Monday, January 25, 2010

All Adds Up...

Returning to the 'making and baking', have come across a cake recipe that has vegetables and fruit as part of the ingredients. We are used to eating carrot cake (aka Passion cake), and some of us may have tried making a cake using beetroot. It does seem that certain vegetables work well when used in cakes, and so there is no reason why this recipe could not be adapted and an assortment of vegetables (beetroot, carrot, parsnips etc) used when making just the one cake. A good way perhaps to get children to eat them? As long as the total weight of fruit and veg remain the same as given in the recipe, feel free to experiment.

Apple, Parsnip and Syrup cake: serves 8
6 oz (175g) butter
9 oz (250g) demerara sugar
4 fl oz (100g) golden or maple syrup
3 large eggs
9 oz (250g) self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
5 oz (150g) grated peeled parsnips
4 oz (100g) grated peeled carrots
1 eating apple, peeled, cored and grated
2 oz walnuts or pecan nuts, chopped
zest and juice of 1 small orange
filling: 250g tub cream cheese or mascarpone...
...beaten with 3 tblsp maple or golden syrup
Put the butter, sugar and syrup into a pan and heat gently until dissolved. Pour into a bowl and cool slightly before whisking in the eggs. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spice, then stir this into the mixture, followed by the grated vegetables and apple, then stir in the nuts and orange zest and juice.
Divide this between two greased and base-lined 8" (20cm) sandwich tins and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 25 - 30 minutes or until the surface springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool the cakes in the tins fpr a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Carefully remove base paper and when ready to serve, mix the filling ingredients and spread this over one cake, and cover with the second to 'sandwich' the two together. Looks good dusted with icing sugar before serving.

Came across a cross between a salad and a salad dressing recipe that is almost 'from the store-cupboard' if you count home-grown herbs being part of this. If the herbs are grown on the windowsill then this may be able to be made during the colder months of the year. Otherwise wait until later. This salad is particularly good eaten with grilled or roasted fish.
Salsa Verde: serves 4
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
4 tblsp olive oil (pref extra virgin)
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tblsp capers
1 tblsp pickled gherkins
3 anchovy fillets
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (leaves only)
1 small handful fresh basil leaves
1 small handful fresh mint leaves
First make a dressing by putting the mustard into a bowl and blend in the vinegar. Slowly stir in the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Finely chop the remaining ingredients together and then mix these into the dressing. Serve with fish.

As so often when reading through a recipe such as the above, always wonder - due to the amount of 'ingredients' - whether it could be turned into a 'dip' if everything was whizzed together in a blender or food processor. Or if too slack, this puree could make a 'pouring' sauce to go over pasta. Often I feel we should experiment more, using the same ingredients but preparing them or presenting them differently. It is so easy to get stuck in the rut of making the same dish in the same way when - with a little imagination - we could make an improvement. Or maybe not. But at least we should take the trouble to find out.