Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

 

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

This is the most moist, most delicious and light textured Texas Sheet cake and it must always be square nor round !

You will need :

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180 C.
Sift the sugar and flour together in a bowl.
Melt the butter on low in a saucepan, and when melted add cocoa and water and heat until boiling.
Pour cocoa mix over sugar and flour and mix well with a spoon.
Add eggs, yoghurt, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda and chile powder, and mix well with a spoon.
Pour batter into greased 9×13 inch pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, checking it at 20 minutes.
Pour icing (recipe below) over cake when you take it out of the oven.

Texas Sheet Cake Icing

110g butter (1 stick)
4 tablespoons of cocoa
6 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of chopped pecans
200g powdered sugar

Five minutes before cake is done, bring to a boil the butter, cocoa and milk.
Remove from heat, and mix in sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nuts.
Beat well, and then spread over cake while both are still warm.

I use flour by St Georges Brand.

Hazelnut and Honey Tart

Today’s Paper

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This recipe was given to me by Renato.

His father Guzi first made it as a speciality for the family Dolceria in Old Mint Street in 1955.

And for the pastry you will need:
160g Flour
50g Sugar
50g softened Butter
3 drops Vanilla Extract
35g Water
Zest of a quarter of a fresh Lemon
Pinch of cinnamon

A 10 inch Tart Dish
Heat oven to 160 or gas mark 5
Prep time 25 minutes. Cooking time 25 minutes

Sieve flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add butter cut up into small pieces. Rub in until you have a fine consistency. Add vanilla extract, lemon zest and cinnamon. Dissolve sugar and cold water and mix into dry ingredients. Knead and leave to rest wrapped in cling film in a cool place for at least 15 minutes. Grease the tart dish and roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface. Line the dish and trim neatly. Dock the pastry with a fork.

Ingredients for Hazlenut Filling
400g Hazlenuts
250g Sugar
250g Butter
125g Honey
Cherries for decoration (optional)

Roast the nuts in the oven until they are a light gold colour. Cool and place in a plastic bag. Crush lightly with a rolling pin but do not over do it. The nuts need to be large and chipped.
Melt the butter on very gentle heat. Add the sugar and honey and stir, still on low heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. When cool, add the Hazlenuts and put filling into the pastry case and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Take out of oven and leave on a wire rack to cool completely in the tart dish. When you take it out of the oven the consistency should be runny but as it cools down the filling sets. Then gently take it out of the tart dish and you may need to use the point of a sharp knife to help ease it out. Decorate with cherries.
This tart will last for a few weeks if stored in an airtight container and the flavor improves. No need to refrigerate.

And here Caper season has arrived, time for pickling and preserving, and the most exciting part of using up last year’s stock….

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Pasta e Ceci

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These are ingredients of nearly every kitchen in the Mediterranean region. The fresh chickpeas have a very short season on the island. In my pasta dish I use a mix of fresh and dried cooked chickpeas. If the fresh chickpeas are not available this dish is just as delicious with the dried variety. I also think tinned chickpeas have no aftertaste so if you are in a real rush, use those.

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We buy fresh chickpeas in huge bundles. You will need to peel them. You will need time and patience. i find the process therapeutic, my mind wanders and my imagination runs wild.

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You will end up with a good amount of green chickpeas. No need to measure or weigh. Use approximately an equal amount of cooked dried chickpeas.

Before cooking dried chickpeas, the first thing you will have to do is soak them. Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Allow to soak overnight, about 12 hours. A teaspoon of baking soda can be added to help soften them up and it does not change their nutritional value. Drain and transfer to a large cooking pot, cover with water twice the amount of chickpeas and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer for approximately one hour. Do a taste test at this point to make sure they are tender enough for your liking. Once chickpeas are cooled they are ready to be used.

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Drizzle some olive oil into a heavy pan, low heat. Add some finely chopped garlic and the cooked chick peas. Stir. Add some parsley and fresh mint. If you are using orecchiette as I am start to cook them now in plently boiling salted water. Add two ladels of pasta water to the chickpeas that are cooking.

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Drain the pasta and add to the pan. Add some more parsley and mint and stir.

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Add the green chickpeas. Stir.

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Add the chopped tomatoes and stir through. Remove from heat. I love the taste of uncooked tomatoes with a hot pasta dish.

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Drizzle some olive oil. Garnish with fresh mint and parsley.

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Some sea salt, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated pecorino.

And how do we cook fresh chick peas? a week in June …

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Fresh chick peas from the market this morning and I am preparing them for lunch. Come with me to the Mediterranean today and experience our life from where we are right here.

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Every Sunday join me in the heart of the Mediterranean on Di-ve News

How much fresher can it get? I visit a local chicken farm !

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I visited Katy at her poultry farm this week and I meet her wonderful family.

I am left speechless by her drive and ability. This is an amazing family who against all odds have reached achievement brought about by a lifetime of dedication, sheer hard work and the benevolence of new funding.
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I am honored to know them, salt of the earth, hardworking and resourceful, the world should be full of people like them. This is my first of a series of visits and I have started to feature them in today’s paper.

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We will be able to see the transparancy of the food chain in local produce. How can you compare food that is so fresh, where the source is known, the process vetted and where you can be assured of cleanliness. As well as being well managed, the place is pristine.

And speaking about chicken, we are having some boneless chicken legs on the bbq today.

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I have marinated them in orange juice from the last of the Sevilles, now at the very end of their season, a bit of olive oil, fresh rosemary and tulbaghia also known as posh garlic from the garden, sea salt and freshly ground pepper and i cannot wait for this evening.

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I love the combination of orange and poultry and if you do not have a bbq try my baked Chicken with Caramelized Oranges . I make this often using very similar ingredients.

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And with the end of citrus season, comes my last batch of marmalade, a mix this week of sevilles and lemon. The result is fantastic, more like a jelly with absolutely no pectin, gelatin or setting agents, all natural but with a lot of sugar too. Instead of cutting the rind into slivers, I have used a flower plunge cutter and I am thrilled with the result to share with you at some point this week.

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Next on my list is a jam of fig using Stevia. Figs are so naturally sweet and rarely need any pectin and I think they make a wonderful jam with stevia. But of course sugar is a preservative and I will have to storie it in the fridge..

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I sense the excitement in the kids as Katy and the family prepare for the celebratory opening of the new building next week and It seems to be a double celebration for them as I drive away through the village also in the swing of preparations for the feast of the village patron saint which falls on the same weekend.

And from the glorious heart of the Mediterranean, I wish you a wonderful Saturday!

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Artichoke Salad in a pistachio crust

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I am a very early riser and sitting in the middle of a peaceful garden this morning at sunrise, not too hot yet, a light breeze, the most perfect weather, I have to share with you one of a series of tarts I did for a feature in Brilliant Baking Magazine.

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The ingredients come from this Mediterranean garden and I have also used ricotta, a most common ingredient here that you will find any day in every local kitchen.

This is a salad in a healthy pie crust made with olive oil and pistachios.

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You must not worry as some of you may think my cooking is too experimental but these flowers are those of common sage that we use every day in a Western kitchen and it is the season when they are flowering at the moment, beautiful at their peak. They are completley edible and taste exactly like the leaf, only a bit milder with a more delicate texture. Unlike the sage leaf, there is no toughness and they do not need to be cooked.

Follow the recipe for the pistachio pie crust and baking blind

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For the filling, I have used the same ingredients you would use in a quiche, it is an uncooked quiche, a salad in a crust, on of many that I have made recently.

200g ricotta
1 egg hard boiled
Maldon Salt and freshly ground pepper
200g Artichoke hearts, cooked and peeled, or shop bought, sliced
Sage flowers
Some arugula leaves
A drizzle of olive oil
A squeeze of lemon, do not overdo it

Arrange the arugula on the cool pie crust. Cover with a thin layer of mashed up ricotta. Hard boil the egg and chop it up. Place on top of the ricotta. Neatly arrange the sliced artichokes on top of the pie. Top with the sage flowers. Season with maldon salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve.

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Very quick Sicilian Soft Marzipan Cookies

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On the island we are used to these Sicilian so very soft marzipan cookies and everyone who tasted mine was not aware of any shortcuts to the original recipe. Time is a great commodity and I like a balance where you can still make home made food without spending hours in a hot kitchen. There is nothing better than what you make at home. The freshness of course and the genuine ingredients, knowing exactly what you are eating. This is literally an all in one recipe. I added a bit of my homemade candied oranges in lavender sugar but you can use some grated orange peel instead or simply leave out.

And you will need :

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1 cup flour
2 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup icing sugar sift and keep aside and extra for dusting after baking
2 eggs
1 packet almond Loacker wafers
2 spoons candied oranges or one spoon grated orange rind

Use a hand blender to break up the Loacker wafers until they look like fine breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Mix all the other dry ingredients except the icing sugar together and mix. Beat the eggs and use it to bind the almomd mix. Many similar recipes require beaten egg whites but this recipe works just as well.

Form into balls and roll in the Loacker wafer mix.

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Shape into a cylinder and using press your thumb into the centre to leave a mark. Roll them im icimg sigar and baken them in a oven at 150 C for 12 minutes.

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Leave to cool completely.

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Roll them on more icing sugar.
If stored in an air tight container, these will keep for 2 weeks.

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And in this week’s Press

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How to make Mediterranean Carob Syrup

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I get excited when I stumble on old recipes and look forward to trying them out in my kitchen. Today I am making am making Carob Syrup. Although you can buy it ready made, nothing beats the flavor of home made. I very often detect a burtn tast in the ready made jars….

Carob is gluten free, nut free, dairy free and caffeine free and the tree is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a great source of vitamins and is rich in protein, iron and calcium.

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For the syrup, you will need:

2 kilos carob
2 kilos water ( I like weighing my water but if using a measuring jug it’s 2 liters)
4 kilos sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla or less according to your preference
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Rinse the pods several times in water.

Roast them but do not overdo it, I left mine in the oven at 150C for 40 minutes

Leave to cool and break each pod into three or four pieces.

Immerse in water and soak overnight and boil in the same water for an hour,

Drain the liquid through a sieve and press pods to extract as much flavor as possible.

Add sugar, cloves, vanilla and cinnamon to the water,

Bring the water to a steady boil for for one hour to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how thick you want the syrup.

Leave to cool and pour into sterilized jars before it fully cools down.

Soaking the carob fruit

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The tree

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and the poem under the tree
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My new thing… iced teas

I have been making a variety of infused Iced Teas since my recent lunch with HE The Ambassador of Tunisia at her official residence.

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I have even made Iced Green Tea with pine nuts last weekend, certainly an influence of Tunisia.

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And I loved Bobby Flay’s to celebrate Iced Tea Day this week.

My favorite one so far has been the Raspberry Iced Infusion with Cranberry and to make it you will need:

5 cups brewed Raspberry infusion bags
5 cups low sugar Cranberry Juice
Orange slices to garnish
And i also used mint leaves, special ones ! chocolate flavored mint leaves (Mentha piperita) which is a hybrid of water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). Just amazing and I cannot wait to start using it to decorate my cakes and pastries..

Mix the raspberry tea and cranberry juice
Serve over ice and garnish with orange slices and mint

i find them resfreshing, much nicer than carbonated drinks and i featured them a few times in the Press this week.

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