Blueberry, Blackberry & Soured Cream Cake with Cheese Cake Frosting


Distracted from the books again, but this time in the shape of an amazing cake recipe from the BBC GoodFood website.  This recipe is full of all the right things, but far from healthy, although I do trick myself into thinking a cake like this is good for you… it does contain fruit after all.  Anyway, what’s life without a little indulgence ehe?

This recipe is super easy and looks really pretty too, but most of all it tastes…well…find out for yourself, I swear you WILL love it 😛 oooo and the cream cheese and soured cream frosting with those beautiful little berries as they pop in your mouth….mmmmmhmm….

I wish I had made this cake in the morning to capture an image in the best of the day light, but artificial just had to do as I was definitely not going to let this little beauty tease me until morning.

You can find the recipe here.  The only adjustment I made was reducing the sugar  from 175g to 100g and used half blueberries, half blackberries. The tanginess of the blackberries really balanced out the sweetness of the frosting making it very moreish.

While I Was Away


It has been a little over a month now since returning to Scotland.  Here is what I have cooked/ate whilst I have been AWOL from Bendi Benri.

Feeling a lot more settled in now I am ready to embark on my new life as a student AGAIN and get back into creating more yum.

Enjoy!

First up, home-coming welcome dinner, beautifully and deliciously prepared by my wonderful mother.  It is very clear to me now that my mum is the source for my desire to cook.  She effortlessly manages to put on amazing wholesome spreads.  What a mum.

Nutty Chocolate Brownies (heaven in your mouth) & Scones with Home made Jam

Victoria Sponge

prawn & avocado cocktail

Home Made Steak Pie

Home Made traditional Scottish Oatcakes

What I forgot to capture was the Ultimate Chocolate cake smothered in Ganache! I am gaining pounds just thinking about it! I swear that cake was to die for! Here’s a link to the recipe.

A flying visit home then back to Edinburgh to meet Izumi and Sofie, friends we met in Japan.  They had never tasted Haggis before, so Andy and I decided to take them to Urban Angel to give it a try.  I love the concept of this Restaurant, stylish and delicious, “using the best local, organic, free-range and fairly traded produce available.”

To follow I visited a three-day foodies festival, filled with freebies of scrumptious organically prepared fresh food from all over the country.  Some healthy and some just down right naughty!  I was in my element.

Salmon and potato pie!

Tiger Prawn Paella

Feeling inspired from my weekend boozing and munching, I bought a nice big bunch of fresh beetroot and put together a yummy beetroot cake smothered in cream cheese icing.  Here’s the recipe I used.  Yep, I AM growing by the day! Twice the size I was a month ago. Oops!

No time to break just yet.  The Edinburgh festival brought my folks and brother up to Edinburgh.  The weekend consisted mainly of indulgence and laughter. Good times!

Below we eat at Amore Dogs another very trendy restaurant serving Italian scrum.

tuna nicoise salad on the side of a grilled sea bass on a bed of baked tomatoes.

Goats Cheese & Sun dried tomato Risotto

Wow what a month.  Loved every minute!

I really miss Japan and crave a lot of the food we ate whilst we lived there, especially Soba noodles, so I treated us to a yummy crispy tofu soba dish.   Satisfying beyond expectation! Go me!

Ingredients; serves 2 if you really have to share.

2 portions of soba noodles

150g Tofu (drained and cut into cubes)

1 small red onion (sliced into half moons)

1 stick of celery

around 12 sugar snap peas (halved)

2 cloves garlic

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 T light soy sauce

1 tsp pure honey

1 T chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon chilli (from the jar or fresh)

2 T olive oil

2 tsp vegetable powdered bullion

2 T corn flour

Directions:

1.  prepare all ingredients

2. evenly coat the tofu in the corn flour

3.  heat up the olive oil in a wok or frying pan then add the tofu.  When coloured a reddish brown remove from the pan and place on some absorbing kitchen paper

4. In the same pan add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent

5. add the all of the other ingredients except the soba and basil and lemon then stir through on a medium heat.

6. In the mean time boil the soba until just tender then rinse quickly under cold water to avoid over cooking.

stir through the noodles, tofu, basil and lemon juice to the vegetable mixture then serve in warm bowls.

To finish, here is yesterdays lunch…

Chilli Squash Soup accompanied with rice crackers topped with cheddar cheese (hello my long-lost naughty friend) and cranberry sauce. yummmm…..

Ingredients; serves 4-6

I small butternut squash

4 sticks of celery

1 yellow onion

3 cloves of garlic

50g low fat soft cheese

2 tsp vegetable bullion

Directions:

1.  Saute the onion and garlic until translucent

2.  In the mean time bring a med/large pot of water (2 litre) the boil

3. cut the squash into cubes then allow to boil until tender

4.  when the squash is ready add all other ingredients except the cream cheese, then mix through

5. Turn off the heat then use a hand held blender to pulse the mixture until smooth(ish) stir though the cream cheese then serve in warm bowls

Entered the XXX world. So far so good.


So far the world of the XXXs has been non stop so far.  I love it!  However, it has torn me away from the blogging world, which will most definitely commence with some tasty summer dishes.  I have some lovely, healthy and simply delicious ideas up my sleeve all thanks to Andy gifting me with an inspiring cookbook.  So, please stay tuned to find out what Benri will come up with next.  let’s just hope my cooking improves.  My new age resolution is to be more consistent with successes as opposed to flops.  I’ve seen way too much of those the past few weeks.

My lack of posts hasn’t got anything to do with failures in the kitchen.   It’s just that I have been lucky enough to have the most wonderful friends and Boyfriend who have indulged and spoiled me with afternoons of lunching and evenings of sushi.   I love you guys.

What I love about country life in Japan are the hidden gems of cafes amongst the rice paddies.  I have lived here in Kochi for a little over a year now and can’t believe I have never visited this cafe until now. What’s more annoying is that it’s only a 30 min walk from my apartment!   Take a look, this is the cutest little cafe.

Another bonus is that the chef and owner is an amazing cook.  Her dishes are Japanese in style and ingredients, but quite European in taste.  You can see she is heavily influenced by Scandinavian and old English design.  There is such attention to detail in every corner of this wonderful little place.

Anyway, my lovely friend Chisako and I spent the afternoon here indulging on the cafes scrumptious delights.  If only every day could be a sunny cafe day.

Happy Birthday to me ♥

Aubergine isn’t the twist!


Oh oh..Opened the fridge!!  had a wee taste.  The opposite of miracle happened.

I’m worrying that writing about failures doesn’t exactly entice folk to want to cook what you cook, does it? I usually only post what I feel is worthy, but I really am at odds about this whole cake making malarkey.   Especially this aubergine one.  I was wondering why I couldn’t find enough eggplant recipes to prove it’s ok to go ahead with this one….ahhh why am I getting so worked up about it? It’s only a cake!  EXACTLY that’s it, it’s because it’s a cake! If you chose to eat cake, you have to make it worth it! You have to justify why you went over your calories. Don’t you?  It has to be amazing, the best you have ever eaten!  Don’t you agree?

Ok, so, I always enjoy incorporating a twist to my cake making. It’s the justification thing. I want to stay healthy and I know a lot of folk out there do to, so I love that twist, that twist of healthiness, but eggplant isn’t the twist for me. Especially not in cake.

Perhaps it’s the skin?

Sorry Aubergine! Not this time.

Purple Birthday Cake Update


Ok, so here is the update on the beautiful eggplant cake I found.

Well, I followed this recipe, however I forgot to add the 1/2 cup honey…doh!  Not really getting off to a great start here.

At first the blueberry purée was the most wonderful colour then I added the grated eggplant.   At that point the colour began to lose its vibrance.    I was still insistent on continuing, so added the wet stuff to the dry stuff.   I really should have trusted my painting knowledge on that of course when you add white to a dark blue it WILL become a light grey blue.   And yep, that’s exactly what happened.   Again I was still determined to finish what I started and make the most of this grey mess, so I hopped on my bike covered in flour and my face splashed with blueberry juice then cycled to the nearest supermarket to pick up some red food colour.

Yep, I was more concerned about it looking better than it tastes and gave in to the unnatural colourings.

I proceeded to doctor up the batter and voilà, the colour changed from grey to a dark eggplant purple.  Lovely 🙂  At that time I wasn’t aware of the lack of sugar in my cake and transferred the batter to the rice cooker.   Switched to 50mins then got stuck into the dishes.  I had a wee taste of the batter and it tasted really bitter from the eggplant skin!!  It wasn’t sweet AT ALL!! ahhhhh!

So here it is, the cake is now out of the oven (not looking very purple), smelling like vegetables!  I probably should take that as a sign that it’s going to taste like that too, but I’m still not giving in!

What I have done right is the frosting. It’s out of this world.  Soooo easy to make and tastes super naughty in a great way.   I’m hoping the frosting will save me.  What do you think?

Hmmm I’m not so sure.  I’ll wait till the morning and see how it looks and smells.   I think I’m hoping for a miracle to happen over night.  Who knows?

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Wish me luck!

♥ Suzie

Purple Birthday Cake


Since last weekends little disaster, I have felt a little shy in the kitchen and uninspired to experiment.  I know every disaster can only lead to a better success, but I just can’t seem to find the will power.

However, I think I’ve finally come to the decision on which birthday cake I should try to make for my 30th.  I found it here, but super surprised by the colour the egg plants give to the cake.  I’m not completely convinced they will make my cake as vibrant a purple as you see in the image, so I thought that if I purée 200g of blueberries and add it to the batter they may produce a vibrant colourful cake.  I’m not too sure though.  I’m a little worried the cake will turn out a washed out grey colour.  Only one way to find out!

If you know what the results might be, please post your advice.  I will appreciate any help I can get.

I really want this cake to look and taste impressive.

I’m so excited it’s almost the weekend.  I know it’s a pretty scary birthday to celebrate, but I’m actually really looking forward to it. It is only a number after all.  Another excuse to splash out on some Champagne :D.

Anyway, here is the recipe I’m gonna try out tomorrow night for Sat.  Please advise if you know it definitely won’t work.

Eggplant and blueberry Cake Ingredients:

  • ½-cup margarine
  • ¼-teaspoon salt
  • ½-cup sugar
  • 1-teaspoon baking powder
  • ½-cup honey
  • 1-teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups grated eggplant
  • 200g frozen blueberries
  • ½-teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1½-cups white flour
  • 1-cup nuts (optional)

Frosting

  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 100g white chocolate

Directions:

  1. Preheat the rice cooker on cake setting to 55min.
  2. Cream the margarine in a medium-sized bowl until soft and whipped, then add the sugar and honey until mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. In another bowl sieve the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and nuts to thoroughly combine.
  4. Blend the frozen blueberries until smooth.
  5. Stir the grated eggplant and the blueberry purée into the butter/sugar/honey mixture
  6. Add the flour mixture to the sugary butter mixture and combine by hand to incorporate just until the flour has mixed in.
  7. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites to a firm peak then fold into the batter.
  8. Pour the mixture into a cake pan and bake for about a half hour to forty-five minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. This cake can be topped with cream cheese-vanilla icing made with a mixture of 3 ounces of cream cheese and 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar, and 1 T of vanilla. Drizzle the icing over the cake and then top with a light sprinkle of nutmeg.  (I’m going to try a cream cheese and white chocolate frosting)

Rice Cooker Blueberry & Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake.


I have tried to decide on a cake to bake for my big birthday night out on Saturday.

Here’s the criteria;

  • I’m not so fussed about it being healthy.  If it is then it’s a bonus.
  • I want it rich and decadent
  • Delicious
  • Amazing
  • Beautiful
  • colourful
  • Not too delicate as it has to travel 45 minutes to the restaurant.

My first thought was a red velvet cake due to its boldness in colour and style.  Unfortunately  none of my local supermarkets stocked enough red food colouring, so that was that option out of the window.  I actually can’t seem to justify using so much food colouring either.  They do look really pretty though.

Do you think the cake would turn a beautiful purple if I used grated aubergine skins and blueberry purée?

Anyway, whilst I was rummaging around other foodies blogs I stumbled upon a beautiful blueberry sponge cake with cream cheese frosting, which looked toooo good to pass by.   This one was quickly marked in my favourites.

The cream cheese in the frosting of this recipe reminded me that I have always wanted to try out a baked cheese cake recipe in my rice cooker.  You see, baked cheese cakes here in Japan are the best you will try.  They are so simple, containing the main flavours, cheese and the zest of lemon, but they just look too plain for a 30th birthday party.  I have never really liked the biscuit bases in the ones I have tried before and the filling is always too creamy for me.  However, they do look colourfully impressive, with all the various combinations of fruit don’t they?

Decisions, decisions.  Cheese cake or blueberry cake???

So, I thought, why not join both cake ideas?  It would have been too much of a risk experimenting on the friday night before the big night out, so today is the day the cake experimentation began.

The results?  So far so good.  It has risen at least, and looks promising.  I am now waiting for it to cool completely before taking it out of  ‘Benri’ for a photo shoot.

Ok, the results are in.  Just as I thought.   A superficial disaster!!  I will say this though, it is absolutely delicious.   Try out the recipe in a regular oven, it is yummy.

I’m going to try this one again, but not using a ring tin next time.  My tin was useless. It wasn’t stick proof and wasn’t greased enough 😦 I think I’ll save it for the fruit terrines in future.

At least you can always rely on the sun to make any disaster look pretty, ehe?

For the cake, which is beautifully rich and lemony, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 200g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (caster sugar)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • juice and zest from  lemon juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 100g butter
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your rice cooker on the cake setting.
  2. Grease the rice cooker pan with butter or oil.
  3. sift the flour 3 times, on the 3rd time sift in the baking powder and soda
  4. Beat cream cheese with milk to soften.
  5. mix the butter and sugar together until fluffy
  6. Add the egg yolks then mix until smooth.
  7. mix in the cream cheese mixture, vinegar and the lemon juice & zest to the butter mixture
  8. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until fluffy.
  9. Gradually fold beaten egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, stirring gently.
  10. mix in the blueberries
  11. Pour into the bundt cake tin (make sure it fits in your rice cooker first) then insert the tin into the rice cooker pan and smooth the surface.
  12. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a pick inserted in the middle of the center comes out clean.
  13. be careful not to open the lid until it has been in the oven for at least 20 minutes.

Benri’s Bakery


So here we are, work has officially commenced after the glorious golden week here in Japan.  Ahh。。。なつかし

I’m so terrible at choosing omiage (souvenir) treats for my teachers in all of my 3 schools I teach at (Aprox. 100+ teachers).  I always have the great intention of picking the best I can find.  It’s a huge tradition here in Japan to bring back sugary treats to share after you have travelled somewhere.  Something I really can’t seem to get into.  It’s apart of their culture, I know, so I really should respect that right?  Well, I do, but they often taste terrible, extravagantly packaged and very over priced.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stingy,  I’m just careful.   I do love sharing and giving, but this, I just can’t seem to justify.

My solution, make your own.  Who doesn’t like home-made delicious cakes?  I love making them, so why not?  So that’s what I did.  I also made one for each of Andy’s 4 schools.  Making a total of 7 cakes…what did I get myself into!!  My poor wee rice cooker is doing crazy over time and my right whisking arm is bulking up big time.   My belly is becoming jellylicious too with all the taste testing…must stop that one!!   But, I just can’t resist.  Too yummy.

The results were just as I thought.  No matter how amateur a cook you are, people seem to really enjoy the warmth and effort that goes into home cooking.  Especially the cake lovers out there. Surprisingly, the teachers who I thought didn’t understand a word of English shocked me by listing all the ingredients of the cake, in English.  One teacher has even asked me to do an English learning cooking class with my 5th grade elementary kids.  This made my day yesterday.  Happy.

Here is one of my wee creations, Carrot cake number 5, which popped out of the oven at 11pm on Thursday evening. Not the best lighting, I know. Not the best camera either, but that will change soon as the big 30 is approaching fast.  Almost time to treat myself…yeahyee 😀


Spicy Carrot and Olive Oil Cake


Can words describe this very breath of spring? Can a photo explain how it makes me feel?  Here I found a space to take a deep breath and finally let it all go, thanks to a mid-week holiday.   Ahhh… release.

Here I sit in our favourite park, the air is fresh and everything surrounding us is a vibrant green.  Whilst munching on beautifully prepared take out sushi and a crispy salad, I am content planning more lessons and brushing up my Nihongo skills.  This combination of sun and working at my own pace feels amazing.

I know it’s a holiday and work’s a no go area.  It’s time to rest right?  Time to take your mind off of the stressful things in life.  Do the things you never have time to do.  Time to make the most of your time out of work, ehe?

Well…Having had a rush of inspiration I wanted to grab it with both hands. I’m on a roll.  What a load off!  Oh, how I love when that happens.  Everything feels like it’s all in the right place again.

These days all I can think about is work.  Always looking for ways how to improve what I do.    As the responsibilities are increasing, unfortunately so is my stress.   I’m slowly becoming used to this change in pace and now looking at it as a perfect way to gain more experience.

I am so lucky to have someone to talk to about, work, new ideas and issues that arise.  Someone who is on the same page as me.

Andy has been Mr motivator, always staying positive for me and helping me through my slightly chaotic working life.  We tend to bounce off one another, so to speak, when it comes to creating the best possibilities for lessons. I love his focus, his drive.  I definitely feed off of it.  He is my muse, my inspiration.  He has been from the beginning.  Almost 10 years…wow, he has had to put up with me for that long.  Cheers Andy!

One of my favourite ways to return the favour is to have him be my guinea pig.  He loves his food more than I do!  He re-energises his muse juice by feeding on the food I cook.   What’s more and what’s best is, he offers the best comments and criticism on new dishes happen I try out.  The comments are what keep me motivated and experimental and creative.  I guess they are what feed him too.

The encouragement is what keeps me searching for new ways to view what I eat and why I eat it.

Keeping healthy is important for us, and so is eating.  I see it as a hobby that will definitely not go out of fashion.  Something that isn’t a phase.  I still have a lot to learn, and now look to those with the experience to offer their guidance.

So far the best part about cooking is the sharing.

So I want to share this one with you.

I know everyone says their cake is the best, but this one is by far the best of the bunch!!  Well, out of the cakes I have made in my rice cooker so far.  I never usually crave cake to the point I can’t stop thinking about it.  This one has sent me to a whole new world of cake!!  (I really need to get working out.  Working, cooking, eating, blogging!! I can feel my body becoming spongy as I type).  What’s amazing is that like my other cakes, this one it isn’t wasted calories.  You are getting some goodness from them.  Just try not to eat the entire cake to yourself.  This, however, will be a challenge.

This one is coming with me to mountains to share with one of my closest friends here in Japan, Sofie.   Maaaaan we are gonna miss you so much!  Don’t go! 😦

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a little under  3/4 of a cup of oil (half olive oil/half ground nut oil)
  • 3 large finely grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites (whipped)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • a generous pinch of ground cloves
  • a pinch or turmeric
  • 1 handful crushed pecans/walnut’s
  • Juice and zest of one lemon

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl sift the flour 3 times.  The 3rd time sift it together with the baking soda,powder, salt and spices.
  2. Finely grate the carrots (this is the work out for me.  A perfect way to burn a few calories)
  3. In another bowl combine the sugar, oil, carrots and lemon juice then add the flour and mix together well.
  4. Finally, with a spatula, fold in the soft peaked egg whites.
  5. Transfer to your greased rice cooker pan or if you are using a regular oven, use a greased cake tin.
  6. RICE COOKER:  set to CAKE then TIME is for 60 mins
  7. PREHEATED OVEN at 180˚C or 350˚F  cook for  45 mins
  8. Finally let it rest on a cooling tray before cutting then serve.
  9. I don’t like frosting, I also don’t think this cake needs it either, due to it being so full of flavour and so moist.


Strawberry and Blueberry Terrine


I’m more than happy with this one.   I still can’t get over how easy it was to make.   I used fruit, aloe and white grape juice, but next time I want to try a sparkling wine.  I adapted this desert from a Delia recipe, where she used a sparkling rose.  I didn’t want to waste a good bottle if this desert would just flop like some of the recipes I tried out those past few days.  Well, it didn’t flop and I am most definitely going to make this again!  I have some home-made plum wine I am dying to use. Watch this space.

Ingredients;

  • 1 tub of strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 cups grape juice (or any desired flavour of juice, clearer the better so you can see the fruit once it’s set)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 – 3 sachets of gelatine

Directions:

  1. Cut up your fruit and place in a loaf tin (I used I bundt cake tin), starting with the blueberries.
  2. dissolve the gelatine in 1/4 cup juice
  3. Heat the sugar and another 1/4 juice in a small sauce pan until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Turn of the heat then add the gelatine and the rest of the juice to the saucepan and combine.
  5. Pour liquid over the fruit, then cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Refrigerate over night.
  7. When you want to serve the terrine, fill a bowl with hot water and dip the tin into it for 10-15 seconds. Doing this allows the terrine to loosen away from the tin.
  8. Turn the terrine on a plate.
  9. To cut, heat a sharp knife with hot water for a clean and beautiful cut.
  10. serve it with either natural yogurt or cream.