La Différence

La Différence
A passion for food

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Shepherd's Pie made with Lamb /Cottage Pie made with Beef

Comfort food at it's very best.

All the pies use the same ingredients except for the stock.

If you haven't got homemade stock then just choose the appropriate stock cube to make around half a pint 
This recipe will produce 4 good helpings
1lb good quality lea
n mince either lamb or beef
2 large onions finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
3 medium carrots diced ( you could also add some peas towards to end of cooking)
2 celery sticks diced
1 bay leaf
1 stock cube (see above)
1 tbsp Worcester sauce.
1 tbsp tomato puree
Salt & black pepper to season
cornflour to thicken to a rich but not too thick filling
for the mash:-
2lb good mashing potatoes eg King Edwards
1 beaten egg
Salt & pepper
Hot milk to bind
you can add some chopped chives or spring onions to before topping the pie.
Place the mince in a hot frying pan with a small amount of oil
Brown well, put aside
reduce the heat add the onions & celery & sweat down.
Transfer to a saucepan.
Add the carrots & stock, tomato puree & bayleaf & bring to the boil
Reduce the heat & simmer for around an hour.
Add the Worcester sauce, check the seasoning.
Add a little cornflour mixed with water, the sauce should be rich but not at all runny or thick. 
Remove the bay leaf.
The mash. I usually make this first and leave to cool so that I can pipe it but don't bother if you'd prefer to pile it on top of the mince and just fork it over. 
chop the potatoes into chunks
cover with salted water.
Boil until soft (around 15 -20 mins)
Mash with plenty of butter, add a little milk or cream & beat until light but  thick & smooth (you must do this by hand & not in a machine as it will turn into a horrible slop)
Add the beaten egg & beat again
You can add some chopped chives now.
Check the seasoning.
Place the cooked mince into a deep dish approx 12" x 6" or something similar
Top with potatoes by placing equal spoonfuls around the dish then fork together or pipe the potaoes as I did.
Hot oven 200c for around 30 mins or until the top is lovely & golden and the filling bubbling hot.
Serve with pickled red cabbage, pickled beetroot & HP sauce  

Shepherds Pie/Cottage pie

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Orange Polenta Cake Gluten and Dairy Free

What better a way to spend a rainy afternoon than to do a spot of baking.  What to bake was the question.  I had a few oranges in the fruit bowl and noticed a packet of polenta in the cupboard so the idea was set and an Orange & Polenta cake was on the cards.

This is the most easiest of recipes as you will see later.  The longest part is waiting for the oranges to soften and cool then it's downhill all the way.  The batter is made by just simply mixing all the ingredients together which I then poured into the tin and baked. Don't worry as the batter is very liquid but it bakes perfectly.  The lush soaking syrup can be made whilst the cake is baking.

The cake has a wonderful texture, a delightful little grainy bite but oh so moist and intensely orangey.
Grand Marnier is an optional addition  but makes it fabulous for a dinner party dessert especially if served warm with Thick Creamy Greek Yoghurt, whipped cream or Mascapone     

The Cake Ingredients:-

150 gms Polenta
150 gms Ground Almonds
250 gms Caster Sugar  
2 large oranges
6 large eggs

The Soaking Syrup :-

100 gms Caster sugar
100 ml water
2 large oranges
an optional 2-3 tbsps Grand Marnier  

You will need to grease and line a 21 cm / 8½ inch baking tin 


Add 2  oranges to a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer until the skins are soft (approximately 30-40 minutes)

 Drain off the water, leave to cool slightly, remove any seeds then blitz until a paste is formed

Leave to cool 

Add all the other cake ingredients to a mixing bowl along with the pulped orange and mix well together

 Pour into the prepared baking tin.  The batter is fairly runny but don't worry.

Bake in a pre-heated oven 180C / 160c for a fan oven  Gas mark 4  ( US 350 F)

Mine took exactly an hour in my fan oven set to 160c /350F but check with a skewer after 45/50 minutes. If it comes out clean then it's baked through. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so.  Skewer the cake all over the top ready for the soaking syrup.

Whilst the cake is baking make to soaking syrup.  Add the remaining sugar and 100 ml water to a pan bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Add the orange zest & juice from one orange and thinly slice the remaining orange and add to the pan. At this stage you can add the optional Grand Marnier.  Continue simmering for just a few minutes. Until the orange slices are softened but not falling apart.

Carefully remove the cake from the baking tin taking off the baking parchment before placing on your serving dish

Spoon over the syrup, (there's quite a lot but the cake will soak it up)  and arrange the orange slices around the cake.

Just before serving sprinkle with a little icing sugar

I served mine whilst still warm with a dollop of delicious thick Green Yoghurt but it would be perfect with whipped cream or mascarpone cheese 


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