, cooking times can almost be as long as you like (just watch it doesn't boil dry) as stews only seem to become more delicious the longer they sit bubbling away. And, perhaps, most importantly of all, this most ancient of all dishes is comforting, enveloping your senses as you enter the kitchen, giving you a long, warm and welcoming hug. Mmmmm stew.

Mutton, mace, marrowfat pea and Maplemoon ale stew

I made far too much stew for mini portions for 8. This amount would easily feed 6 as a hearty main and will probably leave you with enough for seconds.

1 kg mutton, cubed and tossed in seasoned flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1/4 tsp ground mace
1 - 2 tins of marrowfat peas, drained
1 pint of lamb stock
2 bottles of Maplemoon ale
2 bay leaves
A bouquet garni
Salt and pepper

Simply fry the vegetables in oil in a large pot until soft, chuck in the mutton and brown it and top up with the stock and one bottle of ale. Add the bouquet garni and bay leaves, pop the lid on and leave to simmer for a couple of hours, stirring every now and then. Tip the remaining bottle of ale in the stew, season generously and leave to simmer for another hour. Add the marrowfat peas  and mace and leave to thicken for another hour. The meat should be meltingly tender by this point. Check for seasoning, remove the bouquet garni and bay leaves and serve.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

M is for... Moules Marinière with Maldon salt topped malted muffins

With a Parisian guest in tow, M night's menu seemed to find itself falling naturally into a French themed affair and what better way to celebrate the French in the letter M than with the ultimate classic: Moules Marinière. 

Richard, as I may have said once or twice before, is allergic to fish. He is not allergic to shellfish, molluscs or crustaceans, it's just that he has always tended to avoid eating things that reside in the sea, hanging out with all the fish. Because of this, he'd never eaten mussels before M night. And he really wasn't looking forward to it. Not one bit. When the mussels were dished up and he tasted his first bite, his face lit up and we barely heard a peep out of him until every last bite had been scoffed and the last remains of the soupy broth had been slurped and soaked up with bread. I was delighted by this, as was he, and the Moules Marinière turned out to be Richard's favourite dish of the evening. What's more, I've seen him order mussels in restaurants since and, as such, I can't help but feel a warm glow that Alphabet Soup opened Richard up to a new flavour experience that he absolutely loves.

Maldon salt topped malted muffins

1 tsp caster sugar
215 ml warm water
3/4 sachet of fast-acting yeast
15oz/ 375g Strong malted blend bread flour
1 tsp salt
2tbsp olive oil
Egg wash
Maldon salt crystals

Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan)

Stir the sugar into 75ml of the water, add the yeast, stir again and leave to stand for a few minutes. In the meantime, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre of the flour. Pour the oil into the centre of the well and then pour in the yeast mixture and most of the remaining water and mix until a soft but not sticky, loose dough, adding the remaining the water if needed. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, springy and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for an hour or two or until it has doubled in size.

When the dough has risen knock the air out of it by giving it a firm punch and then knead the dough again and then leave to rest for another ten minutes or so. Form the dough into small balls and place each ball in a lightly oiled hole in a muffin tray. Cover loosely with cling film and leave to double in size in a warm place (I always prove bread in my airing cupboard). Brush the top of each muffin with egg wash and sprinkle their tops with salt. Bake for 20 minutes before turning the oven temperature down to 200°C (180°C Fan) and leave to continue baking for another 5-10 minutes or until the bread is well risen, golden and the base of the muffins sound hollow when tapped. Cool the muffins on a wire rack before serving.

Moules Marinière

3 kilos of mussels
9oz/ 225 g butter
10 shallots, very finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 large glasses of dry white wine
2 tbsp plain flour and 2 tbsp butter mixed together to form a paste
A large bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 pint double cream

You'll need an enormous pan for this weight of mussels - I used a preserving pan and covered the top with foil.

Wash the mussels thoroughly in cold water, trimming off any "beards" or barnacles and discard any open shells. Melt the butter and tip in the shallots and garlic, season and leave to soften, cooking over a very gentle heat - this will take at least 20 to 30 minutes. Once completely soft, add the white wine to the shallots, turn the heat up to a medium flame and leave the liquid to reduce by half. Tip in the mussels and pop a lid on (or a big sheet of foil in my case). Leave the mussels to cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until their shells have opened. Remove the mussels from the sauce using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a large warm serving bowl and cover with foil.  Crank the heat up under the mussel juice and once boiling whisk in the flour paste, whisking constantly for a couple of minutes or so. Finally add the parsley and cream and stir through. Pour the sauce over the mussels and serve with the malted muffins.

M is for... mushroom and miso millefeuille

We use a lot of miso in our gaff. We have a running joke that when a dish is missing that uncertain "something" or just doesn't have enough oomph, Richard will inevitably respond with, "maybe stick a bit of miso in it?". And often we do. Aside from miso soup, it's a great way to add depth to other soups, stews and stocks and makes a particularly delicious marriage with mushrooms. Already high in umami, mushrooms become even more intense in flavour when they soak up a good slurp of umami-rich miso.

Millefeuilles are traditionally made up of three layers of puff pastry and usually contain a sweet filling such as vanilla crème pâtissière. I decided that three layers of puff might be a bit much for my nine course M feast, so left it at two (a shining example of how I rein things in). I made the puff pastry from scratch, which people seem to think is a feat of incredible alchemy. It really isn't. Yes, it does take some time, so it's definitely not something to attempt to knock up if you're making a 30 minute meal. But then, all home made pastries take a little time.  Yes, puff is a slow process, but not because any stage is particularly difficult or demanding, it's just that you keep having to leave it to rest in the fridge in between each roll, so that the butter doesn't soften and the pastry has time to relax. What's wrong with that? It just means you have time to get on with other things in between. It's really no different from having to wait for bread dough to prove. The real trick is to make sure you use the same weight of cold butter as you do flour.  It is for the sake of your arteries that puff pastry should be excluded as a staple of your everyday diet rather than for its difficulty rating. So go on, try your hand at making your own batch. Just don't do it too often.

Puff pastry

500g (1lb 2oz) plain flour
500g (1lb 2oz) chilled unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
The juice of half a lemon (sifted)
7-10 fl.oz (200-285ml) fridge-cold water

  1. Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Pour the lemon juice into the water and pour most of the lemon-y water into the flour and use your hands to mix together to form a firm dough, adding more water if necessary. This dough is called détrempe
  2. Flatten the détrempe, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
  3. Roll the détrempe into a neat rectangle about 1/2 inch thick
  4. Place both packets of butter in a plastic sandwich/freezer bag and, using a rolling pin, "rib roll" the butter - this basically means bashing the butter to flatten it slightly in close together sections going up the butter so it looks like the butter has "ribs". Now bash the butter flat so you have one solid flat rectangular slab which is about 3/4 inch thick.
  5. Place the slab of butter in the centre of your détrempe rectangle and fold the edges of the dough over the edges of the butter so you are left with a neat parcel.
  6. Dust flour over the worktop/ table and turn the dough over on to the floured surface. Dust some flour over the top of the dough and gently roll the dough into a neat rectangle about 16" in length and 8" wide. 
  7. Position the dough so that one of the narrow ends (8") is facing you. Brush off the excess flour and fold the dough into three - just like when you are folding an A4 letter to fit into an envelope. Fold the top section, the one furthest away from you, first and then fold the bottom section up to meet it.
  8. Seal the edges together with your fingers.
  9. Dust the work surface with more flour and turn the dough 90 degrees so that the folds are running vertically in front of you.
  10. Roll the pastry once again into a neat rectangle 16" x 8" in size.
  11. Brush off any excess flour and fold in three again, just as before.
  12. Seal the edges with your fingers and wrap the dough in cling film and pop it back in the fridge for at least half an hour to rest.
  13. Repeat stages 6 to 12 twice more always ensuring that you start with the folds in the pastry running vertically in front of you and that you leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour between each roll. In the end your dough will have been rolled out 6 times and rested in the fridge 3 times.
  14. Let the puff pastry rest in the fridge for at least an hour before using. You can make the pastry the day before if you like.

Mushroom and miso millefeuille

1k of mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2-3tbsp white miso 
250 ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Puff pastry
Egg wash (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC Fan)

Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft then add the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they are soft and golden - this will take about 20 minutes or so. Add the miso and stir through the mushrooms until it has completely dissolved, then pour over the stock and leave to simmer until the sauce is thick but not dry. Season to taste.

In the meantime, roll the puff pastry out so it is approximately 1/2 inch thick and cut into 16 even rectangles about 6" x 3" in size. Score the rectangles gently with the tip of a knife into diamond shapes. You can lightly egg wash the pastry if you like at this stage. Place the rectangles on a large baking parchment-lined baking tray and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry has risen and is golden.

Once ready, layer up the warm mushroom and miso mixture and puff pastry together in the centre of warm plates, so that you end with pastry on top, and serve.

Monday, 23 May 2011

M is for ...

... Manhattans with mung bean morsels topped with minted Mascarpone, followed by mushroom and miso millefeuille, Moules Mariniere with Maldon salt topped malted muffins. Next up was mutton, mace, marrowfat pea and Maplemoon ale stew, followed by mandarin-stuffed mallards with a Madeira, maple and marjoram reduction served with mange-tout and mash. Next was a palate cleansing Mojito sorbet followed by a pudding of marron meringues with marron butterscotch and marron ice cream served alongside a multi marron mousse marquise - comprising of a chocolate marron cake base topped with a marron mousse which in turn was topped with a chocolate and marron mousse, all scattered with marron praline and washed down with Moscatel. The M cheeseboard followed, with Morbier, Maroilles, Munster, Manchego, Sainte-Maure de Touraine and Moelleux du Revard served with malted grain crackers. Lastly, we drank mint tea and ate petit-fours of mandarin madeleines, mango macaroons and maple and macadamia nut truffles.  

Now, let's get something straight from the get-go, there really is no shortage of food stuffs beginning with the letter M. Flicking through Larousse, if M was a person, it would have to buy an extra seat on an aeroplane to squeeze in its mighty girth. You'd think this would make things simpler, but as in all things in life, making decisions about things to omit is definitely not my forté.

The initial stage of each letter's menu construction is a big handwritten scrawly list of everything I can think of that begins with that letter. It looks a bit like the shopping list of a person with a rare and eccentric form of OCD. When my brain has exhausted its own thoughts on the matter, I pad across the room to the book shelves and heave down a mountain of cookery books for further inspiration. Particularly helpful favourites have been Larousse's Gastronomique, 1001 Foods you Must Try Before You Die and various works of Elizabeth David and Elisabeth Luard. Ingredient list complete, I sit staring at it, straining my eyes, willing the list to become a menu that includes as many (if not all) the food stuffs staring back at me. I look longingly at them as if I'm creating a guest list for a party in which I want no one to be excluded. Richard acts as my alphabet soup anchor and suggests, in the kindest of possible ways, something along the lines of "that looks like quite a lot of food" and that unless my aim is to kill my dining companions, I might want to rein it in a bit. And I do. Not that much, I'll admit. I get over-excited and optimistic about what can be achieved in a micro kitchen and a short space of time to be reined in too tightly. And, in a bid to inject a little extra magic into the evening to celebrate the completion of the first half of the alphabet, M was my biggest menu so far. Needless to say, nobody went home hungry. Or sober. All in all, M night marked the halfway milestone of the project in marvellous fashion.

M night played host to a magnificent mix of guests. We had the supremely talented French actress Caroline Lena Olsson and the equally talented and brilliantly funny writer/ performer Catriona Knox, photographer extraordinaire and jazz enthusiast Simon Annand, hilarious writer, director and poker expert Hannah Mackay and my travel loving literary agent Olivia Guest. Last, but not least, we welcomed the glitteringly glamorous journalist Hermione Eyre who was accompanied by a surprise extra guest: Deryk, her incredibly well-behaved Yorkshire terrier.

Richard made an M themed mixtape which included Marilyn Monroe, Magnetic Fields, Madness, Bob Marley, Dean Martin, Mudhoney, Martha and the Muffins, Madonna, Meatloaf, Mr Right and Mr Wrong and Mint Royale. The evening kicked off with Manhattans and mung bean morsels topped with minted Mascarpone.


Photo taken by Simon Annand
Manhattans spell classic, chic and fiery. The cherry soaks up the punchy kick of the cocktail leaving you with a very special and sweet liquor-rich treat in the bottom of your glass. What could be better than that?

5 parts Bourbon whiskey
2 parts sweet red Vermouth
A dash of Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherries (1 per glass)

Stir the Bourbon, Vermouth and Angostura bitters over ice, strain into a chilled glass and top with a Maraschino cherry.

Mung bean morsels 

4 oz/ 100 g mung beans, pre-soaked
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
A finger of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander 
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Chick pea flour, enough to bind (2-3 tbsp), plus extra for dredging

Simply blitz the ingredients together in a food processor, form into golf-sized balls and press lightly to flatten. Toss the patties in more chick pea flour and fry in a little oil until golden. Serve topped with minted Mascarpone

Minted Mascarpone

2 tbsp full fat Mascarpone
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste

Simply stir the ingredients together and taste for seasoning. Pop a teaspoonful on top of the hot patties and serve immediately. 

Saturday, 7 May 2011

L is for... Lamingtons and liquorice root

Richard's maternal grandmother was Australian and when she died he was given her old cookbook Calling All Cooks, which has stamped on the first page, "WITH COMPLIMENTS FROM THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN GAS COY." It's a lovely thing to look through, with clippings of recipes from magazines and newspapers hidden between its leaves and Richard's Granny's own recipes written in a beautiful calligraphic hand. Everything from "Stuffed Hearts" and "Ginger Bread" to "S. Aus. Delicious Pudding" which looks to be a kind of lemon mousse, and does indeed look "delicious". On page 58 there is a recipe for lamingtons - a classic Australia cube-shaped sponge covered in chocolate icing and dunked in desiccated coconut. I love lamingtons and decided it would be a rather lovely thing to follow the recipe from Richard's Granny's book, though I adjusted the cooking time as my cake was done far sooner than this recipe suggests.  Here is the original recipe for the cake batter, including its old-fashioned variant spelling of coconut:

                                 1/4 lb. butter                                        1 lb. flour
                                        1/2 lb. sugar                                         2 teaspoons cream of tartar
                                        4 eggs                                                     1 teaspoon carb. soda*1
                                        Vanilla essence                                   1 1/2 gills milk*2

           Cream the butter and add gradually the sugar, beating until the mixture is soft, creamy and light. Add gradually the well-beaten eggs and vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and soda, and add alternating with the milk. Stir lightly until a smooth mixture is formed. Bake in a flat tin at 350 deg. for 3/4 - 1 hour.
           Next day cut into suitable pieces, coat with chocolate icing, and roll in desiccated cocoanut. When coating hold the cake on a wire skewer or knitting needle.

*1:  This refers to bicarbonate of soda
*2:  1 gill is the equivalent of 5 fl.oz so 1 1/2 is 7.5 fl.oz or 220 ml. 

I baked this cake in a parchment lined small roulade tray at 180°C (160°C Fan) for 25 minutes, though the time will depend on your oven.  I also made my cubes very tiny as I was serving them as petit-fours. Alternatively, you can simply whip up a quick all-in-one sponge batter, which should work just as well.

I decided not to follow Calling All Cooks' recipe for chocolate icing, as I thought it looked too sweet for my palate. Instead I simply dipped the squares of cake in melted dark chocolate before rolling them in desiccated coconut. If you would like to ensure your lamingtons are fully authentic, here is the recipe in Richard's Granny's Aussie cookbook:

                                  2 lbs. icing sugar                                            Vanilla essence
                                  2 - 3 tablespoons cocoa                                About one gill hot water
                                  1/4 lb. butter

        Sift the icing sugar and cocoa. Work in the butter, add vanilla and sufficient hot water to make the icing the necessary consistency.
       When using the icing, stand the bowl in some hot water. This keeps the icing soft, and thus simplifies the task.

When I served the lamingtons, I mentioned that I had also bought some liquorice root with thoughts of making a liquorice tea, but they seemed so much woodier than I expected and besides, Richard hates liquorice and I'm no particular fan myself, so I didn't bother in the end. But, Sarah Dean revealed how much she had loved gnawing on liquorice root as a child and so I offered her some. Here she is, chewing on a liquorice stick: 

Personally, I thought it was like chewing on an old pencil - not pleasant at all. Sarah did say that she remembered the sticks she chewed in her childhood being less dry but she still took home the rest of the bag so at least it didn't go to waste.

L is for... Lapsang Souchong truffles

The Lapsang Souchong tea gives these dark chocolate truffles a smoky depth. I always think in metric measurements for ganache truffles because it makes more sense - basically, for every 100 g of chocolate you'll need 100 ml cream, so if you want to make a bigger or smaller batch it's very simple to adjust the quantities. 

Lapsang Souchong truffles

100 g/ 4 oz good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small even pieces
100 ml/ 3.5 fl. oz double cream
1 tbsp loose leaf Lapsang Souchong tea (or 2 teabags snipped open)
25 - 50 g/ 1 - 2 oz light muscovado sugar (depending on personal taste). 
A small bowl of sifted cocoa

Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Next, place the cream and tea in a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Take off the cream and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Pass it all through a fine meshed sieve into a new clean saucepan and add the sugar to the cream. Place over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then bring the liquid up to the boil. Leave the cream to simmer for one minute before taking it off the heat. Leave the cream to cool for one minute before pouring over your chopped chocolate. Stir with a rubber spatula until all the chocolate has melted and you are left with a glossy, smooth ganache. Leave to cool before popping it into the fridge to set. Once set, use a teaspoon to spoon out the ganache and roll it between your hands to create even spheres and then roll it in the cocoa. Dust off any excess and pop on a serving plate. 

L is for... Langres, Lincolnshire Poacher, Livarot, Little Wallop and linseed crackers


L night's cheeseboard came from the ever delectable Paxton & Whitfield and included some of my favourite Alphabet Soup cheeses so far. We had the pleasure of eating the unpasteurised cow's milk delight that is Langres.  This French cheese from the Champagne region is a rich, soft cheese with a delicate orange coloured washed rind and a pleasingly pungent aroma and subtle spicy tang. We also had the excellent Lincolnshire Poacher, a hard, unpasteurised cow's milk cheese. According to P&W, it is excellent as an alternative to Cheddar on your cheeseboard, and we agreed! We also ate Livarot, a strong flavoured semi-soft cow's milk cheese with a reddish-orange skin circled with five bands of rush leaves. The cheese is golden yellow with a piquant flavour - dangerously moreish and pretty as a picture. Lastly, we had Little Wallop, an award winning goat's milk cheese which has been washed in Brandy and wrapped in a vine leaf. This creamy cheese is produced by Alex James, bass player from Blur, and has a fresh lemon flavour with a salty tang. Definitely worth a trip to Jermyn Street. We served the cheeses with linseed crackers.  

L is for... Lebkuchen-based lemon mousse served with lime sorbet, loganberry jelly, Limoncello jelly and loganberry coulis

This pudding has a delicious and refreshing zing and despite the creaminess of the mousse, this still manages to feel light and Summery. There are quite a few components to this dish, but there is also an awful lot of waiting around for things to cool and set, so you can easily get on with other things in the meantime. If, unlike me, you don't always leave everything to the last minute, you can easily make everything the day before. In fact, the sorbet can be made a week or even two ahead of time. However, if, like me, despite all your best intentions, you just can't seem to get anything done without the looming shadow of a tight deadline leering over your shoulder, don't panic. This is all perfectly achievable in a day, along with the rest of the menu - just use that dead time of waiting for things to cool and set to get cracking with the rest of the prep work. Bosh.

Lime sorbet

15 oz / 375 g caster sugar
17 fl. oz/ 500 ml water
1 tbsp finely grated lime zest
8.5 fl. oz/ 250 ml freshly squeezed and strained lime juice (about 12 - 15 limes)

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan with a few pinches of the lime zest over a gentle heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, let the syrup come up to the boil, turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Once cool, stir in the juice and remaining zest and pop the mixture in fridge for at least an hour before pouring into an ice cream machine - follow your specific model's instructions. If you don't have an ice cream machine, just pour the lime syrup into a tupperware box and stick in the freezer, stirring vigorously every half hour or so to prevent ice crystals forming. It will take at least four hours to set. Take the sorbet out of the freezer about 20 minutes before serving.


5 oz/ 125 g plain flour
2 oz/ 50 g ground almonds
1 oz/ 25 g molasses sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
A generous grind of black pepper
A pinch of salt
The finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
75 ml runny honey
2 oz/ 50 g unsalted butter

Heat the butter and honey together until the butter has completely melted. Meanwhile place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Tip in the honey butter and mix everything together until you have a thoroughly combined and stiff dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to cool.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan).

Place your ring moulds (if using) on a lined baking tray. Roll small balls of dough between your hands, flatten them a little and place one squashed ball in the centre of each mould. Pop the tray in the oven for 10 -15 minutes, then leave the tray to cool on top of a wire rack. Once cool, pop the biscuits out of their rings and wash and dry the ring moulds, and brush the insides with a little flavourless oil and set aside for later.

Lemon mousse

2 eggs, separated
4 oz/ 100 g caster sugar
Juice and grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 pint/ 275 ml double cream, whipped into soft peaks
3 leaves of gelatine

Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes or so or until completely soft. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk together until pale and creamy. Pour in the lemon zest and juice and whisk again. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine and pour over a couple of tablespoons of boiling water and stir until the gelatine has fully dissolved. Pour the melted gelatine into the egg mixture and whisk together. Fold in the whipped cream until completely combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the lemon mixture, being careful to keep as much air in the mousse as possible. Place the ring moulds on a baking parchment lined baking tray. Push a lebkuchen cookie into the base of each mould. Ladle the lemon mousse on top of each lebkuchen cookie and level their tops with a palette knife. Pop the mousses to set for a couple of hours.

Limoncello jelly

125 ml Limoncello
1 oz/ 25 g caster sugar
2 sheets of gelatine

Soak the sheets of gelatine in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes. In the meantime, stir the Limoncello and sugar together over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Take the pan off the heat, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and whisk the squidgy leaves into the hot liquid until thoroughly dissolved. Leave to cool before pouring into a clingfilm lined shallow sided baking tray. Pop the tray in the fridge to set.

Loganberry jelly

8 oz/ 200 g loganberries (or you can use half and half of blackberries and raspberries)
1 - 2 oz/ 25 - 50 g caster sugar (depending on how tart you like it)
125 ml water
2 leaves of gelatine

Place the berries, sugar and water in a saucepan over a gentle heat and stew the fruit until soft. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine in cold water until soft and squidgy. Pass the stewed berries through a sieve to remove the pips and stir in the soft gelatine until it has completed melted. Leave to cool and pour the liquid into a cling film lined shallow sided baking tray and pop in the fridge to set.

Loganberry coulis

4 oz/ 100 g loganberries (or half and half blackberries and raspberries)
A couple of tablespoons of water
Icing sugar to taste

Place the berries and water in a saucepan over a gentle heat until the fruit is soft and broken down. Pass the berries through a sieve to remove the pips. Sift over and stir in a little icing sugar, taste for sweetness and add more if necessary. Pop the coulis back on the heat to reduce if needed, then pour into a small jug and leave to cool completely before transferring into the fridge.

Plating up

Pop a lebkuchen-based lemon mousse on top of an egg cup (or any other small object that is taller than the ring mould), using either a blowtorch or a hairdryer heat the edge of the metal ring mould quickly and slide the ring downwards so that it slips off and leaves a clean sided mousse. Using a palette knife, pick up the mousse and pop it on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the mousses. You can zest a little lime on their tops to make them prettier. Next, upturn the jellies on to a chopping board and cut the jellies into little squares. Use an ice cream scoop to dish up a generous portion of lime sorbet and pop it next to the mousse. Place a line of the two jellies down the side of the plate. Dot or dribble some loganberry coulis on each plate and serve. My blobs were really uneven because I was conscious of the sorbet melting under the hot kitchen lights, but I'm sure you can make your's much prettier.