26 September 13

Wicked Bitter Chocolate Cake with Real Ale Ice Cream

This wicked chocolate cake is dark, gooey and rich, and utterly delicious! The real ale ice cream is a perfect accompaniment as the natural bitterness of the ale cuts through the richness of the chocolate, but at the same time provides the sumptuous creamy richness you would expect. I prefer to use dark chocolate with 75% cocoa solids for the flavour, as any lower percentage chocolate will make the cake taste sweeter.

For the real ale ice cream, you can use any local ale of your choice and preference. I have selected Woodforde’s Wherry real ale, an East Anglian ale from Norfolk, for its fruity character. It is slightly floral and less hopsy in taste and that tones the bitterness down.

In the summer, I substitute the real ale ice cream for cherry ice cream and serve cherries marinated in red wine syrup with it. It’s a classic but reliable


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02 September 13

Beetroot Soup with Horseradish Cream

Beetroot is one of the much-loved vegetables in our household, and consequently, we often cook with it and our menus frequently feature beetroot in various guises. Ruby, golden or candy-striped beetroots are all fantastic and I love the many different recipes that can be created using them. Boiled, puréed, roasted, pickled, shaved raw and even used in cakes, are all ways we prepare beetroot for our dishes.

I find growing beetroot is very easy. I use deep terracotta pots and place them in a sunny spot on the terrace. Planting two crops per season is easily achieved if you keep them well watered. However, too much water will encourage leaf growth and the actual beetroots themselves will remain small, so the advice is to let them go dry a bit as the goodness will then be stored in the edible roots rather than in the leaves. The smaller leaves are


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19 August 13

Baked Loganberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

Sublime, delicious, tasty, extraordinary… these are words that customers use to describe my cheesecakes. I have a cheesecake for all seasons and this one is my peak summer favourite. I wish I had kept track of how many cheesecakes I have made and sold since I started making them. Let’s put it this way – I have used an awful lot of cream cheese indeed!

My mother loves cheesecake and she usually makes the chilled set type of cheesecake as it’s easy and she does not really like to use the oven – too expensive she says. My saying always used to be, “Mother, if you are going to eat cheesecake it has to be worthwhile, and in my opinion it has to be a baked cheesecake.” She likes to remind me of my words every so often, and I must say after all these years that my opinion still


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04 August 13

Pan-fried Hake with Fennel Confit and Dry Sherry Sauce

Delicious pan-fried hake with crispy golden brown skin and well seasoned with sea salt. Mmmm, that sounds good to me! When we go to restaurants (which I must say does not happen often as we are working most of the time) I like to order fish. We hardly get to eat fish at home as our staff lunches consist of the contents of the fridge, and fish is too expensive for that.

I believe it’s sometimes harder to cook a piece of fish than a piece of meat. The skin has to be crisp and the flesh moist but not under or over cooked. My advice is that the pan must not be too hot, it’s got to be medium-hot so that the skin will crisp beautifully but won’t burn and the flesh will be cooked but not dried out.

Hake brings back fond memories of my earlier days in


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