Orange and Almond Cake

Orange and Almond Cake,

Orange and Almond Cake,

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Variants on this recipe can be found historically all over the mediterranean, Middle East and Northern Africa.  I’ve heard it described as “Moorish”, “Sephardic”, “Persian” or Spanish Orange Cake. Whoever came up with the idea of boiling oranges so that they could be pureed and mixed into sweetened, spiced almond flour was a genius, wherever they came from. The cake is moist, flavourful and packed with nutrition. I like to serve it with a gooey orange syrup and Menya D’Àngels.

Irish Marrow Chutney

Pride of place on any cheese board

Pride of place on any cheese board

Originally, I made this as a way of using up a glut of overgrown zucchini, something that happens with alarming speed and regularity following Summer heatwaves. I am always astonished at how rapidly tiny dew-spangled zucchini, still clinging to their flower, become enormous woody monsters. These rather dry marrows make the perfect base for a warm and fruity chutney that takes pride of place in any Ploughman’s Lunch or cheese platter. Ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon add aromatic spice. Chili and cayenne give a gentle bite, while the fruit adds sweetness and depth to the complex flavour. Whiskey rounds it all out.

Allow the chutney to mature in a cool dark place for around 6 weeks before opening.  After that, don’t save it just for cheese and greens. It makes a delightful addition to gravy accompanying roast pork or turkey. It adds an extra dimension to beef stew.  It goes well in steak sandwiches, or toasted cheese ‘n chutney. I even have it with eggs and bacon 🙂

Yellow Curry Paste

Yellow Curry Paste

Yellow Curry Paste

I love my blender. Slushies, vegetable smoothies, fruit sorbet, icy Frozen Daquiris, pesto, dips, hummus .. all grist for its mill. So came the day when I went to whip up some Lime and da Coconut Yellow Fish Curry for supper and discovered that I had run out of the commercial curry paste, I was confident I could make the stuff from scratch. Of course I tweaked the original recipe a bit. The result was aromatic, zesty and delicious. I shall never buy the stuff again 🙂

Of couse you can add spice it up with chili if you like something with a little more bite. Roasting the garlic and ginger before blending will add a slightly caramel twist to the paste. But if you like quick and simple, try this ..

Gingernuts for a Gingernut (Blood-Orange Gingersnaps)

Blood Orange Gingersnaps

Blood Orange Gingersnaps

Artist has a gorgeous copper coloured mane that falls to her waist in a silken cloud when she allows it to escape its customary braid. Kids are cruel however, and during her school years she was the butt of much bullying. Her hair earned her nicknames like “Ginger” , “Bloodnut” and the despised “Ranga”; a corruption of Orang-outang that implies her colouring makes her less than human. It fairly made my blood boil to see her distress at these stupid taunts.  When I get upset or angry I either clean the house within an inch of it’s life, go for long bracing walks .. or cook comfort food. This is my not-very-subtle reply to those little jerks, a very warm comforting treat (especially with a hot cocoa) for the days that life sucks, we lost the Soccer or I-am-sorry-I-shouted. Gingernuts for my very favourite Gingernut 🙂

I Just Love Apple Scones

Apple Scones

Apple Scones

A while back I spoke of Gran’s fabulous fluffy scones and posted the recipe. They were made to accompany jam and cream, and were served with some ceremony. Our version of “High Tea”.

On reflection, such an important subject should have been treated with more respect .. announced with some sort of fanfare perhaps .. or at least a reference made to the sheer usefulness of that one basic recipe. From this simple beginning, all sorts of wonderful variations can be had. Sure there are dainty sweet ones to have with jam, fruit, angel food or cream. They are also robust wholemeal lunchbox fillers, savoury delights to go with a ploughman’s lunch, stews or fruit paste.