Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Classic Chocolate Cake with Rhubarb & Pimms.

This is a heavenly cake, the recipe of which I have taken from Nigella's book "Feast". The recipe is so simple and the result is simply stunning. I have added my touch to the cake,I made a rhubarb and Pimms puree, to add the sharp , sour contrast to the velvety richness of the chocolate.The decoration is simply optional, I used some jellied fruit and edible glitter.
For the rhubarb puree:
3 long stalks of rhubarb
50 ml of Pimms
50 gr of jam sugar
Wash and cut the rhubarb, place it in the small saucepan with sugar and Pimms.
Cook over the low heat, until the rhubarb is soft and the juice is pink.

Cool it down and puree with a blender.
Set aside for later.
For the cake we will need:
200 gr plain flour
200 gr caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
half a tsp bicarbonate soda
60 gr of good quality cocoa
175 gr unsalted butter, soft
2 eggs
150 ml soured cream
Make sure all ingredients are room temperature before you start.
Preheat the oven gas mark 4/180C.
Put all the ingredients in the big mixing bowl and stir well, with a wooden spoon or a spatula.
After all the ingredients are combined, beat it with a mixer, until smooth.

Divide the batter equally between two 20 cm cake tins, or silicon forms.Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the forms/tins for 10 minutes and then cool further on a wire rack.

When both cakes have cooled down , spread the rhubarb puree over each of them.
Set aside.

Next step: icing.
75 gr soft unsalted butter
175 gr dark chocolate
300 gr icing sugar (you may need a bit extra)
1 tbsp golden syrup
125 ml soured cream
Melt the chocolate and butter over the pot with boiling water,allow to cool.
Pour the melted chocolate into a big mixing bowl, add the golden syrup and soured cream.
Stir well.

 Sieve the icing sugar, to get rid of lumps, add to the mixture. Beat it together.
If the icing is too runny add more sugar, if too stiff add some water.
Place one of the cakes on a serving platter or a cake stand.
Cut out 4 wide strips of baking paper and place around the cake, push it a bit under the sponge.
Spread 1/3 of icing on one of the cakes and sandwich two cakes together.
Spread the rest of the icing over the top and the sides  of the cake.

 Decorate, if desired. Allow to set before carefully removing the baking paper from underneath(2-3 hours).


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Savoury Apple and Cheddar Cheese Scones.

I made those for our lunch today, to go with a carrot and roasted pepper soup. This recipe makes approximately 15 scones ,so we still have a few left. I will use them tomorrow morning, they will be served alongside sausages and eggs for breakfast.These scones go nicely with caramelized onion marmalade and ham, too.Very easy and quick to make. So if you have 30 minutes to spare, here is a recipe!
225 gr self-raising flour, plus some more for dusting
1 apple , peeled and diced
50 gr butter, slightly softened
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
100 gr of cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 tsp of grated nutmeg
125 ml of milk, and a bit more for glazing
Preheat your oven gas mark 7/220C.
Put all flower, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and the butter into a large mixing bowl. Rub in butter with the dry ingredients, using the tips of your fingers. The mix will look like crumbs.

Stir in apple and cheese.
Pour the milk in, mix well.Fold the dough over several times. Sprinkle some flour on the table, place the dough on the flour and pat into a round about 1" thick. Use a cookie cutter or a glass to cut out scones.
Repeat the process until all dough is used up.
Glaze the scones with a little milk and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool in the oven.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Russian Pies/ Pirozhki

This particular recipe has been long coming.It has been passed on from my grandmother to my mother and then to myself, and has a long history before that.It is a family recipe, we used to get together with our grandmother and she would do the mixing by hand and we would pass the ingredients to her. After the dough was tripled in its size (some 3 hours later), we would get busy making the pies and sweet rolls. Every family will have their own interpretation of pie making, in essence, this is a kind of a bread dough, so I would recommend to have plenty of time and patience. When I was little , I remember the joy of playing with the dough and then watching my creations (not very attractive) bake. The recipe is enough to feed the family of 10, so please feel free to half or even quarter it! This was the first time I used Kitchen Aid making this recipe, and it is a totally different experience, made my life much easier! However , if you would like to be authentic, use your hands, it will take a bit longer , but you could count it as a workout!
We will need:
1 kg of plain flour and about 200 gr more for dusting
yeast (prepare according to the instructions on the packet)
250 gr unsalted butter, melted
½ ltr of milk, warm
3 eggs
3 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp of salt

·       Whisk the eggs with sugar and salt

·       Add the 1/3 of the flour, yeast and milk, mix together

·       Add 1/3 of the flour and the butter, carry on mixing

·   Slowly add the remaining flour , the dough should get smooth and elastic .

·       Cover with warm wet kitchen towel and leave to raise for 3 hrs.

·       Knead the dough by hand or use a dough attachment on your mixer.
Get creative, make pastries or small rolls with different fillings.
This time I used a very traditional Russian filling Cabbage and Eggs, you might also try: Potato and Mushrooms, Chicken and Mushrooms, Various Jams, Apples and Raisins,Chocolate Spread.
For the filling we will need:
a small green cabbage
3 hard boiled eggs
1 onion 
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
2 bay leaves
a splash of olive oil
Chop all the ingredients, add them to the pan and slow cook, until the cabbage is soft. Season to taste.

Next step: divide the dough into several pieces.
Make a long "sausage" with the dough and cut it into medium size slices.

Take each piece of dough one by one , flatten it , put a bit of the filling in the middle, close and shape into a small bread bun.

When the pies are ready , allow them to stand at the room temperature for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven gas mark 4/180 C, glaze the pies with some milk and bake in the oven for 30 minutes , or until golden.

Melt a little butter and glaze the pies as soon as they are out of the oven.


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Thai Green Curry

This is a basic recipe of a Thai Green Curry. Add the chicken if you wish, but I recommend to keep it veggie, the flavours are simply amazing as they are. I hosted my first cooking lesson (yes I am now available for hire , please contact on and one of my kind friends had to put up with my bossy ways! On the other hand I quiete enjoyed having her wonderful company around, helping me and asking questions and general chatting! We made this curry, and it was super delicious! The recipe is for 6 adults, we had to put some curry paste aside (it will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks).
For the curry paste:
Green Chillies: 4-6 (deseeded)
Shallots: 2
Ginger: 2" piece (chopped)
Garlic: 2 cloves
Fresh Coriander: a small bunch
Lemongrass: 2 ,chopped
Lime: 2 zest and juice
Coriander Ground: 1tbsp
Cumin: 1 tbsp
Black Peppercorns: 1 tbsp (crushed)
Thai Fish Sauce: 2 tbsp
Olive Oil : 3 tbsp
Place all the ingredients in the blender and whiz it well! The curry paste is ready!

For the curry we will need:
3 tins of light coconut milk
1 aubergine/eggplant(chopped)
2 courgettes(chopped)
10 baby potatoes, halved
300 gr green beans , halved
a splash of olive oil 
a pinch of salt
fresh spring onion and coriander to garnish
Heat up the olive oil in the pan, put the curry paste and warm it up. When the flavours have been released (i.e. after heating it up for a few minutes) add the coconut milk.

Bring it to the boil, turn the heat down, add the vegetables. 

If you are making it for dinner, cook for a further 20 min. on low heat. My advice is to make this in the morning, bring the curry to the boil point, switch off. Allow to stand all day and infuse, heat up for 30 min., in the evening.Serve with plenty of rice.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Spinach Roll with Feta and Pine Nuts.

Happy New Year to everyone!
I hope that this year is going to be the best for your families , may all your wishes come true and everything you do will be successful! In Russia, the traditional holiday season is still going , it finishes on the 14 of December with the "Old Style New Year". I couldn't even dream of starting to explain that one!
I'm sure that by now you all are sick and tired of the Holiday Season food extravaganza.
So , here, in my kitchen, I try to come up with some vegetarian main dishes recipes , which are delicious, filling (it is still cold out there), but not too heavy on your tummy.
Even if you are a carnivore, like my husband, you are going to like this. Use the best puff pastry you can buy, unless you prefer making your own.This roll is great hot or cold, I would recommend to serve it with some green salad. The recipe makes enough for 6 adults.If there are less of you, still make the full recipe, keep it for the lunch next day, still delicious!
300 gr of fresh spinach
200 gr feta cheese
50 gr pine nuts, toasted
a small pinch of salt
pepper to taste
nutmeg to taste (I love loads of it)
approximately 300 gr good quality puff pastry sheet

Preheat the oven gas mark6/200C.
Boil the kettle, and pour the boiling water over the spinach, this will cook it. Squeeze the excess water out.
Line the baking tray with some baking paper, lay the pastry sheet on it. 
Put the spinach on it, crumble the feta cheese and sprinkle the pine nuts. Season with salt,pepper and nutmeg.
Gently roll it up.

Brush the top with some milk and make a few incisions with a knife.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until all puffed up and golden. Allow to cool in the oven for a few minutes.

Now slice and serve! Easy and tasty!