Thursday, 19 September 2013

Coconut Cake

Lime and coconut have an amazing affinity in my opinion, so when it came to creating a recipe for a coconut cake, it seemed obvious to me that lime juice and zest would need to be used. This deliciously light textured cake is baked as a large shallow cake before being topped with a cream cheese and coconut topping, it can equally easily be baked in 2 sandwich cake tins which can then have some of the topping spread between the two layers to make a more traditional cake, the choice is yours.

Jamaica brings the number up to 110, welcome!

Fiji brings the count up to 111! welcome.

For this recipe you will need;
300g of unsalted butter
300g of caster sugar
4 medium eggs
100g of sour cream
300g of self raising flour
150g of sweetened shredded coconut
the zest and juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

for the topping
100g of unsalted butter
100g of light cream cheese
300g of icing sugar
75g of sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Begin by preparing your tin, 27cm by 7cm. Line with baking parchment and turn the oven on to 180C. Cream together the butter and the sugar, add the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream along with the juice and zest of 2 limes. Add the coconut and finally fold in the flour sifted together with the baking powder. Transfer the mix to the prepared cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. If you are baking the cake in two smaller tins bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when pushed into the centre of the cake. allow to cool in the tin.
Prepare the topping by beating together the butter and the icing sugar, then beat in the cream cheese. Spread the topping on the cooled cake and finally sprinkle on the 75g of sweetened shredded coconut.

The coconut is available from Melbury & Appleton and you will find a link to their website at the top of my blog.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Rose hip Syrup

Its the time of year when the garden is full of rose hips. The variety that seems to ripen earliest is the rosa glauca, the most beautiful clear pink single rose with blue-green foliage. In a couple of weeks the hips on the wild rose will be ripe enough and I shall make a second batch. I tend to take no more than half the hips because they make a very welcome meal for the many varieties of wold birds that live here.

A Gimlet made with Rose hip syrup, packed with vitamin C, healthy!

To make a litre of this syrup you will need;
400g of rose hips
2 litres of water
500g of sugar

Begin by topping and tailing the hips, this is a pleasant enough task which is ideal to do while listening to the afternoon play on the home service. Pulse the hips briefly in a food processor to chop them up and place in a stainless steel saucepan with a litre of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain through thin muslin into a large bowl and return the drained hips to the pan, add a second litre of water and repeat the simmering process to extract more goodness from the hips. Drain over night; you should end up with just over a litre of liquid. Add 500g of sugar and gradually bring the mix up to a boil, boil on a medium heat for 10 minutes and pour into sterilized bottles or jars.

Hagbech Pasties

Now I could suggest that centuries ago, real Cornish pasties were made with chickpeas and beetroot with a hint of cumin and chilli because this particular combination worked well in fighting off the debilitating effects of mining tin, but that would just be wrong. The Cornish people make their pasties using beef and very good they are too I'm sure. I have had wonderful cheese and onion pasties from a shop in Rock on the north coast, but this recipe uses chickpeas, beetroot and cumin with all their beneficial qualities.

For the pastry you will need;
400g of plain flour
150g of chilled unsalted butter
50g of room temperature butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of salt
2 to 3 tablespoons of chilled water.

In a food mixer, place the flour, salt and room temperature butter and mix until the butter is incorporated. Grate the chilled butter into the flour, do this in stages, lifting some of the flour over the grated butter from time to time to keep the gratings separate. Mix the egg with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix the flour and butter momentarily before adding the egg mix, keep mixing adding the 3rd tablespoon of water if needed to bring together to form a dough. Cover and leave in a cool place for an hour. All of this can be done by hand, it just takes longer.

For the filling you will need;
1 onion, chopped
1 beetroot, grated
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
100g of cooked chickpeas
500g of potato, sliced
240g of cheddar, grated
1 tablespoon of oil
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
2 teaspoons of Marigold bouillon powder, or 1 teaspoon of salt.
1 egg, whisked lightly to use as a glaze

Begin by frying the onions, garlic, cumin seeds and red pepper in the oil over a gentle heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the grated beetroot and the seasoning and cook for a further 5 minutes over a gentle heat. Add the chickpeas and with either a potato masher or a fork, break up the chickpeas roughly. Set to one side to cool down while you slice the potato and grate the cheddar cheese.

Assembling the pasties;
Divide the pastry into 4 portions and roll out each to a thickness of a 1 pound coin, try to make this as circular as possible by turning the pastry as you roll it out. Brush half the edge with the egg was, place a layer of the potato on one half of the pastry, followed by some of the beetroot chickpea mix on top followed by some grated cheese and finally a little more potato, before folding over the other half and sealing. Crimp the edge in whatever way you feel happy with. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and continue the process until you have all 4 pasties stuffed and sealed. I usually keep back a little cheese to sprinkle on top having brushed the tops liberally with egg wash. Bake at 180C for 35 to 40 minutes.

These pasties are really at there best served hot from the oven when the filling steams as you break them open. They are of course perfectly good served at  room temperature and they make a very practical picnic food.
You can very the filling by altering the vegetables and using different cheeses, the above is merely a suggestion and a combination which works particularly well.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Courgette & Cheddar Balls

I'm still coming up with ideas for using the bountiful harvest of courgettes, I have to say the success of this particular recipe is down to the miracle that is gram flour. Anyone who has ever tried putting cheese in a rissole or meatless ball and tried to deep fry it will know the cheese leaches out all too easily, creating a oily mess. Gram flour however allows cheese to to be added to courgettes to form these delicious little balls which I enjoyed on top of spaghetti with a simple fresh tomato sauce ckick here for the recipe but they would be equally well received as a canapé with a glass of something cold.

For this recipe (enough to serve 4 in a pasta dish) you will need;
400g of courgettes, grated
130g of mature cheddar, grated
90g of gram flour
2 teaspoons of salt (for leaching out the liquid from the courgettes)
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/2 of cayenne pepper
Oil for deep frying

Begin by grating the courgettes, place in a bowl and sprinkle on the salt. After 30 minutes transfer the courgettes to a colander or sieve and place a small plate or saucer and a heavy weight over the grated courgette to draw out as much of the liquid as you can. Leave for an hour or so. Most of the salt will be in the liquid that drains away, but even so, I find there is sufficient left in the courgettes not to warrant the addition of any more salt. You should end up with just over 200g of nicely dry grated courgette. Add the grated cheese, gram flour and seasoning. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to form a stiffish mix. Be careful to add the water a little at a time. you need to avoid adding any more than you need. With wet hands form into small balls, slightly smaller than a walnut. Heat up some oil in a large deep container, I use a large Indian karhai. Fry the balls in batches for 3 to 4 minutes until they are a deep golden brown. Drain on some kitchen paper.

You can vary these with the addition of chopped herbs and more or less chilli.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Passata

With a kilo or more of tomatoes coming from the greenhouse every day, I have yet another ingredient to think of using, I'm not complaining. I decided to make some passata using my mouli or food mill. It's an old fashioned kitchen implement perhaps but invaluable for some specific uses. Tomato seeds when blitzed in a blender or food processor tend to make the finsihed product bitter, so rendering the roasted tomatoes and garlic into a delicious slurry is best done by using a mouli.

For this recipe you will need;
2 kilos of ripe tomatoes
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons of good olive oil
2 teaspoons of sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Cut the tomatoes up roughly and place in a large flat ovenproof dish. Peel the cloves of garlic and cut each clove in half. Sprinkle on the olive oil and seasoning and place in a hot oven, 200C, ideally with a grill function, for 30 to 45 minutes. Take the dish out of the oven after 15 minutes and move the ingredients around to expose more surfaces to the heat.

When the tomatoes and cooked, allow to cool a little before putting them along with the cooking juices through the mouli. Place in a jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze in a suitable container.
This passata is delicious served as a soup, hot or chilled, it also provides the perfect tomato base for a sauce, it even forms the perfect tomato topping for a pizza.

A mouli is certainly a piece of kitchen equipment worth investing in, but you can achieve a similar result by pressing the roasted tomatoes through a medium sieve, doing this a couple of times will get you looking for a mouli pretty quickly.
If you find the garlic is getting a little too brown, simply hide the cloves under the pieces of tomato.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Cake Salé

A few years ago I was pleased to be introduced to cake salé by a young French friend of the family. At the time I was intrigued that such a thing as a savoury cake existed and that in all the years of my being interested in such things, I hadn't ever heard of it.
The traditional cake salé is made with ham, olives and guyere cheese but really it's something that can easily be made with a variety of vegetarian ingredients. I have a glut of courgettes these days and so courgettes made an obvious choice. I had planned to also use a tin of sweetcorn but then Sylvia turned up bearing gifts, a cob of corn, a red and a green pepper, some petit pois; along with the courgettes and some grated cheddar cheese, I conjured up my version of this classic French savoury.

For this recipe you will need;
400g of courgettes, I used yellow ones
300g of other vegetables, diced, I used peppers, fresh petit pois
sweetcorn and spring onions
200g of grated cheddar cheese
400g of Self Raising Flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
200ml of vegetable oil
100ml of plain yogurt
50ml of dry vermouth
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of bouillon powder
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt, (to use with the courgettes)

Begin by preparing the vegetables, grate the courgettes and sprinkle on 2 teaspoons of salt, leave to drain. Dice the peppers, slice the spring onions, shuck the corn and pod the peas. Unless the vegetables are completely tender, it's a good idea to steam them a little. When the courgettes have been draining for half an hour or so, squeeze out what remaining liquid there is, I find it best to place the grated courgette in a colander with a small plate and a heavy weight on top.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and switch on the oven to 180C. Line a large loaf tin 23cm by 13cm by 7cm with parchment paper and mix together the oil, eggs, yogurt and vermouth. Finally add the vegetables and the wet mix to the dry ingredients and with as little mixing as possible, fold together to form a cohesive mix. Place the mix in the loaf tin (I found I had enough to make 3 muffins as well) Bake the loaf for 35 to 40 minutes. The surplus, made into muffins will be cooked in about half the time.
Cool the loaf in the tin completely before removing.

You can vary the flavours in this savoury cake in many ways, sun dried tomatoes, olives, roasted butternut squash (diced), smoked salmon, cornichon, horseradish etc. You can also vary the cheese you use.
A thick slice of this loaf is delicious fried in a little butter and topped with a poached egg for breakfast.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Sourdough with Newcastle Brown Ale

Yesterday was the coldest day since before the summer began and it really showed in the making of this batch of bread. I have been producing light puffy sourdough bread all summer; despite reducing the fermentation time, it has been difficult to keep up with just how quickly a batch of dough can be ready for baking. Yesterday was a return to an altogether slower process and I hadn't planned for it to take so long which resulted in less time being given to stretching and folding than was ideal. The bread however is still good, a delicious flavour with a slightly denser textured crumb than I have become used to.
Newcastle brown, is the beer that as a student back in the 60s was for me the beer of choice, the flavour of the beer adds a rich savoury note to this bread.

For this bread you will need;

For the ferment,
1 tablespoon of starter from the fridge
200g of organic strong white bread flour
200ml of cold water.

For the dough,
All of the starter
1,000g to 1,100g of Strong white bread flour
300ml of Newcastle brown ale
400ml of cold water
20g of salt

Begin by putting together the ferment, do this last thing at night before going to bed. Mix the ferment ingredients together and place in a bowl large enough for the mix to more than double in size, cover with clingfilm and leave to ferment.

Make the dough by mixing together all the ingredients apart from the salt. I would suggest the actual amount of flour is up to you as to how comfortable you are with a wet dough. I prefer to use wetter doughs when the ambient temperature is considerably warmer than it is now, so I used 1,100g. Leave to dough for a couple of hours before mixing in the salt. Mix thoroughly enough to fully incorporate. Leave the dough to rise for 3 to 4 hours in a warm place, covered. Stretch and fold the dough every hour to develop the gluten. Yesterday I could have done with an extra hour to do this but the time pressure I was under meant I had to shape the dough into loaves earlier than I would have liked. Shape the dough into 3 loaves, leave for 1 to 2 hours until they have grown by 50% and bake in a hot oven 220C for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Ginger Shortbread

Adding ginger to my shortbread recipe seemed to be a good idea, the choice of ginger was the only question. In the end I decided the drier crystalised ginger was the best option, easier to handle and without the syrup of the jarred variety.

For this recipe you will need to add 75g of crystalised cut into small pieces to my standard recipe       click here for the recipe. Add the ginger just before adding the flours.

Instead of rolling the shortbread dough up into a log and chilling in order to make it easier to slice off individual biscuits, I rolled the dough out and cut out rounds about 6mm thick, using a 6cm cutter.
Bake the biscuits at 170C for 15 minutes, turn down the temperature to 140 and bake for a further 10 minutes, cool on a cooling rack.

The list is now 109, thanks to Sudan, welcome!

You can always increase the ginger flavour by adding 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger to the original mix, personally I like the flavour of the shortbread to have a presence, so the crystalised ginger for me is sufficient.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Courgette and Camembert Soup

A dear family friend, Belen, used to make a delicious courgette soup, something I think was quite well known in Spain where she came from. Belen never did pass on her recipe but here is my offering. It's a challenge to come up with new ideas to use the many courgettes that my 2 plants are generating each day, so I was very happy to remember Belen's soup.

For this soup you will need
500g of green skinned courgettes, diced
200g of chopped leeks
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, cut in half
Up to 150g of camembert
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 litre of vegetable stock (I use Marigold Bouillon Powder)

begin by frying the leeks and the garlic gently in the olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes on a low heat. Add the courgettes and continue to fry gently for a further minute or 2, avoid getting any colour on the vegetables. Add the parsley and stock and white pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 5 minutes only, any more and the pale green of the finished soup will be lost.
Blend the soup while hot with the camembert, do this in batches unless you are confident the lid of your blender jug is secure, in order to avoid any accidents.

This soup can be enjoyed hot or chilled.
You can add as much camembert as you fancy or even substitute other mild cheese. Adjust the seasoning. I have a sneaky feeling Belen used to use a processed cheese spread that came in triangular shapes, but we won't go into that.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Simple Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

At this time of year I am lucky enough to have a large number of fresh tomatoes to pick in the greenhouse every day. There are few ways of enjoying them that I prefer more than a sauce for spaghetti. Along with good olive oil, garlic, chilli and basil leaves this simple sauce is unctuous and packs a great deal of flavour.

On a low heat, in a good amount of olive oil, 4 tablespoons, fry 4 fat cloves of garlic roughly chopped. Fry the garlic gently until it begins to turn opaque and a light beige colour. Add a teaspoon, more if you like, of chilli flakes. I like using pasilla chillies, milder and with a great depth of flavour. Fry for a further minute before adding 400g of cherry tomatoes cut in half, 1 teaspoon of flaked sea salt 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Fry gently for 10 to 15 minutes, just long enough to cook 500g of fresh spaghetti. The sauce will bubble down, producing an unctuous emulsified sauce. Toss in a handful of fresh basil leaves a couple of minutes before the pasta is cooked. I don't bother tearing them, I just pick them off their stalks and mix into the sauce.

This was half the quantity of sauce, I'm dining alone.
When the pasta is cooked, lift out of the water and add to the sauce along with any of the cooking water that is coating them, in other words, don't bother draining it. A grating of fresh parmesan and you have one of the simplest, yet one of the most delicious pasta dishes you could wish for.

This quantity is enough to serve 2 hungry people for lunch and of course there was a delicious scraping out of the pan with a slice of bread for the cook afterwards.

Pecan & Chocolate Cake

Readers of my blog will know how fond I am of putting ground almonds into my cakes, they add so much to the texture as well as the flavour of a cake. I was pondering the other day, how pecans might be substituted for almonds; they have a higher fat content, so there would have to be some adjustment. This is the recipe I devised for a cake which undoubtedly has a chocolate flavour but isn't the traditional dark chocolate colour because I used finely grated chocolate rather than cocoa powder.

For this recipe you will need;
200g of toasted pecan nuts
150g of dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
140g of self raising flour
140g of light muscovado flour
40g of caster sugar
180g of unsalted butter at room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of good vanilla extract

Begin by toasting the pecan nuts in a moderate oven, 180C for 8 minutes. Grind the cooled nuts in a food processor on a pulse setting until you have a fine rubble, avoid over processing, the fat content of pecans will produce pecan butter all too quickly. Tip the pecans out and place the broken up chocolate in the processor and again process on pulse until you have chocolate rubble. Chocolate, for some reason takes on a static charge very quickly as anyone who has tried grating it will know so this method works well.
Heat the oven to 180C.
In a food mixer, cream the sugars and the butter until smooth, add the eggs, vanilla and the salt and continue beating. Add the nuts and chocolate and on a medium speed mix for 5 minutes, you'll find the mix becomes light and mousse-like. Gently fold in the flour sifted with the baking powder and transfer the mix to a greased 22cm by 6cm loose bottomed cake tin. Bake the cake for 50 minutes, turn the heat down to 160 for the last 10 minutes if you think the cake is becoming too dark. Switch off the heat and leave the cake in the oven for a further 5 minutes before taking out the cake; leave the cake in the tin to cool completely before removing.