Tag Archives: easy recipe

Chocolate and Beetroot Loaf Cake- Just Mix it

My Father in law was going away recently and gave me some items from his fridge to use up. There were three cooked and peeled bulbs of beetroot in a bowl. Hmm I said. Salad? nah. Cake? Yes! And I’m not a fan of the hiding vegetables-in-cake brigade, as

a) My family EAT vegetables

b) I’m hesitant about the nutritional value of the said vegetable post bake

Anyway, in this case the beetroot needed using, so chocolate cake ensued. Beetroot is almost always organically grown as it is resistant to most pests. Good News.  But grows best in cooler climes, so with the onset of climate change definitely starting to affect us here… Bad News.

9/365 Beetroot

Chocolate and Beetroot Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

150g of cooked beetroot (simply boil in it’s scrubbed skin until soft, then peel)

140g plain white flour

1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder

60g good quality cocoa powder

150g caster sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

140g sunflower oil

50g dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

Heat your oven to 170oC.  Grease a good quality loaf tin, and line with baking paper, bringing it well up the sides. Unusually I am using my Kenwood food processor, that I normally wouldn’t DREAM of making cakes in.  (and yes, since you’re asking I dream about making cakes ALL the time)
Beetroot Cake

Anyway, I digress.  “Blend” the beetroot until like little grated chunks. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla, eggs and cocoa.  Blend again slowly then add the oil down through the chute until you get a nice sloppy cake consistency.  You may need to scoot around the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is nicely blended.

Pour/ scoop into the prepared tin and sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top.

Beetroot Cake

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until the skewer comes out almost clean.  Leave in the tin to cool down completely.

This is a rich, dense cake that lends itself to be eaten with some softly whipped cream. And no, you don’t taste the beetroot.
Beetroot Cake

 

Tiramisu- My “secret” recipe

Who doesn’t love Tiramisu? Even people who don’t like coffee like tiramisu.  Regular readers will have seen my tiramisu cake, which is VERY popular and velvety smooth to have as a dessert at the end of a meal. And although it takes a little while to make, it’s very simple.

Tiramisu

The essential ingredients- good coffee and cocoa powder

My Tiramisu Recipe 
Ingredients:
For the sponge
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
30g cocoa powder
For the filling
1 tablespoon instant coffee (Fine granules)
150ml boiling water
50ml tia maria
3 x 250g mascarpone cheese
300ml cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar
65g grated dark chocolate
For the decoration
100g finely chopped dark chocolate
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Method:
Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease a Swiss roll tin and line with baking paper, or line two round 7” tins.
For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick. Sift over the flour and cocoa and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula.

Tiramisu

Mixing the flour and cocoa in….

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin (tins) and tilt the tin to level the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked. Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the tia maria. Set aside to cool. Brush the tops of each cake with the alcohol/ coffee mixture. Wrap sponges in clingfilm until ready to ice.
Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar. Decide on your serving dish, what you make the dessert in, is what you will put on the table so choose carefully.  Add broken bits of the cake to the dish, then spread 1/2 of the mascarpone icing over the soaked sponge.

Tiramisu
Scatter over 1/2 of the grated chocolate.
Place the second sponge on top in pieces if you have to to make it fit (you won’t see this as it chills), spoon over the rest of the coffee mixture then spread more of the icing over the soaked sponge. Spread the rest of the icing in a thicker layer over the top layer. Chill for at least two hours in the fridge before final decoration- of- you guessed it- more grated chocolate! Divine!
Tiramisu

Italian Biscuits- to have with a nice strong coffee, or tea..

Or just to nibble. Who doesn’t love a nice cuppa with a little something on the side.. and the sound of Italian Biscuits is so alluring.

There’s always either egg yolks or egg whites in the fridge. And these biscuits use up egg whites not destined for macaron, or meringue. A biscuit can be several different things depending on which side of the oceans you are on.  In America, when I visited New Orleans, a biscuit was a kind of what we would call a scone.  Mind you they serve them with gravy.  Yes, *sigh* I didn’t really get my head around it either.

What is really interesting is that in her book “English Bread and Yeast Cookery”, Elizabeth David had a section on soft biscuits in which she writes…

“It is interesting that these soft biscuits (such as scones) are common to Scotland and Guernsey, and that the term biscuit as applied to a soft product was retained in these places, and in America, whereas in England it has completely died out.

These “new” biscuits, were hard, flat and unleavened. In some parts of Europe they were baked twice, like the Italian biscuits called biscotti served in cafes across Italy. But all were used as a dry form of food that was easily carried. By the 7th century AD this was changing. The sweetness of a biscuit was much desired.

Fast forward to my recipe for today.

Richard Bertinet’s Italian Biscuits

Ingredients:

300g Icing Sugar

300g ground almonds

2 teaspoons of honey

3 egg whites

Butter for greasing the baking tray

Method

Mix the ground almonds and icing sugar together, add in the honey and the egg whites.  Mix this together until you have a smooth dough.  Leave to chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 150oC.  Prepare your baking trays.

Italian Biscuits

Italian Biscuits- the dough in rolls ready to slice

Divide the dough into four and roll each piece to a rough sausage shape. Slice each of these rolls into about ten pieces and place on the trays.  I used the end of a small butter knife to make an indent in each biscuit.  Being careful not to go straight through to the tray.

Add some jam or something sweet that you might have into the dent.  I used some salted caramel spread in some, and some raspberry curd in others.  It was suggested that nutella might also be acceptable! But I’m not a nutella fan.

Italian Biscuits

Caramel and Raspberry curd filling

Now comes the tricky bit.  Bake for around 15 minutes. They will still be soft coming out of the oven, but once rested they will slide off the trays to cool. They need to be coloured on top.

Divine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood Orange & Ricotta Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Not only are you probably all sick of pancakes, you are also a little fed up of my current blood orange obsession.  Well fear not, this is the last blood orange hurrah…. and these pancakes are SO totally worth it.  With, or without the chocolate sauce.

Blood Orange & Ricotta Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
FOR THE PANCAKES:
250g ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon blood orange zest
2 tablespoon blood orange juice
120g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
FOR THE SAUCE:
200g chopped chocolate
2 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 teaspoon blood orange zest
20g butter
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
To serve: Some chilled mascarpone cheese combined with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
Method
To make the sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, place over a pan of simmering water, stirring frequently until the chocolate is melted and looking smooth. Turn off the heat but leave over the pan of water so it doesn’t thicken too much while you are making the pancakes.

Ricotta Pancakes

The Pancake Batter

In a large bowl, whisk together ricotta, sugar, eggs, orange zest and juice. Add flour and baking powder and stir until well combined.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add a little bit of butter to melt.

Ricotta Pancakes

Frying the batter

Ladle batter into the pan and cook pancakes until edges are beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.

Ricotta Pancakes

Chocolate Sauce with Mascarpone Cream

Serve pancakes topped with warm chocolate sauce.

Ricotta Pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes

Divine!

 

Midweek Chicken and Chips

Chicken and chips is one of lifes bonuses for getting through the week. But this is a lighter and easier version, both in portion size, and calorie wise, as it’s baked. I don’t coat the chicken in a batter, or a chilli sauce.  Simply toss it with the home baked chips in a simplified cajun dressing.  The lime juice and zest cuts through the fat of the oil used to cook the chicken and chips. You could also use this dressing to coat fish instead- for a midweek fish and chips.

Midweek Chicken and Chips

Ingredients:

1 kg Chicken Wings

1 teaspoon paprika

1 Teaspoon of onion flakes/ or celery salt

¼ teaspoon of cayenne

1 teaspoon of a dried green herb, preferably thyme

2 tablespoon of olive oil

Approx. 500g of potato, scrubbed.

Method
Chicken & Chips

Heat oven to 180oC.  In a bowl, whisk together the Cajun seasoning spices & Herbs, olive oil, lime zest and juice.  Cut the potatoes into chip sized chunks. Toss the chips, wings and Cajun mixture together in batches, so that everything is well coated.
Chicken & Chips

Cover a large baking sheet with foil if you want, I just oil my roasting tin well. Then arrange the chips around the outside and the wings in the middle. Season and bake for 20 mins, then turn the chips and return to the oven for a further 20-25 mins until the chips and wings are golden. Serve with lots of green salad.

Chicken and Chips

Chicken & Chips

My Pommes Boulangère Recipe

If I choose a gratin to make on a Autumn evening, chances are it’s going to be dauphinoise. But in the interest of research, and a small thought of trying to be a bit healthier monday to friday, I chose Pommes Boulangère.

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Apricot and Basil Frangipane Tart Recipe

I ‘m a fan of frangipane. And never would have been drawn to it when I was younger.  But for me it’s almost a perfect combination of spongelike texture with a pastry base. A match made in heaven once there isn’t an over-powering taste of almond essence. Ugh. Double ugh in fact.

The earliest mention is in a French Cookbook in 1674! Some believe that the name bears homage to St. Francis of Assisi. That a noblewoman named Jacopa da Settesoli brought some to him on his death bed in 1226.

Apricot & Basil Frangipane Tart

Apricot & Basil Frangipane Tart Prep

I like to make this tart a little hap hazard, no need for perfect pastry crust or to get the ruler out to measure the distance between the apricots. So I suppose it’s a pie really. The basil gives a lovely perfume to the apricot filing.  And somehow makes it a little less sweet, which, unlikely as it seems, is a good thing!

Apricot and Basil Frangipane Tart

Ingredients

200g plain flour

100g butter (from the fridge)

50g caster sugar

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

For the frangipane

100g soft butter

100g  caster sugar

2 eggs

140g ground almonds

75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

About 5 basil leaves

8-10 apricots, stoned and quartered

To serve

Icing sugar, softly whipped cream and vanilla bean paste

Method

To make the pastry, mix the flour, butter and a pinch of salt into your food processor.  Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add the sugar and pulse again. Add the vanilla, egg and 1-2 tablespoons of cold water, and pulse until the dough just comes together.  Tip out and shape into a disc.  Chill for 30 minutes, then roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper, as this pastry is very crumbly.  Line a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry, pressing it into the sides. Chill for at least 30 mins.

Meanwhile, prepare the frangipane.  Using electric beaters if you have them, beat the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition, then stir in the almonds, flour, and the torn basil leaves.

Heat oven to 160oC fan 4 and put in a baking tray to heat. Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth. Poke the apricots into the frangipane. Bear in mind it’s a very rustic tart.

Apricots
Transfer to the baking tray, in the oven, and bake for 40-50 mins (cover with foil after 30 mins if the tart is getting too dark) until the fruit is tender and a skewer poked in the frangipane comes out clean.

Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar, with a dollop of softly whipped cream mixed with a little vanilla bean paste, if you like.

Divine!

Apricots

A Muffle of Muffins

As you know I bake regularly for a cafe in Tramore. We decided to try muffins as an addition to the menu.  I  then had the happy task of trying some flavours out to the critics at home.

I was going with sweet as opposed to savoury muffins, and tried three flavours (drumroll please….)

Blueberry & Chia Seed  (to support the local business)

Banana & Chocolate (as there’d have to chocolate in ONE of them)

and lastly:

Caramelised Apple and Raisin

I debated before- (mostly with myself) what the differences are between a cup cake and a muffin.  For me- it’s two things- I don’t believe that a muffin needs icing.  Whereas a cupcake looks unfinished if not iced. The other is the texture and taste, the cupcake is just a miniature cake, whereas the muffin is not so refined, generally not as sweet and often flavoured with fruit.

First up was the Blueberry And Chia Seed Muffins
Muffins

Blueberry & Chia Seed Muffin

This baby is just belting out the healthy eating vibes.  Chia seeds are the buzz food of 2016, and add a nice topping and texture to the antioxidant busting blueberries in the mix.

Next Up:

Caramelised Apple and Raisin

This took a little longer to make, peeling apples is a pet hate of mine.  But I got through it- thanks for the concern. These ones had no specific topping, so I dusted them with some icing sugar.

Muffins

Caramelised Apple & Raisin

And last but not least-

Banana & Chocolate

These muffins were nearly too light in texture, which was odd really, as banana tends to make bakes a little soggy.

Muffins

Tasting went according to plan, and was civilised for a change. As usual we all had differing favourites.  ME? I think the banana and chocolate is a smidgeon ahead of the apple and raisin.  But really, I’d eat any of them.  Might try savoury ones next….

The Easiest Meringue Recipe in the world

People are often afraid of making meringue.  I find it a super dessert to make in advance.  A good friend of mine, Emily, had told me about a Rachel Allen recipe that basically just flung everything together and whisked the bejasus out of it. And I often make meringue the “meringue girls” way too.  But this recipe is specifically for pavlova.  And works every time.

MeringueI always use my stainless steel kenwood bowl for this job.  I’ve never made it by hand but can’t imagine it would be easy, unless you’ve popeye arms. Meringue

The secret is to put everything in the bowl, with some hot water, I think the hot water is almost the equivalent to making meringue the Italian way. Then it’s whipped on high for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are holding their shape.
MeringueI simply spread this onto a large, lined baking tray and spread into some sort of shape. If I’m making a large one I’ll make it square as it’s easier to portion, but this was just the usual family dinner, so I made a circle (ish)   Meringue
The other secret is the oven setting.  Although Rachel says you can use a fan oven, this recipe works best I feel when using the conventional one, as she suggests.  You simply heat the oven, on conventional, to 2000C, then simply switch it off when you put the tray into the oven to bake.  This means that you can make it last thing at night and simply walk away.  Mind you, be careful not to come down in the morning to turn the oven on again before taking the masterpiece out!

MeringueThe last thing to add is the topping.  Rachel suggests Mango and crystallised ginger.  I don’t always have a ripe mango to hand- who does?- so I go with a mixture of what fruit I have in the fridge.  And as this was a special dessert, I melted some chocolate to spoon over the assembled dish. Meringue