Thursday, September 13, 2007

Homemade Baked Beans

Would you believe that I've never made or eaten Home-Made Baked Beans? I've only ever eaten those SPC things out of a Tin, which you heat up in the nuke-rowave. Aussie? Yes. Tasty? Not Really.
So, on the weekend, I found a recipe from Bill Granger's 'Everyday' book. It's not quite as quick as opening a tin, but believe me, it's much tastier and hey... everyone's into 'slow' food these days, aren't they?


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Onion
100g Pancetta (leave this out for a Vegie version)
1 Garlic Clove
2 Anchovies
1 Teaspoon of Finely chopped Thyme Leaves
1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
2 x 400g Tins of Canellini or Butter Beans
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat the Oven to 160c
Heat the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium heat
Add the onion and cook, stirring for 5 - 6 minutes, or until slightly crisp.
Add the garlic, anchoviews, thyme and oregano and cook, stirring for another minute.

Add the tomatoes and 125ml of water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for another 10 minutes.
Stir in the beans, put a lid on the casserole and bake in the oven for 30 mins. Season with Salt and Pepper.
I added chopped flat leaf parsley at the end.
Serve on some nice Crusty bread and drizzle with some Olive Oil.

Happy Birthday..... Me! Nigella's Custard Birthday Sponge

Well, this is my first post in quite a while... I've managed to go AWOL from my Blogs for about a month now...sorry guys! I blame Facebook! Ugh!
Anyway... Last week was my 29th birthday....yep... only one more to go, before the big 3 - 0!
Apparently at my work, they have a tradition of making your own birthday cake! That sucks if you ask me. What makes you feel more special on your birthday than someone having gone to the effort of making you a nice birthday cake? Oh well, so I decided to make my first Nigella Lawson cake. What other Celebrity Chef would you look to for a Birthday Cake?
This recipe was surprisingly easy and absolutely delicious. Everyone at work loved it and there were mentions that they wished it was my birthday everyday!


For the cake

* 200 g plain flour
* 3 tbsp custard powder
* 2 tsp baking powder
* ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 4 eggs
* 225 g soft butter
* 200 g caster sugar
* 2 tbsp milk

For the buttercream filling

* 125 g icing sugar
* 4 tsp custard powder
* 75 g soft unsalted butter
* 1½ tsp boiling water

For the chocolate icing

* 60 ml water
* 2 tbsp golden syrup
* 125 g caster sugar
* 175 g dark chocolate
* Hundreds and thousands

For the cake

1. Make sure everything you need is at room temperature before you start. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas 4, butter and line two 20cm sandwich tins.
2. Put all the cake ingredients, apart from the milk, into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter, and then add the milk 1 tbsp at a time to make a soft dropping consistency. Divide between the two cake tins and bake for 20 minutes. The cakes will have risen and feel spookily puffy; this is because of the cornflour in the custard powder.
3. Let the tins sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then turn them out on to the rack, peeling away the paper.

For the buttercream filling

1. Process the icing sugar and custard powder to get rid of any lumps, and then add the butter, processing again to make the buttercream come together. Feed the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running to make the filling easier to spread. Then sandwich the cooled sponges together with the custardy buttercream.

For the chocolate icing

1. Combine the water, syrup and sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve over a low heat. Let it come to the boil and then take it of the heat.
2. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and then add to the pan, swirling it around to cover in the hot liquid. Leave to melt for a few minutes, and then whisk the icing to make it smooth and shiny. Pour over the buttercream filled cake, letting it drip down the sides, and then sprinkle generously with the hundreds and thousands before the icing sets.
3. Prong with candles, light them and sing.