Thursday, 30 September 2010

baked eggs & spinach

Popeye would be proud of this! 
Eggs, spinach, nutmeg ... sort of like a florentine ... baked in a ramekin.

Serves 1

1 or 2 eggs (depending on how ravenous you are!!)
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 tablespoon of double cream
1 tablespoon of grated cheese
teaspoon of chopped chives
salt & pepper

Wilt the spinach in a pan with some butter. Drain.
Grease a ramekin with butter and put the spinach into the bottom.
Season, add the cream, grated cheese, half the chives and salt and pepper.
Crack the egg on top of the cream and spinach.
Put the rest of the chives and a grating of nutmeg on top of the egg.
Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Blackberry porridge

I came across this recipe when I was trawling through some food blogs, unfortunately I didn't save the link so I lost the exact recipe, so this is my guess version!  It has good intentions to be healthy with the berries and flaxseeds, however the cream on top kind of defeats the object .... Oh well!

Serves 2

Handful of blackberries (more for serving)
4 tablespoons of porridge oats
1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar
100ml milk
double cream

Put a large handful of the berries in a pan with the sugar and just enough water to cover. 
Cook over a low heat until the berries cook down and the mix begins to bubble.
Next add the porridge oats and continue to stir.
After a few minutes add the milk and bring back up to the boil.  You may need to add more water or milk to the porridge whilst it's cooking, as the amount of liquid you need will vary according to the type of oats you are using.
The porridge should be a pretty purple color and fluffy in texture once cooked.
Serve warm with a splash of double cream, a handful of blackberries and a sprinkle or flaxseeds for added health!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Gravlax with gin and juniper & homemade dill mayonnaise

This was my first go at making gravlax and mayonnaise, and surprisingly they both worked!  The recipe for the salmon is from Roast Figs Sugar Snow by Diana Henry. I served the salmon with some pickled cucumbers on toasted rye bread.

Serves at least 10

for the cured salmon:
1.5 kg (3lb 5oz) piece of salmon (preferably organic) in 2 halves, 
filleted but skin left on
1 tbsp chopped fennel fronds 
8 tbsp gin 
50g sea salt flakes
75g caster sugar
2tbsp freshly ground black pepper
15g chopped fresh dill
3/4 tbsp crushed juniper berries

Run your hand over the salmon flesh to make sure there are no little bones in it.  It there are, remove them with tweezers.

Spread out a piece of foil big enough to wrap round the salmon.  Rub gin all over the 2 pieces of salmon and set 1 piece of it on the foil skin-side-down.  Pour a little more gin over the fleshy side of the salmon, then mix the salt, sugar pepper, fennel, dill and juniper and press this on top of the salmon.  Sprinkle with a little gin.  Put the other piece of salmon on top, skin-side-up.  Sprinkle a little more gin on top.

Fold the foil round the salmon to make a package.  Set it on a wire rack and put this on a platter or roasting tin that can catch the liquid as it leaches out of the salmon.  Place a weight such as a chopping board on top and put in the fridge.  Turn the salmon package from time to time while it is curing.  You ca leave it from anything to 1 - 6 days.

Unwrap the package and scrape the sugar and salt of the salmon.  Using a very sharp knife, cut the salmon flesh horizontally into thin slices, leaving the skin behind.  

Dill mayonnaise
2 medium egg yolks
2 tsp of english mustard 
300ml olive oil
handful of chopped dill
juice of 1 lemon
salt & pepper

Put the egg yolks, mustard and salt and pepper into a large bowl and whisk.
Add the olive oil in steady streams every now and again, until incorporated.
Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the chopped dill and mix (this will loosen the mayonnaise).

chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, with cherries and pecans

Believe me, these cookies taste alot better than they look!  The dough tasted so good, that I am going to make some cookie dough ice-cream, so I have an excuse to eat it!
I got the recipe from , which is a really nice blog, beautiful photos too.

texas beef chili (again) with avocado salsa

So i've already blogged this texas chili beef recipe, but I made it again recently for a party with the added extra of avocado salsa ... this salsa is world famous amongst my girlfriends, so I thought i'd post it for them!

Serves 3

2 avocados
half a red onion
3 limes
a bunch of coriander
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp of chili flakes
1tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

finely chop the red onion and add to a large bowl.
Next half the avocado, remove the stone and score length and width ways, scoop out the avocado with a large spoon (the avocado should be cut into similar shaped chunks) and place in the bowl with the onion.
Finely chop the coriander and add to the avocado onion mix, along with the chili, garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil.  
Finally add the juice of 3 limes and stir.  
Check seasoning, you may need to add more salt or pepper.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

veggie stir-fry with egg, peanut, chili and lime

This stir-fry is dedicated to my family, as it is one of the only veggie dishes they won't turn their nose up at!!! 
It is the easiest thing to make, and you can put whatever vegetables you have hanging around in.  The key is to keep all the veg finely sliced, so it cooks quicktime! This recipe doesn't have any meat in, because I don't think you need it with the egg, but you could add some if you wanted. Grill or steam it beforehand, and add it to the stir-fry last minute. 

Serves 3

1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
2cm grated ginger
3 large handfuls of finely sliced vegetables
 (peppers, mushrooms, onions, carrots, cabbage etc)
2 handfuls of beansprouts
a bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
handful of cooked noodles (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
1tbsp peanut butter
2tbsp soy sauce
juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp of sweet chili sauce
chopped coriander
pickled ginger
sesame seeds

Heat the olive oil in a pan or wok, once this begins to smoke and the grated ginger and garlic, cook for a few minutes until it begins to smell (do not burn this!!)
Next add the veg, turn up the heat and cook for a few minutes.
whilst the veg is cooking add the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice and sweet chili in a bowl and mix.  Leave to one side.
Now add the beaten egg, followed by the noodles, spring onion and sesame oil to the pan, and mix. 
pour in the soy, peanut and lime mixture to the pan and and mix everything together.
Turn off the heat, sprinkle with coriander, sesame seeds and pickled ginger.

Lemon and poppy seed cake

This cake is from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.  I haven't tried any of their recipes before, but this was definitely a success.  It contains copious amounts of sugar .... in the sponge, lemon syrup ... and lemon icing, so if your diabetic .... or perhaps dating a dentist, this one is not for you!!

makes 12/16 slices

85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
245g caster sugar
grated zest of 1 1/2 unwaxed lemons
15g poppy seeds, plus extra to decorate
165ml whole milk
235g plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 egg whites

lemon syrup
freshly squeezed juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar

lemon glaze
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
250g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 170C  (325F) Gas 3.

Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and poppy seeds in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric whisk) and beat until the ingredients are well incorporated (don't worry if the mixture looks slightly split).
Slowly add the mil and continue to beat until incorporated (don't worry if the mixture looks slightly split).

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, scrapping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with with a rubber spatula after each addition.  Beat thoroughly until all the ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a handheld electric whisk until stiff peaks form.  Using a metal spoon, fold the whisked egg whites into the cake mixture until well mixed but do not overmix.  Pour into the prepared ring mould and smooth over with a palette knife.  Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched.

For the lemon syrup: While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice and zest, sugar and 100ml of water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a low heat,  Raise the heat and boil until it has reduced by half, or until it has a thin syrup consistency.  When the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over the top (which will be the bottom of the cake, once turned out of the pan).  Leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the lemon glaze: Mix the lemon juice and icing sugar in a bowl until smooth.  It should be thick but pourable - add a little more water or sugar to thin or thicken as necessary.

When the cake is cold, put on a cake stand, pour the glaze over it and decorate with poppy seeds.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Lavender shortbread

I picked this lavender out of my garden.  I put the stems in a low oven and baked until the flowers dried out and they fell off the stem easily.  The kitchen smelt beautiful!


¾ cup (2.25 oz) icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tbsp dried lavender
140g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp lemon zest (I didn't use the lemon zest in my shortbread)
1¾ cup (8.5 oz) plain all-purpose flour
3 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar (for coating)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the confectioner’s sugar and lavender together in a bowl.
Add the butter, lemon zest and lavender/sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until smooth and light in colour.
Add the flour and mix until well combined.

Add the egg yolks and mix just until the eggs are fully incorporated and a mass forms.
Form the dough into a disk and chill in the refrigerator until firm (about 30 minutes).
Roll the dough out to 1.5cm thickness.
Cut the dough with a cookie cutter.

Toss each cut cookie in a bowl of granulated sugar to coat.
Place the sugar-coated cookie on a parchment lined pan.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.

Chocolate cake

This cake has a white vanilla sponge inside, the recipe is from 
although I omitted the almond extract and halved the amounts to make a much smaller cake.
I then used my favorite chocolate butter icing from

white sponge cake
1 cup milk, room temperature
6 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter (6 oz), softened

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease two 9 inch cake pans with vegetable shortening, line the bottom with parchment paper, grease the parchment paper and flour the pans.

Combine milk, eggs whites and extract in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer and mix at slow speed with a paddle attachment. Add butter. Continue beating at slow speed until mixture looks like wet sand (If you’re doing this by hand, sift the dry ingredients together and rub in butter).
Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for an additional 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Do not overmix.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and gently shake to smooth batter. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes then invert onto racks to cool completely before frosting. Unfrosted cakes can be frozen for 1-2 weeks.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

240 grams unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
300 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
 320 grams confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2 -3 minutes).