Recipes from Nicolas Ghirlando : Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Don’t you (barquette about me)

This week’s recipe is a good one to make with and for the children now the Christmas holidays have started. A simple recipe for simple minds, if you will…

You may not have children of your own, in which case, feel free to borrow some. They will devour these little sponge biscuit treats in a flash if they are anything like the gannets that mine turned into when a plateful of these alighted on the kitchen table. It was like the pigeons of old in Trafalgar Square.

The shop bought version of these are crisper, so you could add more sugar to the mix if you like, but these ones are softer and lean a little more toward madeleines crossed with sponge fingers. I filled the first lot with some of mother in law Sue’s chocolate sauce that she had mistakenly left lying about the place, the next batch used spoonfuls of Nutella. Both were delicious.

If you want to make your own chocolate sauce, melt good, dark chocolate, a little milk chocolate, some honey, cocoa powder and butter together with a little splash of water until glossy, smooth and rich. This will keep in a jar, probably for eternity, highly unlikely that will happen though. Just reheat to pour over ice cream as and when.

The week ahead should bring plenty of opportunity for fun meals, but with the big day approaching you may want a few simple meals such as the sausage, lentil and potato stew I made for Saturday lunch after the children’s swimming lessons. Red and white onions, a tin of tomatoes, garlic, carrots and celery gently simmered in the oven while we decorated the tree. It was wholesome and tasty and practically cooked itself.

Maybe you’d also like chicken thighs braised with a creamy mushroom and Dijon mustard sauce and some buttered, shredded savoy cabbage to keep out the cold. Or perhaps a big bowl of orzo with tomato and gently spiced meatballs. Whatever you eat in the run up, I wish you a happy Christmas.

Ingredients
4 eggs
100g icing sugar
100g plain flour
Chocolate sauce, Nutella or Jam
A madeleine tin, or similar

Method
Separate the eggs and whisk the whites to a light snow.
Cream together the sugar and egg yolks then gently fold in the whites. Add the flour a little at a time and mix well.
Spray the moulds with cooking oil or grease with a little butter then spoon the mix into each mould.
Bake at 170c for 10-12 minutes until turning a delicate gold. Immediately make a large dent in the middle of each with the back of a spoon or your thumb. Fill with the chocolate and leave to cool.

This week
Saw:
London Mozart Players Christmas concert at the incredible St. John’s Church on Auckland Road. It’s like a local cathedral. Featured Noah’s choir singing ‘Yesterday Like You & Me‘ by composer David Braid. Also a fantastic recital of Winter, from the Four Seasons. Uplifting.
Read:
Deliverance from 27,000 feet. An incredible tale of death and survival on Everest from the New York Times. You’ll need to set aside a little time to read it though.
Listened to:
Michael Bublé’s Christmas album. Come on, it’s great. Also, the soundtrack to White Christmas.
Eat:
Mince pies, stollen, mince pies, pannetone, mince pies, gianduja. Mince pies.

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