Cook with Eli and Mollie

Plum Cake

Sunday, September 16, 2007

we had lots of plums from simon's nana so i made plum cake (who's heard of that before?!) today (adapted from bbc recipe)


  • 150 g butter softened
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 1.5 t baking powder
  • 75 g minced almonds
  • 75 g chopped pecans
  • 30-40 tiny plums or 15 normal sized plums; pitted and halved (or quarted if using big plums)
  • powdered sugar for decorating top
  • whip cream to serve

to do

  1. heat oven 180 c / 355 f; line base of 20 cm deep (6 cm) cake tin (i used round) with baking paper
  2. beat butter and sugar with mixer
  3. break eggs and beat with fork then add slower to butter/sugar and continue using mixer
  4. mix flour and baking powder and then fold into the butter/sugar/egg mix slowly
  5. fold in nuts
  6. spread into pan and add plums (you can be clumsy if you want) on top
  7. cook for 45 min (until tooth pick comes out of center clean)
  8. flip upside down onto plate, add powdered sugar
  9. serve with whip cream on top or side

Italian White Beans (with sausage)

this is a great and healthy recipe! influenced by jamie oliver again, i think i'll have a lot of this italian beauty in the winter. a real tummy warmer and makes the house smell lovely! i can't believe how simple it is too. about 5 minutes actual work in total!

to make it healthier, omit the sausage and either have it on it's own or add some fish at the end.

serves a hungry 2

  • 2 cups white beans (not sure what kind i used)
  • potato
  • tomato
  • celerey stick
  • bundle of fresh herbs-- rosemary, thyme, parsley, anything goes!
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • optional-- 4 sausage links
  • s & p
  • 4 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
  • parmasean
to do
  1. soak beans night before
  2. put beans in pot and add enough water so the beans come up half of water level
  3. boil the following until beans are soft (about 1.5 hr): beans, potato (maybe cut in half), tomato, garlic (skinned and whole), herb bundle, celery, sausages cut into thick slices
  4. discard herbs and celery; may need to remove some water, depending on how liquidy you want it (we ate it on plates, but would be lovely as stew in bowls)
  5. remove tomato, garlic and potato and mash with fork; return puree to beans and boil down the remaining liquid until nice consistancy
  6. add s & p and spinach leaves until slightly wilted, remove from heat and serve!
  7. parmasean would be great on top!

Midwest Chili

Monday, September 03, 2007

  • 3 lbs beef chuck, coarse chili grind
  • 2 lbs beef chuck, hamburger grind
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbl ground hot red chile
  • 5 Tbl ground mild red chile
  • 3 Tbl ground cumin
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 c water
  • 2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 28-oz cans peeled whole tomatoes
  • 4 c freshly cooked pinto beans, drained (or 2 16-oz cans)

  1. Add the meat, onions, and garlic to a heavy 5-quart pot or Dutch oven. Break up any lumps with a fork and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is evenly browned.
  2. Stir in the ground chile, cumin, and salt, thoroughly blending the mixture. Add the water, tomato sauce, and tomatoes, mashing them with a fork.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 1-1/2 hours. Stir occasionally.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the beans and simmer, uncovered, 1/2 hour longer.

Footnote: Easy to prepare, this chili recipe calls for a combination of coarsely ground and finely ground meat, giving the finished product a nice texture. You might like to substitute butter beans for the pinto beans as some Midwesterners do.

After trying this, I felt that less water should have been added--maybe 1 cup--since lots of liquid is liberated when cooking the onions. The result would be a heartier, less soupy, chili.

Being a chilihead, I also felt that the hot red chile could be increased by a factor of 4 - 8!

Enjoy with a hearty beer (ale, stout), and your favorite shredded cheese on top. Serves 10 to 12.

Chicken Braised in Balsamic Vinegar

  • 1 (3- to 4-pound) frying chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 large shallots, cut into halves
  • 4 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 - 2 Tbl flour
  • 1/2 c chicken stock or broth
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 c Zinfandel
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbl chopped Italian parsley for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Rinse the chicken and pat dry; season with salt and pepper. Brown in the heated olive oil in a 10- to 12-inch Dutch oven or oven-proof skillet. Remove the chicken to a dish and drain all but 2 Tbl of the drippings from the Dutch oven.
  2. Add the bacon, onion, shallots, carrots, and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes or until the onion begins to become tender, stirring constanttly. Sprinkle with the flour and mix well. Stir in the chicken stock or broth, vinegar, wine, and bay leaf. Add all the chicken pieces but the breast pieces.
  3. Braise, covered, in the oven for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add the chicken breast pieces. Braise, uncovered, for 20 minutes longer. Serve over egg noodles or rice, discarding the bay leaf; garnish with the parsley.

Footnote: This recipe goes well with a glass of Zinfandel. Balsamic vinegar is concentrated by aging it in various kinds of wood barrels. The resulting flavor is too sweet for many red wines, but Zinfandel has the fruitiness to handle it. Serves four.

Green Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 1 oz sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 c extra-virgen olive oil
  • 1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 large handfuls of mixed small lettuces
  • 2 Tbl chopped fresh oregano, Italian parsley, and/or basil for garnish

  1. Cover the dried tomatoes with boiling water in a heat-proof bowl. Let stand at room temperature until completely softened; drain on paper towels. Mince finely.
  2. Combine the tomatoes with the olive oil in a bowl. Marinate for several minutes if time permits. Whisk in the vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  3. Toss with the greens in a bowl. Divide among 6 salad plates. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs.

Footnote: This recipe goes very well with a glass of Zinfandel. Zinfandel and tomatoes make a winning combination in general. However, the sugar in tomatoes becomes very concentrated when they are dried. If added to a dish whole or in large pieces, this concentrated sweetness will overwhelm even a very fruity Zinfandel, leaving it dry, bitter, and/or sour. Mincing the dried tomatoes disperses the sweetness, which is additionally balanced by the acid of the vinegar. The result is another great pairing of tomato and Zinfandel. Serves six.

Fish with runner bean salad

Sunday, September 02, 2007

now my lovely brother eli got me this cool bean contraption ages ago and i never knew what it was used for really or how to use it... until jamie oliver showed me on his tv program this week. wow! i am a believer now, eli! sorry, i didn't appreciate it before (i actually didn't know how to appreciate it!)

this is gorgeous and makes you question ever not using anchovies (don't be afraid... you don't realize they are in the dish, but boy do they add to it!!!)

for 2 people


  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • can of anchovies
  • hot pepper flakes (like serve in pizza restaurants)
  • can chopped tomatoes
  • 450g runner beans (also called pole beans, stick beans)
  • s & p
  • white fish for two people (monkfish or similar)
  • lemon (rind & juice)
  • handful parsley
  • basil and olive oil for drizzling to serve

to do

  1. use the cool bean contraption (see picture) to slice beans (if your brother hasn't gotten you this cool contraption, then you'll need to do it by hand... remove side strings from beans and then slice thinly)
  2. heat oil in pan and then add 2 Tb garlic until heated
  3. add anchovies and hot pepper until it's all happy and anchovies have disolved
  4. add tomatoes and simmer couple of minutes
  5. add beans plus s & p and cover
  6. meanwhile heat hot griddle (til your fire alarm goes off-- about 5 min) with nothing on it
  7. season w/ s & p the fish on both sides and add to hot griddle pan (only need cooking about 3 min per side)
  8. stir your happy beans around and breath in the lovely flavors!!!
  9. now as an added perk (although not necessary) grate lemon rind into small ramekin, add juice and chopped parsley and last 1 Tb garlic and mix together
  10. add to beans and mix up
  11. when all is ready... pile beans on platter (or plates), pile with fish then add fresh basil and pour on the olive oil (don't be shy here... sip your wine and be happy... with olive oil)

Banoffee Pie

still tackling my fear of dessert making (mom, this is your fault!) and making up for lost time with my news year's resolution to cook simon amazing desserts. to add to the incentives of dessert cooking, i'm now trying to impress/motivate the work colleagues!

this is fabulous but so rich. i can't handle more than three bites!


  • pack of cookies -- maybe with chocoate coating or chocoate flavor, but like Nabisco wafers
  • 2 Tb butter (soften to room temp)
  • can of 400g condensed milk
  • ripe bananas (about 3)
  • cup whipping cream

to do

  1. use cuisinart for cookies until they are only crumbs
  2. mix with butter and pack tightly into pie pan bottom (similar to cheese cake), thickness depends on your liking! and fridge it to harden it.
  3. now this sounds crazy, but put UNOPENED can of the condensed milk in covered pot of boiling water for 2 hours (trust me here). after 2 hours, put under cold water until it's cold enough to touch can. then open it with can opener. (i'm always afraid it will explode, but it doesn't... but be careful anyway)
  4. pour cold 'toffee' (what was condensed milk) into crust pan from step 2 and return to fridge.
  5. after it's been in fridge for at least an hour, bring out and put sliced bananas on top (not sure best way of slicing, i did mine normal slices you'd use for cereal but next time i might try long slices (opposite direction) to maximize their coverage on pie).
  6. whip up cream and smear on top of pie.
  7. optional-- grate chocolate on top for "wow" effect!


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