Sunday 29 July 2007

July Daring Baker Challenge

Still in it's tin, mirror mirror reflecting the window above.
Strawberry Mirror Cake

It’s that time of month again, and time to post about the July Daring Baker Challenge. This month it was a pretty pink cake called a strawberry mirror cake., a sponge cake with a set Bavarian strawberry cream and finished with a shiny ‘mirror’ on top. It is adapted from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy (1993).

The cake comprised the sponge, which is a fat-less genoise style cake, which relies on the air beaten into eggs and sugar as it’s rising factor. It should have been baked in a wide Swiss roll tin (jelly roll pan), but I didn’t have the right size – 11 x 17 inch – I’ve got bigger and smaller buth not that one! The cake was to be baked in the tin, then 2 x 8 inch circles cut out once it has baked and cooled. I used 2 x 8 inch round tins instead, and used about two thirds of the batter, I used a bit too much, but more of this later… There is also a kirsch soaking syrup for the sponges.

You can see the lower lip here, it's a small lip, but it's there!

The next stage was to make a sieved puree of strawberries to fold into a set cooked custard mixture, and then the whole lot is set with gelatin, the recipe said you could add a little red food colouring but I liked the pale pink natural colour. This is not an anti colouring comment, I like to colour my icings on cakes! – but it didn’t need it here for me.

The cake is assembled by placing an 8 inch round cake in a 10 inch tin, brushing over some of the kirsch soaking liquid, pouring over some bavarian cream, then the same again – cake, soaking liquid and cream. This it then set in the fridge to rest for a few hours.

See the wobbly mirror and the lush Bavarian Cream...

Meanwhile there is more to be done. A strawberry juice is made by chopping 18 oz of strawberries and cooking them (bashed up a bit first with a potato masher) with some sugar and water, just slowly for 10 minutes. After that the juice is strained through a sieve and the berries discarded. The juice was a magnificent scarlet colour, and there was no red food colouring needed here either, as the colour was so ruby red anyway. There was some other flavourings added in the form of lemon juice, kirsch and also a little water, then set with gelatine. I varied the method a bit here because the gelatin was to be melted into the strawberry juice, but I melted it into the lemon, kirsch and water so the mirror layer cooled down much more quickly. The set bavarian and cake came out of the fridge and the mirror was poured over, it was supposed to be a film, but it tasted so good I added as much as I could get in the tin! Also, because my cakes were a little larger than they should have been I had a lower lip of cream round the cakes (this is easier to see in the pictures than to describe), so I hoped the mirror would cover my over generosity! It was quite tricky to carry to the fridge and next time I'd do the pouring of the juice much closer to the fridge. Luckily dear Hubby is quite tall, so he took pity on me and manouevered it onto the top shelf of the fridge - without any spillage at all!

There is a slight ruffle on the top edge, little fingers were very keen to get a taste!

It was a pretty cake, and it tasted good together, the cake, strawberry cream and mirror juice. The juice was absolutely bursting with strawberry flavour. This cake was a hit with my family, and for a special Summer time pudding I would certainly make this one again.

If you fancy trying it here is the link for the recipe, on the lovely Peabody’s site. Thanks also to Peabody for choosing such a lovely cake this month! To see other Daring Bakers cakes visit the Blog Roll site and click away!

Friday 20 July 2007


I really love brownies, but I’m equally enthralled with a good blondie too. I have a regular one that I make of Sue Lawrence’s (from Sue Lawrence On Baking) and Tamasin’s date and walnut blondies (from Tamasin’s Kitchen Classics) also draw oohs and ahhs. Being the type of cook I am (and I’m not sure exactly what that is) I like to try new recipes for things that I like, even if I like other recipes for the same thing enough to make them again, but this is how I came to this recipe. Dorie Greenspan’s Chewy Chunky Blondies from Baking From My Home To Yours. They are absolutely jam packed with bits and pieces and every bite gives fabulous flavour.

I knew when I received this book that I wanted to try this recipe, but it has butterscotch chips in it, and until recently they were quite hard to come by here. That was until my friend Anna said that she was buying American goodies via ebay. I had never thought to look there, but the result is that I now have in my possession some lovely baking chips – so thank you Anna for the great tip!

So with my semisweet chocolate chips and butterscotch chips plus walnuts and coconut I made these fabulous blondies. They are sweet, and full of good things. I did a bit of random feeding towards Hubby’s work colleagues because I’m on the ‘podge patrol’ (slimming) at the moment and I could have eaten far too many of these. These were so good, for me the butterscotch flavour from the chips and brown sugar came through supreme, but I love toffee so that’s fine by me. They are something to make as one of a spread of biscuits and cakes or just by themselves as the stunner on the cake stand.

Off on holiday now, but see you when I get back and look forward to catching up!

Sunday 15 July 2007

Baked Cannelloni and Coconut Lime Cake

Here are couple more recipes from Delia, one with a minor tinker and one with a bigger one! I’ll do the savoury first.

Baked Cannelloni. I have always loved cannelloni, I’m not even sure exactly what its appeal is to me, but it’s got something! This recipe is Delia Smith’s from Delia's How To Cook Book 1, I didn’t buy either of the three How To Cook Books to learn how too cook, I bought them as many Delia fans here did to gain some new recipes from her. It’s a very comforting dish. It’s been quite chilly here for 6 out of the last 7 days, so when I did the shopping I thought it’d be ok to make something in the oven.

I’ve changed the meat filling mixture by using slices of chorizo instead of mortadella sausage slices, as the first time I made this dish this was what I used – I just couldn’t find mortadella. I have subsequently found it, but I really liked it with the chorizo, so left it as I’d made it. Also Delia uses 1 talespoon of chopped fresh sage in the meat mixture, and I dislike sage to the point that I just can’t eat something if there is sage in it, so I missed it out. Delia’s amazing trick that she passes on here is that instead of using dried cannelloni tubes, she uses fresh lasagne sheets that you cut in half and roll round little sausages of filling, genius!

It’s not the quickest recipe, but it’s a good kitchen potter, which is cooking at its most enjoyable for me. You make a processor meat filling mixture which is also a meatball mixture from another recipe in the book. Halve lasagne sheets, make little sausages of meat and wrap the lasagne sheet around it. Next you make a bechamel sauce and grate and cube some cheese - Parmesan and mozzarella respectively. Pour the sauce over the waiting cannelloni fingers and sprinkle with the cheese and bake. I made up the filled pasta, sauce and prepared the cheese at lunch time then it was just a quick assembly and into the oven. Delicious, savoury, comforting, mmmmm.

Baked Cannelloni
A variation of a recipe in Delia's How to Cook Book One by Delia Smith

8 fresh Lasagne sheets(weighing about 6oz/175g)
5oz (150g) Mozarella, diced
1 ½ oz (40g) Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
For the filling:
8 oz (225 g) minced pork
70g pack of sliced Chorizo
2 level tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parsley 3 oz (75 g) white bread without crusts, soaked in 2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg
a little nutmeg
salt and pepper
For the béchamel sauce:
1 pint milk
2oz (50g butter)
1/1/4 oz (35g) plain flour
1 bay leaf
good grating nutmeg
2 ½ fl oz (65ml) double (heavy)cream
salt and pepper

You will also need a baking dish with a base measurement of 7 x 9 inches (18 x 23 cm), 2 inches (5 cm) deep, buttered. (mine is 9 x 12 and these is a bit of space left).
First make the filling: chop the chorizo slices in the processor then add in all the rest of the filling ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend everything on a low speed until thoroughly combined. If you don't have a processor, chop everything as finely as possible with a sharp knife and blend it with a fork. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for about 30 minutes to firm up.
Next make the sauce by placing the milk, butter, flour, bay leaf, nutmeg and seasonings into a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat, then, whisking all the time, slowly bring it up to simmering point until the sauce has thickened. Then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove the bay leaf, stir in the cream, taste to check the seasoning, cover and leave aside.
Now pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C), then cut the lasagne sheets in half so that you have 16 pieces. Next divide the meat mixture in half and then each half into 8, then lightly roll each of these into a sausage shape about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long. Place each one on to a piece of lasagne and roll it up, starting from one of the shorter edges. As you do this, arrange them in the baking dish with the join underneath – what you should have is two rows neatly fitting together lengthways in the dish. Now pour the sauce over and scatter the Mozzarella cubes here and there. Finally, scatter the Parmesan over the top and place the dish on the centre shelf of the oven to bake for 40 minutes, by which time it should be golden brown and bubbling. Then remove it from the oven and let it settle for about 10 minutes before serving. Finally, sprinkle a little extra Parmesan over.

Coconut Lime Cake

This is a lovely summery cake, and comes from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection. It’s really fresh and zingy and the lime and coconut adds a different flavour to a cake often made with lemon (I’m not knocking a lemon cake – like them too!). There is lime in the cake and the filling, and both dessicated coconut and coconut milk power in the cake. My only very small tinker here is that I leave of the lime zest as a decoration (not keen on the texture), favouring some pretty summery icing flowers instead! It could be a cake to go with a cup of something or a pudding cake, it’s good both ways.

If you would like the recipe for the cake here is a link to it on Delia’s website: Coconut Lime Cake.

Tuesday 10 July 2007

Fried Halloumi Cheese with Lime and Caper Vinaigrette

Fried Halloumi Cheese with Lime and Caper Vinaigrette

Firstly I must apologies for my lack of posts recently, it’s just a combination of the end of term and a real lack of time. It’s the actual holidays now, so I’m going to try and post one a week, twice if the going is really good. I guess most of us are in the same boat time wise at this time of year, seasonal hazard!

Back to this post though, I recently saw a vegetable lasagne that Freya (Writing at the Kitchen Table) had made, and it reminded me that I like to make Delia (Smith’s) roasted vegetable lasagne in the summer time. Actually there are a good number of recipes from Delia Smith's Summer Collection by Delia Smith that I love to make, it was a real pioneering book for summer food. It’s testament to how great a book it is that the recipes haven’t dated, and are just as fresh now as they were in 1993 when it was first published.

The following recipe is one of our favourites and Keith requested it the other day. It’s lovely in the summer time, but I sometimes make it as a Sunday supper if we have eaten a traditional Sunday lunch at lunchtime in the winter. Yesterday we went for a drive during the day, it was a really enjoyable day, sunny, but not blazing with a nice breeze, with a stop along the way for some ice cream and the beach for little one. We went to a hotel for Sunday lunch, and it was lovely, I like Sunday lunch in the summer time – as long as it’s not my oven on making the house a furnace!

So when we came home this is what I made for supper, accompanied by some warm pita bread. I usually make the dressing as per the book, but sadly my limes had gone a bit brown and shrunken, so I used lemon juice instead. If you like the salty sharp taste of halloumi and gutsy salad dressings this one is for you. I have fried the cheese in the past without the flour coating, but it’s better with it – more crusty and delicious!

I won’t type out the recipe, as Deila’s Summer book is a multi million bestseller, so I’m guessing most bloggers and readers will have one! Expect to see more from The Summer Collection soon – it’s the season you know!
Edit: Here is a link for the recipe from Delia's Website.

Monday 2 July 2007

Simply Seasonal

Lemon Curd Parfaits

I have recently re-discovered one of my cookbooks. It’s one of the pleasures having (probably) too many cookbooks, that you come upon a book that you haven’t looked at for a few months - or longer – then you wonder why it ever made it back to the shelf. My discovery this time is Claire MacDonald’s Simply Seasonal Delicious Recipes for Year-round Informal Entertaining. This book was published in 2001, and it has some lovely seasonal recipes, the book is divided into the four seasons (!) and has suggested menus at the back, again for the respective seasons. I’ve never used any of the menu plans, but I like to read them, and imagine being on the Isle of Skye. I’ve been a good few times, although never to Kinloch, the hotel owned and run by the Macdonald family – one day we are going though.

Anyhow I’ve digressed a little. I sometimes look at this book and want to cook something from a different season, but this time both the Spring and Summer dishes I have bookmarked to try are calling to me. Although it’s Summer it’s really miserable with rain and even quite cold just now, so I thought it’d be ok to dip into the Spring chapter for a main course and the Summer one for pudding.

The recipes I chose are pork fillets marinated in kecap manis, then flash fried and finished off with tomatoes and cream. It is easily the best pork fillet I’ve ever cooked, so tender and a fabulously savoury sauce with the sweet soy sauce. Dessert was raspberries topped with a lemon curd mousse – if you have home-made lemon curd (and it’s really not the same with bought) it’s a breeze to put together.

The recipes are simple and seasonal. I have seen Lady Claire (as she was at the time) make the pudding at a charity demonstration three or four years ago, and while making it she spoke about a time when she had been at some event with a high profile male chef. I think I remember who the man was, but just in case I’ve got the name wrong I won’t name names! She made something with lemon curd, and the other chef had tasted the curd and said something like ‘Wow! Where did you buy this? I’ll have to get some’ to which Claire had replied ‘It’s mine’, to which he said ‘What do you mean?’ and she said ‘It’s mine - I made it!’ the chef was taken aback that it had not just been bought in. Home-made lemon curd is a world apart from even the best bought lemon curd, and it’s something I enjoy making, it is after all just a bit of light stirring and a watch full eye. You can make it in the microwave, and I have done this, but I prefer the hands on aspect of stirring.

Lemon Curd Parfaits
From Claire Macdonald’s Simply Seasonal

1 lb raspberries

For the Lemon Curd
4oz butter, diced
2 large egg yolks and 1 large egg, beaten together
4 oz caster or granulated sugar
zest of 3 lemons
juice of 2 lemons

For the Parfaits
½ pint double (heavy ) cream, whipped to soft peaks
2 large egg whites
2 oz icing (confectioners) sugar, sieved
a few drops vanilla extract

Put all the lemon curd ingredients into a pyrex bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts, then continue to stir until it is very thick. Leave to get cold (will keep 4 -5 days in the fridge).
To make the parfaits, whisk the egg whites, and when they are stiff, gradually whisk in the sugar until you have a stiff meringue. Divide the berries between 6 serving glasses. Fold the meringue into the whipped cream with the vanilla, then fold in all the cold lemon curd – leaving it streaky. Divide between the glasses. Serve with biscuits if you like. NOTE: Contains raw egg whites.

Pork Fillet with Tomatoes, Cream and Dijon Mustard
From Claire Macdonald’s Seasonal Cooking. I have divided the recipe by three, to serve two, but the books recipe is for 6 and it is easily multiplied up again if you’d like. Claire also just says soy sauce in the recipe, but mentions kecap manis in the introduction.
For 2

1 x ½ lb pork fillet
2 tablespoons kecap manis
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
100ml Double (heavy) cream
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
2 vine tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped

Slice each pork fillet lengthways and then bash between 2 pieces of cling film until the meat is well flattened. I sliced them into bite size pieces. Put them in a dish and spoon over the kecap manis. Leave in the fridge covered, to marinate overnight.
Heat the oil and brown the pork well, which should also cook it through. Remove the pork to a plate and add the cream, mustard and pepper to the saute pan. Stir to scrape up any brown bits (I added in the remains of the marinating kecap manis as well). Add the pork pieces back in and the diced tomatoes as well, heat for a minute or two until the pork is heated through.