Thursday, 31 May 2012

Foodie Pen Pal Parcel - Flourless Chocolate Chilli Cake

So it’s foodie pen pal time again and as another month of exciting gourmet post passes I find myself getting increasingly excited about the whole process. This month I had a bit of a challenge sending a gluten free vegan parcel to Nicky at kabochafashionista, but the challenge suited my blog perfectly and I had great fun sourcing suitable snacks for Nicky as well as making some spiced ginger biscuits she could enjoy (recipe to follow shortly). I then received my parcel from another Nikki and look at the delights I received….

A Mauritian Curry Kit – well I love a curry, but haven’t tried a Mauritian variety before so am looking forward to trying this one.

Peppersmith fresh mints – Nikki chose these because the unusual but refreshing lemon and mint combination and I have to agree that they really are amazingly refreshing (and come in such a cute box too!).

Dried mango – One of my favourite fruits and fair trade too so a great choice with this one.

Corn Snacks – Nikki had tried something similar in Ecuador and I have certainly enjoyed munching on these.

Sweet ‘n’ Salty popcorn – I have to admit that I am normally a salty popcorn fan and avoid the sweet stuff but this provided the perfect balance of the two flavours and was seriously moreish.

Rainbow Drops – This was a proper throw back to my childhood, I used to love these things…woot for the crazy colours.

Dried chillies – These were actually bought in by Nikki in Spain last year, so super exciting to get a continental addition to the parcel!

So thanks Nikki for all of the exciting goodies….I have a feeling I may have developed a new addiction to sweet ‘n’ salty popcorn!!

I also took some inspiration from the chillies and decided to make a flourless chocolate chilli cake. Although flour isn’t directly used in this recipe it isn’t actually wheat or gluten free because it does contain breadcrumbs!! But using breadcrumbs does provide a slightly different texture from a normal sponge cake and the very slight chilli flavour combines perfectly with the dark chocolate in this recipe.


1 dried chilli
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon warm water
100g dark chocolate
4 large eggs
100g  caster sugar
Pinch of sea salt
30g cocoa powder
40ml crème fraiche
80g white bread crumbs

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C / 350 deg F

Line a small loaf tin with lightly buttered greaseproof paper.

Split the chilli in half and remove the seeds. Then chop finely and blitz in a food processor along with the cayenne pepper and a tablespoon of warm water to form a paste. Pass the paste through a fine sieve to remove any large bits of the chilli and put to one side.

Break the chocolate into a heat proof bowl and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water in the pan. When the chocolate begins to melt stir occasionally until lump free and glossy.

Once melted remove the chocolate from the heat, allow to cool slightly and then mix in the chilli paste and crème fraiche until well combined.

Separate the eggs into 2 bowls.

Whisk 50g of the sugar with the egg yolks until thick and creamy, then fold in the melted chocolate and chilli mix, salt, cocoa powder and breadcrumbs.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff and then gradually whisk in the remaining 50g sugar until glossy.

Then gradually add the egg whites to the chocolate mix gently folding the two mixtures together.  When folding the egg whites into the chocolate mixture add a spoonful at a time gently turning the mixture over so that the two sets of ingredients become combined without losing all of the air from the egg whites.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and cook in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool before loosening the edges with a knife and turn out the cake.

Dust liberally in cocoa powder before serving, great served with a dollop of any  crème fraiche you may have left over!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Celeriac Farls

I think I firstly need to apologise for my lack of blog activity lately. I seem to have been distracted by the sudden appearance of the sun and also by my mum coming to visit…so yes I might just blame my absence from the blogging world on my mum!!! But whilst she was visiting we were out enjoying eating food prepared by other people rather than spending time in the kitchen ourselves.

We enjoyed a particularly delightful dinner at the bistro at Balloo House, a pub and restaurant to the west of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. Whilst my mum enjoyed a triple helping of duck for her main, a duck breast served with duck egg and gorgeously light and crispy chips fried in duck fat (well it was her birthday), I tucked into Dexter beef served on a wonderfully smooth truffle mash which definitely beats my best efforts despite the my recent investment of a potato ricer. I then enjoyed a buttermilk panna cotta which displayed the perfect amount of wobble and sat plumply on the plate next to gingerbread ice cream and rhubarb…mmmmm. All the food was beautiful and the service and atmosphere were great but I think both myself and my mum had the greatest pleasure eating the petit fours we ordered to accompany our coffee. There was a wonderfully light melt in the mouth shortbread, a delicate and zesty mini wee lemon tart, a chewy bite of chocolate brownie and then a perfect cube of glossy, smooth and rich chocolate truffle with a delectably devine gooey centre!! I think I might be starting to get a little bit carried away and am at serious risk of drooling on my keyboard so now onto some of my own food (but if you get the chance I would highly recommend a visit to Balloo).

I thought now that I have been living in Northern Ireland for 3 months it was about time that I posted an Irish themed recipe…with a twist of course. Potato farls are a staple over here and an obligatory part of any respectable Ulster fry. Affectionately referred to as ‘tatty bread’ by my dad this classic Irish recipe is a great way to use up any leftover mash. But rather than using the traditional potato I decided to use mashed celeriac instead…possibly a little controversial but a great excuse to use my potato ricer again!!!


200g mashed celeriac
100g plain flour

Makes 2 farls

Take 200g of cooled mashed celeriac.

To make the mash peel and chop roughly half of a medium celeriac and boil in water until tender. Drain the celeriac and leave it for a few minutes to allow excess moisture to steam off before passing it through a potato ricer. Then stir in a good knob of butter and add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
Mix the mash together with the flour.

Take half of the mash mixture, form it into a rough ball shape and place on a work surface that has been generously dusted with flour. Don’t worry if the mixture seems a bit sticky and wet at this point.
Dust the top of the ball with more flour and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circular shape.

Place a frying pan on a medium heat and add a little cooking oil to lightly grease the pan. Transfer the farl to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes before carefully flipping over the cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes. If a little more colour is needed cook for another minute or two on each side.

Turn the farl out of the pan and cut into quarters and then repeat the above process with the remaining mixture.

The farls are best eaten warm although they can be frozen and then popped into a toaster to heat up when required.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Boston Baked Beans

I mentioned a little while back that my current housemate is allergic to tomatoes. I still can’t get my head around how anyone can live without this wondrous fruit/vegetable. After a quick audit of the contents of my cupboards and fridge I discovered I had at least 5 varieties of tomato based products (in case you are interested this included fresh tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, tomato puree and tomato ketchup). And that doesn’t even include the things that contain a bit of tomato. It was at this point that I realised that baked beans contain tomatoes. Now I don’t eat loads of baked beans but sometimes the simple meal of beans on toast just can’t be beaten, I think it has to be counted as one of life’s little pleasures (small things and all that). But this got me thinking on how I could create a tomoatoless baked bean recipe that myself and my housemate could both enjoy. After a bit of interweb surfing I discovered that a traditional Boston baked bean recipe is already tomatoless. And so I went about creating a recipe based on this American classic (although I did deviate slightly from the traditional recipe by adding some chorizo that needed to be used up, but I think this helped to enhance the smoky flavour of this campfire classic)!

Also I cooked this recipe in a slow cooker but it could just be cooked in a casserole dish in an oven at a low temperature to achieve the same results.

Serves 4 hungry people


300g dried cannellini beans
150g streaky bacon
100g chorizo
½ red onion
35g soft brown sugar
35g molasses
1 tablespoon English mustard
2 bay leaves

Soak the beans in water overnight

Chop the bacon and chorizo into small chunks and finely dice the red onion.

Place half of the bacon, chorizo and onion in the bottom of the slow cooker, drain the beans and put these on top of the bacon mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the meat and onion on top.

Mix the molasses, mustard and brown sugar together with 200ml of hot water and stir until the sugar has dissolved and a thick syrupy liquid has formed. Pour this over the bean mix.

Depending on the size of your slow cooker you will probably need to add more water to the mix to ensure the beans are completely covered in liquid, so add more hot water as necessary.

Add the bay leaves and then put the lid on the slow cooker, set to a medium heat and leave to slowly bubble away for the next 8 hours.

After 8 hours give the mixture a good stir. If the sauce seems a little runny at this point remove the lid from the slow cooker and allow the mixture to reduce a little.

Then serve simply on toast or as a jacket potato filling.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Gluten Free Earl Grey Biscuits

Following up from my last 'foodie pen pal parcel post' I thought I would post the recipe that I made to send to my pen pal Kathryn last month. I wanted to include something home made in my parcel but wanted something that would survive a journey across the Irish Sea courtesy of Royal Mail. Of course it had to be a recipe in keeping with my blog and have something missing. Biscuits seemed the obvious choice for something that might survive the trip and as a mad fan of a good old cup of tea I had been wanting to try adding earl grey to a baked treat for a while. And so gluten free earl grey tea biscuits seemed the obvious choice!


120g butter
140g icing sugar
1 egg
150g brown rice flour
75g potato flour
120g wheat-free flour blend
2 earl grey tea bags
½ vanilla pod
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Pre-heat the oven to 190 deg C / 370 deg F

Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and beat until well combined.

Add the flours, the contents of the 2 tea bags, the cream of tartar and the seeds scrapped out of the vanilla pod and mix until combined.

Turn the mixture out onto a (gluten-free) floured surface and roll into a log shape approximately 5cm in diameter (don’t worry if it still seems a little bit sticky and lose at this stage), wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

After an hour remove from the fridge and using a sharp knife slice the dough into 1cm thick discs.
Arrange the biscuits on a lined baking sheet leaving a small gap between each and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden in colour.

Allow to cool and enjoy…or as I did melt 50g of milk and white chocolate in 2 small bowls in the microwave (I started zapping them for 30 seconds then for another 10 seconds as necessary to avoid over melting and cooking the chocolate) then dip the biscuits into the melted chocolate, transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to set before tucking in!

Recipe adapted from Gluten Free Cooking