Saturday, July 31, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake

ah, chocolate, my beautiful friend.

I'm addicted to the dark variety at the moment, sumptuous but not to sweet. I like to think I eat less of it than in the old days where I could demolish a 200g bar of Dairy Milk. I can't imagine doing that now. But if I decide to cook with chocolate, it really does have to be an ode to plain chocolate, and I only like to cook with the over 50% cocoa solids stuff, even the 70% is stunningly good when used in baking.

This afternoon I'm having a couple of old girlfriends come over, so I wanted something delicious, a bit English high-tea style, so not everyday. This cake looked perfect. And I absolutely love Sophie Dahl, how elegant and well spoken she is, but fun too. I can imagine hanging out in her kitchen while she throws together some English goodies. So Sophie, I hope I do it justice.


For the cake
300g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
225g caster sugar
175ml boiling water
225g salted butter, cut into small cubes, plus extra for greasing
6 free range eggs, separated
1tsp instant coffee powder
2tsp vanilla extract

For topping
200ml creme fraiche, or whipped cream if unavailable
200g of berries ( a mix of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or just one of these)
Chocolate and icing sugar to dust
Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 180C
    1. For the cake, grease and line the base of a 23cm/9in springform tin with baking parchment.
    2. Blend the chocolate and sugar in a food processor until a fine powder forms. The add the boiling water, butter, egg yolks, coffee powder and vanilla extract and blend until well combined.
    3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed, then, using a metal spoon, gently fold into the chocolate mixture.
    4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
    5. Allow cake to cool, then place in the oven for 2-3 hours
    6. To serve, place on a platter and smooth creme fraiche over the cake, before decorating with berries, chocolate and icing sugar

      Hoping to see Sophie Dahl's BBC show on TV in Australia before too long.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yellow Soup (Pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot)

Many of my friends might think that I would be the sort of person who would enjoy going to a naturopath. They could be right, but I would actually rather spend money on other things... like a massage for example. But a while back I decided that I would give it a go as I was having some problems with my skin. I found the whole set up very interesting, entertaining even, but not something that has changed my life, or my skin for that matter. Anyway, the point of all this is that the one thing I took away was that yellow & orange fruit and vegetables are good for my blood/personality type (however, not citrus). And I do crave yellow veggies in particular through winter.
Cumin is really the hero here - a wonderful spice that adds winter warmth to anything it touches. not to mention that hint of sunshine.
I've been making this yellow soup every week since it got cold really. I'm not very measured with what I put in, but I'll try to estimate for my first blog post:

1kg pumpkin, chopped
500g sweet potato, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped roughly
100ml milk
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
500ml Vegetable or chicken stock (liquid or powdered)

Fry the onion until translucent.
Then add the pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots along with the stock. Bring up to the boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Leave on a low/medium heat for half an hour.
Then use a stick blender in the pot to blend the soup to a thick consistency.
Then add the milk, cumin and chilli powder and leave on low heat for another 5 mins.
Next add the fresh coriander either use the stick blender to get the coriander through the soup, or just add as a garnish

Serve with some greek yogurt and wholegrain toast.  Bon appetit.