Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mum's Chocolate Cake

Cake is gonna get you!
Here's Cake-ie!

My mum has been making this cake ever since I can remember - I think she got the recipe from Martha down the road - but I'm claiming it for my mum. Any occasion of note which involved kids saw this cake getting whipped up. It's a moist and delicious and appears a lot more complex than the simple recipe that makes it. The secret ingredient is black treacle - I won't hide it from you! 

9oz Caster Sugar
9oz Self Raising Flour
9oz Butter
3 eggs
2 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Baking Powder
1 tablespoon of Black Treacle
A dash of milk

For the icing
5oz of Icing Sugar
1.5oz Cocoa Powder
2oz Caster Sugar
3 tablespoons Water
3 oz Butter

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/180oc, and grease 2 circular cake tins, and line the bottoms. I used cake tins that had a diameter of 10 inches.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together in a large bowl. Add in the softened butter, eggs, treacle and the milk. Blend them all together until very well mixed, add more milk if the mixture appears too chick. Spoon into the tins and bake at the centre of the oven for 40 mins. 

Meanwhile you can prepare the icing. Sift the icing sugar and the cocoa powder into a bowl. Place the caster sugar, water and butter in a small pan.

When the cake is cooked it should spring up from a gentle press down, or a skewer should come out clean when poked into the centre. Remove gently form tins and allow to cool.

To make the icing - melt together the contents of the pan and then mix into the icing sugar mixture. If the mixture is a little thick for spreading - just add the smallest dash of boiling water and that should loosen it out a small bit. Similarly if it's to runny you could sieve in some more icing sugar. Spread over and between the two cooled sponges and you're done.

Decorate with chocolates and marshmallows for kids - or give it a dusting of icing sugar or cocoa powder for the adults. You can also make this in a tray and slice out little squares. It looks a bit like a scary ominous monster in this photo I think! It's the cake for every chocolate cake moment

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pecan & Banana Loaf

I used to play in a band - where I met my boyfriend and the lovely Jane and Andy. There was a song that had a strange stop in it - and the only way we could all come back in at the right time was for Jane to sing the word - Bananas! Then it became everyone's favourite part of the song - good memories!

6 oz softened butter 
6oz golden caster sugar 
3 eggs 
5oz of self raising flour 
3oz ground almonds 
½ tsp baking powder 
100ml/3.5 fl oz milk 
2 small really ripe bananas
2oz pecan nuts – chopped

Pre-heat your oven to 160c/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin.

To make the loaf batter simply lob all the ingredients into your trusty vintage Kenwood Chef (Did I mention I was given a lovely old Kenwood Kitchen Chef from my parents friends?)

Whisk together until you get a lovely batter. Then lob this into your loaf tin.

Lob this into the oven for 45-50 minutes.

Then lob into your face – after a modest amount of cooling on a wrack. Yummy 

You could always add some icing or frosting if you like – but I thought this was perfectly sweet light and spongy – maybe next time another banana.

This picture is silly and I love it! It's Friday let's all be silly

Carrot, Chickpea & Harrisa Soup

A Thoroughly Super Soup

So I spent a lovely weekend at home with my parents and visiting my friends and all of their little babies! Cute the lot of them. My mum cooked a great soup which she got from the BBC Food magazine. It was delicious, spicy filling soup, with a hearty consistency. A real winner and super healthy of course, thanks mum!
Olive oil
1 onion dices
50g of carrots
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of cumin seed
1 tsp of coriander seed
1 tsp of caraway seed
1 tbsp of harrisa paste
1 litre of vegetable stock (or chicken of you like)
a small bunch of parsley
410g can of chickpeas
To serve – plain Greek yogurt

In a large pan cook the onion in some olive oil on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until translucent and soft. Next add in all the carrots and the garlic and cook uncovered for another 5 mins.

Meanwhile grind all the whole spices in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Tip this mixture into with the carrots and onion long with the harissa. Stir well to mix and then add in all of your stock. Bring to a nice simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are soft.

Then add in the drained chickpeas, and allow these to heat through. Remove one cup full of the mixture and blend the remaining with a stick blender. Add back in the cup and stir before serving with a big dollop of yogurt.

This soup sounds pretty simple – but it’s pretty spectacular. It must be the harissa – seriously make it – it’s great!

I went a bit crazy with this photo – but I like it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sun Dried Tomato & Sprouted Red Linseed Tapenade

Alive, Alive – ooh!
Firstly, you may or may not have noticed that this little corner of the Internet has been a little quiet of late. Reasons for this being, firstly various holidays taken by me and Lola and secondly has been work – I have been closing up a large and frantic tender – and Lola has recently started a new job. Food, sadly has been low on our list of priorities.

I ate some wonderful Polish food in Gdansk, great sauteed potatoes and pork fillet pounded thin and tender in a  rich creamy sauce spicy with green peppercorns (for breakfast – ahem). The other memorable food experience was cooking a ratatouille in an empty swimming pool in the centre of Berlin.

So following these late nights of both partying and working – with all convenience food that goes with them, I felt like I needed a little cleanse. So I’ve been eating raw food  for the last few days. I’ve been sprouting seeds sporadically over the last few years, it’s great fun and very easy to do.

Simply soak 1 tablespoon of seeds in water over night  - then drain and place on a saucer/plate/sprouter. Rinse the seeds once/twice a day and watch as they triple in size and explode apart with shoots. I’ve bought a few packets of pre-mixed assortments of seeds in health food shops, but have also successfully sprouted mung beans, chickpeas, cress and various lentils. It’s amazing to think of so many store cupboard ingredients being able to transform themselves so readily with just some water and daylight.

I’ve added these most often to salads, but also go great in curries, stews and soups – as garnish or an integral part of the dish. This was the first time I used them as a part of a dip,  Sharp, tangy, hot and garlicy – goes great with crudities.

4 sun dried tomatoes in oil 
a big handful of any kind of sprouts (I used a mixture of brown lentils, red linseed and mung beans) 
1 clove of garlic (less if you’re not a big garlic fan) 
A good squeeze of lemon juice 
2 small cherry tomatoes 
1 tablespoon of olive oil 
1 tablespoon of tahini 
a few sprigs of parsley 
Salt and freshly milled pepper

Add all ingredients,  except the fresh tomatoes, into a blender and blend to your desired consistency -  I added in the two small tomatoes at the end to thin it out a little and give it a better consistency. I’d love to know what you think of this yummy cousin of hummous twice removed !

I’ve been busy in the kitchen – making various things to go in jars – spicy tomato chutney and homemade mustard – can’t post till they’ve had some time to mature so stay posted!