Friday, 19 August 2011

Vintage: Lavender Lemonade & Chocolate Fudge Cake

This chocolate fudge cake was not only my favourite cake when I was younger, but also the only cake I could and would bake. I remember making it at the weekend and then, if it hadn’t all been eaten, I’d eat slithers swamped in cream while curled up on the sofa after school in the week. The recipe, which is covered in chocolate splatters, is by Mary Berry whose Ultimate Cake Book was the only cookery book I knew existed until about the age of twelve! Its so simple and delicious, using only 5 store cupboard ingredients, foregoing the need for expensive cooking chocolate, unsalted butter and all the other high maintenance ingredients modern cakes seem to require. 

Here's the recipe in all its messy glory!

I also made some lavender lemonade which was a lovely way of using the fast vanishing lavender in the garden. 

Lavender Lemonade Recipe

  • Wash 15g Lavender Heads and place in a Saucepan with 500ml Boiling Water. Simmer for 2 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave to steep for ten minutes. Strain.
  • Add 150g Caster Sugar and stir to dissolve. Add 2 Pints Cold Water and the juice of 5 Lemons. Then strain again to remove pips and pith. 
  • Add more water to taste and serve with ice. 

    Finally, here is another old-fashioned recipe - Smoked Cod's Roe Taramasalata. It tastes completely better and different to the shop bought dip. 

    • Soak 225g Smoked Cod's Roe in cold water for 2 hours. Then drain, run under water and peel off the skin. 
    • Put the Roe in a large bowl and mash with a fork. Then, whilst beating with an electric whisk, slowly pour in the juice of 1 Lemon. Then do the same with 150ml Olive Oil and 150ml of Groundnut or other flavourless oil, beating until the mixture becomes solid and rides in stiff peaks. 
    • Now beat in about 55ml Boiling Water to make a mousse consistency. 
    • Stir in 1 crushed Garlic Clove and a handful of chopped Parsley and serve on toast or crackers. 

      Tuesday, 9 August 2011

      Ricotta Stuffed Courgette Flowers

      I've always wanted to try stuffed courgette flowers, but they are not readily available to buy, so I was perhaps overly excited when I saw half a dozen of the bright yellow flowers poking out of the vegetable patch at the holiday cottage I’m staying in.

      Deciding to fill them with Ricotta, I added seasoning, chopped Chives and Mint from the garden and the juice and zest of a Lemon. Stuffing them with a teaspoon was a bit tricky as they are very delicate, but I found that even if the flower split, this didn’t matter as when you twisted the petals to seal, it all stayed together. I made a batter using 1 cup of Self Raising Flour and then whisked in Wine until a double cream consistency. White wine is probably best but I only had rose which worked fine, I’ve heard fizzy water is also good.

      To fry I heated about an inch deep of Sunflower Oil in a deep frying pan until a drop of batter turned golden. Then I dipped each flower into the batter and carefully dropped them into the hot oil. They took about 20 seconds on each side to become golden, and when finished I laid on kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.

      The finished flower was delicious, the crunchy outside giving way to oozing ricotta. Piled in a bowl with Chive flowers and a Lemon wedge to squeeze over, they made a lovely appetizer.

      N.B. I found that to stuff 5 flowers I used about half a tub of Waitrose Ricotta.