Coffee Cake

I am a big fan of coffee. There was a time in my life I had coffee running through my veins instead of blood. Unfortunately this had to change… I’m on only 3 cups a day now, it was hard work!

Anyway, let’s get to it! This is a really deep luxurious coffee cake, very delicious. The recipe serves 8 (or 6 if I’m included) and I got it from Mary Berry’s book One Step Ahead.

Ingredients

225g very soft butter (plus some extra to grease the tins)

225g light muscovado sugar or caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

4 large eggs

4 level tsp instant coffee (dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water)

For the coffee icing

175g soft butter

350g icing sugar

4 level tsp instant coffee (again dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water)

How to proceed

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Butter and line the base of two deep 20cm (8in) sandwich cake tins.

Measure all the cake ingredients, except the coffee, into a large mixing bowl and beat together until smooth.

Stir in the dissolved coffee until thoroughly blended.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared tins and level the tops.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown, shrinking away from the sides of the tin and the sponge springs back when lightly pressed.

To make the icing

Mix the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl and beat together until smooth.

Beat in the dissolved coffee and divide into four.

When the cakes are cold, slice each cake horizontally in half, giving four layers of cake.

Sit one base on a cake stand and spread with a quarter of the icing mixture. Continue layering up with cake and icing so you finish with icing on top and swirl to give an attractive finish. Or of course you can pipe it in any fancy way if you prefer so, perhaps something like this?

This cake is great, it can be made and iced up to two days ahead, just kept it covered in the fridge. And iced or un-iced, it also freezes well.

It should look something like the photo below. If you are worried about cutting the cakes in half, you can just sandwich the two sponges together with half the icing in the middle and half the icing on top.

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Now, where did I put my coffee pot…?

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Rosemary Gravy

A quick trick to make the most of your Bisto gravy:

Just add 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary to the mix, it will give your gravy a really nice fragrance and home-made-like flavour. Easy peasy!

I’m sure there are many proper recipes of Rosemary gravy out there but unfortunately I really have no time to make nice home-made gravy…

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Minced Beef Pie

This tasty super-easy and economical pie recipe served with mounds of mash and peas and rosemary gravy will quickly become your favourite. Mouth watering!

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

500 g beef mince

1 onion

1 tbsp tomato purée

1½ tbsp plain flour (plus extra for dusting)

75 g mushrooms

250 ml stout (or use beef stock if you’re not a fan of beer… who’s not a fan of beer???)

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

400 g shortcrust pastry (1 or 2 ready-made rolls)

1 egg yolk (lightly beaten)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 200 ºC

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the beef mince for 4-5 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it browns.

Dice the onion and add it to the pan, cook for 2-3 minutes, stir in the tomato purée and cook for 2-3 more minutes, then stir in the flour and cook for a further minute.

Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan, also add the stout (of beef stock) and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan with a lid and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

Set aside and leave to cool. Meantime roll out the pastry on a floured work surface until it is slightly larger than the pie dish. From here you have two options:

  • Option #1: just turn the meat mixture into a one litre pie dish and gently drape the pastry over the dish.
  • Option #2: (you will need 2 rolls of shortcrust pasty for this option) Line the pie dish with one roll of pastry, pour the meat mixture in the dish and then cover over the mixture with another roll of pastry. 

Press firmly onto the edges, trim them and then shape the edges into a fluted shape.

Cut some shapes out of the pastry trimmings and decorate the top of the pie, sticking them to the pastry with the beaten egg yolk. (I’ve cut out lovely heart shapes) ❤

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Make three or four slits in the pastry to allow the steam to escape, then brush the pie with the rest of the beaten egg yolk and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown.

Slice pie into wedges and serve with loads of marsh potato, peas and rosemary gravy. Delicious! 

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*We used puff pasty for the pie on this picture -hence the “puffiness” but it turned out as tasty!

Béchamel (white sauce)

This is a very easy and really good white sauce recipe. My mum thought me how to make this béchamel sauce and I have never used any other recipe, let alone pre-cooked packs! Allez allez!

Ingredients

50 g unsalted butter

25 g plain flour

1 glass of cold milk (1/4 litre)

Salt & black pepper

Nutmeg (optional)

Procedure

Melt the butter in a sauce pan at low heat.

Add flour and whisk constantly until it becomes lightly golden (not brown!)

Little by little add cold milk whisking constantly in an 8 motion around the pan until it thickens.

Add salt and black pepper and if you want freshly grated nutmeg to add spice to the sauce. Et voilà

You can use this sauce for infinite recipes: pasta, lasagne, cannelloni, stuffed vegetables, cauliflower cheese, meat… Virtually whatever you want. You can also add some cheese at the end and make it a cheesy sauce that will go great with any pasta or a potato gratin. Bon appétit!

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Stuffed Aubergines

This is a great recipe of stuffed aubergines because it’s slightly healthier than other recipes without compromising the awesome tastiness of stuffed aubergines. This recipe makes 2 servings.

Ingredients

2 aubergines

200 g chicken or turkey mince

100 g diced bacon

80 g tinned chopped tomatoes

70 g onion

30 g green pepper

30 g grated cheese to grill

250 g white sauce

olive oil

Salt & black pepper

Procedure

Preheat the oven at 180ºC

Cut the aubergines in half vertically and make several deep cuts into the meat of the aubergine without breaking the skin. Like on the image below:

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Put them in the oven with drizzled oil and salt for 20 minutes.

While you wait dice the onion very finely and cook in oil for about 2 minutes.

Meantime dice the green pepper also very small, add to the onion and cook for further 4 minutes.

Add the salted  minced chicken/turkey to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.

Cook the bacon in another pan until golden brown and add it to the pan with the other ingredients.

Take the aubergines out of the oven and (very carefully because they are really hot) scoop the inside of the aubergines and add it to the pan, cook for further 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, cook for another 5 minutes, add salt and pepper and turn off the hob.

Prepare the white sauce. If you want to make it from scratch this is my recipe.

Put the aubergines in a glass/ceramic pan suitable for the oven and fill the aubergine halves with the mix.

Cover the aubergines with the white sauce and sprinkle cheese on top.

Put it in the oven for about 10 minutes. For the last 10 minutes change the oven settings to grill so the cheese will get golden and crispy.

And they’re ready to go!

aubergines

Cherry Tomato and Feta Cheese Salad

I love eating salads in summer. This is a refreshing, juicy and super-tasty recipe that goes really well as a starter for a pasta dish or on it own. Let’s go!

Ingredients

Cherry tomatoes

Feta cheese

Olive oil

Black pepper

Oregano (optional)

Procedure

Wash and rinse your cherry tomatoes

Cut feta cheese in cubes

Put the cherry tomatoes and the feta cheese cubes together in a salad bowl

Drizzle olive oil (use a good olive oil, extra virgin if possible) and add salt and crushed black pepper (add oregano or other herbs if you wish).

And you’re ready to go! This is a really refreshing salad, the sharp, tangy and salty taste of the feta cheese combines perfectly with the sweet juicy cherry tomatoes. The olive oil gives everything a smooth texture and the black pepper gives it the hint of hot that I love.

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Guacamole

My dear friend Martina travelled to Mexico and she brought me the best souvenir she could have, a genuine Mexican recipe for guacamole! It’s so easy to make and so tasty that you will never ever buy ready-made guacamole again. Let’s do this!

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados

1 ripe tomato

1 small onion (or ½ big one)

Juice of ½ lime

Tabasco sauce

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Procedure

Cut the avocados  in half vertically, mind the bone inside, you will have to go all around the avocado with your knife. Twist the two halves in opposite directions and separate them.

To scoop the bone off easily stab it with the blade of the knife and slide it out.

With a tablespoon scoop all the avocado meat on to a plate. Do the same with all the halves. Once you have all the avocado on a plate crush it down with a fork until you get a smooth paste.

Now cut the tomato and onion, dice them quite small and mix them with the avocado.

Add the juice of 1/2 lime (that will prevent the browning of the avocado as well as giving it nice taste) drizzle oil and add salt and pepper.

Mix well and add Tabasco sauce to taste. Mix well again and you’ve got your guacamole ready!

Serve it with nachos (Doritos), toast, crackers or whatever you want, you can even use it as salad dressing.

Today I am having it on toast with my Cherry tomato and feta cheese salad. Delicious! 

guacamole

Tip!

It’s said that putting the bone of the avocado in centre of the guacamole in the serving bowl will keep the green colour of your guacamole for longer. Not sure if it’s true but it looks nice! 

Scarf hanger

Are you like me and have a different scarf for each day of the year? If so I’m happy to share this trick with you. I’ve been using this for years and it’s a great way to keep your scarves tidy, organised and free of creases without taking up much space in your wardrobe. Let’s start!

You will need

A coat hanger (make sure it’s resistant, I’m using a wooden one)

Shower hooks

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Let’s put it together

It’s as easy as putting each hook around the bar of the hanger. Use as many hooks as scarves you want to hang.

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Then you just need to put the scarves through each hook, you can tie a loose knot to ensure they won’t slip (I do that with silk scarves) or just let them hang.

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And voilà! Here you have all your scarves perfectly organised! I have at least 3 of these scarf hangers in my wardrobe and they are so easy to keep tidy. Hope this helps!

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Apricot and Almond Tart

I know, I know, it’s been ages since I last posted but this recipe is the perfect excuse to break the ice!

This apricot tart is perfect for the warm and sunny English summer that we are enjoying at the moment. The ricotta gives a very delicious taste to the almond cream and served either warm or cold with a scoop of vanilla ice cream will make your day!

This recipe serves 6 and including preparation will take 1 hour 10 minutes to make. Let’s go!

Ingredients

90 g softened butter

75 g caster sugar

2 tablespoons honey

30 g plain flour

100 g ground almonds

175 g ricotta

1 egg

50 ml rum

1 sheet shortcrust pastry

500 g apricots (washed, stone removed and halved)

90 g blanched almonds

 

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 200 ºC / Gas 6.

Grease a tart tin with butter and line it with the pastry, trim off any excess with a knife.

In a bowl, combine the butter, sugar and honey.

Add the flour, ground almonds, ricotta, egg and rum. Mix well until smooth.

Pour the almond cream mixture over the pastry and level with a spatula.

Place the apricots, skin side up, on the almond cream and gently press them in.

Sprinkle the tart with the blanched almonds and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.

Tip!

You can use tinned apricots if you don’t have fresh ones, it will save you the time of peeling and stoning them. You can also substitute the apricots for peaches, they are sweeter!

Enjoy!

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