On the menu: very chocolatey chocolate cake

Very chocolatey chocolate cake

Not the best photo, this is the cake after a quarter was cut from it, I know it doesn’t really look like a quarter has been cut from it, it’s a rather liquidly soft cake

It’s Girl Lacer’s birthday and she only really likes chocolate cake (strange girl), so I made one. The recipe is Scrumptious Chocolate Fudge Cake from Miranda Gore Browne’s Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can, apparently she made this recipe on Great British Bakeoff and Paul Hollywood really liked it, I’m not sure what he’d think of my attempt. It’s a very dense, moist cake and I’m sure it doesn’t need quite as much ganache as the recipe called for but I had made the amount and so I dumped it on, honestly, the middle of that cake of half cake, half ganache. It is extremely chocolatey, the sort of extreme chocolateyness that I’m not sure I, personally, have the taste buds for anymore. Also, as the person who obviously made it, knowing that there’s way more sugar than actual flour in it, it’s a bit off-putting.


5 things I liked this week – 7.10.16

1. The cake Girl Lacer made for Boy Lacer’s birthday was thankfully much better than my cupcakes. She used a slightly adapted Nigella recipe.
Cake made by S

2. Sometimes it’s the small things but on the way back from an appointment on Monday, I stopped off at Morrisons (we don’t have one near where I live) and had the most gorgeous wrap from their choose your own fillings sandwich bar. They’re incredibly good value, under £3, I’m so used to London prices now, I’d more expect something like that to be a fiver, as the wrap had about six fillings in and was so big it was a struggle to fit in your mouth. The fillings were good too, much fresher looking than a certain well know sandwich chain which is a soon to be teenage favourite of Girl Lacer’s.

3. I went to see the lovely doc who did my op back in June, I hadn’t seen him since then and I made him laugh with the amount and nature of the compliments I have been getting since. The second stage of the op has been booked now and will be towards the end of this month. I have been extremely lucky to be so well looked after.

4. I went to see the Opus Anglicanum exhibition at the V&A and well, just wow! An exhibition of medieval English embroidery, it is mainly religious stuff (apparently lots of stuff would have been embroidered back then but the religious embroideries were more carefully looked after) and religious stuff isn’t really my cup of tea but, oh wow, the pieces are just so well preserved, I had to keep looking at the labels and reminding myself that what I was looking at was 800 – 900 years old and the needlework, oh my goodness, was amazing. Everything is obviously under glass but you can (with the glass between you obviously) get pretty close, so to see how intricate the stitching is, well, it got this embroidery geek pretty excited. I loved how all the exhibition labels said what stitches were used and I loved how although this stuff was 800 – 900 years old, the colours used and the illustrative work, heck, it would look good if it were done today. So, if you like your embroidery, you have to see this.

5. Somebody once said to me, that I don’t have very many positive, older role models in my life and although there are a few, a lot of older people I’ve known in my life, well things didn’t end particularly well for them. So one of the many things I love about living in London is that some of the older people here, they rock, at least of the stylistic stakes. So a big thumbs up to the very elderly guy I saw on the bus, who seemed to be having trouble walking but still rocked a pair of crisply turned up jeans, a buttoned up denim jacket, a crisp blue shirt and a thickly knotted yellow and black stripy tie, with a record bag slung over his shoulder. He was a street photographer’s dream. You couldn’t help but look at him and think that he must have lived an interesting life, if I had had the nerve (and not the worry that I might have freaked him out), I would have loved to talk to him.

On the menu – not that nice cupcakes



It was Boy Lacer’s birthday today and although Girl Lacer is the official birthday cake maker this year, she couldn’t make one until the day after, so I made some cupcakes because you’ve got to have cake and a candle to blow out on your actual birthday. So I made the Malted Cupcakes from ‘Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery’ and um, they weren’t actually that nice. They were rather dense and far too sweet, so your taste buds were literally overwhelmed with the texture and the sugar, you couldn’t actually really taste anything else, especially not malt! It’s perhaps a good thing Girl Lacer is the official birthday cake maker for Boy Lacer this year!


On the menu: pearl barley with veg and chorizo


Pearl Barley with veg and chorizo

I made this, Ruby Tandoh’s ‘Rainbow Vegetable and Chorizo Pearl Barley Bowl’ on Friday, to eat in the September sun, in the back garden. It was nice, it was a bit strange having to use three pans just to make lunch for myself but it was worth it.

(That yellow veg in the photo btw is not butternut squash, it’s yellow pepper, I think it would have been actually nicer if it had been butternut squash).

Also made this week

I baked! Okay, it was a recipe I’ve made before, Jane Brocket’s rock buns, so it doesn’t really count as my ‘baking a new recipe as a hobby every week’ thing but still, I baked!

On the menu: bolognese​

Well that resolution lasted a long time, I have failed to bake anything this week, although ironically I’ve been craving homemade cake all week (specifically chocolate orange marble cake for some reason, I have now found a recipe and will be making it next week) but it’s just been too hot to bake. Anyway I did make –


Bolognaise from Ruby Tandoh's Flavour
I made the bolognese from Ruby Tandoh’s Flavour, it was a bit of an adaption because as usual I came to the recipe and discovered that I needed way longer than I actually had to cook it. Of course the secret to a good bolognese is a really long slow cook, so I should have realised. Anyway, it probably worked out for the best, as Tandoh’s recipe was for 8 and I was halving the ingredients for 4 and I think a two hour cook would have rendered that much sauce into a burnt lump.

So, anyway, I am perfectly capable of making a bolognese without a recipe (everyone is) but it’s always good to learn new tricks, so I thought I’d give an actual bolognese recipe a try for a change. Ruby’s recipe involves milk, which I have tried before in a bolognese and didn’t like but actually this time it worked quite well (I still don’t think I’ll be adding milk to my own personal recipe though). She also didn’t use stock (whereas I always do), I guess the milk and the white wine (another ingredient I rarely use in my bolognese), was enough liquid as it was. If I were to line up a bolognese made with stock but without milk and wine versus a bolognese made without stock but with milk and wine, I think I could tell the difference but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what exactly the difference was. I guess it’s all down to personal taste and I’ll be sticking to my stock version, as I rarely have wine in the house (one of the reasons I went for this recipe, was that in a kitchen tidy I did find a small bottle of white wine).

On the menu: total icing failure and belly hug soup


Total icing failure

baked, I actually cooked something from scratch, I followed a recipe! This was the first proper thing I’ve cooked for months, all summer I’ve been living off sandwiches and pasta, so it was a bit of a shame that the icing was a complete disaster but still, icing never was my strong point!

The recipe is Malteser cake from Miranda Gore-Browne’s Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can, the actual cake is lovely and the icing actually tastes nice too, it’s just a bit split and very runny.

My September resolution (I always feel that September resolutions are far more likely to work than New Year resolutions, after all will power is always low at the dreary back end of winter, whereas September still feels like new school year and all that, even when you’re 41), anyway, my September resolution, now that my fitness is coming back, it to bake at least once a week and cook a savoury recipe from scratch once a week too and that does not include the recipes I do without referring to anything, which are usually extremely easy and just involve throwing a few ingredients together. No, this is cooking as a hobby not just as a means to feed myself and my family, at least once a week for savoury and once a week for baking (unless I’m away from home). So hopefully ‘on the menu’ will be back ‘on the menu’ (you can groan now if you want).


Belly hug soup
This is Belly Hug soup from the second Happy Pear book, it’s just lentil soup really but all lentil soup is belly hug soup really, it’s very nice.

I love having my cooking mojo back and I’m particularly enjoying the challenge of ‘using stuff up’. We’ve been living off food, that put it this way, doesn’t really involve ingredients, all summer and getting ‘ingredients’ back in the house again has made me extra determined to use everything up! I don’t normally blog about recipes I’ve made before and have blogged about previously or ‘recipes’ where really I’m just throwing random stuff I’ve got in my kitchen together. But I thought I would at least add briefly what else I’ve been making this week.

  • I made pasta soup from a Tessa Kiros recipe with Girl Lacer and because I had some passata left over and I impulse bought some mini stand up taco shells in the supermarket the next day, I used the rest of the passata to make yummy tacos (those mini shells are good, Boy Lacer doesn’t like the bigger ones as they’re too messy but he ate these). And the remains of the taco sauce made a really nice topping for jacket potatoes for lunch the day after (sprinkled with grated cheese on top, extra yum).
  • The icing disaster cake needed me to buy some cooking milk chocolate and some Maltesers (obviously), I didn’t need to use all the chocolate and amazingly (since the op my sweet tooth is weirdly very much reduced), there were still some Maltesers left two days later, so I made brownies, using the milk chocolate and the remaining Maltesers as extra filling. I used the brownie recipe from the Great British Bake Off: Learn to Bake book, which I make all the time (well, when I make brownies) and therefore I must have blogged about before but I can’t find the post right now but trust me, good recipe.

PS I have a ‘rival’ in the kitchen now, Girl Lacer, who is developing a mean repertoire of classic dishes that she normally has far more success with than me, I will have to up my game! 😉


5 things I liked – 2.9.16

1. A walk by a stream in Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.
2. We went to The Good Food Show at Hampton Court on Bank Holiday Monday. We saw Paul Hollywood and Martha Collison. Paul demonstrated bagels that looked ten times nicer than the bagels you can buy in the supermarket and I have to try the recipe and an apricot and fig tart, which I wasn’t so keen on, only because I don’t really like those sort of tarts or figs for that matter. He was very funny and rather red, having just come back from holiday. Martha was lovely too, although she looked a little nervous bless her (I’m sure Paul Hollywood was probably nervous when he first started doing these things too), she made oreo ice cream brownie sandwiches. The ice cream looked like the easiest recipe ever and I have to try it, I’m not a massive fan of oreos, although my kids are, so I’ll have try the recipe with oreos in but she did say you could add anything to the ice cream mix and it’s no churn! The brownies also looked lovely and added with the ice cream to make the sandwiches, looked absolutely delicious!

Good Food Show - Paul Hollywood

Good Food Show - Martha Collison

3. Me and the kids were on the bus, it was extremely crowded and we were spread across the bus, squeezing in where we could. There was a baby screaming angrily and it was all just ‘very crowded bus’. Then suddenly, from behind me, I could hear, just under the baby screaming, someone softly singing a song in mandarin. I turned round (although I knew who it was), it was Girl Lacer, she started mandarin lessons last year and as far as I can tell, hasn’t learnt that much (it’s probably one of her least favourite subjects and she normally enthusiastically loves everything) but she has learnt quite a few songs in mandarin (the one she was singing on the bus translated to Jasmine Flower) and they’re beautiful.
4. Going to see The Lost Palace.
5. On the way to and from The Lost Palace, we walked via Southbank, one of Girl Lacer’s favourite places (Boy Lacer is pretty fond of it too), every time we go there, Girl Lacer guaranteed sees it, draws in a big breath and sighs “I love Southbank”. I’m very fond of Southbank too, there seems to be always something new to see. This time there were the ‘Modified Social Benches NY‘, which were fantastic fun and a big hit with the kids.