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.
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.
January 9, 2011 § 3 Comments
The markets in Makeni, shoulder to shoulder with hot crawling crowds carrying their buys and sales and indeed, their handbags, on their heads for convenient hands free shopping. The way is particularly slow, pedestrians congested in the narrow spaces between the stalls, every productive piece of bare earth used for displaying neatly balanced towers of onions and stacks of maggi cubes, portions of salt, plates of roasted peanuts, handfuls of chillies and piles of dried fish. However this is not really a market, it’s meant to be a road lined with stalls, but they inevitably spread to encompass the whole space. When a car wants to pass through, it noses itself into the crowds as women hurriedly gather their trade and punters squeeze against the sides of the street.
It is here one sunny day that I spy amongst the dry and smelly fish, a big beautiful deep green pumpkin. ‘Yes mam, yes mam’ says the soft and rounded lady sitting behind her display holding the pumpkin out to me on a seemingly particularly stretched out arm. Her body reaches heavily out over the fish towards me. She is guessing I will be stupid and white enough to pay her almost a dollar for this one so she won’t take any chances with me missing the cue. And she is right of course, I can’t resist. Soon it is heavy in my bag on my shoulder as I balance my new weight on the back of the Okada home, weaving through the cars and pedestrians. I am happy with my buys today, also tucked away in my bag, tiny bundles of individually wrapped dried thyme that I find with excitement amongst the maggi cubes and salt in the markets but just never recognised before.
What then? Well not traditional but predictable, pumpkin soup with spices brought gallantly all the way from Morocco, pumpkin fritters that leave me wanting to cry and finally, Pumpkin in a Skillet with Thyme, Lime and Chilli.
Recipe for Pumpkin in a Skillet with Thyme Lime and Chilli
This recipe makes for a lovely snack and is so simple. But lets not mistake lack of complexity for lack of tasty because it is the latter indeed. I can be grateful for that here where you are far from overwhelmed by an abundance of variety and reminded of how effective just a few ingredients can be.
You will need
About a quarter to half a pumpkin sliced roughly 5mm thick
Oil for frying
Thyme to taste
Chilli powder to taste
1 or 2 limes
1-2 fresh chillies, seeds removed and finely sliced
In a skillet or heavy based fry pan gently fry pumpkin over a medium heat until golden brown and crisp on the outside but soft in the middle.
Sprinkle immediately with thyme, salt and chilli powder and serve with a squeeze of lime and sprinkle of fresh chilli.
Eat straight away; it is best hot and still crisp.