Rhubarb Meringue Tartlets

    I love rhubarb, and decided to make something different with it for my friends when they came for tea. I've recently bought a new 12 hole fluted tartlet tin, so decided to use this and to top the tartlets with meringue. I have a recipe with fruit, which has a creamy almond filling, so this would make them a bit different.

    250g shortcrust pastry [your own recipe or bought]
    400g rhubarb
    80g caster sugar
    125g ground almonds
    80g soft butter
    125g caster sugar
    2 eggs beaten
    For the meringue
    3 egg whites
    75g caster sugar
Preheat oven 180C
Peel the rhubarb and cut into pieces. Put it into a bowl covered with the 80g caster sugar and leave for an hour.
Roll the pastry out thinly and line the tartlet tin. Using baking beans, bake blind for 10 mins. Take the beans out and cook for a further 5 min.

Remove the pastry cases from the tin and put on a wire rack to cool.

Beat the butter with the caster sugar; add the eggs then the ground almonds and beat well to mix.

Share the almond cream between the pastry cases then put some rhubarb on each.

Bake for 20 mins then cool on a wire rack.

Lower the oven temperature to 120C

Using an electric beater, whisk half the egg whites and the caster sugar till stiff then add the rest of the sugar.

Pipe rosettes of the meringue onto the tartlets, or just spoon it on.

Bake for 15 mins till golden on top.

I'm very pleased with these; have been practising with my new piping bag and nozzles given to me by my daughter. I think she was ashamed of my old tatty cloth piping bag!
Nice crunchy pastry, creamy filling, soft rhubarb and sweet meringue - what's not to like?


Lemon Coconut Slices

I needed a simple recipe to use up some lemons, and found many versions of this uncooked tray bake [I suppose it's not really a tray bake as it's not baked, but it's made in my Delia tray bake tin!]. I played around with several recipes till I made exactly what I wanted - a good lemony flavoured slice, with a decent amount of coconut and a lemon icing. It was perfect to make for my daughter's recent visit.
We brought a lemon tree back from France and it now lives in the greenhouse. It was a gift from our neighbours, and has faithfully produced lemons every year. The lemons I used in this recipe were from this tree, and they are much juicier than the ones you buy.

You put 125ml of condensed milk in a pan with 125g butter and stir till the butter has melted. In a food processor or using a plastic bag and a rolling pin, break a 250g packet of Nice biscuits into crumbs and put into a bowl with 1 tspn of grated lemon zest, 1 tspn lemon extract and 85g dessicated coconut. Add the butter mixture and stir together till well mixed.
Line a baking tin 28x18cm with parchment paper and press the mixture in. Put in the fridge for about an hour.
Make the icing - 250g icing sugar, 3 tbspn lemon juice and 15g butter - beat together to make a smooth icing. When the slice is firm and cool, pour icing on top, spread evenly then sprinkle 2 tbspn dessicated coconut on top. Cut into squares when the icing has set.
Keep the squares in the fridge.

A nice zingy Summer treat - some crunch from the biscuits and a lovely soft filling with a good lemon flavour. Then a contrast with the sweet icing and coconut. Makes a good dessert too.


Hazelnut Cake

Have been on holiday for a week, but yesterday I went to a Polish supermarket with my son's partner and discovered bags of ground hazelnuts. It's not easy to find these, so I was tempted to buy several bags, but I've learnt from experience that they don't keep after the use by date!

This recipe makes a nice, light cake with a lovely praline chocolate topping, easy to make and delicious.

3 eggs - separated
80g caster sugar
70g melted butter
90g plain flour + 1 tspn baking powder
70g ground hazelnuts
90g praline chocolate
chopped hazelnuts to decorate

Preheat oven 150C/gas 2               Grease a 18cm cake tin

Mix the egg yolks and sugar together.
Add the butter, flour and baking powder and the ground hazelnuts and mix well.
Whisk the egg whites till stiffish then carefully fold into the batter.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 25mins.
Cool in tin for 5 mins then finish cooling on a wire rack.
Melt the chocolate over simmering water or in a microwave then pour over the cooled cake.
Decorate the topped with some chopped hazelnuts.

It's not a very big cake, but it's lovely with a cuppa or when you don't need a large cake to feed the family. It has a nice soft, light crumb and the topping adds another flavour layer; the chopped nuts give it a nice bit of crunch.
It's a French recipe from one of my neighbours.


Orange Polenta Cake

This is another cake that came about because I was having a sort out in my cupboard, seeing if anything was out of date.
 I found a packet of polenta that needed using up, and had saved this recipe ages ago from the side of a polenta packet. It's easy to make, and using the polenta makes a lovely light cake.

Preheat oven 160C/gas3              Grease a 23cm springform cake tin.

Grate the zest from 3 medium sized oranges and keep it to put in the batter. Put 1 lemon aside to use later.

In a bowl, mix together 210g plain flour, 2 tspn baking powder, 120g polenta and a tspn salt.

In another bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand beater, beat together 4 large eggs and 200g caster sugar till it's pale and fluffy and tripled in size. Beat in the orange zest.

You need 175ml olive oil, and you add this to the batter alternating with the flour mixture, scraping the bowl down occasionally; just beat gently until incorporated into batter.

Spoon or pour the batter into the cake tin, smoothing the top. Bake for 25-30 mins, turning the cake round halfway through.

Cool the cake in the tin for about 10 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Sieve 250g icing sugar into a large bowl. Squeeze the oranges to get about 2 tbspn of juice and squeeze the lemon to get 1 tbspn juice. Add both juices to the icing sugar with a whisk or spoon till smooth.

Drizzle the icing over the cooled cake, and allow to set till it's dry.

This is a light cake with a lovely hint of orange.It has a soft crumb and the citrus icing gives it a nice burst of flavour. I like making cakes with olive oil as it gives an extra flavour to them. This is another plain everyday cake to keep for the times when you need something sweet and citrussy!

Gratin de choux-fleur

 I was given a medium sized cauliflower and as it's not my favourite vegetable, struggled to know what to do with it. Have kept a few Fr...