Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Sausage Salad for a Sizzling Summer

Summer Sausage Salad with avocado, asparagus, potato salad, bean dip & green herb dressing.

Sausage salad is one of the best meals to prepare for a sizzling summer. It’s my summertime take on a comfort food classic – sausage and mash. There are plenty of flavours and textures to keep everyone interested and the zesty lime & herb dressing makes this salad sing. It’s quick and easy to put together, makes a tasty family meal but is also impressive enough for entertaining.


Matcha & White Chocolate Cupcakes – We Should Cocoa 19

Cupcakes | 21st March 2012 | By

Something green for We Should Cocoa, Chele stated! Err, well, OK. After last month’s testing challenge, why not have another one? Only when I thought about it, it wasn’t that difficult after all. It has been a while since I last used matcha (powdered Japanese green tea) in a cake and here I was presented with the perfect opportunity to use it again. In fact I had a whole load of cakes to make and wanted different colours, textures, flavours and sizes, so matcha cupcakes would be perfect – or so I hoped! A bit of a left of field choice perhaps, but I thought they were worth the risk. More on why I needed so many cakes in a later post.

The cakes were based on my Green Tea & White Chocolate Cupcake recipe but using matcha powder rather than green tea leaves this time. The icing was something altogether different.

This is what I did:

  • Melted 50g white chocolate over a pan of hot water.
  • Creamed 80g unsalted butter with 125g vanilla sugar.
  • Beat in the chocolate.
  • Beat in a duck egg.
  • Sifted in 125g flour (half wholemeal, half white), a scant tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp bicarb of soda and 2 tsp matcha powder.
  • Stirred in 3 tbsp sour cream.
  • Spooned mixture into 12 cupcake cases and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
  • Melted 50g white chocolate over a pan of hot water & left to cool.
  • Creamed 80g unsalted butter with 160g icing sugar until very soft.
  • Added 2 tsp matcha powder and creamed some more.
  • Beat in the chocolate.
  • Beat in 2 tbsp double cream.
  • Spooned onto the cupcakes and topped with a while chocolate button.

Well, I don’t want to crow, but these proved to be a sensation. The cakes were soft, moist and delicious and the white chocolate buttercream was to die for. Along with the Coffee & Walnut cake, these proved to be the most popular item. I did have to do a fair amount of explaining what this matcha thing was all about though!

Just in case your stuck for green ideas, how about a spinach cake? Here is a slice of Turkish spinach cake I tried at Truro market last year.

Orange and Cardamom Birthday Cake

Goodness, I have got my first commission! My cupcake adventure around town during National Chocolate Week created a few waves and this was one of them – to make an enlarged version of one of my cardamom and orange cupcakes for a birthday. This is exciting but also rather scary and not the same as making a cake for a friend at all – it could all go horribly wrong and then what?

This is what I ended up doing:

  • Remembered to get butter (200g unsalted) out of fridge early and put it over the heater to warm.
  • Ground up seeds from 17 cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar.
  • Infused pods in 4 fl oz hot water.
  • Creamed softened butter with 200g of soft brown sugar, grated rind from 2 oranges, 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt and the ground cardamom until pale and fluffy. Then creamed it some more.
  • Beat in 4 large eggs (from customers own smallholding) alternately with some of the flour (which I’m just about to get to).
  • Sifted in 250g flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white spelt), 2 level tsp baking powder, 1 level tsp bicarb of soda and 50g cocoa.
  • Stirred in water (with pods sieved out) whilst still warm.
  • Mixed in 6 fl oz sour cream.
  • Divided mixture between 2 22cm silicone cake pans and baked at 180C for 25 mins.
  • Melted 200g 35% milk chocolate & left to cool slightly.
  • Creamed further 100g unsalted butter with 100g icing sugar.
  • Mixed in chocolate together with 2 tbsp orange liqueur.
  • Used half of the mixture to sandwich the cold cakes together, then spread remainder over the top.
  • Used minstrels to decorate.

Sadly, neither myself nor my chief chocolate taster got to taste this one, so I’ll just have to assume it was completely delicious!

Update December 2009

Hooray, the cake was indeed delicious, or that’s what the recipient told me anyway. She was delighted and the orange and cardamom birthday cake was just what she’d been hoping for.

Orange and Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes | 6th July 2009 | By

Off on a journey and need something that travels well so can still be presented with some aplomb to family on arrival. Still not as well equipped for carrying cakes as I’d like to be, so guess it has to be cupcakes! The fair trade orange spice dark chocolate from the co-op was still on offer and having liked the results of the last cake I made with it, I wanted to use it again. So I made up the following recipe.

  • Melted 50g of dark orange spice chocolate.
  • Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 125g muscovado sugar
  • Mixed in chocolate with 2 duck eggs
  • Sieved in 125g flour (1/2 wholemeal and 1/2 gluten free) with 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp cocoa.
  • Mixed this in with grated zest from 1 orange and 2 tbsp milk.
  • Divided mixture into 12 cupcake cases and baked for 17 mins at 180°C (gas 4).
  • Melted another 50g of orange spice chocolate.
  • Creamed 60g butter with 100g sieved icing sugar.
  • Beat in chocolate together with 1 large tbsp sour cream.
  • Spooned this onto cooled cupcakes and decorated with sugar flowers.
Vanity may be a deadly sin, but I have to say these are pretty damn good. The texture is good – light but substantial with a very pleasant, though hardly unexpected, flavour of spice and orange. I know we should have taken the full complement of 12, but hey, you’ve got to have one for the road!

Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes | 14th March 2009 | By

A year or two ago, I had a phase of making cupcakes.  I’d never made them before and they really won me over. I made burnt butter cupcakes, cappuccino cupcakes, lavender cupcakes, banana & white chocolate cupcakes, espresso cupcakes, chocolate and cherry cupcakes and lemon drizzle cupcakes, but I never made straightforward chocolate cupcakes.  A friend’s birthday this week provided the opportunity and I made some very chocolatey cupcakes from a recipe in Divine.

Because these were birthday cakes and because I got such good results from exhaustively creaming the butter and sugar last week, I grabbed my spoon, shrugged my shoulders and used this method again.  Also because I was so impressed with the sour cream icing used last week, I used this one again rather than the one given in the recipe.
Here is what I did:
  • Remembered to get the butter (200g unsalted) out early in the morning and put it over the heater to soften.
  • Melted 200g dark chocolate (used 1 bar 70% and 1 bar 85%) in a bowl over hot water.
  • Creamed the butter with 200g soft brown sugar for ages until it was really light.
  • Then stirred in 4 eggs alternately with 200g flour (4oz wholemeal, 4oz white spelt) + 1 heaped tsp baking powder.
  • Stirred in 1/2 pot of sour cream and then the melted chocolate.
  • Tried to spoon mixture into 12 cup cake cases – big mistake!  The recipe stated that this made 12 cup cakes.  I had my suspicions about this and I was right – this is a recipe for 24 not 12, so the paper cases ended up being overfilled which then made it difficult to ice them and I still had some mixture left over.
  • Baked these for 17 mins at 180°C.
  • Melted another bar of 70% chocolate and stirred in the rest of the sour cream.
  • Spread this as best I could over the cooled cup cakes.
  • Decorated each with a sugar flour.
These looked pretty and tasted good, but I don’t think the creaming paid off this time and next time I make them I shall try my normal melting butter, sugar and chocolate method.

Sour Cream and Chocolate Cake

Large Cakes | 10th March 2009 | By

This recipe came from an American friend who was so impressed with the cake she’d had in Port Townsend WA  that she asked the chef for the recipe.  He duly sent it to her and having read my blog, she subsequently passed it on to me. It sounded really interesting with its use of sour cream and vinegar -neither of which I’d ever used in cake baking before.

I didn’t want to make quite such a large cake and also had to work out American conversions, so my measurements are actually rather different to the original recipe.
As the original chef emphasised the importance of creaming the butter and sugar in this recipe, I tried to overcome my reluctance and give my least preferred method of cake making a go (deep sigh).  I do this from time to time to see if it really does make that much of a difference.  To be honest, I’m not convinced that it’s really worth the effort involved.  True, if the butter is nice and soft, it isn’t really that much work, it’s just the butter always seems to be rock hard, either because our house is so cold there is no where to warm it up, or I fail to get it out of the fridge early enough to soften it!
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 8 oz soft brown cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 duck eggs
  • 6 oz plain flour (I used 4 oz wholemeal + 2 oz gluten free flour)
  • 2 oz cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 4 fl oz warm water
  • 6 fl oz sour cream
  • 4 oz 70% dark chocolate
  • 4 oz sour cream
Sieved dry ingredients.  Creamed (and creamed and creamed) the butter, sugar and salt.  Added the eggs 1 by one alternately with the flour & cocoa mix.  Then added the vanilla, vinegar and water alternately with the remainder of the flour.  Finally stirred in the sour cream.  Spooned this into a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan and baked for 35 mins at 180°C.  Put cake to cool on a wire rack and then made the icing.  Melted the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, allowed to cool a little and then stirred in sour cream.  Spooned this immediately onto cooled cake and decorated with Minstrels (thought contrasting coloured sugar flowers would have been better here, but didn’t have any).
I have to say I am very impressed with this cake.  Maybe all that creaming paid off after all (oh no!) – the cake was both moist and light as well as tasting great.  The sour cream icing was fantastic, not sweet but highly flavoursome – a good foil for the cake.