Monthly Archives: May 2016

Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake

There’s a tradition in this house that at 6pm on a Friday evening, John and I will convene at our bar (!) for a G&T and review of the week’s activities. Call it an excuse if you like but it is our official and very enjoyable end to the week and beginning of the weekend. Anyway, this week an unfortunately planned 7.30pm appointment that involved driving put paid to this long-standing custom but all was not lost – my friend, Dawn had alerted me to a recipe for a G&T cake and coincidentally, I found the basis for this one on Friday morning. Clearly, a ‘meant to be’ recipe, tried, tasted and thoroughly enjoyed as a preamble to the delayed drinkie session. The freshness of the lime works really well with the gentle background flavour of gin. It’s dead easy to knock up and a great alternative adult version to a traditional drizzle cake – give it a bash – cheers!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 900g loaf tin, lightly buttered and lined with parchment paper

200g unsalted butter, cubed

200g caster sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

200g self-raising flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Zest of 1 large lime, finely grated

75ml gin

for the syrupy topping

125g caster sugar

125ml tonic water

3½ tablespoons gin

Juice of 1 large lime

25g granulated sugar

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 F / gas 4.

In your food processor, combine the butter and caster sugar to create a pale, light, fluffy mixture. Whilst still whizzing, gradually tip in the egg. When fully incorporated, tip in the flour, baking powder and lime zest. Whizz again until evenly incorporated. Pour in the gin and whizz again to evenly disperse.

Tip the mixture into your loaf tin and pop into the oven to bake for 55 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the sponge is a lovely golden brown.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrupy topping. Gently heat the caster sugar and tonic water in a small pan, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lime juice and gin, stir and set aside to cool.

Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and pop tin on a cooling rack and leave from 10-15 minutes until the cake is warm rather than hot.

Prick over the top of the cake with a skewer.

Mix together the cooled syrup with the remaining granulated sugar – you don’t want this to dissolve – the crunch of this sugar on the top of the cake is part of the lusciousness of it!

Pour the syrup over the top of the cake whilst it is still in its tin. It will look like there’s too much but if you pour slowly, it will all ‘fit’. Walk away and decide where you are going to enjoy your first slice of just-warm G&T cake.

Come back 10-15 minutes later and the lemon drizzle topping will have largely disappeared – it’s gone into the cake (with the help of your skewering) to ensure that it is wonderfully moist throughout.

When it’s cool rather than cold, loosen the sides away from the tin and lift out, using the paper. Dispense with the parchment paper and serve your delicious Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake in lovely fat slices! Raise a forkful and enjoy – cheers!

Inspired by…

My friend, Dawn, from whom both of her recipe suggestions seem to have been alcohol-based…..and then Good Housekeeping magazine (but I did completely change the syrupy element)

How easy…

As ever with these delicious drizzle cakes, delightfully effortless!

 

Zingy, Fresh Asian-Inspired Salad with Asparagus and Crayfish

Salad days are here – yippppeee and lordy, lordy, lordy, this salad is spectacular: it’s zingy and fresh and its fabulous tastes and textures demand your attention. Eat it by itself or serve with fish: terikayi tuna is ideal but also, try this salad on the side of a lovely roasted salmon fillet – maybe with a wedge of lime on the side. I’ve changed the original recipe by adding a few extra ingredients, most notably the crayfish tails (they were on offer) but equally you could add prawns, smoked salmon or even hot, seared scallops. Anyway, it’s just lovely! I’ve never understood why people think salad is boring – this one will knock your socks off – give it a go!

Serves 2 (this is based on the quantities used to make up the marinade – if you’re creating salad for more people, just increase the quantities accordingly).

What you need…

for the salad

A selection of salad leaves: handfuls each of red chicory, rocket, spinach and baby gem work well but really, it’s whatever takes your fancy and is in the fridge

5cm chunk of cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

Handful of mint leaves, torn

Handful of coriander, chopped

250g asparagus, trimmed

125g crayfish tails or prawns (optional)

for the salad dressing

1 lime, juice only

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 dessertspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon palm sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or Tamari if you would prefer gluten-free)

1 red bird eye chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped

What to do…

Pop the asparagus into boiling, water and cook for 2 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh with cold water and drain again. Set aside to cool.

Put all your salad dressing ingredients into a screw-topped jar, tighten the lid and shake vigorously until mixed thoroughly together.

When you’re ready to eat, take a large pretty bowl, chuck in your cucumber, tomatoes, all your salad leaves, herbs, asparagus and crayfish tails . Tip over the dressing and mix together. That’s it! Serve and enjoy this absolutely wonderful salad with a lovely crisp dry white wine. And relax….

Tip…

If you’re not too sure about the kick of the chilli, use just half, rather than a whole one

Inspired by…

Watching James Martin and Mary Berry, separately, and then doing my own thing.

How easy…

Well, it’s salad so it’s not hard is it?!

 

Fantasy Cake

You know how the first sunshine of summer works – you sit outside in April or May after months and months of cold, grey, wet winter (and spring) days and you feel those first wonderfully warm rays sink into your bones – all is well with the world. Well, making and eating this cake is a similar experience: it’s best enjoyed warm – the sponge is moist and the deliciously gooey, sweet strawberries deliver summer direct to all of your senses – one of my favourite recipes from Lisa Faulkner’s book, ‘Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter’. Just lovely!

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper on the bottom

175g unsalted butter, softened

150g caster sugar

150g self-raising flour

2 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

100g ground almonds

1 teaspoon almond essence

400g strawberries, hulled and halved

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

Preheat oven to 160°c / 325°f, gas 3.

Using a food processor, whizz together all the ingredients except the strawberries and icing sugar.

Stir in the fruit, reserving a handful for decorating.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put the remaining handful of fruit on top of the cake.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 1-1¼ hours. To test if it is cooked, pierce the cake with a skewer – if it is clean when you pull it out, the cake is cooked. If not, pop it back in for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Turn the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool and then dust with icing sugar. It’s most gorgeous served just as its turning from warm to room temperature, ideally outside enjoying early summer sunshine.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Really easy and it comes with a sense of well-being!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiramisu

Delicious, decadent, rich and boozy, this Italian coffee and chocolate-based ‘trifle’ is Connagh’s absolute favourite dessert. It is totally indulgent and you know without any doubt that you are being spectacularly naughty when that first spoonful goes down. It is not unusual in this house for those indulging to enjoy second and third portions. Utterly divine – life would be incomplete without this dessert taking centre stage on our table on a regular basis – loosen your waistband and give it a go!

Serves Connagh on his own or 12 generous portions

What you need…

1 x pretty trifle bowl

6 egg yolks

150g caster sugar

1000g mascarpone cheese

170ml Kahlua or coffee liqueur

400 ml cold, strong coffee

28 (up to) boudoir biscuits (sponge fingers)

50g plain chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Place the egg yolks in a bowl with the caster sugar and beat together until pale and thickened, using an electric handheld whisk. Add the mascarpone and whisk slowly until it is evenly incorporated. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the coffee liqueur and whisk gently to combine.

Mix the coffee with the remaining coffee liqueur in a shallow dish. Dip each of the sponge fingers into the coffee and liqueur liquid and arrange in your serving bowl to cover the bottom. Gently plop over one third of the mascarpone mixture to cover the sponge fingers and then sprinkle on a layer of grated chocolate. Repeat these layers two further times, ending up with the sprinkled chocolate on the top. I use less chocolate on the top, preferring a lighter coverage for a prettier finish.

Cover your tiramisu with cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours but 24 hours if possible to let the flavours develop into their optimum lusciousness.

To serve, take your tiramisu out of the fridge about an hour before you want to indulge – fabulous!

Tiramisu 2 w

Tips…

The number of boudoir biscuits isn’t set in stone and depends on the size and shape of your trifle bowl.

If you have a wide, shallow bowl, it may only be possible to create 2 layers rather than the 3 I’ve done here – it doesn’t make any difference – it will still be fab.

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Simple and also, relaxing to assemble.