Having seen a a review of the Ozeri Green Earth Frying pan over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary with its toxin-free, non-stick qualities, I was keen to try it out for myself. I fell in love with the cheerful lime green colour, despite my desire for only red equipment in my kitchen. I particularly liked its non-polluting environmental credentials. I’ve always been very wary of non-stick cookware and have tried to steer clear of it due to its purportedly toxic nature. Made out of heavy-gauge anodized aluminium for even cooking, the natural ceramic coating on this pan is 100% PTFE and PFOA free, meaning there are no heavy metals or chemicals present. The surface is textured which apparently helps to prevent food sticking and also speeds up cooking times by allowing heat to flow underneath the food. Ozeri claim that the coating is more durable and scratch resistant than other non-stick pans – only time and use will tell on that one.
Oh wow, I can’t believe it took me so long to try the pear and almond dark chocolate that I was sent some months ago by Elizabeth Shaw. The blackberry and ginger was good, but this is one I can see becoming a regular. I have a penchant for almond chocolate anyway; this one has the wonderful crunch of almond slivers and a faint yet perceptible pear flavour which was a surprisingly good combination. The dark chocolate is mild giving richness without bitterness. I used most of the bar to make these tortes. Sadly I only left 20g of it to enjoy as was intended and enjoy it I did.
|Photo courtesy of Juniper and Rose|
Things aren’t what they used to be and when it comes to food, I reckon this is a good thing. Some of us are old enough to remember the dire state of British cuisine in the 1970s. During my childhood “real” chocolate wasn’t something that ever crossed my radar. Luckily Chantal Coady came to our rescue; she is the doyenne of chocolate in the UK, educating us all into the delights of the real deal. Us Brits now know there is more to chocolate than a slab of Dairy Milk, oh yes indeed. Her book, Real Chocolate, first published ten years ago in 2003, not only includes a host of mouth watering recipes, but gives the history of chocolate and promotes its many health benefits to boot. Chantal founded the Campaign for Real Chocolate, The Academy of Chocolate and co-founded The Chocolate Society and owns one of the best chocolatieries in London, Rococo – I think she could be described as a chocolate fan.
Astonishingly, I have never visited the shop, although I have tasted some of the chocolate. I thought I was highly adventurous when I first tried her rose chocolate many years ago and it remans one of my favourite chocolate bars – not that I get to eat it very often. Well, it seems I am fated to miss chocolate courses with Chantal. A couple of years ago I was booked on one of Chantal’s chocolate courses in Bath and I was really looking forward to it. Sadly it was cancelled and I never did get to attend. Last year, the ever enterprising Vanessa Kimbell invited a group of bloggers to visit the Rococo chocolate factory in South London, but I was unable to make it and was thwarted once again. I heard what a wonderful time everyone had; much chocolate was sampled and I tried very hard not to be envious.
Now, the very same Vanessa Kimbell has started her own cookery school at her home in Northamptonshire, Juniper and Rose. Do take a look at the website, you will be inspired. If I lived closer and had the money, I’d be tempted to attend all of Vanessa’s courses, they all sound so very interesting. From food photography, to sourdough to cheese making to how to set up your own home bakery, all class sizes are small to ensure participants get individual attention. Much of the food used is grown in Vanessa’s own organic garden, so this gets an extra thumbs up from me. To make a real occasion of it, you can stay overnight in Vanessa’s B&B.
On Friday 29th November, Chantal Coady is running a truffle workshop at Juniper and Rose – sounds brilliant. Attendees get to do some chocolate tasting, learn how to temper chocolate (my nemesis) and then make some fabulous sounding truffles to take home, including salted dark chocolate truffles, which immediately appealed to me. As if that wasn’t enough, a chocolate themed lunch is provided along with a glass of pink champagne. Things don’t get much better than this.
One of the few things I miss as a vegetarian is a good lardy cake. Our local bakery BlakesBakery does a particularly good one. Rich with fat, sugar and spicy fruit, it has a crunchy exterior with a lovely doughy interior. When I found out the #TeaTimeTreats theme was for yeast bakery this month, an idea was conceived. I would invent my very own non-lardy, lardy cake using white chocolate instead of lard, my own candied peel and very non traditionally, apples.
The nights are drawing in and there is no escaping the autumnal nature of the weather. It’s also National Chocolate Week so time to get tucked up with a good selection of chocolate.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for my Birthday|
It’s National Chocolate Week, although every week is chocolate week in this household. Nevertheless, this seems a good time to post a showstopper chocolate cake.
This chocolate red wine cake was one of the first recipes I made from Charlotte Pike’s Easy Baking in her Hungry Student series of cookbooks. I made it back in July as my birthday offering to my work colleagues. The cake is a plain unadorned one, although I can assure you that the taste is by no means plain. However, as it was a celebratory cake, I created a chocolate red wine icing to top it and decorated it using chocolate fingers. Sadly, like the chocolate amnesia cake, I forgot to write down exactly what I did and I can no longer remember.
However, recently, I had the perfect opportunity to make one again and remind myself just how good it was. I was set a challenge of creating a Home Bargains Showstopper and was sent a selection of goodies to help me on my way. I was thrilled when a box arrived in the post packed full of all sorts of baking paraphernalia; it reminded me of a Christmas stocking as I excitedly pulled out one thing after another. The theme was definitely pink and what girl doesn’t like pink? There was a three layer pink cardboard cake stand, a pink heat mat, pink cupcake cases, pink hearts and pink marshmallows. Luckily, there was a fair amount of red in it too and red is the colour of my kitchen. I immediately fell in love with the red strawberry apron and oven glove and was pleased with the two red silicone cake moulds and cookie cutters. And it was indeed a home bargain as the whole lot would have cost less than £14. Products are available online or at 300 Home Bargain stores across the UK.
- Strawberry single oven glove – £1.49
- Top Cake love hearts – 79p
- Red strawberry apron £1.99
- Red cookie cutters – 99p
- 75 cupcake cases – 79p
- Red silicone cake mould (8″) – £1.99
- Vintage Dream cupcake cases and picks – 99p
- Stainless steel palette knife – 99p
- Silicone trivet – 79p
- Pink spotty cake stand – 99p
- Measuring spoons – 59p
- Mini marshmallows – 59p
Then along came the first Cornish Clandestine Cake Club event I’ve been able to attend in a very long time and the theme was vintage. Held at a Cornish winery, it was more of a “vin” theme than a retro recipe one, but it was left up to us to choose. The chocolate red wine cake was a must. This time I made use of some dark cranberry chocolate that was in need of using and added it along with some cranberries soaked in red wine. I donned my lovely new apron, got out the new oven glove and cake decorations, washed the cake moulds and palette knife and set to, making up a filling and topping recipe once again. This time I wrote it down.
This is how I made:
Chocolate and Cranberry Red Wine Cake
- Poured 125ml red wine into a jug.
- Added 50g dried cranberries and left to soak whilst getting on with everything else.
- Melted 125g dark chocolate (half Dr Oetker 72% and half cranberry 52%) in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter with 200g caster sugar and 50g molasses sugar until pale in colour and airy.
- Beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Beat in 4 eggs, one by one, adding a little of the flour mixture towards the end.
- Sifted in 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 rounded tsp baking powder, 4 rounded tsp cocoa,1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt and stirred gently.
- Stirred in the wine and cranberries a little at a time.
- Stirred in the chocolate until just incorporated.
- Divided the mixture between two 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes when the cakes were well risen and a tester inserted in the middle came out clean.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for CCC|
- Creamed 120g unsalted butter with 250g sifted icing sugar.
- Sifted in 40g of cocoa and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
- Stirred in 75 ml red wine and beat vigourously until light and airy.
- Sandwiched the cakes with half of the filling and slathered the other half on top.
- Decorated with pink hearts and Dr Oetker pink sugar and shimmer balls.
The winery, Knightor, near St Austell and the Eden Project is housed in an old stone barn that has been spectacularly renovated. As ever, there were some fabulous cakes made by the indefatigable home bakers of Cornwall. Thanks to our mistress of ceremonies, Ellie, for organising another splendid CCC.
|Clever design – hic!|
|Black Forest Gateau made by Nat of HungryHinny|
|Boozy Coffee and Walnut Cake|
|Tuck in if you dare|
|Sadly not the plate I took home|
Along with the courgette glut in August and September this year, I ended up with a beetroot one too. This was good news. Last year was such a rubbish one down at the plot, we hardly got any courgettes and even less beetroot. So I was very pleased to be able to puzzle over what I could turn my surplus beets into. I had a go at making beetroot brownies a few years ago and seem to remember thinking they were more like cake than brownies. However, that was a while ago and I thought another attempt was in order. Orange is a classic flavouring to pair with beetroot, so this seemed like a good place to start. I had some orange and almond Lindt chocolate I thought would work and I reasoned that adding some orange liqueur could only make things better.
These brownies were definitely gooey rather than cakey and they had the classic crackly top; after due deliberation, I awarded them full marks. Even more remarkably, CT, who is not at all a beetroot fan gave them the thumbs up. The chocolate contributed to the texture with crunchy pieces of almond which added to the overall pleasure.
Ness over at JibberJabberUK is hosting We Should Cocoa this month and has chosen vegetables as the surprise ingredient. This gives plenty of scope and is just right to showcase my beetroot and orange brownies.
All made from scratch and our own beetroots too, I’m submitting these to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.
With all those home grown beetroot, this is a slightly cheaper brownie than it might otherwise have been, so I am submitting it to Credit Crunch Munch which is hosted this month by Michelle of Utterly Scrummy Food For Families. This is a monthly challenge normally hosted by Fuss Free Flavours or Fab Food 4 All.
I’m also entering these into the No Waste Food Challenge with Turquoise Lemons as the theme is root vegetables this month and I had a mass of beetroot I did not want to waste.
- 4 medium sized roots, weighing in at 350g once topped, tailed and skinned) Beetroot – boiled
- 200g Dark Chocolate (half orange flavoured, half 70% plain)
- 100g Unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp Orange liqueur
- 3 Eggs
- 200g Light brown sugar
- 50g Dark brown sugar
- 100g Flour (half wholemeal spelt, half plain white)
- 25g Cocoa powder
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16 pieces
Just in time for Chocolate Week, which starts this Monday, 14 October, Fudge Kitchen have launched a gourmet fudge collection of nine chocolate miniatures – Chocolate Indulgence. The company have been making their specialist whipping cream fudge for the last 30 years using an old American recipe from the 1830s. Handmade on traditional marble slabs, the fudge is also hand decorated for individual effect. I generally find fudge too sweet these days, but I wasn’t going to turn down the offer of trying some when I got the chance.
Devilishly different, according to Fudge Kitchen, I was keen to see how it compared to some of our own Cornish fudge. The fudge squares were attractively presented in their own box with a key to which one of the nine flavours was which. All made with whipping cream, butter, golden syrup and chocolate of course, Fudge Kitchen, use no artificial additives in their products and indeed there was nothing on the list of ingredients to cause me to frown. The pieces were large, so I shared them with CT, although the sharing fairy may not have approved of my somewhat irregular divisiion of the spoils. The fudge was of the fudgy variety rather than crumbly and was very dense. I enjoyed all of them, but as predicted, I found them to be a little too sweet, although some more so than others. I think the flavours would have come through better if less sugar was involved as too much sugar tends to overwhelm my palate. They were all very rich, so are probably best enjoyed a little bit at a time, which is how it should be really.
Dark Chocolate and Pistachio – rich and sweet with overtones of molasses, this was very nice, but I couldn’t detect any pistachio flavour. CT thought the flavour more akin to liquorice.
Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt – one of my favourite combinations, so I was particularly looking forward to this one. It smelt wonderful, sweet and richly chocolatey at the same time. There was a definite taste of the salty sea which I liked, although when it comes to salt, less is more. It was less sweet than the pistachio and CT noticed a slightly drying effect on the palate, which you often get with dark chocolate.
White Chocolate and Raspberry – this is a classic combination and worked very well in the fudge, I thought. The raspberry flavour was refreshing and maybe because of this it wasn’t as sweet as I was expecting it to be. In fact it was quite delicious and turned out to be my favourite.
Belgian Chocolate Swirl – tasted more like vanilla fudge than chocolate to me. Nice, but lacking in any particular distinctive characteristics.
Chocolate Fruit & Nuts – rich and nutty with raisins and walnuts creating a chewy texture giving it additional interest. CT likened it to Christmas cake.
Hazelnut Heaven – a fudgy praline with a nice flavour and smooth texture, but rather too sweet for me. CT enjoyed the way the flavour persisted on his palate.
Double Trouble Chocolate – tasted like milk chocolate and reminded me a little of a chocolate version of the Indian sweet barfi.
Chilli Chocolate – the chilli worked really well with the chocolate fudge allowing the flavour as well as the heat to slowly develop. This was my favourite after the raspberry. It was really quite hot, but this helped to punch through its sweetness.
Rich Chocolate Classic – as its title suggested, this one was very rich and tasted the most chocolatey of all; because of this it was a little less sweet.
Twitter can be a great place for stimulating ideas – who would have thought of yogurt custard? Well, following a Twitter conversation with Dom of Belleau Kitchen and Total Greek Yogurt a challenge was born. Dom was to have a go at making yogurt custard and I was going to try a chocolate version. Dark chocolate custard was what I had in mind as it would of course be delicious, but at the last minute I decided I would make a white chocolate custard which I thought would go particularly well with a fruity crumble.
As it happened, I never got around to making the crumble, which is a shame as, served hot, this custard would have been perfect for it. However, it made a fantastic dessert in its own right, served cold in individual bowls with a little grated white chocolate on top. It was such a lovely tangy and creamy custard and it didn’t form a skin. I can see this being made again.
Thanks go to Total Greek Yogurt for sending me this “cool” bag containing some of their delicious full fat Greek yogurt. I am a big fan and use it a lot, both in my baking and with savoury dishes. It’s a lovely treat on breakfast muesli or granola too. I’m familiar with the 500g tub and the smaller 170g size but I hadn’t realised until I was sent one, that they do a 1k tub too – how wonderful is that?
- 2 egg yolks (large)
- 40g vanilla (golden caster) sugar
- 400g Greek yogurt
- 50g white chocolate
Total time: Yield: 4-6 servings