Uvas y queso saben a beso 

“Grapes and cheese taste like kiss”

I am finally taking a well deserved break in Spain with my husband and my in-laws. I am so happy right now, mostly because it is Saturday morning and I have just woken up from a delicious 11 hour sleep. I cannot remember the last time that I slept that long uninterupted. I feel rested, whole and complete. For the next three days I will not be cooking but eating Spanish delicacies made by my husbands parents. They cook lovely food and spoil us rotten!

I am looking forward to taking a few walks to the beach, even though it is raining here and experiencing some of the Spanish christmas traditions. I am looking forward to sleeping as much as I can and catching up on all the reading I have been unable to do for weeks.

Let’s see what the next few days bring.

Alternative mince pies

Would not be a December without mince pies…

plotting my next baking manoeuvre…

Chocolate and coconut layer cake

Last year one of my colleagues, a lovely speech and language therapist, gave me this Christmas cookbook. It was a lovely surprise and a perfect gift, and it has sat for a year on my bookshelf doing very little. I am going through a baking frenzy at the moment, spurred on by the cold weather and a desire to improve my baking skills and repertoire. It being December, the only real option is Christmas related bakery.

I sat down on Thursday evening and flipped through the whole book. I picked seven recipes and I thought I would start with chocolate and coconut layer cake. I have never attempted to make anything like this before so it seemed like a challenge.  The first hurdle was finding a Swiss roll tin (25 x 38 cm). I did not even know they existed. So I did a little Google search and found out I could buy one in Lakeland. However, that never happened and I ended up using a (25 x 32 cm) baking tray which seems to be just fine.

This was the initial result.

My husband’s verdict “underwhelming but I bet it tastes nice”

It sat in the fridge overnight and the icing set and in the morning I decided to cut off the sides to make it look a little bit more like the cake, it thought it was supposed to look like, and to fit a tupperware container.

My husband to this to work to share with his work colleagues. Verdict – delicious!

Chocolate and coconut layer cake

Sponge
40g self-raising flour
50g cornflour
6 large eggs, separated
200g golden caster sugar
220g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted

Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC (fan)/gas mark 4.
Lightly grease a Swiss roll tin (25 x 38 cm) and line with parchment paper
Sift the flours into a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and half the sugar together until the mixture is pale and has a ribbon-like texture. Pour in the melted chocolate and gently fold it in with a spatula.
In a clean bowl beat the egg whites and remaining sugar together until the mixture is shiny and reaches medium peaks. Fold a third of the mixture into the chocolate and egg yolk mixture.
Add the flours and gently fold in with a spatula.
Add the remaining egg white mixture and fold gently again. Be careful not to knock out too much of the air from the egg whites.
Pour this mixture into the tin and spread out evenly.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in its tin for about 5 minutes, then remove and transfer the cake (including the paper) on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Coconut and White Chocolate Icing
90g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g icing sugar, sifted
80g desiccated coconut
50ml coconut milk
100g white chocolate, melted and cooled

Place the butter, icing sugar, desiccated coconut and coconut milk in a bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on a low/medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Add the white chocolate and beat for a further 30 seconds.

Assemble
To assemble, slice the sponge into 4 equal rectangles. Placing a layer of coconut icing between each slice of cake, stack to make a rectangular layer cake.

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Carrot and parsnip soup

Another wintery creation…

This time, spurred on by a desire to eat carrots.

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Interesting taste and not what I expected…

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but made for a great lunch at work with a small freshly baked roll.

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INGREDIENTS

1 pound of carrots – peeled and cut into 1 inch slices

1 pound of parsnips – peeled and cut into 1 inch slices

1 medium yellow onion – peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks – I used half a large onion.

3 cloves of garlic – unpeeled

2 Tbs olive oil

8 twists of black pepper

4 cups of vegetable stock

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss chopped carrots, parsnips, onion and garlic (garlic should be unpeeled so it won’t burn) with 2 tbs of olive oil and black pepper. Toss to combine and spread out on a baking sheet and put in the oven.

Veggies will roast for 40 minutes but give them a stir every 10 to 15 minutes so they don’t burn. You want them caramelized – not burnt.

Meanwhile, heat 4 cups of stock in a stock pot.

When vegetables are done, squeeze garlic from its peel and add back to the veggies. Discard peel.

Add vegetables to stock – scrape the pan to get every last bit of veggies.

Puree vegetables and stock in a blender a bit at a time. Only fill the blender about ⅓ full and remove the little cap (blender lid insert) and cover with a kitchen towel. If you fill it up more than half and leave the little cap on – you’ll have a blender soup explosion – not fun at all!

Pour soup into bowls and serve – serves 2 to 4 depending on size of bowl/cup.