Almond and Orange Cake

This new year’s eve, we were going to visit a friend in the neighborhood. As always happens, it strikes you at the last minute that you must take something after all it’s New year’s eve!  I had all the listed ingredients at home and what better way to enjoy citrus burst of the season along with the goodness of almonds! Needless to say I made this cake in a jiffy and my friends became its fan, so here we go with the recipe…

Ingredients:

Breadcrumbs – 45 g
Ground almonds – 100 g
Castor sugar – 200 g
Cooking oil – 200 ml
Baking powder – 1 & 1/2
Eggs, beaten – 4
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1/2 lime

For Syrup:

Juice of 1 orange

Juice of half a lime

Sugar – 2 tbsp

Cinnamon stick – 1/2 inch

Cloves – 5 to 6

Cointreau – 1tbsp, if you like!

Instructions:

  • Mix all the ingredients together and beat well.
  • Pour the mixture in a greased and lined cake tin.
  • Place it in the cold oven and start the oven (Yes, you put it in the cold oven!). Set the oven to 180 C and bake it for 40-45 mins until golden brown or skewer comes out clean.
  • In the meantime, to make the syrup put all the ingredients in a pan and bring it to boil on low flame/heat.
  • Simmering  for 3-4 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to cool.
  • Once cake is done, remove from tin, prick with fork and slowly pour the syrup over the cake using a spoon. You need to  evenly soak it in the syrup.

Enjoy with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves: 10-12

Tangy Warm French beans Salad

I grew up on farms as my father worked as an Agriculture scientist. My father is very fond of gardening and we always had a kitchen garden where he would grow all sorts of seasonal vegetables, free of any chemicals. I still remember we used to get French beans only in winter season. My father would pluck them fresh from the garden and my mom would cook them with potatoes as a curry (which my brother and I didn’t like much).

Later, when I travelled to Europe I learnt that French beans could be prepared in so many different ways. I liked slightly blanched ones, seasoned and topped with butter (simple and my all time favorite). Apart from that they can be used in various salads, and of course there are so many versions in salads as well.

Much later in Sri Lanka I learnt completely different way of cooking them, in coconut milk with lots of spices, as fragrant hot curry, which I would like to share with you some other time.

Recently I got my hands on two big bundles of very fresh French beans, so delicate and full of flavor that couldn’t think of any other recipe but this tangy salad, which can be used as entrée or a side dish.

Tangy Warm French beans Salad:

Ingredients:

500g tender French beans, topped and tailed

Dressing:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp yellow mustard paste or half and half yellow and English mustard

1 tbsp White wine vinegar (or any other natural vinegar)

2 tbsp capers

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed (I like a lot of garlic)

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Handful of fresh basil, torn with hands

Salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Mix all the ingredients of dressing in a large bowl and keep it aside.
  • To blanch beans bring 3/4th pan of water to boil (in a large pan) with half teaspoon of sugar and 1 tsp salt.
  • Add beans to the boiling water, stir well.
  • Bring it to boil once more on full heat and let it blanch for a minute or so.
  • Drain all the water through colander. Add to the bowl with dressing, mix well.

Serve as you wish, warm or cold, great as side dish with roasted or baked chicken.

P. S.: Sometimes I also add a piece of boiled chicken breast, torn into small pieces with hands and just thrown in. And voila – a wholesome meal is ready to be enjoyed!