Monday, 26 November 2012

Good Food!

Well, I am amazed!  Who'd have thought just a couple of years ago that Sainsbury's would be selling Edamame Bean Stir Fry!  And Sprouted Lentils! It's so exciting that supermarkets are beginning to realise that consumers actually want REAL FOOD.

Most people seem to like a good chocolate cake and my daughter, Jolie, wanted to bake one for my Knit and Natterers, so we did.  The recipe came from a nice kids cookbook called Dorling Kindersley's Cookbook for Girls.  I have a new heart-shaped silicone baking 'tin' so we used that and made up the icing a bit.  I'll try to remember the quantities.  Anyway, I think you'll agree, with the addition of some classy white chocolate curls, it looks pretty good!

I came over all 'unnecessarily Pre-Christmas' tonight!  As I was making The Quince Tree's Christmas Chutney, Barney requested some mince pies!  Well, I know it's the middle of November and not really Christmas yet, but as the chutney aromas were filling the room, and I happened to have a jar of last year's mincemeat in the cupboard, I succumbed.  Yum!  Check out The Quince Tree blog for amazing photography and inspiring food. I also made my Christmas Cakes (see below for recipe).  I'm never sure I like it really, but I love the tradition and I want my children to remember those evocative cooking smells!

I always seem to have a packet of breakfast bran-type cereal hanging about in the cupboard, which no-one but me likes but I can never bring myself to finish.  Here is a good idea to use it up and have a treat for brekkie at the same time!  Made with no fat or eggs, this cake is made to spread with butter and is moist and sticky.

I also seem to have started a few posts and not published them, so below are some recipes which have been waiting to come your way!

 Chocolate Cake with Classy Icing
200g caster sugar
200g butter, soft
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour, less 3 tbsp
3 tbsp cocoa powder (Green and Black's is the best)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
Dark and White chocolate to decorate

Heat the oven to 190C/gas mk 5.  Butter and line two 20cm round sandwich tins.  Whisk all the cake ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.  Divide the mixture between the cake tins and smooth gently.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.  Cool completely.
Cream together 125g soft butter with 250g icing sugar, 2-3 tbsp cocoa power and 2tsp milk until smooth. Half of the cream to sandwich the two cakes together, and spread the other half over the cake evenly.   Using a vegetable peeler, make curls to decorate the top of the cake.

Breakfast Loaf Cake
100g bran cereal
120g muscovado sugar
130g mixed, dried fruit
175ml strong tea
100g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp ground mixed spice

Heat the oven to 180C/gas mk 4.  Put the cereal, sugar and fruit in a bowl.  Tip over the hot tea, stir.  and leave for 30 minutes.  Add the flour, baking powder and spice and stir thoroughly.  Tip into a 2lb/450g loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool and spread with butter for brekkie!

What I have been cooking:

Chicken Kiev
Heat the oven to 200C/gas mk 5 and lightly oil a roasting tray.  Make some garlic butter with 50g soft butter, half a crushed clove of garlic, some seasoning and some parsley.  Beat together until smooth.  Take a chicken breast per person, cut a slit carefully into the thickest part without cutting all the way through.  Insert a tsp or so of garlic butter and seal the edge.  Whizz a couple of slices of bread in the processor until bread crumbed and season.  Dip a chicken breast into some beaten egg  and then into the breadcrumbs and place on the oiled tray.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Burritos:  for 4 people.  Take a chicken breast or so per person, cover with taco seasoning mix (I know, what a cheat!) and bake for 20-25 minutes at 200C/gas mark 4.  Cut two peppers and an onion into slices, with some mushrooms, toss in oil and season and bake in the same oven for the same time.  Make a tomato sauce with two tins of tomatoes, chopped with a knife and seasoned well, add a little oil and some herbs.  Take two flour tortillas each, lay one flat.  Put some sliced chicken along the centre with 2 tbs tomato sauce and 2 tsp creme fraiche.  Roll and place in a baking dish.  Repeat until all the tortillas and the chicken are used up.  Spread the tomato sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with a generous amount of grated cheddar.  Bake for 15 minutes at 200C/gas mark 4.
I made a veggie version with 4 blocks of frozen and thawed spinach, 3-4 tbs ricotta, seasoning and a grating of nutmeg.
Serve the lot with homemade coleslaw and guacamole made with a mashed avocado, juice of half a lime, 4 cherry tomatoes chopped, a crushed clove of garlic and lots of salt and pepper.

Spaghetti Carbonara
500g spaghetti
200g smoked bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
4 egg yolks
100ml double cream
100g finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
50ml pasta water

Cook the spaghetti for 8 minutes in salted, boiling water.  Meanwhile, whisk the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  Drain the pasta, reserving at least 50ml of the water.
Add the egg mixture to the hot spaghetti and stir gently until all the pasta is coated.  Sprinkle with extra Parmesan.

I do turn to Nigella Lawson a lot.  She really knows a good cake recipe or two, so here are a couple which are delectable!  Interestingly, when I cooked this almond cake, it didn't turn out anything like the picture!  I don't know if she left out some ground almonds, so I baked it again, this time with 100g ground almonds and at a lower temperature and it turned out fine!

Easy Almond Cake
250g unsalted butter
250g softened marzipan (at room temp)
150g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
1/4 tsp each vanilla essence and almond essence
6 large eggs
150g self-raising flour

25cm buttered and floured spring-form cake tin

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/gas mark 3.  Chop the butter and marzipan and process with the sugar until well blended.  Add the almond and vanilla essences, then the eggs one-by-one, and finally tip in the flour and the ground almonds and process until smooth.  Pour this into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Cool in the tin and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Nigella's Madeira Cake
240g softened butter
200g caster sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
210g self-raising flour
90g plain flour

You will need a 23cm buttered and lined loaf tin.  Preheat the oven to 170 C/gas mark 3.  Cream the butter and sugar in a processor, add the lemon zest.  Add the eggs one-by-one with a tablespoon of flour with each.  Gently mix in the rest of the flour and the lemon juice.  Tip into the loaf tin and bake fro 1 hour until a knife comes out clean.  Cool in the tin.

Christmas Cake (makes 1 large and 1 small)
4oz glace cherries, halved
8oz each currants, sultanas, raisins
2oz almonds, halved
1oz ground almonds
Zest and juice of an orange and a lemon
half tsp salt
8oz butter
8oz dark brown sugar
1 tsp each vanilla and almond essence
4-5 eggs
8oz plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1tbsp treacle

Mix the fruit, nuts, orange and lemon juices together and leave overnight to soak.  You can add a glug of brandy.  Double line a deep 10" cake tin and a smaller 8" tin, with brown paper wrapped around the outside and tied with string.  Next day, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy, then add all the other ingredients and mix well.  Tip into the fruit and stir (make a wish now!).  Tip the mixture into the tin and level the top.  Bake for 1 hour at 170C, 2 hours at 160 then use a skewer to see if it is cooked yet, and up to another hour at 150C.  Leave to cool.  Wrap in greaseproof paper and foil.  Feed with some brandy every week until the week before Christmas.  Then marzipan and ice!

Spinach and Cheese Pie
Loosely based on a Jamie Oliver recipe, this is a great vegetarian main course.

100g pine nuts, toasted for 4 minutes in a hot oven
5 eggs
200g cottage cheese
100g cheddar, grated
snipped dill and chives
zest of half a lemon
250g packet of spinach
1 pkt puff pastry
lots of salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mk 5.  Toast the pine nuts for 4 minutes until slightly browning.  Crack the eggs into a large bowl, mix in the cottage cheese, cheddar, herbs and lemon zest.  Put the spinach into a colander and slowly pour a kettleful of boiling water, turning over the leaves as you go to wilt them.  Squeeze the spinach against the side of the colander to get rid of as much water as possible.  Add to the eggs and stir, along with lots of salt and some pepper.
Roll out the pastry to bigger than a 23cm (approx) pie dish or cake tin.  Drape the  pastry over the sides of the tin and pour in the egg mixture.  Bring the sides of the pastry from outside to cover some of the filling.  Bake for 30 minutes or so, until the pastry is cooked through and golden brown.


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Autumn fruitfulness!

Hello all!
What a summer!  I am exhausted but very pleased with myself.  I have managed to finish my BOOK!  Just have to find a publisher or publish it myself (a job for next week).  And I managed to volunteer for the Olympics and do a two week stint at the Rowing and Canoe Sprint Village in Egham, looking at all those very pert, muscular frames - fantastic!  It was quite an experience and now I have a beautiful Olympic relay baton and a signed letter from Seb and David Cameron.  I also was privileged enough to be given a ticket for one of the rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony too - brilliant!
You can imagine, therefore, that cookery has taken a bit of a back seat lately, and I'm glad to be getting inspired again this Autumn.  I have been collecting lots of hedgerow abundance and making pots of Hedgerow Jam with sloes, blackberries, apples and elderberries.  The mix is different every time and produces a wonderfully rich, purple jam.  I have also found time to make Damson Jam and my favourite Tomato Ketchup.  Check out Jocasta Innes' The Country Kitchen for all things preserved!
Tonight was Pizza night.  My son can't eat yeast at the moment, so I looked up a recipe for pizza scone dough, which was very successful.  It reminded me of the fabulous cheesy scones that I used to get in the Refectory at college.
Happy jamming and get those woollies out!

Hedgerow Jam
Tip your hedgerow fruits and a cored and quartered cooking apple into a preserving or large pan and just cover with water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until all the fruit is soft.  Put some clean jam jars on a baking tray in the oven set at 100C, gas mark 1/2.  Place the lids in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to sterilize.   Place a sieve over a large bowl (weigh the bowl beforehand) and gradually sieve the pulp, pressing it with a wooden spoon.  Then weigh the pulp and return it to the large pan, with the same weight of sugar.  Turn up the heat to medium, stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a rolling boil.  Boil for about 15 minutes then start to test it for the setting point.  Take a cold plate and tip a teaspoon of jam on it.  Leave it to cool, then push it with your finger.  The jam is ready when the surface of the jam wrinkles.  Pour into the hot jars, cover with wax discs and put the lids on tightly.  Label and keep in a cool, dry place.  Ideal for Christmas presents!

Tomato Ketchup
5kg ripe tomatoes
450g sugar
600ml white vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp each ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, paprika and cayenne

Cut the tomatoes in quarters and cook in a large saucepan or preserving pan until soft.  No water required.  Sieve them and simmer the pulp in a large pan with all the remaining ingredients until thickened - it will thicken more when cool.  This takes a good 2 hours in my experience.  While the ketchup is cooking, put your jars and bottles into a 100C/gas mk 1/2 oven to sterilize.  Pour boiling water over the lids.
When ready, pour the ketchup at once into the jars and put the lids resting on the tops.  Place back in the oven and leave for 30 minutes to prevent any fermentation later.
Screw on the lids tightly and label    

Tomato Sauce (make double to freeze for another day)
A 400g tin tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
a handful of basil leaves

500g strong white flour
10g fresh or fast-acting yeast
10g salt
1 knob butter
300ml warm water
Jar of quality tomato sauce (or make your own!)
2 balls mozzarella
Basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas Mk 8 or .

Put all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

 Meanwhile, mix the dough ingredients together in a bowl until a dough is formed.  Knead by pushing and folding the dough for about 4 minutes, until it is springy and smooth.  Leave to rise in the bowl for up to 2 hours (you can use it immediately but the taste is better if you leave it to prove).  Tip on to a floured worktop and cut into 4 pieces (5 if you want dough-balls too).  Use a rolling pin to roll one of the pieces into the required shape and place on an oiled baking tray. Repeat with the other pieces. Spread each pizza with enough tomato sauce to cover but not too thick.  Top with thin slices of mozzarella, a little oil and some seasoning.  Cut the 5th piece up into small pieces for the dough-balls and place around your pizzas.  Bake for about 10 minutes until the mozzarella is bubbling and the crusts golden brown. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and EAT!

Non-yeast Pizza
 200g self-raising flour
60g butter, cubed
60g cheese, grated
pinch of salt and pepper
100ml milk
Tomato pasta sauce
1 ball mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mk 6.  Rub the butter into the flour, add the cheese and seasonings and stir.  Pour in the milk and mix to a soft dough.  Tip on to a floured board and press gently into a round about 1cm thick.  Spread tomato sauce to the edges and top with mozzarella cheese.  Drizzle a little olive oil across the top and and bake for about 15 minutes or until the mozzarella is cooked. 
For scones, just press the dough gently into a round 3cm thick and use a 5cm cutter to cut rounds.  Brush with some milk and bake for about 15 minutes until just golden around the edges.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Cakes and Toad in the Hole!

Yesterday was the last photo shoot for my book!  Hooray, and zillions of love and thanks to Lynne Kovan (Five Good Things at her love of all things cooked and her camera.  She and I have been working for months to take photos of the recipes in The Joyful Cookbook, and what beautiful pictures she has produced.  We have had such fun, and really been quite blissed-out doing what we LOVE to do!

It has been quite a journey, and now all that remains is which self-publishing website to use.   Watch this space!

It's funny how I forget about really great recipes, and cooking all the cookbook food has really made me realise that it is full of delicious recipes that really WORK!  This week I found two more which really WORK; Cappuccino Cake and very moist Chocolate Cake.  Groans of delight all round, in fact the Cappuccino cake was demolished in less than an afternoon (mostly by Jake!)

Another favourite is Toad in the Hole (I'm sure I have blogged this recipe before!).  A few years ago, I came across a formula for it which is so simple and needs only a measuring jug.  I love simplicity!  And everyone loves Toad, especially when it has been pretty wintry of late.

Have fun and don't let the b****ers get you down!

Cappuccino Cake

This can be baked in a Swiss roll sized tin and cut into about 20 slices for fetes and school fairs, or even Knit and Natter mornings!

2 tbsp coffee granules
2 tbsp hot water
225g/8oz soft butter
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 eggs
225g/8oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g/4oz white chocolate, broken up
50g/2oz butter
2 tbsp milk
175g/6oz sifted icing sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder for dusting

Heat the oven to 180C/gas Mk 4.  Mix the coffee and the water together.  Put into a large bowl with the remaining ingredients.  Whisk or beat together well then tip into two, lined 8"/20cm sponge tins or a 28 x 18x 3cm tin lined with parchment paper.  bake for 35-40 minutes until risen and firm.  Cool.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then take off the heat and stir in the white chocolate.  Stir til melted.  Add this and the milk to the icing sugar and beat.
When the cake(s) is cool, spread the icing over the top and dust with a little cocoa powder.

Moist Chocolate Cake

Rare to find, and doesn't last long!

Heat the oven to 180C/gas Mk 4.  Grease and line a 22cm deep cake tin.

Stir the lemon juice into the milk.  Beat together the butter and half the sugar until pale and fluffy.  beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the rest of the sugar.  Sift in the flour, soda and cocoa powder and fold in with the milk.  When smooth, pour into the cake tin and bake for one hour.  Leave on a wire rack to cool.

Toad in the Hole

Heat the oven to 200C/gas Mk 4 and bake a pack of sausages in a largish roasting tin for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, use a jug to measure out:

300ml plain flour
300ml eggs
300ml milk

Tip the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre.  Measure out the eggs and milk and beat together.  Pour into the flour, gradually whisking the flour from around the sides of the bowl until you have a smooth batter. Add some salt and pepper.
Remove the sausage tin from the oven and arrange the sausages equally around the tin, then pour the batter all over and around the sausages.  Return to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until risen and golden brown. 

What I have been cooking:

Baked Butternut Squash
Cut a medium butternut squash in half length ways.  Put in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil, a couple of chopped cloves of garlic and salt and pepper.  Bake at 200C/gas Mk 4 for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, slice a red onion and fry in olive oil until soft, then add 2 anchovy fillets, a small handful of raisins and a handful of pine nuts.  Keep frying until the anchovies have disappeared, you may want a little more olive oil.
Take the squash from the oven and cover with the onion mixture, bake for another 10 minutes.

I am just in the process of baking some bread using a recipe from a lovely blog called The Quince Tree.  (  She has a lovely way of writing and posting pictures, I was inspired to make a few loaves!  I'll let you know how they come out.

Have fun in the SUN!!!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Jubilee Curry, Cakes and more cakes....

Don't know about you but I am a little Jubileed out!  Nice to get a couple of days off though, and we did have a lovely street party with delicious food from all the neighbours.  Good to meet some of them, with our busy lives we seem to miss out on community.

No pics this time because someone has moved my camera charger and I have lost my phone, aah!  Still, it made me realise just how much I was staring at a very small screen and missing what was really going on around me - a sign perhaps that I could do more staring out of the window, or knitting, or reading all those books.....

I made some lovely little Bakewell tarts for the Jubilee.  They were from The Daily Mail, sorry, I have mislaid the name of the cook, and are called Strawberry Frangipane Tarts.  A little effort but everyone thought they were lovely.
Then I cooked a curry for friends last night and used Jamie's curries from his 'Great Britain' book.  I have been searching for decent curry recipes; I am usually disappointed when they don't live up to Waitrose!  But these were great, and well worth tackling the long ingredients lists.
It is my son's birthday 'party' today, with 7 of his  14 year old mates around for water bomb fights, Capture the Flag, and pizzas (in the clay oven!).   I have made Chocolate Muffins (a great recipe!).

And finally, my friend Jane has got me on to Montezuma's latest chocolate offerings, including Sea Dog - dark chocolate with lime and sea salt, and Orange Geranium.  Divine!

Strawberry Frangipane Tarts (Little Bakewells)

500g shortcrust pastry
225g strawberries
30g caster sugar

150g butter
150g sugar
30g plain flour
1500g ground almonds
2 eggs

70g butter
50g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g cream cheese

60 almond flakes
6 strawberries, quartered

Cut the pastry in half.  Roll one half large enough to cut 12 rounds and lay them in a 12-hole tin.  Repeat with the other half.  Put them in the freezer for 15 minutes (stops them shrinking in the oven). Then bake at 200 degrees C/gas mark 6 for 12-15 minutes.  Cool.
Meanwhile, make the:

Coulis:  Chop the strawberries and put in a pan with the 30g caster sugar.  Simmer over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Cool.
Frangipane: Beat together the butter, sugar, flour and almonds.  Add the eggs to make a paste.
Topping: Beat the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and cream cheese together.

When the tart cases are cool, put a teaspoon of coulis into the base of each.  Divide the frangipane between the 24 cases and sprinkle with the flaked almonds.  Push quarters of strawberries into each one.  Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4 and bake for15-20 minutes until set.  Cool.
When cool, blob a teaspoon of icing on each one, a couple of almond flakes and a strawberry quarter.

Veg Vindaloo - Jamie Oliver

1 whole bulb of garlic, peeled
1 heaped tbsp turmeric and garam masala
2 heaped tbsp raisins
1 level tsp each sea salt and ground cumin
1 heaped tsp fennel seeds
2 dried red chillies
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 red onion, roughly chopped
200ml white wine vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce and sunflower oil

Whizz these all together in a blender until smooth.

1kg ripe tomatoes (2-3 tins)
3 red onions
2 aubergines
1 x 400g chickpeas
250ml stock
300g frozen peas and sweetcorn
natural yoghurt to serve
1 fresh red chilli, sliced

Roast the onions and aubergines in a little oil in a 200 degrees C/gas mark 6 oven for 25 minutes.  Tip half the paste and the tomatoes, chickpeas in a large saucepan and simmer for  20 minutes.  Add the roasted vegetables, as much stock as you like and simmer for another 15 minutes.  Finally, add the peas and sweetcorn for the last 5 minutes.  Serve with a swirl of yoghurt and some chillies sprinkled over the top.

Chocolate Muffins  12

220g caster sugar
180g self-raising flour
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
160ml milk
150g butter, melted
120g chocolate chips

Mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls.  Tip the wet into the dry with the chocolate chops, and stir until mixed but still lumpy.  IT SHOULDN'T BE SMOOTH!
Divide between 12 muffin cases and bake at 180 degrees C/gas mark 5 for 20 minutes or until looking cooked on top.


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)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Wednesday Chocolate Cake

Another busy week!  Am  the only one to be chasing my tail most of the time?  Still, I managed to finish the blinds for my sitting-room - only the year in the making!  And I have written my course notes for Professional Finishing Techniques (knitting) for the course on Sunday.  Not a lot of time to cook; we had fish fingers and mash yesterday.  But I am always after great recipes and have yet to find a really good everyday chocolate cake. Yesterday I just threw some ingredients into the mixer and we will taste the results for tea.  Tonight we are having Chilli.  Got to eat a bit less wheat.  Wheat causes an acidic state in the body which has been linked with cancer.  So although I won't be giving up wheat by any means, I am going to counteract its effects by getting more fruit and veg into our diet and by eating more pulses.  I already have a recipe in my blog somewhere for houmous....I'll look for it and post it again.
Have a good week!

Everyday Chocolate Cake

250g butter
250g caster sugar
75g cocoa powder
175g self-raising flour
1tsp each baking powder, instant coffee powder and vanilla extract
4 tbs milk or yoghurt

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Line and grease two sponge tins and spoon the mixture evenly into them. Smooth the mixture and bake for 25 minutes in a 180C/gas mark 4 oven.  Cool in the tins, then turn out.
Cream 100g butter with 100g icing sugar with 2 tbs cocoa powder.  Spread on the bottom cake, place the other cake on top and dust with icing sugar.

Delicious, well, it all went by the next morning!

Vegetarian Chilli non Carne with Guacamole and Roasted Vegetables

1 onion, chopped
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/3 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 spring onion, sliced
1 packet Quorn mince
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1small  tin kidney beans
Fresh coriander to serve

Fry the onion in the oil until transparent, add the chilli, spring onion and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the Quorn, tomatoes, cumin and beans.  Cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes.  Serve with rice and sprinkled with coriander leaves.

1 spring onion, chopped finely
3-4 slices of red chilli, chopped
2 avocados, peeled and mashed
juice of 1/2 a lime
Fresh coriander

Mix everything together and serve with chopped fresh coriander.

Serve with toasted pitta bread cut into slices.

Roasted Vegetables

Chop an aubergine, peppers, onions and mushrooms into 2cm sized pieces.  Mix with 3 tbs olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 200C/gas mark 4 oven for about 25 minutes until slightly charred.

What I have been cooking this week:

Spanish Omlette: serves 4.  Heat a pan with a large knob of butter, chop an onion, a yellow pepper, a tomato and some fresh herbs and add.  Stir until nearly cooked.  Break 6-8 eggs and mix with a fork.  Add to the pan.  Pull around a little to cook the underneath.  Season well and sprinkle cheese over the top.  Heat the grill, and as soon as you can run a spatula around the edge, place under the grill to finish off.
Puy lentils with tomatoes:  fry a chopped onion in olive oil until cooked.  Add a cup of Puy lentils with 3 cups of water, a bay leaf and lots of seasoning.  Simmer for 20 minutes then add a tin of chopped tomatoes.  This is a Nigel Slater recipe and is delicious for lunch with some salad or bread.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Long time no blog!


Hi folks!

After an exhausting term of all three children starting new schools, I now feel able to make a few blog entries again, hooray!

I have been getting a weekly veggie bag from Village Greens in Ockley (see above) and this week's looked so lovely with the beetroot and cabbage that I took a piccie. I think a beetroot and potato pie maybe with par-boiled and sliced potatoes and beetroot, layered in a dish with cheese and some dill and seasoning and a little soured cream and topped with a pastry crus.  Then coleslaw with the cabbage and carrots and a noodle dish with the ginger, perhaps chicken noodle soup for the others and some salmon for me. My lovely friend, Sally has just moved to Singapore so I will pick her brains. I also love baked potatoes, so those will be on the menu.  See above for my daughter's favourite 'Hedgehog Potatoes'.  Just slice nearly all the way through criss-crossing the potato, drizzle some olive oil on to each one and bake for about an hour in a 200C oven (Gas mark 5).

Meanwhile, a friend gave me 'Herman', a sourdough friendship cake. You leave the batter on the windowsill for about a week, feeding it with some milk, flour and sugar, and then divide into four, give three away and bake what is left with apples, sultanas and spice. It has that sourdough tang and is makes a very light sponge, something to do with the chemistry of the acid and the baking powder. That's why many scone recipes call for soured cream or yoghurt to help the rise.


I am also plugging that I have about 5 bin liners full of donated British yarn for the knitting of cushions for the Olympic athletes. Check out for more information, and come to The Fluffatorium in Dorking to get some free yarn. About 14,000 cushions are needed, so come on down! You can see a picture of my friend Yvonne Robertson (sorry about the fold Yvonne!) and me in the Surrey Advertiser this week!!!

Happy baking!