Boozy Fruit Cake | Gin-infused fruit cake

Boozy cake with gin-infused fruit, sliced

This cake came about as a flash of inspiration after I’d made some festive gin liqueurs and didn’t want to waste the delicious fruit. It’s quick & easy to make, and if you haven’t made gin liqueur to give you the boozy fruit, simply soak the apples in your favourite tipple instead (see suggestion below), and use the mincemeat straight out of the jar 🙂

Boozy cake with gin-infused fruit, sliced

Ingredients

  • 115g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter (I like using salted butter, but you can use unsalted if you prefer)
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • all the fruit from the mincemeat gin liqueur and toffee apple gin liqueur, after you have sieved all the gin into bottles and squeezed out as much from the fruit as you can, plus the rest of the open jar of mincemeat that you didn’t use for the gin

If you haven’t made festive gin liqueur, you can soak the fruit in any alcohol of your choice. I have done this with Rum as follows:

Place approximately 80g of dried apple rings, 2 sweet red apples (peeled, cored and cut into segments) and a full 400g jar of mincemeat into a large glass bowl, add a couple of generous tablespoons of clear honey, cover with dark Rum and stir. Cover and leave to stand for 2 days, stirring from time to time. Then sieve the liquid into a sterilised bottle (the Rum liqueur is delicious!), squeezing any excess Rum out of the fruit. Roughly chop the fruit and use for the cake.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan).

Whisk the butter and golden caster sugar until they become light and creamy, then gradually add the eggs, continuing to whisk as you do so. Add a little flour with the last of the eggs to avoid the mixture splitting, then fold in the rest of the flour.

Add the boozy fruit, stirring the thick mixture well, to ensure the fruit is evenly distributed.

Place the mixture into a greased 2lb loaf tin and place into the pre-heated oven for about 65 minutes (check that a wooden skewer comes out almost completely dry before taking the cake out of the oven).

Leave the cake to cool almost completely in the tin before turning it out onto a cooling rack, to avoid it falling apart.

Boozy cake with gin-infused fruit, sliced

This cake will keep for a few days, wrapped in clingfilm and tin foil – if you can keep your hands off it long enough!!!

Boozy gin-infused fruit cake – Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

Rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes | Pomodori ripieni al riso con patate

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

This recipe for rice-stuffed tomatoes was originally my Nonna Wanda’s recipe, with the addition of potatoes made by my Zia Emilia to make it more authentically Roman.

Here is a photo of the recipe as cooked by my Zia Emilia in Rome on my last visit, in May 2017:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes made by zia Emilia | pomodori ripieni di riso con le patate, fatti da zia Emilia

And here is my latest rendition of this delicious dish:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

The quantities and timings etc in this recipe are, as many of the recipes passed down from generation to generation in our family, vague and open to interpretation / personal touch, but I’ve tried to be a bit more precise so you can follow it, too 🙂

Ingredients (for 3-6 people, depending on whether it is a starter, main course, or side dish): 

  • 6 large beef tomatoes
  • Arborio rice (approximately 2 small fistfuls per tomato)
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley (a good handful)
  • Fresh basil (a good handful)
  • Half a medium onion
  • Freshly-grated parmesan cheese (a couple of handfuls)
  • Potatoes (5-6 medium sized ones) – watch this video for the best way to cut potatoes the Italian way
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Method

Here is the hand-written recipe written down by my Zia Emilia as dictated by her mum, my Nonna Wanda, when Zia Emilia was preparing to get married and leave home.  You can see the addition of the potatoes on page 2:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg1

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg2

Start by cutting the potatoes.  Ideally, do these the Italian way (watch video) – this allows them to cook slightly unevenly, giving you lovely crispy edges and soft centres.

Tip: Cutting potatoes this way and roasting them with rosemary and olive oil is a delicious Italian way to do roast potatoes!

Place these into an oven dish and set aside for now.

Then cut the tops off the tomatoes (think little ‘hats’).  Slice two thin strips off the ‘discarded’ tomato tops and set aside (you’ll use these later for decoration, to top your stuffed tomatoes), and chop up the remaining ‘discarded’ tops into small pieces.  Add these small pieces to the potatoes.  Season the potatoes and tomato pieces with a generous sprinkling of sea salt, add a generous glug of olive oil, toss, and place in a pre-heated oven (fan-assisted 180­°C) for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the rice: 

Place the rice in cold water, add a generous sprinkling of sea salt, and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so (check this as not all rice cooks at the same rate – you want to make sure the rice is still a little bit uncooked at the end of this stage).

While the rice is cooking, finely chop the half onion and soften it in a pan with a generous amount of olive oil, over a low heat (let the onion soften slowly, making sure it does not go brown). Finely chop the parsley and basil, and add these to the onion just as the rice is nearly ready at the not quite cooked stage. Make sure you don’t fry the herbs for too long.

Drain the rice, leaving it quite wet, and saving the cooking water.  Add the rice to the pan with the olive oil, onion and herbs and stir, letting the rice continue to cook like a risotto.  You may need to add some of the cooking water to allow it to remain moist and cook until it is cooked, but still ‘al dente’. Make sure you don’t over-stir as this breaks up the rice grains.

Take it off the heat once it’s cooked and stir in about 2/3rds of the parmesan cheese.  Set aside.

Return to the tomatoes you previously removed the tops from. Carefully hollow these out with a spoon (the insides with the seeds are my favourite part of the tomato – I always used to eagerly await this stage when my Nonna made stuffed tomatoes, and still do when my Zia does them, so I could eat them, seasoned with a bit of salt).

Lightly season the insides of the hollow tomatoes with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Once the potatoes have had about 25 minutes in the oven, take the oven dish out and give them a bit of a stir. Turn the oven down to 150°C (fan).

Take each hollow tomato and fill it as high as you can with the cooked rice mixture. Make a space amongst the potatoes and place the tomato in that space.  Repeat with each tomato, then sprinkle some parmesan onto each stuffed tomato and, finally, top each one with two strips of the tomato ‘lids’ you cut out earlier.

Place the dish back into the oven and bake until the tomatoes are very soft and the rice has a crispy parmesan topping.  The potatoes should be cooked and golden, not overly brown.  This takes approximately 40-45 minutes.

Serve on their own, as a side-dish, or as a starter.  These are also delicious once they’ve cooled down a little to luke-warm.

Enjoy!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

 

 

 

 

Chicken Liver Pâté | Low Fat Recipe | Suitable for Reflux

Low-fat Chicken Liver Pâté | Reflux suitable chicken liver Pâté | chicken liver Pâté

I love chicken liver pâté!  I used to make it with tons of butter (including a thick butter ‘crust’) and port…

…but although times change and I now need to eat low fat meals to manage my reflux, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy great food!  In fact, this low-fat chicken liver pâté is so scrumptious, rich and creamy that you’d never guess it was a low-fat, reflux-friendly* recipe! And it’s very quick and easy to make, too 🙂

Low-fat Chicken Liver Pâté | Reflux suitable chicken liver Pâté | chicken liver Pâté

Ingredients

  • 400g chicken livers
  • half a large onion (or one small onion), roughly chopped – I am fine with cooked onions and many people with reflux are, but if you are not, simply leave the onion out. 
  • 10g butter
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (adjust quantity, to taste – depending on how much you like thyme!)
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 2 heaped tbsp fat free crème fraîche (I find Yeo Valley 0% crème fraîche very creamy, and actually nicer than the Sainsbury’s ‘Be Good to Yourself’ one, which has 2.4% fat – try different ones to decide which one you like best)

Method

Fry the onions in the butter, initially on a high heat to brown them a little for flavour (don’t burn them though!), then turn down the heat and cook them for a few minutes until they’ve softened.

While the onions are browning/softening, remove all visible fat from the chicken livers and cut them up roughly into smaller pieces for ease of cooking.  Then turn the heat to high again and add the livers to the onions, sprinkling salt and thyme over everything and stirring.

Cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat down and cover with a lid, simmering for another 2-3 minutes.  If there is a lot of liquid, remove the lid and simmer for long enough for most (but not all) of the juices to evaporate.  In total, you’ll be cooking the livers for only 5-7 minutes – check that they are no longer pink but don’t cook them so long they become dry and cardboard-like in texture.

Leave to cool until they’re at room temperature, then place everything in a food processor, add the crème fraîche and blitz to a paste.  I like it quite lumpy, but process for longer if you want a smoother pâté.

Tip: When adding the crème fraîche, start off with one tablespoon, check for consistency, then add more as needed.  Bear in mind that it will go slightly more ‘solid’ once you refrigerate it.

Refrigerate for a few hours, then serve with brown toast or wholegrain crackerbread.

Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Low Fat, Gloriously Reflux-Friendly, Gloriously Good!

*Please note I am not a doctor, speech therapist or in any way medically qualified.  The recipes are a combination of my interpretation of the rules outlined in the ‘Dropping Acid – The Reflux Diet’ book and ingredients that work for my reflux.  If you believe you suffer from reflux, please seek advice from a medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and work out the best course of treatment/management for you.  I hope that my recipes can help you as part of this management.  The recipes are, by their nature, very low in fat, so are also suitable for anyone wishing to follow a low-fat diet.