an adventure into my cookbook collection: soul-searching, doing things differently & the truths I learn along the way...

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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Almond and blueberry pudding

From Second Helpings of Roast Chicken by Simon Hopkinson

Here is another Passover (Pesach) dessert recipe, a totally new one that I have only just discovered. I made it on Friday night for the first time (with help from the wonderful Emma) and everyone went mad for it. Hot berries – is there anything better?

I discovered this recipe as I was using this cookbook to score a game of cards that I was playing with my Mum. We always use cookbooks when scoring card games, with a joker to mark the page - whenever a player (usually me) accumulates points, they have to read out the recipe the joker has landed on.

This recipe was found three points in, in the chapter on almonds. It is always very exciting to find a pesach dessert recipe that doesn’t involve separating eggs and whisking egg whites. It sounded so delicious, and easy to make that I wanted to make it straight away. And I am so glad that I did.

The pudding will go a bit cake-y on the top and a bit custardy on the bottom, stained dark blue and purple with berries. It will sink a bit if not serving immediately, but it doesn’t really matter if it does, it is still really delicious. Simon Hopkinson recommends serving it with cream, but I don’t think it needs it.

Serves 5-6, or 4 if everyone wants seconds (which they probably will)


100g butter or margarine (if you need it to be dairy-free), softened – plus a little extra for greasing the dish
350g blueberries – we used 260g blueberries (that was all we had) and then made the weight up with raspberries. I’m sure this recipe would work very well with other berries too.
100g sugar – plus a little extra for sprinkling on top
2 eggs
100g ground almonds
1 tbsp amaretto liqueur – or similar – we used kosher for Passover triple sec


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (170 w/fan)

Grease a wide and shallow baking dish with a bit of butter or margarine. ‘Strew’ with the berries.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (this works well with a spoon too). Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing them in thoroughly. Fold in the ground almonds and the amaretto (or similar).

Spoon the almond sponge mixture over the fruit in the baking dish. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar and bake for 40-45 minutes, until puffed up and firm on the top.  

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Apple cloud pudding from heaven

From Florence Greenberg’s Jewish Cookbook (first published in 1947)

Happy Passover (Pesach) everyone! Is anybody else really craving a sandwich or a big bowl of pasta right about now?

This is definitely (in my opinion) the best specifically Pesach dessert of all time. I mean, there are other good desserts to have during Pesach, like pavlova and chocolate mousse, but as this one has matzo meal in, it is only really made at Pesach – who would want to cook with matzo meal at other times (except for schnitzels or fried fish)?

I’m posting this recipe now because there are still a few days of Pesach left – I really do urge you to make this if you can. It is seriously wonderful. This pudding is kind of like an apple kugel, but much lighter, and supremely apple-y. If I was Nigella Lawson I would call it a ‘slightly slumped soufflé’.

Serves 4  - could potentially serve more, but everyone will want second helpings


450g cooking apples
3 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
3 tbsp fine matzo meal
1 tbsp ground almonds
zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 190c

Use a bit of butter or margarine to grease a deep-ish baking dish.

Peel the apples and the grate them – don’t core them first, but rather grate around the core (to save you from grating your fingers off). Mix the grated apple with the lemon juice and zest immediately to stop it from discolouring.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff.

Beat the egg yolks with sugar until pale and creamy. Add the lemony apple, matzo meal, ground almonds, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly, and then fold in the egg whites (it will look a bit gross at this stage).

Pour the apple mixture into the baking dish, and bake for 1 hour. When it is ready it will look cake-y on the top, and light and wobbly in the middle. It isn’t the prettiest of desserts, but it is so ruddy delicious that no-one will care.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Courgette and lime loaf cake

Adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.

This is the sixth recipe that I have made from How to be a Domestic Goddess, which is good-going for me (I have a habit of buying cookbooks and not cooking from them at all). Other recipes I have made from the book include chocolate cherry cupcakes (see the recipe here), and burnt-butter cupcakes (which I will write up soon).

I made this cake because I had a lot of courgettes. Or rather, I had some courgettes, and one thing led to another, and they multiplied, considerably (next time I buy two courgettes I will have to separate them). So I have been eating courgettes for days. But I’m not sick of them, because they are brilliant, and as this cake proves, so versatile.

I love the simplicity of an un-iced loaf cake. It seems more acceptable to be eaten throughout the day. Nigella’s original recipe was for a filled and iced cake. When I first made this cake I did make the icing, but even though I reduced the sugar from the original (as I always do with Nigella icing) it was still tooth-achingly sweet, and the wrong consistency. So I decided just to go without, the cake is sweet enough on it’s own and doesn’t need it.

Due to the dampness of the courgettes and the use of oil instead of butter this is a very moist cake – squidgy and delicious. The cake will continue to get more squidgy and delicious each day after it is made.


250g courgettes – this will range from between 1-3 courgettes, depending on how big they are. Weigh before you grate.
60g raisins or sultanas
2 large eggs
125 ml vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)
150g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lime with about 1 tbsp lime juice


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 with fan).

Grate the courgettes unpeeled – not too finely, you want strands, not mush. Put the grated courgette bits into a sieve and leave it sit over the sink while you prep the rest of the ingredients, to allow the excess liquid to drip out.

Beat the eggs, oil and sugar together in a bowl until light and creamed together. Then add in the self-raising flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix well, and then add the raisins, lime zest and juice, and grated courgette.

Pour the cake mixture into a lined or greased loaf tin, and bake for 45 minutes, or until it is risen and golden. 

Test to see if the cake is ready by inserting a cocktail stick or skewer into the centre of the cake – it should come out clean.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Roasted butternut squash macaroni cheese

I probably shouldn’t be writing about macaroni cheese in April. With butternut squash, sage and
hazelnuts, this macaroni cheese is definitely a winter dish. Seeing as how the sky has been completely grey for weeks, I think it is ok, even if not legitimately macaroni-cheese weather. Ultimately, all that really matters is that it is completely delicious, perfect comfort food for any time of year.

Macaroni cheese is a special kind of dish. I have spoken to a few people and it seems that macaroni cheese is the one exception to aversions to processed food. When I had my first job and was spending all my money on rent and hair dye, I would sometimes buy Sainsburys Basics Macaroni Cheese for dinner (75p). Feel free to judge me, but at the time it was delicious. Of course homemade is much better, made in the oven not the microwave.

There is less cheese in this recipe than other macaroni cheeses, and also more vegetable, so I would like to think that is somewhat healthy, relatively speaking. The use of butternut squash also makes it pleasingly orange coloured. 

Serves 4


1 medium sized butternut squash – on the smallish side of ‘medium’. Peel and cut into roughly 2cm sized dice.
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt

250g pasta (approx). I actually never make macaroni cheese with macaroni - somehow it always has to be called macaroni cheese though, I guess that ‘conchiglione rigati cheese’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Make sure you choose a pasta type that has a hollowness, or other texture conducive to this kind of sauce.

For the sauce:
1 pint milk
50g butter
50g flour
Handful grated cheddar. Throw in a bit of crumbled blue stilton (or similar) if you have it
A few grinds of fresh nutmeg
¼ tsp English mustard
3 -4 sage leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:
Approx 1 ½ tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent)
1 tbsp toasted hazelnuts (I used the ready-chopped ones for this)
About 2-3 sage leaves, chopped


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Arrange the squash cubes on a baking tray, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until cooked through and caramelised in parts.

To make the sauce melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook the roux for a minute or two, stirring continuously, to remove any ‘raw’ flour taste. Add the milk about half a ladle-full at a time, stirring continuously to prevent lumps and ensure everything is completely amalgamated.

Once all of the milk has been incorporated, add the nutmeg, sage, cheese, mustard and seasoning (taste to make sure it is seasoned properly). Then take about half of the roasted butternut squash cubes and mash or blend them into the sauce. I used a potato masher for this, which worked really well.

Cook the pasta for about 3 minutes less than packet instructions. Drain it and mix with the cheese-y squash sauce (use a bit of the pasta cooking water if it the sauce is too thick) and the remaining cubes of roasted squash in an oven-safe relatively deep dish. As I was using a ‘stuff-able’ pasta, I used a spoon to wedge some squash cubes into each pasta shell.

Mix together the topping ingredients and scatter them over the top of the macaroni cheese. Bake at approx 200 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the bake is bubbling and the top is golden and crispy.