Rhubarb Upside-Down Pudding

Rhubarb upside-down cake recipe

When a recipe’s first instruction is to pour 100ml golden syrup into the bottom of a cake tin my sweet-tooth’s knee-jerk reaction is “Do it! Make it! Do it! Make it!”. Naturally I did and it was delicious!! This is a recipe by Lucas Hollweg from the Waitrose magazine, February 2014. I often pull out his recipes from the seasonal section and finally a year a few months later I have made this pudding. It is really easy and only requires 20 minutes’ preparation and 35 minutes in the oven: perfect for a laid-back Sunday afternoon. I have altered the ingredients slightly from the original recipe as I didn’t quite have everything so instead of light brown sugar I used dark brown (my favourite!) and instead of ground ginger I used allspice.

What you need:

A cake tin at around 20cm diameter

100g unsalted butter (and a little more for greasing the cake tin)

125g golden syrup

450g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into pieces 1cm long

Zest of 1 orange

100g dark brown sugar

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 free-range eggs

50g ground almonds

50g self-raising flour

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C, 170C (fan).

2. Grease the cake tin with butter.

3. Pour 100g golden syrup into the cake tin and place the rhubarb pieces on top, packed tightly together.

4. Scatter half the orange zest over it.

5. Beat the butter, sugar, remaining syrup, remaining zest, ground allspice and cinnamon together.

6. Beat one egg in at a time with 25g of ground almonds.

7. Fold the flour in, then spoon the mixture onto the rhubarb pieces and smooth it so it is evenly spread.

8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. It is ready when a fork comes out of the batter clean.

9. Remove it from the oven and leave it to stand for 15 minutes. Carefully turn it onto a plate and eat it with cream, ice-cream or crème fraîche. It is also delicious and very moist on its own.

I think I may even have some for breakfast! (It is good to start the day with fruit.)

Rhubarb and orange zest for rhubarb upside-down cake recipe

The rhubarb and zest on a sticky bed of golden syrup

Rhubarb upside-down puddingrecipe

Devouring has started!

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Nature, food and walks on the Penwith Peninsula, Cornwall

Walking away from Kynaston Cove

A view along the walk from Kynance Cove to Lizard Point

Lifeboat House

Approaching Lizard Point and its lifeboat house

Beautiful Cornish water

Beautiful clear water

Cornish geology

Pink and green in the rugged granite

Dry stone wall and Lizard Lighthouse

The lighthouse at Lizard Point in the distance

Penwith Peninsula

Looking down towards Kynance Cove

Venton Vean, Penzance

Venton Vean – a fantastic b&b in Penzance

Lush garden at Venton Vean

The view from our bedroom in Venton Vean

Georgian Penzance

Palm trees in front of Georgian terraces – exotic England!

We recently enjoyed a fantastic trip to Penzance for four days of fresh air, walks, good food (including scones and clotted cream, naturally!) and being able to look into the distance. It might sound silly but when you live in a dense city, when do you look into the distance? Perhaps if you work in a skyscraper you can, but generally you have so much cluttering your sightline that you don’t focus on anything in the distance. One of the great things about Cornwall is that you are surrounded by coast line and the blue of the vast Atlantic stretching to the horizon. The rugged rocks and soil of the coast are covered in grasses, flowers and succulents. Some of the beaches are even dark and grey. It feels exotic yet familiar. Having a scone on the most southerly point of Cornwall at Lizard Point was quaintly British yet beautifully exotic with the sun overhead and the deep blue of the ocean endlessly before us. This was, indeed, a good spot for looking into the distance!

We stayed at Venton Vean and could not have been more thrilled with our choice. Venton Vean means “Little Spring” in Cornish and we felt very warmly welcomed from the moment we stepped in. It is run by a couple who moved from London and restored this Victorian home into a beautiful b&b. We were greeted with an offer of homemade honey cake and tea and coffee and, needless to say, we wolfed it down. The honey cake was amazing! The house itself is decorated beautifully with light blue painted woodwork on the exterior doors and windows sparking up the varying shades of grey and beige stone. There are various artworks, prints, objects and curiosities dotted about the house with a casually stylish feel. There is a blanket box full of DVDs and tons of books to borrow if you want to relax. Our spotless bedroom was beautiful and bright with a large very comfortable floating bed and a view of the lush front garden. The bathroom had natural products (tested on humans, not animals) made locally.  Now to breakfast! Oh my goodness, it was seriously scrumptious. Every morning there was a spread of homemade jams and yoghurt, fresh bread from a local bakery and cereals. There was also a special menu of huevos rancheros, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, fluffy berry pancakes and grilled halloumi with wilted spinach. We ordered these and each was delicious. Sometimes there were also freshly baked scones in the breakfast room in the afternoon. The whole house felt so welcoming and everything from the food to the decoration was tip top. So much so, we wanted to move in! It’s always a good sign when you go somewhere and can imagine yourself living there!

Every day we went for long walks along the coast,  to St Ives and around Penzance and the Tremenheere Sculpture Garden. After our long days outside, literally a breath of fresh air from mainly sitting in the office/ studio during the week,  we longed for a satisfying meal. We ate so well. We had researched restaurants and pubs before our trip and made some bookings. It was hard to decide which to book as there are so many highly recommended restaurants in Cornwall. On our first night we had dinner at The Victoria Inn in Perranuthnoe. The chef trained with Raymond Blanc and Michael Caines and everything was delicious. The drinks menu had several local beers and ales so we had to try them. I’m afraid I didn’t take any photos of the food as I was too busy eating it. We also ate at The Alba along the waterfront in St Ives. A few photos of our dishes are below: mackerel three ways and scallops. Again, this was a great place. You are wonderfully spoiled for choice for good places to eat in Cornwall and the fresh fish is definitely a big pull. We had a super time and I would shoot back tomorrow.

Homemade jam at Venton Vean

A rainbow of homemade jam at Venton Vean. So so good.

Halloumi and wilted spinach

Grilled halloumi, tomatoes and wilted spinach

Fluffy pancakes

Fluffy berry pancakes for breakfast

 

Scallops in Cornwall

Scallops at The Alba

Mackerel Three Ways

Mackerel Three Ways at The Alba

Strawberry Jam Recipe and Seal Spotting in Norfolk

Strawberry Jam recipe

Strawberry Jam recipe

I recently went to Norfolk for a weekend escape from London. It was so refreshing! Long walks on the beach, a boat trip to spot seals at Blakeney Point and homemade strawberry jam made for a very good weekend indeed! We stayed in Brancaster which you can drive to in about 2 and a half hours from London. It’s a little village with its own bay and a very good pub, The Ship, which serves local seafood. I made jam the day before for the first time to take on the trip. The reason for finally making jam was that I had bought two punnets of strawberries at Borough Market and they were, sadly, tasteless!

I had always thought that jam making would be a difficult affair with thermometers, pectin, sieves and muslin but it wasn’t! All I did was halve the strawberries and boil them with sugar and water until the mixture was fizzing and almost cascading down the outside of the pan. It was a little looser than bought jarred jam but none the less delicious!

I had been given a book called ‘Let’s Preserve It’ by Beryl Wood (Square Peg) which is full of recipes for jams, jellies and chutneys. It was first published in 1970 and it is full of beautiful little illustrations of the ingredients. It is organised alphabetically by ingredient. The start of the book has several pages explaining the general rules of making jams, jellies and chutneys but the actual recipes have the bare bones of instructions. For example it didn’t say whether to leave the strawberries whole or to cut them. So, I decided to halve them which seemed to be an on the fence compromise! I thought that this would also make them more manageable in the jam if they didn’t reduce much.

What you need:

900g strawberries
600g sugar
A touch of water

Lemon juice (from one lemon) is one of the ingredients but I didn’t have any and the jam was yummy without but do add some if you feel like it. The type of sugar wasn’t specified so I used caster.

What you need to do:

1. Wash and hull the strawberries, then halve them.

2. Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed large pan with a splash of water.

3. Put the pan on the hob and turn the heat to medium. Let the sugar melt and form a syrup with the water.

4. Once the sugar has dissolved and you have a syrup, add the strawberry halves and simmer.

5. Keep simmering. The mixture may boil and fizz which is fine! It did alarm me a little though!

6. When the strawberries have reduced and it is starting to look like a jam scoop a little out on a teaspoon a put it on a plate. If it is quite runny it needs to be cooked more. If it is quite dense and sticky it should be ready. You can tell for sure if it is ready by seeing if the surface of the jam wrinkles as it cools.

7. When it is ready let it cool a bit then pour it into a jar or tupperware.

Enjoy with some delicious bread!

Wells-next-the-Sea

Wells-next-the-Sea

Seals at Blakeney Point

Seal spotting at Blakeney Point.

Seals at Blakeney Point, Norfolk

Seals enjoying the sun.

Cantering in the sea, Norfolk

Riding on the beach – how nice indeed!

Lightning struck tree, Wells

We found this twisted and torched tree in the wood next to the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea and wondered if it had been struck by lightning.

Norfolk Llamas

Llamas being taken for a walk!

Lets Preserve It

‘Let’s Preserve It’ by Beryl Wood full of jam, jelly and chutney recipes.

Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

      a recent trip to Berlin we were wandering around the trendy Mitte district and came across Princess Cheesecake. I could leave it at that; the name and the photos say it all!

We found it before we had had lunch so knew to save a lot of room as we would definitely be going back. It was simple and serene inside with a glass counter displaying the cheesecakes like jewellery. They all looked just as good as each other so which to get…? The passionfruit, the coconut, the Russian, the lemon? In the end we had the passionfruit, apple and Russian which has a crumbly texture. They were absolutely delicious, beautifully presented and showed the love and care that went into the recipe and making of each one. You can eat in and take a slice or a whole cheesecake away. There are so many types that there must be something to suit any taste. I loved the final touches on each cheesecake such as the chocolate petal shapes lightly placed at the end of each slice and the chocolate curls. The owner and pastry chef, Cornelia Suhr, has even written a book. Have a look at the website just to see the beautiful still life photograph, in 17th century Dutch style, of cheesecake ingredients amongst flowers, fruit and swathes of fabric and to hear Introduction and Allegro for Flute, Clarinet, Harp and String Quartet, 1905, by Maurice Ravel. It sets the scene for elegant decadence, with cheesecake!

You can find Princess Cheesecake at Tucholskystraße 37, D-10117 in the super cool and sehr fun Berlin!

Apple cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Chocolate cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Apple pie, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Lemon cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Passion fruit cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Russian cheesecake, Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Princess Cheesecake, Berlin

Quick Supper: Smoked Salmon, New Potatoes and Beetroot

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I love cooking but sometimes when I get home from work I just want to make something quickly and unwind – preferably with an episode of “Parks and Recreation” which has only just arrived here on the BBC and is so funny! So that’s where having something you can cook in under 30 minutes and simply cut things that are already edible comes in very handy. Cue new potatoes, a pack of smoked salmon and a pack of boiled beetroot.

I love the colours on this plate: orange, purple and the yellow of the ceramic!

This is a pretty healthy dish but then you can see in the photo below that I dolloped creme fraiche on it! Ha! But look how the white highlights the pink of the beetroot juice!

Takes 20 mins // serves 2

What you need:

400g new potatoes

250g cooked beetroot

200g smoked salmon (oak smoked if possible)

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

a few dollops of creme fraiche (optional)

What you need to do:

1. Wash and cut the new potatoes in half or into three if they are big ones.

2. Boil them until tender and you can stick a knife easily into them.

3. Whilst they are boiling cut the beetroot into bite sized pieces, cut the salmon into strips and place them together in a big bowl with the beautifully purple beetroot juice.

4. Drain the new potatoes and mix them amongst the beetroot and salmon in the bowl.

5. Drizzle a bit of olive oli on top with a touch of salt and pepper.

6. Serve and add a couple of dollops of creme fraiche if desired.

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Demuths Vegetarian Restaurant and Sally Lunn’s Kitchen, Bath

Truffled broccoli  with cauliflower pannacotta, pickled kohlrabi and tarragon dressing

I recently went to Bath for a little out of London refreshment and had the pleasure of eating at a very well recommended vegetarian restaurant: Demuths. It very much deserved its recommendation and I would return in a shot. Demuths is a vegetarian restaurant opened in 1987 by Rachel Demuth  with food that is mainly locally sourced, organic and fairtrade. It was hard to choose what to go for as everything was so tempting but we knew that whatever we opted for would be delicious. It was and I especially liked the little surprises such as pickled yellow mustard seeds! Who knew that the little seeds could be so moorish and wonderful?! Rhubarb ketchup with the polenta chips was beautifully smooth and sweet and and such a popping pink. See the photos for all the dishes.

Local leeks with hickory smoked potato, hazelnuts, apple and pickled yellow mustard

Polenta chips with rhubarb ketchup

Mike’s beetroots, cooked several ways, with smoked cheese croquettas and a citrus peel puree

Soft ricotta gnudi with cavolo nero in sage butter, thyme pesto and pickled onion squash

Orange posset with lightly stewed rhubarb

Mulled chocolate pot with orange and clove compote and candied pistachios

Next door to Demuths is one of the oldest houses in Bath with a very well preserved Georgian kitchen in the basement. This kitchen was the workplace of Sally Lunn, a French Huguenot who escaped France over 300 years ago and ended up in Bath where she gained employment with a baker and began baking a type of bread like a brioche which had a light and fluffy texture unknown to the Georgians. It was a hit and her buns became the talk of Georgian society. In the house you can visit Sally’s restored kitchen in the basement which had been covered for years and was discovered in the 30s. There is a cosy restaurant in the house which serves food “trencher style” which refers to the style of serving food on a bun or piece of bread when plates weren’t commonplace. So, we ate “trencher style” but on a plate – nouveau trencher style or trencher style with the convenience and luxury of a plate?! The piece of Sally Lunn bun which our food was served on was delicious and soaked up the juices wonderfully. The house itself has a history longer than Sally’s and in the basement you can see excavations showing the Roman and medieval foundations. Some excavations even revealed a hypocaust (the Roman under floor central heating system).

An interesting fact about the Georgians: they raised the street level in Bath so ground level floors in buildings all became basements.

Sally Lunn's kitchen

 

Sally Lunn’s kitchen

Sally Lunn's kitchen, Bath

Stalagmites and stalactites seen from Sally Lunn’s kitchen

Steaming Roman baths

Steaming water at the Roman Baths

Paradise House, Bath

Paradise House where we stayed. Beautiful rooms and great views.

View from Paradise House over Bath

Circus – a circular Georgian terrace with enormous very old trees in the centre. When we went to the Fashion Museum we saw a reproduction of a print showing Circus originally with a paved central area so this lawn and trees were planted later.

Lily Vanilli on Columbia Road, London

 

I recently read about Lily Vanilli and her morbid cakes such as cemetery cupcakes with gingerbread biscuit gravestones sticking out of the icing, squeamish  glossy and dripping heart shaped cakes (I’m talking about the muscle here!), zombie cupcakes and so on. You get the picture. The shock factor though, isn’t the only talking point on her cakes. She has a bakery on Columbia Road which is much more savoury in tone yet sweet. The bakery is full of delicious cakes, tarts and muffins and some seriously good “stuff on toast” – toasted sourdough with roasted veg and cheese melted on top. I had a wonderful lunch there today and loved the fun, slightly frivolous, approach to the bakery. It is yummy and endearing, just like the name. Lily has a couple of cookbooks out: A Zombie Ate My Cupcake and Sweet Tooth. You can find the bakery open on Sundays in The Courtyard on Columbia Road.