I love to create cakes for special occasions. This particular confection heralded the arrival of two little kittens named Gustav and Zero – friends were invited over to see them and share a slice of summery cake with a burst of fruit.
For the sponge
175 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
The contents of 10-12 cardamom pods, ground with a pestle and mortar
1 tbsp milk
Preheat your oven to 180C. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then gradually add the eggs and rosewater. Once combined, fold in the flour, baking powder and cardamom. Pour the mixture into two greased and lined sandwich tins and bake for 20-15 minutes or until the sponge is lightly browned and springs back when you press it with your finger.
For the filling and topping
2 tins mandarin segments in juice
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
150ml whipping cream
Empty the juice from the mandarin segments into a saucepan and add the sugar and spices. Bring to the boil and then simmer until thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat, combine with the mandarin segments AND LEAVE TO COOL. Whip the cream until stiff. Arrange half of the mandarin segments on the bottom layer of your cake and drizzle with syrup. Top with whipped cream and the second layer of cake. Arrange the remaining segements on top of the cake and drizzle with a bit more syrup.
And here are the kittens!
It’s summer! This colourful salad is quick and easy to prepare – the little panda pot holds the salad dressing.
Halloumi-stuffed mushrooms (serves 2)
4 x large flat mushrooms
60g halloumi, diced
1 sprig parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil
Heat your oven to 180C. Brush the mushrooms lightly with the oil and place on a baking tray. Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, halloumi, garlic, lemon juice and seasonings in a bowl until well-combined. Use the mixture to stuff the mushrooms and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the halloumi is caramelised. Serve however you like – in this photo I have added a salad of cucumber and cherry tomatoes tossed with garlic, gem lettuce leaves and a lemon juice and parsley dressing. You could also use it for a bento with rice and stir fried veg.
Today’s hastily assembled bento includes pan-fried sea bass in a rice flour batter, leftover chickpea stew with carrots and courgette, cucumber slices and spinach leaves.
I’ve been enjoying Thug Kitchen a lot lately and decided to try out their peach pancakes over the weekend – shown here topped with banana, strawberries and agave.
I have to say, my first reaction was disappointment: I made the batter the night before and the pancakes came out wet and stodgy despite extensive cooking. So, imagine my surprise when I decided to use up the leftover batter midweek…the result was fluffy and delicious and exactly what I’d been expecting with my first try.
The difference? I think in the meantime the heavy wholemeal flour had time to break down a bit…so next time round I’m going to experiment with different flours/flour mixes.
Fortunately my Goth is a huge fan of breakfast pancakes.
I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather over the past couple of days, so I thought a protein-packed bento would help get me back on my feet. Sushi rice, asparagus, spicy scrambled egg, sea bass fish cake, cucumber salad and two types of stir fried veg should do the trick 🙂
- I made four fishcakes using 200g mashed potato, one sea bass fillet poached in milk and some salt and pepper. Normally I’d add a few chilli flakes, but my Goth finds spicy food challenging. Just flake the fish, stir it into the mash and form into four small patties. I patted them with breadcrumbs and grilled until golden.
- For the cabbage stir fry, I shredded some Chinese greens and fried them in sesame oil until soft at which point I added a splash of soy sauce and generous pinch of chilli flakes.
- For the yellow pepper and red onion stir fry, I just soften the veggies in a small amount of oil.
- The cucumber salad is cucumber marinated in rice vinegar with a sprinkling of ume-shisho powder
- For the scrambled egg, I scrambled and egg with a sprinkling of the nearest spice mix in the kitchen, which I believe was harissa-based.
These pork burgers were a hit at my recent barbecue and enough people asked for the recipe that I thought I’d share it here – they are great on the barbecue or wrapped with streaky bacon, grilled and served with fries. Gothman and I may even have had them for breakfast with fried eggs one sunny morning.
- 500g lean minced pork
- 1 small red onion, chopped finely
- 2 spring onions, chopped finely
- 1 chilli, chopped
- 1 tbsp dried sage
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 small or medium egg
Method: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until evenly mixed. Refrigerate for an hour, then form into small patties and return to the fridge until you are ready to cook them. Grill at a high heat for five minutes on each side and serve with homemade burger rolls, red onion relish and hot chilli sauce if you’re brave enough.
One of the things I particularly like to do is invent special cakes for friends’ birthdays. This decadent little number was for my friend Daniel. He’d mentioned he was serving bourbon at his birthday party and I wanted to bring something with spice in it that would complement the flavour. But you don’t need whiskey to enjoy this cake! It’s great for any special occasion.
For the saffron and cardamom sponge:
- 5 cardamom pods
- 3-4 strands saffron
- 175g butter (room temperature)
- 175g sugar
- 3 eggs
- 175g flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp milk
Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and crush them with a pestle and mortar, then soak the saffron strands in a teaspoon of boiling water. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and then beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the spices. Finally, stir in the flour and baking powder. Divide the mixture between two greased sandwich tins and bake at 175C for 25-30 minutes.
For the saffron cream:
- 60ml double cream
- A few strands saffron
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
Soak the saffron strands in 2tsp boiling water and leave to soak for a few minutes before adding to the cream. Whip the cream and saffron into stiff peaks, then combine with the icing sugar.
For the buttercream:
- A few saffron strands soaked in 1tbsp boiling water
- 140g butter (at room temperature)
- 280g icing sugar
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and beat until they form a smooth cream
Once the cake has cooled, assembly is easy – spread the saffron cream on one of your cakes and place the other on top. Then smother the whole thing with buttercream, using a palette knife for a smooth effect – then enjoy!