I have abstained from baking, particularly cakes for the last few weeks. Well one can only abstain for so long! It was a long weekend here last week and I wanted to make a cake! You would imagine that I would have known exactly what to bake but that was not the case, choosing which cake proved to be a hard decision. Lots of recipe perusing left me with a craving for an orange cake, lots more perusing led me to the discovery of orange and cardamom cakes! After all this perusing I was out of time and now didn’t have all the ingredients for any of the cakes I found so I improvised, using my Lemon Olive Oil cake recipe but swapping orange and cardamom for lemon and making my own buttermilk as I forgot to buy yoghurt! I could not have been more disorganised if Id tried!
Despite my disorganisation this cake was a triumph! Orange and cardamom are a match made in heaven! The smell of the fresh ground cardamom and the orange zest is amazing, if ever I get around to making my own body scrub this will be the scent I use! The cake is light and fluffy and very moist.
note : Making your own buttermilk, if you don’t have any, is really easy! Just stir 1 tbsp of lemon juice into 1 cup of milk, it will begin to thicken almost immediately, leave for 10 minutes and use instead buttermilk
Orange Cardamom Cake
- 200 grams (1 cup) caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- zest of 1 large orange (unwaxed if you can)
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 eggs
- 220 grams (1.5 cups) self-raising flour
- 20o mls (3/4 cup) buttermilk
- 155 mls (2/3 cup) olive oil
- Pre heat your oven to 180 C, 350 F, Gas 4. Grease and base line a loaf tin.
- Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind until powdery using a pestle and mortar. Add to the sugar with the orange zest and using your fingers mix together well, this releases the oils in the zest and makes a wonderful fragrant mix.
- Whisk together the orange, cardamom sugar and the eggs, adding the eggs one at a time. I use my stand mixer for this.
- Mix in the buttermilk.
- Mix in the olive oil.
- Fold in the flour.
- Pour into prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
This is a new (to me) way of serving cauliflower. I had seen the term “cauliflower rice” used by foodies on twitter and initially thought it was cauliflower and rice! A little more investigation proved that it was a completely different way to serve cauliflower! The cauliflower is blitzed in a food processor until it resembles rice (more like bulgur if you ask me but it is small!). It wasn’t until I began my Whole30 that I decided to give Cauliflower Rice a try as a different vegetable side dish. Its fabulous and now my favourite way to serve cauliflower! There is something much more satisfying about the texture of cauliflower served like this to those of us avoiding carb side dishes, it really is like eating a bulgur/ cous cous type dish.
I had read that cauliflower prepared this way bears no resemblance to cauliflower at all. I decided to try this out and made it without telling my brassica hating husband what it was, I thought the smell may give it away as there was a definite brassica hint but my husband didn’t seem to notice and was fooled into tasting it! I can’t say he was all that impressed but even he had to admit that he didn’t know it was cauliflower and I can’t believe he tried it, I think with even more herbs he may be tempted to try it again! I’ve tried adding various herb combinations and all have been good, it’s even good just straight up with garlic and onion.
If like me you are dining on this alone it freezes and reheats well.
- 1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- (optional) herbs of your choice
- 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander and 1/2 a chopped red chilli
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- Put the cauliflower florets into a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is in tiny pieces, this takes about 20 seconds (honestly!)
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and quickly stir until fragrant.
- Add the cauliflower pieces to the onions, turn down the heat a little and stir well.
- Cover and stirring occasionally cook for around 5- 10 minutes until the cauliflower has softened but retains some bite.
- Add any herbs you may be using, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
My friend, Liz, recently posted her recipe for Gazpacho. It looks wonderful but if I’m honest Gazpacho isn’t something I eat as I have an issue with cold soup. I confess I can’t really even bring myself to try it. I’ve had shots of cold soup while dining out which was fine and I wish I felt differently but a whole bowl, for a meal isn’t really for me. As I was reading Liz’ recipe I was inspired and found myself thinking that all of those lovely ingredients would make a great salad! Of course I’m not the first to have this idea but as salad is my go to lunch at the moment I thought Id try this idea out and I’m glad I did! It made a delicious, fast lunch. It was nice to have a salad without any leaves for a change!
This Gazpacho salad is made in a jiffy! Chop all of the ingredients, whisk together the dressing and its done, you have the base of a meal in just a few minutes! I left the skin on my cucumber, partly as I like it that way but I also think the crunch it adds is nice. The chilli is to my taste, it can easily be left out or increased. I used oregano as it was to hand. I will try with dill next time but I think any fresh green herb would work. To get the maximum flavor from the tomatoes use them at room temperature. This is especially important at this time of year when tomatoes are decidedly less tasty! Tomatoes stored in the fridge have no flavour. I had salmon with my salad but this Gazpacho salad is the perfect side to fish, prawns (shrimp), chicken or bread!
Gazpacho Salad (serves 2)
- 2 large tomatoes. chopped
- 3 inch piece of cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, diced finely
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1/4 fresh chilli or some chilli flakes
for the dressing
- 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife
- 2.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- some fresh oregano leaves, chopped finely
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- First assemble the ingredients for the dressing. Peel and smash the garlic clove and put into a jug or jar. Add the olive oil and vinegar and leave to sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Chop the rest of the salad ingredients and add to a bowl.
- Fish the garlic out of the olive oil and discard. Add the salt and pepper and whisk together.
- Pour over the salad ingredients in the bowl and stir well to cover all the vegetables in the dressing, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve at room temperature accompanied with bread, salmon, chicken, or prawns (shrimp).
My posts are so infrequent at the moment one would be forgiven for wondering if I have stopped eating! Truth is I’m doing my first Whole 30 and although its going well (I’m on day 27!) I have found myself in the pattern of eating pretty much the same few meals on rotation, although it is a little boring its made my life the last month easier.
I made these canapes for guests at Easter and luckily remembered to take a picture, admittedly only when all the best looking ones had been eaten! So apologies for my “keeping it real” themed picture!
These canapes are just the easiest thing ever! Just 3 ingredients, it’s hardly even a recipe. I saw the idea in a magazine advertisement years ago and I have made them ever since when I want to produce a quick canape that tastes good and looks like I’ve made an effort. The original recipe called for Port Salut cheese, a mild semi soft French cheese made from cows milk. It used to be easy enough to get in the UK but this time I had to go to 2 supermarkets to find mine. If you can’t get hold of Port Salut, I think Muenster or Gouda work instead.
Couldn’t be Easier Cheese and Cherry Tomato Canapes
- 1 pack puff pastry
- 1 tbsp of butter, melted
- 2 packs of Port Salut cheese, cut into thin slices
- 12 cherry tomatoes, each sliced in half
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220 C, 425 F, Gas 7. Grease a mini tart tin with the melted butter.
- Roll out the puff pastry and using a small cutter cut out 24 circles.
- Put the pastry circles into the mini tart tin, pushing the pastry down to line the bottoms of the tin.
- Place a slice of cheese into each pastry round. some of the slices cut at the wider end of the cheese will need trimming to fit into the pastry.
- Top each piece of cheese with a cherry tomato half.
- Give each tart a grind of black pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry has browned, some of the tomatoes will be starting to caramelise. You can at this stage take out the browner ones leaving the rest to cook a little more, I find they never cook evenly.
- Place onto a serving platter and serve at room temperature.
Lemon brownies, who knew? I recently came across them on Pinterest and couldn’t believe I had never heard of them! I love brownies and I love lemon, of course that would be a good combination, why hadn’t I thought of it before! All the recipes I found were in cups so I did a bit of converting, added a bit more lemon and made these to serve with coffee at Easter. They are so easy to make, I love cakes that come together quickly with the minimum of fuss and these certainly fit that bill. I think I like them even more than chocolate brownies and my husband who doesn’t like brownies at all (imagine!) loved these! They are moist yet light and the lemon is strong without been overpowering, these are my new go to cake! Well they will be when I bake again! I’m having a baking break at the moment, all that baking is not good for a girls waistband!
- 115 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 125 grams plain flour
- 2 lemons, unwaxed if possible as you will need the zest
For the glaze
- 100 grams icing sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat your oven to 180C, 350F, Gas 4. Grease and base line your brownie pan, the pan I use measures 11 x 9 inches.
- Zest and juice your lemons. You will need the zest of one of the lemons and 2 tbsp of lemon juice for the cake mix and a further 2 tsp of zest and 2 tbsp of lemon juicefor the glaze. For the cake mix you will need 2 tbsp of juice and a further 2 tbsp for the glaze
- Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.
- Add the eggs, one a time mixing between additions.
- Add the lemon zest and juice.
- Fold the flour into the wet mixture.
- Pour into your prepared baking pan and bake for around 25 minutes until the top is golden and it is cooked through.
- Allow to cool completely in the pan.
- To make the glaze simply mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and zest.
- Spread the glaze over the brownie and cut into squares.
I haven’t been here for a long time! Sometimes even a food blogger can lose enthusiasm and get into that routine of making the same things over and over!
I don’t make a lot of pastry based dishes but I was having some people over and made this easy tart to have with drinks before dinner, it was such a success that I thought Id share it here. As I had a lot of other things also cooking I saved time by using shop-bought (pre rolled!) pastry for the tart base, if doing that I always use the all-butter version as the ingredients are the same as if you made it yourself. I also saved some time by baking the pastry case the day before.
This tart came together really easily and could easily be adapted by adding a different cheese or ham or some vegetables, asparagus would be great! It could also be lightened by using single cream. It would make a lovely lunch served with some salad or cut into much smaller slices serve, as I did, as a canape.
Easy Roasted Red Onion and Feta Tart
- Shortcrust pastry, (the ready rolled pastry sheet I used weighed 215 grams which was just enough to line my pie plate)
- 2 small red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 large eggs
- 300 ml double cream
- salt and pepper
- 100 grams feta cheese
- a sprig of thyme for scattering, a pinch of dried thyme would be fine too.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190C, 375F, Gas 5.
- Place your pastry onto your pie plate, trim the excess and prick the base. Cover the pastry with baking paper and put baking beans on top of that to blind bake your pastry case. If you don’t have baking beans a sheet of double foil pressed onto the pastry will do the job. Bake for 10 minutes then take out of the oven and remove the baking beans and paper. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden. This can be done ahead of time, even the day before.
- To make the tart filling, place your onion wedges onto a baking tray, toss in the olive oil and roast for around 20- 25 minutes, until the onions are just starting brown.
- While the onions are roasting beat the eggs in a medium bowl, add the cream, salt and pepper.
- Place the roasted onions onto the pastry case, pour over the egg and cream mix.
- Crumble the feta onto the tart filling and scatter with a few thyme leaves.
- Reduce the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas 4. Bake for 30 minutes, until set and golden brown.
- Serve at room temperature.
I’m not sure of the reason but recently madeleines seemed to be popping up everywhere! It wasnt long before those delicate, shell shaped cakes lodged themselves into my subconscience and finally I had to get the madeleine pan out and make some for myself! That shell shaped pan is one that I have rarely used, bought in a sale long ago it joined the bundt and other shaped baking pans in my cupboard, all coveted then once obtained, for some reason, rarely used!
When my friend Charlotte made madeleines she shared the tip that the madeleine batter should be chilled to improve the texture of them, this was news to me! My impatient nature had me seeking out madeleine recipes that didn’t require chilling but it seemed there was no escaping the chilling stage! I settled on Dorie Greenspan’s recipe (I’m a big fan of Dorie’s recipes) and it was actually really easy, I made up the batter in the morning and chilled my madeleines for 3 hours while I went out then I came home to bake them.
Once Id decided to make madeleines I knew the last of my Meyer lemons would be part of that recipe, I also had some browned butter in the fridge so thought Id use that too. I finished off with a little bit more Meyer lemon loveliness by brushing the finished madeleines with a lemon glaze. As I added that sweet glaze at the end I used less sugar in the madeleine mixture, I’ve been experimenting with less sugar in everything these days as my husband has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. I was really happy with my madeleines, the brown butter adds a lovely almost toasty taste ,which alongside the slightly sweeter Meyer lemon flavour is a lovely combination indeed! Of course I’m sure regular lemons and regular melted butter would also be delicious!
My husband (feeling very deprived of cakes due to his recent diabetes diagnosis) loved these and asked how long Id had that tin, when I told him his reply was “why have I only just had these now then”? Good question, maybe I was just looking for the right recipe!
Meyer Lemon & Brown Butter Madeleines (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe)
- 90 grams flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 75 grams caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- zest of one Meyer lemon
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 90 grams brown butter melted
For the Glaze
- 75 grams icing sugar
- 1.5 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
For the method
- To make the madeleines I used Dorie Greenspan’s method here
- For the brown butter simply melt the butter over medium heat until the butter turns nut-brown in colour, this takes around 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and pour the butter into a bowl. When you are ready to use your butter leave any burnt sediment behind.
- Once the madeleines have been removed from the tin, allow to cool for around 10 minutes. While they are cooling you can make the glaze by simply mixing the icing sugar, lemon juice and zest together.
- Using a pastry brush, brush some glaze on the shell patterned side of each madeleine. It’s not very thick so wont show very much but adds a lovely lemony finish.
This time last year I stumbled upon a challenge that really appealed to me. It was called the Urban Farm Challenge, a monthly blog challenge encouraging a simpler lifestyle relying more on local, organic (if possible) foods and making and growing your own food, even for city dwellers. It was to be a year of learning useful house-holding skills. I have always lived in cities but love the idea of country life and over the years have dabbled in growing my own vegetables and canning my own jams and chutneys, often from that home-grown produce! This challenge was just a step further, there was cheese making, foraging, making herbal teas and tinctures. I just loved the idea and got the book for my birthday, I love this book! Its co written by Anette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols, two of the most inspiring people! Both have families and are trying to live without supermarkets and the book is full of tips for gardening, composting, growing, preserving, city farming. There is advice on sourcing your own food suppliers, grinding your own grains. I loved this challenge and took part in most of the challenges although I must admit I was a bit of a fair weather partaker and did less of the winter challenges. Here is my round-up of my Urban Farm Challenge over the last year.
February: The challenge was soil improvement. I was late to the challenge but quickly ordered a composting bin with hope of making my own compost. Unfortunately the bin that arrived was huge, to big for my city garden so I donated it to a friend with an allotment and looked to the next challenge!
March: The challenge was home dairy, this was the challenge that I was most looking forward to! The idea of making my own cheese was completely new to me but I dove in and made lemon cheese, ricotta and mozzarella. I have made my own cheese several more times throughout the year and am inspired to try more, I’ve found this to be an area that I really want to explore!
April: The challenge was gardening and sowing your own seeds. Easy for me as I grow some type of vegetable each year. My Mother in law has an allotment and takes care of the plants for me, it’s an unbelievably lucky outcome for me and I’m so grateful to her for this! Among the regular vegetables I grow I also tried some different things as part of one of the challenges. I managed to seek out collard greens, not successful at all in the cool, wet summer we had,the snails got to the only tiny plant that survived! I also planted endive (chicory) another fail! The black futsu and Naples long pumpkins were much more successful as were the yellow courgettes (zucchini).
May: The challenge for May was foraging, not as easy as I thought! I’m too scared to try to find mushrooms on my own but I did make a dandelion salad foraged from my garden, I will admit that dandelion leaves are not the best thing I ever tasted but I am glad I tried!
June: This month the challenge was botanicals and all about making your own tinctures, balms and herbal infusions. I made chive blossom vinegar which I look forward to making again. I really wanted to try to make my own lotions but am a little ashamed to admit that I still have not tried this, maybe that will be one of this years “to try’s”.
July: Seed saving and looking forward to winter was the challenge this month, I did not take part as nothing was in flower yet. Due to the awful weather we had last summer everything was behind.
August: It was preserving this month, something I do each summer anyway. Small batch canning, cold storage, fermentation were all available to try using summers bounty. I always make jams, jellies and chutneys and last year was no different. Here is a selection of what I made pickled courgettes, peach pie preserves (so good!) and I tried fermentation with cucumber kimchi.
September: It was all about bartering this month, and swapping ones goods for those of another. One of the possible challenges was to hold a food swap, I love the idea of this and maybe one day I will try to arrange one, I just need to find enough fellow canners and growers! I don’t mean to go on about the awful summer we had last year but due to this I found I didn’t have an abundance of anything! I did manage one swap with a friend that had a bucket of plums for which I swapped some very large squash.
October: Protein was the theme this month, and we were free to choose our own challenges from hunting to growing your own beans. Time escaped me this month and I didn’t get around to taking part.
November: The challenge this month was about grains, using whole grains and even brewing with grain mash! This was a crazy month and despite my best intentions once again I missed this one, although using whole grains is something I try to do anyway.
December: This month handcrafted holidays was our task. With the recession this is something I have been seeing more and more of and I love the idea of this. I made my own vanilla and lemon salt to give as gifts. One of the gifts I had most fun with was to make up a basket and fill it with jam, chutney, lemon salt and vanilla I had made. This was a very successful, my friend loved her gift!
January: This was the wrap up month, but it was extended to February which is why I’m doing it now.
I had a great time with this challenge, I loved reading the book and trying new things. One day I hope to have a house with a little land where I can fulfill my Little House on The Prairie lifestyle dream! For now I will carry on enjoying some of the skills this challenge has taught me and hopefully pick up some more. Many thanks to Annette for organizing this and all the hard work she put into it, I had a blast!
Following the discovery that I could buy Meyer lemons here in the UK I found myself with said lemons and no idea what to make with them! I’m a terrible hoarder of my favourite things. Not a hoarder in the sense that have tons of stuff (I don’t!) but when I get something that I love I can’t bring myself to use it! So there I was with these lovely lemons and suddenly no recipe seemed to appeal to me as I didn’t want to use all my lemons! Before one gets the impression that I’m crazy I will get on with what I actually found to make! I had heard that Meyer lemons were so sweet the whole thing was edible! So this salad using the whole lemon, skin and all, was the perfect way to use one of my precious lemons without any waste!
It was lovely the day I made this salad, sunny and above 10 degrees, which possibly made me enjoy this even more! After a winter of soup this was such a treat as it was so summery and so healthy, it was the best salad I’ve eaten in a long time! It’s true you can eat the whole of a Meyer lemon! It’s a zesty and quite bitter (in a good way) salad. It certainly wakes up your taste buds and the spinach, feta and walnuts all balance it out adding their creamier, softer flavours. The more eagle-eyed of you may notice there are no walnuts in the picture! That is because I cut my finger while chopping the parsley for the salad and in my haste to finish so I could deal with the cut finger I forgot to add them for the picture!
It’s hard to find radicchio in all supermarkets, I get mine from the green grocer. I’m long aware of the difficulties in getting Meyer lemons in the UK so if you are unable to get a Meyer lemon a 1/4 of a pink grapefruit may make a substitute, although I haven’t tried that.
Radicchio and Meyer Lemon Salad (adapted from this recipe from Whole Living)
Ingredients (for 2)
- 1/2 a Meyer lemon, washed and chopped
- 1 small radicchio lettuce, sliced
- 1 shallot, chopped finely
- a handful of fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped
- 1 heaped tbsp of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Meyer lemon juice (the other half of the lemon was enough for this)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- 60 grams feta cheese, cut into cubes
- 30 grams walnuts, chopped
- Chop the lemon, radicchio, shallot, spinach and parsley. Add each to a bowl.
- Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together until combined. Add to the salad ingredients and mix well.
- Add the feta and walnuts and gently mix in to the rest of the ingredients.
- Serve immediately.
Blood oranges are quite spectacular, sometimes the orange has a blush of red on the skin hinting at the colour of the fruit inside. Other times the blood orange looks just like a regular orange and that will be the one that is crimson inside. It seems no two blood oranges are the same! The picture above is of my bag of blood oranges, all beautifully different! They have a wonderful flavour that is both sweet and tart, this makes them wonderful in marmalade. I’ve made more marmalade than ever this year, although I must say I think my citrus fest is about over!
I made this blood orange marmalade last year and loved it. I always start with a small batch which in this case was a mistake as I enjoyed it so much. I would have made more but the blood orange season had sadly ended. This is quite a sweet marmalade, which I really like. Marmalade made with blood oranges has a reputation for being difficult to set, when I made it last year I hadn’t heard that and made it without thinking, it turned out well although it was a much chunkier marmalade than I usually make and the peel turned out with an almost candied effect, not unpleasant but maybe not to everyone’s taste.
This year I used the new method I discovered when making my bergamot marmalade by cutting the fruit in half, boiling it then chopping and boiling with sugar I did however take more care with the peel and tried to chop the pulp really well to get a clearer marmalade. I used slightly less sugar than the weight of my boiled fruit as I felt blood oranges are so sweet already. I think next time I will try with even less sugar, of course if using less sugar when preserving this makes the end result less shelf stable and is probably not suitable for canning. I also tied up the pips and pith from the lemon I juiced into a piece of muslin and added it during the final stage to add some pectin and aid setting. This is a great tip I thought I would give a try after seeing it on the wonderful Food in Jars blog, in this great post offering marmalade tips Marissa said she sometimes adds lemon seeds to lower pectin citrus like blood oranges to help setting.
Blood Orange Marmalade (makes about 2 and a half jars)
- 5 blood oranges
- juice of 1 lemon reserve pips and pith (tie these into a small piece of muslin)
- approximately 600 grams granulated sugar, (the weight will vary according to the amount of pulp your oranges produce)
- 150 mls of the water your oranges were boiled in.
- Cut each orange in half and place in a large pan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours, keep checking and add more water if necessary to avoid boiling dry.
- Remove the oranges from the water and when cool enough to handle remove all the pips. Reserve 150 mls of the boiling liquid for later.
- Chop the softened peel to the thickness you prefer. Put all of the peel, juice and fruit into a measuring jug. For each 1 pint of fruit you have measure 1 pound of sugar. I had 600 grams of fruit pulp and used 550 grams of sugar, just a little less as the oranges are sweet.
- Put the sugar into an oven tray and warm in the oven for 10 minutes at 170 C, 325 F, gas 3. (You can add your clean jars to the oven at the same time to sterilise.)
- Tip the fruit, warmed sugar and 100 ml/ 3 oz reserved boiling liquid into your jam pan, add the muslin tied bundle of lemon pips and pith, stir well and bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes test for setting. See here for setting tips if unsure. My marmalade took about 20 minutes to set.
- If set pour the marmalade into your prepared sterilised jars and seal.
- I processed my jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.