Cookery programmes are very much in vogue at the moment. I love watching MasterChef and The Great British Bake Off. MasterChef give an idea of the range of skills that are needed to turn out good quality meals in restaurants. There is much more to it than just knowing how to cook, timing and preparation are the key. Recently I was sent My Family Kitchen by Sophie Thompson. Sophie is the 2014 winner of MasterChef and this is her recipe book. I was expecting the book to be a mixture of fancy recipes that you would see gracing the table of Michelin starred restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised, the book is a mixture of recipes from Sophie’s family and friends. The sort of recipes that you would prepare for family gatherings, taking your time and cooking slowly, enjoying time spent in the kitchen.
Every family has hand me down recipes, I have a selection of family favourites I learnt from my mum and grandmother. These recipes are often scrawled on bits of paper and tucked into recipe books to be taken out and cooked on special occasions. Many of them have memories attached, like my mum’s volcano pudding. It was actually a chocolate surprise pudding but the first time she cooked it the sauce came oozing out over the top and it resembled a volcano. It was delicious and became a firm family favourite. My Family Kitchen is a collection of Sophie’s family favourite recipes. Each recipe has a story attached and has been added into the book from a different family member or friend. Granny Annie’s Orange and Ginger Chicken, Mum’s Spare Ribs, Uncle James’s Pineapple Tarts are a few of the gems. Opening the book is like opening a snapshot into family life.
There are nine chapters in the book. The Introduction explains how Sophie gained her love of cooking with lots of lovely family photos to illustrate this. The chapter on Larder and Spice Stash is a good list of basics that should be in any kitchen cupboard. Then we get into the different recipes, these are divided into Soups, Starters and Morsels, Fish from the Briny Deep, Chick Chick Chick Chick Chicken. Lambs, Beef, Pigs and Game, Vegetabley Things, Who’s for Pud? and Cakes, Biscuits and Confections. It is a easy book to pick up and find a recipe to cook. In fact you will be spoiled for choice and tempted by the lovely pictures.
I have to admit that I was tempted by the recipe for a Bakewell Tart. Bakewell tarts are one of my favourite things but I have never tried to make one before. I had all the ingredients listed including some ground almonds that had been lurking in the cupboard for a while. It seemed like a good opportunity to use them up.
I thought the recipe would be complicated but in fact it was really easy to follow. The recipe used ready prepared shortcrust pastry which I didn’t expect. Most recipe books expect you to faff around and prepare your own. Whilst I can make shortcrust pastry, I have memories of my domestic science teacher intoning half fat to flour, it is easier to use ready made. I liked the fact that this book recognised that. Having lined the dish with pastry I blind baked it. I then added a layer of home made raspberry jam and the almond mixture into the case and baked it in the oven for the requisite time.
I was really pleased with the result, it was delicious and tasty. Perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon. My Family Kitchen is the ideal recipe book if you are looking for new ideas for family meals. Sometimes when you look at recipe books you only want to try a couple of recipes but this book has given me lots of ideas and I will be working my way though the recipes in it for some time to come. The recipes are easy to follow and it would be an ideal book for someone who is just starting out in the kitchen
Birchover Bakewell Tart by Sophie Thompson
Reproduced with permission from the publishers
- 320 g ready rolled shortcrust pastry
- 200 g soft butter
- 200 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs beaten
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 200 g ground almonds
- 6 tbsp raspberry jam
- 1-2 tbsp flaked almonds lightly toasted
- icing sugar to decorate
- Take the pastry out of the fridge about fifteen minutes before using.
- Preheat the oven to 180C 160C fan, Gas Mark 4
- Roll the pastry out into a circle big enough to line a 22cm tart tin. Grease the tin and press the pastry into it. Let any excess pastry hang over the edge.
- Line the pastry with baking paper and add baking beans.
- Bake blind for 15 minutes.
- Remove the baking beans and paper and cook for five minutes to crisp the base
- In a bowl mix the butter, sugar, beaten eggs, almond extract and ground almonds until well combined.
- Spread the jam over the pastry base and add the almond mixture.
- Trim the overhanging pastry so there is 3cm all the way round then fold the excess pastry over the top of the filling.
- Place on a baking tray and bake for around forty minutes.
- Allow to cool completely then remove from tin and sprinkle with flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar
I was sent the book in return for an honest review