I love it when a plan comes together…

I often think of combining things to make something new. Sometimes it’s less than successful, sometimes it’s a bit of a triumph. This was a triumph. 

I’ve called these Scollens – a cross between a scone and stollen. Quick and easy to make and infinitely adaptable to your own dried fruit likes and dislikes. I would say though that if you dislike the flavour of almonds, they probably aren’t for you.

This amount made about 15, easily halved 

450g self-raising flour

40g golden caster sugar

200g ground almonds

150g very cold butter (I put it in the freezer for half an hour before I start)

200g marzipan 

100g mixed dried fruit – I used cranberries, cherries and blueberries

1tsp almond essence

2 large eggs, beaten

about 100ml milk

a little extra flour

Preheat oven 180c/gas mark 7

Put the flour, sugar and ground almonds in a roomy bowl and mix together thoroughly. 

Take the butter out of the freezer and use the coarse side of a box grater to grate half of the butter into the flour mixture then use a kitchen knife to cut and mix the butter into the flour. Try to do this lightly and coat each strand in flour – ideally you want to avoid compressing the butter into lumps.  Repeat with the rest of the butter.

Then do the same thing with the marzipan but I would do this bit in three or four goes to prevent the marzipan from clumping together too much. 

Once that is in stir in the dried fruit. 

Whisk together the eggs, almond essence and about half of the milk. Then use the kitchen knife to cut and stir the liquid into the dry ingredients. Now get your hands in the bowl and start to bring everything together adding extra milk as needed. The dough should be a bit claggy and there will probably be a few scrappy bits in the bottom of the bowl. Worry not. 

Tip everything onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly and quickly to bring everything together. This is not bread dough so only knead enough to ensure everything is more or less sticking together. The less you handle it the lighter your scones will be. 

Pat the dough into a circle. I never ever roll out scone dough, just pat it into shape keeping it 4-5cm deep. You can very lightly use a rolling pin to level the top if you wish, but lightly – no flattening!

Use a 5 cm cutter to stamp out the scollens, dipping the cutter in flour between each one to stop any sticking, then place them on a baking sheet. When you use a cutter try to push it straight down without twisting and then shake the dough out without prodding too much. This ensures the end results rise more evenly in the oven. Glaze with milk or a beaten egg if liked then bake for 15-18 minutes until nicely risen and golden brown. 

These are gorgeous served warm with butter. Or clotted cream. Or black cherry jam. Or indeed, all three. 

Basics: Roast Potatoes


Everyone has their own way of doing roast potatoes, this is mine. I like a high ratio of fluffy to crispy and never ever use a waxy potato. Nor do I like mine coated in semolina or polenta – I really don’t like the oddly tough outer this creates. For me it has to be Maris Piper or King Edwards (same with mashed potato). I’m not saying this is the absolutely ultimate roast spud method just that this is what I do. I’ve made these using vegetable oil, olive oil and butter combined, duck fat, goose fat, lard or beef dripping. Works perfectly well with any of them. 

Pre heated oven 170c

You need one potato per person plus an extra one or two depending on how many you are catering for. Choose potatoes roughly the size of a lightly clenched fist, peel, then cut into four evenly sized pieces and rinse.

Place in a saucepan, cover with cold water, add a generous amount of salt and bring up to the boil quite slowly over a medium heat. 

As soon as the water starts to boil turn the heat right down, put a lid on the pan and cook very very gently until completely tender. This will take around 20 minutes or so. Test with a skewer or a cocktail stick but go gently because they are likely to break apart if you are heavy handed. 

Once tender drain slowly and very carefully then gently return the potatoes to the pan. Allow them to steam in the pan for a couple of minutes. You may notice the odd corner of a potato lifting up – this is good, nothing to worry about. 

Now pour over your chosen fat, about a generous tablespoon per potato then gently swirl the pan to partially coat each piece. Don’t worry about getting it evenly distributed. 

Spoon each piece of potato onto a non-stick baking sheet. There should be some fat left behind in the pan, use the spoon to trickle a little of this remaining fat over each potato. Floury potatoes are by nature a bit fragile and one or two may break apart. Worry not, just press gently back together and anoint in the same way as the others. As you get to the last dregs there will be potato crumbs making it sludgey. This is A Good Thing. Keep spooning until it has all been used up. 

Roast in the oven for about an hour turning over after 40 minutes or so. I use a palette knife and a fork to do this, easing them off the tray if they have stuck slightly. 

When written down it sounds a lot faffier than it actually is. Have faith in the fact that you don’t need a lake of oil to roast potatoes and rejoice in what this means when it comes to the washing up. 

Speedy Thai Salmon

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This makes a super quick and simple midweek meal with plenty of flavour. It goes really nicely with some leafy green vegetables and if you aren’t low carbing add some noodles dressed in a little soy sauce.

I used creamed coconut from a sachet – you can buy a box which has four small sachets in it but if you only have a big block then you will need about 25g. Thai curry paste can be quite pokey which is why I’ve stipulated half a teaspoon, if you like things hot then add more to taste.

I didn’t have any desiccated coconut in the cupboard but a tablespoon toasted in a dry pan until golden and mixed with the peanuts would make a nice addition.

Serves 2

2 salmon fillets

1 small sachet of creamed coconut dissolved in 2 tbs boiling water

1/2 tsp Thai green curry paste

small handful of peanuts, roughly chopped

grated zest and juice of half a lime

Pre-heat the oven to 220ºc

Place the fillets into a shallow ovenproof dish.

Mix together the creamed coconut and Thai curry paste then spread over the top of the salmon.

Press the chopped peanuts and coconut (if using) evenly into the mixture on each piece of fish and scatter over the grated lime zest.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the salmon will just break apart when pressed with the back of a fork.