Sticky Spicy Ginger Cake

Sticky Spicy Ginger Cake Recipe

This is a recipe I’ve adapted from a great original recipe on BBC Good Food.  The tweaks I made were mainly to make it easier to make and to accommodate my own taste (I prefer sultanas and mixed spice to stem ginger and cinnamon).

This is how ginger cake should be: rich, spicy, sticky and delicious.  I know its probably a sign of becoming an old fart but this cake is a close approximation for how I remember McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake used to be.  Is it just me, or has the modern McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake dried up and shrunk to a single-portion cake??

Ingredients:

  • 225 g | 8 oz | 2.5 cups Plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 85 g | 3 oz sultanas
  • 250 ml | 8.5 fl oz | 1 cup whole milk
  • 115 g | 4 oz butter
  • 115 g | 4 oz golden syrup
  • 115 g | 4 oz treacle
  • 115 g | 4 oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C | 320 F.
  2. Line a 20 cm round cake tin with baking paper/greaseproof paper and place cake tin in a larger ovenproof dish to catch any leaks.
  3. Sift the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
  4. Add the sultanas and mix
  5. Place the milk, butter, treacle, golden syrup and dark muscovado sugar into a saucepan and heat gently to just below boiling.  Stir to ensure everything is mixed. Remove from the heat.
  6. Add the milk mix to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  7. Add the beaten egg and mix.
  8. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer or knife comes out just about clean (you want this cake to be as moist as possible to avoid over-baking)
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The Best Roast Potatoes

roastPotatoesNo, really, these ones are the best.  Trust me, I’ve done extensive research into this matter (translation:  I’ve eaten my weight in roast potatoes).  These are a tasty accompaniment to my moist roast chicken.  Photo from Pixabay.com as I’m never manage to get a photo of my roast spuds before they’re all gobbled up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg / 2.2 lb potatoes, peeled and halved (quartered if they’re very big).  Roosters, Maris Pipers and Golden Wonders are good varieties for roasting.  You need to use main crop potatoes, not salad potatoes or new potatoes.
  • Stock cube or stock powder (optional – I use Marigold Vegetable Bouillion Powder)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of oil.  I use sunflower oil.  You can use goose fat if you’re so inclined.  Don’t use olive oil or any other oil with a low smoke point.
  • 2 tablespoons of semolina
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 220 C / 430 F.  Place the oil in a large roasting tin and place in the oven to heat.
  2. Place the potatoes in large pot and cover with water to 2.5 cm / 1 inch above the potatoes.  Add the stock now if you’re using it.  Cover and bring the pot to a gentle boil.  Boil  for about 10 minutes.  You’re not trying to cook the potatoes through, you just want the potatoes to be starting to soften a little on the outside.
  3. Drain the potatoes and leave them to dry out uncovered in the pot if you have time – the drier the better.
  4. Sprinkle the semolina, salt and pepper over the potatoes in the pot.  Cover and give the pot a vigorous shake.  The idea is to distribute the seasoning and the semolina and ‘rough-up’ the spuds.  Those rough edges will become tasty, crunchy edges when they’re roasted.
  5. Take the roasting tin out of the oven (very carefully – its very hot by now!).  Place the spuds into the oil very carefully so as not to splash hot oil around.   You should here a little sizzle when the spuds hit the hot oil.  Turn each spud around in the oil to get each one coated in oil.
  6. Roast in the hot oven for 35 – 40 minutes.  The roasting time will vary depending on the size of your spuds.  You should check them after 30 minutes to see how they’re doing.  You want them to be a nice golden colour.  Once they’re out of the oven you may want to add a little more salt and pepper.  Roast potatoes are best eaten hot, fresh from the oven.  Enjoy!

 

 

Tip For Moist Roast Chicken

Easy Tip For Moist Roast ChickenWhere does the time go?  Honestly, I didn’t realise it has been so long since my last post (‘Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…’).   Well, I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get back into the swing of posting.  To kick things off for 2016 I’m keeping my first post of the new year short and sweet.

You like really moist roast chicken?  Here’s a quick and very easy tip for delicious, moist roast chicken:  roast the chicken upside down!  Ok, that’s not quite all but its the most important step.

Here’s the full story:

Ingredients:

  • 1 free range chicken
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 handful of herbs, torn – use whatever you have to hand whose flavour you enjoy.  I typically throw in some sage, parsley, rosemary and a bay leaf as I have these growing in my garden year-round.
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 C / 390 F.
  2. Remove any packaging from the chicken and place it upside down (breast-side down) in a large roasting tin.   Placing the chicken upside down encourages its own fat to melt and flow into the fleshiest parts, keeping them deliciously moist.
  3. Shove the onion, lemon and herbs inside the chicken. (I didn’t say this was going to be glamorous.) These add moisture and flavour from inside during cooking.
  4. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  5. Place the prepared chicken into the oven.  Roast for 20 minutes per pound plus an extra 20 minutes (for luck?)
  6. (If you’re preparing roast potatoes or roast vegetables to accompany your chicken, now is a good time to get them started … but that’s another day’s post!)
  7. When its done (check the juices run clear, no signs of pinkness in the juice), take it from the oven and let it rest, right-side up, for 15 minutes before carving.  This method means the ‘crown’ of the chicken doesn’t become as browned as with the more conventional right way up technique.  If you want to brown the skin of the crown turn the chicken right way up for the last 20 minutes of roasting.

 

Chorizo and Chick Pea Jambalaya

Jambalaya Ingredients

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients

This is a Tweatfeast tweaking of an excellent recipe from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com.    Its a lovely one-pot dish that is pretty easy to prepare.  Pure comfort food.

Fry the onions and chorizo

Fry the onions and chorizo

Ingredients (Serves 6-ish):

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 100g chorizo, finely sliced
  • 2 peppers (any colours), deseeded and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 250g easy cook brown rice
  • 500ml chicken stock (made from a cube is fine)
  • 400g tin of chick peas, drained
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 1 tin sweetcorn, drained
add peppers

Add the pepper and fry until they begin to soften

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a on a medium heat in a wide-bottomed pan with a lid.   Fry the chorizo and onion.  The chorizo will quickly start to release some of its fat and the onion will fry in this.  Fry for about 5 minutes until the chorizo is cooked and the onion is soft and sweet.
  2. Add the chopped peppers and cook for further 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the smoked paprika and Cajun seasoning and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the chick peas, tomatoes, rice and stock.  Stir to mix.  Cover and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes.   Check the rice after 30 minutes.  If its not quite cooked, replace the lid and cook for another 10 minutes (you may need to add a little water if its drying out)
  6. Once the rice is cooked stir in the frozen peas and sweetcorn and cook for about 5 minutes until heated through.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
add spices

Add the spices and cook for a minute

add tomoatoes

Add the chopped tomatoes

add stock chick peas and rice

Add the stock, chick peas, and rice

add corn and frozen peas

Once the rice is cooked add corn and frozen peas and heat through

chick pea and chorizo jambalaya

It’s ready! Chick pea and chorizo jambalaya – Dig in!

 

Beef and Stout Stew

Ingredients for Beef and Stout Stew

Step 1 – Gather the Ingredients for Beef and Stout Stew

Oh it’s just bitterly cold today!  The beautiful blue skies outside belie the necessity of hats and gloves and warm woolly jumpers. It’s perfect weather for a warming winter stew.  This beef and stout stew is a recipe I’ve tweaked and adapted over the years.  I think I’ve just about got it right now.  It’s a rich stew that is pretty forgiving and will accommodate a few extra veg if you have them knocking about and in need of use (though avoid more delicate veg that will struggle to withstand the long cooking time).

Chopped Veg

Step 2 – Chop the Veg

A word of warning:  this is a very straightforward recipe but its essential secret ingredient is time!  It takes less than twenty minutes to prepare but hours to cook. Cook it for as long as possible (ideally 4 hours) in a very low oven for a delicious, tender stew.

Browning the Beef

Step 3 – Browning the Beef

Ingredients:

  • 450 g / 1 lb Stewing beef – a cheaper cut with a bit of fat that makes for a rich and tender end product
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 3 medium onions, coarsely chopped (this is a rustic recipe, no need for delicate knife skills here)
  • 4 – 5 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 200 g / 8 oz button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves (give them a squeeze to break them a little to release the flavour)
  • 3 beef stock cubes, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 litre / 2 pints stout (I used Aldi’s Irish Stout.  Guinness works well too.  Let me know if you have success with other brands of stout.  Do choose a rich, flavoursome beer – it needs to be able to stand up to the other flavours)
Adding the Veg and Seasoning

Step 4 – Adding the Veg and Seasoning

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150 C/ 300 F
  2. Brown the beef in a large oven-proof roaster/casserole dish with a lid. Don’t over-do it – you just want to brown the meat, not cook it through.  The less you cook here the more tender the stew will be.  You may need a drop of oil depending on how fatty your beef is.
  3. Once the beef is just browned take the pot off the heat and stir in flour
  4. Add the chopped onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms.
  5. Add the thyme, mustard, salt, pepper, beef stock cubes and bay leaves
  6. Add the stout. Stir it all about.  You may need to add a bit of water to just barely cover the ingredients.
  7. Put the lid on and put in the pre-heated oven for four hours. Check every hour or so to make sure its not drying out. You may need to give a it a stir.  If its still very liquidy after three hours leave the lid off for the rest of the cooking, checking every 20 minutes or so just to be sure its not drying out too much.
  8. Serve hot.  This stew is delicious with buttery mashed potato and peas or green beans.  Its also lovely with crusty bread.  Or even just on its own.  Mmm.  It also keeps well for a few days (cover and refrigerate it as soon as it cools to room temperature)
Add the Stout

Step 5 – Add the Stout

Beef and Stout Stew Finished

The Finished Stew

Hill of Beans

Veggie Chili

Veggie Chili

On my ‘it’s not a diet’ drive at the moment I’ve been determined to try new, healthy recipes.   I’ve found a useful source of recipes on the ‘Operation Transformation’ website.   ‘Operation Transformation’ is RTE’s (Irish TV) answer to the internationally franchised ‘Biggest Loser’ shows.

I’ve tried a number of the ‘Operation Transformation’ recipes over the past few weeks and have found them pretty reliable (with a few minor tweaks), very straightforward and, for the most part, tasty.  Each of their recipes is designed to provide about 500 calories.

Here’s my adaptation of their vegetarian chili.  It makes a substantial, satisfying and flavourful dinner.  The main changes I made to the original recipe were in the method and to the seasoning.

Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled & diced
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded & chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 teaspoons of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 400g can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 100g of red lentils
  • 400g of mushrooms, chopped
  • 250 ml vegetable stock

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the onion, peppers and mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and saute for a further 2 mins (adding the garlic later prevents the garlic becoming bitter)
  4. Stir in tomato puree, canned chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the stock, kidney beans and lentils and stir.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until the red lentils are tender and beginning to break down.  (You may need to add a little water if the mix is becoming too dry but remember it is supposed to be a thick stew, not a runny soup)
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with wholegrain rice (50g uncooked per person to stick within the c. 500 calorie limit), cous cous or tortillas.