2011 — Page 3

Review: Donal Skehan's Kitchen Hero

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Before I took my little hiatus from the blog in May, I was invited to a very special afternoon tea in the Westbury hotel to celebrate the launch of Donal Skehan's new cook book; Kitchen Hero.

For those of you who don't know Donal, he's a food blogger turned television super star! His first cook book Good Mood Food was published in the autumn of 2009 and since then he's been popping up all over the place doing demos at events such as Bloom and Taste of Dublin.

Having had a chance to try a couple of things from Kitchen Hero, I can say that the recipes are very easy follow and already myself and the Beau have a couple of favourites that have entered the rotation of weekly dinners.

Baked Teriyaki Salmon, a new addition to our weekly dinners

The book starts with a list of essential store cupboard ingredients, and while this list may seem a little long, a lot of these items last a long time once you make the initial purchase. He also has a list of essential kitchen equipment, which contains only a couple of extra things than the average student kitchen (or at least the average student kitchen that I remember). Both of these lists are incredibly encouraging to the novice home cook as they illustrate how little you really need to get cooking.

The recipes are then divided in sections; Meals in Minutes, Party Food & Drinks, Salads & Sides, Comfort Food, Stretch Your Meals and Easy Desserts & Baking. Though there is some crossover between these defined sections.

Each section, as well as each of the recipes, starts with a little background from Donal, a touch I love as it makes the whole book more personal. The recipes themselves are well laid out with simple to follow bullet point instructions. Even the non-cooking Beau thinks he could make something from this book.

All in all this is a great book for beginner cooks, especially students living out of home for the first time. Having said that there is still a lot of recipes for more experienced cooks and I particularly liked the Sticky Honey and Szechwan Pepper Duck recipe as something new.

My favourite recipe so far from the book? Roast Aubergine Dip and Crispy Herb and Garlic Pittas. I don't even like aubergine, but this is delicious! The rest of my family agrees too, it was eaten up incredibly quickly when I made it one Saturday afternoon. The perfect snack to go with a little rugby watching.

You can buy Kitchen Hero from your local bookshop or from Amazon or the like. You also get a copy when you have the Kitchen Hero afternoon tea at the Westbury Hotel (which is delicious!).

Finally, you can catch Donal on RTÉ1 at 8:30pm on Mondays, cooking up a storm with recipes from the book.

Raspberry Blondies à la Stitch and Bear

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

This is the second of the two blondie recipes that I baked last Sunday. This is Stitch and Bear's recipe, this time with the raspberries replacing the chocolate and dried cranberries of the original.

The fresh raspberries were in this set of blondies. They had more flavour than the frozen ones (though that's probably partly due to the amount of time the frozen ones had spent in the freezer).

These were better eaten the day we baked them as they lost some of the crispness on the second day. However, the Beau's kids thought that these were the best of the two, as they had more of a brownie-like texture than the other version.

This recipe may give you a little déjà vu after the last one.

Butter (or margarine)
Brown Sugar
a pinch
Vanilla Essence
1 tsp
Raspberries (fresh weight)
Other Requirements

Large glass bowl, saucepan, spatula, mixer and a Swiss roll pan or other deep baking tray

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease your baking pan.

Measure out the butter into a glass bowl that is large enough to make the blondie batter in and place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Leave the butter to melt.

While the butter is melting measure out the brown sugar into a bowl. Measure out the flour into a seperate bowl and leave to one side. Break the egg into yet another bowl and beat it, leave this to one side too.

The butter should now be completely melted. Take the it off the heat, add the brown sugar and whisk together.

Once well mixed, add the vanilla essence and beaten egg and whisk together thoroughly.

This time add all the flour at once and the pinch of salt. Mix together with the blender, slowly as first, so you don't get a big cloud of flour.

When the flour is all mixed in, pour the batter into the greased baking tray.

Make sure the mixture is evenly spread oven the pan and sprinkle with the fresh raspberries. Place in the oven and bake for 20 - 25 mins.

When cooked, a skewer should come out from the blondies with a small coating of crumbs. Leave them to cool for 5 minutes and then cut into squares.

Enjoy in the sunshine.

Raspberry Blondies à la Dinner du Jour

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

This is the first of the two blondie recipes that I baked last Sunday. This is Dinner du Jour's recipe only with raspberries instead of the pecans and chocolate chips of the original.

These came out slightly thicker than I had intended due to the baking tray snafu I mentioned and were made with frozen raspberries that I stirred into the mixture while they were still solid.

My mum has reported that these become nicely caramelly the next day, so they would be worth making in advance. But whether you eat them straight out of the pan or leisurely the next day, enjoy!

Butter (or margarine)
Brown Sugar
Baking Powder
1 tsp
¾ tsp
Bicarbonate of Soda
¼ tsp
Vanilla Essence
2 tsps
Raspberries (frozen weight)
Other Requirements

Large glass bowl, saucepan, spatula, mixer and a Swiss roll pan or other deep baking tray

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease your baking pan. I know I've mentioned this before, but I like to use old butter papers to grease things, they're so handy!

Measure out the butter into a glass bowl that is large enough to make the blondie batter in and place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Leave the butter to melt.

While the butter is melting measure out the brown sugar into a bowl and leave to one side. Measure out the flour.

Add the baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda to the flour and leave to one side with the brown sugar.

By now the butter should be completely melted. Take the melted butter off the heat, add the brown sugar and whisk together.

Once the butter is thoroughly blended with the butter, add the vanilla essence and eggs and whisk again. If you're not a big fan of vanilla you could leave it out or cut it down to just 1 tsp. Personally, I loved the flavour it gave.

Again, whisk everything together until they are well mixed. Then add a small amount of flour to the mixture and blend. Repeat these steps until all the flour is mixed in.

Add the frozen raspberries and fold them into the blondie mixture.

Pour the mixture into your greased pan and put in the oven to bake.

They should take between 25 - 35 minutes to bake depending on the depth of the pan you have them in. If they look like they will get singed on top, cover with a sheet of tinfoil. They blondies are down when a skewer comes out with small crumbs on it.

Remove the blondies from the oven once done and allow to cool for 5 mins before cutting them into squares.

Eat them straight away!

Battle of the (Raspberry) Blondies

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

On Sunday just passed I was over at my parents' house, just hanging out, writing blog posts and watching Dollhouse on my laptop, when my mum mentioned that there was a punnet of fresh raspberries in the fridge that I could use.

So I started flicking through cookbooks, looking for something to do with the raspberries. Suddenly I remembered seeing a recipe, years ago, in a ladies' magazine for raspberry blondies, the pale sister of the brownie. These I decided would be the perfect use for the fresh raspberries. Now to find a recipe to work from.

This proved to be much more difficult, as nearly all the recipes I found had the measurements in American cups, which is not a scale that I am very familiar with, or if they were in metric then they contained huge amounts of white chocolate, which was not what I wanted at all. Then I had a brainwave; Kristin from Dinner du Jour is an American, but she also puts metric measurements into her recipes, surely at some point she must have made blondies? A quick search and... Success, she had!

Mentioning on Twitter that I had finally found a blondie recipe with metric measurements after lots of fruitless searches, Joanne of Stitch and Bear said that she also had a blondie recipe on her blog that had the metric measures.

Now I had 2 recipes to pick from and I am very indecisive. So since it was a bank holiday Sunday and I had nothing better to do I decided that I would make both versions of the blondie, both flavoured with raspberry, though one would have fresh and the other would have frozen.

So I whipped up a batch of the Dinner du Jour variety first, these contain 2 raising agents and made slightly more mixture than the Stitch and Bear version, which has no raising agent in it. This version also got the frozen raspberries stirred into it before it was put into the baking pan. With the Stitch and Bear blondies, rather than stir through the raspberries, I dropped them into the top of the mixture so that they wouldn't break up and just sink into the baking blondies.

Unfortunately I made my big mistake of the day while pouring the mixture into the baking pan. As I do not own 2 identical brownie type pans, I had decided that I would put the larger volume of mixture batch into the Swiss roll tin I would generally use for brownies and the smaller volume mixture into a deeper, more brownie like pan. This would hopefully result in blondies that were approximately the same density and size.

Guess what I did instead? I mixed up my mixtures. This resulted in really thick blondies from the Dinner du Jour recipe and quite thin ones from the Stitch and Bear one. Not quite the standardised sizing I'd planned initially.

Still it wasn't a total disaster as both sets of blondies have gained approval from nearly everyone. Here are some of the comments made by the various tasters, who so selflessly agreed to try both finished products.

"The fresh raspberries have a better flavour to the frozen."

"The thin blondies have more crunch than the thick ones and I prefer that."

"Too much vanilla in the thicker blondies and they could have more raspberries in them"

"They're both delicious in different ways."

The thinner blondies from Stitch and Bear came out slightly ahead, but I think that's because they ended up a bit crunchier from being thinner. I think I might just have to make them again and confirm the conclusions!

Cocktail Night in O'Briens

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Last Thursday night, I hurried up to the O'Briens store in the Beacon South Quarter Shopping Centre in Sandyford, to their cocktail masterclass. When I saw it listed on their newsletter about a month ago I knew that I had to attend and at €10 (which you then get knocked off any purchases), it was a bargain!

On arrival I was handed a seabreeze, already we were off to a great start! I was sitting in the front row along with 3 lovely people who made the evening even more enjoyable; Laura, Clare and Stephen. As I was on my own it was nice to be sitting with such good company with whom I could chat and share the experiences.

L - R: Stephen, Clare and Laura

After taking my seat and the introductions to my front row neighbours, things started to get under way. Our teachers for the evening were mixologists Rónán and Adam.

Adam and Rónán

First we heard from Rónán about the different types of cocktail; shaken, stirred, blended, muddled and built. Over the course of the evening we would see everything but a blended cocktail being made. He also went through what you need to make your own cocktails at home; a measure, a Boston can and glass and a Hawthorne strainer.

Rónán explains cocktails

Hawthorne strainer

Cocktail equipment including Boston glass & can, muddler and measure

Rónán went on to explain that ice is the most important ingredient in a cocktail as it keeps the drink chilled and melts into it, all of which is what makes cocktails taste nice. When a cocktail is shaken, that mixes the drink, chills it and starts the ice melting. Flavours in a cocktail should work together and not overpower each other.

Once we had our crash course in the theory behind making cocktails. Adam started to demonstrate to us how to make the cocktails we had received on a hand out sheet. First up was the Seabreeze that we had been greeted with. This is a built cocktail as the ingredients of vodka, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice are layered on top of each and not mixed together.

Adam explaining Seabreezes

Finished Seabreeze

Adam then moved onto making a Cosmopolitan, the drink made famous by Sex and the City. This was the first shaken drink of the evening. Adam informed us that anything served in a martini glass such as a Cosmo or Martini, should be drunk carefully as it's essentially a double measure of alcohol with very little in the way of mixer added. Adam also showed us the traditional garnish for a Cosmopolitan; a flamed slice of orange peel, which adds extra aroma to the finished drink.

Adam pours the Cosmopolitan

Flaming the orange

While Adam was demonstrating the various cocktails, Rónán was making up large batches of them so that we could try each one. As we sampled the finished drink, Adam would get a member of the audience up to try their hand at making the cocktail he had just demoed.

Rónán shaking up some Cosmos

The next cocktail for demonstration was a Whiskey Sour. I was particularly interested in trying this cocktail as when I worked in a bar in college I thought they smelt lovely, but I've never had the courage to try one as I'm not a big whiskey drinker. Interestingly, Whiskey Sours predate the cocktail, being considered "cocktails" in retrospect. They also contain egg whites to produce a foam on the top of the drink.

Shaking up a Whiskey Sour

Finished Whiskey Sour

I can happily report that Whiskey Sours are a revolation! They are incredibly flavoursome without being too sweet. They're definitely going on my future ordering list in cocktail bars.

The next cocktail of the evening, a Gin Bramble, was my second favourite drink of the evening. Again it wasn't something that I had tried before but would certainly order in future. It was also relatively simple to make as it involves no shaking, only stirring. Again, this is quite a strong drink as it contains no mixer, only a dash of Creme de Mure and some lemon juice. For this reason it is served over crushed ice to dilute it slightly.

Adam using a Mexican Elbow to squeeze the lemon

Stirring up the Gin Bramble

Pouring the gin for our Bramble samples

The final two cocktails of the evening were rum based. First up was a classic Mojito, apparently made just the way it was in the Bodega Dominero, where Hemmingway used to knock them back in Cuba. This was made with a rum that had been aged for 3 years in a bourbon oak cask, so it had a pale yellow colour.

Muddling the Mojito

The final cocktail of the evening was a Cuba Libre. This was made with a 5 year aged rum. The colour on this was a lot darker than the 3 year old rum. Our interesting fact at this moment was: while spirits are ageing, they lose between 5 - 10% liquid per year in evaporation and this lost liquid is referred to as the Angels' Share.

Rum measured out for Cuba Libres.

If you're looking to learn more about cocktails I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for one of these classes from O'Briens in the future. I had a marvellous evening, met a lot of lovely people and went home with a bottle of gin for future experiments, not just g&t's.

I also learnt the importance of ice in cocktails, that you should always let the barman know if you didn't like a cocktail, and that you should never, ever shake a martini, no matter what James Bond says.

The line up of finished cocktails (the Whiskey Sour had already been pilfered!)

Food & Wine Magazine Show

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Yet another better late than never post I'm afraid (don't worry I'm almost all up to date now). During the first batch of snow last year in December, the Beau and I ventured out to the RDS to visit the Food & Wine Magazine Show. We had been kindly provided with passes by Virginie of French Gourmet Food.

We did manage to catch a couple of the cooking demonstrations but what was the best part of the day for me, and what I'm going to write about now, was a chance to meet so many new food producers and learn about their products.

Due to the huge amounts of snow outside, it was relatively quiet inside when we arrived, this gave us a great chance to have a proper chat with the various producers we met. First up was our ticket benefactor, Virginie of French Gourmet Food. She was selling a wide range of delicious French produce, and being the foie gras fiends that we are, we bought a bloc du foie gras to take home and enjoy over Christmas. Unfortunately, I can't find any contact details for her company online anymore, though I did find this post saying they were relocating. I do hope they set up again soon as their selection of goods was fantastic.

My next stop was a chat with Iseult of The Cake Stand, and tried some of her amazing macaroons. If you're looking for tasty macaroons, she's your lady. I brought some home for my mum and she thought they were excellent too.

I then chatted with a lovely lady that I had met before at the Kilkenny Food Camp, Rebecca from Nutritious Nibbles. Rebecca makes the tastiest gluten free cookies that you will ever taste. Unfortunately for me, at the moment she only supplies to Kilkenny and surrounding areas. She was trying out a new recipe at the fair of orange and cranberry cookies; personally I could've eaten all the samples, so I hope she makes more of them next year!

It was more cookies next door and the Kooky Dough stand. You might remember seeing Sophie and Graham on Dragons' Den earlier this year. I love their ready to bake cookie dough as a special treat on days when I don't feel like baking myself, but still want something sweet. They literally take 15 mins from opening the packet of dough to taking them out of the oven and stuffing them in your mouth.

At this point the Beau had wandered off to investigate the beers available and I found him sampling the Dark Arts porter from the Trouble's Brewing stand. I'm fairly sure it was Stephen that we were chatting with. You can find their delicious beers in fine establishments such as L Mulligan Grocer and Against the Grain.

My final stop of the day for a bit of chit chat was with Mark (I think?) from the Donegal Rapeseed Oil Company. He told me all about the benefits of rapeseed oil and how it has a higher smoke point than olive oil. I bought a couple of bottles of this and I've been using it in my cooking ever since, especially for frying.

All in all we had a great time at the show chatting to people and getting to know about new Irish food companies. I would hope to get back to it again next year.

Apple Butter

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

Back in the autumn, a very kind work colleague gave me a whole heap of apples from her family home to bake and cook with. I used some of them to make the Tarte Aux Pommes, some to try out the apple cake in Catherine Fulvio's book and the remainder I used to make this apple butter and some apple and ginger jam.

I've found that apple butter is perfect to have on hand as a gift when visiting, as not only is it delicious and a little unusual but it is also vegetariain and vegan friendly.

Just a final note to say that though I've marked that you wait 10 days from making the butter before eating it, you don't have to do this, you could eat the apple butter as soon as it's cool, but this wait does allow the flavours to mellow and mature.

This recipe comes from Mary Norwak's The Book of Preserves which I picked up for 50 cent at our Community Fair in work last year. It's a great book with unusual flavour combinations and really useful advice regarding bottling and jarring. So if you're interested in home preserves and you see a copy of this book, get it!

Apples (chopped weight)
1.4 kg
600 ml
600 ml
Brown Sugar
as per recipe
Ground Cloves
½ tsp
½ tsp
½ tsp
Other Requirements

Chopping board, blender, large saucepan, jam jars (The mixture makes enough for approximately 8 250g jars)

First up I'm going to run through steralising the jam jars as this needs to be done at some stage during the process so that they're ready when the apple butter is ready to jar.

Scrub your jam jars in warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Place the wet, clean jam jars on an oven tray and place in the oven at a temp of between 50 - 100°C until you're ready to use them. Personally I do mine at the beginning and leave them in the oven, then I don't need to remember do it later on. Don't forget to wash the lids too!

Peel the apples and coarsely chop them.

Place the chopped apples into a large saucepan and add the water and cider.

Cook the apples and liquids over a low heat until the apples get very soft.

Once the apples are really soft, use the blender on them to make a purée. Make sure you get get it as smooth as possible.

Now comes the slightly tricky bit; weigh the purée and for each 450g of purée measure out 350g of brown sugar. Leave the sugar to one side for the moment.

Pour the apple purée back into the pot and cook on a low heat for about 30 - 40 mins until it has thickened up and coats a wooden spoon.

Add the sugar and stir through. The butter will dramatically change colour at this point, which can be a little bit of surprise, but now that you know, you will be prepared!

Add the spices; cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has evaporated and mixture is thick and sticky.

When the mixture is ready, ladle it into your pre-prepared sterile jars.

Wipe the rim of the jars clean with a damp cloth and screw on the lid. repeat until you run out of mixture and jars.

Enjoy as an alternative to jam or marmalade.

Salon des Saveurs

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

I'm finally getting around to writing about my lovely evening in Salon des Saveurs with a group of food bloggers that happened back in November. Apart from the delicious food, my abiding memory of the evening was just how cold it was, there was a bitter wind blowing as I hurried from the Luas on Stephen's Green to the restaurant on Aungier's Street.

I was one of the first to arrive and was greeted by the girls from Simply Zesty, who were organising the evening. Soon we were joined by the other bloggers including Aoife from I Can Has Cook, Sarah from Cake in the Country and George from Not Junk Food.

We got a brief overview of our menu for the evening from the head chef; Matthew and we were also informed that we would be getting a matched glass of wine with each course. So began what became an evening of epic eating.

Our first course was a parsnip soup that had been flavoured with vanilla and was served with a langoustine. The soup was incredibly delicate in flavour and the amount that we had been given was just right, as I could imagine being irritated by the slight sweetness from the vanilla in a bigger serving. The langoustine was perfectly cooked and had been flavoured with truffle, which, to me, was a lovely finish to the first dish of the evening. Our matching wine for this course was a 2009 Lugana from Lake Gardia.

The second course of the evening was an incredibly rich, cured terrine of foie gras stuffed with oxtail. This came with all sorts of different things on the plate, apricot, grape, fried baby spinach and hazelnut aioli. The terrine melted in the mouth and really came to life when you added some of the accoutrements. I happily admit that I am a foie gras fiend and this dish was one of the best foie gras dishes I have ever had. The matching wine with this course was a 2007 Sauvignon Gewürztraminer from Alsace.

Our third course was a little hit and miss in my opinion. It was an asparagus risotto that was served with a confit of duck and arbafura broth. The risotto was delicious; it was everything you want a risotto to be, creamy and delicately flavoured with asparagus. The duck confit was also lovely, on its own, however, I felt that the confit overpowered the risotto so that the asparagus flavour was lost. The wine with this course was a 2009 Viognier from Vin de Pays.

The fourth course arrived and by now my eyes were starting to glaze over with all the food being put in front of me. This course consisted of a daube of beef, which melted in my mouth, and was served with a celeriac mousseline, little pearl onions, carrots, a parsley hollandaise and the most delicious reduction. This piece of meat looked like it was going to be hard work to cut but then I put my fork to it and it all just fell away. It was delicious. It was just a pity that this was the fourth dish we'd had, as I just couldn't finish it. The wine for this course was a Syrah Monastrell from Jumilla, Spain.

The final course of the evening was tasting of desserts and consisted of five different dishes: a chocolate brûlée, a spoon of lemon ice cream, a mini strawberry and rhubarb crumble, a square of ice lemon soufflé and a piece of spiced lemon cake. I'm afraid my picture is missing the ice lemon soufflé as I ate it before I remembered to photograph it! Personally I didn't like the chocolate brûlée or the lemon ice cream, as they were a bit too sweet for me, in fact the ice cream tasted just like lemon bonbons. I liked the strawberry and rhubarb crumble and the spiced lemon cake, but my favourite dessert was definitely the ice lemon soufflé and I could have eaten a lot more of that. On the whole I found the desserts a little disappointing when compared to the other courses, they were definitely the weakest part of the evening, which was a pity. There was a choice of two wines to go with dessert, a Coteaux du Layon from the Loire Valley and a Prosecco di Valdobbiadene from Italy. I choose the Coteaux du Layon but also got to taste the Prosecco of one of the other diners.

All in all it was a great evening and the food was delicious. I would definitely recommend it to people to visit. The only caveat that I would make would be that as Salon des Saveurs works with a series of set tasting menus, the whole table must order the same thing. This is fine if you are dining out as a couple or a small group, but I think it might be a little annoying if you were a group of six, if only in terms of coming to an agreement on what to have!

On the other hand the prices are very reasonable for a five course meal ranging from €29 to €59 a head. You can also add a glass of matched wine with each course for an additional charge. If you're feeling very extravagant or hungry there's an eight course menu for €79 available too along with an à la carte menu.

I will probably be back with the Beau in tow, if only to have another go at that daube of beef.

Rosemary Chocolate Pots

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

This was going to be my entry for our April cookalong, which had the theme of chocolate. However, as I have been a little late in getting the post up, it won't be being judged by the lovely people at Eat Magazine.

I'm not too upset though as I have managed to win a couple of cookalongs previously. My tart won the seafood cookalong last August, my Valentine's recipes won in February's competition and my Molly Malone Hotpot was the winner in March's cookalong along with this Swiss Roll recipe from Cake in the Country.

I decided to make these delicious little chocolate pots after spotting the recipe in the latest addition to my cook book collection: The Flavour Thesaurus. This is an amazing book that lists various food together into flavour types and then lists which flavours pair well together and why.

"A backdrop of dark chocolate shows off rosemary's cool, evergreen flavours. If this recalls the lovely combination of Chocolate & Cardamom (see page 14), that's because the dominant flavour compound in both rosemary and cardamom is cineole, common to bay leaf too (think how all three make great milk-based desserts). Cineole has woody eucalyptus, slightly minty notes. In rosemary, these are joined by peppery, camphorous characters, while cardamom takes it in a more citrusy, floral direction -- you might say chocolate with rosemary is a wintry alternative to chocolate and cardamom."

After reading that paragraph I knew I had to try them as I would never have thought to pair chocolate and rosemary together previously. They are incredibly delicious, the rosemary takes away the cloyingness that you can sometimes get with chocolate.

Caster Sugar
White Wine
Lemon Juice
½ squeezed lemon
Double Cream
600 ml
1 fresh sprig
Plain Chocolate
Other Requirements

Heavy bottomed pot, measuring jug, little ramekins, wooden spoon, sieve

This recipe is relatively straight forward but there is a point at which is can all go horribly wrong, but fear not, as I shall include troubleshooting instructions for you should this happen.

Cut your lemon in half and squeeze out the juice of one half. Measure out the sugar into a heavy bottomed pot and pour in the lemon juice.

Add the wine and put over a low heat, stirring occsionally until all the sugar has dissolved.

While the sugar is dissolving it is time to prepare the chocolate. The chocolate needs to be grated so that it will melt quickly into the mixture later.

When the sugar has all dissolved, carefully pour in the double cream.

Now comes the important part; you need to stir the double cream mixture constantly over a gentle heat until it thickens, which will take about 20 mins. Do not let the mixture boil!

Now add a sprig of rosemary to the cream mixture and stir in the grated chocolate.

Bring the mixture to the boil and stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Once melted, reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 20 mins until rich and dark.

Allow the mixture to cool. Once cool you face the moment of truth, seeing whether your mixture has split or not. You will know if it has split if there is a visible layer of fat sitting on the top of the chocolate mixture when it cools. This is easily fixed by using an electric hand whisk on the mixture for 3 - 5 mins until the fat is completely reincorporated into the chocolate mixture. This whisking can be done after the following step.

When the chocolate mixture is cool, strain it through a sieve into a bowl. This is to remove the rosemary stalk from the mixture.

Set out your little ramekins and divide the mixture into them. This mixture should fill between 8 and 10 dishes depending on their size.

Cover each ramekin with a small square of cling film and put into the fridge to set.

The pots should be set after about 2 hours. Eat and enjoy! These keep for at least a week in the fridge, I can't tell you if they keep any longer as there were none left then.

Carrot & Orange Cake

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Prepartion Time
Total Time

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and what better way to make your mum smile than to bake her a delicious cake?

This cake recipe came about when I had oranges leftover from making marmalade and my mum had received a large number of carrots in her weekly veg box. The cake recipe itself is loosely based on this Rachel Allen Carrot Cake and the icing is Nigella's from her Guinness Chocolate Cake recipe in feast, but orangified.

This cake is perfect for mums as it's vaguely healthy sounding so they can indulge without guilt. Plus, my mum loves it and what greater accolade do you need than that?

Caster Sugar
Sunflower Oil
140 ml
Carrots (grated weight)
Oranges (zest and juice)
Mixed Nuts
Self-Raising Flour
Bicarbonate of Soda
½ tsp
1 tsp
Nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
½ tsp
Mixed Spice
½ tsp
Cream Cheese
Icing Sugar
Other Requirements

20cm round cake tin with a depth of about 9cm, baking parchment, mixing bowl, grater, wooden spoon, whisk (electric or otherwise), spatula, cooling rack.

The first thing that has to be done is to line your cake tin with the baking parchment so that the cake won't stick to it while cooking.

Put your cake tin onto the baking parchment and draw around it with a pen or pencil. Cut out the circle and leave to one side.

Cut a strip of parchment that will fit around the interior of the tin and snip into one long side of the paper at regular itervals to a depth of about 2 cm to create a fringe. This will help the paper sit better in the tin.

Grease the tin with an old butter wrapper or a bit of parchment with butter/marg on it and add the long fringed piece of paper to the tin. Add the circle of parchment to the bottom and you're done. Leave the tin to one side till later.

It's best to do all your grating first to get it out of the way. Grate the carrots, I found that 5 medium carrrots gave me 250g when grated. Remove the zest from one the oranges with a fine grater or zester and then juice the orange. Keep everything in easy grabbing distance for the next bit.

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Break the eggs into the bowl and add the sugar and oil.

Whisk the ingredients together until you have a smooth batter.

Add the carrots and stir through.

Add the nuts, raisins and orange zest.

Mix thoroughly and add the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

This is also the point to add the spices; cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg.

Carefully fold in all the dry ingredients and ensure that there are no lumpy bits. Last ingredient to be mixed in is a tablespoon of the orange juice.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven for 1 - 1¼ hours until a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking, make up the cream cheese icing.

Zest and juice the remaining orange and put to one side for the moment.

Put the cream cheese into a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Sieve the icing into the bowl and whisk into the cream cheese.

Pour in the cream and whisk into the cream cheese and icing sugar mixture. You will need to whip the icing for at least 2 -3 mins at this point until the it is quite stiff in texture.

Add the orange zest and 3 tablespoons juice. Once again whisk everything up until smooth and orangey tasting.

When everythings mixed together, again until quite stiff in texture, put the mixture into the fridge until it's needed. It is very important that the icing go into the fridge for at least 30 mins before use, as it helps to stiffen and set the mixture, making it easier to handle.

By now the cake should be finished baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in its tin for about 5 mins. When the cake is a little cooler, take it out of the tin, remove the baking parchment, and leave to cool on the wire rack.

When the cake is cool, put on a fancy plate and ice, using the cream cheese icing in the fridge.

Decorate the cake with slices of orange and serve to your very impressed mother.