Carrot and cardamom are a wonderful combination of flavours. The cake itself is moist enough but for that extra special touch you can add the delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting. If you want to go all out, you can make mini carrots out of marzipan with a little orange food colouring and angelica root for the stalks.
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake, which I used to get in my school lunchbox around Halloween every year. Traditionally, a ring is baked into the cake, and there would be great excitement every year as to who would get the slice with the ring in it. I always like to think it was Barmbrack that inspired the writers of Father Ted to come up with the episode where Mrs. Doyle bakes a jumper into a cake! This recipe makes a really beautiful, moist loaf, packed with flavour from the mixed spice and dried fruit, which has sat overnight in cold tea and whiskey to soak up all the goodness.
Chocolate and chilli might sound like an odd combination but sweet and spicy do work together. I first tried the combination in hot chocolate. It’s a subtle heat that you can taste, but instead of dominating the dessert it’s an interesting extra note that adds to the flavour of the chocolate. However, do feel free to leave the chilli out if you prefer. These puds have an oozing liquid chocolate interior and can be made in advance and placed in the fridge until you are ready to bake them.
Chorizo is one of my favourite ingredients to use, it provides really delicious smoky flavours and, when fried, renders the most amazing red oil. One of the first few times I visited London, I got myself down to world-famous Borough market where you can pick up some of the best Spanish chorizo outside Spain. This salad is nicest if you can get your hands on some really good-quality chorizo – you will generally find the best stuff in Spanish specialty food shops.
At one of my recent cookery demonstrations I got a great tip to make an all-in-one white sauce, which simplifies the process here. There are two things that are key to this method: the milk must be cold when you start, and remember to keep whisking vigorously until the sauce thickens. If you want to take this simple recipe one step further, add some fried smoked streaky bacon bits. This is a great dish for a leftovers lunchbox the next day.