Gastronomically Terrific

January 31, 2010

Chocolate Ripple Teabread

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 7:43 pm

What better on a Sunday Afternoon than:

Chocolate Ripple Teabread

Doesn't it look perfectly delicious?

You can see how great this teabread looks.  Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate!  Mmmm.  I stuffed my face on the mixture and licked the bowl clean – it tastes amazing, being flavoured by mixed spice to give it a little extra.

No look closer at that picture.  Go on.  Stop being distracted by its delicious yummyness and focus on the flash glare.

Yes thats right – its the picture from the book. Sadly, our cake burned on top 20 minutes in to the 90 minute baketime.  We had to slice the burnt top off (complete with chocolate pieces – I could have cried), wrap it up in tinfoil, then put it back in the oven for another hour.

The finished article: upside down cake.

Our cake is the “upside down” version, though contains the same chocolaty goodness inside, as pictured.  We managed to stop it burning again by putting it in the bottom of the oven, at 20 degrees less, and covered in tinfoil (for the remaining hour).  This isn’t the first time we’ve had such problems with the oven; normally starting the oven from cold works but sadly not this time.

Still, what remains of the cake tastes as it should, which is pretty good.

Who made it: I’m going to claim that Anna had the most input, but lets face it, either of us could have noticed that it was burning before it burnt!

Recipe: “Simply Cadbury’s Chocolate”, by Joanna Farrow, page 32.



Filed under: pudding — Tags: , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 4:37 pm

The final stop in our three course dinner was:


Cream, fat, and chocolate.  On a plate.

Profiteroles: an excuse to have chocolate. Mmm, chocolate.

I’ve never been that fond of profiteroles, and until making them, I never understood why.  It turns out that there are two styles of profiterole: the “true” ones that we made, but there is also a sweetened version that I suspect you most often get from bakeries and supermarkets.  It turns out I like the sweetened version most.

The “bun” part of the profiterole is “choux” pastry: butter, flour and egg.  Notice the lack of sugar.  As they are, these taste the same as a scone, with a slightly lighter texture.  As you can see from our picture, ours didn’t come out in the nice round circles I’m used to seeing, but actually looked like mini buns.  They are also quite finicky about how long you cook them; half of ours were a bit too crispy, though the rest were just fine.

You then chop these in half and fill them with whipped cream.  Here comes my second disappointment; I don’t really like cream.  When its sweetened, its just great, but these aren’t.  So: we basically have cream sandwiches at this stage; chocolate éclair without the chocolate.  They don’t taste any better than shop bought ones, and it is fairly tricky to get right.

Finally, you drizzle the whole lot in chocolate sauce, and finally I begin to see the point in profiteroles.  The recipe calls for brandy to give the sauce a little extra, but we took a gambit and came up trumps by instead adding Cherry Brandy.  I’ve only recently discovered this stuff (see here), and I’m forming the following hypothesis:

“Everything tastes better with Cherry Brandy.”

Now this is still an open question; we need to do some experiments before I can call this a true theory!  But it certainly works here; it turns a dull pile of cream sandwiches into a cherry chocolate explosion.   I don’t really see any purpose in making profiteroles again – not unless I find sweeter recipe – but I’m certainly going to take the next excuse I can to make chocolate sauce with Cherry Brandy.  Yum!

Who made it: Anna and Dan jointly.

Recipe: “Halleyujah! Chocolate!” , page 44.

Country Casserole with spiced cheese dumplings

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 1:51 pm

The main course for our meal this weekend was a simple, hearty:

Country Casserole with spiced cheese dumplings

Streaming Casserole with dumplings

Steaming casserole in the dish. I'm sure the unappealing look of casseroles has something to do with their decline in popularity, because it isn't the taste.

Despite the unappetising picture, this simple dish tastes pretty good.  Its simple to make, you can leave it to do its thing whilst you eat a starter, and there is plenty of taste and texture for a vegetarian casserole. The key lies in cooking it for a long time in vegetable stock and passata, which become very flavoursome when the water boils down.  The vegetables are all typical hearty winter staples: swede, parsnip, carrot, celery, leek and onion.

The dumplings were a relative disappointment – made with wholemeal flour, added cheese and paprika, I was expecting something rather special.  Instead, they tasted basically the same as ordinary dumplings.  This is no bad thing, but I had hoped for more.  Were I to try it again, I’d go overboard on the cheese and paprika, because I’m sure it it a taste that could really work.  The Hungarians long ago discovered that paprika is something like magic in a casserole, so I know it can work wonders.

All in all, this was a great choice for a main after a delicate starter.  We’ve now got two more portions hiding in the freezer and I’m looking forward to them.  Much better than it looks!

Who made it: A joint effort between Anna and Dan.

Recipe: “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook” by Sarah Brown, page 244.

Broccoli and Stilton roulade

Filed under: starter — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 1:30 pm

This weekend we treated ourselves to a three course meal.  Starting with:

Broccoli and Stilton Roulade


What do you get when you combine broccoli and stilton soup, scrambled eggs and meringue?

So, this is our first ever roulade.  Described by the recipe book as “an impressive light lunch, supper dish or starter for a special meal, a roulade is not that difficult to make”.  This is true – relative to rocket science, brain surgery, or fudge making (the three pinnacles of human endeavour).  Compared to a soup, its still quite tricky.  Still, it really was worth it – until you’ve tasted roulade, you’ve never tasted anything quite like it.

There are two parts to this: a broccoli base with a Stilton sauce which are rolled to produce the rolls shown.  The sauce is really quite simple: its just a thick cheese sauce.  The roulade itself is just egg and broccoli – easy, right?  However, to get the unique fluffy melting taste, you have to separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites until they go stiff.  The yolks go in with the steamed broccoli, then the whites folded in.  Then you bake it until it goes yummy and brown, paste it with sauce and roll it up.

Taste wise, it is extremely similar to a broccoli and stilton soup – not too surprisingly!  But the texture is what makes it interesting.  Soft and melting, fluffy and bubbly, roulade is great fun to eat!  Of course, there are a million and one recipes for it, including sweet roulade, and I’m now quite inclined to work my way through them.

Who made it: A joint effort between Anna and Dan.

Recipe: “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook” by Sarah Brown, page 183. Note: the instructions are not very good.  Start with steaming the broccoli, though boiling is also OK – don’t leave it till step 3.  Don’t faff around chopping the broccoli – a light blending does the same job with much less work!

January 22, 2010

Christmas flavoured fairy cakes

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 11:47 pm

Fairy cakes come in all shapes and sizes.  So next Christmas why not try:

Mini Christmas Cakes

A “Fruit and nut” variation on the standard fairy cake, when coated in royal icing and decorated accordingly these cakes have all the good bits of Christmas Cake with the best of fairy cakes.  Not as heavy or stodgy as their bigger, jolly cousin, they are still more substantial than an ordinary fairy cake and keep a lot better.

Christmas Fairy Cakes

Left: Icing sugar inverse holly leaf. Top and Right: Mini Christmas Cakes coated with marzipan, royal icing and sugar decorations.

These were boxed up attractively and given as a Christmas gift to a family member (Hi Tony!), along with some standard fairy cakes in a variety of decoration schemes.  I can’t speak for his opinion, but we’ve made these before and they are really tasty.  The nuts help create a more complex flavour, but it is important not put in too many bitter varieties to keep the taste sweet.

These obviously belong in with the December posts but these were delayed due to bad weather… there was the wrong type of snow on the internet wires or something.  Oh yes – I was worried the snowmen in the field would come and get me if they saw their poor doomed friend above.

Who made it: Anna made the cake, and insists Dan helped by cleaning up the leftovers. That is not true, of course, but I better not tell her that..

Recipe: “Fairy Cakes”, by Joanna Farrow, page 30.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Filed under: Sweets — Tags: , , — thinkingdan @ 10:59 pm

The first rule of Cake Club is: you must not talk about Cake Club.

The second rule of Cake Club is: you must not talk about Cake Club.

Can you guess the third?  Yes, it’s that you must bring cakes.

Mega Chocolate Chip Cookies

When my turn for Cake Club came around, I looked for a simple yet tasty choice.  And here it is in all its glory: behold for yourself, the mighty cookies.

Cookies. With Chocolate Chips.

This is a trivial recipe courtesy of “Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book”, consisting only of egg, flour, butter, and chocolate chips.  But what more is there to life, when it comes down to it?  I mean really?

Well OK, there is vanilla essence and a pinch of salt, but that’s just nitpicking.  You simply mix them all up, dollop onto an oven tray and bake for 10-15 minutes; try to take them out before they brown too much.

Taste wise, they are almost identical to the melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness that we all know from those awesome supermarket cookies; you know, the ones we all trekked all the way to Sainsbury’s for because Somerfield didn’t do them back in the last millennium.  In these more enlightened times, its possible to get such tasty cookes at 4 for a pound at any medium-sized supermarket, which is a hefty mark-up considering I got 17 for less than this.  Additionally, this is a perfect base to make experimental cookie flavours from.  What party wouldn’t benefit from home-made raisin/cranberry/white-chocolate/dark-chocolate/double-chocolate/triple-chocolate… oh I give in, I obviously need some chocolate right now.

Any interesting cookie ideas?

Who made it: This was all Dan.  Anna helped with the eating though.

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, page 151.

Let us bow our head for the pies.

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:39 pm

Dear reader,

It is with great regret that I inform you of the tragic passing of one of the most interesting and yet mistreated members of this gastronomic experiment: the pie.

Chestnut and cep pie

Sadly, no records have remained of this valiant stalwart of the oven.  It shall be remembered for its chestnuts, naturally; but also its mushrooms; and pastry was here aplenty.  But there is no photograph to recall the salivation that passed my lips as I bit into its tender and delicate body.

This pie is an interesting vegetarian recipe, cleverly designed to hide its vegetarian-ness without resorting to fake meat wanna-bes.  A very mincelike texture was achieved in the chestnuts, being chopped roughly and baked to create something meaty, yet still unique.  Dried cep mushrooms provided a strong flavour, being re-hydrated and the intense liquid forming the base of a red wine gravy.  We even made our own pastry, and felt all the morally superior for doing so.  (It doesn’t change the taste, but it is easy and cheap!)

Served with cheesy potato cakes it was a rather pleasing, though subtle main meal.  Next time I would probably increase the amount of herbs, yet I would certainly hope there was a next time.

Who made it: Dan did most of the pie making, with Anna doing the potatoes and helping with many of the flaky pastry details.

Recipe: “The complete Vegetarian Cookbook”, page 257.

Chocolate Pots

Filed under: pudding — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:26 pm

Chocolate Pots. That would be pots, filled with chocolate.

Pots, of chocolate

Dark chocolate, white chocolate and milk chocolate make for a chocolatey chocolateness

This recipe comes from  the “Co-operative magazine” which mysteriously appears every so often in the post.  In fact, this magazine has some exceptionally good recipes in; so good we thought “Mmm, lets write a blog about all this yummy food”.

This comes as a slight disappointment on the tail of the previous recipes from the co-op, which remain sadly unreviewed. The bottom layer is a creamy chocolate sauce, topped by white chocolate mousse, and a milk chocolate mousse.  These are all pretty tasty as you’d expect, but the overall effect is extremely sweet and it took me two tries to make it all the way though.

This is a shame, as the dessert would have made a perfect topping for a cake, or flavouring for smaller chocolates.  In general, I’ve found this sort of dessert a bit much, favouring instead cakes or baked puddings.  Perhaps I’m just a simple cake monster and should stick to what I know and love?

Who made it: Anna slaved over a hot stove and a whirring blender whilst Dan supervised by licking everything he could find.  Yes, everything.

Chocolate Cherry Gateau

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:10 pm

This is Black Forest Gateau with a twist – a hint of Cherry Brandy.  A question: what doesn’t taste better with Cherry Brandy?

Chocolate Cherry Gateau

What doesn't taste better with Cherry Brandy?

This is a simple recipe from “Hallelujah! Chocolate!” and consists of a chocolate cake, which you have to cut into 3 very thin horizontal slices, sandwiched together with a layer of sweet cherry syrup and two of cream, and liberally coated in cherry brandy cream.  It tastes pretty awesome and our visitors (Hi Gemma and Andrew!) helped us gobble this bad boy up in one joyous weekend.

This is a cake for the cake enthusiast – its short shelf life is unlikely to be a problem.  Whilst not being hugely different to a high quality shop-bought gateau, it has a melting quality and a brandy twang that are subtle yet distinctive.  Highly recommended.

Who made it: Anna baked it, and Dan helped with the cutting and decor.

Recipe: “Hallelujah! Chocolate!” page 34.

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