Saturday, 18 June 2011

Irresistible honey and almond cake

This recipe is perfect for a rainy day, when you just want to snuggle up with a cup of tea and a good book (I’m currently reading Bill Bryson’s At Home: A short History of Private Life). I made this cake with my boyfriend last week after moving back to Cornwall for the summer, and it filled the house with that delicious aroma of ‘something sweet is baking’! Despite a couple of setbacks, the cake turned out perfectly moist and delicately sweet!
You’ll need
·         200g self-raising flour
·         150g butter (unsalted)
·         115g brown sugar
·         175g honey (plus 1tbsp more for glazing)
·         Juice from half a lemon
·         2 eggs
·         Some flaked almonds for the topping
Pre-heat the oven to 180C, and find a cake tin (about 8 inch) to line with baking paper and grease with some butter.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, honey and lemon juice and stir over a medium heat until melted and smooth. Take of the heat for about 5 minutes, giving it time to cool slightly before beating in the eggs and sifting in the flour. Stir until fairly smooth (some small lumps are fine!) and pour into your prepared cake-tin.
Just before placing in the oven, scatter the flaked almonds generously over the cake. Leave in the oven to cook for 30-35 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Pierce the cake with a thin skewer through the middle to check if it comes out clean (meaning its set and ready). Drizzle over some honey while still warm and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before tucking in (it will be heard to resist, I know!).
 I enjoyed my cake with a generous scoop of honeycombe ice cream!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Getting creative with home-made burgers!

Continuing with the theme of summer (but somewhat moving away from the healthy), here are two burger recipes I tried a few months ago.

Now that its BBQ season I think it’s imperative that I put my view on burgers out there. I find burgers are not given the treatment they deserve; there’s more to them than just the patty, a bun and some ketchup so I’m genuinely hoping to inspire some of you stuck in the ‘maccy d’ rut and try these out!

A spruced-up classic

A great English burger with English cheddar and caramelised onions!
(makes 4 burgers)

·         500g Beef mince (not too lean)
·         One onion for the patty
·         Egg (lightly beaten)
·         1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
·         A bun of your choice (I love ciabatta)
·         4 onions for the caramelised onions topping
·         ½ tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
·         1 teaspoon demarerra sugar
·         75g butter
·         Mature English cheddar
·         1 beef tomato
·         A packet of rocket
·         Mayonnaise
·         A garlic clover
·         A small bunch of parsley

Finely chop one onion and combine with the beef mince and egg, season with plenty of salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce before mixing together to form patties.

Slice the tomato into rounds, the cheddar into thin slices and mix the mayo with some finely chopped garlic and parsley. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Slice the onions into rings and place in the pan of butter, stir for a minute or two to coat well. Turn the heat down slightly and cover with a lid for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Brush your patties lightly with some olive oil and place on the bbq (if using) or a griddle pan.
Cook for about 7 minutes before turning over.

In the pan of onions, add the vinegar and sugar and stir well. The onions should be nicely browned and shrunk by at least half.

One minute before serving, put the cheddar over the burger while it’s still on the heat to allow it to melt nicely. Toast the buns (you can do this on the bbq!), spread a teaspoon of parsley mayo on each one before placing the beef patty with cheese, followed by the tomato slice, a generous serving of the caramelised onions and a bit of rocket and topping off with the other bun to finish!

 Halloumi and chorizo burgers

For those wishing to create a more Mediterranean vibe, try this mix of pork, beef and chorizo topped off with grilled halloumi cheese!

(Serves 4)
·         200g Beef mince
·         200g Pork mince
·         100g Chorizo ring (not the sliced alternative)
·         1 egg
·         2 garlic cloves
·         1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
·         Burger Buns of your choice
·         A pack of halloumi cheese
·         A packet of Rocket
·         Beef tomato
·         Mayo, parsley and garlic (see above recipe)
De-skin the chorizo ring (slightly score it before pulling it off) before roughly chopping it and putting in a food processor with roughly chopped garlic and the chilli flakes.

 Pulse until it has a nice crumbly texture then mix in a bowl with the pork and beef mince and egg. Season well, form into equal patties, brush lightly with olive oil and put on the BBQ/pan for about 7-8 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, slice up your halloumi about 1.5cm thick and then the tomato into rings. About 3 minutes before serving, griddle the halloumi until golden (or starting to char if bbq’ing) and toast your buns! Serve the buns with rocket, a slice of tomato, a spoonful of parsley mayo and the patty topped with halloumi!

You’ve seen my ideas now it’s time to get creative! What about a Hawaiian-style burger by substituting the tomato with a ring of griddled pineapple? Or how about a Mexican burger by adding some fiery tomato salsa and a slice of avocado? Or just try different cheeses, maybe some melted stilton for a pungent kick or even some alpine cheese for a lovely crust!

Healthy summer gazpacho!

Ok so after 2 months of complete blog abandonment, I am back! I'll just quickly fill you in on what's been happening (excuses excuses!) before returning with a lovely summery recipe!

Since my last post, I have written over 20,000 words of essays (including my dissertation), finished my final exams and had a few fantastic restaurant experiences (another trip to One-o-One, the Chancery and the White Swan's tasting evening as well as a good find in Plymouth called the Fish Market).

I am now back in Cornwall, having a much needed rest (and detox) and I think it’s only right to kick off with this healthy summer gazpacho.

 Admittedly, cold soups are not everyone's idea of a perfect supper, but I was reminded of their charm in my visit to One-o-One last month, where we sampled an amuse bouche of a cold soup of halibut, salmon and fennel. It went down a treat but I decided to stick to the traditional Spanish recipe of gazpacho.

  • 1 long red romaro pepper
  • 500g of tomatoes, I used one beef tomato for sustenance, and 2 packs of sweet sunstream tomatoes for extra flavour.
  • Half a cucumber
  • Half a bulb of fennel (ok so not that traditional but I love the refreshing kick it gives!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Day old bread (I used a white baton from tesco)
  • Plenty of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar (most recipes call for sherry vinegar but I didn't have any, this worked a treat!)
  • Salt and pepper to season

The preparation, you'd be glad to know, is minimal. Remove the crust from the bread and soak the rest in some water and drizzle with some olive oil. Meanwhile, peel your cucumber as the skin would add unwanted bitterness to the soup, slice your tomatoes (and peel if you wish) and deseed, cut and remove ‘the white bits’ from the red pepper. Chop up your garlic cloves and fennel. Put everything in a food processor until smooth then add the bread (use a sieve to drain it first), about 75ml of olive oil and the white wine vinegar. Season generously to taste! You can either put it in the fridge to chill or if you are not happy with the consistency, put it through a fine sieve for a smoother, more liquid soup. I tried the latter option first but felt I was wasting all of the nutritious pulp, so mixed it all back together in the end!

I enjoyed this soup with a few slices of parma ham, garnished with parsley and a generous drizzle of ‘Cinque Foglie’ extra virgin olive oil which I purchased from Borough Market!

Or you can serve it in a glass, a traditional way of serving Gazpacho!