I have a question for you. Are there days when you are constantly on the move or in some kind of a rush? Every single day I hear you shout! I lead a small life and generally I have a very fixed timetable. Usually. There are times though when everything I’ve learnt about time management just goes out of whack. Whatever I planned for the day just gets thrown out of the window and I just…just…squeeze in the basic things on my to-do list. Do you have one of those? I do. Crossing out all the tasks rarely happens, no news there I guess, though I relish that yes-I-have-achieved-so-much-today feeling. Don’t you love that?
As I was going through many recipes this morning, trying to decide which one to put up on here, I began to feel nostalgic. This photo was taken by the lovely J quite some time ago, when yours truly wasn’t really interested in taking pictures to begin with. Ahh the memories! Don’t get me wrong. Even though taking my own photos is fun and it makes it easier to ‘own’ this blog, I do miss the days when we started out with bad lighting and sharing one camera and one lens. I cooked and J took all the pics, and it felt like teamwork. Now I cook and take the majority of the images. However stirring and mixing and pouring while handling the camera can be somewhat dangerous…when you’re me. I tend to spill things and/or burn myself in the process, so when this happens J steps in…when I ask for help. There are a few times when I’m in the zone (and they are the best days) where I feel I can handle anything. The camera might be smeared with an absurd amount of flour or chocolate, but that’s when I get a few decent pics. And I’m happy. I’m no expert, as you might have noticed…
surely noticed…but I love learning and experimenting, and J is a brilliant teacher.
I made this curry or stir-fry, call it what you will, when I wanted something really quick for lunch. Cooking for Friends is not one of my favourite books. I rarely use it because I find that some recipes just don’t work, but this one does with a few changes. If you and your pals like spice then this one’s for you and it’s a good excuse to use some of that fenugreek that’s been sitting in your cupboard doing nothing. If it’s still fragrant then go ahead and use some of it here. It will transform your dish into something special together with the coriander. I love both.
- 600g of cauliflower, chopped into florets
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 courgette, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
- 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 100ml vegetable stock (or chicken stock, if you prefer)
Lightly toast the fenugreek, coriander and cumin seeds in a pan over medium-low heat. A couple of minutes will do. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the seeds, together with the salt and pepper, and grind everything into a fine powder.
In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Add a tiny amount of salt to draw some moisture out of the onion to soften. When the onion is soft, add the garlic, chilli and the ground spices and stir.
Add the cauliflower florets and the vegetable stock. Cook until the cauliflower is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated.
Serve with rice or pasta, or as a side dish with fish or meat. Serves 4.
(Recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking for Friends, HarperCollins, 2008)
I had no idea what to write about today, but whilst browsing and processing some photos this morning I came across these pictures and wondered why I haven’t posted them before. This is a recipe that – at first – has left me indifferent. Eventually it did grow on me. You see, with baking, as with everything in life I guess, one must be ready to adjust and work with what one has. It’s very easy to buy loads of equipment/gadgets, only to be used once for one particular bake, then set aside and left unused for the rest of one’s life. I would buy a whole catering shop if I could, and in many ways, I try to limit what I buy (J would slightly disagree, but he’s a patient man, bless him); I must admit I still find it hard to resist that extra springform pan, or that lovely bundt tin with the gorgeous pattern – like those in the books!
I found the recipe for this cake in Cooking for Friends. (I have found a good compromise when it comes to recipe books: I buy them from Used sections, online or otherwise, as long as they are in good condition.) Skipping the majority of chapters, I went straight to the puddings and chocolates, as one usually does! You will find this as Coffee and almond crunch cake, but I opted to remove the “crunch” bit because the cake tin I used was too large and the crunch mixture didn’t hold on the top. So instead of purchasing another tin I used what I had. The topping didn’t work for me, but that didn’t stop me from making the actual cake, which is delicious. Here’s what I did.
- 170g unsalted butter, softened
- 170g golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon almond essence
- 100g ground almonds
- 4 tablespoons espresso, left to cool
- 100g self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- icing sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat the oven to 150ºC/Gas mark 2 (fan oven). Grease the base and sides of a 20-23 cm cake tin, preferably deep with a removable base.
In a large bowl beat the softened butter and sugar together until they turn light and airy. Then beat the eggs, one by one until just combined in the mixture, followed by the almond essence.
Gently fold in the ground almonds and half of the espresso.
Next sift the flour and baking powder, and using a spatula or a large stainless steel spoon fold these into the wet cake mixture. Add the rest of the coffee and be careful not to overmix the batter.
Tip the whole lot into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
This is a very light cake – really nice for the spring and summer months. Serve with ice-cream and/or some summer berries. (I am thinking that this recipe would also make lovely cupcakes or fairy cakes. Baking time will differ but I would say 10 to 15 minutes at 170ºC.) Enjoy!
(This recipe is adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking for Friends, HarperCollins, 2008.)