I'm getting really good with my new ability to control the weather. Today has been a warm, sunny and beautiful day just as I wished. I had a great time with some friends at the beach. The beach was fairly busy today with the preparation for the annual air show which starts tomorrow.
This evening my friend Leo asked me to show him a couple of delicious recipes that are quick and effortless. He plans to cook for his family sometime soon and of course, as a good friend, I was more than happy to help.
First on the menu was Coq au Riesling. This is my take on the classic French dish, Coq au Vin. And this is so embarrassingly easy. In a heavy casserole pot, heat up a glug olive oil and fry some cubed pancetta until slightly crisps. The pancetta will render its fat which is so delicious. Add some sliced onions, finely chopped celery, cubed potatoes and carrots and soften them with the pancetta for a few minutes. When softened, add dried thyme, finely chopped garlic, the chicken and the wine. I like to use skinless chicken thighs. You could use skinless and boneless if you prefer, but I like the bones for flavour. Season with salt and pepper. Let this come to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
When the stew had its time, add some sliced courgettes and simmer again for an extra five minutes. The courgette will be cooked but still slightly crunchy. I don't like courgettes that are cooked to a mush. Add some lemon juice to the broth and chopped parsley. Check again the seasoning.
Serve on a wide bowl, sprinkle with more parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Delish! This is the kind of stew I like to have on a breezy summer evening with cold beer or sparkling wine; it's light and refreshing (the lemon juice is crucial here).
For an easy and impressive looking cake, I made chocolate cola cake, a recipe from one of my favourite chefs, James Martin. This is my kind of baking, the kind that's straightforward. Simply mix a few ingredients in a bowl, put in a tin and bake. And when it's done, my guess will think that I've gone into a lot trouble making it.
Don't worry, you won't end up with a cola flavoured sponge. The cola here provides moisture to the cake. The cake is then covered with a thick and smooth chocolate cola icing. heaven!
I realised that I rarely include measurements for the recipes in my blog and I am really sorry. But you know what, this cake is so delicious and I think it's selfish not to share.
Chocolate cola cake
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F. Grease a 2o cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
Sift 250 gr self rising flour, 300 gr golden caster sugar, 3 heaped tablespoons cocoa and 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.
Gently melt 250 gr butter and 200 ml cola drink together in a pan. Don't let it boil. When the butter has melted, add 75 ml of whole milk. Add this to the dry ingredients, together with two eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix gently but thoroughly, then tip into the cake tin.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack while you make the icing.
To make the icing, sift 250 gr icing sugar and 2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa into a bowl.
Melt 75 gr butter with 4 tablespoons of cola drink and add this to the sugar cocoa mixture and mix until well blended. Spread generously over the cake.
However, if you can't be bothered to bake and happen to be around, I have plenty of leftovers I'd be happy to share :)