Friday, 10 January 2014

Dutch Apple Cake
Recipe courtesy Rachel Allen
Total Time:
1 hr 45 min
35 min
12 squares

·         2 eggs
·         150g caster sugar, plus extra sugar, for sprinkling
·         1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         85g butter
·         75mls milk
·         125g plain flour
·         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
·         2 cooking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
The fruit sinks to the bottom as it cooks, leaving a light sponge on top with a lovely sugary crust.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Line the sides and base of a 8 by 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper. 

Using an electric whisk or hand held mixer, whisk the eggs,  caster sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, until the mixture is thick and mousse-like, and the whisk leaves a figure of eight pattern, this will take about 5 minutes. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the milk, and then pour the mixture onto the eggs, whisking continuously. Sift in the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder, and fold carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface. 

Peel and core the apples, and cut them into thin slices, and then arrange them over the batter. They will sink to the bottom. This is meant to happen! Sprinkle the cake with sugar, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake until well risen and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. 

Allow the cake to cool in the tin, cut into squares and serve warm. It is delicious with cream! 


Raspberry and Pear: Instead of the cinnamon, mix the finely grated zest of 1 orange into the batter. Instead of the apples, sink a half pint of fresh or frozen raspberries, and thin slices of 2 pears into the batter, and cook in the same way.

© Recipe courtesy Rachel Allen

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Years Eve Soup

Chickpea Soup

A simple soup flavoured with cumin and coriander. Made utterly delicious by adding salbitxada sauce to the bowl when ladled out. Recipes from Ottolenghi, The Guardian.

Chickpea soup

This needs a little something stirred into it at the end, to give it an edge. Make coriander oil, as here, or use some salbitxada. Serves four.
90ml olive oil
2 onions, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
4 celery stalks, cut into 1cm dice
2 tbsp harissa (or to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
500g cooked chickpeas
1½ tsp salt and black pepper
1.2 litres vegetable stock
25g coriander, leaves and stalks
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy-based saucepan, and sauté the onions on medium heat for five minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, carrots and celery, cook for eight minutes, then stir in the harissa and spices, and cook for two minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, salt and plenty of black pepper, add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
If making the coriander oil, blitz the coriander in food processor with a pinch of salt, then slowly pour in 60ml of oil and process until smooth

Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle over the oil or salbitxada.

Salbitxada sauce
Salbitxada is a sharp and lightly sweet Catalan sauce that's traditionally served with calçots – spring or salad onions, grilled whole, make a good substitute.
1 red pepper
2 red chillies
5 garlic cloves, skin on
40g flaked almonds, toasted
4 ripe tomatoes (400g), blanched, peeled and deseeded
2 tsp sherry vinegar
100ml olive oil
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the pepper, chillies and garlic on an oven tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the chillies and garlic, turn the pepper and roast for 20 minutes more. Once the skin is blistered, put the pepper in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. When cool, peel and deseed both the pepper and chillies, and peel the garlic.
Grind the almonds to a coarse powder in a food processor. Add the pepper, chilli, garlic and tomatoes, and whizz to a paste. Add the vinegar and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, then slowly add oil to make a thick sauce

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sweet Potato Gratin


prep time: 30 minutes

cook time: 50 minutes

total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
1½ cups double cream
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/8-inch thick (easiest to do in food processor)
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1tsp dried thyme
ground black pepper
grated cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. In a small pot bring cream and garlic just to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. Butter a shallow casserole dish or gratin dish of similar size and set aside. Stir the cooling cream occasionally to help prevent skin from forming.
2. Build the Gratin: In the buttered casserole dish, spread one quarter of the sliced sweet potatoes out in a single, overlapping layer. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt, pepper, and thyme and then some grated cheese. Using another quarter of the sliced sweet potatoes, build a new overlapping layer. Again sprinkle with the seasonings and shredded cheese. Using half of the remaining sliced sweet potatoes, make another layer and sprinkle the last third of the seasonings and more cheese. Use the last of the sweet potatoes to make one final layer on top. Stir the garlic cream mixture then pour it evenly over the top of the gratin, being sure to cover the top layer of sweet potatoes. Shake the dish gently to distribute the cream. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
4. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, move the gratin to the top 1/3 of the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. You may also place it under the broiler for a few minutes if you wish the top to be a deeper brown (but watch it closely!). Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes (or not!) before slicing.
*Note: Make Ahead! You can slice your potatoes and completely submerge them in ice cold water, cover and refrigerate up to a couple of days. Then drain, pat dry and assemble the dish

We first ate this in a local restaurant. quite rich and very moreish

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Damp lemon and almond cake

225 g soft unsalted butter
225 g castor sugar
4 large eggs
50 g plain flour
225 g ground almonds
zest and juice from 2 lemons

Butter and line a 21 cm cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cream together the butter and sugar until almost white. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a quarter of the flour after each addition. When all the eggs and flour have been incorporated, gently stir in the ground almonds, then the lemon zest and juice.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 1 hour. Cover with foil after about 30 minutes, once the top is lightly browned. The cake is ready when the top is firm, and a skewer, inserted, comes out cleanish - you want dampness, but not gooey batter. Take the cake out and let it stand for 5 minutes or so in the tin. Then turn it out on a wire rack and leave till cool.
This cake lasts well, and even possibly improves, over the next two days, if wrapped well in foil. Sift icing sugar over the top when serving, and add raspberries and perhaps creme fraiche if they're on hand.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Chicken in dried mushroom and tomato sauce
adapted from Marcella Hazan

25g dried italian or french mushrooms
4 chicken thighs, skinned
8 tablespoons dry cider or dry white wine
1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
butter or oil

Place the dried mushrooms in 150mls lukewarm water. Allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Line a sieve with a piece of kitchen paper. Filter the water in which the mushrooms have soaked into another container. Rinse the soaked mushrooms, making sure to remove any grit, then chop into small pieces.
Heat oil or butter in frying pan. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides. Add the cider and turn up heat to evaporate. Then add the chopped mushrooms, the soaking water, chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook gently for about 30-40 minutes, until chicken is tender.

This is another quick and easy dish. The dried mushrooms, cider and tomatoes give it a lovely rich flavour. We eat it with plainly cooked Basmati rice.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

adapted from Nigella Lawson

375g unsalted butter
200g Fairtrade or Green and Blacks milk chocolate
200g 70 per cent dark chocolate
6 large eggs
15mls vanilla extract
500g castor sugar
225g plain flour
2.5mls salt
300g chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180degC. Line pan with baking parchment. Melt butter and chocolate together in a heavy pan or microwave. In another bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
When the chocolate and butter have cooled a little, mix in the eggs and sugar and then the nuts and flour and salt. Pour into the lined pan.
Bake for 30 minutes until the top is crackled brown and the top gives slightly when pressed. Cut into pieces when cool.

I use a roasting pan measuring 14" long, 12" wide, and 2" depth. This mixture makes a lot of brownies. They freeze very well. I use 2 types of chocolate because I find it too intense with just the 70% chocolate.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Peppers and tomatoes

A simple vegetable side dish

I used 1 green, one yellow and one red pepper. Cut into strips, fry in a small amount of olive oil until starting to blacken and caramelise. Then add cherry tomatoes cut into half- about the same quantities as the peppers. Cook for about another 10 minutes.

Simple, but very nice- nice mixture of coloured peppers and syrupy tomatoes.

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