Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Gooseberry yogurt cake

Having been given some delicious home grown gooseberries, I wanted to find a new recipe to do them justice. I've previously made a meringue pie but I didn't need a dessert this week, just cake. I settled for an old Tesco recipe, summarised as:

Beat together 75g butter/marg, 75g natural yogurt, 125g caster sugar, and 2 eggs. Fold in 150g self-raising flour. Bake in a lined 20cm tin at 180°C / 170°C fan for 20 minutes. 
Meanwhile, melt 25g butter and 4tbsp golden syrup, and cook 300g gooseberries (topped and tailed) in it for a few minutes to soften. 
Spoon the gooseberries over the cake and bake for another 30 minutes.

The end result was tasty and had a soft, slightly dense madeira-like texture. I added a drop or two of almond essence for interest, which worked well with the fruit, and also did my usual trick of a half teaspoon of baking powder in with the SRF. It's not a very tall cake and I could be tempted to double the cake recipe and make another one (without the fruit on top) and sandwich them together with gooseberry jam or lemon curd.

My one issue is with the gooseberries - there was a significant amount of liquid in the pan, and I didn't dare pour all of it on the cake. As it was, some liquid still came through the loose-bottomed tin and leaked onto the oven shelf below. So there is now some gooseberry sauce in the fridge :) I am tempted to just cook the gooseberries with a little sugar next time, no syrup or butter.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Pulled pork with carrot salad

A slow cooked shoulder of pork with a honey-chipotle marinade (BBC Good Food) - 75g ketchup, 2tbsp each of honey and chipotle paste, and 1tbsp red wine vinegar. Marinate a 1.2-1.5kg pork shoulder for 2 hours to 2 days, then cook at 140°C (fan) for 4 hours - place the pork and any leftover marinade in a pan with 100ml water and cover with a well-fitting foil tent. At the end of 4 hours, remove the foil and crank up to 180°C for 30 mins to brown the outside.

Worked fine but would have liked a stronger flavour (marinated for 24h) - next time, add more chipotle. When removing the foil I saved the juices and then poured these on the pork after it was shredded.

We had this with steamed new potatoes and a carrot salad with a lemon dressing:

olive oil to taste
juice 1/2 lemon
zest 1 lemon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp harissa
1/2 tsp each coriander, cumin, sumac
maple syrup or honey if the lemon is a bit too much

Salad: 3 large grated carrots, 1 preserved lemon chopped small, 4 shredded mint leaves, half a bag of mixed leaves inc. rocket.

The dressing went down really well so next time I would use the whole lemon and multiply up accordingly!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Amatriciana chicken traybake

Nice easy dinner party recipe from BBC Good Food. The potatoes were a bit undercooked, which is odd as we cook new potatoes in the oven for a similar time when we do a roast and they are browned, soft inside and perfect... next time cook them in their own tray perhaps.

Top tips:

  • Don't forget to add the bacon lardons (d'oh)
  • Add some chopped red and yellow peppers to up the veg count, and use some multicoloured tomatoes for extra colour
  • Slash and marinade the chicken thighs (or use leg quarters), and make sure the marinade is nicely garlicky
  • Add some olives right at the end

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Orange, cardamom and almond cake

A Waitrose recipe. Odd that it doesn't mention dates in the title, since there's a whole pack in there, but it's a very tasty cake, if slightly solid thanks to the spelt flour. You definitely need the orange, in fact increase it a little if you can, as the zing is needed to lighten up both the texture and the rich taste of the dates. Be warned that this is a low and slow bake, not a cake to whip up in a hurry! 

Grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
250g dried pitted dates, chopped
250g butter (or dairy free equivalent)
175g light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
250g spelt flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
10 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
100g ground almonds

Oven to 140°C. 20-21cm tin, greased and lined.

Heat dates with orange juice and zest for 2-3 minutes to soften, then cool. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, then fold in flour, bicarb, cardamom, almonds, and a pinch of salt. Stir in the date mixture, spoon into the tin and level the surface. Bake 1h20-1h40 until it passes the skewer test, and remove from the tin after 30 mins cooling. Optionally, decorate with water icing (or icing sugar mixed with orange juice).

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Dairy free Christmas goodies

This year:

First up, stollen spirals as before. Lovely and light - I did the second prove in the oven on ultra low.

Gingerdoodle surprise muffins  - these were supposed to be Snickerdoodle Biscoff sandwich cookies, but I think the Vitalite sub for butter was the culprit. I made the mix largely as per the recipe (apart from the butter switch, using 3 very small 50g eggs instead of 2 large 75g, and adding some ground ginger because I was worried it would be bland), but it was cake-batter-like in texture. "Roll into balls and in the sugar and cinnamon" - pa ha ha ha. Out came the muffin cases (just 11 left in the pack, of course) and in went the mix. There was TONS. Given it supposedly makes 24 cookies, and I made 11 very generous muffins and a cupcake, I'm wondering what happened.

Anyway, I put the mix in the cases, sprinkled with a mix of granulated and demerara sugar plus cinnamon, and baked for ~35 mins at 170°C fan. They went a bit volcanic (the sugar sprinkle was widely spread!) but stayed in the cases and had a nice texture, close but light. When cool I cut an inverted cone out of the top, removed some of the cake, and filled with Biscoff spread slackened with soya milk. I omitted the sugar as it sounded far too sweet but I think another time I should re-add some, or use maple syrup in the soya.

"Healthy" 4-ingredient vegan fudge. With peanut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup and peanuts as the ingredients you can take the healthy label with a pinch of unhealthy salt. This came together quickly and seemed to last fine in the freezer. Tastes of the pan scrapings were yummy, approximating fudge to a fair extent. I made it in silicon cups and gave them with the gift!

Cherry chocolate coconut flapjacks. A straight sub of coconut oil for the butter this time, and again weirdness. When I melt and bubble the butter and sugar it goes treacly and beautiful. With the coconut oil I had a sublayer of treacly sugar, and a stubbornly separate layer of fat, no matter how much I mixed. This made for quite a dry flapjack and I had to try rescuing it with more syrup and some vitalite (as I'd used all my coconut oil). Adding cherries and dessicated coconut, and topping with generous drizzles of dark chocolate, sorted it. You have to cut it when cold, but refrigerating it makes it brick-like.

Finally, Chef John's Bacon Jam. I have wanted to try making bacon jam for a while, and went for this recipe. The one I really wanted was from Time To Cook, the blog by Mary-Anne Boermans who is one of my favourite ever Bake Off contestants. However, I couldn't really justify buying kecap manis and gentleman's relish for one recipe, so chose the simpler version. It seemed to work, despite me halving the bacon and onions and then forgetting to halve everything else. Lessons learned: cut the onions smaller, fry the bacon until crisp but not hard, and chucking in piri-piri seasoning (because it's easier than faffing with spices) works but... hooo-eeee, go easy on it! Subbing white wine vinegar for the sherry vinegar worked fine, and a splash of maple syrup was also a good addition. Getting really good bacon from the butcher is a must - I used streaky, because it's an American recipe and that's all they know. I realised I forgot the final olive oil - maybe this avoids the issue of the bacon fat going white in the fridge?