Hazelnut-Chocolate Marble Cake

Another loaf cake recipe is here!

While I actually wanted to make bread for the first time, flour and yeast in supermarkets are non-existent these days. So, a loaf cake recipe it is! I’ve found that if I don’t want to spend too much time making buttercream, decorating and cleaning so many utensils, I’ll just make a loaf cake of some sort.

This time, I’ve baked a vanilla and hazelnut-chocolate marble loaf cake. Find the recipe below.

Note: Below’s recipe is for a 3lb tin, but just do some quick maths to adjust the measurements for a smaller or larger tin.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 400g plain flour, sieved
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g unsalted butter, at room temperature, soft
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 large eggs
  • 200ml soured cream
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 40g cocoa powder, sieved
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Grease a 3lb (28 x 13 cm) loaf tin with butter and lightly coat with flour.
  2. In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar with an electric whisk until well combined, fluffy and paler in colour.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and soured cream until well combined.
  4. Split the cake batter in half so you have two bowls of cake batter.
  5. In one bowl, add in the vanilla extract and beat in. In the other bowl, add in the cocoa powder and ground hazelnuts and beat until combined.
  6. Spoon each batter into the loaf tin alternately, then use small knife or spatula to roughly swirl each batter into each other.
  7. Place into the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour 15 mins, or until the cake springs back when tapped gently.
  8. Leave to cool, then enjoy with a cup of tea!


Red Red – Ghanaian Black Eyed Beans Stew

Believe it or not, I used to hate beans. It was only until a year and a half ago (when I gave up meat) that I started to eat more beans and pulses. It was then that I realised they aren’t so bad.

Red Red is a traditional Ghanaian stew made with black eyed beans and tomatoes. The name comes from the colour of stew as it is normally cooked in palm oil. Red Red is typically served with fried ripe (yellow) plantains.

My parents make this regularly and it was not long ago that I thought ‘I’d better make this myself’. So, I did. If you’re like me, you’d prepare this meal at least a day in advance by soaking the black eyed beans in water overnight. I don’t tend to use canned beans for this, but, if it makes your life easier, definitely go for it!

Make sure you have an apotoyewaa (clay grinding pot/large pestle and mortar) at hand, otherwise, be prepared to finely dice onions and scotch bonnet peppers!

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 500g black eyed beans, soaked in water overnight and washed
  • 200ml palm oil
  • 1 large onion, half sliced, half diced
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 400g chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes (I used Knorr)
  • 2 tsp season-all
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 200ml warm water
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. In a large pot, boil the black eyed beans for 30 – 50 minutes over medium-high heat until soft. Ensure that there is always water in the pot so the beans do not dry up and risk getting burned.
  2. While the beans are boiling, grind up the diced onions and scotch bonnet peppers with a dash of warm water, until you get a smooth mixture.
  3. Heat the palm oil in another pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the ground onions and scotch bonnet mixture to the pot and fry off for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the sliced onions and garlic and fry until the onions are soft.
  6. Add in the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock cubes, season all, ginger and paprika. Stir until the stock cubes have dissolved and are fully incorporated. Cover the pot and leave to cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the warm water to the pot, stir, then leave to cook for a further 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Once the beans are fully cooked, drain them, leaving some liquid behind. Add the beans and the liquid to the tomato stew and stir until will combined. Check for salt/seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  9. The Red Red is now ready to be served – enjoy with some fried ripe plantains and/or rice!

Barcelona Eats: Part 3

My favourite part of the trip took place in La Boqueria. This place was food heaven for me. There are a variety of market stalls there from meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit. Lots of fruit.

I went to La Boqueria on two occasions. On the first day, I tried the fresh fruits, fruit juice and some dried fruits. I came across a stall with many dried fruits, such as apples, mangoes, strawberries, pineapples, bananas. I can honestly say that I dried pineapples are my new favourite snack. No added sugar, but they retain a lot of sweetness. You’d think you’re eating candy to be honest.

The fruit stalls are vast and the pricing is cheap compared to London. You can get a fresh cup of fruit juice for a little as €1.50 if you search hard enough. The same goes for bowls with chunks of fruit such as pineapples, dragonfruit, kiwi, mangoes, strawberries and more. Search hard and you’ll find a bargain.

There are also hot food stalls where you can have anything from paella and empanadas, to churros and pancakes. The options are endless.

And then they have spices from all over the world. But one thing I had to get my hands on was the king of all spices. Saffron. And Spain was the perfect place to buy it from.

The second day at the market was for tackling some savouries. I tried a spinach and cheese empanada which was great; spinach and cheese being one of my favourite combinations. I had some tasty vegetable croquetas as well – it was actually my first time trying these and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The meal of the day however, was the paella from Ramblero de la Boqueria. Again, this was my first time trying this dish. It came with prawns, squid and mussels (my favourite trinity in terms of seafood), all cooked perfectly. I can’t fault this meal and La Boqueria in general.

I’ve booked a cheeky weekend away back to Barcelona, so I’ll be enjoying the food again quite soon!


Barcelona Eats: Part 2

Part 1 went off to a mediocre start, but now, it only goes up from here.

The first evening was spent at La Barca del Salamanca – a seafood restaurant – again on Moll de Gregal. This restaurant was recommended to me by my brother, so I trusted it would be a good meal.

La Barca del Salamanca

To start, my friend and I ordered some tomato and olive oil bread, and I got a serving of padron peppers too. The grilled monkfish was ordered for my main course. For drinks, a pitcher of sangria of course!

Tomato and Olive Oil Bread

I’ll keep this one short and snappy: very moreish and because I ate so much, it was a mission finishing my main. We also got olives with this, but I’m not a fan of them.

Rating: 5/5

Padron Peppers

Blistered just right and topped with crunchy sea salt, these padron peppers were bursting with flavour. The portion was large as well which helped me forget about the price!

Rating: 5/5

Grilled Monkfish

This main came with potatoes, asparsgus, tomatoes and a slice of lemon. The monkfish was fresh and the portion overall was large. At this point I was ready to fall asleep and the sangria was not helping. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this dish, it just needed a tad more salt and pepper.

Rating: 4/5

The service was great, however, if you’re not careful, you’ll be convinced to order the whole menu. So, be sure to stand your ground and say no thanks. The night finished with free mini cakes to our surprise and a shot of lemon liqueur. A night well spent, I must say.

I need to go back to this restaurant!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Part 3 will include adventures around Las Ramblas.


Barcelona Eats: Part 1

The trip to Barcelona was an eventful one, to say the least. It was originally planned for 4 days, but my best friend and I faced a cancellation five hours before our scheduled departure. The next available flight was in a further two days. I was annoyed at first, but then I realised there’s nothing we can do, so we may as well enjoy the extra two days!

This meant more opportunities to taste the great food of this beautiful city.

After landing early in the afternoon, we decided to go for lunch. We took a short walk to the beach and went along the strip of restaurants on Moll de Gregal. We were stopped by a greeter of one of these restaurants and was convinced to give it a try. I usually read reviews before I try a restaurant, but this time, I was feeling very lax.

Vitaminas Burger & Beach Bar

I ordered the patatas bravas, calamares and a pineapple, apple and ginger smoothie.

Patatas Bravas

It’s hard to go wrong with patatas bravas, so I wasn’t disappointed in what I received. The portion was a good size, and the fried potatoes were served with cheese, paprika and were piping hot. Very crispy and enjoyable, although a tomato/spicy sauce with it would have taken it to the next level.

Rating: 3.5/5

Calamares

As soon as I saw the calamari, I knew never to order it in Barcelona again. Don’t get me wrong, the seafood is fresh, but where was the seasoning on these calamari? The calamari was fried in a batter similar to the ones you get at your local chippy, but the salt wasn’t anywhere to be found. A bland disappointment.

Rating: 1/5

Pineapple, Apple & Ginger Smoothie

On a brighter note, the pineapple, apple and ginger smoothie was amazing. It was so refreshing and definitely saved my meal overall. Since being back in the UK, I’ve been making myself similar smoothies as it was just so tasty.

Rating: 5/5

To summarise: would I return here for food? Probably not. Would I come here for a great smoothie? Definitely.

Overall Rating: 3/5

We’re off to a mediocre start, but I promise, it gets way better! Stay tuned for more posts on my eats through Barcelona!


Red Velvet Cake

I remember first trying the red velvet cake from Costco, maybe seven or eight years ago. I was in food heaven.

These days, however, the sweetness is a little too much. The solution? Make my own! On this occasion, it was my brother’s birthday, so I decided to make this cake for him. He’s a big fan of red velvet too.

The cake recipe in this post was inspired by The Hummingbird Bakery’s Red Velvet Cupcakes. The recipe below uses two 15 cm round cake tins to make it a two-layer cake.

I levelled out each cake before stacking them. I broke down some of the cut off pieces of cake to make into crumbs, and used these to decorate the top. The leftovers were eaten (It’s never good to waste food in my household, and who doesn’t like extra cake?).

Serves 8

Ingredients

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 300g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 130g full fat cream cheese, cold
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk or free-standing mixer, until a sandy texture is achieved.
  2. Add in the cream cheese and the lemon juice, then whisk for about 1 minute until light and fluffy.

For the cake

  • 150g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour, sifted
  • 25g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp red food colouring paste, mixed with 4 tsp water ( I prefer Sugarflair Maximum Concentrated Paste Red Extra)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 240 ml buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Grease two 15 cm cake tins with butter and lightly flour.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk or free-standing mixer, until well combined and paler in colour. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the food colouring, vanilla extract and cocoa powder until you get a thick paste. Add more water a teaspoon at a time if necessary to get the required consistency. Add this to the cake batter and mix in, until you get an even colour throughout.
  4. Add half of the buttermilk and mix until combined fully, then add half of the flour and mix.
  5. Gradually beat in half of the buttermilk and flour, mixing until well-incorporated. Repeat this step once more until you have added all of the buttermilk and flour
  6. Add the bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and salt, mixing well.
  7. Separate the batter into the two cake tins. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the cake springs back when tapped gently.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled down completely, decorate them as you wish using the cream cheese frosting.
  9. Grab a knife and cut yourself a slice!


Spicy Vegan Stir-Fry

My posts have been a bit scattered recently, but, there’s good news: I’ve finally finished university! So, while I’m job hunting, I’ll have more time to tend to this blog. I’ve also booked a cheeky day trip to Amsterdam, so expect some posts about the experience soon.

Now, for this week’s recipe…

If you’re looking for a quick mid-week meal, a stir-fry is the way to go. You can prepare your vegetables ahead of time and store them in the fridge for even less hassle.

This stir-fry includes bell peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, tofu and of course, chillies for heat. To get the tofu crispy, I made sure to flatten the tofu block with something heavy overnight. This helps to remove the moisture from the tofu.

Enjoy this stir-fry on top of some brown rice, or have it as a starter. Whatever works for you!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • Half a block of tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 125g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp season-all

Method

  1. In a wok or large frying pan, heat the sesame oil over a medium heat.
  2. Fry off the garlic, ginger and chillies for 1 minute.
  3. Turn the heat to high, then add the tofu. Fry until crisp and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onions, peppers and mushrooms and fry for about 3 minutes, until tender.
  5. Add the spinach, soy sauce and season all. Stir until the spinach has wilted, then remove from the heat. Enjoy!

Bulgur Wheat Jollof

The first time I had bulgur wheat was in Kervan Sofrasi two or three years ago – a Turkish restaurant in North London. The way they had cooked it reminded me of jollof rice, since it was orange in colour. It was a great alternative to eating rice.

As some of you may know, making jollof rice takes a good two or three hours. Making the switch to bulgur wheat will reduce your cooking time by half, guaranteed! When I want to cook something in bulk that will last me a week, bulgur jollof is definitely in my top five choices.

You can experiment with the seasoning as it is all to taste. Feel free to include vegetables, meat or fish to your stew to add even more flavours and textures.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 500g bulgur wheat, washed and drained
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 200ml water
  • 4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, 1 half thinly sliced, the other half cut into large chunks
  • 2x chicken stock cubes
  • 1x shrimp stock cube
  • 2 tsp season all
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika

Method

  1. In a blender, blend the plum tomatoes, onions chunks, bell pepper chunks and the scotch bonnet until smooth.
  2. Heat a large pot with the oil on a medium heat. Once hot, fry the sliced onions and minced garlic, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree to the pot and fry for about a minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the blended tomato mix into the pot and stir. Add the chicken stock cubes, shrimp stock cube, season all, ginger and paprika. The stew will start to bubble and pop at this point, so be mindful!
  4. Add the water to the pot, stir and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and seasoning to taste.
  5. Once the stew has been cooked, add in the bulgur wheat. Reduce the heat to low and stir, ensuring all grains have been covered by the stew.
  6. Cover the pot with foil (shiny side facing the inside of the pot), then cover the pot with its lid.
  7. The bulgur wheat will cook in about 20 mins, during this period of time, be sure to stir frequently or else your bulgur will burn.
  8. Once the bulgur wheat has completely absorbed all of the stew and fully cooked, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes. After this time, use a fork to separate the grains, then serve.

Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon cupcakes are a great alternative to the classic vanilla and chocolate flavours. Lemon desserts in general are always a solid option in my opinion. They offer not only sweetness, but a tangy citrus to cut through your taste buds.

After vanilla cupcakes, I’d say that lemon cupcakes are the easiest to make. If you’re new to baking, I definitely recommend trying this as a start if vanilla isn’t your thing.

These cupcakes are light, fluffy and quite addictive, so try to eat in moderation! I gifted these to someone for their birthday, and they revealed that they had eaten three for breakfast!

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the lemon buttercream

  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 350g icing sugar, sifted
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 2 lemons

Method

  1. In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the lemon juice and zest and continue to whisk for another 2 minutes until light and smooth.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 180g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder, sieved
  • 3 large eggs
  • Juice and zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and the caster sugar with a wooden spoon or whisk until well combined and pale.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the flour and baking powder.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest, then mix together until you have a smooth, light cupcake batter.
  5. Spoon the batter into each case until half to two-thirds full.
  6. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when tapped gently. Leave to cool.
  7. When the cupcakes have cooled, spoon the lemon buttercream into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice. Pipe in a spiral motion.

HAZ: A Review

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like Mediterranean food and it is definitely in my top three types of cuisine.

Turkish food specifically is always a solid choice for me when it comes it eating out or ordering in. Borek, lahmacun, moussaka and more, the ingredients are simple, yet the flavours are fresh and bold.

I visited HAZ in St. Paul’s, London, for a birthday dinner back in January; seven of us in total. I had booked a table in advance.

The atmosphere was modern and slick, with a great bar and plenty of dining space. I ordered a bottle of Haz Rose Çal Karasi, Kalamari to start and the Steamed Atlantic Cod for the main. While we waited for out orders to come in, we were served with a basket of Turkish bread.

Haz Rose Çal Karasi

Rose

Price: £5.50/glass or £19.95/bottle

The house rose is described as having ‘fresh red fruits, cherry and raspberry with a fruity and vivid palate.’ This was a fresh and dry rose, not too sweet. The bottle lasted the majority of the evening between myself and a friend. The server gave us a bucket of ice to keep the wine chilled which was great.

Rating: 4/5

Kalamari

Calamari

Price: £6.45

If I see calamari on a menu, I’ll order it straight away. It is one of my favourite things to eat. I was surprised at how large the calamari was at HAZ – and only £6.45? A bargain compared to other places. They were served with a yoghurt tartar and a wedge of lemon. These were the best calamari I’ve ever tasted, honestly.

Rating: 5/5 (If I could give more points, I would)

Steamed Atlantic Cod

Cod

Price: £15.95

The cod was steamed with ginger and shallots. It was served with baby new potatoes and a plum tomato and pepper sauce. This was such a flavourful dish and the new potatoes on my plate were a bonus as they were not mentioned on the menu. This main was a great end to the evening – I was stuffed by the end of it!

Rating: 5/5

HAZ will definitely be seeing me again when I’m back in London. It might be my new regular spot as the food was fantastic and the service was brilliant. I can’t wait to try out the other menu items and some of their desserts (if there’s enough space in my stomach!).

There are six branches of HAZ in the City of London: Bishopsgate, Finsbury Square, Houndsditch, Plantation Place, Premier Place and St. Paul’s.

HAZ is available for delivery too!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Location: HAZ, 34 Foster Lane, St Paul’s, London EC2V 6HD
Website: https://www.hazrestaurant.co.uk/