Pasteis de nata

In most situations my dad eats incredibly healthily – he has very high blood cholesterol so alongside the medication he’s prescribed he tries to manage it through avoiding excessive fat consumption. The one thing that he seems incapable of resisting is Pasteis – Portuguese egg tartlets – a kind of creme brûlée in pastry.

When I was given this book for Christmas containing a recipe for mini Pasteis, I thought – why not make them!

So I have!




Pastry case
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 x 25cm squares pre-rolled puff pastry
Plain flour (for dusting)

Egg custard
3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
1/2 tbsp custard powder
100ml milk
80ml cream (I used Elmlea)
1 vanilla bean or a couple of tsp vanilla extract

1 – Preheat oven to 200c and lightly grease muffin tin

2 – Sprinkle 1/2 tbsp sugar on work surface. Place one pastry sheet on it, cut in half and place one half on top of the other. Roll from short end to create a log. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate. Repeat with other sheet.

3 – Cut each log into 1 thick pieces. Lightly Flour work surface then roll into rounds. Press round into muffin tin, thoroughly prick the base then refrigerate.

4 – Put egg yolks sugar and custard powder in saucepan and whisk together. Gradually add cream and milk. Once smooth add vanilla then heat, stirring continuously until mixture comes to boil and thickens.

5 – Transfer custard to a bowl, cover with cling film (so it doesn’t form a skin) and allow to cool.

6 – Transfer custard into pastry cases and cook for 15/20 mins until golden.

7 – Allow to cool for 5 mins in tins the completely on cooling rack.



90th birthday celebrations

In July 2014 my grandmother turned 90 and hosted a garden party to celebrate the occasion… My contribution to the festivities was a birthday cake.

I decided to make shaped cakes (something I’ve not done before) but opted for the slightly easier option of shaped cake tins rather than cutting to shape.

I bought a 9 and a 0 – rather underestimating the size of the tins and ended up with these monsters…


The first challenge was working out the mixture volume which I did by guess work (way too much the first time) and then deciding on how I’d flavour them.

Rather than a Madeira recipe I opted for a standard sponge recipe (equal quantities of egg, flour, butter and sugar) and made one vanilla and one lemon.

Each tin had 10 eggs and the corresponding ingredients – mixed in 2 batches as my mixer couldn’t manage it all! And then decorated with sugar paste flowers.

It was well received by the birthday girl and all the guests (plus all the residents of her apartment block 2 days later!) 🙂


Recipes, Restaurants

Spaghetti with Polpettine, Proscuitto and peas

I LOVE Theo Randall at the Intercontinental on park lane in particular the focaccia you get (but more on that another time) and so I was extremely excited when I received his Pasta cookbook.

It took me a while to try any of the recipes but since then I haven’t looked back – they do require quite a broad variety of ingredients but the actual making us relatively simple…

The first one I tried was a slight adaptation of his ‘Spaghetti with Polpettine, Proscuitto and peas’. The adaptation is that I didn’t make the Polpettine – I had some mini veal meatballs in the freezer so used them instead!

It was a truly delicious meal and actually really simple (obviously more so than if you made the meatballs but that can’t be that difficult!)


Ingredients (to make the whole lot)
– 400g minced veal
– 100g prosciutto, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon chopped mint
– 1 teacup dried breadcrumbs
– 1 egg yolk
– 75g grated Parmesan
– olive oil
– 75ml double cream ( I use Elmlea to reduce the fat content!)
– 400g spaghetti
– 200g peas

1. Place veal, prosciutto, mint, breadcrumbs, egg yolk and Parmesan in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly with your hands. Add seasoning and roll into little balls about 4cm in size.

2. Fry the meatballs slowly for c. 10 mins until cooked through. Drain excess fat then add cream and cook gently for 5 mins.

3. Cook the spaghetti in boiling water adding the peas after 4 mins. When the pasta is al dente drain and toss with the meatballs. Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes then serve with black pepper and Parmesan.