Saturday, 27 February 2010

birthday lemon cake


170g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
170g caster sugar, plus extra to serve
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
4 eggs
120g plain flour, sifted
50g fine cornmeal
Pinch of salt
3/4 tsp baking powder


1.                 Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 4.
2.                 Butter a 225g non-stick loaf tin (about 12 x 20cm) or a 20cm-diameter round cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.
3.                 Beat together butter, sugar, and lemon zest in a food processor and until fluffy.
4.                 Add one egg at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
5.                 Add the lemon juice, then the flour, salt and baking powder
6.                 Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for about an hour or until golden and springy. If the cake is browning too quickly, loosely cover the top with foil but remember to remove it shortly before the end of cooking. Test the cake by inserting a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
7.                 Put the cake tin on a wire rack and leave for 15 minutes. Then remove the cake from the tin and sprinkle with caster sugar. Leave to cool.

Keeps well, so if not eaten on the day of cooking, when cold, tightly wrap in foil and leave for a day or two.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

falafel recipe - simpler to buy a packet of mix...

Claudia Roden: "A Book of Middle Eastern Food"

1 lb dried white broad beans ("ful nabed") 
2 red or Spanish onions, very finely chopped or grated, 
     or 1 bunch spring onions [scallions], finely chopped 
 2 large cloves garlic, crushed 
 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped 
 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin 
 1-2 teaspoons ground coriander 
 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
 oil for deep-frying 

The dried white beans can be found in all Greek stores and in many
delicatessens. Buy them already skinned if possible. 

Soak the beans in cold water for 24 hours. Remove the skins if this has not
been done. Drain, and mince or pound them. Mix this with the onions,
garlic, parsley, cumin, coriander, baking powder and salt and cayenne
pepper to taste. 

Pound the ingredients together to a smooth paste. This will take a long
time and much effort, so if a mincer [meat grinder] is available, put the 
mixture through the fine blade twice before pounding it. 

Let the paste rest for 1/2 hour at least. Take walnut-size lumps and make
flat, round shapes 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Let them rest for 15 minutes
longer, then fry them in deep hot oil until they are a dark, rich golden

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


I finished the last jar of mum's marmalade about six months ago. It was very good. Luckily I'm the only one who likes it in the house, so I managed to eke it out. It was a rich dark colour with a clear jelly and had a wonderful flavour. Tangy, with large bits of peel.

So now I have to make my own.

Back to the source: using the inherited The Times Cookery Book 1960 (ten shillings and sixpence).

The recipe I'm following is for Dark Chunky Marmalade. Fingers crossed. In the usual style I have read this recipe carefully. I've also read my edition of Mrs Beeton's Cookery, New Edition, Ward Lock and Co. I've talked to friends who have experience making marmalade. I've checked out a variety of marmalade recipes and tips on the www.

Also I like chopping. I like the process. I’m not trying to do it quickly, so I'm disregarding recipes that claim to be labour saving, or that cook the oranges whole, since I don't have pans as big as bungalows, or oven dishes either.

Now I will follow the traditional cook's method and pretty much ignore them all and use them all, creating my own version.

I’m aiming high: to make marmalade with a clear-ish jelly that tastes fantastic and reminds me of my mother. Not much to ask.

I’ve noticed that some people weigh the fruit, and add a proportionate amount of sugar. I may change the amount of sugar. I’ve seen recipes that use twice the amount of sugar in the Times recipe. Some use white sugar, others sugar with pectin. Hmmm.

Recipe: Dark Chunky Marmalade
10 Seville oranges
3 lemons
4lb dark brown soft sugar
3lb light brown soft sugar
6 pints cold water

For preparation –
Knife and boards, juicer, two large bowls, large muslin square.

For cooking –
Large heavy-bottomed pan, sieve, muslin square, wooden spoon, saucers, ladle, jam funnel, jam jars

Wash the fruit, wipe dry, cut into halves and squeeze – pour juice into a large bowl.
Put all pulp and pips, together with membranes pulled from inside of squeezed oranges into another large bowl with 1 pint of cold water, leave to soak 24h.

Cut orange rinds into slices – I cut each half into four slices and then cut a stack at a time into short slices. Put sliced peel into large bowl with orange and lemon juice and 5 pints of cold water. Leave to soak 24h.

Get out your preserving pan or a very large heavy-bottomed pan. Put peel and water into pan. Drape a very large strainer with muslin and strain the liquid, pulp and pips into the pan with the peel mixture. Tie the muslin around the pip mixture and add to the pan.

Put pan on heat and bring to a boil and cook fast for two hours,uncovered. Your kitchen will smell better than any fancy candle. Remove the muslin bag of pips etc and set aside in a bowl – be careful, it’s hot.

Chill a couple of saucers in the fridge.

Warm clean jars in a cool oven. Get lids ready, or waxed discs and sellophane to tie on in place of lid.

Squeeze liquid from the cooled muslin bag of pips etc into the pan, and throw the pip mixture away. Add sugar to the pan and stir until it dissolves – keep stirring the base of the pan, to make sure sugar doesn’t stick to it before it’s fully dissolved. Boil quickly for 20 minutes. *

Take pan off the heat, and test mixture on chilled saucer. If it sets, it’s ready to put in jars, if it doesn’t return to heat and cook on high heat a little longer, testing again until it sets on chilled saucer.

Pot the marmalade into warmed jars. Cover at once.

*this is a rolling boil

Using a preserving pan makes sense, because it has a pouring spout and useful handles.
Time for cooking after sugar is dissolved may vary a little; the colour deepens with over-boiling, but the fresh flavour is lessened, and the marmalade will not set.
Taking the pan off the heat when testing makes it less likely that the mixture will over cook.

Makes just over 12 x 8oz jars