Cherries are definitely one of my favourite fruits. I might go so far as to say that they are one of my favourite foods.
I’ve always loved them, I remember once, when I was little, I swallowed a cherry stone and my dad told me that a cherry tree would grow in my belly. I was genuinely scared that this would happen (I think there were a lot of tears) and that still didn’t break my love of them.
However cherries aren’t ever really cheap so I think when I do buy them it’s important to make the most of them. Roasting the fruit really intensifies their sweetness and flavour and rosewater adds a hint of floral fragrance along with the little nuggets of pistachio. Of course this is another no-churn recipe so the actual ice-cream only takes a few minutes to make. Hurrah.
If you aren’t as crazy about rosewater as I am then you can leave out the second tablespoon (the one that gets added to the ice-cream base). I really love to serve this drizzled with some melted dark chocolate, so that it solidifies to a crisp shell as it hits the cold ice-cream.
125g ish fresh cherries
1-2 tbsp rosewater
1 tsp sugar
35g shelled, unsalted pistachios
300ml double cream
175g condensed milk
Pre-heat the oven to 200°c and pit and halve the cherries, or halve and pit them, depending on if you have one of those fancy doo-hickies for removing the stones from them. Toss them in a shallow baking dish with the sugar and 1 tbsp of the rosewater. Roast the fruit for around 25 minutes.
During the last five minutes of cooking you can put the pistachios in the oven to toast on a separate tray. Once everything is roasted and toasted you need to leave them to one side to cool.
Whisk together the condensed milk and cream until they are thick and fluffy. Add the remaining rosewater (if using) and briefly whisk the mixture again. Roughly chop the pistachios and fold them through the ice cream base. Finally stir through the cherries and any juice that has collected in the baking dish. Don’t over mix this, you want it to look slightly marbled.
Transfer the ice cream mixture to a freezable container and pop in the freezer until it is solid and ready for scooping.
As much fun as cupcakes and layer cakes are, it’s nice to bake a slightly more grown up cake once in a while. This one is wonderfully fragrant and perfect for a summer afternoon tea, especially if you’re not a frosting obsessed sugar-fiend. (I’m not, honestly.)
It’s sweet, but not tooth-achingly so and has lots of sunny citrus flavour. The nuts and semolina give the cake a generous crumb texture and moistness which means that you can make it ahead of time and not worry about it becoming too dry.
A lot of the recipes I looked at when I was researching this particular bake seemed to require a lot of faffing about making candied fruit and peel. This is something I was dis-inclined to do when I knew I had a perfectly good jar of homemade marmalade sitting in the cupboard. It works really well in place of both the fruit and the sugar in the other recipes I’d seen. There’s no need to mess around with making soaking syrups or fancy decoration for it either, a dusting of icing sugar and a scattering of beautifully green chopped pistachios and you’re good to go.
75g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g fine semolina
35g ground almonds
35g ground pistachios
pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
150g good quality chunky marmalade
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
Sift together the baking powder and flour and then whisk in the semolina, both types of ground nuts and the salt.
Separate the eggs and whisk the whites in a large clean bowl until they form stiff peaks. Pop these to one side.
In another bowl, beat together the egg yolks, oil, buttermilk and marmalade until they are well combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, in two batches, mixing well between each addition. Finally fold in the egg whites, using a large metal spoon, in two or three goes.
Pour the batter into a greased and lined cake tin and bake for 30 minutes, until it is golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly if you give the cake a bit of a poke. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust the top with icing sugar and sprinkle with roughly chopped pistachios before serving.
It’s my Birthday at the weekend, which of course means that there will be cake! Now I’m sure that if I asked nicely Mr Colonial Cravings would no doubt have a stab at making me a birthday cake but, judging by the turmoil that always greets me in the kitchen after he’s made pizza, it would not be worth the clean-up!
So instead of donning a pair of marigolds I’ve donned my apron and come up with these little beauties. Indulgent, creamy Nutella flavoured Swiss meringue buttercream smothering fluffy hazelnut sponge. Just wonderful. The cakes develop a lovely slighty crisp chewy crust and the Nutella buttercream is absolutely sublime. But you didn’t need me to tell you that.
I know that making Swiss meringue buttercream takes a bit more effort than just beating together butter and icing sugar but I promise you it’s totally worth it. It’s also very forgiving so you shouldn’t feel daunted by it. The first time I tried this particular one my butter was a bit too soft when I added it so the buttercream ended up too runny to pipe. I just shoved it in the fridge for 15 minutes and then whipped it again and it was perfect.
If you’re feeling especially extravagant then you could even top them with Ferrero Rocher…just a suggestion.
70g plain flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
60g toasted hazelnuts, finely ground
pinch of salt
2 egg whites
3 tbsp Nutella
1 tbsp Frangelico (optional but it’ll really boost the hazelnut flavour)
Pre-heat the oven to 190°c and line a cupcake tin with pretty wrappers.
Put the butter, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and then sift in the flour and baking powder. Beat this together so that it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the ground hazelnuts.
In a separate jug whisk together the egg and milk before gradually adding this to the dry mixture. Beat the batter for few minutes, so that it becomes quite fluffy. Divide this mixture evenly between the cupcake wrappers and bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes.
Once they are cooked and nicely browned leave them to cool on a wire rack whilst you make the frosting.
Place the egg whites and sugar in a super-clean mixing bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Use a hand whisk and continually whip the meringue mixture as it heats. It needs to be quite warm and the sugar needs to have dissolved into the egg white. Just rub a little between your fingers to check the temperature and that it isn’t grainy. Remove the pan from the heat and then whisk the egg white until it is fluffy and cool (I switch to an electric whisk for this). Once you’re at this point you can slowly beat in the butter, one small piece at a time. Continue to whip the buttercream until it has emulsified and become smooth and creamy. Finally beat in the Nutella and Frangelico until is well blended. Resist the urge to eat it all now and transfer it to a piping bag, ready to decorate your cupcakes. Alternatively just use a pallet knife to appoint each cake with a generous splodge. Sprinkle with a few chopped hazelnuts or chocolate sprinkles…
I am so in love with these little sponges. They’re so dainty and delicate (quite the opposite of me!) The little shell shapes are so pretty.
I’d never thought of making them before (I’d assumed that they were hard, I was wrong) but then I stumbled upon a brand new French Madeleine pan at a thrift store and I knew that it had to come home with me.
The pistachio and rose flavours are delicious, a perfectly fragrant and sweet match. I do recommend using the chocolate on them, the bitter edge it brings turns these into perfect petit fours.
65g shelled unsalted pistachios
70g plain flour
100g butter, melted
1 eggs yolk and 2 whites
1 tbsp rosewater
50g ish dark chocolate to decorate (optional)
Pre-heat your oven to 190°c and grease a Madeleine tin with a little bit of the melted butter before giving them a very light dusting with a little flour.
Toast the pistachios a little in a dry frying pan. Grind them up in food processor so that they are pretty fine. Mix the ground nuts together with the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl or jug whisk together the butter, egg yolk and rosewater before folding this into the dry mixture.
Using a clean bowl and whisk, whip up the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak and then carefully fold them into the batter. Use a large metal spoon so that you don’t lose too much air from the eggs.
Put a dollop of the batter into each of the cavities of the Madeleine pan, it should spread out to evenly fill them as it cooks.
Bake the little sponges for 15 minutes, they should have risen and be lightly golden once they are baked. Remove them from the tin and let them cool on a wire rack whilst you melt the chocolate to decorates them. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the un-patterned side of the sponges and leave this to set before flipping them over and dusting with a little icing sugar.
I’m a bit of a peanut butter fiend, apple wedges and peanut butter are one of my favourite pre/post gym snacks. Sometimes I lack the motivation to go the gym, but these blondies work as a good bribe. Fudgy, chewy, peanut buttery treats laced with dark chocolate, what’s not to love?
I used Trader Joe’s smooth peanut butter because it’s made with one ingredient. Peanuts. The way peanut butter should be. I don’t honestly know how this would work with other brands that might have different/more oils in them. Let me know how they turn out if you give them a go.
200g soft light brown sugar
225g smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of cinnamon
100g dark chocolate drops
4 tbsp (ish) milk
Handful of unsalted roasted peanuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper (I used a Swiss roll tin)
Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat the peanut butter and vanilla into this followed by the eggs. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and stir it all together. The peanut butter does tend to make this quite a thick stiff batter so you may need to employ some elbow grease, or in my case someone who was loitering around the kitchen hoping to lick the bowl.
Fold in the chocolate and nuts then use a little milk to loosen the mixture a bit. Spread the batter into the tin and bake for about 30 mins, make sure the edges don’t get too brown though.
Once the blondies are cooked leave them in the tin to cool completely before cutting and carefully lifting them out of the tin.
I’ve been messing around with hummus again, it’s so easy that I can’t resist playing with the flavours.
Some of you may not be familiar with harissa. It’s a North African condiment made from chilis, spices and garlic. I first encountered it about 12 years ago when I was on holiday in Tunisia, where vegetarianism was pretty uncommon and consequently I was presented with many plates of spaghetti covered in lip-burningly spicy, undiluted harissa!
I’m pleased to say that it didn’t put me off and I’ve been eating it ever since, although in slightly less aggressive forms. It’s really good in this and adds a slightly spicy finish to the sweetness of the fruit and nuts.
1 can chickpeas
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted pistachios
6-8 dried apricots (nice soft ones or you can soak them in a little hot water)
3 tsp harissa paste
Begin by lightly toasting the pistachios in a dry frying pan, this will give them a little more crunch and enhance their flavour. Keep a few of them to one side for a garnish and put the rest of them into a food processor. Pulse them a little so that they are roughly chopped.
Chop the softened apricots and pulse these in the food processor too. Add the chickpeas, oil and harissa and whizz it all up to mushy paste.
Add water, a little at a time until you have a consistency that you’re happy with. Garnish with the reserved pistachios and serve with warm flat breads and freshly cut cruditees.
Remember how last year my basil plant went a little crazy? Well this year I’ve planted coriander in the same spot and that too has become a bit over-zealous. I wonder if I planted beans just there I’d end up with a giant on my deck.
This recipe is inspired by something similar that I ate in Victoria, BC may years ago but for some reason I have only just got around to recreating it. Like most things, homemade pizza is so much better than anything that you’ll buy in the supermarket, and provide that you have enough time for the dough to prove, it’s really not that much effort.
The toppings on this are quite unusual but they work really well together and make such a nice change from the more traditional options.
serves 2 (plus a bit leftover unless you’re really hungry)
170g strong bread flour
30g whole wheat flour
3g fast acting yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
150g tepid water
15g toasted pine nuts
10g grated parmesan
1 clove garlic
big handful of fresh coriander, stalks and all
2 tbsp olive oil
80g smoked mozzarella
1 small crisp granny smith apple
handful of pecans
handful sliced red onion
Start by making the dough for the base. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then gradually add in the water. You may not need all of it. Once you have a ball of sticky dough you can turn it out onto a work surface that you have coated in olive oil. Oil your hands too and knead the dough for a few minutes until it loses its stickiness and becomes soft, smooth and springy.
Wash and dry the bowl, lightly oil it and put the dough back in it. Cover this with oiled cling film or a clean damp tea towel and leave the dough somewhere warm to double in size.
Once the dough is well on its way to rising you can get your oven nice hot. Put it on whatever is its hottest setting, this will give you the best crust.
Make the coriander pesto by putting all the ingredients for it in a small food processor and whizzing to a smooth paste.
Prepare all of your other toppings now too, but leave the apple until last to reduce the chances of it turning brown.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and gently knead it for a minute or two. Stretch or roll the dough out and put in on a large upturned baking sheet.
Spread the coriander pesto over the surface and then scatter on all of your other toppings. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust and risen and is crispy and the cheese is starting to brown. Squeeze a little lime juice over the surface just before serving. So much better than boring old Pizza Hut!