Saturday, May 22, 2010

Keeping it Simple

The recipe today is for a citrus drizzle cake, and instead of wine you could use orange juice (extra to that needed for the 'drizzle'. Made in a loaf tin, this cake will be a good shape to store in the freezer - where it will keep quite happily for at least 3 months. Eaten like Madeira cake (spread with a little butter) or sliced and served with cream and soft summer fruits, an altogether delightful cake.

Spiced Citrus Drizzle Cake: serves 10 (F)
6 oz (175g) butter, softened
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
3 oz (75g) runny honey
2 large eggs, beaten
1 lemon
1 orange
6 oz (175g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tblsp white wine
1 good tblsp runny honey (for the drizzle)
Cream together the butter, sugar and the 3 oz runny honey until until pale and fluffy. Add a teaspoon of the flour and continue beating, adding the eggs a little at a time until well mixed. Sieve the flour, baking powder and spices together, grate the zest from the orange and lemon, and lightly beat all these into the creamed mixture with the wine to make a smooth cake batter.
Spoon this into a greased and lined 2 lb (900g) loaf tin, and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 40 - 45 minutes. Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile make the 'drizzle' by squeezing the juice from the orange and lemon into a pan and adding the tblsp of honey. Heat until simmering, then cook over low heat for 3 - 4 minutes to reduce slightly to make to a thickened syrup.
Using a fork or cocktail stick, stab the top of the still-warm cake to make small holes, then carefully pour the syrup over the top. Leave in the tin until the cake has absorbed the syrup, then remove from tin, wrap in clean paper and store in an airtight tin for several days. Serve sliced and eat as per above suggestions.
To freeze: wrap cake and freeze for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature.

If there is any of the above cake left, use to make the following dessert:
Lemon Curd Trifle: serves 4
4 thick slices of drizzle cake (above) or Madeira cake
8 oz (225g) lemon curd, pref home-made
1 lemon jelly
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
2 tsp icing (or caster) sugar
250ml tub double cream
Make up the jelly to a pint in the normal way. Leave to cool but not set.
Divide the cake between 4 individual glass bowls and pour the jelly over, pushing down the cake if it floats. When the cake has absorbed the jelly, place in the fridge to set. Then spoon a layer of lemon curd on top.
Whip the cream with the lemon zest, juice and sugar, then spoon this on top of the trifle. Chill before serving.

With so many of us now 'growing our own' this next recipe makes good use of a glut of lettuce. Or just use the outer leaves and save the sweeter core to eat with other salad leaves. This dish need not be made with only lettuce leaves, other 'mixed salad leaves' could be included.
The good thing about this soup is that it can be made in advance and frozen, and is good served hot or cold.

Summer Soup: serves 4 (F)
1 oz (25g) butter
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced (see above)
14 fl oz (400ml) light vegetable stock, hot
3 lettuces (any kind) finely shredded
4 oz (100g) peas, pea pods or broad beans (or a mixture)
salt and pepper
1 tblsp olive oil
2 oz (50g) smoked streaky bacon or chorizo, finely diced
Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onions until softened. Add the lettuce and saute for a couple of minutes, then pour in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes.
Either use a stick blender and blitz to a puree in the pan, or decant into a blender and blitz to a puree in this. If too thick, dilute with a little water. Add seasoning to taste.
(The soup can be frozen at this point. Freeze in a plastic container for up to 3 months, thaw in the fridge, then continue as below).
Heat a frying pan, add the oil, then scatter in the diced bacon or chorizo. Fry until crisp.
To serve: either serve the soup chilled, or re-heated. Garnish by scattering the freshly fried bacon/chorizo over the top.