Posts Tagged ‘Carrots’

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Kitchen Crush

November 14, 2011

As may be apparent from the previous post my current, primary kitchen crush is with Dan Lepard. An extra helping of his recipes courtesy of last week’s Saturday Guardian provided these spicy Bonfire Night Biscuits.

A quick and easy recipe to knock up even if you’re not lucky enough to have a bonfire in your back garden to provide the autumnal smell of wood smoke, the aroma of these baking in your kitchen will make the dullest November day sparkle. The recipe asks for glace ginger but I used stem ginger and the comments section suggest that crystalised would do just as well if you wanted. I also cut out into rounds and adjusted the baking time down a bit to compensate. The base biscuit recipe I imagine is adaptable by swapping the spices and additions – I’m planning a Christmas version. Watch this space.

My other current crush is on Mr Hugh Fearnly-Wittingstal. My summer holiday this year was spent in Dorset taking part in the Four Day  Cookery Course at Park Farm, the headquarters of River Cottage. They run day courses that cover everything from bread and baking to curing meat, even seashore foraging.

I’ve long wanted to do the four day course; which dedicates a day each to meat, fish, veg and bread and baking; and I’m so glad that I did. It’s not cheap, but I turned it into my summer holiday – with a few days spent exploring and walking the surrounding area – and I can honestly say that having done the course it was the best value for money of any holiday I have ever taken.

I’ve tried to blog about it, but I can’t find the words to do the week justice. I could write a list of the dishes cooked, decipher my notes into recipes to share with you, but this would not convey what I learnt or the fun that I had. The team at Park Farm go out of their way to ensure you have good fun and the hours whip by as their share their passion and knowledge and you share, with the others on the course, the fruits of your labour.

I made and ate things that I would not normally try and it has given me more confidence in the kitchen and with my palate and skills. Should I try to more accurately describe all that I learned, made and ate I would run out of adjectives by the first lunchtime. There are photo’s on my Flickr page which chronicle the dishes cooked and eaten over the four days and I hope they give an indication of the fun that was had.

On the course I bought a copy of  ‘River Cottage Veg Everyday!’ book – the latest from Hugh. It accompanies his current TV Programme where he extolls the virtues of a veg based diet by giving up meat and fish for the summer. The book accompanies his current TV show on C4 which follows the usual River Cottage format of HFW taking something he’s passionate about and making an entertaining and informative programme to share his passion. Whilst Hugh isn’t going to be a life long vegetarian he wants us to eat more veg and realise that veg-centric meals needn’t be dull.

The book is broken down into sections on salads and soups, raw things and bready things and mezze and tapas to name a few.

First off for me was the veggie biryani made for 12 – want to feed a crowd? Who could ask for more than succulent spicy veg with curried rice garnished with crunchy almonds? A breeze to prepare and cook, and if you can lift the casserole dish containing enough for 12 people and carry it to the table to reveal and serve, all the better (I needed help just getting it out of the oven – damn you Le Cruset with your sturdy based pans, wrist splints should be sold alongside them IMO).

For dips and salads, please make the roasted carrot hummous – this has replaced Peamole (it is what it sounds like) as the dip-tastic choice of the season and the raw beetroot and walnut and cumin salad add a fab crunchy side – try it with a smoked fish platter.

Above is a warming Sunday night dinner for friends, a puy lentil and spinach soup (made with the veg stock recipe from the same book) filling and warming, perfect  after a long walk in the crisp autumnal sunshine. Should you want a little meat in there, I added some pancetta as there were some in the fridge that needed using. I don’t think Hugh would mind.

What I enjoy about veggie cooking, and all the things I’ve made from this book so far, is the ease with which each dish is adaptable in terms of using up what’s in the fridge or buying what’s currently in season. I feel more able to play around without the meat – perhaps because the total cost of the dish is cheaper so the risk is less. Perhaps also just because I’m more comfortable with cooking veg and less fearful of over or under cooking and more confident of how the dish will fare as leftovers. I’ve made more than I’ve covered here, and yet more are flagged. This book is one that I will return to over and over again.

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Spice Cakes

May 26, 2010


I’ve made two different spice cakes recently. The first was the Black Pepper Spice cake (see recipe below) from my favourite Cake Keeper Cakes. I’ve made this before and knew the intended recipient was a fan of black pepper so made it again. I often feel like it’s a bit of a cop-out using a recipe I’ve tried before when baking; there are so many recipes out there to try, why resort to something you’ve made before? But I have to say the cakes in this book are so delicious and the recipes so reliable that I go back to it frequently, especially when baking for a special occasion. I upped the pepper quota a little to ensure it’s presence was felt and also left in the walnuts which I’ve omitted previously and they provided a lovely bite to the soft crumb of the cake. This time I also added the glaze which I left off previously (out of laziness I suspect) and I’m glad I did. It really added another dimension, the zingy citrus offsetting the warmth of the spices. I resolve to pay more attention to suggested glazes in recipes from now on rather than viewing them with suspicion as just another way to add sugar.

I also made this Spiced Brown Sugar Carrot Loaf but wasn’t as enamored. I think I expected something moister having baked so much with courgettes recently, and bolder on the spice front. Having said that I tried it fairly soon after baking and it may be one that develops over time like so many. If I were to make it again I would definately play around, perhaps using half courgettes, half carrots and I would increase the spices, which to be fair the author does recommend – it’s also suggested you eat spread with butter which may get around the moistness issue, and be extra delicious I’m sure! I followed the recipe apart from using half wholemeal flour half plain, and reduced the sugars slightly (light brown from 262g to 225g and the caster from 112g to 75g). I also had to employ the use of my rolling pin to give the base of the tins a pretty good whack to help get the finished loaves out, I did grease and flour the tins, but if you might want to line them too if you give the recipe a go!

Black Pepper and Spice Cake
Cake Keeper Cakes

330ml Buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 Tsp vanilla extract
300g flour
90g walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 Tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinamon
1 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp black pepper
112g butter
225g sugar

I cup icing sugar
Juice of a lemon

Preheat oven to 180C, grease and flour a bundt tin.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixer on high speed for at least 3 mins until light and fluffy, meanwhile whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla in a large measuring jug and combine the dry ingredients, including nuts, in a large bowl.

With the mixer on low add a third of the four mixture beating until just incorporated followed by half of the buttermilk, scraping down the sides as needed, repeat – ending with the last of the flour mixture. Turn the mixture up to medium high and beat for one minute.

Scrape into the prepared pan, bake for 40 -45 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 mins before turning out onto a rack to allow to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the sugar with enough lemon juice to make a smooth mixture – it should be fairly thick to drizzle over the cake and allowed to run down the sides. Allow to set for about half an hour before serving.