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Chocolate Button Cakes



Kids love cake, fact! So, it was no surprise when I asked Max (Richard’s boy) if he wanted to make a cake, he jumped at the chance. So, I proceeded to gather all of my recipe books that contained cake and asked him to have a flick through and pick one that caught his eye. Mary Berry’s Heavenly Chocolate Cake is what he chose, splendid choice indeed I thought, especially as I already had most of the ingredients.


Having decided upon making the most calorific cake in the entire world, I realised that although I had nearly all of the ingredients, I had no cake tins – which makes cake making all the more difficult. I’m not much of a baker you see, more of a savoury cook. I did however have a muffin tin and some cake cases, these would have to suffice. Max on the other hand felt quite differently about the absence of a cake tin and decided to have a strop over it. That was until I explained that we’d still be making the same cake, but we’d be making individual ones instead of one big one. Kids ay! So with the ingredients ready, the cooking equipment in order and the mood restored we set about making these delicious little cakes.

I’ve never made a Mary Berry cake before, of course I’ve watched her on the Great British Bake Off and various other foodie programmes, but never attempted any of her recipes. They always look delicious, but aside from the fact that I’m not much of a baker, a sweet tooth is something I’m slowly beginning to lose as I get older. Harrah, there is hope for my ever expanding waistline after all.

These cakes, as well as being devilishly chocolaty and delicious, are somewhat light, which I can only imagine comes from whisking the egg whites and folding them in – the part of the recipe I insisted on helping with, for fear of losing all the air and ending up with a rather dense cake, or dense cakes even. If you’re a chocolate fan you’ll simply rejoice at the thought of a chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing and Cadbury’s chocolate buttons on the top (an addition Max and I felt was essential).

I’ve included Mary’s recipe below, but we obviously changed a couple of aspects, either way I guarantee you’ll end up with a delicious chocolate cake. 

Cuts into 8 slices (615 cals each)

Ingredients

* 125g butter, plus extra for greasing
* 200g plain dark chocolate, broken into pieces
* 2 tbsp water
* 3 eggs, separated
* 125g caster sugar
* 90g self-raising flour
* 60g ground almonds
* 60g butter
* 30g cocoa powder
* 3 tbsp milk
* 250g icing sugar, sifted
* White chocolate curls to decorate

Method

1. Lightly butter a deep 20cm cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl with the butter and water. Put the bowl over a pan of hot water and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture has melted. Cool.

3. Combine the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl and whisk together with an electric whisk until fluffy and very light in colour. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture. Carefully fold in the flour and ground almonds.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into the sponge mixture, gently but thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (160°C fan, Gas 4) for 50 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch.

5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, turn out on to a wire rack, and peel off the lining paper. Cool completely.

6. Make the fudge icing: melt the butter in a pan, add the cocoa powder, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the milk and icing sugar. Beat well until smooth. Leave to cool until thickened.

7. Split the cake in half horizontally and sandwich the layers together with half of the fudge icing. With a palette knife, spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with white chocolate curls.

Fish-Stew

Tuscan Inspired Fish Stew with Cheesy Croutons



“That’s the best thing you’ve ever made for me” said the boyfriend to the girlfriend – WOW – what a statement! Obviously I’m more than happy with that. Hopefully you’ll love this recipe as much as Richard did. I must say I rather enjoyed it myself. It’s a tomato based fish stew with delicious cheesy garlic croutons. If you’re watching your weight (it is January after all), then you can have this stew without the croutons, but I’m sure one wouldn’t hurt.
I absolutely love seafood, especially mussels and prawns, but you really could make this with any fish, monkfish would work very well as it’s about as robust as fish comes, making it perfect for stew. This is a Tuscan recipe, inspired by a recipe I found in my Italian Cookery Course book and resembles many fish stews. I decided to make it using a cooked seafood selection, which makes it super quick and fuss free; no shelling and pre-cooking necessary.
There is something quite wonderful about a crispy, cheesy garlic crouton to mop up your deliciously fresh fish stew. I popped in a couple of finely chopped green finger chillies too, which isn’t typically Italian, but it really works. You get a devilishly spicy note which makes this dish perfect for a cold evening. If you don’t like very spicy food then you can omit the chillies, or take the seeds out – but I simply love spicy food.
Cooked seafood selection (mussels, prawns and squid)
3 tbsp olive oil
Red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200ml white wine (preferably something Italian)
400g chopped tomatoes
750ml fish stock
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
Parsley to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ciabatta loaf, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped in half
A handful of grated cheese (such as parmesan or pecorino)
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Fry the onion until softened – around 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and pepper, fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and chilli and cook for 10 minutes. Add the fish stock and leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile lightly toast the Ciabatta slices on both sides, and then rub them with the sliced clove of garlic, pressing down firmly on the bread to flavour it with garlic. Top each slice with a little cheese and return to the grill to melt.

Meanwhile add the seafood and parsley leave for a few minutes then serve in warmed bowls with the cheesy garlic croutons. 
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Paprika Chicken – Hairy Biker’s Style

 
 
In keeping with my healthy theme for January, I thought I’d call upon the help of my old friends the Hairy Bikers and one of their recipes that’s become such a go-to in my kitchen. This recipe is great because it’s not only healthy, it’s cheap and super quick to prepare when you find yourself in the midweek rush. Grab yourself some chicken drumsticks and thighs (skin on) from the supermarket, or even a whole chicken that you can joint yourself if you are okay with that, this is usually an even cheaper way of cooking a recipe like this and is perfect for a family meal. I often buy a whole chicken and have Richard joint it when we have his children at weekends as we love making a delicious chicken tikka masala, it works out great value for money. The kids can’t get enough; I think it’s the sweet red onions and the fact that I purée the sauce until it’s smooth and thick.
Whatever I’m cooking I like to have leftovers for my lunches at work, so I often make more than I need, and this recipe is perfect for that, it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. The recipe suggests using a blend of sweet and hot paprika, but if you’ve only one kind, such as smoked that’s fine, you will still get that rich red, beautiful paprika hit that that is oh so good with the sweet vibrant red peppers. The bright sunny colours in this dish remind me of the Mediterranean, perfect for warming your heart and belly on a winter’s night. And, you’ll certainly not feel as if you’re having a healthy meal when cooking up this gorgeous stew, the sweetness and spice work wonderfully together and you can still have a small fluffy mound of mashed potato to mop up the rich tomato paprika sauce; just go easy on the butter!

Click here for the Hairy Bikers Paprika Chicken Recipe!