Friday, 5 December 2014

Balliol Madeira Cake

Bruce has taken on the role of Chaplain at Balliol College, Oxford; so I thought a celebration cake was in order and what better than a Madeira cake. Few will argue that a Madeira cake isn't one of the very best cakes ever created and yet, ironically, finding a good quality one that's available commercially is nigh on impossible. The Madeira cakes available at the shops are dreadful and only good for mopping up the odd spillage sadly not heavy enough to prop a door open.
I created this recipe, based on an old Kinsey family recipe, using beurre noisette, easy enough to make and certainly worth the extra effort. Bruce himself is an excellent cake maker and I am sure his Great Grand Mama would approve.

Welcome to the people of Anguilla, bringing the number up to 136!

For this recipe you will need;
300g of Self Raising flour
250g of caster sugar
250g of unsalted butter
80g of sour cream
4 medium eggs
100g of ground almonds
A pinch of salt

Begin by making the beurre noisette, simply brown butter which as the French term suggests takes on a nutty flavour. Place the butter in a small pan and on a low heat melt it and continue heating gently until it stops foaming. At this point strain it through a piece of kitchen paper towel placed in a sieve over a bowl. Strain out the milk solids. You should end up with clear, golden melted butter. Return the butter to the pan and again on a gentle heat continue heating until the butter turns a nut brown, be careful not to go beyond to a darker colour. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Prepare a large loaf tin, I usually line mine with parchment paper, turn on the oven to 170C.
Meanwhile whisk the eggs and sugar until they form a creamy foam. Whisk together the sour cream, salt and the beurre noisette, whisk into the sugar and egg mix and fold in the flour and ground almonds. Once the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, pour into the prepared laof tin and place in the center of the oven. Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when pushed into the center of the cake.

Algy is very fond of keeping his nose just under the rug

If you wish you can substitute ground hazelnuts for the ground almonds, also toasting the ground almonds and allowing them cool completely before using, will enhance the flavour.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Pear Purée Cake

This cake is subtly flavoured with pear, incorporating a pear purée, which is easily made by cooking pears until soft and processing in either a food processor or blender until you have a smooth purée.
I always like the flavour of vanilla with pear so unlike a cake made using apple purée, where cinnamon or clove would be a good addition, I use a little of my home made vanilla extract click here for the recipe. My two chief tasters, Sue & Dick both agreed this cake didn't taste of pear, Dick was prepared to say it tasted a little of pear once he knew it was supposed to, but I have to admit, it's very subtle. The main thing is, this is a perfect recipe for a delicate flavoured Madeira style cake and has less fat in than a conventional Madeira cake.

For this recipe you will need;
300g of Self Raising flour
250g of soft unsalted butter
250g of caster sugar
150g of pear purée
50g of Greek yogurt
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Prepare a 20cm by 10cm round baking tin by lining with baking parchment. Switch on the oven to 180C.
Cream together the butter and caster sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Thoroughly mix in the pear purée and the yogurt and finally fold in the flour until completely incorporated. Place the mix into the cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when pushed into the centre of the cake. Allow to cool before turning out.

The cake has the texture of the best Madeira cake, light and moist with a closer crumb than a sponge cake.

Swiss Chard & Cheddar Rissoles

I grow a lot of Swiss Chard, I find it a useful addition to so many savoury recipes. At this time of year, whilst walking Algy & Poppy in the morning, I am able to gather walnuts that have fallen from the tree, 50grams of wet (or commercially available) walnuts will add a great crunch to the texture of these savoury nuggets. Whenever I think of creating something using chard, or beetroot, cumin is the spice I automatically turn to; to me the flavour of cumin marries beautifully with the earthy tones of the vegetables.

For this recipe you will need;
500g of Swiss chard (including stalks)
250g of Cheddar cheese
150g of bread crumbs (from a day or two old loaf)
50g of walnuts, wet walnuts if possible
3 eggs
3 flat cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Marigold Bouillon Powder or 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
 Oil for frying

Begin by chopping up the garlic and frying gently with the cumin seeds in the olive oil. I use a large sauteuse which will accommodate the rather bulky chopped chard, but any large pan will work. Fry the garlic until it begins to take on colour, add the chopped chard, stalks first because they take a little longer to cook. Fry gently for a minute or two before adding the leaves. Fry for a further couple of minutes, place on a lid and switch off the heat.
I use a food processor to turn the bread into breadcrumbs, roughly chop the walnuts and to grate the cheese. Having done this, place the breadcrumbs, walnuts and cheese in a large bowl. Add the seasoning and finally place the chard mixture into the processor and pulse for a moment or two just to roughly chop, you don't need to take this down to a puree consistency.
Stir into the dry ingredients and mix in the eggs. The mixture should be easy to form into balls, flatten slightly to create rissoles or burger shapes. At this point they can be kept in the fridge for up to 8 hours before frying gently in shallow oil. Fry one one side until you have a rich brown colour, then turn and fry on the other side.

I have to say I enjoy these as much cold, in a sandwich, as I do hot.
They make an excellent vegetarian alternative to burgers and they're delicious served hot with fried mushrooms and eggs for breakfast.
I made a second, larger batch of these and mixed in some cooked mushrooms I had that were left over from another meal. I chopped the mushrooms up having fried them. I couldn't have imagined the addition of cooked mushroom would make them even more delicious, but it does; so much so I may have to include them from now on.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Marmalade Cake

This is a light cake, perfect with a cup of tea and easily digested, it has a scattering of golden sultanas and a deep flavour of bitter oranges. If like me you are thinking about the marmalade making season fast approaching on the heels of Christmas and the New Year, then this cake is a really good way of using up some of this year's marmalade in preparation. I chose to bake the mix in 2, 15 centimetre cake tins, this way you have one to enjoy and a second to give to a friend.

For this recipe you will need;
300g of Self Raising flour
300g of marmalade
275g of golden sultanas
250g of unsalted butter (room temperature)
225g of light Muscovado sugar
100g of ground almonds
4 eggs
1 teaspoon (heaped) of mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon of salt
A large thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Prepare 2 15centimetre baking tins by lining them with baking parchment. Switch the oven on to 140C.
Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the salt, mixed spice and ginger and beat in the ground almonds, marmalade and golden sultanas. Finally beat in the flour, until thoroughly mixed but no more.
Divide the mix between the 2 baking tins and place in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out cleanly when pushed into the centre of the cake. Allow the cakes to cool completely before removing from the tins.

This cake freezes really well.
The mixed spice and ginger are not in any way dominant flavours, they simply enhance the marmalade flavour.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Tomato Oil

With tomatoes ripening every day, I am happily in that state where it is difficult to keep up with supply. I'm not complaining, I don't buy fresh tomatoes during the year and savour this time of plenty.
Tomato oil is one way of preserving tomatoes and I find having a jar of it in the fridge, really useful. The odd spoonful gets added to all sorts of things from curries to pasta sauces to give the dish a boost.
I make my own passata, click here for the recipe but a good quality commercial passata is perfectly acceptable.

Burkina Faso, welcome! number 134.
Welcome Palestine! bringing the number up to 135.
For this recipe you will need;
500ml of passata
400ml of light flavoured olive oil
1 large head of garlic
2 red chillies
80g of jarred peppers, I use a brand called Peppadew
2 teaspoons of Pul Bebber chilli flakes
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of flaked sea salt

Begin by peeling and slicing in half, all the garlic cloves, cook them along with the chillies in the olive oil over the lowest heat you can manage, for 5 to 10 minutes or until the garlic cloves float to the surface and have taken on only a very little colour. Remove the garlic and chillies from the oil and place in a jug blender along with all the other ingredients. Taste the pureed mix to see if you require more chilli or if perhaps a little sugar is needed. Pour the mix back into the olive oil and place again on the lowest heat you have, place on a lid and cook gently for an hour. Whisk together the mix and pour into sterilized jars.

I usually find this quantity keeps me going for 4 to 6 weeks and the jar keeps perfectly happily in the fridge for that length of time. It may well last longer and as long as the lid has not been removed, it may last out of the fridge but I cannot claim it does as I haven't ever tried it.
Forget putting out a bowl with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table for your guests to tuck into with chunks of freshly baked bread, a shallow bowl of this tomato oil makes a very welcome alternative.
The oil tends to rise to the surface and of course in the fridge it solidifies but I find whisking it for a moment or two redistributes the oil perfectly.