Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Chaplain's Bake

When a rather ugly but delicious tasting celeriac has been staring back at you for over a week, it's time to get the thinking hat on. A savoury bake was the answer. This combines layers of roasted aubergine and a creamy central layer of celeriac, potato and gruyere. It's delicious served hot with roasted potato skins and for me a favourite at this time of year, sprouting broccoli. Cook the broccoli as you like but I have to say I am increasingly fond of charring brassicas, in this case I cooked the broccoli in a shallow lidded pan with only a tablespoon of water, a little salt and a knob of butter, cook on a medium heat until the broccoli boils dry then be brave and allow the remaining butter to fry the contents until the bottom parts of the broccoli have taken on some colour, delicious!

For this recipe you will need; (feeds six)

2 large aubergine, weighing in total 700g
200g of celeriac
200g of potatoes
200g of double cream
180g of gruyere cheese, grated
1 tablespoon of tomato oil (optional) click here for the recipe
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of bouillon powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
100ml of water
2 teaspoons of salt

Begin by slicing the aubergine and placing in a bowl, put in the salt and give them a good toss to ensure the salt touches each slice. This will draw out some of the liquid, not as is commonly believed to draw out bitterness but to make dressing in a little oil, easier when it comes to cooking. Set to one side.
Peel the celeriac and cut up as though you were preparing potatoes for chips, do the same with the potatoes, I don't bother peeling potatoes but do peel them if you feel compelled to do so. Cook the celeriac and potatoes in only 100ml of water, bouillon powder and pepper until tender, on a low heat in a lidded pan. Keep an eye on them, there should be no water left when the vegetables are cooked, if there is a little, simply continue cooking with the lid off. When tender, take off the heat and stir in the cream and finally, the cheese, keeping 50g back to sprinkle on top prior to cooking. Set to one side.
Rinse off any liquid and salt from the aubergine slices and toss in the olive oil. On a medium heat, cook the slices in a dry pan, the oily coating should be sufficient to prevent sticking. Continue until each slice is nicely browned.
Assembling the dish.
In an ovenproof dish, a lasagna dish is perfect, begin with a layer of aubergine (half), brush with the tomato oil. Pile on all of the celeriac and potato mix and top with the remaining aubergine slices, brush with the tomato oil and sprinkle the last of the cheese on top. Bake in a moderate 180C oven for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbling and toasted.

This dish will work very well if you substitute parsnips for celeriac, in that case use only parsnips and double the weight to 400g.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

January Cake

Happy New Year to all my readers, including someone new in Cape Verde!
Christmas is now well and truly over and after all that rich food our thoughts turn to. . . . .
Cake! well I know mine do. I have been staring at comports still half full of seasonal goodies like dates, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, marron glacé, for over a week. The festivities this year didn't see them all eaten up. So when I thought of creating a new cake for January, using up a couple of these ingredients made sense. A food processor makes making this cake really easy, the result is a deliciously moist cake, gently scented with ginger, an ideal cake to enjoy with a pot of Russian caravan or indeed to serve a one of Bruce's Brunches in Balliol.

Cape Verde bring the count up to 144! Welcome!
Monaco makes it 145! Welcome!
Bolivia, welcome! No 146

For this cake you will need;
180g Self Raising flour
170g of light muscovado sugar
170g of unsalted butter
3 eggs
100g of crystallised ginger
100g of medjool dates
50ml of DiSaronno liqueur
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Heat the oven to 180C and line a 20cm by 8cm round cake tin.
Place the flour, baking powder, salt dates and ginger in a food processor and process until you have a fine crumb. Processing anything moist such as dates with the flour allows them to be finely ground whereas without the flour they would form a sticky lump. Add remaining ingredients and blend on a pulse setting until you have a smooth cake batter. Place the cake mix in the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely before taking out of the tin.

Grinding up dried apricots or pears works in exactly the same way. This cake keeps well in an airtight container, just as well if like me you're trying to lose the odd kilo you put on over Christmas.