Alchemist’s chocolate cake
This is a lower fat chocolate cake than you’d expect, makes a great dessert if served warm with evap milk (keeping it classy) or creme anglaise, and is from Sainsbury’s November 2011 magazine.
- 400g tin of halved pears in juice, drained with juice reserved
- 25g cocoa
- 125g caster sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 1tbsp baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 50ml oil
- Drain the pears and reserve the juice. Put 125ml of the juice, the cocoa and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil (but only just). Pour the chocolate mixture over the pears and leave in a bowl for 15 mins.
- Tip the whole lot into a food processor, add the vanilla and oil and then whizz until smooth.
- Tip it back into a bowl and mix in the three eggs before sifting in and folding the flour through.
- Pour into a cake tin lined with baking paper and cook for 40 mins in a moderate oven until a skewer into the centre comes out clean.
I find it’s really important to sift the flour and to make sure you’ve got a good folding technique as this is a very dense cake anyway.
It does work well served still warm as a dessert because of it’s texture and if you cut the cake into 10 it’s only 222kcal a slice (according to the magazine anyway)!
This is roughly based on a hot pot but isn’t near enough to the real Lancashire hot pots I remember from my childhood growing up on the Pennines for me to call it that.
- 3 carrots
- 1 large onion
- 150g lean diced lamb steak
- 400g tin of chopped or plum tomatoes
- fresh thyme and parsley
- chicken stock
- red cabbage
- Slice the onion and garlic and brown in a heatproof casserole. Add the lamb and brown.
- Chuck in the chopped carrot, shredded cabbage, tin of tomatoes, thyme and chicken stock and simmer.
- Thinly slice the swede and arrange on the top of the casserole. Cover and cook for about 40 mins until the swede is soft.
- Brown under the grill for about 3 mins and then serve with some other veg, pearl barley / cous cous and parsley sprinkled over.
These cookies are a little hint of Christmas.
- 75g hazelnuts
- 25g almonds
- 200g butter
- 85g icing sugar + 165g for dusting
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 350g plain flour
- Whizz the butter, hazelnuts, almonds, 85g icing sugar and vanilla in a food processor.
- Add the flour and 1tsp of cloves and whizz until a sticky dough forms.
- Make small balls of dough and pop on a baking tray lined with parchment. Flatten slightly before baking.
- Bake until just golden brown and while still warm sift the rest of the icing sugar and cloves over.
These are delicious warm from the oven and while they are quite a grown up taste that goes well with coffee or a bitter hot chocolate my two boys love them too.
I adapted the recipe from this one in Good Food magazine.
Apple and nutmeg crisps
I love fruit crisps and these apple and nutmeg ones are a perfect little seasonal treat for a grey November day.
Thinly slice an eating apple (I used a Braeburn I think) vertically and spread the slices out across a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with brown sugar and grate some nutmeg over the top.
Cook in a very low oven for about 90 mins. I find turning them once, half way through, stops them sticking.
Once they have gone leathery in appearance remove from the oven, loosen slightly with a pallette knife and then leave to cool on the tray - they will crisp as they cool.
I tend to sprinkle a little more nutmeg over before serving.
I’m trying to be a bit healthier at the moment and so this is a hybrid recipe from two similar ones found in Slimming World magazine and Sainsbury’s magazine (current issues so November 2011).
This is really, really simple and was a lovely accompaniment to a baked potato.
- 1/2 small red cabbage
- 2 small carrots
- 1 eating apple
- handful of sultanas (optional)
- 1 level tablespoon of extra light mayo (optional)
Shred the red cabbage, grate the carrot and apple then mix it all together. Add the sultanas and then stir in the mayo (if you’re using these ingredients).
You could use grated red or white onion in place of the apple if mixing fruit and veg isn’t your thing. I think it would be just as nice - but raw onion isn’t for me!
Anyway, can be kept covered in the fridge for a couple of days. I’ll be using mine in packed lunches or as a bit of a snack here and there.
Red velvet fairy cakes with cream cheese frosting
Very much the cupcake du jour I thought I’d give this cake a go and used a recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery.
The cakes came out light and with a lovely lingering chocolate hit but, for me, they were let down by the frosting - I’d rather have had even more chocolate! The sweetened cream cheese was just too much at odds with the cake for me.
I took The Boy (4.5 years old) out to forage the nearby hedgerows today and we came back with a decent selection of fruits for a late-summer crumble (as well as juice covered fingers and faces).
We found plenty of blackberries, bulging with juice and glistening in the sunlight as well as a handful of small plums overhanging a path.
We’re still waiting for the apples in the garden to be ready so this made a good crumble for a little boy with short patience for the ripening of fruit.
Wild damson and berry jelly
After the adventures in jam making with the wild damsons we found we used the water drained from the initial boiling of the fruit to make up a jelly (well, my other half did).
This wasn’t a very sophisticated experiment - he mixed up a couple of packets of sugar-free instant jelly powder (one raspberry, one blackcurrant) with the damson water and left to set. It took ages to do so but was worth the wait.
A very grown up jelly, slightly fizzy and a very cloudy colour - more like blancmange than jelly in look!
A great palate cleanser and decent way to not waste the damson flavoured water.
Wild damson jam
We seem to have lots of wild damson’s growing in the hedgerows round our way and although the temptation is to make damson gin or vodka with them this year I decided to give jam-making a whirl.
I used 2lb of foraged damsons, 2lb of preserving sugar and about 1/4 pint of water.
I put the damsons and water in a large pan together and slowly bought to a boil. I squished the fruit as it softened and this allowed the stones to rise to the surface. It’s still a time-consuming task to get them all out and in future I might freeze the fruit to allow it to split and stone before boiling.
Once the stones were removed I added the sugar and allowed it to boil to setting temperature. The jam filled the house with the most wonderful smell - it reminded me of my grandparents house when I was little as they had a damson tree in the garden and my Grandma would make jam every year.
Once I’d got a set (I like quite a soft set) I decanted into a few spare jars we had around and left to cool.
I was so pleased with the outcome - a beautiful, jewel coloured jam full of soft skin and a sweet / bitter taste. Sealed carefully the jam should keep for a few months - I have one jar squirrelled away for winter but we’ve been enjoying this on toast lots since it was made!