Courgette and Goat's cheese Loaf

 I thought I'd have a change from cakes and make a savoury recipe.

There's a new greengrocer in town that sells fruit and veg in bowls. I don't know why, but I bought a bowl of courgettes. Have made this recipe many times before, but my son and my neighbour love it. It's a bit of a faff having to grate the courgettes, but my food processor does it for me. Don't grate them too fine or they'll end up like water! Past experience!

You need:
300g goat's cheese, 5 medium courgettes, 3 eggs, 150g flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 2 tbspn vegetable oil, 120ml milk, 100g grated Gruyère cheese, 2 pinches salt.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                         Grease a 900g loaf tin.
 cheeses, flour and baking powder, oil and milk. Add the courgettes and salt. Mix well and spoon into the tin. 
Bake for about 40 mins then cool on a wire rack.

Sorry, photo is a bit blurred. There's a nice flavour from the goat's cheese and the loaf has a soft crumb. The courgettes don't give it a lot of flavour, but you know they're there. It's good to eat cold with a crisp salad.


Chocolate Tartlets

 I had some of the family yesterday, and as my daughter is a chocoholic, I thought I'd make these.

The recipe has been adapted from a French cookery book that my penfriend gave me years ago, but which has languished at the back of the shelf. The book has some other great tarts to try, so will be posting more recipes. It's called simply 'Les tartes' but I can't find an author.

The recipe makes 8 tartlets.

250g  shortcrust pastry [your own or bought], 175g dark chocolate, broken into pieces, 2-3 tbspn water,1 tbspn butter - softened,1 tbspn cognac or cointreau [opt!], 3 eggs, separated,  chocolate shavings or grated chocolate to decorate

Preheat oven 200C/gas6  Tartlet tin or 8 tartlet moulds

Roll out the pastry and line 8 moulds. (I bought a lovely 12 hole tartlet tin from Lakeland)  Put in the fridge for about 15 mins.

 Line them with parchment and fill with beans and bake them blind for15mins; take out the beans and paper and cook them for another 5 mins; leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate over a bowl of hot water or in the microwave and leave to cool. Add the butter and mix till it's melted then add the egg yolks. Now's the time to pour in the cognac or Cointreau. Mix it all together.

Beat the whites stiffly then fold in the chocolate mixture .

Spoon the mixture into the pastry shells and put in the fridge till they're set [2-3 hours].

Before serving, sprinkle some shavings or grated chocolate on top.

I didn't add any cognac or Cointreau to the tartlets as my grandchildren would be eating them. We liked the texture of the chocolate in the filling - silky and very more-ish and a good contrast to the crunchy pastry. The chocolate shavings add another texture.

These will be on my Christmas baking list, with the alcohol this time!


Rhubarb and Yoghurt Cake

 Bought some 'Wonky' rhubarb from Morrisons and decided to make this for a family get together last weekend. It's a French recipe, usually for a lemon cake, but I decided to add rhubarb. The recipe uses a yoghurt pot as a measure. Very easy to make.

you need a 125g yoghurt pot

So:  1pot natural yoghurt, 3 pots sugar, 3 pots flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 3/4 pot vegetable oil, 1/4 pot milk, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 250g rhubarb

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                        Grease and flour a 20cm cake tin.

Put all the ingredients except the rhubarb into a bowl and beat together. Chop the rhubarb into chunks and add to the mixture. Mix in with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 mins till golden.

It has a lovely moist crumb, and a good contrast between the fruit and the sponge. It makes a good cake with a cuppa or a dessert with cream or ice cream. I've made it with apple, but plums or pears would be good too.


Walnut and Caramel Tart


I love caramel and found this recipe in my magazine cuttings. Happily it's not a difficult caramel to make, as I've had many disasters with it in the past! You can make your own shortcrust pastry or use ready made, which I did.

You need:  Pack of shortcrust pastry, 2 eggs, 100g caster sugar, 60g butter, 100g walnuts chopped finely and 100g walnut halves

For the Caramel:
20g butter, 100ml crème fraîche, 150g caster sugar

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 22cm tart tin

For the tart:
Cut the butter into pieces and melt for 1 min in a microwave. Leave to cool.
Beat the eggs and caster sugar using an electric mixer or hand mixer till white and fluffy.
 Add the chopped walnuts and melted butter and gently mix together.
Roll out pastry to fit a tart tin which is at least 2.5cm high.
Grease the tin then line with the pastry.
Add the nut mixture gently.
Bake for about 30 mins till golden.

Put the sugar in a pan and melt till brown. Heat the cream till boiling and pour over the sugar, mixing with a wooden spoon. Add the butter cut into pieces.

Put the walnut halves evenly over the tart, then pour over the caramel.
Leave to cool before eating!

Nice crunchy pastry, nuts in a soft filling and then the crunchy nuts in a lovely caramel coating. What's not to like? A moreish tart for a special occasion or for a sweet treat.




Almond and Apricot Tart

 I love apricots, but you don't see them often, and sadly, our town market is no more. so saw some on offer in the supermarket and bought them to make this tart, another French recipe from my friend.

I used ready made shortcrust pastry, as it's too hot to make my own.

You need: a block of shortcrust pastry, 75g caster sugar, 75g ground almonds, 600g apricots, 75g soft butter, 1 egg, and a handful of flaked almonds to sprinkle on top.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                   Tart tin 24 - 26 cms

Roll pastry out and fit into tin. Put in fridge while you make the filling.

Wash and stone the apricots.

Mix together the sugar, butter, ground almonds and the beaten egg - make sure it's well mixed.

Spread over the pastry and top with the apricots. 

Bake for about 35mins then sprinkle the almonds over the top. 

You can add the flaked almonds partway through cooking, but I prefer them like this.

I like the crunchy pastry, the soft filling, then the fruit and the nice crunch of the flaked almonds.
I wonder if it would work with a large tin of apricots? 


Strawberry Meringue Cake

 It was my daughter's birthday recently and she came up for the weekend, so of course needed a cake - this was just the thing.

It's made with oil not butter and is very easy to make, yet it looks 'an occasion' cake.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5                                  Grease and line 2x18cm [7"] sandwich tins

For the cake: you need to sieve 150g plain flour, 25g cornflour and 2 level tspns baking powder into a bowl.
Mix together 100ml veg oil [I used sunflower] and 100ml water in another bowl.
Separate 2 eggs and add the yolks to the oil/water mixture and mix together. Stir the dry ingredients in and mix to a batter. Whisk the egg whites till stiff then fold into the mixture.

Divide into the tins then bake for 25-30 mins. Cool on a wire rack. Turn the oven off.

For the little meringues you need to put 1 egg white in a clean dry bowl and whisk till stiff and dry. Mix together 40g caster sugar and 15g icing sugar, then gradually whisk them into the whites.
Put a sheet of baking paper or a silicone sheet onto a baking tray, and using a piping bag and a large fluted nozzle, pipe about 15 rosettes. Put the tray into the oven when it's cool and leave there to dry for about 2 hours - if the oven's too hot, leave the door open.

You can make the meringues earlier and keep them in an airtight tin till you need them.

To finish the cake you need 350g strawberries [ stalks removed] and 250ml double cream.
Keep about 15 strawberries whole then lightly mash the rest. Whisk the cream till it's stiff but still soft and fold in the mashed strawberries.

Use half this mixture as the filling between the 2 sandwich cakes, then spread the rest on the top and decorate with the whole strawberries and the meringues. I sprinkled the meringues with some caster sugar to give a sparkly effect.

Loved the cream with the mashed strawberries - a real Summer taste. You could buy the little meringues or use just strawberries on top, or raspberries or other soft summer fruit. A simple cake, but great for a special occasion.


Blueberry Bars

 I don't really do much baking now that I'm on my own, but sometimes I have a need to make a cake.

I bought some blueberries from our local market. They're one of my favourite fruits, and I used to have a bush in my garden. Sadly the winter before last killed it. I love them on porridge, but I had an urge to make a cake with them. I decided on a streusel cake - I love these cakes with the crumbly topping.

So you need:
For the topping
25g caster sugar, 2 tbspn flour and 55g soft butter
For the cake
3 eggs, 200g caster sugar, 220g melted butter, 1 tbspn vanilla extract, 250ml buttermilk, 320g flour, 1 tbspn baking powder, pinch salt,  400g blueberries [washed and dried]

Preheat oven 180C/gas4         Grease and flour a 9"x13"  [23x33cm] cake tin

For the topping - mix the sugar, butter and flour together till like crumbs.

For the cake - In a large bowl beat together the eggs then gradually whisk in the sugar till the batter is nice and thick and fluffy. Beat in the melted butter, then the vanilla and buttermilk.
In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add these to the batter and stir till everything is mixed together.
Spoon into the pan and sprinkle the blueberries over the top. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit.
Bake for about 1 hour till golden.
Leave to cool in the tin then cut into squares.

The bars are nice and light, fruity and moreish. They'd be good for breakfast, as a pudd with cream or ice cream or with a cuppa. Will certainly make them again.

Courgette and Goat's cheese Loaf

 I thought I'd have a change from cakes and make a savoury recipe. There's a new greengrocer in town that sells fruit and veg in bow...