In yesterday’s Skinny parsnips post I promised that if it wasn’t a complete disaster and tasted ok that I’d give you the dauphinoise recipe from our Sunday dinner. Well thankfully it tasted pretty good with enough leftover to serve another meal so for those of you who’d like to try it here’s what I did;
150g sweet potato
160ml full fat creme fraiche
260m semi skimmed milk
2 – 3 cloves of garlic depending on how strong you like it
fresh or dried thyme
50g Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper (optional)
First of all peel and thinly slice the vegetables (around 3mm if poss). Now I mentioned trying to do this with a mandolin to start with but if, like me, you value your fingertips take your time and use a knife. It may seem brutal but this is my weapon of choice in the kitchen.
Crush the garlic, grate the cheese and set to one side. Put the milk and creme fraiche into pan large enough to add all the veg (if not you’ll have to do it in two batches). Gently bring the liquid up to the boil – now at this point I have to admit that I had a bit of a wobble as mine started to curdle. Given that I didn’t have enough to start over I decided to strain it over a bowl thinking that I’d use the liquid and throw away the solids but as it then seemed to come back together and more importantly didn’t taste like it was going to kill anyone I thought ‘sod it’, put it back in the saucepan and carried on. Add the garlic and the veg and simmer for about 5 mins. Taste the liquid (which is creamy and garlicky by now) then season with salt to taste and black pepper if you like. Next layer the veg in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the thyme in between. Lastly pour over the leftover liquid and sprinkle with the cheese, and if you like a crusty top just add more!
Bake in the over for around 1 – 1 and a half hours but just check after the first hour that the top doesn’t burn or that it doesn’t dry out.
I feel a bit of a cheat calling this post ‘That Sunday feeling’ given that I’m writing in on dreary Monday morning but I’m sure you’ll forgive me. Yesterday I awoke in the same foodie mood as on Saturday when I made the baharat spice blend. I had planned to spend the morning prepping lunch so I wasn’t running around when our guests arrived or doing too much last minute cooking in our horrendously laid out kitchen. (Don’t get me started on THAT kitchen). However that didn’t happen of course, my plans went completely out the window and although she doesn’t know, it’s all Helen Graves’ fault.
Helen is a food blogger and writer based in South London and I came across her Food Stories blog when I was looking for some last minute tips on cooking the lamb for yesterday’s lunch. (As it was I ‘winged it’ when it came to the lamb and you know what? It was absolutely delicious and went down a storm see below*). I was however running around at the last minute because I spent 2 hours, cup of coffee in hand, reading Helen’s brilliant blog which is funny. Not, slightly, wry smile at the side of the mouth, faintly humourous funny. I mean laugh out loud, ‘I know exactly what you mean’ funny (particularly the Craft Beer Pub Rant which you can read here ).
So I know it’s now Monday but if, like me, you love cooking and unpretentious food writing with a wicked sense of humour then it’s well worth a read.
See you later
*After rubbing the lamb with the baharat blend and leaving it overnight I added around 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, loads of onions (or as Helen would say ‘shit loads’), half a cup of water and a lamb stock cube to a roasting pan, then covered in foil and slow roasted it for 4 hours. Get in contact if you’d like more details
As it’s a Saturday, like many other people, whose stomachs rule their heads I’m thinking of food. I’ve pretty much given up on my longtime favourite viewing Saturday Kitchen as it still hasn’t recovered from the loss of James Martin and continues to be hosted by an array of (albeit) brilliant chefs none of whom can quite lose that ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look when reading from an autocue. (Mind you I’m not saying I could do any better).
Having feasted on a brunch of bacon & pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries (yes it does work) my mind is turning to the next meal, well actually it’s tomorrow’s lunch. We’re having a couple of close friends over and I thought I’d add some Middle Eastern flavour. So after flicking through my collection of cookery books I’m making baharat, an Arabic spice blend which I’ll rub on a shoulder of lamb that will be slow roasted and served with…well I haven’t quite got that far.
Whilst I was preparing the various ingredients I reflected on who it was that first came up with this mixture of flavours and how long it must have taken to get it just right. There’s black pepper for punch, paprika for sweet smokiness plus cumin, coriander, cardamon, cloves and nutmeg, a spice that always reminds me of my Mum’s Bajan cooking. It may not be the perfect blend but it’s a perfect blend – one of many mixes of balanced elements that hits just the right note. As well as cooking I’ll be knitting a few more rows of Sam’s hat, watching TV (not Tom Hardy’s brilliant Taboo we plan to record them all and binge watch it when it’s finished) and perhaps even indulge in a glass of red wine.
So, like me and my baharat I hope you’ve got a variety of indulgent enjoyable and/or delicious things planned this weekend.
Right, now the baharat’s done I’m off to shop for laminate flooring….
Now just so you know from the outset I’m not claiming this recipe as my own. In fact I found it whilst trawling Pinterest for cake recipes to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary and whilst I’m more than happy to stuff my face with cake of almost any description Mr Sloan is definitely more picky. 10 years is a pretty good milestone for any marriage but ours has gone through LOTS of ups & downs and the part of the ceremony that mentioned ‘in sickness and in health’ has sadly kept rearing it’s ugly head. (No craniotomy pun intended). So when planning a little get together I wanted a surprise centrepiece that would sort of sum us up in cake form and, as any of our friends know how we love a good G&T, this cake ticked a number of boxes;
G&T is our favourite tipple
it’s definitely an adult cake
it’s not overly sweet
it lent itself to being pimped up
(You may also be pleased to know that it’s made with rice flour which makes it gluten free which is an added bonus if you’re gluten intolerant).
Now despite being a greedy cow and watching every episode of the Great British Bake Off I didn’t feel confident scaling this cake up by myself (blame it on the still wonky brain) and I also knew that if I was going to surprise Mr Sloan there’s no way I could bake it at home. So, I turned to my close friend Lucy (a trained chef) to give me some tips, give me a lend of her oven and stash the cake until needed. The original recipe by Victoria Glass can be found on the Great British Chefs website here and whilst I’m not going to re-publish all the ingredients here I will let you know what we did differently.
The original recipe calls for a 22cm diameter savarin tin but as ours was for a centrepiece we made two cakes – each 3 times the quantity of cake batter – and baked in a 30 cm diameter tin. Neither Lucy or I had worked with rice flour before and whilst the recipe called for an ‘all in one’ method which made it easier the texture of the finished sponge was a little weird and completely unlike a sponge made with regular wheat flour. When the cakes were still warm we drizzled them with the syrup then allowed them to cool completely. If your sponge isn’t that deep just watch how much you use, you don’t want to make the cake too soggy. Now at this point I should say that we put the sponges in the freezer for a week because we were making in advance, it freezes really well by the way.
Around a week later we were ready to make the cake up so we sliced each of the cakes through the centre to make 4 layers then lavished 3 of them with lemon curd and Chantilly cream and topped them off with the 4th layer. We did find that the recipe for the icing produced a really runny consistency that wasn’t gin enough for our tastes so feel free to up the icing sugar and the gin to suit your own tastes. Just be careful that the icing isn’t too runny, you want it to sit on top – Lucy made me an icing bag so that I could pipe rather than drizzle the icing over it. You can leave the decoration at that or, as I did go all ‘cheffy’ and pimp your cake up. I decided I wanted to sink a bottle of 10 year old Tanqureray into the cake and decorate it with the fondant icing flowers to echo the dress I wore on our big day 10 years ago. So, at our last stitch and bitch we set about making. Now when I say ‘we’ I actually mean Lucy, Lucy, Katie, Clare and Wendy. I had a sudden attack of ‘diva’ and kept saying ‘that’s not what I want’ whilst unable to make any useful flowers of my own. (I blame the brain but someone had the cheek to mention post-marriage bridezilla, what a bloody cheek).
I love how the cake turned out, and more importantly so did Sam. Having sneaked around for 2 weeks (and after telling a few porkies about where I was going) it looked & tasted fantastic thanks to my wonderful friends.