Monday, March 5, 2012

Black Forest Cake

I love baking this cake for special occasions such as Easter, Christmas or for a a birthday. 

You will need

275g (10oz) plain flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
185g (6 1/2 oz) caster sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
3 eggs, beaten
225ml (8fl oz) sunflower oil
225 ml (8 fl oz) buttermilk

2 x 8inch loose bottom baking tins

For the cherry sauce

1 can black cherries
2 tbls corn flour
3-4 tbls kirsch (this is a cherry liqueur however when I could not find kirsch I was successful in using vodka)

For the frosting

600ml double cream whipped 
level tablespoon icing sugar (this helps to keep the cream fresh longer)
1 flake to sprinkle onto of cake 


Pre-heat oven to 180C


Lightly grease the tins and line the bases with non stick baking

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking
powder into a large bowl. 
Add the sugar and mix well.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

In jug add the golden syrup, eggs, oil and buttermilk and beat well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and using a wooden spoon mix well until smooth.
Pour batter into the prepared baking tins.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cakes are well risen and spring back when pressed lightly with the fingertips. 
Turn out on to a wire rack, remove the lining paper and leave to cool completely. 
Cut each cake in half horizontally.

Cherry Sauce

Drain cherries reserving the juice and a few whole cherries for decorating the top about 6. 
Cut the rest of the cherries into quarters and reserve for sauce.
Place the cornflour in a saucepan and slowly stir in the cherry juice over a medium heat.
Bring the mixture slowly to the boil stirring constantly until thickened and simmer for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat allow to cool down completely before adding alcohol. 
And remaining cherries cut previously into quarters.

Sandwich the layers of cake together with whipped cream and cherry sauce. 
Spread a little of the remaining whipped cream around the sides of the cake. 
Pipe rosettes around the top of the cake and decorate with reserved whole cherries and flake.
Cake keeps fresh longer in the fridge. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rib eye roast beef

This is a family speciality, we love serving this at special occasions or if I'm stuck for time and don't feel like standing in front of a stove.

Serves 6-8

2.5kg well hung Rib Roast/Rib Eye (off the bone, if meat is on the bone add an extra 10 mins per kg)
Good size bunch of fresh Rosemary
10 cloves of garlic cleaned and cut in half(I know it sounds loads but work with me here, your roast is going to be bursting in flavours) Keep 3-4 cloves garlic aside uncleaned, roughly smashed.
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4- 5 carrots peeled and chopped into chunks
3-4 red onions peeled and cut into quarters
Tin foil/aluminum foil
1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 200degrees

Preheat a large pan on a hob, large enough to sit your roast in it.

Wash and pat dry your roast well, you want to get rid of most of the moisture.
Pierce holes all over the roast as deep as you can. You want to start filling the holes with garlic and rosemary, (don't mind if you get some of the garlic and rosemary sticking out of the holes)
Season meat well all over with salt and pepper, ensuring to cover every area.
In a hot pan, place your roast and begin to seal the meat all over until it is nice and brown,

In an oven tray place carrots, onions and garlic and a few sprigs of rosemary, place sealed meat onto of vegetables and drizzle with olive oil.
Tear a big enough piece of tin foil/ aluminum foil to cover the roasting pan, add water and seal tray well to prevent air from escaping.

Place tray in oven and roast for 1hr 30mins at 200degrees and then remove foil and reduce heat to a 180degrees and roast for a further 20mins basting the meat regularly. Switch off oven and leave to rest at least 30mins before serving. Keep the juices for a gravy

Serve with roasted potatoes, vegetables of choice and a nice gravy reduction.

Coconut Coconutty Tart

This is one of my favourite desserts, very easy and quick to make.. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family do.

2 cups desiccated coconut / freshly grated coconut
1 can coconut milk
3/4 cup caster sugar
pinch salt
2 table spoons butter
2 eggs separated
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 drops almond essence 
2 table spoons apricot jam

For the base See pastry base here/ Blind bake the pastry base in a 9 inch pie tin for 20mins in a Pre-heated oven of 180 degrees.

In a medium pot place coconut, coconut milk, sugar, salt and butter and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes and allow to cool.
Separate eggs and whisk egg white until they form stiff peaks.
Once coconut mixture has cooled, beat egg yolks and mix them well into the mixture.
Carefully fold egg whites into coconut mixture and add vanilla and almond.
Spoon apricot into blind baked pastry case and spread well.
Add the coconut mixture carefully to the pastry case and bake for a further 25mins in oven at 180degrees until the filling is firm and golden brown in colour.

Enjoy with home made ice-cream see recipe easy classic ice-cream

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pineapple, mango and shrimp salad

Salads can be so boring, I'm always up for something different..I decided on creating this to die for salad the other day and it was a hit.. It is so refreshing and palette cleansing.

You will need

250g cooked shrimp
1 large ripe mango (peeled and diced)
250g fresh pineapple, peeled and diced *(sorry only fresh will do!)
100g sweet corn (canned)
1/2 red pepper finely sliced 
1 large carrot finely grated.
1 small red onion finely sliced
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
1-2 tablespoons of fresh mint or flat leaf parsley (finely sliced)

In a mixing bowl combine all above ingredients and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve

For the dressing

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar /white vinegar (balsamic is much nicer!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole garlic clove (slightly pressed only to release it's flavours)
1 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs
salt and pepper to taste

In a cup 

Whisk all the above ingredients well, until you see the mixture starting to emulsify. Pour dressing over salad just before serving. This salad tastes so good with barbecued meat !!

Pu-erh Tea

I came across this Pu-erh tea by chance, talking to a lady from the Philippines beginning of last year sometime. She was going on and on about how this tea is so great, and how Pu-erh tea is the secret behind Victoria Beckham keeping her shape. She listed a whole load of celebrities and how they swear by this tea. 

Well I purchased the TEA from this lady, (and if I am honest enough only to get her to stop talking).. I thought nothing of it because I do not do fade diets and to me this was a diet!!. Got home that day, through the box of tea to the back of my kitchen press and forgot about it.. till about 3 months ago...

Three months ago I was chatting to a male friend of mine and noticed how trim and toned he had gotten over the last year - I mean the dude lost the pot belly and love handles, skin looking healthier and he just seemed to be bursting with unexplained energy.. 

We started chatting and he basically told me his secret to looking so great. He told me he had been taking the Pu-erh tea for close to a year, changed the way he ate, started eating more fish and veg and less red meats, and he also started the gym. He said I still enjoy a good curry and rice however I add more veg to my plate. He was like I eat almost everything I just put more fish, fibre, fruit and veg into what I eat. He does not eat low fat or diet foods as they are full of sugars, and they just don't taste the same..

He went on to explain how Pu-erh tea has helped in speeding up his metabolism, it also helped curb cravings for sweet things. He found he had extra energy and did not feel sluggish. His bowels worked like a clock, on time, every time, and his skin is even looking great, the dude looks younger. He shared something interesting with me, he said that before this change in lifestyle and drinking this tea, he had been dealing with depression and was on medication. He found that after about 6 months of drinking this tea it helped him cope with depression and even came off anti-depressants ...  Most importantly for himself he noted how his cholesterol levels were reduced as prior he suffered badly with high cholesterol and the doctors had been concerned about this.  

I was taken aback by all this and asked him like how much was he drinking to have found such great benefits. He said on average he would drink about 3-4cups a day specifically after meals.

Sitting there listening to him, but most importantly seeing the results and not just reading researchers reviews, has got me thinking about this fabulous tea no-doubt!! 

Tea in general  is know to be a natural antioxidant  if you drink a lot of tea you are less likely to get cancer. And not just a little bit less likely, a lot! If you drink about four cups of tea a day you are up to 60% less likely to get cancer thanks to the antioxidants in tea leaves. Tea is supposed to be a very strong immune booster. Also I found that studies have confirmed what the Chinese doctors have been telling us for centuries – tea boosts your metabolism and helps you lose weight. Drinking a few cups of Pu-erh tea or Green tea  (without the sugar or milk) can have a really good effect on your waistline. Pu-erh tea is strongly believed to have wide ranging health benefits from anti aging, prevention of heart disease and cancer, diabetic control, removal of toxins to curing dysentery, inflammation, aiding digestion and weight loss, improving the eyesight, blood circulation and reviving those who are overly intoxicated with alcohol.

So After speaking to my friend and hearing his testimony about this fabulous tea, reading all the write ups and reviews.. you guessed it!! I've gone into my kitchen press and made me a cuppa Pu-erh. Sitting here hitting these notes on my keyboard and sipping on this tea with all its benefits  thinking about that slim waistline and where this tea will take me LOL!! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Malva Pudding / Spoonful

For the cake:
1 cup plain flour, 
1 Tbs bicarbonate of soda, 
1 cup  cater sugar, 
1 egg, 
1 Tbs apricot jam, 
1 Tbs vinegar, 
1 Tbs melted butter, 
1 cup milk.

For the sauce: 
½ cup cream, 
½ cup milk, 
½ cup caster sugar, 
½ cup hot water, 
½ cup butter,

Preheat oven 180°C

Grease, with butter an ovenproof pyrex or porcelain container approximately 8in.  
Cut a piece of tin foil to  pudding while it is in the oven and grease it well with butter on one side.
In a mixing bowl combine all cake ingredients and whisk with a hand blender for about 2-3mins until all ingredients are incorporated well.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, cover with the foil, greased side down and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for a further five minutes until the pudding is sufficiently brown.

In a small/medium pot while the pudding is in the final 5-10 minutes of baking , heat all the ingredients for the sauce, ensuring that you melt all the sugar and butter.

When the pudding is done, remove from the oven, pour over the sauce.  
The pudding will take up all the sauce.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature,with a little cream or a vanilla custard.

Death by chocolate cake

I got this fabulous recipe from a Mary Berry recipe book and had to share it with you all!!

Preparation time : 40 minutes
cooking time : 35 minutes
tins needed : 2 loose bottomed 20cm (8in) sandwich tins,
4cm (1 1/2 in) deep

Ingredients :
275g (10oz) plain flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
215g (7 1/2 oz) caster sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
3 eggs, beaten
225ml (8fl oz) sunflower oil
225 ml (8 fl oz) milk

For the icing :
450g (1 lb) plain chocolate, broken into pieces
200g (7 oz) unsalted butter

For the chocolate waves :
about 50g (2 oz) each white and plain chocolate

1. Lightly grease the tins and line the bases with non stick baking
parchment. Pre heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark3.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking
powder into a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.

2. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the
golden syrup, eggs, oil and milk. Beat well, using a wooden
spoon, until smooth and then pour into the prepared tins.

3. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cakes are well risen and
spring back when pressed lightly with the fingertips. Turn out
on to a wire rack, remove the lining paper and leave to cool
completely. Cut each cake in half horizontally.

4. For the icing, put the chocolate into a bowl placed over a pan of
hot water. The water in the pan must not touch the bowl or the
chocolate may overheat. Place the pan over a low heat until the
chocolate has melted, stirring occasionally, then add the butter
and stir until the butter has melted.

5. Put half the cake for the bottom layer on a wire rake and place
a baking tray underneath to catch the drips. Spoon a little of
the icing on to the cakes, spreading it evenly to the sides.
Repeat with the remaining cake layers, then pour the
remaining icing over the top of the cake and use a small palette
knife to smooth it evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
Leave to set.

6. For the chocolate waves, melt the white and dark chocolate in
separate small bowls over a pan of hot water. Spread the
chocolate on to a strips of foil about 4cm (1 1/2in) wide and
35cm (14 in) long. Lay the stips carefully over 2 mugs or tins,
placed on their sides of a baking tray, to give a wavy shape.
Allow to set in the fridge, then carefully peel of the foil and use
the chocolate waves to decorate the top of the cake.