Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A Day In the Life (and Halibut with a Garlic, Potato and Saffron Broth)

 Halibut with a Garlic, Potato and Saffron Broth

Until recently, I have always superciliously scoffed at the whole idea of 'date night.' Largely because... well,  if a couple has to start making concrete plans in the diary, putting time by for candle light wooing, footsie under the table and some prospective how's yer father; something has to be wrong doesn't it? It just didn't seem right to me that any notion of romancing should be pigeon-holed into a two hour window of opportunity and scribbled hastily onto the calendar. I also took the haughty long view against date night largely because it is an American concept and I do like to rail and kick against sterile, uniform ideas from across the pond; like perfect teeth and cheese-whiz.

But as of late, along with my wife, I have begun to embrace the idea. Simply because we are very busy. Busy, busy, busy. Busier than a squirrel collecting nuts in autumn, busier than a one armed paper hanger and certainly busier than Lord McAlpine's lawyers. If we didn't take the time out to simply sit down at the table, to chat and laugh once a week, there is the terrible prospect that before we knew it, the children will be all grown up and off and we'll be left sat opposite each other in a living room, wondering who the hell the other person was. OK, I just trotted out a bit of a cliché there about parenting but the underlying message is that it is important to make time for each other. Any opportunity for a date night, at home or out at a restaurant or pub or whatever, is a good opportunity to me.

So yesterday, over a quick gulp of coffee, I lavishly declared to Mrs FU that that night would be 'date night' and I had in mind to cook some fish for a change, something sophisticated; just to remind her that sometimes I can be a bit more than a meat-eating, knuckle-dragging philistine in the kitchen. Just sometimes. Something like fish with a garlic, potato and saffron broth, a dish I picked up from a very short tenure at Rick Stein's Seafood School many years ago.

She left to get the kids to school, afterwards heading off on wedding expedition thing with my sister who is soon to get married and I made a dash for Heston's favourite supermarket; Aldi would not suffice for what I had in mind. After running around the aisles, extravagantly sniffing root vegetables and squeezing packets of dried fruit, I went to the checkout and when it came to paying I promptly discovered that I had left my wallet at home. It was very difficult trying not to swear in front of the elderly checkout lady but she quickly got the gist of my angst, re-enacted through mime and said that she would keep my bag behind the till. And so after a quick, expletive ridden 10 minute journey to home and back, I dutifully paid for my shopping.

Next stop was the fishmongers, a risky business shopping on a Tuesday as there probably wouldn't be much in yet; and there wasn't much to be honest. Excitedly though, I pointed at some red fish, asking yet another septuagenarian assistant if it was gurnard and she just laughed, saying they were mullet, making me feel wholly inadequate in the process. I then pointed vigorously at some halibut (I knew it was halibut because it was labelled 'halibut') and enquired by barking, if it came from a sustainable source. Suddenly my purple haired quarry became all steely and cold.

"It came from Billingsgate this morning, that's all I know."

Sensing a punch up, I meekly withdrew and throwing all ethical scruples out of the window, I asked gently for two portions; you know, enough for two. Which cost me twelve f**king quid.

With my tail between my legs and drained of cash, I popped to the bank to check my balance. As we are coming towards the end of the month, I noticed that the coffers were getting low so I decided to queue to transfer some money, rather than do it at home on the internet like a sensible person. This decision cost me something like an hour. When I finally got to the counter, as soon as I put my request in, my cashier's computer died and as she smiled and winked at me with wrinkly, twinkly eyes, cooing that her machine was just 'rebooting'; I started to come to the conclusion that my day wasn't going well. And that the entire working populace of Upminster consists of old ladies.

This shopping trip, which should have took half an hour at most, was now running to two and a half, and as the clock ticked, I was becoming more and more agitated. I had some chores to do at home and the end of school deadline was looming so once I got back through the door I threw myself into the housework. Dusting, hoovering, washing, drying, mopping, all that kind of shizz; yes I am the definitive modern man. Then the door goes and so I answer and it is my neighbour from a couple of houses down. He has an apology apparently. He was reversing into a space just behind our car and sort of scraped the back bumper. My response is to simply laugh hysterically in his face and slam the door shut; leaving my neighbour to ponder my indifference and to wonder why I was wearing a pinny.

At quarter to three, the alarm on my phone goes off with a reminder note that flashes on the screen: 


And so I jump into the car to collect the twins from school. Despite encountering a deluge of rain, bumper to bumper traffic and an OAP who takes an age to drag his shopping trolley across a zebra crossing ("Where are they all coming from?" I silently scream) I make it to the playground just in time. Running with a small hand clasped in each of mine across the tarmac, we get back into the Megane, complete with red scratch on the bumper; our warm panting breath and giggles steaming the windows up inside. So it's a quick wipe with an abandoned sock found on the floor of the car and off we set. And narrowly we miss another car that comes from out of nowhere. Mindful of the children's ears, I wind down the window and yell "IDIOT!" to the sky and Fin helpfully reminds me that I mustn't call people that. He also tells me that I mustn't say "F**king hell." I physically blanch, quietly chastise myself and then casually ask them about their day, trying to bring some calm to proceedings.

For a while the calmness remains, insofar in that once we get home, everything becomes normal. Uniforms and ties are festooned around the place; toys, crayons, paper and books are strewn everywhere and CBBC blares in the background. My earlier efforts were in vain but no matter because I was about to get stuck into preparing dinner, fishcakes for the kids and a date night feast for later; prepping veg always has a meditative effect on me. Then the phone rings.

By all accounts, Mrs FU had gone to Lakeside with my sister, that emporium of quality goods and every Essex girls' favourite whine; and had visited a coffee shop for break. And had her handbag pinched from under her nose by some bastard tea leaf whilst in there. A carrot flies across the room and Finlay, the inquisitor of foul language, pops his head around the door with a severe, stern look on his face. 

"Horlicks," I tell him. "Daddy said Horlicks."

Phone calls to banks are made, fish cakes are haphazardly formed and slapped on plates with crunchy undercooked broccoli and the twins sit there with knife and fork, watching me ruefully as I sit with them. Probably because my left eye is involuntarily twitching and I have opened a bottle of wine, breaking the 7PM watershed. Mummy comes home, white and shaking with anger. The best I can offer is a hug and a glass of wine and playfully suggest we turn one of Isla's dolls into a voodoo effigy, cast a spell or two over it and then stab it with skewer. Mrs FU laughs and then we notice Isla silently weeping at the table and we have to reassure her that Daddy is not going to stab Lily, her favourite patchwork toy.

With date night still in mind, we didn't lose sight of that, Mrs FU says that she is going to get the kids ready for bed and off to sleep whilst I get on with the business making our special dinner; a fragrant, warm, enticing broth with some chunky, pan-fried sweet fish and a sprinkling of sharp capers with oregano. I put some music on, clear the table down and scrape fish cake residue from off the floor; the candles come out and I throw a bottle of Prosecco in the freezer. A tumult sounds off from upstairs and heavy steps come thundering down the stairs. A naughty daughter just won't go to sleep and is testing an already stressed and frazzled mother to the limits and I flip the lid, exclaiming that I will rip Lily's head off if she doesn't go to bed. Isla then bursts into full tears, saying her stomach hurts and she can't sleep and the sledgehammer of guilt whacks me straight in gut. Together we all huddle on the sofa, trying to reassure her (again) and after 20 minutes or so, a dose of Calpol is dispensed. But as her spasms increase both Mrs FU and I exchange worried glances, both telepathically thinking that a visit to the hospital is looming.

Suddenly it happens. From out of nowhere, Isla produces a loud parp of such intensity and strength, that my glasses nearly melt and fall off my face. After that Isla continues to utter soft, lingering farts or 'fairy puffs' as we call them, from her derriere for at least another 20 minutes, after which she seems much better. She ended up falling asleep on her Mummy's lap in fact, so I lift her carefully and carry her upstairs. I place my beautiful girl onto her bed and she turns her back to me in slumber; shifting one last blast of the trumpet.

It is very late now and our date night has sort of been spoiled by events of the day but c'est la vie, that is life. At least the halibut and broth was good, it really was; a fantastic contrast of flavours, light yet meaty fish with a heady garlic and earthy vegetable soup. Even the stale bread worked, toasted instead of wasted. Of course, date nights don't have to end with a nudge and a wink. Sometimes, it is just as good to simply drain the remnants of your glass and head upstairs for a quick cuddle and then to tumble into the oblivion of sleep. The washing up can wait till tomorrow and that Prosecco can wait till another spicier, bubblier date night.

One word of advice though, always remember to take the bottle out of the freezer. 

I found this out this morning.

Halibut with Garlic, Potato and Saffron (works with other fish though)

4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

4 sprigs of fresh oregano

1 small head of garlic

1 tsp of chopped oregano leaves

100 ml dry white wine

500ml fish or chicken stock

1 leek, cleaned and sliced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 tomatoes, chopped

300g waxy potatoes, thickly sliced

Pinch of saffron strands

1 teaspoon of capers

Salt and pepper


Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan. Add the oregano sprigs and unpeeled garlic cloves and cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove pan from heat, cool a little, then add half the wine. Return to the heat and boil rapidly until it has almost evaporated. Add the leek, carrot and tomato and stir for a minute. Add the stock, saffron and some seasoning, then cover and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Shortly before the potatoes are ready, heat the rest of the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the halibut, skin side down and fry for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn over and fry for another 2 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through.

Serve up the broth in a deep pasta or soup bowl and place the halibut on top. Mix the capers with the chopped oregano in some olive oil and salt and pepper and drizzle over the fish and serve. Stale toast is optional but very tasty.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Food Urchin Chrimbo Supper Club

Oh Ye! Oh Ye! Hear me now!

Christmas is fast approaching and I am sure you have loads of fun things planned on the run up. Like sitting in traffic, queueing at the supermarket, tearing your hair out and screaming at your beloved ones, especially at the young 'uns as they pander to adverts on the television set and constantly repeat "I WANT THAT. I WANT THAT. I WHAT THAT." I know I might just take a cricket bat to ours soon!

Ho ho ho!

However, if you fancy a break from all that nonsense, if you urge some respite from the oncoming mania of the festive season, if you would simply like to sit down at someone else's table and enjoy a memorable, delicious Sunday lunch before the madness descends; then book yourself a place at the Food Urchin Chrimbo Supper Club based at my house in Hornchurch, which will be on the 16th of December.

Here is the menu, in the immortal words of Borat, "It's very niiiiiiiiiiice."

Smoked Mackerel Pâté with Chicory and Fennel

Roast Quail on Toast with Caramelised Onion and Tomato Picada

Slow Cooked Venison in Red Wine and Rosemary

Damson and Port Jelly

Panettone Bread Pudding OR Baked Quince with Honey, Bay, Verjuice, Pomegranate and Greek Yoghurt

All the for the very reasonable donation of £25 per head and as always this includes homemade bread and the finest tap water you can find in Essex.

Vegetarian options are available on request.

And naturally, the house will be festooned in cheap twinkling lights and gaudy decorations from Poundland, just to get you in the mood. I might even hang my sparkling, pajazzed baubles out for you all to admire.

If you would like to reserve a seat then please email me at or if you would like to be on the mailing list for the supper club for future events, drop me a line anyway and I shall spam you till your hearts content. Or not, as the case maybe.

Merry Xmas!

Love from The Furch.

PS. Incidentally, I took the twins to visit Santa at our local department store on Sunday, the very old fashioned Roomes in Upminster where I do believe Mrs. Betty Slocombe is still working and still harping on about her pussy. And may I just say, he was the most uninterested, boring Father Christmas I have ever encountered. He was one day into the job and already his eyes were dead and his patter was just soulless. I suspect the road to the 25th will be long and arduous for this particular and possible former RADA graduate and he'll be on the whisky by then end of the week.

Oh well, the kids were enthralled nevertheless and at least I can put the squeeze on them for the next month or so.

"That's it! I am calling Father Christmas! I am telling him RIGHT NOW that the pair of you have been very, very naughty!"

Works a charm everytime.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Patience with Beginners

Yesterday I realized that I had pounded up a small dried Indian coconut with sugar for no reason. I also had three egg whites left over after making nog. So I decided to see what would happen if I put the coconut with whipped egg whites and rice flour for some macaroons. They're nice. For some strange reason I tried whisking with my left hand. Know what? It's impossible. That arm has absolutely no muscle memory of having ever done this. And then I took out a knife and tried to cut a carrot into batons. Know what? My left hand is a complete beginner. And I'm starting to really empathise when someone, like my younger son, who tells me, he actually CANT make his own pancakes. Things I take for granted like swirling the pan with butter, pouring batter, flipping pancakes, are simply not things he can do yet, physically. And I assume there are probably many people much like him.

It also occured to me that this is exactly like writing. Some of my students can organize ingredients, put them in good order, and even flip them with a solid thesis. Some have never been asked to write a research paper yet in their lives. They are absolute beginners. And I understand why now. No one assigned a real paper. No one threw them in the kitchen and said, cook. Doesn't matter what happens. Start. Then do it again. And again. Eventually you will know how to write. Or cook. Same thing. Or anything. It's not something you can teach except for encouraging people to do it. I'm beginning to feel better about cookbooks with no directions, and my sophmore history seminar where I have basically just let the students loose and am making them write a full length 6,000 word paper. Like anything, simply doing it makes it possible.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

MORE MILK – Ruffle some feathers with our simple dessert.

Ruffled fillo pie with pistachios and honey
 This scrumptious recipe is an adaptation of a Greek dessert with a creamy baked custard base and crispy fillo pastry top. Don't be intimidated by the it's milky frills and ruffles, it really is easy to make and even easier to eat.
Serves 8

• 60g butter, melted
• 8 sheets fillo pastry
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1½ cups milk
• 3 eggs
• ½ cup caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons honey
• ¼ cup roasted pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease and line a 20cm (8inch) cake pan.
2. Lay out the fillo pastry on the bench and cover lightly with a damp cloth, this will prevent the pastry from drying out and cracking. Take out one sheet of pastry and lay it lengthways on the bench. Lightly brush the pastry with the melted butter. Ruffle up the pastry so that you bring the long sides closer together, then coil up the length of ruffled filo to create a rosette. Place this into the greased cake pan and continue with the remaining pastry and butter. Place 7 rosettes of pastry around the outside of the cake pan and then one in the centre.
3. Liberally brush the top of the pastry with the remaining butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes. 
4. While the pastry is cooking, place the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. While the milk is warming place the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and whisk well. Gradually pour over the hot milk while whisking the mixture until all the milk has been added.
5. After the 30 minutes remove the cake pan from the oven and pour over the egg custard mixture. Return to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes or until custard sets..
6. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for a few minutes before pulling apart into the rosettes for serving. While still hot drizzle with honey and sprinkle with pistachio nuts.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

A Temperamental Starter

Starters are much like people. For no apparent reason they are ornery, they don't do what you ask, and sometimes you frankly want to kill them. The starters, that is. And I have killed them. All the more suprising when people write to tell me they have offspring from Durga, the first wild sourdough I ever made and shared. Seriously, her offspring are thriving as far away as Maine. I have gone through many starters in the past few years. And the latest young one was just being completely uncoorperative. One dough liquefied and was poured in the trash. Another was not cooked in the middle when I brought it to a party. Epic fail, as my kids say. The last one didn't rise well, but I baked it anyway and ate it this week. Dense, but bread. And then suddenly she is right as rain. Huge, poufy and magnificently risen. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was the new location on the shelf by the window rather than near the sink. I don't know why but suddenly she made a bread of such astounding beauty that I am truly flabbergasted. Just came out of the oven and still hot. The bread looks like most that I usually make, so instead I decided to show you this. The smallest pizza on earth. It is a real pizza. A bit of dough stuck in the bowl, good sauce, homemade mozzarella, salami (really) and some herbs. It was made exactly as a pizza should be. Delicious too. Benji and I split it.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Power of Suggestion

Why am I so susceptible to the power of suggestion? Last night I was talking to Kristine about romano beans stewed slowly in olive oil and fresh grated tomatoes. Now I am making it. I ran into Jim at the grocery and he was buying pancetta. So look what I had to make just now. I literally only heard the phrase chicken soup as a woman was about to pick up a can. I want that. So some freshly made stock is simmering away on the stove. It's terrible, I can't hear a single food item even mentioned without wanting it. Christian tells me he's making spaetzle. I want that too. To go in the stock of course. This is what happens when you really love every food on earth. A blessing or a curse?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Maple Pecans and Rye

Could anyone have guessed that I am writing a book about nuts right now? I guess no one knew but the publisher. Not even me, until I was reminded! But it's almost done and will go into Reaktion's Edible Series (with my pancake book). I've begun to test and photograph recipes. This one is so good I have to share it, as a little foretaste. Take pecans and heat them in a nonstick pan until fragrant. Sprinkle on some powdered cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper and a dash of salt. Now while stirring constantly sprinkle on maple sugar. It will melt very quickly and stick to the nuts. Keep stirring until they are nicely coated. Remove from the pan and let cool thoroughly. They are so crunchy, so intriguingly sweet and spicy and salty. Consume with some good strong Redemption Rye, straight. Languish.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Sweet Tarts vs. Smarties vs. Sassy Sours

If like me you still find yourself rifling through the bottom of the Halloween leftover bowl, I have a piece of crucial information to help guide you through this treacherous terrain. First, gum seems to have disappeared. Alas. Most chocolate now comes in tiniest of fun sized micro-bites that are hardly worth the effort of opening. Unless perhaps they could be snorted. A stale Baby Ruth up the nose might not be bad. Snickers not even on a bet. I am not wild about mass produced chocolate, though there were a few Heath Bars in there. My kids didn't realize the candy bar preceded the heath bar crunch ice cream flavor. The 100,000 dollar bar is gone. Twix has lost its luster for me. And in all honesty, I have always found the sour sugary garbage much more appealing from a purely gastronomic perspective. I don't know why, but pixie stix were grand. Can you recall zotz with a little lump of caustic acid in the middle that fizzed on the tongue? But who knew that the perverse little sweet and sour tablets wrapped in clear plastic with twists on the end are not all the same!?

I thought the classic were Smarties. Though a half eaten package on my desk somehow tastes flat, chalky and dissolves too quickly on the tongue. Then I opened the so-called Sassy Sours which are clearly a cheap knock-off. They are disgusting, can be easily crumbled with your fingers. And the pale pastel colors are vomitous - and they all taste the same too. The Smarties are a little bolder in color, a little more sour and hold together with more convinction. BUT, Sweet Tarts are divine. Hard as a rock, bracingly sour, with assertive colors like blue, green, purple and orange. Made by Wonka, though I don't think that was the case years ago. So if you find yourself being offered anything else, refuse adamantly. Oh these are good, even the flavors taste distinct. I think I'll have another.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

MILK – and the dish ran away with the spoon

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Caramel cream tartlets with almond pastry 
These divine tartlets are a great way to use the food depts'  Salted cardamom dulche de leche from our slow story. But if time is of the essence you can buy a canned caramel in the cake isle of your supermarket.

Makes 6 x 10cm tartlets

2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup almond meal
¼ cup caster sugar
150g butter, diced
1/3 cup iced water
1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon water, to make egg wash
extra, ¼ cup caster sugar
2 free range egg yolks
seeds scrapped from 1 vanilla pod, reserve the pod for another use
200ml cream
½ cup duche de leche
extra, ½ cup caster sugar, for bruleeing

1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, almond meal, caster sugar and butter in the bowl of a large food processor. Process until it resemble breadcrumbs. Add the iced water through the feeder tube and keep processing until the pastry comes together in a ball.
2. Remove from the processor, shape into a log approximately 7cm in diameter and wrap in plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Remove from the refrigerator and slice of pieces of pastry, one at a time, approximately 1 ½ cm thick. Roll out the discs of pastry between sheets of baking paper to approximately 3mm. If the pastry is sticking to the paper sprinkle lightly with flour. Line each tartlet case and place onto a tray refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 180ºC (360ºF). Once the pastries have been chilled, prick the base of each one and line with foil, fill with pie weights or rice and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil and weights. Brush with the egg wash and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until light golden in colour. Reduce the oven to 160ºC (320ºF).
5. To make the custard, combine the extra ¼ cup caster sugar, egg yolks, vanilla seeds and cream in a jug, whisk until sugar dissolves.
6. Spread 1 tablespoon of dulche de leche in each tartlet case and fill each one with the custard. Bake for 20 minutes or until the custard is set.
7. Allow the tartlets to cool then remove from tartlet pans. Sprinkle each tartlet with 2 teaspoons of caster sugar and brulee to top. Sprinkle with another 2 teaspoons of caster sugar and brulee again.  By bruleeing in 2 layers you get a thicker and crisper top without the sugar burning. Allow the sugar to set then serve.

food dept fact: This recipe makes sufficient pastry to prepare this recipe a second time. If you are going to make pastry why not pop the remaining pastry in the freezer for up to 3 months and make another batch of these beautiful tartlets or there is enough to line a 10 x 35cm flan tin and you can make a variation on our delicious strawberry tart.  

Banoffee milkshake
Makes 2 large shakes

• 1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 50 g butter
• 2 large ripe bananas
• 2 cups milk
• 4 large scoops vanilla ice cream
• ½ cup thickened cream, whipped
• 1 tablespoon shaved chocolate, for serving

1. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar and butter in a frying pan over a low heat and cook stirring for 10-12 minutes until it has thickened. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Place bananas, milk, ice cream and 2 tablespoons of the cooled caramel sauce in a blender and blend until smooth.
3. Take 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce and swirl around the inside of a large glass, pour half of the banana shake and top with a dollop of cream and shaved chocolate. Repeat with a second glass. Serve immediately.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Buttermilk pancakes with blueberries and spiced maple butter
We have gone out of our way to make sure these will be the lightest and fluffiest pancakes you’ll ever make. When nectarines and peaches are in season, add a few slices with to the blueberries when serving.
Makes approximately 10 pancakes

125g unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1¾ cups plain flour
¼ cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1½ cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
50g butter, melted
extra, 30g butter, for greasing
1 punnet blueberries, for serving
Maple syrup, for serving
• Cream and icing sugar, for serving (optional)

1. To make the spiced maple butter, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and cinnamon and continue beating until well combined, set aside at room temperature until required
2. To make the buttermilk pancakes, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
3. In a large jug whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and melted butter. Whisk into the flour, be careful to not over work the mixture. Small lumps of flour are fine in pancake mixture.
4. Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium heat. Place approximately ½ teaspoon of the extra butter into the frying pan and brush over with a pastry brush.
5. Using a 1/3 cup measure pour the batter into the frying pan. Cook for approximately 4 minutes until small bubbles form, turn them over and continue to cook for another 4 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Place on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm, repeat with remaining melted butter and batter.
6. Serve 2 pancakes stacked on a plate. While hot top with spiced maple butter, blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. To make them extra indulgent, drizzle over some cream and a sprinkle of icing sugar.

food dept fact: Spiced maple butter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month, return to room temperature before use.

Strawberry and milk jelly
Makes 1 litre jelly

2 leaves gelatine
• extra, 6 leaves gelatine
• 1 x 250g punnet strawberries
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• water to make up to a 1 cup measure
• 1 tablespoon boiling water
• 3 cups milk
• extra, ½ cup sugar
• 1 vanilla bean split and scrapped

1. Soak the 2 leaves of gelatine in a bowl of cold water. Repeat in another bowl with the 6 leaves.
2. Place the strawberries and sugar into a food processor and process until smooth.
3. Strain through a sieve to remove the strawberry seeds and if necessary add a little water to make up to 1 cup of strawberry liquid. This is to ensure you have the correct quantities for the gelatin to set to the same consistency for both layers.
4. Drain the 2 leaves of gelatine well and pour over the boiling water, stir to dissolve the gelatin sheets and then add the gelatine and water mixture to the strawberry puree, stir well to combine.
5. Pour the strawberry puree into a 1 litre mold and place into the refrigerator and allow to set for 1 hour.
6. Place the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds into a saucepan, heat over a medium heat until it comes to a simmer, remove form the heat. Drain the 6 leaves of gelatin well and add to the warmed milk, stir well to ensure the gelatine has dissolved. Strain into a bowl and allow to cool. You could place the milk mixture over a bowl of iced water to speed up the process, be careful not to let it get too gold or the gelatin will begin to set.
7. When the milk mixture is cold pour it gently over the back of a spoon down the side of the mold, being careful not to disturb the strawberry layer. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
8. To serve, dip the mold into hot water for 15 seconds, quickly dry the outside of the mold. Place your serving plate on top of the mold and invert, remove the mold and serve immediately.

food dept fact: Gelatine leaves can come in varying strengths, check your packet for the manufacturers' recommendations and adjust the recipe accordingly.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Vanilla tres leche cake with double cream and mango

The food dept’s version of a traditional Latin American cake served with double cream and mango.  The base is a beautiful fluffy sponge soaked with a combination of cream and 2 milks, served piled high with double cream and mango slices or your favourite spring and summer fruits.
Make 16 serves

5 free range eggs, separated, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour, sifted 4 times with a pinch of salt
1 cup cream
1 cup evaporated milk
1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk
extra, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
300ml double cream, for serving
2 mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Lightly grease and line the base of a 20cm (8inch) square cake pan.
2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in half of the sugar and continue to beat for 1-2 minutes until glossy. Set aside.
3. In another bowl beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy, gradually sprinkle in the remaining sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat for another 1 minute.
4. Using a large metal spoon gradually fold the yolks into the whites being careful not to over mix.
5. Sift over half of the flour and gently fold through, sift over the remaining flour and gently fold through, be careful not to over work the mixture or you will loose the air which is what makes a beautiful light sponge.
6. Gently spoon the sponge mixture into the prepared cake pan and gently smooth over the surface. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door, especially not in the first 45 minutes. Doing so with deflate the sponge.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the cake pan15 minutes. Don’t remove the cake from the pan. While the sponge is cooling combine the cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in a large jug, whisk to combine.
8. Once the cake has cooled, use a skewer to poke holes over the whole top of the sponge, this will allow the cream and milks to be more easily absorbed. Pour over half of the cream and milk mixture and allow it to absorb. Pour over the remaining mixture, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
9. Turn out the cake onto a platter and cut into 16 small squares, serve with a dollop of double cream and mango slices.

Malted milk and chocolate chip cookies
These cookies with a glass of milk will satisfy any after school cravings.
Makes approximately 6 large cookies.

• 125g butter, softened
• ½ cup brown sugar
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 free range egg
• 1 ½ cups plain flour
• ½ cup malted milk powder
• pinch salt
• 1 cup chocolate chips or your favourite chocolate bar, roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream until light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes.
2. Add the egg and beat for another minute until well combined.
Sift together the flour, milk powder and salt. Add the flour to the butter mixture and beat on low until combined.
3. Add the chocolate chips and gently mix through.
4. Roll ¼ cups of the mixture into a balls and place onto a lined baking tray. Flatten with a fork and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.


Milky ice pops
 This recipe makes 2 cups of chocolate milk mixture, depending on the shape and size of your mold will depend on how many you get. This recipe is super easy to halve or double to suit your moulds.

• 1 cup milk
• 150ml cream
• 100 g chocolate – white, milk or dark, finely chopped

1. Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan over a medium heat and just bring to a simmer. 
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until it has melted. Add the liqueur or sugar if you are using at this stage.
3. Chill the milk and chocolate mixture. Just before pouring into the molds whisk the mixture well and then pour into ice pop molds. Freeze for 4 hours or overnight.

food dept fact: These can be made with white, milk or dark chocolate. If they’re for adults try adding a tablespoon of your favourite liqueur – coconut liqueur with the white chocolate, Cointreau with the dark to make a jaffa flavour and try a coffee liqueur with milk chocolate for mocha ice pops. If you use a bitter sweet dark chocolate you may find the ice pops are not sweet enough, add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the warm milk and cream to sweeten things up. These milk pops can also be half dipped in melted chocolate for a fun variation.