Friday, 30 March 2012

Saturday roast

We've been invited to our first bbq of the year on Sunday, so we're having our roast on Saturday. Slow roast shoulder of lamb, done in the greek manner, kleftiko style. Flavour is provided by the bone remaining in, seasoned with lemon juice, oregano and thyme. Slow cooked while wrapped, the meat becomes extremely tender and flavoursome, and can be pulled apart with a couple of forks. Good for the dentally channelled amongst us.

I will make pommes boulangeres to go with, not dauphinoise, that is too rich. Pictures and recipes to follow.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Date and walnut cake - easy

 A lovely cake that is somehow light and sticky at the same time. It has a slightly treacly flavour, punctuated by spices. I think the gingery tang I was tasting may have been my

I made two loaf cakes, using Delia's recipe, with two eggs, as my chickens don't lay large eggs. I was feeling lazy and used mixed spice, cinnamon and cloves, and didn't ice it, despite the lemon icing sounding lovely. 12 hours later, there's only one loaf left: I live with greedy people.

The method is nice and simple and uses two bowls, or a bowl and a jug, and something for stirring. No need for a food processor. The dates are primed by being soaked, briefly, in a bicarbonate and water mixture, to which you add butter.

This is a low-fat recipe, which giveth and taketh away, as it is high in sugar. But hey, walnuts are good for you, aren't they?

vinegar chicken

This is a rich stew with a tang, the vinegar gives a kick that balances the sauce nicely. I have got to do a few more experiments, as the recipe I used asked for a small glass of vinegar, unlike most others that only used a few spoonfuls. It was a little sharp.. but I still managed to choke it down. The meat is beautifully tender, and, as you can see, it looks wonderful on the plate.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Burnt sugar cake

 Cruising the internet, I came across the intriguingly titled Burnt Sugar Cake. The flavour is reminiscent of butterscotch Angel Delight, for those old enough to remember that curious concoction. Chocolate Crunchie is an alternative reference. Intensely sweet.

It is a big cake, a very big cake. It went down well with friends.

The recipe I used is given in full below.

I may sometime try this alternative recipe, which may be lighter, but only once I've recovered from the extreme sweetness. It may be some time, and I think I’ll try using the syrup to flavour  some whipped cream, to put inside the cake.

Considering this recipe after time to digest, physically and mentally, I think this cake would be brilliant as a teatime bonne bouche, in a seriously reduced form. One mouthful would be an amazing an accompaniment to coffee, or coffee sorbet.

Burnt Sugar Syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup boiling water

Burnt Sugar Cake
3 cups/360g sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sweet butter, room temp
1¼ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temp
½ cup Burnt Sugar Syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Burnt Sugar Frosting
¼ cup/60g unsalted butter
1 lb/450g icing sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Burnt Sugar Syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla


Burnt Sugar Syrup
1.    Melt ¾ cup sugar in a skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it turns into amber (burnt orange), then take it off the heat
2.    Add boiling water very carefully, as the mixture will spatter at first, the return the caramel to a low heat and simmer while stirring, until the sugar and water are thoroughly mixed together
3.    Set to one side to cool – use at room temperature

Burnt Sugar Cake
·         Set the oven to 350/180 (slightly less for fan assisted overns)
·         Grease and flour two 9”/22cm cake tins, and line them with parchment or waxed paper
·         Sift flour, baking powder and salt together
·         Cream the butter, beating until smooth, adding sugar and continuing to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy
·         Add the eggs, one by one, beating to a smooth mixture before adding the next egg.
·         Mix together ½ cup of burnt sugar syrup with enough water to make one cup of liquid and stir in the vanilla
·         Beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with the burnt sugar syrup mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, until the mixture is smooth
·         Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans
·         Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the surface springs back slightly when lightly touched in the centre, and the cakes come away from the sides of the cake tins
·         Let the cakes cool for at least 10 minutes on wire racks before tipping out the cakes
·         Allow cakes to cool completely before starting to ice the cake
·         Split each cake into two, and fill each layer with icing, before covering the top and sides

Burnt Sugar Frosting: 
1.    Cream 1/3 cup unsalted butter until light and fluffy
2.    Gradually beat in the sifted icing sugar, almost ½ cup Burnt Sugar Syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla until creamy, smooth and spreadable

Incredibly rich!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Burnt sugar cake

I am trying out a recipe for burnt sugar cake. It smells rather like angel delight, butterscotch flavour. I will ice it tomorrow and post some pictures. It is basically a sponge with a burnt sugar syrup, both in the cake and the icing... because sugar is good.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


not quite an edible stonehenge

Very well reviewed, by consumers, the most recent batch of brownies. Fancy having a go at making them yourself? The recipe is here.

Tip: stick to the cooking time, to get maximum chocolate intensity and the proper fudginess.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Classic carrot cake

The Australian Women's Weekly recipe for carrot cake is easy to make and not as sweet as some - don't worry it is still nice and sweet. The recipe calls for 2 tsp of mixed spice, but I like to add an extra tsp of cinnamon, which makes it really punchy. See what you think - this recipe is a repeater.

I'll find the pictures of my first effort - I used two sandwich tins and put some icing inside as well as out, because I am greedy. I use the citrus fudge icing.

I tried it with sunflower seeds, because I didn't have any walnuts and it was not good, by the way.
'icing just right this time mum'

Carrot cake

Preparation and cooking time – 1hour 35 minutes

1 cup / 250 ml vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups / 250 g firmly packed brown sugar
3 cups / 220 g firmly packed, coarsely grated carrot (about 6 medium carrots)
1 cup / 120 g coarsely chopped walnuts
3 eggs
2 ½ / 375 g self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 160 C

I used two 23cm tins and bake for 40 mins

  • Grease deep 23 cm round cake tin, lining base with baking parchment
  • Put carrot and nuts in large bowl,  and sift flour, bicarb and spices together, keep to one side
  • Beat oil, sugar and eggs in small bowl with electric mixer until thick and creamy. Transfer mixture to large bowl with carrot and nuts, stirring, adding flour mixing well
  • Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake cake for about 1 ¼ hours, covering loosely with foil or parchment halfway through cooking, to prevent it browning too much on top
  • Stand cake for five minutes before turning it onto a rack to cool

If you can stand it, this cake is better if left for a day to mature.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Baba ghanoush - aubergine puree

Back to the beautiful aubergines, I find them irresistible. I grilled these on the hob, letting the smell of charred skin fill the kitchen. Once they were charred all over, I wrapped them in silver foil and let them sit, to cool. As they cool they continue to cook, and the skin loosens even more, and some fluid leaches out of them. You can see in the picture that there is still some steam coming out of these - I was in a hurry.

So, once the aubergines are cool enough to handle you rub off the charred skin. Then cradle the denuded aubergine and squeeze it gently, a slimy liquid will come out, keep squeezing, tenderly , but don't pulverize the flesh. Take off the stalk and set aside. Prepare all your aubergines like this - in the picture are three smallish aubergines. I cooked them and made them into baba ghanoush and ate it, so, no pictures.

Today I have one small aubergine, and so that's what I'm using for a step by step recipe. I make this aubergine puree for parties and for an easy meal, following Claudia Roden's recipe, from a Book of Middle Eastern Food, which is a culinary treasure trove. Here it is: 

This rich cream is a combination of two strong flavours: the smoky one of aubergines prepared as below, and the strong taste of tahina sharpened by lemon and garlic. It is exciting and vulgarly seductive. The ingredients are added almost entirely to taste, the harmony of flavours depending largely on the size and flavour of the aubergines used. The quantities below give a fairly large amount, enough to be served as a dip at a party.

Serves 8
·         3 large aubergines
·         2 cloves garlic, or to taste 
·         salt
·         ¼ pot tahina paste or less
·         3 lemons, or more to taste
·         ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
·         2 tbs finely chopped parsley, a few black olives or a tomato, thinly sliced, to garnish

Cook the aubergines over charcoal or under a gas flame or electric grill until the skin blackens and blisters. Peel and wash the aubergines, and squeeze out as much of the bitter juice as possible. Crush the garlic cloves with salt. Mash the aubergines with a potato masher or a fork, then add the crushed garlic and little more salt, and pound to a smooth, creamy purée. Add the tahina paste and lemon juice alternately, beating well or blending for a few seconds between each addition. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, garlic or tahina if you think it is necessary and, if you like, a little cumin. Pour the cream into a bowl or a few smaller serving dishes. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and black olives, or with Arab or other bread (pitta), as a salad or as a party dip.

If you can't be bothered to make it yourself, you can buy it in a tin!

Tahini makes a nice dip too, but here it is just an ingredient. I use just about a third as much tahini as aubergine.

charred and hot
wrapped in foil
cooled and ready to peel