Saturday, 30 August 2014

Inn At The Crossroads

The best recipes from the Inn at the Crossroads blog:

Leg of Lamb, in dark beer, honey, and spices


1 leg of lamb, bone in (mine was a monster 7 pounder for Easter dinner)
2 cups dark beer, such as stout or porter
1 cup honey, divided in half
1 Tbs. juniper berries, crushed
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. whole cloves

Preheat the oven to 375F. Combine the beer, honey, juniper, bay leaves, and cloves in the bottom of a deep roasting pan, then set the leg of lamb on top. Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper. Cook approximately 15 minutes per pound, basting every 10-15 minutes or so. The interior temperature of the lamb should reach 130F, at which point it should be done.

Remove from the oven, cover loosely with tin foil, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Strain the drippings into a separate bowl, and skim off as much of the fat as you can. You can either serve the remaining mix straight with the lamb as a sauce, or simmer gently with a bit of fresh mint.

Modern Elderflower Fritters

Cook’s Note: Bonus Points if you can get a hold of an elderflower cider, such as Angry Orchard makes! Also, try using smaller clusters of flowers for easier frying and eating.


1/2 bottle sparkling hard cider (6 fl. oz)
pinch of dry yeast
pinch of salt
zest of 1/2 lemon or orange
1 cup flour
6 elderflower blossom clusters, or more, as desired
oil for frying (I used canola)
sugar, for sprinkling

Mix together all ingredients except the elderflowers and oil, tweaking as necessary, until you have a nice runny batter. Bring the oil up to a nice medium heat. Gently dip a cluster of elderflowers into the batter, holding the stem upright. You can wiggle it around until all the blossoms are covered. Let any excess batter drip off, then carefully lower the battered flower into the hot oil. You should be able to cook each fritter almost entirely on this side, although you may find flipping it to finish the top side is helpful. When the fritters are golden brown, remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with some sugar, and enjoy!

Spruce Tip Shortbread Recipe


1 stick butter, room temperature
1/3 cup cane sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh spruce tips

Preheat oven to 325. Beat the butter and sugar together, then add the remaining ingredients, mixing until it’s crumbly. You may need to fiddle with the proportions a bit- too soft and the shortbread will melt, but too dry, and it won’t hold together. Chill for at least an hour. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Roll out your dough to about 1/4″ thick, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters (Christmas tree cutters would be cute- I didn’t think of that). Place the shortbreads on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, then bake for around 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are just starting to turn golden. Let them cool

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Home Made Vinegar


Yields: 1 bottle

1 French Mother of Vinegar
1 bottle of wine


Place the French Mother of Vinegar in a plastic or ceramic crock with a lid that allows airflow while keeping out dust – eg, you can loosely attach a coffee filter over the mouth of the jar, or get a Chinese crock that has an air-hole in the lid, which works perfectly and fill up with leftover wine of any kind. 

It takes 1 month-4 months to turn to vinegar, depending on the size of the mother in relation to the wine, and how warm the crock is kept (at 70-80 degrees as in our sunny windowsill, it happens fast; at 50-60 degrees in our garage, it goes slowly). 

Taste it for doneness and when it’s ready, ladle or siphon off the vinegar and add more wine to the crock so the Mother can stay fed and healthy. To use the vinegar, you can use it straight from the crock, or filter it through a strainer or coffee filter to remove any particulate matter like a spot of dust or residue of the Mother that may be aesthetically annoying.

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Friday, 15 August 2014

TasteSpotting Faves

Bakewell Tart

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds


Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Assembling the tart:

Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Lavender cod with grilled fennel and potato salad, roasted tomato

Ingredients for 2:

For the cod:

2 cod fillets
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
lavender salt

For the vegetables:

2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 potatoes, sliced crosswise
1 heirloom tomato, cut in half
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbs parsley, finely chopped
1 tbs mint, finely chopped
one pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbs olive oil + 1
salt and pepper
Fleur de sel for the tomato


First prepare the potatoes. Drizzle them with salt, pepper, olive oil and cider vinegar. Place in the oven and broil on both sides until golden brown and cooked all the way through. While potatoes are cooking, grill the fennel on a grill pan. Add fennel to the potatoes.

Drizzle cod with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil on both sides until cooked all the way through.

Grill tomatoes on grill pan.

In a small mixing bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, mint, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour on top of fennel, potato mixture and toss.

Add lavender salt on top of cod, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.

Add Fleur de sel and pepper on top of tomato halves and a little olive oil.

Serve each item in a plate.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream


1 ear corn (kernels reserved, cut into 1 inch slices)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks


1. Simmer the corn cob in the heavy cream and milk for 10 minutes.
2. Remove the corn cob.
3. Add the corn kernels and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Temper the egg yolks and add them along with the sugar and vanilla extract to the pan.
5. Cook at low heat until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.
6. Chill the mixture in the fridge.
7. Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Sizzling Summer Snacks

Grilled Asparagus with Pepper Zabaglione

3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3 tablespoons vin santo or other lightly sweet dessert wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt
2 pounds large asparagus
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Light a grill or heat a grill pan. In a heatproof medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the egg and vin santo. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water and vigorously whisk the eggs over moderate heat until the sauce holds firm peaks, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl of sauce from the heat.
In a small bowl, mix the butter with the heavy cream and pepper. Whisk the cream mixture into the sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Season the zabaglione with salt and keep warm.
In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and season with salt. Grill the asparagus over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until charred all over and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to plates.
Set the bowl of sauce over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk over low heat until thick and just heated through, about 1 minute. Spoon the sauce over the asparagus, sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Squid Pizza with Saffron Aioli

Pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Cayenne pepper
6 ounces cleaned squid—tentacles halved, bodies sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
6 ounces pizza dough
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large plum tomato, diced
1 teaspoon chopped marjoram
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 500°. Preheat a pizza stone. In a small bowl, crumble the saffron into the water; let steep for 5 minutes. In a blender or bowl, beat the egg yolk with the garlic and 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Gradually add the 3/4 cup of olive oil, beating constantly, until very thick. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and the saffron water and season the aioli with salt and cayenne.
In a skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the squid, season with salt and black pepper and cook over high heat until just starting to whiten, 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pizza dough to a 12-inch round, 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the round to a lightly floured pizza peel. Leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough, brush the round with olive oil and sprinkle with crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper. Scatter the onion slices over the round and top with the squid, tomato and marjoram.
Slide the pizza onto the hot stone and bake for about 5 minutes, until the bottom is crisp. Transfer the pizza to a work surface and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the aioli. Reserve the remaining aioli for another use. Garnish the pizza with the parsley, cut into wedges and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The saffron aioli can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Grilled Tomato Crostini

Four 3/4-inch-thick slices of ciabatta bread
1 garlic clove, halved
Juicy Grilled Tomatoes
Olive oil, for drizzling
20 small basil leaves

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the ciabatta until toasted and charred in spots, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plates and rub with the garlic halves. Spoon the tomatoes and their juices over the grilled bread and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and basil and serve.

Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Pepperoncini

1 pound cucumbers—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped, plus cucumber spears for serving
10 small pepperoncini—4 stemmed, seeded and chopped, plus 1/4 cup of liquid from the jar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a blender, puree the chopped cucumbers with the chopped pepperoncini, the pickling liquid, 2 tablespoons of the dill, the yogurt and buttermilk until very smooth. Stir in the cumin and the remaining dill and season with salt. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Ladle the soup into 6 bowls. Serve each bowl with a whole pepperoncini and cucumber spears on the side.
NOTES The soup can also be served in cups, as in the recipe photo.

See more Italian Summer Recipes from Food and Wine

Friday, 1 August 2014