Friday, 9 March 2007

Apple chocolate cake

Chocolate and fruit is a classic but the idea of apple and chocolate was intriguing to me so when I had the urge to bake something and a glut of apples I thought I'd try this recipe out. It's from the Australian Woman's Weekly title "Cakes and Slices Cookbook". I was introduced to the AWW cookbooks whilst at uni and they are all really good. I've never had a recipe from them that I didn't like.

The best thing about this cake is that you don't have to do any work - well, you peel the apples and grease the tin, but in reality you throw it all in the food processor and flick the switch! You don't even have to sift the flour. The butter and eggs do need to be at room temp though.

The toddler is still a bit hit and miss when it comes to cake, having been deprived of it for most of the last 3 years, but he's definitely enjoyed this one. I like knowing that if I am letting him eat cake then at least I know what's gone into it.

I didn't ice this but I'll add the icing instructions anyway.

185g butter
1 and 1/4 cups castor sugar (I used golden castor)
3 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/3 cup water
2 apples peeled and quartered
2 cups self raising flour

1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
1 teaspoon soft butter
1 tbsp (approx) milk

Grease a 23cm square slab pan. Line base with paper and grease.
Heat oven to 180/gas mark 4
Combine butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa, bicarb, water, apple and flour in a processor. Process until mixture is smooth (there will be small bits of apple still visible but the overall texture is smooth)
Pour into prepared pan
Bake for about 1 hour
Stand for five mins before turning on to a wire rack to cool
Spread cold cake with iciing

Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a small heatproof bowl. Stir in the butter and enough milk to make a stiff paste. Stir over hot water until icing is spreadable.


Salsicce con lenticcie

This is a staple in our house now since I came across the recipe on Damsels. It's a really versatile dish and I've yet to find anyone who hasn't enjoyed it! It reheats easily and is perfect family food - even the baby loves to sit and pick the lentils and carrot pieces from her highchair tray. I ususally serve this with some warm crusty bread to mop up all the garlic-y sauce and there's always a clamour for seconds when I make this.

I only had about half the amount of dried puy lentils I needed so added a tin about 20 minutes before the end which worked fine. Puy lentils are also sold as lentilles vertes and are reasonably easy to get hold of. Unlike red lentils, they retain a nice crunchy texture when cooked.

Ingredients (serves 6)
1 T vegetable oil
130g cubed pancetta
2 packs good quality sausages
2 onions, chopped
1 large carrot, diced finely
4 large garlic cloves chopped
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
300g puy lentils
850ml hot chicken stock
1T white wine vinegar
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 T chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in large casserole or sautee pan with lid. Add pancetta and sausages and sizzle for around 10 mins until they are nicely brown and sticky.
Remove the sausages to a plate.
Add onions, carrot and garlic to the pan and cook for 3 - 4 mins until the onions soften.
Return the sausages to the pan and add the rosemary, lentils, stock, vinegar and tomatoes, then season.
Bring to the boil and simmer rapidly for 5 mins.
Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 mins, stirring every so often until the lentils are tender.


Saturday, 3 March 2007

Banana and chocolate chip oatmeal muffins

Once again, we've been offline as we were hit by a second run of illness. Well, only the husband was affected but it felt as if we were all ill! So it's been another week of simple food hence I haven't had any inspired dishes to share.

Today we had a glut of dying bananas so I thought I'd make some muffins. I like this recipe as adding the oats makes me feel as if I'm being healthy - and in some way counteracts the chocolate! I managed to mismeasure the bicarb and baking powder so had to make one and a half times the recipe - this meant there was enough mixture for 12 large and 12 mini muffins so the toddler was allowed a mini muffin after supper tonight.....

Ingredients (makes 12 full size or 24 mini muffins):

10oz/280g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large ripe bananas (about 1 pound/450g with skins)
3-4 oz/85-110g white granulated sugar (I use golden gran and go for about 95g)
1 beaten egg
2 fl oz/60ml milk or water
3 fl oz/90 ml veg oil or 3oz/85g butter, melted
2-3 oz/60-85g walnuts or plain choc chips (optional)
If adding rolled oats, reduce the flour to 8oz/225g. Add 2oz/60g of rolled oats to the wet mixture

Preheat oven to 190-200 degrees c
Sift the flour, baking powder, soda bicarb and salt together. Add choc chips if using.
In another bowl mash bananas. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, milk or water and oil or butter. Add the oats if using.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until just combined. Don't overstir - the batter should be lumpy without any dry flour visible
Spoon into prepared muffin tins.
Bake for 20-25 mins until tops are lightly browned and spring back when pressed. For mini muffins bake for 15 mins
I adjust to 13 mins for a fan oven for mini muffins and check at about 18 mins for full size.