A Winter Warmer

I truly believe that Nigel Slater is a genius. His recipes not only inspire me to cook, but sometimes I am happy enough just to sit quietly and read his cookbooks as if reading a book of short stories. His love of cooking is infectious and usually oh so simple. This pudding is sheer heaven on a cold winter evening. The almost meringue like top conceals a warm lemony sauce hidden beneath – no need for custard here. It is comfort food at it’s best – as sooothing as sucking your thumb. And I should know.

Lemon Sponge Pudding in it’s own sauce.

100g butter
175g caster sugar
3 lemons
4 eggs
40g plain flour
400ml milk

Adapted from Nigel Slaters Appetite

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale. A processer takes the sting out of this. Grate the zest of the lemons and squeeze the juice. Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the creamed butter and sugar, followed by the flour and the milk. Keep the mixer on a low speed until you have the consistancy of light batter. Beat the egg whites until forming soft peaks and add to the batter gently. Don’t over mix. This creates the meringue like texture.Transfer into a heatproof bowl where the mixture reaches halfway up the sides. Stand the bowl in a roasting tin half-filled with hot water, then transfer it to the oven. Bake for an hour until the top is golden and spongy – cool for five minutes before serving.

In his book, Nigel uses 1 lemon and 2 oranges, but I prefer an all lemon pudding. What you choose to do, is entirely up to you.

Coconut Hot Chocolate

I had to do a double take when I saw Trish Deseine tweet the link to this recipe. So simple yet so inspired. It’s pure genius! The only thing that could possibly improve it, is perhaps a drop of coconut liquer.

Coconut Hot Chocolate – from Chow.com

Enough for two

4 fluid oz coconut milk
4 fluid oz  milk
5 oz good-quality milk chocolate, chopped (or use half milk and half dark for a more intense flavour)

Heat the milk and the coconut milk in a saucepan until warmed through – 3/4 minutes. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted.  Sit back and enjoy.

The peanut butter brownie

After months of daydreaming about starting my very own food blog, the time has finally comes And what happens? I freeze. Typical. Ideas are one thing, but putting them out there for scrutiny by the general blog- reading public is another. My secret weapon? Chocolate. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like chocolate and for the short time that I had a stall at a lunchtime food market, these babies went down a treat, as they do in my own home. I use Yotam Ottolenghis basic brownie recipe but forgo the jam for glazing and instead add some chocolate drops as a finishing touch. The down side is that they can be totally addictive – try them at your peril…..

200 g unsalted butter, plus melted butter for greasing
280 g plain flour
½ tsp salt
300 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 free-range eggs
220 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

I jar peanut butter (I found tesco own brand to work the best for this recipe)

Pre-heat oven to 170 celsius and line a 22cm sq baking tin with parchment. Over a pan of simmering water, melt together the chocolate and the butter until combined. Remove from heat and leave aside (do not allow to overheat). Stir together flour and salt, and in a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until just combined. Be careful not to incorporate any air into the mixture. Fold in the melted chocolate followed by the four and mix together gently. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and even the surface with a spatula. Dollop peanut butter on the surface at regular intervals and gently press into the brownie mix. Sprinkle the surface with chocolate drops and place in the preheated oven for 20 -25 minutes (undercooked is better that overcooked). Remove from the oven and place directly in to the fridge to set – this will ensure the lovely fudgyness we expect from a brownie. Once cooled, remove and cut as desired (makes approx 16 squares).