Lockdown Larder – Day 31 (Saturday)

Leftover chilli with cheesy-potato wedges – and baking!

It’s a fact. Leftover chilli or curry is the BEST when reheated the next day. All the spices have had time to settle, and embed themselves into the food.

It made dinner prep super-easy. I found some large potatoes to go with the chilli. Wedges are quick to make, and taste delicious. Sadly, no photos. I got carried away taking pictures of my baking, and forgot to capture the dinner.

Anyway.

Scrub a couple of large potatoes, and then chop them into thick chips, still with the skin intact. I then blot them dry in a clean tea-towel, before tipping into a large bowl. Add a couple of spoons of olive oil, and seasoning to taste. Cajun / Indian / Moroccan spice mixes are great here. Tonight I used a garlic and herb salt. Mix well with your hands, to make sure all the wedges are coated, and then lay them out in a single layer on two baking sheets, and bake for around 20 minutes in a hot oven (200 degrees C). When they were soft in the middle, and going crispy around the edges, I sprinkled a handful of grated cheese over the top and gave them 5 more mins in the oven. Just enough time for the cheese to melt. Serve with hot chilli, and enjoy. Nom nom!

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And now for the baking. It was Saturday. I wanted chocolate!

Son had previously asked for choc chip cookies, the soft-in-the-middle style (like you get from Subway), and so I made a batch using a recipe from a cookery book I bought second-hand somewhere. Can’t remember where. Lucy’s Bakes by Lucy Cufflin.

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The timing for cooking is quite precise. Using a 50g (raw weight) cookie, it needs 8 minutes. I had three trays of cookies that I had to shuffle in and out of the oven, while also making sure they had time on the upper and lower racks, to ensure they cooked evenly. It meant that one tray had 8 minutes, while the other two probably had 9 – and they did come out more crispy. Still good, though.

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I used the scales to make sure each ball of cookie dough weighed the same. And then the oddest part of the recipe, where it called for shaping them and squashing them flat – with wet hands. I was dubious about that. Wouldn’t it make the dough too sticky? It turned out to be a genius move, and made the dough more pliable, and less prone to crumbling.

Result? 12 delicious choc chip cookies 😊

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I knew the cookies wouldn’t last long, and I had a new recipe to try, for an eggless chocolate cake. This is a popular theme at the moment among TV chefs, and I used the recipe from Nadia Lim’s Comfort Kitchen TV series (the recipe is also detailed below).

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/nadias-comfort-kitchen/recipes/chocolate-cake

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I loved the way she said you could adapt the recipe, and I did. For example, I didn’t have Self Raising flour, and so I used plain, with added baking powder. I didn’t have enough vegetable oil, and so I added some melted butter to get the same volume.

It was an easy bake, and it tastes good! It doesn’t have the depth of chocolately flavour of other cakes I’ve made, but it was worth making. I made a chocolate buttercream topping rather than ganache, and I cheated it, using up a frosting mix that came with the brownies I made the other week.

It’s sweet, and tastes sinful, and was amazing served – still slightly warm – with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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New Zealand is under Lockdown for at least four weeks. This blog intends to avoid the bad news about rising numbers of victims. It focuses instead on food, and the challenges of cooking fresh meals every day – with the ingredients from my larder. A much nicer message 😊

 

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Eggless Chocolate Cake

Nadia Lim’s Eggless Chocolate Cake

Chances are you’ll have all the ingredients in your pantry to make this quick and easy cake. Amazingly, it doesn’t require any eggs but is still very light and moist – the magic is thanks to the combination of baking soda and vinegar which creates incredible rising action (but don’t worry, you don’t taste any vinegar). Make either a chocolate ganache or a chocolate icing (I’ve given recipes for both) to spread over the cake, or just have it as is. It makes one large cake and it keeps well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. Being egg and dairy free, it is also caters well for allergies.

SERVES: 10-12
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes

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Ingredients

CAKE

2 ½ cups self-raising flour (or plain flour with 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder)

¾ cup cocoa (preferably dark cocoa)

1 ½ cups brown or white sugar (or coconut sugar)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups (500ml) water, coffee or milk (of any kind)

2 teaspoons vanilla essence or extract

1 tablespoon vinegar  (e.g. white wine, red wine, apple cider, white, malt)

¾ cup neutral oil (e.g. canola, grapeseed, rice bran)

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

200-250g dark eating chocolate (ideally 50-70% cocoa) or dark chocolate buttons

1 cup (250ml) cream, coconut cream/milk

OR…

CHOCOLATE ICING

1 ½ cups icing sugar

¼ cup cocoa (preferably dark cocoa)

50g butter

2-3 tablespoons hot water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a large round (about 23cm) cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and a pinch of salt together until well combined, making sure there are no lumps of sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the water/coffee/milk, vanilla, vinegar and oil, then pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into lined cake tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing (using either chocolate ganache or chocolate icing – see below).
  5. To make chocolate ganache, break chocolate up into a bowl. Heat cream/coconut cream/milk in a small pot on the stove top, then pour over chocolate. Stir until chocolate has all melted and ganache is dark and smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature before spreading over cake.
  6. To make chocolate icing, combine icing sugar and cocoa in a bowl. Add butter and      2 tablespoons of the hot water. Mix until smooth, adding a bit more water, one teaspoon at a time, until a smooth, spreadable consistency.

Tips & Substitutions

o   You can use gluten-free flour with 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder in place of regular self-raising flour

o   For a dairy-free cake, make sure you use a dairy-free dark chocolate (some over 60% cocoa are dairy-free) and coconut cream/milk in the ganache

o If the cake is not for kids, it’s nice to use coffee as the liquid as it adds to the flavour

o  Ideally, use dark cocoa powder (or cacao powder) as it has a better flavour and colour for this cake

o You can even use yoghurt (e.g. vanilla or fruit flavoured) instead of cream/coconut cream in the ganache. Simply melt the chocolate (by itself) in the microwave in short bursts, in a double boiler, or in a glass/Pyrex bowl set above a small pot of simmering water. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then whisk in yoghurt.

o Iced, this cake will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and stay nice and moist. A slice with a cup of coffee makes a lovely treat breakfast!

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