Mary Berry's chocolate profiteroles

3 special occasion recipes from Mary Berry to make you fall back in love with cooking

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Feeding a crowd or just a select few, Mary Berry’s special occasion recipes will have you fall in love with your kitchen.

For many of us, making a meal is a means to an end: a necessary chore that needs to be dealt with quickly to fit in around our busy lives. Even in the months spent at home during lockdowns, though many took solace in more time spent in the kitchen, after so long of not having someone else to cook for you, you’re not alone if you’ve fallen a little out of love with it.

But here to soothe any unsavoury feelings towards the act of putting together a meal is the one and only Dame Mary Berry. As if on cue as autumn turns to winter and we spend more time at home – the legendary food writer, baker and television presenter is here to help us fall back in love with our kitchens. Rising to fame in the 60s, The Cordon Bleu-trained chef is a household name to be revered. Long before her days spent as a judge on The Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry has been teaching the nation not only how to cook, but how to fall in love with cooking, for decades – and that’s exactly what she’s continuing with her new book.

Love to Cook by Mary Berry
Love to Cook by Mary Berry

In true Mary Berry style, all recipes in Love to Cook are kept simple and accessible. No special equipment, complicated techniques or long lists of ingredients are required – all of which should encourage those who need persuading that the kitchen is a space to be enjoyed. 

And what better way is there to truly appreciate the joys of putting together a meal, than by doing it for others? That’s why we’ve selected three special occasion recipes from the book to help you along. As she herself writes: “If you love to cook, everyone will love your cooking.”

Whether it’s for a crowd or just for that someone special, don’t miss Mary’s roasted pepper, beetroot and feta oval tart. Sweet roasted peppers are layered with earthy beetroot and tangy feta in crisp puff pastry for a starter that guarantees to be a hit.

There are few ingredients more indulgent than steak, so what could be better than thyme bavette steak with potatoes and wilted spinach for your next special occasion? Marinated in garlic, thyme and balsamic glaze, the full flavoured steak is coupled with coins of golden roasted potatoes for a dish worthy of any dinner table.

And finally, Mary teaches us the art of chocolate profiteroles – because, who couldn’t do with more chocolate in their lives? Ever impressive, the classic dessert is filled with lashings of whipped cream before being topped off with a heavenly chocolate sauce.  

  • Roasted pepper, beetroot and feta oval tart

    Mary Berry's Roasted Pepper, Beetroot and Feta Oval Tart
    Mary Berry's roasted pepper, beetroot and feta oval tart

    Mary says: “Often called a galette, this puff pastry tart is vibrant to look at and layering the flavours makes it easy to prepare. You can buy the beetroot ready-cooked, or you can boil your own. If you do, leave the roots on and cut off the leaves 10cm (4 in) above the beetroot bulb. This prevents the colour bleeding out into the cooking water and causing the beetroot to be less red in colour.”

    Serves 6

    Ingredients

    • 1 yellow pepper, halved and deseeded
    • 1 red pepper, halved and deseeded
    • 1 × 320g sheet of all-butter puff pastry
    • 3 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 200g feta cheese, finely crumbled
    • 600g cooked and peeled beetroot, thinly sliced into rounds
    • 4 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 50g rocket leaves

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/Gas 7. You will need two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.

    Put the pepper halves cut side down on to one baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the skins are brown. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool. Peel off the skins and discard. Thinly slice the peppers into long strips.

    Dust the worktop with flour, unroll the pastry sheet and roll it so it is slightly thinner. Cut out an oval shape from the sheet measuring about 36 × 24cm (14¼ × 9½in). Place on the lined baking sheet and twist the edges of the pastry to make an informal border and crimp, if you like. Prick the base with a fork.

    Mix the sun-dried tomato paste with the garlic in a small bowl. Spread over the base of the pastry. Scatter the feta on top. Arrange the beetroot in a neat overlapping spiral so it covers the base. Season well with salt and black pepper, brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp underneath and around the edges.

    Meanwhile, mix the vinegar, the remaining olive oil and a little salt in a bowl. Add the rocket and toss to coat. Place the rocket in a pile in the middle of the tart, then scatter the peppers over the top. Serve hot.

    Mary’s tips

    • Can be assembled up to 4 hours ahead.
    • Not for freezing.
    • Covering the bowl of peppers in cling film helps them steam and therefore the skins peel off easily. You could place them in a sealed plastic bag, if preferred.
  • Thyme bavette steak with potatoes and wilted spinach

    Mary Berry's thyme bavette steak with potatoes and wilted spinach
    Mary Berry's thyme bavette steak with potatoes and wilted spinach

    Mary says: “Bavette is the French word for flank steak. You could use whichever cut of steak you prefer, but this flat steak is full of flavour and is often called the ‘butcher’s cut’, as they love to keep it for themselves.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 750g baby new potatoes, each sliced into £2 coin slices
    • 3 red onions, halved and each half sliced into 8 wedges
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
    • 500g mixed coloured baby tomatoes, halved
    • 2 tbsp balsamic glaze
    • A knob of butter
    • 100g baby spinach

    For the marinade:

    • 4 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 tbsp balsamic glaze
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

    Method

    Place the steaks on a board and trim any excess membrane. If the steaks are not even in thickness, cover with cling film or baking paper and bash with a rolling pin until they are.

    Measure the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and black pepper, add the steaks and turn in the marinade to coat. Leave to marinate for about 1 hour.

    Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/Gas 7. Place the potatoes, onions and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a single

    layer in a large roasting tin. Season and toss together. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly golden.

    Mix the crushed garlic and thyme together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the potatoes and onions. Push them to one end of the tin and place the tomatoes cut side up on the other. Drizzle the tomatoes with the remaining oil and the balsamic glaze. Return to the oven for 8 minutes, or until the tomatoes are just soft.

    Meanwhile, heat a large frying or griddle pan until very hot. Add the steaks and fry for 1–2 minutes on each side. Spoon the excess marinade over each steak before turning. Transfer to a warm plate to rest for a few minutes. Scrape any black pieces from the pan and discard. While the steak is resting, add the butter to the pan and toss in the spinach leaves. Cook over a high heat for a few minutes until wilted.

    Season the spinach and spoon into the centre of a long platter. Slice the steak into long strips and arrange on one

    side. Spoon the potatoes and tomatoes on the other and serve.

    Mary’s tips

    • Best made and served. The steak can be marinated up to 8 hours ahead.
    • Not for freezing.
    • Balsamic glaze is slightly thicker than balsamic vinegar so clings to the tomatoes.
  • Chocolate profiteroles

    Mary Berry's chocolate profiteroles
    Mary Berry's chocolate profiteroles

    Mary says: “Oh-so delicious and impressive, too. Choux pastry is not difficult to make if the recipe is followed carefully. It is important to add the sifted flour all at once, so the mixture does not become lumpy. When we were taught at college, we were told to ‘shoot’ the flour in, which explains it well. Piled in a wonderful pyramid and scattered with spun sugar, this simple bun becomes the celebrated wedding cake, croquembouche.”

    Makes 12

    Ingredients

    • 50g butter
    • 150ml water
    • 75g plain flour, sifted
    • 2 eggs, beaten, plus 1 extra egg, beaten
    • 200ml pouring double cream

    For the chocolate sauce

    • 75ml double cream
    • 75g Bournville dark chocolate, broken into pieces

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/Gas 7 and line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.

    Place the butter and water in a small saucepan over a high heat and cook until the water is boiling and the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and immediately shoot in the flour, all at once. Quickly beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and makes a smooth, thick dough. Add the beaten egg, a little at a time, beating after each addition, until the egg is incorporated and the dough is thick and smooth.

    Spoon 12 domes of pastry on to the baking sheet. Brush with the extra beaten egg and bake for 10 minutes. Turn down the temperature to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas 5 and bake for another 20 minutes.

    Remove the buns from the oven and turn the oven off. Slice each bun in half and put the buns cut side up back on to the baking sheet. Return to the oven for 15–20 minutes to dry out.

    Meanwhile, to make the chocolate sauce, pour the cream into a pan and heat until hot. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and set aside in a cool place to thicken up.

    Once the buns have dried out and are crisp, dip one half into the chocolate sauce and place on a wire rack to set. Repeat with 11 bun tops.

    Pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Place a generous dollop of whipped cream on to the remaining bun halves, then sandwich a chocolate half on top. Repeat to make

    Mary’s tips

    • Can be made and assembled up to 4 hours ahead. Unfilled buns can be made up to a day ahead.
    • Not for freezing.

    Love to Cook by Mary Berry (BBC Books, £26) is out now 

Photography: Laura Edwards. 

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