Monday, 13 July 2015

Coconut Tea Cake

I know that coconut is a bit of a divisive thing. There's no doubting its current popularity as a healthfood: you only need to look at the chilled aisle of any supermarket to see the dozens of different branded coconut waters available, as well as the curious yet delicious vegan coconut yogurt that seems to be in everyone's lunchboxes these days. Then there's the jarred coconut oil, with its exotic fragrance and myriad of uses. Everyone loves it. And yet, when you put coconut in a cake, people seem disappointed that you didn't go for chocolate instead.

Imagine my surprise then, when the photo you see above got more than 200 'likes' on Instagram over the course of a few hours. Are people coming over to the dark (and tropical) side, finally?

They'd be right to; that cake is divine. But it's also not the coconuttiest slice of happiness I have ever turned out, so is probably a good place to start if you're wanting to see if you, too, oh coco-shy sweet lover, like the good stuff as much as the rest of us.

It's a cake I have heard tell of for the last few years, and been curious about making. The method is unusual and so are the quantities of ingredients - most of the fat in the recipe is from tinned coconut milk (it contains only a smidgen of butter), and there are lots of eggs, which means a gorgeous close crumb and texture.

Sadly, I am not going to be giving you the recipe, because it's from a book by Dorie Greenspan that I really want to encourage you to buy for yourself: Baking: From My Home to Yours.
I know that it's not exactly a little-known title. It's more that I was given a copy of the book for my birthday recently (33 - don't tell anybody) by my parents-in-law, and it is, in all honesty, more than worthy of the hype. It's simply stunning: full of clearly explained and delicious sounding recipes for cakes, cookies, pies and all manner of desserts, I'll be baking from it for years.

Coconut is amply covered (I think Dorie might be a fan), so the book is in keeping with modern diet trends (if we're calling desserts healthfoods - I'll leave that up to you).

I think the book would suit anybody who has in interest in baking, whether an absolute beginner or a more advanced sweet maker. Dorie is American, but has lived in Paris for years, so there is a nice balance between US style recipes and European classics. Buy it. You'll love it!

But while you wait for it to arrive, try these coconut recipes from around the web:

 What's your favourite baking book by the way? Does it include lots of coconut recipes?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Blueberry and Lime Bizcocho

A friend of mine recently sent me a message via WhatsApp telling me that she had one of my yogurt pot cakes in the oven as she typed and loved how easy they were to make; she has a baby and so can't exactly start busting out gâteaux St. Honoré at the drop of a hat.(Though who can?)

Anyway, it got me to thinking: we haven't had a bizcocho around here for ages!

I followed my classic (and much used - I have had loads of emails about this recipe over the years) recipe and added the zest of a lime along with vanilla extract and half a tub of blueberries, and used one measure of cornmeal and two of flour instead of the usual all flour version. It baked in a 23cm deep tin for 35 minutes at 180°C and I used the juice of the lime to make a glaze with some icing sugar.

It is a triumph.

I know I blog less and less these days, but I'll get back into it when we start having some decent daylight hours, I promise!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tamarind Fish Curry

The way to my heart.

Valentine's Day is on it's way: make your restaurant reservations now!

Or, don't. I might be in the minority here, but there are so many reasons why eating at home is more romantic than eating out (which, even those in the minority like myself have to accept is what most couples seem to want to do for this red-and-pink paper heart scattered holiday).

Chief among these is my belief that nothing - that's right, nothing - says 'I love you' like cooking someone a meal. Ironing for them will come a close second, granted, but that simple act of preparing something to eat for someone other than yourself is the ultimate expression of love. It's about sharing, caring and nourishing; it tells your lover, friend or family member that you value them. It's a beautiful thing to do.

It's also a great way to show off, which you might find yourself wanting to do if you're newly attached at this time of year. We've all been there.

This, for me, is the ultimate food for the occasion. It's exotic (and be honest with yourself: you need that at this time of year), it's simple (I made it in my Multicooker REDMOND RMC-M4502, so it almost made itself, truth told) and it will wow.

One day, I am going to travel to Southern India and taste this sort of seafood curry for myself. I might even take my Valentine (so long as he pays half). But until then, I'll make it in my little Cardiff kitchen on dark, dreary February days and dream.

The red utensils around my Redmond may make it seem like I am a Valentine's aficionado. 
But do not be fooled. I am still bitter. :)

You can vary this quite a bit. If you don't have any cod, use another white fish. Or use prawns (straight from frozen will be fine). Vegan? Throw in a tin of chickpeas.

Happy Valentine's Day. (And don't worry - I will be back to the sweet stuff soon enough!)

Tamarind Fish Curry

You will need:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped
1 chilli (red or green), finely chopped
a thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 x 400g tin coconut milk
tamarind paste (to taste; I added a generous tbsp)
2 fillets of cod
chopped fresh coriander, to serve

  1. Set the multicooker to fry. Add the oil, mustard and cumin seeds and fry until the mustard seeds splutter and pop. This takes around a minute. 
  2. Immediately add the chopped onions and fry for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft.Add the ginger and chilli, and fry for another minute.
  3. Add the turmeric and stir well. The mixture will dry a little. Now add the tin of coconut milk and tamarind paste and stir well.
  4. Switch the multicooker to the cook function and set the temperature to 120C. Close the lid and set the cooking time for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir the curry sauce well, add the fish fillets and cook with the lid closed for 5 minutes.
  6. Check that the fish is cooked through and serve with rice and fresh coriander.

Delicious Delicious Delicious received a sample multicooker courtesy of Redmond and was commissioned to write a recipe. My opinions are, as always, my own.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Cheese and Pickle Vegetable Patties

 You all want to come over for breakfast, don't you? 

Given my recent praise of the weather for its hot breakfast facilitating benefits, I feel it might be time to let you in on another of my winter morning food pleasures. But before we go any further I feel I should say that I am someone who doesn't recognize certain foods as being just for breakfast.

Actually, no, that's not quite what I mean. What I am trying to get at is that I don't believe breakfast has to be made up of what is commonly thought of as 'breakfast food'. I think this is because I spent nearly eight years as a flight attendant, and would frequently find myself wanting a bowl of noodles, or a burger, at, say, seven a.m.

Thus I regularly feast (in cold weather) on these vegetable patties first thing in the morning, and I eat them with eggs (sometimes poached, sometimes - as today - fried) and Branston pickle. I actually put Branston in them as well, which I know will cause some people to class them firmly as 'not breakfast food'. To them I say: "Fine. Enjoy your cornflakes. But consider these for lunch or dinner at least."

My favourite thing about these patties is their crisp and golden crust. But my second favourite thing is that you make them with leftover vegetables. In fact, sometimes I cook extra carrots, potato and swede just to be able to make these. They seem like the sort of thing I should have been brought up eating (but wasn't - which I think might be because there were five of us in the house, so there was never leftover anything), yet are interesting enough to eat that I would happily serve them to guests.

You could vary these endlessly: add chopped leftover green beans; use different herbs; coat them in breadcrumbs if you don't have cornmeal.They are so simple to make that once you have, they will soon become a part of your regular meals.

Have you got any similar leftover-based dishes you recommend? Leave a comment and I'll try them out!

Cheese and Pickle Vegetable Patties

You will need:

About 750g (raw weight) of potato, carrot, swede, sweet potato etc., cooked and cooled
2 tbsp flour
2 heaped tbsp Branston pickle
75g grated cheddar
approx 3 tbsp chopped parsley
chopped red chilli, to taste
5 tbsp cornmeal (polenta)

  1. Put the cornmeal in a shallow dish and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the vegetables until smooth, though with a little texture remaining. Mix everything else in well, and season with salt and lots of pepper. 
  3. Form the mixture into thick patties - I make quite large ones - and dip each side into the cornmeal, coating the patties well.
  4. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the patties for about three minutes each side. Serve immediately with extra parsley and chopped chilli. Delicious!
Delicious Delicious Delicious was commissioned to create a recipe with Branston.. My opinions are, as always, my own. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Breakfast and Multicookers

Breakfast does not get better than this!

I love this time of year for so much more besides the pumpkins and associated spiced lattes (pfft… whatever). Autumn is the time of year when breakfast gets interesting, and I start to fancy something other than the Bircher muesli my friend Clare has caused me to become slightly more than healthily addicted to. She calls it the 'summer porridge, breakfast of champions.' On the whole, I'd go along with that, except that compared to regular porridge, Bircher is like a bowl of nothing.

I love hot breakfasts! Or anything that isn't just plain cereal, which, though I love it, Bircher muesli kind of is. The only problem is that I don't always have time to make proper porridge in the morning, and even if I do, I can't always be bothered with the stirring. This is one of the reasons I have been loving tinkering with my newest bit of kitchen booty - the multicooker.

Whereas it looks like a rice cooker, the Redmond RMC-RM4502 actually does more than that. It bakes bread and cakes, fries, deep fries, stews and steams. Oh, and makes porridge - from oats, cornmeal, buckwheat, you name it, the Remond will cook it. I have really enjoyed using it in the kitchen because it has a time delay function, which means that I can go to bed knowing I'll wake up to a warming, healthy breakfast with no early morning prep. Doing my hair takes long enough, to be honest. As if I would be feasting on cornmeal and maple porridge of a morning if I had to actually cook it myself when I woke up!

(If only I had had one of these as a student! You know, I basically didn't eat breakfast for four years when I was at university. When you get up late and have to be in language lab for 9am, breakfast doesn't really feature in the day.)

I have also been baking in the Redmond. And eating the cakes for breakfast. I have found it makes really light and airy, yet moist, sponge cakes, like the ones Italians call 'pan di Spagna'. Perfect with a cup of coffee and a piece of fruit. Or just the coffee.

In fact, as you can see, the multicooker has basically been my breakfast saviour for the past few weeks. I think it's a great machine and am planning on trying some bread in it this weekend. I gave our breadmaker away years ago, as a single function machine that takes up so much room just didn't seem worthwhile. The multicooker is here for keeps though!

Cake can be a breakfast food too!

If you have a Redmond multicooker as well, give my breakfast recipes a try (as well as some of the 100 recipes that come with it!). They will make autumn and winter that little bit more delicious!

Creamy Maple Cornmeal Porridge with Brazil Nuts and Sultanas

You will need:

75g cornmeal (polenta - I always buy the coarse ground one)
500ml full fat milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
a handful of Brazil nuts, chopped
a handful of sultanas
soft brown sugar (optional)

  1. Place the cornmeal, milk and maple syrup in the machine bowl and stir well. Cook for 35 minutes on the oatmeal setting. Stir well and serve topped with nuts, sultanas and a sprinkle of soft brown sugar. Gorgeous. 
  • You could also top with cinnamon and walnuts, or some frozen berries.

Pan di Spagna (Breakfast Sponge Cake), my way

You will need:

200g self raising flour
6 eggs
175g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. First, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and moussey. This will take ages, and you will feel like your arm is going to fall off, unless you have the common sense to use an electric whisk. 
  2. Still beating, add the lemon zest and vanilla, then gradually the flour.
  3. Pour into the greased machine bowl (I used vegetable oil - a baking spray would be fine, or butter). Bake for 40 minutes on cake setting.
  4. Cool on a rack as you would a regularly baked cake. 
  • I have made this twice so far in the multicooker. Once with plain flour, and once with self raising. I know everyone says that you should always use plain flour when there's no butter in the recipe, but honestly, with the self raising you get a much higher rise. Don't listen to the books, listen to me! :)

Delicious Delicious Delicious received a sample multicooker courtesy of Redmond and was commissioned to write a recipe. My opinions are, as always, my own.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Pumpkin Spice Cake

It's that time of year again. Everybody has started screaming about #PSLs being available at that coffee chain that we keep supporting even though they don't pay their corporation taxes. I'm so over it.

Don't get me wrong: I love pumpkin more than you could ever understand. When I first found out about pumpkin spice latte, my heart skipped a beat (though I did think the idea of pumpkin and coffee sounded rather on the not delicious side of delicious). But here's the thing…

THERE'S NO PUMPKIN IN THE DAMN THINGS! It's pumpkin spice in the sense of 'spices that you might put into a pumpkin pie', not actual pumpkin-infused coffee drink.

I thought it was awful. Misleading. Wrong. And then it dawned on me last week that I could use the widely accepted deceit to my advantage, since I didn't actually have any pumpkin in the house and I wanted to bust out the Nordic Ware pumpkin loaf pan. (And why wouldn't I? Have you seen how beautiful this cake is?)

So there we go: pumpkin spice cake, without an ounce of pumpkin in it. Well, if Starbucks can do it with their lattes…

Try it. I'm not saying don't cook with pumpkin at all, but if you have this tin, it's a shame not to use it at this time of year. (I actually also use it for lemon drizzle year-round, but don't tell anyone.)

By the way, the almond extract is optional, but I have been tinkering about with my bottle of it ever since Fuss Free Helen turned me onto the stuff made by Steenberg's. I love the extra marzipanny depth it gives everything, but I know that not everyone is an almond lover, so you might just want the vanilla. Your choice.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

You will need:

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
225g soft butter
4 egg whites (or 2 whole eggs, I just had whites to use!)
75ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease a standard sized loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, or a stand mixer (which is what I used), mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the butter and milk and mix until well combined. Beat for two minutes.
  3. Add the egg whites and extracts and beat until smooth (about another minute).
  4. Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes. Rest for ten minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
Delicious Delicious Delicious received three samples of extracts from Steenberg's Organic. No money changed hands, and my opinions are, as always, my own.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Pumpkin Roll Cake

I am not even going to apologise for the lack of updates since July. On that matter, I will say only the following: my life has changed unbelievably since that last update, and there just hasn't been a single moment in my new life when, much as I love doing it, I have thought; "You know what? I really feel like writing a blog post."


I quit flying!

I know. I can't quite believe it either, but it is true. I gave it up. It was one of the hardest, most horrendous decisions to make of my life. I used to grumble about it often, but really, I loved flying, and I adored my colleagues. The problem, I thought (and still do), is that I was working for the wrong company. Doing something I loved alongside great friends was a fantastic way to spend seven and a half years (yeah, I did it for that long: my try-it-for-two-years-max experiment gave me almost a decade's worth of grey hair.), but it takes a lot to fly long haul, both physically and mentally, and I felt like my employers wanted too much and offered too little for me to stay there.

Life is like a pie. At least I think of mine like one. I want to share that pie out. Some goes to my family, I like to give slices to my friends and hobbies, and obviously, work gets a wedge as well. But flying wanted all the pie. All of it.

I also felt like I needed to change jobs, or I'd be a flight attendant forever. Which I know some people love, and have a great time doing, but I don't think that is for me. An amazing opportunity came my way, at a great organisation here in Cardiff, and I took it.

I work 9-5, in an office, and I have great co-workers. I am learning new things everyday, and I love it. I feel like my new employers took a huge chance on me, and I am determined to make sure they don't regret it!

The change was terrifying, but worth it. I'm stealing this next part from Niki Haris (you might need to Google her), but change is good: "Things that aren't changing aren't growing; things that aren't growing are dying."

So that's why I have been away. I've been busy changing. And it's been amazing.

Oh, and I made a pumpkin roll. Recipe here.

Be back soon. Promise!
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