Battenberg cake!

Well, it seems like it’s a while since I last published anything on here…… it’s been a busy month! Commuting by bike most days to work combined with trying to up the running miles has really taken it’s toll on me; once I get home, I cook dinner for us both and then most nights crawl into bed at about 9pm. Rock and Roll! Anyway, I’ve had this little recipe tucked away for quite a long time, so I figured now was a good a time as any to share it with you. I’ve never made a Battenberg cake before (eaten plenty!), but as my older sister has asked me to make her wedding cake for her (eeeeeeek!) and her other half LOVES Battenberg, I thought somehow I would try and incorporate some Battenbergy goodness into the cake. I’m thinking a circular chequerboard Battenberg cake for the top layer…. we’ll see! For now, here’s a basic (“normal”) Battenberg recipe, with photos from my first attempt. The recipe I used is adapted from the Hairy Biker’s recipe on the BBC Food website. I like Battenbergs to have that slightly more almondy taste and a bit of the ground almond texture, so this recipe has additional ground almonds in the cake in addition to a bit of almond essence.

Momma Battenberg and the baby Battenbergs

Momma Battenberg and the baby Battenbergs

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Autumn soup

Autumn soup seemed to be the most apt name for this soup; full of autumnal goodness in the shape of root veggies, warming and earthy and even autumn coloured! Living in the Middle East, we don’t have autumn. We don’t even really have seasons, just a time of the year when it’s not quite so hot and sticky as the rest of the year. Back in the UK it’s crept into autumn without me even noticing. I saw some photos from my friends at the weekend of the countryside and the colours turning on the trees and it made me miss home. So despite the fact that it was 35°C and 80% humidity outside, I decided to make soup for dinner. Yes that’s right, soup on a boiling hot day. I had the day as a rest day, so after a much-needed catch-up on some sleep, a long Skype session with mum back in the UK and sister Em in Oz, I did some baking (recipe and photos to follow in another post!). Then I thought I should probably have something healthy for dinner as a result of the aforementioned baking episode. I also needed to make something that could easily be reheated later as Niall had been away working all weekend and wasn’t due back until later on that night.

I still struggle here with the very British mentality that if it’s sunny outside, I feel guilty for being indoors and not being outside making the most of it. Difficult to get out of that mindset when you’ve lived in the UK all your life, but surprisingly I managed to make it to the afternoon quite happily without even unlocking the front door. It’s amazing how being in an air conditioned room and looking out at the blue sky and sunshine can lull you into a false sense of security about how delightful the weather is outside. It was not delightful. It was hot, muggy and very, very humid. So I went back into the air conditioning, and decided that I could at least pretend it was autumn here too. Continue reading

Lebanese Lamb & Pumpkin Kibbeh Pie

It’s been a little while since I promised recipes from my Whole30 month, but after a hectic couple of weeks, I’ve got the day off work, so no excuses for not updating this! A few healthy recipes on the way, plus some not so healthy ones. What can I say…… I love cake.

I got the idea for making this from a colleague at work. His wife is Lebanese, so he quite often comes into work with yummy looking leftovers for lunch. He had an amazing looking meal for lunch the other day, and when I asked what it was, he told me it was a Kibbeh – or variation of. He said his wife doesn’t tend to make it, as it ends up using most of the pans in the kitchen, so this one had come from his mother-in-law after their dinner the night before. His lunch had chickpeas, onion, spinach and spices in, topped with pumpkin mash. In my head, I decided it was a little bit like a Lebanese version of our shepherd’s pie!

After a long day in the office, feeling very puffy-eyed, dehydrated and a bit run down, I decided I needed something wholesome, hot and tasty for dinner, rather than anything plain and simple. Fortunately we also had lamb mince in the fridge, which is quite unusual as we normally just buy beef mince. As I was Whole30-ing, I didn’t include the chickpeas, but they would make a nice addition another time, or a good substitute for the meat if you are vegetarian. I think it’s more traditional to have the pumpkin as a base and a top (more like a pastry case around the pie), but I a) didn’t have enough squash, and b) couldn’t be bothered to dry out the pumpkin/squash mash enough to use it for that! Continue reading

Homemade nut butter

I’ve not been eating nut butter on this Whole30, for two reasons; it’s extortionately expensive out here for a tiny jar imported from Cornish manufacturers in the UK, and I tend to eat peanut butter straight out of the jar normally, which as far as I’m concerned is not a hugely healthy habit. So I decided just to avoid it for this Whole30, as it’s not very Charlie-compliant. However, I’m now on day 28, and I have a surplus of roasted pumpkin / squash seeds kicking around. Pumpkin and squash are mega cheap out here, so we eat them on a fairly regular basis, even before this whole30; roasted, mashed, wedges etc. But what to do with the seeds that usually just get scooped out and thrown in the bin? I am my father’s daughter after all, and I hate seeing food go to waste. Somewhere I have some nice fat pumpkin seeds in an envelope to try growing when the weather cools down again, but I decided this batch were going to be turned into something yummy. Niall was given the task of deciding between me simply roasting them and leaving them as snacks & salad toppings, or combining them with cashews and almonds and trying to make some homemade nut butter. He went for the nut butter option. So this is how it went! Continue reading