Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

365 Chocolate Celebration Cake

I created this cake from a mish-mash of different recipes and having seen an image from The Clandestine Cake Club’s cookbook with Smarties toppling out of the middle of the cake. It caught my imagination! What a great way to celebrate my ‘365 images that make me smile’ project (whereby I spent a year posting a picture captured each and every day that made me happy). I decided that my version would be all chocolate but I wanted a sponge that was light and fluffy, a butter cream that was rich and to finish it off, the opulence that comes with a thick coating of shiny chocolate. This cake, made for the first time here, did not disappoint and I think it is perfect for a celebration.

I’ve used Smarties, but chocolate buttons would work equally well or, if it’s going to be demolished in one day, fresh raspberries would be delightful!

Serves 16+

What you need…

2 x 20cm / 8” cake tins (spring form or loose-bottomed ideally), greased and lined on the bottom with parchment paper.

1 deep cookie cutter (I used a 7cm-wide one but you could use a wider one if you wanted more sweets hidden in the cake).

 340g unsalted butter, room temperature

340g caster sugar

6 eggs

1 dessertspoon vanilla extract

140g milk

225g self-raising flour

85g cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

for the chocolate butter cream and Smarties surprise

 50g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

100g unsalted butter, room temperature

200g icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225g Smarties

for the decoration

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350° / gas 4.

Using a food processor, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Whilst it’s still beating, add in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix in.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Then, add in the ingredients from the food processor and, using a balloon whisk, fold together all the ingredients until they are thoroughly blended. Divide the chocolate sponge mixture between the two cake tins.

Bake the sponges in the oven for 45 minutes until the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out dry.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tins and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the butter cream, made especially gorgeous by the use of the melted chocolate.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water. Gently melt the chocolate and then set aside until it is cool enough to touch.

In a separate bowl, sieve in the icing sugar and then beat together with the butter. Add the vanilla essence and then tip in the warm chocolate. Mix together using a small balloon whisk to ensure it is evenly and thoroughly blended. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Take your cookie cutter and cut a hole in the centre of each sponge, making sure the hole is in the same place in each sponge so that they will line up once assembled. From each cutout of sponge, slice a 1cm piece across, inserting one back into the bottom sponge.

Spread the butter cream evenly across the bottom sponge. Pop on the top sponge. Using a small spatula or palette knife spread more butter cream across the ‘join’ of the two sponges (so that the edge of the cake will look neat once the chocolate decoration is poured over).

Tip the Smarties into the hole in the middle of the cake and then pop the remaining 1cm deep sponge circle on the top, thus recreating a complete top sponge.

For the decoration, put the remaining broken chocolate in a heatproof bowl in a steamer over simmering water and gently melt. Once melted, mix in the butter. Drizzle over the cake until the top and the sides are covered evenly. Allow to set.

Serve to thrilled gasps as you cut into it when the Smarties tumble out and murmurs of appreciation when they eat it!

Tips…

There will be some melted chocolate left over – dip in some strawberries – great with an espresso after the main event!

Before I drizzle over the melted chocolate, I take a double piece of parchment paper with a circle cut out of the middle which is the same size as the sponges and pop it over the sponges so it is resting on the cake stand, effectively acting as a bib! When I’d finished drizzling (and making a considerable mess) I waited for the chocolate to set and then cut the parchment bib away revealing a spotless cake stand – marvellous!

How easy…

The 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake is very easy but it takes lots of time, mainly because you have to wait for the sponges to cool. If you’re in for the day and can potter about doing other things in between each stage of the cooking and assembly, perfect!

 

 

Baked Glazed Gammon

 

For many years now, we have reserved the baked gammon for Christmas Eve. When the present-wrapping is all done and all the preparation is finished for the big day, it’s time to sit down for hot gammon sandwiches in squishy, chunky fresh bread, washed down with a glass of fizz. The aroma of this wonderful dish cooking in its final stages is something I will always associate with Christmas but we do sneak it in a couple of other times throughout the year. The spirit of Christmas should be with us all year around, after all!

Serves 8 with left overs

What you need…

1 x unsmoked gammon joint, weighing about 4 kg

1 carrot, cut in half

1 onion, cut in half at root

1 celery stick

1 bay leaf

10 peppercorns

for the glaze

8 tablespoons good quality marmalade

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

2 tablespoons black treacle

A handful of cloves

What to do…

Soak the gammon overnight if you’re having it for lunch or all day if you are having it in the evening. Discard the soaking water before starting.

Put the gammon in a large saucepan, cover with water and add the carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, cover and then turn down the heat to a low simmer for 2¾.

Pre heat the oven to 180°c / 350f / gas 4

When the gammon is cooked, remove from the cooking water and set aside to drain.

Make the glaze by mixing all of the ingredients (except the cloves) together in a bowl.

Cut the rind off the gammon, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat diagonally in a criss-cross pattern and then stud with cloves all over. Put the gammon in a roasting tin, brush/spoon over the glaze and bake for about 30 minutes until sticky and golden. The smell will make you swoon! Serve your Baked Glazed Gammon with warm gorgeous doorstep bread and salted butter. Yummy!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

The easiest baked gammon recipe I have tried and soooooo delicious!

 

 

Broccoli, Anchovy and Garlic Pasta

We love pasta in our house as the number of recipes evidence! This one is a lovely, light and fresh dish with the vitamins of broccoli and the tangy edge provided by the garlic and anchovy. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese finishes it off perfectly! Really yummy!

Serves 4

What you need…

2 heads of broccoli

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

12-16 anchovy fillets, depending on your taste – I love them!

2 hot chillies, de-seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Dried pasta (see tip)

Sea Salt and black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What to do…

Chop the broccoli into florets, halving them if they are big ones.

Take a big saucepan and bring to the boil salted water. Add the pasta and cook following the instructions on the packet (mine normally takes about 12 minutes).

Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok to a medium heat, adding the garlic, anchovies and chillis, smashing up the anchovies as they warm up. Keep the oil warm but not spitting.

Four minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, add the broccoli florets to the pasta water.

Drain the pasta and broccoli and add them to them to the other pan, tossing them in the oil. Season to taste and serve with a generous your broccoli, anchovy and garlic pasta with a sprinkling of Parmesan. Quite simply delicious!

Tip…

I tend to use gluten-free pasta, simply because it doesn’t weigh down my digestive system like the normal option. Eating pasta with gluten makes me feel uncomfortably full and also very tired at the end of the meal – capable of doing nothing but collapsing in front of the TV. Gluten-free definitely suits me better.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy….

Ever so! Great lunch or quick supper

Lemon Polenta Cake with Rosemary Syrup

My absolute favourite dessert: the sponge is soaked in sweet rosemary syrup – a perfect foil to the summer raspberries piled up in the middle and the clean, crisp Greek yogurt it’s served with. Once tried, this recipe will be with you forever!

Serves 10-12

What you need…

175g polenta

50g plain flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoon plain yogurt

5 tablespoon rapeseed oil plus extra for greasing

Grated rind of two lemons

2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 eggs, plus 2 egg whites

600g caster sugar

400ml water

3 heaped teaspoons dried rosemary

Fresh raspberries

Greek yogurt to serve

What to do…

Heat oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Sift polenta, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Place yogurt, oil, lemon rind and juice into a jug and stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and egg whites with 200g of the sugar for a few minutes until creamy. Beat in the yogurt mixture until smooth and then fold in the dry ingredients until just combined – don’t overmix.

Pour the mixture into a 1.2 litre/2-pint lightly oiled ring cake tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a thin skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Meanwhile, place the remaining 400g of sugar in a pan with 400ml water and the rosemary. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool completely and then strain through a sieve.

When the cake is cooked, place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then ease a blunt knife around the outside to separate the cake from the tin. Invert cake onto a serving plate.

When completely cool, prick all over with a thin skewer and, using a tablespoon, drizzle over half the rosemary syrup so that it completely soaks into the cake, making it lovely and moist (tip: this part can take quite a while – I do it slowly, sometimes whilst watching TV).

Pour the remaining rosemary syrup into a pretty serving jug and pop in the fridge until ready to use.

Tip raspberries into the hole in the middle and serve your lemon polenta cake with rosemary syrup with dollops of Greek yogurt and the chilled rosemary syrup. Decorate with rosemary sprigs if desired. Divine!

Inspired by…

The Top 100 Recipes from the Food & Drink Series

How easy…

Really easy – a pleasure to create and so stunning on the eye and the taste buds!

Chicken Breasts and Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Tarragon and Paprika Sauce

One of my favourite supper dishes to share with family and friends, it’s easy to prepare, light and really flavoursome

Serves 4

What you need…

5-6 skinless chicken breasts

8 tablespoons lemon juice

2 rounded teaspoons paprika

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped

Knob of butter

12-14 sun-dried tomatoes

300ml double cream

Salt

Chilli powder

Bunch of rocket leaves to garnish

What to do…

Put lemon juice, paprika, garlic and tarragon in a bowl, mix together.

Slice chicken and add to mixture. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes at least.

Melt butter in a large, deep frying pan/wok.

Add chicken mixture and cook gently for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, slice the sundried tomatoes in half.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from pan and set aside.

Bubble pan juices fiercely for two minutes, reducing slightly.

Remove from heat and slowly stir in the double cream.

Bring the mixture back to the boil and boil for 2-3 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.

Season with salt and chilli. Return chicken to pan and add in sundried tomatoes and warm through.

Serve chicken breasts and sun-dried tomatoes with tarragon and paprika sauce with rocket scattered over. It goes really well with some garlicky pasta on the side or garlic-fried green vegetables such as shredded cabbage and leek. Lovely!

Inspired by…

Josceline Dimbleby, The Almost Vegetarian Cookbook

How Easy…

One of the few main courses that I can produce whilst chatting to visiting friends – I normally have to focus completely on the cooking!

Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Orange Cake

This dark, unbelievably rich cake feels like a sin to eat – it’s just sooooo naughty. The other joy of it is that it is very easy to make, so spectacular from every aspect really.

Serves 12

What you need…

200g butter, softened

A little plain flour

175g soft dark brown sugar

Zest and juice of 1 orange

3 large eggs

200g self-raising flour

25g cocoa powder

1 tsp ground ginger

25g dark chocolate, grated

for the syrup

50g golden caster sugar

Juice of 1 orange

50ml water

for the decoration

75g butter

125g dark chocolate, chopped

1 tsp ground ginger

25g white chocolate

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350f / gas 4. Grease a 20cm ring tin and dust it with the plain flour.

Using a food processor or electric mixer, whisk the butter, sugar and orange zest in large bowl until the mixture is soft, creamy and lighter in colour.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time, then add in the self-raising flour, cocoa, ginger, dark chocolate and orange juice. Mix everything together until smooth. Spoon into the tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the sugar into a pan with the orange juice and 50ml cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until syrupy.

With a skewer or cocktail stick, pierce the cake all over the top, then pour over the syrup. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To decorate, melt the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl in a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water;  then mix in the butter until dissolved. Mix in the ground ginger.

Drizzle over the cake and allow to set for 10 minutes. Melt the white chocolate, also in a steamer over boiling water, then drizzle over the dark chocolate and leave to set. Your dark chocolate, ginger and orange cake is ready to take it’s place at the centre of the table!

Serve this wonderfully rich cake with a spoonful of double cream. If you’d rather a lighter, dairy-free alternative, mix together some soya natural yogurt with runny honey and a wee dram of Limoncello. Lurvvelly!!!

Inspired by…

Harrods Magazine – yes, seriously!

How easy…

Dead easy to make this spectacular cake that wouldn’t look out of place at a celebration

 

 

Apple and Almond Cake with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

A lovely, moist cake with a layer of apple running through the middle, this cake simply exudes Autumn for me and the combination of the apple with the cinnamon and nutmeg is made in heaven!

Serves 12

What you need…

3 Granny Smith apples

6 large eggs

335g dark soft brown sugar

335g butter

340g self-raising flour

55g ground almonds

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons good-quality apple sauce

for the decoration

2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Icing sugar

Ground cinnamon

What to do…

Grease a 10in/25cm round cake tin (with a removable bottom for easy cake extraction) and preheat oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Put the eggs, sugar and butter into a food processor/electric mixer and mix thoroughly.

Add the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg and apple sauce, mixing together until lump-free.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples.

Arrange one third of the sliced apples around the bottom of the tin – fanned and slightly overlapping. Pour half the batter on top and then arrange a second third of the apples. Pour over the remaining batter and then arrange the rest of the apples. Scatter over a handful of flaked almonds.

Bake for 60 – 75 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then ease out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Mix together the icing sugar and cinnamon in an icing sugar shaker and dust over the top of the cake with the remaining flaked almonds. Your yummy, gorgeous apple and almond cake with cinnamon and nutmeg is now ready to be indulged: kettle on, comfy chair, some relaxing music and a slice of delicious cake: a little indulgence goes a long way!

Where from…

Chinskitchen.co.uk, published in The Daily Telegraph

How easy…

Dead easy. Process and let it cook itself!

 

 

 

 

Mixed Pepper Salad

Salads have become a bit of a thing for me and I’m renowned for creating something a bit different. Gone are the days of lettuce, cucumber and a bit of tomato! This mixed pepper salad has a warm, Mediterranean feel to it and brings sunshine to any plate!

Serves 4 as a side dish

What you need…

3 bell peppers (different colours), sliced

2 courgettes, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Splash of olive oil

10/12 asparagus spears, trimmed

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

A handful of basil leaves

A handful of lettuce leaves

for the dressing

1 tablesp olive oil

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

What to do…

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Grab a deep, heatproof bowl and tip in the peppers and courgettes with the garlic and olive oil. Mix together and pop in the oven.

After 30 minutes, remove peppers from oven (they should just be beginning to char at the edges) and add asparagus. Stir in and pop back into the oven.

After a further 15-20 minutes (until the asparagus are cooked but not shrivelling) remove from oven, stir in cherry tomatoes and put to one side:. The tomatoes will soften in the heat of the oven-cooked vegetables as they gently cool to room temperature.

Just before you are ready to eat, take a salad bowl and mix together the dressing by stirring the ingredients together. Tip in the cooked vegetables, including the cooking juices into the bowl. Top with the basil leaves and lettuce. Mix everything together and serve, ideally with a barbecue.

Tips…

The quantities of each vegetable are purely personal – change according to taste. Lettuce leaves can be substituted with your salad leaves of choice, e.g. rocket, chicory.

I leave combining the dressing with the actual salad until we sit down at the table, thus avoiding soggy leaves!

How easy…..

Couldn’t be easier: a bit of chopping, a bit of wandering off whilst things are in the oven and a bit of mixing!

Espresso Martini

Discovered by my son when we went out to dinner to celebrate exam results, the wonderful Espresso Martini presents itself in all innocence but it is, in reality, deliciously naughty and has the potential to knock your socks off!

Serves 2

What you need…

100ml vodka

70ml Kalhua/coffee liqueur

2 shots espresso coffee

Ice

Cocktail shaker

Two Martini glasses

What to do…

Pop the Martini glasses in the freezer whilst you make the cocktail.

Tip all the ingredients into the cocktail shaker and shake, shake, shake, smashing up the ice in the process and making this cocktail fabulously chilled.

Pour into your Martini glasses and watch as the cocktail separates to top the dark lushness with a creamy espresso top. Pass one glass to your drinking companion, sip and indulge. Delicious and soooooo naughty. A rich, sweet ice-cold coffee with a tangible kick. The only problem is that it’s quite difficult to put the glass down – just one more sip…

One, however, is probably enough!

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver has published the recipe together with a lovely anecdote as to its creation but we first tried it at the Windsor Grill.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/how-to-make-espresso-martini/#5PRtRiJY4pj2CjL6.97

http://www.windsorgrill.co.uk

How Easy…

Ridiculously!

Scrumptious Risotto

There is something wonderfully satisfying and calming about making risotto – it needs time to do it properly but isn’t complicated. And then there’s the sheer pleasure of eating it – it definitely fits into the ‘comfort food’ category.

 

Risotto Bianco -the basis for all my risottos

Serves 6

What you need…

1.1 litres stock (chicken, fish or veg, as appropriate)

2 tablesp. olive oil

a knob of butter

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

4 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped

400g risotto rice

300ml dry white wine

Sea salt & black pepper, to taste

What to do…

Heat the stock. Put the olive oil and butter into a separate pan and add the onion, garlic and celery. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes without colouring. This is called a ‘soffrito’. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute, it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring – it will smell fabulous!

Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat and simmer so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 15 minutes. Taste the rice to check that it is cooked. If not, carry on adding stock (or boiling water if you’ve run out) until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Check seasoning.

Remove from the heat. For a basic risotto, add 70g butter and 115g freshly grated Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to stand for 2-5 minutes. This is one of the most important elements of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it comes amazingly oozy, like it should be. Serve and enjoy that beautiful creamy texture.

Variations…

Seafood Risotto

Use fish stock. When you have just two final ladlefuls of stock to go, add in four scallops, sliced horizontally, and 2 fillets of salmon, skinned and chopped into cm-sized chunks plus, a handful of clams and/or mussels if you fancy.

Once you have removed the risotto from the heat, squeeze in half a lemon’s juice and 250g raw prawns, stir well to make sure all the prawns are totally covered by the hot rice. As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 mins before serving. Bellissimo!

Mint, Asparagus, Peas & Lemon Risotto (pictured)

Use vegetable stock. Trim and cook 400g asparagus in boiling, salted water until al dente. Chop 1 tablesp. mint.

When you have just two final ladlefuls of stock to go, add in the al dente asparagus, chopped mint and a couple of handfuls of frozen petit pois. Squeeze in juice from half a lemon and stir well.

As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 minutes before serving. Delish!

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Use vegetable stock. Fry 200g wild mushrooms (cleaned and torn up) in a splash of hot oil for a minute or two until they begin to colour. Season with salt and pepper. Add 4-5 cloves chopped garlic, a small bunch thyme leaves and 1 tablesp. butter and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes.

Once you have removed the risotto from the heat, add the Parmesan and butter as per Risotto Bianco and stir in 1 small bunch finely chopped flat-leaf parsley. Add the mushroom mixture, squeeze in juice from half a lemon and stir well. As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 mins before serving. Divine!

Tip…

Dried porcini work fabulously in this risotto. You just need to remember pop them in boiling water for 20 minutes before cooking with them.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

Really, really easy as long as you have the time to let the rice become oozy and the flavours develop.