Sunday Suppers

Sunday is my favourite day of the week, and it holds a very special place in my heart.  It's the one day of the week I feel like waking up late is justified, barely leaving the house it also completely justified, and eating far too much is pretty much mandatory.  This is the day where I get most joy out of cooking, I think, because I know that nothing special is needed.  On a Sunday, I don't think that anyone wants to eat anything too adventurous, but instead, something soothing.  What I want to eat on a Sunday is something that's going to help me recover from the weekend, fill my belly and send me to sleep.  Those Sunday suppers are an incredible treat, because I feel like rarely is eating so leisurely.  There's no rush, there's nowhere we need to head off to, except perhaps to watch the killing recorded from Saturday night, and a big meal in the early evening is the very best way to fortify yourself for the week ahead, and this is one of my favourite menus for such an evening.

Fish Pie
for four

500g smoked haddock
500g mixed seafood, cooked
a splash of white wine
2 bay leaves
500ml whole milk
50g butter
four tablespoons of plain flour
a handful of parsley, chopped
700g floury potatoes, peeled and in chunks.
some milk and butter

Heat the oven to 200°c.

Put the smoked haddock in a saucepan with the milk and bay leaves.  If the fish isn't covered, add some water until it is.  Simmer for a few minutes, until you can pull the flesh from the skin.  Take off the heat.

Cook the potatoes in a deep pan of salted water.  Simmer them until tender, drain in a colander and leave to steam for a good few minutes.  Mash with plenty of butter and a few tablespoons of the haddock cooking liquor.

Melt the 50g of butter in a big pan, stir in the flour and let it cook until it is slightly brown and nutty.  Add the wine and 500ml of the haddock cooking liquor.  Let it simmer, stirring regularly, for around ten minutes, until it coats the back of a spoon and doesn't taste floury.

Skin the haddock and add to the sauce with the seafood and the parsley.  Season with pepper and salt if it needs any.

Spoon into a oven proof dish, or a pie dish, or a big casserole pot, and layer the mash on top.

Bake for about fifty minutes, and serve with peas.

Apple Tart
enough for six

a 340g sheet of puff pastry
four apples, granny smith work well
a knob of butter, melted
a few spoonfuls of caster sugar

Heat the oven to 200°c.

Roll the pastry until it is really thin and use it to line a tart tin with a removable base.  Prick the bottom all over with a fork.

Peel and core the apples, then slice them thinly.  Lay them in concentric circles on the pastry.  Brush them all over with the melted butter and sprinkle them the sugar.

Bake for twenty minutes and serve, cream or ice cream is always good with this.

My new favourite cake

Oh there has been a lot of work going on in my household.  As Christmas fast approaches, the first term slips away and essay deadlines creep up.  I’ve got a good ten thousand words to write before the year is through, and, considering that the festive period is my favourite thing ever, I am trying to get as much done as early as I can.  Although, in theory, this is a sensible plan, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on my favourite part of the year, and as much as I try to think that this is the last year I will have academic work to do over Christmas, it is hard.  When the monotony of my schedule gets too much, however, I have developed a foolproof plan to rejuvenate myself.  I go on a wintery walk, stop off at a few shops and delis, get home, and bake a cake. This cake is one I am very proud of.  Firstly, it fills the whole house with a gingery delicious aroma is better than a tree for conjuring up some festive cheer.  Secondly, it tastes even better than it smells.  It is light and moist, slightly crumbly and just a little bit sticky, with crunchy caramelized almonds and a sweet sticky glaze.  A good cake.  A really good cake.

Ginger Cake with Caramelised Almonds

60g butter
125g golden syrup
60g ground almonds
75g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
100g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
125ml milk
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 170°c and grease and line a loaf tin.

Melt the butter and golden syrup over a low heat.  When it’s melted remove from the heat.

In a big bowl, mix the almonds, flour, soda and spices until they’re all well combined.  Stir the sugar through, add the milk and the egg, and mix well.

Gradually add the melted butter mixture stirring until everything has mingled.

Pour into the tin and bake for 50-55 minutes.

Make a ginger syrup by melting 125g of sugar with 125ml of water with 1 tbsp of grated ginger.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Spoon some syrup over the cake whilst they’re both still hot.

When it’s cool, make a little glaze with icing sugar and water, and pour over.  Toast about two handfuls of flaked almonds in a saucepan; watching them, they burn so easily.  Then add about a tablespoon of caster sugar and cook until it has melted and coated the almonds.  When they are all looking sticky and caramelised, spoon them over the cake.