Friday, 21 September 2018

Flourless chocolate orange cupcakes

I mostly do my grocery shopping online. I like being able to ponder without pressure and other people. I like having various tabs open on my computer with recipes and a weekly meal plan. I like being able to duck down to check what I have in the freezer and being able to consider my budget. Of course, the down side is that there are some things that are less convenient. The smallest pack size for oranges is 4. So if I want to make something that uses the zest and juice of an orange, I have to come up with other things that use the rest of the oranges.

Which is my excuse for making these. They are mostly Claudia Roden's wonderful orange almond cake. Which is also Nigella's wonderful clementine cake. But deeply chocolatey. And small. They aren't particularly pretty - at first sight you might think they were going to be a bit healthy and worthy - but they are moist to the edge of gooeyness, with a voluptuous, rich chocolate orange flavour. Like an R-rated Jaffa cake.

Flourless Chocolate Orange Cupcakes - Makes 18 medium sized

2 large oranges (approx 375g)
6 eggs
250g caster sugar
2 tbs good quality cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate
1tsp baking powder
250g ground almonds
Chocolate decorations and a bit of marmalade if you are feeling extra, but this is not the time for buttercream

Wash the oranges and boil them whole for 1½ hours or until they are very soft, topping up with boiling water from the kettle as necessary.

While the oranges are cooling, preheat oven to 190C (fan) and line medium-sized cupcake tins with paper cases

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and cocoa powder.

Either chop the chocolate into small pieces, or break it up and pulse it to rubble in a food processor (you have the processor out to puree the oranges in a moment, so you might as well. You don't have to wash it up before you do the oranges. But I digress).

Add the baking powder, chocolate rubble and almonds to the egg and sugar mixture and mix well.

When cool enough to handle, cut the oranges open and remove any pips, then puree the oranges, including the peels, in a food processor. Mix the orange puree into the batter and divide between the cupcake cases - about 2 tablespoons in each, which will come up 2/3 of the way.

Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the tins at half time. Let cool before decorating with chocolate decorations or segments of chocolate orange or chocolate dipped orange peel or whatever, glued on with a dab of marmalade.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Triple ginger crunch slice


These rather fabulous morsels are what I think Americans call "bar cookies", but in Australia they are just known as slice. When discussing an office morning tea, you might say "I'm making a cake, so could you bring a slice?" and everyone understands that it's going to be a sweet traybake, often with a shortbread sort of base, cut into pieces that take just a bite or two.

Ginger crunch isn't Australian though - it's one of New Zealand's wonderful baked goods. My version isn't very crunchy: it has a tender oaty shortbread base and smooth ginger icing and it just feels like the right thing to eat with a cup of tea as the days get shorter and the weather cools down.

Triple ginger crunch slice (makes 24 pieces, the way I slice it)

Base
125g salted butter, softened
100g caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar with a vanilla bean stored in it, I think it adds to the flavour)
180g self raising flour
30g quick cooking rolled oats
2 tsp ground ginger
40g crystallised ginger, roughly chopped

Icing
125g salted butter
45g golden syrup (I know the Tate & Lyle tins are iconic but it's so much easier to get the squeezy bottles and measure straight into the pan on the scales)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
180g icing sugar
1 tbs ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
Line a 7" x 11" pan with baking patchment.
In a small food processer, pulse the oats to crumbs, then add the rest of the base ingredients and process until it just comes together as a sandy dough.

Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan, flattening the surface with your hands, then bake until it’s light golden brown - about 20 minutes.

At the 15 minute mark, combine the butter for the icing with the golden syrup and grated ginger in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and sift in the icing sugar and last tablespoon of ground ginger and beat until smooth.

Remove the pan from the oven and pour the warm icing over the base. Tilt it around a bit to cover evenly, but it's fairly self-levelling. Let cool in the tin for about half an hour, then remove from the pan and slice with a sharp knife while still slightly warm.

It'll keep for 4 days in a sealed tin, if it gets a chance.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Nanny's Summertime Squares

Sharing recipes makes you immortal. Every time your recipe is passed on, people say your name. People who never met you know who you are. It's one of the most powerful things about food.

A Canadian pal of mine has a special fondness for these bars, which her Nanny used to make. It took a while for her to get hold of the recipe, but now she has given me permission to share it. They are fudgey and gooey and quite delicious. And oatmeal, so it's clearly health-food.

Nanny's Summertime Squares (makes... depends on the size of the square and the pan. I cut it into 16 pretty substantial bars)

2 cups sugar (Nanny specified white, I used golden caster)
3tbs cocoa
115g butter (Nanny used 1/4lb margarine)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1tsp vanilla
3 cups instant oatmeal

Put the first four ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and boil for a minute. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla, and mix until the peanut butter melts, then remove from heat and stir in the oatmeal. Mix well and scrape into a tin lined with baking parchment. Chill to set and cut into squares.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

11 years

Margarita on the rocks
It's snuck up on me, so I haven't baked anything to celebrate. But here we are - 11 years of Foodycat.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Margarita cheesecake ice cream

You may have heard that the UK is in the grip of a heatwave. It's not quite as hot as the infamous summer of 1976 (mention the weather in front of any British person over the age of 45 and they start to tell you about the summer of '76) but weeks of high 20s temperatures and very little rain have meant that there's barbecuing and grilling and salads and not a lot of other cooking going on.

But I did make this rather good dessert over the weekend.

It relies on the booze to stop it from freezing hard, so if you don't like to consume alcohol this really isn't for you.

Margarita Cheesecake Ice Cream (it's rich, makes lots)

1 x 397g can of full-fat condensed milk
300g cream cheese
2 limes
3 tbs tequila
3 tbs Cointreau or triple sec
300ml double cream
Shortbread biscuits, to serve

In a large bowl, using an electric whisk, beat together the condensed milk, cream cheese, grated zest and juice of the limes and the alcohol until smooth. Add the cream and whisk until soft peaks form. Scrape into a freezer-proof container and freeze overnight. Serve with a shortbread biscuit on the side. I'd have crumbled them up and mixed them through, but Paul really hates those sorts of bits in his ice cream.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Anthony Bourdain's macaroni cheese


The food world - and the music world and the travel world - is still reeling from Anthony Bourdain's death last week.

Many people have written about their feelings of loss. People who knew him and people who only knew his work have talked about the way his passion for things that are real and human moved them and made them feel seen. Many more people have talked about their own experiences of mental illness taking them close to the doorway he walked through.

For someone who came to fame with a book that pretty much formed the public perception of macho bad-boy wankery in professional cooking, he's leaving a legacy of compassion and vulnerability, the “very tender alchemy that made one generous to friends and unrelenting to enemies; the best kind of human to be” that is much more valuable.

His macaroni cheese recipe (which of course being American he called macaroni and cheese) is my offering to the I Heart Cooking Clubs round-up of food-blogger tributes. I don't know the backstory for him developing this recipe, but to me it speaks of having eaten many, many disappointing dishes of mac cheese. This is the recipe of someone who is not going to settle for bland, pasty macaroni. He leaves nothing to chance, with four types of cheese, mustard, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce and a lot of white pepper. It's very, very good.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper for Cook The Books

It's been ages since I cooked along with Cook The Books Club - even when there's been a book scheduled that I was really keen to read or already loved, time has got away from me and I've missed it.

I thought this was a good time to come back though. Deb, from Kahakai Kitchen chose Fuchsia Dunlop's Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, which I have been wanting to read for a while. Fuchsia is a bit of a national treasure: she gets trotted out whenever people want to talk to an English-speaking person about Chinese food, or authenticity, or the migration of food culture. The broad strokes of her career (first Western person to train as a chef at the culinary school in Sichuan) are very well known but I was interested in the detail.

And the detail was very interesting. A snapshot of China in the early 90s, when things were starting to open up a bit. The experience that white people seldom have of being completely other. The deep, rich history of Chinese cuisine. The desire to break off the treadmill of being a clever woman on a predictable academic and career path.

Unfortunately, I found much of the actual food descriptions stomach-churning. While her desire to immerse herself in the cuisine and to learn to appreciate the foreign textures and flavours is admirable (it reminds me a bit of Anthony Bourdain "you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you"), I found it very hard to deal with the things she found herself eating. The almost blasé approach to animal cruelty and eating endangered species (although she did say she may end up vegetarian and gives quite an interesting explanation for the animal cruelty) was a kind of cultural relativism that didn't sit well with me.

As it happens, the dish I personally most associate with Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan is 成都豆腐花 - Chengdu street tofu with soy chilli, peanuts and preserved vegetables as served at A Wong. Which is vegan. And Andrew Wong has shared the recipe.
Chengdu street tofu - not as pretty as Andrew Wong's.
The fish-fragrant aubergine that initially captured Fuchsia's imagination can also be vegan if you use vegetable stock, so I made that as our main course (following Diana Henry's recipe for Fragrant Sichuan Aubergine in Simple), along with some marinated mushrooms (which I reheated to serve). And then I let the vegan side down by serving it on egg fried rice. But it was delicious. And no endangered species died.
Urchin kept bumping my elbow - didn't get one single focussed picture)

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