Tag Archives: chocolate

Katie Stewart: Pots de Crème au Chocolat (chocolate pots)

Spring vegetables Petersham Nurseries Katie Stewart book

Yesterday I received an email from the Guild of Food Writers with sad news: the cookery writer, Katie Stewart, had died.

“…a long-time Guild member and the recipient of our 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award. Katie was taken ill on Friday and died on Saturday” said the email.

My mum gave me The Times Calendar Cookbook (my edition published 1976) and I have used it since the 1980s. I also had the privilege of meeting Katie Stewart when she received her Guild of Food Writers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

I tweeted the sad news, and soon there was an outpouring of tweet messages from fellow food writers who, like me, had learnt to cook thanks to Katie Stewart.

I believe generosity of spirit, and the heartfelt desire to communicate and share, really does transmit, to create classic cookbooks.

Yesterday Fiona Beckett, Guardian food writer, suggested on Twitter we have a day/weekend when we cook one of Katie’s recipes. What a great idea. More and more food writers thought so too. (Wow. Social media in action. Love it!).

I suggested we have a #katiestewart hashtag, and explained why at my other blog.

Alex Renton, The Times food writer got in touch. He is doing an obituary piece in Thursday’s edition for Katie, who was The Times cookery columnist.

He did not have a Katie recipe, so I offered to write one down.

I know the page number for pot au chocolate – page 77 – by heart.

My additions in brackets.

Pots de Crème au Chocolat

6oz/175g chocolate chips or plain chocolate broken in pieces

1/2 pint/3 dl. (300 ml single cream)

1 egg

pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

Katie says: ‘Put the chocolate in the globlet of a blender. Heat the cream until just under boiling point, then pour on to the chocolate. Cover, switch on and blend until smooth. The heat of the cream will melt the chocolate. Add the egg, salt and vanilla essence and blend again quickly. The mixture at this stage will be quite thin. Pour into six small individual pots, or failing this, small glasses. Chill for several hours or overnight until the mixture is quite firm. Serves 6

Katie Stewart pot au chocolat

As you will see from my pic, I have played with this recipe over the years, and in 2012, made a raw chocolate version with chilli and orange zest.

Her book, The Times Calendar Cookbook, follows, without fanfare, seasonality: “Fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and game mature according to the seasons and over the year offer us a wide variety of fresh foods to use in recipes,” writes Katie Stewart in her introduction.

The pic of spring vegetables (heading up this blog) is a photograph from the book illustrating May. The vegetables come from Petersham Nurseries, still going strong.

I fear I am jumping the gun a bit because our #katiestewart, or Katie Cook Day as Alex coined it, is really at the weekend.

So please, please all fellow Katie Stewart fans near and far – get cooking at the weekend, share your recipe and…pass it on!

God bless Katie Stewart. What a life-enhancing legacy.

May her soul rest at peace.

Beetroot, chocolate (and raw cocoa) brownies

Beetroot, (chocolate and raw cocoa) brownies

I read about this recipe in the riveting Riverford Farm Cook Book I have been raving about, only I have customised it somewhat.

I have never thought about beetroot in cakes until I read Riverford’s recipe and then it was an “of course” moment – beetroot cake is the new carrot cake. The beets are sweet-tasting, easy to mush when cooked and not too watery. And plentiful, seasonal and grown-locally.

I used half the sugar the recipe called for, and also omitted its cocoa powder and baking powder. This was after eating the most wonderful date-and-walnut cake at Saturday’s party, baked by the Great Cake Company. Great, indeed. Cakemaker, Chris, generously shared her secret: rice flour, loads of butter and eggs. And no raising agents. Not necessary, she said.

Instant liberation! No more raising agents – just eggs. Yippee.

Going slightly off piste, I also added soaked prunes and raw cocoa nibs.

And here, thanks to the Riverford Farm Cook Book, is how I did it.

I melted a 150g bar of Green & Black’s cooking chocolate with 200g of butter, cubed, in a bowl, over a pan of boiling water.

The recipe calls for 250g but a 150g bar seemed to do it, plus I added 150g of raw cocoa nibs which are a natural stimulant and highly nutritious. Raw cocoa stays wildly crunchy and feels terribly healthy.

I had cooked the 250g beetroot the day before and now I whizzed the peeled purple beauties (and about 12 soaked prunes) in my trusty food processor, dating circa 1980s. The recipes calls for three eggs, but I whizzed-in four eggs (organic and free range of course), one by one. Then more whizzing with 100g of rapadura sugar (instead of the recipe’s 200g caster sugar).

Then with a large spoon, I folded in 50g of rice flour (which is gluten-free) and 100g ground almonds. All ingredients were organic, naturellement.

I miraculously found a baking tin of roughly the right proportions (28x18cm), greased it with butter and lined it with foil as I had no baking parchment. And placed it in the preheated oven at Gas 4/180 degrees C. It took half-an-hour. But don’t overcook it!

Omigod, were those brownies yum. Not too sweet, with crunchy bits and mousse-like lightness.

Icing on the cake

Chocolate cake

As a mama of three grown-up darlings, I have made my fair share of birthday cakes. However I have only just discovered this most splendifirous way to ice them.

The icing is melted chocolate with extra lubrication, so it spreads like a dream.

I baked three cakes. One was dry, another crumbled.

But this marvellous icing rescued them from oblivion and gave them star status. Thanks to the icing, people raved about its chocolateness and were coming back for more.

So praise be to Lulu Grimes for her magic recipe in a back issue of Olive magazine.

The amounts were 400g of chocolate (I used Green & Black’s organic cooking chocolate – 150g each bar – for a profound chocolate experience), 25g of butter and 284ml of single cream. Plus 200g icing sugar.

However after baking cakes (one for the office and two for our Five Rhythms dance class), I was bored of weighing.

When I get bored, watch out.

I feverishly broke up three (yes, three) bars of Green & Black’s organic cooking chocolate into a non-stick pan, melted in slices of (organic) butter and slugged in double cream. It took minutes to become liquidy-enough to spread easily.

I split the cakes, sandwiched in the soft warm icing with the flat of a knife and smoothed more over the top of the whole. (Do this before the icing gets cold and hardens).

I pressed white chocolate buttons into the (still) soft icing to spell M. (How easy was that? Wish I had thought of this when I was a maternal cake-industry).

A kind Five Rhythms dancer helped to cut cake (see pic below). Happy birthday, Maude!

Cutting cake at Five Rhythms