Warming recipes to make your Bonfire Night go with a bang

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  • Comfort food to keep you cosy while watching the sky light up

    Remember, remember to whip up some beautifully warming recipes for Bonfire Night this week.

    Whether you’re looking for easy recipes to make between the bonfire and fireworks, comforting dishes to take with you to your local display, or if you’re just having a dinner party at home, no celebration would be complete without these Bonfire Night recipes.

    James Martin’s baked double chocolate pudding

    This is a great pudding to place in the centre of the table for everyone to help themselves. Just wait for the reaction when the first spoon hits the bottom of the dish, revealing the rich chocolate sauce that forms as the pudding bakes. Serve with cream or ice cream.

    Serves: 6

    You will need
    100g melted butter, plus extra for greasing 3 eggs 175ml milk 250g self-raising flour 50g cocoa powder 1 tsp baking powder 150g light brown soft sugar 100g dark chocolate drops, or milk chocolate, finely chopped into approximately 5mm dice

    For the sauce:
    300ml water 200g light brown sugar 40g cocoa powder


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and butter a 2-litre ovenproof dish.

    2. Whisk the melted butter, eggs and milk together in a jug until smooth. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl then stir in the sugar.

    3. Pour the butter mixture onto the flour and mix well to a smooth batter. Stir in the dark and milk chocolate and spoon into the prepared baking dish.

    4. To make the sauce, bring the water and sugar to the boil in a saucepan, then add the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Pour evenly over the top of the batter then place the dish in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes. The top of the sponge will be just firm to the touch, but underneath there will be a runny chocolate sauce. Serve hot with double cream or ice cream.

    Recipe extracted from Sweet by James Martin (Quadrille £20), photography: Peter Cassidy. James Martin will be appearing live at the Good Food Show Winter at the NEC Birmingham 26-29 November


    Bay-brined chicken, with cider, pears, thyme and pumpkin

    Brining the chicken with cider, sugar, salt and bay leaves seasons it throughout and keeps it incredibly juicy after roasting; add pumpkin wedges, pears, shallots and aromatic thyme to the dish and you practically have a one-dish wonder. Serve with mashed potato for a very filling supper, or choose a handful of peppery salad leaves for a lighter option.

    Serves: 4-6, depending on appetites

    You will need

    For the brine:
    200ml dry cider 100g demerara sugar 2 tbsp rock salt 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns 2 thyme sprigs 3 fresh bay leaves, crushed 1 large, free-range chicken (about 2kg), untied, any giblets removed

    To roast:
    50g butter, soft 10 shallots, halved and peeled 4 fresh, small bay leaves 5 thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves to serve 1 small pumpkin or round squash, deseeded and cut into wedges 3 small pears, halved and cored 2 tbsp olive oil 150ml dry cider

    1. Start with the brine. Mix the cider, sugar, salt, peppercorns, thyme sprigs and bay leaves with 200ml water. Put the chicken in a large, ziplock food bag and pour the brine in. Seal the bag and put in the fridge, in a bowl or dish in case of leaks, for 6 – 24 hours, turning occasionally.

    2. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. Remove the chicken from the brine (discard this), rinse briefly under cool water and pat dry. Pop four shallot halves inside the chicken with a bay leaf and a thyme sprig. Carefully work your hands under the chicken breast skin and lay two bay leaves on each breast, along with a pat of butter. Spread the remaining butter on top of the breast and leg skin.

    3. Put the chicken in a large roasting tin or dish, cover loosely with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Now uncover the bird and add the pumpkin, pears, remaining shallots and remaining thyme sprigs to the dish so that they surround the chicken. Drizzle with oil and season. Add the cider to the dish.

    4. Turn the oven down to 180°C/gas 4 and roast for 50 minutes more, covering the chicken breast with a sheet of foil if it browns too quickly. Test the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into its thigh; the juices should run clear, not pink. Cover and return to the oven for 10 minutes if not quite cooked. Rest the bird on a board, tented with foil, for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the vegetables and fruit in the pan (scattered with a little fresh thyme), any pan juices and some buttery mash.

    Winter squash hotcakes with blackberries and honeycomb

    These wholemeal pancakes make a delightful weekend breakfast on autumn days. The batter is subtly-spiced, but you could enhance the gingerbread flavour with a little ground ginger and mixed spice. Serve them, puffed-up from the pan with hot blackberries and honeycomb. Heaven!

    Serves: 3-4

    You will need
    250g wholemeal spelt flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    1/4 tsp fine salt 
50g light muscovado sugar
    3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    284ml pot buttermilk or thin, natural yoghurt 130ml milk
    ½ 425g tin pumpkin puree [ie about 210g]
    2 large eggs, separated
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tsp sunflower oil 300g blackberries
    100g honeycomb, to serve

    1. In a mixing bowl combine the spelt flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and spices. In a second bowl, using a stick blender, blitz the buttermilk or yoghurt, pumpkin puree, 40g light muscovado sugar sugar, egg yolks and vanilla together until smooth.

    2. Fold into the spelt flour bowl until almost combined, but with a few clumps of flour still remaining. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold into the mixture until just combined. Transfer to a pouring jug and allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes. While the batter rests, put the blackberries in a small saucepan with the remaining 10g muscovado sugar and a splash of water. Bring up to the boil and simmer gently for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the blackberries just begin to give up their juice, but don’t break don too much.

    3. Set a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Dip kitchen towel into the oil and rub over the surface to coat lightly. Pour or spoon the batter in to make pancakes of about 8cm diameter (space them out well to make flipping them easier). Lower the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and a bit crispy then turn with a spatula and continue cooking for 2 minutes more. Keep warm on a loosely-covered plate in a low oven.

    4. Repeat until all the batter is used. Serve the pancakes in small stacks with the blackberries and craggy pieces of honeycomb spooned over.

    Recipes Alice Hart Styling Karen Akhtar Photogrpahs Ali Allen

    Paul A Young’s aztec-style hot chocolate

    Makes: 2 very large mugfulls

    You will need
    25g light muscovado sugar (more if you like it sweet)
    20g dark cocoa powder 100g Caribbean 66% dark chocolate, broken into pieces

    1. Spice of your choice, such as chilli, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom or ginger Put the the sugar and cocoa powder in a pan, add 500ml water and bring to a simmer for three minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate to the pan and, using an electric hand mixer, blend for one minute, adding spice to taste. Bring the hot chocolate back to simmer for two minutes and serve.

    The variations
    The Whiskey one: (fabulous on those cold evenings in the run up to Christmas Day).

    Follow the Aztec recipe above, adding the following at the beginning of the recipe:
    1 teaspoon of black cardamom (which is smokey and has the aroma of burning wood and bonfires)
    1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper (for a sultry warmth and kick)
    1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger.

    When cooked, pour into mugs and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Just before drinking, add a generous snifter of your favourite whisky.

    To get the real smoky, peaty and woody aromas, Paul suggests using an Islay whisky, such as Laphroig for its intense peaty flavours. But do use any variety that you will really enjoy.

    And by adding the whisky after cooling, the alcohol isn’t cooked off, leaving complex flavours and a warmth that really will get right through to your bones.

    Recipe, Paul A Young’s Adventures with Chocolate (Kyle Books), photography Anders Schønnemann

    Butternut squash soup with Thai spices

    Roasting the soup ingredients in the oven intensifies their flavour and makes this a very easy recipe. An array of toppings, scattered over to serve, really make this soup, but you can pick and choose which you use. Crisp, frazzled shallots can be found in Asian shops or some large supermarkets; just miss them out or frazzle some fresh ones in a frying pan if you can’t find them.

    Serves: 4-6

    You will need
    650g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced (prepared weight)
    2tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil 4 small Thai shallots or 2 normal shallots 1 thumb ginger, peeled and finely sliced 2 lemongrass sticks, trimmed and sliced 2 red chillies, 1 deseeded and roughly chopped, 1 finely sliced 2 garlic cloves, left whole in skins 400ml light coconut milk 400ml veg stock
    light soy sauce, black pepper and lime juice, to season

    To serve: A handful cashews, toasted and roughly crushed A small handful of coriander sprigs 2tbsp fried shallots, optional

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Toss the diced pumpkin or squash with the oil, shallots, ginger, lemongrass, the roughly chopped chilli and the whole garlic cloves. Cover tightly with foil and roast for 1 hour, until very tender. Tip half the pumpkin into a blender with the coconut milk and blitz until very smooth.

    2. Pour into a large saucepan then repeat the blitzing with the remaining pumpkin mixture and the vegetable stock. Pour this in with the first batch and stir well. Place the pan over a low heat and gently bring to the boil, stirring often.

    3. Simmer gently for 5 minutes then season to taste with soy sauce, black pepper and lime juice. Divide between warmed bowls and scatter with the toasted cashews, coriander, sliced chilli and crisp shallots (if using) just before eating.

    Recipes Alice Hart Styling Karen Akhtar Photogrpahs Ali Allen

    Salted dark chocolate caramels

    These soft and velvety morsels, with their optional shell of dark chocolate, are sleek and sophisticated. Perfect for serving with a cup of coffee.

    Makes: about 60 small caramels

    You will need
    1 tsp vegetable oil 200ml double cream 3/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
    1 tsp flaky sea salt 175g golden syrup 220g caster sugar 70g salted butter, cubed, at room temperature

    1. Line a 23 cm square baking tin with foil and oil lightly with vegetable oil. Heat the cream with 30g of the butter in a small saucepan with the vanilla and half the sea salt until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside in a warm place.

    2. Gently heat the golden syrup with the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring to melt the sugar. Once the mixture is melted together, stop stirring and only swirl the pan from time to time to prevent hot-spots forming. Attach a sugar thermometer to the pan. Boil the mixture until the syrup reaches 155C or 310F.

    3. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the warm cream mixture to form a smooth toffee sauce. Return the pan to the heat and boil steadily until the mixture reaches 127C or 260F.

    4. Take the thermometer out of the pan and stir in the cubed butter off the heat. Once the mixture is smooth, pour into the oiled tin and set aside for 15 minutes. Scatter with the remaining sea salt and leave the caramel to cool completely. Carefully lift the slab of caramel out of the tin and peel the foil away. Slice into little squares or rectangles with a sharp knife. Serve the caramels as they are, or cover them in chocolate.

    5. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, or in the microwave. Drop the caramels in one by one, retrieving them with a fork and allowing the excess chocolate to drip off before sitting on a platter or a wire rack to set. The caramels will keep for a week in an airtight container kept in a cool place.

    Recipe, Alice Hart

    Mini squash, baked with a fondue of gruyere, white wine and sage

    An indulgent and laidback kitchen supper for chilly nights; use the best Gruyere you can get hold of.

    Serves: 4

    You will need
    4 small, whole pumpkins or winter squash 50g salted butter, very soft a handful sage leaves 375ml dry white wine 150ml milk 400g Gruyere cheese, grated 2 tbsp plain flour or cornflour (to make this gluten-free)
    Crusty bread, warmed through to serve

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan, gas 6. Slice the stalky tops (the ‘lids’) off each pumpkin about a quarter of the way down the vegetable, exposing the seeds inside. Scrape these out with a spoon (if they look plump and shiny, rinse them and reserve for later), make sure the inside of the lids are scraped clean too, and rub the insides with most of the butter.

    2. Season with salt and pepper, pop a sage leaf or two into each and stand the pumpkins on a baking tray, lids tucked in alongside. Roast for 40 minutes, until the flesh in tender and the skin beginning to caramelise. Remove from the oven and set aside.

    3. Turn the oven down to 180°C, 160°C fan, gas 4. Pour the wine into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil for a few seconds. Reduce the heat so that the wine is barely simmering. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and warm through at the same time.

    4. Toss 350g gruyere cheese with the flour to coat the strands finely. Now add this cheese mixture to the wine, one small handful at a time, stirring in between each addition and making sure the cheese has melted smoothly before adding any more. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. Season with salt and pepper.

    5. Divide the fondue mixture between the pumpkins, filling them almost to the top and leaving the sage leaves in place. Rub the remaining butter over the remaining sage leaves and spread out, on and around the pumpkin, along with a handful of pumpkin seeds if they were worth saving.

    6. Top with the remaining gruyere and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Serve with warm bread for dipping and spoons to eat the roast pumpkin ‘bowls’.

    Paul A Young’s sea salted chocolate and pecan tart

    This is one for a special dinner party. With its sophisticated, sweet chocolate pastry crust, unctuous ganache filling, and caramelised salted peanuts, this tart will stop conversation for all the right reasons.

    Serves: 8

    You will need
    For the crust:
    175g butter 75g golden caster sugar 2 egg yolks 250g plain flour 20g cocoa powder For the filling:
    200g Madagascan 64% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
    200ml whipping or double cream (whipping cream gives a slightly lighter texture)
    200g light muscovado sugar 10g Maldon sea salt For the topping:
    100g caster sugar 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt 100g pecan halves

    1. To make the crust, cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until light and creamy. Add the egg yolks and 35ml water and mix well until all the liquid has been incorporated. Gradually add the flour and cocoa powder until a paste is formed. This can all be done in an electric mixer or food processor if you prefer.

    2. Wrap the pastry in foil or clingfilm, flatten it with your hand and refrigerate for 1 hour. The pastry can be made 2 days ahead, or even longer since it freezes well, though in this case you may want to knead the pastry to soften it before rolling.

    3. Sprinkle your surface with flour and roll out the pastry until it is about 5cm bigger than your tart ring or tin. I recommend using a ring that is 24cm in diameter and 2.5cm deep.

    4. Carefully line the ring or tin, pushing the pastry well into the bottom edges and folding the excess over the top. Trim off the excess. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to relax the pastry and to help prevent it from shrinking during cooking.

    5. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line the tart with a sheet of parchment paper – scrunch it up first to soften it – then tip in baking beans, rice or lentils and bake blind for 20 minutes. Lift out the beans and bake for a further 5 to 8 minutes, until the base is dry. Allow to cool.

    6. To make the filling, put all the ingredients in a glass or metal mixing bowl – place it over a pan of very hot water and allow them to melt together until glossy and thick.

    7. Pour into your cold, baked crust and refrigerate for 2 hours.

    8. For the topping, heat a saucepan until warm and add the sugar, gradually mixing until you have a golden liquid caramel. Add the salt and mix well. Pour in the pecans and, mixing thoroughly, quickly pour the mixture on to a parchment sheet and spread out with a spatula. Allow to cool thoroughly, then break or chop up into shards or chunky pieces to sprinkle over the ganache.

    9. Cut the tart with a hot, wet knife for perfect, restaurant-quality slices. Serve alone with a glass of Banyuls or Maury wine.

    Recipe, Paul A Young’s Adventures with Chocolate (Kyle Books), photography Anders Schønnemann

    Steak sandwich with roast shallots, salse verde and watercress

    Sweet eschalion or banana shallots make superior roasters, turning tender and sweet in very little time. They are the perfect foil to this fabulous steak sandwich with its sharp salse verde, seared steak and peppery watercress.

    Makes: 4 large sandwiches

    You will need

    For the salsa verde:
    4 anchovies in olive oil, drained 50ml milk 1 garlic clove, chopped 2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained 1 large bunch parsley, roughly chopped 1 small bunch mint, roughly chopped 100ml extra virgin olive oil A good squeeze of lemon juice

    For the baguettes:
    400g banana or eschalion shallots, peeled and halved OR 3 sweet onions, peeled and quartered 3 tbsp olive oil 3 tbsp good balsamic vinegar 4 x 180g rump steaks, trimmed of fat 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped 1 large or 2 small sourdough baguettes, cut into 4 lengths, each length split open A handful watercress, large stalks removed

    1. To make the salse verde, start by putting the anchovies and milk in a bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes then drain and rinse the anchovies. This will reduce their saltiness.

    2. Put the anchovies in the small bowl of a food processor with the garlic, caper, parsley and mint. Pulse a few times, stopping to scrape the herbs back down towards the blades. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Along with a generous seasoning of black pepper. Pulse again to form a textured, pesto-like sauce – you don’t want to make it too smooth. The salsa will keep in the fridge, covered with a layer of olive oil and cling film, for up to 5 days.

    3. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas 6. Put the shallots or onions in a small roasting tin, season and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and roast for 40 minutes until very soft. Uncover, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until caramelised.

    4. Rub the steaks with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the roughly chopped garlic. Set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes then season generously with salt and pepper.

    5. Put a griddle pan over a high heat until smoking hot. Griddle the steak for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, under medium-rare. Remove to a plate to rest. Meanwhile, lay the cut-sides of the baguettes in the griddle pan for a minute, until lightly toasted. Spread each baguette length generously withsalse verde and top with a fistful of watercress.

    6. Slice the steaks thickly and stuff into the baguettes. Spoon the roast shallots or onions on top and serve the rest alongside. Don’t forget to add some of the steak juices that have collected on the plate to each baguette.

    Recipe: Alice Hart

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