Tag Archives: donna hay

Worlds Best Chocolate Cake?

28 May

fabnestfriday



Worlds Best Chocolate Cake?

Donna Hay

Is

A

Temptress.

And very good she is at it too. As soon as I saw the picture of this cake (less than a week ago) I knew I had to make it. As we are about to enter June (which is birthday season in this house), I felt compelled to conduct a product test, just to see if this one was up to the job.

It soooo is.

Clearly, modesty is not one of Donna’s strong points, as the title above is her own (bar the question mark), but having tasted the cake, I think I can overlook the trumpet blowing on this occasion.

I made this with my friend Hadia, her daughter, and my 2 little munchkins.  The making of the cake batter is so easy, and a great one for the kids to join in with as no special equipment required. It was ready to go in the oven in less than ten minutes.

As this is Donna’s recipe, not mine, I have included a link to the  recipe, and video!

The cake is delicious. Dense and *dare I say it* moist, without being heavy. And the cream cheese in the frosting stops it being too sickly.

Frosting in the making

TIPS

The chocolate cake batter before cooking

  • The batter for the cake is very loose, so if you are using tins that have a loose bottom, I would really recommend pre-cut cake liners. I get mine from Lakeland.
  • I found the cake took almost 55 minutes to cook (I checked it every 5 minutes from 40 minutes) not the 40-45 that Donna recommends.
  • If it is a hot day, the frosting will melt causing the layers to slide around when you cut to serve.  Chilling in the fridge for a while should eliminate this problem, but it will taste better if served at room temperature and not fridge cold.
  • It is delicious if you heat it up for 20 seconds or so in the microwave


This was sooo good, after being woken at 4-30 this morning, I could not resist its siren call, so at 6am, I had to sneak downstairs and have a slice before breakfast!!

If like me, you are a complete chocoholic, you may want to make the frosting with melted dark chocolate instead (I shall work on that and get back to you), but on the whole, this is a fantastic, and easy cake, that looks impressive. Go on, treat yourself!

Too late!

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Poached Salmon and Soba Noodles with a Ginger Broth (Day 2 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

19 May

Pea and Mint Soup

LUNCH

Pea and Mint Soup

My plans for soup from the freezer had to be shelved when I discovered a bag of peas defrosted in the fridge. I have no idea if I put them there in a tired moment (which isn’t inconceivable given that I have found shower gel in the freezer and deodorant in the fridge in the past month!), or if my children helpfully made the transfer for me.

I have been using frozen peas to make a quick soup for many years. The preparation is minimal and the result is a fresh and light soup with a light green colour (as long as you do not overcook it – in which case you will be faced with a tasty but unattractive, muddy looking, olive-green coloured soup). Even though the result is bright green, my vegetable averse children love it.

INGREDIENTS LIST

Peas and shallots in the pan

  • 1 Dessert spoon Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots (from freezer)
  • 340g peas
  • 500ml Vegetable stock (I use Vegetable bouillon powder to make this . If you have yet to try it, do so now. You will never again have your head swayed by a stock cube)
  • 2 large serving spoons full of home-made mash (I had some left over from last night) or 2 large baking potatoes cooked (zap them in the microwave if you have none cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mint
METHOD
  1. Put pan on a low heat.

    Add some mash. Really!

  2. Add oil and shallots for a minute or two.
  3. Boil kettle and make stock
  4. Add peas to pan
  5. Add stock
  6. Add potatoes
  7. Cook for 5 minutes
  8. Add dried mint
  9. Blend in liquidiser
  10. TA DA! Lunch is ready!

DINNER

Poached Salmon and Soba Noodles with a Ginger Broth

Dinner is served

Today I sought inspiration from the queen of fast and fabulous, Donna Hay. I have had a packet of Soba Noodles lingering in the back of my cupboard for about a year. I think I bought them when we returned from our foodie heaven holiday to Australia and in a fit of cooking optimism, I bought a wide selection of food that I don’t usually cook with. There is still quite a bit of it in the cupboard.

I tapped in ‘Soba Noodles’ in to the search facility on Donnas site and Poached Salmon and Soba Noodles with a Ginger Broth was the result. Perfect, as I had some Salmon fillets in the freezer. I was lacking the fresh and pickled ginger. So I spent a princely 52p on a large chunk of ginger and decided we could do without the pickled variety. As this is Donnas recipe, not mine, I have recited the ingredients below, and have included a link back to her site for full recipe and instructions.

Uncooked Soba Noodles

  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
  • 45g ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 270g soba noodles
  • 2 x 200g salmon fillets, skin removed, sliced
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed and sliced
  • pickled ginger and coriander

This was simple to cook and used only one pan. The resulting dish was flavourful and light, and satisfying without feeling ‘heavy’.  I will be definite trying this out again especially once we have moved and are dishwasher-less. As I wasnt sure if the children would try the noodles, I gave them mash instead. A sure fire way to get them to try something is to make them think its special. Annabel flatly rejected her mash, and demanded some of mummy’s spaghetti!

DESSERT

Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream

Poached Pear with Vanilla Ice Cream

I am down to my last bar of chocolate, which has me a bit concerned given the current budgetary constraints. I did however notice that I still had 12 VERY HARD pears in the fruit bowl. I am skilfully adept at missing the moment of perfect ripeness when the juice surges out from the fruit as you take your first bite. Instead I am gifted at selecting the type of pear that changes overnight from rock hard to slightly shrivelled, woolly and tasteless!

To keep the children happy with the promise of dessert I decided to poach some of the pears. In theory this should be a thrifty dish. Save for the fact that almost every recipe that you come across for poached pears suggests that you use a bottle of wine, or some vanilla pods or both. All very well, but it tends to increase the cost of the dish by at least £5. So, for a thrifty midweek dessert, I find a light syrup, flavoured with some lemon and vanilla extract will leave you feeling both satisfied, and solvent. The only truly laborious part of this exercise was the peeling of the pears. If you have a good grips peeler, it will take all of 5 minutes. And after leaving the mixture to quietly simmer on the stove top for 45 minutes, infusing the air with the homely scent of pears and vanilla, you will have dessert for today, and if you are not too greedy, some for tomorrow too.

INGREDIENTS
  • 6 dessert pears, peeled
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 litre water
  • peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix water, sugar, lemon juice and peel and vanilla extract, in a medium-sized pan. Add pears. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes (if the pears are ripe, maybe 10 minutes less). If you are not sure if they are cooked try one with a knife. You are looking for texture that is firm, but will yield with a little pressure from a knife.

Serve warm, with a little of the juice, and some ice-cream. Or mascarpone. Or some dark chocolate, melted then drizzled over the pear….

Day 2 Summary

Total spend for the week so far £16.60. Remaining budget, £18.40. 5 days to go and counting.

Haddock with a herb and parmesan crust

12 May

This dish is one that satisfies both fussy children and demanding adults, and is a perfect way to engage the children in a little activity on a cold or rainy afternoon.

My inspiration for this recipe comes from Donna Hay, who sets the standard when it comes to the preparation of fresh, flavourful meals that are simple to prepare, and don’t leave you spending hours in the kitchen. And thanks to the fantastic offer at the fish counter at Sainsburys today, which allowed me to buy a very large (over 500g) haddock fillet for £2.58, this is a great choice if you are keeping an eye on the family food budget too.

First of all a few words about the buying of the fish. Sadly I don’t have a local fishmonger, as he has gone out of business. I have, however, been making use of the fish counter in the supermarket which has been the best alternative I can find at the moment.

Take a close look at the choices on offer. Often (as I did today) you can save yourself quite a bit of money just by choosing an alternative cut and asking the ‘fishmonger’ (?) to do the work for you. Today I had the following choice. Skinless haddock loin, boned, £14.99 a kilo. Haddock fillet £4.99 a kilo (it was on special). So, I chose the latter, and asked the friendly assistant to skin and pin-bone it for me, which he did without a second glance. Result, I saved £5 on the total spend, and bought myself strawberries and chocolate for dessert.

INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2 BIG PEOPLE AND 2 LITTLE PEOPLE)

All this fish for only £2.58!

500g approx haddock, or any firm white fish

200g fresh breadcrumbs

70g Parmesan, grated

10g chopped fresh parsley

1 or 2 dessert spoons chopped chives (to taste)

zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

2 dessert spoons plain flour, lightly seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp sunflower oil

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees (180 for a fan oven)

Herb and Parmesan breadcrumb mixture

Mix the breadcrumbs, herbs, lemon zest and parmesan together. Set aside half the mixture into a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer for another day.

With the remaining mixture, add the oil and mix so that the breadcrumbs are thoroughly coated.

Set up a conveyor belt type operation with 3 bowls in a row. The first with the

The conveyer belt

seasoned flour, the second with the egg and the last with the breadcrumbs.

Chop the fish into desired sizes. I used the thin end for the children’s chunks and fingers, and left two large fillets for me and Mr Mummyinahurry.

Fish fingers and fillets

Get the children to dip the pieces, first in the flour (dusting off any large clumps), then into the egg, then into the breadcrumb mixture, pushing the mixture gently onto the fillets. Follow the same process for the larger fillets.

Kids at work

Place on a baking tray. and cook for 15 minutes, turning once. (This cooking time holds good for the adult portions, in case you are cooking them separately)

Serve

The finished product

I often cook the childrens serving first, reserving the adult portions for a later evening meal. This a a great dish if your other half is working late, as you can leave theirs in the fridge, uncooked and covered in cling film ready for a late supper.

I tend to serve this with one of my favourtie sides, fresh spinach with garlic. A bit more salt and pepper to season the adult portions, some lemon wedges on the side (from the lemon I zested) and a dollop of good quality mayonnaise. Yum!

Feeding time for mummyinahurry

TIPS

The Breadcrumbs

I make these myself. Shop bought are generally overly dry and extortinately priced They are so quick and easy to make, and you can freeze them in small portions. If you are watching the pennies, then just pick up a fresh baked loaf at the supermarket when its reduced to clear, let it dry out a little for a day or two, then tear into chunks and blitz in the processor or liquidizer until you have breadcrumbs. If you dont have stale bread, cut the bread into thick slices and place in a low oven for about 15 minutes to dry it out.

Fresh spinach with garlic

This is sooo easy and sooo good. Rinse spinach. Heat frying pan and on a low heat soften 1 dessertspoon of chopped garlic (I used the ready chopped frozen variety). This will take a minute or two. Turn up heat, add spinach, and turn regularly for a minute or two, until it is wilted. Strain. Add a little butter, and salt and pepper. Serve.

All in all, the activity time of this with the children was about 10 minutes. It was a bit more mess than if I had done it alone, but they loved it, and they ate all their dinner too. For the adult meal, while the fish is cooking, lay the table, and pour a glass of wine. Relax for 10 minutes. Take fish out and leave to rest for 5 minute. Plates can go in oven to warm while you make the spinach. Thats it. And having made an extra serving of breadcrumbs ready for the freezer, you can make some more soon, in even less time.