Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rich Chocolate Sponge Cake

Melted dark chocolate adds richness and flavor to this tempting and easy to mix cake. Recipe serves 6-8.


4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, diced, or polyunsaturated margarine
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
2 ounces (50 g) dark cooking chocolate, melted
Icing sugar, to dust


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease an 7 inch (18 cm) round cake tin. Line the tin with greaseproof or baking paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
3. Sift together the flour and cocoa, then carefully fold into the creamed mixture using a large metal spoon.
4. Stir in the milk and the warm, melted chocolate, until evenly combined. Transfer the mixture to the tin. Level the surface, making a slight hollow in the center.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a warm skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Tips: If baking the cake in a ridged tin (as the cake in the photograph has), grease the tin thoroughly, then dust with 4 teaspoons flour, and tap out any excess. This stops the cake from sticking in the ridges and makes it easier to turn out. For a milder, sweeter-flavored chocolate cake, substitute drinking chocolate for cocoa and use milk chocolate instead of dark cooking chocolate.

Cucumber in Yogurt

This is a traditional Greek recipe which can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish to a main course. It is simple and refreshing. Recipe serves 4-6.


1 telegraph or 2-3 Lebanese cucumbers
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 fl oz (200 ml) natural yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly crushed garlic
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
White pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or mint, chopped


1. Peel and finely dice the cucumber. Place in a bowl and stir in salt. Leave for 15 minutes.
2. In another bowl combine the yogurt, garlic and vinegar.
3. Drain the liquid from the cucumbers then add to the yogurt mixture and stir. Season with pepper.
4. Just before serving sprinkle with parsley or mint.
5. Serve with crackers or pita bread.

Veal and Fennel Casserole

This hearty veal and fresh fennel casserole is easy to make and good for a family dinner or an informal dinner party. Delicious served with mashed potato. Recipe serves 4-6.


1 1/2 pound (800 g) veal, diced
2 ounces (50 g) butter
A little flour
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon tomato puree
4 fennel bulbs
1 large carrot
2 onions, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Coat meat in the flour. Heat butter in a heavy based saucepan and brown the meat.
2. Increase the heat, add diced onion and cook for a few minutes. Add wine and cook until it has reduced to about a 1/4 cup.
3. Reduce heat, add chicken, stock, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, oregano, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, slice base from the fennel, discard outer stalks and wash. Slice. Peel and slice the carrot.
5. Add fennel and carrot. Cook for 1 hour over low heat or until the meat is tender, adding water if necessary.
6. Discard bay leaf and serve.