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Sunday
Aug302015

Chocolate Fudge Cake for Comfort and Tailgating!

This is the sort of cake you'd want to eat the whole of when you'd been chucked. But even the sight of it, proud and tall and thickly iced on its stand, comforts.

It's also great for tailgating!

Ingredients 

for the cake

  • 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups superfine sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • ½ cup corn oil
  • 1 ¼ cups chilled water

for the fudge icing

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 ¾ cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Thursday
Jun252015

Nothing Says Summer Like Ribs

These ribs can be done with baby back or regular pork ribs or beef ribs. I have also made split chickens this way. The ribs are tender, moist and just slide off of the bone. I know that your family will love them just as much as my family does. I noticed that some are unable to find hickory smoked salt. You can use smoked paprika or just brush the ribs with liquid smoke before applying the rub. The smoke flavor is nice because it helps give the ribs a cooked-on-the-grill flavor. Also, the easiest way to remove the membrane is to work a spoon, or I use the tips of my kitchen shears, into the bottom center of the membrane, work it back and forth to form a "pocket," then I slide my thumbs in and work the membrane off from the center outward to the ends.

Ingredients
Servings 6

    4 lbs pork ribs
    3⁄4 cup light brown sugar
    1 teaspoon hickory smoke salt
    1 tablespoon paprika
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1⁄2 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
    2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce (mine is Sweet Baby Ray)

Directions

  •     Preheat oven to 300 degrees f.
  •     Peel off tough membrane that covers the bony side of the ribs.
  •     Mix together the sugar and spices to make the rub.
  •     Apply rub to ribs on all sides.
  •     Lay ribs on two layers of foil, shiny side out and meaty side down.
  •     Lay two layers of foil on top of ribs and roll and crimp edges tightly, edges facing up to seal.
  •     Place on baking sheet, bake for 2-2.5 hours until meat is starting to shrink away from the ends of  bone.
  •     Remove from oven.
  •     Heat broiler.
  •     Cut ribs into serving sized portions of 2 or 3 ribs.
  •     Arrange on broiler pan, bony side up.
  •     Brush on sauce.
  •     Broil for 1 or 2 minutes until sauce is cooked on and bubbly.
  •     Turn ribs over.
  •     Repeat on other side.

    Alternately, you can grill the ribs on your grill to cook on the sauce.

Sunday
May312015

Less-Than-Perfect-Strawberries Make Great Almond Crumble

If I’d had to choose one thing that cooking could not make better, I’d have put good money on its being a bad (as in unripe and tasteless) strawberry (strawbuggers). I’d be embarrassed even to own up to trying to improve it, were it not for the fact that I read an article by Saint Simon of Hopkinson in which he advised using said strawbuggers in a pie. So I did. Well, that’s not quite true: I am lazier than he is, so I made a crumble. I don’t know what, how or why it happened, but this is a crumble of dreams. The oven doesn’t, as you’d think, turn theberries into a red-tinted mush of slime, but into berry-intense bursts of tender juiciness. This is nothing short of alchemy: you take the vilest, crunchiest supermarket strawberries, top them with an almondy, buttery rubble, bake and turn them on a cold day into the taste of English summer. Naturally, serve with lashings of cream: I regard this is as obligatory not optional.

Ingredients

for the filling:

  • 1 lb strawberries (hulled)
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the topping:

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter (diced)
  • 1 ¼ cups slivered almonds
  • ½ cup turbinado sugar
  • heavy cream (to serve)

Instructions

Friday
May222015

Nothing Says Dessert Like Chocolate Sheet Cake

What's not to love about a sheet cake? it’s a great way to feed a lot of people and, in my book, the more people get to eat cake, the better. I’ve simplified what is an already simple approach, so that both cake, and icing/frosting are made in saucepans on the stovetop: in other words, no creaming and multi-stepped process, just melting, stirring and pouring. What’s more, this is an infinitely variable recipe and a gratifyingly reliable one.

Traditional sheet cakes require buttermilk for sponge element, and this kind of icing/frosting needs regular milk. Rather than send you (or me) to the shops for an extra ingredient, I simply turn fresh milk into buttermilk by adding vinegar to the milk before I get on with the rest of the cake. It’s obviously not worth using an expensive vinegar, and if you wanted, you could equally use lemon juice. By the time you come to use it, the milk-now-buttermilk will look like a curdled mess, and that’s a good thing! The buttermilk is what helps keep the cake crumb so tender.

The batter is runny – and is meant to be, that’s what helps its fudgy texture later – and the cake will look woefully shallow once this mixture is poured into the tin. Do not be alarmed: it will rise, but not enormously; this is meant to be a shallow cake.  It’s perfect for bake sales, birthdays, indeed any celebration, and now I happily offer it to you as a celebration of, and thanks, for reaching 1 million of you on my Facebook page.

Ingredients

for the cake

  • ½ cup whole milk or semi-skimmed / 2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup soft unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the icing/frosting

  • ¼ cup soft unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk or semi-skimmed / 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons best-quality unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar (sieved)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

to decorate

sprinkles of your choice

Monday
Mar302015

Easy, One-Pan Salmon with Roasted Asparagus and Potatoes

This is a quick, easy dish for Spring.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound new potatoes, halved if large
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 asparagus spears, trimmed and halved
  • 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 salmon fillets, about 5oz each
  • handful basil leaves
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Tip the potatoes and 1 tbsp of olive oil into an ovenproof dish, then roast the potatoes for 20 mins until starting to brown. Toss the asparagus in with the potatoes, then return to the oven for 15 mins.
  2. Throw in the cherry tomatoes and vinegar and nestle the salmon amongst the vegetables. Drizzle with the remaining oil and return to the oven for a final 10-15 mins until the salmon is cooked. Scatter over the basil leaves and serve everything scooped straight from the dish.