Monday 27 October 2008

Swedish Apple Pudding with an Amazing Maple Syrup Cream

This weeks book is one I’ve not visited before on my blog – Cook Simple effortless cooking every day by Diana Henry. I’m a fan of Diana and her writing, she has style with her recipes, they are sometimes a little unusual and usually delicious. I don’t always use quite as much olive oil in some of the recipes, but that is something I often do with other writers as well. I very much looked forward to this new book last year when it came out, and it’s a good book, if a bit of a naff title, in my opinion anyhow – the book is so much better than it’s title. I can see why it was chosen, as this is the busy persons route to good cooking with a minimum of time at the stove; by that I mean the actual preparation as opposed to the cooking in the oven say, or marinating time.
Chicken and Chorizo in Rioja
I’ve cooked a number of recipes from this book so far: Pacific Lime Chicken (really, really good – in fact I’ve cooked it several times, it doesn’t take a good picture though, so no picture here), Chicken and Chorizo in Rioja (just my thing), Pomegranate and Honey Glazed Chops with Tzataki, Honey Mustard Sausages (yum!), Warm Potatoes with Beans and Avocado, Warm Potatoes with Pesto and Green Beans, Sicilian Baked Stuffed Peppers, Flagolet Beans with Garlic and Parsley, Apple Maple and Ginger Fool, which again I’ve made a few times, although I left out the ginger for the little people eating it.
Sicilian Baked Stuffed Peppers
My most recent make was Johanna’s Swedish Apple Pie, which I served with Diana’s Maple Cream. The pudding is a few minutes work and a while in the oven, the result is like nothing I’ve made before. To paraphrase Diana, it’s not sponge, crumble of tart. The best I could describe it is to say it’s like warm cooked apples with a sort of shortbread-ish topping, with the cream it was lovely. Actually the cream was a revelation, such a good thing to have up your sleeve, and the maple syrup taste happily doesn’t lessen with passing spoonfuls. Even of you don’t try the pudding, do try the cream with something apple-y, even just stewed apples it’s truly devine!

My notes are that I used pink lady apples, and I would say it would serve 4 to 6, I didn’t bother with the icing sugar either, although it would have looked pretty. I used a 8 to 9 inch pyrex pie dish. For the cream I used 4 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Watch the almonds on top towards the end, or they will blacken, I caught mine just about in the nick of time!

Johanna’s Swedish Apple Pie
From Cook Simple by Diana Henry 2007
Serves 8
125g butter, plus a litle for greasing
5 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunky slices
150g caster sugar
200g plain flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
45g flaked almonds
icing sugar to dust, optional
Grease your dish. Lay the prepared apples in the dish. Mix the sugar, flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Melt the butter and stir into the flour mixture, spoon over the apples then scatter over the flaked almonds.
Bake at 200oC for 30 minutes, or until cooked. Let the pudding cool a little when it comes out of the oven.

Maple Cream
300ml Double Cream
4-5 tablespoons maple syrup
squeeze lemon juice
Beat together in a bowl until whipped to your liking.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Little Love-Bites of Fig, Almond and Honey

A couple of months ago a new healthy eating type of book I’d pre-ordered arrived – Fabulous Food Sexy Recipes for Healthy Living by Sophie Michell. It’s a well designed book, very girly with many pictures and lots of lovely lighter recipes, not necessarily low fat or low carb although some are either or, but just generally lighter all round, a little less of the fattening bits. I’ll probably return to this book in January. This is the third book Sophie has written, and her second as sole author, her previous one being Irresistible! and co-authored Cook Yourself Thin, both of which I’ve used a good bit.
I am actually a little affronted to say that this is the only recipe I’ve made so far – but in my defence I have many on my list! One of my friends who bought it also made a pudding first! I did debate if or not I’d post this recipe, because it more stirring than baking, but they were just so good – I had to share, and how often do you come across a recipe title so sweet?
Sophie does say not to kid yourself that baking is actually health food! but these are little bites and as long as you don’t eat more than one or two, I’m sure they’d fit in with a good balanced eating style (this is just my opinion I hasten to add). The base is a biscuit-y one mixed with honey and figs, the topping is chocolate mixed with honey, which gives it a delightful almost fudge like texture, anyhow, they were very good! My notes: I cut them into 35 squares. If you keep them in the fridge they will be less crumbly than if kept at room temperature, but they are nice either way.

Little Love-Bites of Fig, Almond and Honey
From Fabulous Food Sexy Recipes for Healthy Living by Sophie Michell 2008.

Makes 35 or 70 bites
250g digestive biscuits, reduced fat kind
100g whole almonds
150g fried figs, de-stalked
50g ground almonds
5 table spoons runny honey
125g butter
100g dark chocolate

(1) Line a large tray bake tin, 13 x 9" with baking parchment, set aside. Crush the biscuits into crumbs, chop the almonds and dried de-stalked figs into small (5mm as a guide) chunks. Mix the crumbs, almonds, frigs and ground almonds in a bowl.
(2) Melt the butter with 3 tablespoons of honey in a small pan, then stir this melted mixture into the crumb mixture. Tip into the prepared tin and level the top the best you can. Place in the fridge to set.
(3) When set melt the chocolate and remaining 2 tablespoons of honey very gently, stirring until smooth, spread or drizzle over the now set base and leave to set. Cut into 35 small or 70 tiny squares.

Sunday 12 October 2008


Hello to everyone – it’s good to be back blogging once more.

The weather has all changed now, and it’s all Autumn colours and cooler breezes, time for scarves, gloves and hats – and some cold weather cooking at home. It’s also the season of new cookbooks, a couple of the stars for me are Nigella Christmas and Rachel Allen’s Bake. Expect to see more about Nigella Christmas soon!
First though I’m going to tell you about a cake that I found in Rachel Allen’s Bake, her latest book published a couple of weeks ago. It a cosy baking book with many recipes for all manner of baked goods – even some savoury suppers in one chapter.
I’ve made a few recipes so far and more of some of them later on; the one I’m focusing on here is her Carrot and Pecan cake, there is also a carrot cake recipe in the book, but this one is made with wholemeal flour. It’s a bit denser than regular carrot cake, but this is a positive comment because it’s not heavy, just tighter crumbed and very moist to boot. It’s paired with a classic cream cheese icing, and I also used some marzipan carrots that I was given by a friend (thank you again!), which finish off this cake perfectly. This is a slightly spicier cake and very good it is too.
Here is the recipe, which I have adapted only a little by reducing the salt from ½ to ¼ teaspoon and added the marzipan carrots on top. Also I cut it into 12 larger squares rather than 16 smaller, as I served it as a lunch time pudding.
Carrot and Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Slightly adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen 2008
Makes 12 to 16 squares
175g wholemeal self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
50g raisins
150ml sunflower oil
150g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
225g finely grated carrots
50g chopped pecans
(1)Preheat the oven to 180oC / 350 oF of Gas Mark 4. Butter the sides of an 8" / 20cm square tin, and line with greaseproof paper.
(2) Sift the flour into a bowl then add the salt, baking powder, mixed spice, ginger and raisins, stir together to mix very well.
(3) Whisk the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in another bowl, then add the carrots and pecans. Add this mix to the dry ingredients and mix well, pour into the tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the cake is cooked. Let the cake get cold before icing.
Cream Cheese Icing
25g butter, softened
75g cream cheese, from the fridge
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
75g icing sugar, sifted
(1) Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together, then gradually add the icing sugar and beat until smooth.