28 April 2014

Walnut Pesto

This is a quick-fix cold pesto that works very well with almost any kind of pasta. If the ingredients are at hand it can easily be made in the time it takes to get the pasta al dente.
It has a very strong nutty flavour. If too dry, add a bit of pasta water before serving.



What you need

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 – 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 200 g walnuts, soaked in boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes, then drained
  • 100 g pecorino romano, grated (not in the picture), parmesan if you don’t like sheep’s cheese
  • 50 – 100 ml olive oil
  • 100 ml fresh cream or double cream (if watching the pounds, single cream may do…)
  • salt and pepper to season
  • optionally: some finely pounded chilli pepper to taste

What you do

  • Grind the nuts and mix with the pecorino.
  • Blend with the liquid ingredients and, if necessary, some pasta water, to the desired consistency.
  • Mix with ready pasta and serve with more grated pecorino or parmesan.

09 April 2014

Orange-Chocolate Birthday Cake

It was my Dad’s 87th birthday last month. My Mum used to make a cake a lot like this one, which is never dry because it is made without actual flour, for my sister’s or my birthday when we were small. So it’s a kind of double family celebration. What gave me the idea to include orange peel was a block of dark chocolate with orange I came across when looking through the cupboards.



What you need

  • 3-4 eggs separated
  • 80-100 g sugar
  • 125 g ground almonds
  • 4-5 petit-beurre biscuits, pounded (or similar biscuits)
  • 100 g dark chocolate with orange
  • 70 g butter
  • 50 g orange peel or coarse cut bitter orange marmalade
  • 50 ml Kirsch, Cognac or Grand-marnier (not in the picture)

What you do

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar for about 10 minutes until they are pale yellow.
  2. Mix in the ground almonds.
  3. Melt the chocolate and the butter and add the orange peel.
  4. Stir in the brandy (if the chocolate goes lumpy then, add a tablespoon of iced water)
  5. Gently mix the chocolate into the egg yolk and almonds.
  6. Stir in the pounded petit-beurres / biscuits.
  7. Whisk the egg whites until they are fluffy and keep their shape when you mould them into peaks.
  8. With a spatula fold the beaten egg whites little by into chocolate egg almond mix. The mixture should be quite light and fluffy, similar to beaten eggs in texture.
  9. Immediately pour into a well-greased cake tin and put in the oven preheated to 200°
  10. Bake for about 50 minutes, checking after 40 minutes: a toothpick should be dry when it comes out of the cake. If it looks as if it is getting too dark on the top, cover with a sheet of silver foil.


This cake is best made the day before you need it because it becomes moister if left standing covered up.
My Dad often prefers smaller portions these days. The ingredients make a relatively small cake ideal for a small party. For more eaters simply double the amounts.