Carrot Cake

This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. I reduced the size by 60% and it still provides enough for a reasonable (but not greedy) eight portions. I also cut down the butter and sugar by 20%, used wholemeal instead of white flour, and added some raisins:CarrotCakeTile

  • 80g butter (softened)
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 70g plain wholemeal flour
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs (separated)
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 40g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g coarsely grated  carrots
  • A small handful of raisins
  • Mascarpone icing (half this quantity with lime juice and zest)

Preheat the oven to (180C or gas mark 4).

Line a small loaf tin (mine was 20×10 cms) with silicone paper. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.

Sift together the flour, the baking powder and the mixed spice.

Beat the egg whites until stiff, using the electric whisk.

Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, with a little flour and add the orange zest and juice. Then mix in the remaining flour, ground almonds, walnuts, grated carrot and the raisins, making sure all the ingredients are well combined. Then gently fold the egg whites into the cake mix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, longer if necessary.

When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to stand for about 10 minutes, and turn out (so the cake is upside-down) onto a cooling rack. When thoroughly cool, ice the ‘top’ of the cake. ENJOY!

 

 

 

Torta di spinaci e riso

TortaSpinaciRiso-tile

One reason for making this, is that Rachel Roddy said in her column in the Guardian’s Cook Supplement on 30 January 2016 (which provides the recipe on which this is based), “Italy is where … leftovers really do still rule, helping cooking feel like a continuum” – has she been reading my blog?

Anyway, I also needed to use most of a 260g bag of spinach leftover from a stir-fry. Enough for 3 people:

  • 200g spinach
  • 125g risotto rice
  • small onion (finely chopped)
  • 20g butter
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 40g parmesan (grated)
  • black pepper to taste
  • oil (to brush the cake tin)
  • 1 heaped tbsp bread crumbs

Quickly wilt the spinach in a hot pan. Remove it to a plate, allow to cool, and snip into smaller pieces with scissors.

Cook the rice in boiling water and drain.

Heat the butter in a pan and cook the onion very gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Brush a cake tin (about 20cm in diameter) with a little oil and dust with the bread crumbs.

Heat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).

Mix together the spinach, rice, onion and parmesan, and then mix in the beaten egg and add black pepper. Place the mixture in the cake tin, smoothing the top with a spoon.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I served mine with roasted baby plum tomatoes.

 

Lemon polenta cake

Lemon_Polenta_Cake

This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. As Nigella says, this is an Anglo-Italian crossover recipe. It’s basically an iced lemon drizzle cake made with polenta and ground almonds instead of wheat flour. I made it for my Art Class yesterday, and it seemed to be pretty popular. It’s also gluten-free provided you use gluten-free baking powder. This made 12 quite generous portions:

The cake:

  • olive oil for greasing the cake tin lining
  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g fine polenta (or cornmeal)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 large eggs
  • finely grated zest from 2 unwaxed lemons (reserve the juice (see below))

The syrup:

  • juice of 2 lemons (see above)
  • 125g icing sugar

The icing:

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 70g reduced fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia or similar)
  • 90g icing sugar
  • zest from another unwaxed lemon
  • lemon juice to taste
  • a few lemon segments (for decoration)

Line the bottom and sides of a cake tin with baking parchment (I used a rectangular tin about 18cm x 27cm), which I also brushed with olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4).

Beat the butter, and when creamed, add the caster sugar (I used a hand held electric whisk).

Sift together the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder. Beat some of this into the butter/sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating with every addition.

Beat in the lemon zest and spoon the mixture (which should be quite stiff) into the prepared tin. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until browned and cooked through (test with a fine skewer, if it comes out clean, then the cake is cooked). Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, leaving the cake in its tin.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

Prick the top of the cake all over with a large needle, pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before removing from the tin.

Make the icing by whisking together the mascarpone, the cream cheese and the icing sugar. Add a little lemon juice (to taste).

Turn out the cake. Spread the icing on top, and use a fork to make a close, lined pattern. Grate a little lemon zest over the icing, and cut the cake into squares.Decorate each square with a small piece of a lemon segment (use two or three segments in total).

I put each square in a muffin case, which I had ‘reshaped’ by folding around a suitably sized square plastic box (you could use a child’s wooden brick (clean it first!)).

 

 

Gatto di patate

Gatto_di_patate

More comfort food – this time an Italian potato cake, based on a recipe in today’s Guardian, by Rachel Roddy. You get lovely warming, buttery, cheesy potato with a layer of melted, slightly chewy, cheese in between. I served mine with lightly cooked broccoli. Enough for four people.

  • 750g mashed potato (I baked some largish potatoes, and removed most of the cooked potato, so I could use the skins as a separate snack)
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 35g butter
  • Nutmeg
  • Black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
  • 80g provolone cheese (or mature gouda, or emmental)
  • 125g mozzarella ball
  • A little olive oil (to grease the baking dish)
  • 1 tbsp finely ground breadcrumbs

Mash the potato together with the parmesan, 25g of butter, grated nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Lightly beat together the eggs and the milk, and mix into the potato mixture.

Cut the provolone and mozzarella into small (0.5cm) cubes.

Grease the inside of an oven proof dish (I used a square earthenware dish about 21cm square) with the olive oil. Place half the potato in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle with the cubed provolone and mozzarella. Place the remaining potato on top and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter.

Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, at 180C (Gas Mark 4), or until the top is brown and crispy. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

Lentil and bulgur pilaf

This is based on an Ottolenghi recipe, which he suggests is one of the ultimate comfort foods. My version contains far less oil and butter, but still seems fairly comforting to me. Enough for 2 people as a main meal.

  • 5 tbsp olive oil;Lentil&bulgar_Pilaf
  • 1 aubergine (cut into 2cm dice);
  • 60g bulgur;
  • 70g green lentils (rinsed);
  • Bay leaf;
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 1 medium onion (chopped);
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed);
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric;
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice;
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 170ml water;
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds;
  • 1 tbsp raisins;
  • Zest of half a lemon (grated);
  • 15g butter;
  • Black pepper;
  • Lemon juice to taste;
  • Fresh coriander;
  • Greek yogurt (to serve on the side).

Mix 3 tbsp of oil with the diced aubergine. Spread the aubergine on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180C (Gas mark 4), until browned and nearly cooked though.

Meanwhile, cook the lentils with the bay leaf on plenty of water. Bring to the boil, simmer for 12 minutes and drain (they should be al dente).

At the same time, heat the remaining oil in a large oven proof, lidded casserole, and cook the cumin seeds for about 1 minute. Turn down the heat, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, allspice and cinnamon, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the bulgur and the water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Stir in the aubergines, lentils, almonds, raisins, lemon zest and butter, and season with black pepper. Place in the oven at 160C (Gas Mark 3), and bake for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are just becoming soft.

Stir in lemon juice to taste, and serve sprinkled with coriander and a portion of Greek yogurt.

 

Mash with kale and cheese

Kale&Brie_Mash_Tile

This is the ultimate in comfort food. The recipe is based on one from Waitrose Kitchen magazine for March 2015. This is a very simple dish, which can be eaten on its own. But it would also go well with poached eggs or sausages. Enough for 2 people:

  • 100ml milk
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 500g potatoes (peeled and cut into 2cm chunks)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 20g butter
  • black pepper
  • 100g shredded kale (with tough stalks removed)
  • 4 spring onions (cut into 2cm lengths, and split in half lengthways)
  • 50g brie (thinly sliced)
  • 20g cheddar (grated)

Heat the milk, to boiling, with the thyme. Cover, and leave to infuse.

In a saucepan, cover the potatoes, bay leaves and garlic with cold water. Bring to the boil, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Drain, remove the bay leaves, and return to the pan. Leave, uncovered, over a very low heat, for about 5 minutes, to dry the potatoes.

Mash together the potatoes, garlic, 10g of butter and the milk (having removed the thyme), and season with black pepper. Keep warm.

Heat the remaining butter in a large pan. Add the kale and spring onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes, until the kale is just about cooked. Stir in the mashed potato and the cheeses.

Serve.

 

Chicken liver paté

Chicken_Liver_Pate_Tile

This is very quick (and also cheap) to make.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small shallot (finely chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme (leaves only)
  • 250g chicken livers (veins removed, and roughly chopped)
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 45g butter
  • Black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Stir in the shallot and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Turn up the heat, add the chicken liver, and stir-fry until cooked through (about 2.5 minutes).

Take off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Tip the mixture into a food processor, together with the brandy, 20g of the butter and black pepper. Process until smooth.

Transfer the paté to a shallow dish, and smooth the surface.

Melt the remaining butter and pour over the paté. Allow to cool, before storing in the fridge.

I served mine with soda bread.