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Broccoli Slaw

I haven’t seen my lovely friend A in several months as she’s been Stateside sampling lobsters and fresh corn on the Maine coast, but thanks to the power of the Internet, she has managed to give me a truly fantastic gift in the shape of this recipe for broccoli slaw from Smitten Kitchen…

Fresh and simple, it re-invented the wheel somewhat for me in how I eat my favourite vegetable. I could eat broccoli with everything including breakfast, but I had never thought to try it raw until now. And it is revolutionary. It tastes fresher, less boarding house brassica in after taste and is addictively crunchy in texture. And of course, if you’re feeling lazy, it makes it even easier to get your 5 a day than getting the steamer out and playing the waiting game.

While I was immediately interested in this lovely sounding slaw, I also automatically started making plans to change the recipe. Deb suggests using her buttermilk dressing, but after my recent buttermilk disaster, I am steering well clear of the stuff until I can find a decent source. I was also perturbed by the amount of sugar and mayonnaise in it. If I’m going to eat raw veggies I want them to be super healthy (so that I can keep my fat intake for a nice cheese elsewhere). I also don’t like dried fruit in savoury dishes and find dried cranberries to be extremely expensive. And I didn’t have any flaked almonds…

So instead I made a dressing from live yoghurt with a big splash of cider vinegar and some salt and pepper. Creamy, yet tangy it goes beautifully with the broccoli and is low fat and easy while not creating any washing up as it can be mixed straight into the slaw. I then perked it up with some thinly sliced red onion, a handful of pumpkin seeds and in a flash of inspiration, some fresh pomegranate seeds. Super healthy and incredibly pretty!

And amazingly tasty! Those little jewels of pomegranate burst on the tongue with a explosion of sweet juicy deliciousness, the onion crunches with taste and the pumpkin seeds add extra taste filled texture to the mix of vegetables and the whole thing is just perfect!

I have made this six or seven times since getting the recipe just under a fortnight ago. I’ve eaten it on its own, with a steak, with a stew and with an avocado salad. I made it for the lunch at the most recent Invisible Food Walk and it went down a storm, even with the littlest walkers who loved the colours and textures. I just can’t get enough of this fresh feast and even though I will probably make myself ill by eating too much of it in the future, I can’t urge you enough to try this.

Make a big batch, knowing that it will keep well in the fridge and then amaze yourself by managing to eat it all in one veg-tastic sitting before having to make some more to satisfy the broccoli lust it will inspire!

Supermalt Cupcakes

A recent blog post by friend Yoruba Girl Dancing about white people’s lack of love for Supermalt got me thinking. I love the taste of malt thanks to growing up with Veda bread and working in a diner as a teenager making malted milkshakes, so I don’t really mind Supermalt, although I do find it teeth-itchingly sweet. But having never sampled it until I moved to Brixton, it’s not really part of my repetoire and I would never buy it to quench my thirst. What about cooking with it instead?

I made these Coca-Cola cupcakes for my friend G’s birthday party a few weeks ago and was impressed by how easy they were to make and how incredibly moist and brownie-esque they were. I could see no reason why they wouldn’t work with Supermalt instead of Coke. Hopefully they’d be as moist as the Coca-Cola ones, but more like a cake crossed with Soreen…

The slight risk that they might just be disgusting meant I decided to make them over the weekend for a birthday party where I knew my friend C would be bringing some of her legendary lemon and blueberry cupcakes which would take the taste away if my baking experiment went awry!

The trickiest part of this recipe was finding a small enough amount of Supermalt. It tends to come in six packs and I had to go to several shops before I could get my hands on a single can of the stuff. Mission accomplished, I got cracking on the recipe. It is best to melt the butter, cocoa powder and Supermalt together first to allow it to cool slightly to minimise the chances of the egg curdling when you mix everything together. Out of interest, the amount of Supermalt (or Coke) required comes to about 2/3 of a normal can…

The Supermalt mixes takes about 5 minutes to melt and measuring out the rest of the ingredients does the same. Then you simply mix everything together, watching the batter going from thick and fudgy to soft and smooth by the time it is all mixed and combined. It’s one of the easiest cake recipes I know and it’s difficult to over-mix this batter so it’s a good one to do with kids. It’s also nice and thick for spooning into cases so great even if you’re a bit clumsy.

I used some new square cases from Ikea that are a cross between a bun and muffin case in size (and a rather fetching print to boot) and each one took two full dessertspoons of batter. Don’t overfill your cases with these cakes as they rise a fair bit and look better not overspilling the cases. Even with the slightly bigger cases, I got 18 cakes from this batter before popping them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until I remembered what was making the lovely baked smell in my flat…

While they were cooling, I turned my attention to making a frosting for the cakes. Last time I used the Coca-Cola buttercream suggested and found it to be incredibly sweet and a bit sickly even with a fizzy Cola Bottle for a touch of tanginess. This time I thought a cream cheese frosting would go down better. I combined two packs of full fat cream cheese with a splash of leftover Supermalt and two tablespoons of cocoa powder and found I had gone too much the other way and the frosting wasn’t sweet enough. In fact it had a bitter aftertaste that jarred somewhat. I abandoned the idea of adding more Supermalt and put a teaspoon of vanilla extract and about a tablespoon of icing sugar to sweeten it slightly and this time it was perfect. Light, creamy, slightly sharp and not at all cloying.

I left the cupcakes wrapped in a teatowel overnight and then my friend C very kindly frosted them for me the next day before I added a an extra blast of sharpness with some pomegranate seeds on top before serving them up to ravenous guests. And they went down a storm! I think they were much better with the Supermalt than the Coca Cola as they were less sweet and firmer and tasted more grown up with a bite of dark chocolate, but without losing the fudgy finish that sets these aside from the average chocolate cupcake.

If you manage to have any of these fabulous cupcakes left (I only had three) they also keep amazingly well wrapped in a teatowel to protect the frosting. They ultimately didn’t taste anything like Soreen cake, but were so good I’m glad I have a second spare can of Supermalt in the fridge to make these due to popular demand! Especially if I don’t have to go camping with them!