Honey, Ginger, Sultana and Orange Welcome Home Cake

Big Man has been in Spain for a couple of weeks so the day before he returned I cooked some dishes he would enjoy to welcome him home. This included a cake, as a special treat, and it was perfect for sitting around the next day (which was cold and snowy) with some good strong coffee while we had a good old catch up.

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Where there’s cake, there’s usually a dog…

Regular readers of the blog will know that I don’t make many cakes, and when I do I mostly go down the “all in one” route and tend to use olive oil rather than butter. Not for health reasons, but because when I first started living in Spain it was more difficult for me to get hold of good quality butter (and getting it home before it melted in the summer was an adventure in itself). As we produce our own wonderful olive oil each year, it made sense to substitute this for the butter and I soon found that it produced light and delicious cakes…so I simply kept on using it.

This is more of a tea loaf than a sponge cake and would be delicious spread with butter (the best of both worlds! ) although it’s delicious as it is. I baked this in a 23cm x 13cm loaf tin and it cuts into about 12 slices.

Ingredients

  • 100g of sultanas soaked in your favourite tea (I used a ginger tea but Earl Grey would also be fantastic) then drained and cooled
  • 100g chopped candied peel
  • Approx 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 175g self raising flour mixed with ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g of runny honey

Preheat the oven to 185° fan oven or 195° regular oven and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Beat the oil and honey together then add the eggs one by one. Mix in the drained sultanas,  candied peel and fresh ginger then mix in the flour and salt. This cake mix is as forgiving as  most of my others, so you don’t need to fold things together or be particularly gentle.

Pour the mix into the prepared loaf tin and bake for approx 45 minutes. Check if it’s done by inserting a skewer and if it comes out clean, you’re done. If it needs a few minutes longer and is beginning to brown, cover with some aluminium foil and give it another five minutes before checking again.

Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling completely on a rack. Will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container.

If you enjoy citrus flavours, take a look at this Sticky Citrus and Marmalade cake.

Sticky Citrus and Marmalade Tray Bake (4)
Going, going….nearly gone!

 

 

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Sticky Citrus and Marmalade Tray Bake

My mum had a bit of a marmalade making session last week and gave us several jars of her delicious marmalade to enjoy. Thanks Mamma! Putting the marmalade in the cupboard, I came across a jar of my own marmalade from last year which I decided to use up quickly so that I could get onto enjoying the fresh batch more quickly. I decided to make a quick cake and at the same time try out a new baking tin I had just bought – well…why not?!

Going, going....nearly gone!
Going, going….nearly gone!

A BBC Good Food recipe caught my eye, I substituted a mild olive oil for the butter which (I think) makes this cake suitable for vegans as it contains no egg. The vinegar in the recipe sounds odd, but don’t leave it out as it helps the cake to rise and it won’t taste of vinegar, I promise!

Ingredients (to fit a baking tray approx 28 x 23 cm)

  • 200g self raising four
  • ½ teaspoon each of ground ginger and cinnamon (original recipe uses 1 teaspoon of mixed spice which I didn’t have)
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange and ½ lemon
  • 100g mixed dried fruits
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100g of olive oil (original recipe calls for 140g butter which is then melted), weigh the oil as you add it to the mix
  • 5 tablespoons of marmalade
  • 125ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

Heat the oven to 160c/140c (fan)/gas 3 and line your baking tray. The original recipe uses a 900g/2lb loaf tin and cooks it for 60 minutes.

Place the flour, spices, sugar, zests, dried fruits and a pinch of salt into a bowl and mix. Put the oil (or butter) into a saucepan with 2 tbsp of the marmalade and melt. Mix well, add the milk and then pour over the dry ingredients. Add the vinegar and mix well.

Pour the mixture into your prepared baking tin and bake for about 45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Sticky Citrus and Marmalade Tray Bake (3)

While the cake is baking heat the remaining marmalade with 2 tablespoons of water and the icing sugar. Pour this over the cake when it comes out of the oven then sprinkle it with brown sugar and leave to cool in the tin. You’ll end up with a delicious, citrusy, sticky cake which best pal Ria suggested would also be great served warm with custard. Now you’re talking….

Cranberry, Orange and Raisin Cake

Cranberries are not just for cranberry sauce and cranberry juice! And we all know they’re good for us, don’t we?! I love that sour taste of Cranberries, Big Man…less so. Oh dear. But he loves cake, so a perfect compromise is to make cake with cranberries in it. I do love a Win/Win cooking situation.

Cranberry & Orange Cake 001

This is a cake for people who are not very good with measuring ingredients as they can find the scales but not the old fashioned weights that go with it. It’s good for folk who have trouble finding the mixer or the electric whisk, who then accidentally turn the oven off for 5 minutes while baking a cake thinking they’ve turned the hob off, then open the oven door to see why the light in the oven seems to have stopped working. Yes, that was me, but this cake is like the hardiest Marine in the Cake Corps – nothing can defeat it, it WILL turn out fine no matter how badly you treat it. You can even half drop the tin as you’re turning the cake out – oh yes, I did that too – but it’s probably going to be prettier if you leave that bit out.

Ingredients for one large cake (serves about 12 – 14 slices)

  • 2 ¼ cups of self raising flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • The grated zest of one orange and the juice from the orange made up to 1/3 cup with water if there is not enough
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • ¾ cup of oil (I used a mix of vegetable oil and olive oil)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup raisins (or any other dried fruit you fancy)

Grease and flour a large baking tin. I used an 11” bundt tin, but a 9” square tin would also work well. Set the oven to 175 degrees C.

Mix together the sugar, orange juice, eggs, yogurt and oil. If you can find your electric whisk, go ahead. If not, use a hand whisk with a bit of fury until all the ingredients are well blended.

Not much left...
Not much left…

Add the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon, then stir in the fruit and zest. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake is pulling away from the sides of the tin, is browned on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

If you want to top it, mix 8 heaped teaspoons of sifted icing sugar with about 2-3 teaspoons of orange juice (add gradually) until you have a thick pouring paste, and drizzle over.

Make a pot of coffee, cut yourself a good slice of cake, put your feet up and relax…

For another olive oil cake recipe, take a look at my orange and raisin cake.

Orange and Chili Duck with Stir Fried Vegetables and Noodles

I keep seeing gorgeous duck recipes over at Mad Dog’s blog, and then Rosemary taunted me with this. Then Chgo John started talking about fish talking to him at the fishmonger’s and before I knew it I was having a good chat to a pair of duck legs in the local butcher’s shop. “Go on Chica”, they said “you know it’s been ages since you cooked duck, and now that you have a decent oven and a great extractor fan in your kitchen, there’s no need to fear us”. So of course, they came home with me. I carried them though, I didn’t make them walk.  Well, it was pouring with rain.

Citrus & Chili Duck (1)

I had a bowl full of oranges and some lovely little red chilies at home, so I veered off in a slightly Asian direction with this dish. It was simple to pull together and the flavours really complimented the duck. I served them with noodles which I stir fried (after boiling) with garlic, ginger, mushrooms and pak choi with a final splash of soy sauce, a spoonful of hoi sin sauce and a squeeze of orange juice. I think the noodles like this would also make a great soup with some chicken or vegetable broth.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

  • 2 duck legs and thighs
  • 2 small red chilies, finely chopped (deseeded if you prefer)
  • The grated zest of one orange
  • A crushed clove of garlic
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Rub all the ingredients into the duck legs and roast in a medium oven for about an hour until the skin is crispy and the juices in the thigh run clear. Serve with rice or noodles and sprinkle some chopped spring onion over.

That’s it. How easy was that?

Orange, Almond and Raisin Cookies

I´m not a very sweet toothed person, but as soon as I decide to try and eat sensibly for a while to shift a couple of kilos, I find myself craving things I wouldn´t normally eat. Like cookies.

I came across a lovely recipe over at IamSimplyTia which I thought we be a perfect, not so naughty treat.  Of course, as soon as I set about making the cookies, I needed to adapt as I was short of some of the ingredients.

Here´s my adapted version for a guilt free but flavour packed snack.

Ingredients (makes 18 large cookies)

  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup of natural yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon of almond essence
  • ¾ cup of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Put all of the above ingredients into a large bowl and beat until well blended.

Now add

  • ¾ cup of self raising flour
  • 1 ½ cups of oats
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ¼ cup of almond slices
  • the grated rind of half a large orange

Mix well with a wooden spoon and place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180ºC and line 2 baking trays with ovenproof or silicon paper.

Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture on the baking trays and bake for about 25 minutes until lightly browned on top.  Leave to cool for fruity, nutty, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookies.  Thanks for the inspiration Tia!

Becuase of the changes I made these are best eaten within 48 hours – but I don´t think that will be a problem, will it?!

Up the Mountain Bouillabaisse with Orange and Fennel

One of my very dearest friends, Donna came to stay in the summer, and she´s a chick who enjoys cooking and eating, even though she´s a tiny little thing who looks like she eats like a sparrow! On her first night I wanted to prepare something special for us all and one of the first questions she asked as I picked her up at the airport was “What are we eating tonight?”. When I told her I was making a fish soup I could see her little face fall, she looked so disappointed. I don´t know what she was expecting, but when I served a similar version to this recipe, she brightened up  considerably and then gave me a good telling off for giving such a delicious meal such a dull name.

So that´s why it now has a “proper” name, and I have to agree, it does sound so much nicer than “Fish Soup”.  Mind you, a lot of things sound so much more exciting when you say them in French.

For two hungry people as a main course I used a mixture of mussels (500g), prawns (250g), clams (250g) and a large squid cleaned and chopped into bite sized chunks.

You´ll also need an orange, half a bulb of fennel (however I used wild fennel), a pinch of saffron stamens or turmeric, a cup of chopped tomato, four fat cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced, a medium onion peeled, halved and thinly sliced, the juice and zest of a medium orange, a bay leaf, a dried chili (optional), a glass of white wine (also optional but if you prefer to cook without it you may need a little extra liquid) and some olive oil for frying.

Of course, this is not an authentic version of the Provençal fish stew which is served with a rouille, but my adaptation.

Start by peeling the prawns and covering the shells with about 600 ml of water.  Then add the bay leaf and bringing to a boil. Turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes and then strain, reserving the stock.

Clean your mussels well and rinse the clams two or three times to remove any grit.

Now lightly fry the onion and garlic in some olive oil until soft and transparent, and add the finely sliced fennel and cook for a few minutes more.  Add the tomato and allow it to cook down for a few minutes. Now add the chili if using, season with a little salt and and few good grinds of fresh black pepper and the juice of the orange plus the grated orange zest, the fish stock and finally the wine.  Simmer for a further 5 minutes then begin to add the seafood and shellfish.  Start with the thickest first (in my case it was the squid) then after about 2 minutes when the squid had turned white I added the clams and mussels and covered with a lid.  When they had opened I added the peeled prawns which were quick to cook, just a minute or two.

Finally, remove from the heat, taste and adjust seasoning and serve garnished with fennel tops, some grated orange zest and with plenty of crusty bread for those lovely juices.

For another, slightly different version with vegetables and fideo, take a look at this recipe.

Citrus, Avocado and Radish Salad

We love our citrus fruit here in Andalucía.  Our lemon tree, after 3 years, now keeps us well provided in lemons all year round.  We have planted 3 orange trees too, so in a year or two, we´ll be enjoying our own oranges.

In the meantime, we rely on the kindness of friends and neighbours who keep us well supplied in oranges from about November to March, which is when Andalucía is lit up in the colour orange.  Fields of orange trees are a delight to the eye, and so too are the city streets lined with the trees of bitter oranges which are destined for England and its world famous Orange Marmalade.  But more of marmalade another day.

I was inspired by a stunning recipe from Sawsan over at Chef in Disguise for a beautiful orange and avocado salad. Grilled fish was on the menu for lunch, but sadly I have no idea what it is called in English.  As it´s a fairly oily fish, I thought that the tangy flavours of a citrus salad would complement the fish perfectly.  I was right!

Ingredients for 2 people

  • 1 large pink grapefruit and 1 large orange peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 ripe avocado peeled and cubed
  • Radish – our radishes here are HUGE so I only used one finely sliced, but use however much you like (or not)
  • Dressing:  any juices that run off the fruit as you peel them plus a teaspoon of lemon juice, the juice of an orange and twice the volume (of the citrus juices) of olive oil, a pinch of sugar if your orange is sour, half a teaspoon of mustard powder, a grind of pepper and a pinch of salt.

Mix up the salad ingredients gently or layer onto a plate.  Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and pour over the salad.  Any remaining dressing can be stored in the fridge for use another time.

So pretty, so tasty, and so good for you.