Chocolate-dipped strawberries!

I made these as a treat last week, as two of my friends had almost finished their exams and another had just got her results, so they are simultaneously well-done and nearly-done strawberries! They seem really luxurious and summer-y, and my friends said they looked very professional (though probably they were just being nice…they were pretty though!).

They’re super-easy: for 400g strawberries, you need about 100g of good dark chocolate (or I suppose you could use milk…but it’s just not as luxurious to me) and a couple of squares of white chocolate, about 25g. Just melt the dark chocolate, dip take a spoonful and roll the strawberry in it, then put on greaseproof paper to dry. When dry (about 20 minutes) melt the white chocolate and use the wrong end of a spoon to flick it over the strawberries. As you can tell I had good fun doing this, and covered most of the greaseproof paper as well as the strawberries…Nom nom nom!

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Fatless sponge semi-fail!

I’ve been meaning to try making a fatless sponge for a while, partly because we have no electric whisk but my friend does have a contraption referred to on the box as a hand blender. It gets called a juzzer in my house (where the j and the zz are both pronounced like the middle sound in ‘leisure’) – because that’s the sound it makes! – and a stomper in my friend’s – because one of the attachments makes it look like a bit like an elephant’s foot, I guess… Anyhow, as I’d almost finished my work for the term and some of my friends were just starting exams, I gave this type of sponge a go. It’s a bit of a faff as it involves separating and whisking the eggs, and (as the pictures demonstrate) it didn’t exactly work quite right: it barely rose! I’m not entirely sure why, but it could have been frankly anything from the dodgy uni oven, to me not folding the egg whites in delicately enough. It didn’t seem to matter too much – I filled it with loads of jam and whipped cream and we ate it all in one sitting! I might try again at home and see if I can make it work better… Anyhow I am putting the method I used (from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookert Course) here, so if anyone can spot where I went wrong please comment!

This is what the cakes looked like when they came out of the oven… Always such a disappointment when you open the door and find…well…

Ingredients:

3 eggs

75g (3oz) caster sugar (I only had granulated, which may have been the problem)

75g (3oz) plain flour, sifted

Half a teaspoon of baking powder

150ml double cream

3-4 tablespoons jam

 

– Heat the oven to 180c and grease two 7-inch cake tins with melted fat, with the bases lined with greaseproof paper.

– Separate the eggs – whites in one bowl, yolks in another – and add the sugar to the yolks.

– Whisk the yolks and sugar until it has thickened and gone pale, which takes about 5 minutes with an electric whisk.

– With a clean, dry whisk, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff but not too dry.

– Fold the egg whites into the yolks-and-sugar with a metal spoon, alternating with the flour and baking powder but starting and finishing with the egg whites.

– Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

– Turn out onto greaseproof paper sprinkled with a little caster sugar, then transfer to cooling racks.

– When cool, whip the cream until thick. Spread this onto one half of the cake and the jam onto the other, then sandwich them together.

This is the finished cake – as you can see, mostly whipped cream (mmm)!

Lentil and sweet potato dahl

A couple of weeks ago I realised I had sweet potatoes and lentils to use up, and my friend had some slightly wilting spinach, so when we found a recipe based around those three ingredients of course we had to make it – it’s originally from the BBC Good Food website here. It turned out really well, so we made it again a couple of days ago; although, as usual, we had to adapt based on the ingredients we had!

Ingredients (serves 2):

100g red lentils, washed

1 onion, finely chopped

1 can (400ml) chopped tomatoes

350-400ml vegetable stock (the original recipe is 450ml and 2 fresh tomatoes)

Spices – we used about a tablespoon of Schwartz korma spices and a teaspoon of cumin seeds, which is quite a deviation from the recipe (a teaspoon of garam masala and half a teaspoon of turmeric)!

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into smallish cubes (sides 1-1.5cm)

A couple of handfuls of spinach

2 naan breads

 

– Fry the onion in a little oil until soft.

– Add all the other ingredients except the sweet potato, spinach and naans.

– Bring to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes.

– Add the sweet potato and simmer for around 15 mins, until both the lentils and potato are cooked. Stir quite frequently otherwise the lentils will begin to stick! Preheat the oven to the temperature needed for the naans.

– Take the pan off the heat and add the spinach: just place it on top of the curry, replace the lid and leave it to wilt – this takes 2-3 minutes. Place the naans in the oven, as per the packet instructions (alternatively just toast them!).

– Serve the curry with the naans on the side.

Granny loaf!

I don’t do a great deal of baking at uni, because of lack of equipment, time, or both, but the other night I decided at about 10:30pm that I quite wanted to bake something… I had very few ingredients (no eggs, hardly any butter…) but looked in the trusty Be-Ro book and found something called ‘Granny loaf’. It’s probably one of the few recipes in that book that I have neither made nor eaten, and the ingredients list (as well as the name) was a bit odd: milk was the only fat, and hardly any sugar. Well, I thought it was worth a try, and it turned out to be very nice: somewhere between a giant rock bun and a scone…

Ingredients:

225g self-raising flour

25g sugar (the original recipe says brown sugar, but I only had white and it turned out OK!)

75g raisins

50g chopped walnuts (another ingredient I didn’t have, so I replaced them with extra raisins)

1 tablespoon golden syrup

150ml milk

 

– Preheat oven to 180c and grease a 6 inch round cake tin.

– Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

– Add the milk and syrup and beat for a couple of minutes until soft. I was using a wooden spoon and it didn’t seem to soften that much, so I added a little extra milk.

– Put the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 45 mins.

– Eat warm, with or without butter.