Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chocolate sponge cake

This chocolate cake is adapted from Cakes From Around the World (Grub Street) by Julie Duff, who says it is from Hungary. The differences from her recipe is that I used gluten-free flour (which is not for the gluten-intolerant only – you may find you prefer it), a little milk because this flour tends to make a stiffer mixture, and only half as much cream – with her quantity, I had far more filling than I wanted.

3 large eggs, separated (I had medium eggs, and used 4)
75g caster sugar
75g self-raising flour (gluten-free)
2tbsp cocoa powder
2-3tbsp milk
100g dark chocolate
300ml double cream (or 284ml, if that is the size of carton available)

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C, and grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin (see here).

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks (see here).

Gradually stir the flour and cocoa powder into the egg yolk and sugar. Add a little milk until you have a liquid but stiff mixture. Fold in the egg white, and spoon the mixture into the cake tin.

Bake on a baking sheet in the centre of the oven until the middle of the cake is firm. (Duff’s timing is 20 minutes; my cake took 40.)

Leave for 10 minutes, then loosen the spring and leave the cake to cool, top side down, on a wire rack. Slice it in half.

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Whisk the cream until stiff – you’ll find that it goes from thick to stiff very rapidly. Fold in the melted chocolate.

Spread this mixture over the base sponge. Place the other half gently on top. Put the cake into the fridge, to allow the filling to set.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Grilled peppers

I have tended to roast peppers rather than grill them, partly because it involves less effort, and partly because it softens the peppers more thoroughly. But it occurred to me that if I put the grill pan at the bottom of my grill drawer, and set the heat to low, I could probably cook the peppers thoroughly while also blackening the skins.

So it proved. The peppers required regular turning, but ended up soft and sweet; and – this was a big improvement over baked versions – they had skin that had puffed out from the flesh and was easier to peel.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Masala salmon

Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for this dish in Curry Easy contains 2tbsp of Dijon mustard. Having tried it, and much as I like mustard, I would be inclined to halve the quantity, but to increase her spice measurements.

Jaffrey recommends leaving the fillets in a rub of the dry spice ingredients, before adding the mustard, oil, and coriander leaves. If you have no opportunity for advance preparation, you can assemble the sauce in one receptacle.

1tsp cumin seeds

1/4tsp coriander seeds

1/4tsp turmeric

1/4tsp cayenne pepper

1/8tsp salt

1tbsp smooth Dijon mustard

1tbsp olive or sunflower oil

2tsp lemon juice

2tbsp chopped fresh coriander

2 salmon fillets

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small saucepan over a gentle heat. Ground them in a mortar, and add the turmeric, cayenne, salt, mustard, oil, lemon juice, and fresh coriander.

Put the salmon fillets in an oven dish, and smear the sauce over them. Place under the grill, until the top browns slightly. Transfer to a gas mark 6/200C oven, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Meatballs with fennel and chilli

Rocco, our much-missed deli owner, used to make his own sausages, spiked with fennel and chilli. It occurred to me that I should try this combination in meatballs. Delicious.

Meatballs without breadcrumbs sometimes become compacted. The cheese may counter that effect here; certainly, these ones were crumbly (withoutout falling apart) and moist.

This quantity makes about 20 golfball sized meatballs, probably serving two.

150g beef mince
150g pork mince
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed with a little salt
2tbsp Parmesan, grated
1tsp fennel seeds
1 or 2 dried chillis, whizzed in a small electric mill or coffee grinder
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil, for frying

Mix the ingredients (apart from the oil) with your hands, and form meatballs between your palms.

Put a little oil in a heavy pan over a medium heat, and fry the meatballs, in batches if necessary. Turn them once. Remove when brown – they do not have to be cooked through.

Make a tomato sauce: soften a finely chopped onion in the oil in the pan – 5 to 10 minutes. There may be some bits of meat left in there too; you’ll probably need to turn down the heat, and perhaps add a little more oil, to prevent the onion from catching and the meat from burning. Throw in a chopped garlic clove for a minute. Tip in a tin of tomatoes with a little salt, and simmer, uncovered, breaking up the tomatoes. As the mixture starts to thicken, return the meatballs to the pan, and simmer them in the sauce (still uncovered, unless it appears to be getting too thick) for about 15 minutes, turning once.

Serve with rice.