Tartines – open sandwiches are absolutely adored by the French. Because they are simple, you need good bread, preferably sourdough, and the best, ripest blue cheese you can find. Serve it with the watercress tossed in vinaigrette made with walnut or hazelnut oil, and some toasted nuts.
2 Slices sourdough bread
About 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
150 g Cashel or crozier blue cheese, rind discarded
Knob of butter
3 Fresh ripe figs, cut in half
3 tblsp Sherry vinegar
3 tblsp Runny honey
Watercress salad, to serve (see intro)
50 g Toasted nuts, hazel or walnuts are best
Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot. Toast the slices of sourdough and then drizzle with the olive oil.
Put the cheese on top and half-spread it just to flatten it down a bit. Put one slice on to each serving plate.
Heat the butter in a small frying pan and cook the figs on both sides until they have a little colour – it will only take about 25 seconds on each side.
Add the sherry vinegar – it will spurt so be careful and then drizzle in the honey. Stir the juices around and turn over the figs.
Spoon the figs on to the blue cheese and drizzle the juices over the top. Add a small mound of the watercress salad to serve.
Rachel shares the recipe for her mouth-watering Cookies and Cream Cheesecake from her show Rachel Allen’s Everyday Kitchen
For the double chocolate chip cookies
makes 20 large cookies
225 g (8oz) butter, softened
325 g (111/2oz) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
225 g (8oz) plain flour
75 g (3oz) cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
175 g (6oz) dark chocolate (55–70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces, or dark chocolate chips
For the cheesecake
15 g (1/2oz) cocoa powder, sifted
25 ml (1fl oz) strong coffee, such as espresso
1 tsp vanilla extract
500 g (1lb 2oz) mascarpone
400 ml (14fl oz) double or regular cream
50 g (2oz) icing sugar
50 g (2oz) dark chocolate (55–75% cocoa solids), grated, for sprinkling
9-12 of the double chocolate chip cookies
23cm (9in) diameter spring-form cake tin
Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until very soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Crack in one egg at a time, beating between each addition, then add the vanilla extract. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, then add the chocolate pieces/chips and fold in to combine. Alternatively, place all the ingredients except the chocolate pieces/chips in a food processor and whiz briefly until they come together, then fold in the chocolate.
With wet hands, form the dough into balls each the size of a golf ball (or use two soup spoons to scoop up and shape the same amount of dough). Arrange on the prepared baking sheets, placing 6–7 balls of dough on each sheet and leaving space for the cookies to spread.
Bake for 10–14 minutes or until the cookies look slightly cracked on top. (With three baking sheets, you will need to cook them in three batches, or two batches in a fan oven.) Take out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove from the baking sheets using a palette knife or metal fish slice and place on a wire rack to cool down completely.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, coffee, vanilla extract, mascarpone, cream and icing sugar for 1–2 minutes or until thick.
Arrange one-third (3–4) of the cookies in the bottom of the cake tin, then spread over one-third of the chocolate cream mixture. Add a second layer of cookies, then another layer of chocolate cream, followed by a final layer of cookies and a final layer of chocolate cream.
Use a spatula to smooth the top layer of chocolate cream, then cover the tin with cling film and place in the fridge to chill for eight hours or overnight.
To remove the cheesecake from the cake tin, run a small, sharp knife around the cheesecake to loosen the edges, then unfasten the clip and lift away the sides of the tin. Using a palette knife or a metal fish slice, loosen the cheesecake from the base of the tin and carefully slide off onto a plate. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate to serve.
This is a very filling soup that is actually a recipe of my mum’s that we have been making on and off in the restaurant for years. Use the very best quality fish and shellfish for the best flavour
1 tblsp rapeseed oil
1 tblsp butter, softened
2 large potatoes, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
1 small onion, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
1 carrot, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
1/2 small leek, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
1 tblsp plain flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150 ml (1/4 pint) dry white wine
300 ml (1/2 pint) fish stock (page 254)
100 g (4oz) skinless salmon fillet, cut into cubes
100 g (4oz) smoked coley fillet, cut into cubes
100 g (4oz) cooked mussel meat
100 g (4oz) cooked peeled prawns
150 ml (1/4 pint) cream
1 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 tblsp parsley oil (page 250), to garnish
fresh micro salad, to garnish
makes about 1.2 litres (2 pints)
250 g (9oz) white fish trimmings and/or bones (such as lemon sole, brill or plaice bones)
3 leeks, trimmed and chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
large handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
175 ml (6fl oz) dry white wine
100 g (4oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley
100 ml (3 1/2fl oz) rapeseed oil
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and then add the butter. Once it stops sizzling, tip in the potatoes, onion, carrot and leek and cook for 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add the flour and cook on a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Season to taste.
Gradually pour the wine into the pan and allow it to bubble down, stirring continuously. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the salmon and coley and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the mussel meat, prawns and cream and simmer for another 2–3 minutes, until warmed through. Stir in the herbs and season to taste.
To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each one with the parsley oil and micro salad.
Rinse the fish bones and trimmings of any blood, which would make the stock look cloudy and taste bitter. Place into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot with the leeks, carrots, fennel and parsley.
Pour in the white wine, then add 2.4 litres (4 pints) cold water to cover the fish and vegetables. Place on a high heat and bring to a simmer. After 5 minutes, remove the scum that forms on the surface with a spoon and discard. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes, skimming as necessary.
At the end of the cooking time, remove the stock from the heat and strain, discarding the fish trimmings and the vegetables. Cool and store in a plastic covered jug in the fridge and use as required.
Pick the leaves from the parsley and place in a mini blender, discarding the stalks. Add the rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt and blend for 5 minutes, until completely smooth.
Pass the parsley mixture through a fine sieve into a jug and then transfer to a squeezy bottle. Use as required.
Neven’s tips: This soup can be made up to 24 hours in advance and kept covered in the fridge. Just be careful when reheating not to allow it to come to the boil or the fish will lose its texture. Splash out on a rosé Champagne, rosé Cava or a ripe Chardonnay from Macon in Burgundy.
This recipe and many more are available in Neven Maguire’s The MacNean Restaurant Cookbook, published by Gill & MacMillan Books and available to buy here.
A delicious classic recipe for a very classy cake.
butter (melted, for greasing)
125 g (41/2 oz) caster sugar (plus 3 tbsp for sprinkling)
2 tblsp warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
125 g (41/2 oz) plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
for the filling
200 g (7oz) rhubarb (about 2 stalks, trimmed), cut into 5mm (1/4 in) slices
125 g (41/2 oz) caster sugar
200 ml (7fl oz) milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
15 g (1/2 oz) cornflour
100 ml (31/2 fl oz) whipped double or regular cream (measured when whipped)
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5). Line the base of the Swiss roll tin (25 x 38cm/ 10 x 15′) with baking parchment, brush the base and sides of the tin with melted butter and dust with flour.
Using a hand-held electric beater or an electric food mixer, whisk together the eggs, caster sugar, water and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
Sift in the flour, about one-third at a time, and fold it into the mixture. Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared Swiss roll tin and bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes or until the centre of the sponge is slightly springy to the touch and the edges have shrunk a little from the sides of the tin.
Take a piece of baking parchment slightly larger in size than the tin and spread out on a work surface.
Sprinkle the paper evenly with caster sugar (this is to stop the cake sticking to the paper). Quickly flip the Swiss roll tin over onto the sugared paper, then carefully remove the tin and baking parchment from the bottom of the cake.
Place a clean, slightly damp tea towel over the cake while it cools – this will prevent it drying out and cracking when you roll it.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with 75g (3oz) of the caster sugar and 25ml (1fl oz) of water and place on a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and allow to boil, uncovered and stirring regularly, for 10–15 minutes or until the rhubarb is completely soft and the mixture is quite thick.
Tip out onto a plate and allow to cool.
Next make the custard. Place the milk and the split vanilla pod (if using) in another pan and bring to the boil.
Whisk the egg yolks (and vanilla extract, if using) with the remaining sugar (I like to use a hand-held electric beater for this) for a few minutes or until pale and light. Then briefly whisk in the cornflour.
Pour the hot milk and vanilla pod (if using) onto the egg mixture, whisking as you pour, then tip it all back into the saucepan and cook, stirring all the time, over a low heat for a few minutes or until it forms a thick custard.
Pour it into a bowl and allow to cool, then fold in the cooled rhubarb and the whipped cream – you can leave it slightly marbled (not fully mixed) if you prefer.
When the sponge is completely cold, spread over the rhubarb and custard mixture, then, with one of the short sides facing you, roll up the Swiss roll away from you and carefully transfer to a serving plate.
Sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar to finish, then cut into slices about 2cm (3/4in) thick to serve.