Friday, 8 August 2014

Nigella's Prawn Pasta Rosa

Here's one of those great quick and easy meals that are ideal for a family dinner.

Luckily both my children love prawns, which comes in very handy as they're so quick to cook and make a nice change from chicken or pork. It's not quite a storecupboard recipe as mascarpone isn't something I always have in the fridge but with a bit of forward planning it's super quick to assemble and always goes down well.

The original recipe was for two people but I have adapted it to feed the four of us.

Prawn Pasta Rosa
(adapted from Italianissimo by Nigella Lawson)

1 1/2 tablespoons tomato puree
6 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons mascarpone
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (I tend to leave this out)
225g raw peeled prawns (or small cooked prawns)
100ml vermouth (or white wine)
350g pasta
salt for pasta water

1) Put a pan of water on to boil, adding salt when it comes to the boil, and then cook the pasta according to the instruction on the pack.

2) Whisk together the tomato puree and milk, add the mascarpone then whisk again to combine.

3) In a large pan or wok warm the garlic oil and add the chilli flakes (if using). Stir then add the prawns and stir-fry for a minute or two (longer if frozen) until cooked through.

4) Pour in the vermouth and let it bubble up and reduce a little then add the pink sauce. Cook, stirring, until it is hot throughout, checking that the prawns are also cooked.

5) Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, stirring to combine, before serving.

Serves two adults and two children

Monday, 14 July 2014

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - 28th June 2014

The theme of the last Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club was "Layers, Layers, Layers" and boy did we get our money's worth this time! We each had to bring a cake with at least two layers and as you can see below we had some fantastic cakes to choose from. However, lots of layers means lots of cake and we all struggled this month to meet our usual slice quota. I think most of us managed around five slices... definitely not up to our usual standards! 

Our venue this month was the Six Bells pub in Horringer, just south of Bury St Edmunds, who were very welcoming and provided us with a lovely big table in a side room for us to spread all our cakes out on. I haven't eaten here since it was taken over by the new owners but I've heard great things about the food and hope to give it a try soon.

Here's what we had to choose from...

Sarah and Tamar's Elderflower Cordial Cake

Helen F's Lemony Layer Cake

Rene's Pimms and Strawberry Layer Cake

Katherine's Boozy Orange Cake

Amelia's Dark & White Chocolate Layer Cake

Kate's Strawberry & Vanilla Layer Cake

Lynda's Neapolitan Triple Berry Cake

Sam's Chocolate Chip Layer Cake (poor Sam had a bit of a cake-dropping incident en-route which didn't do the icing any favours. Still tasted fab though!)

Siobhan's Blackcurrant & Star Anise Cake

Sophie's Strawberry Meringue Layer Cake

My Chocolate & Marshmallow Layer Cake

Thanks again to the Six Bells for being such great hosts. For details of all upcoming Clandestine Cake Club events have a look at the website here.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Chocolate Melting Moments

I came across this recipe in a fit of have-to-bake-something-right-now madness that sometimes comes over me, particularly when I haven't done much baking in a while. Unfortunately I discovered that I had no eggs, unsalted butter or even the half-full box of stork that usually lives in the fridge on an almost permanent basis. Luckily this recipe doesn't require eggs and I found we had just the right amount salted butter in the only-for-toast butter dish. Clearly this was meant to be.

I've made similar biscuits before. The Grannie Boyd's biscuits in Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess are the same sort of dry (but in a good way), crumbly, chocolatey biscuits that are deceptively simple to make but also the sort of recipe I might skip over for looking a bit unexciting. In the book where I found them (Rachel Allen's Home Cooking) they don't have a picture and I hadn't even noticed the recipe until the other day. My mistake! Not only are these biscuits amazingly yummy on their own, but, unlike Nigella's recipe, they're taken to the next level by sandwiching them together with Nutella, yes NUTELLA!

So...quick, easy, yummy and Nutella! What are you waiting for?

Chocolate Melting Moments
(from Home Cooking by Rachel Allen)

125g/4 1/2 oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
50g/2oz icing sugar
50g/2oz cornflour
25g/1oz cocoa powder
100g/3 1/2 oz plain flour
Nutella for filling

1) Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Cream the butter in a large bowl and add the icing sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Sift in the cornflour, cocoa powder and flour and mix until the dough comes together.

3) Shape the dough into a sausage shape and slice into 24 equal pieces. Roll into balls, place slightly apart on the baking sheet and then flatten each biscuit a little using the back of a fork. The biscuits don't spread much so bear this in mind when flattening them. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until slightly firm.

4) Remove from the oven and leave the biscuits on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Once they have completely cooled, sandwich the biscuits together with a generous layer of nutella.

Makes 24 biscuits, 12 when sandwiched together

Friday, 6 June 2014

Sesame Salmon with Pak Choi

I'm reviving my blog with a brilliant recipe I discovered last night in a copy of delicious magazine. I was looking for something light, summery and low in carbs and this turned out to be a perfect fit. As with so many of the best recipes it was wonderfully simple to make, helped by the fact that the salmon is cooked in the oven for the last five minutes, leaving you time to finish off the veg.

The result was perfectly cooked salmon on top of deliciously flavoured pak choi, one of my favourite vegetables. The sesame seeds also added a nice crunch and I'll definitely try making it with black sesame seeds next time as they look quite impressive in the picture in the magazine.

Sesame Salmon with Pak Choi
(adapted from delicious magazine)

25g each black and white sesame seeds (or all white)
4 x sustainable skinless salmon fillets (pin-boned)
4 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing
4cm piece fresh ginger, grated
bunch spring onions plus extra to serve
4 pak choi
1 tsp honey
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar

1) Heat the oven to 180c/160 fan/gas 4. Combine the sesame seeds on a plate. Brush the salmon with a little olive oil then coat with the sesame seeds.

2) Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan and cook the salmon for 2 minutes on each side.

3) Put on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes or until just cooked. Rest for 3 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in the pan and add the ginger and spring onions. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until the onion is slightly soft. Trim and slice the pak choi into 1cm strips and add to the pan with the honey, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the leaves are wilted. Season well.

5) To serve, divide the pak choi mixture between four plates and top with the salmon.

Serves 4

Monday, 12 May 2014

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - 10th May 2014

This month the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club returned to a familiar venue – Graze Kitchen & Bar in the centre of the town. Their private dining room is perfect for our gatherings and the owners have been nothing but accommodating.

The theme for May was “Mystery Ingredients” so I was in the unusual position of knowing hardly anything about the cakes that we would be sharing. The aim was to taste each cake and try and guess the secret ingredient but this turned out to be much trickier than anticipated! In the end I got just one right and that was only because I had made the cake myself previously. Everyone had fun discussing the possibilities though and we had some great cakes to choose from.
Here’s this month’s line up…
Shauna's Lemon Cake with Sage Drizzle

Helen F's Courgette & Lime Cake

Sam's Chocolate Fudge Cake (made with mashed potato)

Kate's Pea Cake (I should have taken a picture of it's bright green interior!)

Megan's Earl Grey Tea Cake

My Sweet Potato and Pecan Cake

Jane's Orange Cake (also made with mashed potato)

Rene's Chocolate Avocado Cake

Nathalie's Chocolate & Coffee Cake (made with mayonnaise)

A big thanks again to everyone at Graze for making us feel so welcome. If you'd like to get involved with the Clandestine Cake Club then be sure to check out the website for details of events in your area.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - Saturday 1st March 2014

On the 1st of March the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club returned to a previous venue, The Old Cannon Brewery which once again proved to be a great place for us all to meet.

This month the theme was "Beautiful Bundts" which gave us all the opportunity to try out a variety of Bundt and other ring-shaped cake tins (because of course it's not an official Bundt tin if it's not made by the cake tin specialists Nordic Ware). The result was a fantastic array of cakes which all looked, and of course tasted, amazing.

Here's a look at what we had to choose from...

Kate's Carrot & Apple Cake

Ruth's Treacle, Ginger & Orange Bundt

Helen F's Bakewell Cake

Rene's Hummingbird Cake

Lynda's Lemon & Ricotta Bundt

Trish's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cake

Sam's Vanilla Sponge with White Chocolate, Cream Cheese & Lemon Curd Icing

Sophie's Italian Yoghurt Cake

Siobhan's White Chocolate, Strawberry & Black Pepper Cake

My Chocolate & Salted Caramel Cake

Thanks again to the Old Cannon Brewery for being such welcoming hosts.

For details of our next event have a look at the Clandestine Cake Club website.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

The theme of the next Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club meet is "Beautiful Bundts" so I thought I would dust off my ring mould tin (technically it's only a Bundt tin if it's made by the kitchenware company Nordic Ware) and try out one or two recipes.

I found this particular recipe in The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. This book has had mixed reviews due to the reliability of some of the recipes (the Brooklyn Blackout Cake in particular) but so far, touch wood, I've had no problems. This recipe certainly didn't cause me any problems, in fact it was very straightforward and the resulting cake is truly delicious.

This is basically a lemon drizzle cake so you kind of know what to expect but I've never made one with poppy seeds before and I liked the tiny hint of crunch they added. This recipe also just uses egg whites, beaten until stiff, rather than whole eggs, which added an extra lightness to the texture of the cake. Lemon syrup is always a great addition to this sort of cake (although next time I'll poke more holes in the cake so it soaks in a bit more) and the lemon icing provides the perfect sweet-citrussy finish.

Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake
(adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

85g/3oz unsalted butter at room temperature
245g/9oz caster sugar
grated zest of 1 1/2 unwaxed lemons
15g poppy seeds plus extra for decorating
165ml whole milk (I used semi-skimmed with no obvious side effects)
235g/8 1/4oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites

Lemon Syrup
freshly squeezed juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar

Lemon Glaze
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
250g/9oz icing sugar, sifted

1) Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/gas 3. Grease a 24cm ring mould and dust with flour, knocking out any excess over the sink.

2) Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and poppy seeds in a bowl and beat together with an electric mixer or freestanding mixer until well incorporated. Slowly add the milk until mixed in (don't worry if the mixture looks like it has split).

3) Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and then gradually add it to the butter mixture. Beat well until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4) In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff then, using a metal spoon, fold them carefully into the cake mix. Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean.

5) While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice and zest for the syrup into a small saucepan with the caster sugar and 100ml water, and bring to the boil over a low heat. Raise the heat and boil until it has reduced by half or has a thin syrup consistency. When the cake comes out of the oven pour the syrup over the top. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.

6) Make the lemon glaze by mixing the lemon juice and icing sugar together until smooth. It should be thick but spreadable. Add a little more water or icing sugar if necessary. When the cake is cold place it on a cake stand and decorate it with the icing and poppy seeds.

Makes 12-16 slices