Häagen-Dazs taste testing

One of my saddest moments happened when I went to boarding school aged thirteen. It wasn’t down to feelings of abandonment or any old-fashioned fagging system. But I came face to face with the stark reality that normal people didn’t eat ice cream for breakfast…. 

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Cooking olives with Omar Allibhoy

olives with omar allibhoy

It’s rare that you remember your first acquaintance with new food – I don’t remember my first cheese sandwich or my first sip of orange juice.

But I do remember eating my first olive. I was about 14 years old –round the same time that I decided to like stilton and red wine…. 

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Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

I haven’t posted for so long…and I’m not proud of it. To start with I had toothache for about three weeks, and the last thing I felt like was cooking-least alone eating and writing about it.

…the thing is that after dejecting the blog for so long, it becomes hard to get back in the routine. So, I thought that I’d start with an easy and delicious recipe I made a couple of weeks ago.

If this cake didn’t have an official title (christened by its creator, Willie Harcourt-Cooze) then I’d have called it the Excuse Cake. I fancied baking, so made it for a friend because I missed his birthday, and he’s moving house, and we were celebrating his safe return from Russia and China, and I (had yet again) invited myself round to drink wine with his mother…etc – you get the picture – a whole range of excuses which culminated in a chocolate cake.

(Before I launch into the recipe itself, I should point out that I’m not normally the biggest fan of chocolate cakes – especially over-sweet, airy, fluffy chocolate cake. If you fancy something a bit more bitter, intense and grown-up then this is the baby…)

Ingredients (recipe shamelessly lifted from here)

180g cacao, finely grated (Willie’s chocolate was super, but I’m sure that there are lots of other high percentage, dark chocolates that would do—like this)
250g unsalted butter
125g golden caster sugar
50g light muscovado sugar
6 eggs
100g ground almonds

Grate the chocolate and assemble ingredients before starting


Preheat oven to 160ºC. Line a 25cm cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the cacao and butter by putting them in a heat-proof mixing bowl, and hovering it above a pan of simmering water.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with half of the caster sugar until they have tripled in size.

When the cacao and butter has melted, add the almonds, the rest of the caster sugar and all of the muscovado sugar – then stir to combine.

Gradually fold the chocolaty mixture into the eggs. Tip the cake mix into the prepared tin.

Bake for 25 minutes, then leave to cool in the tin.

There's no rising-agent in the recipe, so I'm sure that the cake is supposed to look flat-ish and dense a bit like this!

(Final step not in the original recipe!) Ice your own interpretation of a cloud forest on top of the cake, and then paint with food colouring.