Monday, 28 June 2010

Plum, Apple and Blueberry Crumble

Served at room temperature, this is surprisingly good in the light of the current heatwave: sweet and moreish, but slightly tart and refreshing. Served warm, it is excellent comfort food. One of Holloway's many treats are the fruit and veg stalls that sell entire bowlfuls of plums for £1. This batch proved too many to eat so I decided to make crumble from the surplus (and gradually overcoming my fear of making desserts in the process). Serve with a dollop of sour cream or ice cream if you fancy a little creaminess with the fruit.

For the filling
12 ripe red plums
2 granny smith apples
150g blueberries
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp lemon juice
50g muscovado sugar

For the crumble
150g plain flour
150g muscovado sugar
150g salted butter
50g dessicated coconut

First, preheat the oven to 180° C. Then quarter the plums, discarding the stones and peel, core and slice the apples into 1cm pieces. Toss the fruit layer ingredients in a large bowl before transferring to an approximately 30cm oven-proof dish.

To make the crumble, whizz the ingredients together in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and just starts to cling together in nibs. Take care to stop the motor before the mixture turns into a dough.Alternatively, you can do this by hand, massaging the butter and flour mixture together until you have crumbs. Again, if you knead too long you will end up with dough, so don't overdo it!

Sprinkle the crumble over the top of the fruit filling, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. I usually take the foil off 15 minutes before the crumble is ready to gently brown the crumbs a little. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving, or at room temperature.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Chocolate Buttercream Cupcakes

I have a guilty confession to make. It is three months until my birthday and I have opened my present. The present being a beautiful shiny red kitchenaid, which I have been lusting after for an age. In my defence, we have nowhere to hide a great big box full of gadget, and i did pay for a third of it myself!

However, having opened it and cooed over how beautiful and shiny it is, there was only one thing for it, and that was to make cake. and I have made lots of cake today. Both the cupcakes you see below, and the carrot cake I blogged back in February. I'm tempted to try out the dough hook and make ciabatta next.

Ingredients (makes 24):
4 large free-range eggs
250g caster sugar
250g self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
250g butter

For the chocolate buttercream icing
220g butter
350g icing sugar
110g cocoa powder
1 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180C and lin 2 x 12-hole fairy cake tins with paper cases.

Crack the eggs and sift the caster sugar into a mixing bowl then beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence together until light and fluffy. Melt the butter and sift the flour then carefully fold in to the eggs and sugar.

Divide the mixture evenly between the paper cases and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and when skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the tin.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Sift then add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Then add the remaining icing sugar, sifted cocoa powder and one tablespoon of the milk and beat until creamy. 

Once the cakes are cool, pipe the buttercream onto the cakes and decorate accordingly. I used chocolate curls and white chocolate stars.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


As promised, a recipe for guacamole. Apologies for the lack of blogging but sometimes real life gets in the way. I made this partly by way of displacement activities (essay writing on sunny days is no fun) and partly because I was hungry. 

I used to consider guacamole a bit of a last resort - something to do with avocados that have been hanging around a bit too long and are too soft/bruised to serve as salad. The unsightly slightly brown flesh is off-putting to look at but doesn't effect the flavour too badly, so is perfect for guacamole. 

However, since moving to Holloway and being surrounded by Turkish and other ethnic supermarkets, I have been spoiled for choice and I can now make guacamole because I want to, rather than as a means of using up an previously over-hard supermarket avocado that took an age to ripen. Today's came from a market stall offering 6 perfectly ripe avocadoes for £1 - bargain! Three for the guacamole, and three for anything else that takes my fancy...

I like my guacamole a bit more rough and ready than most. If you'd like yours more like a dip, put all the ingredients into a food processor - it'll make the end result much smoother!

3 perfectly ripe avocadoes
1 tomato
1/2 a red onion
1 red chilli
10g coriander
juice of 1 lime
1 dsp olive oil
salt and pepper
paprika to garnish 

Slice the avocadoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl, add the lime juice and olive oil and chop until all the avocadoes are in small pieces. I find it easiest at this stage to mash the avocado with a fork to get it to the consistency I like best. 

Next, place the tomato in a bowl of boiling water for one minute, then peel. Slice in half and discard the seeds and core, then chop into small pieces and add to the avocado. Finely chop half a red onion and de-seed and finely chop the chilli and throw these into the mixing bowl. Finally, finely chop the coriander, add to the bowl and thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a sprig of coriander and a dusting of paprika, then serve. I like my guacamole best with freshly warmed pitta or corn chips, but it's also delicious as part of a fajita burrito.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Fajita Burrito

One of my favourite places to stop for lunch is the Daddy Donkey burrito van on Leather Lane. They're not particularly cheap, but they make a wonderful Friday treat. My other half has yet to experience the joys of Daddy Donkey, and seeing as we had some tortilla wraps in the fridge and most of the ingredients, I decided it was time he got to sample what all the fuss was about!

If you make all the components in advance, it takes no time to assemble - just a little skill and practice. The best advice I can give is to use the biggest tortilla you can find. I'll cover how to make guacamole and salsa another time.

Ingredients (makes 4): 
2 chicken breasts, marinated in peri peri
1 red onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
50g basmati rice
10g fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 lime
1 little gem lettuce
100g cheddar
sour cream
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
olive oil
4x flour tortillas - the biggest you can lay your hands on!

If you have time, slice the chicken breast into 5mm slices and marinate it the night before. If not, just leave it for as long as you can before you need to eat. Once the chicken has marinated, grill or griddle it and then roughly chop. 

Put the rice on to boil for 11 minutes, then slice the onion and peppers - each about 5mm in size. Sautée the peppers and onion with the cumin and coriander powder until completely soft. Once the rice is cooked, drain then rinse and set aside. Once it has cooled sufficiently, stir in the fresh coriander, add a little black pepper and the juice of 1/4 of the lime and mix it all together.

Make up the salsa and guacamole (recipes soon), shred the little gem lettuce and grate the cheese. 

In a hot frying pan, dry fry the tortillas for 15 seconds each to warm through, and then pile the ingredients into the centre: a handful of chopped chicken per burrito, two tablespoons of rice, a tablespoon of sautéed peppers, a handful of cheddar, a handful of lettuce and a dessertspoon of guacamole and sour cream. 

And here's the tricky part (but practice makes perfect, I assure you!) - tightly wrap the tortilla around the filling, and serve. Mine aren't as tightly wrapped as the delicious Daddy Donkey ones (yet), but if you're craving a decent fajita and Farringdon is that bit too far, this makes a suitable alternative.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Thai Red Salmon Curry

Inspired by a trip down Leather Lane Market at lunchtime, I decided to try my hand again at Thai. Being slightly health-conscious, I used half fat coconut milk instead of its full-fat cousin, but there's no reason why you can't go the full-fat route. It's a lovely, fresh-tasting meal, and quite substantial too, hence why I suggest this serves 4-6 people. I would advise getting everything prepared in advance as it's really quick to make - it's a lot down to timing and you should be able to put it together in the time the rice takes to boil. For alternatives to salmon, try it with king prawns or deep-fried tofu for a vegetarian option.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
400g tinned Puy lentils, drained
1tbsp olive oil
200g green beans, topped and tailed
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into 5mm slices
4 salmon fillets, skinned and sliced
200g Thai red curry paste
400ml reduced fat coconut milk
1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
20g coriander, chopped
200g Thai jasmine rice

First, put the rice on to boil. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed saucepan then add the peppers and green beans and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the salmon and half the coriander and spring onions, then fry for a minute before stirring in the red Thai sauce for a further minute.

Next, add the coconut milk and Puy lentils and simmer for a further 5 minutes, until the salmon is cooked. Drain and fluff the rice, then serve with the curry spooned over the rice and scatter the remaining spring onions and coriander on top.