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Archive for July, 2010

Mini rose cakes

Little rose-scented cakes with a peachy pink cream cheese icing. Not much more I can say really. I wouldn’t ever recommend more than two in one sitting. Drink with black coffee to offset the tooth-sucking sweetness.

Make a pound cake mix (that’s 125g soft butter, 125g self-raising flour, 125g sugar and two eggs mixed together according to Jane Grigson) with a half teaspoon of rose water added. As you are about to pour the mix into a loaf tin remember that, oh dear, you don’t actually have a loaf tin. Decant the mix into mini cake-thing tin instead and hope for the best. Cook for just 15-20 minutes or so instead of the usual 1 hour at about 180. Make a cream cheese icing with some soft butter, cream cheese and icing sugar. Add rose water and a drop of red food colouring which should give you a light pink colour. In for a penny, in for a pound and all that.

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I am a complete sucker for vintage jam pots and tins from Asian markets. I love anything that looks like it could be at home in Sophie Dahl’s pretend kitchen.

This tin of smoked paprika is a good example. I fell for its packaging and bought it despite not needing any paprika

When I saw Sophie Dahl pick up an identical red jar on her cookery programme a few months later I nearly wet myself. Anyone would think we’d both visited the same spice market in Marrakech. I can’t remember how she used this aromatic powder, I’m sure it enriches stews and the like.

Until recently I had barely used the stuff. When I read something about adding regular paprika to tomatoes I tried the smoked variety in a cherry tomato salad with lots of chopped spring onions with a balsamic dressing. I usually condemn the utterly excessive use of balsamic vinegar which borders on addiction in some of London’s more leafy enclaves, however I made an exception for this salad. Since trying this I haven’t had a tomato salad without paprika in weeks.

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Fennel salad

After almost a six month hiatus I am returning to my blog. I have no excuse.

Fennel is not only delicious but also quite beautiful with its crisp pale green flesh and delicate fronds. Flesh seems wholly the wrong word to describe it but I can’t think of an alternative.

I love fennel and eat it often but I tend to have it either as a salad or simply blanched then roasted in the oven. I never fail to cut out fennel recipes from newspapers and I even have one clipping sent from a friend who was lovely enough to remember amongst my many drunken student ramblings a professed love for this particular veg. I still have the clipping I just haven’t ever attempted the recipe.

In the summer I cannot imagine wanting to cook a fennel. Thinly sliced and served with a citrus dressing it is the most lovely thing. All it needs is some crusty bread and as a mid-week supper it is virtuous enough to justify at least two glasses of wine on the side.

For the pictured salad I thinly sliced a fennel by hand. A mandolin makes it too thin and I have Luddite-like belief in my own hands at times. The fennel was immediately dressed with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. I added raisins which had been soaked in hot water and lemon juice, and chopped hazelnuts. Finally a little simple dressing (honey, mustard, white wine vinegar and oil) and the fronds from the fennel were added.

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