Monday, 31 January 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Hello, hello. It's been a while, but I've been away in Egypt (blog to follow on that...).

Had to stop the Daniel Fast prematurely due to going, as I knew it was going to be difficult to stick to the rules while I was eating in another country in hotels and so on.

Anyway, I have quite a bit to catch you all up on in the next few blogs, but for today, I'll be showing you a sticky toffee pudding I've put together to welcome a couple of friends back to the country from South Africa.

Unashamedly, I've nicked this recipe from Jamie Oliver, so if you recognise it, that's why. Enjoy!


For the cake you will need:

- 225g dates (fresh is preferable, but I soaked some partially dried ones)
- 1tsp bicarbonate soda
- 85g butter
- 170g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 170g self raising flour
- 1tsp cinammon
- 2tbsp ovaltine
- 2tbsp yoghurt

This is a nice and easy, one bowl sort of pudding to put together. You can't really mess it up unless you're me and you double the date quantity by accident. Ha. Hopefully it'll taste alright - still looks edible at least... David Disaster ahoy.

Anyway, the first thing to do is to de-stone your dates and then (if they're not already very soft) soak them in a bowl of boiling water with the bicarbonate of soda.

Leave them for a few minutes to soak, and while you do, turn your attention to starting the cake.

Get the oven heating to 180°C. Then cream the butter and sugar together before thoroughly mixing in the flour, ovaltine, eggs and spices.

Once the dates are nice and gooey, drain them off and blitz them in a food processor until they become a purée, then fold this into the cake mixture along with the yoghurt.

Pour the mixture into a suitable baking tin and leave it in the oven for about 35 minutes (unless you've doubled the quantity of dates, in which case, an hour is more like what you'll need.

I've made the cake in advance of this evening, but I'll be finishing the caramel sauce later on so that it's not cold and set!


For the caramel sauce you will need:

- 140ml double cream
- 115g muscovado sugar
- 115g butter

Simply melt the sugar and butter in a saucepan before combining with the cream and leaving to cook out - it should darken and thicken a little. Careful not to burn it!

Please excuse the above squashed up picture - mobile phone pictures aren't the best... At least not from my phone!


Coming up:

- Like I said, I've a blog about all my food experiences in Egypt to come.
- Also hosting a Burns Lunch at work tomorrow.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Hello all - two posts in two days? Crazy talk... However, I've been cooking again, so here we go - some Daniel Fast friendly (90% sure anyway...) falafels.

Dinner was just another pile of vegetables cooked in a tomatoey sauce again, but thought I'd make something that I could eat at work tomorrow. Make a change from the last two days...


You will need:

- 250g dried chickpeas
- 1tsp chilli powder
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 2tsp dried parsley
- 4tbsp (level) wholegrain flour (I used buckwheat) + more to coat
- Salt and pepper to season

You'll need to soak the chickpeas for a couple of hours before draining them, and then boiling them in fresh water. If not on a Daniel Fast, it's fine to use a can - for the fast though, it's hard to find a can where the chickpeas aren't swimming in a chemical preservative.

Boil the chickpeas for about five minutes and then leave to simmer for a further 45 minutes or so - until tender.

In a bowl, mix all the spices, flour and seasonings together while the chickpeas are cooking. Prepare another bowl, filling it about a quarter full with the wholegrain flour.

Once the chickpeas are cooked, drain them and leave to cool for a few minutes until they've stopped steaming. Once this is done, add the chickpeas to the bowl with the spices and mash them with a fork, potato masher, or your hands. Or all three...

Once the mixture is thoroughly mashed, and you have a doughy consistency, shape the mixture into little balls (about golf ball size is fine) before rolling them in the excess flour to coat them thoroughly. This will help to give a crispy coating and keep the falafel together as it cooks.

Traditionally, falafel is deep fried, however, deep frying is also banned during a Daniel Fast, so instead shallow fry your falafel in a little oil, rolling them as one section cooks. Once the ball is completely golden brown, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and rest on some kitchen roll to absorb any excess oil.

Lunch. Sorted.


Coming up:

- Probably some other vegetable based delight...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Daniel Fast

Well, it's a new year, and it's been nearly a month since my last update.

As updates go, this is more about food and an introspective look at myself rather than any particular recipes (though there will be one!).


Basically, a few days ago at work, my colleague Dan had played a video by LifeChurch in devotions. The picture below is of Craig Groeschel, the minister who leads the church.

Generally, the video is a sermon on the start of a new year and how we should approach it from a spiritual perspective. Have we been apathetic spiritually? Are there things we need to change in the coming year?

Anyway, at about 19 minutes in, Craig talks about fasting to seek God at the start of the year - putting God first by denying yourself. Remembering to pray or to think on the things of God when you get hungry or are tempted to break the fast.

I decided to give it a go, following the fast that Craig and his church have taken up (though starting today I'm a little behind...). That is to say, the Daniel Fast. Whether I'll last the 21 days that they're suggesting I'm not sure. But if it gets me into a rhythm of seeking God first, then even if I don't manage 21 days, then that's a good start.


Needless to say, I had to augment my shopping list to deal with the fast. At first I thought it was going to be very very easy. It's still eating, right? But looking through the food list and what is allowed, you really have to cut out a lot of stuff. No sugar, butter, meat, bread, white rice or processed pasta and more? I'm looking forward to the challenge and I hope that it brings me closer to God this year.


If you're thinking about it as well, then be encouraged - I managed to make an enjoyable meal this evening.

It was a wee bit spur of the moment, and nothing fancy, but it was good.

I don't have any pictures or anything as I wasn't even planning to blog this, but changed my mind. So here goes. Also, this way, if anybody spots any mistakes in what I'm doing - if I've used any ingredients I shouldn't have, do let me know!

I cooked some wholewheat conchiglie in one pot while I prepared a few vegetables.

I diced a red onion, and chopped up two tomatoes and a handful of mushrooms. I sautéed these off in some garlic infused olive oil for a couple of minutes until the onions started to brown. I cracked in some black pepper and a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of chilli powder.

Allowing thirty seconds or so for the spices to heat, I then poured in a tin of chopped tomatoes and a couple of teaspoons of tomato purée. Don't worry, I checked the cans and purée for banned ingredients before I added them.

Stirring frequently until the sauce had heated through, I took it off the heat while I drained the pasta, leaving just a little of the pasta water to pour into the sauce for extra flavour and thickening. Just like the Italians.


Stick your pasta in the bowl and ladle the vegetables and sauce over the top. Sorted.


Coming up:

- More recipes based on this fast I should think...