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)
- 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
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.
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)
- 250g strawberries
- 35g caster sugar
- 350mL double cream lightly whipped
- 150g of meringue
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.
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)
- 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
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.
I saw it on TV, I did it and I ate it… well, with a bit of help from the mobile calorie intake units. It is just the perfect dessert – it is glamorous, delicious and can be made in advance. There is not much technique to it, except, maybe, peeling the pears. And, it might be the healthiest part of dinner, even…
Poached pears with ginger, red chilli pepper and star anise (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking)
- 8-10 ripe conference pears, peeled but with the stem intact
- 200g of sugar
- 3 thumbs of ginger, cut into thick slices (about 20cm)
- 4 star anise, crushed to fine powder with a mortar and pestle
- 3 peperoncino (or red chillies peppers, to taste)
- Enough cold water to cover the pears.
Peel the pears with a potato peeler, taking care to leave the stems intact.
Put the water, the sugar and the ginger in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the pears and peperoncino and poach for about half hour until their are soft and cooked through.
Set aside and leave the pears to cool in the syrup.
When you are ready to serve, just put the pears in the plate and sprinkle them with the star anise dust.
If you want, you can bubble the syrup for a a few more minutes to thicken a bit and serve with the pears. Or, you can prepare a chocolate sauce (just melt the chocolate in bain marie, with a bit of butter, being careful not to boil it. Add some cream and mix well). Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra quick.
To keep up with the spirit of seasonal cooking, a lemon pudding cake with raspberries… Only one word to describe this: yum. Too bad soon enough berries will be gone from the supermarket…
- Enough berries to cover the bottom of a tray (about 250g)
- 75g of plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch sea salt
- 300mL buttermilk
- 125g unsalted butter (melted and cooled down)
- 3 eggs separated
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Preheat the stove to 180oC
Grease a 750mL to 1L baking dish. Make sure this dish fit fits larger tray, so you can have a bain marie. Scatter the berries over the base of the greased dish, making sure the whole surface is covered
Combine in a large bowl the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt.
In another bowl, lightly whisk together the melted butter, the buttermilk, the yolks, the sugar and the lemon zest.
Stir into the flour mixtures
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks forms
With a metal spoon, fold in the batter half of the egg whites until well incorporated. Then, fold in the remaining half.
Spread the batter over the berries in the baking dish.
Put the baking dish in the large baking tray. Poor boiling water in the larger dish until it reaches halfway up the sides, creating a main marie.
Transfer to the stove for about 45m to 1h, until it starts to get fluffy and golden (it should be cakey on the top and soft in the middle).
Let it cool for a bit and serve.
Believe it or not, this was a last minute dessert. It looks spectacular, it tastes scrumptious and is a fool proof recipe. Home cooking doesn’t get much better than this…
- 6 egg whites
- 220g golden caster sugar
- 200g dark chocolate roughly chopped
- 100g pistachio nuts,roughly chopped plus extra to decorate
- 3oo mL double cream (or whipped cream)
Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
In a sheet large enough to cover a baking tray draw a circle with 26cm diameter
Turn the paper around and put it on the tray
Whist the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, one spoon of a time, whisking between every addition until all the sugar is well incorporated.
Fold in the chocolate and the sugar.
Transfer to the baking tray and spread out, keeping the mixture roughly inside the circle.
Put in the oven for about 1h or until cooked through.
Beat the cream to soft peaks, spread over the meringue once it is evenly cool. Scatter with extra pistachios.
I can remember those cooking marathons my Mother used to endure around Christmas time, when all the cooking would be put to an halt to produce countless pots of marmelada. Do not confuse with marmalada... Marmelada is a very sugary quincy purée, which is a staple in every Portuguese kitchen. It seems to be something the Romans learnt from the Greeks, and which staid with us until today,wikipedia dixit.
In any case, I would have thought to use the actual fruits for a dessert until I saw this recipe. And, I am glad I have tried it. Once you start with it, you just want to come back for more.
Quince poached in pomegranate juice (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)
- 2 large quinces, peeled and quartered
- 800ml pomegranate juice
- 70g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, cut in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
- The shaved peel of 1 large orange, plus 50ml juice
- 2 whole star anise
- 65g pomegranate seeds
- 120g clotted cream
- 2 tsp fresh mint leaves (optional)
Core the eight quince quarters. Discard four cores and tie the others into a bundle with an old tea towel or muslin. Put the cored quince quarters into a heavy-based pan and add the wrapped-up cores, pomegranate juice, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds, orange peel and juice, and star anise. Bring to a boil, turn down to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 15-25 minutes, until the quince is soft.
Remove the quince quarters with a slotted spoon and set aside. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes or so, until it’s thick, syrupy and reduced to about 75ml. Just before serving, squeeze all the thick juices out of the core bundle into the sauce, then discard along with the orange peel, star anise and vanilla. Return the quince to the syrup and gently warm through. Place two quarters of quince on each plate, pour over some syrup and serve with clotted cream and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and shredded mint (if using)