Sunday, 25 January 2015

Mocha Beer Coffee Cake

Another one of those "here taste this" instructions last night and the idea was born. The chef has a collection of weird beers (being a big craft beer connoisseur). Some are better than others. He wasn't keen on this one but I thought it was lovely surprisingly, as normally I don't like flavoured beers.

Mocha Beer and coffee cake. Ping. Another "terrible beauty is born".....

Mocha Beer Coffee Cake

175g butter
175g sugar
2 small eggs
3 tablespoons of Batemans Mocha beer
1 teaspoon of liquid coffee extract
175g self raising flour

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs slowly and some flour to prevent curdling. Sieve in the remainder of the flour and add beer and coffee extract. Pour into a Bundt cake mould or a small loaf tin. Bake at 180 degC fan for 40 minutes. Leave in tin for 20 minutes and then turn carefully out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Pour mixture into Bundt cake tin

For the icing
100g icing sugar
35g butter
1 tablespoon Mocha beer
few drops of liquid coffee extract

Whisk softened butter and icing sugar and add beer and coffee extract.

Beery icing

The flavour of the beer comes through really well and is lovely with the hint of coffee extract. The secret is not to overpower the beer with too much extract as it is very strong.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Lentil Dahl

We have been trying to reduce meat meals here at least once a week (meat free Monday) and often more. Lentils and beans are a great way to do this as you can make really hearty filling meals using them and you don't even notice that you haven't had meat.

I used buy a well known and very good spice blend to make it. But it's very expensive and then one day they were out of it in my local supermarket. So I just looked at the back of half a packet I had left and recreated the recipe.

Here is my version of lentil dahl.

300g red lentils
1 large red onion finely diced
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
a similar sized piece of fresh turmeric finely chopped (or use 1 teaspoon dried)
a red and a yellow chilli finely sliced with seeds*
300ml chicken stock (or vegetable)
half a tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of full fat coconut milk
half a lime juiced
a good pinch of sea salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander

Soften the onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli in some oil. Add the cumin and coriander. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes, stirring so it doesn't stick. Add the lentils and continue to stir until the lentils are well coated in the onion mix. Add the stock, tomatoes and coconut milk and cook until the lentils are soft but still with a bit of a bite. Add the lime juice and continue to cook for a few minutes. Check seasoning.

Serve with some nice nutty brown rice and scatter with chopped fresh coriander.

*I leave the seeds in chillis as they contribute to the overall flavour and heat of the dish. You can remove them if you wish or use only one mild chilli.

This quantity will serve 4 adults as a main course or 8 as an accompaniment to another curry.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Gingerbread Caramel Pie (using up leftover gingerbread dough)

For some reason I have never made a gingerbread house. But my Twitter timeline was full of pictures of fantastic creations this Christmas. St. Stephen's Day was a wash out so what better way to spend a few hours than make one?

Off to Google to find a recipe and a template. The recipe was Mary Berry's on the BBC Good Food website. I followed it exactly but luckily weighed the flour into a separate bowl. I estimate that there was 200g too much which I hadn't added but my dough was still crumbly. I tried to knead it hoping the heat from my hands would bind it, but no luck. I had to add two of my own eggs (scarce at this time of year as my hens are on a go slow). Partial success. At least now the dough was reasonably cohesive.

Then the template. Silly me. Never bothered to check it out when I cut the paper shapes and stuck to the cardboard. The roof was massive. So big it almost crushed the house. But to that later.

It's all a learning experience, right?

I had a lump of the dough leftover. I wrapped it in cling film and put it in the fridge.

A week later I decided that as I had used butter, my own very scarce eggs and muscovado sugar I was not going to throw it out. I remembered a gingerbread recipe I had made from my mother's old cookbook and a caramel sauce I had served it with. Recipe here.

I had enough dough to line two quiche dishes 21cm diameter and 4cm deep with the dough. Blind bake for 10 minutes at 180 deg C.

Cool and pour the cooled caramel into the pies.  Divide the gingerbread mixture and pour over the caramel. Put back into oven at 180 deg C for about 35-40 minutes or until the cake topping springs back to your touch.

You can serve it warm or cold but a scoop of good vanilla ice cream would be lovely with it.

If you want to use up the actual gingerbread house, you could crush it and add melted butter to make a crumb base.

The gingerbread house was a tad amateur but it tasted great.

The roof was so big it meant we couldn't decorate the sides of the house and then it started to crack and slide. A bit of a patch up job with royal icing (made using my own egg whites as well) soon sorted that.

Just remember it's nearly always possible to salvage mistakes when baking and cooking. Upcycling isn't only the preserve of Annie Sloan and chests of drawers.