A seriously good chocolate cake 
This really is a good cake.  Easy too.  It's rich and dense, and a little goes a long way - but in my opinion that's what chocolate cake should be all about.  The covering and decoration is optional - a chocolate buttercream would be a good alternative in place of the ganache - but the least I would do is slice and fill it. Check out the recipe here

Laksa Lemak

There are lots of different regional variations of laksa.  This is a delicious curry version that has a rich coconut gravy.

For the spice paste:
8 shallots
4 cloves garlic
Thumb sized piece of ginger
4 fresh red chillies
4 dried red chillies
1tablespoon dried prawns, soaked in water for 30 mins to soften
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
2 sticks lemon grass
1 tablespoon curry powder - preferably Malaysian (shop bought, or make your own)
6 candlenuts (although I substitute macadamia nuts)

For the laksa:
2 tablespoons oil (any tasteless frying oil, such as vegetable)
1x400g tin coconut milk
400ml chicken stock
300g (approx) of prawns or chicken
100g vegetables, such as mange tout
200g noodles, cooked and drained - I use Ho Fan
100g beansprouts
2 tablespoons of fried shallots (or you can buy these ready made in asian supermarkets)
Fish sauce and lime juice, to taste.

1.  Make the spice paste. Roughly chop the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, candlenuts (or macadamia), ginger and chillies.  Put these, along with the drained dried prawns and a drizzle of oil, either in a pestle & mortar or a food processor.  Grind or process until a smooth-ish paste.

2.  Mix the paste together with the curry powder and the shrimp paste.

3.  Heat the remaining oil in a wok.  Add the spice paste and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.

4.  Add the coconut milk and chicken stock and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. 

5.  Put in your prawns or chicken and vegetables - simmer until cooked.

6.  Taste and then season with a little each of the fish sauce and lime juice to start.  Taste again and then add more of either the fish sauce or lime juice, or both until the salt and sour flavours are balanced.

7.  To serve, divide the noodles and beansprouts among bowls. Top with the gravy.  Sprinkle over the shallots.  You can also serve this with some chopped cucumber, and extra chilli if you like.

Cauliflower Cheese Tart

A great way to transform the humble cauliflower

1 quantity good quality shortcrust pastry (either shop-bought all-butter, or make your own)
1 medium size head cauliflower
200ml milk
150ml crème fraiche
100g grated good quality cheddar cheese
2 large eggs

1.  Heat your oven to 180ºC
3.  Prepare a 23cm (approx) tart tin by smearing with butter or oil, and then dusting with flour.
2.  Roll out your pastry until it is the thickness of a 50 pence piece.  Carefully use your rolling pin to lift it on to your tin.  Ease the pastry in to the tin.  Don't worry about trimming the edges very neatly for now - just roughly leave around 2cm of pastry hanging all over the edge of the tin.  Prick the base of your pastry all over with a fork.
3.  Scrumple up some baking parchment, then flatten it out and use it to cover your pastry.  Pour in some porcelain baking beans (or dries pulses, or rice) and push in to all of the crevices of your tin. 
4.  Put in the oven and cook for 15 mins.
5.  While your pastry is cooking, break you cauliflower in to bite size pieces cook, ideally by steaming, or boil for 5 mins.  Don't forget to add a good pinch of salt to the cooking water.
6.  In a bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, crème fraiche and cheese.  Add a pinch of salt, and a good grind of pepper.
7.  When your pastry case has been in the oven for 15 mins, take it out and lift out the baking parchment with the beans (leave these to cool, and store them to use again another day).  Leaving the pastry in the tin, take a knife and trim away the excess pastry to leave a neat edge.
8.  Put the cooked cauliflower in to the pastry case, then pour over the liquid mixture.  You may need to use a spoon to distribute the mixture evenly.
9.  At this stage you can add additional ingredients, such as cooked or smoked salmon.
10.  Return to the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the centre of the tart is just cooked and the top is golden brown.

Wholemeal Pizza Base

I don't care if you think this is pizza heresy, I say it's really tasty

250ml water
150g wholemeal flour (I use Shipton Mill Stoneground 100%)
180g strong white flour (I use Shipton Mill Italian white '00')
1½ teaspoons fine salt
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1¼ teaspoon instant yeast
fine semolina for rolling

Makes 3 pizzas
1.  Put your pizza stone in to the middle shelf of your oven.  Turn your oven to the highest setting.
2.  If using a breadmaker to make the dough, follow your breadmaker instructions for the order of ingredients, and use the 'dough' or 'pizza' setting.  Alternatively, combine all the ingredients in a bowl or in a food processor until roughly combined.  Tip out on to a table or board, and knead until smooth and elastic.  If your dough looks dry at any point, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more of water.

3.  Divide the dough in to 3 equal sizes balls and cover each loosely with cling film smeared with a little oil.  Leave to rise until doubled in size (approx 1 hr).

4.  Dust your worksurface or board generously with semolina.  Lightly knead your dough and form in to a neat ball.  Roll out as thin as you like.

5.  Take your pizza stone out of the oven and shut the oven door immediately.  Working quickly, top your pizza with your toppings of choice.  I like using a homemade tomato sauce, thinly sliced red onion and mozzarella.  Put in the oven for approximately 10 mins.  When the pizza comes out of the oven you can add additional fresh toppings.  I like smoked salmon, rocket, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Salted caramel & choc chunk brownies  
The salt makes these really moresish, and they have a classic squidgy brownie centre

250g caster sugar
100g butter
200g caramel (such as Dulce de Leche) or make your own
2 large eggs
200g self raising flour
100g chocolate chunks (white or dark)
2 tsps sea salt

1.  Preheat your oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4.
2.  Line the bottom & sides of a 25cm square tin or equivalent with baking parchment.
3.  In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until pale.  You can either use a free- standing or hand-held mixer with the beater attachments.
4.  Add 150g of the caramel and the eggs and beat again briefly until combined.
5.  Add the flour and chocolate chunks, and mix with a spoon or spatula until well combined.
6.  Put the mixture in your tin, and even out the mixture with your spoon or spatula.
7.  Dab blobs of the caramel all over the surface of the mixture.
8.  Sprinkle the sea salt evenly all over the surface of the mixture.
9.  Back in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  The brownies are cooked with the edges are browned but the middle is still a little sticky.
10. Leave to cool in the tin, then cut in to squares.

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