Friday, 30 October 2009

Pumpkin and Ginger Teabread

It's that time of year again - the leaves are falling from the trees and making the garden look untidy, the clocks go back and suddenly it's getting dark way too early. Then all of a sudden it's Halloween and Christmas is hiding just around the corner. Even if you're not into the full-on American-style trick or treating or such like, I still think it's quite fun to pick up a couple of pumpkins and get creative with a carving knife. But what to do with that big bowl of discarded pumpkin innards? Well if, like me, you're not so keen on pumpkin or squash in savoury dishes then I can wholeheartedly recommend this cake as a great alternative for using up those leftovers.

I found this recipe for Pumpkin and Ginger Teabread in an edition of Good Food Magazine some years ago and I've made it every autumn since. The pumpkin makes the cake lovely and moist, the ginger provides a gentle background warmth and the sugar sprinkled on top adds a contrasting crunch. Perfect for afternoon tea by the fire!

The recipe can be found here.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Unloved Cookbooks Part 4 - Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater

Now I should start by saying that I love Nigel Slater. I love his television programs and he is easily one of the best food writers around. Oh, and the brownie recipe in his Kitchen Diaries is the best I've found to date. However, the Unloved Cookbook in question today, Real Fast Food, unfortunately falls foul of my love of all things aesthically pleasing. In short, it has no pictures - sorry Nige!

My loss as it turns out as when I took the time I found a little book is packed with lots of great sounding recipes all designed to be easy to prepare and quick to cook. Mr Slater's comment that most of the recipes require only one or two fresh ingredients that can be bought on the way home is obviously not aimed at anyone with small children - a trip to the supermarket after work with a small child in tow? Not a chance! So I needed to do a little more forward planning than the book possibly intended. But hey, that wasn't such a hardship.

There were many recipes that caught my eye. Here are just three of them...

First up is a salmon dish. I've been trying to find new salmon recipes to encourage me to eat more fish and this one is particularly lovely. And why didn't anyone tell me about dill before? I am converted!

Baked Salmon with Soured Cream

2 salmon steaks, about 100g/4oz each
1 small onion, very finely chopped
100ml/4fl oz soured cream or creme fraiche
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1) Put the salmon steaks into a small baking dish.

2) Mix together the remaining ingredients, retaining half the dill. Spoon the sauce over the salmon.

3) Bake in the oven, preheated to 220c/425f/gas 7 for 15-18 minutes. Scatter with the remaining dill.

Serves 2

This next recipe is a fabulous way of sprucing up your new potatoes.

Warm New Potato Salad with Taleggio and Rocket

450g/1lb new potatoes, wiped clean
2 handfuls of rocket, washed and shaken dry
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
200g/7oz mild, semi-soft cheese

1) Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for about 12 minutes, until tender to the point of a knife.

2) Toss the rocket in the olive oil and divide betwe
en two oven-proof plates or dishes.

3) Drain the potatoes and slice each one in half. Scatter over the rocket leaves. Slice the cheese thinly over the potatoes.

4) Place the plates under a pre-heated grill for a minute or so until the cheese starts to melt. Eat immediately.

Serves 2

Oooh, this last recipe was niiice! So easy too.

Hot Blackcurrant Bread and Butter Pudding

4 slices white bread
250g blackcurrants
Caster sugar
Creme de Cassis

1) Butter the bread very generously and lay half in the bottom of a shallow ovenproof dish.

2) Cover with the blackcurrants and sprinkle with two tablespoons of caster sugar.

3) Place the remaining slices of bread on top of the blackcurrants, butter side up. Sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar and two tables spoons of Creme de Cassis.

4) Bake in an oven preheated to 220c/425f/gas 7 for 20-25 minutes.

Serves 2

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Sweet and Simple Bakes - St Clement's Drizzle Cake

This month's Sweet and Simple Bake is the St Clement's Drizzle Cake - a twist on the classic lemon syrup cake thanks to the addition of orange zest and juice. This was very simple to make, as most loaf cakes tend to be, and as lovely on it's own for afternoon tea as it is teamed up with some vanilla ice cream for an indulgent pudding. The cake itself turned out to be wonderfully light and the orange/lemon syrup topping added loads of citrussy (is that how you spell it?) flavour. The next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I think I'll put more holes in the cake so the syrup soaks in even more.

Many thanks to Rosie and Maria for hosting the Sweet and Simple Bakes website and for choosing this great recipe for us.

The recipe can be found here.