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Archive for April, 2010

Chocolate orange cake

At last, a busy day in the coffee shop due, I think, to the lovely change in the weather. Actual heat in the sun, and people sitting out in the shop garden. Lots of happy smiley faces! The day goes so much more quickly and I managed lots of baking too.

An excellent offering for tea at home, which always goes down well in the shop, is a chocolate orange marble cake. Really easy to make, but you simply have to use good organic oranges. The zest is fantastic with lots of orangey oil and colour in the skin.

Chocolate sponge recipe

  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 100gs butter
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon of milk
  • ½ tsp of vanilla essence

Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well together.

Orange sponge recipe

  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter softened
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 organic oranges, zest and juice

Mix ingredients all together.

Chocolate butter icing

  • Chocolate
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Blend together and beat until smooth.

Orange butter icing

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • zest from 1 orange

Again, blend together and beat until smooth. You can always add more icing sugar if too soft, or more liquid if too stiff.

Method

Make two sponge mixes, one orange and one quite dark chocolate.

In a well greased cake tin lined with greaseproof dollop alternate heaps of chocolate then orange mixture. Take a large metal spoon and swirl, with a cutting action, the sponge. Don’t over do it.

Bake in a moderate oven  gas mark 4 for 30 to 35 minutes. Do not over cook.

Once cool cut the sponge in half to give you two discs. Sandwich these back together with orange butter icing, not too much save the excesses for the top!

Decorate the top with 2 sorts of icing. chocolate butter cream and orange. again dollop on the icing one dollop chocolate then one orange and spread over cake in peaks not mixing them together too much. Sprinkle over some grated dark chocolate to finish.

Ice the cake, using swirly peaks of chocolate and orange icing.

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Trout outside

It’s not that often that you have the good fortune to be offered a lovely freshly caught trout and gutted to boot. Well that’s just the position I was in the other night. A smashing 4lb beauty.

But what to do with it. There are lots of options and the simple ones are generally the best.

It is still April and the evenings are beginning to stretch out, and lately it has been just warm enough to eat outside on the odd occasion. So I am opting for the spiced up version and a little table just outside the door. Lots of candle add a lovely atmosphere.

Simply fillet the trout with a very sharp knife – this gives you two large meaty portions. A fish this size could feed 4 to 6 for dinner.

With the back of a knife rub off the scales on the skin side of the fish and discard. Turn the fish over and rub the flesh with a good pinch of sea salt, a teaspoon of chopped fresh chillies, a pinch of ground ginger, and a pinch of ground garam masala.

Heat a dash of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the fish skin side down for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn it over and cook the flesh side for 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t overcook.

We enjoyed ours with a huge pile of steamed white sprouting broccoli and a large dollop of mayonnaise (there are some great organic ones available if you don’t have time to make your own, you can customise them with mustard, chillies or fresh garlic).

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This easter holiday I have not lived by my own rules. Result, a very  tired and grumpy me.

I really like to be very well prepared, and for one major reason, it is so much easier. I like to have meals made ready in my beloved freezer, the house reasonably tidy (and for those who know me that is a semi-organised chaos, two children , a beautiful partner, and three dogs). My bitch, Treacle, is due to have puppies in the middle of this month, so some lovely puppy pics will come in due course. So like I say, tidy house is almost an impossibility, but cupboards tidied out, the washing up to date, and the freezer groaning with prepared-ahead meals is how I like to start a holiday week or fortnight.

Well I have completely failed! I have chased my tail all week, throwing meals onto the table at the last-minute. Washing piling up and the dogs looking at me rushing about and muttering to myself. There is only one way to deal with the situation – get a grip on the domestic land-slide.  In my defence, George has been unwell with a sick bug, which is very unlike him, but we have had some sleepless nights.

So “clean out the kitchen cupboards” is my battle cry. I set about the task late into the night (late for me is past 9pm). With that job completed, I felt a strange sense of order descend (some therapist would make much of this, but for me it is strangely calming).

The next day, before work, I pegged out three loads of washing on the line (What would I do if I was in my grandmothers situation and had to wash by hand? There would only be one solution, a complete breakdown and a jacket that fastened at the back).

The house now seems to breathe a sigh of relief that I am back at the helm.  A little vinegar in the fabric conditioner slot in the washing machine (no fabric conditioner needed) freshens up the washing, softening the fabric and banishing any odours. Vinegar is good for removing stains, just pour on the stain and pop in the washing machine,. Don’t let the vinegar dry out on the garment, and wash as normal. After George’s bug the vinegar has been working its magic all over the house.

I quickly throw a thick spicy soup together for supper made with lots of root vegetables and stir-fried garlic-y greens piled in on the top of each bowl. As we all sit down at the table and I watch them all tuck in, everything is at peace in my world. Oh, I nearly forgot pudding, a quick jam sponge in the microwave.

Jam Pudding

  • Jam in the bottom of the microwaveable dish. The dish need to be quite large to accommodate the sponge rising.
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g sugar
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients, except the jam, and put the mixture on top of the jam in the microwaveable dish. Cook on high for 4 minutes, and then test the sponge to see if it is cooked. You may need to put it back in for another minute. Serve with ice cream, custard, or cream.

Happy Easter.

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This lovely slice is very more-ish, so make half quantities if you have no will power. It does keep well in an air-tight container, but doesn’t freeze well.

The recipe is in cups which works really well and makes it easy for the kids to make. They will need help getting the hot tin out of the oven though.

Base

  • 1½ cups of self-raising flour
  • ½ cup of coconut
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 125g melted butter

Filling

  • 30g hard vegetable fat (palm fat) melted
  • 1¾ cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint essence

Topping

  • 125g dark chocolate, chopped (I use milk chocolate if making this for a kids tea party)
  • 30g butter

First, lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm  lamington pan and line with greaseproof paper.

For the base, combine the flour, coconut and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and stir until combined. Spread the mixture over the base of the pan, pressing the mixture down really firmly. Then bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.

For the filling, melt the vegetable fat and stir in the sifted icing sugar, milk, and essence. Spread gently over the base whilst still hot, and then leave to cool.

For the topping, melt the butter and chocolate over a low heat until smooth. Spread over the peppermint mixture and refrigerate until set.

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