Saturday, 31 January 2015

Almond and Orange Cake

This cake is divine. It looks quite dense in the photo, but it was light and buttery with wonderful almond flavours, not too overpowered by the orange flavour. I was a bit dubious of it working at all as the mixture curdled when I added the eggs. When I added the dry ingredients it seemed to come together, but was quite thick. It also seemed to leak a liquid out of the bottom of the tin as it was cooking, which I can only assume was butter. However it did work out, and I didn't wait for it to cool before I tried a piece. It was heavenly. It would work as well as a dessert with the sliced orange segments as suggested in the recipe. I used pistachio nuts in place of the flaked almonds which complimented it beautifully. The recipe is from 'Cooking with the Master Chef" by Michel Roux Jr. 

Serves 10
50g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
1tbsp grated zest of orange
4 free-range eggs
80ml freshly squeezed orange juice
60g brown sugar
1tbsp marmalade
Handful of sliced almonds, toasted

Butter a round cake tin, approximately 20cm wide. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar, and add the ground almonds. Whisk the butter with the orange zest until pale, then add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients with a metal spoon. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 45 mins or until cooked.
Meanwhile make a syrup by boiling the orange juice with the brown sugar. Leave to cool. Once the cake is cooked, prick several times with a skewer to the base and pour on the cooled syrup. Leave the cake to cool completely before brushing on a little warmed marmalade and sprinkling it with a few toasted, sliced almonds.
Lovely served with orange segments marinated in a generous splash of whisky and a little demerara sugar.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Sourdough bread with mashed avocado

This was such a tasty and filling lunch today. Drizzle some tomatoes with olive oil and roast in a high oven for approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile toast some sourdough bread and mash a ripe avocado. Spread the avocado between the sourdough bread and place the roasted tomatoes on top. Season with salt and pepper and a little paprika if you like. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Hairy dieters Chicken Chow Mein

Either follow the recipe below which involves a little chopping, or throw in a bag of ready prepared stir fry vegetables and make this a super quick, super easy, tasty meal. Remember the vegetable volume does decrease some what when you cook it. I used a 320g bag for two of us. I still added the chopped the garlic, spring onions and ginger, which contribute to the great flavours. I also thought I'd add a bit of spice and chopped a whole red chilli.  Bit of a mistake, my mouth was on fire all evening.

Serves 4

1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
2 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp dry sherry (I didn't use this)
100ml water
2 tbsp sunflower oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (each about 150g), thinly sliced
1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green pepper, quartered, deseeded and sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
30g chunk root ginger, peeled and grated
3 garlic cloves, very finely sliced
10 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 1cm (½in) slices
225g can water chestnuts, drained and halved
300g bag of beansprouts, rinsed and drained

Mix the sugar and cornflour and stir in the soy sauce, sherry and water, set aside. Stir-fry the chicken in the oil over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until it's beginning to brown. Add the peppers and carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Scatter the ginger, garlic, spring onions and water chestnuts into the pan. Season with pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir the soy mixture, then pour it into the pan. Add the beansprouts and toss for 1-2 minutes until hot and glossy. Check that the chicken is cooked, then serve.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Ottolenghi's, Cauliflower Cake

I wanted to try this intriguing looking recipe, with thought of serving it as a starter for a dinner party this weekend. I changed the plain flour for rice flour as I wanted a Gluten free recipe. Also I was missing some of the ingredients, the basil, sesame and nigella seeds. As I haven't made it before I'm not sure if swapping the flour changed the consistency of the cake. I found it a bit heavy and stodgy, and though it tasted good, I'm not going to make it for friends. I didn't think it was quite special enough, although very nice as a lunch time snack to take to work cold. It's also very filling.
I'll put a link to the recipe incase it takes your fancy. I thought it was worth posting the photo as it looks quite unusual. 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A snap shot of Christmas

Christmas is definitely the time of indulging in some seriously good eating, and looking at these photos now, it comes as no surprise that I have put on a few pounds over the Christmas break. I'm back to making soups and trying not to snack with the hope that they will just fall off as easily as they went on. Wishful thinking. 

Such a lovely looking meal and such a simple one,
Mirin glazed salmon

The most delicious shortcrust pastry, mince pies shouldn't just be for Christmas
Mary Berry Pastry

My table by evening
Christmas Table decoration 

A pre-christmas dinner cooked for me by my husband. Absolutely
wonderful it was, Elizabeth David's, Pheasant with cream and calvados, which I must post the recipe  for.

My usual recipe Christmas cake with a smooth icing this year (ready rolled I hasten to add)
Christmas cake

Pavlovas don't just have to be a summer dessert, this wintery version was with banana and chunks of stem ginger

Monday, 5 January 2015

Breakfast muffins

These are definitely a weekend treat, and yesterday I luckily had most of the ingredients to make a version of them. I'm hoping if I warm them in the oven today they'll be just as good. For James my son who rushes out to school everyday without breakfast , they would be good for breakfasting on the go.
I should think any dried fruit would work in them, sultanas, chopped apricots or dates. I didn't use nuts and instead of the granola on top, I just sprinkled some brown sugar before cooking. 

Makes 12

300g self raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
150g light brown sugar
250ml full-fat milk
2 free-range eggs beaten
100g butter melted
100g toasted, skinned hazelnuts chopped
25g dried cherries

25g dried cranberries
75g crunchy granola

Preheat the oven to 180C, and line a muffin tray with paper muffin cases. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and then stir in the sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and melted butter, then pour into the dry ingredients and quickly mix together. Stir in the hazelnuts, dried cherries and dried cranberries.
Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cases and sprinkle the top of each with the granola. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean. Leave to cool for five minutes in the tin before serving warm or at room temperature.