Gastronomy Economy

Cooking in this house has been a bit routine and dreary of late. I haven’t had any desire to write about anything for awhile hence the relative inactivity on this blog. I have been a bit depressed too due to “events” which admittedly did have the strange effect of making me feel that I needed to buy a cookbook (Falling Cloudberries:Tessa Kiros, in case you were wondering – I didn’t as I can’t justify even spending £1 at the moment let alone £10 (on offer)).

The slugs eating my basil followed by a solicitors letter killed my desire the other week to make cake. I have to make something this weekend as its Teenager’s birthday, and we have friends visiting in the evening and I have promised there will be leftover cake. My current plan is one culled from Caribbean Food:Levi Roots which from reading the recipe appears to a combination of Nigel’s double ginger cake combined with the icing from Nigella’s ginger cake but using lime instead of lemon – now this really did get my taste buds waking up.

The other thing that has pricked my culinary interest is that Allegra McEvedy (ex Leon) and Paul Merret (his book about his allotment and cooking from it is currently on my bedside table – I got it for my birthday, it is a slow read for me, his literary style is not doing it for me) have a series coming out next Wednesday called Gastronomy Economy, there is also, surprise surprise a cookbook... if it stops raining I may do a car boot sale and treat myself with the proceeds.

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Request for cake…

Yay ! I just got my first email asking me to recommend a cake to go after a particular meal.

I would as a knee jerk reaction to any meal recommend Sticky Toffee Pudding (Gary Rhodes). Yes I know its now a restaurant cliche like the 70’s Black Forest Gateau but it is just heavenly if done well.

Anyway there were some restrictions to the cake. It needed to be made in advance, not require warming up and be suitable for handing round with a cup of tea just before guests leave. For which I recommend ginger cake. Either the Nigel Slater one I recommended earlier or the Nigella Lawson version of the same thing [here] (without the preserved ginger) either way I think the lemon icing is a must !

The first Christmas cake

So called because this is the first Christmas cake I am making this year, for the works Christmas Cake competition – the idea is that anyone who wants to enter makes a cake and then people who want to try cake pay a £1 for charity (probably Water Aid) and then vote on the winner.

Anyway, my entry is not a traditional cake but is something that I associate with Christmas, gingerbread or rather ginger cake…my kitchen is currently full of the lovely smells of ginger and cinnamon and caramel and…cake ! The version I eventually went for is from The Kitchen Diaries:Nigel Slater and is one I am particularly fond of because it has a hidden surprise of real stem ginger hidden deep in side. The recipe for it was published some years ago in The Observer also [here] and its kinda appropriate as when Nigel made it for his article in the observer “the rain is crashing down on the kitchen roof”, and that’s just what it’s been doing here all day.

The intention tomorrow is to ice it with the lemon icing for Ginger Cake in Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess because as she points out, its hard to sell something which is so unrelentingly brown…

Other than the cake today has been quite quiet, Husband went down to pick the Student up from Cardiff and Spider and I cleaned the living room, including moving the sofa which is where I found the Toffee Brownie recipe – I have now amended the quantities in the recipe I posted several days ago.

Next weekend I will be making this years actual christmas cake – again not traditional because last year we were still eating it at the end of January…

Double Ginger Cake with lemon icing...

Double Ginger Cake with lemon icing...

It’s a wrap

Last night I had a happy potter around the kitchen and made the Toffee Brownies – verdict ? Very rich, very addictive. Raspberry goes so well with chocolate. Not too sure about the toffee, think next time I might use some form of commercial toffee bits as I prefer my toffee a bit chewy and more caramel in taste.

Hidden Brownies
Hidden Brownies

Forgot to take a photo of these before I cut them up into small pieces for delivery to the lovely Mrs Zee and Mrs OD  – Mrs Zee is the main reason I can relax over Christmas and forget about my finances (despite the fact I paid too much off the credit card this month and am back to watching the pennies until payday), Mrs OD has been introducing colour back into my life with large doses of purple objects appearing on my desk…

Anyway hidden beneath the pink there are Brownies – the recipe says cut the tin into 15 pieces, these are very rich – I would recommend more pieces of a smaller size…would I do this recipe again, yes as a variation but I’m begining to think that its hard to beat my favourite Nigel Slater Brownie recipe…

Today has been quite quiet on the cooking front, but  large doses of Ikea has left me considering baking some cookie decorations for the tree and perhaps making a gingerbread house…what I will be doing this weekend is making a ginger cake as my entry into the office Christmas cake competition – the question is, which ginger cake ?

The main event today was watching Spider be 1 of 2 kings in the nativity (3rd king was a victim of budgetary pressures), I was in tears, for no reason, I mean there he was just being Spider, happy vivacious little Spider, and I’m in tears watching his love of life – it’s so weird this Mummy lark !