Fragrant Poached Vegetables

Seasonal Cooking& serve with…. potato and vegetable accompanimentsSummerSpringRecipes



Raspberry scented poached vegetables

Serves 4

1 large or two smaller red peppers

1 leek

1 carrot

½ a fennel bulb

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons raspberry or herbed wine vinegar

250 ml water

25g bunch of mixed fresh soft leaved herbs (tarragon, flat leaved parsley, basil)

2-3 sprigs of basil, torn to serve

Salt and freshly ground black pepper Continue reading

Rhubarb and White Chocolate Shortbread Tart

Seasonal CookingSpringCold puddingsCooking for people and occassionsRecipesIMG_3098

White chocolate and Rhubarb Tart

Serves 8-10

Bay scented White chocolate crème topped with fragrant and tender  forced rhubarb glazed with a rhubarb jelly and set on a buttery shortbread (sable) base.

A beautiful and elegant tart perfect for a Mothers day surprise and for Spring and Easter entertaining. It may seem a bit complicated but it’s  three component parts, the sable base, the white chocolate crème and the poached rhubarb, can be  cooked separately over the course a couple of days and the tart assembled a few hours before serving.



The three components for the rhubarb tart. Pate sable pastry (top), Poached Rhubarb (below left), Bay infused white chocolate cream (right).

Sable Pastry base

The base can be made a day or two in advance and kept in a tin.

3 egg yolks

130g caster sugar

150g butter, softened (is use salted but unsalted is fine too)

200g plain flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

A good pinch of flaked sea salt

Put the egg yolks and sugar into a large mixing bowl of food mixer bowl and whisk until pale and thick.  Add the butter and beat or process until the mixture is smooth (it should be a cake mixture consistency at this point).

Sift the flour and the baking powder into the bowl and add in the pinch of salt. Mix until smooth (if using a food mixer don’t overdo this stage).

Very lightly flour a work surface and your hands and scoop the pastry in a mound onto the work surface. Briskly shape the soft dough into a ball and then pat into a disc shape. Wrap in cling film and put the pastry into the fridge to rest for at least two hours or overnight. It will need to return to room temperature at least an hour before you want to roll and bake it.

To cook the dough pre heat the oven to gas 5/180c/f.160.  Have ready a flat baking tray and butter a 24 cm (or two x 22 cm) pastry rings or flat sided tart tins with removable bases.  You are going to roll and bake the pastry base on baking parchment, so cut a piece to fit the flat baking tray.   Lightly flour the parchment and roll the softened dough to a 4-5 mm thickness (it should be larger than the pastry ring).  Stamp out the base with the pastry ring. Leave the ring in place and transfer the pastry base and the ring on the parchment to the baking tray.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The base will rise up and then fall in the centre to create the space for the tart topping. It will be ready when the colour is golden. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray leaving the ring in place.  When the base is cool it can be stored in a tin until ready for completing.

Bay scented White chocolate Crème



The crème can be made up to the whisking stage the day before.

500ml double cream

3 fresh bay leaves

150g white chocolate with vanilla

Put half (250ml) of the cream into a saucepan along with the bay leaves. Heat the cream to boiling point over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and allow the bay to infuse for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile break the chocolate in to a heatproof bowl. Return the infused cream to the heat and bring it back to the boil. Pour over the white chocolate pieces but do not stir at this point. When the chocolate is melted gently stir and pour in the cold cream.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to complete the tart.

Orange blossom scented poached Rhubarb


400g young or forced rhubarb stalks

100g caster sugar

200ml water

2 star anise

2-3 fresh bay leaves

½ teaspoon orange blossom water

Cut the rhubarb into 4-5 cm lengths. Put the sugar, water, star anise and bay leaves into a 26 cm high sided frying or sauté pan that has a lid. Over a medium heat gently dissolve the sugar stirring occasionally. When the sugar is dissolved turn up the heat and simmer the sugar syrup for a couple of minutes.  Tip the rhubarb into the syrup making sure that there is room in the pan for the rhubarb to be in one layer.  Return the syrup to a simmer and then reduce the temperature and put the lid on the pan. Gently steam the rhubarb in the syrup for about 5 minutes or until just soft. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rhubarb cool in the syrup. (This stage could also be done the day before).

Final stage – putting it all together!

Rhubarb Jelly.

150 ml juice from the cooked rhubarb

5 gelatine leaves.

Remove the poached rhubarb from the syrup and drain on a plate covered in kitchen towel. Strain the beautiful pink syrup into a measuring jug –you will need 150 ml. pour the syrup into a small pan. Rinse out the measuring jug and half fill it with cold water and soak the gelatine leaves for 3 minutes or until soft. Bring the rhubarb syrup to the boil and then remove from the heat. Gently squeeze the gelatine leaves of excess water and plunge them into the boiled liquid. Stir gently until dissolved. Pour into a heat proof jug and leave to cool.

Chocolate base coat

80g white chocolate.

Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a small bowl over a pan of recently boiled water and leave to melt.


To assemble the tart first brush the base with the melted white chocolate and allow this to wet.

Remove the bay leaves from the chocolate cream and whisk until it forms soft peaks i.e. it is consistency of whipped cream.  Spoon the white chocolate crème onto the tart base and spread evenly.

Arrange the drained rhubarb pieces on top of the crème and brush with the cooled and on the point of setting jelly. Put the tart into the fridge for 5 minutes to allow the jelly to set and repeat this several times until you have built up a beautiful glaze.

The tart is now ready. It is best served at room temperature. It will keep in the fridge for a day.

Bay scented White chocolate crème topped with fragrant and tender  forced rhubarb glazed with a rhubarb jelly and set on a buttery shortbread (sable) base, this delectable tart is the perfect Mother’s day treat in March.



Italian style Beef Casserole served with Cheese Polenta

Weekend cookingMeat, Poultry and GameSeasonal CookingSpring

Italian style Beef Casserole served with cheesy Polenta

An elegant Beef Casserole for spring and summer dining. The rosemary and sage give  a quintessential Italian feel and the capers add a lively piquancy that blend beautifully with the rich cheese polenta accompaniment.

_MG_5748 italian casserole with cheesy polenta 2

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