Saturday, 24 December 2011

cantuccini - gluten free


I'm cooking a batch of cantuccini to give as presents, with port. I couldn't decide on a pudding wine, so fell back on port. My memory of dipping these hard biscuits in alcohol is a fond, and slightly bleary one. I've made them wheat free, using Dove's Farm plain gluten free flour. I hope they turn out really hard. There is no fat in this recipe, apart from what is in the nuts.

Tasters trying this recipe part way through are mmm mmm-ing like mad. Cutting the biscuits half way through, I can see that the dough is much more crumbly than its wheat-packed compadre. The smell is great. I’m cooking the sliced dough at a slightly lower temperature. Pics follow

Here's a reminder of the recipe

Cantuccini

RECIPE


Ingredients:


325g (12oz) plain gluten free flour


300g (11oz) caster sugar


1½ tsp. baking powder


½ tsp. ground cinnamon


½ tsp. salt


200g (12oz) whole unpeeled almonds


125g ground almonds

4 eggs


2 tsp. vanilla extract

Around 1 coffee cup/1/2 small glass alcohol amaretto or brandy

Method:


Set your oven to Gas Mark 4 (180°C/350°F).


Prepare two baking sheets with baking parchment.


Roughly crush about a third of the almonds or chop them a bit

Mix the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and almonds.


Whisk the eggs and vanilla together and stir them into the dry ingredients, working it into a stiff dough (I use a fork). Add the alcohol bit by bit, by the end if it’s not all sticking together add a few drops of water.


Turn the dough out onto a floured board and divide into two.


Roll each half into a sausage and divide again into two, so you have four pieces. I do this because it fits on my baking tray, and makes slightly smaller biscotti.


Put the sausage shaped dough on the lined trays and flatten a little – they will spread a bit, so keep them well spaced.


Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the logs are well risen and have almost doubled in size.


Leave the oven on.


Cut into slices about 1cm thick. Some people say they should be smaller, but I can’t cut them that small. Don’t worry about leaving space between the slices.


Put the sliced dough back and cook for around 20 minutes more, until they are lightly toasted. Let them cool before storing (or eating).


Makes lots and lots.

 



Monday, 19 December 2011

Gluten free Christmas

I'm making a new stuffing this year, gluten free for simplicity in the family catering. I've got chicken, pork, beef and bacon, sitting and waiting for me to crack on. I'm intending to make extra as sausages for another meal. Gluten-free toad in the hole perhaps.

I will also make some parsley and sage stuffing, also gluten free. I'm not doing bread sauce, because the potential heart attack on a plate, that is the Christmas meal, doesn't need any help. More later...

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Duck for a month

I've just divvied up a duck. It was a lovely day, and I thought I'd try a little amateur butchery on the kitchen table.

I fell upon a video online, with a French lady preparing a duck, taking the flesh off the carcass in one piece, calling it 'removing the duck's overcoat'. I had a go, and the confit has been started - the meat is sitting in salt as I type.

One medium duck should serve well, two good size magrets to eat this week, served with prune sauce. The two wings, legs and aiguillettes,will be confit, cooked and preserved in fat, so they'll be eaten in the new year, with salad. The carcass is being made into stock, which will be part of our gravy on Christmas day. The geziers, liver and heart will also be part of the gravy and stuffing. Not bad for £7.50. Oh, plus the fat and salt, call it £12. The fat will make roasties more tasty as well.

Monday, 12 December 2011

cantucchini

Sorry to give this away, to anyone who knows me, and might be on the receiving end, but gifts are going to be in part edible this year. Cantucchini, spicy biscuits and chocolate fridge cake. In terms of easy, the fridge cake wins, the spicy biscuits are always popular and are quite simple, and the cantucchini are excellent, especially dipped in coffee or alcohol. Yum.

celeri remoulade


Celeriac

When I lived in Paris I used to treat myself to celeri remoulade from the traiteur every now and then. Once I'd got a job. It was long ago and far away, and I never thought to look for it in the supermarket, but it's never the same. It is one of my fantasy foods, and for a long time I've tried to make it, and failed. I think I thought it was all more mysterious than it is. I've finally done it.

Celeriac is an unattractive veg, usually about the same size as a large swede, or rutabaga as they call it in the US. It's very knobbly and a bit slimy when you peel it, in general it's rather weird. When you buy it avoid one with any soft bits if possible. If you find any, just cut them out.

What does it taste like? The flavour is particular, it is sweet, slightly rooty, with a little touch of aniseed. The texture in remoulade is firm, a bit like a part cooked carrot, because the veg is blanched and then steeped in the dressing. So you have to make it in advance.

I've seen recipes which add capers or gherkins into the sauce. I've no idea why. The remoulade that I like is a very mustardy maionnaise. I make it with a whole celeriac, which is enough for a week or a party of people as a starter. So I'm giving the recipe for a quarter of a large celeriac - make the rest into soup (recipe to follow).

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 heaped tbsp maionnaise
1/4 celeriac (peeled)
pepper and salt

Cook the celeriac for no more than five minutes in boiling water.
Drain, and while it cools mix the mustard and mayo together thoroughly
Cut the celeriac into slices about 2mm thick, then cut into strips about 2mm wide
Mix together the celeriac, finely chopped onion and mustardy mayo and set aside for at least six hours, taste and adjust seasoning, adding a squeeze of lemon juice if it seems too rich.

Eat as part of a mixed salad. Goes particularly well with sliced cooked beetroot and cucumber.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Champignons a la grecque

Making mixed starters (or assorted horses dovers(sic) as they are known at ours)  for a family gathering I returned to an old favourite, champignons a la grecque,  a quickly made cooked mushroom salad. Although I think of this dish as something for the summer, it works very well in the winter, the dressing is lightly acid and softly spicy, and the mushrooms have a fleshy firmness, and stay surprisingly pale. Best of all this recipe is wonderfully simple. It's taken from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking, almost verbatim. Having made a swift stab at trying to find a similar recipe in Greek recipes (in translation, of course), and came up with nothing. So, I'll keep looking, out of curiosity. In the meantime it's a lovely little recipe for a tasty little dish.

It's very nice on its own with a piece of toast, or with some hummous, or as part of a mixed hors d'oeuvres. At this time of year it's a nice and light little something to go with roast meat, hot or cold. 

Cooking notes
Resist the temptation to add more liquid, it really isn’t necessary, even though it looks like there isn't much there.
You can substitute two tinned tomatoes or two large spoonfuls of chopped tomatoes for the fresh ones. It may make extra liquid, but it will reduce down.

On the same basis, it’s worth using a nice olive oil, but not necessarily the best, as it'll lose its body once it's boiled to reduce it.

RECIPE

Large bowl of small mushrooms, around 180g (or large ones cut in quarters)
juice of half a lemon
tsp of coriander seeds
1 tsp of peppercorns, cracked
Large pinch of salt
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water
2 peeled and chopped tomatoes

·        Shake off/rub clean the mushrooms
·        Put the mushrooms into a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice and shake gently, and set aside
·        Put all the other ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil, simmer for a couple of minutes
·        Add the mushrooms and any juice in the bottom of the bowl
·        Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for five minutes
·        Take out the mushrooms and set aside back in bowl
·        Boil the liquid, uncovered until it’s  reduced by half, then pour it over the cooked mushrooms, stirring gently to mix

If you like you can sprinkle a teaspoonful of finely chopped parsley over the mushrooms, or a mixture of parsley and fresh coriander. It adds a little something, and looks pretty.







That’s it.

My mixed starters included mushrooms a la grecque, celery remoulade, sliced cooked beetroot and sliced cucumbers, roast veg, green salad. For meat lovers I included some mixed salami.




Friday, 18 November 2011

Celery soup


I heard recently that some people have a particular sense of smell that makes celery repellent to them. I’m not sure it’s true, even though I am one of those people to whom the joy of a raw stick of celery remains a mystery. I don’t like it, neither the taste, nor the vigorously stringy nature of it. Maybe my chewing skills are inadequate.  In my mouth it resembles a mouthful of dental floss, without the minty freshness. Now, cooked celery, that’s another matter. I like it braised, and I love it in soup. If you don’t cook it too long it lends a lovely green to this soup. I puree the soup, putting the fibre to good use, but I also like it with the liquid clear and the celery and other veg sitting in it. In that state I like to grate cheese over it. But I digress, this is a recipe for the smooth pureed version, which I like to enrich with a blob of cream and lots of black pepper or pungent ailloli. You choose.

Cream of celery soup
  • 1 Large head of celery
  • 2 Onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Small handful of parsley
  • 1 large potato
  • Olive oil or butter

·        -  Peel wash and chop all the veg, as appropriate – aim for everything to be chopped to about the same size, to make sure it all cooks at the same pace
·         - In  a heavy based pan melt a knob of butter (or use olive oil) over medium heat
·         - Gently fry the onion, celery and garlic, until the onion is translucent
·        -  Add about two pints, a scant litre of stock, along with the chopped potato
·        -  Simmer gently for around twenty minutes, until everything is cooked, then add the parsley
·        -  Puree, taste and season
- Serve with a spoonful of cream or aioli

This is enough for six hungry people, or eight not so greedy.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Peace sauce

I've been checking out the blog statistics, and am so thrilled that people are looking at recipes for food I love. In particular I notice that lots of people are looking the the gunpowder sauce recipe. It's a wonderful ingredient that can make stir fries taste fab, giving a real tang. I just hope that the people checking the page are actually looking for a sauce recipe. If not, perhaps it might give a little pause for peace. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Tarator

I've been experimenting with tarator, an alternative to maionnaise, made with nuts, oil and garlic. Recipes and pix to follow.

It's very nice with the veggie turnovers.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Little tasty turnovers

Inspired by a visit to an Afghan restaurant, these little turnovers are deliciously fresh. If I say so myself. I'm not a great fan of fiddly cooking, still, I reserve the right to say this isn't fiddly. It just involves lots of chopping. And a bit of boiling. And rolling out pastry (shop bought in my case). OK, it's fiddly, and the pay-off makes it worth it. Little parcels of loveliness. I served these up with a tarator, a bit lumpy, because it was my first time making it. Tarator is a nut sauce, a bit like maionnaise (apart from my first attempt). The combination is perfect for vegetarians, vegans and anyone with tastebuds. If you are wheat intolerant the whole thing would work with rice pastry. 

Oh, what's in it? Leeks, carrots, potato, coriander, teeny bit of dill, pepper and salt. The shop bought pastry is made just with oil. 

RECIPE
Two large leeks (or a bunch of spring onions)
Two potatoes (cooked in their skins, peeled when cool enough)
Generous handful of finely chopped coriander (cilantro to some) including stems
Pinch of dill
One large carrot, cooked
Ground black pepper
Salt
Tablespoonful of oil
½ block of ready-made puff pastry

Set the oven to Gas Mark 7/425F/220C
  • Cut the leeks (or spring onions) into fine slices
  • Cook gently over low heat in the oil – careful not to burn, you don’t want that caramel taste
  • Peel the cooked potatoes and cut into very small cubes, chop up the carrots in the same way
  • Take the softened leeks off the heat, season with pepper and salt and stir through all the other ingredients



You can make this mixture the day before if you want to
Roll the pastry out very thin, keeping the rectangular shape
Cut into nine square of approximately equal size
Put two heaped teaspoons of the mixture in each, moisten the edges of the pastry, fold over, and crimp together with a fork
Snick a little hole into the top of the turnover (pasty)

Brush with egg if you like, to give golden colour

Cook in oven for 20 minutes or until golden.


Saturday, 17 September 2011

paring knives - where can you get them?

Those little knives that are so useful in the kitchen, paring knives. Why can't you get them any more. I don't mean  razor sharp plastic handled knives. I mean little knives with wooden handles, often a little bit blunt, that your mum used to use to scrape potatoes, imagining she did such a thing. Sitting on a stool in the summer, with a bown soaking the spuds and loosening the skin. With a saucepan full of water for the peeled, pared or scraped veg on one side. There were always too many potatoes for the gathered masses.

We need more paring knives. Couteau d'office in French. It's official.

although treasured, this knife has been in the compost for some time... 

... but a perfect example of a paring knife, balance of blade and handle just right


a modern equivalent, blade's too long, handle is plastic

small sabatier, carbon steel, king of knives, but not a paring knife
Everyone has their of perfection. Like Goldilocks, I like to try things out before pronouncing, and yes, sometimes things do get broken along the way. No forced entry here, these knives are all mine, and paid for. The small slightly rotted paring knife at the top is the elusive ideal. That one probably dates from the 90s. If anyone knows where I can get another, I'd be grateful for the information. It's a good scraper, ideal corer and, aesthetically, just lovely.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

tooth hurty leftover soup

Even with tooth ache I still think about food. It seems pain is no barrier to hunger, or perhaps it's greed. Following in the family footsteps, Liv asked for smooth food when she got back from the dentist. While cooking I got blow by blow descriptions of injections, the callousness of dental professionals and the overwhelming, intolerable experience of pain. I tried to maintain interest, and summon up some sympathy. Fortunately experience has reduced my daughters' expectations, apart from when it comes to food.

Soup is a clear winner as a post dentist meal. I do like a clear soup, with cabbage and carrot in visible strips, especially with home made stock, but that isn't suitable now, as bits can get caught in holes: we'll move along. Out with the stick blender, some leftover dhal and green stir fry, heat both up with a mugful of water, blend to make a smooth soup and bob is your uncle. I like a bit of toast to go with, and if you're worried about the bits, tear it up and let it soak a little in the soup.

Simple, and delicious. And no, Liv, we won't be getting a microwave.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

red fruit coulis - no sugar added

Coulis, is a jewel coloured fruit tang that adds a lot to desserts. Fancy chefs scribble on the plate with it, and sit chocolate mousses, cakes and more on top. It's a lovely supplement to a fruit salad, it's the ripple in the raspberry ripple, and it's a way to keep the flavour of red soft fruit without having the depressing sight of it turning into mush: it's mush with attitude.

On Sunday it worked brilliantly alongside Kitty's creme brulee (NB the creme brulee that was pronounced by a grateful cousin as the best he'd ever tasted). The coulis was made of thawed frozen fruit (500g bag of raspberries, redcurrants, blackberries and ... more). Instead of sugar I used 12 dates, soaked for a few hours in water (straight from the kettle, boiling water). The fruit was blended with the dates, along with the water and and the mixture was passed through a sieve to get rid of all those little pips that get stuck in your teeth, and in between your teeth. The result was a rich red, full bodied, flavoursome coulis, that will go very well with the meringues being made at the moment, from all the leftover egg whites. Sugar is used in the meringue, not dates. If your coulis is too thick, go mad, and add some more water.

Left over coulis can be frozen in ice cube trays and decanted into plastic bags. Unthickened coulis would top a cheesecake, a merveille.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Lemony Almond Shortbread


Makes 30+

This is a mixture of recipes for shortbread, with a mixture of flours, almond, plain flour and a little wholemeal flour. The almonds add a little flavour, and make the biscuits a tiny bit chewy. The lemon flavour comes out. If you are substituting non wheat flour it will make the biscuits crisper, and you don’t need to let the dough rest. If you don’t want to use butter (or don’t have any) it’s best to chill the dough before using it, and the biscuits will cook a little quicker.

Be careful around these biscuits, I’ve just eaten more than I meant to, with a cup of tea. I’m regretting it only because I’m quite uncomfortable. Eating them seemed so right at the time.

200g plain flour (or 175/25 plain/wholemeal mix)
225g salted butter, softened
125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1tsp lemon zest (grate really fine)
150g ground almonds
  • Beat the butter and sugar together, along with the lemon zest, until creamy. Use a machine to avoid arm ache.
  • Beat in the dry ingredients a little at a time. It may not seem likely to come together into a dough, but it will. Don’t add any liquid.
  • Press the dough together and allow to rest for half an hour. Up to this point you can prepare the dough ahead and leave it, using it a bit at a time.

When you’re ready to make biscuits set the oven to Gas Mark 3/325F/150C (a moderate oven).

Prepare a baking tray – line it with baking parchment.
Roll out the dough and cut with a cutter if you like – and prick with a fork, or roll balls about the size of a walnut – and flatten with a fork.

Cook for 20 minutes, or until very lightly golden.
Allow to sit for 5 minutes before putting the biscuits on a rack to cool.



Saturday, 3 September 2011

pudding contribution... burnt cream, pineapple with raspberry coulis

Kit's cooking creme brulee for our contribution to lunch tomorrow, starting with an accompaniment of Good Vibrations. We've lost the dinky kitchen blowtorch so Steve will be used a flamethrower to caramelise the sugar. A normal blowtorch actually, that was a lie. Kit's last attempt at melting the sugar in the oven resulted in an overcooked scramble meets old custard, which was unpleasant. I hope she remembers the vanilla this time too. It's so easy to forget an ingredient when you're doing a recipe that seems familiar.

We got loads of fantastic fruit on Portobello Market today. Plums (purple skinned quetsch type, not the Victorias they were labelled as, since they are yellow flesh and reddish yellow skin. A bit of a shocker the innacuracy of experienced grocers.) raspberries, strawberries, and apples. The pineapple is massive and delicious. Blue (dog) added it to her fruit-I-like list. It will go with us as an additional pud to have with the creme, and I'll make a raspberry coulis ... pictures to follow.

She's got onto Ed Sheeran now, he doesn't need them and he didn't go to Brit School. They must be about to go into the oven.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Delicious green stir fry

I love a tangy stir fry, and I’ve been reading a lot of Vietnamese and Thai recipes lately. I've been buying old cook books from charity shops, and they have reminded me of the time, not so far away,er when recipes mentioned garlic in hushed tones. No more sotto voce now, I don’t know many people who don’t want the kick of spices, garlic and ginger.

This dish is bright green and fresh, the cabbage is just cooked, accompanied with green peppers, peas and onion. I pair it with coconut dhal, and prefer bread to rice as an accompaniment. It's easy to make, you do all the slicing in advance, heat up the pan and go. The dhal can be prepared in advance. This is enough for two people, on the greedy side, more with the dhal. 

Base for blitzing:
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 slice ginger
1 shallot (1/2 small onion)
handful of fresh coriander, washed, with roots on
1 large pinch of salt
a couple of spoonfuls of water

Stir Fry ingredients
1/4 savoy cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
2 large shallots/1 onion, sliced lengthwise
2 handfuls frozen peas
1/2 tsp vegetable bouillon+water or thai fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar or honey
1/2 lime

  • blitz or pound together 1st six ingredients
  • prepare all other ingredients
  • heat up wok, adding a slug of  oil (corn, groundnut or veg oil)
  • add half the blitzed ingredients and stir, turning down the heat if it starts to brown
  • add half the sliced veg, stir and add a slug of water (or fish sauce) cook for a minute, stirring all the time
  • add the rest of the veg and blitzed mixture, bouillon and the frozen peas, keep stirring, adding water if necessary, cook for 30 seconds, until the cabbage starts to wilt
  • add sugar or honey, stir and turn off the heat
  • squeeze over the lime

Eat

This combination was a favourite of my Aunt’s, especially when her cancer meant her appetite was reduced. The strong flavours seemed to cut through, so she enjoyed eating again. The stir fry is light and flavoursome with a citrus tang, and the curried dhal is easy to eat, as well as being a good contrast in terms of texture and flavour. The other pleasure is how the food looks on the plate, a patchwork of greens contrasting with a golden yellow. 

Monday, 1 August 2011

Pan cooked cornbread

I found this recipe in the Weber cookbook. That's the cookery book published by the manufacturer of the original kettle barbecue. It's meant to be cooked on the barby, lid off, in a cast iron skillet. I cook it in the oven, in a frying pan. I also use tinned corn, just one large tin, and I don't leave the seeds in the chilli. Thank you Mr Weber (or Ms?).  I use coarse cornmeal and gluten free bread flour, so it's a wheat free recipe. It is sweet and flavoursome and beautifully yellow, really golden. It makes a large loaf. I will try it again in a smaller pan, with two eggs, and halve rest of the ingredients, using a smaller pan, 8"/20cm, not a cake tin, because it's not heavy enough.

RECIPE

you'll need a heavy 10"/25cm pan, that can go into the oven.

set oven to medium hot

Ingredients
1 large can of sweetcorn
2 cups coarse cornmeal (polenta)
1.5 cups gluten free bread flour
2 tsps baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 large pointy red chilli
.5 cup of marg or butter
pinch salt

Method
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together and stir through until well mixed.
Split chilli down the middle and deseed, slice finely.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, chilli pepper and corn.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Melt the butter in a heavy 10"/23cm pan over gentle heat, swill it around and pour it into the mixture, stirring until it's well blended. Don't wipe the pan.
pour batter into the pan and level off.
Put the pan into a medium oven and cook for 25m or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. The cornbread will have shrunk away from the sides.

This bread is delicious with sour cream, or soft cheese. Of course it goes well with bbq'd meats and salads.

If you fancy it, add some roasted red pepper.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

plum cake with almond flour - wheat free


This is the wheat free version of plum cake, very moist. Next time I'll pack more plums on, if I can, the cake mixture was almost invisible when it went into the oven, and then up it bubbled in the cooking. The flour mixture is half almond flour, half gluten free bread flour (1.5 cups of each), with 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder.



salad dressing with moving pictures

video

The recipe is this, if you can't hear me. Dressing, or vinaigrette if you prefer. My kitchen isn't really that dark, but it is that old fashioned looking. No microwave.

1 clove garlic (peeled)
salt (preferably maldon) hearty pinch
pepper several good grindings
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 to 4 tbsp best olive oil



with some extra writing about it here

Friday, 29 July 2011

end of mango season

I've heard that there are over 400 varieties of mango. Around here the ones that come in boxes in early summer are my favourite, they are deliciously  sweet, fibreless and the flesh melts in the mouth. They have a milky orange thin skin, and I think they come from Pakistan, and are a type called causa. The season is almost finished, and I've just frozen the flesh from ten mangoes to use later. I cut the flesh and blended it, adding the juice of one lime, and I'll use it in ice creams and smoothies.

This is a site telling you lots about the lovely mango, and here is another good mango site.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

plum cake

I am thoroughly enjoying the plums, which when eaten fresh off the tree are wonderfully sweet. At the optimum ripeness the stone falls out once the plum is cut. The raw flesh is a soft green, and the skin is purpley black, with a dusty bloom. The skin lends a light bitterness, which is a welcome contrast  to the sweet pulpy flesh. I like to cook the plums for just a minute, adding a few spoonfuls of water and the same amount of sugar. Demerera.  This makes a beautiful ruby red syrup, and, lightly poached, the plums keep their shape. The bitter tang of the skin is slightly more pronounced in the cooking, balanced nicely with the sweetness of the syrup.

The winner of the plum recipes so far has been this cake. The plums sit on top of the mixture, which is flavoured with lemon zest backed by the lightest addition of mixed spice. I wanted to take a picture of the whole cake, but before I had a chance the eating had begun. It seems it's an all times of day cake. It certainly goes very well with a cup of tea, and coffee and, apparently, works very well as a follow-on course for a full breakfast.

I cut the plums into quarters, and I don't worry which way up they are. Reckless, I know. So the top of the cake looks a bit random, but it works. Also I won't give a fixed weight of plums, expect to use at least half a pound of plums per cake, you may prefer more. Enjoy yourself.

Recipe
Butter an 9"/23cm cake tin with a removable base
Ingredients
185g butter or marg
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp of mixed spice (or cinnamon if you don't have the mixed stuff)
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
3 tbsp milk
1/2 lb plums
3 tbsp demerera sugar
set oven to 180C
cut your plums in half and remove the stones, then cut into quarters
mix flours together with spices and stir or sift - in a separate bowl
beat the butter, rind and sugar together (easier if fat is not straight out of the fridge) - use an electric mixer or a stick whisk if you've got it - until light and fluffy
beat in the eggs one at a time, until combined
add half the sifted flour and a tablespoonful of milk and stir to combine
repeat with the rest of the flour and stir until completely combined
spread the mixture into the tin, smoothing until it's level
scatter the quartered plums over the cake mixture until you can see nothing but plums
sprinkle the demerera sugar over the top, as evenly as possible

bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean

allow the cake to cool a bit before removing from tin

I prefer this cake cold, but it goes well with ice cream or cream when warm

If you can keep this cake a couple of days I think it improves, but I've only evidence of this from tiny residual slices.

Alternatives
you can use tinned fruit, but it will be wetter and less sharp, so reduce the milk and demerera

subsitute almond flour for the plain flour, and use gluten free s.r. flour to make this cake gluten free - it will need an extra 1/2 tsp of baking powder, and will be a bit more crumbly, but very very tasty

Monday, 25 July 2011

Omelette - so good if you don't panic

Omelette, like maionnaise, and numerous other simple dishes, is often thought of as being tricky. The trick is to make sure the frying pan is not too hot. I add a splash of water into two eggs for the perfect omelette, just beat the eggs with pepper and salt or whatever seasoning you like, heat the pan, turn the heat down a bit, throw a small pat of butter in to melt, while you beat the eggs and then pour the egg mixture into the pan. As the eggs cook, pull the cooked eggs in and ease the uncooked mixture into the gaps. Once there isn't enough egg mixture to fill gaps, get ready to serve. Depending on how runny you like it in the middle. This is the point where you add cheese, if you're indulging in a cheese omelette. Fold the omelette over gently, and ease it onto a plate. It should look like this: