“Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Quick Pickled Cucumber” from “Flavour”

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And after all those ridiculous avocado toast recipes, Ms Tandoh comes up with the goods and does a proper good cheese toastie. You can see how much we loved it by this picture. Oh yes. SO very good. And the pickled cucumber was also a revelation. Will I do this again? You can bet I will! And all the more so in this cold weather. I might just add a slice or two of ham next time though. And the beer was also a must.

“Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Quick Pickled Cucumber” from “Flavour”

“Honey Bundt Cake” from “Flavour”

Regular readers of this blog will know that I frequently test out the cake/tart/sweet treat recipes on my book club. They are willing guinea pigs and *usually* we end up with something delicious. (Aside from the one time I had to throw out an entire cake once it emerged from the oven because I could tell by looking at it that it was going to be disgusting. But we don’t talk about that.)

I wasn’t so sure about this once I had made the batter. Ruby tells you in the introduction that the quantity makes “a smaller, more manageable cake” but it looked like very little batter to me. But I persevered, and also used the bundt pan where it wouldn’t have mattered how much batter filled the pan– unlike this one.

I’m glad I did so. While it did make a much smaller bundt cake than the one I’m used to producing, it made a very reasonable sized cake and small slices too. This meant that nearly everyone went for a second slice, which we ate while we drank our coffee or tea. It’s the perfect cake for hot drinks.

This was a triumph. So much so that two of the book club members, who have endured tested many a cake for me said it was by far their most favourite book club cake ever.

High praise indeed.

If you’d like to impress your own book club, or indeed your own family, Google Books has indexed Flavour and you can find the recipe by clicking through this link.

“Honey Bundt Cake” from “Flavour”

“Beef Rendang”” from “Flavour”

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Kirstin: You know when you commit to a recipe that it is going to take several hours to make, that it has to really be worth it. This recipe is just that. I whizzed up the spices, fried it up with all the other ingredients and left it all to simmer for FOUR HOURS one Saturday afternoon. We all got very hungry as the smell it made while it was cooking was exquisite. And we ate it all up when I served it up. Bonus leftovers for tonight too, so total result.

“Beef Rendang”” from “Flavour”

“Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake” from “Flavour”

It seems appropriate to start a month of cooking with a Great British Bake Off runner up with a cake. Also, I have found in life there is always a good reason to have some chocolate cake. Those truly are words to live by.

Using the word “Easy”, however, gave me pause. Baking a cake isn’t easy for everyone. I distinctly remember the first time I tried to make a chocolate cake. It was almost exactly 15 years ago and I wanted to make a cake for Tim’s birthday. I dutifully went off to John Lewis to buy the cake pans and other bits I needed to make it. The cake part went fine, but when it was time to make the icing, it was an UTTER DISASTER. The icing just poured down the sides of the cake and pooled around the cake on the cake dish. It was laughably bad.

It’s a wonder that I ever tried to make a cake again. But I persevered, and in fact, it was only two years later that I made a wedding cake– or actually should be CAKES– to feed 250 people.

While I did find this easy, I also know that I’m much better at making cakes than I used to be. So I honestly don’t know if it would be easy for everyone. It definitely was easier than the cake I made last month, the Devil’s Food Cake with Buttercream Meringue. The directions for this cake are clear and straightforward, so if you want to try your first cake, this might be a good place to start.

Most importantly, it is delicious. It is an unfussy, moist and delectable specimen of a cake. It is the type of cake that sits happily on a counter and you just take small slivers off of it every time you’re a bit peckish until suddenly there’s nothing left. I wouldn’t just limit making this cake for birthdays, either. We had no birthdays to celebrate here and yet we managed to force it down. Again to reiterate: There’s always a good reason to have chocolate cake.

Highly recommended. (Though I still don’t know if it’s easy or not.)

Try this recipe! Ruby helpfully also wrote it up for her column in the Guardian, which you can find if you click through this link. 

 

“Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake” from “Flavour”

“Soft Spiced Apple Cake” from “Flavour”

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Kirstin: Soft spiced apple cake. What could be more perfect on a winter’s evening with friends? Or come to that, on a Monday morning while doing chores? Or on a Sunday afternoon while tackling a puzzle in front of a fire? It turns out that THIS is the perfect cake for ALL of those activities. And more. If lasts that long in your house, that is! Do not be put off by the long list of spices; they are there for a reason. This is beautifully perfumed and heavenly. Super easy to make, THIS is the recipe I will come back to again and again. Epic. And for a non-baker, I have to admit I am VERY curious about her previous book now.

“Soft Spiced Apple Cake” from “Flavour”

“Herb-packed fishcakes with hot lemon wedges” from “Flavour”

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I love a good fishcake and when I saw these, I was intrigued as potato did not make it into the ingredient list. I used haddock, although she said you could use cod instead. And the curry powder combined with chilli added something very interesting to the mix. Fresh, gorgeous with lemon wedges and perfectly yummy, I would make these again for sure. If you make them though, remember that you have to refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes before cooking, a step I almost forgot! It’s a lovely half an hour to drink a glass of wine and then get on with the frying part.
And see how I’ve saved you all from the terrible fish puns too! Ha!

“Herb-packed fishcakes with hot lemon wedges” from “Flavour”

Cookbook of the month, February 2017: Flavour: Eat what you Love

Kirstin: I had seen this book was out, but assumed it was all baking, which is why I didn’t look at it. But then she wrote a column for Elle, when I learned that this cookbook wasn’t just baking. Then I was interested.

Maureen: I like that she’s moving beyond baking. She was a big success on the Great British Bake Off, but I always enjoyed the other articles she wrote about food. The New York Times just did a nice story on her too, so maybe she’ll conquer America next. This book is released there this month.

Kirstin: She’s so good about the Helmsley sisters and the clean eating brigade. First there was the article in Vice, which really kicked the whole debate off.

Maureen: Last month, she had a great essay on the clean eating brigade in the Guardian. She’s definitely taken the whole clean eating trend to ask, which I admire. She’s a great writer, and she clearly loves food. The book also has lots and lots of pictures of just the food, and not of Ruby, which is how it should be.

Kirstin: She’s got some mad nail varnishes in some of the pictures, which is great.

Maureen: I like that it looks like creative food, but it doesn’t take an entire afternoon to do.

Kirstin: It’s also got a lot of different cuisines. I like a book with a lot of different cuisines.

Maureen: It all looks very inspiring.

Kirstin: It feels different. I like that. It’s going to be good month. I have a good feeling about this.

Maureen: We always say that.

Kirstin: That’s true.

Maureen: But that might actually be the case this month.

Cookbook of the month, February 2017: Flavour: Eat what you Love