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Archive for the tag “Recipes”

Stuff the peppers. Love the green sauce

I’m often drawn to the ideas of Thomasina Miers’ The simple fix meals in Guardian Feast but seldom seem to cook them. I think it’s something to do with the fact that they look like something I might put together myself without the aid of a recipe.

Thomasina is the queen of the unobtrusive finishing touch which turns simple into superlative

This attitude has probably meant I’ve missed many a super meal. Thomasina is the queen of the unobtrusive finishing touch which turns simple into superlative. In the case of her peppers stuffed with olives and goat’s cheese it’s the transformative green sauce that steals the show.

My version of Thomasina Miers’ simple fix of peppers stuffed with olives and goat’s cheese (with the all-important green sauce!)

I’d happily eat this again!

Student daughter

We’ve arrived at Issue No.184 in my attempt to cook at least one recipe each week from Guardian Feast magazine.

The Husband announced that he’d bought pointy peppers from the supermarket shop so it was serendipity that Feast fell open at Thomasina’s recipe.

The pickle-herb-heat riff rocks

One of this recipe’s strengths is that you can pretty much get everything done while the potatoes cook and the pepper halves get their first 15-minute softening roast. In a sense, you’re creating a vegetarian potato hash to fill the peppers with – but the marriage of flavours in Thomasina’s Mexican inspired peppers stuffed with olives and goat’s cheese is truly sublime. The pickle-herb-heat riff rocks.

The Husband is still muttering under his breath about capers: ‘How could I let us run out? Running out of capers is practically a crime against humanity.’ Unfazed by this calamity, I used the handful of capers we had and upped the quantity of pitted green olives. We also only had three pointy peppers rather than the required five. One pepper is diced and used in the stuffing – fortunately I had a jar of roasted red peppers in stock and used one of those chopped in the hash mix.

No fresh oregano lurking in the recesses of the fridge or garden either – I used dried alongside the fresh tarragon and parsley.

While the peppers are taking their second roasting – this time fully stuffed – you have plenty of time to neck a glass of the tipple of your choice and make the green sauce. Who’d have thought that blitzing garlic, oil, capers (erm, olives), lemon juice and chilli would create the dream topping? Student Daughter declared she’d ‘happily eat this again’ – and she doesn’t even like tarragon.

Just one word of caution. This is, as billed, a simple recipe. However, it does use quite a lot of pots and implements in the creation – well worth it in my opinion but also worth knowing when you start the prep.

The magic of the sauce: Thomasina’s green sauce really is the dream topping for the stuffed peppers

As for Thomasina’s suggestions for using up the leftover stuffing and sauce during the rest of the week… we wolfed the lot in one sitting!

Original recipe:

Thomasina Miers – peppers stuffed with olives and goat’s cheese

Peachy buns of Liam, take a bao!

Life feels pretty unpredictable right now and it’s kind of nice to have a steady week-by-week mission to work on. Having said that, I am having a moment of ‘why am I even doing this?‘ with my project to cook at least one recipe each week from Guardian Feast magazine.

This truly is an example of a recipe that is a bit time-consuming but not that difficult. And it SO pays back the energy investment in novelty value and taste sensations.

I guess the answer is, that as well as keeping me writing regularly, it keeps me cooking way outside my knowledge zone and, hopefully, entertains a few people along the way. I’d also like to think that some readers are encouraged to ‘give it a go’ when they spot a fabulous mouthwatering pic which turns out to be the sidekick to a seemingly insurmountable recipe. Also, to take power in substitution of niche, unobtainable or simply not-in-stock ingredients. This week, for example, I used – shock, horror – tinned peaches instead of fresh for Liam Charles’ roast peach bao buns from Issue No.181 of Guardian Feast.

Read on, because this truly is an example of a recipe that is a bit time-consuming but not that difficult. And it SO pays back the energy investment in novelty value and taste sensations.

This is the first week of Feast I’ve tackled that is sponsored – sorry, supported by – Ocado. I see this is a good partnership for both but, frankly, when you live in North Northumberland… Ocado don’t deliver to Berwick-upon-Tweed and our nearest Waitrose is 59 miles away in Edinburgh’s Morningside. So, good on you Guardian and Ocado but your little QR ingredient buy codes mean nothing to me.

The great thing about Liam’s recipe for roast peach bao buns is that you simply follow it step-by-step. I have learnt, now I’m half way through this marathon year of cooking, to get all my ingredients ready from the get-go. It makes life so much easier. For this recipe, I also had to make my own pistachio paste – not available in the shop I tried and no time to go elsewhere to search. This is not difficult. Simply whizz the nuts in a blender as you do for nut butter. I did try to husk the pistachios (soak in boiling water for 1-2mins and rub gently in kitchen roll) to achieve a super green paste but wasn’t totally successful.

I also had to pound my cloves in a pestle and mortar to get ‘ground cloves’ and for ‘ground cardamom’ whizz my cardamoms in my coffee grinder. Ingredients set. Let’s cook!

Making the dough for the buns is easy peasy (I’ve wanted to make bao for a while, so I was super-excited). The radio accompanied my 10-minuted kneading session. As did the smug satisfaction that kneading always adds to my Fitbit footstep total. Over 94,000 steps in total this week (Mon-Fri). Thanks for asking.

The dough proved for an hour and, in that time window, I achieved the roast peaches and the custard (I’d had my doubts I’d make it). I’m sure fresh peaches would have given a fruitier tickle but tinned was what I had. I thought about reducing the roasting and syrup-reduction times but my peaches held their shape throughout the full cooking timings. I didn’t have lemon thyme so just used lovely fresh thyme from the garden.

The custard (my most angst-inducing element of the recipe) was also a doddle. I cut back on the caster sugar (actually I ran out!) using 100g instead of Liam’s 150g. I also had only semi skimmed milk but whisked in a dollop of double cream – that makes full fat, right? I had to battle through the foam I’d created through possible over-whisking to see if the custard was thickening – I enlisted Student Daughter, home from uni, to do a spoon test. In the event, the thin-to-thick turn was sudden. Into a sieve it went and out it squished. I’d just laid clingfilm over it when I remembered why the butter was winking at me. You have to stir 60g into the hot sieved custard and that makes all the silky smooth difference.

A couple of year’s back I bought The Husband a steamer from the charity shop. Now was it’s moment to shine!

Just take a moment to enjoy my buns. Look at the perky shape. Look at the rich colour palette. Now imagine the pillowy, chewy bite of the buns spiked with clovey deliciousness. Then let the flavours of honey, thyme, peach, cardamom and vanilla harmonise with the crunchy creamy pistachio. And don’t forget to scoop up that dollop of custard and syrup squelching down your chin.

The Husband has since discovered that Liam’s clove-spiked boa buns work deliciously with pork pie meat (from a homemade pork pie), spring onions, lettuce and hoisin sauce. Deep joy!

For me, this recipe is everything that my challenge is about. Give it a go and let me know what you think and how you get on.

Original recipe

Liam Charles – roast peach bao buns

Yotam’s dish made pepper pigs of us!

‘Moroccan or Thai,’ asked The Husband as he cooked the prawns to go with my marinating peppers. I was on the phone to London daughter and gave her the choice. Thai it was. Perhaps not the obvious choice with vegan red peppers drenched in soy sauce, cider vinegar, garlic, maple syrup, sesame oil and topped with a cumin seed, pine nut and coriander crunch. The moral of the story: don’t consult someone who’s not there on your menu creation. Or, maybe, just don’t give options.

So darn delicious you could serve them with old shoe leather and they’d still dazzle and dance around all your senses

Fortunately, Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweet ‘n’ sour peppers with pine nut crumble from Guardian Feast Issue No.179 is so easy peasy and so darn delicious, you could serve them with old shoe leather and they’d still dazzle and dance around all your senses. These beauties made right pepper pigs of us!

And so my self-imposed challenge to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021 (find out more about that here), continues to surprise and delight. 

Not the pointy peppers required by Yotam but what was available on the day at Berwick market

I was right out of red romano peppers but Billy at Berwick market’s fruit and veg stall supplied me with some spot-on red peppers ordinaire. As there were just two of us, I halved the quantity of peppers to 500g (wish I hadn’t – so tasty!) but stuck to the same amount of nutty cuminy crumble (Yotam counsels to make double: he’s right, it’s a super crunchy, salty topping – a condiment as well as a crumble).

The only faff is peeling the roasted red peppers – but it’s worth the time. This easy vegan recipe punches above its ingredient and effort-weight in terms of flavour, aroma and prettiness.

Original recipe:

Yotam Ottolenghi – sweet ‘n’ sour peppers with pine nut crumble

The judgment of scones

It’s probably the same countrywide but I didn’t realise until we moved to Northumberland that many people judge a café purely on its scones. We’ve lived here nearly 11 years and I now know people who won’t enter the doors of certain establishments because of perceived scone quality.

Such people would surely celebrate were Yotam Ottolenghi to set up shop selling pull-apart scones with za’atar and feta on the corner of Marygate in Berwick-upon-Tweed. These gluten-free, veggie beauties are scones, Jim, but not as we know them.

My take on Yotam Ottolenghi's 'pull-apart scones with za'atar and feta' from Guardian Feast. Sublime gluten free, vegetarian beauties.

My take on Ottolenghi’s pull-apart scones with za’atar and feta from Guardian Feast: they are scones, Jim, but not as we know them (in a good way)!

I’m six months into my epic challenge to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021 (find out more about that here), and the goodies just keep coming.

Some may take issue with a 16-ingredient scone. They’re wrong. But they’ve probably stopped reading already so they’ll never know. The only ingredient I couldn’t source here in Berwick was ‘powdered pectin’. After much consideration and a bit of Googling, I decided to eschew gelatin and agar agar and up the quantity of ‘finely grated lemon zest’ to a full lemon instead of 1/2 tsp. My square baking tin wasn’t quite the dimensions required by Yotam, but all was well with the end product.

My za’atar was what I’d term cupboard vintage – but it worked a treat.

Only two crisis points for me in the recipe:

  1. Yotam says: ‘Pour in the cream mix, pulse again until the ‘crumbs’ are moist but not quite coming together’ – see picture below. Also, am I the only person who, when a recipe says ‘in a small bowl’, takes it literally and then has to upgrade to a bigger bowl? There was no way I could safely whisk my cream, yoghurt and egg in my chosen bowl.
  2. Not sure what a ‘rough 15cm long rectangle’ looks like. I made a square – see below. The pile of cheese looked impossibly huge heaped on it, but it wrapped up just fine.

As Yotam promised, I ended up with nine scones and had 54g of dough left over rather than the predicted 80g – not bad!

The alchemy of Yotam’s scones is not only in magically making something gluten free feel light and fluffy (I know enough people with celiac disease to understand the sad hefty mouthfeel of many gluten free products), but also in the perfect balance of intense cheesy herbiness and floaty pastry.

Original recipe:

Yotam Ottolenghi – pull-apart scones with za’atar and feta

Nepal to Persia: feast your eyes; stuff your face

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

Issue No.165 of Feast had my name on it. The flavours of Nepal and Persia are so enticingly different to our everyday food. Yotam‘s take on his friend’s Nepalese potato salad (who doesn’t love potato salad – and this one’s to die for!) had me at ‘120g of tamarind puree’ and ‘four green chillies’: wow! Marwa Alkhalaf‘s a Persian celebration looked achingly beautiful. The kind of spread I could sit and gaze at – for the 60 seconds before I pitched in to eat it. I said to The Husband: ‘I will have that, please. All of it.’

Just look at that!

The Husband disappeared into the kitchen for an hour or so and this was the result:

The Husband’s take on Marwa Alkhalaf’s a Persian celebration

What a cheering, mouthwatering sensation of a feast for a Monday night! We scoffed the lot. Of course we did.

The mahi shekam por (stuffed trout with saffron and bitter orange) was sensational – who’d have thought that marmalade and trout would marry up. The sabizi polo (herbed rice with saffron fennel) was a revelation: crispy rice on top from the baking and moist, fluffy herbaceously fennel-infused rice beneath the crust. My one little claim of participation was the baqleh gatog (broad bean and garlic chive dip). Even then, The Husband did all the prep – I fried, whizzed and garnished (we didn’t have garlic chives so used a bit of extra garlic). The dip’s citrus, garlic ping worked in perfect harmony with this medley of delight. Overall, The Husband declared the recipes ‘straightforward’. Although he said it would have helped to have a bit of an ‘order of play’ for preparing and cooking the dishes in relation to each other. He made a few substitutions, including cranberries instead of barberries and pomegranate.

Baqleh gatog – broad bean and garlic chive dip

Yes, Marwa’s offering is a showstopper. But, please, do not turn your nose up at Yotam’s Nepalese potato salad: it ups the ante on the ubiquitous buffet dish. Spicy, citrussy, sesame-ey and as far away from potatoes smeared in greasy daubs of mayo as you can get. It completely hit the spot after our campfire and cocktails in the garden (it was Saturday night, after all).

For the potato salad, Yotam recommends four green chillies which you slice and quick pickle. I had three red chillies kicking around in the back of the fridge that I’d pickled an age ago and decided they’d do. They were so knock-the-back-of-your-head-off hot that I just used two – in fact, the potatoes assimilate flavour brilliantly and I could easily have added number three. I was lucky to have some tamarind that a friend had given me, otherwise I would have had to use ready-made despite Yotam’s assertion that tamarind from a block is ‘much more balanced’.

The Husband had a dollop of yoghurt with his salad but the eldest daughter and I took it straight and savoured every delightfully spicy, mouth-puckering forkful. I think we can safely say it’s a good week for eating in our Berwick-upon-Tweed household.

Nepalese potato salad from Yotam Ottolenghi, prepared by me, Jackie.

Original recipes:

Marwa Alkhalaf – a Persian celebration

Yotam Ottolenghi – Nepalese potato salad

We’re on a (chocolate) roll!

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

It’s week 11 of my epic attempt to cook from each issue of Guardian Feast and it’s beginning to feel as if we’re on a bit of a roll. Which is apposite. After all, who could resist the Ottolenghi kitchen’s chocolate and coconut mochi roulade pictured on the front of Feast Issue No.165 and shared liberally on Insta by Yotam and Ixta? I couldn’t. And neither could the eldest daughter who declares she’s always wanted to make mochi. And, let’s face it, this roulade is a GIANT mochi.

Who could resist that chocolate coconut mochi roll?

The mochi roulade is what my mum termed a ‘dinner party dish’. She used to make Delia Smith’s chocolate roulade as one of the obligatory five choices of pud when she and Dad entertained in the 60s and 70s. I always remember the anxiety over ‘cracking’ as Mum rolled up the cake slathered in its cream. Also, the sheer amount of time and effort it took to create the thing. I feel I might be in for a similar ride – I’ve never seen 400ml of cream and some coconut flakes put through so many processes! Anyway, I rush ahead. Mum’s roulade always tasted fabulous – and to us it always looked amazing, cracks and all. So, that’s all I’m hoping for: Fabulous!!!

In fact, finding a way (a way to make mochi) is even more challenging than anticipated. Glutinous rice flour is a very particular ingredient – and not one to be substituted easily, if at all. There’s none on our high street in this far corner of north eastern England. So, desperate to get on, we order from the online supplier who we usually try to avoid, hoping for next day delivery. Turns out that even the God of Amazon cannot deliver glutinous rice flour to Berwick-upon-Tweed on Sunday (although it can to most other parts of the country). So, Monday is mochi day.

It’s rich licks. The daughter and I agree a little goes a long way. The Husband begs to differ. He thinks a lot is just right.

No matter, I prepare the caramelised coconut flakes and infuse the cream overnight as recommended (the kind of thing I’m never usually organised or patient enough to do). I decide that kitchen Ottolenghi must have industrial-sized baking trays and ovens – there’s no way I can spread 200g of dried coconut flakes across one tray – so I use two. I also decide that anything mixed with maple syrup and condensed milk is impossible to make ‘not clumped together’ no matter how much you mix them. Hey ho, they taste so sublime that I take the 50g of leftover coconut flakes from my packet and give them the same treatment so that we can snack on them while we await the full event. As for the coconut and cream journey, it seems a bit counterintuitive to tip a pile of crispy flakes into cream and infuse, but I do as I’m told.

Overall, the mochi cake itself is incredibly easy to put together. I realise too late that my tin of coconut milk is 50% coconut extract rather than 70%. I whisk by hand to begin with ‘until all the ingredients come together’ and then use a hand whisk because my processor only has blades. The batter’s quite runny and a good fit for the tin. After 25 mins in the oven, I can see some quite large bubbles ballooning off the top of the cake, when I take it out they fall and it feels ‘set but springy’ to me. When it’s cooled, it does sink a bit in the middle leaving a slight ridge around the outside, so maybe I should have left it for a couple of minutes (actually the ridge is quite a good guide when it comes to smearing on the coconut crisp sludge and cream!). I crack on (it’s a Monday night, after all!).

As the cake cooks, I reheat the cooled cream and coconut flakes, press them through a sieve and hoick them into the processor with cocoa powder and – ingredient of the moment – maple syrup. Weirdly, they begin to smell and taste like cornflakes to me. The eldest daughter, cruising the kitchen on a work break for sniffs and licks, dismisses this as motherly foolishness. Nevertheless, the ‘coarse paste’ tastes a bit like posh cornflake crispy cake mix to me. Bish, bash, bosh! I hurtle through the rest of the prep and the moment of mochi rolling truth arrives. I’m hoping the solid stretchiness delivered by glutinous rice flour will prevent cracking. I’m right.

Ta daaaaaaa!!!

The end result is everything we’d hoped for in its chocolatey, crunchy caramel-topped, coconutty creamy, chewy, mochiness. The ping of salt from the caramelised coconut is a stroke of genius. There’s no doubting it’s rich licks. The daughter and I agree that a little goes a long way. The Husband begs to differ. He thinks a lot is just right.

Even though we had to wait for our mochi roulade, we were able to indulge ourselves for Saturday cocktail hour. It was such a chilly, bright and glorious March evening, that we took our ‘good mixer’ apple martinis from Anna Haugh at Myrtle down the garden and enjoyed the sunset. Just lovely.

Through a glass brightly. What could be more perfect than a Berwick sunset viewed through an apple martini?

Original recipes:

Yotam Ottolenghi – Chocolate and coconut mochi roulade

Anna Haugh – Apple martini

Instant noodly, sticky, spicy, satisfaction

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

Like Lara Lee, I’m a huge fan of ‘two-minute noodles’ – although I’m not a great lover of the flavour sachets that come with them (the eldest daughter declares that ‘sometimes that’s just the flavour you want’). Anyhow, I was sold on Lara’s noodle recipes in Guardian Feast Issue No.160 when I saw the distinctive tangle and curl of those little packet wonders.

Instant noodles: curly little packet wonders

After my slight wobble with the sublime coffee mousse with tahini chocolate sauce in the same issue, I’m determined to read the recipe for Lara’s spicy soy pork and peanut instant noodles carefully and follow it. I just know this sticky, meaty, spicy dish is what we need for supper on a freezing, gusty Northumberland Sunday in Berwick-upon-Tweed. And I have every ingredient – except pork belly which is in the freezer. What I do have is a chicken. And lashings of goose fat left over from our Christmas goose. Chicken plus goose fat is practically pork belly, isn’t it?

I really resent paying a premium for jointed bits of chicken. It’s so much cheaper to buy a whole bird, butcher it yourself and make delicious stock from the carcass. Yes, it adds prep time but it’s worth it on so many levels – more flavour, less cost, less packaging, the satisfaction of a job done well.

‘I could just go on eating it till I burst’

I once butchered a pig. It was a daunting task but really informative. The key thing I learnt is to be guided by the bones, joints, muscles and sinews of the animal you’re butchering. A chicken is so easy – and the more you do it, the better you get. I’m sure there are loads of YouTube tutorials on hacking up a chicken so I won’t describe that. All I can say is, the more I do it, the better I get.

Lara’s recipe requires 250g skinless, boneless pork belly slices. I decide that both thighs and one breast will be roughly equivalent and use goose fat for all the fat requirements of the recipe – the chicken skin goes in the stockpot.

It is really easy to romp through Lara’s recipe and I get the dish on our plates within the half hour guide cooking time she gives. I don’t quite get the fat hot enough to get our eggs crispy. No matter. This is a brilliant midweek supper dish. Easy to make and richly, lip-smackingly satisfying to eat. With its glossy fat content, I can see that belly pork would be the perfect meat for it, but my chicken version’s not half bad.

The Husband declares that he could: ‘just go on eating it till I burst’. He’s a keeper.

Jackie's chicken version of Lara Lee's spicy pork and peanut instant noodles from Guardian Feast
My version of Lara Lee’s spicy soy pork and peanut instant noodles from Guardian Feast Issue No.160

Original recipe:

Lara Lee spicy soy pork and peanut instant noodles

Umami me up!

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

Some weeks you look for the easy fix. Last week, Ravneet Gill’s no-cook miso caramel and chocolate tart blew the family’s collective palate. This week, it’s Guardian Feast Issue No.160. It’s a raging hoolie outside. I return from the newsagent (four and three quarter minutes along the road from my front door), drenched.

Guardian Feast Issue No.160 Ixta Belfrage/Ottolenghi: A mousse to enliven even the most dreich of days

Because it’s lockdown and, well, rain or shine and all that, we go for a bleak, wild coastal walk. When we return, we’re all a bit miserable and we need a quick, simple fix. Yotam Ottolenghi’s coffee mousse with tahini chocolate sauce (from Ottolenghi recipe developer Ixta Belfrage) is totally simple and OMG it offers all the umami salt, sweet, sour flavours of a full blowout Chinese takeaway without the monosodium glutamate and cornstarch. It has to be done. It’s the work of moments. A child could make it. Except…

Once doubts creep into your head, they enter food by osmosis.

Dear reader, I messed up.

But I rush ahead. I know I will never be a proper cook. I know this because I can single-handedly deflate the simplest of delicious mousses, and also because I shudder (and mutter expletives) when recipes say 3/4 tsp or 2 1/4 tbsp (don’t get me started on 1/8). I don’t know why the quarter thing gets to me more than, say, a half. But it does. Will a tiny fraction of an ingredient really make that much difference? Now, Ixta’s delicious idiot-proof mousse.

You create the mousse element by putting the first six ingredients into a stand mixer and whipping to medium soft peaks. I’m feeling a bit zoned and tip all the ingredients into my blender. I immediately realise this isn’t a great idea and want to transfer to a bowl and whisk by hand. But, you know, I’ve started now.

Once doubts creep into your head, they enter food by osmosis. As the blender grinds on, anxiety kicks in. I think I’ve got soft peaks, then I don’t. I leave the blender running a bit more. Then I let the mousse (which looks fine at this stage) stand for a while. I go to scoop it into my sundae glasses and decide it’s a bit runny. I chuck it back on the blender. It splits. Not badly, but that wonderful plumptious moussey sheen is disappearing fast. I start talking incessantly to myself about what an idiot I’ve been.

Hey-ho. It tastes fab-u-lous. Coffee. Tahini. Maple syrup. Cocoa. Soy sauce. Salty nuts. The Husband declares it ‘Sesame bars for people with no teeth’. Eldest daughter says ‘the salt and nuts bring it together. Gorgeous.’

My version of Ixta Belfrage's (for Ottolenghi) coffee mousse with tahini chocolate sauce
The mousse is a sublime hit of salty, creamy nutty, coffee deliciousness. Maybe I’ll make it for breakfast.

Sesame bars for people with no teeth… the salt and nuts bring it together. Gorgeous.

It’s a damn fine pud. The perfect quick whip, no stress finale to impress friends with. Next time, (and there’ll be a next time) I’ll get a grip. In fact, in the three and a quarter minutes it took me to eat the mousse, I was already planning to make it again. Maybe for breakfast. Umami me up!

Meanwhile, I’m eyeing Lara Lee’s spicy soy pork and peanut instant noodles. I only have chicken in the house. That’ll be fine, yes?

Original recipe:

Yotam Ottolenghi (Ixta Belfrage) – coffee mousse with tahini chocolate sauce

Also, how delicious do my home-salted and roasted nuts look alongside that biscotti?

Try the brown cake: it’s delicious!

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

After the extravaganza that was Ravneet Gill’s miso caramel and chocolate tart (see my take on that here) in Guardian Feast Issue No.159, I’ll confess that Pamela Yung’s celeriac cake with winter citrus looked a tad dull. Still, I had a celeriac in stock so what the heck. Well. Pamela’s recipe does not so much reimagine celeriac as launch it into its own galaxy of cake heaven.

I can safely say that it was one of the most delicious raw cake mixes I’ve ever eaten.

By some miracle I had 180g of wholegrain spelt flour. I topped it up to 240g with rye flour. The eldest daughter doesn’t like celeriac (another good reason for disguising it in a cake!) or celery. I opted for another member of the Apiaceae family with a different flavour accent to replace the required dose of one teaspoon of celery seeds: fennel (I later found I didn’t have any celery seeds anyway). I completely missed the fact that I was supposed to add 100ml of grapeseed oil after the eggs – hey-ho, the finished cake didn’t seem to mind that I’d missed that particular memo. I licked the spatula after I’d scraped the mix into the greased and lined tin. I can safely say that it was one of the most delicious raw cake mixes I’ve ever eaten.

I suddenly started looking forward to the finished cake a whole lot more.

Meyer lemons are not something we have in this house or are ever likely to source in Berwick, so I created my ‘winter citrus’ garnish with bog standard lemons and oranges. I sliced the fruit and brewed the syrup while the cake cooked. My cake took about five minutes more in the oven than the max of 40 minutes that Pamela suggests.

I did just about wait for it to cool before I sliced, but that early taste had me impatient to try the end product. I whipped up the dollop of vintage crème fraiche I found lurking in a yellowing tub at the back of the fridge and garnished with a flourish of grated satsuma zest and hey presto! Even the celeriac-hating daughter declared it ‘delicious!’. The Husband agreed. His verdict: ‘A light cake with a richer darker flavour.’ You definitely get pops of earthiness but I’m not sure I would have identified celeriac if I hadn’t known. Yum.

This is definitely a recipe I would not have tried if I were not committed to my year with Guardian Feast. I’m very glad I did. Thanks Pamela Yung and Guardian Feast.

Original recipe:

Pamela Yung – Celeriac cake with winter citrus

Feast: shiny, sexy tart

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

Welcome to February folks. Doesn’t your stomach just growl for comfort food and sweet treats? I know mine does. However, cooking during these lockdown days (take 3) can be a challenge. In our family we’re limiting our shopping trips. I’m fortunate to have a pretty well-stocked store cupboard (although readers of previous posts will also note that this project is an opportunity to use out-of-date items lurking dustily in the far recesses of my shelves). Even so, up here in Berwick, ingredients such as ‘meyer lemons’ and ‘cassava’ are not readily available. In fact, this week The Husband did yell: ‘Come on Guardian not everyone lives in London!’.

Despite such minor frustrations, I’m finding that I’m tackling recipes I’d usually not bother with. Looking at the cover pic of Ravneet Gill’s miso caramel and chocolate tart in Guardian Feast Issue No.159, I was salivating.

However, I also thought it looked way too hard for me to tackle – it just had a pastry chef-ish air to it. How wrong could I be? This shiny, sexy, silky, satiny tart with its bran flake crust is SO easy and SO delicious. I was lucky to have white miso in stock (we love Japanese food and use miso in all sorts of things for its umami tang). I didn’t, however, have posh 75% dark chocolate so dusted down a couple of bars of Bourneville.

There were a couple of flashpoints in the recipe… 35ml of caster sugar – should that be 35g? I decided yes. 200g double cream – should that be 200ml? Again, I decided yes. And I see in the updated online recipe (see link below) this has been corrected and I was right. Phew.

I’m always terrified of making caramel. I’m so easily distracted that I’ve burnt goodness knows how many pans of sugar. But the caramel gods were with me on Sunday. And OMG, miso caramel is something I’m going to be making again just for the sheer joy of its taste.

Really, there’s nothing else to say. Ravneet is spot on when she says the tart’s ‘very much on that edge of sweet and salty’. Put simply, it’s full on moreish! Like Ravneet’s family, we finished this superb tart in a day! I think it’s impossible not to.

Ravneet GillMiso caramel and chocolate tart

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