Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Malteaser Cake


This Malteaser Cake is always a show stopper. During my cooking jobs in Scotland over the summer this cake was a favourite for afternoon tea, and I assure you it takes a very hungry army of people to demolish the whole thing in one sitting! Infact, it is so rich and chocolately that it could almost be served with cream as a pudding. I have enjoyed many an hour sitting aligning every malteaser to make this cake look symmetrical - the first time I made it, it certainly didnt look like my latest one in
these photos! 




To serve 12 hungry people you will need... 

For the chocolate sponge 

150g soft unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
150g self raising flour
100ml sour cream or double cream
4 medium eggs
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder 
a pinch of salt 
1/2 a vanilla pod or a few drops of vanilla extract 

For the icing (these quantities ususally make a bit extra)

100g dark chocolate
550g icing sugar 
250g soft butter
2tbsps milk/water 

4x 135g malteasers (make sure you have enough or else you wont cover the whole cake!) 


You will need to... 

-Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 
-Grease and line two 8 inch loose bottomed cake tins
-Put the butter, sugar, flour, cream, eggs, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and vanilla into the large bowl of an electric mixer and mix until smooth. 
-Pour the mixture into the two cake tins and bake in the oven for 25/30mins or until a skewer comes out clean, Leave to cool for a couple fo minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
- When the cakes are cool make the icing, First melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water stirring occasionally. 
- Put the icing sugar in the electric mixer (no need to sieve if using a mixer) then add the butter and and milk/water until light and smooth. Then pour the melted chocolate in with the mixer still running. 
- Place the sponge on the plate you will be serving it on- it is difficult to move once you start covering the cake in malteasers. Then using a palet knife, spread the chococlate icing over the bottom layer before placing the second layer on top and covering the top and sides of the whole cake with icing.
- Then begin to stick the malteasers on, I find doing it in straight lines makes the neatest looking cake!

Enjoy, Z x



Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Blackberry and Raspberry Galette

With an abundance of blackberries growing in the hedgerows at this time of year, this rustic autumnal pud is a quick, easy and delicious way of using them up - get picking and you'll have yourself an (almost) free pudding! A galette is somewhere between a pie and a tart, though I'd argue better than either as it is freeform so doesn't require a tin or dish, and folding over the edges ensures maximum delicious crusty pastry. This one has a few raspberries thrown in as well but it works just as well with only blackberries, or some finely chopped apples instead.


To make a galette to serve four you will need…

100g plain flour
50g butter
1 dessert spoon icing sugar
A pinch of salt
3 tbsp cold water

300g fruit (blackberries, raspberries, chopped apple or a combo)
1 dessert spoon caster sugar 
1 dessert spoon cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg for egg wash
A little extra caster sugar to sprinkle on top



You will need to...

- Make shortcrust pastry by combining ingredients in a food processor (if lazy) or by hand by rubbing cubed butter into the mixture of flour, icing sugar and salt until fine breadcrumbs form. Add enough cold water and combine until the pastry just comes together, then wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for minimum 1 hour. 
- Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with greased baking parchment. 
- Place fruit in a bowl then gently stir in the cornflour, caster sugar and vanilla until combined - try not to squish the berries too much.
- Roll out your chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to form a rough circle. Transfer onto the prepared baking tray.
- Spoon fruit into the middle of the pastry, then fold up the edges as pictured.
- Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl, then brush over the pastry and top with a sprinkle of caster sugar.
- Bake for about half an hour or until pastry is golden and crisp.
- Serve warm with a generous helping of single cream.





 Enjoy! C x


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Flavour of France II

If you follow us on Instagram you will know that I spent a few weeks holidaying in France this summer with my family. Aside from sunbathing, swimming and a little canoeing, the holiday involved a lot of eating (naturally). If you are a long-term reader of Not Just A Pretty Plate you may remember a similar post last year in which I threw a handful of French-inspired recipes into one post. Once again, please excuse the slightly haphazard and vague ingredients/quantities/timings used in these recipes. In true holiday spirit, all the cooking was fairly relaxed and thrown together so don't worry too much about being precise! I've included canapés, a starter, two main course dishes and also a pudding, but if that doesn't satisfy your appetite for french cuisine be sure to check out last year's Flavour of France for some similar recipes. Bon appétit! 

Goat's Cheese and Grape Bruschetta

Despite bruschetta being Italian, these nibbles are inspired by South Western France, a region know for it's goat's cheese. This is a slightly different take on the tried and tested combination of sharp cheese and sweet fruit. They literally take minutes to prepare - simply slice a small and slightly stale baguette into thin slices and place on a baking tray. Warm in the oven for about eight minutes until slightly toasted, then top with a slice of goat's cheese and half a grape. Serve slightly warm to ensure the cheese is melting a little in the middle. 

Melon and Jambon Sec Salad


 This is a bit of a seventies throwback, but the fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the fact that it is simple, good, tasty food. With only four ingredients, this is a classic example of how good food need not be fussy or overcomplicated, and if you have good produce it can speak for itself. To prepare all you need to do is artfully combine chunks of Cantaloupe melon and wafer thin sheets of jambon sec or parma ham on a plate, then top with a drizzle of walnut oil and sprinkling of ground pepper.

Baked Salmon with Roasted Veg


This is SO easy and basic it really doesn't warrant a recipe. As well as being an ideal dish to throw together on holiday when you'd rather be spending time on a sun lounger than in the kitchen, this is also makes a great weekday supper. All you need to do is: lay a few fillets or whole side of salmon on a large sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray. Top with a few slices of lemon, a couple of handfuls of chopped parsley and some salt and pepper. Wrap the parchment over to create an envelope for the salmon - as well as gently steaming the fish in its own juices, it also removes the skin underneath as it sticks to the paper as it cooks. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until just cooked through. For the roasted veg chop up a selection of vegetables such as onions, courgettes, peppers and garlic. Dress with olive oil and toss through some dried oregano and fresh rosemary and thyme as well as plenty of salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven for about forty minutes or until all the veg is cooked through and starting to crisp at the edges.

Duck Confit with Puy Lentils 
Now I have to confess that these delicious duck legs weren't confit-ed by myself from scratch - the ingenious French supermarkets sell them ready-confit-ed and vacuum packed in duck fat so all you have to do is whack them under the grill for ten minutes to heat them through and crisp up the skin nicely. I'm not sure you can buy them like this in the UK although I shall be keeping my eyes peeled. Having confit-ed from scratch before, I can assure you it isn't particularly difficult but involves buying a LOT of duck fat to cover your duck legs in! We served ours on Puy lentils with a touch of crème fraîche - a regional classic. To make the lentils you will need: 

2 onions, 
1 celery stick
2 small carrots
1 small potato
2 garlic cloves
500g Puy lentils - rinsed well in cold water
1 bouquet garni - tie together a few sprigs of rosemary, thyme and a bay leaf
1 stock cube
Boiling water
Red wine vinegar
1 small bag of spinach
1 tbsp crème fraîche plus more to serve

-Finely dice your celery, onions, potato and garlic and sauté in a large pan until softened. 
-Stir in the lentils, bouquet garni and stock cube. Add boiling water to cover.
-Simmer gently for about 40 minutes or until soft - keep an eye on it and add more water if necessary.
-Stir in the bag of spinach and allow to wilt.
-Take off the heat and stir in a good slug of red wine vinegar, a tablespoon of crème fraîche and some generous seasoning. Adjust to taste. 
-To serve spoon the lentils onto a plate, add a teaspoon of crème fraîche and top with your confit duck.  

Maple Roasted Nectarines


These are inspired by The Londoner's Honey Roast Peaches although I've substituted peaches for nectaries and honey for maple syrup. If you haven't checked out Rosie's blog before then go and have a look - her simple yet delicious recipes are great and the photography is always on-point. To make this pudding you need to half and de-stone your nectarines and place them in a baking tray. Pop a small knob of butter in each half and drizzle the whole lot generously with maple syrup. Scatter over a handful of flaked almonds and bake for about 20 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche and a couple of spoonfuls of the syrupy buttery nectarine juice. 

Enjoy! C x