Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Hard Drive and the Mashed Potato

Do I need to explain my absence here or shall I just get on with it?  Sweep it under the carpet, dust off the blog and carry on...well, I'll tell you this, it's very dull.  My lap top hard drive failed, it took two weeks to fix but then I badly hurt my neck while washing my hair and couldn't type for another two weeks.  That's it, told you, unbelievably dull. This cake however, is anything but.

Back in the murky mists of time or February, I received a lovely card from my friends mother and inside was the recipe for this cake torn out of the Guardian.  I love post like this!  The cake not only sounded delicious, passion fruit and lime has to be a winner, but it also included mashed potato in the ingredients list.  This had to be tried immediately.  I had heard about mashed potato in gluten free cakes before.  I've had my eye on a recipe for a lemon drizzle version on BBC GoodFood for a while.  Don't be put off.  You really cannot tell the cake includes mashed potato and it gives the crumb a lovely moist texture and also makes the cake quite springy.

Gluten Free Passion Fruit and Lime Drizzle Cake Recipe from The Guardian

150g soft butter
150g soft light brown sugar (I used demerara)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 passion fruit, pulp scooped out
Zest of 2 limes
300g cold mashed potato
200g ground almonds
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder

For the topping:
*The original recipe calls for 175g icing sugar, sifted, Juice of 1-2 limes and 1 passion fruit, pulp scooped.
I had to adapt things here as I had no icing sugar and I'd run out of passion fruit so for my topping I used 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar and the juice of two limes.  I combined these in a saucepan and heated until the sugar had dissolved.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180C, 350F.
Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs and combine.  Stir in the passion fruit pulp, lime zest and mashed potato until you have a smooth batter.  Fold in the ground almonds and baking powder.
Transfer the batter in to the cake tin and bake for 1 1/4 hours until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  If the top of the cake is getting a little too well done loosely cover with foil.  I found I needed to do this.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake is cool user a skewer to create holes in the top of the cake and pour the topping mixture over.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Cumin Spiced Carrots and Chickpeas

So I’ve finally dragged myself back in the kitchen after a very quiet month of soups and stews and nothing much to share around here.  The last couple of days the sun has been shining, there has been a lull in the torrential rain and spring flowers are starting to peak through.  I dare to dream this might be the end of winter but then I remembered last March when it snowed...

I’ve been making this dish a lot over the last few weeks.  Sometimes for lunch or as an after work dinner.  Often we have it with smoked mackerel but it’s also really good on its own.  The recipe is from the wonderful blog Narturally Ella.  Erin’s recipes are always an inspiration when I’m looking for a healthy lunch alternative.  This one really appealed to me as I love the combination of carrots and cumin.  I also love her carrot ginger rice.  Clearly I have a carrot thing going on.  

I followed the recipe exactly adding some chopped kale in for the last few minutes in the oven as kale seems to accompany most meals in this house.

Find the recipe here.

Maybe next time I’ll manage to write up a recipe.  Oh what a lazy blogger I have been of late.  I can promise a passion fruit cake with some interesting ingredients will be making an appearance around here soon.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sticky Chocolate Orange and Prune Loaf

Things that are happening lately...
I’ve started a new job!  After 7 plus years in the same company it’s scary being the new girl again.  I’m two weeks in and surviving so far.
I no longer have a huge commute.  This is absolute bliss, quite literally.
I get an hour extra in bed.  Again, bliss.
I’ve hardly had a moment to get to grips with cooking/baking/blogging.  Things should balance out soon.  After all just think of all that time I’m saving not commuting.
I’m stuck in a lunch rut of either avocado or baked beans on toast, not together...ok sometimes together (this appals my husband).
I’ve made this apple cake but with pears 4 times since Christmas. It’s too good.
I’m desperate for warm sunny days.  Oh winter how I loathe you. 
This sticky chocolate orange and prune loaf cake over at London Bakes is a rich and decadent treat while still being on the lighter side.  I used brown rice flour to make it gluten free and skipped the liqueur as we never have anything so sophisticated to drink around here. 
Recipe here.

I hope you have a good weekend. x

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Everything in a Bowl

Well this has been a sorry state of affairs, no blog post for nearly a month and then all I have to show you is soup, and more butternut squash at that.  I’ve also caught myself in an awkward time zone.  It’s far too late to be mentioning Christmas, New Year or any of those resolution things so let’s just skip it all, talk about soup and pretend I didn’t fail to blog about any of that stuff. 

Soup has featured heavily around here lately.  Since the UK has been battered with storms and relentless rain we’ve gone in to hibernation mode, abandoning our usual routines in favour of reading books and eating anything out of a bowl, which usually means soup or stew but can also stretch to a jacket potato and baked beans.  The civility of the dining table has been abandoned for the comfort of the sofa and the odd film.  Meal times have really gone to pot around here. 

I made this soup for my Dad when he visited for a few days recently and he said it was “wizard” which I choose to take as a compliment.  It requires very little effort to pull together and lets the flavour of the roasted squash take centre stage. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Serves 2-3
600g butternut squash peeled and chopped in to chunks *you can make them smaller than the ones in the photo for speedier cooking time.
Approx 600ml stock
1 -2 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkling of dried rosemary
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2 shallots finely sliced.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Line a baking tray with parchment.  Place the chopped up butternut squash on the tray, toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with dried rosemary.  Roast for 40 minutes until the squash is nicely caramelised. 

About 5 minutes before the squash is ready place a splash of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the shallots for 5 minutes until soft.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute.  Remove the squash from the oven and tip in to the pan.  Next add the stock and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Leave the soup in the pan to cool for a few minutes then blend until smooth.  Return the soup to the pan and heat through.  Serve with crusty toast and toasted almonds if you like.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Man Flu Is Pretty Bad After All and Lemons in the form of Cake to the Rescue!

The last couple of weeks our house has been under the weather.  First my husband had it so I naturally dismissed it as a case of man flu...then I was felled too.  Runny noses, aches and shivers, coughs and a throat that felt like I swallowed a bag of razor blades.  I feel like all I’ve been eating is soup and the different flavours started to become indistinguishable.  Now I’m emerging the other side my taste buds and appetite are both making a small come back.  So even though I have many excellent soup recipes in my arsenal I don’t want to think about soup for a bit.  I’d much rather talk about this cake instead.

I mentioned this cake a while back and I’ve made it often this year.  For some reason I’ve never quite gotten round to posting the recipe which comes from the ever inspiring blog Sprouted Kitchen.  It’s moist, has a wonderful kick of lemon and lasts for several days if you can resist eating it all in one go.  Please don’t skip the lemon glaze.  It is a very easy extra step and really gives the cake a strong zap of lemon flavour and adds a nice crunch to the outside. 

I’m writing the recipe up here even though I didn’t change much so that you have the flours by weight should you choose to bake that way.  Enjoy.  It will brighten up the greyest of winter days!
2 large eggs
120ml olive oil
60ml plain natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
120g total demerara sugar
120g ground almonds
100g brown rice flour
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Lemon Glaze
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F
Line a 9” loaf tin with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl mix together the eggs, oil, yoghurt, lemon zest and juice. 
In a large bowl combine the flour, almonds, sugar, ground flaxseed, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and mix well.  Pour the mixture in to your prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 – 50 minutes.
While the cake is baking make the glaze.  Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  When the cake is ready remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before inverting the cake on to a cooling rack.  Prick holes in the top of the cake and pour over the lemon glaze.  Allow the cake to continue to cool completely as it absorbs the lemon glaze.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Butternut Squash, Pecan, Goat’s Cheese and Honey Toasts

I suppose I have to admit that winter is upon us.  The leaves are dropping from the trees in rapid succession, some of them are already bare, others are hanging on to their golden nuggets until those blustery winter winds finally win the battle and send them heading to the ground.  Soon we’ll be hanging Christmas decorations (most of you probably already have) and before we know it welcoming in a new year.  I’m not quite ready to let go of autumn yet so I’ve been taking quite a few photos of our weekend walks before winter is well and truly here and I forget all about those sometimes golden, sometimes grey skies.

I am also enjoying all things butternut squash.  You have been warned.  Last weekend when I was hunting around for something to eat for lunch I reached for the River Cottage Veg book which always seems to yield something tasty and easy that I can throw together.  The recipe uses sourdough as the bread of choice, which I am sure would be the way to go, however since I’ve yet to try making gluten free sourdough, sub whatever gluten free bread you have.  It will still taste fantastic, I promise.  Here the slightly sweet, caramelized flavour of the roasted squash is balanced out by melted goat’s cheese, toasted pecans and it’s all finished off with a drizzle of honey.  I threw in some kale too, but you should expect that of me by now.

Recipe adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 2
A handful of toasted pecans (or nut of choice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
200-250g butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite size cubes
2 leaves of cavolo nero kale (optional) stems removed and chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or thyme
50g goat’s cheese (I used hard goat’s cheese, you could also use cheddar)
2 thick slices of gluten free bread, toasted
A trickle of clear honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Lay the squash out in a single layer, sprinkle with rosemary and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for about 30 – 40 minutes until the squash is tender and beginning to caramelize around the edges.  If you are using the kale I add this to the pan five minutes before the squash is ready.  You just want the kale wilted in the heat of the oven.

When the squash is nearly ready light the grill and lightly toast the bread.  Remove from the grill and top with the squash, kale, goat’s cheese, pecans and finish with a drizzle of honey.  Return to the grill and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Dining Room, The Cauliflower and The Grain Free Pizza.

I’m sitting in my dining room, which has just been painted white by our landlord after years of peeling paint and strange patches on the walls.  I feel like I have a blank canvas to play with, full of potential.  Our living room on the other hand is packed full of our dining room furniture and pretty much resembles Steptoe’s Yard.  But I get to start again in this room.  This weekend we’ll start to drag stuff back.  I’ll put my vintage plates lovingly away in the dresser.  My husband will enjoy reorganising our music collection far more than a person should.  We’ll argue over how the books should be arranged and in what order.  Pretty soon it will look much as it ever did, a thoroughly lived in room with all the tapestry of our lives strewn about.  But for now it’s a blank canvas and how often do we get one of those?

I was going to make a tenuous link about pizza bases being a blank canvas but I won’t do that (except I just did). This is a pizza base with a difference since it is made from cauliflower.  I’d seen quite a few recipes for grain free pizza bases made from cauliflower around the internet and the idea intrigued me.  When I saw this recipe on Green Kitchen Stories the simplicity of the recipe appealed to my sometimes lazy attitude towards cooking and so I took the plunge and gave it a try.  It was a great success and my husband declared it the best “gluten free” pizza he’d had.  Notice he said “gluten free” because quite frankly if you are looking for this base to taste like real pizza you will be disappointed.  Personally I’ve forgotten what pizza tastes like but I know this isn’t going to replicate.  It does stand out on its own as a delicious alternative with a slightly nutty, sweet taste and softer texture. 

Since my husband can’t eat tomatoes these days I went for a goat’s cheese topping with roasted fennel and pear.  The result was delicious.  The sweetness from the caramelised fennel and pears complimented the tang of the goat’s cheese perfectly.  We’ll definitely be making this again many times in the future.

Pizza base recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories:  Serves 2-3
1 cauliflower (how much you use will depend on the size of the cauliflower)
80g ground almonds
1 tablespoon of dried rosemary (or whatever dried herb you like)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs beaten
Preheat the oven Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Line a baking tray with parchment and set aside.
Chop the cauliflower in to florets and process in a food processor to make a fine, rice like texture.  You should end up with about 700ml of cauliflower rice.  I started off in batches and stopped once I had reached 700ml.
Add the ground almonds, rosemary, seasoning and mix together with your hands.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs.  Mix together until a dough is formed, you will probably need to use your hands for this so be prepared to get messy.  Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.  It will be quite loose and sticky.  Push the dough out towards the edges of the baking sheet and flatten with your hands until a flat base is formed.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 fennel bulb finely sliced using a mandolin
1 pear finely sliced.
Hard goat’s cheese sliced
While the pizza is baking in the oven, place the fennel on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for about 15-20 minutes until the edges are beginning to caramelise and the fennel is slightly softer. 
When the pizza base is ready remove from the oven and top with the fennel, sliced pear and finally the goat’s cheese.  Return to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.