Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Manpreet's Glazed Madeira Birthday Cake

My colleague Manpreet's birthday was last week and she had been making I want cake noises a few days earlier, so I made her one.

It is my tweaked version of Nigella Lawson's delicious Madeira cake that features in her book How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking And The Art of Comfort Cooking, which is one of my favourite, never-fail baking books.  This version is more lemony and vanilla-y, but I will include the original recipe as it is below, and then point out which bits I have added, as the basic recipe is amazing too.

Basic recipe:

240 unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
200g caster sugar
210 self raising flour
90 plain flour
zest and juice of one lemon

My version:
Use the zest of TWO lemons and the juice of one - the juice of the other lemon will make a glaze
Add vanilla essence - to your taste; in my mind things can never be too vanilla-y, it's just one of those things!
Some icing sugar, sifted, for the finish - we'll come to that shortly.


Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees (GM3).

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar and then add the beaten eggs, one at a time, with a spoonful of the flour.  Turn off the beater and go to spatula.  Add in the vanilla essence, lemon zest and the flour, carefully folding it in.  This is not a light and airy cake so don't panic, but don't whip it either.  Finally stir in the juice of one lemon.

Put it into the loaf tin (I use a silicone mould) and into the oven for about 50 minutes-1 hour.  I always check at 50 as my oven runs a bit hot.  Just do the skewer test - if it comes out clean you're good.

A few minutes before you're ready to take it out completely - say at about 47 minutes or something (you know your oven), whip it out and make a few little holes in the top, and then glaze it before popping it back in to finish.

The glaze is dead easy - just add enough icing sugar to the juice of the remaining lemon to make a very thin runny icing, and pour it over the top, aiming for the holes!  Don't worry if there's any left over, you can pour it over the cake as it cools to make a delicious sticky crusty glaze.

We ate it with blueberries and a cup of tea.

Ms Leno's Marvellous Mexican Chili Chicken Soup

Quantities variable depending on how much you want, and what you've got in really, but this is what I used. Obviously you don't HAVE to wait for the vegetables to be near death before you use them!!
1 floppy courgette (large)
3 floppy sticks of celery (floppy)
1 sad onion
3 red peppers (1 healthy, two squishy)
1 nearly-full punnet of over ripe cherry tomatoes (a can or two would be fine too though)
4 cloves of garlic
1 largish breast of chicken, shredded ( but any cooked chicken fine)
1 chorizo sausage, sliced up
1 large can of sweetcorn
1 can kidney beans
2 big scoops of Ms Leno's Delicious Black Beans (recipe below)
1 big mild green chili (optional)
1 litre cold water
1 chicken stock cube
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mild chili powder
1 tbsp oregano

You also need a hand blender.


In a bit of olive oil slowly fry off the chorizo sausage until it is a bit crispy and has released all its garlicky oil. Fish it out but leave the oil behind. Add the peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, chili, celery and kidney beans and allow to soften slightly before adding the litre water, stock cube and spices to the pan. Bring it up to the boil then turn it down and leave to simmer til the veg are cooked through. Blend to your preferred smoothness and then add in the shredded chicken, chorizo slices, sweetcorn and black beans. Stir well to combine and enjoy!

This would be amazing with some fresh coriander on top. But I don't have any. Or some tortilla chips (I did have some of those).  And some leftover cottage cheese.


Ms Leno's Delicious Black Beans

WELL. As you know I already have a recipe for black beans but I've finally honed my recipe to one that I use regularly, and this is it:
 1 bag dried black beans (500g)
1 large onion
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 big mild chili (optional)
5 or 6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 litre chicken stock made with two cubes

 This is a bit of a long process but actually very easy. You need to soak the beans first in lots of cold water and if I am going to make this for Saturday morning for example I'd put the beans to soak at bedtime on Thursday. At bedtime on FRIDAY I'd drain them and stick them in the slow cooker with all the other ingredients, flip the switch to twelve hours and go to bed.

 I eat these through the week for breakfast with rice, cottage cheese, eggs, veggies, wraps, whatever I've got knocking about. I am not very fond of traditional English breakfast food (ie sugary cereal or too much toast, as it messes my blood sugars up too much).

Friday, 15 June 2012

Never Seconds shut down

Well, I've been very quiet as I've been studying frantically since Christmas and things have been somewhat hectic. However, as things start to wind down towards the summer I shall be updating the million and one things I've cooked since then. In the meantime please go and read this article on Wired, about Martha Payne's brilliant food blog being shut down by the local council. Bloody shameful.