Sunday, 24 July 2016

Prague Cake

Prague Cake is one of the stand out recipes from the award winning best-selling cookery book Mamushka. I bookmarked this recipe for well over a year and was looking for the perfect reason to bake this intricate cake. Lo and behold, my work had a charity bake sale so I made the chocolate cake with a condensed milk filling, slathered with chocolate ganache. You do need a little extra time to make this cake, it's not your ordinary chocolate sponge cake, but what it takes in time is rewarded in this gorgeous and unique chocolate cake. 

5 eggs, fresh and cold
150g caster sugar
80g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing (optional)
175g flour
30g cocoa powder

5 tablespoon caster sugar
50ml cognac (I used rum)
1 tablespoon water

4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
200g (7oz) slightly salted butter, softened
240g condensed milk

300g plain dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
75g butter

1) Place a medium metal bowl in the freezer, for making the filling later on.

2) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and prep a 23cm (9inch) round spring form cake tin with a removable base by buttering it or lining it with  baking parchment.

3) For the sponge, beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl with an electric whisk for at least 5 minutes until very thick, pale and foamy. Trickle in the melted butter. Sift the flour and cocoa together and then gently fold into the batter with a spatula. Try not to knock any air out of the sponge - there is no raising agent, so air is all you've got to help it rise.

4) Pour the cake batter gently into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes. Test it by gently touching the top of with your finger - it should spring right back. Switch the oven off and leave the cake in the oven but with the door open.

5) Once the cake is cool, open the tin but not completely. To cut the cake into 3 equal discs, do the following place the base of the tin on something stable and tall (like a large jar) and push the cake out by two-thirds, then slice it horizontally with a bread knife. Push the cake up out of the tin a little more and cut across the cake again, making sure that the next disc is the same thickness as the first. You should end up with 3 discs of the same thickness.

6) To make the drizzle, heat the sugar, Cognac and measurement water in a small saucepan an boil briefly, then let it cool and drizzle over the sponges.

7) Next, make the filling by heating the egg yolks and measurement water in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whizzing constantly until the mixture turns thick and foamy. Stir in the cocoa powder and take off the heat.

8) Take the metal bowl out of the freezer and place the so dented butter in it, then beat it with an electric whisk. When it's starting to foam, trickle in the condensed milk, then gently fold in the cooled yolk mixture.

9) To make the ganache, pop the chocolate and butter into a glass bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Let it melt slowly, then give it a gentle stir once it looks almost melted - don't disturb it too much or it will go grainy.

10) Meanwhile, use the filling to sandwich the 3 sponge layers together, then spread the chocolate ganache on the top and down the sides of the cake.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

My Favourite Cookbooks of 2015 plus Christmas Giveaway #4

This is a post that I have been looking forward to for many months. In fact, it's my first post where I am sharing my favourite cookbooks in a year. Cookbooks are very close to my heart, not least because it really opened my eyes to the diversity of cooking when I was a student, but also with every dish created, a memory of your own is created. It seems that almost everyone has wrote a cookbook  this year from celebrity chefs, bloggers and TV presenters. But, what makes a good cookbook for me is not just one which the recipes work (this is of course incredibly important), but also where there is real passion shown across each page and a story. I love a good food story, I want to know why you have decided to include this recipe in your cook book, what makes it work and whats the history behind this. There has been a bumper collection of cookery books this year, one of the perks of being a blogger is that I am often sent cookbooks to review. I also treat myself every pay day to a cookbook or three. Oh and when I go abroad, I always have to buy a cookbook from that country. Needless to say, I have a ridiculously growing collection of cookbooks. But this year there has been some gems, beautiful food writing, inventive and colourful recipes and most importantly dishes that taste sublime. So without further ado, here are my favourite cookbooks of 2015 (in no particular order).

The Picnic Cookbook
I love the idea (and in a ideal world I would spend my spare time) of having a picnic, but this something I rarely do. But why is this one of my favourite cookbooks of the year, entitled The Picnic Cookbook, considering I don't really do picnics: I love how Laura Mason has revolutionised the concept of picnic, of which many think involves sandwiches. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the history of picnics from the Victorian era to today. For every occasion, there is a picnic dish to prepare and eat with loved ones. I also loved the recipes which incorporated world foods such as the delicious Cypriot feast and also Koftas and Naans. The photographs are simply stunning and the food looks mouthwatering. 

A Lot on Her Plate
Rosie Birkett is one of the UK most exciting voices in food. I knew that she would be releasing a book as I follow Rosie on social media. There was extensive of media coverage upon her book release back in April. What makes this cookbook and become one of my favourite this year, is that her recipes are incredibly inventive, versatile and comforting. In an era were a lot are focusing on "clean eating", Rosie shows the reader how to make wholesome, fulfilling and inspiring dishes. I also like her frugal/flush approach, showing that good food can be eaten whatever your budget may be. Rosie's book also shares her story and her food experiences from a child up until now. As shared in my review post, this a cookery book for the seasoned cook and one to stretch your imagination. Of all the books in this round up, this is the one that I have cooked the most from.

Vanilla Table
Perhaps it's my naivety or not really understanding the power of vanilla, but I was positively astounded with the versatility of vanilla. It helps that this cookery book is elegant in design and the photographs are stunning. Prior to this book, I have primarily used vanilla in sweet baking. However, with 9 chapters from starters to drinks, to brunch and to snacks, vanilla can be included in every meal, any time of the day. I love reading Natasha' love affair of Vanilla, alongside the chefs contributions to this cookbook manual. The Spiced Lime Smoothie that I made is one which I have revisited on many occasions, alongside many of the brunch recipes. 

I'm sure the debut book for Olia Hercules will be featured on many cook book round up posts this month. Olia has shared the cuisine of her culture and heritage which is shared through her evocative food writing. Ukranian food is not something that is, well, exactly popular in the UK, but in Mamushka, the diversity of recipes eaten across the Ukraine and beyond are beautifully shared. I love the vibrant and exotic recipes and you will be pleased to know that the majority of the ingredients can be found in supermarkets. From the Georgian Garlicky Poussins to the Prague Cake or the Pork Ribs and Dumplings, I wanted to bookmark every recipe and I'm sure you will too.

Caribbean Modern
A round up would not be complete without a Carribean cookbook, I always like to read recipes from other Caribbean islands. This one, by Shivi Ramoutar showcasing lighter, brighter and colourful recipes. I loved the inclusion of many Trinidadian recipes, the accessible recipes, the easy to follow recipes. Above all, I've made a number of recipes, all of which tasted delicious. I loved the bag baked sea bass with black bean salsa. 

The lovely people at Octopus Books and Pavillion books are giving one reader a copy of Mamushka and a copy of The Picnic Cookbook. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below.
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Friday, 21 August 2015

Mamushka by Olia Hercules Book Review

Let me introduce you to the culinary delights of the "Wild East". If you are not sure what the Wild East, it's been a phase coined on social media sites when talking about and referring to Olia Hercules debut cookery book focusing on recipes from the Ukraine and beyond. I've never had any dishes or own a book on the Eastern Europe, so had no idea to expect. Tell a lie, I had some idea, a bit stereotypical such as potatoes and cabbage and although these ingredients do feature, there is much more to this book than this. I also love this book because whilst the cookbook market has become awashed with healthy eating and lifestyle cookbooks, which is fabulous, but give me a book with carbohydrates, cake and fat, oh, I'm hungry thinking about it. The photographs are beautiful and feature Olia's family which adds to the charm of this book. 
There are many recipes which I want to try, namely the Prague Cake, Ice-Cream Cake and the Pork Ribs and Dumplings. Olia writes beautifully about the history of her Ukraine and her family's diverse and rich cultural heritage. The chapters have Ukrainian writing next to it which gives this book a fabulous unique feel to it. If you have never sampled cuisine from this part of the world, you are missing out, I am inspired with the diverse range of recipes and I am sure this is a cookery book which I will continue to use over and over again. Without a date, this is one of the best cookbooks published this year, alongside Rosie Birkett's A Lot on Her Plate which will be reviewed on the blog shortly. 

The chapters include:
  • Introduction
  • Broths and Soups, recipes to try include:Ukrainian Beetroot Broth and Gherkin, Beef and Barley Broth.
  • Breads and Pastries, so many stand out recipes including Ukrainian Garlic Bread, Greek Breads with Spring Onion, Moldovan Bread with cheese and sorrel and Ukrainian Stuffed Buns.
  • Vegetables and Salads, recipes to try include; Beetroot and Prune Salad, Armenian Beans with a tomato salad and Potatoes with Pork and Shallots. 
  • Dumplings and Noodles, again a beautiful chapter with a number of dines including: Pork Ribs and Dumplings, Soviet Goose Noodles, Central Asian Chicken and Pasta and Moldovan Pasta.
  • Meat and Fish, recipes to try include: Mutton in Coriander, Azerbaijani Chicken with Prunes and Walnuts, BBQ Catfish and Cured Mackerel.
  • Fermented Pickles and Preserves: stand out recipes include Sour Aubergines and Lick Your Fingers Tomatoes.
  • Sweet Conserves: recipes include Plum, Rum and Raisin Conserve, Raspberry Conserve and Baked Quince.
  • Desserts: Recipes which I plan on making include: Wasp Nest Buns, Baked Ukrainian Cheesecake, Honey Cake and delicious looking Prague Cake.
  • Drinks: Thirst quenchers include: Summer Fruit Punch and Russian Fermented Rye Drink. 
Gerogian Garliky Poussins pre cook.

Georgian Garliky Poussins cooked. 

Georgian Garliky Poussins.

Chicken Liver, Buckwheat and Shallots.

Chicken Liver, Buckwheat & Crispy Shallots. 

The Recipe which I chose to share is for Chicken Liver, Buckwheat & Crispy Shallots, which was delicious. 

Serves 2 as a starter (although when doubled serves 2 as a main)

100g shallots, thinly sliced
50g plain flour
6 tablespoons sunflower oil
200g chicken livers

2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50g celery, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
100g buckwheat, toasted
200ml vegetable or chicken stock
sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

1) Dust the shallots slices in the flour. Heat 4 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the shallots over a medium-low heat, stirring often, for 2 minutes or until they are crispy and light golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
2) Meanwhile, for the buckwheat, heat the olive oil in the pan, add the diced shallots, garlic, celery, carrot and thyme and sweat them over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until soft  and aromatic.
3) Add the buckwheat and stock, season with salt and pepper and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes or until the buckwheat absorbs all the stock
4) Heat the remaining sunflower in a frying pan, add the chicken livers and saute for 5-8 minutes or until they are well caramelised and cook through. Serve with the crispy shallots and buckwheat.

Disclaimer: I received a copy from The Gannet magazine, however all of my views are my own. 
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