You’re never too old for a Transformers birthday cake! This is one I made for a friend’s 30th birthday and, well, he was like a little kid when he saw it! This is one of the reasons why I love making cakes so much; because they can make people so happy!
I really think they look quite elegant. I decided against chopping them up and opted for stuffing them. The recipe I used is adapted from a Mireille Guiliano recipe; she used hers as a side dish but we happily ate it for our main meal along with a simple side salad.
It is only in the last few years that himself has ever so tentatively began eating courgettes. When we first met he proclaimed outright that he did not like them, along with aubergine, celery, melon and raw onion. Now, I agree with him on the raw onion issue, I cannot abide that either. Aubergine, I could live without. Melon is so sweet and succulent and outright tasty that I find it hard to comprehend his distaste for it. Celery is an absolute no go area. But, he has almost decided that he likes courgettes now, once they’re seasoned properly and mixed with a few other ingredients he’s happy. Win, win!
So, back to the round courgettes. Cut your courgettes in half and scrape out the flesh and seeds leaving behind at least one cm of flesh attached to the skin. Season the insides with salt and pepper.
To make the stuffing the first thing you need to do is cook your rice (I always use a steamer), about 60g should do two courgettes. Then heat some olive oil and saute 1 clove of chopped garlic and half a large onions until soft. Add about 175g minced beef to this and gently brown in the pan. Remove, drain, and place in a mixing bowl.
Once it has cooled, add the rice, 2 tbsps of grated parmesan, an egg (I omitted this as I was out of eggs!), a half tin of chopped tomatoes and parsley (which I also left out as I can’t bare the taste of it). Mix to combine and season to taste. Gently fill your courgettes with the stuffing.
The original recipe calls for you to pour 115ml of tomato sauce into your baking dish and then place the courgettes on top of it – I left this part out as I didn’t want it too saucy, I wanted it the dish to be fairly solid. Sprinkle the courgettes with some more grated parmesan, bake in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes and enjoy!
No posts since March, not good, not good at all. Bad blogger! I have quite a lot of posts to catch up. Where to begin? I’m thinking it may be easier to start with the most recent and work my way back perhaps. And if we’re starting with the most recent let me begin by saying this – I have moved to France (with himself of course); and now have wonderful markets to shop in full of beautiful seasonal food.
Quite frankly, it’s pure bliss! The nearest market on Place de Lice takes place every Saturday morning and with over 300 hundred stalls, it is the second largest market in France; and only around the corner from us :) We can now buy seasonal fruit and veg every week and it’s ridiculous how much this excites me!
I mean, I never thought I’d say this, ever, but just look how fantastic these onions are; and the garlic, oh my, I’ve never tasted garlic as strong as this! I cooked with it just the other night and well, it was lucky we were both eating it!
I think perhaps the only downside of moving is that I’m back to cooking in a smaller kitchen and already I miss the space! I adored our last kitchen, it had a space for everything and an amazing oven. But, you have to work with what you’ve got and well, c’est la vie eh!
One of the first things I attempted to cook here were courgettes. I’ve come across quite a few recipes that have called for round courgettes, but I have never managed to find any. In fact, I had kind of come to the conclusion that they may not exist. Until now that is! So that is where I will start, a recipe for stuffed round courgettes.
Plenty. By Yotam Ottolenghi. I cannot recommend this book enough, it has quickly become one of my favourite cookbooks. I seem to have veered down the baking path of late so I really must return to some delicious dinners I’ve made from some new books recently.
The first recipe I chose to make from his book was Crunchy Papparadelle. It tasted so damn good, although the carnivore in me did appear when I announced that those mushrooms in it would be exceptional alongside a thick juicy steak! The marriage of the white wine, bay leaves and thyme with the mushrooms was exquisite.
I was unable to find papparadelle in the shops when I was making this so substituted it for tagliatelle. I also omitted the crushed garlic/lemon combination – I can’t abide the taste and texture of raw garlic!! Though I’ll eat it cooked any day. I did squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the meal before I served it.
I also couldn’t find sprouting broccoli in the shops, even though it was in season, but don’t let me go on a rant about the lack of seasonal vegetables in the shops because I just won’t stop. So, I used plain old regular broccoli.
The breadcrumbs also add a wonderful texture to the pasta which I would never have thought to add to the mix. It’s something I’ll definitely try with other pasta dishes.
You can find the recipe here.
Christenings are such lovely occasions for families; welcoming the newest member and getting everyone together to celebrate this. I decided to keep this cake nice and simple and fuss free.
I got to enjoy another beautiful Saturday morning as I rose early to complete the decorations – I wanted to have a steady to hand to write on it and I was too tired the night before to do this, I knew I would make a f*ck of it I even attempted it! I was pretty happy with how it looked, the writing wasn’t as even as I would have liked but it was in a straight line, hooray! I’ll just have to keep practising!
The cake was chocolate biscuit – I used milk chocolate, a mix of digestives and marietta and malteasers.
While I’m on the subject of christenings, I made these booties last night (please excuse the terrible photo, I’ll take a proper one later) as a possibility for my beautiful niece’s upcoming christening. I’m also going to try my hand at a tiered cake for it.
The order: lemon and vanilla flavoured cupcakes with lemon and vanilla tops + 6 vanilla flavoured baby girl faces. I decided on pink and lilac coloured butter cream and some delicate decorations on top – tiny flowers, sugar balls and little tiny feet.
They needed to be delivered at 9.30 Saturday morning so in order for them to be at their freshest I started baking them after work on Friday night. I started at about 7.30pm and powered through til 1am, so I was quite weary by the time my head hit the pillow. Weary but happy :)
I iced the little faces on Saturday morning, a lovely early start, which I actually don’t mind at all. There’s something quite peaceful and relaxing about being up that early when no one is around. It takes 15 mins per face which I think was slightly quicker than last time, hooray!
The cupcake recipe I use and adapt is from a brilliant book called The Primrose Bakery.
A batch and a half of their recipe made 18 cupcakes (size wise, these are larger than bun cases but smaller than muffin cases). 110g unsalted butter, softened
225g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self raising flour
125g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
- In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until well smooth.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing into the mixture between additions.
- Sift the flours into a separate, smaller, bowl.
- Measure out the milk in a jug and then add the vanilla to this.
- Add 1/3 of the flour to the large bowl. Beat well until combined.
- Add 1/3 of the milk and beat again.
- Add another 1/3 of the flour, then another 1/3 of the milk, then the last of the flour and then the last of the milk, beating well between additions.
- Spoon the mixture into the paper cases. Fill about 2/3 full.
- Bake for about 25 mins until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes.
- Then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Decorate as you choose.
The only thought in my head when driving back to the house was the messy kitchen that I’d left behind me. I stepped into the kitchen and had to look again. Spotless. It was absolutely spotless. Himself had it cleaned it when I was out. It’s always the little things, or in this case slightly big things. How lucky am I ;-)
P.S. Happy Valentines Day everyone!
I think I’m happy with this cake. Now I’m not a fan of chocolate biscuit cake so it was hard for me to judge how it tasted, I’ll have to wait for the verdict on that – it is to be served at a 50th birthday tonight. The black dye has just about washed off my fingers though I can’t say the same for the kitchen. It’s patiently waiting to be cleaned. The hardest part was the lettering and I have to thank himself for helping me out with that. I also need to invest in a proper mini scalpel for this exact purpose.
I really enjoyed the challenge of this cake and it was my first chocolate biscuit filling (chocolate, rich tea, digestives, malteasers, butter & golden syrup) – which I let set and then covered with ganache, let that set and then covered it with the black and white icing.