Baby Chocolate Cakes

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My kitchen is cramped, no, more than that it is ugly. Ugly to use, and ugly to look at. Hooray for the joys of renting, but I guess it is the luck of the draw (and the dollar) the lovely Miss P is also renting, but she has a beautiful kitchen, so when she asked for some cooking help I jumped at the chance.

It wasn’t cooking instruction in general that she asked for, no, Miss P. wanted to know how to make those delicious little cakes I had made for my birthday. Yes, I admit it, I made my own birthday cake. But not just any cake, these almost flourless, rich, crispy on the edges and melting in the middle little cakes with a depth of chocolate and a lingering hint of chilli.

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As well as having a lovely kitchen, a great oven (fan forced! Back in the ugly kitchen the oven is from the dark ages, just and element on the the ground shoved into a badly sealed box), there were the wonderful little silicon moulds, oh how I would love some of these!

The preparation was relaxed, the conversation interesting, and the end product better than I have ever made on my own. Thank you Miss P!

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Baked Eggs, I’m in love.

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How do you do Sunday Breakfast? If I want to make a fancy cooked breakfast it often turns into second breakfast, or even lunch. As much as I love cooking I despair at even the sight of pots and pans, bleary eyed and yearning for coffee and familiarity. I need a sit down and a snack before I can even contemplate cracking eggs and slicing bread.

If you’re like me, then this is the cooked breakfast for you. Easy while still half asleep – just be sure not to slice a finger off – the eggs look after themselves. Prepare the sauce, crack the eggs on top, nestle them in the oven then, while you’re drinking your coffee and perusing the newspaper, they magically cook themselves.

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Mere minutes later they are set and a turn of the pepper mill and a whisp of olive oil is all they need before being spooned onto toast and gobbled up. This dish wakes gently you up, is it comfort food – there are no taste sensations instead it is the perfect winter breakfast dish, and at breakfast time too.

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Baked Eggs
(serves 2)
1 spanish chorizo, cubed
1 tomato, cubed
1 clove garlic, sliced
2T lemon juice
handful chopped fennel
4 eggs

Fry chorizo until browned and fragrant, add tomato, garlic and cook until soft. Add fennel and cook lightly. Season with dried chilli, salt and pepper and add lemon juice. Divide into two ramekins and top each with two eggs. Bake in hot oven for 10 – 15 minutes, or until whites are set and yolks still runny.
Serve with turkish toast or sourdough, eat.

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What have I been eating?

What have I been eating? To be honest, I don’t really know. A bit of this, too much of that and just a smidge of that, I swear.

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Kathryn over at Limes and Lycopene has been listing the variety of foods she eats drawing attention to the realities of a well rounded and balanced diet.

A few years ago I read an article discussing the benefits of eating a colourful diet, so when I’m feeling guilty and a little too round I half heartedly count the number of food items I have eaten in a day, and what colour they are – and mostly, I am pleasantly surprised. I will update this post for the next week detailing what I have eaten each day, and I hope to be pleasantly surprised again – but I’m sure not counting on it.

Hey, do you remember that book where families from around the world are photographed in front of a weeks worth of groceries? This will be sort of like my entry in that book, with out the photos, or the maths.

Wish me luck!

Edit: I have done it, and boy am i glad. See, I don’t think that I could have predicted the outcome of this exercise – that is, actually eating a more varied diet that I would normally. See I was thinking about the foods I had consumed in the previous few days. At the shops and in restaurants I would actively choose items that contained ingredients I hadn’t eaten lately, instead of either what sounded amazing, or what i normally bought.

I have no idea how healthy my diet is, I know that out of 21 meals I ate 5 out (pakistani take away, steak sandwich pub lunch, thai dinner, sushi lunch and a sandwich), Cooked 7 fresh and had left overs 3 times. All the desserts I ate were homemade (except the ice cream and the croissant), and the only convenience foods were Vita Britz and rolled oats for breakfast.

Although I won’t continue to document my eating habits here, I will think about them more – and hey, I might do this again come summer time.

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Polenta, fig, rosemary and Pine Nut – The Cake I nearly didn’t make. AKA the frying pan cake.

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Oh, and this is my entry for this months ‘Waiter, there’s something in my…’ fruit and nuts.

I can’t for the life of me tell you why I wanted to make this cake. The ingredients appeal to me mostly, separately, but combined? Why? In fact, I almost didn’t make it, see its true, I admit it. I don’t like polenta. What was that? I know, i know. I never did get on that savoury polenta kick, and the few times I make Jamie Oliver’s orange and polenta crisps they turned out more gritty and grainy than, uh, crisp.

And even more strangely is that the recipe came out of the newspaper. It’s not that I have anything against the newspaper, but I (almost) used to work for the people who write these recipes, and I have been sorely disappointed by their weekly offerings ever since they took over the reins. A few weeks ago they printed a recipe for Beef Dumpling soup which I got a little excited about until I read the words “Bought Dumplings”. Even the recipe above ‘the cake I nearly didn’t make’ was terribly close to making me prematurely turn the page – Broccoli, Anchovy and Chilli Linguine, is a recipe for that even necessary?

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To further emphasize how amazing it is that I made the cake (that I almost didn’t make), in the usually ridiculous newspaper recipe section it was named ‘Pine Nut and Rosemary Shortcake’. See, I would have skipped right over a recipe for a pine nut and rosemary cake, how boring and trendy, but this name really missed the point. The highlight of this dish is the way the sweet chewy figs mingle with the mild polenta, offset by hits of nutty pine nuts, the whole combination lifted by an undertone of earthy rosemary. The nuts and herb are not the stars here, the whole combination is what makes this cake a winner. Despite the fact that I barely changed the recipe, I am going to rename it Polenta, Fig, Rosemary and Pine Nut Cake.

Look past the individual ingredients, this cake is more than just the sum of its parts, and it is terribly easy to make, hell F.’s asked me what I was doing, half way through, surprised he responded ‘well, i’ve never seen anyone make a cake in a frypan before’.

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Polenta, Fig, Rosemary and Pine Nut Cake.
500mL water
140g Polenta
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
125g Caster Sugar
60g Pine Nuts
180g Dried Figs, stem removed and cut into pieces
40g Butter
1 egg
1 tsp finely chopped fresh Rosemary
115g plain flour.

Preheat Oven to 200C.
Grease a 22cm cake tin (I used springform), the coat with flour, tapping out the excess.
Bring water to the boil. Add polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Add olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring for another 30 seconds or until the polenta starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and add the butter, sugar, nuts, figs, flour, rosemary and egg. Stir to combine.
Spoon into prepared pan and flatten top with spatula.
Bake for 45mins remove from oven and cool slightly before turning out.
Serve cold by itself or with thick greek yoghurt or cream.

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Potato Love

Potatoes love rosemary.  It is that simple. Add some olive oil and sea salt and they, along with those destined to eat them, will be in heaven.

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The smells wafting from the kitchen are almost too much to bear. I’m ready to eat dinner and its only 5:30pm.

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