Almond cake

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A couple of years latter, with a different camera and the right almond meal… St James cake, take 2.  Also, it  doubles up as my birthday cake. A far cry from the formidable cakes years of the past few years, but still  a sophisticated, luscious and  almondy affair to put on the table with a glass of prosseco.

Almond cake (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients

  • Baking spray or butter and flour as required
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g of sugar
  • 150g of almond meal (make sure you are using the off white mixture, made with pealed almonds)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Icing sugar as required

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Coat a baking tray with baking spray (or butter and flour). It has to be a large one,  like  a 40 cm round one)

2. In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and the sugar until you have a pale yellow foamy mixture

3. Add the the ground almond and the cinnamon to the egg mixture. Fold it slowly in the same direction with a wooden spoon, until you obtain a fluffy and airy mixture.

4. Pour the mixture in the tray (it  should be must be about 1.5cm deep)

5. Put in the oven for about 20min, or until golden brown. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides of tray when you take it out of the tray.

6. Sprinkle icing sugar on top of it before serving.

 

 


Raspberry and strawberry Eton Mess

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To keep up with the British traditional foods motif, a mess. Whatever fruits you were using, it us all in all, a very summery dessert, perfect to serve to a crowd. If you buy the meringue, you will have it done in no time, without the need to get close to the stove, even.

Raspberry and strawberry Eton Mess (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)

Ingredients

  • 250g strawberries
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 350mL double cream lightly whipped
  • 150g of meringue

Method

Halve the strawberries, thickly slicing any whoppers. Put in a large bowl with the raspberries and sugar. Roughly crush and squeeze some of the berries with your hands so the juices start to run. Cover and leave to macerate in the fridge for an hour or two.

To assemble the mess, break the meringues into rough pieces, then fold into the whipped cream. Now lightly fold in the chilled fruit, so everything is rippled together rather than thoroughly blended. Pile into glasses and serve. You can make it an hours or so in advance, but not more, or the meringue will go weepy in the cream.


Lavander shortbread

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A bit overcooked (mea culpa)… Otherwise, a spot on take on shortbread, probably the best British biscuit of all time. Very buttery and crumbly, ideal to eat with coffee or tea or in a moment of high sugary need. They can also be used to impress the beasts lovely co-workers on the occasion of yet-another-project-update-meeting. And, maybe, the mother in law, in the case that there was indeed one…

 

Lavender shortbread (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course)

Ingredients 

  • 340g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing
  • 140g caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped lavender

Method

Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt and set aside. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electrical mixer until smooth and creamy.

Turn the mixer to its lowest setting and, with the motor running, add the lavender and then the flour a little at a time.

Stop mixing as soon as the dough comes together. Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20min.

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

To make the shortbread fingers, gently pack the dough into a lightly buttered into a shallow baking tray ( roughly 30cm*20cm). Score the surface to mark out the fingers and prick all over with a fork. If you want to make circular biscuits, roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to 5-7cm thick, then stamp out the rounds using a 6cm cutter. Transfer to 2 lightly buttered baking sheets, leaving each space between each biscuit, then them with a fork.

Bake for 15-20min until pale golden, checking ofter as the ovens vary and the shortbread can easily burn.  Cool in the tin or on the sheet until firm, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 


Aubergine, potato, tomato

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Some dishes I chose because they read well and/or have a good combination of flavours. Others, because the story they have attached to it. This is one I picked after reading Yotam’s editorial. It just explained so well what brunch should be about: “It’s a long meal that takes up a large chunk of the middle of the day, a proper celebration of food, but without the fanfare and worries that come with a full-blown dinner party“. Never better said… Every now and again, we get together for brunch, who tends to end up into a several hours long marathons, usually ending when the host runs out of bubbly. Or coffee. Or both…. Happy memories – and hopefully many more to come.

As usual, it was a  super dish. A bit laborious, but nevertheless worthwhile the effort. This was served with (fried/baked) eggs to order. Still feel a bit insecure to venture into poached eggs, as the original recipe called for.

Aubergine, potato, tomato (adapted from  Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes cut into 1cm dices
  • 1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp hot savoury chilli sauce (Yotam recommends Sriracha, I used piri piri)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 aubergines, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 250ml olive oil
  • About 300ml sunflower oil
  • 600g  waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm-thick slices
  • 80g tahini paste
  • 2½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tbsp coriander, chopped

(1 onion was omitted for humanitarian reasons. A. is extremely allergic to them)

Method

Put the peeled, diced tomatoes in a colander for half an hour to drain. Transfer to a medium bowl and add  vinegar, parsley, hot sauce  and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Mix gently and set aside.

Mix the aubergine with a teaspoon and a half of salt, place in a colander and set over a bowl for half an hour, to drain off any excess liquid. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and pat dry.

In a 26cm sauté pan, put 200mL of olive oil and as much sunflower oil as you need to bring it 1cm up the sides of the pan. Place on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the aubergine in batches and fry for three to four minutes, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of the aubergine. Remove the left over oil and wipe down the pan.

Bring a medium pan of water to a boil, add the potatoes and cook for three minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside to dry. Add two tablespoons of fresh olive oil to the skillet and place on a medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and fry for 10 minutes with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a crack of black pepper, until cooked through and golden brown; turn them over from time to time. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Put the tahini, 60mL of water, a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, the garlic and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to a thick, pourable consistency. Spoon half the sauce over the potatoes and spread the aubergine on top. Follow this with the remaining tahini, then the tomatoes. Poach the eggs just before you are ready to serve and lay them on top of the tomatoes, along with a drizzle of the remaining oil, a sprinkle  with sumac and coriander, and the last of the lemon juice. Bring to the table in the pan.

 

 


Barley, beetroot and feta salad

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It is the return of #beetrootgate…. It has been a while – maybe a bit too much. The recipe is from Mafalda Pinto Leite, who as of late has been working on a healthy recipes withe healthy ingredients and healthy cooking methods.  Sometimes, like this barley salad, with delicious results. A very good salad for the Summer, refreshing and comforting at the same time.

Barley, beetroot and feta salad (adapted from Mafalda Pinto Leite’s blog Dias com Mafalda)

Ingredients 

1 cup of barley
1/3 cups of toasted sun flower seeds
1 small beetroot
1 grated carrot
50g of grated feta cheese

Dressing
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of lemon
1/3 cup of lemon
¼ cup of  torn basil leaves

Method

Cook the barley according to the instructions on the packet, until it is tender. Cool down with cold water and drain. Reserve.

For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Alternatively, just put them all in closed bottle and shake.

To serve, put the barley in a salad bowl and mix with all the vegetables and cheese. Add the dressing, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

 


Pearl barley, orange and sesame pudding

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The mix sounds a bit odd and way too health for pudding, but truth to be said, it was delicious…  Not the kind of thing you would expect coming from pearl barley. The orange syrup complemented to perfection the sweetness of the barley and the sesame seeds just added a bit of complexity to it. A total foodie moment, I’d dare to add…

Pearl barley, orange and sesame pudding (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian.)

Ingredients

  • ½ tbsp each white and black sesame seeds, toasted (or use 1 tbsp white)
  • 1½ tbsp unrefined  sugar
  • 125g pearl barley, covered with cold water and soaked overnight
  • 750ml whole milk
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • Finely grated zest of ½ lemon,
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Salt
  • 20g tahini paste

For the orange syrup

  • 1 medium orange
  • 40g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp orange blossom water

Start with the orange syrup. Shave off a long strip of orange peel, avoiding the pith, and put in a small pan. Trim off top and bottom of the orange, then cut down its sides to remove all the skin and pith. Working over a small bowl to catch any juice, cut out the segments by slicing between the membranes. Add the segments to the bowl and set aside.

Add the caster sugar to the pan with the peel and add 75ml water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves – this should take less than a minute. Set aside to cool, then add the orange segments and juices, and the orange blossom water.

Roughly crush the sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar with a teaspoon of muscovado sugar, and set aside.

Drain and rinse the barley. Tip it into a medium saucepan with the remaining muscovado sugar, milk, vanilla pod and seeds, citrus zest and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is cooked but still has some byte: if it’s becomes very thick, add a little milk towards the end. Leave to cool for five minutes, then remove the vanilla pod and divide between four bowls. Dribble a teaspoon of tahini over each portion, spoon over the orange segments and syrup, sprinkle with sesame and serve.


Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake

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A dish specially dedicated to B., who passionately loves quinoa. (not). Much for his despair, quinoa invaded the summer salad world and then slowly start to creep up into brunch domains and now makes an appearance in pudding-land. Actually, this is a sort of upside down deconstructed crumble (minus butter) also ideal for a brunch menu… It is very tasty, filling and it can even be considered  * gasp * super healthy.

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bake (adapted from a recipe found in fitsugar.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 apples, peeled, diced
  • 1/4 cup (app 50g)raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (500mL) milk with the seeds of 1 vanilla pod
  • 1/4 (50mL) cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 (app 75g) cup almonds, chopped

Methods 

Preheat the oven to 200oC. Lightly grease a baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the uncooked quinoa with the spices. Pour into the greased dish. Sprinkle the apple and raisins on top of the quinoa.

In that same small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk and maple syrup. Pour the egg-and-milk mixture over the top of the fruit and quinoa. Lightly stir to partially submerge the fruit. Sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.

Bake for 1 hour or until the casserole is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left.

Allow to cool, and then cover and refrigerate.

 


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