Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Beetroot Cake (a garden bonus!)


The family version, with blueberries from our bushes.

One of the many injustices of life is the over-the-top abundance of food from the garden –that you must attend to before it goes bad – which arrives when you would rather be whiling away the brief end-of-summer days by the sea, or a pool, or really anywhere but the kitchen. I love warm weather, and if I am deprived of any of it for the brief time it arrives on this little island, in this particularly rainy village, I get a little disgruntled.

Well, I say that, but I also happen to love the kitchen. Lucky for me that I can earn my living doing what I love, but even I can be a little daunted by 30 or 40 kilos of beetroot arriving in the college kitchen with the gardeners’ pleas to use it all up. My friend Ruth went to work making pickles and chutneys, and we both cracked on with the boiling, peeling, slicing and bagging of beetroot, ready to freeze and to be used later in the year, when the gardens have given up all their bounty for a long winter’s nap.

In amongst all this beetroot madness, we had a call for a birthday cake. I think you may see where I’m going with this.  Continue reading

Date, Peanut & Chocolate Bonbons

chocolate, dates and peanut butter - better than a Snickers bar!

This morning, The Poppet asked if she could have one of these date, peanut butter & chocolate bonbons after breakfast.

“Of course!’ I said. “They’re healthy!”

The Author looked at us and said to The Poppet, in all seriousness, “Do you know how lucky you are to have a mother who believes that chocolate is a health food?”

And he’s right, I do.

I suppose it comes as no surprise, given my upbringing, that I can see the health benefits to almost any food, and chocolate is certainly no exception. To make things even better, Continue reading

Triple Chocolate Cookies (Or, A bit of luck!)


Three weeks into the kids’ summer holidays, and I’ve been bandying the word “staycation” about quite a bit. I’m hoping that the kids can grasp the difference between what they are doing every day this summer and what they would normally do on, say, any old weekend, but to be honest, it’s all pretty much the same. The Author and I have got even less of a staycation, having to work most of the month of August, but we have managed to carve out little bits of time to do holiday-ish things as a family.

Still, it’s been a mixed bag all around. Sun, wind, cold, visiting cousins, leaving cousins, boredom, sleepovers in a tent in the rain, movies, beach, bickering, river, moor, lice. What next? Continue reading

Frutta Candita (Sicilian citrus peel candy)


First off, promise me that if you live near me, and your kids are in the twins’ class at school, you won’t make these for a teacher’s gift at Christmas, although I wouldn’t blame you if you did. This is a true something out of nothing dish, a stone soup of candy, if you will, and it is the perfect budget present, one that definitely does not announce that we are living in times of austerity, and one that can accommodate anyone’s Christmas budget. So I’m bagsy-ing it for a teacher’s Christmas gift.

Now that we’ve settled that, perhaps we can talk about why I appear to have a penchant for making things, particularly orange things, in a ball shape. I blame it on Giorgio Locatelli. Every time I dip into Made in Sicily, I find he has a recipe for something that looks utterly mouthwatering and is inevitably round. I have to confess that I find it a very fun shape, and one that can turn any food into something better. Think of meatballs – just meatloaf in a spherical shape. Truffles – ganache in a pleasing mouthful. And now these – old peel that you were going to throw away, turned into a little delight.


Continue reading

Chocolate Babka (or False Memory Syndrome)

Swirls of chocolate are delightful!I think I can safely say that this cake rivals the best babkas I’ve never had. Yes, you read that right.

I spent the first seven years of my life in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, and that has helped to form not just my tastes but my memories (real or imagined) of tastes.  Continue reading

Blondies (the new health food?)

goodness on a plate

According to some sources, like me, these count as part of a balanced diet.

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my mother read an article that stated almonds had all sorts of health benefits. (My mom was very keen on healthy food, and later went on to cook up all sorts of things for us from Adelle Davis‘ “Let’s Eat Right To Keep Fit” and “Let’s Cook it Right”. Which meant that we had to have wheat germ on everything, powdered milk became a commonplace ingredient [why? WHY?], and we for some godforsaken reason had to have Brewer’s Yeast in our orange juice. The Author reports that his own mother went through a similar healthy food tyranny and says that every day before school he was fed a spoonful of malt extract with cod liver oil. Now that I think of it, I got off easy.) But back to the golden years…  Continue reading

Brownie Trouble

brownies-closeupA long time ago, when I was first starting out on this cooking lark, I worked in the kitchen at Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont. This was back when Ben and Jerry themselves were still building their business, and they had a little café at the front of the shop on Cherry Street. We cooks made crêpes and soups and sandwiches, and on the other side of the kitchen the baker made cookies and brownies for the ice cream sundaes.

One day, when the baker called in sick (aka hungover), I offered to make the brownies. The manager Mike, needing brownies urgently, agreed, and I got to work with the massive mixer and large quantity of ingredients. Pounds of butter and chocolate were melted and mixed with copious amounts of sugar, and then I added the eggs and moved on the the dry ingredients. So many pounds of flour, maybe some cocoa powder, and a pound of salt. I did stop for a moment to wonder at that, but this was a huge recipe, and there it was in the baker’s handwriting: 1 lb salt.  Continue reading