Easiest Chocolate Cake

September 26, 2013 in Baked & Beautiful, bitten. by Sarah Graham, Desserts


Here’s a chocolatey-delicious cake that stands its ground as a kiddies tea-time treat cake, a grown-ups celebration cake and an all round smashing any-day cake. From my kitchen to yours, with love.

This recipe is adapted from the much-loved 6 minute chocolate cake recipe in my book, ‘bitten“. And it’s my perfect chocolate cake. It sits very comfortably between light and fluffy and gooey and dense (because we all know how that argument goes), and it’s oh-so-chocolatey – which is the whole point isn’t it? Add to that the most decadent frosting of peanut butter and dark chocolate and it instantly becomes the epitome of a cake crowd-pleaser. And all this is achieved without the faffing-about of melting chocolate, and with the ingredients all thrown together in one bowl. So already you know where I’m going with this – time saved making the cake means more time actually eating the cake. I usually don’t even grease a cake tin, but simply spray my trusty (disheveled looking but much loved) roasting tin and hey presto.

I hope that you’ll make it soon, and eat it, and be smitten with it too. Once you have, I hope you’ll agree that ‘ultimate’ wasn’t taking things too far?

For more of my recipes and ramblings, visit my blog afoodieliveshere.co.za

Ultimate Easy Chocolate Cake
with Peanut butter and Dark Chocolate Frosting
Serves 6 | Preparation time 5 minutes | Baking time 20 minutes

1 cup sugar
1 cup cake flour, sifted
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3 level Tbsp cocoa powder
1 heaped tsp instant coffee granules
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup boiling water

Instant Icing
1 (very) heaped Tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 (very) heaped Tbsp nutella spread
1-2 Tbsp boiling water

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and spray or grease your favourite cake tin.

2. Add the sugar to a large mixing bowl, then sieve over the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa. Then add in the coffee and salt.

3. In a measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla essence, and add to the dry ingredients.

4. Slowly add the boiling water, mixing as you pour it in and mix until everything is just combined.

5. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake is just cooked through and a skewer inserted into its centre comes out clean.

6. To make the icing, mix the ingredients until smooth, altering the quantities to suit your preferred consistency.

7. Ice the cake and serve as soon as possible.

Picture styled by Lisa Clark, and taken by Warren Heath

Pea, Courgette and Mint Soup with Goats Cheese Toasts

September 16, 2013 in One Pot Meals, Soups, Speedy Suppers

Pea, Courgette and Mint Soup
with Goats Cheese Croutons
Serves 4-6 | Preparation time 5-10 minutes | Cooking time 20 minutes

I love this soup. It’s fresh, funky and can be on the table in 25 minutes. I know it sounds (and looks!) very loudly green, but once you get past that you’ll discover something absolutely enchanting. Also, I kind of think it has a spring in it’s step, don’t you?

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions
4 leeks, greenest ends removed and roughly sliced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (you can use regular potatoes if preferred)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 medium courgettes, roughly chopped
800 ml vegetable or chicken stock
3 cups frozen peas
4 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fat-free natural yoghurt
a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sugar, to taste

For the Goats Cheese Croutons
4 slices ciabatta or sourdough bread
1 Tbsp olive oil
75g goats cheese

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the spring onions and leeks and fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Then add in the potato, garlic and courgettes and fry for a further 3 minutes.

2. Add the stock, bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potato is soft.

3. Add the peas and simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the mint, lemon or lime juice and most of the yoghurt. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then blend, adding salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

4. Reheat to serve or eat cold as an alfresco option. Garnish with a dollop of the remaining yoghurt, a few whole peas and a little chopped mint and serve with toasted ciabatta or sourdough slices topped with goat’s cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

For more recipes from me, and to browse my blog or read about my cookbook ‘bitten’ you can click here
Photograph styled by Luisa Farelo-Hayes

Gnocchi with Watercress and Macadamia Nut Pesto

February 15, 2013 in Pasta and Risotto, Vegetarian

There are a lot of things to love about this dish. It’s sublimely summery, and the verdant greenness of the pesto just shouts healthy and happy; it’s Meat-free-Monday friendly; it’s simple and rustic but still a little sophisticated somehow, and it’s pretty much done in ten minutes (which I suppose makes it rather less of a recipe and more of an assemblage of sorts). For the first time ever, I used store-bought gnocchi. I was expecting heavy, miserable little pasta dumplings, but was completely pleasantly surprised and decided that if you can get your hands on freshly made, good quality little guys, then you’re doing just fine. Read the rest of this entry →

BBQ Pulled Pork with Fennel and Apple Slaw

January 30, 2013 in Lazy Weekend Food, One Pot Meals

This is a version of one of the recipes in my next book, and it could very well be one of my favourites. Ever. The slow-cooked pulled pork in it’s spicy BBQ style sauce, served with a very simple bread roll and crunchy mustard-dressed slaw on the side is a near-perfect combination for me. It’s lazy weekend food at it’s very best. The kind that requires nothing more than simple admiring as it cooks while you sit back with a glass of wine. Also, any leftovers make a very handsome pairing with pasta of any kind – and how can that ever be a bad thing?

BBQ Pulled Pork
with Radish, Apple and Fennel Slaw

Serves 4 | Preparation time 5-10 minutes | Cooking time 4 hours
550g pork belly or shoulder
1 tin chopped peeled tomatoes
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp aniseed
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
1 level tsp dried chill flakes)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup chicken stock
A pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the radish, apple and fennel slaw
1 radish, finely sliced
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed about 1cm up the stem and thinly sliced
Half an apple, grated or finely chopped in your food processor
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp parsley and 1 Tbsp mint roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Lay the pork in an ovenproof dish that has a lid. Add in the tomatoes, onion and rosemary. Combine the remaining ingredients and HALF the stock in a mixing jug and then pour over the pork.

2. Cook for 30 minutes at 200C, then turn the oven down to 140C, add in the remaining stock and cook for a further 2.5 hours with the lid on, followed by another 30 minutes with the lid off, or until the sauce has thickened and the meat can literally be ‘pulled’ apart with two forks. Check the liquid at 30 minute intervals, to make sure that the meat is not drying out. If you need to add more liquid, add in about another 100ml stock or water.

3. Remove the pork from the oven, leave to rest for 20 minutes, remove the crackling and set aside to grill until crispy and eat or discard (eat!), and then ‘shred’ the meat using two forks and mix it in with the sauce.

4. To make the slaw, combine all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and toss gently to combine.

5. Serve the pork piled into fresh bread rolls or folded into wraps, with the slaw on the side.

For more recipes from me and to visit my personal website, click HERE

Smashed Pea & Rainbow Trout Fishcakes with Watercress Pesto

January 14, 2013 in Fish and Seafood, Speedy Suppers

Fishcakes and meatballs can often be underwhelming. I don’t know what it is, but that’s just a mindset that I am unable to waver on. Which is why I often find myself doing my level best to re-invent these supper time staples into something a little more interesting. Like Spaghetti with Ostrich, Basil and Mint Meatballs, which you can find in my next book. And so, I like to think that this combination of rainbow trout, smashed peas and baby potatoes with salty pecorino shavings, along with a gorgeously green halo of fresh and zesty watercress pesto might just be the antithesis to the dull and dowdy fishcakes we so often meet on our plates. Let me know if you agree! Read the rest of this entry →

Lemony Roast Courgette & Chickpea Salad

November 21, 2012 in One Pot Meals, Salads, Vegetarian

This is a great quick-fix little number, and if you’re anything like me then you almost always have a can of chickpeas gathering dust in the pantry cupboard. Not because they’re unloved in our house, just because there’s always something fresher with a shorter shelf-life that demands to be cooked and eaten as a matter of great urgency of course. Like this Summery Panzanella Salad, with fresh home-grown basil and tomatoes; or these Quick Clementine Sponge Puddings. Whatever the reasons for any perceived procrastination, I’m very glad that I did finally get round to making this again. It’s a very hearty accompaniment to (dare I say it) a ready-roasted store bought chicken, or quick flash-fried chicken breasts, although that said it more than holds its own as a delicious Meat Free Monday hero too. Read the rest of this entry →

Baby Spinach, Pea & Chorizo Salad

November 8, 2012 in Salads, Speedy Suppers, Vegetarian

This salad is quick quick and oh so pretty. I love the punchiness of the colours, and the smoky-spiciness of the chorizo with the burst of freshness from the greens gives it perfect balance. A little meal in itself, or serve over cous cous or even pasta, or inside warm crispy pitas. You could also add in some crumblings of feta, goats cheese or even ricotta.

Read the rest of this entry →

Roasted Red Onion & Gorgonzola Galette

October 18, 2012 in Baked & Beautiful, Lazy Weekend Food, Speedy Suppers, Vegetarian

A galette, by any other name, is really just a free-form tart. So what that means, is no need for absolutely perfectly rolled pastry, or perfectly lined tart tins or blind baking. Indeed, what that means is that you lay the pastry down, spoon the ingredients onto it, roughly wrap up the sides and bake. The complication ends with the word ‘galette’ and the fun follows straight on from there. So, when life hands you lemons, when you want to say ‘you call yourself a weekend? pah!’, when you’ve having one of those days, then make this. And even when you’re, not, even if  you’re perfectly content and your disposition is just fine and dandy thankyouverymuch, then, too, make this. It’s just begs to be made, and shared. Because if you don’t have people to share it with, you will be at risk of eating the whole thing yourself. And how do I know this, you ask? Let’s just move along swiftly. Read the rest of this entry →

Quick Clemengold Sponge Puddings

October 10, 2012 in Baked & Beautiful, Desserts


Imagine my delight when a box of sunshine was delivered to my door a couple of weeks ago, just at the tail end of winter. Sunshine you ask? Why yes, veritable little orbs of it, in the form of one of South Africa’s proudest fruits, the beautiful clemengold. This was t a box that was fat with endless possibilities. Clemengold curd, clemengold marmalade, clemonade, clemen-lime tarts, phew. First up? This not overly polished or serious but sublimely summery little sponge pudding. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry →

Toad in the Hole with Red Onion, Apple and Rosemary

September 12, 2012 in Lazy Weekend Food, One Pot Meals

I have delved deep to try and find the source of the wild and wonderful name for what is really just a simple sausage dish with fluffy yorkshire pudding batter poured over it. And have come up pretty much empty handed. Well, perhaps not so much empty handed as flummoxed by the maze of explanations that are out there. Whatever the reason for the bizarre name, I can think of no good reason why you shouldn’t make this very soon. Read the rest of this entry →