Delicious fudgy cake with a silky chocolate icing. Perfect for sharing with friends and family over the Easter holiday

Easter Guinness Chocolate Cake

 
Guinness Chocolate Easter Cake
 

Makes one cake, serves 8 

INGREDIENTS: 

260g unsalted butter/2¼ sticks plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter

300ml/1¼ cups Guinness

100g /1 cup cocoa powder

2 eggs

420g caster sugar /2 cups plus 2 tbsp superfine sugar

2 tsps vanilla essence

180ml/¾ cup buttermilk

300g/2½ cups plain flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

For the icing 

300g icing sugar, sifted

100g/½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

40g/1.4oz cocoa powder, sifted

40ml/2½ tbsp milk

50g/1.6oz dark chocolate, melted 

To decorate

chocolate flakes 

8 chocolate truffles 

METHOD:

1.   Preheat the oven to 170°C /325°F/gas mark 3. Line the base of a 30cm round spring form tin with baking parchment.

2.   To make the cake, heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the Guinness, then remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder. 

3.   In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and buttermilk and then slowly add the Guinness mixture, whisking all the time.

4.   In a separate large bowl, sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Using an electric whisk, slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and keep whisking until it is all well combined.  

5.   Transfer the mixture in to the cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Test to make sure the cake is cooked by inserted a dry skewer into the middle of the cake - if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Set aside to cool a little, and then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 

6.   To make the chocolate icing beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together in an electric mixer (Or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium/slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed. Add the milk to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. When the milk has been incorporated, add the melted chocolate. Once all the chocolate has been combined, turn the mixer up to a high speed

7.   Place the cooled cake on a cake stand and generously spread the icing on the top and sides. Sprinkle the flaked chocolate around the edge of the cake and place the eight chocolate truffles on top of the flakes. 

Please remember to drink Guinness responsibly, for all the facts go to drinkaware.co.uk. Do not forward to anyone under the age of 18.

Potato salad with spring peas and radishes

Potato Salad with spring peas and radishes

 
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Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

900g baby potatoes (new potatoes or Jersey Royals)

3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

50g salted butter

2 shallots, finely diced 

20 garden pea pods, podded (or 100g frozen peas)

10 radishes, finely sliced 

1 lemon, juice and zest 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan half filled with water and add 1 tablespoon of torn fresh mint leaves and a sprinkle of sea salt. Place the saucepan, with lid, over a high heat and bring to the boil. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are completely cooked through. 

2. While the potatoes are cooking, place a frying pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. When the butter is melted, add finely diced shallots and cook until soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and Dijon mustard.

3. Drain the potatoes, slice them in half and add them to your serving dish followed by the fresh peas. If you’re using frozen peas, cook them in boiling, salted water for 2 or 3 minutes. 

4.  Next add the radishes, mint and lemon butter dressing and toss together to make sure all the ingredients are completely coated. Make sure your potatoes are still warm when you’re adding the dressing as they will absorb the dressing much better. 

Ten Minute Fish Supper

Ten Minute Fish Supper

 
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Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

80g / 4 tbsps butter 

2 large or 4 small flat fish fillets (such as plaice, turbot, lemon sole) 

2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh herbs (such as dill, flat leaf parsley, fennel) 

zest of juice of a lemon or lime 

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

 

METHOD:

1.    Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Swirl the pan around so that the butter is spread throughout the whole pan. 

2.    Place the fish fillets in the frying pan, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow to cook for four minutes, then carfeully turn over the fillets and cook for a further four minutes. After two minutes, sprinkle the lemon or lime zest and finely chopped herbs over the fish, and squeeze the lemon/lime juice long the fillets. 

3.    Slightly tip the pan to the side, so that the juices gather at the tipped side of the pan. Using a spoon scoop the juices from the pan and pour them back over the fish, repeat a few times. 

4.    When the fish is cooked arrange on two warmed plates, and pour all the juices from the pan over the fish. 

5.    Serve with a fresh gree leaf salad and steam new potatoes or green vegetables. 

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

 
Lemon Drizzle Cake
 

INGREDIENTS: 

225g/8oz butter, softened 

225g/8oz caster sugar

4 eggs

4 tbsp milk

275g/9½oz self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 lemons, grated zest only 

Juice of one lemon ½

For the lemon drizzle

175g/6oz icing sugar

2 lemons juice only 

Garnish with the zest of one lemon 

METHOD: 

1.   Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/Gas mark 4. Grease a 20-22cm round cake tin and line the base with parchment paper. 

2.   Place the butter in a large mixing bowl with the sugar and beat together with a whisk until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk. Next fold in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. 

3.   Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, scraping the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula to remove all of the mixture. Level the top gently with the back of the spatula. 

4.   Bake in the middle of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the sponge is lightly golden brown. Check by inserting a skewer into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. 

5.   While the cake is still hot and in the tin prick it with a skewer and pour over the lemon juice. Leave the cake in the tin to cool. 

6.    Make the drizzle. Whisk the lemon juice and icing sugar in a bowl until it forms a smooth paste. Remove the cake from the tin and smooth the lemon drizzle over the cake. Garnish with lemon zest. 

Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom frosting

Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom frosting

 
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Makes 1 Cake (10 portions) 

INGREDIENTS: 

3 eggs 

140ml/5floz vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing 

220/7oz light brown sugar 

1 tsp ground cinnamon 

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 

350g/12oz grated carrots, (grated weight) 

100g/3½ oz golden raisins 

100g/3½ oz walnuts, chopped 

200g/7oz self-raising flour 

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 

For the orange blossom frosting 

300g/10½ oz cream cheese, chilled 

70g/2½ oz butter, at room temperature 

300g/10½ oz icing sugar, sifted 

1 orange, zest only 

2 teaspoons of orange blossom water 

 METHOD: 

1.          Preheat the oven to 180°C and oil and line a 13 x 23cm loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

2.        For the carrot cake: beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, grated carrot, raisins and chopped walnuts. 

3.        Sift in the rest of the dry ingredients and bring the mixture together using a wooden or large metal spoon until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If you’re using a ceramic baking dish then you’ll need to add 15 minutes to the cooking time. 

4.       Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for about five minutes before removing. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving. 

5.        For the orange blossom frosting: beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until well combined. Add the icing sugar, orange blossom water and finely grated orange zest and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick. Using a palette knife, spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake, dipping the knife into a bowl of hot water if the icing is hard to spread out. 

6.       Decorate with orange zest on top of the frosting.

SALMON FISH CAKES WITH FRESH HORSERADISH CREAM

SALMON FISH CAKES WITH FRESH HORSERADISH CREAM

 
Salmon fish cakes with horseradish sauce
 

Serves 4 

 

INGREDIENTS: 

400g / 14ozs floury potatoes, boiled and mashed 

400g /14ozs salmon, poached and flaked 

2 scallions, finely chopped 

2 tsps capers 

1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped  

grated zest and juice of ½ lemon 

50g/3 tbsps butter 

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the fresh horseradish cream 

100ml/½ cup crème fraiche 

1 tbsp fresh peeled and grated fresh horseradish root

grated zest and juice of ½ lemon 

2 tsps flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 

1 lemon, cut into wedges to serve, plus a bunch of watercress (optional) to serve

 

METHOD: 

1.         Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.

2.        Place all the ingredients for the fish cakes except the butter  in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix well until all the ingredients are well combined. Divide the mixture into four balls, and shape each into a patty.

3.        Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the fish cakes and brown on both sides. Transfer the fish cakes to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. 

4.       While the fish cakes are baking, mix all the ingredients for the horseradish cream together in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

5.        To serve, place each fish cake on four warmed plate with a spoonful of the horseradish cream and a wedge of lemon, plus a handful of watercress, if you wish.

Fish Pie with Crispy Cheddar Rosti

Fish Pie with Crispy Cheddar Rosti

 
Fish Pie with cheddar potato rosti.jpg
 

What is more comforting than a sumptuous fish pie - my secret is a cracking crispy cheddar rosti on top.

 Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

450g/16 oz floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled
250g/9 oz smoked haddock fillets, skinless
250g/9 oz salmon fillets, skinless
100g/3½ oz prawns
400ml/14 fl oz milk
50g/2 oz flour
50g/2 oz butter, softened
25g/1 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp fresh dill
50g/2 oz mature Dubliner Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, cut in half
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorns

METHOD:

1.     Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and grate the raw potatoes with the larger part of a box grater and pop the grated potatoes into a bowl of cold water to stop them from going brown. Grate the cheddar using the same said of the grater and set aside in a bowl.
2.   Place the smoked haddock and the salmon in a saucepan, pour over the milk and drop in the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cook over a low heat for five minutes, then drain, holding on to the milk but discarding the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns.  Then add the fish to the roasting tray.
3.    Melt 150g of butter in a saucepan then stir in the flour and cook for five minutes to make a roux. Add the milk that you poached the fish in as well as the mustard, and whisk, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper, add in half the dill and pour over the fish.
4.   Drain the grated potatoes and pat dry with a clean tea towel until they are completely dry. Mix the grated potatoes in a bowel with the grated cheddar, rest of the dill and sea salt and scatter over the fish and the sauce.
5.    Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan and brush over the top of the pie to ensure the top gets really crispy. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Rhubarb & Ginger Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb & Ginger Upside-Down Cake

 
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I adore Rhubarb and Ginger and this is a harmonious cake perfect with a big dollop of creme fraiche and a cup of tea.

 Makes 1 Cake

INGREDIENTS:            

40g/1½ oz unsalted butter
200g/7 oz soft brown sugar
2 tbsp crystallised ginger, finely chopped
350g/12 oz rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
200g/7 oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml/7 fl oz buttermilk
2 medium eggs
100ml/3 fl oz vegetable oil

METHOD:

1.     Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2.   Melt the butter in a 24cm ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Stir in half the sugar and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add in one third of the crystallized ginger. Remove from the heat and add the sliced rhubarb, enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
3.    Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl
4.   In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining sugar with the buttermilk, eggs, oil and the rest of the crystallized ginger. Fold in the flour mixture and mix well. Pour over the rhubarb and smooth the surface.
5.    Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed in the centre. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes then invert on to a serving plate. Serve with crème fraiche.  

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup with Cheesey Croutons

 
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INGREDIENTS:

100g/8 oz butter
8 white onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried oregano, fresh thyme or rosemary
900ml/30 fl oz good quality beef broth

For the cheese croutons
4 slices of sourdough bread
80g/3 oz gruyere cheese, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
METHOD:

1.    Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
2.    Place a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, turn down the heat to low and stir in the onions. Cover and leave to cook for 10 minutes, until soft,
3.    Next stir in the brown sugar and garlic and let the onions brown uncovered and slightly caramelize, stirring every few minutes until they become a deep golden colour. Stir in a teaspoon of the dried oregano, fresh thyme or rosemary.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4.    Pour in the beef broth and allow to cook for a further 30 minutes.
5.    To make the cheesy crouton sprinkle the gruyere cheese on top of the slices of sourdough bread and pop under a grill to melt.
6.    Serve the onion soup in heated bowls and place the cheesy croutons on top.