Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cannae Curry and The Braw Chocolate Cake

The Cannae called because I thought "I cannae really be bothered" and "you think you cannae make a curry? Well think again!". This was supposed to be the posh sounding North African Lamb with Ginger and Chili and Couscous, part of this week's menu. Well, after my husband abandoned me last night to go treasure hunting, I fell asleep on the sofa and awoke at 6.30am, twisted spine and neck, absolutely freezing and still in my clothes. According to my husband (by phone, he's still chasing the Big Ship Fandango), I do fall asleep on the sofa now and then but he normally wakes me up and I stagger upstairs just in time to put on pjs, wash my bleary-eyed face, slather on some cream with eyes shut and fall into a wee pile at the bottom of the bed. I work hard, you know.

So, with that crick in my neck and a pain in my head, I made some tea and set about repairing the night before damage to my face, hair and appearance. After five hours....well, not quite, and 2 cups of coffee, I started to feel a little more human and began preparing the chocolate cake (the full recipe to follow tomorrow). I had decided to try an old recipe, one I'd had for years but never made because the ingredients seemed odd; 10 oz sugar, raspberry jam in the batter, to name but a few.

The jam was placed into the bowl just after the butter and sugar had been beaten and I must say, it looked wonderful. By the time the cocoa powder had been added, I knew it was going to be a good cake and was really glad I'd oiled and lined my two thick cake tins as the amount of batter was vast.

My problem with chocolate cake is the lack of moistness. Most chocolate cake recipes, in my opinion, are rather dry, unless you add nuts of some description which the kids don't like. There is no point making a chocolate cake that everyone does not enjoy as the kids devastation and subsequent sulkiness followed by tears and trauma at your lack of thought at adding ground almonds....this is all kids, believe not worth it and you are left contemplating the eating of an entire chocolate cake between two. It can be done but I don't recommend it.

This chocolate cake which I'd sandwiched together with my own recipe Nutella flavoured icing and covered with the same, tasted moist, almost nutty and wonderful. My mum left very happy as did wee Ellie, a visitor of my daughters. She proclaimed it "the best chocolate cake EVER! Even better than TESCO's!!!" My children agreed.

By the time the cake was placed in the oven, I'd cleaned and footered about, I had decided to use half of the lamb for the curry and the other half to make a stew as I realised there was a lot of it and the kids would no doubt prefer the less spicy dish. It also meant splitting a meal into two which is always cost effective!

It was a basic stew of frying of the meat, adding the veg and stock and simmering for two hours (recipe to follow although throw whatever in the pan and add some tomato puree is about it). I tend to add potatoes these days to make life easier.

Fraser said, as he has on many occasions, that he doesn't like lamb so I told him he was having beef. Lucy giggle snorted to herself, not quite believing he was falling for it, yet again, but fall for it he did. "Mmmm, lovely beef, mummy!" he said. When he was down to his last chunk, I told him it was lamb and Lucy shouted "I KNEW IT WAS LAMB! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU FELL FOR IT...AGAIN!" and we all laughed, even wee Fraser who has a sense of humour. He finally agreed that he liked lamb although he did say he couldn't quite believe he was eating "a live lamb". Um, it isn't alive Fraser and we had a philosophical discussion on carnivores, eating meat and cannibalism.

By the time the visitors had gone and I had tidied up yet again, I looked at the lamb, the coriander and the rest of the ingredients and thought "I cannae be bothered" or, as my good pal Anne would say (or what I imagine she would say) "stuff this for a game of soldiers"! What I really couldn't be bothered with was reading a recipe so instead, I chucked all the stuff in the pan, mostly in chunks, after browning the meat and again, simmered it for two hours. The chick peas had been simmered earlier and they were added to the pan. I did a taste check and to my delight, it was wonderful. As long as the ingredients are mainly fresh and meat is simmered slowly, you really can't go wrong. I ate a bowlful. I couldn't help myself and the rest has been put away for Brian and I to eat tomorrow evening...unless he is still looking out to sea or has ran away with a sailor-ess or some other such watery nonsense.

Cannae Curry

Packet Stewing lamb/Neck fillet...amount does not matter but I had enough for 4 small servings.
Chick Peas (cooked in salted water on a simmer or stock for 30mins-1 hour, making sure the water doesn't run out).
Coriander and Cumin powder.
Curry powder.
2 small onions, quartered.
Approx. 2 inch ginger, peeled and grated.
1 whole chili
3 cloves garlic, bashed and sliced.
Tin plum tomatoes.
2 large tomatoes, quartered.
2 tablespoons or more tomato puree.
A little beef stock, bisto for this is fine...approx. 5 fl. oz.

Salt and pepper the lamb and fry in olive oil. Add some ground coriander and cumin...approx. a small teaspoon of each. Once browned, add the onion and stir. Add the chili, seeded and diced. Then add the ginger and garlic. Stir and cook for a minute or two then add the plum and quartered tomatoes. Add a sprinkling of curry powder to taste and mix the tomato puree in with the stock and pour over curry. Mix, bring to the boil and add a tin of already cooked chick peas-the tin says ready to use but cook anyway...nothing worse than a hard chick pea...well, there is of course, but not in a curry. I suppose worse things could be found in a curry actually but I don't want to put you off your tea.

Simmer the curry on the lowest heat, covered and check on it from time to time and give a stir. Leave to simmer for two hours, check the seasoning and ad a good handful of chopped, fresh coriander. Stir, and serve. I had my bowl tonight on it's own because of the chick peas but this would be wonderful with the puffy bread and some rice.

I am now being forced to retire early with the children to watch a dvd where they will fall asleep in my bed and a force not fully understood by nature or science will make the children spread their arms and spring out their legs as if jumping from an aeroplane and I will have the choice of sleeping in two inches of mattress whereby I shall awake with a body cutting of my air supply as it lies across my head and throat whilst another covers my tummy and the heat of a thousand fires comes from them or, once again, slinking away to sleep somewhere which is alien to me and will hurt my back, my neck and my poor, poor head. Wish me luck.

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