Carrot cake II

 

I posted my other carrot cake recipe quite a long while ago (Click here to view), and completely forgot that I was going to put the other recipe I also use on here. But better late than never! This cake comes as an extremely fluffy, moist piece of cake, and for sure would impress even the toughest cake critics!

175g light muscovado sugar
175ml walnut oil (you can replace this with vegetable oil)
3 large eggs, beaten
175g carrots, grated (~2 large carrots)
100g raisins
grated zest of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan) / 320°F.

2. I usually prepare all of the ingredients first, as the batter making steps are very quick. Put the sugar, eggs and oil in your main mixing bowl.

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3. Measure the raisins in a bowl, peel and grate the carrots, and grate the orange peel.

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4. Measure all the dry ingredients (flour and spices) in a separate bowl, and mix them together.

5. Mix the sugar, eggs and oil together lightly. I use a food processor on level 3 for 2-3 minutes. If you don’t have one, it’s fine to mix by hand.

6. Add raisins, orange peel and grated carrots, until everything are nicely mixed together.

7. Add the last remaining dry ingredients. There is no need to over mix this, just until it’s all mixed together.

8. Pour in your baking tray. I use a silicon one, so no greasing is required, however, if using a metal tin, it would be a good idea to grease your tin.

9. Bake for about 45 minutes. I use a metal knitting needle to check that the cake is fully cooked through. Stick the pin all the way through to the centre of the cake. Once you pull the pin out, if the pin is clean, the cake is cooked through. If some dough has got stuck on the pin, it will still need some more baking.

10. Once the cake is cooked through, remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool. Squeeze the juice of the orange. Prick holes onto the cake with a needle, and pour the orange juice over it. Once the cake is fully cooled, remove the cake from the tin, turning it upside down. Dust with icing sugar.

Oven baked creamy salmon and vegetables

Salmon is a great versatile, tasty and meaty fish that can be cooked in many different ways. It is also very healthy, and in particular is rich in Omega 3.

Serves 2
2 large handfuls of spinach
1/2 courgette (zucchini)
2 small turnips
100g green beans
~6 florets of broccoli
2 cloves of garlic
2 salmon fillets
200ml cream
salt
white pepper
cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 360°F. Peel and chop the turnips into bite size chunks. Chop the courgette, green beans and broccoli also into bite size pieces. Place the spinach at the bottom of an oven dish, followed by the other vegetables. Squeeze the garlic on top. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.img_1537

2. Place the salmon on top of everything, pour the cream over, and season the salmon with some salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.

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3. Place in the preheated oven, and bake for 20 minutes. If you don’t like your vegetables crunchy, you might want to bake the vegetables on their own first for 5-10 minutes, before adding the salmon and cream.

Nasi Goreng with chicken

This dish is something I was already cooking before our holiday to Bali, but it was only during this holiday that I learned Nasi Goreng actually is Indonesian food. I had to of course sample it a few times whilst there, to find out how my one compares. Having now eaten it at it’s original, local environment, I’m proud to say mine is as good as the original. Nasi Goreng itself means fried rice. I didn’t particularly plan that I was going to make this this week, so I didn’t have prawns that are normally part of it, but I’ve added them to the recipe. Last time I made the paste I saved half in the freezer, and used it now.

Nasi Goreng paste
3 tbsp ground nut oil
4 garlic cloves
2 large shallots
15g roasted salted peanuts
6 green small chillies
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp dried shrimp paste
1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Nasi Goreng rice
1.5 dl uncooked long grain rice
2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 large eggs
vegetable oil (I use rapeseed oil)
4 large shallots, finely chopped
150g peeled and cooked prawns
1/2 cucumber, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
salt
black pepper
1 tbsp light soy sauce

1. Put all paste ingredients in a blender, and blitz together until smooth paste.

2. Cook the rice in boiling, salted water until tender. Depending on rice this will take around 10-15 minutes. Drain, and rinse. Drain again, and spread on a tray to cool during the other food prep.

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3. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper, and fry in a little oil into three thin omelettes, frying briefly on both sides. Roll them up, and cool. Once cooled, cut into thin strips.

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4. Heat a good splash of oil (few tbsp) in a pan, and add about half of the paste, or 4-5 tbsp. Fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring,  and add the shallots and chicken. Stir, making sure all chicken pieces are coated with the paste.

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5. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the cooled rice, and prawns. Fry, stirring, until warmed through, then add the cucumber, spring onions, egg strips and soy sauce, and stir fry for couple of minutes.

Beetroot and dill cured salmon

Cured salmon is one of the foods often enjoyed as part of the Scandinavian kitchen. There are many variations to it, however the basics you will need are sugar and salt. The whole process is based on the reaction called osmosis, and is an ancient way of preserving foods that wouldn’t last fresh for long otherwise. During the curing, you will notice a lot of liquid will be drawn out of the fish. The cured fish will last in the fridge for few weeks, however I doubt you will have anything left for that long.

2 raw beetroot, grated
500g piece of fresh salmon
50g table salt
90g caster sugar
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
a bunch of fresh dill

1. Dry roast the mustard seeds, until fragrant and popping. Cool, and crush together with the peppercorns with pestle and mortar. Mix together with salt, sugar and finely chopped dill.

2. Place a large piece of cling film to cover the dish you’re using for your curing. Place half of the raw, grated beetroot at the bottom. Then add half of the mixture of the other ingredients.

3. Add the piece of salmon on top of the beetroot and sugar / salt mixture. Leave the skin on the fish.

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4. Add the salt / sugar mixture and the beetroot on top of the fish too.

5. Tightly pack the fish and curing mixture. I used three different layers of cling film, however some of the liquid will still seep through. Place something to act as weights on top of the fish, and put in to fridge.

5. About every 12 hours (or every morning and evening), turn the fish upside down. I also change the direction my weights are, to try to ensure they are covering as much as possible during the process.

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6. After two days, your fish is ready. Drain all liquid, and wipe the fish piece clean.

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Homemade chicken stock

I take great pride for making most things from scratch. I would say a general rule is that homemade is always much tastier and healthier, whatever it is. Please don’t be put off making your own chicken stock even though it does take quite a while to make; after the initial steps it won’t need much attention from you, and you can use the remaining cooking time doing other things. The absolute key to a good, flavoursome stock is bones. You must, must, must use chicken on the bone, and for richer flavour you do also want to ensure you have some meat. I usually use chicken legs, drumsticks and wings. Once the cooking of the stock is finished, you can  remove the meat off the bone and use it for other meals. Once cooled, I freeze the stock in portion sizes. Since I started making my own stock, I hardly ever use shop bought ones anymore, those are now in my cupboard merely for back up for when I’ve run out of my own. I often make a double batch of the recipe, as it does take quite a long time to make.

1 chicken leg
475g chicken wings
500g chicken drumsticks
3 liters water
1 celery stick, chopped into big pieces
1 carrot, chopped into big pieces
1 medium onion
~15 black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tsp sea salt
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I sometimes make a Chinese variation, and replace the celery, carrot, onion and bay leaves (use the other remaining ingredients) with

1 thumb size piece of root ginger, sliced
4 spring onions

1. First, place the chicken and water in a large pot, and bring to simmer. Bare in mind that for the best results, the stock shouldn’t boil at any stage, only simmer.

2. ‘Scum’ will start coming to the surface of the stock. Keep skimming this away, however don’t stir or disturb the stock otherwise. I use a slotted spoon for this. At this stage, it’s important to give the stock attention.

3. Once there is no more scum rising to the top (this can take about half an hour), you can add all other ingredients. Then cover with lid, and set the temperature to a low simmer, making sure it doesn’t boil. Cook for 3 hours.

4. Strain the stock through a sieve. I tend to also use muslin, to get rid of even finer impurities.

5. If freezing some of the stock, let it cool. Portion into containers, and put in the freezer. Work through all the wings, legs and drumsticks (by hands) to remove all the meat. If not using straight away, freeze in portion sizes. You will get quite a lot of meat out of them, don’t waste them!

Lobster bisque

To make this food sing, you do want to make the effort. The shells of this crustacean are packed with flavour, so you must use them to your benefit. Lobster is an expensive ingredients, so this is perhaps something to make when you’re seriously trying to impress someone. This soup is very decadent and luxurious. Most of the meat will be used in the base of the soup, however you could save some of the meat to be eaten either on it’s own, or as pieces in the soup. It’s always satisfying to bite into a juicy piece of meat. I got my lobsters from the fishmongers already boiled. You can serve this as a main soup, or it works very well as a starter.

serves 6
2 fresh lobsters
1 onion
1 carrot
1 celery stick
2 litres water
2 tbsp tomato paste
200ml brandy
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
5 parsley stalks
25g butter
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1 shallot
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp flour
150ml double cream
handful of dill, finely chopped
salt
black pepper

25g butter

1. Cut the shell on the belly side, to remove the meat. Pull the tail part of the shell separate from the head. Discard what’s inside the head, but keep all the shell of the lobster. Set all of the tail and claw meat aside.

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2. Place the butter and all other ingredients apart from the brandy and water into a large pan. Fry on medium to high heat, stirring, to ensure the shells are fried. Then, pour in the brandy, and let it bubble for a few minutes, then add the water. Simmer the stock for about an hour.

3. Melt the butter in another pan, and fry the shallots and garlic on a medium heat for couple of minutes, until the shallots are translucent. Add the flour, and stir together. Add the lemon juice, and start straining the stock from the shells. Keep stirring the mixture, to incorporate the liquid into the flour mixture. Little by little it will become thinner liquid.

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4. Once all the liquid had been used , place in a blender, together with the lobster meat, and blitz until smooth. Return to the pan, and add the cream and dill. Season to taste.

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Mince pies

Mince pies are not part of my native culture, and I didn’t like them for a long time after moving to London, but since I started making these (to keep my husband happy) I have grown to like them. I think this recipe is a really good mince pie recipe. Making the mince requires you to be somewhat organized, as you want to leave it for a few weeks, before using it for the actual pies.

Mince
225g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped/grated
110g sultanas
60g currants
60g dried cranberries
175g raisins
110g mixed candied peel
4 tbsp dark rum, whiskey or brandy
25g finely chopped blanched almonds
1 large orange, finely grated zest and juice
1 lemon, finely grated zest and juice
2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
110g shredded suet
175g dark muscovado sugar

Rum butter
125g butter, room temperature
50g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp dark rum, whisky or brandy

Pastry
450g plain flour
180g butter, chilled and diced
50g lard, chilled and diced
finely grated zest of  1 orange
5-6 tbsp orange juice

Mince
1. Combine all mince ingredients apart from the muscovado and suet. Cook in a saucepan over low heat for 45 – 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has plumped up, the apples have broken down and excess liquid has evaporated.

2. Set aside to cool, then mix in the muscovado and suet. For adults version, I also tend to add some more alcohol at this stage (3 tbsp), as the cooking has burned all alcohol off.

3. Put in sterilized jars, and mature for 3-4 weeks.

Rum butter
Whisk the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the rum, and set aside in the fridge.

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Pastry
1. Put the flour, butter and lard, as well as a pinch of salt, into a food processor. Whizz briefly until it looks like breadcrumbs.

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2. Add the orange zest and juice, and whizz again.

3. Turn onto floured surface, and knead briefly, until smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill for 15 minutes.

The pies
1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F.

2. Grease the baking tins with butter. Roll the dough to about 5mm thickness. I tend to cut out circles with two glasses. The bigger one for the ‘body’ of the pies, and the smaller for the lids of the pies. Place the bigger circles in the greased baking tins, forming the bottom and sides of the pie. fill with the mince mixture, and put a teaspoon of the rum butter on top. Then place the lid over, pressing the edges together with the edges of the other dough.

3. Make few punctures with a sharp knife, and brush with beaten egg, then bake for 20 minutes.