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Archive for the ‘April’ Category

There is a programme on the BBC at the moment about great British heritage foods that have recently fallen out of favour and why they deserve to be put back on the menu. Funnily enough, all three ingredients I used last night have each featured as desperately in need of revival.

Cauliflower

First up, the Cauliflower. It didn’t surprise me to see the cauli feature near the top of the most passed over vegetable in the produce aisle list. Whilst the popularity of broccoli has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, it has been at the expense of its poor cousin the cauli. Apparently, this is mainly because there has been such a sustained campaign to get us all to eat more green and brightly coloured vegetables. Which is not a bad thing of course, but it has certainly gone a long way to damaging the reputation of the Cauliflower as a highly nutritious vegetable in its own right.

However, the main reason I have never got overly excited about this particular cruciferous is because I’ve never really thought about it beyond cauliflower cheese or as a side to the Sunday roast. Both of which are delicious, but not something I tend to make that often.

So standing in the vege aisle this week, as I reached over the cauliflower, drawn to the bright green broccoli next to it, I suddenly remembered the plight of the cauli and my mind was made up, cauliflower would be on the menu tonight!  At this point I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it. But it didn’t matter, by then I was on a roll. I wasn’t content with just saving the cauli, I was determined to do my bit for cabbage and pork as well! Another two foods that have dwindled in popularity in recent years. The cheap, full of water and sulphates type pork certainly isn’t in need of any more encouragement. I’m talking about proper pork, grown in healthy conditions and free from additives. Proper pork is still very cheap compared to other meats and tastes delicious. So a couple of pork loin steaks and a head of cabbage for a tasty apple and cabbage slaw it was. And here’s what I did with the cauli that started this all off – so simple, yet so tasty!

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower serves 2
– 1/2 head of cauliflower
– olive oil
– sea salt
– fennel seeds (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

2. Cut the cauliflower lengthways about 1/2 cm in thickness. It will crumble a bit, but this is fine, don’t discard the crumbs, once roasted they are the best bit!

3. Gently toss the cauli with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of sea salt and fennel seeds if you’ve got them and place in a single layer, crumbs and all, on a baking tray or in a shallow baking dish.

4. Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until the sides are starting to brown slightly.

5. Remove from the oven, set aside covered in foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

Cabbage & Apple Slaw

Cabbage & Apple Slaw serves 2
– 1 green apple, grated (Granny smith or Bramley)
– 1 cup shredded white cabbage
– 1 spring onion, sliced thinly or a small bunch of chives, chopped
– handful of raw or slightly toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
– 1/4 cup mayonnaise (handmade or good quality store-bought is fine)
– 1 teaspoon runny honey

1. Combine the grated apple, shredded cabbage and spring onions or chives and walnuts.

2. Mix the mayonnaise and honey together, taste and add a little extra mayo or honey depending on how sweet you want it.

3. Add the mayonnaise and honey mixture to the other ingredients and toss to coat evenly.

Cabbage & Apple Slaw

For the pork loins, simply brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with cracked black pepper, sea salt and a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional). Cook under a preheated oven grill or on the BBQ over a high heat for 2-3 minutes each side and then rest for a further 2-3 minutes before serving with the cauliflower and cabbage and apple slaw.

Peppered pork with roasted cauliflower and cabbage & apple slaw

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 Why Hummingbird Cake of course!

 

Hummingbird cake

I’ve made this a number of times for special occasions and it’s always a winner, especially with the boys for some reason. They of course always wolf down a couple of pieces, making sure to lick all the cream cheese icing off their fingers at the end and then proclaim they don’t have a sweet tooth…always! 😉

Hummingbird cake

Anyway, the trusty Hummingbird cake came out again for my friend Hett’s birthday party on the weekend and I took a couple of pics. Unfortunately, no photos of the cake cut as I didn’t think it was quite appropriate to turn up with a half cut cake for the birthday girl! But hopefully you’ll get the picture and believe me when I say this cake is so moist, full of flavour and exceptionally easy to make it’s worth considering when you have some ripe bananas that would normally go into a banana cake.

I use the Hummingbird Bakery recipe and like all their recipes I’ve tried, it’s pretty foolproof and produces excellent results. A very good baking book to add to anyone’s collection (thank you Anna!).

Hummingbird Cake from Hummingbird Bakery

Ingredients:
300g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
300ml sunflower or canola oil
270g peeled and mashed, over-ripe bananas
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
300g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g tinned pineapple, drained and cut into small pieces
100g roughly chopped walnuts (or pecans)
600g sifted icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, cold
extra cinnamon for dusting over the icing
extra nuts for decorating
3x 20cm cake tins for a tiered cake, or you can just make it in one 20cm tin

 1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius (325 degrees Fahrenheit) and make sure your oven tray is sitting in the middle of the oven.

2. Oil or butter the cake tin/s and line with greaseproof/baking paper.

3.  Place the sugar, eggs, oil, mashed banana and cinnamon in a large bowl and beat with an electric beater until all the ingredients are well combined. Don’t worry if the banana and oil makes the mixture look a bit curdled or split.

4. Have the flour already sifted in another bowl along with the baking soda, salt and vanilla extract. Add very slowly to the wet ingredients, beating continuously until all ingredients have been mixed in completely.

5. Stir in the chopped nuts and pineapple.

6. Pour the mixture into the tin/s and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a knife or skewer inserted comes out clean and the sponge bounces back when touched.

7. Leave to cool in the tin/s for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing and decorating.

For the cream cheese icing:
1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a large bowl with an electric hand beater on the lowest speed until well mixed.
*Tip* whenever a recipe calls for creaming or beating butter and sugar/icing sugar, I always start by beating the butter on its own first because that way when you add the sugar it won’t fly all over the kitchen!

2. Add all of the cream cheese and continue beating until completely incorporated. Turn the beat to the faster speed and beat until the icing is light and fluffy but before it starts to turn runny – about 5 minutes.

3. Once the cake has cooled, spread the icing generously all over (and between layers if you’ve gone for the tiered option) and dust with cinnamon and decorate with the extra nuts, chopped or left whole.

This cake will make 10-12 slices and will keep very well due to the oil and nuts, but make sure you wrap in tinfoil and place in the fridge because of the cream cheese icing!

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