Plum and Almond cake with Bottlegreen Ginger and Lemongrass Syrup

I was kindly given some plums from a colleague’s garden this week.  Being one of my husband’s favourite fruits and deciding a few brownie points were in order, I decided to make a cake; just for him! (Well, ok, we’ll all eat it too, but it’s the though that counts, isn’t it?). I love plums and almonds together and having recently been sent a range of Bottle Green cordials to try, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to combine them both with a twist in the topping, so here’s what I made:

10 plums (or enough to arrange in the base of your tin)
Syrup:
10ml Bottle Green Ginger and Lemongrass cordial
10ml Water
10ml Muscovado sugar
Cake:
200g Butter
200g Muscovado sugar
4 Eggs
10ml Almond Extract
100g Plain Flour
10ml Baking Powder
100g Ground Almonds
1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
2. Line a 20cm/8″ spring form tin with baking parchment (or use a cake tin liner, as I’ve done).
3. Cut your plums in half and remove the stones.
4. Arrange in the bottom of your cake tin, cut side down.
 
5. In a small saucepan combine the Bottle Green Ginger and Lemongrass cordial, the water and the Muscovado sugar.
6. Bring to the boil and boil for 3-5 minutes until reduced in volume and syrup-like.
7. Pour evenly over the plums then set aside to cool while you make your cake batter.
8. In a large bowl, add the butter, Muscovado sugar, eggs, almond extract, vanilla paste, flour, baking powder and ground almonds.
9. Cream together thoroughly for a few minutes until light in texture.
10. Spoon the cake batter over the plums and level the top.
11. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
12. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
13. Invert the cake onto a plate and remove the parchment liner.
14. This cake can be served warm with custard, ice cream, clotted cream or cream. Alternatively allow to cool before serving.
The plums were a gift from a colleague’s garden.  I often buy Bottle Green cordials personally, but was sent a box of 3 bottles to try, including Elderflower, Strawberry and the Ginger & Lemongrass cordial that I used in this cake.  I was under no obligation to develop a recipe using the Bottle Green cordials sent to me.

Rhubarb, Apple & Ginger Crumble

My rhubarb is a little pathetic this year; yielding a measly 4 sticks, which is not really enough to make a crumble for a family of 4. Not to be deterred, I grabbed a couple of dessert apples from the fruit bowl and a jar of crystallised ginger from the cupboard and whipped up a pudding in less than an hour (and that included washing up!) I think that rhubarb and ginger are a perfect combination, and judging by the empty bowls all round, my family think so too.  Some of the ingredients I didn’t measure out personally, but to help you, I’ve given you the approximate quantities that I used for the fruit base.

4 sticks Rhubarb
2 dessert Apples
3 balls crystallised ginger
2tbs (rounded) Soft dark brown sugar
Crumble
200g Self raising flour
100g Unsalted butter
100g Soft dark brown sugar
2tsp Ground ginger

1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
2. Peel and slice the rhubarb into 1.5cm slices.
3. Dice the apples into 1cm cubes.
4. Chop the crystallised ginger quite finely.
5. Place the rhubarb, apples, ginger and sugar into a saucepan with 30ml cold water.
6. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes until the fruit has started to soften and release their juices.
7. In a food processor, blitz the flour, cold butter, sugar and ground ginger until it resembles breadcrumbs.
8. Pour the fruit into a heatproof dish and top with the crumble mix.
9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden.


Serve with cream, custard, clotted cream or ice cream. I love the fruity ‘jam’ that mixes with the edges of the crumble mix as it bubbles though.  Enjoy!

Curry paste – the homemade version

In 1989, just after we got married, I bought a book on Curries by Pat Chapman from Sainsbury’s.  Despite now owning several other curry recipe books, it’s still our ‘go to’ book for all things spicy!  We’ve been blending the spices into curry powder and cooking it out in to a curry paste ever since then.  It’s been tried and tested by many a guest to our house over the years, and as I used almost the last of my current batch making my chicken curry for dinner last night, I had to make some more today.  The benefit of making it today in the warm, dry weather, meant that I could cook it outdoors on my Cadac barbeque in the paella pan; sharing the amazing aroma with my neighbours and leaving my house smelling fragrant and not spicy for the next few days!

It’s incredibly simple to do, so here it is in it’s entirety.  All teaspoon measurements are ROUNDED.
 
12tsp Ground Coriander
6tsp Ground Cumin
5tsp Gram flour
5tsp Garlic powder
4tsp Fenugreek seeds
4tsp Paprika*
4tsp Turmeric
4tsp Garam Masala
1tsp Asafoetida
1tsp Ground Ginger
1tsp Chilli powder*
1tsp Mustard powder*
1tsp White ground Pepper
250ml Cider vinegar
250ml Vegetable oil

1. Measure all your ingredients into a large bowl.

2. Pour in your cider vinegar and enough cold water to make a paste that ‘dollops’ off the spoon without being too runny.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok (I used my paella pan on my Cadac).
 
4. Add the curry paste (be careful as it’ll spit initially due to the water content).
 
5. Cook for about 15 minutes until the water has evaporated.  You’ll know it’s cooked as when you leave it for a short while, the oil will rise to the surface of the paste.
6. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then decant into sterilised jars.
 
7. Heat a little more oil and pour over the top of the curry paste to prevent air getting to it.
 
8. Seal the jars and store in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks before using.
The recipe above is for a mild curry paste, however if you increase the quantities of Paprika, Chiili and Mustard you can increase the heat to your own preference. Similarly, if you don’t have all the ingredients listed above, it’s fine to leave one or two of the smaller quantities out.
This goes perfectly in my Chicken Curry Recipe.
 
The curry paste recipe is NOT originally my own, but it’s one we’ve been using for 25 years now. Thanks to Pat Chapman and to Sainsbury’s for a fabulous book – you should re-publish this!
 

Jerk Chicken with a Pineapple Salsa

Make this as hot or as mild as you like by adjusting the seasoning.  Enjoy with the hot pineapple salsa and a fresh, crisp salad.  Also great with some proper, crispy chips (sprinkled with sea salt) for an extra special treat!

For the Salsa
175g Fresh Pineapple (tinned and drained if you can’t get fresh)
4 Spring Onions, chopped
50g Red Pepper, chopped
5mm piece root Ginger, grated
15ml Cider vinegar
15ml Soft brown sugar
60ml Barbeque sauce
Jerk Chicken
4 Chicken breasts, boned and skinned
60ml Rapeseed oil
30ml Lemon juice
15ml Jamaican Jerk / Cajun seasoning (adjust to taste)

1. Preheat your grill to a medium/hot setting.
2. To make your salsa, into a saucepan place all of your ingredients and warm through over a gentle heat.
3. Make 2/3 incisions into the chicken breasts with a sharp knife and rub all over with 30ml of the oil.
4. Sprinkle over the Jamaican Jerk/Cajun seasoning.
5. Mix the remaining 30ml oil with the lemon juice to use as a baste for the chicken breasts.
6. Grill the chicken breasts, seasoning side up for 4-5 minutes.
7. Baste occasionally with the oil and lemon juice mixture.
8. Turn over the chicken and grill for 3-4 minutes on the other side.
9. Turn over the chicken breasts back over to the seasoning side up, baste with the remaining baste and turn up the grill to the highest setting.
10. Grill for 5 minutes until crisp and dark in colour.
11. Serve with some of the warm pineapple salsa.

For the chicken breasts, if you prefer, you can either
a) Fry strips of the seasoned chicken for 8-10 minutes, or
b) Baste, season and cook the whole chicken breasts for 15 minutes at 190°C