Sunday, 17 November 2013

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - Saturday 9th November

The November meeting of the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club was held at another new venue for the group - The Old Cannon Brewery which is tucked away among the backstreets of the town centre. The Old Cannon is a great venue for food and drink and even makes it's own beer on the premises. The lunch and dinner menu looked very tempting and I've made a note to go back soon when I'm not so full of cake!

This month's theme was Fall, Phantoms and Fireworks and we had nine delicious cakes inspired by these autumny themes to choose from...

My Spiced Gingerbread Bundt Cake

You can find the recipe here.

Trish's Harvest Apple Cake

Ruth's Chocolate & Vanilla Cake with Honeycomb Topping

Teresa's Halloween Chocolate Cake

Lynda's Warming Cider Bundt Cake

You can find the recipe here.

Nathalie's Spooky Spider Ginger Cake

Jane's Devils Food Cake

Sophie's Pear & Hazelnut Cake

Rene's Pumpkin Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Thanks again to Hannah and the really helpful staff at the Old Cannon Brewery. We all had a lovely morning tucked away in the cosy snug. Oh, and the hot chocolate was delicious!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Jamie Oliver's Greek Chicken with Herby Vegetable Couscous & Tzatziki

I try very hard to limit myself to two new cookbooks a year - one at Christmas and one in the summer. I  already have way more than I need but not buying any new books is, obviously, unthinkable! Having said that, I had already failed by mid-March thanks to the new Clandestine Cake Club book and Paul Hollywood's Bread (both brilliant). Nevertheless, I still allowed myself my summer purchase and invested in Jamie Oliver's recent book, Jamie's 15-Minute Meals.

Both with this book and it's predecessor, 30 Minute Meals, there has been plenty of comment about how the titles are misleading. I would ignore any negativity, however, and buy this book because, so far, I've had nothing but success with it and if you get organised in advance then the timings aren't too far out. You have to have everything ready before you start the clock, pans heated, kettle boiled etc, so you will be in the kitchen longer than 15 minutes but even taking that into account you can get some great dishes on the table in a relatively short space of time.

Jamie uses some clever techniques to speed things up. In this recipe, for example, the chicken is flattened to decrease the cooking time and vegetables are finely chopped in a food processor, rather than by hand.

It's also clear that a lot of time has been spent making the recipes well balanced and relatively healthy so even the pasta dishes are served with a salad or something similar. Big flavours are also a key feature with various herbs and spices being used in most recipes to add interest.

On the negative side, Jamie does like to use a wide variety of ingredients that will leave you with leftovers to find a home for - half a bunch of dill, 2 teaspoons of harissa, 40g feta etc - so you might find you need to do a little extra research to find other recipes to use up what's left. He also uses chillis and coriander in a large number of the recipes, neither of which I like, however I've had no problems with leaving them out or replacing the chillis with a few dried chilli flakes.

This particular recipe was a real hit when I made it. The oregano and all spice gave the chicken an amazing flavour and the tzatziki was the perfect match with the warming heat of the peppers and chilli in the couscous. Once I had everything ready it took me around 20 minutes to get it on the table. I took a bit longer because I didn't want the pepper mix to be raw so fried it for a couple of minutes and I also didn't flatten the chicken quite enough so it took a little longer to cook.

I made half the recipe for two of us and the portion size was pretty much spot on.

I'll definitely be making this again and I urge you to try it too! You can find the recipe here.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - 5th October 2013

A couple of weeks ago the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club returned to what is becoming one of my favourite venues. The Theatre Royal is one of the town's loveliest buildings and the Greene Room Bar, with its brickwork and bunting, is the perfect space for a cakey get together.

Six of us gathered on a Saturday morning with our cakes, which had all been made to match the theme this month - Gluten-free. I had always imagined that being gluten-free could lead to a fairly cake-free life, however a search on the internet showed that there is, in fact, a wealth of gluten-free cake recipes available. Some rely on flour substitutes such as ground almonds whereas others use one or more of the many gluten-free flours now available.

On the day we had a great selection of cakes to choose from and all had turned out really well. Here's what we indulged in...

My Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake (recipe here). I love this cake - it's so rich and chocolatey and is a perfect match with the marguerita cream that can be served alongside

Trish's Lemon Curd Cake. This was a fantastically indulgent cake with lashings of lemon curd and buttercream.

Katherine's Banoffee Cake. Banana cake, icing, caramel sauce and bananas. What's not to like!

Lynda's Fruit-filled Clementine Cake (recipe here). This was so moist and delicious. We all agreed it would be a perfect cake to serve at Christmas.

Jane's Spanish Orange Cake (front and centre - apologies for the lack of close up!). Another wonderfully moist cake thanks to the fruit and ground almonds. Recipe here.

Rene's Coffee Cake. Lots of lovely coffee flavour and a sneaky layer of Nutella in the middle - yum!

Thanks again to the staff at the Theatre Royal for making us feel so welcome. For more information about Cake Club events in your area have a look at the Clandestine Cake Club website.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - Saturday 20th July 2013

When I decided on a Summer Sunshine theme for our July meeting I had no idea just how much of it we were about to get. Having said that, after all the wonderful but also very hot weather we had in June and July I don't think anyone was too disappointed to see a cloudy sky on Saturday morning. Anyway, we had plenty of beautiful cakes to brighten up the morning.

This month we met at a new venue that I have to admit I'd never even heard of until a few weeks ago, The Highwaymans Gallery in Risby, just outside Bury St Edmunds. Tucked away in the heart of the countryside, the gallery is primarily an exhibition space for various art exhibitions but it also has food and drink on offer in the form of cafe-style food and also, more excitingly, a pop-up restaurant for more formal lunches and dinners.

The pop-up restaurant was started several months ago and is run by Maria Crick of Feast Your Eyes. Every month or so Maria organises lunches and dinners around a theme such as Italian or Greek and the menus I've seen look incredibly tempting. For more information keep an eye on the events page on her website or on Facebook here.

So here are the summery cakes we shared this month...

Rene's Granadilla (Passion Fruit Cake)

Sophie's Frasier

Emma's Raspberry & White Chocolate Loaf Cake

Helen F's Coconut Sunshine Cake

Ruth's Lemon Meringue Cake

Amelia's Strawberry & Lemon Cake

My Featherlight Cake

It really was a wonderful spread and I've several comments since the event about what a great location it was. Thanks again to Maria and the Highwaymans Gallery for hosting us.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Prawn & Coconut Satay Broth

It's no secret that I'm a fan of a quick, after-work dinner so I was especially happy when this recipe turned out to be a success. It's yet another find from one of my favourite recipe books, In the Mood for Food by Jo Pratt which contains so many great recipes that it's must for, well, anyone really.

This particular recipe comes under the chapter headed-up "Lazy" so I was on to winner from the start. I find some quick-to-make dishes can end up a bit disappointing, taste-wise, but that definitely wasn't the case this time. Coconut and peanut are always a great combination and both flavours are boosted by the salty soy sauce and sharpness from the lime.

The problem I had with this dish was the fact that I only have one suitable bowl for this sort of thing. I had to eat my portion out of a pyrex bowl! I'll have to get shopping as I'll definitely be making this again.

Prawn & Coconut Satay Broth
(adapted from In the Mood for Food by Jo Pratt)

2 strips of medium egg noodles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons smooth or crunchy peanut butter
200ml coconut milk
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
200g cooked king prawns, defrosted if frozen (I used uncooked prawns and just cooked them through in the wok before starting on the rest of the recipe)
1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of soy sauce (or more to taste)
a squeeze of lime juice
a large handful of coriander, roughly chopped (most definitely optional in my case)

1) Cook the noodles as per the instructions on the packet

2) Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan and briefly fry the garlic. Stir in the coconut milk and peanut butter and mix together before adding the stock.

3) Bring to a simmer then add the prawns, spring onion, chilli flakes and soy sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the prawns are heated through, and then add the cooked and drained noodles.

4) Return to a simmer and finally add a squeeze of lime juice and the fresh coriander. Serve straight away.

Serves 2

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - 15th June 2013

On Saturday the 15th of June the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club ventured out of town to meet at one of my favourite local pubs, The Cadogan in Ingham. They do great food and have created a space that's both smart enough for a grown-up evening meal and relaxed enough for families.

This month's theme was Get your five-a-day and members produced a fantastic variety of cakes containing at least one fruit or vegetable.

So here's what we tucked in to...

Chrissi's Courgette & Lemon Cake

Nathalie's Pumpkin Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

Amelia's Courgette & Lime Cake

Helen F's Raspberry Amaretti Crunch Cake

Rene's Blueberry & Sour Cream Loaf

Ruth's Banoffee Cake

Jane's Carrot Cake

Emma's Peach Mousse Cake

Sophie's Rhubarb Polenta Cake

Pat's Pineapple Fruit Loaf

Shivani's Strawberry, Orange & White Chocolate Cake

Shauna's Gluten-free Chocolate Cake with Creme Fraiche & Berries (poor Shauna had a bit of cake tin trouble so had to be a bit creative with her cake but it still tasted amazing!)

My Pistachio & Lime Cake (the one from the cover of the CCC recipe book)

So many yummy things to choose from and everything was delicious and as always there were plenty of leftovers for us to enjoy later on. A big thanks to the staff of The Cadogan aswell for being so helpful.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Cheese, Onion & Potato Pie

Yes I know this recipe has "winter warmer" written all over it but, even thought it's the end of May, it's not exactly toasty outside yet. Yesterday was grey, cold and rainy and that, combined with a two hour power cut around lunchtime, meant that by the time dinner came around I was ready for something warm and comforting.

Well, this is about as comforting as it gets. A big, warm, cheesy, mashy hug of a dinner that you could happily eat under the duvet with a spoon.

Cheese, Onion & Potato Pie
(adapted from In the Mood for Food, by Jo Pratt)

750g potatoes, peeled and quartered
40g butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
100ml milk
200g mature cheddar or similar
1 teaspoon wholegrain or English mustard
salt and pepper
2-3 tomatoes, sliced (I substituted baby plum tomatoes on this occasion)
1) Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6 and grease an oven proof dish.

2) Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for 15-20 minutes until tender.

3) While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onion for about 10 minutes until lightly golden. Add the milk and heat until just boiling.

4) Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan and mash them really well. Stir in the milk and onions, three quarters of the cheese, the mustard and season.

5) Transfer to the ovenproof dish, scatter over the remaining cheese and top with the tomatoes. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is bubbling and lightly golden.

Serves 2 generously

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Clandestine Cake Club - Bury St Edmunds - 18th May 2013

On Saturday 18th May the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Clubbers got together for their biggest meet yet. Sixteen of us gathered in the wonderful surroundings of the Greene Room bar at the Theatre Royal, a beautiful building in the centre of town.

Ready and waiting...

As May marks the first anniversary of me setting up the Bury St Edmunds cake club we celebrated with a Birthday Bonanza theme. We had a wonderful selection of cakes to choose from, with a definite emphasis on chocolate!

Here are some pictures of the fourteen fabulous cakes we indulged in (apologies to Nathalie and Ruth for the poor photos of their cakes - I must have been in too much of a hurry to tuck in!)....

Amelia's Carrot & Ginger Cake

Emma's Lemon Cake

Trish's Birthday Cake

Barbara's Chocolate Cake

Chrissi's Cartoon Birthday Cake

Rene's Chocolate, Date & Hazlenut Cake

Helen's Carrot Cake

Sophie's Devil's Food Cake

Pat's Raspberry Bakewell

Ruth's Chocolate Box Cake (front of picture - apologies for the blurriness)

Katherine's Cupcake Cake

Shauna's Brooklyn Blackout Cake (renamed the Grand Canyon!). As you can see from the picture Shauna's cake didn't quite turn out as expected but this just proved what the CCC is all about, ie sharing cakes and the stories that go with them even if things don't go to plan! Oh, and it tasted amazing!

Nathalies' Chocolate Amaretto Cake (at the rear of the picture)

My Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

A big thanks again to the Theatre Royal for being such welcoming hosts.