Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s sticky quince and ginger cake

What's in Season

Quince and Ginger Cake

I looooove quince so I snapped up a good bunch at the Old Trafford Amateur Gardeners Society last week. This recipe means you also get some jelly from the poaching liquid – a tasty addition to toast.

150g butter, softened, plus a little more for greasing
2 large-ish quinces (about 600g)
160g caster or vanilla sugar
160g runny honey 
1 small thumb fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
Juice of ½ lemon
250g plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
Good pinch of salt
180g caster or vanilla sugar
3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
100g creme fraiche 
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 balls stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped

For the topping
3 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar
3 tbsp quince poaching liquid
2 tbsp granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Grease a 23cm x 5cm round, spring-form cake tin, line the base…

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Let the cooking begin

I’ve been consumed by food as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, I was lucky (is that the right word) enough to have a mum who had a background in horticulture and interest in eating healthily, which meant our back garden contained a veritable variety of fruit trees, bushes, grow-your-own vegetables, chickens and the occasional visiting deer. This was very unlike the neighbours’ neatly trimmed lawns where one hosted a summer BBQ and sipped Pimms – definitely no 2-legged egg-laying creatures to be found there.

I suppose this must be where my interest in food began, and having seen plants grow and be harvested, I was intrigued as to how that translated into food on the table. I was always encouraged to help cook at home, which has given me some confidence (but not necessarily skill) in attempting to cook for myself in my adult life.

Like most (young) professionals in London, I live a fast-paced life: I’m kept busy between a full-time job as a Project Manager and trying to develop a career, writing projects, training for a half marathon and attempting to still socialise enough that my friends don’t think I’ve become a recluse and miraculously have just enough money to get by. Basically that does not leave a lot of time to relax.

Luckily for me, relaxation comes in the form of cooking. After a long day at work and exhausted after another gym session cajoling my muscles into action, I set to work in the kitchen. Having trialled recipes and attempting to photograph food as a means to remember which ones have worked well and which haven’t over the past year, I thought it high time to actually do something constructive with this knowledge. Thus, this blog was born.

Now as someone who has been known to say that he has several mid-life crises ‘planned’, I fear I’m in the early stages of entering one even earlier than expected (for reasons I’d like to keep out of this blog for the time being). So, as a means to keep my sanity, I’ve devised a somewhat ludicrous culinary challenge: I am going to cook my way through the alphabet.

Every week over the next 26 weeks, I will blog about a meal where the key ingredient (and perhaps even supporting ingredients if I’m not feeling challenged enough) starts with the corresponding letter of the alphabet, beginning with A next week. I will try to make the dishes as tasty as possible, provide a few snaps and a recipe card so you can try it yourself if you believe what you see to be edible. Be warned, although I do try to incorporate my 5-a-day into my dishes, I’m not a ‘calorie counter’ – in my humble experience, this exercise seems to contradict increasing the flavour of a dish.

As it’s in season, Asparagus is key ingredient for the recipe I have yet to come up with for next week.

So, I’ll pour myself a wee glass of red and start the creative juices flowing. I’m happy to take recipe ideas/challenges for this week or for coming weeks – feel free to send them in.