Tag Archives: Dan Lepard

Our Italian Feast Supper Club and a recipe for brutti ma buoni biscuits…

We were very excited to hold our July Plate Lickers Supper Club in a brand new and very original venue…Lynne Strover Gallery, an independent gallery run from Lynne’s beautiful home…

Lynne Strover Gallery

Our guests were seated amongst the sculptures and artwork by Belynda Sharples to enjoy their ‘Italian Feast’ inspired by mine and Ivana’s recent trip to Umbria and Tuscany (blogged here)…

Tables set at Lynne Strover Gallery

Tables set at Lynne Strover Gallery

Here’s a sneaky peak of the menu to whet your appetite for the pictures to follow. I’ve also shared a recipe for ‘brutti ma buoni’ …delicious hazelnut biscuits, crunchy on the outside but with a lovely chewy centre.

But without further ado, welcome to Plate Lickers Italian Feast…

Our Italian Feast Menu

Rows upon rows of cocktails awaited our guests arrival…we had made amaretto from scratch and served it with a touch of lemon juice and the mandatory cocktail cherry…

Homemade amaretto sours cocktails

Ameretto sours cocktail

These were accompanied by homemade sourdough crostini topped with wild boar salami, brought back from Italy and our homemade cow and goats milk ricotta with a sprinkling of decadent truffle salt…

crostini

Our guests were a friendly bunch and got chatting right away…

Chatty guests

Once everyone was seated we did a little welcome speech and appear to also be doing our best air hostess impressions :)…

Welcoming the guests.

before squirreling ourselves away in the kitchen to serve up the starter of courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and dressed with the peppery olive oil made by our beloved agriturismo hosts and a drizzle of homemade truffle honey…

courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and homemade truffle honey

Courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and homemade truffle honey

Next up was the main course of traditional ragu, which just got better and better the longer we cooked it, served on a bed of polenta with chargrilled chicory. Not the most photogenic dish but tasty all the same…

Ragu with polenta and chargrilled chicory

The dessert was peach and olive oil cake served with pinenut semi freddo, which seemed to be the favourite dish of the night. Ivana has already blogged the semi freddo recipe for you here.

Peach and oliveoil cake with pine nut semi freddo

and last but not least were the little brutti ma buoni biscuits, which perfectly fit their translation…’ugly but good’.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

I’m a big biscotti fan and whenever I saw biscotti on the shelves in Italy I would also see packets of these brutti ma buoni. So as soon as I got home I started researching them and found this lovely recipe by Dan Lepard. The method is one I have never seen before but it produced the most amazing texture that even makes the arduous task of peeling hazelnuts worth it :).

To make a batch of about 20 small biscuits you can halve the recipe and will need…

150g toasted, skinned almonds (either buy them skinned and toast them in the oven for a few minutes or follow my instructions below if you buy them skin-on)

150g caster sugar

3 egg whites

75g ground almonds

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cocoa powder

So first, if you have bought the more commonly available, skin on hazelnuts, you will need to toast and skin them…not my favourite task I have to admit but it enhances their flavour and the skin can be fairly bitter, so it’s definitely advisable.

Preheat you oven to 200 degrees c and lay the hazelnuts out on a baking tray. Pop them in the oven for just 5 minutes, keeping an eye on them in case they start to burn. Then take a few nuts at a time and either loosen the skins by shaking them in a wire sieve or rubbing them in a teatowel. Once they are all skinned you’re ready for the biscuit making…

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Divide the hazelnuts approximately in half and put one half in a food processor, save the other half for later.

Add the sugar to the food processor and blitz it until the two are ground together but still coarse. Add the egg whites, almonds, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and blitz again until it forms a sludgy looking puree.

Now, this is the slightly strange bit…pour the puree into a saucepan. Roughly chop the remaining half of the hazelnuts and add them too. Put the pan on a high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture gets darker and thicker. You’ll know when it’s ready because it will hold it’s shape.

Using a couple of teaspoons, take a blob of the biscuit mixture (approx 2cm diameter) and place on the prepared trays. They don’t have to be uniform at all, the more rustic the better in my book. Make sure you leave at least 1 cm between the biscuits so they don’t get stuck together whilst cooking.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits read for the oven.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits read for the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown. If you can bear to, it’s best to wait until they are cool before tucking in. But then there needn’t be any stopping you 🙂

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

I would like to say a big thankyou to Lynne Strover for letting Plate Lickers descend on her gallery for the evening, to our guests for being as enthusiastic and wonderful as ever, to Ozzy for the use of his beautiful photographs and to Ivana, the co-hostess with the mostess!

Bring on August’s supperclub!

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Floaty light marmalade layer cake…

Not another marma-laden blog post I hear you cry! It does seem that I’ve developed a slight marmalade addiction of late. The thing is…I still have a few jars of my homemade amber nectar to get through and delicious sounding marmalade based recipes keep invading my periphery! 

This month, for the ‘Book & Bake’ club that I attend we were reading ‘Case Histories’ by Kate Atkinson and baking something from Dan Lepard’s ‘Short and Sweet’. I’ve already baked quite a few things from his book and am very happy to report that everything has been an absolute success and his marmalade layer cake was no exception…

Now, I’m a little bit nervous about even mentioning Mr Lepard’s name as I know there have been a number of incidents where his publisher has requested that recipes be removed from blogs due to copyright issues. I’m hoping that posting a link to the recipe on the Guardian website is acceptable, so here goes…follow this link and you will find a recipe for the most deliciously light sponge with a marmalade zing. It doesn’t contain any butter just lashings of double cream and involves lots of beating to fill it with air and make it floaty light! To finish it off it’s sandwiched and topped off with swathes of vanilla laden cream! Awesome…

The ‘Book & Bake’ ladies had thrown themselves into the task at hand and excelled. Just look at that spread… 

Out of sheer luck we managed not to have any duplicates. From ‘Short & Sweet’ there was cherry beet cake, marbled chocolate crumb cake, alchemist’s chocolate cake (yes, it was as crazy as it sounds), banana blondies, dark chocolate chunk cookies and raspberry ripple tarts. We even had sweet potato brownie’s, malt whisky ginger cake and lemon curd cookies from Dan’s column in the Guardian. And of course there was my marmalade layer cake…

I took one for the team and, for experimental purposes only you understand, made sure I tried a bit of everything :)…

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Ditch the detox and get baking…apple, walnut & custard cake…

One of my favourite Christmas presents was my ‘Short & Sweet’ recipe book by Dan Lepard (or Def Leppard as my Mum has coined him)…

His recipes in the Guardian magazine have had my mouth watering on many occasions and I’ve already attempted his clementine and oat muffins

his herb roti, which I served up with a curry made from Christmas leftovers…

and his sticky lemon and poppy seed cake

However, my first choice from the many ‘must bake’ items, which I’ve earmarked, was this amazing apple, walnut and custard cake…

There are three main stages to this cake, so not the quickest of bakes but well worth the effort!

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.

First up you need to make the custard. You’ll need…

175ml milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

50g light soft brown sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

1 medium egg

Whisk all of the ingredients above, together in a saucepan until smooth. Bring to the boil, whisking continously until it’s thick. I found that the turning point came about very suddenly so don’t get complacent, just keep whisking! Once it’s reached a very thick consistency, spoon it into a lightly buttered bowl and chill until firm. 

Next up you need to prepare your apple and walnut filling. You need…

50g light soft brown sugar

3-4 dessert apples, peeled, cored and quartered

75ml brandy

75ml water

75g walnuts, chopped

Place all of the ingredients above in a frying pan and cook over a high heat until the liquid has evaporated. Then leave to cool whilst you make the cake batter. For that you’ll need…

100g light soft brown sugar

75g unsalted butter, softened 

2 eggs

50g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Beat the sugar and butter together with an electric or handheld mixer (or a lot of elbow grease) until light and smooth. Beat the eggs in one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Finally stir in the flour and baking powder with a spoon. Chop the set custard into chunks and fold into the cake batter being careful not to break it up. Now, tip it into the prepared cake tin… 

and finally, place spoonfuls of the apple and walnut mixture on top. Swirl it slightly with a teaspoon to make sure it’s bedded in well. Then pop it into the oven for about 50 minutes…

At which point it will look like this…

Serve it warm, drizzled with maple syrup and a good dollop of creme fraiche…

The apples retain a slight crunch, the walnuts are beautifully caramelised and brandyfied and if that weren’t enough, you’re rewarded with fantastic pockets of vanilla laden custard…sheer heaven on a plate! ditch the detox and get baking!

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