Thursday, 1 August 2013


My latest cook book purchase holds the intriguing title of "Crazy Water. Pickled Lemons." It's author Diana Henry writes in the most romantic style about all the exotic flavours and ingredients that dominate Middle Eastern, North African and Mediterranean kitchens.
 As you can imagine, this is completely up my alley. I never tire of discovering of such new recipes and new takes on the more well known ones. The title recipe "Crazy Water " - as I am sure you must be wondering - is according to Henry, the name given to the sea water in which the day's catch is cooked.  Crazy Amalfi coast water.  Her recipe doesn't actually require one to cook the fish in sea water, instead one makes a beautiful broth of stock and wine flavoured with parsley, oregano, tomato and chilli. Finished with a generous glug of Extra Virgin olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon. Simple, but I can just imagine so delicious when using the freshest fish possible.

Last week I managed to try out two of Henry's recipes. The list I do want to work through is long (the sign of a great purchase. ) August is going to be a delicious month I feel. But so far, the lamb tagine with quince was exquisite and this recipe I want to share with you, Orange & Almond cake with Marmalade Cream is just a treat.

ORANGE ALMOND CAKE with Marmalade & orange flower cream
This recipe requires the uncommon technique of boiling a whole orange till soft and turning it all (minus pips) into a puree. As Henry writes, it is "pure culinary alchemy."
It is also a fabulous recipe for those wanting to cut down on their gluten intake- as it is almond based with very little wheat flour.  The magic really lies in the cream. Try get hold of orange flower water for this, but if you can't get hold of it, simply omit and make the cake and cream without it.

serves 8

1 orange
3 eggs
250g caster sugar
55g cake flour, sifted
5ml baking powder
200g almonds - freshly ground
icing sugar for dusting

for the cream:
55g fine shred orange marmalade
125g marscapone cheese
30ml greek yoghurt
icing sugar to taste
5ml orange flower water

Heat the oven to 180degC.

Put the orange in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 40-60 minutes, until super soft. Remove from the water, cut in half and remove the seeds. Puree the rest of the fruit in a food processor.

Grease a 20cm spring from tin & line with greaseproof paper. Beat the eggs & sugar until pale and thick. Fold in the flour, baking powder, almonds and orange puree. Pour into the tin and bake in the hot oven for about an hour - until a skewer comes out clean. Turn the cake out to cool.

Make the cream by melting the marmalade slightly in a saucepan, then mix it with the marscapone, yoghurt and enough icing sugar just to slightly sweeten it. Stir in the orange blossom water.

Dust the cake with the icing sugar and serve with the marmalade cream.

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