Monday, July 07, 2008

Balls! Spicy Fish Ones

Think balls in London in July and most people tend to think of Wimbledon.  I however think of these delicious little morsels which I made for supper with one of my most beloved friends who loves all things fishy.

The recipe is adapted from the super 'Steam Cuisine' by Marina Filippelli.  It is uber healthy thanks to the method of cooking and is naturally gluten and dairy free.

Spicy Fish Balls serves 2 (with leftovers)
1 red chilli, seeded
1 garlic clove
nub of fresh ginger, peeled
handful of fresh coriander
1tsp cornflour
1/4tsp salt
1/4tsp caster sugar
300g white fish fillets, skinned
1/2tbsp tamari (or soy) sauce
1/2tsp sesame oil
1/2 medium egg

Put chilli, garlic, ginger and coriander in a food processor.  Add cornflour, salt and sugar and whizz until finely chopped.
Feel the fish and remove any bones.  Add to the processor with the tamari sauce, sesame oil and egg and whizz again until well blended.
Using wet hands, shape into 10 or so balls the size of large walnuts.
Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes or over night.
Bring the water in your steamer to the boil.
Line the steamer with baking parchment and pop the fish balls inside.  Steam for 4-5 minutes until they feel firm.

I served with jasmine rice, lime wedges and a cucumber, carrot and chilli salad.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fuggy Fig & Ginger Cakes

It startles me to notice that my last few posts have been for sweet things and ones which I can consume without being ill.  Indeed, ones for which I veritably relish licking the mixing bowl clean. And none more than these fig and ginger bites of delight.  Clearly my days of rigorous self control are over (and combined with giving up smoking there's a risk of me turning into a figgy pudding), but these delicious babies, adapted from the Sunday Times, are so worth throwing out all the rule books for.  They create a delicious fug in one's kitchen and a deeply satisfying 'aha' deep in the throat when one's teeth sink into their silky depths.

Fuggy Fig & Ginger Cakes (gluten & dairy free)
125 ground almonds
125g dark brown, soft sugar
1/2tsp baking powder (gluten free if required)
1/2 - 1tsp ground cinnamon
125g dried figs
2 balls stem ginger
juice and zest 1 orange
orange blossom water
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.  Put 12 paper cupcake cases in a bun tin.
Mix almonds, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon until well combined.
Remove any stalks from the figs and whizz in a food mixer with the ginger, orange juice, zest and a good splash of orange blossom water until you have a paste.
Combine the fig mixture with the almond mix.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until you have a smooth batter.
Divide between the cupcake cases then bake in the oven for 25 minutes, turning the tray half way through.
When cooked, remove from the tray and cool on a wire wrack.

Delicious for breakfast with a steaming, strong espresso.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Berry Pleasant Brunch

What does one conjure up for a bevvy of girls of varying ages for a late breakfast? Muffins of course! And for one particular big girl, a gluten-free berry special treat.....

Blueberry Muffins (12)

Dry Ingredients:
5oz caster sugar
9oz self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
grated zest of a lemon

Wet Ingredients:
3oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, beaten
7fl oz milk (200ml)
1tsp lemon essence
150g blueberries

Heat oven to 180C fan/200C/Gas 6. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases (the cuter the better).
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
Mix the wet ingredients in a jug, pour into the dry and stir until just combined. Don't over mix else the muffins will be tough.
Gently fold in the blueberries.
Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and firm. Cool on a rack.

Gluten Free Raspberry & Pink Pepper Muffins (also suitable for lactose intolerant) (makes 6)
90g rice flour
40g ground almonds
1tsp xanthum gum
1tsp gluten free baking powder
25g soya margarine
40g caster sugar
grated zest 1/2 lemon
1 egg
125ml milk (goats/rice/soya)
1tsp lemon essence
125g raspberries
1tbsp pink peppercorns

Preheat oven to 180C fan/200C/ Gas 6.
Sift flour, almonds, gum and baking powder into bowl and mix well (this is very important with gluten free flours). Add sugar and stir in lemon zest.
Melt margarine in a pan and leave to cool.
Whisk together egg, milk, lemon essence and cooled butter and pour into dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Fold in raspberries and pink peppercorns (I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it works!).
Spoon into muffin cases. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through/

So, the little girls were replete, the bigger girls were happy and the token male looked content. A berry acceptable outcome.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lemon Whatevers

Unlike some who share my need to steer clear of gluten and dairy, I would rather simply go without baked fare, rather than subject my tastebuds to the various bread and cake concoctions which now nestle on our shop shelves. Those I have tasted seem simply dry, as heavy as a sumo wrestler and about as visually appealing. And have you seen the amount of preservatives and other strange additional ingredients which are necessary to make these goods palatable? Baking is a precise artform and so why mess with time tested recipes? No, it is enough for me to create cupcakes for others and to take the pleasure in the measuring, creaming and icing. To smell freshly baked baguettes whilst buying my coffee. Until today.

Perhaps it was the sunshine, the satisfying fug of the cake baked for friends or the realisation that life is too short to agonise over the thought of eating a few extra calories. Whatever the reason, temptation stretched its talons and firmly gripped me. Surely it is possible to make something approaching tasty with alternative ingredients?

I consulted various websites and finally opted for Gluten Free Girl. Her lemon oil cookies seemed harmless enough (and not overly calorific) and so I started converting US measurements, adapting ingredients to my taste and threw a few in of my own. Rather than cookies however, the ensuing mixture was more akin to that of a cake or muffin batter, and so I poured it into individual cake cases. Are they a biscuit? A cake? Of that, I'm not sure. The ground almonds ensure a frangipane like taste and moist texture and the lemon essence masks the strange taste I simply can't get used to of soya flour. I'm not sure that I'll be making these every week (my hips will be very glad of that statement), however more of them may end up in my stomach as opposed to the bin, than I had anticipated. So here they are. Biscuit/cake/Lemon Whatevers.

Lemon Whatevers

4tbsp soya yogurt

4tbsp olive oil

slug lemon essence (or limoncello)

rind and juice of 1 lemon

1 egg, beaten

360g rice flour

120g gram flour

240g ground almonds

240g golden caster sugar

1tsp gluten free baking powder

handful or so of dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 180C / gas 4.

Measure the yogurt and oil into a bowl and mix to combine. Add the egg, lemon rind, juice and essence. Mix well.

Combine all the dry ingredients and fold into the wet ones until combined, adding the cherries towards the end.

Spoon into cake cases and bake for approximately 20 minutes until set.

Rest for five minutes in the tin then remove onto a wire rack to cook.

Bite, chew and swallow - along with any preconceptions about alternative baked goodies.

Apples & Blackberries - Technology in a Cake

It is strange to think that for people born from 1990 onwards, their immediate thought when faced with the words 'apple' and 'blackberry' will most likely be of the latest ipod or mac and mobile communication device, rather than a shiny, crisp fruit and a cluster of tart berries.

I am somewhat of a techno phobe however an increase of time on the road forced me to join the 21st century and to succomb to the allures of the latest BlackBerry (free of charge I hasten to add thanks to hard bargaining). That was a month ago. I've dabbled with trying to make it pick up emails but each attempt has left the air blue and, on one occassion, witnessed me hurling the blessed device across the room.

So, when invited over to my lovely friends for Sunday lunch (one of whom just happens to be the rising star of the BBC on all things techie), I seized the opportunity to seek advice on the rotten handset. As a rather apt thank you, and contribution to lunch, I decided to make a cake on a vague techno theme - an apple and blackberry cake. With nuts. Because that's what the whole damned thing is slowly driving me.

Apple, Blackberry & Pecan Cake

150g unsalted butter, softened

150g light brown muscovado sugar, plus a handful

150g self-raising sugar

1tsp ground cinnamon

3 eggs, beaten

2tbsp milk

2 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

100g pecan nuts, chopped

100g blackberries

Pre-heat the oven to 180C / gas 4. Grease an 8'/20cm cake tin.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the cinnamon to the flour then add a spoon of flour and a little of the egg to the creamed sugar and stir to combine. Repeat until egg and flour are all incorporated. Add the milk and stir.

Add the apple to the mixture (but save one handful) with the pecans and blackberries. Stir well.

Pour into the cake tin and level with a spatula. Scatter over the remaining apple and then sprinkle over a good handful of sugar (this makes a lovely glaze and fruity topping to the cake).

Bake in the oven for around 1hour (until a skewer can be inserted and comes out clean).

Slices were served after my friend's delicious lamb with dollops of creme fraiche. A bit of a success. Unlike the BlackBerry which is still a rather glamorous phone.

Apples and blackberries? They may work for some but I'll stick to communicating through my favourite medium. Food.