Apr 222011
 
Chocolate muffins with marzipan & spices

This recipe was inspired by my Twitter friend and genius chocolate baking blogger Choclette. Each month Choclette and baking friend Chele host We Should Cocoa – a chocolate challenge. The Challenge is to make something with chococlate and a special ingredient. For April 2011 the special ingredient was marzipan.

I wanted to make a muffin that was like the traditional Easter Simnel Cake with marzipan in the middle. I also wanted to make the experience more delicious by using some favourite spices that were warm and cosy to enhance the chocolate.

Finally, I needed a good name for the creation. My smallest biscuit cutter is heart shaped and these would fit nicely into the muffin cases. But you couldn’t be able to see the hearts because they’d be inside the muffin. ‘Hidden Hearts’ were born. I think they’d be good at Valentines with another heart on top. And I guess they’d be good with a little Amaretto in the mixture too.

Marzipan hearts in middle of muffin

If you’d like to know how to make them, read on… Continue reading »

Apr 212011
 

I’m developing a bit of a ‘thing’ about using nettles. I love it that I’m not putting money in the supermarket bosses’ pockets. I love it that they effectively cultivate themselves. I love it that they are so nutritious: high in vitamins A & C, contain essential minerals and have one of the highest protein contents of any leafy vegetable.

Above all I love their nutty flavour. So I wondered how I could combine them creatively with some of my favourite nuts, hazlenuts.

Here’s what I developed, a scrummy and attractive nettle & hazlenut tart. It’s in a wonderfully crisp pastry case and uses homemade ricotta in the filling.

Nettle & hazelnut tart with fresh green salad

If you want to know how to make it, read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 18:09
Apr 142011
 
Nettle gnocchi dressed with thyme butter

I’ve been looking for more ways to use this freely available and nutritious vegetable.

This recipe makes a vibrant green gnocchi that’s as tasty as it is inexpensive.

If the preparation takes a while, it’s more than paid off with the short cooking time.

One of the keys to success with this recipe is to choose and cook your potatoes correctly so you end up with a dry and fluffy mash.

You’ve got loads of options for sauces to go with the gnocchi. I’ve given you recipes for a thyme & garlic butter and fresh tomato sauces. The ‘classic’ Italian accompaniment is a dolcelatte cheese sauce. While the dolcelatte is yummy, I think pairing a heavy cheese sauce with gnocchi that are themselves surprisingly filling isn’t always a good idea.

Fancy having a go? Read on… Continue reading »

Apr 082011
 

This recipe is a delight. It’s stunningly quick & simple to cook and moreishly gorgeous to eat. It will provide a quick supper for two or a fantastic dish for entertaining friends.

Wild garlic and smoked salmon carbonara

The wild garlic is seasonal, of course. Out of season, you could use garlic chives or chives. Other members of the onion family would work too such as the green tops of baby leeks sliced finely.

I know. This isn’t ‘authentic’ carbonara. I also know there’s a cultural difference in the addition of cream to a carbonara. I’m a no cream person (mostly) and there’s no cream in this recipe. I think you’ll make it too heavy if you use cream and spoil the freshness of all the tastes.

Fancy giving it a try? Read on… Continue reading »

Apr 052011
 
Wild garlic and homemade ricotta pasta

We’re really lucky here because the wild garlic a friend gave us has taken and produces masses of wonderful tasting leaves & flowers. It’s also called ‘Ramsons’ and its latin name is Allium Ursinum. As you latin scholars will know, ursinum refers to bears who like the bulbs.

Wild garlic growing
Wild garlic and ricotta give a twist to simple pasta. Here I’ve cooked pasta and a simple tomato sauce and garnished it with home-made ricotta flavoured with wild garlic.
This is a very simple recipe which will look and taste great without hours of effort.

You’ll need to make the ricotta a few hours ahead of eating it. The rest of the recipe is very quick to assemble.

The quantities serve about 4: here’s how to make it… Continue reading »

Apr 012011
 

When I posted this picture on Twitter, I really wasn’t ready for the reaction.

Rhubarb polenta cake with ginger & spices

It seemed that the idea and view of such a creation was quite attractive to many people. This made me laugh:

…god that cake looks good. I just licked the laptop screen…

I also had a fair few requests to post the recipe online.

I would love to read the whole thing on your blog, hint hint….

And after I posted this article things got better still.

This from international Chef & author Gregoire Michaud at the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong:

…you should definitely try Carl’s rhubarb and ginger cake – if not THE one, it has to be one of the best recipe of what you can do with rhubarb: awesome!

And this from Sue Daws whose husband ‘doesn’t like’ rhubarb:

Cake was a big hit! OH ate rhubarb and loved it!

Lastly, one (of many more) from Jono Stevens:

OH reckons its ‘one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted’, so you earnt me some brownie points too. :)

So here we go, read on for the recipe… Continue reading »

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