12 January 2009

start me up

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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
3 eggs

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.

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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..

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Salade d'Aubergine (I don't think I need to translate this?)
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1 aubergine
1 shallot
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...

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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*

13 comments:

  1. I am still dubious about the beetroot cake, although the finished article looks very nice. But that lamb and the salad - YUM!

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  2. Hi Laura, I have found that beetroot is similar to carrot for texture, either grated raw or cooked. So why not use it in a cake? Oh the endless possibilities. See you next weekend. love and hugs, Nanna

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  3. Happy new year Laura!
    I must admit I am frightened of choc/ beetroot cake, I must give in and get cooking. Love the cake pic too.

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  4. I'll admit that I wouldn't ordinarily think of making a cake with beet, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Beets are sweet, after all. And I'll bet this recipe is healthier than many chocolate cakes, if only because beets are so darn good for you!

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  5. Hi de hi- have just decamped and now am faced with the huuuuuge sorting, washing, re-packing scenario. We dined very well al fresco- even after you left. Did your Christmas beetroot survive the trip home and have you used them yet? They may have been too soft to grate for the cake. Am looking forward to trying it (but only if you cook it!).

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  6. The cake looks delicious!!

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  7. yay! welcome back to blogging. hope you have had a great new year's!! :D i know beetroot's great for you but i don't know why i never ever really eat it..even though i know it's yummy. BUT, now that you've put it in cake and with chocolate, i don't mind having it every day!!!! :D x

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  8. I can't get over my fear of putting beetroot in a cake - I try, but it doesn't work!!
    (yours looks so good)

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  9. Have just tasted a piece of beetroot chocolate cake which Mary made from your recipe. Unbelievable! Tried to find a hint of beetroot in the cake but couldn't - at all. It was lovely and moist and chocolatey. Who'd have thought it!

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  10. Laura, thanks for the idea about canned beetroot. I've been reluctant to do this recipe as I can't bear the thought of using up fresh beetroot in a cake (we love the stuff so much) and I haven't had a glut of the stuff from the garden. However, I do have a can in the cupboard so will be hotfooting it to the oven!

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  11. Foodycat: don't be! It actually works :)

    Nanna: I'd love to try using grated raw beetroot in a cake - I'm sure it would work just as well as carrot :)

    OmAp: Happy new year to you too!

    Fearless Kitchen: And I didn't even ice it, which means it's even healthier...right?

    Glossy: Thanks :)

    Diva: Yay thanks! Trust me, beetroot can be addictive in its own funny way...

    Anna: Thank you!

    Mum: that's so awesome! Glad it worked out for you :D

    JillyB: Let me know how it goes, hope it works out well. I never actually eat canned beetroot anyway so it's not a bad use for it!

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  12. All I can say is - how did you NOT eat all the batter?

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  13. Hey Laura, I'm Chris' flatmate...we made you beetroot cake...Delicious!

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