Nigella’s lemon polenta cake

I watched an old episode of some Nigella series the other day and happened to see when Nigella made her Lemon Polenta cake. The batter had a golden, deep yellow, sunny colour to it and there was just something about the way Nigella smoothed it into the baking tin that I knew I will have to make this cake. So yesterday afternoon I baked it. It looked exactly like on the picture in the recipe so I was very pleased with the outcome. What does it taste like? Well, lemony and very moist and it feels light and heavy at the same time. Light because of the polenta I think and heavy because of the ground almonds (or the other way around?) and the amount of lemon syrup that seeped into the cake. It’s also very buttery. Almost too much butter for my taste.

Will I make it again? Yes. With less butter and more zest and maybe less syrup.

Thai Meatball Coconut Curry

I tried out this recipe from the delicious magazine website for a thai meatball coconut curry and while I will make this again I also have to say not without the addition of several things. I followed the recipe (for half the amount) and I found it bland. The taste was overwhelmingly coconut and it was very mild, there were hardly any flavours left of the spices that went in. So I spiced it up with several more chillis, more of the curry paste and I also added tamarind chutney. The red peppers were paired up with a bok choi as I felt there was a green missing. The meatballs however were amazing. The lime zest made all the difference. I used half pork half beef mince for the meatballs, simply because I had some minced beef in the fridge that needed to be used up. The meatballs tasted light and fresh, so different to the meatballs that go with pasta.

There is a lot of chopping going on, it takes a while to prepare all the ingredients but that’s by no means a criticism. Quite the opposite, I find the methodical approach calms me down and chills me out.

Strawberry Cream Cake the second

Last year’s strawberry cream cake must have left a good taste in Oliwia’s mouth because for her birthday this year she asked for another one! I kept the same recipe but used a bigger baking pan so the base was a slightly flatter than last year’s sponge cake. I also added a layer of strawberry slices on the cake before I poured over the strawberry cream.

The strawberries you get at this time of the year can be quite bland so I had chopped them up quite finely and macerated them for about half an hour in some sugar, a bit of raspberry liquor and a squeeze of lemon juice before I blended them to then combine with the whipped cream.

While the cake was setting in the fridge I made my top layer for the cake:

Frozen raspberries heated up with some sugar and lemon juice until they’re all soft with a handful of fresh strawberries meshed through a fine sieve with some gelatine mixed in so it would set on top of the strawberry cream.

The cake turned out remarkably well. I was so worried I wouldn’t get it out of its form but it came out beautifully. I didn’t have to make any repairs and the decorating was the easiest bit.

This year I actually got to try my cake, I was given a big slice which I shared with my other half and it was strawberry creamy goodness on a fluffy vanilla sponge with an extra zing from the raspberry strawberry jelly. A definite winner!

Smart shopping

I love food shopping. I love it especially when I’m in a different city or even country and often I come across things that I wish I could find in my local supermarkets.

My local Tesco has a foreign food aisle and recently I’ve discovered these noodle soups. Don’t they look cool? There are all sorts of noodle soups… some of them are completely in a foreign language and I have no idea what flavour they are but that doesn’t really bother me! We used to buy two minute noodle soup packs in Fiji and I have very fond memories of John making soup for me with added onions, chillies, cassava etc.etc, basically whatever was available on the island went into the soup!

So when I discovered these foreign two minute noodle soups a while ago I bought a whole variety of them and let me tell you, they are excellent value for money. I know you can buy Tesco value two minute noodle soups for what, 28 pence a pack? Or even less? But they don’t taste as nice as the foreign ones. They are great for when you think you don’t have anything to eat in the house. Last time I spruced them up by adding a handful of frozen prawns that I found in the freezer, a small piece of leftover chorizo from a week ago, a couple of mushrooms that were also on the brink and a few cocktail tomatoes that had fallen out of the packet and were at the back of my vegetable drawer and almost destined to go all mushy. Furthermore I spiced it up with Tom Yum Soup Paste, some lime juice, some fish sauce and a small spoonful of palm sugar. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs (again, whatever you have in the garden or at your window sill or in the fridge) and some bread!

The result was one of the best soups we had in a long time. And so cheap! And I used up all those things that otherwise would have gone to waste.

One must kiss many frogs to find a prince….

…luckily in this case the little boy whose birthday cake this is doesn’t have to do that, he’s already a very charming prince! Two years old and absolutely adoring. He celebrated his birthday party on Saturday with a bunch of other kids and I made some frog cupcakes for them:

His birthday is actually today so tonight the family comes together to celebrate and for this occasion I made a chocolate cake with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream. Covered in ivory fondant and decorated with green fondant leaves with hand painted patterns, tiny sugar flowers and of course, a frog!

I think it turned out well!

I have finally given in….

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…. and ordered myself a kitchen machine (you call it food mixer). After years of pondering shall I? Can I justify spending so much money? Which one? Do I really need one? How often will I use it? Can I afford it? and reading endless blogs and consumer reviews and asking on Facebook about preferences I have opted for neither a Kenwood nor a KitchenAid but a trusty Bosch. I say trusty because my mum has only Bosch appliances. In the beginning I think she bought Bosch because my uncle used to work for Bosch. But even after he left Bosch my mum kept buying their machines because they were so good.

It was almost a relief when I ordered it. I made a decision. And not an expensive one. Even though I saved up for a good kitchen machine for over a year now and could have easily bought an expensive one but once I have a bit of money saved up I get extremely stingy on what I spend it on. Usually I end up moving it from my savings account into my current account when things go wrong and I am cutting into my overdraft for when I’ve spent too much on champagne or a dress. So I am quite pleased with myself that I did spend my money on something I wanted for a long time. Good bye aching wrists and hello fluffy light sponges!

Chocolate frosted tray bake

I baked this quickly on Sunday afternoon … I was in the mood for chocolate cake and remembered that The Pink Whisk had an easy one the website. I followed the recipe exactly as Ruth wrote it (with the exception of adding half a teaspoon of instant coffee to it) and this is how it came out:

Wonderfully light and velvety and yet moist… simply delicious. The only thing I will change next time I make this cake is the frosting, it’s too much for my liking! I think half the ingredients will be sufficient.