Let the apples crumble.....

My favourite english dessert is the humble crumble, with whatever fruits that are in season.  Also if you have fruits that are a bit pass their best but still edible, a crumple is a good way to not waste them.

I used this classic recipe (http://www.traditionalenglishpuddings.co.uk/a2applecrumble.html), but I substitute 100g of the flour with porridge oats to give a more crunchy topping. I also grated half an inch of ginger into the apple mix to make it a more adult dessert.

I made this for a dinner party, but for dinner for 2 or 3 people, you can make them in individuals ramekins, just use half the amount of ingredients and chopped the apples into smaller pieces.

Cheat's Grand Chocolate Cake

I usually use fresh ingredients when I am baking, but sometimes if I want to make a cake quickly with the wow factors, they are a few products I can rely on. For a quick chocolate cake, you can't beat "Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil's Food Cake Mix" and "Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Chocolate Fudge Frosting" for a rich but not too sweet moist chocolate cake.  You can use it to make cupcakes, sandwich cakes, of a big cake like what I have done!

You have to add 3 eggs (preferably free range) and 70ml oil in to the mix, make sure the mix is beat into a smooth mixture (3 mins using a electric mixer, 5 mins by hand).  Bake in a lined round cake tin in an 180 oven for 40mins or until a skewer you put in comes out try with no cake mix on it.

Now comes the fun bit!  Make sure the cake is completely cool before you start your decorating. First put some of the frosting on your cake board or plate, then put the cake on it upside down, because the bottom is flatter hence easier for decorating.  Spread icing generously on top and around the cake. Then surround the whole cakes with chocolate fingers.

What to put in the middle of the cake is up to you.  I love the combination of chocolate and berries. If you are crazy about chocolate, you can put chocolate truffles in the middle.  For children party, you can put chocolate animals and mini eggs for Easter.

Cupcakes for my valentine....

Unless you have been hibernating in your home the last month, you must have noticed that valentines day is coming up soon.  Every shops, restaurants and supermarkets are filled with special promotions.  However nothing beats something that you have made yourself to show that you care. As this valentines day falls on a monday, you have got the whole weekend to whip up something special!

Cupcakes are very fashionable nowadays and some posh cakes shops charge the earth for them. I don't really know why because they are really easy to make.  I made these with a banana base cupcakes following this recipe.

As for the icing the sky is the limit, I follow this recipe to make a cream cheese icing. Then separate them into two batches with one its natural cream colour and then other pink with adding pink colouring.

You can spoon your icing on for a retro feel, for a more polish looking try icing bag with nozzles. (This video is great if you are new to icing) Then add any decoration you like, my favourite are the silver sugar balls which made any cupcakes look more sophisticated.

Nomad in Ubud

Had a fantastic holiday in Indonesia one week ago. We travel to several places in Bali and Lombok. There were lovely islands and beaches, but our favourite place was Ubud - in the forest in Bali.

We stayed at a lovely guest house called Tegal Sari at the back of the Monkey Forest.  The guest house set in a idyllic setting, with simple clean rooms with a lovely swimming pool.  However the thing that really made our stay   was the staff, they could not do enough for the guests and always greet us with a big smile.

Tegal Sari overlooking the rice field
Naugthy monkey who stole my water
Ubud is an up and coming destination in Bali, although it is away for from the coast and beaches, its rich culture and Balinese experience has attracted tourists who are looking for more than just sun and beaches.

There are a few superb restaurants in the area, one of them that we tried was Nomad. It serves a distintive local, Asian fusion and western cuisine.  Everything on the menu looked so nice and we could not resist trying out most of the dishes.  Luckily Nomad serves their starters in small tapas sizes so you can try most of the starters on the menu at one time.

set of 9 tapas
Everything on the Balinese tapas was absolutely delicious, subtle flavours of spices mixed with super fresh ingredients.   My favourites were the succulent slow-cooked pork and the prawn satay with a piece of fragrant lemon grass at the skewer.

For main course I had the Grilled fish with a miso glazed, the fish was meaty and taste extremely fresh.  If you are in Bali but missing you western food, they also have excellent home made pasta and burgers.

Grilled white fish with a miso sauce
The service was impeccable without being too attentive with delicious cocktails with a Balinese twist.  All in all a lovely restaurant to enjoy a lovely evening!  If you happen to find yourself in Ubud, I high recommend it.

Slow roast pork shoulder for an autumn Sunday

Slow roast pork with fennel and cider

Autumn is definitely here with days getting shorter and shops even started selling x'mas presents.  That means it is time for winter comfort food again!

One of my favourite roast dinner is roast pork and this recipe is easy to prepare and it all cooks in one pot.  It is slow cooked in a low oven, as well as melt-in-your-mouth pork, you will get a house that smells of sunday roast the whole day!!

I first saw a similar recipe with fennel and cider with pork belly. However, pork belly is a bit too fatty for my liking and at make the gravy at the end too oily as well.  Pork shoulder is just as nice and soft if you cook it long enough and the gravy/sauce you get at the end is delicious.

Slow roast pork with fennel and cider

1 Pork shoulder joint (1-.15kg)
1/2 Large bulb of fennel
250ml Cider
250ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Handful of Fresh Sage (optional)

  1. Roughly score the skin of the pork if it is not already done by butcher or the supermarket. Season the joint with salt and pepper, make sure the skin is covered generously with salt, this will help to  make the crackling.
  2. Turn the oven on 230C/450F/Gas mark 8, put the pork joint in a casserole dish and put on the middle shelf of the oven for 30mins. Then take it out of the oven and pour away the fat (or you can keep the fat to make roast potatoes).
  3. Take out the pork joint and line the bottom with finely sliced fennel.
  4. Put the pork joint back in the casserole dish, pour in both cider, stock and sage leave if using.  Turn the oven down to 150C/300F/Gas mark 2, close the lid of the casserole dish and let it cook for 4-6 hours (the longer you cook it the softer the meat will be.
  5. Take the dish out of the oven, transfer the pork to a plate, wrap in foil to keep warm. Put the casserole or the stove to reduce the sauce to a consistency you like. I like it quite thin to have with boiled potatoes and steamed green, but if you are having roast potatoes you might want it a bit thicker.
I like it with boiled potatoes but of course you can make roast potatoes to make it a complete Sunday lunch!!

Enjoy!! And happy cooking!