Sunday, 30 April 2017

Orange, Walnut and Honey Cake

Memories of Cyprus come flooding back again with just one mouthful of this simple, yet utterly delicious cake. Sweet and sticky from honey, zesty and fruity from whole oranges, it will meet the approval of any sweet-toothed pudding lover.

You can make this recipe using the ingredients below in a traditional springform 8" cake tin, but I made mine into individual cakes using cylinder ramekins, ideal for dinner parties.

Orange, Walnut and Honey Cake
Makes 1 medium cake or 8 individual ramekins

2 whole oranges
100g caster sugary
100g honey
200g soft butter or margarine
3 eggs
100g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
50g walnuts, crushed into small pieces

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4. Butter and line an 8" springform cake tin or 8 individual ramekins.
2 - Wash and quarter the oranges and remove any pips. Place into a blender and blitz into a puree.
3 - In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and honey. Whisk in the eggs one by one then fold in the flour and almonds. Finally, fold in the walnuts and orange purée.
4 - Fill the cake tin or ramekins then place in the centre of the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
5 - While the cake is cooking, place the juice of one orange and 50g honey into a saucepan and bring to the simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside. When the cake is cooked, skewer it a few times then drizzle over the orange honey syrup. Put aside to cool.
6 - Serve with Greek yoghurt, crumbled walnuts and honey.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Turkey Kofta with Greek Cous Cous Salad

I've just returned from the beautiful island of Cyprus with the usual holiday blues. What better way to banish those blues than with a plate of food that reminds you of the simple beauty of Greek/Cypriot food?

Kofta, in it's more simple turn, is a type of meatball combined with spices and usually served with flatbreads, yoghurt-based dips and salad and consist of any ground meat. These use turkey but feel free to use your meat of choice.

Utterly delicious, family friendly food that is so easy to make - what is there to not like about the food of this nation? Give it a go.

Turkey Kofta with Greek Cous Cous Salad
Feeds 4

500g minced turkey
3 spring onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and paprika
A pinch of ground cinnamon and chilli
A handful of fresh chives, basil, mint and oregano or one or two of these fresh herbs if and when available

For the salad
200g dried cous cous
1 red pepper, sliced
Cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of fresh spinach, chopped
A few good black olives
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil

1 - To make the koftas, combine all of the ingredients thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Form palm sized balls then roll into a slightly elongated shape like in the diagram. You can slide these onto sticks and BBQ or in my case, simply form the shapes. They should make around 10-12. Put aside to rest in the fridge for an hour or two.
2 - To make the cous cous, pour into a large bowl then stir in boiling water that just covers. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 10 minutes.
3 - Remove the clingfilm then fluff up with a fork. Once cool, stir in all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Taste for seasoning.
4 - Heat up a large frying pan, griddle pan or grill and cook the kofta, turning regularly until cooked through and golden brown. Squeeze in some lemon juice just as they are finishing to deglaze the pan and add more flavour.
5 - Serve the cous cous in bowls with 2-3 kofta each, a scattering of torn fresh basil and some fresh lemon.





Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Fish, Potato and Samphire Stew

A lovely, citrusy Spanish style fish stew. Delicious with a glass of chilled white wine or a cold beer. Change the fish if you prefer oily fish such as salmon or trout, use clams instead of mussels and if you can't get any samphire, stir in chopped spinach right at the end.

Fish, Potato and Samphire Stew
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
A pinch of saffron
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tspn sweet smoked paprika
4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1" thick slices
1 large red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 lemon, sliced
600ml vegetable or chicken stock
3 skinned fillets of white fish such as haddock, sliced into large chunks
2 large handfuls of fresh mussels, cleaned and de-bearded.
1 large handful of samphire
Salt and pepper

1 - Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic, saffron, chilli and paprika. Soften without colouring.
2 - Add the potatoes and pepper. Pour over enough stock to just cover then place in the lemon slices. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato is just beginning to soften.
3 - Add the fish and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Then add the mussels and samphire, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
4 - Remove the lid and taste for seasoning. Serve in large bowls with a scattering of fresh parsley.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Gluten Free Coffee and Walnut Cake

And so the gluten free challenge continues. This challenge entailed trying to make one of my favourite ever cakes without it having a dry, sandy texture, which baking with rice flour based gluten free flour can often do. I've cooked this cake many time before and I'm heavily indebted to Nigel Slater from Kitchen Diaries, a recipe I've tweaked once or twice but not to this extent.

The kind people at Hillfarm Rapeseed Oil recently sent me a bottle of their golden, cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil. I'm not sure if they will be surprised to hear that I used a glug of their oil in a cake rather than a savoury dish, but oils are often used to add moistness to bakes and in this instance, it made perfect sense. Not only did it moisten, it also added a touch of its golden colour and a slight nutty taste to complement the walnuts. It has been a fabulously versatile oil that I've used mainly for pan roasts.

This recipe and quantities can be made with normal flour and the oil can be replaced with olive, vegetable or sunflower oil.

Gluten Free Coffee and Walnut Cake

200g salted butter
200g Demerara sugar
3 large eggs
200g gluten free self-raising flour
100ml Hillfarm rapeseed oil

2 tsp coffee granules
75g walnut halves

For the butter cream:
150g butter or margarine
300g icing sugar
2 tsp coffee granules
Walnut halves

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gm4. Grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin.
2 - Cream the butter and sugar until soft and light. You can go manual and beat with a wooden spoon or use an electric mixer.
3 - Crack in the eggs one by one and thoroughly combine. Then, gently fold in the flour.
4 - Put the walnuts into a bag and whack with a rolling pin until broken up, the fold into the cake mixture.
5 - Dissolve the coffee granules in a tsp of boiling water and along with the oil, gently fold in. Pour into the cake tin, place onto a baking tray and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes. Test with a skewer to see if it is cooked (if it is still uncooked in the centre, cake will stick to the skewer.) Remove and cool on a wire rack.
6 - To make the butter cream, best the butter or margarine until light and fluffy the. Bat in the icing sugar 50g at a time. Dissolve the coffee in a tsp of boiling water and fold in.
7 - Remove the cake from the tin. Using a sharp knife, cut approximately across the middle. Spread half of the butter cream into the centre and place on the top part of the cake. Spread the remaining butter cream on top and decorate with walnut halves.



Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Slow Cooker Asian Pork and Aubergine

This is an incredibly simple slow cook stew that celebrates the great flavours of south east Asia: hot, sweet, salty and sour.

Use a cheap cut of pork such as the shoulder or steaks from the leg and the meat will just fall apart at the touch of the fork. The aubergine, vast in number at the start of the stew, absorbs and melts into the sauce making it rich and velvety.

I can't really sell it enough - just make it and enjoy it with plain rice and perhaps a baked sweet potato. It will be a good decision.

(This recipe is for a slow cooker but can be replicated for cooking in an oven set to GM2/150C.)
Sunflower or vegetable oil
1kg pork shoulder, cut into large chunks
2 aubergines, cut into chunks
1 tbsp demerera sugar
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp tamarind paste mixed with a little hot water
1 large onion, chopped
A large pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 thumb size of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp fish or soy sauce
Water
Fresh limes
Fresh coriander

1 - Pre-heat your slow cooker.
2 - Heat up a tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the pork and quickly brown all over. Remove to a plate.
3 - Add the aubergine and quickly brown all over. Return the pork and stir in the sugar. Cook, stirring all of the time, to caramelise the sugar. Tip into your slow cooker.
4 - Heat up another tbsp oil and add the onions, ginger, chilli, star anise and cinnamon. Cook until softened then add to the pork and aubergine.
5 - Pour in 200ml water, the tamarind and the fish sauce. Cook on the medium setting for 5-6 hours until the pork is meltingly tender. Stir in a handful of chopped fresh coriander.
6 - Time to tweek with the flavours. Squeeze in the juice of one lime and taste. You want the right balance of salty, sweet, hot and sour. Adjust the quantities of fish/soy sauce, sugar, chilli and lime to your tastes.
7 - Serve with plain boiled rice, fresh coriander and wedges of fresh lime.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Coriander Crusted Seabass with Fennel and Lentil Salsa

This is a bit of a mix up of influences, using Asian style seasoning on the fish coupled with a south American salsa which contains lentils. Fish and a hot and sour salsa go so well together, as does crunchy fennel. The no-fuss salad is simply fennel, thinly sliced and tossed with lime juice and seasoning.

The whole plate of food is what you would consider super healthy which, once tasted, will prove to any doubters that well prepared, healthy food can be packed with amazing flavour and texture. Experiment with the fish; replace the seabass with a firm fish such as red mullet, snapper, salmon or trout.

Coriander Crusted Seabass with Fennel and Salsa
Serves 2

Two fillets of sea bass, scaled and deboned
2 tbsp coriander seeds
Salt and pepper
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
A handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil

For the salsa
100g brown lentils, cooked according to the instructions and cooled
200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red onion, finely diced
A handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 lime
A splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 - Crush the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar. Mix in with a little salt and pepper. Slice the skin of the fish at intervals which will help it to crisp up. Rub in the coriander and put aside.
2 - Put the thinly sliced fennel into a mixing bowl, season and squeeze over the lime. Put aside.
3 - To make the salsa, put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine. Put aside for 5 minutes whilst you cook the fish.
4 - Heat up the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the fish skin side down and leave for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden. Flip over and cook for another 2 minutes.
5 - To serve, place a pile of salsa onto a plate alongside the fennel salad. Place the fish onto the salsa along with a wedge of fresh lime.