Cooking, Recipes

Ghoulish Bakes

I know I said this blog was about cook-books but hey it’s mine and I can change the rules, right?

Those of you following me on facebook will know that I have been trying to perfect my ‘Halloween Graveyard Cake’ before next weekend and some of you have requested the recipe so here goes…………

I found the idea for the cake in an old edition of BBC Good Food Magazine – the sponge is very easy and I decorated it with butter icing rather than chocolate.

If you’re doing the headstones – make sure you allow the chocolate to set fully before adding the writing (trust me I know what I’m talking about!!)

First Attempt
Take 2

Graveyard Cake

 

Oven:

180C/Gas 4

 What you need:

  • 375g soft brown sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 200ml milk
  • 175 mlsunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • Butter Icing:
    • 225g/ 9oz icing sugar
    • 175g/6oz  butter
    • 50g /2ozcocoa
    • Splash of milk/rum
  • ‘Headstones’
    • Rich tea finger biscuits
    • 50ml/2 fl oz. cream
    • 50g/2 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped

What you do:

  • Mix the dry ingredients – the sugar, flour and cocoa in a large bowl (make sure to break up any lumps in the sugar!)
  • In a measuring jug mix together the milk and oil and lightly whisk in the eggs, then add to the dry ingredients and mix to a smooth batter.
  • Pour cake mix into a lined cake tin (20*20*5 cm).
  • Bake in preheated oven for 40 mins until firm to touch.
  • Allow to cool in tin for 10 mins before turning out.
  • To make the butter cream – whizz icing sugar, butter and cocoa inn the food processor and add a splash of milk to ‘loosen’. (If you’re making it for an adult party add rum or brandy instead of the milk!)
  • For the ‘headstones’, pour the cream in to a small saucepan and bring to just ‘below the boil’. Pour over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Use a pastry brush to paint the chocolate onto the rich tea biscuits and leave to cool.
  • Decorate the cake with butter icing, ‘headstones’ and lots of imagination!
My next challenge is to try the meringue ghosts to attach to the headstones!
I hope my nieces and nephew like it next weekend – It will be interesting to see how they choose to decorate the cake!
Happy Halloween!
PS for anyone who worked in Louise’s this is a simpler method of the famous ‘oil cake’ – you don’t have to separate the eggs!
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Chef, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Flash Food – Laura Santtini

There was great excitement in Hey Pesto! this week when thanks to  Irish Food Bloggers Association I receieved a review copy of Laura Santtini ‘s new book Flash Cooking  from Quadrille Publishing.

This book is about ‘fast, healthful, easy-to-prepare, nutritious, flavour-packed meals, that look great, taste extraordinary and promote well- being’ ; in fact I would almost describe it as a lifestyle book rather than a cook book!

I loved the introduction and the definition of the concepts involved , for example ‘Flash Cooking (3) – show one’s culinary genius in public’!

What appealed to me most were the flavour tables for seasonings, glazes, rubinades, pastes, finishing bits, dressings etc. – they’ve opened up a whole new world of experimentation for my kitchen. And I’m delighted to say that, with a few exceptions, they’re all store cupboard ingredients.

Laura’s alchemist’s approach was definitely a ‘hook’ for me (once an engineer…) but don’t let this put you off !   The recipes are straightforward and easy to follow and most importantly, in the case of the ones I tried – they work!  Oh and the taste sensations – WOW!

The photography is stunning – my favourites are the antique cutlery shots. But I have to mention my pet peeve – there isn’t a picture of every dish 😦

My verdict – this book is NOT leaving my kitchen and I foresee lots more flavour experimentation in my future! 🙂

My advice – put it on your Christmas list! *****

There are so many recipes I want to try, including:

  • Tea-steamed Sea Bass with Vanilla Star Anise Olive Oil
  • Duck Breasts with Black Magic Elixir
  • The Dog’s Bolognese
  • Curried Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

but this one caught my eye straightaway:

Flash Glazed Cauliflower Cheese Steaks

What you need:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for frying)
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • 75g Feta Cheese
  • Pomegranate Vinaigrette to serve

What you do:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C/160 C Fan/ Gas 4
  • Cut 2 thick slices of cauliflower from the centre, from top down through to the stalk, to give two ‘flower steaks’
  • Mix the harissa paste with the olive oil and brush over the ‘steaks’ on both sides
Brush the steak with the harissa paste & oil mix
  • Heat some oil in frying pan and add the steaks – fry until golden on both sides
Fry until golden
  • Then brush the steaks with any remaining glaze and  transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Crumble feta cheese over the steaks and return to the oven until cheese becomes golden and starts to melt.

Laura suggests serving this with the Pomegranate vinaigrette and being delighted to find a use for the bottle in my cupboard I was happy to oblige!

  • To make the vinaigrette
  • mix 1 tsp of pomegranate molasses, pinch of freshly ground cumin, juice of half a lemon and lots of fresh mint.

When I tasted the vinaigrette on its own I found it rather sweet but this excess sweetness disappeared once it was mixed with the cauliflower steak and the feta.

The flavour combinations made my mouth zing!

Spot the difference!

This great recipe has already earned its place in my book of favourites! Thanks Laura!

I think the Lemon Halloumi recipe will be the next one to try……………

PS

  1. Delighted to see The Tasty Tart  mentioned in the credits – well done Tara!  
  2. Thanks to Mark from Quadrille Publishing for sending me the book!
Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized

Books, Books and more Cook Books!

I love books – I grew up in a house full of them – and one of my best childhood memories is going with my Dad to the bookshop to buy a new one as a weekly treat (and the row that ensued one week when I refused to pick ‘Robinson Crusoe’!)

I still consider buying books a present to myself and there are some that I’ve had for years that I could never get rid off.  And then there’s my cookbook collection…………

Those of you who know me on Twitter will know that I suffer from a ‘slight’ cookbook addiction and that cookbooks have a tendency to follow me home from shops!

Surely a girl can never have too many shoes or cookbooks?

I have approximately 200 cookbooks (well 188 to be more precise!). I know this because due to recent house-painting they all had to be removed from the shelves so allow the painters near the walls and I took the opportunity to count them!

The true number probably exceeds 200 as I found a few more today which had obviously been mis-filed! And then of course there’s the collection of booklets, food magazines, recipe files; not to mention the five lever arch folders from my time at Ballymaloe ( cookingisfun.ie)!

As I was re-filing them I noticed that while some were much thumbed and much-loved there were others had barely been opened but were sitting there like trophies (yes Gordon I’m talking about you!)

So then I had an idea – why not use my cookbook collection as the basis for my blog (with a few other bits & bobs thrown in of course!) . All those books that are sitting there looking pretty will now have to pay their way! I’m challenging myself to work through them and try a  recipe a week and give my tuppence worth on the book!

Now I need to examine my collection carefully and select the first star………………Any requests?


Uncategorized

Hamlet has nothing on me!

I could teach Hamlet about procrastination. I have toyed with the idea of blogging for a long time now but have managed to successfully avoid actually doing it!

I have gone to a WordPress camp with Margaret from A Year in Redwood to find out what was involved – I felt I had wandered into a strange country – without an interpreter!

I have joined the Irish Food Bloggers Associationwith all good intentions.

I have attended two Food Blogging Photography workshops – and I still use my i-phone!

I have even been at a food bloggers lunch hosted by the lovely Joanna from Smorgasblog.

So this is it – I’m taking the plunge! The catalyst – peer pressure fromMammy’s Kitchen, Nessa’s Family Kitchen and Paula’s Sweet Treats  on the train to the Irish Food Pix event last Friday (oh and a little ‘subtle’ encoragement from The Katz Miaow, Wise Words & Like Mam Used To Bake among others on Twitter!)

What to write about – well that surely requires more procrastination  – I could:

  • try recipes from my large collection of cookbooks
  • talk about my cookery classes
  • write about my catering business
  • justify dining out just so I can blog about it
  • village life
  • ……
More than likely it will be a mixture of all the above and more so please accompany me on my journey…and if I hesitate too much then feel free to give me a push!
Now before my courage deserts me I’m going to press publish – once I find the button….
PS my name is Yvonne, I used to be an engineer but now I run a catering business called Hey Pesto! and yes I’m mad about all things food!