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Thursday 26 November 2009

Christmas Cake News Flash

You do not need another recipe for Christmas cake.

But you do need to know that mine is baking in the oven as I type, and that no house has ever smelled as good as mine does now.

There is bad news too, however: I have already done the washing up, so Mr. Other P can't lick the bowl.

Black Sesame Madeleines

Yesterday, when I was rummaging around in my box of cake tins in the spare room (which I am quite sure is not where the majority of people keep their cake tins, but sadly, I am without a choice in the matter - we have terrible condensation at the back of our kitchen cupboards, and until we get the problem sorted, I won't put anything in them.), I came across the madeleine tin that I bought for about three Euros in a French hypermarket donkey's years ago when we went to stay in Dave's cottage.

I am loathe to say that it was a waste of money, but the fact remains that I have only ever used it twice.

My first thought was to put it in the charity box. We moved house recently, and as such, the thought of hanging on to anything I don't need fills me with dread. I hate having too much 'stuff'. When we move, it all has to be either sorted out and given away anyway (not a fun way to spend a weekend) or moved with us (ditto).

But then I came to my senses. It's only a madeleine tin; it's tiny! And rather pretty. And I like madeleines. So then I decided that since we were having friends over for dinner anyway, pudding was going to be madeleines. You see? No need to throw away any bake ware at all.

Now. The first time I made madeleines, I just followed the recipe that came with the tin. It was a terrible mistake; they were awful. Really dry and tasteless. So the next time, I decided to try a Nigella Lawson recipe for madeleines flavoured with rose water, and it worked brilliantly.

I couldn't resist getting my teapot out for these pictures.
It's from Tokoname, near Nagoya, an area famous for pottery.

We were going to have Japanese food for dinner though, so I wanted to change flavours a bit. I'd made some green tea ice cream already, and so decided that black sesame would be a good flavour for the little cakes to go with it. Especially since the sesame seeds on my shelf were the only vaguely Japanese ingredient I had to use for dessert. Soy sauce madeleines didn't sound quite so inviting...

So the flavour was sorted, but I didn't have a recipe. Which brings me rather conveniently to something else.

Recently, I've started to dislike following other people's recipes. I'm beginning to feel like I have been cooking and playing with food long enough that I don't need to, which is actually quite liberating, especially when it comes to making cakes and baking - I used to do EVERYTHING by the (cook)book. Now I usually just take inspiration, as opposed to instruction, from food writers. I'm not trying to make myself sound like an incredible cook - I am just being honest with you. Nigella (my favourite of them all - that woman knows deliciousness), anyway, has always admitted to doing the same.

So for these madeleines, I followed her method, but not recipe: I added more flour, more sugar and less butter. This wasn't because I thought they would taste better. I just had an unsteady hand with the dry ingredients, and didn't have quite enough butter to follow her recipe exactly, as I had to keep some back for something else (Christmas cake, as it happens).

I have to say that they were very good. Grinding the sesame seeds really helps make their flavour stronger, and gets rid of any gritty texture, which I wanted, obviously, to avoid.

I think madeleine making might become something of a habit, you know: there's something really exciting about making cakes that only take 4 minutes to bake. It's rapid fire baking!

Give them a try. Or, if you make some other crazy flavours, do let me know how they are. Unless you decide to go with the soy sauce...

Black Sesame Madeleines

You will need:

1 tbsp black or white sesame seeds
40g butter, plus a little extra to grease the tin
1 egg
50g caster sugar
60g plain flour, sifted
icing sugar

  1. Lightly toast the seeds in a dry frying pan. Cool, crush in a pestle and mortar and set aside. Melt the butter, cool and set aside.
  2. Using an electric hand mixer, cream the egg and sugar for 5 minutes. It will triple in volume.
  3. Add the flour, and fold in gently.
  4. Now pour in the cooled melted butter, and crushed sesame seeds. Mix together gently and then leave the mixture to rest in the fridge for an hour.
  5. Remove the mixture from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for half an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
  6. Brush the madeleine tin with melted butter. Using a tablespoon, put some batter into each shell-shaped indentation, and bake in the oven for about 4 minutes. Keep an eye on them though - you may need to give them less time.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 18 madeleines

About Delicious Delicious Delicious

Delicious Delicious Delicious is a blog about food. More specifically, food made by me, Mr. P. That's me, up there, hiding behind some cupcakes.

I am a twenty-something thirty year old (yuck!) Englishman living in Cardiff, South Wales, and am a borderline food obsessive. I love eating food, making food, growing food (weather permitting, of course - this is Wales after all) and writing about food.

If you asked my friends or colleagues about me, they would perhaps tell you that I am prone to doing things on a whim. Examples of this include learning to knit, becoming a flight attendant and moving to Cardiff without bothering to check where it was first.

You can see that they might have a point.

Starting Delicious Delicious Delicious, though, was different. I thought about blogging long before I dared to do it. Yet here I am. And not on a whim.

So welcome to the site! It's lovely to have you. Here you'll find recipes, photographs, and extended wittering about the food I make and eat. I hope you'll enjoy looking around, and come back for seconds.

Friday 20 November 2009

Almond and Macadamia Nut Cookies

I have been meaning to write about these forever. They are one of my favourite cookies. I say one, because anyone who tells you that they only have one favourite cookie is simply not being realistic. One? Please.

How could these not be your favourite?

Everybody and their dog seems to like chocolate chip cookies, and while I would never turn one of them down (well, would you? Didn't think so.), I don't think chocolate is really where it's at when it comes to biscuits and cakes. It's nice. Don't get me wrong. But it's not the best thing in the world. I'm not trying to style myself as one of those über trendy-types, who fashionably claim not to like chocolate unless it's dark and has at least 70% cocoa solids when I say that. (And for the record, fashionistas, you aren't fooling anyone.) I just think that chocolate is best when it's a piece of chocolate. Turning it into, cookies, or cakes, or even ice-cream, seems unnecessary. It doesn't improve it. *

Not everybody shares my view though. So I have dutifully added some white chocolate to today's recipe to try and please the chocoholics, who would otherwise feel that they were missing out. But, really, the star players here are my favourites... The nuts! And so, without further ado...

You could add even more...

Friends, Romans, Countrymen...

These are my Almond and Macadamia Nut cookies. And you should make some.

I think the greatest thing about them is the texture. Soft, and chewy, with chunks of almond and whole macadamia nuts, they make a seriously satisfying pick-me-up with a cup of tea at around four o'clock. Not that that's how I eat them. Usually, when I've made cookies, they go from jar to mouth, before the tea has even brewed. Unless we've company. Then they go on a nice plate.

I know macadamias are the most expensive nuts (although the price of pecans also has to be seen to be believed - who buys them? Do they remortgage beforehand?), but they are also the most delicious; I love the waxy crunch. I think you'd miss them if you left them out, but you could play with this however you like otherwise. Substitute walnuts for the almonds; use peanuts instead, or, and I can't believe I didn't think of this before, crumble in a Mr. Tom bar (my love for Mr. Tom has been detailed elsewhere - Mr. Other P and I will drive to get one if we have to).

It's a strange feeling to wax lyrical about a recipe you made up yourself, but these really are sensational. And they make a great gift, as once baked, they'll keep in a jar for a whole week. The nuts help to keep everything nice and moist.

The unbaked dough is more than perfectly edible as it is!

Some notes:

  • I flavoured them with maple extract, because I have some from a trip to America; vanilla would be fine, cinnamon would be insanely good.
  • Bake them for longer if you prefer crisp biscuits. 15 minutes should do it. I like them under-baked, so stop at 9-10.
  • Using dark and light brown sugar gives a nice flavour, but at the end of the day, sugar is sugar. Use what you have!
  • I wouldn't mind if you added 75g dessicated coconut.

* The one exception to this that I know of is double chocolate chip cookies, which have dark, bitter cocoa mixed into the chocolate chip-studded cookie dough; I accept that in that case, culinary nirvana is more than achieved.

Almond and Macadamia Nut Cookies

You will need:

125g butter
150g soft light brown sugar
25g soft dark brown sugar
2 eggs
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp maple extract
100g raw macadamia nuts
100g raw almonds
150g chocolate chips, white for preference (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Chop the almonds, but leave the macadamias whole. Toast the nuts in a hot frying pan until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Add the extract and eggs. Mix well.
  4. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add the salt and sifted ingredients to the egg mixture and combine thoroughly. Fold in the cooled nuts and chocolate chips.
  5. Using an ice-cream scoop (as always), drop small mounds of the mixture on the baking sheet. Leave plenty of space for the cookies to spread.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown at the edges. Cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
  7. When cool, keep in a biscuit barrel, tin or jar.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

On losing my mind

I haven't gone mad. At least I don't think I have. But I did just photograph a raw cabbage. I couldn't help myself; I think it's one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. What do you reckon?

Do you want to know the best thing about it? It was reduced. I got it for 49 pence!

Apparently, it's a January King cabbage - I grabbed it thinking it was a savoy. The wrapper said that the January King was a favourite variety in Victorian times, but is not really cultivated very much now. Is it just me who thinks this is a crying shame? Were I a cabbage farmer, this would be all I'd grow. In fact, I if we ever get our vegetable patch up and running (along with my much-desired kitchen extension, it's wishful thinking at present), I might try to get some seeds. Just look at the colours! That fabulous, deep pink-purple tinting the vivid green leaf edges... Maybe I have gone mad. It is only a cabbage after all. But I love cabbage! I know that there are some people out there who don't. At all. But they are probably the same people who think it's a good idea to put carpet in a bathroom. So each to their own, I say.

We had half of the January King for dinner last night, braised with lemon and juniper, and topped with some cinnamon-glazed pork chops. I'm afraid that I forgot to take photos, but the combination was fantastic. Even though I haven't a picture, I'll jot down what I did anyway. You could cook any crunchy, leafy green vegetable this way.

  1. Shred your cabbage fairly finely, and heat a splosh of good olive oil in a large pot.
  2. Add the shredded cabbage, along with the grated zest of a lemon and about a teaspoon of juniper berries. Stir-fry for a few minutes, making sure the cabbage doesn't catch.
  3. Pour over about a cup of hot vegetable stock, and the juice of the lemon you just zested. Season, stir and cook with the lid on until the cabbage is done to your liking. I give it about five minutes, but I am often accused of under-cooking vegetables. I like them with c-r-u-n-c-h!
  4. Check the seasoning and serve piping hot.

The bright, zingy flavours in this (juniper is so underrated) should be sufficient to convert even the most committed members of the Anti-Cabbage lobby. I don't know what we're going to do about their bathroom carpets though...


Sunday 15 November 2009

Honey-Nut Bundt

I know that I am supposed to be making a conscious effort to put more focus on the savoury here at DeliciousDeliciousDelicious, but with today being a Day of Supreme International Importance, I see no way out but to break my self-imposed ban on baking. I think we all knew it wouldn't last long. I certainly did. Welcome back flour, butter, sugar and eggs! How I missed you.

Anyway, you might be wondering what I'm talking about. Well, it's National Bundt Day in America. And I'm making it world-wide. Well why not?

I should first say that I wouldn't have actually known about this if it weren't for The Food Librarian. I follow her blog daily, and she loves Bundts. LOVES them. In a big way. She's been baking a different flavoured Bundt every day in the run up to today, and in all will have made thirty of them. Thirty! I actually think that this lady's dedication to baking and love for cake surpasses even my own. A round of applause for The Food Librarian, if you please.

The Food Librarian loves Hello Kitty, so today's
post features my special thirtieth anniversary plate!
I know, I know... You want one too.
Anyway, I have been inspired. I've tried to make Bundts before and had mixed success. I don't even talk about the botched Hansel and Gretel cottage Bundt, because it's too painful and I'm still not over it. All you need to know is that it was the day before Mr. Other P's birthday, it didn't turn out, and I had to stay up all night making emergency carrot cake in secret. Which was less than fun, I can assure you.

(Isn't that a lovely thought though - emergency carrot cake?)

I may one day try the cottage Bundt again, but have otherwise stuck firmly to my Gugelhupf pan ever since. Luckily, cakes baked in this fella do not follow suit. For that reason, I brought him out today for my Bundt Day Celebrations. What can I say? I wasn't in the mood for failure.

I've been planning to make this all week, and have gone though a million or so different flavour variations in my mind (I'm prone to food day-dreaming), but decided when I got home today to make something that didn't require any shopping. We have over-loaded food shelves, and most of the weight they carry is from my baking stuff, a lot of which need using up. A quick inventory revealed three jars of peanut butter. Three! Nobody needs that many. So I decided to make a peanut butter cake. I also found an open packet of peanuts and a jar of honey that has been hanging around for what seems like forever, and well... It doesn't take a genius to see that that's a killer combination right there.

The trouble with my Gugelhopf pan is that it doesn't seem to be a standard size - a one egg recipe doesn't fill it, and a two egg can overflow. So I just made this up as I went along, which I have to say, has made me feel like a very accomplished baker indeed. If the ingredients look a little unbalanced, it's because I deliberately added quite a lot of flour. To get the shaping from the pan, I think a slightly stiffer cake dough is better. Not that I really know anything about it.

I should confess though that the no-shopping for ingredients rule didn't quite work out. When the cake was in the oven and the smell came wafting into the lounge, I realised that a cake like this wouldn't be complete without a nut brittle topping, so ran out to grab a Mr. Tom from the corner shop. And looking at the cake now, I do think it completes it. I'm adding a photo for the people who don't know what a Mr. Tom is. Isn't it the best packaging you've ever seen? It is.

I Mr. Tom. He'll never let you down.

We're having friends over for Bundt Day festivities (cake and Scrabble) later today, so I haven't been able to taste this yet. I'll update when I have, but for now I'm left in the torturous position of not being able to eat the delicious smelling cake in my kitchen until everybody comes around. Awful!

Happy (Inter)National Bundt Day!

Update: It was REALLY good. And the people who ate it noted all the flavours without being told, which is always nice. One to make again.

Honey-Nut Bundt

You will need:

125g butter
150g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 heaped tbsp peanut butter
50g salted peanuts, chopped finely
a splash of milk

3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp warm water
75g icing sugar, sifted
1 Mr. Tom bar, or any other peanut brittle
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C, and grease your Bundt pan (or a regular 20cm sandwich tin).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the peanut butter and blend thoroughly. Beat in eggs until combined.
  3. Sift over dry ingredients, and fold in gently. Add a splash of milk if you think the mixture seems dry, then stir through the nuts.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  6. Stir together the honey, icing sugar and water to make a thick glaze. Drizzle over cake.
  7. Crush the nut brittle roughly and use to top cake, pressing the pieces of brittle into the glaze to help them stick.

Friday 6 November 2009

Rigatoni with Smoked Salmon and Courgettes

I feel like I should subtitle this post 'Dispelling Food Myths'.

In fact, I'm going to.

Dispelling Food Myths

I hate the term 'Foodie'. I hate it for a plethora of reasons, and could write for hours about each and every one of them. I'm not going to, simply because I myself am what you might possibly, according to some people's definitions, call a bit of a Foodie, and I'm not in the mood for a written exercise in public self-loathing.

I think my main gripe with the term is that when I think of a Foodie, I think of somebody with that vile, despicable and hateful 'I-know-more-about-food-than-you-do' attitude which is so prevalent in certain circles (and that you seem to find in restaurant review columns in Sunday newspaper supplements).

I'm embarrassed to say that I have in the past shown evidence of this way of thinking myself. When I became a food obsessive (at around the age of twenty-one, if anybody's interested, though we can talk about that another time. And yes, that is my preferred term!), I started to read cookery books as thought they were great novels. I'd go to bed and read about food cultures that I'd never heard of before, and dream about tastes and smells of dishes from across the globe. And I started to think of what I'd read as facts. After all, if something is published in a book, it ought to be well-researched. Right?

Thus in Japan, diners are expected to start a meal always with a sip of the miso soup. When eating a Swiss fondue, you must never drink anything carbonated with it, for fear of indigestion. And Italians never add cheese to pasta with seafood.

Francesco shot that last one down in flames recently. He made this amazing pasta for us when he came to stay last, and when I remarked, during the preparation, that it was unusual to add parmesan to a fish dish, he said he'd never heard that said before. And that he often did. And in one fell swoop my food world fell apart.

OK, I'm making this more dramatic than it was, but in all seriousness, I was surprised. I have read about the cheese and seafood thing countless times, in so many different books by lots of different writers (though I have a sneaking suspicion that all the authors are quoting the same source, and I think it's Anna del Conte: I'm going to have a little check).

Anyway, the point is, Foodies and Foodie Knowledge are annoying! And they can be wrong. So there. Eat what you want how you want it. It's all good in this game called food. And thus, in the spirit of this new finding, I have resolved never again to tell Mr. Other P not to put ketchup on his pizza. I'm not putting it on mine though.

I have digressed. This was meant to be about pasta!

Quick summary -

This pasta is incredibly delicious, and was invented by Francesco. Reasons you should make it:
  • most salmon pasta dishes have cream sauces, and this doesn't;
  • it dispels a food myth;
  • you can feed four hungry people really well for less than a fiver;
  • you will use the blender. Everybody likes the blender;
  • because I told you to.

Rigatoni with Smoked Salmon and Courgettes

You will need:

500g rigatoni, or other tubular pasta. Penne would be fine.
1/2 an onion, diced very finely (you could grate it - chopping that finely is a nightmare)
100g smoked salmon, chopped finely (you can use trimmings; they are cheaper)
2 large courgettes
vegetable stock
white wine
75g parmesan (we used pecorino Romano, but only because of my Rome trip), grated

  1. Cut the courgettes into four chunks each. Place in a pan of simmering stock and cook gently until tender, around 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sweat the finely chopped onion in olive oil, adding a little wine (or some of the stock) from time to time, to help it soften. After about 10 minutes or so, you should have a nicely softened mixture. Turn the heat up, and add the salmon. Cook briefly, until it just changes colour. Set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta, according to packet instructions.
  4. Put the drained courgettes in the blender with a little of the stock. Blitz to a vibrantly green purée. Add two-thirds of the cheese and blitz again.
  5. Drain the pasta, and dress with the courgette mixture and salmon and onions.
  6. Serve in warmed bowls with the remaining cheese.

Thursday 5 November 2009

Gift idea

No food today. In fact, not even a very long post. But I want to write about the gift Mr. Other P and I made for Bridie's birthday.

I wanted to buy her a cake stand. Cake stands are good gifts. You would never buy one for yourself, would you? The trouble is that they can be expensive. Or ugly. Or even ugly and expensive. Just like when you go shoe shopping, and look for the perfect shoe that you've visualised in your mind's eye, but never find it, shopping for a cake stand can be difficult.

So we made our own, using craft glue and some vintage blue and white china plates and sherry glasses we found in a charity shop. I'm not pretending that this was an original idea - I've heard of this being done before. But I think the end result is really good. This will look great bedecked with cupcakes, or sandwiches for afternoon tea.

If you fancy giving this a go... Use strong glue! And make sure all surfaces are clean and dry before gluing.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Sweet potato, apple and ginger soup

I have noticed that there's been a lot of sweet stuff happening around here.

I don't think that there's much wrong with that, per se, but I am also aware that it looks as though I eat nothing but sweets. It's true that I have a sweet tooth, and I do hate it when there is not any cake in the house, but I am coming across as a bit of a sugar-glutton! So I'm upping the savoury ante, starting with this soup, which is quite special, even if I do say so myself.

I never thought I would write about soup. Soup, I always think, is boring. Boring in the making and boring in the eating. Boring boring boring.

But then, suddenly, and most often unexpectedly, along comes a good one and completely changes my mind. This soup is one of those.

It's pretty simple; four ingredients and a quick whizz in the blender. But you'd never guess when you taste it. I think that's because of the sweet potatoes. Regular potatoes never seem to make such a velvety soup, but I don't think you should hold that against them, because without regular potatoes, you would not have fish pie. Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Mr. Other P didn't seem convinced when I told him we were having soup with apple in it, but upon tasting changed his mind. Not that I'm worried about seeking his approval or anything. Apple seemed a natural addition to me - I remember making a lot of soups with my mum when I was younger, in her huge green stockpot, and her approach was always to chuck in whatever we had to hand. And apple and ginger is a really common flavouring for those expensive caffeine-free herbal teas you can buy, which smell absolutely amazing, and offer such promise, but which taste, disappointingly, like rusty nails.

My soup does NOT taste like rusty nails. It tastes wonderful.

Such pretty colours in the pan...

I used a Cox's Orange Pippin apple, because apple season is in full swing, and they are my favourite. As a child, I remember reading Roald Dahl write that if you shake a Cox's Orange Pippin in your hand and listen carefully, you can hear the seeds rattling inside. I also remember getting into trouble in the supermarket for doing this, so I can vouch for what Mr. Dahl says. Give it a go. But please buy the apple first.

We ate this with big hunks of tiger bread, which is exactly what we'll be doing next time as well, and what you should do, too.

Sweet potato, apple and ginger soup

You will need:

2 fairly large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 apple, cored and diced (don't peel it)
small chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 vegetable stock cube (well, be honest...)

  1. Put everything in a pan, and pour over cold water to just cover.
  2. Bring to the boil, and simmer until the sweet potato is soft. This will take around 10 minutes, maybe a little less.
  3. Whizz in the blender, season as you like with salt and pepper, and serve.
  4. Take a moment to think about how underrated soup is. Resolve to change your mindset.
NB: Reading this back, I feel as though I have made my mum out to be some kind of Old Mother Hubbard character, working away in a soup kitchen. I would like to clarify that this is not the case. She is beautiful, glamorous, vivacious and hard-working, and I love her very much!
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