Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lemon Polenta Cake

This weekend is the start of the Olympics in London.  I managed to get tickets to table tennis.  My husband wasn't really ecstatic to watch with me, so my friend, Jen, said she would love to go. Also her husband, Ben, said he would do dinner for us. Since they were providing the main meal, I thought I would bring dessert. Jen & Ben are both allergic to gluten. Luckily I had another recipe that I wanted to try from Nigella, her lemon polenta cake.

I was wondering what to top the cake with because it seemed a bit plain.  Luckily, Jen had some extra strawberries so we added those on top of the cake.  It turned out very moist from the lemon drizzle you pour on top when it's done. Definitely a recipe I will try again whether you are allergic to gluten or not.

  • for the cake:
  • 200g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g fine polenta/cornmeal
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 eggs
  • zest 2 lemons (save the juice for the syrup, below)
  • for the syrup:
  • juice 2 lemons
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1 x 23cm springform or other round cake tin


  1. Line the base of your cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.
  4. Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
  5. Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
  6. It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin.
  7. Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a smallish saucepan.
  8. Once the icing sugar’s dissolved into the juice, you’re done.
  9. Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Flourless chocolate cake

Knowing people who are allergic to gluten has allowed me to try recipes that they can eat.  We have a monthly department meeting, and I signed up to make dessert.

Hmm... what could I make that is gluten-free?  How about a flourless chocolate cake? I found a recipe from Nigella Lawson's cookbook, Kitchen. This recipe can also be found online.  Her version is a flourless chocolate lime cake with margarita cream.

I decided to leave out the lime and the margarita cream because I didn't have any lime or margarita ingredients.  Overall, it was an easy recipe, but it was helpful having a freestanding mixer (one of my lovely wedding gifts which I LOVE).

I baked it early in the morning, and I had to remind my hubby not to be tempted to eat it.  I did tell him that I would save him a slice.  I recommend cutting into 10 slices because it's a pretty rich cake. I doubt anyone will complain.

  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 150g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
  • 6 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 teaspoons best-quality cocoa powder, 
  •  icing sugar, to dust (optional)
  • 1 x 23cm springform or other round cake tin


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4, line the base of your cake tin with baking parchment and butter the sides.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave (following manufacturer’s instructions), then set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar together until about tripled in volume, pale and moussy. I do this using a freestanding mixer, but a hand-held electric model would be just fine too; obviously, by hand is possible but would demand tenacity and muscle.
  4. Mix the ground almonds with the cocoa powder and fold this gently into the egg and sugar mixture, followed by the slightly cooled chocolate and butter.
  5. Pour and scrape this mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes (though start to check at 35); the cake will be just firm on top, but still have a bit of wobble underneath.
  6. Remove from the oven and sit the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool. Once the first heat has left it, drape a clean tea towel over the cake to stop it getting too crusty, though a cracked and cratered surface is to be expected; it’s crunch I’m avoiding here.
  7. When cold, unmould, dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chocolate Macaroons

Back in the states, I was introduced to Wegmans chocolate macaroons.  I have been searching for a recipe or trying to find an equivalent.  I think that I've found a substitute. It's not the same, but it definitely hits the spot!

These are Mrs. Crimble's chocolate macaroons.  I was introduced to it by my friends who are allergic to gluten.  Who says you have to be allergic to gluten to enjoy Mrs. Crimbles?  The combination of chocolate and coconut is very nice.

Now I am on the hunt for a good coconut macaroon recipe to try and make my own. I would love to try and make them more like Wegmans which has a fuller buttery taste to them.  Maybe I need to come up with a whole new baked good line. Mrs. Turners? Hm... Watch out Mr. Kipling and Mrs. Crimbles. You may have some competition.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spicy Braised Chicken Stew (Dak Doritang)

Over the weekend, friends of mine from Australia were visiting.  Initially we made plans to go out for dinner, but I decided that I wanted to cook.  The husband usually leaves comments on my food photos.  I decided to make spicy braised chicken stew (dak doritang). People called it different names. I've always know this dish as dak doritang. I went to my trusted Maangchi to find a recipe for dak doritang.  I added about 4-5 large carrots cut up into 2 inch pieces when  I added the potatoes.

As I tasted it, I wondered how my non-Asian Aussie friends would handle heat. Luckily, they love spicy food, so everyone enjoyed the meal.

And for that added touch, my husband set the table for our dinner party.  He brought a whole Asian feel to the tablescape. He even found Asian folk music for dinner music.  Not bad for a British man, eh? 

Another funny thing. As I was cooking, our neighbor's cat, Zipper, came over to the kitchen. I think he smelled something good, and he wanted a taste.

Ingredients (for 4 servings):
1 kg Chicken wings & thighs
¼ cup soy sauce,
¼ cup garlic, minced
1 tbsp sugar,
2-3 med size onions (halved)
2 green onions, chopped
3-4 large potatoes.
4-5 large carrots, cut into 2 in pieces.

Cooking time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
  1. Cut 1 kg (about 2 pounds) of chicken wings or chicken thighs into bite sized pieces. Wash and  drain.
  2. Make seasoning paste by mixing ¼ cup  soy sauce, ¼ cup of minced garlic, ¼ cup hot pepper paste, ¼ cup of hot pepper flakes, and 1 tbs of sugar.
  3. Put the chicken and 2 or 3 medium sized onions (2 cups’ worth) into the seasoning paste. Mix it with a spoon.
  4. Add 2 cups of water to the pot and mix it up.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium high heat for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, peel 3-4 large potatoes (600 grams: 1.5 pound). Wash and drain them, then cut into large chunks 2 inch across. Set aside.
  7. Chop 2 green chili peppers and 2 stalks of green onions into small pieces. Set aside.
  8. 20 minutes later, add the potato chunks and chopped green chili peppers to the pot. Stir with a spoon, then let it cook with the lid closed for another 20 minutes.
  9. Open the lid and cook another 3-5 minutes. Keep the lid open to boil away some broth and thicken.
  10. Occasionally take some broth from the bottom of the pot and pour it over the top so everything gets some delicious broth.
  11. Transfer it to a large serving plate and sprinkle 2 chopped green onions over top.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Apple and rhubarb crumble

My colleague brought into work some rhubarb that she cut from her garden. So I decided to make an apple and rhubarb crumble. After reading a few reviews on BBC good food website, I decided to combine two recipes.

4 stalks rhubarb
3 Braeburn apples
150g unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp caster sugar

120g plain flour
60g caster sugar
60g unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces

1. For the fruit filling, pull any tough strands of skin off the rhubarb - don't peel it completely or you won't have any colour left. Cut the stalks into fairly chunky pieces so they keep their shape and don't end up as a purée when you cook them. Peel and core the apples and cut them into similar sized chunks; we use equal quantities of each to balance the flavour.

 2.Melt a knob of butter in a pan and sauté the fruit to drive off any extra water. If you don't do this now it will release a flood of liquid into the crumble and make it soggy. Add the cinnamon and sugar. Cooking the fruit right through at this stage means all you have to cook at the end are the crumble toppings, which is great if you are serving them at a dinner party, as you can finish them off in the oven during the main course.

3. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter, then rub into the flour using your fingertips to make a light breadcrumb texture. Do not overwork it or the crumble will become heavy.

4. Pour the fruit into baking dish and sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top. Don't pack it down, just let it take shape naturally. Bake for 40-45 minutes until nicely browned on top. I like to serve this crumble with custard. I haven't found a custart recipe so for now it's Ambrosia custard from a can.

Friday, July 6, 2012


My friend has started a cake business, and my work has hired her for two occasions. Her first cake was amazing! It was in the shape of a globe for a family moving away.  Her second cake was my request because we needed a cake for our UK reception.  She made the top layer an apple cake with white chocolate ganache (for Rich because he loves anything with apples), and the bottom layer was chocolate with chocolate ganache. 

Then we had a farewell party for two friends at work.  So we gave her a henna design, and she replicated onto the cake.  This cake was gorgeous! Almost too pretty to eat.  But eating it wasn't a problem.

I hope my friend's cake business really gets going. Hopefully she'll start a page on facebook soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sunday Roast

Usually on Sundays my husband will make a Sunday roast which is a traditional British main meal served in the early afternoon.  It is made up of a meat, potatoes, vegetables and sometimes a Yorkshire pudding if you're having beef.  He makes a really good Sunday roast.  This past Sunday he was busy out in the garden so I thought I would give it a go.

First I pour one cup of vegetable oil into a small baking tray and heat it up on the oven at 180 degrees C. While this oil is heating up, I boil 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chucks. Boil them halfway. When you can stick a fork into it and it seems partly done, take them off the stove. Drain them, and then shake them up on the pot to break them up a bit.

Then place the potatoes into the pan with oil. When you put in the potato, the oil should sizzle. If it doesn't, heat the pan longer.  Prepare the chicken by putting them into a baking dish with some oil, salt and pepper.  At the same time, place the chicken into the oven.  We like dark meat, so I used chicken thighs and drumsticks.  Bake for about 40 minutes with the potatoes until the chicken is done.

The potatoes are done, then they turn nice and golden brown.

Then I boil frozen peas until they become soft.

For the gravy, I use already made gravy.

And then you're done! For my first time, it wasn't bad, but I still prefer my husband's Sunday roast. Maybe b/c I don't have to prepare it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bakewell Tarts

My husband loves cherry bakewell tarts. We usually have a box of Mr. Kipling's cherry bakewells in the cupboard.  I wondered. How hard is it to make a cherry bakewell tart? Is Mr. Kipling the only one who can do it well?

I used this recipe from BBC good food website.  However, this recipe makes a loaf size tart.  I was able to make about 35 tarts without blind baking them.  I baked them for 20 minutes at 160 degrees

Next time, I'll use a large pastry cutter to make bigger pastry shells. I'm going to try and make them like Mr. Kipling.

Mr. Kipling, we're having a showdown.