Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Chocolate guinness cake

Although I'm attempting to eat healthily (I've lost over a stone now), every now and again I crave a chocoholic treat. What better way of quenching my cravings by diving back into Nigella's feasts cookbook and heading straight to her chocolate hall of fame. I've seen so many variations of this cake, it was almost like I've eaten it before. I can see why this cake is celebrated and one of Nigella's more popular recipes. Firstly, the cake is rich, has a beautiful texture, has spices coming through and is topped of by a wonderful cream cheese frosting. As this is my first time baking this cake I was expecting some flaws, and must say I thought the frosting could have been thicker. Does anyone have any ideas how to make the frosting thicker, if so, please share !
Anyway, here is my version of the chocolate guinness cake turned out:

The recipe can be found here: chocolate guinness cake


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Banana Fudge Layer Cake

It was my lovely Colombian housemate birthday last week and as he loves cake, I thought I would make a celebration cake. I was spoilt for choice when attempting to decide what I was going to bake and looked at several of my Nigella books (Feasts, How to be a domestic goddess and Kitchen) for inspiration. However, I decided on making a cake from the Great British Bake Off (Series 2) as they have a lovely section on cakes and as I previously made a celebration cake from this book for my last placement I thought I would give the banana fudge layer cake a try. It was the first time I've baked using sandwich tins as usually I make a large cake then slice horizontally. Anyway here is how my there layered banana cake turned out:

I did have a tiny slice and it gets a thumbs up from me.

Recipe for banana fudge layer cake
For the sponge
175g unsalted butter softened
150 g caster sugar
25g light brown muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
1/2 tea spoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon milk, at room temperature

For the filling and topping
175g light brown muscovado sugar
150g unsalted butter
75g double cream
2 ripe medium bananas

Preheat the oven to 180c/ gas mark 4/ Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in the 2 sugars and beat well until the mixture turns paler in colour and becomes light and fluffy in texture.
Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition; add a tablespoon of the flour with the last portion of egg to prevent the mixture from curdling. Sift the remaining flour into the bowl and fold into a mixture with a large metal spoon. Combine the vanilla extract with the milk and fold in.
Divide the mixture equally among the 3 prepared tins and spread evenly. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown and just firm to the touch; if necessary, rotate the tins after 15 minutes in the oven so the cakes cook evenly. Run a round-bladed knife inside around the inside of each tin, then turn out the sponges onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the fudge mixture. Put the sugar, butter and cream into a medium pan and set over a low heat. Stir frequently until the butter has melted. Ten up the heat slightly and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from catching on the base of the pan.
Remove from the heat and stir vigorously seconds. Leave to cool, occasionally giving the mixture a gentle stir. It is ready to use once it has become spreadable (may need to put it in the fridge to thicken the mixture).
Spread one-third of the fudge mixture on top of each cake; select one to be the top layer and swirl the fudge decoratively with a round bladed knife. Slice the bananas very thinly and arrange on top of the fudge on the 2 other layers. Sandwich the layers together with the swirled fudge layer on top. Store in an airtight container and eat within 4 days.


Friday, 16 March 2012

Escovitch fish, saltfish, fried dumplings and fried plantin.

I love Jamaican food, i've grown up on this food and still love to eat Jamaican food on a regular basis (at least once a week). There are too many of my favourite Jamaican dishes to list but for some reason i only eat fish, if it's the Jamaican fish dishes that I've grown up with.
My nan cooks the most amazing Jamaican food and I am very fortunate to have her cook some of my favourite dishes. I have included a recipe for fried escovitch snapper (not included in the pictures but one of my favourites) and fried dumplings from Levi Roots Reggae Reggae cook book. As many Caribbean recipes are passed down from generation to generation exact grams are usually not known (for fried dumplings etc) so I've made reference to Levi.
Here are some of my favourite dishes.
Saltfish, fried dumplings & fried plantin

Corn beef & fried dumplings

Jamaican beef patties
Recipe for fried dumplings
Makes 12
400g self-raising flour 
1 tsp salt
50g butter
400ml vegetable oil
250 ml water

Pt the flour and salt into a large bowl, add the butter. Use your hands, rub it in until the mixture forms crumbs. 
Gradually add most of 250ml water until the mixture comes together to form a ball.
Using your hands, knead the mixture for a few minutes. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water then continue to knead until a soft dough forms and the bowl is clean.
Heat the oil in a large, deep-frying pan.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Take each piece of dough and knead until it is stretchy, then roll each one into a smooth ball.
Check to see if the oil is hot enough by taking a tiny piece of the dough and dropping it into the hot oil If it is just bubbling around the edges, it's ready.
Meanwhile, shape each ball into a flat cake. Gradually add them batches to the pan of hot oil. Keep the temperature really low while you fry them. Cook for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn them over when the underside is pale golden and they are starting to look puffy. Fry for a further 5 minutes until they are golden brown and cooked through. 
Drain on kitchen paper and serve. 
Recipe for Fried Escovitch Snapper
4 Red snapper, scaled, gutted and cleaned
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp all purpose seasonings
400 ml vegetable oil
50 ml malt vinegar
 1 onion
2 scotch bonnet chillies, deseeded
1/2 red and 1/2 green pepper deseeded and sliced

Rinse the snapper under cold running water,  then sprinkle over the lemon juice. Put the fish in a large non-metallic dish and rub a little salt into the belly of each fish.
Sprinkle over the all-purpose seasoning and black pepper and gently rub in. Leave to stand for at least 10 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan until really hot. Add just 2 fish and fry over a high heat for about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and repeat with the other fish. Pour the vinegar into a small pan and add the onion, chillies, red & green peppers. Bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes.
Pour the vinegar over the fish and arrange the onions and peppers .


Saturday, 3 March 2012

Creamy pancetta and mushroom pasta

I first saw Lorraine Pascale"s make this on her Home cooking made easy show and must say I was impressed on how easy it was to make. I decided not to make my own pasta as it"s far easier to buy a packet of tagliatelle from Asda. I've seen different variations from the blogs that I follow version 1, version 2 so decided it was my turn to make this dish.
I decided not to use double cream with my quest to eat healthy so instead made my own cheese sauce (who was I kidding?!). I think using creme fracihe would also be a good substitute for double cream.The pasta turned out to be delicious, my family loved it and I will definitely make this again as it makes a fantastic mid week meal.
Here is how my dish turned out

The recipe for this dish can be found here: 
400g tagliatelle
200g cubed pancetta
175g mushrooms, wiped and finely sliced
225ml double cream or creme fraiche 
75g grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, put the pancetta in a medium pan over a medium to high heat. When it starts to go brown, add the mushrooms and cook for about 2-3 minutes, then add the double cream. Once the cream is hot, add the parmesan and stir together well.

Once the pasta is ready, drain and then return it to the pan. Add the creamy mixture and stir through well. Seaon with some pepper and sprinkle over more grated parmesan.

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