This salad has wonderful fresh flavours and is especially good served alongside spicy food. If you want to make this in advance, leave out the avocado and watercress until you are almost ready to serve.
Serves 6, Vegetarian
50ml (2fl oz) olive oil
Juice of ½ lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, peeled and chopped
2 avocados, halved, peeled, stoned and chopped roughly
125g (4½oz) watercress sprigs (about 6 handfuls)
In a bowl mix the olive oil and lime juice and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the chopped orange and avocado. Then gently toss in the watercress sprigs and serve.
Scallops are one of the easiest things to cook and make for a light and tasty springtime meal.
For the beurre blanc
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp finely chopped shallot
1 tbsp single cream
100g (4oz) butter, diced
A wedge of lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp truffle oil (depending how strong the oil is)
For the scallops
Sunflower or olive oil (optional)
A few fennel, chervil or flat parsley leaves
1. To make the beurre blanc, place the wine, vinegar and shallot in a medium-sized saucepan, boil and reduce the liquid until there is only about 1 tablespoon left in the pan. Add the cream and boil again for about 10 seconds until the cream thickens slightly.
2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. When you can hold your hands on the sides of the pan without it being too hot, you can start to whisk in the butter, over a very low heat, two pieces at a time. If the pan gets too warm, take it off the heat for a second (otherwise the sauce can curdle). When all the butter is added, add a squeeze of lemon juice and, if you used unsalted butter, you will also need a pinch of salt.
3. Keep the sauce warm by placing it in a heatproof jug. Half-fill a saucepan with hot water from the kettle and place the jug of sauce in the saucepan to keep warm; it will sit quite happily like this for a couple of hours. When the water cools, just put the saucepan on a gentle heat but do not let the water boil too long or the sauce will scramble. As it sits, it may thicken slightly, in which case thin out with a few drops of warm water just before serving.
4. Next, prepare the scallops. If they still have the membrane around them, pull this off and discard. Slice the round scallop in half horizontally and keep the corals whole. Wash and dry the scallops and corals. Season with salt and pepper and preheat a medium sized
frying pan. If you are using a non-stick pan, you will not need any oil when cooking the scallops; otherwise, wipe the pan with a tiny bit of olive oil. Allow the pan to get hot on a medium heat. Cook the scallops and corals on each side for a minute or so until they are golden brown. Add the truffle oil to the beurre blanc.
5. Place seven halves and one or two corals on each plate and drizzle with the truffle beurre blanc. Decorate with a few fennel, chervil or flat parsley leaves and serve.
This delicious treat has layers of vampy red cake contrasting with snowy white frosting. The result is quite spectacular, both to look at and to eat. A journalist once wrote in The New York Times that this is the Dolly Parton of cakes - rich and tacky, but much loved all the same!
150g (5oz) butter, softened
300g (11oz) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
250g (9oz) plain flour
25g (1oz) cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
2 level tbsp good quality cocoa powder
250ml (9fl oz) buttermilk
Red food colouring (use 2 tbsp liquid colour or ½ tsp thick red food paste) Pinch of salt
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the white frosting
2 large egg whites
250g (9oz) caster sugar
50g (2oz) golden syrup
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
You will need two 23cm (9in) diameter sandwich tins, each about 5cm (2in) deep
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4. Butter and flour the sides of the cake tins and line the bases with parchment paper.
2. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the egg yolks, one by one, beating well after each addition.
3. Place the flour, cornflour, baking powder and cocoa powder in a sieve resting on a plate. Measure the buttermilk with the food colouring and mix together. It should be very red, so add more if you need to.
4. Sift one-third of the dry ingredients into the butter and eggs mixture until just combined, then pour in one-third of the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined.
Continue, combining a third at a time, until both are incorporated.
5. Whisk the egg whites and salt in a large, spotlessly clean bowl until stiffish peaks form. Add one-quarter to the batter and mix. Add the remaining egg whites in three stages, folding them in gently with a large metal spoon until just incorporated, leaving as much air in the egg whites as possible.
6. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it bubbles up, then gently fold this into the batter. Quickly pour the batter into the two prepared tins and smooth the tops. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
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