I wanted a pudding. I wanted something sharp rather than sweet – but then other people become involved and they want sweet over sharp, and so it goes on. There is a balance to be struck and it’s with a lovely tarte au citron. My local farmers shop has some wonderfully large, ripe and juicy lemons that were crying out for use and so they came to the rescue. Here it is, a tart for the close of summer; one to use before the darker night and heavier puddings of autumn arrive.
Hands up, I don’t like Christmas Cake. I don’t apologise. It seems forced, overly fruity, almond pasted, icing sugared overload. It’s not for me. I am partial to a slice of Dundee cake. The problem with that, of course, is that it doesn’t always come up to what you Christmas cake fiends demand. So there is something to find in the middle. I think this is it – it has the fruit, and some alcoholic richness; but it pushes back the icing for a glaze and blanched almonds (so much better than the paste). It being Christmas time, the cake is fed – with the tipple of your choice – so that it keeps moist and tastes wonderful with a great glassful of sherry. Nuts, fruit, eggs, alcohol, and in this cake a little mixed spice and cinnamon (hence not so traditional). Don’t complain, it’s not Dundee cake, I know, it’s a Dundee Christmas Cake.
I am going through a thing at the moment for food I had as a child (and crave right now). It started when I thought about Chinese chicken curry, and turned very easily to pie and mash. There is something wholesome and deeply fulfilling when you are faced with a pie with a crisp top and suet base, filled with mincemeat. Aside that, comes the mash, and poured over the top the parsley liquor (and a generous amount of vinegar). It is isn’t rocket science, and I can manage to eat two pies even in the summer. This really works. Feeds four.
Happily locked away in Cornwall, it’s a wine and ‘pick and lick’ menu at lunchtime. For my contribution at the table it needs something easily made (I am on holiday), and great for dipping or holding food that someone else expertly prepares: in this case spicy chicken, dips, sausages and a varied amount of food that tastes great and makes the lunch. So here was my contribution, a classic Middle Eastern flatbread, with a dough spread with homemade za’atar – herbs and sesame seeds. It really is quick to make with a crusty top with soft dough inside. This makes three breads, or break into smaller amounts if you want more individual sizes.
Trust me, I’m not searching the world for recipes that are a heart attack on a plate, but sometimes things are just too good not to try. Brownies (more about their history below) are one of those wonderful food creations that can be eaten at almost anytime. Great for tea-time, on picnics and even as a dessert after good meal (just add a spoon of ice cream). This one has extra chocolate chunks running through it – I used mostly dark chocolate but the choice is yours. I have a recipe for a brownie cake, squidgy on top with wonderful chocolate goo on the base. When I’ve tried it I will share it. Well, maybe.
Cuts into 16 squares or 32 triangles. Ready in 1 hour (inc cooling)
So it’s a cake, soaked in whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk – topped with cream. Really? This sweet, moist wonderfulness of a creation can only make you feel that God exists and bakes. I first tried this in the US, but it has a long story in its history (more about that below), a bit convoluted and not entirely clear. What is undoubtedly true, once you have made this your friends will always, but always want more.
Oh, window cleaners arriving first thing tomorrow and there are no biscuits in the house to go with their pots of tea. The nearest shop is closed, so it’s a rummage through the cupboard to see what can be baked. It is these: quickly put together, moulded, cooled in the fridge and then baked for about 10-15 minutes. A biscuit with a cinnamon and mixed spice flavour. I know they go well with tea – there were none left after the window cleaners finished their last cup. Makes about 12 thick biscuits, or 18 thinner ones.
There is on this blog a recipe for a wholemeal loaf. However, sometimes there is a need for white bread – and for some sandwiches I think only white bread will do. Here is a simple, straightforward version for a 2lb standard white loaf.
What is it at the moment, that makes me want to recreate recipes that remind me of living in America? Yes, I know this is more a Greek dish, but I lived in Texas where the weather is hotter all the year round, and this pie was always welcome. Here, I make it with fresh spinach, you can use frozen if you wish, but I think fresh is easier. I tend to pack the pie with more cheese and pine nuts. It is a more-ish and tasty lunch, or summer supper.
I have a harvest of walnuts and pecans in the cupboard. Don’t ask me why, I suppose I just kept buying them for some reason. Some I have used some to make granola, and now I decided to bake a loaf cake. I just wanted something to remind me of walking to work when I lived in the US: a lovely, sweet, cinnamon fragrance I recall wafting around (along with the smell of fresh coffee) and this cake does exactly that. It has a sweetness to it, holds its place but retains a moisture. It tastes even better on day two and will keep fresh in a cake tin for some time – if it lasts that long. I bake it in a loaf tin (hence the name) but it is really a cake – and a lovely cake at that.