Monthly Archives: April 2012

Lemon Drizzle Cake (Jamie O’s Nan’s)

Drizzly, sticky, fizzy-lemon, tangy, tingly, gum-smacking citrus pop! This super lemon cake will cause a riot on your tongue, with cheeks stuffed, as a big childlike grin spreads across your face. Feel free to lick your plate and ask for more.

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I made this at home in Ivinghoe for my lemon cake loving family, before I disappear back to Edinburgh taking my food love with me. Despite using the frankly terrible oven we have and catching the edges of the cake slightly, this was a great success.

From Jamie Oliver’s Cook With Jamie, adapted.

(Note: this recipe will only be as good as your ingredients. As always for cakes I used free range organic eggs, ideally they would have been from the local hen lady but supermarket best sufficed. And of course absolutely the best lemons you can get hold of, unwaxed as you are using the rind. I managed with a four-pack of unwaxed lemons from Waitrose, making up the extra bit of juice needed for the syrup with a splash of water.)

115g unsalted butter, softened
115g caster sugar
4 large free-range or organic eggs
180g ground almonds
30g poppy seeds (I didn’t have any poppy seeds so used lavender instead, about 25g)
zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
125g self-raising flour, sifted

For the lemon syrup
100g caster sugar
90g lemon juice (I used more zest as well as that was another whole lemon and seemed a shame to waste it)

For the lemon icing
225g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating each one in well. Fold in the ground almonds, poppy seeds or lavender, the lemon zest and juice and the sifted flour. Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until lightly golden. Check with a skewer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Heat the sugar, lemon juice and zest in a pan for a few minutes so the sugar dissolves a bit. Prick lots of holes in the top of the cake with a cocktail stick or fork and pour your syrup over while the cake is still hot from the oven. Let it sit and get juicy.

To make your icing, combine the sifted icing sugar with the lemon zest and juice, stirring until smooth. I did not quite need as much liquid as was in the whole lemon, so don’t add it all at once. When your cake is about cool, put it on a serving plate and pour the icing carefully on to the middle of the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

 

Perfect for tea time and family, and for sitting in the garden in snatches of sun between the April showers.

Catriona

Sunshine food – Quesadillas

Quesadillas are something which I like to eat when I fancy a bit of sunshine –  I love them because they’re bursting with fresh and healthy ingredients and taste phenomenal for it. They’re also excellent barbecue fare for vegetarians. This is a recipe that I picked up from the excellent Otto Lenghi book ‘Plenty’ a few years ago and have written to my memory, making it time and time again.

INGREDIENTS
(makes 8 quesadillas – sometimes less depending on how generously you fill them!)

1 pack of corn tortillas (the brand ‘Discovery’ do these in the UK – I always find they have them in Waitrose and make special trips to stock up on these!) – however, normal flour based ones will do the job too though if there is a corn tortilla deficit

SALSA
2 ripe avocados
5 large ripe tomatoes (or lots of little ones, though these make the salsa a bit sweeter)
Half a red onion
3 spring onions (or thereabouts)
Juice of 1 lime
Crushed clove of garlic
1 fresh red chilli (finely diced)
pinch of salt
1 bunch of fresh coriander
2 tbsps cider/white wine vinegar

BEAN PASTE
1 tin of black beans (or equivalent in soaked weight)
1 bunch of fresh coriander (I often use  just one between the salsa and bean paste and add a little more ground coriander as my student budget prefers this)
1 tsp ground coriander
half a tsp ground cumin
quarter tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
Juice of a lime

GARNISHES
Soured cream (enough for a blob in each tortilla)
Grated cheddar (enough for a sprinkling on each tortilla)
Chopped jalapeno peppers  – also for sprinkling in the tortillas (the kind that come in vinegar in jars)

Chop the ends off the red onion, peel and then cut in half down the centre. Very finely slice this half to get neat little semi-circle slithers of onion. Place these in a large bowl (everything else will also go in here eventually) and mix with the vinegar. Then dice and slice all of the other salsa ingredients, finely chopping the leaves and stalks of the coriander and put these all in the bowl too. This is probably the most time consuming bit of the dish but well worth it!

For the bean paste, put all of the bean paste ingredients in a food processor and blend to form a lovely tasty paste.

Put a griddle pan (or failing that, a frying pan) on a good high heat whilst assembling the first 2 (unless you get several pans on the go, these cook 2 at a time). To assemble, put the tortilla on a plate, take a spoonful of the bean paste and spread it on the tortilla, leaving a good cm or two round the edge. Dollop some soured cream (or creme fraiche) in the middle of this in a little circle and then put a spoonful or two of salsa on. It’s best to go easy with the salsa otherwise it all ends up on the griddle pan which is rather upsetting. I find it’s generally better to serve it up with an extra spoonful of the stuff than overfill it and risk loosing it between the cavernous ridges of the griddle pan.

Once the salsa is on, sprinkle on some cheese and jalapenos then fold the tortilla gently in half  and put it on the hot griddle. Turn the griddle down to a medium heat so you don’t set the whole thing on fire and wait until the edges start turning the tiniest bit browned then flip the tortilla carefully and repeat (a few minutes on each side). If using a griddle this should result in lovely dark griddle lines across the tortillas.

I find that two of these alone is a good substantial lunch and one/two of these with a rice salad or some home made oven chips  is a substantial dinner.

Hannah

Moules

For Jack, Hannah and I, Moules are reminiscent of holidays spent on the Ile de Ré. Alongside Andy’s chilli and lime prawns, bought fresh from the market that morning, this is a staple  lunch time meal before heading to the beach.

Jack made Moules for himself and I a month or so back, maybe yearning warmer weather, classic flavours and outdoor cooking whilst we were hunkering down to a typical February in Edinburgh evening, avoiding the rain and dreary cold. It was also inspired by recent visits to the Mussel Inn on Rose Street in Edinburgh, of which the menu is largely a selection of mussels, oysters and fish, good bread and good frites. A firm favourite, cheap enough for students, too.

Simplest of soul foods, this crock of mussels was just cooked with shallots and garlic, then steamed in its juices with a sauce of white wine, cream and lots of parsley. Served with great hunks of bread on the side, this is fast, beautiful food.

Catriona

‘Clay pot’ sea bass with ginger and lemongrass

I have been feeling unwell for a few days and have been fancying something light and fresh and uplifting – soul food really. One of my absolute favourite places to eat in Sheffield is the Vietnamese restaurant ‘Pho 68’ because they do an incredible clay pot sea bass dish which never fails to uplift so it was with this in mind that I dreamt up this evening’s supper which is not only incredibly delicious (honestly, even if I say so myself!) but is also remarkably healthy for something so tasty.

Ingredients (serves 3/ 4)

2 Whole sea bass, gutted and with heads removed
A great big thumb of fresh root ginger
Several spring onions
2 stalks of fresh lemon grass
4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
Juice of 4 limes
400 mls of stock (preferably chicken stock. Vegetable stock is okay but try to use a reduced salt version as the soy sauce is salty enough!)
A pinch of sugar
Half a cucumber
Bunch of coriander

You will also need either a clay pot or some kind of oven suitable dish with a lid (I am using a creuset dish).
Heat the oven to 220 degrees and if you are using a genuine clay pot, put it to soak in cold water for 20 minutes.

Top and tail the lemon grass stalks and bruise them with something like a rolling pin to bring out the wonderful heady scent. Finely slice the lemon grass, spring onions and ginger in thin strips of about an inch or two in length. Lay half of this in the bottom of the dish you will be using. Wash the fish under a tap, checking the scales have all been removed. Score the fish deeply along its width on both sides several times and rub them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then place the fish on top of the finely sliced ingredients in the dish. Place the rest of the sliced ingredients on top of the fish and turn to preparing the sauce.

In a separate bowl combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, stock and sugar and pour this over the fish and chopped vegetables. Put a lid on and place this in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sea bass is white and falling away from the bone in moist flakes. Chop the cucumber in the same way that you chopped the rest of the vegetables but slightly thicker and place this in with the sea bass for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time. Coarsely chop the coriander and sprinkle this across the dish to serve. Serve with rice, preferably fluffy steamed jasmine rice (just watch out for bones! If you are not a fan of filleting your fish as you eat it or serve it, I’m sure this recipe would work fine with fillets too – just watch you don’t overcook them!)

Enjoy! For quantities and particularly for the sauce, I based this recipe on one from Nigel Slater’s ‘the kitchen diaries’  – a version in which he steams the sea bass Nigel Slater calls this a ‘soothing supper’ which I can certainly attest to. The wonderful intensity of flavours in this dish is remarkable and incredibly rewarding given the relatively short amount of kitchen time needed – it has certainly served its function as soul food.

Hannah