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!


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.

Vegetable Noodle Soup

A warming, light noodle soup packed with a variety of crunchy and soft vegetables, topped off with a soft-boiled egg.

This dish is definitely a new favourite of mine and is very simple to make. The first time I made it was during winter; evenings were cold and coursework deadlines were nearing fast. After a long day of work, this meal kept the cold away and gave me a much needed boost of energy.

If an egg isn’t for you, try this recipe using a protein of your choice such as chicken or beef.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200g dry udon noodles
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 700ml vegetable stock (or two vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 700ml of boiling hot water)
  • 50ml mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 80g spring greens, sliced
  • 120g shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 large free range eggs (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chillies (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Fry the minced garlic and ginger for thirty seconds to one minute. Add the onions and mushrooms, stir and cook for two minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the mirin and soy sauce. Cook for another minute.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and the spring greens into the pot. Stir and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust salt/seasoning if necessary.
  4. In a smaller pot, boil water and place in the eggs. Boil the eggs for six to seven minutes to achieve a soft yolk. Once cooked, place in cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, peel off the egg shell.
  5. In another pot, cook your noodles according to the packet’s instructions (the brand I used needed only three minutes).
  6. To serve, place the noodles in a bowl, pour over the vegetable soup along with the mushrooms, onions and spring greens. Top with the boiled egg sliced in half, the chopped spring onions and the sliced bell peppers. Sprinkle over some crushed chillies and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chocolate & Walnut Brownies

Here is another brownie recipe, and this time, they’re gluten free!

After seeing food blogger Lithuanian in the USA post an amazing recipe for chocolate and walnut brownies, I was inspired to make my own.

Any time I am at home in London (away from university life), I cook and bake for my family using gluten-free ingredients. This is because my pops needs to avoid type of protein. So, instead of using wheat flour in my bakes, I usually turn to the gluten-free flours from Doves Farm. The plain and self-raising flours are typically a blend of rice, potato, maize and more.

This brownie is very simple to make, and if you are not a fan of nuts or are allergic, you can omit them. I don’t use too much sugar as I actually like the flavour of dark chocolate, and I find some brownies a bit sickly if they are too sweet. You can also use regular plain wheat flour as well – the results will be the same!

Check out Lithuanian in the USA’s delicious chocolate and walnut brownie recipe here!

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 200g dark chocolate (I used 85% cocoa), roughly chopped
  • 175g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 140g gluten-free plain flour (I used Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour), sifted
  • 265g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp icing sugar to decorate (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC (155ºC fan)/gas mark 3 1/2. Line a 33-35cm square oven dish with baking paper.
  2. Place the butter and the chopped chocolate into a bowl and melt this over a pan of hot water, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the butter and chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and add in the sugar. Stir until well combined.
  4. Add in the flour and stir until incorporated, then beat in the eggs until you achieve a smooth and silky chocolate mixture.
  5. Stir the chopped walnuts into the brownie batter, then transfer into the oven dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Once baked, leave to cool down before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into slices.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Before trying out homemade brownies, the store-bought ones were not the best to be honest. I think that’s why so many people I know aren’t the hugest fans of them. I’ve had a few very sickly brownies myself, but that nauseous feeling soon disappeared after tackling these chocolatey treats at home.

I mostly used a combination of dark and milk chocolate for this recipe. I would have definitely added hazelnuts if I wasn’t feeding my friend who has a nut allergy! The good thing about brownies is that you can experiment with a variety of added extras: nuts, nut butters, white chocolate, berries, marshmallows… the list is endless!

Scroll down a little for the recipe.

Serves 9

Ingredients

  • 80g 70-75% cocoa plain chocolate
  • 80g 85-90% cocoa plain chocolate
  • 60g milk chocolate
  • 160g unsalted butter
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan)/ gas mark 6. Line a square oven dish with baking paper.
  2. Chop up all of the chocolate into chunks.
  3. Place the butter and half of the chopped chocolate into a bowl and melt this over a pan of hot water.
  4. In a bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar for 2 minutes.
  5. In another bowl, sift in the plain flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate.
  6. Once your butter and chocolate has melted, stir gently until you have a smooth and silky dark mixture. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
  7. Once the chocolate and butter mix has cooled, whisk it into the egg, vanilla and sugar.
  8. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, but do not over-mix.
  9. Transfer the brownie batter into the oven dish and bake for 35 – 40 minutes.
  10. Leave to cool before cutting, and enjoy with a scoop of ice-cream!

Spinach & Artichoke Pasta Bake

After watching numerous videos on ‘spinach artichoke dip’ or ‘spinach artichoke bread’, I jumped on the bandwagon and decided to make a spinach and artichoke pasta bake.

Cheese and spinach I love, so that wasn’t a problem. However, I had never tried artichokes until having this dish. I was a little bit hesitant, but after giving this new veg a taste, it made a great addition. I can understand why everyone loves the spinach and artichoke combination now!

This dish is really simple to make and lends from my Turkey and Bacon Pasta recipe. I added vegetable stock, cream cheese, cheddar, and parmesan to make a flavourful and creamy cheese sauce.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 250g pasta of your choice (I used wholewheat fusilli)
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 1 can (400g) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (I prefer Knorr)
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp light cream cheese (I used Philadephia Light)
  • 100g grated mature cheddar (use 40g for topping)
  • 1 tsp season-all
  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (for topping)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (1/2 tsp for topping)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/ gas mark 4.
  2. Boil the pasta according to packet instructions, but remove from the heat 2 minutes before the suggested time.
  3. On a low heat, melt the butter in the pan and then add the flour. Stir for 2 minutes until the mixture becomes a smooth consistency.
  4. Pour in a quarter of the milk at a time, then the stock cube, and stir until the mixture blends smoothly.
  5. Add in the cream cheese, grated parmesan and cheddar, and stir until the cheeses melt into a smooth mixture.
  6. Add the spinach, artichokes, season-all, ground garlic, paprika and black pepper into the pan. Stir into the sauce until the spinach wilts. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  7. By now, the pasta should be cooked. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce, stirring until the pasta is covered evenly.
  8. Pour the pasta into an oven dish, top with the cheddar, paprika, and black pepper, and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!
Spinach Artichoke (1)

Tip: If your sauce is too thick, add some milk. If it’s too thin, add more flour and cheese.


Banana, Walnut & Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

It’s about time I made a loaf cake.

I didn’t own a loaf tin until last week actually.

I’ve seen many recipes using 2lb loaf tins, but I went and bought a 3lb one because my family can eat.

I do love a banana bread, but I also love to jazz things up. I’ve added chopped walnuts for a nutty crunch, and dark chocolate pieces for pockets of its bittersweet flavour. I was also easy on the amount of sugar because ripened bananas are already sweet as is.

The purchase of a loaf tin may mean I’ll start baking loaves of bread and many more loaf cakes, who knows?

Below’s recipe is for a 2lb tin, but just do some quick maths to adjust the measurements for a larger (or smaller) tin.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 250g plain flour, sieved
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 120g unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 70g chopped walnuts
  • 70g chocolate chunks (I prefer dark chocolate)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Grease a 2lb (23×13cm) loaf tin with butter.
  2. Peel and mash the bananas in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, caster sugar and brown sugar with a wooden spoon or whisk until well combined and paler in colour.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, add the vanilla extract, then fold in the mashed bananas, flour, baking powder, milk and cinnamon.
  5. Fold in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chunks.
  6. Spoon the batter into the loaf tin, and place into the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cake springs back when tapped gently.
  7. Leave to cool, then enjoy!

Tip: If your bananas aren’t ripe, roast them (unpeeled) in the oven for 20 mins at 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. The skins should be black. Peel and mash them up as usual, but leave to cool before adding to the cake batter.


Quinoa, Stir-fried Vegetables & Feta Salad

I was in the mood for having ”super grains” after having some from the cafe at work a few weeks ago. It was a quinoa, sultana and almond salad. Of course, I picked out the sultanas (it’s a texture thing), and just had the quinoa and almonds, along with some lettuce, onions and tomatoes. It tasted great.

Sometimes I get bored of having the typical rice, pasta, or potatoes, so quinoa was a good change. Also, my rice cooker broke mid-week, and I can’t be asked to sit in the kitchen to watch over brown rice cooking on the stove after work everyday.

The thought of having to wait for my stainless steel pot to soak in soapy water for at least an hour before being able to wash up, made my head hurt. I really have to do the dishes before eating, or it just feels wrong!

If I could make something in bulk just once, and refrigerate it, I’d be content. Old rice just doesn’t sit well with me, unless I’m stir frying it. I was hoping to find a tasty dish with inexpensive ingredients, so I had a browse on BBC Good Food.

I came across this amazing recipe by Sarah Cook, and gave it my own spin.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 250g quinoa
  • 3 large bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1 large courgette, sliced into ~ 5mm thick semi circles
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (I prefer Knorr)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp season-all
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 150g feta cheese, cubed
  • Parsley, chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Follow the packet instructions for cooking the quinoa, but add in the vegetable stock cube and stir. Drain once cooked and separate the grains using a fork.
  2. In a pan, heat the olive oil over a medium/high heat, then add in the chopped onion, bell peppers, courgettes, paprika, chilli flakes, season-all, and black pepper. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add them to the quinoa.
  4. Add the lemon juice and feta cheese, and stir until well combined.
  5. Serve into a bowl and top with roughly chopped parsley.
Bulgur veg and feta salad
I tried this meal with bulgur wheat as well, and it tasted just as great!