Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Cinnamon and Almond Cake

When thinking about food, I spend the majority of my time thinking of new recipes, looking at new cookbook releases which look so appealing or feeling guilty that I have so many books that I do not cook from. I decided it was time to start baking or cooking from books that I rarely use so I decided to choose from a random selection of books to bake a cake from. Nigellissima from Nigella Lawson cookbook falls in the latter category. I have only cooked a handful of dishes from this book, including The Italian tray bake  which is my most viewed blog post.  I probably bake cakes once a month and as I am reminiscing over my Italian city break I decided to make a cake from this book. Cinnamon and almond cake is indexed under Italian Christmas section and I am aware that we are no where near Christmas but the cake looked so delicious I thought I would attempt to make it in the sunny Midlands. Now, I've adapted the recipe to my liking, the recipe used a large amount of eggs, no less than 8, but I felt that this was too excessive and a bit of a waste, so I used 4 eggs. Also, I've never made a flourless cake before and wasn't brave enough to try this at this time, so I added 125g self-raising flour. I liked the strong almond flavour that came with every bite, I couldn't really taste the cinnamon, perhaps if I were to make this next time I would increase the amount of cinnamon next time. I also served a slice of this moreish cake with a healthy helping of rum & raisin ice cream:
Here is how my cinnamon and almond cake turned out:
Cinnamon and almond cake.

Cinnamon and almond cake.

Cinnamon and almond cake.

8 egg whites (I used 4 whole eggs) 
150g caster sugar
Few drops almond extract
Zest of 1 clementine or ½ orange
125 mls mild and light olive oil, plus more for greasing tin
150g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
100g flaked almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
approx 2 tsp icing sugar to decorate

I added 125g self-raising flour as I was worried about a flourless cake.

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a 23cm springform cake pan (or use a special baking spray) and line the base with parchment paper.
In a clean, grease-free bowl. Whisk the egg whites until they are opaque and start to hold their shape, then slowly add the sugar, whisking until it’s all incorporated and the mixture is thick and shiny.
Add the almond extract and the clementine or orange zest. Then, in about 3 goes each, alternately whisk in the oil and the ground almonds (mixed with the baking powder) until they are both smoothly incorporated into the meringue.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, then mix together the flaked almonds and cinnamon and sprinkle them over the top of the cake.
 Bake for 35-40 minutes (though start checking at 30), by which time the top should have risen and be set and the almonds become golden; and a cake tester should come out clean, barring the odd almond crumb.
Remove from the oven and let the cake cool, in its tin, on a wire rack. Once it is no longer hot, spring open the sides of the tin, but don’t try to remove the cake from the base until properly cool.
When you are ready to serve, push the icing sugar through a small strainer and over the cake to create a snowy effect, and take to the table.
I am entering my cinnamon and almond cake to a couple of blogging challenges. The first challenge is hosted by Jaccqueline whose blog Tinned Tomatoes hosts a monthly challenge called Bookmarked Recipies which encourages bloggers to cook/bake recipes that have been bookmarked. I've been meaning to make this recipe for 2 years!

I'm also sharing this recipe with the monthly challenge Alpha Bakes hosted by Caroline Makes and The More Than Occassional Baker and Random Recipes is hosted by Dom from http://www.belleaukitchen.com/ as I randomly chose this book from a large selection of books that I never use!


Monday, 23 December 2013

Panettone French toast

It's almost Christmas (yay) and i'm sure many of us are looking forward to the seasons festivities, spending quality time with the family and slightly indulging ourselves. Since starting my food blog in 2012, and sharing my culinary journey i've embraced Christmas traditions from other cultures. In my household we have a mixture of English and Caribbean foods, such as the traditional turkey with the classic rice and peas. I know many would probably tuck into a hearty trifle or a boozy Christmas pudding, but I usually have West Indian Fruit Cake. The weeks leading up to Christmas I like to now try different countries cuisine, Birmingham German's Christmas market is a great place to start: I recently purchased some German Lebuken, and this dish, Panettone French toast is a twist on an Italian classic. This recipe features from Nigellissima, and is a doddle to make or should I say assembly. I haven't made panettone before but for £2 from Morrisons, why bother when you can buy? All you do, to make this dish, is slice the pannettone and then dip into an eggy mixture, fry for a minute on each side and dust with icing sugar. What you are left with is gloriously sweet, crispy, delicious and slightly crunchy pudding that young and old will enjoy.
Here is how my panettone French toast:

Panettone French toast with icing sugar.

Panettone French toast.

The recipe from the panettone French toast can be found on this link.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Steak Tagliata

This steak dish was first introduced to me after watching an episode of Nigellisima and to be honest I was not entirely impressed with this steak cut into small slices and placed on a bed of salad. It was in fact the version that I saw on a fellow bloggers Facebook page (The Goddess's kitchen) and she served the steak whole with new potatoes and peas; it looked delicious! That's what I love about cooking and collecting recipes, is that everything can be adapted to our tastes. I decided on making this dish, but keeping the steak whole for extra juiciness. I must admit this is very different to the steaks that I'm used to as the recipe uses cherry tomatoes as an accompaniment to steak. It worked, but I feel far to loyal to my traditional accompaniment to steak, Bearnaise, and Diane.
Here is how my steak turned out:
Steak tagliata

I served my steak tagliata with the cherry tomatoes and a side salad. I seasoned my steak and marinaded it for over 24 hours, which I think helped it make it super juicy.
Seasoned steak

Not the best picture I know, I then cooked the steak for 8 minutes on each side for a medium steak.
Steak cooking

Once the steak was cooked enough to my liking I added a tablespoon of oil and pan fried the cherry tomatoes.
Chopped tomatoes

Tomatoes cooking
Sorry about the mix quality of photos, but I hope you all can see how easy this dish is to make.

Recipe for steak tagliata - serves 2
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp crushed chillies
1tsp salt
1 sirloin steak
1 tbsp garlic
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
freshly cracked pepper

Season the steak with salt, pepper, crushed chillies and garlic - I advise this for 12-24 hours. Heat the oil in the frying pan and cook the steak for 5-6 minutes on each size depending on how you like your steak. Place the cherry tomatoes cut side down in the marinade and cook for around a minute or two, Pour the cherry tomatoes and marinade over the steak. Serve with a side salad.



Friday, 9 November 2012

Hearty pasta with brussels sprouts, cheese and potato.

This recipe is from Nigella's latest offering, Nigellissima under the chapter "An Italian Inspired Christmas". I can hardly say this is Italian, besides the penne and suggestion of using Parmesan, as this used Brussels sprouts and baking potatoes (which in my opinion is English). I also do not think many Italians (including my former Italian housemate), would eat penne pasta and sprouts around Christmas time.
I decided to give this recipe a try anyway, and decided to add bacon lardons and sauteed onions to enhance the flavour of this dish. Surprisingly the combination of the sprouts and penne (along with the butter and cheese) oven baked worked. But I am still not convinced that an Italian would eat such combinations!
Anyway, enough of my ramblings, here is how my dish turned out:
Pasta with Brussels sprouts

I first started by par boiling the penne pasta, sprouts and potatoes for around 10 minutes and then placed in an oven proof dish.
Pasta and sprouts

I then cooked the bacon lardons and onions in a small pan until lightly browned.
Bacon and onions
I in cooperated the bacon and onions with the penne and sprouts and added the butter and cheese (cheddar) and tossed together.
Penne, sprouts and bacon
I sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top then baked for 20 minutes.
Bake pre baking
Baked dish

Overall, an interesting evening meal, perhaps best made to use up the abundance of sprouts over the Christmas period.
Ingredients (Serves 8, but easily halved)
750g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
250g (1) baking potato, peeled and in 2-3cm dice
500g penne
salt for vegetable and pasta water, to taste
100g ricotta
250g Gruyere, in 1cm dice
50g soft unsalted butter
1x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil
sage leaves
50g grated Parmesan
You will need 1x roasting tin approx 25 x 36cm or 1 lasagne dish

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and fill a large pot with water to cook the sprouts, potato and pasta.
When the water boils, salt it generously, tip in the prepared sprouts, the potato dice and the pasta and let the water come back to the boil, then cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the potato is tender and the pasta al dente. Just before draining, remove 2 cupfuls of the cooking liquid and out to one side.
Tip the drained pasta, sprouts and potato pieces into a roasting tin then add the ricotta and diced Gruyere and a cupful of cooking water and toss well to combine. Add more liquid if you feel the pasta is too dry.
Warm the butter and garlic oil in a small saucepan and, when melted and beginning to sizzle gently, add the shredded sage and fry for about 30 seconds before spooning or dribbling the butter and crisp sage over the pasta bake. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, by which time the surface will be scorched a light gold.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Italian traybake from Nigellissimsa

For someone who has stated that Nigellissima isn't Nigella's best piece of work, I have been cooking my way through this book despite my own evaluation of her latest book. The Italian traybake is a really simple traybake, and reminded me of the Spanish chicken and chorizo traybake from her Kitchen book. This traybake, the Italian traybake is somewhat different as it uses key Italian ingredients, hence the name of title: Italian sausages, rosemary and lemon gives this dish the Italian vibe.
I really enjoyed this meal especially as the oven done all the hard work. My only advice is season the chicken in the rosemary (I also added mixed herbs, sage and all purpose seasoning) as this makes the chicken even more delicious.
Here is how my traybake turned out:
Italian traybake

I seasoned the chicken separately for two hours and then cut the potatoes and seasoned with rosemary and then added red onions and Italian sausages.
Italian traybake pre cooking

After an hour the chicken, potatoes and sausages was cooked and tasted delicious. A must recommend dish from Nigelissima ..... you never know this may become my new favourite Nigella book.
Italian traybake cooked

Italian traybake
Serves 4-6
3 baking potatoes (approx 750g total), unpeeled and cut into 2cm chunks
8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
8 Italian sausages (approx 750g total)
small bunch (6 or 7 sprigs) fresh rosemary
zest 1 unwaxed lemon
1 teaspoon salt flakes
ground pepper
4 x 15 ml tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7
Put the potatoes into a large, shallow baking tray and add the chicken thighs and sausages. If using 2 trays, divide everything between them (and also swap the trays over and turn them round halfway through cooking time)
Arrange about 4 sprigs of the rosemary among the chicken and sausages, then finely chop the needles of another 2 sprigs, to give you about 2 teaspoons of finely chopped needles and sprinkle these onto the chicken pieces.
Zest the lemon over everything, and season wit the salt and a good grinding of pepper. Drizzle with the oil and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the chicken skin and sausages are golden and the potato pieces are cooked through.



Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Nigella's Tuscan (baked) fries with peppered steak.

I'm a big fan of Nigella and many of my posts on my blog have been recipes from her ever increasing cook book collection. I have been looking forward to purchasing her Nigellisima book for the last few months, and on pay day ensured that purchasing Nigellisima was my number one priority. Although there are some fantastic recipes in this book, I feel this is not her best work and that her Kitchen and Feast books include much better recipes. I even think her Forever Summer book is better than Nigelissima, but maybe after time this book will grow on me.
The Tuscan fries were one of the first recipes to be cooked in the opening episode of her tv series and I was impressed with the inclusion of fresh herbs and garlic when making the fries. I was less impressed with the 1.5L of oil - i'm sure this amounts to around 7,500 calories if 100ml has around 500 calories. I thought if I am to make this dish a low fat alternative is needed and instead of drenching the fries in oil, I placed the fries in an oven dish and drizzled with around 5 tablespoons of oil, plus some fry light. I felt the fries were delcious with the unpeeled garlic, rosmerary and sage. I served the Tuscan fries with an old favourite, peppered steak Yum.
Here is how my Tuscan fries and peppered steak turned out:
Tuscan fries with peppered steak.

I seasoned the fries for around half an hour  so that the flavours can be infused.
Marinated fries with seasoning. 

Once cooked the potatoes browned up nicely and has almost the same texture as crispy fries, albeit with less calories - which is always a winner in my eyes.

Overall my version is a nice twist on the traditional baked homemade fries/chips and the flavours of sage and garlic work really well.
The recipe for Tuscan fries can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tuscan_fries_61356

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