The following will be in Imperial measurements, because I don't do metric.
The following will also be in Fahrenheit, because I don't do Celsius.
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The 4th of July, Independence Day, the start of our great nation... No matter that I'm in England, I celebrated. My Irish man (who, of all nationalities, understands celebrating emancipation from the English), a couple of American friends and a very good sport of an English mate celebrated with us. I made potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled sweet corn, grilled veggie skewers...the whole 9 yards. But one of my favourites...the Independence Day Cake
Gâteau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake)
This cake is actually very versatile. Light, moist, not to sweet. It is delicious plain, but here are some variations: add citrus juice or zest, 250 g (8 oz.) fruit (blueberry, raspberry, etc.), fold them into combined batter, almonds or other nuts, add cane sugar to the top of the cake.
Once the cake is done you can also cut it half horizontally, and add jam or preserves and put the top half back on. Raspberry is my favourite.
The photo below is a plain cake with whipped cream frosting and obviously, blueberries and strawberries.
250 mL (1 c.) plain, unsweetened yogurt
200 g (1 c.) sugar
80 mL (1/3 c.) vegetable oil
2 c. all-pupose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. pure vanilla paste/extract
1 T. light rum
1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease the bottoms and sides of a 10" cake pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the yogurt, oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla and rum.
3. In another bowl, sift flour together, baking powder and baking soda.
4. Add the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture and blend together. DO NOT OVERMIX!
5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
6. Let stand for 10 minutes, then transfer onto wire rack to cool.
Please see this post for a fantastic St. David's Day recipe for Chicken, Leek, Prune and Caerphilly Cheese Pie.
Saharaween (Moroccan), London
Occasionally I go out to eat. And even less occasionally it is worth writing about. One of those experiences came last week when Neil and I went out with some friends to Saharaween (3 Panton Street SW1Y 4DL), a Moroccan hole-in-the wall (or as their business card says: All set in a rich and colourful den of culture and mystique, a veritable exotic sanctuary in the very heart of Central London only yards from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus). Now, I'm not sure some shoes, wooden figurines and some tagines count as a den of culture, nor does the fact that it is so small (which in winter means cold) really mean it is a veritable exotic sanctuary. What it was is a moderately priced (£10-£15 for mains) restaurant with very nice staff and service and pretty good food. I had the pastilla, which unless completely botched will always be amazing. My compatriots all had different tagine meals, which, though I didn't try myself, looked rather ordinary. Neil had a mixed meat and veg tagine and basically it was meat and potatoes with some sauce. Not bad by any means, but certainly not worth the £13 he had spent on it. The wine selection was okay and again moderately priced. But in a stunning contrast to most customer service in the UK (and maybe because it's in a major tourist area), the service was amiable, even friendly. They were so kind as to serve up the birthday cake we had brought along and even provided some candles for us!
Overall, I would give Saharaween 3 stars out of 5. The food and wine were good, but not great. The service, excellent.
Yes, seriously. Crackers. Do you know how cheap these are to make? I've always hated paying upwards of $3 (I don't even look at them over here in England, it seems so many starch products are so cheap over here that they decided crackers needed to make up all of the price differences) for a box of Wheat Thins (delicious as they are).
This recipe calls for spelt flour. Considering I don't even really know what that is, and that I highly doubt they have it in England (or if they did I would have to mail order it for approximately £15), I made them with good ol' plain white flour. I also don't have seeds of various sorts, including sesame and poppy, lying around. So needless to say, I changed it quite a bit. I think the key is to roll it very, very thin. Also, you can take it out of the oven and break off the edges and put the middle back in to continue cooking. Can personally attest to delicousness with hummus and/or boursin.
Adapted from www.smittenkitchen.com
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup flour, plus more for flouring surface (Original recipe calls for spelt flour, I used regular all purpose flour)
Coarse sea salt
Whatever you want/have in your kitchen. I used a little dried basil and some chilli powder. The original recipe calls for dried onion bits, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc. The moral of the story is you can add whatever you want.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Dissolve salt in 1/2 c. cold water. Stir in the flour until combined. Knead the dough for a few turns until ball forms.
2. Flour an overturned 12x17" cookie sheet and roll out the dough on top of it, using flour to prevent sticking, until dough covers sheet edge to edge. Do best to get it very thin. Spray with water to give dough glossy finish. Prick dough all over with fork. Sprinkle with goodies. For neat crackers, score dough into grids.
3. Bake until dough is crisp and golden and snaps apart, about 15 - 25 minutes. (Check after 10 minutes to ensure does not overcook). Cool on wire racks. Serve with yummy dips.