mango and coconut cake

All in all it’s been going well. Lee is thriving and I, while definitely beginning to feel the effects of all that broken sleep, am doing pretty well. Yes, there are piles of laundry (mainly clean though sometimes it’s hard to tell) in almost every room in the house at this stage, hair-washing has become a luxury, dressing doesn’t happen until 4pm some days and the high speed approach taken has had some frightening results (why and how does baby spew seem to appear on things which haven’t even been near the baby – don’t I have enough to contend with????) and “me time” are those ten minutes at about 3.30am when I am alone and not holding anything before I go to bed.

A big development is that Auggie seems to have finally accepted Lee’s existence and even manages to say his name  (well, sometimes). I believe Lee’s amazing farting abilities sealed the deal. Both his brothers have been massively impressed and now can’t wait for him to grow up into some kind of Dennis the Menace as far as I can make out. Word of his amazing powers have even reached the school and crèche where he has attained almost celebrity status- not bad going for a four-week old……

Foodwise, we’ve been keeping it very simple. Paul is back at work and Lee pretty much feeds all the time so most days it’s a bowl of pasta in the evenings and whatever comes to hand the rest of the time. While hummus, cheese, olives etc are all brilliant for this, I’ve come to rely on sweet stuff  for much needed energy boosts throughout the day. Biscuits and chocolate just don’t do it. Cake is what I need. We’ve had Nigel Slater’s Moscovado and Hazelnut one a few times which the boys can pretty much make on their own if you give them the ingredients. It’s a firm favourite at ours and a cinch to make but rather than risk overkill I’ve been branching out and somehow managed to make this week’s mango and coconut cake a few days ago while my sister cuddled Lee.

Coconut and mango is one of those matches made in heaven. You just can’t go wrong. This cake is really a sort of tart but instead of pastry there’s a shortbread base made with coconut that has a gorgeous crumbly texture. Then a layer of mango which I simmer down with blood orange and rum until it goes jammy. Finally, there’s a sprinkle of the crust mix so you get a crumble style topping. The result is a cake/pie that is perfect on its own with a cuppa but which also makes a brilliant dessert with vanilla ice-cream.

I’ve been making this cake for a while now, tinkering around with proportions and ingredients. The first time I made it was for a celiac friend and I used rice flour which worked perfectly so I’ve kept that up. If you don’t have any, you can use regular plain white or whole-wheat. This recipe uses dried as opposed to fresh mango and the reason is that all the flavour of fresh mango completely dissipates when you cook it. It’s a complete waste. We had amazing Osteen mangos a few months back and I made a version of this cake with them and you couldn’t even tell it was mango. You can of course use other fruit, I’ve made a version with cranberry and cinnamon which was so nice that I bought up lots of half price cranberries after Christmas and froze them so I could rustle up impromptu desserts at a moments notice. Hmmm…like that’s going to happen any time soon.

Mango and coconut crumble cake

You’ll need:

100gr dried mango

2 blood or regular oranges juiced 100 ml approx

50ml rum (I used Captain Morgans)

150 ml water

1 heaped tablespoon cane sugar

For the crumble

150gr rice flour

90gr cane sugar

140gr butter

60gr desiccated coconut

A pinch fine salt

Mango and blood orange juice

Begin by preparing the mango – combine the slices with the juice, rum, sugar and water in a pot and gently simmer over a lowish heat for about 45 minutes leaving the mango soft and the liquid reduced to about 3 tablespoons of thick syrup. Allow this to cool while you get on with the rest

Mango and blood orange cooked

To make the cake crumble all the ingredients together with your fingertips as you would any other crumble. Lightly grease a cake tin then with your hand press 80% of the crumble mix to the bottom so it all sticks together.

Finely chop the mango conserving all the juice left in the pot. Spread all of this on the crumble base. sprinkle  the rest of the crumble mix on top of the fruit leaving the edges uncovered so some of the lovely deep red of the fruit can peep through.

Bake for 30 minutes are gas mark 6 til the topping is golden. Serve warm or at room temperature with a little vanilla ice-cream.

It’s now purple sprouting broccoli season and most of you have some in this week’s bag (sadly they weren’t quite able to harvest enough for us so a few of you have something else instead). For this special treat keep things simple – it’s lovely steamed then tossed with gently sautéed garlic, pasta, pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon or you can go all out try it on a bed of polenta with sundried tomato pesto and goat’s cheese (this really rocks). Whatever you do, do it asap so you get it at its best. Those of you who missed out this week can rest assured I’ll be doing my best to get more in asap.

Have a great week,



Cabbage with toasted coconut and lime

Thank goodness it’s (nearly) Friday. The daily routine of up and down to work and school has proved exhausting this week. I’m wrecked! Being 5 and half months pregnant is NOT helping, I’m just so tired these days and I still have at least another 4 months to go! Sorry about the rant but the reason I bring it up is because this week’s recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare which is about the limit timewise of what I can spend in front of the cooker most of the time most evenings. Peppers diced up quite finely and fried up with finely shredded green cabbage in coconut oil then tossed with toasted coconut. Tasty, satisfying yet nice and light. It’s not really a full meal although with a bowl of brown rice you’re nearly there and it makes a great snack at any time of the day. It would make a great add on to any Indian meal and Paul suggested serving it with some chicken or tofu satay which I can totally see working. Now if I can just get him on the case…

A quick dish of cabbage with toasted coconut                                      Cabbage

You’ll need:

Coconut (or vegetable) oil

2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 green ramiro style pepper or 1/2 bell pepper finely diced

1 red ramiro pepper or 1/2 bell pepper finely diced

1/2 long red chili very finely diced

1 medium onion finely diced

1/2 head green cabbage  finely shredded

4 heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut

Salt and pepper

To serve: A few wedges of lime

Heat a tablespoon coconut oil in a wok. Throw in the cumin seeds and toss quickly then add the peppers, onions and chili.

Peppers in the wok

Toss until the vegetables are nicely softened. Add the cabbage

Peppers with cabbage in the wok

Keep tossing until it has wilted and reduced in volume by about a third. Toast the coconut on a dry pan until it turns golden.This will happen quickly (about 20 seconds should do it) so keep a close eye on things. Stir about 3/4 of the coconut through the cabbage and sprinkle the rest on top.

Marc Michel Organic Life

On the face of it the timing of our walk on Marc Michel’s farm last Saturday wasn’t great. Paul and I had been out the night before and as usual hadn’t had nearly enough sleep. It turns out it was the perfect antidote. The weather man had warned of storms but the day turned out to be pretty good for the most part although we did have to make a run for it towards the end of the walk. Many thanks to all those who came along – it was great to meet you all. Here are some snaps from the day….

We met up in Marc’s recently reopened farm shop where you can also buy some of his lovely food.

Menu at Marc Michel's organic life shop

Marc gave us some tea and we had some blueberry, almond and orange cake that I had made with the kids beforehand..

Blueberry, almond and orange cake

We headed off and saw the gorgeous flowers Marc’s been growing….


Marc Michel in a field of flowers

Then we saw some veg! Cucumbers, courgettes and of course those amazing tomatoes……..

Cucumber   Vine tomatoesCourgettes

There was lots of chatting and Marc answered everyone’s questions..

Chatting on the farm


Tasting a tomatoAnd the kids had a ball. Auggie and Guilia played in the dirt ………….

       ………….while Dan grabbed a tractor!

All in all, a brilliant way to spend the afternoon. Many,many thanks to everyone on the farm for making the walk so enjoyable.

Swede as

May 27, 2011

I know about 5 people who get excited about swede and I’m guessing you’re not one of them. It’s great as part of a roast dinner – braised in stock, mashed with lots and lots of butter and a generous handful of fresh thyme leaves or in a gratin with pancetta and cream.  However, swede’s, um…….. ultra-rootiness (to put it mildly!) means that it is  rarely used as a stand-alone main ingredient. It’s just a bit too hardcore for most people and that’s fair enough. I’ve been wondering how to get around this for a while – after all swede is one of our indigenous varieties. It’s local, seasonal and above all, great value for money.

Last week I tried a soup with coconut milk and Thai red curry paste. I know, a very far cry from how you normally approach swedes, but it worked really well.  All that earthiness is taken down a few notches by the red curry while the coconut adds a lovely mellow note to the sweetness. Swede, you’ve met your match.

It’s a very simple soup really. Lots of onions fried up in coconut oil then some red curry paste, a few kaffir lime leaves and a dash of Nam Pla (fish sauce from the Asian supermarket), the guts of a swede and some veggie stock. About 10 minutes prep followed by 20 minutes cooking then a blast with the blender and you’re done.

As with all root veg soups, I added a handful of red lentils to fortify things plus give you the option of not bothering to cook anything else if energy levels are low after work.  This soup freezes really well and will keep in the fridge for days so it’s a brilliant standby. It’s filling but a bowl of rice or some bread are needed to complete things or you may find yourself attacking the ice-cream with more fervour than usual later on….

Thai red curry swede soup with coconut and lime

You’ll need:

3 medium onions chopped

Coconut or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of Thai red curry paste

1 tin coconut milk

2 kaffir lime leaves – if you don’t have these it’s ok just add extra lime at the end

1 -2 teaspoons Nam Pla

600gr swede (peeled and cut into chunks)

1 cup of red lentils rinsed

1 litre vegetable stock

A lime

To garnish: chopped coriander

Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a pot and add the onions. Saute until soft and starting to change colour. Stir in  curry paste and the kaffir lime leaves then add the coconut milk and a dash of Nam Pla.  Stir well to mix all the ingredients together then throw in the swede. Pour in the stock and allow everything to come to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer over a mediumish heat for about 20 minutes until the swede and lentils are fully cooked. Take off the heat and puree with a handblender until completely smooth. Taste and add a little salt if you think it needs it then add a decent spritz of lime. To serve, top with coriander.

Hi all

I am on hols !!
You wont miss me because I have a treat for you. Margaret who is a fab cook but in a completely different style will be doing the recipes for me. Enjoy something a bit different and new..


From Margaret … some organic recipes

I love courgettes, they are so versatile eaten small, large or medium. I plan to grow again this year so I get the lovely flowers to stuff and deep fry. I also like marrow that dreaded and maligned veg. Courgettes are a great base and take strong flavours well. I eat courgette sliced lengthways to about 1/4 cm thick and then griddled with a little oil on a hot grill pan. Then marinate in chopped garlic and lemon juice for a few hours (and if I have in the garden lots of chopped parsley). This is good as a sandwich filling maybe with goats cheese, as part of a pizza topping or a veggie tart or as a side dish with other salads. It keeps in the fridge for a few days.

I like to fry courgettes in olive oil with some garlic on the pan and have as a side dish with maybe grilled chicken. This time of the year they can also be added to a risotto with whatever other greens you have around; young nettles if you have time to forage.

For a healthy option slice lengthways to 1/2 cm thick or in halves if courgettes are small and use instead of pasta in lasagne. Surprisingly nice and tasty…

Or chocolate courgette cake.. always moist. Here is a link to Riverford organic My 5 and 2 year old nephews love making cakes chocolate if possible so this or chocolate beetroot brownies are favourites. The great thing is these cakes cant really go wrong as they dont rise too much. You can add some healthy spelt flour instead of the white if you want.

For a light supper or a lunchbox try Courgette Fritters.
For 2-3 people
2 medium courgettes grated and then squeezed in a clean tea towel
1 egg beaten (or use 2 tbsp chickpea flour and water)
1 tbsp plain flour or potato flour
1 teaspoon cumin seed or cumin and caraway mixed (lightly toasted on dry frying pan)
black pepper
chopped red chile (optional)

Heat oven to 150 -175
Put the grated courgette into a bowl and season with pepper.
Mix in all other ingredients.
Roll into small balls with your fingertips. Or make into patties if easier.
Heat oil in a wok at about 3 inches depth.
Carefully brown fritters on all sides then remove and dry on kitchen paper.
Put on a roasting tray in the oven for 15 minutes.

The fritters can be eaten hot of cold with a sour cream or greek yoghurt dip.

Sour Cream dip
To sour cream or greek yoghurt add a squeeze of lemon and chopped coriander or parsley or chives or dill…. Whatever beckons. I like to grow herbs in the garden as they can add that needed bit of flavour. I had these first with a Munich friend of Indian descent made to take to the beer garden for a picnic!! Happy memories

Eat with some green salad for a light supper !!

To vary fritters
Add grated carrot or spinach and eat straight out of the oven with an Indian style tomato sauce.

Red Cabbage

I like red cabbage best slow braised with apples in the oven. Sarah already has a recipe on the blog for this. It is great with pork or duck or game. As with any cabbage red is also good shredded stir fried and wilted with
sesame oil, vinegar and rice wine/sake and soy or possibly try cider vinegar, mirin and pomegranate molasses.
Another classic is a hearty borchst with red cabbage, tomatoes and beetroot topped with sour cream.

For an alternative try a simple Indian style curry with Red Cabbage. The spices help to make the cabbage more digestible !!

red chillies

red chillies

Indian style curry with Red Cabbage

1 tsp mustard seed (optional)
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves or garlic finely chopped
1cm piece of ginger finely chopped
1 chile finely chopped (if you dont like too spicy go for half a chile and put some in a bowl on the table for other people to add)
2 tomatoes finely chopped (I find canned better for this)
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 red cabbage shredded
a cup of sliced courgette or whatever other veg you have to hand like shredded carrot or beetroot
optional some cooked aduki beans
half can coconut milk or about 1/4 block of coconut
fresh chopped coriander or curry leaves
1 tbsp of garam masala
optional 1 tsp poppy seed 25g cashews ground together in food processor

Heat oil in deep pan and pop the mustard seed. Then add the onion and fry gently in some oil till softened. Add ginger and garlic and chile.
(a good trick here if busy is chop onion earlier in day with garlic add some oil and maybe some stock and roast in a low oven for 40 minutes then puree)
Then add tomatoes and fry gently.
Add sugar and sprinkling of salt.
Add the veg and stir and cook for a few minutes stirring and put lid on and cook for 15-20 minutes adding some water to nearly cover veg if needed.
Then add the coconut milk or shredded block coconut with little water .
Stir in the masala and the ground seed and nuts if using.
If you have a lime or lemon handy a squeeze is always good just before serving.
Serve with plain rice and some chutney.

Enjoy Margaret