Carte Blanche- Tranche trois

She’s a chocaholic” she said, then proceeded to give me a Carte blanche. 
 …i decided to make a 3 tier chocolate and vanilla cake that I’ve named ‘tranches trios’ (possibly a Kowa signature. not quite sure yet). I smothered each layer with a layer of melted chocolate. sinful! 

I started by prepping all the ingredients. 
for the chocolate layers 
8oz sugar
8oz butter- room temperature
4 eggs
6oz flour
2oz cocoa 
1tsp baking powder 
2 tbs milk
4oz chocolate chip 
for the vanilla layer 
4oz sugar
4oz butter- room temperature
2 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla essence 
4oz flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder 
oven temperature 180 c
Using grease-proof paper, draw then cut-out the shape of the pan’s base to line it. This allows you remove the cake easily when it’s baked. 
   With a machine whisk or a wooden spoon, cream the sugar and butter in a circular motion and in the same direction (always)! 
When the mixture is pale and fluffy like such, you know you’ve done a job well done! 
It’s now time to add your eggs and mix. In a separate bowl break each egg and add one by one. This ensures that you don’t get shells in the mixture, because I can assure you, the last thing you want is someone telling you they tasted the crunch of an egg shell. 
Using a sift, add the flour and baking powder, then the cocoa. Raise the sift a few cm higher than the bowl to aerate the mixture.
Add in the milk and then, using a wooden spoon, fold in the entire mixture. This is where it usually gets messy because of how light the flour and cocoa are, they tend to get everywhere.
Now you can add in the chocolate chips 
and then it’s all ready to be put in the pans 
Place in the oven for 15- 20 minutes but don’t check frequently because you lose heat every time you open the oven door.
To check if the cake is fully baked, place a skewer or a knife down the middle and count to five then remove. If there’s molten residue on the skewer or knife then it needs more time. If not, you’re good to go. 
Allow to cool and start with your chocolate topping. 
Fill a saucepan halfway with boiling water then, in a bowl, add cooking chocolate or chocolate chips and then place the bowl directly over the saucepan so it’s sitting comfortably on the rim of the saucepan. 
Using a palette knife, spread the melted chocolate lovingly over each layer of the cake and there you have it, tranches trois!

Tranches trois


Pumpkin and Courgette soup 


   In the spirit of halloween, I decided to make a lovely pumpkin soup (I really just needed an excuse to carve a pumpkin, let’s be honest). 
I’ve always loved soup- cream of tomato, butternut- squash, carrot, you name it- and I don’t mean the sort you get out of a Heinz tin, PROPER soup! 
 Winter months can be depressing, let’s face it. The constant rain, blistering cold, exams (for some) and so on, so I’m going to give you tips on how to warm up without spending a lot of money at a fancy restaurant when you can whip- up your own Pumpkin soup for next to nothing.
1 pumpkin
1 courgette
Pinches of salt and black pepper 
1/2 tsp thyme 
1/2 an onion
1 clove of garlic 
3 tbs olive oil
1 cup of vegetable/ chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of milk
A dollop of cream 
What to do with all that
Heat the oven to about 150 degrees (c)
  Cut up the courgette and pumpkin into large chunks (this helps them cook faster)
In a roasting dish, add the cut- up courgette and pumpkin and season with the thyme, black pepper and salt. 
  Dice half an onion, crush a clove of garlic in a mortar and pestle or with the flat side of your knife and add them to the roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and then you’re ready to get the show on the road. 
Just before you’re ready to cook, pour the stock over the pumpkin and courgette then cover the roasting dish with foil and pop into the oven. 
 Leave it in the oven for about an hour and a half which should give just the right amount of time for your pumpkin and courgette to soften nicely. 
  When the courgette and pumpkin are nice and soft, remove from the oven, chop off the top of the courgette and with a little knife then deseed and remove the skin of the pumpkin.  
  At this point in time, you’re ready to purée your food so introduce them all into the food processor and mix for about a minute- at which point the dairy is ready to go in. 
Pour- in the milk and cream and continue to purée for another 8- 10 minutes- keep checking for the perfect texture i.e not too thick but nice and smooth.
Just before you’re ready to serve, reheat in a saucepan  for a few minutes and then serve in warm bowls. 
-If you haven’t got a food processor, by all means use a blender. It works just as well as a food processor does.
-Soya milk is a great alternative to regular milk, for those who are lactose intolerant- it also gives the food a bit more character. 
-Serve in warm bowls (this just keeps the soup warm for longer) and accompany with a warm cheese bread or an olive foccacia  (or just regular toast) and you’re good to go! 
-Cooking’s really flexible- don’t just leave the pumpkin and courgette to cook in the oven for the specified amount of time, check for texture. If you’re happy with the softness of the courgette, take it out and leave the pumpkin to cook for longer because courgette cooks faster than pumpkin. 
 -If the texture of the soup isn’t satisfactory by the time you’re finished, stir- in a bit more milk and taste for seasoning. Don’t be scared to tweak the recipe- nothing should be by rote. And I know some people like spicy food so add a bit more black pepper or make it a lot less boring by chopping some chorizo or having some chicken wings on the side.