Thursday, 8 July 2010

Carrot Cake, Pea and Leek Tart, Quinoa Salad, Green Soup and Gooseberry Fool

I have been a busy bee!  Hence my lack of posts.  But I'm making up for it with these delectable delights!
I had a catering job at the weekend; lunch for 12 on Saturday and Sunday (with the help of my beautiful assistant, Paula!).  It is amazing how much work is involved when you are catering for others on a professional basis, but I love doing it!  I love that people love my food - it makes me feel great to nourish others!
One of my dishes included Quinoa (pron: keenwah).  Quinoa is an amazing super food.  It is a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids, it has high levels of magnesium which relaxes muscles and blood vessels and therefore blood pressure; it contains fibre and lots of manganese and copper which act as antioxidants!  (Thanks for the info!).  It tastes delicious too and is a great substitute for wheat.

Then I rolled out my Leek and Pea Tart, to sighs of delight, and a fail-safe Carrot Cake recipe.  Finally, I bought a load of gooseberries in the market and conjured up one of my child-hood favourites: Gooseberry Fool, mmmmm!

Here are the recipes:

Pea and Leek Tart                               Serves 6

300g plain flour
150g butter
pinch salt

Heat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mark 6.  Rub the butter into the flour with the salt.  Add 2-3 tbs cold water and bring together to form a dough.  Roll out and fit into a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.  Bake blind for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, make the filling:

3 leeks, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped rosemary

Saute the leeks in the oil until softened, stir in the rosemary.

Crush or blend 250g thawed peas, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1  tbsp lemon juice.
Mix together 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 300ml double cream and season well.  Pour in the leeks and the pea puree and stir.  Spread  into the pastry case and bake at 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4 for 30-35 minutes until lightly set.

Carrot Cake
This recipe is adapted from 'brownies and bars' by Liz Franklin and is ideal for fetes and fairs and school events because it is baked in a 20 x 30cm tin.

250g butter
250g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
300g self-raising flour
3 large carrots, peeled and grated
2 tsp ground cinnamon
juice and zest of an orange
50g sultanas (optional)

Heat the oven to 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4.  Cream the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs a little at a time until smooth, alternating with a tablespoon of flour.  Stir in the remaining flour, the grated carrot, the cinnamon and the orange juice and zest.  I process this mixture so the carrots are really mixed in.  The stir in the sultanas.
Tip into a parchment paper lined tin, smooth and bake for 50 minutes or until risen and golden.  Cool in the tin.
To make the topping, beat 250g mascarpone with 100g caster sugar and the remaining orange zest, then spread carefully over the cake.  You can also cut the cake and serve with little dollops of the topping, finished off with a piece of orange zest.

Green Soup
It's just dawned on me how useful a recipe this is with allotments about to start producing copious amounts of green veggies!  Delicious too and so good for you in a Popeye kind of way......

a large knob of butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 courgettes, sliced
1 small potato, diced
a large handful of spinach, washed and roughly chopped
500ml or so of vegetable stock
some double cream
Fry the onion and garlic until golden.  Add the rest of the ingredients plus some broccoli if you have it, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Process in a food-processor until smooth, season to taste and serve with a swirl of double cream.

Gooseberry Fool

Take some gooseberries (about 250g) and place in a saucepan with a dash of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until they are all bursting.  Add sugar to taste.  Whip about half a pint (142ml or more) of double cream until softly stiff, then fold in the gooseberries.  Tip into glasses and chill until you want to serve.  You can also freeze this now for a delicious ice-cream, and you could use Elderflower Cordial instead of the dash of water.