Monday, 13 February 2012

Beetroot Salad and Orgasmic Carrot Cake........!

Hooray, my blinds are now adorning my living room windows - how proud am I?!  Just two curtains to go (don't hold your breath!).  
I've been eating lots of seasonal veg this week.  I LOVE beetroot; boiled, raw, roasted.  It is SO good for you and so earthy and wintery, I can't eat enough of it.  Brilliantly, my mum loves to boil them for me, so if she's over and there is a bunch in the fridge - wham bam and they're boiled ready to eat (just cover with water and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes depending on the size.  Pour away the water and leave to cool).  I just sliced them anyhow and then drizzled olive oil and cider vinegar over, with a teaspoon of grainy mustard on top.  DELOVELY!

I feel the same way about cauliflower!  I used to try to get the kids to eat it when they were little.  Now they love it smothered in cheese sauce, but back then they were a little more reluctant, so I was left with a colander full of cauliflower which I used to devour with RELISH!

I am always interested in bread making; a bit of a passion of mine.  So, I tried the sourdough recipe in this month's Country Living magazine.  I had some of the sourdough starter left from that apple cake recipe, having made a couple more cakes in the meantime, so rather than wait for 5 days for a new starter I used some of that.  I left it to rise for about 6 hours and it only looked a bit bigger than when I left it, but I turned it out on to a baking tray and I cut some shapes into it with scissors like the recipe said.  Well, it was fab!  Tiny and a little sweet because of the sweet starter, but fab.  I will definitely be trying that again soon.  You just have to make sure you have enough time for the process!

And finally, I was researching a wheat-free carrot cake recipe for the book a friend and I are writing, and decided to try it out on my Knit and Natterers on Friday.  Well! What a reaction!  Groans of delight, with quote "better than sex" and "best carrot cake I've ever had" and "the best thing you've made"!  So, here it is.  I used a recipe from a wheatfree website and tweaked it, see what you think.   Have a look at for more inspiration.  Molly, if only you were here!

Beautiful Beetroot Salad

4-5 medium, cooked beetroot
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp cider or wine  vinegar
1-2 tsp grainy mustard
Seasoning to taste

Peel the beetroot and cut into bite-sized chunks.  Add the oil, vinegar, mustard and seasoning and toss until coated.  
Cauliflower Cheese

1 large cauliflower, broken into largish florets
425ml cold milk
20g plain flour
40g butter
100g grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the cauliflower for 10 minutes, then drain.  Turn the grill on to high and warm a shallow, oven-proof dish.  
Meanwhile, place the milk, flour and butter into another saucepan and bring to the boil slowly, whisking all the time.  This is Delia's all-in-one white sauce method and it is great!  Once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat down to very low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It will thicken up as it cooks.  Add most of the grated cheese and stir until melted.  Tip the cauliflower into the warmed dish.  Pour over the sauce and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Place under the grill for a few minutes, until the cheese is melting and golden.  Serve immediately!

Orgasmic Wheatfree Carrot Cake

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups Dove's Farm self-raising gluten free flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped mixed nuts
3 cups grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)

4 tbs butter
3oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 1/2 cups icing sugar

Heat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Grease and line two sponge tins.  Cream the sugar and eggs in a processor or with an electric whisk.  Mix in the oil and beat.  Then add everything else but the nuts and carrots, and mix well.  When creamy, add the nuts and carrots and mix.  Tip into the sponge tins and bake for 45-55 minutes.  Leave to cool while you make the icing.  Beat all the ingredients together and use half to sandwich the cakes together and the rest to ice to top.  Be prepared for the groans of delight!

What I have been cooking:

Pasta with salmon and beans Cook pasta for 4 people in salted boiling water.  Add some chopped green beans for the final 4 minutes, drain.  Heat 142ml cream in a saucepan with a peeled, uncrushed clove of garlic and some seasoning.  When hot but not boiling, add some basil leaves, two chopped tomatoes and the blanched beans.  Tip in the pasta and serve straight away.
Tortilla:  Heat a frying pan.  Add a tbs olive oil, a chopped onion, a chopped pepper and stir fry.  Add some chopped fresh herbs and some chopped garlic.  Whisk 6 eggs together and pour into the pan.  Season the top and sprinkle with some grated cheese.  Cook until you can slip a knife around the edges.  Put under the grill for a few minutes to set the top and serve.

 Nigella's Flourless Chocolate Brownies:
Preheat oven to 170C/gas mark 3.  Melt 225g dark chocolate, 225g butter and 2 tsp vanilla essence.  Take off the heat and mix in 200g caster sugar, 3 eggs, 150g ground almonds and 100g chopped walnuts (optional).  Tip into a 24cm square tin and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Delicious and gooey enough for a dinner party pud. 
(from Nigella Express)