Posts Tagged ‘spice’

More cake today. This time with fruit which totally makes it healthy. And with big gooey pockets of custard which makes it more healthy. Custard’s good for you right? Lots of calcium, good for strong bones. Ahem. The idea for this cake has been kicking around for a while now going through various transformations in my head before it ever even hit the mixing bowl. The first seed of inspiration came from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet, an encyclopaedia of all things good, which has a recipe for apple and walnut cake dotted with custard. I pinched the custard element and reduced the sugar since his recipes always turn out too sweet for my tastes. The cake is a basic sponge made with both caster and soft brown sugar for a caramel depth and spiced with nutmeg, the traditional and perfect flavour pairing for creamy custard and a good match with plums. (more…)


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I’m very partial to meals made up of lots of little dishes that everybody shares; tapas, mezze and antipasti all make me a happy girl. I suppose these kind of buffets are a foodie’s dream since you get to try a little bit of everything rather than mooning over your dinner companions’ plates wishing you’d ordered what they had. Dinner envy: it’s a terrible thing. But you can create an impressive spread with just a little effort, especially if you supplement it with a few ready-made options like cheese and chutney, deli meats and olives. (more…)

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I had been planning to make a pot of vegetarian three bean chilli for some time but as the weather has become more spring-like I’ve been eating less soup and stew for lunch and more salads and sandwiches. Since my kitchen is now in a state of disrepair (more on that soon) it seems a lot more sensible to make a salad than try and cook something up on my paltry single hob. Despite fancying a cold lunch, I still wanted the flavours of a good bowl of chilli so I set out to make something spicy and smoky but salady at the same time. (more…)

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Whilst sounding like a simple meal to prepare, roast chicken can often turn out to be more of a challenge than first thought. It can be hard to achieve a perfectly cooked balance of moist, tender white meat and properly cooked thigh despite the countless methods and recipes there are floating around the ether. Butter under the skin, lemons in the cavity and bacon bandages are all helpful and add lots of flavour but a sure-fire way to keep your bird juicy is to pot roast it in a pool of flavoursome ingredients. While the chicken wallows in a nice warm bath it soaks up the flavour of any seasonings and vegetables you add and it’s bath water turns into fragrant stock, perfect for a good gravy or soup. (more…)

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So, after a few sweet posts I’m back to trying to use up courgettes and have taken to trawling back issues of BBC Good Food magazine for inspiration. I spotted this recipe and immediately knew I had to try it given my fondness for anything pickled. The amount of pickled beetroot, gherkins and onions I get through – often straight from the jar – anyone would think I was having weird pregnancy cravings. Maybe I have a vinegar deficiency? Since making my first batch, I’ve been piling bright yellow, sweet and sour courgette rounds onto practically everything I eat: cheese, sandwiches, chilli, pulled pork, salads… everything’s better with pickles! I am officially addicted to the stuff. I’m actually willing my courgettes to grow just so I can have an excuse to make more. (more…)

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Since investing in a snazzy little cooking thermometer and being smack bang in the middle of summer I’ve been busy playing with lot of jam and preserve recipes which I never had the confidence to make before. I’m just itching to start making sweets now, maybe some caramels or fudge and I’m going to have a go at making Italian meringue method macarons too. If any of these endeavours come out well you might be hearing about them in the coming months but for now I’m busy jamming.


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Some things just don’t translate well between cultures. What may seem perfectly normal to one country is perfectly foreign to another. Take twinkies for example. Despite them cropping up in so many American films and shows, I had no idea what one actually was until I visited the States a few years ago. Likewise, my concept of pudding is vast oceans away from the beloved stateside treat. I tend to use ‘pudding’ as a generic term for dessert; any good country pub will have a ‘pudding board’ displaying the day’s dessert choices. I even went on a ‘pudding crawl’ for my birthday once, hopping (which eventually turned into waddling) between restaurants ordering only sweets.

But lo and behold, to our American friends pudding is a homely concoction of milk, sugar and cornflour with the occasional egg thrown in for good measure. Sort of like a light set custard. I owe this discovery to the wonderful Deb at Smitten Kitchen who has recipes for several flavours of pudding including this unctuous vanilla version. Of course I could resist fiddling with the recipe by adding a spiced plum compote topping.  I decided not to add sugar the compote, the tartness works very well paired with the sweet milky pudding. Delicious! I recommend doubling the quantity of the compote and eating the leftovers stirred into porridge for breakfast.

Let’s hear it for intercultural understanding by means of dessert! Woop!

Spiced plum compote

(Makes enough to top 6 portions of pudding)

  • 3 ripe plums
  • 50ml orange juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground all spice

Remove the stones from the plums and cut in to small (1cm) pieces. Place in a small pan with the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.

Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 20 mins until the fruit is soft and the liquid is syrupy.

Leave to cool and spoon over the vanilla pudding.

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