Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Sneak Peek: Algeria

I have not quite disappeared...to reassure you that I am still alive and kicking, I thought I would give you a little look into life out in Algiers. The weather is not as hot as normal but I am thankful for that. No suncream needed today! My posts this week will be coming from Algiers and I have lined up some treats for you! Think...iced tea drinks, Maghrebi recipes, photographs from the souq and some Easter crafts.

This is Meriem. She is our guardian angel in the house, presiding over the marble pool. My family take it in turns to decorate her with any number of items; she has been dressed up in ray-bans, hats, scarves, beads. Today she is swagged in tartan bunting reminding us all of home.

Our house is a labryinth of arches and tiles, mosaics and marble, wood and windows. The colours are traditional Maghrebi styles with blue, green and cream in abundance. Each room is decorated in different tiles and we have had fun mixing our belongings with the house. It is certainly not everyone's taste but it definitely suits our family. Can I persuade any of you to come out and visit?!

My little brother Angus was intrigued by the healthy cookies (check out the earlier post!). He is keen to practice as many cooking skills as he can before he starts University and therefore cooking for himself! Jacqui and I are big fans of the spontaneous cook - throw in whatever you have in the kitchen, try something new or something unexpected. We did not have any chocolate in the house - I will be buying some more later - but we did have a pile of sticky sweet dates. Angus used exactly the same recipe as our original healthy cookies but instead of adding chocolate, he chopped about 50g of dates and another 50g of walnuts. With an extra spoonful of honey, these cookies are being fought over as I type!

Charlotte Xx

Sunday, 29 March 2009

newTunes: Arcade Fire

My NY girl Francesca requested that Charlotte and I suggest some tunes on our blog. We said, yea why not? I thought I would start the tradition here and now. Since Char and I are on Spring Break/ Easter Holidays, as we blog to all of you we are also blogging to each other. It will be a little taste of life after Uni- when we leave each other :(

Last night Pete and I were surfing- not waves, the net- and when I stumbled on the ad for the movie 'Where the Wild Things Are', Pete said 'that's Arcade Fire!' So basically Arcade Fire is not a new band, but it's new to me. Arcade Fire is a bit out there, but I think the lyrics and all the instruments make for a really interesting sound. Check them out!

Arcade Fire with David Bowie- Wake Up

Arcade Fire- My body is a cage

Arcade Fire- Rebellion (Lies) live Letterman

Arcade Fire- Keep the Car Running (as Jonathan Ross 2007)

Arcade Fire- No cars Go

Arcade Fire- Intervention

Arcade Fire- Neon Bible

p.s Char tell me what Angus thinks ;)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Perfect post!

Does anyone else get excited about the postman? The reassuring flap of the letterbox, the thud as post hits the ground, the anticipation of seeing where the envelope is from – do you recognise the handwriting? We are not talking about any old post here! Who wants bills, flyers, council information? We mean personal letters, quick postcards from near and far, a recipe, a newspaper article, just a simple hello I am thinking of you….

Here are a few letters we have received recently...In such a globalised world, the handwritten letter can get forgotten amongst the immediacy of emails and texts. We are guilty of this! Just take a few minutes out of your day and let someone know you are thinking about them. Don’t be shy! You need to start sending some letters if you want to receive them.

Why don’t you put pen to paper and write someone a letter or postcard. Have fun choosing a stamp and then send it on its way with a smile and some love. We can start a postal revolution! Stop the post offices being closed down and send a little something.

Charlotte & Jacqueline Xx

Monday, 23 March 2009

Foods with Friends: Goats Cheese Tart with Red Pepper and Caramelized Onions

These easy and (relatively) ready-to-go tarts are a great main course for an impromptu dinner party. We tested them out in exactly that situation. They are straight forward and you can even prepare most the steps ahead of time, so the hour before you have people over is not one filled with stress but ease- would you believe it? Having had four amazing girls (Andrea, Hannah Julia C, and Julia M) over for dinner recently, we served these tarts with some freshly tossed salad (rocket and baby spinach) and some roasted honey-balsamic glazed broccoli.

As we giggled over wine and showed them the work on our new blog, we knew that night and this recipe had to go up on a Food with (great) Friends post.

Prep time 30-40min
Cooking time 20min (check pastry pack)
Serves 6 (perfectly)

3 red bell peppers
5-6 red onions
150 grams of goats cheese (or around 4.5 ounces)
pastry puff (we used organic white spelt prepackaged)

Wash the red peppers thoroughly (especially if not organic) then cut the peppers in half and put them (open) face down on a tray in the oven, which will be set at your preferred roasting temperature (roughly 200 -220 C or 400- 450 F). Some people prefer to brown them over an open flame, but we think they caramelized and sweetened nicely in the oven/grill. Do NOT them burn. We suggest cooking them anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes, and watch them carefully. You want the sink to start bubbling and even brown, but once the skin looks black you are treading a fine line towards burnt peppers-ville. When the peppers are done put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (or put them in a brown bag) so that the skins start to peel away. When the skins peel away, clean them up and leave them whole (as they are).

As the peppers roast, caramelize the red onions in a pan with olive oil. We suggest cutting the onions into long elegant strands. You can do this by first cutting the onion in half and then slicing it vertically (if you placed the onion’s top/bottom facing towards your body, perpendicular to it. Caramelizing onions takes a good 20-40min if you do it properly. Wait for them to be completely limp, purple and sweet.

Prepare the pastry and cut it into 6 even pieces, making sure to leave a ¼ inch border on each piece that no ingredients are near the edge of the pastry. Hopefully we will be mastering a homemade pastry recipe soon enough and post that up for you guys!

First place the onions down on the pastry, then the red pepper, and then a nice slice of goats cheese. Bake for 10-15 at 200 C depending on oven. You want them golden and the cheese to melt nicely but not completely- then you know they are perfectly done.

Enjoy, with friends of course!

Charlotte & Jacqueline

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy Mother's Day...

I found this photograph as part of a set in a charity shop and they have quickly become some of my most treasured possessions. I love the way the mother is looking at her child, full of unconditional love, although the baby is far more interested in other things! Today is Mother’s Day where we can all forget about everything else we need to do and share some love with our Mummy/Mum/Mama/Mother/Mom/Momma….(Don’t panic if you are American – you celebrate Mother’s Day a little later than we do across the pond!).

I am not sure if my Mummy knows how much of her is around me everyday. My little Russian Wedding Ring was given to me by her and I wear it all of the time (unless I am doing something where I might lose it, in which case it is safely on my dressing table). Her beaten up leather satchel from her time at University still gets admiring glances today as it is lugged around St Andrews. I have all of her postcards she has sent me this year (she is very good at sending postcards!) around my little cottage and I never fail to be thrilled when I see another one lying inside my front door. Some of you might have seen me in this patchwork quilt jacket; my Granny made it for my Mummy and now I get to wear it! I love it even more knowing there is a little piece of my family in that jacket.

I can’t spend today with my mummy but I will be making up for lost time a week today! I know that flowers go down nicely but if you are not at home today, why not make your mum a cd with your favourite songs on, cook something yummy for her when you are next with her or simply just call to let her know you are thinking of her.

I am off to make a phone call! Have a lovely day!

Charlotte Xx

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Ultimate Feel-Good Cookie: A tribute to Nikki & Heidi

There is nothing bad for you in these cookies! We promise. Baking, chocolate and healthy rarely go together, but we think these cookies are worthy of their feel-good title. This is a good example of being creative and substituting ingredients for something you may already have in the cupboard. We often stray away from the original recipe if we have not got the right ingredients – happy accidents have frequently occurred this way.

Browsing 101 Cookbooks we stumbled across Nikki’s healthy cookies. Very keen to try them out but without having the coconut oil in the original recipe, we thought apple sauce might be a good substitute. Apple sauce takes Nikki’s cookies into the even healthier category! Just use dark chocolate and then you can smile with every mouthful. The ultimate feel-good cookie is a great pick me up because it can give you that boost of energy when you are lagging in the afternoon and has the added benefit of being completely healthy.

Charlotte definitely earned her guestamaker baker title with this recipe. She is not good with cup measurements so just threw the ingredients together until it looked about right – Jacs gently pointed out that not everyone cooks that way and she should try and give weights to encourage people to cook the recipes. Trying to write up the recipe using exact measurements is a completely new challenge for us as Charlotte tends to go by instinct instead of the scales and Jacs uses a mixture of cups and grams. Just be patient, we will get much better! In fact, Charlotte improved whilst cooking this recipe. At first she forgot to weigh anything at all, and then she remembered to weigh in grams but not in cups and vice-versa. Eventually, we managed to crack cups and grams by the time we got round to weighing the chocolate chips. Phew!

Just remember to feel no guilt with these cookies! We are going to try some different combos from the base of these cookies over the next few months – peanut butter, seeds, nuts, dried fruit…. But for now, try the basic feel-good cookie and smile : )

Prep time 20

Cook time 10-15

Makes 20-25 cookies

2 Bananas
2 Apples
200g / 2 Cups rolled Oats
50g / 2/3 Cup Ground Almonds
40g/ 1/3 Cup Shredded Coconut
50g Chocolate Chips
A pinch of Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Powder

(If you have a slightly sweeter tooth, just add some extra teaspoons of honey or agave to the mix when stirring.)

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Peel and cut the apples into small fine pieces. Simmer with some boiling water and cook until mushy. I often just finish pureeing the apples using a fork but you can make a finer apple sauce using a hand held blender.

Mash the two bananas and then add the apple sauce to this. It works best if you allow the apple sauce to cool slightly so it does not melt the chocolate! Add the oats, coconut, almonds, baking powder, and cinnamon and stir until well mixed. Lightly fold in the chocolate pieces. Spoon the mixture into small bite size dollops and place on a greased or lined baking tray. Bake until lightly brown, about 10-15 minutes, depending on how big your cookies are!

Charlotte & Jacqueline

Monday, 16 March 2009

Favorite words...

We love words.

We like, scratch that - we LOVE collecting quotes, reading and sometimes writing poems, diving head first into amazing books and then chatting away about them. Sometimes we even find ourselves reading the same books at the same time and NOT knowing it. Or better yet compiling an 'Amazon wishlist' of books on the same night only to share our wishlist the next day and notice the striking similarity!

We share inspiring words with each other, so we thought why not share them with everyone? We hope to have 'favorite words' to share more often, but for now we will just start with a yogi tea bag mantra.

...isn't that so true? When we can control the mind we can control our body, our mood, our emotions and our destiny really. We can say that is enough. Tomorrow will be better, brighter, more blissful. If I will it in my mind than I will it in my body and I make it a reality.

May your tea bag guide you...more yogi tea readings to come...


Charlotte and Jacqueline

Rosemary Oatcakes

We can’t possibly post from Scotland and not include oatcakes! An easy way to impress when you bring your cheese board out, oatcakes are deceptively simple and once you start making homemade oatcakes, the shop-bought kind quickly lose their appeal. These are the perfect bases to get creative – let your imagination run riot with flavour combinations…cracked pepper, thyme, grated lemon…...

When Jacqueline said she wasn't feeling well and I persuaded her to make soup, I thought I would bake some oatcakes and eat them in spirit with her. With her tiredness in mind, I thought I would put together an oatcake which would help boost her back up to her normal sunshine-self!

Oats have long been a staple of the Scottish diet - there is something so hearty and filling about them, whether they are made into porridge, on top of a crumble or in an oatcake. They are one of those magic ingredients which are able to help maintain energy levels throughout the day whilst regulating healthy blood sugar levels. This means you should have some form of oats if you are ever feeling lethargic or low. However, oats are not the only ingredient to have hidden benefits! Rosemary is naturally full of antioxidants and can help relieve digestive disorders and headaches. It helps to stimulate your liver to work more effectively, making you feel more energetic and healthy. Baking oatcakes with the added medicinal qualities of rosemary sounds like the perfect combination and should get Jacqueline up and about in no time!

Makes approx 20-25 5cm Oatcakes

200g or 1 1/2 Cups fine Oatmeal
50g or 1/2 Cup rolled Oats
2 sprigs fresh Rosemary
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
4 tbsp Olive Oil
100ml warm/just boiled Water
A pinch of Salt

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F

Combine the oatmeal, oats, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl. Roughly chop the rosemary and add it to the dry mix. Measure out the olive oil and then add the olive oil and water to the ingredients in the bowl to form a firm, slightly sticky dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until about 2mm thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out rounds from the dough, rerolling the scraps until all the dough is used up.

Place the rounds on a greased or lined baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then munch away! The oatcakes will keep for up to a week, stored in an airtight container.

Oatcakes go well with all sorts of cheeses, soup (I recommend J's Carrot and Watercress!) or spread with hummous or avocado! If you are not tempted by flavoured oatcakes, you could make them plainn by omitting the rosemary.


Sunday, 15 March 2009

Cleansing Carrot and Watercress Soup

Hello Hello!

In a much better mood now, as you can see, but earlier this weekend I was feeling kind of sick, generally under the weather and ... to be honest, in a bit of a rotten mood. I called Charlotte (who lives the oh-so-far 20 minutes in a car away) and babied to her the way I would to my mom. She told me to take a walk and make that good carrot soup I like and 'forget 'bout it'! She said she would make her rosemary oat cakes to go with my soup- in spirit of course!

So enough about my mood lets get to the heart warming soup that is vegan, ultra healthy and high in 'super foods.' Now you all probably know carrots are good for you- you can just hear your mom's voice in your head telling you that eating carrots will improve your eyesight. Mom's know huh? Carrots are rich in antioxidant compounds and the andioxidants in carrots not only help safeguard against cardiovascular disease and cancers, but guess what else, your mom was right, they do promote good vision!

Watercress takes carrots and 'ups one' (as my seventeen-year older brother would say). Watercress is rich in vitamins C, B1, B6, K and E, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and zinc. It is also rich in antiozidants that are sourced from high contents of beta-carotene and Vitamin A.

Lastly, the bay leaves which flavor the carrots and the broth are healing in their own right. Since the ancient Greek and Roman times, bay leaves were valued with such high regard that during battle, sports and times of study the top finishers or winners wore a crown of laurel (the Latin term for bay leaf). The term "baccalaureate" originates from this, and now a days when people complete their schooling this term is used- funny no one knows they are being honored with bay leaves?

Bay leaves are traditional used to flavour dishes because beyond the distinct aroma they are known to help relieve chest infection, flu and coughs, promote perspiration in order to remove a flu or fever, and ease the body of pains and aches, as well as calm digestive disorders.

So cooking 'sicky soup' - as my mom calls it- with bay leaves will surly make you fell better. YUMM. Can you taste all the cleansing goodness going to your body already? This is a very simple and easy recipe, which makes a sicky body feel good as new by the morn'.

Cleansing Carrot and Watercress Soup:
Prep time 10min
Cook time 40-2 hours (the longer you let the carrots marinate the better)
Serves 6-8 people

10 medium size carrots (1000 gm roughly)
3-5 bay leaves (depending on strength)
1 small salad bag of watercress (or 85 gms)
1 white onion
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sweat the chopped onion in a pot with olive oil and once the onions start to whilt add ALL those chopped carrots. I know that probably took a while. Don't worry about the size or even-ness, we are going to blend they all up anyway.

Then add the bay leaves (dried or fresh, dried are more flavorful though). Fill the pot with water to just above the carrots. Add some salt now so that the carrots absorb the salty flavor as they cook. Put the lid on and let the carrots stew and marinate for as long as you have time to. The longer the better. Make sure they are not on a high boil the whole time, but a nice (intense) simmer.

Once the carrots are soft, remove the bay leaves and blend the carrots with a hand-held blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Here add more hot water if too much of it has boiled or cooked off. I prefer to leave my soups quite thick and then add some hot water or broth after (before serving) so that I can decide the thickness on different days or store it away. Often I make soups in HUGE batches (as you can see) and then freeze them. This is an AMAZING time and money savor (as students both factors are important to me and Char). When you are super hungry with no time grab a frozen soup, but it in the sink with some cold (NOT hot) water, eventually try to crack it out of your tubberware, zip lock bag, etc and reheat it with some boiled water (depending on however thin or thick you like your soup). You can cook most soups down from a frozen state safely -not completely sure about ones with meat though.

Lastly- I almost forgot- turn the stove off and gently fold in the watercress. Folding the watercress in at the last minute means it will only cook in the heat of the already cooked and blended soup. This leaves the watercress closer to its natural raw state, where the watercress is more likely to maintain its optimal level of health and wealth for the body. Note: if you are going to freeze the soup, then I suggest throwing the watercress in and then freezing the soup because if you forget to do that, you may defrost your plain carrot soup one day next week and be disappointed you have no watercress . However, throwing other veggies in the carrot and bay leaf boil would probably taste good too.

(Information on ingredients thanks to www.whfoods.com; www.watercrest.co.uk, www.helpwithcooking.com)


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Food with Friends: Pete’s Thai Yellow Curry

... and Cardamom and Cashew brown basmati rice

As mentioned before Pete and I made Thai Yellow Curry with shrimp last weekend. To compliment it we made rice with a twist (since Pete hates plain rice)- it was brown basmati rice with cardamom and cashew (yum).

Before I dive into the recipe I thought I would introduce a new concept Charlotte and I had: Food with Friends. When 'Food with Friends' titles a recipe it means we either baked and cooked with friends (i.e guest appearance) or we cooked a dinner party for our closest amigos and we decided the recipes were worthy sharing with our blogger community. We are excited to not only share recipes, but also our amazing friends!

Towards the much-anticipated Thai Yellow Curry with Shrimp we head. Note: if you are a meat eater (which Charlotte and I are not) you can add chicken or meat etc. Or if you a true veg you can add tofu or just leave it as it is without the shrimp. The veggies soaked up the Thai flavors amazingly.

As Charlotte does, I too love to travel. And Pete loves to eat. And travel. Heck, we all travel, eat, and enjoy doing it. Naturally that means we are curry people. One doesn’t have trouble finding a good curry in the UK, but last weekend Pete and I felt like an adventure, so we decided to make our own Thai curry and here goes...

This curry, in particular, hits the spot but feels amazingly light (unless you eat too much of it of course), so all the more reason to start cooking...

...you will need... quite a list of things...

Prep time 30-40min
Cook time 1hr 10 – 1hr 30min

Paste Ingredients:
2 red chillies, dry or wet, chopped (remove seeds)
1 teaspoon crushed chilly (flakes)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 teaspoon rock sea salt (or more to taste)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 a large shallot
1 stalk lemon grass chopped finely
1 lime, fresh juice
2 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
Thumb size piece of freshly grated ginger
4 Kaffir lime leaves
1/4 cup of fresh parsley or coriander

General Curry Ingredients:
1 can (400 ml) organic coconut milk
1 ½ shallot
2 small sweet potato (peeled, boiled, cubed)
1 yellow pepper
2-3 heads of bok choi
1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
10 regular shrimp (uncooked) (organic or fresh as possible please)
2 King size shrimp (uncooked) (ditto)

Pete and I made the paste from scratch, yea it takes a little extra time and effort, but of course it was so worth it. And the only way to be really Thai. When you cook you have got to take on the culture and get fully immersed in your cooking. To make the paste grind all paste ingredients together, we attempted a pestle and mortar and then gave into a hand-held blender.

In a wok fry the chopped shallot (chop them length wise) in oil (we used sesame and olive oil). When they start to soften, add the paste and then the coconut milk. Pour in half a can of water after the coconut milk.

Allow the curry to come to a simmer (15-20 minutes). Then add the pre-boiled sweet potato to the curry. Allow the curry to thicken for another 10-15 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables, except the bok choi and halved cherry tomatoes. Allow the curry to cook for another 20 minutes. Then when the curry appears almost finished (it get thicker and turn a more intense shade of yellow) add the bok choi and cook for 5 minutes, and then add the shrimp and cook for the remaining 5 minutes. The shrimp will be pink when ready, but do not overcook the shrimp because they will become tough.

Of course you need something to soak that curry up, why don’t you jazz up plain rice?

Cardamom and Cashew Brown Rice:
1 cup of brown rice (basmati or long grain)
1 tablespoon of cardamom pods
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon oil
1 cube of organic vegetable bouillon (if desired)
2 handfulls of cashew nuts.

Boil brown rice (rinsed), either basmati or long grain. Boil the rice with some sea salt, oil and the cardamom pods. After the rice is done boiling, rinse it in luke warm to cool water. In a frying pan dry roast the cashews and when they are lightly golden add the brown rice. On low heat, warm the rice with the cashews and allow the rice to dry out a little (no one likes wet soggy rice). Note: try not to eat the cardamom when eat have your rice, unless you don’t mind that extra crunchy-kick like Pete. The pods are not overly flavorful after being boiled, but still they are more there for flavoring the water than eating.

Enjoy your eats!

p.s just because the curry was yellow doesn’t mean the pictures should have been, excuse the poor lightening we were working with ;)

Jacqueline, sous chef to Guest Pete.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Sneak Peek: Picture Perfect Pittenweem

Sometimes the most beautiful things can be right in front of you. They are often simple, unassuming, everyday objects which take on a life of their own when photographed. Sneak peeks will be a little snapshot into somewhere we thought worthy of sharing - it might be an art gallery, a restaurant, or even a house. The sneak peeks will be places that inspire us and we hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!
This year I have been living in Pittenweem, a tiny coastal village in Fife, full of picture perfect cottages, fishing boats and steep wynds. I have the sea on my doorstep and can often hear the seals at night (if the Scottish wind is not blowing too hard!). I thought I would give you a little sneak peek into my world...

This is Pittenweem harbour...I love checking on the boats and seeing how many are in for the night, how high the tide is and just generally absorbing the fishing atmosphere. It is always busy and the sea gulls make a real racket! One of my favourite things to do is try and spot the resident seal who pops up to say hi every now and then.

The colours of the harbour got me running home; in a moment of madness I decided to get out all of my bowls as I thought their natural colours matched the colour scheme of Pittenweem pretty well! I love serving food in beautiful dishes and I am always searching for the perfect size for nuts, roast vegetables, salad etc. I have collected them over the last few years on my travels in America, Europe and Africa, but I think they all compliment each other...

As some of you may know, I love to travel and have a habit of collecting unusual things - when I caught sight of this dress, I knew I had to take her home with me. It did not matter that I was flying back to Scotland with only hand luggage, that the dress weighs over 15 kg, that I probably would never wear it...I guess you could say it was one of those love-at-first-sight moments! It is an Afghani wedding dress and is covered with coins, beads and heavy embroidery and it still makes me smile every time I see it. The dress now stands proudly in the corner of my bedroom, hinting at far away places and adding an air of mystery to my bedroom in the pink fisherman's cottage.

This is a tiny snapshot of my world. There is so much of Pittenweem left to show you all... even a chocolate shop! Until next time....

Brighton Baby

This past weekend I headed down to Brighton to visit Pete. Oh wait I forgot some of you might not know the absolutely adorable Scottish man I get to claim as all my own. Well here he is ...

I know so cute! Anyway before I post the next blog- Pete’s Thai Yellow Curry with Shrimp- I thought I would do a Brighton blog. Pete lives and works in Brighton. We met three and half years ago at St Andrews University, and having graduated before me, he has already entered the 'real world' . It is amazing to step out of the 'bubble' -what we call St Andrews- and go down to what feels likes another part of the world...

To visit him I hop on the oh-so-quick seven hour train journey down, or fly when his lovely parents Pete (yes another Pete) and Yvonne drive me to the airport. Brighton is about an hour south of London, in East Sussex. Personally, I love it. We are both so glad that he got transferred there last minute. At the time we did not know what a blessing in disguise it would be... It is super alternative, hipster, artsy, and most importantly there are plenty of good restaurants and markets.

On our last long Sunday afternoon walk, giggling over our clever idea to make Thai Yellow curry from scratch, I brought Pete’s camera out with us to take a million and one pictures of Brighton. Of course Pete insisted I stop looking like a tourist, but before that I snuck some good pics in...here is an idea of this sea-side city.

Rock pebble beach, old English houses, wonderful deli's and restaurants...

And this is for Charlotte... Jamie Oliver is opening an Italian restaurant in Brighton. Oh yea you heard properly. Charlotte and I kind of love Jamie Oliver and Pete showed me where his new hot spot will be, so of course a picture had to go up.


Flourless French Chocolate Cake (made healthy)


We have sweet teeth : ) Not just one tooth but many! So naturally any recipe filled with chocolate is a success. This cake actually makes your insides sing; it is so chocolate-y and warm. Yet it feels sophisticated when you eat it, and you know a little goes a long way to make your taste buds happy.

This cake is perfect for the “buts” that come up when we bake. Jacqui does not do to well with wheat flour, and Charlotte hates to see how much sugar gets added to dessert recipes. Furthermore, we see no need to throw loads of butter in a recipe for no reason. We are both into keeping it as natural as can be, so margarine and chemical designed sugars will NEVER be found in our recipes. If you can find the product in nature, coming from our beautiful planet and the lovely healthy creatures that co-habitat this earth with us, then the ingredients are usually good with us. Also we like to keep everything as organic as can be; and although today we won’t be going into all the reasons for the importance of getting as much free-range, natural and organic products as you can, trust us we will come back to blog about it later. Remember dairy (and flesh) are probably the key things to buy organic. So if you have to choose ingredients to buy organic for this recipe, go with the butter and eggs.

But back to the cake! This is a French flourless chocolate cake, adapted from The French Kitchen. The sugar has been halved and replaced by honey and the butter has been halved and replaced by applesauce. We have not found one person who does not absolutely love this cake...and when you tell your girlfriends the improvements you made by cutting down on butter and sugar, I think you will find that they love it even more!

Prep time 30min
Cook time 40min + 10-20min to cool
Serves 6 -12 (depending on how you cut it, we think the slices should be small)
260g dark chocolate (200g for cake + 60g for frosting)*
85g butter
90g applesauce *
60g unrefined natural sugar
65g honey
200g ground almonds
4 eggs separated
A pinch of cinnamon
1 small shot of espresso

Heat oven 150 degrees

Line a 25 cm spring form tin with baking parchment or grease a 25 cm pyrex dish/glass dish with butter (we used the latter).

Cream the butter and sugar until very soft, you can use an electric whisk or do it by hand. Then add the honey and applesauce and cream some more. Make sure that if you have made your own applesauce you let it cool before you add it to the creamed mixture.

Once your sugar, butter, honey and applesauce are fully mixed, add the ground almonds, mixed egg yolks, and a (small) pinch of cinnamon.

Then break the chocolate into pieces and prepare a bain-marie. Melt the chocolate in the bain-marie or home made double broiler* slowly.

Then slowly and evenly add this to the creamed sugar, butter, honey, almonds and egg yolks.

In a separate clean (preferably glass) bowl whip the four egg whites with a pinch of salt. Using an electric whisk is essential here, if you don’t want to be in the kitchen all day. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and mounds start to form. Charlotte says you should be able to hold whipped egg whites over your head without them dropping- now don’t you try it though, we’ll test that for you.

Using a large metal spoon, fold the stiff egg whites into the batter carefully. And pour the mixture into the pan evenly.

Allow 35-40 minutes depending on oven, check cake at 35 minute (try to look through your oven door without opening it- Jamie Oliver always warns against opening the oven when baking). The cake will form a soft crust on top and still be quite dense and soft in the middle when it is ready. Note: you do not want it to bee too wet or soggy in the middle though, this recipe does contain raw eggs.

Let the cake cool in the tin for ten minutes before you take it out to cool it on the rack.

After the cake is completely cooled, melt the remaining chocolate in the bain-maire, with the espresso, and some sugar or honey to sweeten it if you like. Pour and delicately spread the melted chocolate over the top of the cake as a frosting. We thought it looked elegant just to frost the top, but feel free to do the whole cake if you like. Sprinkle a couple almond flakes on top to be so very French.

ENJOY eating!

*Green and Blacks 70% cocoa Bakers Chocolate is best

* If you cannot buy ready-made organic applesauce (which we can never find in the UK) just make your own in no time. Peel and cut up 2-3 cooking and Gala or Braeburn apples into small fine pieces. Simmer with some boiling water and cook until mushy. Ten blend with an electric blender. The applesauce should really be pureed so you do not taste apple pieces in the cake.

*To make your own double-broiler, boil water in a pot and place a glass bowl that fits on top nicely (without falling in) on top of the pot. As the water creates steam the steam melts the chocolate sitting in the glass bowl, but because the chocolate never directly touches the flame it has less a chance of burning. If you burn your chocolate you got to chuck it out no one likes a burnt chocolate flourless cake!

Charlotte & Jacqueline