Posts Tagged With: famous chefs

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

A really decadent vegan chocolate cake!  This is one we find any excuse to make.  Its a lovely light and rich cake smothered in a very silky, chocolaty icing.  I think you’re going to love it!!

Nigella Lawson certainly knows her way around a cake and this recipe is based on one from her new book. Thanks Nigella! Jane found it somewhere and is such a fan of sweet things, knew it would be a wonder.  It’s one of those recipes that any non-vegan would be amazed to find out had no eggs or dairy in. The texture is wonderful and the icing is a knockout.  I don’t always tell people things are vegan anyway.  It’s just shining, delicious food.  ‘Nuff said!

THE UK COOKING CREW

People like Nigella, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein really kept me interested in cooking in my mid 20’s.  Mum normally had Rick and Nigella’s knocking around the house and Hugh was one of my favs. I remember him cooking things on open fires with antique looking pots dangling off his land rover and belting out ‘Baba O Riley’ by The Who with some proper chops. He seemed to be having a great time and it was infectious.  I loved the idea of grabbing a bunch of tomatoes from the green house and popping them straight into a pot.  That definitely sounded like the good life.

SIR JAMIE

A lady bought me Jamie’s first book in a hotel I used to work at, she knew I liked cooking and felt that a cheeky chap on a scooter would appeal.  I loved Jamie’s energy, skill and passion.  He didn’t go down stairs, he slid down bannister’s.  He tore stuff up, threw things, chopped things with his bare hands….  His carefree approach triggered something in me, I’d worked in a kitchen that was classically French, with big hats and all.  Simple, fresh and tasty food was where it was at and Jamie made it all accessible and fun.  That was one of the main things, it was FUN!  You didn’t have to take yourself or food seriously and this was surprisingly quite revolutionary.  Well done Sir Jamie (it can’t be long now lets face it with the sugar thing and all!!!)  Just one little question mate. When are you going fully vegan again????!  Jamie recently talked to Tim Shieff and came straight out and said that the future of food is plant-based.  Which was a really bold thing to say for a celeb chef but unfortunately, in his new book, there is not one vegan recipe.  Maybe the next one will be charged with plant power.  Fingers crossed.   I know that he loves vegan food and there are loads of vegan recipes over on Jamie’s site.

I used to try out loads of this crews recipes whenever I wasn’t working, which was quite a bit back then as I was a restaurant manager.  Cooking has always been a way for me to unwind and be creative.  I remember baking loads of Nigella cakes, there was one chocolate orange cake, oh! and who could forget the chocolate and guiness one.  I used to have it routinely for birthdays.  I just made some chocolate and stout cupcakes that I think you’ll like….coming soon.

Being a vegan chef now, I get the same feeling of inspiration that I did back in my early 20’s when I discovered the real joy of playing with pots and pans.  I can now check out these guy’s recipes and take them in a whole new direction.  The world of vegan cooking seems so vibrant and creative at the minute, I feel so lucky to be part of it.  It’s also great to see Nigella taking a step into the world of vegan baking.  There is an almost unlimited scope for brilliant baking without all that other, unnecessary stuff.  All you need is plants!!

THE MAIN EVENT

I make this Decadent Double Chocolate Cake recipe at least once a week in the kitchen and sometimes opt for a slightly less luxurious icing, a standard chocolate butter cream icing made using plant-based spread goes down very well (see below) and is a reasonable economy style option.  The team I work with in the retreat centre get quite excited when they see this on the menu, which cannot be a bad thing (as long as there’s leftovers that is!)

If you try this recipe out, please let us know.  We’ll be over the moon to hear that you’re in a happy chocolate place.

Recipe Notes

The batter is wet here, don’t fret.  Use a tight fitting tin and line it well.  This will mean that the batter doesn’t sneak through.

Please, please (please), please…..do not open the oven door, no matter how curious you get, when baking.  Leave it for 45 minutes before peaking.  This cake is a good sinker, the bicarb makes it shoot up, but until its almost baked, will quite happily sag back down making it a bit on the heavy side.

Ovens vary and this batter takes a long time to bake but thats what gives the lovely crust and gooey middle.  A winner of a cake combo!  It may need another 10 minutes.

Unless its a special occasion, we normally substitute the coconut oil in the cake and icing for vegan sunflower or olive spread.  This works well, but lacks the ultimate richness and shine that coco oil gives.  We’d recommend treating yourself to a nice big jar of coconut oil.  Early Christmas present.

You can see that I also make a version of the cake in a rectangular tin, whatever you’ve got really.  A rectangular cake is easier to portion, but in this instance, is much wider than a circular cake tin.  This means less time in the oven as the mix is thinner.  Go with your cake instincts!

The economy version with a more everyday icing

The economy version with a more everyday icing

Have some fun with this one!!!!!

Decadent Double Chocolate Cake

The Bits – 1 large cake (10-12 slices)

225g white flour

2 tbs chickpea flour

1½ teaspoons instant coffee powder

80g cocoa

300g soft light brown sugar

1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

375ml hot water

75g non-dairy spread or solid coconut oil

1½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Chocolate Icing

150g dark chocolate (finely chopped)

75g coconut oil

50g light brown sugar

60ml cold water

1½ tablespoons cocoa

Decoration (optional)

1 tbs edible rose petals or flowers

2 tbs chopped pistachios or almonds

1 tbs orange zest

Do It

Preheat oven 180oC and pop in a baking tray.

For the icing – Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.  Stirring and ensuring all is dissolve. Then turn off the heat and add the chocolate, stir until melted and the icing is glossy. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally.

Line the bottom of a 20cm round springform/ loose bottomed cake tin (you will need a leak proof one, this is a wet batter) with baking parchment.

Place the flour, bicarb, salt, instant coffee, chickpea flour and cocoa in a bowl and mix together.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, hot (not warm) water, non-dairy spread/ coconut oil and vinegar until all has melted and is combined. Stir gradually into the dry ingredients, adding a little liquid at a time, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Check after 45 minutes. When done, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out clean, apart from a few crumbs. This is a fudgey style cake and you don’t want to overdo it.

Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.

Give the icing a good stir and check it is nice and thick, yet runny enough to spread on the cake. Pour over the cake and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges.

A lovely light cake

A lovely light cake

Decorate the cake with scattering of pistachios, orange zest and edible flowers if you have them. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

This cake freezes well, without the icing. Wrap the fully cooled cake in a double layer of cling film and a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, unwrap and place on a serving plate at room temperature for 3-4 hours. 

Pop some flowers on your cake - you won't regret it

Pop some flowers on your cake – you won’t regret it

Foodie Fact

For loads of information and nutritional facts about chocolate, or more specifically, cacao, head over to our previous post.  We had an almighty chocolate tasting recently and sampled all the wonders of cacao.

 

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

B.H.K. Review – Allegra McEvedy ‘Bought, Borrowed and Stolen’

‘Some women collect shoes, Allegra collects knives.’

A cookbook full of ‘Recipes and Knives from a Travelling Chef’.  Allegra’s books are always full of good writing and inspiration, but ‘Bought, Borrowed and Stolen’ inspires with not only the food, but the tools that make it and the personal journey behind each dish.

From San Francisco to Burma, this book is a true labour of love.  Allegra has definitely put in the hard yards here.  It’s an insight into many revealing journeys over nearly a quarter of a century and most of the planet.  Ever seeking sharp edges, shiny people, proper food and other tasty mouthfuls.

I own a couple of Allegra’s books, but this is the best read.  It’s as much a memoir as a gang of recipes; the memoirs of a foodie in love with the world and its diverse cultures and traditions, always lead to culinary adventures, relating directly to the plate and the belly.

Allegra has been out and about, distilling years of travel and great eating into these pages.  There is a real sense of love and passion that comes through in the writing. Allegra seems to get to the heart of each country visited and as we know, the best way a people’s hearts……….are their bellies (or rib cages and I’m sure Allegra will have a knife to suit!!!!!).

Jane gifted me this wonderful cook/travel book for crimbo.  It graces our windowsill turquoise and when opened, explodes with even more vivid colours.  Allegra’s food is always vibrant and challenges the stuffy ‘elite’ of British cooking.  You may know who I mean?!  Unlike most famous chefs, Allegra actually has a great sense of humour!  You are allowed to laugh, enjoy and be natural whilst cooking.  Not fickle or false.  Allegra’s cooking comes from the heart, not an assembly line of egos.  Hoorah!

It’s not a veg cookbook, but there are many veggie options.  The meat dishes can always be played around with; an aubergine here, a pumpkin there and you’ve got worthy substitutes for a slab of beef (sort of).  Allegra’s enthusiasm and talent is prevalent on each page.  The travel writing paints magical pictures of markets, stalls and kitchens encountered along the way.  This is an insight into a real cooks (chefs?!) pilgrimage from working on the ‘line’ to being one of Britain’s best-loved and talented foodie people (chefs?!).

Allegra gave up cooking ‘posh food for posh people’ years ago and since then has commited her time to giving great, affordable food, to the masses; via Leon Restaurants and many other charitable projects.  Bagging an MBE along the way.  Allegra is regularly on TV, her most recent show was ‘Economy Gastronomy’ and to cap it all off (for now), has been made only one of three ‘patrons’ for the fair trade movement.  Allegra is quite a busy lady.

To add to the job list, it appears Allegra may need to build an extension to accommodate her knife drawer!  I am sure it resembles some kind of ancient armoury.  I wonder is she has a spear?  I have one good knife, but this book has wet my appetite for more.  Maybe one of those ‘Oaxacan Whackers’ to have a go at a particularly stubborn beetroot.  Bring on the carnage!

The knives all seem to embody the food culture of the place.  The are all fascinating in their own way, many exhibiting great craftsmanship, many purely barbaric.  My personal favourites are an elegant Japanese Unagi Saki, handle-less; deadly looking, like something a Ninja would carry in there sock.  The Grenadine Scrimshaw is a tasty looking pen knife, the Phoenician Phoenix is ostentatious and the Burmese Machete looks like something you’d reduce a tree to splinters with.

Difficult to say which is my favourite recipe.  There are many.  The Shepherd’s Salad went down well at a Veg. Hen Party I cooked for recently.  The Hens liked the pomegranate.  The Black Sticky Rice is a treat, the Sweet and Sour Aubergine, Rooibos Malve Pudding, the list goes on and on…………..these recipes will grace many a happy occasion in the Beach House.

I love the fact that Allegra has copied these recipes down in situ, in the moment.  Scribbled in one of her many food diaries and then copied down here, straight on the page.  There is no messing with the dishes or ‘dolling them up’, making the food technical and overly complex.  It’s straight from the stall to the page, showing Allegra’s integrity, in honouring foods simplicity and respecting the lineage and tradition of the many cultures cuisines.  How we eat says so much about who we are and the recipes here seem like a true reflection of that.

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Allegra in Malawi

Allegra wears her heart on her sleeve, which makes the book a personal quest for culinary insight, as opposed to a bunch of recipes re-hashed with a tenuous theme.  This is ‘real’ soul food with choppers!

I had the pleasure of working with Allegra for a short time with Leon Restaurants and I can imagine her in these far off places, being charming and impressing all with a passion for good food and good livin’.  Allegra is so kind and genuine, I’m sure this has opened many a doorway.   This book acts as a portal to the kitchens, history and characters of the world (and their cutlery drawers!).

Wherever you are in the world, there’s no better way of giving people joy than by handing them a plate of food made with love … and watching them love it too.”

Cheers Allegra!

Heres Allegra’s site:  http://www.allegramcevedy.com/Allegra/Biography.html

I also recommend the ‘Colour Cookbook’.  It’s cheap on Amazon.

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I feel that cookbooks are generally overpriced and not necessary.  I own three.  Just think about all that amazing produce you could buy with 30 quid!  I have notebooks full of recipes, all very personal and much-loved.  This suit me fine.

I prefer to get my inspiration, like Allegra, through travel and eating as opposed to second-hand in a sumptuously photographed hardbacks (lets face it, you can’t eat photographs, or books for that matter).  I like scribbled recipes and cooking from brilliant memories of taste and occasion.  However, if you are ever going to waste money on a cookbook.  This is the one! 

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A few of Allegras choppers

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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