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April

We all need to watch pennies when using electricity at the moment, so here's a microwave recipe for Victoria Sponge

225g self-raising flour

210g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly whisked

150g butter, melted

250ml milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

icing sugar and/or raspberry jam & butter icing

Grease a 22cm round microwave-safe cake pan or dish. Line base with baking paper. Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, butter, milk and vanilla. Mix well to combine.

 

Pour the mixture into prepared dish and microwave on high for 6 minutes 30 seconds. Do not overcook. The cake might look slightly moist on the top. Set aside for 5 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire cake rack to cool completely. The cake will look pale compared to a traditional oven-baked one.

Once completely cool, slice in two across the cake and finish off as desired, either spread the base with raspberry jam, lay the top on the jam and decorate with butter icing or spread the base with raspberry jam and butter icing then dust the top with icing sugar.

Baked Egg with Tomatoes & Basil

8g sun-dried tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

½ teaspoon oil

1 egg

1 tsp half-fat crème fraîche

5g finely grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4

Snip the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces and tear the basil leaves into pieces too.

Coat the sides of a ramekin with the oil and place the tomatoes and basil leaves in the base.

Carefully crack in the egg and spoon the crème fraîche on top.

Scatter over the Parmesan cheese and season well with salt and pepper.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the white of the egg has set but the yolk is still runny. Serve immediately.

Griddled Asparagus with Broad Beans

700g asparagus

2tbsp olive oil

175g broad beans

2 shallots, finely sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2tbsp tahini

2tsp ras el hanout

Trim and discard woody ends of the asparagus. Put the spears on a baking tray and mix through 1tbsp oil and some seasoning. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and cook the broad beans for 3mins until just tender. Drain and plunge into ice-cold water to cool. Drain again and remove the skins to reveal the bright green beans and discard skins. Set aside.

Heat a large griddle pan over high heat. Cook the asparagus, in batches, for 8-10mins, turning occasionally, until charred and tender.

Meanwhile heat remaining 1tbsp oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the shallots for 3mins until crispy. Lift on to a plate, leaving any oil behind. Add the garlic to the frying pan and fry for 30secs. Remove pan from heat and stir in the tahini and some seasoning (adding a little water, if needed, to get a drizzling consistency). Set aside.

​Return all the cooked asparagus to the griddle pan, sprinkle over the ras el hanout and griddle for 30sec. Tip on to a serving plate, drizzle over the tahini sauce and scatter over the shallots. Serve.

Rhubarb Crumble with a Twist

For the fruit content:

500g rhubarb, chopped into chunks

100g golden caster sugar

3 tbsp port ​

For the crumble topping:

140g self-raising flour

85g butter, chilled

50g light brown muscovado sugar

50g chopped walnuts

Put chunks of rhubarb into a saucepan with golden caster sugar and port.  Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 15 mins, adding more sugar if you want. When soft, but still holding its shape and sweet enough, pour the rhubarb into a medium baking dish.​

To make the topping, rub self-raising flour and chilled butter together with your fingers until you have a soft, crumbly topping. ​Add muscovado sugar and walnuts. Mix together with your hands.​

Scatter the topping over the rhubarb and bake for 30 mins at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 or until golden brown on top.​

Serve piping hot with thick vanilla custard or fresh cream.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Pesto

2kg butterflied leg of lamb

3 tbsp mint pesto

6 anchovy fillets, each cut into 3 pieces

2 tbsp olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Lay out the leg of lamb inside up and spread mint pesto all over. Roll the leg up and tie with string.

Place the lamb in a roasting tin and make 18 incisions all over it with a sharp knife. Insert a piece of anchovy into each incision. Drizzle olive oil over the lamb and season with black pepper.

Roast for about an hour and a half for slightly pink or longer if preferred well cooked. Rest the joint for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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