Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Pumpkin Cake for Halloween.


For some reason Baby A has gone off his greens!! (fortunately he still loves his fruit, touch wood!!).

I've been on a mission to try and incorporate as many varieties of vegetables or fruit into his favourite post dinner treat. 

So far I've tried my hand at baking him cakes with ApplesCarrots, Pineapple and Banana Dates, Avocado, Banana and ApricotThough he has enjoyed most of them, his all time favourites still are the Egg Free Date and Walnut Cake and the Spicy and Moist Carrot, Raisin and Nut Cupcake.

Last week I used Courgettes, and the cake was wonderfully moist and yummy, but since I was not click happy there are no picts to accompany the another courgette cake is in the pipe line :)

As for this week it was a very straight forward and simple preparation for Halloween the supermarkets in the UK have been flooded with carving and cooking pumpkins, so Pumpkin Cake it is. I found this much liked and highly rated recipe for a pumpkin cake here and adapted it largely to suit me.

The grated pumpkin gives this cake a moist crumb, the  plump raisins adds to the yumminess, and the ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger adds a delicate flavour. Then comes the lovely creamy cheese topping that just makes the cake wonderfully luscious and addictive. 

 The resultant cake is light, moist, delicately spiced and absolutely delicious. You will absolutely love me !!!

Pumpkin or butternut squash flesh, grated (500g -peeled weight)
Self-raising flour: 300g
Dark muscovado sugar: 150g

White sugar: 150g
Cinnamon powder: 1 tsp

Ground Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp
Ground Cloves: 1/4 tsp
Baking soda: 2 tsp
Raisins: 175g
Salt:½ tsp
Eggs: 4
Butter:200g melted
Orange juice: 1 tbsp

For the frosting:
Soft cheese: 200g
85g softened
Icing sugar: 100g sifted
Zest of orange : 1 no.
Orange juice: 1 tsp
Grated ginger in sugar syrup: 3 small pieces

1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. 

2. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm baking or small roasting tin with baking parchment. 
3. Put the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, raisins and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. 
4. Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, then mix with the dry ingredients till combined. Stir in the pumpkin ( after squeezing out extra moisture with hands). Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 mins, or until golden and springy to the touch.
For frosting:
To make the frosting, beat together the cheese, butter, icing sugar, orange zest and 1 tsp of the juice till smooth and creamy, using a palette knife, spread over the top of the cake. To decorate sprinkle 2-3 tsps of grated ginger on top of the frosting and add a sprinkling of powdered cinnamon. Will keep, covered, for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Caysera's Notes:
1. Pumpkins can vary dramatically in water content, so keep an eye on the cake towards the end of cooking - yours may take less or more time to cook through.

Happy Halloween,

Carol Sequeira Pereira

Friday, 19 October 2012

Apple-topped Almond loaf Cake

This year our hybrid apple tree gave us a good bounty of fruit. Last year we used a few apples to make  this delicious Minced green apple pickle, which turned out sooo good that we had to do the same this year. With the remaining apples I was thinking cake, I already have one tasty recipe for an Apple and walnut cake which I make very often, but my newly found admiration for Linda Collister's bakes saw me baking this moist, scrumptious and delicious apple topped almond loaf cake. You must check out her awesome and impressive Coconut blondies.

This apple-topped cake with ground almonds, has a lovely texture and a very moist crumb. The apples adds a wonderful healthy topping. Although the original recipe calls for red eating apples, I used Granny Smith cooking apples, and I think the cake was still wonderful. 

Recipe Source: Linda Collister
Unsalted Butter melted: 150g
Caster sugar: 150g
Eggs beaten: 2
Ground almonds: 150g
Plain Flour: 50g
Baking powder: 1tsp
Lemon zest grated: 1 lemon
Whole milk: 100ml
Red eating apples cored and thinly sliced: 2 ( I used Granny Smith)
Icing sugar: to dust
A 450g loaf tin greased and lined with baking paper.

1. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric whisk until smooth, light and fluffy. Add the eggs an little at a time , stirring well between each addition.
2. Stir in the almonds, flour and baking powder., stir in the lemon zest and milk. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and level the surface. Arrange the apple slices evenly over the top.
3. Bake the cake in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes until the cake has risen, golden and springy to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool for 20 mins then turn over onto a wire rack and peel off the paper, allow to cool completely.
4. Dust liberally with icing sugar, cut into slices. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 2 days.

This cake makes a lovely tea time or lunch box treat. Alternatively makes a good dessert option when served with vanilla icecream.


Carol Sequeira Pereira

Monday, 15 October 2012

Comforting Chicken Soup for little ones.

Ever since Baby A  started eating solids, he has gone through regular phases of "eating" and "not eating". There are days when feeding him is a breeze, and other days when he is either not in the mood or is unwell ( which is very often....thanks to him going to nursery!! )

 It is this " Hunger strike" phase that actually drives me mad ;)  as well as makes me ever so determined to find him dishes or foods that will actually tickle his fancy and his appetite.

This recipe for one, is life saving, in that it truly works every single time. I learned to make this simple chicken soup/ broth from my mom. This is my definition of  honest food, that is flavourful and absolutely delicious. Baby A thoroughly enjoys this soup, be it a high fever, a blocked nose, or loss of appetite, he most often can't stop licking his lips and going hmmmmm after every spoonful. 

Hubby loves it too when he is feeling poorly, just a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper, it is magic.

As they say "Chicken Soup for the Soul"..........
Is it just an old wives tale, or does chicken soup really have some healing properties to sooth and make you feel better?

Well, Chicken soup has been scientifically proven to have several properties that make it useful in the treatment of certain illnesses. 
1. As it is all fits the “Plenty of fluids” bill that doctors strongly advice when you are ill.
2. The warmth and the salt in the soup does have a way with bacteria in the mouth and throat.
3. The warmth also helps clear up the sinuses
4. The lean protein in chicken and nutrients from added vegetables works to renergise the body when energy reserves are low.
Scientific studies also show that, an amino acid is released from chicken during cooking, that chemically resembles the drug acetylcysteine, prescribed for bronchitis and other respiratory problems and found in some cold medications. So its not a myth......drink up your chicken soup if you want to feel better :

Watch your "little ones" bounce back to their witty selves with a warm comforting bowl of this nutritious and yummy chicken soup.

Recipe Source: My Mom 
Ingredients: ( For 1 serving of soup)
Chicken: 4-5 drummettes (the small leg connected to the wing) You could use any other  pieces.
Cloves: 2
Cinnamon stick: 1/2 inch
Cardamom pod: 1
Onion: 1 small, chopped fine.
Small single piece of carrot (optional to remove after cooking)
Celery- 3 inch stick (optional to remove after cooking)
Tomato ( Small): 1/2
Water: 3/4 cup
Ghee/ Oil: 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Lemon juice: a squeeze

1. In a pressure cooker take ghee, when hot add crushed cardamom, clove and cinnamon fry for a few seconds till aromatic, then spoon out spices.
2. Add 1 tbsp of the chopped onion to the spiced infused oil and fry well till brown. Then add the chicken drummettes, and fry for a couple of minutes to seal the surface of the chicken, add the remaining chopped onion, tomato, carrot stick and celery stick, hot water and a few pinches of salt. Close the pressure cooker and cook the chicken for 5 whistles. When done turn the heat off, allow the pressure to drop. 
3. Open the cooker. Spoon out the carrot, celery. You could chop up carrots into tiny pieces and put back into soup or leave out.
4. Taste the soup for seasoning, squeeze over a few drops of lemon juice. Pour the soup into a cup. Serve warm along with 2-3 chicken drummettes and a slice of wholegrain toast, or a couple of breadsticks. 

Caysera's Notes:
1. Alternatively you could thinly shred the chicken off the bone and add to the soup. I tend to leave the meat on the bone as Baby A enjoys it that way. 
2. Any leftover chicken drummetes can be allowed to cool down completely, before placing in an airtight container in the fridge, these drummetes can be shredded and used to make a chicken sandwich, or a topping for pizza the next meal.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Masala Baked Lobsters.

This hot and spicy baked lobster preparation is a change from the usual Garlic Butter Herb Lobster, or Lobster Thermidor.

This is yet another recipe, where the traditional Mangalorean Chilli paste/ Meet Mirsang paste comes to use. A thin smearing of the Meet Mirsang/ Chilli paste over the cut surface of the lobster followed by a  a generous sprinkling of mature cheddar cheese, when baked creates a wonderfully flavoured lobster. With each bite you will taste the sweetness of the lobster flesh, heat and sourness of the Mangalore Meet Mirsang/ Chilli paste, complimented beautifully by the creamy saltiness of the cheese topping. A must try.

To make Masala Baked Lobsters
Ingredients: Serves 2 as a starter.
Live Lobster: 1 medium size
Mangalore Meet Mirsang/ Chilli paste: 3/4 tsp of ready ground Mangalore Chilli paste or (halve the quantity of the ingredients for the Instant Mangalore chilli paste recipe)
Olive oil to loosen the paste: 1/2 tsp
Grated cheese 2tbsp for topping

1. Prepare the Mangalore Chilli paste (If using the instant version skip the rice flour while making the paste). Taste mixture for salt and sourness, adjust accordingly. Add oil to the chilli paste. Keep aside.
2.  Divide the lobster using a sharp knife into two halves in the middle. (For video on how thats done go here . Remove or clean away the digestive tract, the gills, the circulation system, and green "tomalley"(the digestive gland). Or get your fishmonger to do it for you. Then give it a gentle rinse under running water. Dry the lobster meat using tissue paper.
3. Apply half of the prepared Mangalore Chilli paste to one half and the remaining to the second half. Make sure every bit of the lobster meat gets a smearing. Sprinkle over the grated cheddar cheese. Place the prepared lobster on a baking sheet.
4. Bake at 180 for 5-7 mins or till the outer shells turn orange. 

Serve hot with a wedge of lemon and a portion of crispy fresh salad on the side.


Have a lovely weekend,

Carol Sequeira Pereira.