La Différence

La Différence
A passion for food

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Darkest Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Darkest Chocolate Brownie Cookies

This is such a great recipe. The quantities sound large but it makes lots, you roll the dough up into a log and just cut & cook them as needed. The dough keeps well in the fridge for 4 days or just freeze it till you need it.

You will need a parchment lined oven tray.  Cook in batches of no more than 6 or 7 per tray as they spread whilst baking.

Ingredients to make approximately 30 cookies

If you prefer to measure your ingredients in cups & spoons then here's a Detailed Conversion Chart

10oz/300 gms good quality 70% solids dark chocolate, broken into smallish pieces   *see below for additional chocolate
7½oz/200gms  soft brown sugar (I used dark)
7½oz/200gms caster (superfine) sugar
1 large egg beaten
6½oz/225gms soft salted butter
2tsps vanilla extract
10oz/300gms plain flour
2tsps baking powder
4oz/125gms Cocoa (not drinking chocolate)
1 tbsp  Black treacle (molasses if your in the US)
approx 4oz/100g melted dark chocolate for the drizzle


Melt  5oz/150gms of the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Cool slightly
In a bowl beat the sugar & butter together until light & creamy
beat in the egg, vanilla and treacle and the melted chocolate
Sieve together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
Add this along with the remaining 150gms/5oz of broken chocolate to the wet ingredients.
Mix well together.

Place a large sheet of parchment paper onto your work surface
Place the dough (which will be very sticky at this stage) in the centre shape and roll up into a long sausage  around 15" long
Screw the ends up and place in the fridge for at least an hour or so to firm up.

When you're ready to bake them heat the oven to 190c/375f/gas5
With a sharp knife (dipped in hot water) cut the dough into approx ½"/ 1 cm rounds
Spread well apart on the baking sheet...remember no more than 6/7 to each oven tray
Bake for exactly 10 minutes
Leave to cool on the tray for around 10 minutes or so
Remove & finish cooling on a cooling rack
When completely cold drizzle over some melted chocolate

Now hide them from the kids

Remember the dough can be refrigerated for 4 days or frozen until required

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Olive and Cheese Scone Tray Bake (Mary Berry)

Olive & Cheese Scone Tray Bake (Mary Berry)

1lb/ 450g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4oz/100g butter
7oz 200g strong cheddar grated
4oz/100g black olives pitted & chopped
2 eggs beaten
milk enough to make 10fl oz 300ml when mixed into the beaten egg
1 oz /25g grated parmesan
1 also added half a teaspoon of dried oregano although this isn't in the recipe. It just adds more depth to the flavour.
preheat the oven to 230c/450F/gas8
grease a 12x9 roasting tin (30x23cms)
Put the salt, flour & baking powder along withb the butter into a large bowl
Using the fingertips rub in the butter until it forms fine crumbs.
Add the cheese and olives.
Stir in.
Make a well in the centre, add the beaten egg & milk and mix to a soft dough.
Very lightly knead it together and roll out on a floured surface to the size that will fit the tin.
Mark it into 12 squares and brush the top over with a little milk
Bake for around 15 mins
Sprinkle over the parmesan and bake on for another 5.
It should be well risen golden brown by then.
Cool and use as required.
Olive & cheese scone tray bakeOlive & cheese scone tray bake

Monday, 14 November 2016

Scones .. my collection both sweet and savoury

   Find the recipe here Blueberry and Yoghurt Scones with Homemade Lemon Curd

Definite staple for us Brits. Great to serve for Afternoon Tea....I like mine toasted the following day for breakfast....yum
This recipe is for plain sweet can add dried fruit or a few blueberries.  As you progress you can devise so many variations of your own.

I have savoury recipes for cheese scones & olive scone bake if you need them....let me know. 

Here's a few rules that will make all the difference to your scones

Invest in some good scales.... accurate weighing makes all the difference when baking
Work quickly, lightly and not at all heavy handed
Flour..... Use fresh good quality self raising flour....I use Homepride....I can't tell you what a difference it makes
Old SR flour loses it's raising power.   so you're just wasting money if you use it.  Think of all the other ingredients you're wasting too.
Make sure your Baking Powder is well in date.  Throw it in the bin doesn't work at all well when stale. Also don't use too much it's counter effective.
I use cold unsalted butter cut down into cubes so it's easy to rub in. You can use margarine but the flavour won't be there.
I like to use Buttermilk to bind them together.  If you haven't got any then sour milk makes wonderful scones, this is what my mother always used. You can sour milk by leaving it out for a while to get to room temperature and adding a good squeeze of lemon juice.  When it starts to curdle it's good to go.
Use a plain not fluted cutter & dip your cutter into flour before each cut....seems to make them rise better
Glaze just the top, not the sides...glazing the sides stops them rising
Heat the tray you're going to use in the oven until the oven reaches the required temperature ....arrange the unbaked scones on and quickly place in back in the oven

Basic recipe:-  to make 8-10  scones

you will need a greased baking tray....heated as explained above
a 5cm plain round cutter 

12oz - 375 gms Self Raising Flour......see above
1 level tsp Baking Powder                         ditto
pinch of salt
3 tbps caster (superfine) sugar
3oz-90gms unsalted butter
approx 6 fluid oz /175  Buttermilk /Soured milk  ( may take more or a little less depending on the flour absorbancy
a little beaten egg to glaze
add a handful of dried fruit eg. sultanas or raisins but this is optional


Heat the oven to 220c/425f/gas mark 7

Sift the flour, baking powder & salt into a large mixing bowl
rub in the cubed butter until it forms a breadcrumb texture
Add the sugar and mix through
Make a well in the centre and add almost all the buttermilk,  mix together quickly with the blade of a knife
The mix should be quite sticky initally. Add a little more buttermilk if the dough is dry
Lightly bring together to form a ball
Do not overwork the dough at any stage !!!!!!! 
Dredge your worksurface with flour.
Turn out the dough
Lightly roll it out, you can even lightly press it with hands to approximately 1½"/4cms thick
Cut into'll probably only get 4 or 5 at this stage
Quickly and gently reform the dough and cut some more

Brush with beaten egg
Remove the hot baking tray from the oven and quickly arrange to scones on it
Bake for around 10 minutes  220c/425f/gas mark 7
They should be golden and firm to the touch but with a little give.
Remove from the tray straight away and place on a wire rack to cool

Ideally serve while still warm.  
Perfect with jam & clotted/whipped cream
or as I've used here thick Greek Yoghurt
Cornish style......cream on top.......Devon Style jam on choose

see below for more ideas....some are taken from my other page

                  Cheese & Walnut Scones find the recipe here Cheese & walnut scones

                                                                    Banana & Toffee


                        Sultana Scones  find the recipe here Sultana Scones 

                    Get the Recipe Here Olive and Cheese Tray Bake

               Cheese & Chutney                          

                                               Courtesy of Jo's Blue Aga

                            Chicken Cobbler Ring...find the recipe here   Chicken Cobbler Ring

       Find the recipe here Caramelised Red Onion & Courgette Polenta Scone Bake

Monday, 7 November 2016

Blue Cheese and Broccoli Mini Quiches with Walnut Pastry

Blue Cheese (Stilton) & Broccoli Mini Quiches with Walnut & Cheese Pastry

These are great make ahead and freeze mini-quiches.  I usually make a huge batch of about 100 or more and pack tightly into boxes of 24 ready for any occasion.  Especially good for drinks parties and the perfect combination of ingredients for that Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers.  

Just use whatever blue cheese you like best... I used Stilton or if you're not a blue-cheese fan then a strong cheddar will do nicely.  You could also buy a block of shortcrust pastry if you're in a hurry but remember to use the all butter kind...I really prefer it for texture and flavour. 

For the pastry. 
3oz / 75g self raising flour
3oz / 75g wholewheat flour     you can use just 6oz of plain flour if you don't have any wholewheat
pinch of salt
half teaspoon of dry mustard powder (optional)
(sieve these ingredients together in a bowl)
3oz/ 75g butter
2oz/ 50 g grated cheddar
Rub the fat into the flour then add
1oz /25g walnuts finely chopped
Bind with enough cold water to make a pliable dough.
refrigerate for half an hour.
The Filling.
1 head of broccoli stalk removed and cut into small pieces then blanched
3 eggs
half a pint of double cream
6 oz Stilton or another blue cheese of your choice.
1 onion finely diced and sauteed in a little butter
grated nutmeg
Put the Stilton or whatever Blue Cheese you prefer, cream, eggs, sauteed onion into a food processor & blitz until it starts to thicken. Season to taste.
Roll out the pastry thinly & use to line around 24 - 36 well greased mini muffin cases. use a cutter large enough so that the pastry comes up to the top of the holes in the muffin tray
Place some blanched broccoli into each case.
Spoon over the cheese mixture taking care not to overfill.
Give the trays a sharp rap on the table to settle the mixture and add a little more filling if needed.
Grate over some nutmeg
Bake at 180c for around 15 mins or until lovely & golden . Just test to make sure the underneath of the pastry is cooked through. 
remove onto a cooling rack after around 3 mins .

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Cashew Nut Chicken Fillets (Oven Baked)

I'm a real nut lover and I think that Cashews could be my favourites. I use them such a lot especially when I cook a Chinese & Indian Meals. I like to buy a big bag of raw cashews when I visit the Chinese Supermarket. They're great roasted in the oven with chilli and maple syrup for a drinks party, or dry fried in a frying pan for a few minutes to ready to add to stir fries, curries and Moroccan cous cous. 

Here I have added them to this lovely crunchy coating for chicken fillets which are then baked in the oven for around 25 mins. Fabulous served hot or cold and would be great for a packed lunch or picnic. We enjoyed a couple of left over pieces served up in a tortilla wrap with salad for lunch the following day.

 I served this with a simple minted yoghurt with a little red chilli added but I'm sure the kids would enjoy it more with a dollop of tomato ketchup .

Heat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6

The ingredients will serve 4

4 chicken fillets cut in half lenghthwise to make 8 pieces in total
4 oz  raw cashew nuts (if you can't find them use roasted & salted but omit the salt from the recipe)
2 slices of yesterday's bread ( made into breadcrumbs)
1 spring onion roughly chopped  including all the green part
1 tbsp chopped coriander or parsley if preferred
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil

flour, spread onto a plate
2 eggs beat and place onto a plate

Squeeze of lemon to finish


To make the coating just whizz everything (except the chicken & cashews) in a food processor until well blended then add the nuts & the oil and lightly blitz to break up the nuts slightly. Place on a plate & leave to one side while you prepare the chicken.

Line 3 plates up,  1st with the flour, then the beaten eggs  then the crumb coating

Dip the chicken into the flour,  then the egg, then finally roll into the cashew nut mixture making sure it's well coated

Place each piece onto a large baking tray

Bake in a hot oven 200c/400f/gas6 for around 20 mins ( check after 15) until cooked through and golden brown.

Serve hot or cold with a squeeze of lemon sprinkled over

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Raspberry Ricotta Almond Cake Gluten-Free

I've just picked almost the last of my Autumn Fruiting Raspberries.  You know, I think I prefer them to the summer varieties, these were smaller but with a wonderful intensely raspberry flavour.  My father-in-law is wheat intolerant and just loves desserts so I always like to make him a special cake when he comes to tea... we have a slice each and then he takes the rest home ... usually with a big smile of his face as I wrap it up for him.

You're just going to love this cake, tangy raspberries along with the almonds and the creaminess of Ricotta .. just the perfect afternoon tea treat or a great dessert . 

This recipe is based on my  Gluten-Free Lemon Ricotta Cake which I have halved the ingredients to make a smaller 7"/18cm rather than the larger 11"/28cm that it makes.  I've also tweaked the flavourings as you will see.

So, you need to grease and line a 7"/18cm loose-bottomed tin with parchment paper.

Set the oven to 160C/ 300F

I always weigh my ingredients for accuracy but if you prefer to measure them then here's a great  Conversion Chart for you to follow.


175 gms unsalted butter at room temperature
200 gms caster sugar (superfine sugar)
300 gms ground almonds
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 large eggs at room temperature
125 gms Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
300 gms Fresh Raspberries
Icing sugar to dust
a little extra sugar to sweeten the sauce to taste   


In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light & fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time and beat in well adding the vanilla with the last egg.
Mix together the ground almonds & baking powder then add to the butter, sugar & eggs mix and stir through gently to combine
Split the raspberries into 3 portions
Gently stir in the first third into the batter ( I used any broken or squishy ones for this) just to distribute them throughout the mix.
Place the batter into the prepared tin, smoothing on top until level.
Now gently push your forefinger and place a raspberry in the indention all around the top of the cake ... thus using up the second third of the raspberries

Place into the centre of your pre-heated oven and bake for around 1 hr 20 minutes then check it. It should be golden brown...There should be no wobble in the centre at all as you pull the tin out...if there is continue baking whilst checking every 10 mins. 

It will be ready after a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.     Mine actually took 1 hour 35 minutes before I was happy with it... but as we know all ovens bake differently and I would hate for you to over or under bake it .

Leave in the tin and place on a cooling rack until just warm
Carefully turn it out, leaving the paper on and leave to cool completely.

Whilst the cake is baking add the rest of the raspberries to a small pan with a teaspoon or two of sugar and slowly bring to the boil.  Leave to cool slightly then pass through a sieve to remove the pips.  

Place in a small jug and serve with the cake

Dust the cake with icing sugar and it's ready to serve.

I also served mine with the rest of ricotta that I had over but it would be fabulous with mascarpone or whipped cream .


Monday, 12 September 2016

Braised Lamb Shanks with Autumn Vegetables

The nights here in Cheshire are drawing in.  I don't like to see the end of summer but at the same time I always look forward to the good wholesome, warming meals of autumn and winter.  There's nothing more indulgent to me than a good old lamb casserole especially if I can get hold of some great quality lamb shanks.  The ones pictured here are Welsh Lamb,  to my mind the very best lamb from anywhere in the world.  We're less than an hour away from the Welsh borders so it's also very local.

These shanks were taken from the rear legs so they are really substantial.  We had no problem though eating our huge portion as it was mouth-wateringly tender and absolutely delicious.  I added carrots, parsnips, celeriac, new potatoes and beans from my plot towards the end of the braising but you can add whatever is seasonal.

This makes a great dinner party or supper dish as once it's all in the pot you can put your feet up and enjoy your guests whilst it's cooking. The bonus of course is that it's a one pot meal so there's very little washing up at the end of the evening.

The Ingredients:-  for 4 people

4 lamb shanks
2 large onions Chopped into half moon slices 
4 cloves of garlic crushed
½ pt Passata (pulped tomato) bought or homemade 
2 lamb stock cubes
around ½pt hot water 
1 Tbsp Redcurrant Jelly
2 tbsp oil either olive or rapeseed
few sprigs of fresh Thyme or ½ tsp dried
1 tbsp fresh chopped Rosemary 
1 tsp fresly ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt ( or to taste)

For the Vegetables I used

2  medium parsnips cut lengthwise into large chips
3 large carrots cut into 2" chunks
1 medium celeriac cut into 1" dice
around 1lb of new potatoes... scrubbed not peeled
a good handful or so of green beans


Add 1 tbsp of oil to a large frying pan and fry the lamb shanks until browned on all sides.
Remove from the pan and place in a large ovenproof dish (that has a lid)  I used my cast iron pot.
Add the other tbsp of oil to the pan and gently fry the onions until soft & starting to brown
Add the garlic and cook on for a few minutes
Remove and place into the dish with the lamb shanks
Add the red wine to the frying pan and stir up all those meaty, oniony bits left
Then add the Passata and stock cubes that have been dissolved in the hot water,
the Redcurrant Jelly, Rosemary and Thyme leaves, salt & pepper... stir well together.
Now pour everything into the pot with the lamb shanks & onions.

The liquid should come around half way up the lamb shanks...add a little more water if they don't but don't cover the lamb completely or you will be stewing it instead of braising.  Place a firm fitting lid on the pot.

Place in the centre of a moderate oven 200C/400F for the first half an hour then turn down to 140C/275F and braise for around 1½ hours.

Remove from the oven and add all the chopped vegetables except the green beans.  Return to the oven and cook until the vegetables are tender...probably another hour.  Then add the green beans and cook on for 15-20 minutes when it should be ready for serving.

Check the seasoning and adjust according to your taste.

You can thicken the gravy slightly if you prefer it that way by adding 2 teaspoons of cornflour slaked in a little water.

Either serve immediately or this dish is perfect reheated as and when you need it.