Tag Archives: teatime

A simple paella

Spanish folk: don’t judge me too harshly. I know this isn’t authentic. But it’s still delicious.

I first ate paella when I went to Spain with my homegirls, aged 18. What a holiday we had. Insane. Six girls in a non-tourist region of Spain…there was this little restaurant which made absolutely fantastic paella. And chips. The best chips and the best paella. I absolutely adore dishes that you can eat with just a folk, and not have to worry about gristle or bones or fat or nasty bits. Okay so we did have to shell the huge prawns that sat atop their rice deathbed, but stuff like that doesn’t scare me. This recipe doesn’t use shell on prawns so you can sit, cross-legged on the sofa and eat this with one hand, preferably with a fork in it.

Before this, I had never attempted to make paella at home. It seemed so scary, and it involved paella pans that you had to treat with love and care, lest they rust. Then I saw this recipe in Donna Hay’s Simple Dinners and we made it and we loved it. My children aren’t so mad on it, but the beauty of this dish (and oh there are so many beauties to it) is that you can pick out the bits you don’t like and eat those you do.

This is the perfect dish for when you don’t really know what to eat (meat? fish?) and don’t have much time, but still want something relatively healthy and comforting. If you ate everything in it you could get those ‘seafood pie’ mixes from the frozen compartments.  We don’t because my partner can’t eat bi-valves and those things usually have tons of mussels in them. But we did, as sharp eyed readers may note, add squid rings into this one.

Don’t be tempted to use chicken breast meat, it’s all about the tasty thigh meat here.

What you need for four good portions:

1 red onion which you have sliced

1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (leave out for those that don’t like it)

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

Half or so of a chorizo, it really depends how much you like it and what you’ve got

4-6 chicken thighs, de-boned, skin off, made all nice so you can just eat them without fear of scary stuff and cut into bite-sized chunks

250g short grain rice (no expensive paella rice, you don’t need it, but it must be short grain not wild or basmati or anything healthy, save that for another time)

1 litre of chicken stock

A quantity of raw prawns, again depends how much you like them. We use about 150g

A handful of coriander leaves, chopped up

200g or so of cherry tomatoes, halved

Lemon wedges

What you do:

Heat a large, deep non-stick frying pan over a good strong heat. add the onion, chilli if using, paprika and chorizo and cook for 3-5 minutes until it’s all golden looking. Now add the chicken and cook for five minutes, turning it so that all sides get lightly browned. Add the rice and stir until all coated, now add the stock and bring to the boil and cook for ten minutes. Add the prawns and cook for a further five minutes until they are pink and the rice is tender. Serve with the coriander sprinkled on top and the cherry tomatoes and a lemon wedge each.

Dan Lepard’s Almond Layer cake with crushed raspberries

All my own work.

This recipe was published in the Guardian last year. I made it on the day it came out, as you can probably see from the below the line comments (Dan linked to a picture of the cake that I tweeted, for I can no longer bake in isolation, but need to share with the world). Since then I’ve baked it many times. It’s perfect for when you want a proper teatime cake with goo. And it’s not difficult.

The recipe is here. There are a few comments I’d like to make:

I don’t have 18cm cake tins so I use 8″ ones (which is slightly bigger than 18cm, sorry to mix imperial and metric). It’s fine.

I find 30 mins just a bit too much….so check after 25 mins.

I double up the syrup Dan uses to soak the sponges, as I find doing his amount isn’t enough for my thirsty cakes.

You could easily, easily make two not-so-high-cakes out of these, by that I mean slice the cakes in half horizontally. That way you get more cream/raspberries to sponge ratio. Won’t be so towering and impressive, but if you need more cakes.

Put more cream in the sandwich layer than you think you’ll need. It squishes down.

Children also seem to love this. I find this is important when I just want to do one thing.

This is a really delicious cake. It’s so much more than a Victoria sponge. It’s so easy to make (make the cake bits ahead, assemble before you eat it) and is impressive. My friend Kate is so greedy for this cake, I can make her turn all sorts of tricks for it.IMG_0995


Eating and freezing notes: Unless this cake is for An Event, I now make two cakes out of it. That is to say instead of putting one of the cakes atop the other, which makes for a spectacular cake but one that’s fairly high, I slice each in half (see pic above). Or I freeze one of the (plain) cakes for another time. It freezes really well but freeze it before you soak it with the brandy/sugar syrup. Do that when you defrost it and then proceed with the cream/fruit part.

A nice cake for tea

Lovely cake for tea with a river of compote running through it. I’m sorry for the conifer in the background. Legacy of previous tenants. I hate conifers. It’s got to go.

I really was going to write about something non-food related.  But if I’m going to write about, say, a washing machine, I really feel I have to do my research. And frankly, at the moment, I just can’t be bothered. Whereas with food, well you don’t really need to do much work, do you?  You just say yum yum yum, I like this, you try it too.

Plus it’s cold and blowy and I want to write about cake and plus x2 we are in the fortunate position of having lots of eggs at the moment as each of our chickens is laying one a day. So I wanted to use some up. So this morning I made ice cream (four eggs yolks, the whites into the fridge for friands or madeleines another day), and then I thought “I really fancy a nice cake for tea”. The criteria being that it couldn’t be chocolate and it had to be made from things I already had in.

And I do have a lot in since I am a pig and an ingredient hoarder and I don’t like to run out of things.

I couldn’t be bothered to go through the 75 recipe books we have, or the vast amount of ripped out magazine recipes. So I did what I always do when in a tizz. I turned to Waitrose.

I actually typed in “cake” to see what it would bring up, and this Almond and Cherry cake came up and I checked and I had everything – save for the jam it asks for, I substituted compote instead. It’s so easy to make – chuck everything into a mixing bowl and get the food mixer to even whisk it up for you (sorry if you’re reading this Helena, I know you haven’t got your mixer situ. sorted yet…).

You take

150g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
175g softened butter – you’ll be lucky if at this time of year yours is soft enough at room temp, so stuff it in the microwave on low for 1-2 mins
150g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, preferably from your own chickens of course, failing that from the fridge
Few drops of almond essence, I use Amaretto di Saronno Lazzaroni from Bakery Bits, I find it vastly superior to anything else you can buy. When I say a few drops, I probably put in about 8-10 but it’s difficult to tell since they come out in a rush.
4tbsps of milk, any milk you have in the fridge that’s from a cow preferably.
150g fruity jammy stuff (the original recipe uses that St Dalfour no sugar one, I used Bonne Maman compote, sort of drained, and it was delicious. I wouldn’t personally use jam jam as it’d be too sweet I think)
handful of flaked almonds

You need a 900g loaf tin. Which brings me onto a slight rant which is, why do loaf tins never ever have their capacity on them? Anyway, I use a small, stout loaf tin and line it with parchment loaf liner; just cut some out of baking parchment sheets if you don’t have them pre-formed.

Preheat oven to 160C. I warn you, this cake is so quick, do this the moment you feel like making this cake. You put all the ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE FRUITY JAMMY STUFF AND THE FLAKED ALMONDS, in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 1-2 mins. Pour half the mixture into the loaf tin. Stop. Now put the fruity, jammy stuff or compote in, like a layer. Now pour in the rest of the cakey mixture. Now get a skewer and gently swirl around. Scatter the flaked almonds on top and put in oven for 1hr – ish. Mine was done after one hour, go a bit longer if you need to. Cake should be firm and when you put in a cake tester/raw piece of spaghetti it shouldn’t come out all gooey.

Let it cool in the tin as this is a moist cake. I wasn’t expecting too much, but this is a really lovely cake. Moisty, almondy, bit Bakewell-ish. Perfect with tea. Shame I’ve already had a slice in the name of research.

UPDATE: You can also make this into individual cakes by putting the mixture into muffin cases. I got eleven out of the mixture. They took about 20-25 mins cooking time (sorry I got distracted and forgot to make a note of it) at the same temperature. This makes them ideal for picnics.