Thursday, 29 December 2011

Incredibly Easy Chocolate Fruit Cake by Nigella Lawson

This recipe has been taken from the book Nigella Christmas, and adapted to what was available in the pantry. After watching Nigella prepare this delicious looking cake on her Christmas TV series, I was instantly transfixed and absolutely had to make it. So on (my regular cookbook supplier) I went. However the book only arrived after Christmas so here it is for you to enjoy- better late than never!

Incredibly Easy Chocolate Fruit Cake

Serves 10-12
350g prunes, chopped (I used a mezzaluna to chop- much easier)
150g raisins (the recipe says 250g but didn’t have enough so substituted with the currants)
275g currants
175g soft butter
175g dark cane sugar
225g honey
125ml Kahlua (the recipe says Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur)
Juice and finely grated zest of three small oranges
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 eggs, beaten
150g plain flour
75g ground almonds
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Decoration- I just used dessert almonds and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Preheat oven to 150°C and line a 20cm round, loose-bottomed cake tin.
Put fruits, butter, sugar, honey, Kahlua, orange juice and zest, spice and cocoa powder into a large saucepan and gently bring to boil.
Simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

Once cooled, add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almond, baking powder and baking soda, and stir to combine.
Pour fruit cake mixture into prepare cake tin. Place in oven and bake for 1 ¾-2 hours hours. 

After this time the top of the cake should be firm but have a shiny sticky look. (I followed these instructions but felt that the cake looked a little over cooked- harder and darker around the edges. Would probably recommend to go on the lighter side for oven time.)
Put the cake (still in its tin) on a wire cooling rack. Once cool, take it out of the tin. If you don’t want to eat it immediately, wrap in greaseproof paper and then foil. Store in an airtight container.
Nigella says you can make this cake up to 2 weeks ahead and store it in an airtight container, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Verdict: Delicious (as predicted). As you can see, it didn’t last long!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Spring tomato and grilled asparagus pasta- Spring Recipe Competition entry

This recipe is one of the main inspirations behind my blog. My good friend Zo organised the Spring Recipe Competition through her amazing blog Two Spoons. After entering, and consequently winning, I woke up to the potential of food blogs and the audience you can reach. I hope that others will be encouraged to share their recipes, experiences or comments.

This simple and delicious recipe is perfect for those with limited time and cooking abilities. It incorporates local produce that can be easily purchased on a sunny Spring Saturday morning from the Christchurch Farmers Market.

Spring tomato and grilled asparagus pasta

Serves 3-4

1 bunch of baby asparagus (from Christchurch Farmers Market) – Broadfield
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
250g Penne pasta
5 medium tomatoes (from Christchurch Farmers Market) – Milly Satchel
5 tsp extra virgin olive oil + 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, whisked
3 cloves smoked garlic, sliced (from Christchurch Farmers Market) – The Original Smoke and Spice Co
2 pinches chilli flakes or more- depending on how much spice you like!
Italian parsley, finely chopped

Parboil asparagus for 5 minutes
Heat 1tsp oil in a griddle pan (or similar) and grill asparagus on high for approx. 5 minutes.
Bring salted water to the boil, add pasta and cook for 12 minutes, then drain.
Cut tomatoes into 1/8ths
Fry sliced smoked garlic in a dash of extra virgin olive oil until lightly browned
Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss until lightly coated
Top with shavings of parmesan cheese if desired
Easy as that!