Apple, Almond and Blueberry Cake with Vanilla

Yep. You guessed it. This is yet another recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. P50 this time. And another recipe made and adapted to use up the contents of my cupboard. I had no apricots so I substituted dried blueberries instead. And I also added vanilla because I adore the mix of almond and vanilla together. My boyfriend declared this cake as GORGEOUS and was rendered speechless by it’s deliciousness. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

For one cake you need:
250g self raising flour
225g vanilla caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
150g butter, melted
225g peeled, cored and chopped apples. I used a mix of bramley and pink lady
100g dried blueberries
50g flaked almonds

Line a square baking tin with parchment paper. Mix everything apart from the apples, blueberries and almonds together well. Fold in the fruit and then scrape into the lined tin. Top with the flaked almonds and bake in a moderate (160 degree) oven for about an hour, till risen and golden. Leave to cool and then eat. It’s nice warm or cold and also freezes well.

Death by Chocolate Cake

This is another Mary Berry recipe from her awesome Baking Bible book (p95). It was made for my boyfriend’s birthday cake, but I had some spare batter left over as my tins were a bit too small. Shame. So I baked it and Lex and I scoffed. It’s also national chocolate cake day today, so what better reason do you need ๐Ÿ™‚

For one 20cm/8″ cake or lots of small ones you need:
275g self raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
11/2 tsp bicarb
215g vanilla caster sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
3 large eggs, beaten
225ml sunflower oil
225ml soya milk

450g plain chocolate
200g butter

Combine everything together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly to ensure no lumps or tell tale white bits that Mary and Paul would chastise you over. Pour into lined tins and bake at 160 degrees for about 30 mins till risen and cooked. Obviously adjust the time downwards if making mini cakes. But you know that. Leave to cool slightly then turn out of the tins and leave to cool completely.

For the icing, melt the chocolate and once this is done, add the butter and leave to melt. Allow to thicken slightly before using or it will run everywhere. Smother cooled cakes in icing, top with chocolate sprinkles and finish with gold spray for extra sparkle. Receive undying love and gratitude from all who consume.

Mary Berry’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am in the throes of moving, so when I came across a recipe that used a can of condensed milk I thought to myself “a-ha!” as I always have some of this in the cupboard. And in the cupboard it sits. Lonely. Sad. Unloved. As I never know what to do with it, other than open the can, scoff it with a spoon and then feel really _really_ sick. My bro gave me Mary Berry’s Baking Bible for my Xmas pressie and this recipe can be found in there. They’re aย cinch to make, and they freeze well too ๐Ÿ™‚ I have adapted the recipe slightly by using 100g white chocolate chips as I like the contrast of white with plain chocolate and they’re sold in bags of 100g so why not chuck in the extra 35g I ask you….

For about 24-32 cookies (depending on how big yer gob is…) you need:
397g tin of condensed milk
50g butter
200g plain chocolate
225g self raising flour
100g white chocolate chips

Melt the butter and chocolate. Leave to cool slightly. Mix in everything else and then leave to chill until stiffened (this only takes 15 mins or so and it doesn’t need to go in the fridge).

Pinch out quantities about the size of a walnut and roll into balls. Flatten slightly on to the baking sheet, leaving space for them to spread. I easily got 9 onto each baking sheet. Bake at 160 degrees for about 12 mins. Leave to cool slightly then transfer to a cooling rack.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Mmmmmm. Cake. Red cake. Silver frosting. Perfection in cake form. These were made for a birthday gal last week and went down to tremendous applause . Strictly speaking they are not red velvet as there’s no cocoa powder in them. I loathe chocolate cupcakes. So I don’t make them. They are, really, vibrant red victoria sponge fairy cakes. But delicious nonetheless.

For about 32 cakes you need:
8oz self raising flour
8oz vitalite
8oz vanilla caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2-3 tbsp milk
1 tsp red food paste (if using food colouring, reduce the amount of milk)

1 tub betty crocker ready made creamy frosting .

Beat the sugar and vitalite together in a free standing mixer for *at least* 10 mins, till very light and fluffy. You will probably need to scrape down the sides at least once during this period. Mix the eggs together and gradually add to the fat and sugar mixture. Add a spoonful of flour with each addition of eggs to stop it from curdling. Once all the eggs are added, incorporate the remainder of the flour along with the vanilla paste and food paste. Add some milk to slacken the mixture if it needs it.

Spoon into lined muffin/cupcake tins and bake at 170 degrees for about 15-20 mins till risen and lightly browned. Leave to cool.

Decorate with piped icing and top with a chocolate button and silver spray or whatever you fancy. Scoff and bask in the adulation of your friends.

Thai Cucumber Salad (v)

Every good Thai dish deserves something refreshing, cleansing and tasty to compliment it. And this delicious cucumber salad does just what it should. There’s a sour hit from the vinegar but this is tempered with the syrup that sits alongside it. If you don’t like your chillies to kick a HUGE punch, then let the salad sit for a while to reduce the fearsome heat. My mouth went numb when I ate this, but that was the idea so it was all good. Sooooooo gooooooooood!

For 2-3 servings you need:
1 whole cucumber. cut into quarters, lengthwise, and deseeded, then cut into chunks
1 red onion, chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, julienned
2 large handfuls coriander, roughly chopped
3-4 bird’s eye chillies, sliced finely

3 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp water
pinch salt

Bring the dressing ingredients to the boil and simmer till the sugar has disolved. Leave to cool. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl and pour over the dressing. Allow to infuse. Eat. Wonder that you could create something so healthy and delicious and easy. Feel smug.

Thai Fish (or Tofu) Cakes

I adore fish cakes but have never ever made them before. And they were one of the things I didn’t actually eat in Thailand. So I rectified that as soon as I got back. If you’re vegan/veggie then tofu instead of fish makes a delicious alternative without the dead animal.

For 6 people as a starter you need:
300g fresh fish or tofu
3 tbsp fish sauce or mushroom soya sauce
3 tbsp red curry paste
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 egg (omit if you’re vegan and add a little water if necessary to blend to a paste)
1 tsp palm sugar
juice 1 lime
1 inch ginger or galangal
oil for deep frying

Puree everything in a food processor till it goes sticky. If using fish, keep pulsing till it thickens and becomes really sticky. If using tofu, take care not to overmix, especially if doing the vegan version sans eggs.

Heat enough oil in a deep pan to deep fry. Place small teaspoonfuls into the hot oil and turn over after about 45 seconds to ensure even cooking. Fry till browned and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve with a sour cucumber salad or sweet chilli sauce or frankly anything else you want to dip them in. if you have left overs they are delicious served in a cold salad of rice noodles with left over cucumber salad and soya sauce.

Thom Kaa Soup

I went to Thailand for Christmas this year with my son and we both really enjoyed sampling the gorgeous food out there. Since returning home I have been trying out some recipes and trying to recreate the delicious food we ate out there. This soup is based on one in the awesome Thai Food recipe book by David Thompson (p268; Chicken and Galangal Soup). Here, the chicken and galangal is substituted for seafood and ginger. If you don’t eat fish, simply use fresh tofu cut into chunks instead of the seafood and use mushroom soya sauce instead of the fish sauce.

For 3-4 portions you need:
500ml veggie stock
1 can coconut milk
pinch salt
1 tsp palm sugar (or just use regular sugar)
3 stalks lemon grass, trimmed and then bashed with a pestle to release the juices
3 shallots, peeled and left whole
small handful coriander roots, finely chopped
4-5 bird’s eye chillies, bruised (adjust to taste, I like mine HOT!)
10 slices peeled ginger (or galangal if you can find it)
3 kaffir lime leaves, left whole (use fresh if you can or dried if you can’t)
250g raw tiger prawns
250g scallops
100g firm white fish

2-3 tbsp fish sauce or mushroom soya sauce if you’re veggie/vegan
juice of 1-2 limes (depending on taste)
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
3-4 mushrooms, thickly sliced

To serve:
additional bird’s eye chillies, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
soya sauce
fish sauce/mushroom soya sauce

Place everything apart from the fish/seafood, mushrooms and lime juice in a pan and gently heat. Simmer very gently for 4-5 mins until the carrots are firm but beginning to soften. Add the fish/seafood (or tofu) and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 mins till everything is done. Take off the heat and season with lime juice and fish sauce/mushroom soya sauce.

Spoon the soup into bowls and serve with additional chillies and sauces to allow people to season to taste. It should be salty, sour, spicy and rich.

New year, new direction…

This first blog post of 2012 marks a departure in content for me. I’m no longer a veggie. And after thinking long and hard about whether to blog non veggie recipes I have decided to do it. Infrequently. And I can’t be bothered to change the name of my blog *again* so it’s staying as it is. I apologise in advance to any of you who are annoyed/irritated with this decision, but the blog reflects the food I cook and eat, and for the time being, that will not just be veggie/vegan cuisine. The majority of the recipes will be still veggie/vegan. But not everything will. I hope that this doesn’t mean I suddenly lose loads of followers but if it does, so be it. Most recipes will include substitutions (based on my extensive experience of making meals without meat) so I hope that softens the blow a little bit. Nah, I thought not ๐Ÿ˜‰