Life is funny. After feeling triumphant at cooking a meal for the first time in days, I was overcome by a wave of nausea that did not fade for hours. My mother suggested lemon and hot water. I sipped and sipped this bitter liquid but to no avail. I was crashed out on the sofa for hours feeling more than a little sorry for myself. I think maybe it was a bit much to be cooking after two days of being off my feet. I am always surprised on how debilitating these ‘minor’ illnesses can be. In someways I feel quite fraudulent because when the antibiotics and analgesia kick in, I feel fine and I am wondering what the fuss is all about. So I was lying in the sofa, willing the contents of my stomach to stay in place, when I thought that perhaps I just needed something very sweet to eat. Nice thought, but apart from my husband’s dark chocolate collection there was not really much in the way of sweet sweet stuff in the flat. I then decided that if I had the energy I would make some dark chocolate brownies. I found a recipe last year that was a complete success. Dark Chocolate and Ginger. Ginger is meant to help with nausea…?
So after much mental ‘persuasion’ from myself. I went back into the kitchen and rustled up a batch of brownies. Sounds so easy…
Well it was and it wasn’t. Afterwards I was tired again. I ate one brownie with a cup of hot sweet tea. Did it help the nausea, for a time yes. But I think I shall have to accept that I will feel better when I feel better and I should rest a little more.
113g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
75g dark chocolate, broken into squares
200g caster sugar
95 g plain flour
1 tsp fresh root ginger, grated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 20cm square baking tin
2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium sized saucepan over a low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. Add all the other ingredients and stir until smooth.
4. Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake until set – about 30 minutes.
5. Cool in the pan, and then cut into 16 squares.
It is the first day of October. I cannot believe the year has gone so quickly. I sometimes wish I could hold back time and just say, “wait a little” but it moves on relentlessly. This weekend I have been recovering from a rather nasty bout of tonsillitis. It has knocked me for six, I have not felt so unwell in rather a long time (Christmas last year). My appetite for food has been pretty much diminished so it was nice to wake up today with a desire to eat something more substantial than toast and to be able to stand without feeling dizzy. Into the kitchen I padded and managed to put together this meal for my husband and I. Potatoes are my favourite food and I should try and find more creative ways to serve them, but I find not much beats a mash potato. Today I mashed with salt, pepper, nutmeg and butter. We had some seafood mix sitting in the freezer so I decided to fry it up with salt, pepper garlic, ginger, pepper and courgette. The whole thing was very tasty and rather filling.
I made these muffins on Monday evening and took them to work on Tuesday morning. They were a success. It is ‘Love Your Admin’ week in our Trust and this was my contribution to show my appreciation of the hard work they do for us (can’t wait for Love Your Doctor week – I suspect that somehow…). I was somehow quite excited about working with sunflower oil instead of butter. I have used it many times before with interesting and tasty results. This time was no different. I have never really cooked with figs before but I loved the sticky sweet seedy texture, it is truly wonderful. Yes, I had a lot of fun baking these muffins.
500g (1 lb 2oz) ripe mashed bananas (about 4 large bananas)
125ml (4fl oz) sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
125g (4 1/2 oz) crunchy peanut butter
1 egg beaten
350g (12oz) plain flour
125g (4 1/2oz) soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g (8oz) chopped dates or figs
3 tablespoons mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas 4. Line a muffin tin with 12 tulip muffin cases.
2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl with the sunflower oil, vanilla bean paste, peanut butter and beaten egg.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and raising agents. Add the chopped dates or figs and seeds and toss to coat.
4. Tip the flour into the banana mixture and stir until just combined.
5. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cases and sprinkle with seeds. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Reference: Have Your Cake and Eat It – Mich Turner
September is a month of birthdays for our family. This weekend we set about celebrating my mother and brothers birthday. We started off with a family photoshoot and ended up at my sister’s place eating party food. I took it upon myself to make a birthday cake – mainly because I love baking! I decided that I would like to make a fruit based cake with layers. I have recently bought yet another cookbook ‘Have Your Cake and Eat It’ from the Book People that arrived at my place of work. The chocolate cherry cream cake was very appealing! It was also a bit of challenge to me as it introduced me to the world of geonise sponges and chantilly cream. I now know that the geonise sponge originates from Italy and is has a heavy whipped egg base to provide a light air leavened lighter cake. I will say now, that this technique is definitely something that I will need to practice. I found that the cake that I eventually made was perhaps more dense than it should have been and I was not able to slice each cake in half as per the recipe instructions. However the lashings of cream and jam that made it to the cake seems to compensate somewhat.
40g (1/2 oz) melted butter, plus extra for greasing
6 medium eggs
190g (6 3/4 oz) golden caster sugar
150g (5 1/2 oz) plain flour
45g (1 1/2 oz) cocoa powder
500g (1lb 2oz) black cherry jam
875g (1lb 14oz) fresh black cherries, stoned
FOR THE CREME CHANTILLY
450ml (16fl oz) double cream
110g (4oz) caster sugar
3 tablespoons kirsch OR 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas 4. Grease and line the base and sides of 4 x 20cm (8 inch) round sandwich tins with non-stick baking parchment.
2. Place the eggs with the caster sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk with an electric hand whisk until tripled in size, plan and leaves a ribbon trail. Remover from the heat.
3. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder into the batter and gently fold in with a metal spoon or rubber spatula until fully combined. Drizzle in the melted butter.
4. Transfer the batter to the prepared tin and bake for 12 – 15 minutes until risen and springs back when pressed. Do not overbake as the sponge will be dry. Transfer to a wire rick. Leave the cake to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely.
5. To make the creme Chantilly, whip the cream, sugar and kirsch or vanilla together until voluminous and firm but still glossy. Be careful not to over whip.
6. To serve, cut the sponges in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place one sponge on a cake plate and spread with one-third of the cherry jam, then one-third of the kirsch creme Chantilly.
7. Repeat with the other sponges, jam and cream finishing with the final sponge. Decorate with fresh black cherries.
Reference: Have Your Cake and Eat It – Mich Turner