Thursday, April 19, 2012

Honey Chocolate Cake, from Nigella Lawson's Feast

Exactly what you would wish for in a chocolate cake; a heady aroma, soft crumb that almost calls for a fork for eating and which melts on your tongue, and intense chocolate. Of course, always intense chocolate. 

The picture above shows Nigella's honey glaze; I'm not going to give you the recipe for the glaze because it didn't work for me. It was so very, very sweet i felt my teeth dissolve as I eat it. The cake alone is a beautiful piece of work - maybe dust with icing sugar before serving for a little glamour.

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
275g light muscovado sugar
225g soft butter (I used dairy free spread)
125ml runny honey (choose a honey to suit your taste - I used a light heather honey)
2 eggs
200g plain flour (I used Dove's gluten-free flour)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon cocoa
250ml boiling water

23cm cake tin, buttered and lined with greaseproof paper. 

Preheat oven to 180ºC

Bring all the ingredients to room temperature first, while melting the chocolate in the microwave - try 20 second bursts, stirring between each blast of heat. Set the chocolate aside to cool slightly.

Beat the butter and soft butter together until light and creamy, and add the honey. Add one egg and a tablespoon of flour, beat until combined. Repeat with the other egg. 

Fold in the melted chocolate and the rest of the flour and bicarb.

Add the cocoa (sifted first) and finally beat in the boiling water. 

Pour the glorious silky batter into the tin, and cook for up to an hour and a half, but set your timer for 45 mins .. then add a foil hat and check every 15 minutes; it may be ready sooner than you expect. 

Let it cool completely in the tin.

The cake, with glaze. Could you ask for a more delectable texture? I can still taste the sweet honey.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A punchy potato salad .. with garlic, roasted red peppers, capers, anchovies and chilli with balsamic vinegar. I found it here. As the recipe suggests, it is even better 48 hours afterwards.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My version of Nigella's Banana Bread, made into a triple chocolate sticky banana cake. 
  • 100g sultanas
  • 75ml bourbon or dark rum (or use apple juice .. but don't worry about feeding rummed cake to the children as all the alcohol is cooked off and a sweet rich flavour is all that is left behind)
  • 150g plain flour 
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small, very ripe bananas (about 300g weighed without skin), mashed
  • 100g chopped chocolate (try a mix of white and milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin, buttered and floured or with a paper insert
Put the sultanas and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour if you can, or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3 and get started on the rest. Put the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for an hour .. or perhaps 10 minutes more, but I find an hour is usually enough. When it's ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

This cake is too good. Sweet, fruity, moist with a slight (almost oaty) texture as you bite down. That texture .. is so important, don't you think? 

Nigella Lawson's Coconut, Banana & Dried Cherry Loaf

125g soft unsalted butter
4 small-medium ripe bananas (approx. 500g with skin on)
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
175g plain flour (or 170g gluten-free flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g dried cherries 
100g shredded sweetened coconut 

Preheat the oven to 170ºC.  Put a loaf liner into your loaf tin – I always use loaf liners, it makes life much simpler. 
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and take it off the heat.  Peel and mash the bananas in another bowl.
Beat the sugar into the cooled, melted butter, then beat in the mashed banana and the eggs. Fold in the flour, baking powder and bicarb. Finally, add the dried cherries and coconut.
Fold well so that everything is incorporated, then pour and scrape into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top.

Bake for about 50 minutes, but start checking after 45. When ready, the bread will be coming away from the sides of the tin and feel quite bouncy on top.
Once out of the oven, leave it in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire tray to cool. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

With little regard for volume of salt or sugar, but who cares when it tastes so bloody good?

Mirin-glazed salmon, from Nigella Lawson 

I made the whole amount just to feed myself one fillet for this evening, and the rest to serve cold with salad  tomorrow.

60ml mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
50g light brown sugar (or a little less weight of palm sugar)
60ml tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
4 x 125g pieces salmon, cut from the thick part of the fillet so that they are narrow but tall rather than wide and flat
2 x 15ml tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 spring onions, halved and shredded into fine strips
  • Mix the mirin, brown sugar and soy sauce in a shallow dish that will take all 4 pieces of salmon, and marinate the salmon in it for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second. Meanwhile heat a large non-stick frying pan on the hob.
  • Cook the salmon in the hot, dry pan for 2 minutes and then turn it over, add the marinade and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Remove the salmon to whatever plate you’re serving it on, add the rice vinegar to the hot pan and warm through.
  • Pour the dark, sweet, salty glaze over the salmon and top with the spring onion strips. Serve with rice or noodles as you wish, and consider putting some sushi ginger on the table, too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Considering that I can now no longer eat either gluten or dairy .. yeh, it's a swine ... this particularly cook book is not an obvious choice; Gino's Pasta. 

My choice has nothing to do with the photos, honestly.


His: Spaghetti Poveraccio (Spaghetti with anchovies, breadcrumbs and garlic)

Mine: 'Almost Instant Gratification' pasta

a couple of tablespoons of garlic oil
4 anchovy fillets
teaspoonful of lazy chopped chilli (adjust for your taste)
a slice of (gluten-free) bread, crumbled into a dry frying pan
part of a can of drained tuna

a pan of boiling water, your choice of spaghetti

While the pasta is cooking, melt the anchovy fillets in the oil in a frying pan (about 3 minutes). Put aside. Toast the bread in the dry pan, breaking it up as it crisps. When the pasta is ready, drain and tip into the pan with the anchovy oil, the bread crumbs, the chili and the tuna flakes. Stir together and allow to mingle for a minute or so.


Monday, January 30, 2012

It is a good, simple cake; Nigella Lawson's Banana Bread. If you have bananas ripening too fast in the fruit bowl, try it. 

Don't forget to marinate the raisins for an hour or so - I have tried brandy, rum, tia maria, even sloe gin; the quantity is small, and the alcohol is cooked off, but leaves subtle hints of exotica. This time i used a Morris Tokay (a raisin-y dessert liqueur) from Rutherglen, AUS .. i am working my way through his abandoned wine cellar.