Gastronomically Terrific

March 19, 2010

Ducks, Chicks and Bunnies

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 11:08 pm

These fairy cakes are (inexpertly) decorated with Easter themes – because its Spring now!

(whispered) And here, through the undergrowth, we catch a glimpse of that rarest of creature, the lesser spotted icing duck. To avoid predators, they are often found with other grazers, such as the red eyed sugar rabbit. However, here approaches that most dangerous of predator, the Dan. The grazers continue, unaware of their fate.

So these guys are simple fairy cakes with butter icing, decorated to make them fun and Eastery with coloured butter icing and small bits of cherry.  There isn’t much more to say than that really, except that butter icing is actually quite easy to pipe (despite appearances!)

Who made it: Anna made me do everything whilst standing over me and giving detailed instructions.  We both piped the animals, 3 each.. bonus points to anyone who can tell which is which!

Recipe: “Fairy cakes” by Joanna Farrow, page 36.


March 16, 2010

Mushroom and stilton pie

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:46 pm

I’m proud of this pie for two reasons.  Firstly, it is basically my own recipe; well, at least, I modified this recipe by guessing what might work and getting it right.  Secondly, it was in competition with a meaty pie, and whilst I obviously didn’t try the meat Anna confessed that the veggie was nicer…

Pie. Mmm, pie.

Its not all that complicated, nor all that different from the BBC recipe, but since the details are not anywhere I’m going to give my first proper recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the pastry (150g of pre-made pastry would do fine):

  • 125 g plain flour
  • 60g butter/margarine
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of water

For the filling:

  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • garlic clove
  • 100g shiitake mushrooms
  • 125 ml vegetable stock
  • 75g stilton cheese
  • 50g mixed nuts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (ground cumin would do, but definitely isn’t as tasty)
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (ground cinnamon would do, and is probably just the same)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds


  • Make the pastry by sieving the flour, adding the butter and a pinch of salt and kneading it into tiny breadcrumbs.  Then add the water slowly, kneading it in each time, until it no longer cracks (but isn’t sticky).  Its supposed to be put in the fridge before being rolled out on a flat surface sprinkled with flour.
  • “Meanwhile” crush the cinnamon, fennel seeds and cumin seeds (the cinnamon needs quite a lot of work – you’ll need a pestle).  Then dry fry them for about 5 minutes – this makes the room smell great!  (actually it probably doesn’t change the taste all that much over ground spices, but I like the smell..)
  • Fry the garlic, onion and carrot in oil until soft.
  • Add the mushrooms and fry until soft.  Then add the tomato purée and nuts and fry for another few minutes.  Then add the soy sauce and stock and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Butter a pie dish and roll out the pastry quite thinly. Cut it to the right size to line the bottom and sides of the dish, put in the pastry and add the mushroom mixture on top.  Crumble the Stilton over it, then add the lid.  Brush the top with egg or milk, and bake at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes – don’t let the top brown until the bottom layer of pastry is cooked through.  (We have to put a tray above whatever we’re cooking to stop it being burnt…)

OK, so its not all that different to the recipe on the BBC website – I just added spice (a lot of spice) and nuts.  But it is extremely tasty!  And next time I hope to have time to make the presentation a little neater, and get some good photos!

We had it with a “potato and leek boulangere” (complete vegetarian cookbook page 262) which was a huge disappointment.  It spent about 2 hours in the oven then tasted of unflavoured potato, despite having smoked cheese and cream in it.  In the interests of fairness, I aught to give a whole post over to it, but I don’t have a photo and it was simply too dull to bother. Not to be recommended.

Who made it: it was a joint effort in a hectic kitchen, but the vegetarian flourishes were me trying to make my own dinner tasty!

Recipe: My own!  Well, mostly…

Chocolate button frosted traybake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , — thinkingdan @ 9:44 pm

This tasty traybake was made for Ben’s birthday – it was simple and portable, and could be cut up for lots of people.

What happens if I push the button?*

This is your common-or-garden** sponge cake, smothered in chocolate butter icing and decorated in buttons.  There isn’t much more to say – it is of course very tasty, and very simple.


Who made it: Anna did all the work then made Dan load it into the tupperware.  As usual this was a mistake and lots of cake was sadly lost on the way, although you’ll be pleased to hear it went to a good home.  Briefly.

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, page 75, but actually Anna made up the topping!

* I get told off.

** Ooh, I wish we could grow cake in the garden!  Maybe that is where I’ll make my millions…

March 15, 2010

Frosted Primrose Cakes

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:45 pm

These yummy fairy cakes are coated in a white chocolate frosting.

Is there a circumstance where more chocolate is not better?

There isn’t too much to say about these guys – take fairy cakes, which are mighty yummy, and coat them in white chocolate magic goo.  Unsurprisingly the result tastes very pleasing indeed.  The decorations are because its Mothers Day – Anna made these for her Mum who was fortunately visiting us on the day itself.

The cakes were literally dripping in icing – we poured it on until it wouldn’t stay any more.  Every time I moved them for a photo, I got deliciously sticky fingers, so the process took some time…

Who made it: this was all Anna.  All I did was lick the bowl, but its OK because I licked it for maybe 10 minutes until it was clean and then didn’t want dinner.

Recipe: “Fairy Cakes”, by Joanna Farrow, page 42.

March 12, 2010

Chocolate Hedgehog Cake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:56 pm

It turns out that hedgehogs taste amazing.  I’d given up being a veggie for this guy, until someone pointed out that he probably wasn’t made of real hedgehog.

He's wearing spectacles on the tip of his nose, as all good hedgehogs do.

The body of the hedgehog s a chocolate cake cooked in a Pyrex bowl to give that characteristic shape.  Then he’s sliced in half and filled with “blood”: raspberry jam mixed with butter icing.  This works amazingly well – somehow the fruit sweetness really makes the cake.  Then of course he’s smothered in butter icing and decorated with halved buttons for the spines.

The butter icing is a little wetter than it should be, leading to a slightly shiny texture, but that is really the fault of the camera work which was done in poor light with a flash.  It looked very good and tasted amazing.  We ate him from the rear forwards, cruelly extending the pain just like you do with jelly babies…

Who made it: this is all Anna’s fine work – she made it for my birthday.

Recipe: “Hallelujah! Chocolate!”, by The Chocolate Squad, page 22.

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