Monday, 25 July 2011

White Chocolate & Raspberry Cookies

I wrote quite a deep, honest starting paragraph for this post. Then I looked at it and figured – this post is about a cookie. An almightily delicious and irresistible cookie yes, but a cookie nonetheless. So whilst there maybe a time for deep opening up, today I’m keeping it simple (I have a very delicious post coming up towards the end of the week) and just saying: you really must make these cookies.DSCF8706I don’t know how I originally came across this recipe as it is, rather embarrassingly, from the Carnation website. I have had the recipe saved for ages and every time I checked my ever growing list of links stored in my Recipes to Try file I’d remember them and remind myself to make them. Then I would promptly forget. Until one very rainy day last week when I got a huge craving for these – so much so that I was willing to go out in the rain to buy condensed milk, the key ingredient for these cookies as it ensures their really soft centres.DSCF8705These are rich – because of the sweet melting white chocolate and the rich dough – but that doesn’t stop them being moreish. Plus, the raspberries are nicely tart and if it’s pouring with rain in the middle of July then who doesn’t deserve a delicious cookie?! Or three. The actual dough was very quick to make but the repetitive process of making all the balls of dough, flattening them and adding the halved raspberries does take a little time. Beware – these cookie spread a lot. For my first batch (luckily only four or five) I made normal sized little balls of dough and the cookies turned out huge: over saucer sized. The recipe makes a lot but that really will not be a problem because like I say, they are very addictive. There will be fights over who gets the biggest one, trust me! Enjoy :) DSCF8699

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Gooseberry Crumble Cake

Yes, I know this is another cake. Which means that three out of my last four posts have been cakes. But hey, who turns down cake? Not me. Especially when it tastes so summery and pretty like this one…DSCF8657 Before this cake I had never cooked with gooseberries, despite them being such a classic British summer fruit. They’re pretty much impossible to eat raw – they’re furry and super sour – but when baked they’re so pretty. I don’t often bake with fresh summer fruit (like strawberries) because they are so good fresh on their own (plus a little expensive) that it sometimes seems like a waste to bake them. Obviously with gooseberries, it’s a different story, and so this cake was made.DSCF8669I don’t think that I have made a crumble cake before but I love it. The moist dark layer of almond cake, the soft sweet-tart layer of gooseberries and the crisp and crunchy crumble? Everything is covered! This cake is best eaten on the first day because the crumble will have the nicest crisp texture. However, we saved this cake for a few days to take with us on a weekend trip and it was still perfectly delicious – just a little softer on top.DSCF8665 The cake is a Nigel Slater recipe and he calls it a ‘cut and come again cake’ which is exactly right – it is very moreish! And as it contains fruit it really cannot be that bad for you...right?! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Apple, Vanilla and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

DSCF8646 Doesn’t the title say it all? Apples. Cream cheese. Maple syrup. Vanilla. Gorgeous. The flavours may sound quite autumnal, and I do have more summery dishes coming up, but I still highly recommend you give this a try (especially with London’s weather acting like it is October). My Mum and I bought a slice of this cake from the fabulous London bakery, Ottolenghi and once we tasted it knew that we had to have more of it – and soon! Luckily we have the Ottolenghi book at home and, double luckily, the recipe was featured in it. DSCF8651 The cake is stodged full of big apple chunks, juicy sultanas and the sponge is deep with cinnamon and luxurious vanilla: already very good. But fill and top it with the rich, honey coloured, maple cream cheese icing – delicious! When I tried the raw cake mixture I was nervous as it had a really strong after taste of pure olive oil, not quite what you’re looking for in a decadent cake. But, once cooked, that harsh and obvious flavour is baked away and you wouldn’t even know it was there (in a good way! It adds depth of flavour rather than being a totally in your face savoury taste). DSCF8652This was my first time cutting a cake in half to make a layer cake, hence the smaller bottom half, but hey, it was stable. It was also my first time using a vanilla pod rather than extract or paste. Pods have a stronger flavour than extract and I think are more impressive in creamy vanilla desserts because you can see all the vanilla flecks. The book said to cook this cake for an hour and a half but I only did it for one hour and it was perfect, maybe even a little bit too done. So I would say start around that level and see how you go because obviously all ovens are different. Overall – enjoy this fabulous treat of a cake!

Apple and Olive Oil Cake With Maple Cream Cheese Icing, from Ottolenghi

Ingredients for cake:

  • 280g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Bramley apples, peeled cored and chopped into 1cm dice
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 egg whites


  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g light muscavado sugar
  • 85ml maple syrup
  • 220g cream cheese, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 170C. Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Meanwhile, whisk the olive oil, vanilla and sugar  together until voluminous and smooth. Next whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the apples and lemon zest and then the flour. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold carefully into the cake batter. Grease and line two sandwich tins and bake for 45 mins until a cake batter comes out clean. Once cooked, allow the cakes to cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, beat together the butter and maple syrup and sugar until light and airy. Next add in the cream cheese and beat until it’s totally smooth. Use half of  the icing to the sandwich the cakes together, and smooth the remaining frosting over the top.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Chicken Tikka and Naan Bread

So, it’s been a while. To put it simply, I had twenty-three big exams lasting for a month and once they finished I was off to Glastonbury festival to celebrate. I have missed this blog and have definitely missed reading all the other great blogs on a regular basis. I’m back now, on my summer holidays until September, and look forward to getting this blog busy again with lots of delicious things planned! Starting with…a savoury dish!DSCF8689I don’t often cook savoury food, and so the ideas of proper amounts of spicing and seasoning are not familiar to me. I thought a good place to start would be Indian food – giving me a chance to use new flavours and see the awesome combinations that make spicy food taste so good. I love curry (my Mum makes a fab chicken korma and Thai green curry that I really want to learn to make) but as we’re in July I wanted to make something a little more summery so I made chicken tikka, cucumber raita and naan bread. I can imagine making large batches of this chicken for summer barbeques or cold for a picnic: delicious. DSCF8678 Both the chicken and the breads were surprisingly easy. I used a Mary Berry chicken tikka recipe (her recipes are always foolproof) and a naan bread recipe from Anjum Anand’s book, Indian Made Easy. The naan bread recipe doesn’t use yeast which makes it really simple and quick. I used caraway seeds and black onion seeds (also known as nigella seeds) from above to top the naan breads and they were delicious. The black onion seeds in particular are just perfect and give off a very tempting aroma. The chicken marinade was simple to make and I was surprised by the inclusion of ground nutmeg – not something I expected to see there. DSCF8694 Once the three components were ready it was time for the all important taste test. Spicy chicken, cooling raita, crisp buttery naan bread. Eaten in my garden in the July sunshine, it was good. Very good. All in all, a delicious introduction to Indian cookery for me and I look forward to making more. If all savoury cooking gives results like today then expect to see a lot more of it around here!The recipe for the naan bread can be found here, although there is a typo: the bread needs to be left to rise for 1hour, not 10-15mins.
Chicken Tikka from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook
Ingredients: 750g skinless,boneless chicken breasts, cubed
Marinade: 2tbsp plain yoghurt
2tbsp tomato puree
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1tbsp tamarind paste
1tbsp paprika
1tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
large pinch of cayenne pepper
large pinch of grated nutmeg

1. In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.
2. Toss the chicken in the marinade. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
3.Thread the chicken on to the skewers, put under a hot grill and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve at once, with a cucumber raita.