Friday, 22 February 2008

Mmmm... Mango

Every two weeks we receive an organic fruit and veg box from the nice people at River Nene Organics, we always get an interesting selection of top quality ingredients as well as a newsletter and recipe card. The nice thing about a veg box is that it encourages me to use things I wouldn't normally use. This week we received a large Mango, I have never done anything other than eat these raw before, and delicious as they are I thought I would think of something to do with this one.
After some thought I had my idea...

Mango Upside Down Cake
It was a simple idea but it turned out to be a delicious one. First I peeled and sliced my mango and layed it neatly around the base of a greased springform tin.

Then I made a caramel by heating a drop of water with sugar in a saucepan and boiling until a golden caramel had formed, to this I added a knob of butter.

The caramel was poured all over the mango in the tin.

And finally I poured a basic sponge mix over the top this was made with equal weights of eggs, self raising flour, butter and sugar to which I added a teaspoon of baking powder and some orange oil for flavour (you could use orange or lemon zest).

Baked at gas 4/5 for around 45 mins and it was done.

The taste was delicious, adding the caramel was a nice touch as it kept it moist, the mango also held it shape perfectly, if I get any more mangoes I'll make this one again.

In the meantime I need to find a use for Jerusalem Artichokes, any ideas please leave a comment...

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Rocky road - Cycling food

I had to get back to Uni for lectures on monday, and as it's me I cycle there! Not that theres any alternative without a car.
Anyway I decided to make something to fuel my trip and after a lot of my usual indecision settled on Rocky road cake.
Rocky road cake isn't really a cake at all but, is simply a mixture of chocolate, marshmallows, fruit and nuts.
The ingredients can vary according to taste but chocolate and marshmallows are both essential.
My version had raisins, chopped hazlenuts and walnuts which I toasted in a dry frying pan, (peanuts are more traditional but I had none) glace cherries and obviously chocolate and marshmallows.
As the chocolate is the base for this it is essential that you use a good quality chocolate, dark milk or even white could be used although white chocolate would be very sweet. I'm a dark chcolate person so I used Cote d'or.

Rocky Road
(I havn't given quantities, I just mixed in what looked right)
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts of your choice
  • Marshmallows (the small ones or just cut sume up with scissors)
  • Dried fruit such as raisins and sultanas
  • Glace cherries
This is so easy to make simply melt your chocolate and mix everything together, put the mixture into a tin lined with baking parchment and leave to set. Easy!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Strawberry and Blueberry tart

I don't know about you but I am bored of winter food, and winter in general come to think of it. Last night we were out for a bring and share dinner, and this gave me a good oppurtunity to make something a bit more "summery", I decided to make a pudding. As we had some pastry at home I decided I would make a fruit tart. The filling is a mixture of cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla and gelatine (to make sure it set). For the fruit topping I went to Leicester market to see what looked good and found some nice strawberries and blueberries.

So I set to work, first I rolled out the pastry and lined a pastry tart dish, I then blind baked it, left it to cool, spread a thin layer of dark chocolate across the bottom and poured in my filling. When everything had set I decorated it with halved strawberries and blueberries and drizzled it with more chocolate.

As you can see from the picture it looks really good which is exactly what I was aiming for, I wanted something that would stand out and get noticed! The red and blue certainly does that.
This dessert was another success, I seem to have had a string of them lately! it tasted as good as it looks, the addition of a chocolate layer certainly added another dimension that I would add again, as well as helping keep the pastry crisp.

The Recipe

To make your own fruit tart you will need: (Measurements are very rough, I just judged what looked right)
  • Shortcrust pastry (I cheated and used ready made, but it would be even better with home made sweet pastry)
  • 350g Cream cheese

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar, (sifted)

  • Vanilla extract

  • 1 Sachet of gelatine powder

  • 60-70g Dark chocolate

  • Fruits of your choice
First line you tart dish with pastry, (I used a 10 inch dish) cover with tin foil then baking beans or weights and bake at Gas mark 4 for 15mins after this time remove the foil and beans and bake until golden brown (about 10 mins more. Set aside to cool.

While the pastry cools melt around 50g of the dark chocolate, (this can be done in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, or very carefully in the microwave) spread the chocolate over the base and leave to set, this won't take long at all.

Now make you filling by beating the sifted icing sugar and cream cheese together, add a few drops of vanilla, and pour in the gelatine made up according to packet instructions. Make sure everything is well mixed.
Pour the filling into the pastry case and put it in the fridge to set, this should take about 20mins.

Now prepare your fruit if it needs it wash and chop as you like it and arrange it on top, be creative! finally melt the rest of your chocolate and drizzle ove the top.

Done! Now you can look smug and show off your finished dessert.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Chocolate and cherry scones

I've felt like making (and eating) scones for a while now, and by coincidence there was a really interesting recipe in a new book I have just bought. "The great book of chocolate" by David Lebovitz, the book is brilliant, I have found it really interesting as it contains far more than just a regular cookbook, although there are planty of great recipes, in fact more than half is about chocolate, from it's history to how it's made and even health benefits.
There are 30 recipes in the back and these scones are one of them.
I have had cherry scones before but never with chocolate in which I thought was a really good idea, the recipe also calls for orange zest which I didn't have so I used orange oil instead. (I recomend buying some citrus oils to keep in the cupboard for when you have no oranges or lemons in the house, they're just as good in my opinion).

The recipe is very easy to follow although this book is american and I did have to find out what cake flour was, apparently a good substitute can be made by mixing 7 parts plain to 1 part cornflour, this seemed to work well as my scones were the perfect texture, light, crumbly and buttery. The orange flavour comes through well, it is subtle but adds an extra and delicious dimension to the scones.
Overall these were a great success and I will definately make them again, judging by the speed they disappeared I'm guessing everyone liked them as much as I did!
I won't post the recipe here because I haven't changed it at all, but I'm sure you could work it out with a basic scone recipe, or even better buy the book!!

David lebovitz has an excellent food blog, probably the best on the internet which can be found here

Friday, 8 February 2008


Yesterday I made pizza from scratch, making my own dough and sauce. Below is a picture of the finished Pizza. The pizza was olive and anchovy with mozzarella, I know there are a lot of people who won't like the sound of that topping, but it was good, very good! The anchovies add a good burst of flavour and saltiness to the bland cheese and the sauce was just the right sweetness.
I made the base from three parts strong white bread flour and one part Polenta/yellow cornflour this is recomended in Jamie Oliver's book "Jamies Italy" (fantastic book) as it gives a more authentic Italian crispy base. I was aiming for a good thin crispy base like a real Italian pizza not a thick doughy base which i'm not that keen on.
I served my pizza with home made lemon and rosemary potato wedges and peas.


5 Shallots or an onion
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A clove of Garlic
2 Teaspoons of sugar
red wine vinegar
fresh basil


2oz/50g Yellow cornflour
6oz/150g white bread flour
1 packet of instant yeast
a pinch of salt
roughly 120ml of water

First make base combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl add enough water to get a soft but not too sticky dough, knead this for around 10 minutes until elastic. when this is done set aside in a bowl and cover with oiled cling film to rise. alternatively you can use a bread machine on the dough setting.

To make the sauce finely chop the onions and garlic and fry with a drop of olive oil until just soft, then add a tin of chopped tomatoes, the sugar and vinegar. now taste it and add more sugar, vinegar or salt until it is how you like it, reduce this in the pan until very thick. finally stir in some fresh basil.

Now to make your pizza, Heat your oven as high as it will go. Now knock back your dough, it shougd have risen quite a bit, and roll it out as thin as you can, lay it on a baking sheet or pizza tray, next spread the base with your sauce whichs hould have cooled a little (if it's too hot it will kill the yeast).
Now you're ready for the topping, I suggest mozzarella cheese but you can be creative and add whatever you like.

Bake until the topping is cooked and the base is crispy.


Saturday, 2 February 2008

Walking in Derbyshire

A strange day today, no bike rides at all, I did however go on a walk in derbyshire, and their was proper snow, Hoorah!! we walked from Matlock to bonsal and back. We had a really good walk in perfect conditions. Although we did get off to an interesting start after Dad almost crashed the car skidding on the ice across the car park, everyone thought that was funny!
This picture is from the very start of the walk, it shows the view over Matlock from just up the hill.
The very nice village of Bonsal close by.
The walk lasted around four hours and was very enjoyable.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Cupcakes for my first post

Well this is my first post and I thought I would show some pictures of "king cupcakes" that I made yesterday, the pictures are from my fancy new camera A FujiFilm A820 if you really care that I blew my money on this morning!! It was a bargain though.

These are peanut butter and banana cakes with peanut butter icing, I stuck a wanut on top because I didn't have any peanuts, Oh and I love walnuts! They taste delicious, you get a good mix of peanut and banana flavour, as well as being very moist.

These are really easy to make, I recommend them highly.

The recipe was found at the Culinary in the Desert blog Here