Tuesday, 15 June 2010

UCB (Ultimate Chocolate Brownie)

There are hundreds of brownie recipes available and everyone has their personal preference.   I like mine heavy on the chocolate flavour, gooey and a touch of vanilla.

I have had the pleasure of teaching a German student in one of my business classes this year.  We have a cake day every two weeks where a student or I bakes and shares for the rest of the class.  For my week I made some chocolate brownies and Max has badgered me for the recipe ever since.

Max - Danke für eine großartige Schüler in diesem Jahr und ich wünsche Ihnen alles Gute für die Zukunft!


• Plain chocolate (preferably using one with 70% cocoa solids) - 400g

• Unsalted butter (for recipe) - 200g

• Unsalted butter (for greasing) - 10g

• Light muscovado sugar - 225g

• Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

• 3 large eggs, beaten

• Self-raising flour, sifted - 75g

• Cocoa powder, sifted - 25g

• Some additional cocoa powder for dusting


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven) or gas mark 3.

2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, beaten eggs, flour essence, flour and cocoa.

4. Using non-stick baking parchment, grease and bottom line a 20 cm/8" square cake tin, making sure you use one which is at least 5 cm/2" deep.

5. Place the mixture into the tin and level with the back of a spoon.

6. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until set to the centre on the surface, but still a little soft underneath.

7. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 2 hours (DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO TURN IT OUT EARLY).

8. Turn out, dust with cocoa and cut into squares.

I personally think that brownies are best served a little warm but can be left to cool completely.  They are also great served with ice cream or custard.

Additions to the mixture can include pecans (about 150g); raisins (120g) or for indulgence some rum soaked raisins mixed with pecans (total weight 120g).  These are mixed in at stage 3.

Asian Asparagus Spears

I made some Thai crabcakes the other night and was debating what to serve them with in regards to a vegetable accompaniment.  Without wanting to go shopping it was a case of fridge and cupboard raiding and the net result was this easy to do, light and tasty asparagus side.

Ingredients (serves 2)

• Asparagus - 1 bunch/pkt

• Tamari/soy sauce - 3 tbsp

• Lime juice - 2 tbsp

• Mirin (sweet sherry alternative) - 2 tbsp

• Fish sauce - 2 tbsp

• Garlic, finely chopped - 2 cloves

• Minced ginger - 1 tsp

• Chilli flakes (optional) - 1 tsp

• Salt and ground black pepper - to taste


1. Combine all ingredients apart from the asparagus mix well (use an old jar or a 'Flavour Shaker' to shake well).

2. Steam the asparagus until cooked

3. Toss the cooked asparagus in the sauce and adjust with salt and pepper to required taste.

This is best served warm but can be served cold if required.  As usual, play about with the sauce combinations until you achieve your desired levels, some prefer it a little sweeter whilst others prefer it with more fish sauce or chilli 'punch'.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Southwest Chipotle Sauce

I have posted this after a Facebook conversation with some old colleagues at Beaumont School (happy birthday Danny).  A versatile sauce which goes well with most subs, sandwiches and wraps.  Add some fresh Jalapenos or hotter chillies for a kick!

The chipotle in adobo (adobo = sauce/seasoning or marinade) is a specialist ingredient and many of the major supermarkets are selling it in their bigger stores now.  If you can't find it then use the following link to go to an excellent online supplier called MexGrocer - MexGrocer.


• Mayonnaise - 250 ml

• Dijon mustard - 1 tbsp

• Lime juice - 3 tbsp

• Chipotle chilli in adobo (pureed) - 2 tbsp

• Garlic (pureed) - 3 cloves

• Salt - to taste


1. Combine mayonnaise, mustard, lime juice, chipotle and garlic.

2. Add salt to taste

3.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge

You can thin this down with a little white wine vinegar and use as a salad dressing but be careful not to use too much vinegar.

Monday, 7 June 2010

A bit of an Eton Mess!

This was dessert for a family party last weekend and it also doubled up as a treat for a good friend at work to help celebrate her birthday.  Despite the relatively heavy nature of the ingredients it actually comes up light and airy with same sharpness from the raspberries.

Ingredients (serves 12-16)

• Double cream - 2 pints

• Morello cherries (frozen or jar) -500g

• Raspberries (fresh or frozen) - 500g

• Icing sugar - 100g

• Raspberry essence - 2 tsp

• Lime juice - 1 tsp

• Meringues - 8 (individual size/3 inch)

• Mini marshmallow - 1 pkt (I use the Fiddlers Payne brand from the baking section in the supermarket)


1. Drain the fruit separately retaining the cherry juice

2. Combine the cream, sugar, essence and lime juice then beat until a stiff peak is achived

3. Using a metal spoon combine the fruit, crumbled meringues and 3/4 of the marshmallows into the cream mix

4. Place in an appropriate serving bowl I used a deep red Lalique fruit bowl!) and chill

5. Just before serving use a skewer or thin knitting needle and make holes in the mix, then pour a little of the retained cherry juice into the holes (it will spill over onto the top of the mix but this adds to the finish) and dot the remaining marshmallows on the top.

Traditionally this dish is made with strawberries but most soft fruit will work, again it is a personal choice.  You could also nappe some kirsch/cherry brandy over the top for a bit of a boozy effect or pre-soak the fruit in it!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Thai Beef Salad

This is a staple dish that I produce a lot for either a quick, easy dinner or for a dinner party.  One tip to save time is to make a shedload of the sauce and then freeze it in batches for future use.


• 3 shallots, finely diced
• 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
• 3 birdseye chillies (use more or less to suit taste), chopped with seeds retained
• Teaspoon brown sugar
• 2 limes, grate the rind and squeeze the juice
• 75ml fish sauce (Nahm Plah)
• ½ cucumber, thin ½ slices
• 3 salad or 4 vine or 2 beef tomatoes, cut into small wedges
• 3 spring onions, finely sliced
• Bunch coriander, roughly chopped
• 6 radishes, thinly sliced

Main protein:  1 fillet steak (6-8oz), seasoned with oil, pepper and salt to taste. Substitutions can include grilled chicken breast, tiger prawns, glass noodles or squid.

To make the sauce

1. Add the shallots, garlic, chillies, sugar, zest and juice of limes and fish sauce together in a screw-top jar. Close lid tightly and shake well
2. Refrigerate until needed

To make the salad

1. Heat a pan or griddle and sear beef on all sides – rare is best for the dish to be authentic. Place to one side to rest
2. Place the cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions, coriander and radishes in a bowl
3. Take rested steak and slice as thinly as possible
4. Add steak to the salad ingredients and toss
5. Add sauce to salad and toss quickly to coat all ingredients

The quantities of ingredients used in the sauce are highly personal.  I have used what I consider to be the 'normal' amounts although I prefer more chilli and fish sauce in mine.  Experiment until you find the right blend.

This dish goes really well with an asian beer such as Tiger, Singha or Tsingtao, or if wine is preferred a good Alsace Reisling or Gewurztraminer such as those produced by Wunsch & Mann (Click here for the Wunsch & Mann website).