Saturday, 5 January 2013

The beauty of food ... and a change in direction

I don't know about you but we seem to have a handful of things we cook regularly and especially in our London lives, those didn't alter much at all due to lack of time etc.  Now we live here and I have the time to experiment a lot more with new recipes, I am pleased to say our meals have become a lot more interesting!  I am not into complicated recipes, so it's always nice to find dishes that are tasty but easy to make.  Today, I baked an apricot & almond cake - yummy!  It could have done with slightly shorter in the oven but tasted lovely - we'll definitely repeat this one!

 And for our dinner I made spinach & ham stuffed pancakes topped with a Roquefort sauce...also very tasty if quite filling and probably not exactly New Year's diet-friendly ;-) It could easily be adjusted to make it vegetarian and I guess could be slimmed down by using less cheese.  We had it with a simple salad and it really didn't need anything else...apart from a lie-down afterwards :-)  Very tasty though and I dare say this will be added to our list of favourites!

Looking at my blog and the individual posts, I realise that I do mainly write about my favourite thing - FOOD!  This may warrant a change in blog name because although I do watch the pond and still very much value the little things, this has now somewhat morphed into a food blog.  Not a bad thing at all but I should really make a few changes, create a library of recipes and keep any posts relating to other subjects under a different heading.  I'll have to see how I can do this but watch this space!

Apricot & Almond Cake (makes 12 pieces)

a little oil for the pan

800g fresh apricots or 2 tins apricots in juice or syrup (drained)
100g butter
200 g flour (plus a little extra for dusting the pan)
2 level tsp baking powder
175 g sugar (75g for the base dough + 100g for the almond topping + a little extra to sprinkle on the cake prior to baking)
2 eggs (medium)
125g whipping cream
100g ground almonds
50g flaked almonds
icing sugar for dusting

Also needed: aluminium foil, springform pan 26cm diameter


  •     Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (fan oven) / 200 degrees (conventional oven) / gas mark 3
  •     Wash fresh apricots, remove stones and cut in half OR drain the tinned apricots
  •     Oil the baking tin (springform pan) and dust with flour
  •     In a large bowl, mix 200g flour with baking powder, 75g sugar, 1 egg and 100g butter
  •     Press the dough gently into the tin, covering the bottom completely; then prick all over with a fork
  •     Whip the cream to form soft peak, adding 100g sugar whilst whipping
  •     Stir 1 egg and the ground almonds into the cream/sugar mix and use this to spread evenly onto the dough
  •     Place the apricots (rounded side down) on top, forming a spiral, until the almond topping has been completely covered
  •     Sprinkle flaked almonds on top, followed by 1 tbsp sugar
  •     Bake for ca. 45 minutes in the middle of the oven - you may have to cover the cake with aluminum foil shortly before the baking time is up to avoid the almond flakes getting too dark
  •     Leave cake to cool on a wire rack before removing it from the pan and dusting it with icing sugar
Optional: Serve with a dollop of whipped cream


Spinach & Ham filled pancakes with Roquefort sauce (serves 4)


For the pancakes: 150 g flour (plain or wholemeal), 3 eggs, salt, 200ml milk, 50 - 100ml water

For the filling: 1 large bag of spinach leaves (ca. 1kg), 1 medium onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 - 2 tbsp oil, black pepper, nutmeg, 100g cooked ham (or leave the ham out for a vegetarian option)

For the sauce: 2 tbsp butter, 2 level tbsp flour, 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder (or 1/4 veg stock cube), 50 - 75g Roquefort (or other blue cheese), 250ml milk, some water

To top: 30g grated cheese (Gouda, cheddar,...)


  •  Mix the pancake ingredients together and leave the mixture to rest (20 minutes should do it)
  • Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (fan oven) /  200 degrees (conventional oven) / gas mark 3
  • For the filling: heat the oil in a pan, adding the onion and garlic until transparent; then add the washed spinach and cooked until wilted (you might have to do this in batches to be able to fit all the spinach into your pot - once wilted, it'll all fit :-)); season with salt, pepper, nutmeg
  • For the sauce: in a separate pan, make a white sauce by heating 2 tbsp butter, adding 2 tbsp of flour, then turning down the heat before adding 250ml milk and the vegetable stock cube.
  • After cooking the sauce on a low heat for approx. 5 minutes, crumble the Roquefort cheese into the sauce, melting it slowly.  Add more seasoning if necessary.
  • In a frying pan, heat some oil and fry the pancakes (the mix should make 6 pancakes)
  • Squeeze any excess water out of the spinach mix before filling the pancakes, adding a bit of ham before rolling the pancake up and placing them side by side in an ovenproof dish.  Repeat until all pancakes have been filled, then top with the Roquefort sauce and finishing off with a sprinkle of grated cheese.
  • Bake in the oven for ca. 20 minutes and serve with a simple leafy salad.

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