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    Cake, Recipes

    Recipe: Chocolate Curry Cake


    So Travelodge were like hey, we want you to help us tempt people to Birmingham for a cheeky visit by telling them about the food.  And as part of their #TravelodgeFoodies they came up with this list of five Birmingham delicacies.  Sure balti, or curry in general, is definitely a Birmingham delicacy, but I was pretty miffed that chocolate had been missed off the list – being we’re the home of Cadbury and all (which I guess is more of an ingredient than a dish, but still).

    The whole plan was to tell people about the food by showing them an amazing recipe of something classically Birmingham.  But one of my favourite things about Birmingham is the people – we’re a pretty unconventional bunch.  With massive celebrations for St Patrick’s Day, Eid, Jamaican Independence and enough festivals in winter that one year the council created the ill-fated Winterval (they didn’t cancel Christmas, calm down), it’s a city where anything goes – as long as you’re good humoured about it.  So rather than cook up something sensible like a balti or a chocolate brownie, I thought what the hell I’ll make something interesting (like the architecture in the city centre).

    And so I bring you chocolate curry cake.  I know, this sounds a bit weird…but I’ve tested it out on some friends (one of which I bumped into on Colmore Row and demanded he eat cake – sorry George).  Ginger and cinnamon are fairly typical flavours in cake and they come across in this recipe, but the extra curry spices give it an extra depth to the flavour.  I used a supermarket medium curry powder because faffing around with minimal amounts of cinnamon, garam masala and the like would’ve been a nightmare; medium had a good flavour without there being any heat (a bit like our current summer).  To be honest I was tempted to leave these without icing, but thought a slight citrus would really bring it all together, so added a drizzle of glacé icing made with lime juice, which definitely worked.  I thought about a buttercream icing (which is why they’re a bit flatter in the photo) but I think this would’ve overpowered the flavour.

    Recipe: Chocolate Curry Cake
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 6
    • 100g margarine or butter
    • 100g vanilla caster sugar
    • 1 medium egg
    • 50ml semi-skimmed milk
    • 80g self-raising flour
    • 20g cocoa powder
    • 0.5tsp medium curry powder
    • 1tsp icing sugar
    • 2 drops lime juice
    1. Pre-heat your oven for about 180c or whatever the equivalent is on your oven. Prepare your cupcake tin with liners.
    2. Cream in the margarine (or butter) and sugar.
    3. Mix the egg into the sugar and margarine mixture until it's combined fully.
    4. In a separate bowl add the flour, cocoa and curry powder and mix together.
    5. Sieve the flour mixture into the main bowl and fold in (mix in a sort of figure of eight formation).
    6. Pour the batter into the cupcake cases or directly into the tin, if you prefer.
    7. Cook for about 20minutes or until the tops are springy and you can insert a skewer into the cake and it come out clean. Then leave them to cool.
    8. Once the cakes are completely cooled create an icing with a teaspoon of icing sugar, a few drops of lime juice and a little water - add the water slowly. Drizzle over the cakes.

    And there you have it, two of Birmingham’s delicacies…curry and chocolate, combined into cake!  Thanks to Travelodge for inspiring this slightly random recipe…and Birmingham, of course.


    Disclosure: Travelodge provided me with vouchers to pay for the ingredients to make this…I think they were thinking of a sensible recipe, but that would be far too simple now wouldn’t it?


    Recipe: Microwaveable Jambalaya

    Microwave meals don’t have a very good reputation.  But when you’ve agreed to house-sit and they’ve turned down their lovely Aga, there’s a choice between ready meals, take out or learning to cook in a microwave.  Having sampled several supermarket ranges and a couple of take outs, it was time to take matters into my own hands.

    Taking inspiration from the red jambalaya, this might not be the most authentic Louisiana cuisine you’ll ever eat, but it’s simple to prepare, tasty and doesn’t require a whole lot of laborious hovering over the stove waiting to stir.  The recipe I found didn’t require chicken or prawns and my altered version before doesn’t include it either, partly because I wasn’t sure how to cook chicken in a microwave and partly because I didn’t want to add more ingredients if it all went wrong and ended up in the bin. Lets just say I was incorrectly pessimistic.

    A few notes on the ingredients first.  I used easy cook long-grain & wild rice for no other reason that the supermarket I was in this was the cheapest, but any easy cook rice will do.  I also used four smaller chorizo sausages from The Bath Pig (who are RSPCA Freedom Foods affiliated and use British pork)  chopped into 2cm pieces, but so long as there’s around 200g-ish then using a large one is fine too.  Tomatoes with garlic added would be another timesaver, but garlic puree and a standard can of chopped tomatoes worked just as well.  Seasoning wise I used Schwartz cajun seasoning which saves a lot of time and is particularly handy if you’re not afforded with lots of spices to hand (I found that draw whilst washing up) – I like my jamba with some heat, but if you’re not keen then maybe add a little less spice.

    Microwaveable Jambalaya

    1 can of chopped tomatoes
    1 hefty squeeze of garlic puree or paste
    1 canful of (long-grain & wild) easy-cook rice
    1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
    200g-ish of chorizo, chopped into 2cm pieces
    198g can of sweetcorn
    2.5tsp Cajun seasoning


    1. In a large microwavable bowl, add the tomatoes, garlic puree, rep pepper, chorizo, sweetcorn and seasoning.  Using the empty can of tomatoes, fill it with rice and add to the bowl and then do the same with the water.  Give it all a good stir so it’s combined.
    2. Cover the bowl in cling film and piece with a knife.  Microwave everything for 12mins on 660W/medium or about 10mins on 750W.  Peel off the cling film and give everything a good stir.  Put back into the microwave for 5mins on 660W, take out and stir and then put back in for another 10mins.  By now the rice should be cooked, if not, give it a few more minutes.
    3. Take out of the microwave, give it a good stir and let some of the steam out.  Then serve.  Add a wedge of lime or a dollop of soured cream to serve if you like, I didn’t bother.



    Recipe: Roasted Chickpea and Vegetable Wraps

    I’m a big fan of this recipe for several reasons: it’s simple and easy to make; can be made with store-cupboard ingredients and whatever veg you have knocking around, and its origin.  Whilst looking for something my then-housemate and I would both eat and enjoy, I stumbled across Thug Kitchen – an expletive-ridden food blog which is mainly vegan, but doesn’t feel preachy.

    The original recipe is for Roasted Chickpea & Broccoli Burrito, and the first time I had it that’s what we did.  But this time round I decided to ‘pimp’ the recipe, and added more vegetables and doubled the spice mix.  It was already enough to make 6-8 healthy portions of burritos, but in an effort to get more veg into my diet I added mushrooms, aubergine and yellow courgette too – the latter of which was because a kind neighbour was giving them away for free.  The result is enough to eat as a decent lunch without the wraps…although I will warn you this is kinda spicy.  If that’s not your thing, maybe tone down the chilli powder or add a pinch of sugar.

    Roasted Chickpea and Vegetable Wraps

    2 cans of cooked chickpeas, drained
    1 large onion
    1 red pepper
    1 large broccoli
    1 small yellow courgette
    1 aubergine
    8 medium sized button mushrooms
    4 cloves of garlic
    1 lime
    Wraps and condiments to serve
    Spice mix:

    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 3 teaspoons chili powder
    • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

    You’ll also need a roasting tin – the sort of one you use for roast chicken is ideal


    1. Heat the oven to about 200c
    2. Chop the onion, pepper, courgette, aubergine and broccoli so it’s fairly small – you don’t want it to be too much bigger than the chickpeas
    3. In a bowl add all the ingredients for the spice mix and combine.
    4. Add the spice mix to the vegetables and give it a good stir, it should give them all a reddish coating.
    5. Put everything in the roasting tin, if they’re not already, and roast in the oven for 20minutes.
    6. Whilst the vegetables are roasting, chop the garlic into small pieces and quarter the mushrooms…I’ve said about 8 but use however many you feel is best.
    7. Take the vegetables out of the oven, add the garlic and mushrooms, give it a good stir and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
    8. Once everything is cooked, juice half a lime over the mixture for some extra zing.  The vegetables should still have some bite to them, but the broccoli might look a little burnt.


    Cake, Recipes

    Recipe: Blondies / White Chocolate Brownies

    I love this recipe, although I’m never really sure what to call them; white chocolate brownies sounds a bit silly, but blondies seem to require explanation.  Either way if you’re a fan of white chocolate these are delicious.  Below is the basic recipe for the blondies, but feel free to experiment; I’ve made this recipe adding 100g of cranberries or with a delicious Spanish liqueur, Licor 43.


    300g quality white chocolate, chopped

    200g butter

    3 medium eggs

    150g caster sugar

    ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

    200g plain flour, sifted


    1. Heat the oven to 180°C or equivalent.  Line a baking tin (18x28cm size is recommended) with greaseproof paper – trust me, this is a lot less messy than greasing a tin and trying to get the baked goods out later.
    2. Boil some water and then allow it to simmer.  In a bowl over the pan of simmering water, melt butter with 150g of the chocolate.  Once it’s all melted leave it to cool (trust me) and then give it a good, quick stir to combine it.
    3. In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until combined and the mixture looks pale.
    4. Beat in the melted white chocolate mixture, making sure everything comes together.
    5. Chop the remaining 150g into chunks (I tend to attack mine with a rolling pin) and sprinkle the chunks into the mixture.  If you’re adding fruit (cranberries work well), add this now.
    6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or  until the top is firm but the insiders are still a bit soft.
    7. Leave to cool and cut into squares.



    Blueberry balsamic dressing makes everything better

    I’ve been convinced I dislike salad.  I have my reasons and they’re usually a combination of soggy, bland lettuce leaves which make you bored of chewing before you get full.  But it’s summer and after feeling a bit under the weather I thought I needed to inject a lot more veg into my diet, so it was time to revisit the dreaded salad.

    My plan was for tuna mayo with a rainbow assortment of colourful veg.  If the saying we eat with our eyes is true, I didn’t want to subject myself to a plate of just green.  So I added orange pepper (diced), a good measure of sweetcorn, cucumber (because even though it’s a salad staple, I love it), sun-dried tomatoes (which taste like pizza), and stripes of carrot to go with the insipid lettuce.  Already this was looking good.

    And then I remembered blueberries.

    I can’t remember where it was, but once I had blueberry vinaigrette on a side salad and though I’ve forgotten the place, the taste is one of those things I’ll remember for a while.  Sweet and zingy all pepped up with a nice light vinegar taste, it’s truly a wonderful dressing and why it doesn’t feature in more places I’ll never know.

    After reading a few recipes online I got bored of trying to convert cups and made up my own measures.  I’d give you the full recipe, but really I made this to taste and I’d recommend you do too.

    Blueberry balsamic dressing

    • Blueberries
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Olive oil
    • Juice from half a lemon
    • Sugar

    The main thing is use a food processor / blender, blitz the blueberries first and then add the rest of the ingredients sparingly until you get the taste you want.  The recipes I read online suggested honey in place of sugar, but I didn’t have any to hand and it’s just something to balance out the lemon and vinegar, rather than needing the honey taste.  I started with 30 blueberries, 3.5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, juice from half a lemon and a big pinch of sugar and went from there.  After adjusting the flavours I watered it down a little to make it easier to pour.

    The next day I took my salad to work and the tuna mayo stayed untouched in its container, where I ate my way through the rainbow.  And there’s plenty of ingredients left for tomorrow.


    Cake, Recipes

    Recipe: Gluten-free Chocolate and Cointreau Cake Recipe

    I recently(ish) managed to wander along to a Ladies Who Code event and being a woman who doesn’t really code but wants to learn I didn’t want to turn up empty handed.  So I made cake.  Jessica, the organiser, was on the lookout for gluten-free cakes for the event so I thought I’d have a go at making a flourless chocolate cake, mainly because I understand how much of a nightmare it is to have a food intolerance.

    I checked out a couple of recipes and in the end did what I always do, make up my own.  I find some chocolate cake a little cloying, particularly when very dark chocolate is used so I wanted to add another flavour.  I’m a big fan of adding alcohol to cake, and chocolate-orange is such a classic flavour that gluten-free Cointreau seemed like a perfect choice!


    Chocolate and Cointreau Cake

    150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids are ideal)

    150g butter or margarine

    6 eggs, separated

    250g caster sugar

    50ml Cointreau

    120g ground almonds

    4tsp cocoa powder


    1. Using a bowl of water which sits over a saucepan of boiling water, melt the butter and chocolate together.
    2. Whilst the butter and chocolate are melting, separate the eggs yolks from the whites – you’ll need both, but keep them apart.
    3. To the egg yolks add the Cointreau and sugar, and mix.  It’ll look a little lumpy at this point but it’ll be fine.  Add the ground almonds and cocoa together and then add in with the rest of the dry ingredients and mix together.
    4. Once the butter and chocolate have melted and combined together, add them to the yolk/sugar/almond mixture and beat well so everything is nice and combined.
    5. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they triple in volume and are nice and aerated – use an electric whisk.  This will prevent your cakes from getting too dense, and your arms from hurting too much.
    6. Carefully fold in the egg whites to the rest of the mixture, careful not to lose too much of the air you’ve just introduced.
    7. Add to your individual cake or muffins tray.  I made muffins with mine as they were for an event.  Fill up to about 3/4 of the tray which is more than usual, but they’ll puff up and then sink a little, so this ends up making a good size. The recipes roughly suggested this would make 12 but they made way more, so be prepared for that.
    8. Cook until you can poke them with a toothpick and it comes out clean.  About 40-45mins for a big cake or 15-20mins for muffins (although to be honest I use the toothpick test more than time).
    9. Once cooked either serve warm with berries and ice cream or leave to cool and enjoy at room temperature.

    Considering how little a fan of chocolate cake I am, these were really nice – and the people at the event seemed to think so too!  As with the perks of being a cook, I tried them when they were still warm and I think this recipe would be just as good as an warm dessert with fresh berries and cream, although they were still delicious as muffins.

    Definitely a recipe to go in the folder for a repeat!


    My first frittata


    Mixed pepper and courgette frittata

    There are about a million reasons why I’d never made a frittata until recently.  Mainly nerves; I’d always worry that it wasn’t cooking quickly enough and end up with some sort of scrambled egg mush.  Tasty but never very pretty.

    But on a mission to find something I could eat for breakfast that was healthy, had some of the all important 5-a-day and portable for when I wanted an extra 15 mins in bed, I thought it was about time to try again.

    Frittatas are somewhat similar to omelettes, which I love for breakfast – if someone else is making them.  But with more density and the filings incorporated the frittata seemed like a good bet for a weekday breakfast.

    Like any good blogger I read a few blogposts from other people and they were all pretty similar; use two eggs per portion and a mixed of whatever other ingredients you want, don’t panic and brown it under the oven.  Turns out it really is that simple.

    So here’s my mixed pepper and courgette frittata.

    • four eggs
    • two peppers – one green, one red
    • one courgette – slice and cut into half-moon shaped
    • from the store cupboard
      • salt and pepper
      • oil

    Using a small amount of oil cook the courgette and peppers until soft – you know how you like them.  Whilst they’re cooking crack the four eggs into a bowl (that’s big enough to add the vegetables into too), season with salt and pepper and combine so the yolk and white are mixed.  Once the veggies are cooked to your liking, add them to the bowl of egg, combine and then transfer back to the pan.  I left mine on a low heat until the whole thing looked a bit solid – although the top still looked like it needed some help so I stuck it under the grill to brown.  Alternatively you can bake the frittata.  Entirely up to you.

    Afterwards I left mine to cool, which meant I nearly lost it to my housemate for dinner, but it survived.  I cut it into quarters, put it in an airtight container in the fridge and then for the next two mornings had frittata for breakfast.  Simple and delicious!

    I’m planning on making some more, switching up the ingredients and possibly making thicker ones.  The great thing about them is they keep well and if you can never really be sure when or what you’re having for lunch or dinner, it’s a great way to make sure you get something healthy and tasty in first thing.