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By Well Seasoned, Apr 8 2018 04:00AM

Chocolate, mascarpone and raisin cake


There is very little around in the way of fruit at this time of year; some rhubarb, yes, and maybe the late blood oranges, but it is a tough time if you enjoy something sweet. This cake relies on the store-cupboard staples of chocolate, dried fruit and spice, which also brings in some of the flavours we associate with Easter. The mascarpone filling is not at all sickly, and good-quality dark chocolate brings its own bittersweet notes.


serves 10-12


For the cake


100g dark chocolate

150g unsalted butter

50ml vegetable oil

60g golden syrup

3 large free-range eggs

50g plain yoghurt

80ml semi-skimmed milk

250g self-raising flour plus ½ tsp baking powder

25g cocoa powder

1 tsp Maldon sea salt, finely ground

150g light muscovado sugar


For the filling


125g raisins

1 cinnamon stick

½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

1cm piece of root ginger, peeled

water to cover

50g light muscovado sugar

150g mascarpone


For the ganache topping


100g good-quality milk chocolate, broken into small pieces

80ml double cream


1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C.


2. For the cake, melt the chocolate, butter, oil and syrup together in a large bowl, either on a low setting in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Combine the eggs, yoghurt and milk, beating together well. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt together and rub through the sugar, making sure to remove any lumps. Mix the egg mix into the chocolate mix, then make a well in the flour mix and add the everything is completely combined.


3. Pour into a greased and lined 20cm loose bottomed cake tin and bake for 60–70 minutes (check after 30 minutes and cover with foil if it is starting to get too dark). The cake should be well risen, may have some cracking and a skewer will come out virtually clean.


4. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then remove and wrap in cling film while still hot. This helps to keep the cake moist. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.


5. To make the filling, place the raisins, cinnamon, vanilla and ginger in a small pan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the liquid has completely evaporated. Tip onto a plate, discard the vanilla and cinnamon and chill. Beat the muscovado

into the mascarpone and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Beat again and check the sugar has dissolved. Fold in the cold raisins and grate in the piece of ginger from the pan using a fine grater. Mix well.


6. For the topping, heat the cream to simmering point in a pan, pour the chocolate over it and let it sit for 5 minutes. Use a small whisk to emulsify the cream and chocolate together. Press cling film directly onto the surface and allow to cool.


7. To assemble, split the cake in half and trim the top if it is really uneven. Fill with the mascarpone and raisin mix and then coat the top with the ganache. Shave some chocolate curls over the top using a potato peeler if desired.


By Well Seasoned, Mar 27 2018 09:41AM

Crisp, buttery pastry, tender chicken and a wonderfully pungent, garlicky sauce mean this is a dish of bold flavours. Simple greens as an accompaniment make a good foil and both cavolo nero and purple sprouting broccoli should be plentiful at this time of year. It is hard to decide whether the chicken, the pastry or the wild garlic is the star of the show but the garlic is such a seasonal treat. The same quantity in a fish pie is really good too.


Chicken, leek and wild garlic pie

serves 4 as main course


For the flaky pastry


200g plain flour

1 tsp Maldon sea salt, finely ground

150g salted butter, chilled

1 large free-range egg yolk

100ml cold water


For the filling


2 tbsp olive oil

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into large dice

4 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon, cut into 1cm pieces

500g leek, trimmed, sliced and washed

100ml dry white wine

300ml chicken stock

1 tsp Dijon mustard

75g crème fraiche

cornflour to thicken

50g wild garlic, stalks removed

1 large free-range egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp of water to glaze the pastry

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C.


2. For the pastry, sift the flour and salt onto the bench, grate the butter over the flour using a coarse grater. Stop every now and again to toss the butter through the flour with your fingertips and to dust the grater with flour.

3. Make a well in the centre, then beat the yolk into the water and pour into the well. Gradually bring in the flour with your fingertips to create a dough. Knead briefly and then wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.


4. To make the filling, season the chicken breast and fry in the olive oil in a very hot pan. This is just to colour the chicken, not to cook it through. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the bacon to the pan. When the fat is starting to render, add the leeks and cook until just beginning to soften. Add the leek mix to the chicken.


5. Pour the wine into the pan. Reduce the wine to a syrup and add the chicken stock. Reduce this by around two-thirds then whisk in the Dijon mustard and creme fraiche. Mix 1 tsp of cornflour with a little cold water and use this to thicken the sauce – a thick double cream consistency is what you are looking for.


6. Add the chicken mix to the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Finely chop the wild garlic and stir it in.


7. Divide the pastry into two pieces; one-third and two-thirds. Roll out the larger piece to line the base of a 22cm x 16cm pie tin. Add the filling to the tin and then roll out the remaining pastry for the lid. Egg-wash around the rim of the pie

base and lay the lid over. Crimp the lid onto the base, sealing well, and trim off excess pastry. Egg wash the lid.


8. Bake the pie for around 40 minutes until the pastry is a dark golden colour and there are signs of the filling bubbling.


9. Serve immediately with your chosen veg. Any leftover pie is delicious cold!


By Well Seasoned, Feb 27 2018 02:14PM

Exciting times as we get close to the publication date for Well Seasoned!


With just over a week to go, we’re making plans for the launch party and have been chatting with various magazines and websites who are keen to publish extracts from the book. First out of the blocks is the March/April addition of the excellent Just About Dorset. Russ already has a regular column in the magazine so we’re really lucky to have not one but two pieces of coverage this month.


The first is our Wild Boar Ragout Pappardelle recipe - a hearty and warming dish from from Well Seasoned's February’s chapter and the second - Artist Profile - looks in more detail at Russell’s photography for the book.


Grab a hard copy if you can but you can also read both articles in the online edition:


Wild Boar Ragu Parpadelle

Artist Profile: Russell Brown


Pre-orders are coming thick and fast now, and if you want to take advantage of our special offer to be in with a chance of winning the Ultimate Well Seasoned Evening, you’ve got just 9 days left. Good luck!



By Well Seasoned, Jan 12 2018 03:05PM

Well, after nearly two years of work, Well Seasoned has finally gone to press!


It’s been quite an experience writing our first book and there's been a huge amount of effort from all concerned – starting with us as writers but then designers, editors and proof readers have all been busily involved. We’re really pleased with the end result and, even if we might be a little biased, we’re confident it’s going to be a stunning book.


Right now though, while the presses are rolling, we can afford a short break and what could be better than a cup of tea and slice of toast? The short season for Seville oranges is upon us so, of course, it’s time to make marmalade. Here’s the recipe from our January chapter:


Seville orange marmalade


Crisp toast slathered in salty butter with a good dollop of marmalade makes for a pretty special start to the day. As an alternative, try mixing a tablespoon of marmalade into a small pot of fat-free Greek yoghurt along with a spoonful of oats that have been toasted with a little muscovado sugar. Let the mix sit overnight and enjoy in the morning.


makes around 6 large jars


1.1kg Seville oranges, well washed

2 lemons, well washed

2kg preserving sugar

10g unsalted butter


1. Start by halving and juicing all the fruit, retaining all the pips. Use a teaspoon to scrape the membranes out from the juiced fruit.


2. Cut the skins in half again and slice off some of the white pith if it is really thick. Next, slice the skins into strips of your choice of thickness, depending on whether you want a fine shred or a coarser one. The shreds will swell as they cook to an extent. (I add the lemon skins to the mix, although many recipes call for just the juice and I would have to accept that maybe it isn’t a true Seville orange marmalade.)


3. Measure the juice from the fruit and make up the quantity to 2l with water. Put the juice and shredded peel into a large saucepan. Tie the pips and around a quarter of the membranes in muslin and add this to the pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer very gently until the peel is tender, around 1–1½ hours.


4. Remove the muslin bag and squeeze all the juice out into the pan – if you have a potato ricer it is brilliant for doing this!


5. Warm the sugar in a roasting tin in the oven set to 100˚C for 10 minutes. (This is recommended in many recipes to aid dissolving. I use the oven to sterilize the jars, too.)


6. Add the warm sugar to the pan and stir constantly until it has dissolved, then increase the heat and boil the marmalade rapidly for 5 minutes before starting to check for a set. If using a thermometer it should register 104–105˚C. Or pour a spoonful onto a chilled saucer; when the edge of the pool of marmalade is pushed, the skin should wrinkle.


7. Once a set is achieved, pour the marmalade into the sterilized jars and seal.



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