Lemon Drizzle Cake with Candied Lemon Peel

I’m not massively into baking, but for an upcoming cake sale at work in aid of St Peter & St James Hospice I thought I’d try my hand at one of my favourites, lemon drizzle cake. 

To give it a bit more flare visually I had a pop at doing candied lemon peel to decorate it with. I foolishly thought doing both the night before the cake sale would be fine but realistically the lemon peel takes ages to prepare and make, so I would highly suggest doing this the day before you want to bake the cake if possible. My recipe for the lemon drizzle came from a Hairy Biker’s cookbook my mum bought me called Mum’s Know Best (of course) and the candied lemon peel recipe I got from the BBC Good Food website.

Time: Candied lemon peel takes about 2 and a half hours to prep and cook so best to do it in advance. Cake takes about 20 minutes to prep and ad additional 45 to bake and do the drizzling.

Cost: The most expensive purchase was a bag of unwaxed lemons at £1.50 – everything else was in the pantry. TOTAL COST: Approximately £2.

Serves 10

Ingredients

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For the candied lemon peel:

  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • Bag of granulated sugar

For the lemon drizzle cake:

  • 2 small unwaxed lemons, well scrubbed
  • 275g granulated sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large free-range eggs (I used 4 medium ones)

Method

  • Start by preparing the candied lemon peel, preferably the day before making the cake (so it gives the peels time to dry out properly). Cut the fruit into 8 wedges, then cut out the flesh, leaving about 5mm thickness of peel and pith. Cut each wedge into 3-4 strips.

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  • Put the peel in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins. Drain, return to the pan and re-cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins.
  • Set a sieve over a bowl and drain the peel, reserving the cooking water. Add 100g sugar to each 100ml water you have. Pour into a pan and gently heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  • Add the peel and simmer for 30 mins until the peel is translucent and soft. Something a bit odd happened with mine where the sugar started to boil and puff up like the early stages of making honeycomb. If this happens just reduce the temperature and keep an eye on it.
  • Leave to cool in the syrup, then remove with a slotted spoon and arrange in 1 layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Put in the oven at the lowest setting for 30 mins to dry.
  • Sprinkle a layer of sugar over a sheet of baking parchment. Toss the strips of peel in the sugar, a few at a time, then spread out and leave for 1 hr or so to air-dry.
  • And bang, your lovely little candied lemon peels are done. They will keep for 6 – 8 weeks in an airtight container when stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Now for your lemon drizzle – preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/Gas 4. Line the base of a 900g (2lb) non-stick loaf tin with baking parchment and butter the tin well. Finely grate the zest of the lemons.
  • Put 175g of the sugar in a food processor with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs and lemon zest and blend on the pulse setting until the mixture is just combined and has a thick, smooth texture (just FYI I used a wooden spoon instead here and the world didn’t end, so don’t worry if you don’t have a processor).
  • Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 35 minutes or until well risen and pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 minutes.
  • Squeeze one of the lemons to get about 3 tablespoons of juice and mix this with the remaining 100g of granulated sugar.
  • Turn the cake out onto a wire rack set about a tray or plate. Remove the baking parchment and gently turn the cake the right way up. Make about 50 deep holes in the top of the cake with a skewer. (I didn’t have a skewed so I improvised and used a parcel tag – is that even what they’re called?!?)
  • Slowly and gradually, spoon over half the lemon sugar, allowing it to thoroughly coat the top of the cake and drizzle down the sides. Leave the cake to stand for 5 minutes, then do the same with the remaining lemon sugar.
  • Leave to set for at least an hour or until the sugar and lemon has crystallised. Then decorate with your candied lemon peel as you like – I did a little criss-cross thing but you could always chop up the lemon peel and do a casual sprinkle.

Next time I think I’ll use something slightly thicker to make the holes in the cake so the lemon sugar can really soak deep into the cake. That said, it sold out very quickly at the bake sale so I was pretty pleased given I don’t bake an awful lot!

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La Herradura: La Gaviota & Municipal Market

Two things that the Spanish do best are paella and jamón ibérico – I was lucky enough to find both these in the Andalusian village of La Herradura during my stay there recently. 

My quest for Ibérico ham was actually for my Mum as a little souvenir from my travels – plus I knew if I got some really good stuff I’d get mega brownie points. First, however, I headed to a chiringuito recommended to me by a pal for lunch with only one thing on my mind – paella.

Lunchtime: La Gaviota

It was a still, beautiful day – perfect weather for eating al fresco in such stunning surroundings. La Gaviota sits just on the beach after you cross the bridge heading west along the seafront. As the paella is made fresh, you need to order about 90 minutes in advance – so a little forward planning is required but it really is worth it.

When my paella arrived I was delighted – it was absolutely brimming with seafood including enormous prawns, muscles and squid. There’s nothing worse then when a paella is all rice but that was certainly not the case here. What struck me most was how succulent everything was – you could really tell it had been made fresh to order and all the different flavours came through to form what can only be described as an absolute party in your mouth.

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Washed down with a couple of cold Tintos de Verano in the sun it was as close to a spiritual experience as you can get. And just look at that view!

Cost: Paella for two and four Tintos came to around 30 euros. The pan might look slightly on the small side in the picture but it was perfect adequate for two hungry people.

If you want to find out more about La Gaviota give them a follow on Facebook, you’ll be glad you did. As well as their standout paella they also do brunch and tapas.

Municipal Market

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The next morning I set off on my mission for jamón, and only the finest ibéricon would do. La Herradura hosts a small selection of markets, one of them being the a fresh food and flower market Monday – Saturday from 9am until 2pm. The Municipal Market is hosted in a traditional, almost church-like building on the seafront.

Straight away I found the vendor I was looking for, and he kindly pointed me in the direction of some jamón ibérico. I decided to go for the already vacuum-packed stuff as I was taking it back to the UK with me. A 100g packet cost 10 euros which seems pricey, but is a fraction of what you’d pay for premium charcuterie like this back home. Plus this variety was jamón ibérico de bellota – where the pigs are fed on acorns – which is considered the finest and most desirable grade.

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Needless to say, my Mum was beyond pleased with her souvenir – she has a taste for the finer things in life so she knew it was the real deal. I was also extremely tempted to bring back some cheese but resisted (my last cross-Europe cheese run via hand luggage ended quite badly). However I did take a cheeky snap, how could I not?

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I wish I had a little more time to look around the market when more stalls were open – I arrived bang on 9am and the only others ones trading at that hour were a wine vendor and a butchers. It would’ve been fantastic to see some fishmongers, especially right next to the sea – although as I strolled along the seafront it looked like a lot of locals fish themselves. Can’t say I blame them on mornings like this!

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Lush Packed Lunches: Thai Pork Stir Fry

Tired of the midday poverty cheese sandwich at work? Try this quick and tasty Thai stir fry that works with most meats – I did it with pork chops (bone removed) but chicken, beef and even whole fish are brought to life with this marinade.

When I brought some pork chops for half price at Waitrose I wanted to cook something that would reheat well the next day for lunch at work.

Time: About 20 minutes to prepare (with at least 60 minutes for the meat to marinate).

Cost: The most expensive thing was the pork at £1.20 for two pork chops, followed by the cashews at £1 for a little bag. Pretty much everything else was in the pantry cupboard. TOTAL COST: Approx £3.

Serves 2 

Ingredients

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  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer removed and finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 large spring onions
  • 2 pork chops, bone removed
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 cup of rice

Method

  • Combine the soy sauce, honey, tamarind paste, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce and half the chilli in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • Cut the pork into strips and cover with the sauce. Marinate for at least 60 minutes.
  • For the rice place 1 cup of rice in a saucepan per two people, covered with double the amount of cold water and a knob of butter. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover with a lid for 12 minutes.
  • While that’s cooking heat some vegetable oil in a wok. Take the pork out from the marinade (leaving the rest of the liquid in the bowl) and add it to the pan. Keep it moving with a wooden spoon (so it doesn’t stick and burn) and cook until the pork starts to turn golden brown.
  • Add the broccoli and the other half of the chilli. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the reminder of the marinade.
  • Cook for a further 2 minutes, then add a generous helping of the fresh coriander to finish.
  • Serve with rice and top with a sprinkling of chopped cashews and more fresh coriander.

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The Grand La Herradura Tapas Crawl

La Herradura is a pretty village located along the south coast of Spain, in the rocky region of Andalusia. I’m fortunate enough to have visited this lovely place last weekend and benefited from it’s crystal clear waters, sunshine and, of course, delicious food. 

Frequent visitors to Andalusia will know it’s custom there to receive a complimentary tapas with every drink ordered (in general you get one tapas between two). My three travel companions and myself took advantage of this and tried to visit as many bars and restaurants as possible for the two nights we were there. Here’s a rundown of where we went.

 

El Salon

This little bar is set just slightly inland and mostly attracts locals. We ordered some drinks and the first complimentary tapas to come out was a gorgeous meat stew served with a slither of Spanish tortilla and some bread. I think the meat was a mix of pork and rabbit – it was an extremely tasty little plate of food and the sauce was perfect to mop up with the bread.

Just after the next round of drinks were brought out came a good plate of little battered fish – I assume whitebait. I snuffled this one all to myself and I’m glad I did – the batter on the outside was crispy and thinly surrounded the actual fish, which was succulent and had a good, strong flavour. It was just a squeeze of lemon and dollop of aioli away from heaven.

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My dining group consisted of a vegetarian and someone who didn’t eat fish – unfortunately the vast majority of El Salon’s dishes are either meat or fish. As someone who will eat everything and anything, I would’ve stayed there all night drinking Tinto de Veranos and sampling their traditional and delicious array of tapas, but in a large group with different dietary requirements you might have some trouble.

Amount spent: 13 euros paid for 6 alcoholic drinks, 3 decent plates of tapas were free (we got 2 of the pork and rabbit stew).

The bottom line: Authentic and traditional tapas bar – if you want a real taste of rustic Andalusia and are an avid meat/fish eater, this is perfection. By far my favourite of the bars we visited.

 

Bola Marina

Just slightly down the road from El Salon is Bola Marina, which has a more refined decor and attracts a mix of locals and tourists. There was no room at the bar so instead we sat down at a table and ordered some drinks, which came out pretty quickly alongside some lovely toasted mini bagels with cheese and some sort of salami. By this point the non-meat eaters in our group were all absolutely ravenous, so we decided to actually pay for some food as well. A friend had raved about the meatballs here, so I knew I had to try them. Needless to say they did not disappoint; served in a delicious pepper sauce with super-skinny fries, they were absolutely divine.

The vegetarian in our group was very happy with her choice – fried aubergine with camembert. I had a little taster and it was delicious, particularly the aubergine – which sometimes I find has a slight bitterness about it, though on this occasion that was certainly not the case. Our other choice was calamaritos – fried baby squid – which were also very good. I loved the fact that the whole body of these little squid could be eaten in just one bite and they were certainly a bit sweeter than their adult counterparts.

Amount spent: To be honest I lost track of this somewhat but tapas were slightly more expensive, around 6 or 7 euros each – still good value for money as the portion sizes were quite large.  We also got one free with our round of drinks.

The bottom line: Upmarket and slightly more pricey but absolutely delicious and able to cater for a wide variety of different dietary requirements.

 

Mesón Baena

Across the bridge from Bola Marina is another more traditional bar/restaurant called Mesón Baena. Quite a lot of people were watching the football in the front bar so we chose to sit in the restaurant part towards the back of the premises.

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Our drinks were accompanied by some traditional Spanish tortilla. Usually I’m not a massive fan, but this one was light and quite good although it could’ve done with being a little warmer. We ordered a tomato and avocado salad which was fresh and went down well with a little oil and vinegar added.

Amount spent: Again I was a bit terrible at keeping track of this but all in all it was fairly cheap, particularly as most of us were drinking wine or Tintos de Verano.

The bottom line: I wish I got to try a few more dishes out here as it looked like it was the venue of choice for a lot of locals. Cheap and food was decent.

 

Heladeria cafeteria

Full disclosure, we all had quite a lot to drink during the day and by the time we got around to walking along the seafront we were all pretty ready to have a final drink somewhere quiet and go home. So in we stumbled to a little canteen-style place hosting only one other group of people. We ordered our drinks not really expecting the usual complimentary tapas to be applicable here but, to our surprise, out came a little plate of food. I didn’t get a picture of these, but they were mini burgers that, to my already-stuffed dining party, looked a little underwhelming. I decided to give them a go anyway. They were actually quite nice – the burgers were flavoursome and contained a little chilli relish on top of the beef.

Amount spent: 4 Tintos de Veranos came to about 7 or 8 euros, the little burgers were free.

The bottom line: Probably wouldn’t go just for food again but the Tintos were decent and it was cheap.

 

At this point we all gave into tiredness/too much drink and headed home. There’s still plenty of places we didn’t visit in the little horseshoe bay of La Herradura and I’m sure there’s many more gems to be discovered. The benefit of staying somewhere which is still, to some extent, quite rural is that you get a good selection of very traditional places that give you a more authentic, rough-and-ready flavour of Andalusia. All four of us went back to our holiday home from our little tapas crawl very full and very happy.

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Want to see more things like this? Like Greedy B on Facebook! For more information on La Herradura and other places in the region visit the Andalusia Guide website.

Dinnertime: Fried Plaice, Crispy Capers, Sweet Potato Chips.

Plaice is stonking value for money and packs a stronger fishy flavour than it’s more expensive alternatives (I’m looking at you cod). For my Tuesday night dinner I’ve paired it with another favourite – sweet potato chips. 

I first encountered crispy capers last year when I visited The Basement in Padstow and the texture of the capers was like tiny bits of dissolvable popcorn having a party on your tongue. It’s a great way to use up any hanging around in the fridge and is perfect for topping most fish.

Time: About 10 minutes to prepare your ingredients, 30 minutes cooking time.

Cost: I got the fillet of plaice reduced from Morrisons for an outrageous 49p, the usual cost would be around £1.30. The sweet potato was 56p and actually made two portions of chips (but as predicted I scoffed all of them). All of the other ingredients are found in most people’s pantry cupboards. TOTAL COST: £1.05 (add another £1.50-£2.50 if you need a buy a jar of capers)

Serves 1

Ingredients

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For the sweet potato chips:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • Generous glug of vegetable/sunflower oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Seasoning of your choice – I used about 1 tbsp of thyme and 2 tbsp of oregano
  • Salt and pepper

For the rest:

  • 1 fillet plaice
  • 50g flour
  • About 2 tbsp capers
  • One portion frozen peas
  • Two generous knobs of butter
  • Salt and cayenne pepper

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Prepare the sweet potato. Wash and chop into chip-sized batons – you can peel them if you wish but I think they turn out better with the skins on.
  • Arrange your chips in a roasting tray – try not to overcrowd the tray. Sprinkle on the garlic, thyme and oregano. You can choose different seasonings if you wish – cumin also works very well with the sweet potato. Drown in a generous amount of oil, then season with salt and pepper. Bang them in the oven for 30 minutes, until they go golden brown and start to crisp up.
  • About 15 minutes into the cooking of the sweet potatoes, take them out and give the roasting tray a shake so the chips turn around a bit. Put them back in the oven.
  • 10 minutes before your chips are done, season the flour with salt and cayenne pepper and dust the plaice with it.
  • Place a frying pan over a high heat with 2 tbsp of oil. When the oil is really hot put the fish skin-side down in the pan. Don’t touch it or move it around for a minute or so.
  • After 2 minutes flip the fish over. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Flip the fish back to being skin-side down and add your generous knobs of butter to the pan. Baste the fish with the melted butter for about 30 seconds. Then remove the fish from the pan and leave to rest.
  • Put your peas in a steamer and cook for 4 minutes. At the same time fill the bottom of a small saucepan with vegetable oil and put over a high heat. When the oil gets really hot, add your capers. They are done when they darken in colour and start to ‘flower’ out (like popcorn does).
  • Add a knob of butter to your peas and serve everything on a plate with wedges of lemon. Enjoy with a nice chilled glass of white wine – as it was a school night I behaved myself and had it with a soda & lemon.

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Cheeky Vouchers: Brighton & Hove Foodies Festival

The Foodies Festival comes to Brighton on the 30th April – 2nd May and features top chefs as well as cracking masterclasses, pop-up restaurants and smashing street food.

I went last year and walked into a sherry tasting – which provided a comprehensive explanation of the drink’s origins and history, as well as five or six different sherries paired with nibbles. Although, unlike other food events in the Brighton area, you pay for entry there is an awful lot on offer at this festival. I imagine, if I had a bit more time and forward planning, I could’ve attended a few more tastings and masterclasses (which are mostly free of charge) making the ticket price of  £14 (£11 for concessions) very good value for money.

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Taking place on Hove Lawns, this year’s Foodies Festival will have a range of attractions including a cake & bake theatre, BBQ arena, feasting tent, brew your own beer and a live music stage. Most excitingly, the headliner in the Chefs Theatre is Michelin-starred Matt Gillan –  chef at The Pass and winner of Great British Menu 2015. Matt’s winning “Teaching & Preaching” dish for the competition looked absolutely gorgeous and showcased goat, a relatively unpopular meat here in the UK,  in the best light possible.

Even better news is that there are quite a few vouchers and deals kicking around for entrance to the festival. They’re all quite similar but I’ve listed all the ones I’ve found here as they give you various options.

2-for-1 on tickets with showguides: From the Foodies Festival Facebook page. Just enter ‘FOODIES’ when booking on the Foodies Festival website. Reduces the normal £14 entry to £9 and you get a showguide.

Various offers: From Groupon. Choose from the following:

  • £10 for one standard ticket and show guide (up to 44% off)
  • £18 for two standard tickets and two show guides (up to 50% off)
  • £34 for four standard tickets and four show guides (up to 53% off)
  • £69 for two VIP tickets

Various offers: From Travelzoo. Choose from the following:

  • Friday events… £8 for one, or £14 for two
  • Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday events… £10 for one or £18 for two
  • Each person will also get a show guide
  • VIP tickets* are now £49 for two (instead of £70) for Friday events and £69 for two (instead of £76) for Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday events
  • As well as Brighton, this offer applies to Foodies Festivals in Bristol, Birmingham, Tatton Park, Harrogate or Oxford.

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It looks like it’s going to be a great weekend down on Hove Lawns, so get your ticket in advance at a bargain price. Don’t forget to follow Foodies Festival on Facebook for the all their latest news.

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All images copyright Pageturner Photography

 

Dinnertime: Braised Pig Cheeks

I really love slow cooking things, especially casserole-esque goodies that can be kept and easily heated up at work for lunch the next day. When I was out and about this afternoon I saw some pig cheeks, which although fairly unusual in supermarkets I know for a fact are delicious when treated with some tender loving care. 

To cook my dinner I followed (or attempted to) this recipe for braised pig cheeks from  James Martin. I have a bugbear about buying a whole packet of something just for the sake of using one unit of it for a particular recipe, so instead of a banana shallot I used half a medium onion, and instead of a bouquet garni I used a tablespoon of thyme and oregano plus a couple of bay leaves.

Time: Takes about 30 minutes to prepare plus another 2 – 2 and a half hours cooking time.

Cost: The most expensive ingredient was the pig cheeks, which were were £3.73 altogether from Morrisons. Next was probably the wine at £5 per bottle – you use 200ml (equating to £1.30), with the rest to swig on as you cook or with your lovely dinner later on. TOTAL COST: £10.50

Feeds four hungry people, working out at a cost per head of just over £2.60.

Ingredients

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For the braised pig cheeks:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 pig cheeks, trimmed
  • 1 large banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 200ml/7fl oz red wine
  • 400ml/14fl oz veal jus or beef stock
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, diced

Mr Martin suggests serving this with a creamy mash, sweet carrots, Bramley apple sauce and buttery kale. I did it with some squeaky green beans and mustard mash but I did make his apple sauce – the ingredients of which are below:

  • 2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 50g/1¾oz butter
  • 2-4 tbsp caster sugar, to taste

And for my mustard mash you’ll need:

  • About 1Kg of potatoes (King Edwards or Maris Pipers preferably)
  • 3 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
  • A big splash of whole milk or double cream
  • A quite massive block of butter (however much you want, but really, the more the better)
  • Salt and white pepper, to season

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2.

  • Heat a large ovenproof dish on the hob (I used a John Lewis cast iron casserole dish that I got from Homesense for £40 a couple of years back), once hot add the olive oil. Fry the pig cheeks in batches (I did them in sets of four) until they are golden-brown in colour. Make sure when you first put them in the pan you don’t touch them for a minute or so, that way they get a chance to caramalise and colour up nicely. Then set them aside.