Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Chocolate Mayonnaise cake

Years ago I worked as a waitress in a restaurant in Yorkshire and I would recite the pudding list to the customers.  Whenever I cam to the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake there would be a lot of oohing and “how weirds”!  Admittedly it sounds a little strange but the principle of eggs and fat or oil are bang on as ingredients for a cake. They are just already combined for you in mayonnaise.  Foolishly I never got that original recipe but after some experimenting I came up with this.  Unusually for a cake I think it is better the day after you make it as it seems to become more fudgy and although I thought it might be a bit rich for children, I offered it for tea recently and seconds and thirds were required…

I mention it now in particular because it is a great recipe to have up your sleeve in an emergency.  Whilst you may run short of butter or eggs over the holidays, there is almost always a jar of mayonnaise in the fridge standing by for those cold turkey sandwiches.   So if you don’t like Christmas cake or just want to rustle up a cake for tea, why not try this.  Happy Christmas!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

I usually dust this with cocoa as I like that bitter edge but I couldn’t resist a snowy fall of icing sugar today.

250g self raising flour

55g cocoa powder plus a little extra for dusting

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

200g golden caster sugar

220g mayonnaise

200ml water

Icing sugar or extra cocoa to serve

Preheat the oven to 180.  Butter and flour (or cocoa) a loose bottom 23cm tin.  Sift the flour and cocoa together, then add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated and smooth, either with a hand held beater or in a mixer.  Pour into the prepared tin and cook for 30-40 minutes until if feels firm to the touch on top.  Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.  Dust with cocoa or icing sugar before serving.  Serves 8.

If you want a slightly denser (in a good way!) cake to serve for a pudding, look no further than my Chocolate Pudding Cake which I posted, funnily enough, last December.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Christmas Salad

Christmas salad

We are fully in the cosy food season.  Immersed in hearty stews, sticky roasted vegetables and pillows of spongy sweet saucy puddings.  Fabulous, I am certainly not complaining and part of me looks forward to this time of year even whilst in the heat (hopefully) of the summer.  All that said however, I can’t go long without a salad.  Not the gentle floppy green leaves of a summer lettuce, festooned with garden herbs type salad.  More a crunchy, zingy colourful number, both sweet and tangy – a salad in its Christmas party clothes if you will.

This is just the ticket for my lunch when I crave a change from my usual warming soup.  Crisp,crunchy and seasonal it would also work perfectly on the side of some cold turkey, ham or goose in the days after Christmas, or really anytime.  I love the jewel like dried cranberries which make anything feel Christmassy, their sweet chewiness is a great foil to the crunch of the apple, carrots and red cabbage.  The sweet and sour dressing brings everything together.  Incidentally I made this with some cabbage left over after making my firecracker red cabbage to freeze in preparation for Christmas Eve lunch – see how even the humble red cabbage multi-tasks at this time of year.

Christmas Salad

The quantities here whilst not vague exactly are not specific measures because really it is up to you – if you love apple, use a big one or two.  If you love dried cranberries use more.

1/4 red cabbage, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

1 apple, cored and chopped

A handful of rocket

A handful of dried cranberries

A handful of parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 heaped teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

Mix the mustard, garlic, oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.  Taste this dressing and add a little more of anything until you are happy with it.  Put all the chopped salad ingredients in a large bowl, pour over the dressing and mix really well.  Leave for at least half an hour for the flavours to combine.  This will happily sit in the fridge for up to 3 days but I don’t anticipate it will last that long.  Serves 4 as a side.


Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt

Cheese Biscuits

I remember dinner parties when I was a child – those were the days of going the whole hog – long dresses, velvet jackets, hair up and that 1970’s phenomenon – a selection of puddings.  Now, what was that all about?  If it wasn’t enough that you would wade through a starter and main course, there would always be cheese served with biscuits, grapes, a jar of celery and whatever else but then a choice of puddings.  Perhaps oranges in caramel, a lemon soufflé – the chilled kind rather than oven baked – chocolate roulade or profiteroles.  Always three, always cold.

So different from how we entertain now.  When we have friends for supper, I might make a big stew, pie or paella which can be served at the table (no hostess trolley) with perhaps a salad to follow.  Then depending on our mood, the weather and many other vagaries, cheese (sometimes served with the salad) or a pud.  Rarely both as I am incapable of leaving one or other alone if presented with them both and will then feel like a beached whale at the end of supper.  What I would do with three puddings I don’t know….well I do.  I don’t often serve a starter but prefer to offer something with drinks beforehand.  I can’t quite bring myself to call these canapés as I am not dextrous enough to create those little masterpieces you see in smart restaurants.  No, spiced cherries in bacon, a little onion tart or these cheese biscuits with rosemary salt.

Can there be anything more fantastically savoury and moreish to have with a cocktail than a little cheese biscuit?  That tang and crunch just go perfectly.  These ones are crisp with a good bite from strong cheese and a kick from the cayenne.  Despite the feisty flavour my children adore them.  Make a load to stash away in your freezer ready to whip out when entertaining over Christmas.

As you can see from the photograph I served these with a Negroni and I thought they went together perfectly but naturally the choice of drink is up to you.  Admittedly, one of the friends I gave a Negroni to made a face like I’d give her soapy water to drink and gave me the glass straight back.  You can’t please everyone…..but at least she loved the cheese biscuits!

Cheese Biscuits 2

Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt

100g soft butter

100g self raising flour

100g strong cheese, grated (I use 50/50 parmesan and vintage cheddar)

A pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180.  Whizz the flour and butter together, add the cheese and cayenne. Mix to a dough and form into a roll, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up a little as this will make the cutting easier.  Cut into thin slices and put onto a parchment lined baking tray.  Pound the rosemary in a mortar with a pinch of sea salt and sprinkle a little of this onto each biscuit.  Cook for 13-15 minutes until golden on top.  Cool on a wire rack where they will crisp up.  Makes about 25.