The Christmas before last my friend Jodie bought me the Polpo cookbook. After about 2 minutes of looking at all of the amazing Venetian recipes I was utterly obsessed with the blood orange and campari cake. Massive negroni fan that I am, I couldn’t imagine a better combo for the perfect cake and knew I had to make it as soon as possible!
However, procrastination is my greatest skill, so a few months passed with no sign of the cake and then all of a sudden, blood orange season was over. So when blood oranges season kicked off again this year I knew I had to grab the bull by the horns, juice 8 oranges and get this cake on my coffee table.
Now it has happened, and in celebration I have made my first ever gif! (Yes, I’m massively behind the times, but cut this technophobe some slack!) (continue reading…)
This Christmas one of my lovely friends bought me the most marvellous cookbook, Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. It’s one of those books that leaves you with the desire to invite people round for dinner immediately, so that you can try out as many dishes as possible. Every recipe seemed to catch my eye, but one stood out more than most, principally due to the presence of pistachios, almonds and, an ingredient I don’t get to use often enough, rosewater.
It seems I may have a thing for gluten free carrot cake (I can heartily recommend the Venetian Carrot Cake), or possibly almond based cakes in general (Blueberry Polenta Cake with Lavender Syrup and Pomegranate Jewel Cake).
Maybe it’s that hint of almond taste and texture or perhaps it’s the fact that the lack of flour makes it possible to happily eat more than your fair share! (continue reading…)
At 33 years old (for another week or so at least. If anyone says the words ‘mid-thirties’ there’s a good chance I’ll slap them) I’m extremely grateful to still be close friends with the fabulous group of girls I went to school with. I didn’t realise how unusual that is until fairly recently, I clearly chose my friends wisely. Last weekend all 8 of us got together for the first time in ages for a day full of chatting and a night full of cocktails & food here in good old London town. I was hosting so obviously I had to make a cake.
Helen has major problems with gluten, so a gluten-free cake was the order of the day and I decided that rather than whipping up one of my go to gluten-free cakes (this one and this one) I wanted to try something new and a tad more flamboyant. I knew I had to consult the queen of gluten-free cakes (and flamboyantness!) Nigella Lawson.
When I laid eyes on this cake it was love at first sight. I have a well documented obsession with pomegranates and a recipe that involves covering an entire cake with them is impossible for me to resist. Add to that the fact that this is almond based with tangy lemon and orange zest and I may have discovered my new go-to cake. (continue reading…)
Last November I visited my sister in New York and took a little trip to Trader Joe’s to pick up a jar of my favourite sunflower seed butter. Whilst languishing in the ridiculously gigantic queue I spotted a tin of organic pumpkin puree and realised that I’d never baked with pumpkin before.
It’s not exactly easy to find tinned pumpkin in England (although I have seen it in Tesco recently) and despite the proliferation of pumpkin spiced lattes around here, we’re not really pumpkin baked goods kind of people as a general rule. But I thought I should give it a go and see what the fuss was all about.
However, last year I didn’t find the right recipe, nothing tickled my fancy and the tin of pumpkin remained unloved in my kitchen cupboard until I moved house, when it moved with me and stayed unloved in a whole new cupboard.
That is until this autumn when every blog I came across was going nutty for pumpkin and I realised I could actually get in on this celebration of all things autumnal. A quick bit of recipe searching and I fell upon this completely gorgeous recipe from Pinch of Yum. What really drew me in was the maple glaze. I’ve never glazed anything before in my life so in the Scaredy-Cat spirit of this blog I thought I’d give it a go. Let me tell you, there’s a serious risk of all of my teeth falling out in the near future as I’m going to be glazing everything in sight from this point on.
For a while there I lost sight of why I started this blog. Swept away by a preoccupation with views, foodgawker and a need for validation, I forgot the reason for this blog’s existence: motivation to cook something new and to improve my photography. I spent a disproportionate amount of time evaluating whether a chocolate cookie or a quinoa salad would get me more views, rather than thinking about what I actually wanted to cook and eat. Suddenly it all felt like too much work and the enjoyment was gone. Combine that with a couple of summer holidays and moving to the other side of the Thames and you’ve got 3 months without a blog post.
It’s time for a new beginning. From now on, I’ll cook what I want, when I want. If I don’t post every week, it’s not the end of the world. If foodgawker don’t like my photos, I’ll cope. If no one reads my posts, admittedly I’ll be a tiny bit sad but I know my mum will still tune in and that’s good enough for me.
To celebrate this new attitude, I decided to whip something up using one of my favourite foods, the coconut. Coconut macaroons are my idea of heaven, mainly when accompanied with dark chocolate, rendering them reminiscent of a Bounty bar. For those unfamiliar with the Bounty (you poor things!) it’s like an Almond Joy bar but without the almond and soooo much better! (continue reading…)
Blimey these blondies are good. They’re so good that I only had time to snap a couple of incredibly dull pictures before I had to tuck in, my willpower falling to the wayside.
The secret here, as in a lot of good things, is the almond butter. In much the same way as it adds richness to a bowl of overnight oats, here it adds an irresistible depth of flavour that blondies can sometimes lack.
Crunchy almonds, dried sour cherries and chunks of deeply dark chocolate add just the right amount of interest and variety to every bite. (Chocolate, almonds and cherries are always a fantastic combo, see also my cherry chocolate frangipane tart, ridiculously good.) (continue reading…)
When I was little my mum grew forced rhubarb in the garden, under a piece of scrap metal. I don’t recall whether it was an old sink or an oil drum, but what I do remember is the amazing taste of that rhubarb.
Whenever the rhubarb emerged, one of the first things my mum would make was rhubarb jelly. Gently stewed rhubarb encased in sweet, orange jelly, it remains to this day a major comfort food for me.
After finding rhubarb on special offer in my local supermarket I was sorely tempted to recreate the jelly of my childhood, maybe fancying it up with a bit of fizz or an exotically flavoured jelly, but, scared of disappointment and sullying my memories, I decided to go another way. (continue reading…)
Hot cross buns are a major Easter tradition here in the UK. The cross, which symbolises the crucifixion, means that they are traditionally consumed on Good Friday. Every year the supermarkets are jam-packed full of every type you can imagine, from super sophisticated, generously sized buns, (supposedly designed by Heston Blumenthal) to regular own brand, slightly sad and flat looking buns. Whatever the type, if I get through the Easter period without consuming at least one, I always regret it.
Hot cross buns, for the uninitiated, should be sweet, sticky and light, with a good helping of dried fruit and fragrant spices. Best served split through the middle, lightly toasted and slavered in butter, they should be soft, fluffy and warm in the middle and slightly crisp on the outside.
Sadly, shop bought buns don’t always deliver on this score, so I decided it was time to brave the complicated process of making my own. The secret to light and fluffy buns is leaving the dough to rise and prove 3 times, this makes the cooking process take roughly 4 hours, but trust me, it’s worth it. And who doesn’t love a spring morning in the kitchen, baking up a storm? (continue reading…)
Back in the olden days, whenever I paid a visit to my Nan and Gramp in Cheltenham, there were certain foodstuffs I was guaranteed to enjoy. Items that were surefire crowd pleasers in the under 10 category, namely Dairylea triangles, tiny boxes of Kellogg’s cereals (aka the variety pack) and, best of all, battenberg cake.
I developed highly prescriptive methods to be utilised when eating each of these treats. Dairylea triangles must always be consumed in pairs, one thinly spread in a sandwich, cut into neat quarters and one meticulously removed from its tinfoil wrapper and nibbled delicately. The cereal should be consumed dry, straight from the box and by the handful, usually whilst watching cartoons on a Saturday morning.
But my favourite ritual involved the battenberg. A single, chunky slice would carefully be peeled, preferably in one perfect sliver of marzipan. Only then could the squares be separated and eaten one at a time, in alternating colours of pink and yellow. People who bite straight into a slice of battenburg frankly freak me out, how can they not know how wrong that is? Admittedly, I may missing out on the combination of flavours that biting off a corner would provide, but I do love a routine. (continue reading…)
I’ve been thinking about this cake all week. Sitting at my desk, occasionally glazing over in front of my spreadsheets and dreaming of sticky, syrupy blueberry cake with a hint of lavender.
It’s always worrying when you dwell on a recipe so much, without actually having made it, by Friday night the fear of disappointment was upon me. I already felt defeated as I started to whip up the batter and boil the syrup. The overnight wait to test the cake was almost unbearable!
On saturday morning, after the last photograph had been taken, it was finally time for my first taste. Not to sound immodest, although I often do, but this cake blew me away, pure and simple. (continue reading…)