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Tag Archives: dinner party
  • Posted on October 9, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    It's one of our favourite weeks of the year... chocolate week! Not that we need an excuse to bake something chocolatey and delicious this weekend,  but this Great British Bake Off- inspired Chocolate Mille Feuille from Deliciously Chocolatey by Victoria Glass looks impressive and tastes even better. To celebrate Chocolate Week in style head over to The Chocolate Show London where our very own Will Torrent will be showcasing his chocolate skills live on stage. If you happen to live further afield why not try a recipe from Will's Chocolate at Home or one of our other fantastic chocolate-inspired books such as Hannah Miles' Hot Chocolate?

    Chocolate Mille Feuille

    Chocolate mille feuille

    Mille feuilles means ‘a thousand leaves’ – layers of buttery chocolate puff filled with crème pâtissière. 


    icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

    Chocolate puff pastry

    125 g/1 cup plain/ all-purpose flour

    35 g/1/3 cup cocoa powder

    a pinch of salt

    50–75 ml/1/4–1/3 cup cold water

    2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

    125 g/1 stick cold butter


    Crème pâtissière

    200 ml/3/4 cup milk

    2 large egg yolks

    50 g/1/4 cup caster/ granulated sugar

    20 g/21/2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch, sifted

    1 teaspoon vanilla paste

    15 g/1 tablespoon butter

    35 g/1 oz. dark/bittersweet chocolate (60–70% cocoa solids), melted and cooled slightly

    2 piping/pastry bags fitted with 1-cm/ 3/8-in. plain nozzles/tips

    2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment


    Makes 8–10


    To make the pastry, sift the flour and cocoa together in a large bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the middle. Stir the lemon juice into the cold water and add two-thirds of the mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix and knead until you have a firm dough, adding more water if needed. This is called the détrempe. Flatten it, wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

    Put the butter in between 2 sheets of baking parchment and bash it with a rolling pin until you have a flat rectangle of butter about 2-cm/3/4-in. thick.

    On a lightly floured surface, roll the détrempe into a rectangle, about 1.25-cm/ 1/2-in. thick and place the butter in the centre. Fold the edges of the dough over the butter to create a neat parcel. Turn the dough over, so the seams are underneath, and roll into a neat rectangle of about 38 x 20 cm/16 x 8 in. With a short edge facing you, brush off any excess flour and fold over the furthest edge towards you and then the edge nearest you over the top. Seal the edges together with your fingers. Dust the surface with more flour and turn the dough 90 degrees. Roll into a rectangle, brush off any excess flour and fold as before. Seal the edges with your  fingers, wrap the dough in clingfilm/plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for an hour. Repeat the rolling, folding and resting twice more, so in the end the dough will have been rolled and folded six times and rested in the fridge three times. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, the last time.

    Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

    Cut the puff pastry in half and roll each piece until it is about 1.5-mm/1/16-in. thick. Prick the tops all over with a fork and arrange one rectangle of pastry on each prepared baking sheet. Place another sheet of baking parchment over the pastry and top each rectangle with another clean baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes, or until cooked through and dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and turn the heat up to 220°C (450°F) Gas 8. Remove the top baking sheets and peel off the top layer of baking parchment, before liberally dusting with icing/confectioners’ sugar. Return the pastry to the oven for a few minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized. Be careful, it can turn very quickly!

    Leave the pastry to cool for a few minutes, before trimming the edges and cutting into 10 x 3-cm/4 x 11/4-in. rectangles. Leave to cool completely.

    To make the two different flavours of crème pâtissière, start by making a basic vanilla pastry cream. Put the milk in a pan set over a gentle heat. In the meantime, put the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour/cornstarch and vanilla in a heatproof bowl and whisk together. Once the milk just comes to the boil, pour it over the eggs and whisk together. Pour the mixture back into the pan and stir continuously over a gentle heat for 1–2 minutes. Increase the heat and continuing to stir until the mixture has thickened. Take the pan off the heat and vigorously whisk in the butter until it has melted. Spoon half of the crème pâtissière into a bowl and cover with clingfilm/plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Whisk the melted chocolate into the remaining half before decanting into another bowl and covering. Leave to cool to room temperature before spooning the mixtures into the piping/pastry bags. Chill until needed.

    To assemble the mille feuilles, simply pipe rounds of vanilla crème pâtissière onto 10 rectangles. Top with a second rectangle of pastry, before piping them with even rounds of chocolate crème pâtissière. Finally, place a third rectangle of pastry on each, before using a palette knife to transfer the mille feuilles to serving plates. Dust with icing/confectioners’ sugar and serve.


    Deliciously Chocolatey


    Deliciously Chocolatey by Victoria Glass is available here.

    Chocolate at Home by Will Torrent is available here.

    Tickets to The Chocolate Show can be purchased here.

    Hot Chocolate by Hannah Miles is available here.

    Happy baking everyone!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with dinner party, chocolate, recipe for the weekend, dessert, sweet, Great British Bake Off, Chocolate at Home, 2015, recipe, patisserie

  • Posted on April 9, 2014

    Mid-week Meal

    Whoever said that mid-week meals can’t be delicious? Whether you are cooking a relaxed meal for a few friends after work or need something super quick to put on the table before you rush out again, mid-week meals should be appetizing and enjoyable to make! So today we have a quick and tasty salad (a whole book of salad recipes here you may also enjoy) for you to try from Friends Around the Table by Acland Geddes of Megan’s Restaurant and Deli.

    The ingredients in this recipe can be thrown together pretty swiftly, so you could even take them to work for a tasty lunch or serve with some lovely crusty bread for dinner. The reduced balsamic vinaigrette will last you a few meals, so take a little extra time one evening to make it and then enjoy it for several salads after that!


    grilled nectarines with buffalo mozzarella, coppa salami & chilli

    A great-looking dish that’s bound to get ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. It tastes as good as it looks, and is totally foolproof. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time (or patience) to grill the nectarines – it’s the combination of colours and flavours that makes this simple assembly dish such a hit.

    4 nectarines

    caster/superfine sugar, for sprinkling

    8 slices coppa salami (if you can’t find any, substitute Parma ham)

    250 g/9 oz. buffalo mozzarella, torn into generous hunks

    1 mild red chilli, finely chopped (avoid the bird’s eye variety, they’re way too vicious for this dish)

    a bunch of fresh basil leaves

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    50 g/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved

    Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below), to serve

    sea salt and cracked black pepper

    a ridged grill pan

    serves 4

    Stone/pit the nectarines and cut them into quarters/fourths.

    Heat a ridged grill pan until smoking hot, sprinkle the nectarine pieces with sugar and cook for a few minutes on each side, until the char-lines show. Remove and allow to cool.

    Mix together the nectarines, salami, mozzarella, chilli, basil and olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.

    Arrange on a plate, scatter with the shaved Parmesan and Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette, and serve.


    reduced balsamic vinaigrette

    Balsamic vinegar had all the hallmarks of a fad, and I was sure it was going to quickly move from cliché to passé. But it looks like it’s here to stay, and quite right too; it’s a unique flavour. There are many different types, with varying taste, viscosity, and, of course, price. The most expensive ones are usually thick and syrupy with a concentrated flavour, which you can replicate simply by reducing your standard balsamic in a hot pan.

    125 ml/1/2 cup ordinary balsamic vinegar

    125 ml/1/2 cup olive oil

    1 teaspoon clear honey

    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon

    sea salt

    serves 8

    Put the balsamic in a pan and bring to the boil.

    Reduce by half, then test for viscosity by pouring a drop onto a cold plate. It should be syrupy but still pourable, the same consistency as maple syrup. If you reduce it too far it will become a solid blob upon cooling.

    Put the reduced balsamic into a jar with the remaining ingredients and a good pinch of salt. Close the jar tightly and shake.


    Friends Around the Table by Acland Geddes is full of delicious recipes like this one, perfect for spring and summer entertaining as well as cooking great meals for yourself or your family in an evening! To see the trailer for this beautiful book then click here and the book is available to buy here.

    Enjoy the rest of your week everyone!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, Videos, Videos, What's new, What's new and was tagged with dinner party, salad, friends around the table, quick, balsamic, working lunch

  • Posted on March 21, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Hurray! we’ve entered into spring in the UK and hasn't it been a long time coming? As we’re all looking forward to some warmer weather we thought it would be a good week to share a recipe from the beautiful new cookbook, Flavours of the Middle East by Ghillie Basan, which celebrates the delicious food from countries that have a lot more sun than we do!

    This dish is a fresh and zingy fish stew and will make a great meal for a dinner party if you fancy cooking up something a bit different, though you may need to pay a visit to a Middle Eastern store for some of the ingredients first. An afternoon stroll around a store full of fantastic flavours and an evening spent cooking up this tasty stew – now that’s a Saturday we’d definitely enjoy!

    fish stew with tamarind, hilbeh and dried limes

    This deliciously sour and spicy stew is most commonly found in Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait as both the sweet and sour limes grow in this region. The sour limes, ‘limun baladi’, are dried whole to impart a musty, tangy flavour to dishes, particularly fish stews and soups. The other flavours of this dish, which can be prepared with fish steaks or large prawns/shrimp, echo the history of trade between the Arabs and the Indians – tamarind, turmeric, fenugreek and fresh coriander/cilantro. Hilbeh is a distinctive paste from the Arabian Gulf made with fenugreek seeds that have been soaked in water until they form a jelly-like coating and are then pounded with garlic, chilli/chile and fresh coriander/cilantro. Dried tamarind pulp, dried limes or powdered dried lime and hilbeh are available in Middle Eastern stores.

    120 g/4 oz. dried tamarind pulp, soaked in 350 ml/11⁄2 cups hot water for 20 minutes

    1–2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 kg/2 lbs. 4oz. fish steaks, such as sea bream, grouper or sea bass

    1 onion, halved and sliced

    3–4 garlic cloves, chopped

    40 g/11⁄2 oz. piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

    2 teaspoons ground turmeric

    2–3 dried limes, pierced twice with a skewer

    1–2 teaspoons hilbeh paste roughly 12 small new potatoes, peeled and left whole

    a 400-g/14.5-oz. can plum tomatoes, drained of juice

    2 teaspoons granulated or palm sugar

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    a bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped

    1 unwaxed lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

    Serves 4–6


    Squeeze the tamarind pulp in your hand to separate the pulp from the seeds and stalks then strain the pulp through a sieve/strainer. Reserve the strained liquid.

    Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and sear the fish steaks for 1–2 minutes on each side then transfer them to a plate. Stir the onion, garlic and ginger into the pan until they begin to colour. Add the turmeric, dried limes and hilbeh then toss in the potatoes and cook for 2–3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with the sugar, pour in the strained tamarind liquid and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste then slip in the seared fish steaks. Cover the pan again and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked. Toss half the coriander/cilantro in the stew and use the rest to garnish the dish. Serve hot with rice and lemon wedges to squeeze over the fish.

    Flavours of the Middle East by Ghillie Basan is available here.

    We have a great range of tagine books you will also love :-





    Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy cooking!


    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with dinner party, rice, recipe for the weekend, flavour, Middle East, Flavours of the Middle East

  • Posted on March 7, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We hope you’ve had a great week and are ready for the weekend! We’ve got a lovely classic dessert recipe for you this weekend from the new book, Choux, by our fantastic author, Hannah Miles. If you’re hosting a dinner party tomorrow night or if you fancy a little treat this weekend, these chocolate profiteroles are absolutely delicious!

    We’ll be making our own choux treats this weekend to sell in the office on Monday for our Choux for Charity event – all money raised will go to Sense, a charity chosen by Hannah Miles. If you do fancy having a go, why not take some in to your office, school or society next week to have your own Choux for Charity event. We’ve included Hannah’s basic choux recipe below to start you off, and there are tons of creative recipes in the book to try!

    basic choux recipe

    65 g plain flour

    50 g butter, cut into cubes

    75 ml milk and 75 ml water or 150 ml water

    1 teaspoon caster sugar

    a pinch of salt

    2 large eggs

    1. Sift the flour onto a sheet of baking parchment twice to remove any lumps and to add as much air as possible.

    2. Heat the butter in a saucepan with the milk and water (or just water if preferred), sugar and salt until the butter is melted. As soon as the butter is melted remove the pan from the heat and quickly shoot the sifted flour in all in one go. It is important not to let the water heat for longer than it takes to melt the butter as this will evaporate some of the water and so there will be less liquid for the pastry.

    3. Beat the mixture very hard with a wooden spoon or whisk until the dough forms a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the pan and the pan is clean. At first the mixture will seem very wet but don’t worry as it will come together after few minutes once the flour absorbs the water. It is important to really beat the mixture well at this stage. Leave to cool for about five minutes.

    4. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and then beat a small amount at a time into the pastry using a wooden spoon or a balloon whisk. The mixture will form a sticky paste which holds its shape when you lift the whisk up. When you first add the eggs and begin beating the mixture will split slightly. This is normal and the pastry will come back together as you continue to beat. The mixture must be beaten hard at each stage.


    5. If the mixture is runny and does not hold its shape, unfortunately it cannot be used as it will not rise. Adding more flour to the mixture will not work. If this happens I tend to start again, although I have read that you can make a second batch of choux pastry and add this wet mixture in, in place of the eggs and it will be rescued.

    chocolate profiteroles

    Chocolate profiteroles are one of the most popular desserts. This recipe has two different sauces to choose from – a classic chocolate pouring sauce or a warm chocolate fondue to dip the profiteroles into.


    1 quantity Basic Choux Pastry (see above)

    300 ml double cream, whipped to stiff peaks


    To serve with classic chocolate sauce:

    160 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

    60 g butter

    4 tablespoons double cream

    3 tablespoons golden syrup


    To serve with fondue:

    250 g plain chocolate

    100 g white chocolate

    80 ml almond liqueur or other liqueur of your choosing (coffee liqueurs work well)

    150 ml double cream


    2 baking trays lined with baking parchment

    2 piping bags fitted with round nozzles

    a fondue pot (optional)

    makes 25

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6. Spoon the choux pastry into one of the piping bags and pipe 25 small balls of pastry onto the baking trays, a small distance apart. Pat down any peaks in the pastry using a clean wet finger. Sprinkle a little water into the bottom of the oven to create steam which will help the choux pastry to rise. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 and bake for a further 15–20 minutes until the pastry is crisp. Remove from the oven and cut a small slit into each ball to allow any steam to escape. Leave to cool.

    When cool, spoon the whipped cream into a piping bag. Make a small hole in the base of each profiterole using a sharp knife and pipe cream in until each ball is full. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

    If serving the profiteroles with classic chocolate sauce, heat the chocolate, butter, cream and syrup in a saucepan until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth and glossy. Pour the warm sauce over the profiteroles to serve.

    If serving the profiteroles with fondue, place the plain and white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and add the almond liqueur and cream. Stir until the chocolate has melted and you have a thick chocolate sauce. Serve the sauce warm in a fondue pot with fondue sticks for the profiteroles so that you can dunk them into the sauce.

    The profiteroles are best eaten on the day they are made, although can be eaten the following day if stored in the refrigerator.


    Choux by Hannah Miles is out next week. For more information, see here.


    Have a lovely weekend everybody and happy choux making!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with dinner party, Hannah Miles, recipe for the weekend, dessert, work, school, charity

  • Posted on January 31, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    It’s Chinese New Year! So we’ve got some Chinese inspired recipes for you this weekend in case you're celebrating with a feast tonight and need some last minute ideas, or just fancy a tasty homemade Saturday night Chinese.

    The first of our recipes is for tempting Teriyaki Chicken from the gorgeous forthcoming book, Friends Around the Table, and can be easily enjoyed by a couple of you or a whole party of people! The second recipe is a nice and healthy wheat-free dish from Super Grains & Seeds - Buckwheat Noodles with Pak Choi, Cashews & Tamari Sauce - so you can enjoy a delicious meal without breaking your new year diet as we head into February.

    teriyaki chicken breast

    This is a great dish to prepare in advance when you have lots of guests, as it works perfectly served at room temperature. It’s an amazingly easy marinade that also works wonders with fish, especially tuna and salmon.

    4 skinless chicken breasts

    olive oil, for frying

    4 tablespoons soy sauce

    2 teaspoons sesame oil

    1 teaspoon fish sauce

    2 tablespoons Thai sweet chilli sauce

    1 teaspoon sesame seeds

    2 tablespoons fresh

    coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped

    1 red chilli, sliced

    1 garlic clove, finely chopped

    1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger, finely chopped

    2 spring onions/scallions, sliced

    salad leaves/greens or steamed pak choi/bok choy, to serve

    a ridged grill pan

    an ovenproof dish

    serves 4

    Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF) Gas 7.

    Ideally you’ll need a ridged grill pan for this recipe. Don’t fret if you don’t have one – a regular non-stick frying pan/skillet will do just fine. Heat the pan until it is smoking hot. Rub a little olive oil onto the chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until the chicken is marked. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, cover with kitchen foil and cook in the preheated oven for a further 12 minutes, until cooked all the way through. Test the meat by pricking with a skewer and seeing whether the juices run clear. If they don’t, just cook it for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes, covered in kitchen foil to keep warm.

    Meanwhile, gently warm a non-stick frying pan/ skillet and toast the sesame seeds, stirring frequently, until golden brown, then remove from the pan to cool. For the marinade, mix together all the remaining ingredients and add the toasted sesame seeds. Pour over the cooked chicken and leave to marinate for a few hours.

    Serve with a crisp green salad or some steamed pak choi/bok choy.


    Friends Around the Table by Acland Geddes is published in February. Click here for more details.


    buckwheat noodles with pak choi, cashews & tamari sauce

    This is a great go-to Asian dish. Buckwheat flour is often used in noodle dishes. Some buckwheat noodles do have wheat in them so check the package if you want them wheat-free!

    340 g/12 oz buckwheat noodles

    1 onion

    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

    1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

    200 g/1 large head pak choi/bok choy

    50 g/1⁄2 cup roasted cashew nuts (see Note)

    tamari sauce

    1 tablespoon soy sauce (check for gluten-free)

    2 teaspoons sesame oil

    1⁄4 teaspoon finely chopped ginger

    2 teaspoons flaxseed oil

    2 teaspoons clear honey

    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

    1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

    serves 4

    Note: If you can’t find pre-roasted cashews you can roast them yourself by scattering them on an ungreased baking sheet and cooking in a preheated oven at 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4 for 10 minutes, or until golden.

    Prepare the tamari sauce in advance. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until combined.

    Cook the noodles in salted water in a large saucepan or pot over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

    While the noodles are cooking, chop the onion, ginger and pak choi/bok choy. In a large frying pan/skillet, fry the onion and ginger in the grapeseed oil until the onion is translucent. Add the chopped pak choi/bok choy, until wilted.

    Drain the noodles, then mix together with the fried vegetables in the reserved bowl of tamari sauce. Toss with chopped roasted cashew nuts and serve.

    Super Grains & Seeds by Amy Ruth Finegold is out in February. Click here for more details.

    Enjoy your celebrations everyone, have a lovely weekend and happy cooking!

    How about our book oodles of noodles as well?

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with New Year, party, dinner party, chinese new year, feast, recipe for the weekend, noodles, diet, friends around the table, super grains and seeds, celebrations, coming soon, Gluten-free

  • Posted on September 27, 2013

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We’ve all ended up with a cold and a sore throat in the office this week, so a warm soothing soup is exactly what we’re craving. If you’re feeling similar (or you just fancy some delicious soup!) then this recipe for the weekend might be just what you’re looking for; a simple tomato soup from the delightful book, Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Missing Goat Farm by Heather Cameron.

    This classic soup will make a great weekend lunch for the family or an easy dish to cook with the kids. You could leave it on the stove for a mug on-the-go or use as a reliable starter for your Saturday night dinner party. However you plan to spend your weekend, have a good one and enjoy the recipe!

    Tomato Soup

    If you were able to can up some tomatoes from the summer, this is the perfect recipe for them. Otherwise, buy the absolute best canned tomatoes you can find. Seriously, spend as much per can as you can afford to; it really does make a difference.


    1 small onion, roughly chopped

    1⁄4 cup (60 g) butter

    1 x 1 1⁄4 pint (796 ml) can of the best canned whole tomatoes you can find

    or a 1 3⁄4 pint (1 liter) size jar of your own tomatoes

    A large handful of fresh basil

    3⁄4 cup (100 g) all-purpose (plain) flour

    1 quart (1 liter) low-fat or whole milk

    1 x 2 1⁄4 pint (1.36 liter) can tomato juice (you can buy a low-sodium version)

    1⁄2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 Sauté the onion in the butter in a large saucepan. Once the onion is soft, add the can of tomatoes and the basil. Cook for a few minutes until heated through. You can mash the tomatoes with a spoon.

    2 Whisk the flour and milk together in a jug or bowl—don't worry about lumps, as it all gets whizzed up in the blender. Add the milk and flour to the saucepan. Cook until it thickens and then remove from the heat.

    3 Transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth—you may need to do this in batches. Blend until very, very smooth.

    4 Pour it all back into the saucepan and add the can of tomato juice. Bring the soup back up to a good heat and stir in the sugar. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as you like.

    Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Missing Goat Farm by Heather Cameron is available here.

    Enjoy the weekend everyone and happy cooking!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, US and was tagged with 2013, dinner party, soup, recipe for the weekend, starter, simple

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