Friday 31 August 2012

Apple, Date and Heather Honey cake

The call to cake is one that calls us all, well tonight it called me. Actually I just wanted something sweet and I couldn't be bothered to walk to the shop so I raided my cupboards to see what I could make a cake out of.

1 apple, a small amount of dates and some honey later I made a basic cake mix and added the recent discoveries.

I mixed the apples with the flour first because I'm sure I've read somewhere that it stops them sinking straight to the bottom of the cake, it seemed to work.

The resulting cake is a slightly dense, in a good way, with slight chewiness and the odd crunch from the apple. the honey provides lots of flavour considering it was only a tbsp. Make sure you get a skewer right in the middle to check the cake, i didn't and it was slightly undercooked. Apologies for the iffy pictures, I need a cake stand. 

Apple, Date and Heather Honey Cake
150g SR flour
150g butter
150g Light brown soft sugar
3 eggs
80g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 small apple
1 tbsp good quality honey

Cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy
Beat in the eggs, one at a time
Add the honey to the mix
Mix the apples with the flour then add then fold into the mixture
Fold into the dates
Pour into a greased/lined cake tin, I used a 18cm tin.
Bake for 40 -50 minutes until golden brown and a skewer can be inserted and removed clean.

Serve and Enjoy

Tuesday 28 August 2012

A Duo of Tarts - A Random Recipe

Back to basics, this month over at Belleau Kitchen. Always unnerving when a Back to Basics challenge turns up from Dom, usually means he has something rather hellish lined up in the coming months.

Bit of a problem this month when it came to choosing a recipe book mainly because I'm chilling in Leeds, a good 80 miles away from my collection, so I'm stuck with the OH's tiny collection which consists of a few baking books and 2 savoury books. Fortunately, because I hate baking in other people's kitchens, River Cottage Veg was chosen, wahey.

I, as tradition dictates, flicked through and randomly stopped on page 216, a very tasty sounding tomato, thyme and goats cheese tart. The page also gave alternatives to the herbs and cheese so I made two, the one above plus a rosemary and parmasan tart.

Ingredients (per tart)
500g puff pastry
about 3- 4 big tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, finley diced
olive oil
100g of cheese, Parmasan/goats cheese
good handful of fresh herbs, Thyme/Rosemary
1 egg, beaten
Salt and black pepper.

Roll out your puff pastry to slightly bigger of the length of your tray.
Trim the edges and keep to make a border.
Brush the edge of the pastry with the egg an lay the edges on top, brush again with egg.
Sprinkle the garlic over the pastry.
Layer the tomatoes over the pastry, overlap slightly.
Season with s+p and drizzle with a little oil
Bake in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the herbs and cheese.
Place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven.
Serve with a green salad and enjoy.

Well you can't really go wrong with a recipe like that, easy to do and as long as you buy decent ingredients you can't really go wrong. My personal favourite was the goats cheese tart mainly because I found a rather stunning goats cheese, which is high praise because I'm not usually fussed about cheese, unfortunatly I forgot to get the name of it.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Jamie's 12 hour Rabbit Bolognese

There are hundreds of food programmes available to watch, chances are if I picked up the remote now it wouldn't take me long to find a food programme. The shows I watch I usually pay some attention to, maybe to pick up a new skill or technique, chances are I'll see a recipe that I will think to give a go but then promptly forget about it after it's finished.

However after watching Mr Oliver's excellent Great Britain series, one recipe lodged itself in the back of my head and didn't leave, his 12 hour rabbit bolognese.

The recipe is available here or I do recommend getting the book, it's only a fiver on the Book People website currently.

So then the recipe, well they don't get more easy or more fun than this one. Frying the bacon at the beginning is about all the cooking required. Everything is just shoved in a pot, veg are unprepped apart from a quick wash and chopped into half or thirds. The rabbit is dropped in, offal and all. Onion and garlic are dropped in whole and unpeeled. Then a lid is put on, it's put in the oven and left for 12 hours to slowly bubble away.

All the veg and rabbit

Just before the oven, 12 hours to go.

After 12 hours
After 12 hours then the fun begins, a pair of clean marigold are donned and everything is smooshed together and the little bones are picked out and removed. If you pick up the onion and squash it and the result doesn't raise the slightest smile then you need help.

The result is a vast pot of a rich meaty sauce, full of flavour and more than capable of feeding at least 10. It stated 14 people which I had doubts but the amount of meat that came off one rabbit is quite incredible.

Monday 13 August 2012

Kedjenou, Ivory Coast. Olympic Food Challenge

So then, the final recipe in the allotted challenge time. I have managed 15 out of the 19 dishes (this was cooked yesterday) that I  planned to make. The remaining 4 will be blogged soon so I can complete the set and help contribute towards the 204 countries.
Technically I failed the challenge but life gets in the way unfortunately. The challenge itself was a stroke of madness/genius and over the course of it I have found some little beauties of dishes that I will be making again and I still have four yet to make and discover.

This dish is the one that started it all and it is one of the little beauties that make it all worth it, Our fearless leader Ewan Mitchell made this dish during the World Cup of 2010 and is credited with being the inspiration for this epic Olympic Challenge.

Read his blog about this dish here: Tonights Menu - Kedjenou

This dish is Kedjenou and it originates from the Ivory Coast, a member of the IOC since 1964 and have only two silvers in 1984 to celebrate, they achieved none in London but this is worth of Gold any day.

This is a one pot dish and excels in it simplicity. Chop every thing up, stick in a pot, put in an oven for 3 hours, eat.

4 whole chicken legs (leg and thigh)
1 Aubergine, peeled and diced
2 Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 Onions, thinly sliced
2 Hot chili peppers, chopped 
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
thumb sized piece of fresh Ginger, grated.
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 190C/325°F. 
Add all the ingredients to a large oven-proof pot with a tight-fitting lid. 
Cover the pot with one or two layers of tinfoil and place the lid on top of the foil.
Place the pot in the oven and bake for 2 to 3 hours. Remove the pot from the oven occasionally and shake it to keep the chicken from sticking.
Remove the pot from the oven. Let it rest for about 10 minutes
Serve with rice

It really is that simple and holy mackerel does it pay for itself over and over. The vegetables break down and form a beautiful sauce. The chicken....well the melts. I picked up a leg and the meat fell off leaving the bone clean. Soft, juicy, tender, epic. Word of warning though pick your chillis carefully, I picked up some random red chillis which I suspect were Scotch Bonnets judging from the heat.....ouch.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Cocodas, Boliva, Olympic Food Challenge

Cocodas are basically coconut macaroons, no not those little fancy french meringue things, they are Macarons.

Cocodas also p*** me off.

According to my research there are hundreds of different recipes and some of them are shocking, such as the one for my first attempt. I spent a good half an hour hacking into and grating a coconut, (never doing this again since I discovered creamed coconut) before commencing with the recipe. The quantities were off by miles, the instructions were vague and it failed before it even got started.

Anyway, Attempt the Second. This recipe was infinitely more simple. Can I also just say at this point that whoever created the 'cup' measuring system is a moron. Anyway this recipe was a case of mix everything together and bake, well I did and they all melted together to form two large biscuits *sighs* but they did taste nice, sweet and coconutty.

Recipe here: Cocodas Recipe

Bolivia have been a member of the IOC since 1936 and have yet to win a medal, probably too busy making stupid recipes, yes I am still bitter.

Baklava, Turkey. Olympic Food Challenge.

 Back to Europe for this leg of the Olympic Food Challenge and we are visiting Turkey.

Turkey are faily consistant in the Game, usually winning a few of each colour, they have 5 to take home from London, 2 Gold.

I went an holiday to Turkey ages ago and what I vaguely remember of the food it was very good, lots of fish and grilled meats. However the recipe I first thought of for Turkey was Baklava, something I've never had and wanted to have a go making.

It is fairly simple to make, it's basically lots of layers of Filo pastry and liberal amounts of melted butter. somewhere in between those layers lies a layer of crushed walnut and pistachios, the whole thing is then drenched in a sugar syrup once cooked.

18 sheets ready-made filo pastry (unwrap and keep under a damp tea-towel until you are ready to use)
225g/8oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
225g/8oz mixed pistachios and walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp  sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom

350g caster sugar
300ml water
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp orange blossom water

Layer 10 sheets of filo pastry onto a baking tray, butter each layer before adding the next.
Mix the nuts, sugar and cardamom together and place in a thin layer across the pastry.
Layer another 8 sheets on top of the nut layer, again buttering between each piece of filo.
Slash a criss cross shape into the top of the baklava before baking in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes lower the temperature to 150C for another half until the Baklava is slightly puffed up and golden.
Leave to cool slightly.
Add the sugar, water, lemon juice and orange water into a ban and heat over a medium heat until the sugar melts and forms a syrup, takes about 20 minutes.
Pour the syrup into the slashes and leave to cool.
Cut into diamonds and serve.

Very tasty, crisp sweet pastry compliment by the slightly chewy nut layer. very messy to eat as you can imagine with filo pastry, crumbles everywhere.

Thursday 9 August 2012

Gulai Daun Singkong Tumbuk, Brunei. Olympic Food Challenge

That's enough messing around in Africa and Europe for a bit, Time for the second Asian recipe of the Olympic Food Challenge.

Brunei, a sovereign state on the Island of Borneo in southeast Asia. A member of the IOC since 1984, they have no medals to their name and that doesn't look likely to change with only 3 athletes being sent to London.

This recipe is similar to one I had recently at a Thai restaurant and so was expecting much of the same.

Gulai Daun Singkong Tumbuk
Thumb sized piece fresh ginger, sliced
1 Onion, sliced
1 or 2 fresh, hot red -chilies, seeded, sliced
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 tin of Coconut milk
1 Whole red snapper or-similar fish, about 1 pound, gutted and cleaned.
small piece of galangal
2 Stalks lemon grass or two slices of lemon
1/4 lb Spinach or Swiss chard,-coarsely chopped

Blend the ginger, onion, chili, salt, sugar, turmeric and 1/4 cup of the coconut milk into a smooth paste. Set aside
Grill fish over charcoal or in a gas or electric broiler for 2 minutes on each side.
Put the remaining coconut milk and the spice paste in a large skillet and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Add the galangal and lemon grass and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the fish and greens, cook for 15 minutes basting occasionally. 

Lovely creamy sauce with soft flaky fish. The sauce needed more heat, some more potent chillis would do the trick nicely. My only problem with this dish is cooking the fish whole, it's slightly irritating picking through bones to get to the fish. Next time I will probably fillet and cook that way.

Sate, Indonesia. Olympic Food Challenge

I had toyed with doing Rendang for Indonesia and I probably will cook it at some point because it sounds delicious. However the end is in sight and I needed something quick for a starter type dish. Browsing the excellent Rasa Malaysia website which helpfully has a category for Indonesia. I found this recipe for Indonesian Sate

Sate is a your choice of meat, cubed, I went for Pork, marinated overnight in a bloody good marinade before being barbecued to caramelised perfection on skewers and served with two different sauces. I altered things a bit mainly because I'm a forgetful idiot.

Firstly I didn't barbecue them, mainly because I don't have a barbecue. Instead I griddled them.

I didn't put them onto skewers like they are supposed to be because I forgot to buy any, I also didn't make the second of the sauces involving peanut butter because again I forgot to buy it.

I did everything else though and it resulted in a very tasty charred pork dipped in a lovely sweet, salty and sour sauce.

Next time I shall make the other sauce and give that ago.

Indonesia by the way have been a member of the IOC since 1952 and usually pick up a medal or two at some point.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Matoke, Uganda. Olympic Food Challenge

Boom, over half way. 10 countries down, 9 to go. 4 days to go.....damn.

Over the next few days you will see one of the following, a superhuman effort to blast through the remaining countries or me crying in a corner cursing the very existence of the blasted IOC and it's 204 countries, 204!! nobody needs that many countries.

Anyhoo, Uganda, a member of the IOC *curses under breath* since 1951 and with only a solitary Gold to their name waaay back in Munich 1972..

Like I've said before, the African countries are tricky to find an interesting recipe to attempt, however this one with the addition of Plantains, another ingredient I've yet to cook with, appealed to me.

Plantains are an interesting ingredient, similar to bananas in looks if you have never seen one but with a tough outer casing which takes some hacking into. The middle part, if you buy the green (unripe) ones, is exactly like a banana in appearance. It is however very tough and needs gentle simmering to soften it and is definitely not sweet, just very starchy.

The recipe I found was a Beef and plantain stew called Matoke which is the Ugandan national dish.

The recipe I used can be found here: Matoke Recipe

Interesting. The plantains thicken the stew up very nicely and the combination of fresh tomatoes and vegetables gave a good flavour to the stew. The beef was not needed however, it was a bit tough and needed another hour to what the recipe stated to make it tender. Keeping the dish as a veggie one would work very well.

Comlek, Albania, Olympic Food Challenge

I didn't do the cooking for this one, I was on a train missing out on medal after medal after medal that our glorious nation have been winning. So instead I handed over this recipe tot he OH to get on with.
Albania a country in Southwest Europe and although not somewhere I would automatically think to go and visit, it did achieve number one destination in Lonely Planet's top ten countries to visit in 2011. A member of the IOC since 1958 and unfortunately do not have a single medal to their name.

The recipe I found for Albania, which is one of the first I found when the challenge was created, is Comlek or rabbit casserole with onions and wine vinegar and because I don't eat much rabbit, as tasty as it is, I decided to stick with this recipe. Apologies if you are squeamish about eating/cooking rabbit, they were food before they were pets you know.


1 rabbit 750g cut in pieces
4 medium-sized tomatoes or 2 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
150 ml olive oil
1 tsp sugar
4 cloves garlic, whole
300 ml hot water
small piece cinnamon stick
salt & black pepper
4 whole allspice berries
700 g small onions
1 sprig of rosemary
1 small glass of dry red wine

1. Marinate rabbit in vinegar and bay leaves overnight in the fridge or a couple of hours before cooking it. 
2. Remove rabbit pieces from marinade, pat them dry and fry them in half the olive oil until golden-brown on both sides.
3. When all rabbit pieces have been fried, place them back in the saucepan. Add garlic cloves, bay leaves, spices, rosemary and wine.
4. Then add the tomato puree or tomatoes, sugar and the hot water. Season, cover and cook for about 1 hour. 
5. In the meantime, heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onions. Stir them occasionally, in order to make sure they turn golden all over, for about 15 minutes. 
6. Add the contents of the frying pan to the saucepan, and shake it so that the onions spread evenly. Then cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes.

Oh so very delicious. Rabbit is very fiddly to eat but worth it when it just falls off the bone with this recipe. The sauce would be even better if it was slow cooked for another hour or so. The recipe did state to serve with rice and a green salad but sod it, I served it with fluffy mash which soaked up the sauce perfectly.



Veldt Bread, Namibia. Olympic Food Challenge

I was struggling for a decent recipe for Namibia, for the Olympic Food Challenge, as have a couple of other bloggers with smaller African nations, however after a determined search I stumble across this recipe for Veldt Bread or 'Bread of the Wild.
Veldt or Veld refers to the wild open spaces of Southern Africa covering South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. This bread was a creation of European settlers who wanted a quick bread recipe but didn't have any typical raising agent (yeast). This recipe is a blend of techniques from making scones to making bread, It uses baking powder and is quick to make. The recipe that I used gave a very wet dough but after a bit extra flour it sorted itself out, next time I'll add the milk a little at a time and not drop it all in at once.
Veldt Bread
50 g butter
450 g wholemeal flour
20 g baking powder 
50 g brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 tsp allspice
150 ml skim milk
1 egg, beaten 
1 tsp vegetable oil

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and then rub in the butter until crumbly.
Make a well in the centre and add the egg and the milk until a soft dough is formed.
Knead well for 5 - 10 minutes
Grease a 900g loaf tin with the oil and shape the dough and place into the tin.
Bake for around 40 minutes at 180C until risen and brown.

Slightly dry but very tasty quick bread. spicing is subtle and this stuff is excellent with plenty of butter or honey.

almost forgot....

If you haven't figured it out already Namibia is a southern African nation. A member of the IOC since 1991 and have yet to win a Gold, bagged themselves a few silvers though in 92 and 96.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Quetcheflued (Plum tart), Luxembourg. Olympic Food Challenge

Luxembourg was one of the awkward countries for the Olympic food Challenge, an initial search didn't turn up with anything particularly interesting, I did look at the Plum tart but it seemed fairly dull, well I was wrong there.

First the housekeeping.

Luxembourg or to give it it's full name: Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a European country bordered by France, Belgium and Germany. A member of the IOC since 1912, their Olympic record is poor with only one Gold and one silver since its recognition.

So, running out of options and time I went for the plum tart, it's a traditional dish after all, can't be that bad. Reading the recipe confused me for a minute, I was expecting a traditional pastry case but instead I got a recipe for a very slightly sweet bread base, there is no filling as such just as many plums that you can squish in.


250g plain flour,
1/2 satchet of dried yeast
40g sugar
125ml lukewarm milk
pinch of salt
50g butter,melted an cooled
1 egg

Add the flour, salt, sugar and yeast to a bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg, butter and milk.
Mix until a soft dough is formed, knead for a couple of minutes until smooth and stretchy.
Leave to rise for 40 or so minutes.
After 40 minutes, knock back the dough and press into a buttered large pie dish or tart dish.
Add the plums in a nice circle shape until you can't fit anymore in.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C until the outside edge is golden brown. 

Very very good. It is very light meaning more slices can be consumed at once. The bread base is slightly sweet and soft and crisp round the edges, the plums are soft and sour. All it lacks is something a bit sweeter to counteract the sourness of the fruit, enter.......Custard!!!

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Papaya & Pineapple Marmalade, Tuvalu. Olympic Food Challenge

Time to change it up a little bit, there is more to life than savoury dishes and this is the first of the global sweet ambassadors for the Olympic Food Challenge from the country of Tuvalu.

Tuvalu, formally known as Ellice islands is a little island nation in the Pacific ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. (what would we do without Wikipedia?). a relative newcomer to the Olympics, only being recognised in 2007, they did not pick up a medal in Beijing but lets hope that changes in London.

I barely looked for a recipe from this country before this delicious sounding beauty popped up allowing me to check out my mad jam making skillz. I say skillz, I haven't made jam since G.C.S.E but how hard could it be...


900g finely diced ripe pineapple
900g diced ripe papaya
500g caster sugar
1-1 / 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind or lemon zest
(½ lemon or more if you like it tart)
50ml lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger, if desired


Mix pineapple and sugar in large shallow saucepan and let stand while
preparing the papaya.
Add papaya.
Add grated lemon rind and juice.
Bring slowly to boiling point and boil about 30 minutes until mixture sheets from spoon, or until temperature
reaches 224ยบ degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer.
Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

Well not that difficult really, I didn't have the full amount of papaya and pineapple so i reduced the quantities slightly, hence why I only have two jars. I would cut up the pineapple a little more for next time, it was, however, lovely stuff, very sweet as you would expect but very fresh as well, like a little tropical sunshine in your mouth. Delicious