Saturday, 30 May 2009

Sweetheart Cabbage with Lemon and Pinenuts

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My friends E and JM have recently moved into the flat downstairs. It's great to have such lovely neighbours for a change. The complete opposite to the guy next door who goes out of his way not to say hello. They had been send some Jamon from Spain and were kind enough to share the joy of it by bringing it along for dinner 'upstairs'. We had some of it just as it was and wrapped some around some steamed green asparagus. Simple perfection.

If you read my last post you'll also know that I got a sweetheart cabbage in my veg box and wasn't all that sure what to do with it. Thanks for your suggestions. I also started looking on the net for ideas and found a very simple recipe which sounded good to me and which I thought might go well alongside the asparagus and jamon. The basis of the recipe is pretty good and the cabbage and pinenuts work really well but I'd reduce the lemon juice to half a lemon as I found the flavour to be a bit overpowering. Nevertheless, here's the original recipe as found on the Grow Wild website. Try it for yourself and see how much lemon juice you like in there!

Sweetheart Cabbage

1 sweetheart cabbage (shredded)
a handful of pine nuts
Olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon

Steam your cabbage for about 6-8 minutes.

In the meantime toast the pine nuts on a dry pan until light brown. You need to watch them and keep them moving to avoid them burning.

Put about half of the toasted pine nuts in a pestle and mortar and coarsely crush them.

Drain the cabbage, pour over a good swig of olive oil, add the pine nuts (both crushed and whole), the lemon juice and season with black pepper.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

There's a first for everything

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For a long time now I have been thinking about ordering an Organic veg box, but for some reason or other I never did. I always thought I'd never get through all the contents before they go off, that I wouldn't like not choosing my own fruit and veg from the shop, some of the stuff might not be all that fresh and that they are too expensive. Well, I was given the opportunity to finally try one and have to say I was so wrong.

Today my first Organic veg box from Abel & Cole arrived on my doorstep and all the reasons that always put me off in the past went straight out of the window. There isn't really any more fruit and veg than I would buy in a normal week anyways, I'm quite excited to find some things that I wouldn't normally buy *, all the produce is wonderfully fresh and you can even smell that it's gonna taste great and it doesn't really cost anymore than buying my veg at the store either.

I was excited to open the box and see what it contained: 5 apples, 6 oranges, 5 bananas, a bag of mushrooms, a punnet of cherry tomatoes, a cucumber, green lettuce, a sweetheart cabbage, a bag of radishes and potatoes. All lovely, fresh, colourful, untreated and sourced from British farms (apart from the Fairtrade bananas which of course didn't grow in Britain).

* Even though I have eaten and enjoyed sweetheart or pointed cabbage in the past, I have never bought and cooked it myself before. Does anybody have a great recipe suggestion for me?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Caramel Crumble Cinnamon Loaf Cake

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Sounds like a good cake, doesn't it? But I should call it Looks Like It's Been Dropped Cake or Caramel Crumble Car Crash Cake. Nevertheless, I thought that I can't always just write about the successes in my kitchen and cover up the near misses, disasters and casualties. And actually there isn't really anything wrong with the flavour of cake, it's just the fact that half of it stuck in the pan and a bit of the caramel crumble top broke off as well.

That all would have also been only half as bad if the cake had been for me. As some of you will know I'm the resident birthday cake baker at work though, and this was the cake I made for A's birthday. As I didn't have enough ingredients, time or patience to start all over again, I just patched it up and stuck a candle in it. After all, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?!

I have to say that all of us did enjoy it despite it's wonky appearance. The flavours are good and it's nice and moist. I'll probably make it again, I'll just make sure that I'll line the pan next time and don't just rely on greasing it. Next time I'll also take a picture with a proper camera, not just with my phone and I will post the recipe with my own instructions that will hopefully be a little easier to understand. For now you can find the recipe here.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Sweet & Sour Roasted Onions

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Time still seems to be flying by. When does it stop?

Don't get me wrong, I like being busy but at this rate it'll be winter before I know it. I went to Germany last weekend to spend some lovely time with my family and friends, thanks to being able to get a return flight ticket for £20.00. This weekend I'll be catching up with some friends in Yorkshire so there won't be much cooking in my kitchen again.

But, before I go away again I thought I'd quickly share this Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall recipe, which was published in the Guardian Weekend quite a while ago. I love onions, especially slow cooked or roasted as it brings out their natural sweetness. This makes a great side dish to go with any meat or fish.

Sweet & Sour Roasted Onions (serves 4)

1 lb small red onion or shallots, peeled and cut in halve
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick celery, finely chopped (optional)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree (paste in the US)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light muscovado sugar
salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

Put your onions in one layer into an oven dish.

Line the dish with baking paper, as the sauce will caramelise, which otherwise would make it quite a pain to clean.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the celery over medium heat until soft, for about 5 minutes. If you're not using any celery, just start with the next step, but shorten the frying time to two minutes. (I never use the celery as it isn't on my list of favourite vegetables.)

Add the garlic and sauté for a further five minutes.

Remove from the heat and add all the other ingredients, apart from the onions and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Season liberally with salt and pepper and pour the mixture over the onions.

Mix well until all the onions are coated evenly.

Place in your oven and roast for about one hour, stirring once halfway through.

The onions are done, when they are soft and caramelised, start checking after 45 minutes. The time depends a bit on their size.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Summer Berry Lemon Drizzle Cake

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Another occasion, another cake.

My friend N. retired a few weeks ago and since the leaving dos at work are usually quite a stiff affair, he decided he much rather wanted to have a picnic on a beach in Wales with all his friends. So yesterday we filled up quite a few cars with people and food and headed for Anglesey.

I think I can safely say that a wonderful time was had by all. What else is to be expected from a day full of sun, sand, sea, food and friends! Even though generally sand and food don't always mix that well, but only a few slices of smoked salmon and a couple of sausage rolls fell victim as far as I know.

I took a Summer Berry Lemon Drizzle Cake along for the picnic. The recipe comes from my Avoca Tea Time cookbook. I bought the book last year whilst on holiday in Ireland after sampling some of the fantastic cakes in the Avoca Cafes. Just like everything I had tried in the tea rooms, this cake was delicious and went down really well with everyone who tried it.

Summer Berry Lemon Drizzle Cake

225gr unsalted butter, softened
225gr caster sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
225gr self-raising flour
1/2tsp baking powder
35gr ground almonds
juice of and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
225gr mixed summer berries

juice of and finely grated zest of 3 lemons
175gr caster sugar

200gr summer berries (optional)

Preheat your oven to 150C/Gas 2.

Grease and line a 23cm springform pan. (Mine is 25cm and worked fine.)

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until it becomes pale in colour.

Then slowly add the eggs bit by bit and continue to beat until well combined.

With a wooden spoon gradually fold in the flour, ground almonds and baking powder.

Fold in the juice and zest of 1 lemon and finally half of the berries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread it out evenly.

Top with the other half of the berries and bake for about an hour in your preheated oven. Mine took about an hour and ten minutes until the inserted wooden skewer came out clean.

Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack.

While the cake is still hot, warm the sugar with the zest and juice of three lemons in a sauce pan, stirring until the sugar disolves.

Prick the cake in several places with a wooden skewer and pour the hot sugar/lemon syrup over the warm cake. Don't forget to put some tin foil underneath your wire rack when you do this. It makes the cleaning up much easier as otherwise you'll have loads of sticky syrup on your table or worktop.

When the cake is cool top it with some extra summer berries (optional) and serve.