Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chocolate and cinammon cake

I was at loss at what to make for my granddad's birthday, after all you only turn 78 once! Having seen a stack of chocolate, lonely in the cupboard, I decided to put it to use. Originally I intended to make a large chocolate cake by itself, but I didn't think it would be enough, and so the cinnamon cake was born... If you were to close your eyes whilst eating the cinnamon cake, it would taste like a light cinnamon bun, but with crumbs. The cinnamon cake provides a contrast to the chocolate cake in that it has a less rich flavour. The espresso in the cake adds another dimension of bitterness so the cake is not overly sweet, whilst the salt brings out the flavour of the chocolate. The pepper adds a little bite to the sugary goodness. Whilst the white chocolate buttercream is sweet, the ganache is slightly bitter, and so the sugariness is not too much...Whilst they make the cake look quite dramatic, the nuts add another dimension to the cake in that they give more texture, more of a bite.

Cinnamon cake:
150g self-raising flour
100 caster sugar
50g brown sugar
two teaspoons of ground cinnamon
one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
150g unsalted butter, softened
a dash of milk
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cream the butter and sugars.
Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon to the mixture, and fold in.
Whisk the eggs, then add to the mixture along with the milk.
Mix together until you have a smooth batter, and pour into a buttered baking tin.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until a few crumbs comes out of the cake when it is skewered with a fork.
Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for five minutes, before turning out onto a wired rack.

Chocolate cake:
200g self-rasing flour
180g caster sugar
one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
150g unsalted butter, softened
a drizzle of olive oil
two teaspoons of coffee granules dissolved in 30ml of boiling water
two heaped teaspoons of cocoa powder
120g dark chocolate, melted
2 eggs
a teaspoon of sea salt
lots of freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper. and cocoa powder to the mixture, and fold in.
Whisk the eggs, then stir into the mixture.
Once the espresso mixture has cooled down, add to the cake batter. If you add it whilst it is too hot, it will start to cook the eggs.
When the melted chocolate has cooled, fold into the mixture, along with the olive oil.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a few crumbs comes out of the cake when it is skewered with a fork.
Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for five minutes, before turning out onto a wired rack.

Dark chocolate ganache:
50ml whipping cream
80g dark chocolate, broken in pieces

In a small saucepan, heat the cream.
As soon as the cream starts to bubble, take off the heat.
Stir the chocolate into the cream, so it is fully combined.
Set aside to cool before using.

White chocolate buttercream:
150g unsalted butter, softened
180g icing sugar, sieved
150g white chocolate, melted
dash of milk

Cream together the butter and the sugar.
When you have a smooth mixture, pour in the white chocolate. Make sure the chocolate is not too hot, or the butter will melt, giving a runny icing.
If the icing is too thick, add a few drops of melt to thin it.

Chopped pistachios
Chopped caramelised hazelnuts

If the cakes are too high or too sunken in the middle, trim with a serrated knife, so that you have a flat surface. Make sure that the cakes are cool when you cut them, otherwise they will crumble, and will the trimming will not be as neat.
Spread your base cake with the chocolate ganache near to the edges. Don't spread right to the edges, or when you put the other cake not top, the filling will spill over the sides. I put the chocolate cake on the bottom because it was bigger.
Put the smaller cake on top of the ganache and press down firmly.
Using a palette knife, (preferably a straight one,) spread the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. I find that working from the top down is easiest. The buttercream should be thick enough that it can hold the nuts, but not so thick that it is too much to eat in a slice...however much that may be!
Firmly press the hazelnuts onto the side of the cake so that they stick. Using a palette knife to press them in may help.
Spread the pistachios on the top of the cake, but much more sparsely than the hazelnuts were put onto the cake. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Lemon polenta cake

Polenta is one of the nicest grains for a cake, in that it provides a light yet firm crumb. Popular in Italian cuisine, polenta comes from corn.  

4 eggs, separated
250g caster sugar
80ml olive oil
120g polenta
200g plain flour/ground almonds
zest of two lemons

apricots, diced
icing sugar
juice of two lemons

Preheat the oven to 220C, and line the base of a cake tin with baking parchment.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed, then add the caster sugar whilst continuing to whisk.
Fold in the polenta, ground almonds and lemon zest.
Pour in the olive oil, whilst continuing to fold.
Put into the oven, and after 20 minutes turn the temperature down to 190C.
The cake should take around 40 minutes in total to cook, but depending on your oven, it is ready when the top is hard, and crumbs come out when a fork is put into the cake.
When the cake comes out of the oven, it is time to make the syrup topping.

In a small saucepan, heat the apricots until they start to soften. 
Add the lemon juice and the icing sugar, gently stirring to dissolve it.
When all the liquid has combined, pierce the top of the cake with a fork.
Drizzle the syrup over the cake - the pierced top means that the syrup is fully absorbed into the sponge.
Serve warm with soured cream.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Yoghurt with crème de marrons de l'Ardèche and toasted walnuts

When you've had a massive French meal, the last thing you want is a big dessert. The slightly acidic yoghurt and crème fraîche mixture is complemented by the sweetness of the crème de marrons de l'Ardèche, a chestnut purée. Topped with the toasted walnuts for some texture, this is the perfect light and refreshing dessert for a hot summer's day.

Greek yoghurt
Crème fraîche
Soured cream

Crème de marrons de l'Ardèche (chestnut purée)


I tend to use whatever type of yoghurt and cream is in the fridge for the base. Having said that, I avoid using sweetened yoghurts because the sharpness is needed to contrast the chestnut purée. I also refrain from using a majority of runny yoghurt in the mixture, as it needs to have a bit of substance!

Stir together whatever type of cream and yoghurts you have. If the dairy mixture is too sour, add a little sugar or agave syrup to taste.

In glasses or jars, add the creamy mixture until a third of the container is full. Layer about a teaspoon of the chestnut paste. Next, cover with more of the yoghurt mixture. Top with more of the crème de marrons de l'Ardèche- I squeezed it straight from the tube. Leave in the fridge to set a little.

In a pan over medium heat, toast the walnuts in no oil- you don't want to fry them. When they have browned but not burnt, remove from the pan onto some kitchen paper. The walnuts release oil when heated, but you don't want too much of this in the yoghurt. Bash the walnuts into smaller pieces, and sprinkle on the dessert.



To make the mixture even lighter transform the yoghurt into a mousse by folding in whisked egg whites.

If you're not too keen on nuts, layer lemon curd instead of the chestnut paste, and top with mango.

For a 'cherry bakewell', layer with cherry jam and top with toasted, flaked almonds or crushed amaretti.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Banana pancakes

Pancake day is brilliant. It's that time of year where you can stuff your face yet claim it's because you are following religious practices. Like Christmas. And Easter.

There are so many types of pancakes available: fluffy American pancakes, crepes, blinis, buckwheat pancakes... Buckwheat and I have never got on too well.

The first time I tried buckwheat was when my mother was looking for an alternative to rice and potatoes and bread. The result was that I chucked it into next door's garden (I was a rebellious youth \m/).

The next time I encountered buckwheat was in the form of soba. It was probably just the way I (over)cooked the Japanese noodles so that they were glutinous and sticky, but they didn't agree with me particularly well either.

Next was in the form of bread. Using a Kenwood bread machine booklet, I got used the recipe for a plain white loaf and used buckwheat flour instead. The only thing I can say about this is DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Finally I came across buckwheat pancakes. The problem with buckwheat is often that it is too heavy, and weighs down whatever is being made with it. However in pancakes, if you beat whipped egg white into the mixture, you can have light and fluffy pancakes, or, if you make a mixture with solely the flour and milk, you can have a delicate crepe, like they serve out of foodtrucks in markets around Lille.

However this Pancake Day, I wanted to make a pancake which did not involve flour. Potato would be too heavy, carrot too watery, but banana... banana had the right substance for a thick pancake which could settle in the pan without clogging up your throat when you ate it. For these pancakes though, you cannot have overripe bananas, as they will not solidify enough.

You will need:
two bananas, pureed
one egg
a dash of milk

Mix all the ingredients together and fry over a medium heat in a lightly oiled pan.
Serve with butter, bananas and syrup - it can't be too healthy!

Other variations of pancakes I have seen but have yet to imitate include the ricotta pancakes served at The Hoxton Grill in Shoreditch (EC2A).

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Valentines Day Goody Bag

Valentines day splits people into two groups. Those with a 'special someone', and those without. Regardless of which category you belong to, it is most likely that you will consume some chocolate, the only difference being that one group buys it for some one else, and the other buys it for themselves.

There was a bag inside this bag! Pass the parcel anyone?
So when the thoughtful people at Hotel Chocolat asked me if I would like to sample some of their chocolate, the only mature response was "YES! YES! YES! Please.". When the Valentines Goody Bag (£19) arrived, it was like Christmas had come early. Or late, depending upon how you look at it. When the goody bag arrived, I was hit by a wave sweet aroma. Delving into the large bag, only to find another bag enclosed in wrapping paper, I was reminded of playing pass-the-parcel at fifth birthday party I never had.

Love-Me-Do Raspberry Fusion
I was a little apprehensive at first. Aside from the occasional Terry's chocolate orange, I don't really do fruit-flavoured chocolate. Faced with the aptly titled Love-Me-Do Raspberry Fusion, which can best be described as a slab of chocolate, I wasn't particularly enamored. However upon my first bite of the milk chocolate, I was pleasantly surprised by the crunchy cocoa biscuits hidden within the bar, and the tangy bursts of freeze-dried raspberry goodness. Unfortunately the "red berry flavoured white chocolate" was a little too sweet, even for my sweet tooth! Thankfully, my mother couldn't get enough of it. Upon finishing MY bar, she claimed that although she doesn't like raspberry she can't get enough of this one. What I have learnt from this chocolate, is that it has something for everyone- like a boyband.

Selection of filled chocolates
Next to face the jury were the selection of filled chocolates- Raspberry Smoothie, Caramel Gianduja and Passionfruit Ganache.
The Caramel Gianduja was a pleasant surprise from the gooey caramel filling I had anticipated. The truffle filling had the texture of marzipan, whilst showcasing a praline-esque flavour. Top marks Hotel Chocolat!
The Passion Fruit Truffles were next to face my palette. The zingy passion fruit centre combined with the white chocolate casing was my favourite. It packed a punch of flavour without feeling like you'd been whacked in the mouth.
The Raspberry Smoothie chocolates were pretty decent too. Although I wouldn't agree it tasted like a framboise crush fresh out of the blender, I couldn't say that it wasn't tasty. The intense raspberry flavour contrasted well with the bitterness of the dark chocolate, leading to a symphony of flavours.

Strawberry flavoured white chocolate.
If you like the raspberry-flavoured chocolate, you'd probably adore the strawberry-flavoured lolly. Pure, indulgent goodness, I am counting this as one of my five-a-day.

Passion Fruit Truffles
 To be frank, the passion fruit truffles are the reason why people should eat truffles. The passion fruit purée ganache filling gently complemented the white chocolate, perfect for an after-dinner munch.

If you want to win someone over this Valentines Day, forget the red roses, get this! Nothing says I love you better than a selection of good-quality chocolate, and Hotel Chocolat's goody bag is the perfect answer to the Valentines Day question.

If you belong to the 'singles' category, don't fret. Not having a partner shouldn't spoil your Friday night. In fact, just think of the money you're saving from not having to buy for two, let alone eat over-priced, over-cooked steak in the West End. If your still not comforted by this, find a Ryan Gosling movie to eat you're chocolates with.

Disclaimer:this product was sent to me in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Porky's (NW1)

Pulled pork, cheese, fried eggs (in a muffin) and AMAZING hash browns - £6.95
Imagine the scene... It's a chilly winter's Sunday morning in Camden and it's raining. You're hungry. You're with six other people, including two children under ten. It's not quite the right time for Lebanese flat breads or Spanish churros. It's also a bit too early for nitrogen ice cream. Well never fear, Porky's is near.
Situated on Chalk Farm road, Porky's is not enveloped by the crowds of tourists flocking to Cyberdog, but it's still not entirely off the radar of the affluent north London familias. At ten thirty in the morning, every table in the cramped restaurant was being used, except for our one. We are placed in the cosy outside* area by a good-looking Nordic model. It's warm and the benches are not too uncomfortable.
"What's on the menu?" cries aged 4. "Are there pancakes?" aged 8 pipes up. "Don't like it" announces aged 4. (Bear in mind she'd just been deprived a doughnut.)
Straight-faced, the tall, Nordic model comes to take our order. Several of the dishes on the menu consist of an English muffin, fried egg, hash browns and some sort of meat, and at £6.95 I'm not complaining.
The pulled pork (my chosen meat) is tender and, well, pulled. It works nicely with the melted cheese and the runny egg yolk. The hash browns are delicious... Crispy and crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, this is how hash browns should be.
The others are disappointed with their sausages in the Full English (chose the wrong dish, my friend), but the mushrooms are good (Full English ) and the bacon's alright (Muffin with bacon and sausage). Aged 8 is impressed, not least because of the saloon-style bathrooms.
Porky's is a nice place to have American/bbq-influenced food, but if you like to read the weekend papers with your breakfast, I suggest you find somewhere with more space. The meal's good, staff are okay, but aged 4 still wants a doughnut, so we head to Tesco.

*It's outside in the sense that you're sitting in a conservatory made with corrugated glass.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Chocolate and chestnut cake

This is quite a bitter cake, perfect for an after dinner treat. It has quite a moussey texture thanks to the folded egg whites

400g whole cooked chestnuts
250g dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter
2 eggs, separated

100g dark chocolate
one orange - zest and juice
icing sugar, to taste
double cream, to taste

It's nearly Christmas already?!
Pulse the chestnuts until you have a fine crumb.
Melt the chocolate over a ban marie, and add the butter.

Melted chocolate.
Once melted, leave the chocolate/butter mixture to cool.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and add to the chocolate/butter liquid.
Whisk the egg whites.
Combine the chestnuts with your chocolate mixture, and beat in two tablespoons of the egg whites.
Gently fold the mixture into the rest of the egg whites.

The mixture.
Pour into two lined cake tins and leave to bake for half an hour.
The finished product should have a crumb when a skewer is inserted.

Melt the chocolate and add orange zest as well as the juice of an orange. I used clementines as I didn't have any oranges, but their flavour was not intense enough to cut through the orange.
Add icing sugar to taste. The cake is bitter, as is dark chocolate, so you need some sweetness!
Add double cream to thin the mixture, and dilute the intensity of the bitterness.

Spread onto the cake.

Serve a slice of cake with crème fraîche.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Banana and salted caramel cake

Yes banana is healthy, but when combined with copious amounts of butter, sugar and cream, the benefits are most probably cancelled out...

100g soft brown sugar
50g soft brown sugar
150g unsalted butter
250g plain flour
one teaspoon of cinnamon
half a teaspoon of ground ginger (optional)
half a teaspoon of nutmeg (optional)
one and a half teaspoons of baking powder
two eggs, beaten
one vanilla pod
three bananas, mashed
50 ml milk
a dash of orange juice

equal weights of butter and soft brown sugar (I used 100g of each and still had enough to fill a jar size 190g)
coarse sea salt - to taste
double cream

Preheat the oven to 200C and line two 18-20cm cake tins.

Lined tins.

Cream together the butter and sugar.
Deseed the vanilla pod, and add to the butter and sugar.
Gradually beat in the eggs to the butter and sugar - if you do it too quickly, the mixture will curdle and separate.
Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixture and whisk.
Then add all of the milk and orange juice, and whisk.
Once thoroughly combined, add the rest of the dry ingredients.
Add the mashed bananas to the mix and stir together.
Pour into the tins and cook for 30 - 40 minutes.


Salted caramel sauce.

Melt the sugar and butter in a sauce pan over a medium heat.
As soon as they have both fully melted, take off the heat.
Then add the salt and cream, and stir.
Leave aside to cool and thicken.
When lukewarm, drizzle onto the cake.

I topped the cake with extra pieces of cake.

For texture, you could add toasted walnuts to the mixture.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Caramel sauce

Some days you just need to indulge. Butter, sugar, butter, sugar, cream... probably not for the fainthearted! This ridiculously rich caramel sauce can be used for banoffee pie, to drizzle over ice cream, or to eat straight out of the jar. Don't tell anyone I said that.

To make 3 small jars:
150g unsalted butter
150g soft brown sugar
half a teaspoon sea salt
a dash of nutmeg
80ml double cream


Aside from the cream, chuck it all in a saucepan and leave on a medium heat to melt.
When the mixture it is about half melted, add the cream.
Stir the mixture every now and then, to make sure everything is melting.
Once you have a glossy mixture, take off the heat and leave to cool.
As it cools the mixture thickens, so place into sterilised jars once the mixture has cooled down a little.
Remember to seal jars, or a skin might form over the mixture.
This can be stored in the fridge for three days

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Pumpkin bites

I'm going to be honest with you. Until recently, I wasn't sure what you could really do with pumpkins, aside from pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, and the obligatory Halloween carved pumpkin. But I have been shown the light - no pun intended. There are over 15 different types of pumpkins, each with their own unique taste.
You have the sweeter varieties such as sugar pumpkins, small orange pumpkins best for puréeing and mashing, as well as the more salty/savoury ones, such as Japanese pumpkins which are dark green speckled with orange, and perfect for stir-frying.

When I made this recipe, I used the a small, orange "golden nugget" pumpkin, one of the most common types of pumpkin.

one small pumpkin
coarse sea salt
olive oil
sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 240C.
Deseed the pumpkin and cut into slices with thickness of around 1 cm.
Line a baking tray with tinfoil and place the pupkin slices.
Sprinkle the pumpkins with the salt.
Sprinkle the pumpkins with freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon.
Drizzle the oil over the pumpkin slices, and pop in the oven for around 25 minutes.
When the pumpkin is soft to the touch it is ready to come out.

These are perfect warm with a dollop of soured cream, or cold, when you get a chewy, toffee-like texture.
If you are using sugar, sprinkle demerara sugar on the pumpkins during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Pumpkin soup and seeded honey bread

Roasted pumpkin #1

Pumpkin soup

one large pumpkin
olive oil
juice of half an orange
boiled potato (if you want the soup to go further)
light brown sugar
pepper - to season
orange juice
salt - to season
soured cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Cut a pumpkin in half and deseed. Set aside the seeds for the bread
Deeply score the pumpkin.
Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the pumpkin, then generously season with pepper and salt.
Drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil.
Bake in the oven until the pumpkin flesh is soft - this should take about 30-40 minutes.
Roasted pumpkin #2
Scoop out the pumpkin flesh, and blend with the orange juice, and potato if using. To thin the soup, you can add water, or preferably stock for extra flavour.
Serve with a dollop of soured cream.
Probably best to keep an eye on the soup when heating...
With a dollop (or two) or soured cream

For me, bread has always been one of those foods where the only quantities used are "a handful of this", "a dash of that", and "whatever looks right". Alternatively, start off with 50g flour per serving.

white or wholemeal flour, for a heartier loaf use rye flour
a teaspoon of yeast / 7g sachet
seeds, you can use the pumpkin seeds from earlier, along with sunflower seeds and sesame seeds
olive oil
warm water

Mix together the flour and the seeds.
Stir the yeast into an espresso-sized cup of warm water. It's important to add this to the mixture as soon as possible, because the yeast immediately reacts with the water, and is at its peak to work with the flour.
Pour the yeast water into the flour until you have a dough begins to come together.
Add oil to the dough-ish mixture until you have an only slightly sticky dough.
Flatten the mixture, and add the honey. I used about three teaspoons worth.
Fold the dough into an envelope shape, so all the honey is in the middle. Like a card if we're going to continue with the envelope metaphor.
Work the dough, and add more flour if it becomes to sticky.
Put in a lightly floured bowl, and cover with cling film.
Leave to rest in a warm place until the dough has doubled. This is usually about one hour.
Once the mixture has risen, work it... Knock the air out of the dough.
Then leave to rise again for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled tin, or freeform on a baking tray.
Brush the dough with milk or beaten egg (for gloss) and sprinkle with salt.
Put in the oven.
After 20 minutes on 220C, turn the heat down to 180C. Cooking the bread for a short time on a high heat allows a crust to form, but if it is too high for too long the top of the bread will be burnt whilst the inside will be underbaked.
The bread should take about a further 40 minutes to cook. The bread is cooked if you hear a hollow sound when knocking the base.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Mini Carrot Cakes

Everybody loves Raymond? Everybody loves carrot cake. These gems are light and dairy-free (discounting the topping) and healthy enough to be a gym snack. Well, not quite. But nearly.

Fresh from the oven
The cakes were lining two by two hurrah, hurrah
one and a half medium-sized carrots, peeled and grated
caster sugar
rapeseed oil
olive oil
raisins (soaked overnight in whisky)
orange zest
orange juice
plain flour
baking powder
cream cheese
unsalted butter, softened (optional)
icing sugar
orange zest

One half with filling, the other half not...

Mix together the oil, sugar, flour and baking powder.
Once fully combined, add the orange juice, zest and raisins.
Fold in the grated carrots.
Pour into a greased baking tins, and cook at 180C for 35 minutes, or until a skewer can be inserted cleanly.
When baked, leave to cool in their tins for 5-10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cakes get to room temperature, cut them in half using a serrated knife.

For the topping, if you're using butter, cream it with the sugar first, then add the orange zest and cream cheese.
If not using butter, gently fold the sugar and orange zest into the cream cheese.
Fill the cakes with the topping when they completely cool down - you don't want the icing to melt!
Serve with a cup of tea.

All together now...say cheese!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Apple bread and butter pudding

Bread and butter pudding
Let be honest, bread and butter pudding is a pretty great thing. It's warming, has custard and is ridiculously versatile - what's not to like? From substituting bread for croissants or brioche, flavouring the custard with coffee or chocolate and adding juicy liquor-soaked raisins, there's something for everyone. So for autumn, why not use up the glut of apples you bought for £1.50? This buttery, fruity recipe is meltingly delicious and perfect for those chilly autumn afternoons.

Buttered bread

bread* - I used rosemary and potato bread
butter, room temperature
2 egg yolks
150 ml double cream
100ml milk - you're using double cream and butter, so you might as well have full-fat**
100g sugar
2 apples, cored, peeled and evenly sliced
a big handful of raisins
dried apple, diced
more double cream, to taste
*it's best to use bread which is a couple of days old because it holds it shape hence not becoming soggy. As the Berry says, you don't want a soggy bottom...
**it's important to build up fat to insulate for the winter

The first layer
Soak the raisins overnight in the cognac. Before using, pat the raisins dry to get rid of excess moisture, and set the rest of the cognac aside for later.
Spread the sliced bread generously with butter. Unless you're dairy intolerant, there are no reasons why you should compromise and use margarine.

Jam-packed full of raisins
In a buttered and sugared tin**, layer the buttered bread with thickly sliced apples and raisins, similar to a dauphinoise. Repeat this until your baking tin is about three quarters full.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until your mixture has doubled in volume and become paler.

Heat the cream in a saucepan until it begins to bubble.
When the cream begins bubbling, take it off the heat and add the milk to it.
Once it has cooled down a bit, strain into the yolk/sugar mixture, whisking the whole time.◇◇

Sprinkling with sugar gives a brilliant toffee taste when cooked
When your baking tin is stuffed to the brim, liberally pour over with your custard.
Place in a preheated oven on 200C and bake for fifty-five minutes. When you take the pudding out, it should have puffed up and become golden and firm.
For the sauce, use the ratio of 1 part cognac to 2 parts cream.
In a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat, reduce the cognac until you have a thick glaze.
Add dried the dried apple and double cream to your reduced alcohol and on a low heat, let it cook for half a minute, and take off the heat.

I would suggest that you don't put raisins on top, because they will catc,. And burn.

Sprinkle the pudding with caster sugar and scorch with a blowtorch or grill for a crème brûlée touch.

Serve with lashings of sauce and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

**Butter the tin as you would normally, then sprinkle sugar over. Shake out excess sugar so you have a fine sprinkling on all sides. This helps to caramelise the pudding, and adds to the toffee-apple taste.
◇◇ If your custard becomes scrambled eggs die to the cream being too hot or not whisking enough, strain the mixture through a sieve.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Pimms Cake

For those of you who don't want to believe that summer is pretty much over, use your last drops of pimms to get yourself back into the summer 2013 mood.

Cake #1

PIMMS CAKE420g self-raising flour
400g sugar (I used a mixture of demerara and soft brown sugar)
two teaspoons of baking powder
120g unsalted butter, softened
200ml milk
strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 shots of Pimms

CREAM CHEEDE ICING250g cream cheese
40g unsalted butter, room temperature
350g icing sugar
one grapefruit, zest and juice

Cake #2
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Butter two cake tins, and line the bases (this is necessary because the syrawberries will stick).
Arrange the strawberries throughout the tins.
Mix all the dry ingredients together with the butter. When you get a crumble-like mixture, add the milk whilst continually beating.
When you have a batter, add the Pimms and completely stir.
Pour the cake mixture over the strawberries.
Put in the oven and turn the temperature down to 170C.
Check the cakes after 35 minutes, and as a general guide, take them out of the oven after 50 minutes.
Leave the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes, and then turn out to cool on a wire rack.

Cream the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest.
Add the grapefruit juice to the butter cream, and then the cream cheese.
Thoroughly mix, but be aware that too much mixing results in a flat liquid.
If your icing becomes too liquidy, you can add icing sugar of corn flour, but you don't want an icing which is too sweet or bland.

Autumn and Camus

I know, I know, I'm a terrible blogger. I haven't written for ages and, well, the blog's just a bit empty. There is a perfectly acceptable reason to my lack of posts; it's autumn! Autumn, you may cry, is one of those seasons where it doesn't quite know what it wants to do. Not quite winter, but definitely not summer- a bit like spring. Well, it definitely does know what it wants to do. It wants the leaves to become so crisp they crackle as you walk, it wants the wind to be brisk enough that you can wear gloves but not need a scarf. It wants you to start looking forward to the snow*.

Anyway, think of all the lovely produce in season...monkfish, pumpkins, game, apples, beetroots, wild mushrooms, celeriac, chestnuts. This season I will upload a tasty recipe using each one of these ingredients. Don't worry, it won't be all soups and crumbles- though you can't go wrong with either.

On other matters, this Camus' quote perfectly sums up my fridge at the moment.
'There was nothing but cheese'- Albert Camus

*If you're a Londoner, then it's the snow that comes in April.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Catalan style anchovies

This recipe is perfect for those hot summer days where you need something light and fresh to indulge in.

Liberally sprinkle fresh anchovy fillets with salt.
Leave to process for 2-12 hours.
Rinse the anchovies to get rid of salt and pat them dry.
Generously cover with olive oil, white wine vinegar, chopped garlic, Mediterranean herbs, lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.
Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Serve with freshly cooked bread to mop up juices, and a glass of chilled white wine or rosé.

Make sure the anchovies are very fresh, to avoid food poisoning.
It is easier to fillet the anchovies if you put them in the freezer for half an hour before filleting.

Thank you to S for the delicious recipe.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Melon Soup

If you have a blender and a melon, there are absolutely no reasons why you should not be able to make this.

Single Cream

Deseed the melon and scoop the flesh into a blender.
Blitz the melon into a juice.
Add the cream to the melon whilst pureeing.
Serve chilled with Serrano ham.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Serves 6

1.5kg big tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 large green pepper
1 thick slice of bread, no crust - this gives texture and consistency
1 clove of garlic
Cup of olive oil
Teaspoon of caster sugar
3 or 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Dash of salt

Freshly picked tomatoes from B's garden
Score crosses at both ends of all the tomatoes.
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute, then put into iced water to stop them cooking.
Peel the skins and deseed. This gives the gazpacho a smooth texture.
Peel the skins of the cucumber, and deseed half of it.
Chop the cucumber and pepper, and blend with everything else.
Serve with ice cubes and a drizzle of chilli oil.

Thank you S for this recipe.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Baked chocolate mousse

BAKED CHOCOLATE MOUSSE300g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
150g unsalted butter
6 eggs, separated
60g icing sugar
Sea salt

Use sifted icing sugar and a template to create a pattern of your choice. We used a (clean) fly swat, although it looks a little like a wine glass...

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Melt together the chocolate and butter in a bain marie, then add sea salt to taste. I used 5 grinds.
Beat the egg yolks and half of the sugar for one minute, then add to the chocolate/butter mixture.
Whisk the egg whites until you get soft peaks, then gradually add the rest of the sugar until you get stiff peaks.
Fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then pour the mixture back into the egg whites. Don't pour from a height, because you'll lose the air you managed to trap.
Pour into your tin, and cook for 20 minutes (or a little less for a fondant type filling).

Serve with ice cream or white chocolate mousse, and a glass of nicely chilled Rivesalte wine.

Adapted from James Martin's Desserts