Sunday, 8 March 2015

Clandestine Cake Club - Saturday 7th March 2015

This month we returned to a favourite venue of the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club, The Old Cannon Brewery which you can find tucked away down a side street in the centre of town. As before, their snug at the rear of the restaurant was a perfect spot for us.

Our theme this month was "Cakes around the World" and, as always, we had a fabulous selection to choose from...

Lynda's Amaretto Cream Cake

Rene's German Bienenstich  "Bee Sting Cake", a dense, sticky cake made with almonds and lots of honey.

Christina's Piernik Cake from Poland

I've again managed to miss one of our cakes when taking photos. This particular one was a delicious cake flavoured with spices and honey, sandwiched together with plum jam and covered in chocolate. Lovely!

Sophie's Boston Cream Pie

Kate's Grapefruit & Poppy Seed Cake

Amelia's Cookies & Cream Cake

My German Friendship Cake made with apples and raisins

Chrissie's beautiful French Entremet (pronounced on-tre-may), made with layers of chocolate cake, mousse and pears.

Trish's Lime & Coconut Cake

Thanks again to the The Old Cannon Brewery. For more details of upcoming Clandestine Cake Club events have a look here.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Farfalle with Carbonara and Spring Peas

Well look at that, a recipe that actually does use half a pot of cream!

I found myself with some leftover cream this week so turned to my blog first of all for some inspiration, however there was none to be found! Shameful considering it's name! I've posted about plenty of sweet recipes calling for cream but I was looking for something savoury. Ideally something that could be used to feed the whole family.

Luckily Jamie O came to the rescue with this recipe which turned out to b exactly what I was after. It uses precisely the amount of cream I had left in the fridge and I had pretty much everything else to hand in the fridge and freezer.

As with most of Jamie's recipes, the portion sizes are generous so I cooked a little less pasta than the 455g stated in the recipe. It still seemed a like lot but luckily it went down very well and by the end of the meal it had all been demolished.

The original recipe includes some freshly chopped mint, however I didn't have any in the house and I'm not that keen on it anyway. I didn't feel like the recipe was lacking without but you might want to give it a try if you like fresh mint.

All in all this was a great success. It was very easy to prepare and the simple creamy pasta mixed with salty bacon was a hit with the whole family.

Farfalle with Carbonara and Spring Peas
(adapted from Jamie's Dinners by Jamie Oliver)

14-16oz/400-455g farfalle pasta
1 egg
100ml/3 1/2 fl oz double cream
salt and pepper
12 rashers of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, roughly sliced
3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas
2 handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese

1) Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the pack instructions.

2) Fry the bacon in a large frying pan until golden and crispy

3) Whisk the egg, double cream and some salt and pepper in a bowl. When the pasta is cooked, reserve a cupful of the cooking water then drain in a colander and add to the bacon pan.

4) Add the egg and cream mix to the pasta and stir well to combine. Add the parmesan and check for seasoning. If the sauce seems a little dry add some of the reserved pasta water.

Serves 4

Friday, 6 February 2015

Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club - 31st January 2015

This month's Clandestine Cake Club saw us meeting at another new and wonderful venue in the heart of Bury St Edmunds. Oakes Barn is a fairly recent addition to the town and can be found tucked away down St Andrews Street South. Wooden beams and floors, and brick walls give it a cosy feel and their upstairs room is a perfect meeting place for local groups.

So this is where we found ourselves last Saturday, with a fantastic array of cakes based on the theme "Out with the with the new". In keeping with the New Year (which feels like months ago now) we had to bake a cake using something new, such as a new recipe or new ingredient.

Let's have a look a what we had to choose from....

My Coffee & Walnut Cake

Rene's Lemon Polenta Cake

Nicola & Ed's Dundee Cake

Nicola & Ed's Blood Orange Pound Cake

Chrissi's White Chocolate & Passion Fruit Cake

Helen's Fruity Tea Loaf

Sophie's Fudgy Raspberry Cake

Kate's Cherry & Pistachio Cake

Megan's Jaffa Cake

Thanks again to Oakes Barn for being such great hosts. For more information about Clandestine Cake Club events near you have a look here.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Meal Planning Monday - 26 January 2015

I can't believe we're nearly at the end of January already! I didn't get a chance to post my meal plan last week and, to be honest, it wasn't that exciting anyway. This week, though, I have a two new recipes to try plus a couple of old favourites. The meet for the Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club is also scheduled for Saturday which gives me a good excuse to bake a cake!

So, this week's menu looks like this...

Monday - Nigella's Breaded Chicken Cutlets with Potato Wedges & Salad

Tuesday - Broccoli & Blue Cheese Soup with bread from the bread maker

Wednesday - Quiche (not home made) & salad

Thursday - Tomato Curry with Coconut Rice

Friday - Something from my stash of M&S meals in the freezer & veg

Saturday - Coffee & Walnut Cake for the Clandestine Cake Club
       Dinner for P's mum which he will be cooking!

Sunday - Pastitsio

If you would like to submit your own meal plan or find some more inspiration then have a look at Mrs M's blog, At Home with Mrs M, and add your own link. You can also find us on Facebook and on Twitter using #mealplanningmonday.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Chocolate Mousse Tart

The book I found this recipe in advises "The only chocolate tart. This you must make".Well ok then, you don't have to tell me twice. And the truth is, this is the best advice you'll have been given for a while.

I love a chocolate tart and it will often be my first choice off the menu. They can be extremely rich though and not something you can eat much of. This one, however, has all the chocolatey depth and richness but at the same time it's as light as a feather and is, in my humble opinion, pretty close to perfection.

No it's not a super simple recipe but with a bit of patience it shouldn't cause you too many problems. Adding the egg yolk to the pastry makes it very easy to work with and the tip below about using leftover scraps to fill any cracks is worth remembering. The filling is also pretty easy as long as you're prepared to be a little patient when whisking up the eggs.

In short, this is a dinner party classic and any effort put in is more than rewarded at the other end.

Chocolate Mousse Tart
(from Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken & Other Stories but also published in Books for Cooks Favourite Recipes from Books 1, 2 & 3)

for the pastry case
175g/6oz plain flour
45g/1 1/2oz sifted icing sugar
a good pinch of salt
90g/30z very cold butter, cubed
1 organic egg yolk plus 1 tbsp cold water

for the filling
150g/5oz butter
200g/7oz plain chocolate, broken into pieces
3 organic egg yolks
2 organic eggs
3 tbsp caster sugar

1) Lightly butter a 24cm/9 1/2inch tart tin and put it into the fridge to chill.

2) Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to aerate. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and water (if necessary) and process until the pastry just draws together. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly to form a flat round.

3) Unless it's a very hot day you can roll the pastry out straightaway without chilling it first. Line the chilled tin, trim the pastry (although leave a centimetre or two above the rim as it will shrink - you can trim it some more later) and put into the fridge to rest for at least an hour (I left mine overnight with no adverse effects). Do not through any leftover pastry away, but wrap it in some cling film for later (see below).

4) Put a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 190c/375f). Line the chilled pastry case with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and cook for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the beans and paper and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is a light biscuit brown. Any cracks can be filled with your spare pastry - the residual heat will cook it.

5) For the filling, melt the butter and chocolate together either in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Leave to cool slightly.

6) Whisk the egg yolks, eggs and sugar until very thick and pale (this is the key to this dish - using a hand mixer I did this for at least 10 minutes). Pour the melted chocolate mixture on to the egg mixture and fold together until well mixed.

7) Pour into the pastry case and bake in the oven for 8 minutes when the tart filling will look just set but still a little wobbly. Leave to cool completely before trying to cut it. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar and serve with fromage frais, creme fraiche, cream or ice cream.

Serves 6-8

Monday, 5 January 2015

Meal Planning Monday - 5 January 2015

After a long and very lazy couple of weeks off over Christmas I'm now dragging myself back to reality and that means getting back to meal planning. I haven't taken part in Meal Planning Monday for months and months but with only half an idea of what we're going to eat this week, I thought this would be a good way to get motivated.

After an entirely no-holds-barred attitude to food over Christmas any meal planning in January will require a little bit of restraint. A bit of a New Year cliche I know, but less emphasis on chocolate and more on fruit and veg can only be a good thing. So here's what I have in mind...

Monday - Pasta Bolognese

Tuesday - Fish Cakes with Rice and Veg

Wednesday - Spicy Bean Burgers with Sweetcorn Couscous

Friday - Fish & Prawn Lasagne & Chocolate Tart (cooking for friends)

Saturday - Undecided but maybe some sort of stir fry

If you would like to submit your own meal plan or find some more inspiration then have a look at Mrs M's blog, At Home with Mrs M, and add your own link. You can also find us on Facebook and on Twitter using #mealplanningmonday.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Bury St Edmunds Clandestine Cake Club - 6th December 2014

This month the Bury St Edmunds branch of the Clandestine Cake Club returned to a previous venue - the very welcoming Six Bells. The Six Bells is located in the pretty village of Horringer, just a short distance south of Bury St Edmunds and has a well-deserved reputation for serving good quality local food.

This time we were given a lovely big table in the sunny conservatory which was perfect space for us and our many cakes.

This month the theme was Fun, Festive and Fabulous and attendees were invited to bring a cake with a little extra something to get us all in the mood for the festive season. All the cakes really were fabulous as you can see below...

Trish's Orange, Fig and Pecan Cake

Hannah and Ian's Gingerbread Cake with Orange frosting

Lynda's Christmas Honey Cake

Ruth's Gingerbread Bouche Noel

Sophie's Christmas Fruit Cake

Nicola's Apple Pavlova

Ed's Carrot Cake with Lime Mascarpone Frosting

Megan's Christmas Pudding Cake with Mulled Wine Icing

Siobhan's Chocolate, Orange and Cranberry Cake

My Peppermint Chocolate Cake

Huge thanks again to the Six Bells for being so helpful and welcoming. For more details of the Clandestine Cake Club and to find upcoming events have a look here.