Tag Archives: recipe

Quick mango and lemon cake

Yesterday I found myself needing to produce a cake fairly quickly and at short notice. I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m not much of a one for baking, and as usual I spent far too long leafing through cookery books and magazines, only to find that I couldn’t find a recipe that I really fancied and that matched the ingredients I had. The one “must-use” ingredient was a very ripe mango that was getting dangerously close to the point at which it would suddenly become not very appetising any more, but all of the (not very many) mango baking recipes I could find were either very complicated, too rich for my taste, or a bit odd sounding (mango and chilli cake, anyone?).

I ended up having to improvise on both the recipe and the final list of ingredients, though the final result was a great success. And now it’s time to write it down before I forget…

Ingredients

1 ripe mango
1tbsp cornflour
a handful of raisins
a dash of lemon or lime juice
150g self-raising flour (or plain flour with a generous teaspoonful of baking powder)
150g soft butter or margarine
125g sugar (I used fine light cane sugar)
150g ground nuts (I used half almonds, half hazelnuts)
1tsp ground cinnamon
½tsp ground nutmeg
½tsp ground allspice
1 egg
zest of 1 lemon

 

Method

1. Peel and dice the mango, mix with the raisins, cornflour, lemon or lime juice and set aside.

2. Mix the other ingredients thoroughly and divide this mixture roughly in two.

3. Spread half the mixture in the bottom of a greased, loose-bottomed 18cm diameter cake tin.

4. Pour the mango mixture in on top of this, and spread it around a bit.

5. Add the other half of the cake mixture on top of the mango, distributing it as best you can. I put it on in small clumps, and the finished cake had quite a pleasant bumpy look to it – like a thick, almost solid sticky streusel topping.

6. Bake at 180°C (fan 160°C) for about 50 minutes. Check it after about 30 minutes, and if it is looking too brown, cover in foil.

7. I left the cake in the tin to cool, which probably helped to conserve some moisture. It was certainly easy enough to remove it from the tin.

Variations on a theme

  • I love the combination of mango and root ginger, so next time I might add some finely grated ginger either to the cake batter or to the fruit mixture. Having said that, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a cake recipe that asked for fresh root ginger (instead of stem ginger or ground ginger) – is there a good reason for that, I wonder?!
  • The cake would probably work well with any softish fruit; I might use a bit more sugar (say, 150g total) for the cake mixture if using a fruit that was more acidic than mango.
  • I’d love to try the recipe with a fresh dark cherry filling, and grated dark chocolate instead of the spices.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food

Great British Food Revival: sardine beccafico

This last week we’ve watched several episodes of the current BBC series Great British Food Revival, and it’s been GREAT fun as well as very informative and mouthwatering watching all the different chefs’ fresh takes on forgotten or out-of-fashion ingredients. The (half) episode on sardines was one of the most interesting so far in that it celebrated this wonderful little fish that is plentiful off Britain’s shores but whose image was marred for many of my generation by it being presented most frequently in tinned form, as pilchards. I was lucky to rediscover it in its fresh form at some point in the mid-1990s but I have to admit that I’d more or less forgotten it again since.

We decided fairly spontaneously that we really NEEDED to get hold of some proper sardines and cook one of the recipes from the programme this weekend. All the Mediterranean-inspired recipes suggested by Giorgio Locatelli sounded great, but we decided that we’d have a go at the sardine beccafico, just because it struck us as more different and unusual than the other recipes included.

First catch your sardines: well, we’re lucky that we have some shops with really good fish counters here (which really doesn’t go without saying in Southern Germany!), but as (bad) luck would have it, we weren’t able to get hold of any fresh sardines. A 500g container of whole frozen sardines would have to do, so into the fridge it went to defrost. The recipe called for 4 medium-sized sardines (and the ones in the picture acompanying the recipe are certainly very sizeable), but instead we had about ten rather itty-bitty ones, which made filleting them a bit fiddly, but we managed it in the end.

I became rather less enthusiastic once it came to assembling the stuffing. The ingredients suddenly struck me as a pretty odd mixture, and after blending my olives, capers, almonds and lemon juice I was left with a rather grey, slimy sludge that tasted quite odd. And the next batch, including raisins, pine nuts, anchovies, parsley, orange juice and some smuggled-in garlic turned out a very unfetching beige and tasted really very strange indeed. All this was mixed with a load of breadcrumbs and I had the distinct feeling that my concoction could best be used to stick some bricks together.

But I soldiered on and stuffed my sardine fillets as instructed, and actually assembling the dish was a lot less fiddly and messy than I’d expected. The fish rolls went into the oven for all of about 8 minutes total, and meanwhile we prepared a green salad and some crusty bread to accompany them.

The end result was – not forgetting all the misgivings and challenges that had crept in during the preparation – actually pretty tasty, and quite different from anything else I’ve cooked. For me, oily fish HAS to be served with something acidic, and from that point of view the strong citrusy taste of the filling was an excellent foil. Overall, though, the citrus taste was probably too dominant (for our tastes at least) in that you couldn’t really detect the normally quite punchy taste of a lot of the other ingredients olives, anchovies, capers etc.). Admittedly, we did use fairly mild, not overly salted olives and anchovies, but even so…

We’ve decided that we’ll definitely use this recipe again, but we want to try it with some different elements next time:

  • some more substantial kind of fish fillets, maybe herrings or mackerel
  • more garlic and maybe some finely chopped shallots in the stuffing, to make it more savoury – the increased cooking time needed by more substantial fish would mean that this could also have a chance to cook through better
  • a bit less citrus: juice and zest of a both a lemon AND an orange was slightly overpowering overall, though we are slightly conflicted as to which of these to leave out
  • this same (modified) stuffing, maybe with a little parmesan or feta added, would also make a great crust for baked white fish
  • depending on the choice of fish, a punchier choice of herb such as thyme might work really well

By the way, I did take a picture of the finished dish, but as it wasn’t a patch on the one you can see on the BBC website I decided not to include it. You can view my latest Flickr uploads via the right-hand sidebar, though ;).

 

1 Comment

Filed under Food

Goat’s cheese and asparagus quiche

I made this quiche this week, and very nice it was too. When I posted a picture of it, several people asked me for the recipe. And so, without further ado, here it is…

Ingredients

  • Enough pastry to line an approx. 30cm round flan dish (or equivalent)
  • Oil, for frying
  • About 12 spears of green asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 80-100g cubed bacon or ham (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour*
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Fresh herbs (I used thyme but might try sage next time for a punchier flavour)
  • 120g “goat log” cheese (preferably smallish diameter), thinly sliced
  • Salt & pepper

Method

1. Roll out the pastry and line the greased dish with it. Allow to rest briefly before trimming the edges (do leave enough excess for shrinkage, though), pricking the base with a fork, lining with foil, putting some baking beans (or equivalent) in the base and baking blind at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for about 15 minutes. Lower the oven heat by 10C / 1 gas mark  after this period and remove the beans and foil from the pastry case.

2. Meanwhile, fry the onion gently, together with the bacon (if using). Slice the asparagus diagonally into lengths of 3-4cm and add to the pan once the onions and bacon have had a chance to take on some colour. Continue to fry gently until the asparagus has softened and any excess liquid has more or less evaporated.

3. Beat the eggs together with the milk, cornflour and mustard. Add some pepper, plus salt if you feel it is necessary (bacon / ham and the goat’s cheese also contain a fair amount of salt, normally).

4. Arrange the asparagus mixture evenly in the base of the pastry case. Sprinkle with herbs; ham cubes could also be sprinkled over at this stage, if you are using them instead of bacon. Pour over the egg mixture carefully to just a fraction below the upper edge of the pastry case; do not overfill, though. Arrange the slices of cheese evenly on top.

5. Bake at the slightly lower oven temperature for about 40mins. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with crusty bread and a green salad, though something tomatoey might also go well with it.

* Quiche purists (if there is such a thing!) might not approve of adding cornflour, but it did prove useful in binding any remaining moisture in the asparagus and thus stopping the quiche from getting a soggy bottom! ;-)

3 Comments

Filed under Food