Sunday, 30 November 2008

Victoria Sandwich Cake

This is the basic cake recipe which some of you have asked for it is not difficult but there are a few points to remember. If possible use an electric mixer either free standing or a hand held one it really makes a difference.

200g soft butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
8" cake tin buttered and base lined with parchment paper (cut a disk using the base of the tin as a guide)

Put the butter into the mixing bowl, if it is not very soft, soften in the microwave on the lowest setting for about a minute. You should be able to push you finger through the butter easily but it should not be melted.
Add the caster sugar,using the beater paddle of your mixer, beat until the butter and sugar turn a very light cream colour, almost white and the texture has become light and fluffy. This will take longer than you think even with a mixer. It is important to get the butter and sugar really light at this stage.
then add the eggs one at a time, beating in with the beater each time until the egg has been totally absorbed.
When all the eggs have been added
Stir the baking powder into the four
Add the flour to the cake mixture a tablespoon at a time with the mixer running on its slowest speed (otherwise you will be covered in flour).
Once all the flour has been added scrape the bowl to be sure that all the flour has been mixed through the mixture. Turn up the speed and mix for a few seconds on high.

Pu the mixture into the buttered cake tin smooth the top.
Put into a preheated oven 180c for 30 mins.
Check the cake after 25 mins, using your finger tips press the middle of the cake gently if it springs back it is cooked.
Turn out the cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Chocolate Cake
Mix 2 tbs good quality cocoa with 2tbs boiling water and make a paste. Add to the cake mixture after all the eggs have been added.
Coffee Cake
Put 4 tbs ground coffee and 8 tbs water into a small pan and bring to the boil. Allow to brew for about 5 mins and strain the coffee. Add 2tbs coffee to the cake mixture after the eggs have been incorporated and use the remaining coffee to make a butter cream topping.

Fresh Fruit Cake
When the mixture has been put into the cake tin. top with fruit, either sliced apples arranged on the top or half a bag of frozen fruits such as raspberries, blueberries or mixed summer fruits. The cake will take longer to bake - allow an extra 10 - 15 mins. The frozen fruit will sink to the bottom but it makes a lovely moist cake. Do keep in the cake in the fridge as the fruit will go mouldy if it is stored at room temperature.
All cakes freeze well, just allow to thaw and come back to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sour Cream and Onion Tart

8 tomatoes
salt and black pepper
200g chilled butter
175g plain flour
6 -7 tbs soured cream
900g 0nions
125g red Leicester cheese


Halve the tomatoes across their widest point, place on a baking tray and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Put into the oven at 120c and allow to cook very gently for about an hour until they begin to shrivel and dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In the meantime, cut 150g butter into small dice and place in a food processor with the flour. Pulse until the butter is roughly cut up - you should still be able to see pieces of butter. Add the sour cream and pulse again briefly until just mixed.

Put the sour cream mixture on to a backing sheet and using your finger tips dipped in flour, press into an even layer to cover. Put aside in the fridge to chill.

Finely slice the onions, melt the remaining butter in a pan and add the onions and cook very slowly for about 30 mins until very soft, but not brown. Then increase the heat to drive off the excess liquid stirring all the time allow them to be come golden but not burnt! Set aside to cool.

Spoon the cold onions onto the pastry base and spread to the edges in an even layer.
Grate the cheese and sprinkle evenly over the onions.
Arrange the tomatoes on top of the cheese.
Cook the tart at 200c until golden - about 30 mins.

Serve with a green salad

This dish is very tasty but also very rich. This quantitiy will give 16 portions for a starter or 8 for a main course. It is easy to half the recipe and use prepare in a smaller dish.
The tart can be frozen when it has been assembled and cooked from frozen but do allow a longer cooking time.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Lentil Chilli

This makes a cheap and very nutritional meal, serve with rice or cornbread, avocado puree and sour cream or creme fraiche. It reheats well in the microwave, making it ideal to have as a quick snack.

2 onions
2tbs oil
4 -6 large cloves of garlic
250g dried red lentils
2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 - 3 tbs chilli powder
1 ltr vegetable stock
1tbs dried oregano
salt and pepper

Chop the onions and crush the garlic
In a large heavy pan gently sauté the onions and garlic in a few tablespoons of oil.
Allow to cook and soften but do not allow to brown.
Add the chilli powder to taste, start with a small amount - different brands have different strengths.
Stir and allow to cook for another minute.
Add the rinsed red lentils and stir.
Stir in the tomatoes.
Add the oregano.
Pour in the stock - it should be a very loose mixture and stir well.
Allow to simmer very gently until the lentils have become mushy and the mixture like a thick sauce. Stir from time to time to prevent burning.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a spoonful of creme fraiche.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Chicken in Dijon Mustard Sauce

I prepared this dish for a wine tasting event last week, and several people asked for the recipe. You may be interested in the wine tastings and wine events that are organized by Grape Sense, see their website In the meantime enjoy!

6 large chicken thighs, if these are not readily available use whole legs
1 onion sliced
2 cloves garlic - crushed
1/2 bottle red burgundy wine
salt and fresh ground pepper
small tub creme fraiche
2 large tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsp corn flour

  • Put the chicken thighs into a non metallic dish/container
  • Add the onion and garlic and sprinkle with seasoning.
  • Pour over the wine.
  • Cover and leave in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade, saving the marinade for later.
  • Heat a thick based frying pan and add a very small amount of oil.
  • Put the chicken in the pan, skin side down, in a single layer, and brown until the skin is golden and crisp. Turn over and allow to colour on the other side. Set the browned chicken to one side and repeat with the e remaining pieces of chicken,
  • Put the chicken in a shallow casserole dish or a Pyrex roasting dish, arranging the chicken in a single layer overlapping slightly if necessary.
  • Pour over the reserved marinade, add chicken stock or water to cover the chicken thighs. Cover dish with foil.
  • Put into a hot oven 200C for 30 mins then lower the temperature to 100C and cook for a further 3 hours - check from time to time, the chicken should be cooking very gently if the liquid is bubbling lower the temperature. All ovens are different.
  • When the chicken is cooked through but is still attached to the bone allow to cool.
  • Pour off the cooking liquid and set to one side.
  • In a separate pan mix the creme fraiche with the corn flour until smooth.
  • Mix in the mustard until you have a smooth paste.
  • Add the remaining cooking juices to the paste and stir until smooth. Bring to the boil stirring all the time.
  • Adjust the seasoning, adding more mustard to taste.
  • Pour the sauce back over the chicken thighs and return to the oven to warm through at 100C for about 1 hour.

This quantity makes 6 portions - adjust to your requirements.