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!

 

 

 

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.

 

Barley risotto with pistachios and raisins

Why do we call barley, cooked with vegetables, meat etc, ‘risotto’, when clearly ‘risotto’ refers to rice in Italian? Maybe it’s because ‘barley’ translates as ‘orzo’ in Italian, which the English speaking foodie world expects to be a very small version of pasta (made from durum wheat), which I have always seen described as ‘rice-like’. I think that probably answers the question!

This recipe is an adaptation of one appearing in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 January 2015. Enough for 3 people:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)Barley_pistachio&raisin_risotto
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 200g pot barley
  • 1000ml vegi stock
  • Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
  • Small bunch mint and parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp pistachios (toasted and roughly chopped)
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • Black pepper to taste

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini (mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth)
  • 60g yogurt
  • A pinch of sumac
  • ½ tsp harissa

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the seeds and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the barley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 50 minutes until the barley is ‘al dente’ (add more water during the cooking, if necessary). Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.

Serve with roasted vegetables (I used some previously roasted butternut squash (reheated in the microwave)).

Butternut squash and ginger muffins

A squash based muffin recipe. These are low sugar and low fat, but I still think a quite acceptable as a ‘sweet cake’. Makes 12 small muffins:

  • 12 small muffin casesButternut_Muffins
  • 40ml light olive oil
  • 40ml milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 400g (previously roasted) butternut squash (skin and seeds removed)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated root ginger
  • 200g wholemeal plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 60g light soft brown sugar
  • 75g raisins

Place the muffin cases in a muffin baking tin.

Heat the oven to 210C (Gas Mark 7).

Liquidise the oil, milk, eggs, squash and ginger.

Sieve together the flour, baking powder and sugar, into a large bowl, and stir in the raisins

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and whisk the contents together.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for about 15 minutes until cooked.

Caponata

CaponataTileEnough for 3:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1  aubergine (chopped into largish chunks)
  • 1 red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 celery sticks (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 a large red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp capers (rinsed)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed or finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 750g ripe tomatoes (cored, deseeded and sliced (save the liquid from the tomatoes by rubbing the seeds though a sieve))
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • A handful of basil leaves

Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a large heavy pan. Fry the aubergine chunks in hot oil until they begin to colour. Turn down the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the onion, celery, pepper, capers, garlic and raisins, and cook gently until the mixture is soft.

Spread the mixture over a large baking tray and scatter the tomatoes over the top. Mix together the tomato liquid, pepper, lemon juice, vinegar and sugar, and pour this mixture over the vegetables.

Cook in the oven at 140C (Gas mark 1) for about a hour or until the tomatoes begin to fall apart (I cooked mine (in the top of the oven) with slow roasted lamb, increasing the oven temperature to 140C for the final hour). mix in the basil leaves before serving.

Moroccan mushrooms with couscous

This is based on a recipe I found on the BBC GoodFood website. Enough for 2:

Mushroom_chickpeas

  • Oil
  • 150g mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
  • 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • ½ 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ 410g tin chickpeas (drained)
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 90g couscous
  • ½ tsp harissa
  • 3 soft dried apricots (diced)
  • 20 raisins
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 130ml boiling water
  • Flat parsley (roughly chopped)

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and stir constantly over a high heat until they start to soften. Set aside.

Heat a 1 tbsp oil in another saucepan. Gently cook the onion 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cinnamon, cumin and chilli flakes, and cook for 1 min. Then stir in the tomatoes, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix ½ tbsp. of oil and the harissa and stir into the couscous (in a bowl). Stir in the dried apricots, raisins and pin nuts. Pour over the boiling water, stir and then cover. Leave to stand for 7 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

When the tomato mixture has simmered for 15 minutes, stir in the mushrooms, the chickpeas and honey. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

To serve, fluff up the couscous with a fork, and serve with the mushroom mixture, scattered with parsley.

I served this with some green beans.

 

Lamb tagine

tagine1-horz

This is my version of lamb tagine. Sainsburys had a special offer on butterflyed (boned) lamb legs.  Mine weighed about 750g and I used half of it (diced) for this meal for 2 or 3 people (more with more vegetables and some couscous). I will slow roast the other half of the meat within the next day or so:

  • Oil
  • 375g diced lamb (could use leg, shoulder, fillet – cooking times will vary)
  • 2 smallish onions (cut into narrow wedges)
  • 4 dates (stoned and roughly chopped)
  • 3 semi-dried apricots (roughly chopped – dried apricots will need soaking)
  • a small handful of raisins
  • 1 clove of garlic (finely chopped or crushed)
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small piece of cinnamon
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1/3 of a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (the remaining tomatoes can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container (should last at least a week))
  • 1/2 stock cube (crumbled) – I used a mix of chicken and beef
  • Hot water
  • 1 large sweet potato (peeled, cut in quarters lengthways and cut into 2.5cm lengths)
  • 1 400g tin of chickpeas (drained)

Heat a little oil in a large saucepan (or a casserole dish that can go on the hob). Tip the lamb pieces into the pan and stir until they brown. Remove the meat.

Turn down the heat and add the onions to the pan and gently cook (stirring occasionally) for 5 minutes. Add the dates, apricots, raisins, garlic, chilli, cumin and cinnamon. Stir and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

Return the meat the the pan. Add the bay leaf, the tomatoes, the stock cube and enough hot water to cover the meat mixture. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour (longer if you are using tougher cuts of meat).

Add the sweet potatoes. Bring back to the boil and simmer for another 25 minutes. Add the chickpeas. Bring back to the boil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve.

This tasted very good and I did wonder if the absence of meat would have made a lot of difference. So you could try a vegetarian version, using vegi-stock powder, without the lamb and with some more vegetables – I think adding pieces of parsnip along with the sweet potatoes might be the answer. I will try it soon and blog the results.