Archive for the 'Dessert/Puddings' Category

A RECIPE & VIDEO: Zucchini cake

zucchini cake

I love the word zucchini– it sounds so much more enticing than courgette. Romantic even. It’s so satisfying the way it hums off the tip of your tongue. Zzzzzzuuuuuu….. Anyway, this is more about the cake than the name. Not only is this a fabulous way to use up summers bounty but it looks so much more appealing than most sponge cakes. I dallied with the idea of jazzing it up with a simple icing sugar and lemon mixture- but personally I like it as it is. No jazz required. Don disagreed, but then he didn’t really taste it properly. His tasting was more apt to a pelican swallowing a fish than a process that required any thought. It may even like a traditional carrot cake frosting. Still, you can decide for yourself.
zucchini cake

The cake itself is not airy and light- it’s full of zucchini how could it be? But there are ways to maximise or minimise the amount of density to your liking. White sugar gives you a lighter cake- but it’s still spongy whereas brown sugar gives much more of a brownie-esque texture- it’s denser and richer. With brown sugar it could easily pass as pudding straight from the oven and dolloped with crème fraîche. I also altered the flavourings for the respective sugars- for the white cake I used lemon zest to match its more delicate nature. For the brown sugar one, which would have completely dominated the lemon zest I used something with a bit more oomph to stand up to it- cinnamon.
zucchini cake

One piece of advice I can give you is not to mix the zucchini with the flour before adding to the eggs and sugar mixture. The water from the zucchini leaches out and you’re left with what can only be described a goopey mixture- and all you will taste in the final cake is flour. I tried this, thinking that by coating the zucchini it would evenly distribute itself in the cake. It did not. Do not make the same mistake. There’s really no need to dry off the zucchini just make sure that you work quickly- measure all your ingredients out before you start mixing. No need for stress after all this is zzzzzzuchini cake and love is in the air.

Keep reading to watch me making the cake and for the recipe
Continue reading ‘A RECIPE & VIDEO: Zucchini cake’

A RECIPE: Strawberry banoffee mess

strawberry banoffee mess

I have a reputation amongst my family and friends for having a bit of a sweet tooth. It shouldn’t matter to me – but it does. It’s not that it should matter to me- except that it does. I associate sweet toothed people as those who sprinkle sugar on their Weetabix, spoon honey into their tea and who turn their nose up at the thought of cheese for dessert. I’m not in denial- I’m just not that person.

I know where it’s roots lie- the way my eyes light up when I’m presented with a pudding menu, the way I go soft and gushy at the offering of chocolates, my constant baking for therapy, the way I stop to gaze into the windows of bakeries oh and my habit for eating ice cream alone for dinner really throws people a loop. I get it. Most of Don’s friends and colleagues know my cakes before they know me. I had a proposal for marriage last night in a roomful of 1,000 people, by a woman whom I’d never met- all because I sent Don to school with some of my rocky road. Every time I go home my family moan that they’re going to get fat from all my treats.

With those kinds of credentials, this sweet tooth rep is a hard one to brush away (pun intended).  And I know that my recipe index alone has a bias for sweet endings but I assure you this is nothing to judge me by. I actually have a surprisingly sensitive sweet tooth- not only is it fussy in it’s selections and mostly disappointed in restaurants but it also hates things that are too sweet. The only things I crave are red meat and cheese. I prefer my chocolate bittersweet, my cream, yogurt and porridge unsweetened and most cookies and cakes I buy make my tongue feel like it’s burning. It’s true that I adore to bake- it’s like therapy with a tasty reward at the end of each session; but, if you’ve tried any of my sugar-laden recipes then you’ll know that most of them don’t taste all that sweet.

Banoffee pie (made correctly) checks all the criteria for my ideal pudding. The salty/sweet mix of digestive biscuits, a light creamy filling sweetened with fruit and a little caramel and topped with a dusting of chocolate. Most of us are familiar with Eton mess, broken meringues mixed with cream and strawberries and this is just a a take off of it and it couldn’t be simpler. It also happens to be perfect for any level of sweet tooth- sweeten the cream and add more caramel if you want, or go with less. Either way its a bowl full of happiness. And it’s perfect for someone like me with semi-sweet tooth (just for the record).

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Strawberry banoffee mess’

A RECIPE: Quick blackberry & apple tart

Apples have begun to appear in the market around the corner from me and the blackberries are no longer hard and tart but instead lusciously soft and oozing with juice. Leaves are beginning to fall, the days are getting shorter and the nights cooler- but, if you’re like me, somehow, you’re just not quite ready to let go of summer by making a blackberry and apple crumble. Even served with ice cream over custard, it rings tones too strongly of autumn and winter- and I’m trying to put off those thoughts for as long as possible. Heck, it’s still 80°F in NYC and I’ve always thought of a crumble as Sunday nights pudding after a long stomp in the chilly and often damp air. So, what’s a girl to do with all these lovely autumnal fruits- other than make pounds of jam and jelly?

I think this tart just about hits the spot in every conceivable right way. It’s delicacy and lightness reminds you that summer is not over and yet you know you’re ready for more than fruit and ice cream. I like to think that this is the time of year where dessert begins to drift towards pudding warm, comforting, filling. It’s tart yet sweet, buttery- but not too rich, crispy and gooey. It’s perfect for an Indian summer evening.

So, stop giving into winter- just a little while longer.

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Quick blackberry & apple tart’

A RECIPE: Speckled coconut macaroons

It happens every time I try to follow a recipe. I’ve mixed together all of the ingredients listed on the page and scooped a delicate pinky in for a sampling. And then similtaneously, or so it would seem, something through the cracked-open cupboard door grasps a hold of my eye, lures me towards it and forces me add it to a what could have been a perfectly fine recipe. Sometimes I wish I’d just tried the recipe untampered with and sometimes I have to admit I find myself thinking it was a stroke of culinary fate. Fate or just pure genius. Speckled coconut macaroons came about on one of these occasions.

Everything got in my way when I was trying to work on this recipe for the blog. Work for one thing, really got in the way. And then because I haven’t had an oven the only way to test them was at work- which I’ve been banned from doing so I had to sneak test them without the original recipe to hand. Honestly, the trouble I get myself into trying to keep this blog going. Then it was too dark to photograph them, which meant that I couldn’t eat them (talk about tedious) and by the time I did photograph them they were a bit past their best. I did manage to get there in the end though- and I think you’ll find yourselves thanking me for my troubles. Your welcome.

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Speckled coconut macaroons’

A BIG Family Christmas

With a family as big as mine, Christmas remains a far cry away from a quiet little retreat in the country. And on the years when we don’t all manage to fly our carbon fueled feet half way around the globe to meet up, it all feels a bit too quiet.  For one thing, when there are twenty-one family members- including three teenage boys (plus another six men who eat as if they still were), there’s a impressive amount of time, planning and stamina that goes into feeding them throughout the week of Christmas. With several birthdays to celebrate, big family Christmas’s always resemble my first week at University, complete with freshers flu at the end.

I grumbled in a recent posting that the obligation of Christmas present buying was tedium incarnate and whilst this Christmas proved no different to any other, bigger appetites meant there was an increased focus on the need for food. And lots of it. Don and I usually make decisions about what to eat when we’re hungry but here- it was no use deciding what to eat for lunch at lunchtime, menus for mealtimes were devised over lengthy group emails back in October and duties were divided up around the family.  And yet, for some reason, by some stroke of serious luck I managed to slip through the sieve, so to speak, and got off rather lightly. Although there was something rather unnerving about how much I enjoyed not being the one wiping away sweat beads dashing  between stove and dining room table. The price for such a luxury as actually having a holiday when on holiday was to make pavlovas for dessert one night.  Easy.  Or so one would assume.

If I’m ever asked to make a pavlova in somebody else’s kitchen again there will be a few pointers that will need clarifying before I agree to it:

1/  Will there be a bowl big enough to whisk eight egg whites in?

2/ Will there be a baking tin big enough to cook my pavlova on?

3/ Will there be an electric whisk?

To say that I got an arm workout that day would be grossly underselling my efforts. My appreciation for electric kitchen tools has never been more defined- and neither have my biceps for that matter.

Happy New Year!

A RECIPE: Chocolate & walnut fudge

Dinner is not complete for me without a little snippet of chocolate- whether it’s this way, this way, this way or even just a simple square of 70% dark. Of course, when it comes to getting ready for Christmas, as much as I’d appreciate being given a bar of chocolate as a present- it doesn’t exactly cry out “I’m thoughtful and put time into this!” Making fudge, on the other hand, does just that. Of course, what most people don’t know is that making fudge doesn’t have to be difficult and it doesn’t require a candy thermometer or exact temperatures. When I asked my boss if she had a good fudge recipe she replied “ooh, uhh, that’s tricky” and though I know I’ve made fudge the real way, melting the sugar with liquid glucose and cream and letting it reach soft boil stage blah blah blah, you can make fudge that’s just as yummy and as straightforward to make as a bowl of porridge. For quick and easy fudge, and lets face it, we all love the words quick and easy when it comes to cooking, use condensed milk. I know it sounds like cheating, and perhaps it is but so long as you use a good quality chocolate, nobody will ever know (and that’s the only kind of cheating I partake in). Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Chocolate & walnut fudge’

Shopping blues

Christmas is only just a week away and I still have not figured out what presents to buy my nearest and dearest and my nearest and dearest dearest’s as they continue gloat unforgivingly that they finished their shopping in July.  I can’t work out whether this is to make me feel bad that my thoughts were on ice cream and barbeques in July and not on what meaningful gifts to buy them, or just that they’re rubbing in the fact that they won’t have to fight the winter crowds in New York. Every year I mean to be get prepared early, but with moving country, then apartment, finding and starting a new job, a blog and getting engaged all in one year, there has been very little time for anyone other than, well, me. And no, that’s not a very festive place to let you thoughts reside but I’m the one who’s now paying for such neglect by being forced to face the dreaded city crowds.

 It is on this note that I am now a firm believer that Thanksgiving is a better holiday than Christmas. Thanksgiving being of course all about the food and family and Christmas involving months (or at least days) of thought, endless card writing (or intended card writing), shopping, increased line of credit and then of course afterwards you have to write more cards to say thank you for outfit you were bought that was fashionable last summer!  So much pressure for one day! My favouritism towards Thanksgiving will of course be in disagreement with the younger generation of my relatives who A/ being British have never celebrated Thanksgiving and B/ still get a visit from Father Christmas.  As for myself, after 24 years of reliable service Father Christmas himself has forewarned me that from henceforth he will not be filling stocking for my siblings and I- again a reason why Thanksgiving rates higher than Christmas.

 Until Thanksgiving this year, Christmas was always the big family day- in fact the only day that my family spent together as a whole unit every year and thus my favourite holiday.  It goes without saying that this is also the only guaranteed holiday I get off work other than New Years Day, which is spent in the recovery position and so does not count. This year, will be the first year that one member of the family, my brother, will not be joining us- what is it with Americans companies and their aversion to reasonable amounts of time off?  And so last weekend we had my immediate family Christmas at home. It was on “Christmas day” last weekend that the day before we all sat down to open presents that the reason why I hate buying presents so much came to a head. My brother said he didn’t want what I had wrapped up and was due to give him the following day, my sister had just bought what I was about to give her and Don had declared that he didn’t think he could trust himself with the prezzie I had so generously purchased for him. Okay, so I lied, I have done some Christmas shopping but you can see how unsuccessful they were! I mean you don’t after all hear many people rejecting turkey at Thanksgiving!

 As ever I have found salvation/escape in my cookery books and it is for this reason that I will be making vast quantities of fudge over the following week to give to my doormen, supervisor, handyman, colleagues and postman for Christmas.  If only my family would be happy with fudge!

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