Sunday, 4th May 2008 – Recipes (Seared Asparagus Salad with Parmigiano Crisps, Roast Leg of Lamb with Herb and Watercress Crust, Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake, Victoria Sponge)
I cooked lunch on Sunday for those who were still hanging around after Bob’s birthday dinner, and though I say it myself, it was fabulous! I’m going to record what I did here… The three recipes are thanks to Waitrose, but with some tweaking from me, because I’ve only ever regarded a recipe as a starting point!
Seared Asparagus Salad with Parmigiano Crisps
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 as a starter
- 25g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
- 100g wild rocket and chard leaves
- 10 sundried tomatoes
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 100g asparagus tips
- 1½ teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
- To make the crisps, preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
- Line a flat baking tray with nonstick baking parchment.
- Divide the grated cheese into 6 piles on the baking sheet and press down to flatten slightly.
- Place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is just melted but not coloured.
- Remove from the oven.
- While still hot, use a small heart-shaped or round pastry cutter to cut the crisps into neat shapes.
- Leave to cool.
- Toss together the rocket and chard, the sunkissed tomatoes and lemon juice, and pile onto 2 serving plates.
- Heat a griddle or frying pan.
- Toss the asparagus tips in the olive oil and then place on the hot griddle to cook for 5-6 minutes until tender.
- Remove the asparagus and place on top of the salad.
- Drizzle with the balsamic glaze and scatter over the Parmigiano crisps.
The crisps need very little time in the oven – the cheese will become bitter-tasting if overcooked. Make the crisps a day in advance, cool completely then store in an airtight container.
Personally, I wouldn’t bother with cutting the crisps to other shapes. They looks pleasingly rustic as they are, and they taste so good why would you want to thrown the off-cuts away? Also, I found they needed 7-8 minutes, not 5.
Roast Leg of Lamb with Herb and Watercress Crust
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours, depending on weight
- 85g watercress
- 1 pack fresh mint
- 1 pack fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 6 (or more) cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 100ml olive oil
- 1kg baby new potatoes, washed
- 1 whole leg or shoulder of lamb, weighing about 1.6kg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
- To make the herb crust, remove and discard any thick stalks from the watercress, mint and parsley and place in a food processor with the garlic. Pulse until roughly chopped.
- Keeping the machine running, pour in the olive oil to make a paste. Season to taste.
- Arrange the potatoes in the bottom of a roasting tin and place the lamb on a rack over them.
- Spread the herb paste over the lamb.
- Roast the lamb in the oven allowing 55-65 minutes per kg, plus an extra 25-30 minutes.
- Stir the potatoes occasionally during cooking.
- When the lamb is cooked, remove from the oven, cover with foil, keep warm and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
- If the potatoes are not quite cooked, return to the oven for 10 minutes or until tender.
- Serve the lamb with the roasted new potatoes and steamed green vegetables.
Add the rind and juice of half a lemon to the herb crust. You could also use different herbs such as thyme and rosemary.
The recipe specifies a boned leg of lamb, but it works just as well with an unboned shoulder of kid.
Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 12 or more
- 3 cardamom pods, seeds only
- 150g pistachios, shelled, plus extra to serve
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 175g semolina
- 1¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 325g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 unwaxed lemon, grated zest, plus 1 tbsp juice
- 2 tbsp rose water
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 200g Greek yogurt
- 200g crème fraîche
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 40 unsprayed red rose petals
- 1 egg white
- 100g caster sugar
- 120ml lemon juice
- 100ml rose water
- 120g caster sugar
- Grease a round, 23cm, loose-bottomed cake tin and line with baking parchment.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3.
- Put the cardamom seeds and pistachios in a food processor and grind to a powder.
- Add the ground almonds, semolina, baking powder and salt; mix again briefly.
- Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the egg in small amounts, incorporating it well.
- Fold in the mixed dry ingredients, then the lemon zest and juice, rose water and vanilla.
- Put it into the lined tin, level and bake for 60-70 minutes until a skewer comes out oily but dry.
- Meanwhile, put all the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan.
- Bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat.
- Remove the cake from the oven; while it is still hot, spoon all but 4 tbsp of hot syrup over.
- Allow the cake to cool, then take out of the tin.
- Reduce the oven to 80°C/gas ¼.
- Dip the rose petals in egg white, shake off any excess and scatter over the sugar.
- Transfer to an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper.
- Bake for 30–45 minutes until crisp, turning halfway.
- Whisk together all the rose cream ingredients.
- Slice the cake and drizzle with the reserved syrup; serve with the cream and scatter over some chopped pistachios and the petals.
Using slightly less rosewater (120 mls in all) still makes for a very tasty cake, and probably prevents the rosewater overpowering all the other flavours. Also, this cake comes out golden brown on the top, but has a lovely yellow/green interior.
And here’s the Victoria sponge cake recipe I made for Robert’s birthday. The recipe I used turned out to be the most successful of the three I’ve tried this year…
- 220g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 220g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- 220g self-raising flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- A little milk (optional)
- 4 tbsp raspberry jam
- 1½ tablespoons icing sugar for dredging
- Preheat your oven to 180°C, gas mark 4 (the temperature at which most cakes are baked).
- Use a little butter to grease two 20cm-diameter sponge tins.
- Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk or in the food processor until the mix is fluffy and pale. You can use a wooden spoon, but it takes some elbow grease.
- Add the eggs a little at a time along with a tablespoon of flour and beat until completely incorporated. Adding the egg gradually along with a little flour should stop the mixture curdling, or forming tiny lumps, which can make the cake heavy.
- Add the remaining egg in the same way.
- Add the remaining flour and the baking powder and fold in. Add a little milk if necessary to achieve dropping consistency.
- Divide the mixture between the two greased and floured cake tins, smoothing the tops (alternatively, line the tin with a circle of baking parchment).
- Put in the oven – preferably on the same shelf – and bake for 30-40 minutes. The cakes should look well-risen and golden brown, and should have pulled away slightly from the sides of their tins.
- After 10 minutes cooling in the tin, turn the cakes out on to a wire rack.
- Put the smoothest-looking cake right side up (this will be the top of the finished cake) and the other upside down, so its domed top flattens slightly.
- Leave to cool completely.
- For a classic Victoria sponge, just spread jam over the base sponge, put the second one on top, and dredge with icing sugar.