14/04/2014

No Dough Pizza

No dough pizza. (Low carb high protein, NOT low fat at all.)

The cheese is essential to this, really. It holds the base together and gives it a more crust-like taste. You can add chopped fresh herbs to this, different meats, whatever you like. It’s good hot or cold.

6 medium eggs

1 chunk cooked gammon or ham, cubed (about a handful)

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

2 red peppers, deseeded and diced

1 small block halloumi cheese, coarsely grated

2-3 tbs grated parmesan (even the dried stuff is fine here)

1 ball of mozzarella, sliced

Dried oregano

(no salt is needed, the cheeses take care of that.)

Sauté the peppers and spring onions together until very soft, then set aside to cool a little.

Beat eggs and grated halloumi together, mix in the cooked vegetables, oregano, parmesan and chunks of ham and pour it all into a well greased baking dish.

Bake at 170C fan for about 20 minutes until puffed and going golden.

Dot the top with smears of tomato puree, and top with sliced mozzarella, then grill to melt and brown the cheese.

WARNING: the egg + cheese mixture will form into concrete in the corners of a metal tin, so line it well. It stuck so fast to the tin, I had to soak it in boiling water with some of the oxi-action stain remover before it shifted.


06/04/2014

Honey & Lemon Semolina Cake

Another flourless cake, though NOT gluten free as semolina is made from durum wheat.

This is a bloody lovely cake.

125g softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbs finely grated orange or lemon rind*
2 eggs
2 tbs brandy (I used rum as that's what I had)
1 cup fine semolina
1 cup ground almonds
1 tsp baking power

Topping
2 packs shelled pistachio nuts
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Clear honey
Heat oven to 200C.


Cream butter, sugar and lemon rind together until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Stir in the brandy.
Add semolina, almonds and baking powder then fold in to the butter mixture.
Put into an oiled tin (I used a silicone loaf tin)
Reduce oven to 180C, put the cake in and bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool and then poke holes all over it with a skewer.

Topping

Toast pistachios lightly in a dry pan.
Add enough clear honey to coat them all, then add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
Heat gently to mix. Taste a bit of the syrup, if it is too sharp, add another spoon of honey.
Pour the warm syrup all over the cake.
Leave to soak in.

Honey and Lemon cake

Useful: Oven Temperatures

                              
Very cool              200F           95      Gas 0
Very cool              225F           110     Gas ¼ 
Very cool              250F           120    Gas ½ 
Cool or slow         275F           135    Gas 1
Cool or slow         300F           150    Gas 2
Warm                    325F           165    Gas 3
Moderate              350F           175    Gas 4
Moderately hot     375F           190    Gas 5
Fairly hot              400F           200    Gas 6
Hot                        425F           220    Gas 7
Very Hot               450F           230    Gas 8
Very Hot               475F           245    Gas 9

Flourless Chocolate Cakes

My father in law has Coeliac Disease, and so cake was always a bit of a hit and miss affair, until ma in law made these little cakes.

It’s such a versatile recipe. You can make small ones, one large sheet cake, or bake it in sandwich tins. I’ve used all kinds of chocolate and types of nuts, because it’s so easy to swap and change things around.

Flourless Chocolate cake

200g bittersweet dark chocolate (I used Co-op Orange and Spice)

100g sugar (I used Demerara)

120g butter (salted is fine)

100g ground almonds (I have used coconut flour, ground walnuts, ground hazelnuts too.)

4 eggs separated (Nope, I don’t do this. It all gets mixed together.)

Heat oven to Gas 4 175C

Chop the chocolate into pieces, add the butter and sugar and let the whole lot melt gently over a very low heat. 

Let this cool for 5 minutes.

Then add the ground almonds and stir in well.

Beat the eggs in one at a time. (I added cinnamon extract here.)

Spoon into silicon muffin moulds or one large greased and lined tin.

Bake 30 minutes and let them cool in the moulds.

They can be crumbly, but no matter. Just eat them over a plate so you don’t lose any crumbs!

Cakes

I want to try this using white chocolate and ground macadamias or pistachios. Then perhaps coffee chocolate with pecan meal. White chocolate with added lemon might work, or dark with raspberry pieces…

Financiers

I’ve had a hankering to make small, almondy cakes for a while now. I remembered reading that Chloe had made Friands, and they looked so fabulous, that I think they’ve been in my brain ever since, so when I happened across a recipe for Financiers, I had to make them. That’s a very good site, and I do love a nice video to check things against.

Making the browned butter was interesting. Mine didn’t get the ‘milk solids falling to the bottom’ thing that happened in the video at all.

Butter

The liquid butter just got darker and darker. Maybe the difference between American and Irish (Kerrygold softer) butter? Who knows. It smelled fabulous though. So much so that I want to make a huge batch of it and use it in everything. It was richly buttery and smelled of caramel, like having a pan full of the taste of Werther’s.

Now. You see where is says to use 113g/half cup butter in the recipe? It isn’t. You use 113g/half a cup to make the browned butter, and use a THIRD of a cup in the recipe. I wondered why I didn’t have any left over! Still TASTY cakes.

Instructions taken from the website, my amendments in italics.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) with the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Place 12 rectangular or boat shaped tartlet moulds (each holds about 2 tablespoons of batter) on a baking sheet. (Can also use mini muffin cups. I used silicon muffin moulds.)

Place the butter in a small light coloured saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted let it come to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally. As it boils you will notice that a foam will appear on the butter's surface. Continue to cook the butter until it looks clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan and have turned golden brown. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Let cool to room temperature. You will need 1/3 cup (80 ml) of brown butter. Use the leftover brown butter to butter the moulds (use a pastry brush). (I used the cheesecloth I had strained the butter though.)

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, ground almonds, confectioners sugar, and salt. Make a well in the centre and fold in the lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla, and the brown butter. (Here I also added 1 tsp almond extract.)

Fill each mould almost to the rim and bake for about 4 minutes (batter is set around the edges but still soft in the centre). Remove from the oven and gently place one or two fresh raspberries on top of each. Bake a further 5-7 minutes or until the Financiers have become golden brown around the edges and are springy to the touch. (I did not do this. No raspberries. I baked them for 12 minutes until done, in muffin trays that I half filled.)

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. These are best eaten warm from the oven, but they can be covered and stored for a few days at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

I used the last little bit of leftover batter to fill madeleine moulds and baked for 5 minutes. They work very well!

Read more:http://www.joyofbaking.com/Financiers.html#ixzz2y7AnRlDm

My husband was very happy with freshly baked warm almond cakes.

Cakes

 

Leftover batter

24/03/2014

Tahini Cake

Yes, that’s right. Tahini cake.

Tahini isn’t just for savoury things. It also makes the most delicious sweet things. After all, you can have sesame ice cream in Japan, and mochi rice sweets with a sesame filling, yes?

Sesame is one of those things, like cinnamon, which is neither sweet nor savoury, despite the thought that one is sweet, and one is savoury. Both are, in actuality, neutral, but lend themselves extremely well to both, and can be used either way.

I use cinnamon in beef stews, and crushed with garlic and butter to put under and over the skin of a roast chicken. Cinnamon goes in my Bolognese sauce, and my chilli con carne. It’s an undertone mostly, just that hint of something, unless I make stifado, in which case it’s a full on hit, combined with rich, red wine, beef and onions.

Sesame paste is a wondrous thing. I grew up with it in houmous, but my most favourite thing was a coiled cake called tahinopita. Oh how I loved those sticky pastries. I still do.

Tahini cake is an easier way to get that taste, without all the fiddle. If you do not like tahini – and I am aware it can be an acquired taste – then you can use smooth peanut butter. Just warn people in the kitchen about which one you are using, because when as ex of mine took a joyful spoonful of tahini before I could stop him…let’s just say that he was not a happy boy.

I will also admit that tahini can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it can be so bitter that it’s just too overpowering, but at other times, it can be so silky smooth that I could eat it all on its own, just with some warm bread.

My favourite one so far has been from The Turkish Deli in Borough Market. It hasn’t let me down yet.

And so. The cake.

The recipe is taken from my very old Greek cookery book, The Best Book of Greek Cookery, from around 1976 or so. My original one lost the back few pages, and the cover, but oh joy of joys, I found a reprint.

3 cups plain flour, sieved

2 tsp baking powder and 1 of bicarb

1 tsp salt

1 cup tahini mixed together with 1 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts, sultanas and candied peel if wished

1/2 tsp cinnamon extract or 1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing sugar

Whisk the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt together.

Pour in the tahini/orange/water mixture. (Add the extracts to this if using)

Stir very well. It will be very stiff, more like a dough.

Pour – well, gloop – into an oiled tin 13” x 9 x 1” deep.

Bake in a moderate oven (oh Greek measurements! I set the oven at 170C fan) and bake for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with icing sugar if you like, but I added cinnamon sugar to the top before baking.

For a cake with no eggs, and no oil, it’s pretty light!

Flour and oranges

Finished cake

Cinnamon sugar surface

Enjoy! I know I will.

Turkish Breakfast Rolls - acma

I love bread. Almost all bread. But there is a special place in my heart for sweet, tender, yeasted doughs that yield to the knife with just the merest hint of resistance and accept the butter graciously.

Turkish breakfast rolls are one such bread. I love them, I wanted to make them, and I found a very easy recipe which proved to be not only easy, but fairly quick, and a great success too.

This is very important to me because I am not a confident baker at all, especially when it comes to yeasted doughs. I always desperately want it to work, and it’s never quite how I want it to be.

THIS WAS.

Here is the original recipe, all thanks to Christi at the excellent Honey and Butter blog. Christi is married to a Turkish chap, and has the most brilliant recipes, and stunning photos on her site.

Acma (Rich Turkish Breakfast Rolls)

1 1/2 cups hot milk
1/2 cup olive oil (I used extra virgin because that’s what I always have)
1 medium egg, separated
3 tbs sugar (I used golden caster)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs yeast (1 7g sachet of dried)
500g strong white bread flour

Separate the egg yolk. That is for glazing the rolls later.

Beat the egg white a little and mix with the milk, oil, sugar, salt, yeast and flour. I mixed it all in with a dinner knife, and then kneaded it for a couple of minutes, just to bring it together.

Set aside, covered,  to rise for 1 hour. I left it for 4 hours, and it was still fine.

Divide the dough into egg sized pieces. This made 12 rolls, each was about 78g. Yes, I weighed them. Smile

Shape each into a rope and twist. I DID NOT DO THIS.

Bring the ends together and seal. OR THIS.

I just shaped them into balls using this method by Richard Bertinet (from 12.15 minutes though I could watch him for hours.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOjSp5_YiF0

The dough is incredibly well behaved, and lets you shape and roll with no sticky problems.

Place the rolls on a baking sheet. I use a non-stick silicone liner because they are so useful and truly non-stick.

Brush with the reserved egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

Let rise for 30 minutes. Squeak excitedly when they actually rise.

Bake at 375/Fan 170C for 15 minutes. USE A TIMER.

Squeak again when they attain oven spring.

Remove, and let cool on a rack.

TELL TWITTER AND FACEBOOK ALL ABOUT IT  EXCITEDLY!

Egg yolk

Milk and yeast dough first mix

Risen

Shaped and seeded

After 30 minutes

Oven spring

Finished rolls

The finished article. Slightly sweet, rich but not too much. Fluffy and light but substantial enough for sandwich fillings.

Finished roll

Next time I could fill these with cheese and parsley, or a sweetened tahini filling – the possibilities are endless.

Thank you Christi!

Easy Hollandaise with Wild Garlic

Every so often I get to London Bridge very early before work, and I simply can’t resist heading in to explore Borough Market before getting the bus to Aldwych. It starts the day off nicely, and I also get to catch up with some of the traders.

I am honestly never happier than when I am wandering through a food market. Recipes and combinations sleet through my brain pretty much non-stop, and it can be tiring, sometimes a little frustrating because there’s no kitchen there that I can run to, but oh it’s so much fun.

It does lead to a few fixations every now and again. When I saw fresh bunches of spinach? That resulted in the spinach cake. Artichokes? Well, that ended in a whole globe artichoke and Hollandaise with wild garlic.

Wild garlic goes a long way. A LONG way. Pungent could sum it up nicely.

One very small bag of it did the Hollandaise for Friday lunch, lamb burgers for Friday night dinner, and then a slow steeped oil to marinate baked chicken on Sunday.

Now. Hollandaise. One of the proverbial Kitchen Nightmares, yes?

No. Not if you use a recipe by the lady TiAn, here:

http://www.unrulybliss.com/recipe/easy-hollandaise-sauce/#comment-1297711757

I did exactly as she said to do. More or less. These are her words, my changes are in italics.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter {melted and hot}
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper (I didn’t add this.)

Directions

Blender / Food Processor Method

Pour the egg yolks, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and salt into a food processor and blend everything for 20 to 30 seconds.
Slowly drizzle the butter into the processor until all of the butter is incorporated.  Keep blending until the hollandaise sauce is thick and creamy.

Hand Whisk Method  {My husband makes the sauce this way and it’s delicious and amazing!} (I used an electric hand whisk, much easier on the forearms.)

Pour the egg yolks, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and salt into a medium sized bowl and whisk everything together for 1 to 2 full minutes {whisk as fast as your arm allows}.

Slowly drizzle the butter into the bowl in batches.  Pour butter, then whisk for a bit.  Pour more butter, then whisk for a bit.  Keep repeating until the butter is gone.  Continue to whisk the mixture until it becomes thick, creamy, and frothy {approximately 3 to 4 minutes}.

(I added the butter in one long, slow trickle, whilst whisking. It didn’t split!)

I had some wild garlic, and I really wanted to use it, but not too much, so I added 2 tbs finely chopped leaves to the Hollandaise once it was done, and just stirred them in. The garlic will get stronger the longer it sits in the sauce. The next day it is powerful, so be warned!

The finished, lovely article.

Finished sauce

And the uses thereof:

Artichoke whole

Artichoke with sauce

Baby 'chokes

Chokes and lemon

Olive oil and chokes

Roasted baby chokes and hollandaise

23/03/2014

Turkish Spinach Cake

Yes. Spinach. Now, before you go “Ugh!” or roll your eyes, just remember back to when carrot cake was seen as something weird and possibly icky.

Cakes made with vegetables are really not new, and they can be incredibly tasty. Chocolate and beetroot, parsnip and walnut, courgette bread, sweet potato brownies and, of course, the carrot cake.

For many ideas, it’s worth while buying Harry Eastwood’s book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache. Lovingly written, and with excellent recipes. Her butternut squash, chocolate and peanut muffins were fabulous.

People are always wondering  how to get more veggies into people who allegedly hate them, and so cake is a grand idea. Plus, if they don’t like it, then you have more cake. Win win, right?

I admit, I’m not a great fan of spinach, unless it’s mixed with either feta or paneer, so when I first tasted spinach cake at the fabulous Tas (warning: site has music when it opens) in Waterloo, I was incredulous. This sweet, light, lovely cake, made from spinach? I had to find the recipe.

Then I promptly forgot all about it.

This week, I found a recipe online at the fabulous Binnur’s Kitchen. My mum lives in Turkish Cyprus now, and when she lived in the UK she dated a Turkish Cypriot man who owned a restaurant, and so I have sampled the cuisine a lot. Turkish and Cypriot cuisines have a lot in common (yes, really, get over it) and I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to try and recreate at home.

http://www.turkishcookbook.com/2007/01/spinach-cake.php

I gave it a go.

500g of spinach leaves is a lot. It’s about three bunches of the broad leafed variety, stalks cut off. It also takes a long time to properly clean it. The bunches from the Turkish grocers always have a lot of sand on them, but it is worth it. I far prefer it to the smaller leaf variety that we generally get in the shops here.

Leaves

So. After a mammoth washing of spinach, into the food processor it went. Halfway through the blending,  the lid of the processor cracked! It was well over 25 years old, but seriously Braun, timing?

Cue a pause in cake making as we went off to buy a new one.

Once we got the new one set up, and I had stopped being scared of it*, I decanted the spinach and tried again.

500g spinach, pureed

3 medium eggs

1/2 cup olive oil (I’m tempted to use lemon olive oil next time)

1 1/2 cups caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs lemon juice**

2 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

I whisked the eggs, sugar and vanilla together by hand, then mixed in the flour, spinach and baking powder.

It smelled lovely, and what a colour!

Batter

Poured it into a tin lined with non stick foil (oh I do love that stuff) and baked for 30 minutes at Fan 170C.

Eh voila! Cake.

Cake

I turned it out, and let it cool. It does sink a little, and it does discolour a little too.

It is a very dense cake. I suspect that there was too much olive oil, and possibly too much water from the washing.

It is, however, very tasty. It reminds me of matcha green tea ice cream. Next time, BUY LEMONS! I think I might add more vanilla and some nutmeg too.

Cake pieces

* This is the first new electrical kitchen gadget I’ve bought in years. I’m used to knowing how everything in my kitchen works, and this new shiny thing threw me a loop.

**The recipe asked for lemon juice but *HORROR* I had no lemons! I added 2 tbs lemon olive oil to the spinach, to see if that would work.

01/03/2014

A First - Plain Scone Round

DISCLAIMER: It’s MY scone, so I do it MY way. Jam or cream, they go on the way that I see fit. Ner. You all can argue about the right and wrong, I’ll be eating my scone.

Anyway.

I’ve never made scones. There. I’ve said it. I hate rubbing the fat into the flour, as it makes my hands hurt almost instantly. Any recipe that says to do that gets done in the food processor.

Today though…I had found some Rodda’s clotted cream, and wanted scones. I wasn’t going to buy them, as the shop bought ones usually have way too much bicarbonate of soda in, and I really do not like the taste of that, so the only way was to make them myself and adjust the quantities. I wondered if the processor would work the dough too much, so I just pulsed the butter and flour, then did the rest by hand.

I found a Delia recipe online for the basics, and then off I went.

http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/plain-scones.html

225g plain flour (that was all I had.)

1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 level tsp cream of tartar

pinch salt

40 g cold butter

110 ml milk

1 tsp vanilla

1.5 tbs caster sugar

Beaten egg to glaze the top if you want

I pulsed the butter, flour, salt, bicarb and cream of tartar in the food processor until it looked like fine breadcrumbs, then pulsed in the sugar.

Tipped the lot into a bowl and added the milk and vanilla then brought it together with a table knife.

Once it was almost together, I tipped it out onto the work surface and kneaded it lightly until all the flour was incorporated, then patted it out gently into a round, then just decided to bake it as a piece. Fewer items to wash up, and the dough wasn’t overworked.

Put it onto a lined baking tray then baked it at 220C for 10 minutes, then put on an egg wash, then baked for another 5.

I was most surprised that it worked!

It made for a lovely afternoon tea, and the Rodda’s did not disappoint in any way. Clean tasting, beautifully smooth cream, and perfect with the strawberry jam. I love St Dalfour jams, as they are all about the fruit, not the sugar.

First Ever Scone Round

Teatime

Roddas

Close up scaled

French-ish Onion Soup with Cheese Sprinkles

Lordy I just have to write this recipe down before I forget it.

I wanted soup. I’d baked a lot today, and didn't want anything heavy for dinner so soup seemed ideal.

I just seem to have a thing lately for clear, hot stocks. Nothing claggy, no roux, just stock with interesting things in. This was so simple, I will definitely be doing it again. You could do this with only white onions, and use a chicken stock, perhaps add some fresh herbs.

1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into half rings

1 small white onion, peeled and sliced into half rings

1 extra rich beef Knorr stock pot

Balsamic vinegar

Butter

Olive oil

Grated cheese

Melt a good amount of butter in a pan, about two tablespoons, along with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add the onions, coat well and cook on a very low heat until soft. This takes at least 20 minutes, possibly more depending on the onions.

Add 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, turn the heat up to medium, and sauté until the edges start to caramelise. Ten or so minutes, but watch it.

Then turn the heat right down, and leave to continue cooking until the whole lot is a dark, uniform colour and completely soft.

Add as much water as you want soup, I used around 600 ml, then add in the stock pot.

Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer.

I had made a cheese scone earlier in the day, so I split a piece and topped that with the grated cheddar that I had left over from the scone and grilled it for ten minutes. It became the scone equivalent of the cheese crouton you get in proper French Onion Soup. Plus the excess cheese made the sprinkles!

If you don’t have bread or a scone, then just spread the grated cheese on a LINED baking tray, and grill on medium until melted and spread out, and golden at the edges. Leave to cool on the tray.

Serve the soup with the cheese broken up and sprinkled on top.

Scone and Soup

Soup

26/02/2014

Mutton, Spinach and Coconut Curry

I made this on Monday, and gave it a good four hours of cooking time. I will definitely be using mutton on the bone again. To be honest, you could make this without the mutton, and just use a vegetable stock cube. I'd probably add in chick peas if I did that.

1.5 kilos cubed mutton, on the bone, rinsed and picked over for bone chips

1 very large sweet potato (purple skin, white flesh variety)

Bunch of broad leaf spinach

2 cloves crushed garlic

1 large onion

2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp ground fenugreek

1 tsp Madras curry powder

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 lamb stock cube

1 can coconut milk

1 tbs tomato puree

1 tsp salt

Slice the onions into half rings, chop the garlic and then cook in hot oil until very soft and starting to turn dark brown. This will take much longer than any cookbook tells you.

Add the grated ginger, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, garam masala  and madras powder. Mix well and cook down for about ten minutes.

Add the lamb and mix well to completely coat with the spices.

Pour in the coconut milk, plus half that can again of water, enough so that the lamb is covered.

Add in the stock cube, the tomato puree and salt.

Cover, turn the heat down and simmer for three hours.

After three or four hours the meat should be tender. Peel the sweet potato, cube and add to the curry. Cover and cook for half an hour or until the potatoes are soft, then uncover and add the chopped spinach.

Allow the spinach to wilt down, then mix in and leave to simmer, uncovered, for at least half an hour until the sauce reduces and becomes thick.

Serve over brown rice.


18/02/2014

Rose and Cinnamon Tea Bread

I saw a post today by The Ginger Gourmand that got me all inspired. Tea loaf. TEA.

I love tea, me.

http://www.thegingergourmand.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/earl-grey-fruit-loaf-with-lemon.html

I’m not a huge Earl Grey fan, and I didn’t have any, but what I did have was Twining's Rose Garden tea. That’ll do says I. So, as is my wont, the recipe tweaking started. I love rose anything. Rose and cinnamon together are one of my favourite scents and flavours. So why not do that? I didn’t have self raising flour, so used plain with some bicarb.

Ingredients

350g mixed dried fruits (I used golden and dark sultanas, cherries and chopped dates to use up some packets)

225g soft muscovado sugar

300ml rose tea, well brewed

275g plain flour (gluten free flour would work fine I think. Dove’s Farm self raising.)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 medium egg, beaten

1 tsp rose extract (amazing extracts from here: http://www.starkaywhite.com/)

1 tsp cinnamon extract

1 tsp cinnamon powder

Get a good brew going.

Tea brewing

Put the fruits, sugar and well brewed tea into a bowl, stir and leave to soak. Overnight would be ideal, but the whim took me this morning, so they had a good 6 hours.

Prepare a 2lb loaf tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment or do as I did and use a silicone loaf mould. I might need a bigger one though!

The Mix

Stir the beaten egg into the fruit mixture and then mix in the flour and bicarbonate of soda, plus the extracts and spices. Stir very well indeed until combined. It takes a minute or two, but you get there.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake at 150C for 11/2 hours.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Because of the mix of fruits and dark sugar, this is very rich. No icing is needed at all but if you were using lighter sugar and just vine fruits, then a rosewater icing would be lovely.

This is perfect just sliced and buttered.

The Result

The Merry Monk–Isleham

I have failed in my blogging duties. Yes, I know. And I’m sorry.

We first ate at The Merry Monk in February of 2013. I was deep in the throes of job hunting at the time, and not really concentrating on anything else because PANIC, so the blog post didn’t get written up. Nothing but job hunt work went on at that time, it was all pervading.

So, almost exactly a year on, we went back. Ma in law chose to go there for her birthday, and we all gladly complied as we’d had such a nice time there before.

The pub

The first time we visited, the very knowledgeable and friendly owner, Adrian, was just about to send himself back into the kitchen full time instead of being front of house, and on that on that first visit, they cooked me the best duck I have ever eaten.

Goosnargh duck

I’m sure that the others had lunch as well, but I was so intent on devouring mine that I’m not sure I took proper note…

We all loved the homemade breads though. One molasses and one stout.

Stout and molasses breads

This time we went on a Saturday, and again, were not disappointed at all.

Tex and I got there first, so we got some nibbles of home made pork scratchings and I had a pot of tea. Because it’s me, and I always want tea. The little milk bottle made me feel like I was back at school, before Mrs Thatcher took away our milk. (No I still haven’t forgiven her.)

Tea with tiny milk bottle

Mom and Dad turned up soon after, and we settled down to the serious business of choosing what to have for lunch. Or brunch, really.

http://www.merry-monk.co.uk/saturday-brunch

Dad and I settled on Venison and bacon pasty, with a crisp coated hen’s egg and home made piccalilli. EXCELLENT piccalilli it was too. At no point did it try and punch me in the face. It was a well behaved pickle, with a glorious soft boiled egg and a pasty that was dense with meaty flavours. And a brioche soldier to dip in the yolk! (apologies for photo quality, it was quite dark.)

Venison pasty with crispy hen egg

A moment of quiet was needed after that, but then up came the mains. A pork and bacon pie with greens for me and Dad. Tex had calves liver with mash and caramelised shallots and Mom had what she called perfect fish and chips.

Pork and bacon pie

That was one seriously packed pie. Tender gammon chunks, melting pork pieces and pastry that had butter layers, but didn’t shatter into a thousand pieces as soon as you tried to cut into it. Perfectly cooked buttery greens and a piquant piccalilli mash.

A well-stuffed pie

Mom’s perfect fish, chips and mushy peas. The chips were fluffy in the middle and properly crisp on the outside, just as they should be. The peas were made with fresh peas and mint, not marrowfat, so were much lighter.

Crispy cod and utterly perfect chips

A gentle snooze would have been useful at this point. Very useful indeed.

But no. Creme brulee with a ginger shortbread and poached rhubarb was coming to our table.

For once, there was a decent ratio of creme to brulee topping. Dark but not bitter, nicely thin so that it shattered properly. My only problem was that the rhubarb pieces were too big and refused to cut, but they were fresh and zingy, so I coped. Possibly needed more ginger in the biscuit, but that didn’t hang around very long!

Creme brulee, ginger shortbread, rhubarb compote

Dad had possibly the largest piece of treacle tart I have ever seen. Mom’s coffee came with home made petit fours of chocolate truffle, fudge and a coconut marshmallow cloud.

We really didn’t move far after that. In fact we were loathe to move anywhere, but they were about to close. Smile

All in all another very successful and deeply pleasant lunch experience. Oh I do think that we will be visiting a lot more.

Thank you Adrian, Michelle and your lovely Merry Monk staff!

http://www.merry-monk.co.uk/how-to-find-us

The Merry Monk

30 West Street,
Isleham,
Ely,
Cambridgeshire
CB7 5SB

01638 780900

16/02/2014

Bramley Apple Almond Tart

No, I do not know why this is called a tart. It’s my mother in law’s recipe and that’s what she calls it, so tart it is.

It’s one of our favourite puddings, and we always hope that she’ll have made it when we have lunch at their house. It started being made because pa-in-law is a coeliac and this uses no flour, but it’s carried on being made because it’s just delicious.

I realised I still had nice Bramleys to use up even after the granola recipe, and so this was the logical choice. I also adore almonds, so this is doubly lovely for me.

APPLE & ALMOND TART

750g cooking apples (about 6 medium sized apples) peeled, cored and cut into wedges.

Quarter cup of honey

2 tablespoons butter

1 stick cinnamon (I used 1 tsp cinnamon powder)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon brandy (optional) (I didn’t have brandy, used Belvoir mulled wine cordial instead)

Almond topping:

100g very soft butter

100g golden castor sugar

2 eggs – beaten

100g ground almonds

1 tsp almond extract

Make a syrup by boiling honey, butter, cinnamon, lemon rind and juice and brandy together until starting to thicken and colour.

Add the apple wedges and simmer for 10 minutes, turning them well to coat.

Put in greased pie dish.

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and almond extract and beat well. Do not worry if it looks like it has curdled, it will be fine.

Mix in the ground almonds.

Bake at 170° C (fan oven) for 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked.

It will sink a bit when you leave it to cool, don’t worry about that either.

Apple and almond tart before baking

Apple and almond tart baked

Good hot or cold but especially with custard. Thanks Mom!