This was last month’s f*** you moment to ‘austerity’ and to my bank account: rhubarb cake adapted from a Waitrose recipe that was kindly sent to me by a friend.
400g outdoor rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
200g golden caster sugar (I also added a bit of vanilla sugar while I was at it)
150g butter, softened
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
75g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
Grated zest of 1 small orange, plus 2 tbsp juice
2 tbsp of full-fat yoghurt
Crumble topping made from plain flour, softened butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and a handful of chopped almonds. It doesn’t get much more decadent that this in my household!
Basically, you pour some of the sugar onto your chopped rhubarb pieces and mix the other ingredients (save the crumble topping!) together in a bowl. Then you add the rhubarb and pour everything into a cake tin. I substituted the almond topping with a crumble topping.
The cake should go in at gas mark 5 initially, and you switch it down to 4 after about half an hour. Bake the cake for another 20-30 mins & let it cool for a bit before eating. It is super nice warm with warm custard in this super cold spring!
By the way, I was lazy when it came to the custard and made it from 500 ml hot milk and a packet of German vanilla sauce powder… : >
I also made a very nice maize meal cake subsequently which was also very nice warmed up. I forgot to take a picture, but will make it again soon & then post the recipe. My partner has been diagnosed with a gluten allergy, so will post gluten free recipes from that part of my experimentation!
I acquired a huge bunch of frisée salad that I have been eating for days in a row now. In order not to get bored, I am trying to improvise salad dressings and dishes to go with it. It’s good with fried egg on bread, with oranges and with a dressing made from soy sauce, lime juice, salt, oil, dried dill and sugar, but I’m sure there are better sauces to be found. The experiments continue…
Next up, some fried Thai dumplings I found in my partner’s freezer, together with tofu leftovers, tomatoes and, again, salad! Makes a really good light lunch in dark times.
Last, a not particularly flattering picture of a very tasty meal of steamed fennel with tomatoes that got the cheesy-bake treatment in the oven. For the topping I used grated gouda, the finely cut green bits of the fennel and bread crumbs mixed together. You can also swish the (steamed) fennel and (fresh) tomatoes in a bit of olive oil beforehand.
A long overdue update on my spring cooking. Am currently super broke, so I’m turning to urban foraging! Luckily, I have friends with gardens that contain large patches of unwanted nettles, which are perfect for a variety of dishes, the most easiest being steamed nettles (spinach-like) and nettle soup. Nettle soup is super easy to make, provided you have a pair of rubber gloves. Basically, you harvest (preferably) young-ish nettles (not the big flowering ones) by holding them with your gloves and cutting the stems with scissors. I put mine into a big plastic bag. Back home, I washed them carefully in the sink and tore off the good leaves into a big colander. Once finished (the sorting and picking may take some time), I got out my big soup pot, fried some onions and garlic in it, and later some potato cubes. When all of this started to brown, I added the nettles and some stock. I chose not to put in herbs (apart from the garlic), as I wanted to taste the nettles, and there were already some herbs in the stock anyway. After about 15 minutes, I blended the whole thing. You can also add cream, sour cream or milk/butter. The soup tastes a lot like a cross between spinach and mushroom soup for some reason (closer to mushroom actually). Sorry, not a very flattering picture!
I once went to a restaurant that was run by a Chinese and Italian chef. They offered fusion dishes such as seaweed lasagna, which actually tasted really good. My improvised German-Asian fusion (again, from leftovers) does not quite match up, but at least it looks great!
Wild Garlic flavoured tofu
Fried yellow pepper
Leftover vegetables + leftover soft tacos + cheese = quesadillas
I always end up with leftover soft tacos, when I make some mutant Mexican for my friends. It’s usually too strenuous to prepare decent tacos for one person with all the guacamole, salsa, salad, refried beans etc involved. I’ve tried the following with them so far: having them as pancakes (rolled up with jam), cutting them into strips and having them as part of vegetable soup (not terribly good, but could be worse), having them as pizza bases or super primitive tarte flambée (see below) and using them for quesadillas (see above). Maybe should try baking them brushed with oil as crisps next?
This is another modified recipe (here is the original tray bake from Susi’s Bakery). Wanted to make a birthday cake on a Sunday while staying over at parents’ house, which is far away from shops. No plain (wheat) flour in the house – just bread flour (rye, spelt). Came up with the following recipe, for a large circular tin:
For the dough, blend together:
250 g spelt flour
about 100 g butter
about 50 ml vegetable oil (or sunflour, rapeseed, groundnut etc)
about 150 g sugar
a dash of rum (or aroma)
creamed poppy seeds (Heat and stir 70g ground poppy seeds with a dash of milk, a dollop of butter and a tbsp of sugar to form a porridge like substance. You can also add a bit of marzipan after cooking, if you’ve still got Christmas leftovers…)
1/2 cup of fromage frais/greek yoghurt/plain yoghurt/buttermilk
3-4 egg yolks
3-4 egg whites (beaten)
milk to soften the dough
Spread half the dough onto the bottom of a cake tin.
Add a layer of peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples (about 3 apples, depending on size – I used Cox).
Add 1 mashed banana to the remaining dough and spread it over the apple layer.
Sprinkle chopped almonds around the edges of the cake.
Bake for about 45 mins at 160 degrees celsius.
The cake tastes really good.
(photo coming soon!)
The other day, I made a big portion of spinach dhal, though not big enough to absorb an entire tin of coconut milk. Therefore, I had to come up with a few other uses of coconut milk… Good thing I had a pineapple in the house, so I could make a few of the following desserts:
Fresh Pineapple chunks
Optional: Sugar, ice cream
Blend all ingredients!
Coconut rice pudding
Leftover or freshly made rice pudding
Mix rice pudding with coconut milk to taste. Serve with fruit, fruit or chocolate sauce, spiced sugar, chopped almonds/nuts, coconut shavings.
Here is a more sophisticated version of this recipe: Rice Pudding, Pineapple and Coconut Parfait
Coconut and pineapple pudding
Gently heat most of the coconut milk. Sweeten to taste. Stir cornflour into the remaining coconut milk. Add cornflour-coconut milk mix to the hot coconut milk until it thickens. Take off the hob and blend in pineapple.
You can also make a delicious steamed pudding with some eggs and flour. A nice recipe can be found here.