Flourless chocolate mousse cake

chocolate_mousse_cake

Ottolenghi’s chocolate mousse cake

How do you like your chocolate cake? Dense and fudgey? Moist and crumbly? Dark and bitter, or sweet and sinful?

I couldn’t pick a favourite. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I have a slight obsession with chocolate. And cake. While I have a couple of fall-back favourites up my sleeve (see Little Black Dress Chocolate Cake and Simple Chocolate Birthday Cake), I’m always on the lookout for new and delicious ways to indulge in my favourite ingredient. Which is why I just had to try this incredible flourless chocolate mousse cake. Taken from the Ottolenghi cookbook, it essentially promises two cakes in one; the bottom layer cooked longer for a firm, cakey texture, while the top layer remains lighter and more mousse-like. Continue reading

Dan Lepard’s homemade onion hot dog buns

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Beautiful buns

Recently Carniverous Boyfriend and I have become slightly addicted to Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food. For those of you without Sky, or of a less carniverous persuasion, this show sees self-styled food fanatic and inveterate eater Adam Richman travel round America’s ‘greatest pig-out spots’, meeting chefs and participating in local eating challenges along the way. It’s a button-busting, drool-inducing, sometimes sublime and always ridiculous programme, and while the food challenges would most likely leave you comatose, the places he visits at the beginning of each episode never fail to get the tastebuds turning. From slabs of steak and juicy crab claws to ooey-gooey cheese, slow-cooked BBQ cuts and crispy fried chicken, this is American excess at its very best.

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Millionaire’s shortbread with maldon sea salt

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Millionaire’s shortbread with flakes of sea salt

A couple of weeks ago one of our friends managed to shatter his leg jumping off a wall.

Ouch.

This weekend just gone we went up to visit, and I wanted to bake something suitably delicious to take his mind off things (this littleloaf isn’t really a bunch of grapes kind of girl). Sugar is a good remedy for trauma – hot sweet tea always seems to be offered up to people in shock – so maybe it was some kind of subconscious association which directed me to this restorative, tooth-itchingly sweet recipe. That, or the fact that the ‘short’ from which ”shortbread’ takes its name has been used to describe a ‘friable, brittle, crumbling texture’ since medieval times . . .

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Homemade croissants: buttery, flaky breakfast pastry

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Can you beat a homemade croissant?

‘It’s a labour of love’. ‘You’ll pile on the pounds’. ‘It’ll change the way you think about them forever’ . . . 

You might be forgiven for thinking such comments are in some way related to pregnancy and children. They’re not. Despite being an avid baker, at only just the wrong side of twenty-five, I’m not quite ready for that kind of bun in the oven. Nope, I’m talking croissants.

Search for ‘homemade croissant’ online and you’ll find thousands of recipes, often accompanied by a caveat. Yes they are wonderful, and yes you’ll love the end product, but getting there is a tricky, time-consuming process and everyone seems to have a horror story to share (back to that pregnancy comparison, I think there might be some mileage in this . . .)

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Crema catalana, turrón and a recipe for blondies

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Blondies with turron

Spain isn’t a country renowned for its desserts. On a recent trip to Barcelona, the majority of our sweet consumption was split between flaky treats from the local pastelerías at breakfast time and a requisite daily ice cream; justified as compulsory thermostat control on the sweltering beach or busy streets. Maybe the rest of the food and drink on offer is just too good; after wedges of tortilla, melting plates of jamón, rich, creamy croquetas and raisin scented sherry, dessert might well be the last thing on your mind.

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Small adventures in cooking with James Ramsden

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Homemade eggs benedict

James Ramsden is a high achiever. Trained at Ballymaloe cookery school in Ireland, he started blogging back in 2008 and has since carved himself a career as a respected food writer for The Guardian, The Times, Sainsbury’s magazine and more. Not content with writing for broadsheets, magazines and maintaining a successful blog, he also runs a popular supper club from his home in North London and has just published his first book.  All at the tender age of 24. That’s two years younger than me. By rights I should be green with envy.

Hot toasted muffins with salty butter

But I’m not. There’s something extremely likeable about James and his attitude to food. He wants cooking to be simple and he wants it to be enjoyable. He appreciates the fact that, for most people, eating isn’t necessarily an endless succession of dinner-party-standard meals – that in any given week we’ll fluctuate between feeding large groups of friends and throwing together a solitary supper. His attitude reminds me of a cross between a younger Jamie Oliver (minus the cheeky chappy vocab) and my own boyfriend (like James, Carniverous Boyfriend is a Yorkshire boy). Maybe it’s an age thing. Maybe it’s a boy thing. But I definitely feel like there’s a lot I can learn from his enthusiastic, experimental, laid-back approach to cooking. Food should be fun.

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Dreaming of Da Polpo: Incredible pizza & meatballs

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Anchovy, black olive & caper pizza

For the last week or so the blogosphere has been alight with talk of Da Polpo, the new venture in Russell Norman’s ever-expanding restaurant empire. The fourth to open in half as many years, it builds on the menus of Polpo and Polpetto, adding an expanded list of pizzette alongside incredible sounding variations on an italian classic, the meatball. Not surprisingly for the brainchild of one if the first restaurateurs to truly harness the power of social media, Da Polpo has been a highly trending topic on Twitter as bloggers race to get their bums on the seats and reviews on their sites.

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Pork & fennel meatballs

Having read a number of reviews over the last couple of days, I was left feeling three things. Number one? Hungry. Not surprising given the mouth-watering menu, great photos and gorgeous descriptions provided by some of my fellow bloggers (for some stomach-grumble inducing snaps take a look at reviews from Eatlikeagirl, Crumpeats, Londoneater or The Skinny Bib). Two? Jealous. I’m off to Barcelona next weekend and trying to save pennies for some serious tapas-fuelled budget-blowing, so trying new restaurants isn’t really on the agenda for the next few days. Three? Itching to get in the kitchen.

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Chocolate Beetroot Brownies

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Do you have a best ever brownie? Most people I know either have, or are looking for, the ultimate recipe. There’s a lot of debate as to what constitutes this holy grail of tea-time treats, with opinion generally split between the crumbly cakey camp and fans of a dense, more fudgey fix. I side with the latter – I like my brownies rich and dark with a gooey chocolate centre and slightly crispy crust.

When I was a child our go-to brownie recipe was a Jocelyn Dimbleby classic that ticked all the boxes. Copied onto a piece of paper long before the internet became a household staple, it lived (and probably still does) folded, dog-eared and smeared with sticky chocolate fingerprints inside an ancient Mrs Beeton cookery book on our kitchen bookshelf. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve made that recipe, and it’s been passed on to people we know around the country, feeding family, friends and multiple generations (ok, that sounds a bit epic but it is a bloody good recipe…)

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Espresso cupcakes with fudgy Nutella frosting

espresso_nutella_cupcakesIt’s my friend’s birthday this week and I wanted to make something suitably delicious and gifty to mark the occasion. Celebrations would be taking place in a bar after work which slightly dictated the format my baking could take; I wanted something fairly dainty so people could stand and chat without having to manage too many stray sticky crumbs, but also something with strong enough flavours to still pack a punch several vodkas into the evening.

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Seeded spelt – two little loaves

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A pair of little loaves

This weekend I realized I’ve only actually posted two bread recipes (malty wholemeal and focaccia) since I first started this blog. I generally bake a batch of bread every Sunday to last throughout the week, and have been doing so since my last bread post, but as I tend to stick to very minor variations on a basic wholemeal loaf, I didn’t really think any further recipes worth posting. Poor excuse. And no two ways about it; I’ve been neglecting my duties as resident littleloaf.

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