chilli orange chocolate cake

April 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

I should be studying. I am trying to write an essay. But every time I attempt it, I find myself wanting to throw my computer across the room. In an effort to relax, I have been dreaming up cakes and pottering in the kitchen.

So here is the result, a cake with bite. Inspired by a traditional brownie, it comes out crusty on top and soft, dense and moist in the middle, the chilli and orange a reflection of my mood. I have only used a subtle amount of chilli but if you want more kick you can add up to 1 tsp.

Ingredients
100 g butter
250 g brown sugar
200 g good quality dark cooking chocolate
2 free  range organic eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
rind of 1 orange
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
100 g plain spelt flour (or normal flour if you would prefer)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange, chilli and cinnamon.  Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the chocolate mix, stirring until just combined. Transfer to a lined and greased 20 cm diameter cake tin. Bake for 20 -30 minutes or until crusty on top but still moist inside.

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watermelon salad

April 16, 2011 § 5 Comments


It’s a bit sneaky of me to squeeze this very summery recipe in mid April amidst the figs and soups, but I had an end of season watermelon and there is still plenty of basil in the garden so I thought I could just get away with it before it becomes really wintery and inappropriate. It did go down quite well with a crusty slice of bread and the afternoon Autumn sun shining in on the kitchen table. Its beautifully fresh and light.

what you will need
About 1 kg of watermelon cubed
3 – 4 handfuls baby greens
100 g fetta
Handful basil leaves roughly broken
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp lemon rind
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and serve with crusty bread.

homemade fig and pear semi-freddo

April 3, 2011 § 13 Comments

Over our back fence there is an overgrown lane-way. The grass is knee-high littered with old televisions and garden clippings sneakily dropped out of neighbours lives. This place seems long forgotten. Certainly no one seems to go there. And I wouldn’t either, if it were not for the huge fig tree that hangs beyond one lucky neighbours back-yard, the branches reaching deep into the lane. Once a week I have been jumping our fence, braving the long grass with the hidden electrical appliances and checking on the figs, waiting for them to turn soft and blushing purple. I’m glad I have been watching so closely, because all of a sudden they have hurriedly begun to ripen and split, the purple blush revealing delicious pink softly wrapped in white. My recent visits have had me returning with a wide sticky smile and pockets juicy and bulging. I have needed careful restraint in order for them to make it all the way to the kitchen with me. Luckily the idea of fig ice-cream has kept me determined to save a special few.

Semi-freddo is a lovely way to get the idea of ice-cream without all the bother, fluster and equipment needed to produce it.  Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s recipe in this book I have changed the quantities a bit, and adapted it to my own flavourings.

It’s probably obvious, I am making fig and pear semi-freddo because I want to impress someone. What could be especially delightful for my sweetheart just back from 5 months in Africa. This recipe is both seductive and gentle with the comfort of pears and flirtation of figs.

What you will need
400 g fresh figs
1 ripe pear
2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
pinch cinnamon
100 g brown sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 free range organic eggs separated
600 ml thick organic cream
pinch salt
1 Tbsp raw organic honey

Remove the stalk from the fig and cut into quarters. Remove the core from the pear and roughly chop. Place the fig, pear, lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar in a saucepan and stew until soft and caramelised. Allow to cool before pureeing.
Whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla.
In a second bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks form.
In a third bowl whisk the egg whites and salt until very firm peaks form.
Gently fold all ingredients together. Transfer to an old ice cream container or tupperware and drizzle with honey before placing in the freezer for about 4 hours or until partially frozen. Otherwise, freeze for longer and place in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving. Semi-freddo is Italian and literally translates to semi-frozen.
Serve in a bowl with fresh figs or a drizzle of honey.

Enjoy!

Other very tasty combinations:
Banana and cardamom
Apricot and almond
Chocolate and chili

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