First post of the new year! Well, if I can't be fashionable, I might as well aim for fashionably late. I've been largely away from technology while on holiday, and then coming back into full time work has, funnily enough, kept me ridiculously busy. To be honest it was a little liberating being apart from my blog but now I'm ready to spend some quality time with the kitchen and slide back into blogging like a pair of old socks. Hopefully the 'good writing' section of my brain gets swiftly awoken, but in the meantime, to make up for all the no-blogging I bring two recipes that are flipping delicious.
Looks like I'm as adept as ever in the kitchen.
I found this recipe for chocolate beetroot cake in a Jill Dupleix book that I got for Christmas from Nanna a couple of years ago. I've professed my love for all things roast beetroot in the past, but was completely intrigued, nay, consumed with the idea of using it in a cake. I have to admit I used a drained can of beetroot, which is perhaps not what Dupleix had in mind, but hey ho, the finished product was delicious, without betraying any of its vegetable-y origins. And call me a freak, but butter, sugar, and pureed beetroot mixed together is...bizarrely good.
Chocolate Beetroot Cake, adapted from New Food by Jill Dupleix
I made quite a few changes - canned instead of fresh pureed beetroot, I used a food processor to make it, and I used 250g melted butter instead of a cup of oil because that's how I roll.
1 cup cooked beetroot, pureed
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
250g butter, melted
1/2 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
If you're using canned beetroot, drain it and then puree it in the food processor (which will take a couple of goes, whizzing and spatula-ing) then add all the rest of the ingredients, blitz to a pinkish-brownish batter (once again, scraping down the sides with a spatula occasionally) and pour into a 23cm paper-lined cake tin. Bake at 190 for roughly 45 minutes.
Above: Seriously, there is no hint of beetroot in the finished product, but you're left with a moist, surprisingly light, unthreateningly plain chocolate cake. It's delicious. Don't be afraid...
While wandering aimlessly through the revamped Moore Wilson's Fresh (off Tory Street in central Wellington) on Sunday, it struck me that I haven't eaten roast lamb in forever, so I purchased a goodly slab of it and made off home to cook my spoils. I also purchased a bottle of Moore Wilson's fresh-squeezed orange juice, they literally have a guy there squeezing it for you. Once you've tried it, it's difficult to go back to any other bottled orange juice. It's so fresh you can practically feel the vitamin C coursing through your veins with every sip.
Using a suggestion of Nigella's, I rubbed the lamb in olive oil and ras-el-hanout, that utterly, ridiculously deliciously fragrant spice mix. I roasted it for an hour and a half at 210 C, basting occasionally. To go with, I made a salad from a book I got for Christmas from my godfamily that I'm quite wild to cook my way through: Christelle Le Ru's French Fare..
Salade d'Aubergine (I don't think I need to translate this?)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 red pepper
1/2 bunch parsely
55g feta cheese
Preheat oven to 210 C (375 F) Prick the aubergine with a fork and wrap it in foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, roll the pepper in foil and bake for about 10 or 15 minutes. Halve the aubergine, remove the flesh (it shouldn't be too hard to peel at this stage) and press the flesh very firmly in a sieve to remove any juice. Remove seeds from the pepper, and chop both vegetables relatively small. Peel and finely chop the shallot. Mix all the vegetables together with the olive oil and chopped parsely. Finally, season with salt and pepper and crumble over the feta cheese.
This deliciously summery salad, which is quite versatile - I used mint instead of parsely and scattered some chopped walnuts through - went marvelously with the lamb, in a sort of pseudo-Meditterranean way. For tonight's dinner I stirred the leftover, chopped lamb into the leftover salad, to which I added more feta and walnuts, plus the seeds of half a pomegranate, and served it with some grilled courgettes and wild rice. The lamb itself was tender and pink and pastorally delicious, and maybe even nicer second time round.... ..........................
It's not a bad time to be me lately: tomorrow a whole bunch of us are going to see The Arctic Monkeys, then on Thursday Tim and I fly up to Auckland for the Big Day Out festival on Friday (ie, omgaaaaaah NEIL YOUNG) and then the following Tuesday I am - have mercy - going to see Leonard Cohen. I finally caved and spent a rather frightening amount bidding online for a ticket to his sold out gig; I figured it was only money and a once in a lifetime experience, but don't even try to ask me how much I purchased it for because I'll nay tell ye.
Well, that wasn't so taxing, so hopefully I can keep up this food blogging lark with more regularity than I did over the last couple of weeks. I hope all your 2009s are getting off to a cracking start and I look forward to getting back into reading all the other fab blogs out there!
Edit: Actually, this is taxing. I've tried for the last fifteen minutes to split up the paragraphs in this last section but they persist in messily squishing themselves together! Aaargh! *shakes fist furiously at blogspot*