Monthly Archives: April 2012

Guest Post – Cherry (C)Ripes

Hi again.  I’m still in Australia.  Since I last posted I have travelled across the continent (4500km in each direction) to spend a grand total of 31 hours in my very good friend’s company.  I’ve just arrived back in my state of origin.  It’s 1230am and I’m a bit tired but I bloody love youse all so much I’m posting this now.  Also M, the guest poster, has been waiting a couple of days for me to sort this out.  Sorry M.

M’s been a bit bold and done her take on the Aussie legend that is a Cherry Ripe.  By bold I mean brave.  And really foolish.  See below for how it all panned out.  M lives in Amsterdam and has a rather more serious approach to cooking (ie she is a bit good and thoughtful regards the whole shebang) and I shall do the polite thing and link to her blog (it’s to be found here – ) although if I find you have all left me for her I shall be really pissed off.

Might be back in London next time, might not.  It’s been nice and sunny here, for the most part.  That’s been nice.  Also I am aware the boyfriend has been mainlining Game of Thrones, Skyrim and beer in my absence, and wonder what state he and the house (and the dog) might be in.



I promised Ms Baker that I would do her a guest post while she was away. I had the pleasure of visiting her beautiful country over Christmas this year, where I developed a worrying addiction for Cherry Ripes . These little cherry & coconut chocolate lovelies are made by Cadbury’s, so it should be possible to get them everywhere, but it turns out that Cadbury think that they should be reserved exclusively for Antipodeans, which I think is a bit of an outrage. So, I decided to make some myself.

Turns out that they are not as easy to make as I had thought, and I had to do a lot of experimental coconut thingys to get the right combinations. I was also doing this across three or four different kitchens, as I am on a whistle stop tour of the UK, seeing friends, seeing parents and attending a significant birthday celebration and a wedding. Anyway, just know that I have toiled hard for you on this one. I also got the formula from Divalicious, who had posted about home made “Bounty” bars

So, Cherry Cripes; easy now I have done the formulating for you:

Collect up:

250 g Desiccated coconut, plus a bit more, just in case

200 g Glace cherries, including the syrupy stuff in the pot

200 g Dried cherries (or you can use all glace cherries, but I found this made a very wet, sticky mixture)

1 Tin Coconut Milk

3 tbsp Coconut Oil – you can get this from Health food shops, so I’m going to assume it is good for you

4 or so tbsp Cherry Jam

300 g good chocolate – Cadbury’s do both milk and dark versions. I like the dark version best.

Chop all of the cherries finely, then add that, the syrup,the desiccated coconut, and the coconut milk together in a big bowl. Give it a bit of a mix.

Melt the oil and jam together. Coconut oil is not actually liquid at room temperature, but is a solid lump of white. Don’t let that put you off. When it is melted with the jam, it should be a dark red anyway.

Bung this in the bowl with the other stuff. Give it a good mix, or get a friend’s child to do it for you. This is relatively safe, because the coconut oil melts at a quite low temperature.

You want the mixture to be fairly dry. If you feel that it is too wet, then add more desiccated coconut, until it sticks together, but is not wet.

Grease a swiss roll tin, with a little oil – don’t use your best extra virgin, or your stuff will taste of olive oil, not cherries. This will not be a pleasant thing. Something with no flavour, like sunflower is probably best.

Put the coconutty cherry mix into the tin, and smooth it out so it is fairly flat. Stick it in the fridge overnight. You can play with your dog while you wait for the stuff to set. This is my dog, who is not as dainty as the one you normally see on these pages.

Next day, melt some chocolate in a double boiler. Cut the coconutty stuff into small strips, then shape a little to make logs. Not massive ones, or you chocolate bar will look a bit like a poo, which should be avoided. Roll the coconut logs in the melted chocolate, and then set aside to set.

Serve up to Aussie friends, and listen to them telling you that they are not as artificially cherry flavoured as their favourite chocolate bar from home.


Guest Post – Meatball Noodle Soup

Hi. I’m still in Australia. It’s raining at the moment which is (i) most unacceptable and (ii) really uncalled for.  Also I’ve been quite officially sick since I got here.  Still, I shan’t moan.*

* I shall.  I’ve been moaning constantly.

Anyway below is a picture of the quality foodstuffs I’ve been indulging in whilst home.  That’s a dim-sim you see in my hot little hands. It’s filthy and gorgeous.

So, to the guest post.  It’s by someone I don’t actually know.  I just read her foul-mouthed tirades on Twitter and thought, ‘oh yes, that’s my kind of person’.  I believe she is American and so is a fellow foreigner in a strange English land.  I asked her to do a guest post and she has.  She is, therefore, GREAT.  I’ve still to meet her, obviously.  We’re hoping to meet up for a no-doubt awkward and alcohol-fuelled evening soon. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Do enjoy.


PS: I can’t endorse her recommendation you go to ASDA. I’ve never been to the place in my life and intend to never darken its doors.



B asked me if I would mind doing a guest post for when she’s at home in Oz enjoying great weather, fighting off bird-eating spiders the size of dogs and getting chewed on by sharks while watching Neighbours. Or whatever it is Australian people do for fun. At first I was like, “Wow, that’s really nice of you. I mean, I WOULD, but I’m shit at cooking”, and she was all, “You’re hired!”. So here I am.

This is a nice, light chicken (or in this case, turkey) meatball noodle soup, which is great for spring…when that elusive season finally arrives. The recipe is adapted from one Epicurious is an American site, which means ingredients are measured in cups. Please stop moaning and just go to ASDA and buy a set of measuring cups for £2. And when I say, “adapted”, I pretty much just mean “ballsed up”. But it tastes really nice if you do it not at all like I did and just follow the recipe. Also, you can use any old veg that you’ve got in your fridge for this.

Please to be collecting:

1 cup ground chicken (this is a bastard to find. Use light turkey mince, not thigh mince like in the photo. I got that wrong.)

½ cup breadcrumbs (don’t buy the Polish ones I bought. They’re too fine which makes the meatballs too heavy. Maybe don’t be lazy and make some yourself?)

6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus some to top the soup (hi. I fucked this up too.  Are you seeing a pattern? Don’t buy the cheese I bought, unless you can’t handle cheese that tastes any stronger than a bar of Dove. Even if you REALLY WANT to save that 50p, just buy the real deal.)

4 garlic cloves (or 1tbsp of the squeezy stuff like me because this is 2012)

as much chilli as you like, minced (or squeezed)

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped (recipe calls for chives but they’re disgusting so no.)

1 large egg, beaten

salt, pepper

2tbsp olive oil

2 leeks, sliced into rounds

2 onions, chopped

1 courgette, peeled and chopped

6 small carrots (or 3 large), cut on diagonal to make it pretty

½ or 1 head Savoy cabbage, depending on how much you like cabbage

5 cups chicken broth

¾ cup itty bitty pasta (ditalini, conchigliette, etc.)

First you have to make your chicken/turkey meatballs. I myself decided, after having made the recipe once before, to treble the recipe. That means I ended up with a metric assload of meatballs. I ate them all over the course of 3 days, obviously, but seriously, MAYBE double the recipe but for the love of God, don’t treble it. Also, make them small so you can pop them into your mouth whole…straight from the frying pan…because they’re really yummy. If any eventually make it into the soup, pat yourself on the back.

To make the meatballs, combine chicken/turkey, 3tbsp Parmesan, chilli, ½ tbsp garlic, parsley (or chives, blurgh), egg, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper in a mixing bowl. Make all 70 or whatever of your mini meatballs and chuck into frying pan in your olive oil. Fry them until brown all over (or just on 2, maybe 3 sides, like mine) but don’t cook all the way through. They’ll finish cooking in the soup later. Set aside…and then pick through to find the ones that look like they are probably cooked enough to be salmonella-free and eat them while you cook the soup. Then have some Haribo Tangfastics just to ensure you’re not at all hungry for dinner when it finishes cooking.

Next, get out a pot and prepare your soup base. Add leek, onions and courgette and cook slowly until they soften. Then, get mascara in your eye from crying over the cooking onion, run to the bathroom with burny eyeballs, spend ages sorting that out and come back to find your onions and leeks have burnt bits on. Disregard this and continue.

Add to the pot the other ½ tbsp garlic, stir about a bit. Add broth. The recipe says 5 cups, but if you used loads of additional veg due to clearing out your fridge, add more until everything’s well covered. Bring to boil. Add pasta and carrots. Simmer until about 5 minutes from pasta being done, according to timings on packet. Add meatballs and cabbage and simmer until pasta and carrots are done. Add the last 3 tbsp of cheese, finish seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve up with buckets more cheese on top. Tell dining companions this is really light, no fat at all except for what’s in the meat, and then binge. It’s very nice and will have you feeling all happy and spring-like despite the bucketing down English rain outside.


A Minor Hiccup


I am taking a little unscheduled trip home to Australia.  My gran’s house, where I’ll be staying, has recently moved into the modern world and now has interweb so I shall be able to keep up with World Events (rather then via The West Australian, Perth’s one and only newspaper, and a very shit one at that).  I might even try to blog my gran cooking something, as she’s quite aces.

In the interim I have some very nice friends who will be guest posting.  Aren’t you lucky?

But for now it’s bye from me. I’ve of course become ill with a rotten throat just before takeoff so god bless the poor soul who will be sitting next to me.  I am basically a lump of bad temper and sore swallows.


This doesn’t help. Sometimes I can use my frequent flyer points to upgrade but Emirates have recently changed it all and now you need approximaely 1 million points (or pounds) to upgrade.  Inhuman.


And I’ll leave you with the dog undertaking some heavy begging.  This particular effort was so well done she was rewarded with a dry cracker.  Good job.

See you later.


Baked Chocolate Cheesecake. V Good.

It was the boyfriend’s birthday back in March, but we were in Gozo at the time.  Had some friends over last night and so used it as a proxy-birthday celebration.  Such a thing required a cake, of course, and in the interests of cheesecake fairness, I figured I’d try a baked one.  This is basically a Nigella recipe, with a few minor measurement differences.  It is pretty good.  Her recipes tend to be massive disasters or very delicious indeed, I find.

Anyway.  Baked Chocolate Cheesecake.  Try it.


Get together:-

3 200g tubs Philly cheese

3 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

3/4 packet of digestives

150g butter

cocoa, 1 tablespoon and 1 extra teaspoon

sour cream, about half a small tub

1 tablespoon custard powder

200g dark chocolate

double cream (for the topping, along with 100g extra dark chocolate)

150g caster sugar

and, if you like, 1 teaspoon golden syrup, to go with the cream and chocolate for the topping.  Made no discernable difference as far as I could tell.


Having blitzed your digestive biscuits, add 1 tablespoon of cocoa and the melted butter and mix well.  Press into a 23cm springform tin and throw the beast into the freezer whilst you sort out the fililng.  I used a whole packet of digestives (Nigella recommends half a packet, the fool, nothing’s better than a nice thick biscuity base) but that was too much.  I am also a fool.  See above for base and leftover base.


Here is my Nigella impression.  I’m fairly sure she’s mostly famous for sticking large bits of fat-based stuff in her face, no?


Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 and make sure your kettle is on to boil.

In a bowl beat the cream cheese till it’s soft and smooth, add the caster sugar and custard powder and beat well.  Then add the whole eggs, mixing, and then the egg yolks, mixing again.  It looked like the above at this stage.  Get your spatula scraping those edge bits, they must not escape the beatings.


Nigella then says to add 1 teaspoon of cocoa, dissolved in hot water.  God knows why.  It only changes the mix to the above rather pastel-like shade and makes no difference to the flavour.  I shall controversially say, here, that you probably don’t need that 1 teaspoon of cocoa.  Make it a tablespoon and maybe we could chat.


Then add 200g of melted chocolate – I melt mine slowly in the microwave, but you could do it in a glass or metal bowl over a saucepan if you wanted to.  Anyway it looks like the above, once added.  Nice texture, delicious flavour.  Try hard not to eat it all at this point.


Remember that you’ve forgotten to put the sour cream in.  It should’ve gone in at the same time as the eggs and stuff.  Anyway chuck in about 1/2 tub and mix through.


K.  Bit tech now.  Cover the bottom of your tin with a good layer of clingfilm and then again with foil.  I used two lots of foil, and quite high over the sides in an effort to protect this poor defenceless cake from Shit Oven©.  Put the whole thing in a roasting tin and place on your oven shelf, then fill to about halfway up the cake tin with the boiling water from your kettle.  Stick it in the oven and let it cook for about 45-60 mins.  I think I left this one in for about 55 mins.  I spent a LOT of time peering in, anxiously, wondering at the damage Shit Oven© would cause.

It should be clearly set on top but have, at the same time, a good wobble underneath.  Take it out of the oven, and out of the water bath, and place it on a cake rack.  Take off the plastic and foil and let it cool.  Stick it in the fridge overnight, or for a good few hours at least.


Shit Oven© managed only a slight darkening of the cake’s surface this time around.  I WIN Shit Oven© I WIN HA!


Release the springform tin and place your cake on a serving plate.  You can serve it like this if you want, it’s very good with ice cream and/or fruit.  HOWEVER this was boyfriend’s birthday cake, remember, and so I had to take it a step further.  Nigella recommends what she calls a glaze, and what I and everyone else would call a ganache.  So I ganached.



Melt 125ml double cream in a bowl with 100g chocolate, dark.  This is where you can add the golden syrup if you want to.  I did, but really not sure why.  Just before it’s all melted together take it off the heat and whisk till it’s smooth.  Then pour it over the cake, either being messy or neat, depending on what you feel like.


Here tis, floating in space.  Not bad, eh?


And here is the final product.  38.  OLD.

(ps: it was awesomely delicious, we ate it with good quality vanilla ice cream and raspberries.  There is a bit left.  We shall be eating it for supper).

Duck with Chinese 5-Spice. Ooer.


Yesterday when discussing what we should have for supper with the boyfriend I was still ostensibly on The Diet Of Hell.  When he asked what I could eat, I believe I replied, ‘meaty cheese, or cheesy eggy meat’.  As he doesn’t like egg, he suggested duck.  So duck we had.  I really like duck.  I forget I like it, every time I have it.

The below is a very simple version of one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals.  That is, you can actually walk in, prep, cook and eat my version (main course only) within a 30 min window.  All the better if your boyfriend is home to model for you the excellent blue trousers you bought him, whilst you slave over a hot stove and congratulate yourself on your fashion sense.


For two people I used two duck breasts (Gressingham, mostly cause I ended up shopping at Waitrose).  Here I should probably recommend you buy your duck from a butcher, or Waitrose at the very least.  So, please do.  A red chilli, sliced.  This one had Absolutely No Heat Or Flavour, so make sure you use a different one.  You also want some chinese 5-spice powder, olive oil and seasoning.  And a lemon.


We ate ours with some bok choi.  Actually I think this was pak choi.  I am afraid I really am not sure what the difference is.  This probably makes me a ridiculously igorant person.  I apologise.  Anyway chop it, wash it, have it in a big pan ready to cook off about 5 mins before your duck is ready.


Score the duck breast, skin side.  I had sharpened the knife immediately before doing this and as you can see got a bit overly Jack the Ripper with it.  You could probably be a little more gentle.  Rub on some olive oil then the chinese 5-spice and salt, both sides.


In a hot, dry pan stick the duck in skin-side down.  Get a big lid or dinner plate and use it to weigh down the duck a bit as it cooks.  Basically you leave it for a few mins on each side, turning regularly, under the plate.  Helps get it crispy.  See above the underside, about half-way through.  Noice.


While the duck is cooking, The Oliver wants you to do something he calls seasoning the board.  My wooden boards are trapped beneath a tonne of books and various unfiled papers, so last night I seasoned a plastic chopping slice.  Looks Christmassy, eh?  Anyway finely chop the chilli, add a good slug of olive oil, seasoning and lemon juice.  Use the knife to work it all together.  Leave it to season your board.  Or your plastic.


Here is the duck, skin-side up, about 12 mins in.  I reckon I cooked mine for about 13 mins or so.  It got to pinkish, was v tender.  Cook yours to your own preference.  I can’t be expected to know what all of you like.


Take the duck off the heat and stick on the dressing, swirling them around a bit.  Let the duck juices run a bit as you cook the pak choi.


Slice up, making sure you coat all the slices with the juice mix.  Mmmmm.  Juicy.


Serve.  This was ace, actually.  Bit unexpectedly ace.  You felt replete, it’s in the healthy region if not entirely fat-free (it’s carb free, tho, yay for that) but I must warn you that about an hour after eating it it was like we’d not ingested anything at all.  Just some tasty air.


Here is the foster dog, earlier this afternoon, in her new bed, about 30 seconds before I started to get an unaccustomed tear in my eye.  I dashed out soon after, swearing all the way home.  I feel better now.


Grey dog does not feel better.  Grey dog has her ear out for the front door, and the yellow dog, who is not coming home.

Kedgeree. It’s OK.

So.  Kedgeree.  For some reason it’s lived in my mind as a strange land for a long while, and recently I decided to give it a shot, remembering that I used to actually like my grandmother’s ‘curried tuna’ even though I didn’t like curry or tuna separately.

Doing a bit of research (I sat around for the  majority of the Easter break, I had some time) I found several hundred different recipes – different ingredients, different spices, different methods.  I kind of put together the best of what I read (including contributions from Stein and Oliver) and came up with what follows.  Essentially it’s an ok dish.  Not sure it’ll become a regular in our house, and maybe its tasty-factor (which is actually quite high) didn’t quite register with us as (i) we’d had the previously blogged curry the night before, and (ii) we’d massively over-indulged, beautifully, at the boyfriend’s parents’ at lunch, and so a big supper wasn’t really warranted.

Anyway.  Kedgeree.


Get together:

bay leaves (I used two)

mustard seeds

tumeric (pinch)

cardomon pods (3, broken open)

garam masala (pinch)

chicken stock (bout  a litre)

couple eggs, to be boiled

350g smoked haddock.  Undyed if you can find it.  I couldn’t.

Also some fresh lemon and coriander or parsley for serving.

Oh, and rice.  Basmati.  We had wholegrain.  Bout 250g we used.  Or I did.

Oh oh, and some butter.


In a big pan (one that you can stick a lid on) put the spices (inc mustard seeds, I used about a teaspoon), finely chopped onion and I reckon a good dessertspoon of butter.  Fry it gently for about five minutes until the onion starts to soften.


Add the uncooked rice – stir it through, making sure it’s evenly covered with all the buttery spicey goodness.  Then add 3/4 of the stock, reserving the rest in case you need to add more later.  Stir a couple of times then stick the pan lid on.  Cook for about 25 mins or so, or until the rice is cooked.  I like the wholewheat basmati.  Or wholemeal or whatever it was – anyway it’s got a bit of texture to it, doesn’t go all soggy.  Keep checking occasionally to give a quick stir and to add more stock it you think it needs it.


While the rice is cooking, poach the fish in a pan of boiling water, for about 5 mins.  Boil the eggs – I put mine in before the water boils and take out after around 6-7 minutes.  Be impressed with your own multi-tasking.


Let the foul looking fish cool off a bit.  Go check on the dogs.


Find that the rescue dog has really been feeling well.  And clearly confident.  Tell the rescue dog that it is being moved to a new home on Thursday.  Mop up the rescue dog’s tears.

(to reassure you, she is moving to a very posh home, she is lucky.  I wish I were going….).


This is the rice, cooked.  You’ll note there is a bit of liquid left.  I turned off the heat and let it all steam a bit longer, and then drained off any excess as I hate dribble.

Flake in the haddock and, if you don’t live in our house, chop up the boiled eggs and coriander/parsley and gently stir through over a low heat, to warm it up a bit.  Chuck in another generous knob of butter.


Eat after squeezing some lemon juice over it all.  Bit of fresh cracked black pepper is nice, too.  I am the only one who likes eggs and who can eat coriander, in our house, so this is what mine looked like.  Like I said, really quite tasty.  Recommend you eat it on an empty stomach, though.


Recline, filling your belly even more with the final surviving easter bunny, wallowing in the knowledge that Tuesday brings work and dieting.  BOO.


Made chapatis for the first time.  They’re quite easy and I think I’m getting to the place in life where I prefer to eat my curries with a bread side, rather than rice.  Who knew.


You want:

2 cups plain flour

tablespoon melted butter

bout a cup of warm water (ish)

pinch salt


I also added some cumin seeds.  It was a good idea.  You should do it.


Whisk together the flour and salt, add the cumin seeds and pour in your melted butter.  If you want to you can let it cool.  Then it’s a bit ghee-like.  Today I didn’t.  Start to stir through, adding very small amounts of warm water, mixing till combined.  You want a nice firmish dough.


When it gets to this stage you need to start getting really parsimonious with the water otherwise you’ll take it over and it’ll become a gluey mess you can plug holes in your windows with.


Should look like this.  Make sure it looks like this.

Stick it in a bowl, cover with clingwrap and leave it for half an hour.  Go find something to do.


I dressed the dog up as Leeloo from the Fifth Element.  Obviously.


Go back to your dough.  Cut it up into about ping-pong ball shaped sizes.


Roll them out, using a sprinkling of flour.  We can tell you that you want to get them nice and thin, cause we didn’t, first off, and got it wrong.  So thin.  Thin like the lips of a dowager.


In a dry pan over a heat, put the chapati and leave till it starts to bubble – hopefully you can see the bubbles in the photo above.  Turn over for about a minute, then tong over to a bare flame (again as evidenced above, so much information in just one photo….amaze).  Turn it over the flame a bit, should help puff it up.  Stick it on a plate in an oven on a v low heat.  Eat with curry.

Mild Curry, Nice Curry

Hullo.  And Happy Easter, if that’s your sort of thing.

Tonight we are eating curry.  This a very tasty but also very mild curry, probably even ok for children or Britishers who don’t venture far from oven chips.  If you like things spicier, the recommendation is to add maybe one of those nice hot Thai style chillis as well, or some dried chilli flakes.

The recipe is a Jamie Oliver one.  Sorry.  Couple of those coming your way as I see an attempt at Kedgeree in my near future.

The night or the morning before you plan to eat this stuff you want to get the chicken marinading.  You’ll need some of this stuff for the marinade:

•1 fresh red chilli, deseeded
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled
• 15g fresh ginger
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• a pinch of paprika
• ½ tablespoon garam masala
• a teaspoon of tomato puree

• 3 sprigs of fresh coriander, leaves picked and chopped, stalks reserved
• 400g chicekn breast, preferably free-range or organic, diced into 2.5cm pieces
• 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
• ½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced
• ½ green pepper, deseeded and sliced
• a pinch of ground cinnamon
• a pinch of ground coriander
• a pinch of turmeric
• 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
• 100ml plain yoghurt
• 100ml double cream

God knows what a pinch actually is in terms of measurement.  I kind of go for the half-teaspoon type thing.


In a processer, or a pestle and mortar if you’re strong, blitz the garlic, ginger and chilli with the veg oil.  I used 3 garlic cloves even though Sir Oliver says only use a half.  Crazy times.  Then add the paprika, garam masala and puree as well as the stalks from the coriander you’ll be using later.  Blitz again.


It’ll look like this and smell a whole lot better.


Make sure you cover all the chicken pieces with it.  Again I’ve disobeyed the Oliver and used 3 chicken breasts.   Stick it in the fridge either overnight or for the day, until you cook the rest of the stuff.  I did this at 10am this morning upon returning from Heathrow where I had collected the boyfriend from his weekend jaunt to Addis Ababa.  His luggage is still there, as it happens, probably having a marvellous time.


Bout half-hour before you fancy eating get the rest of the stuff together.  YET AGAIN I did my own thing (scandalous by now) and used a whole green capsicum and half a red one.  Slice up the capsicums and onions.


Stick ’em in a big pan with the tumeric, ground coriander and cinnamon, with a splash of oil.  Cook off over a low heat for ten minutes.


Read whatever highbrow literature you’re currently into for ten minutes, stirring the vegetables occasionally.  Things should start smelling quite nice by now.

Then add the  yoghurt and the can of tomatoes, chopping up the tomatoes with your spoon till they’re smaller chunks.  S’pose you could use pre-chopped tinned tomatoes if you were really lazy, or disobedient.


Add the chicken pieces, stir through well and cook for about 20 mins or so until it’s cooked through, then throw in the washed coriander leaves and the double cream.  Voila.  Or whatever Voila is in Indian. I haven’t googled it.


We ate with chapatis, post on how to make those coming shortly, and not rice because of the kedgeree plans.  It was really nice and tasty but not at all spicy.

Fudged Up Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake.  One that went a bit wrong.  I promise it will still taste good.    Recipe below.


I wrote that out specially for you.  Happy Easter.


Get all your stuff together.  It doesn’t look like a chocolate cake yet.  That’s the magic of baking.  Or of a supermarket where you can buy them already made.


The recipe does not explicity state that you should include easter bunnies, but if you have any spare, then murder them by melting gently in a microwavable bowl, and add to the mix at the final stage.


Grease and line a cake tin, springform if you have one.  Fold your baking paper thusly.  Then measure from the middle of the tin to the outside and cut with some scissors.  This is a handy tip you can have for free.


Look.  A lined cake tin.  Magic.


Get all your stuff together – whisked (ie sifted, we’ll come to that bit later) dry ingredients, melted butter (and chocolate if you’re using, I recommend you do), vanilla, eggs, and milk/coffee combo.


Mix the melted butter into the dry mix, gradually, mixing well as you do.  Then add the milk/coffee mixure and the vanilla – beat well.    Keep beating.  Add the lightly beaten eggs (there’s a lot of beating going on, and if you stuffed up like I did, some self-flagellation shortly to come.  Enjoy) in bits, mixing well in between.  Add the melted chocolate at this stage.


This is the sifting/whisking thing.  I once tipped that you can just about whisk anything that is recommended sifted.  That’s true but it’s not true of cocoa powder.  You should always sift cocoa powder.


Lumps.  Bloody cocoa powder.  At this stage I had lost two arms trying to beat the lumps out so just gave up.  But your mix will look perfect – and hopefully glossy like this one.  Gloss is good.  It’s glossy cause you’ve got melted butter and melted chocolate in it.  Good stuff.


Pour into your tin and put in the oven at about 160-180C.  A tin this size took just short of an hour.  I actually had the oven at gas mark 4/5 here, slightly cooler than you’re supposed to.  This is where cakes, for me, go wrong, as I have a certified Shit Oven.  Ideally the cake will raise relatively slowly and evenly, and not break, or at least not much, the surface.


Oops.  *&%”%$&$(£&!!

Fecking oven.  Anyway this is not a good look.  It’s not what you’re after.


Turn it upside down onto a cooling rack – as you can see, the crumb is actually nice and fine in the places your Shit oven hasn’t crapped things up.

I’ll leave this to cool a bit, then turn it over and inspect the damage.  Will prob slice off the tumourous top.

Decorate as you wish – chocolate buttercream icing and raspberries is nice.

See below – icing is a brilliant thing – you’d never know there was a bad cake underneath all that.  Not, at least, until you slice it open.

(I have sliced it open.  It’s quite nice inside.  Stupid oven).


Bolognese – Mine is Better than Yours

Can you see the below face? I’m sure you can. It’s fairly large.


That is the rueful smile of someone who went for a couple of drinks on Friday night (the Perseverance in Marylebone, it’s quite good but the homemade crisps are not) and who stumbled home in a dizzy whirl of pissed-ness and who, subsequently, failed to acknowledge the existence of Saturday in any way other than through the haze of medicinal analgesics and pain.  I don’t drink very often anymore, and really very rarely to excess.  It’s good to be reminded why.

So today I am rueful, I have completed the requisite self-bullying, hung up some washing, done some grocery shopping and made the boyfriend a ham and cheese bagel to eat in the bath. I’ve done all of that rather gingerly. I need to eat something proper tonight, however, as does the boyfriend (courtesy of having completed The London Classic on a bike of some sort…it’s a fairly long ride), and so I have made my bolognese sauce. It’s the best. If there’s one thing I cannot stand it’s anaemic bolognese sauce. Mine is not. Mine is blood red and tasty like vampires.



packet of mince







2 tins chopped tomatoes

tomato paste

red wine

bacon/lardons or similar

mushrooms, if you like them


Oh, and some of the above, too. I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you all. This is a national secret, my bolognese. My alcohol-addled brain must be misfiring.


Make a soffritto. That’s fancy Italian for finely chop the onion, carrot and celery and throw in a pan with some olive oil and the finely chopped garlic. Cook it off, gently, till the onion goes a bit translucent.


Add the bacon or other smoky pork offering of your choice. Ideally it’d be a bit more finely chopped than demonstrated above. Whilst this is all cooking a bit, chop up your peppers and mushrooms. Careful with that knife, they’re dangerous. Add the dried herbs and chilli flakes.


Add the mince and chop it all about over a slightly higher heat, till browned. Don’t leave ANY BLOODY MINCEY LUMPS in it. Lumps are foul.


After the mince has browned and you have thoroughly de-lumped it, add all the other stuff – big squeeze of tomato paste (I usually use about half a tube), both tins of tomatoes, about a tin-ful of red wine, salt and pepper and the mushies and peppers. Grate in nutmug. Bring to the simmer. Let it simmer for a long while.

When you think you’ve simmered it enough, you haven’t. Basically it’ll look like the above, but get deeper red in colour, delicious-er in flavour. If you think it’s drying out a bit, add a splash of water.

Don’t let it be sloppy. It should be all unctious and slippery. Season to taste. Eat with a pasta shape of your choosing.


See above.


Oh – I found this at the supermarket.  I bought some.  It’s probably a terrible idea but I’ll let you know when we get around to eating supper.  I need to go lie down a while now.

I’ll leave you with a pic of the sunbathing dogs. Sweet. Also, not hungover.