Florence Cornish Cooks

A Food Blog

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Cupcakes are the bomb. I know the market is saturated at the moment with crazy amounts of twee, cutesy, bunting heavy bake shops all laden with cupcakes but they really are the best. I’ve yet to bite into a fluffy, pillowy-soft, creamy topped bundle of heaven and think, ‘Hmmm, I think I’d prefer a biscuit right about now’.

This is my 100%, fail safe, solid as a rock chocolate cake recipe. Secret? Buttermilk and sour cream. It’s a real Southern rule to put buttermilk in cakes, Red Velvet for instance, which is about as Southern as Debutante Balls and the Kentucky Derby, always uses buttermilk. It gives it a moistness and lightness that seem to defy all laws of physics. Like I said before, THE BOMB.

Cupcakes look pretty straightforward but can be a bitch to perfect. The best advice I can give you is to prep like a boyscout, and use an ice cream scoop for the batter. So, get your butter softening from THE OFF. Get the oven pre-heating in plenty of time. Get your dry ingredients and wet ingredients measured, mixed and ready to do their thing. GET IT TOGETHER PEOPLE. This way, you will avoid any problems and will feel like a true domestic God/Goddess.

The peanut butter frosting is super easy too. Just crunchy PB, soft butter (because there’s just not enough naughty things going in there in the first place), icing sugar, vanilla and cream. Whip till it makes a satisfying slapping sound, and smoosh all over the top of the cooled cakes. Easy peasy and tasty as hell. What more could you want?!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Walnut Pesto Tagliatelle with Herbed Mushrooms

Pasta is something I crave more than anything else. Ever. In the world. It’s always the durum stuff that gets me. It was worst in Thailand – all I wanted was a massive bowl of spag bol, not even good quality, but slightly sour from the tomatoes, maybe using something cheap and bought in bulk like fusilli, and covered in grated Cheddar. Student-style heaven.

But, alas, it was not to be. Although I got some strands of the spag stuff when I was out there, it was always a bit too small (THE WORST) or a bit too watery, or just not real PASTA! (Cue crying like a baby… ‘Mummy…..I just want some spagggg!!! WAHHH!’)

So I was desperate to make this little beauty I’d been dreaming of since Samui. I adore mushrooms. They really are the bomb of the funghi world. And given that some of them can kill you, these are a badass veg if ever I saw one. But, like all of us when we are hungover or just couldn’t care less, they can be bland and a bit nondescript if you don’t give them a herby helping hand.

Because Chestnuts, Oyster and Wild mushrooms can be so meaty, I like to treat them in the same way you would a piece of liver or something. Sautee them in butter, with garlic and thyme and loads of seasoning, otherwise they will be limp like a boy who’s date turned him down for prom.

The walnut pesto is also bloody delicious. And super easy. Shove some of those nutty friends into a blender with a bunch of basil, garlic, parmesan (or Italian Hard Cheese as I used, only the finest from the Sainsbury’s Basics range…I’m on a budget here!) and olive oil. I don’t use any measures with the pesto, because if you’ve been a late teen/early 20s human, you no doubt have had pesto from a jar and pasta, meaning you’ve got a pretty good idea of the slightly sloppy, deep emerald green colour it should have. Use your initiative people – too thick, more oil. Too loose, more nuts. My philosophy for life!

Let the tagliatelle sit, covered in the pesto, in the hot pan for a quick minute before serving, to let the flavours seep in and take hold. Serve with loads of cheese – mandatory. 

Walnut Pesto Tagliatelle with Herbed Mushrooms 

Texan Chilli with Corn Bread

I have incredibly strong opinions about chilli. The biggest one: there are 2 forms of chilli, both devilishly divine and perfect in their own way. CHILLI NUMERO UNO: Soupy, loose, served with a hunky piece of bread, spring onions on top, a golden mountain of Jack cheese heaped on top. NUMERO DOS: Chunky, meaty, warm and smoky, originating from Texas and with ABSOLUTELY NO BEANS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. And they should never, ever be served with clinical, swollen school dinners rice.

This is the Texan variety. It’s really more of a casserole but it is totally, unquestionably one of the best things to touch my tongue, ever. EVER. The base is a standard casserole technique of browning off chunks of stewing steak (one of the cheaper cuts so naturally I like it more) and then sautéing a sultry mixture of chilli powder, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, onions and hella garlic. Somewhere between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and warding off a potential kiss after a garlic-laden Italian meal. Sweat all that good stuff down till its soft, sticky and aromatic, chuck in 2 tins of tomatoes, salt, pepper and a touch of sugar. One of the best things my Mum ever taught me – apart from knowing how to tell cheap underwear from expensive ones – was that whenever you cook with tomatoes, add a teaspoon of sugar. It tempers the acidity and adds a seductive tang to the taste. What more could you want?

Then, you add to the party my secret ingredient. Cwoffee. I heard that Texan chilli came about because cowboys when they were in the mountains would cook all their meat and canned goods in a pot and then throw in the dregs of their coffee mugs. I like to add it as a testament to this, almost certainly, false history, but also because I can’t get enough of the smoky, bitter back note it adds. Plus, I can’t resist putting weird things in food. I’m desperate to shove an avocado somewhere, on paper, it doesn’t belong.

Like Sonny without Cher, Yonce without Z, you can’t have chilli without cornbread and this one is an absolute doddle. Cornmeal is pretty easy to get hold of these days – and I am super lazy so if it’s not in my local Tesco then, well, what can I use instead? Case in point, I have been known to make chocolate cupcakes using Options ho-cho sachets when I could NOT be arsed to go any further than the corner shop.

Corn meal is often found in the Foods of the World aisle, as its used loads in Jamaican cooking. Bu for cornbread, just mix 2 cups with 1 cup buttermilk, some melted lard (YUM), baking powder, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 mins till firm and serve warm. You’ll feel like you’re in Brokeback Mountain. Well…not in that way…unless you are that way inclined, in which case, great…but you know what I mean.

Serve with the chilli, topped with onions, sour cream and cheese. I try to eat no meal without cheese. It’s a life lesson. 

Texan Chilli and Corn Bread

Redneck Eggs Benedict

I have had a tumultuous relationship with eggs. When I was a kid I remember THINKING I liked them, nagging my Mum till I got one fried up in lots of lovely veg oil for breakfast, nibbling the white and screaming, running away from the yolk. It was definitely that I liked the idea of them much MUCH more than the actual drippy, sloppy yellow gunk that was left on my plate.

But, like many things from coffee and wine to single life and nights in watching Danish detective dramas (or Triple D’s, as I like to call them), I’ve grown to like them more and more with age. Now, I can’t get enough of our chicken-laid friends. Especially, when they are covered in the second most indulgent sauce of all time – hollandaise. The first is lobster reduction, for blindingly obvious reasons but I am yet to have a tax bracket high enough to have that on my breakfast so, for now, I’ll stick to good old tangy, sweet, golden, butter based hollandaise. Come to me, child.

This recipe is called Redneck Eggs Benedict for several reasons.

1. I don’t think people are light hearted enough when it comes to food. The way I see it, have fun. You want to put marshmallows on top of cake and then microwave it all into one big stringy, gloopy, delectable mess? (from experience, you MUST do this at least 10 times in your life) Go for it. So, I thought, who loves sweet, tangy, salty maple bacon, cornbread and eggs? Me. Oh, and truckers. Here we are with Redneck Benedict.

2. I love using leftovers. Not from any eco-tree hugging-ice caps are melting-don’t waste anything even the eyelids and bumholes from a pig – standpoint. Just because the satisfaction of using up all of something fills me with an excitement only equalled by lining up for a rollercoaster at Disney World. I can hear you all now, OOH ISN’T THAT LAME. Well, yes. I never claimed to be the next Iggy Azalea! Lame is my game. And yes, I enjoyed that rhyme too.

So, if it wasn’t clear already, this twist on the 4* and up hotel breakfast classic uses cornbread rather than English muffin, maple bacon rather than ham and spring onions instead of pincy snipped chives. Maple bacon, oh maple bacon. The BEST BEST part of this meal and one of the best parts of life, really. No hyperbole here. Streaky, fatty, TASTY bacon frying in a pan has to be a sight more beautiful than any oil painting. Just drizzle (well, pour) a generous amount of maple syrup over the top and leave to keep warm and crisp up in a pan in the oven. I, as you may have noticed, used the slightly racially questionable Aunt Jemima syrup here as I didn’t have any maple in and couldn’t be arsed to go buy some. What’s Aunt Jemima I here you ask? Pancake syrup my friends. What’s the difference with maple I here again? This one’s fake. And all the tastier for it.

The only faff with this is getting all the elements warm and together on the plate at the same time. Yes you will have 29 pans on the go but the results are utterly worth it. Indulge in the life of the Deep South – or the Deep South by way of Crystal Palace. Enjoy. 

Redneck Eggs Benedict.

Pomegranate, Vanilla and Coconut Cake

I remember the very first time I saw, broke and ate a pomegranate. I was living in Belgium, and must have been about 6 at the time. So, obviously, I was sat in a plastic laundry basket in the middle of the living room, pretending to be marooned at sea and making the kind of loud, annoying, UNENDING noise that only a kid can make. My Mum, probably in a mix of desperation and attempt to just make me SHUT UP, hands me this rotund, waxy, curled spouted thing and goes ‘Here, eat, play and be quiet’. Three virtues I have tried to keep to this day – the latter being a miserable failure. Queue big-mouth enter stage right.

I remember looking at the pom though and thinking, this is the funkiest fruit ever invented. And then I saw dragon fruit and was slightly more bemused. It’s true though, to this day, the jewelled pips of a pom always make me feel incredibly glamorous and generally posh whenever I chow down on some. Which, given the effort to get those little shits out of their casing intact, is a lot rarer than I would like.  I hear you all screaming ‘What about pomegranate juice?!? If you want to eat this delectable healthy treat so much, get yourself a bottle of Pom! It’s got such a groovy bottle too!’ And yes, friends, I agree with you. It’s great stuff. But at £2.95 for a teeny TINY BOTTLE YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING IF YOU THINK THAT STUFF IS SITTING IN MY FRIDGE ON A HABITUTAL BASIS.

Anyway, I digress. For Christmas I got this cook book from Lily Vanilli (clearly, my Mum and I are the same when it comes to purchasing a product based on the quality of its alliteration). It is BLOODY FANTASTIC. Seriously, the recipes are fool proof and the pics are pretty so 10s all round. Bravo, Lily.

So, given my intrigue into the world of the pomegranate, and given that I love cake, this beauty with coconut (NOM) and vanilla (underrated NOM) was a solid choice. The sponge was made using a strange process but clearly, my theory that the weird ones have it right (listen to the guy muttering to himself on the tube next time…he might have the answers you’re looking for…) is proven in this case.

Rather than the old whip the butter, beat in the sugar, add the eggs yadda yadda yadda, this one makes a crumb first and then adds the wet ingredients afterward. Smooth, seductive, lump free – just how I like my men. The batter was bodacious and the frosting heaven sent. Now Lily, this is where our laziness meters vary – you suggest beating the seeds out of a pom itself. I, on the other hand, went to the lunch food section of the supermarket and picked up the pre-punched pips in tubs. The ultimate throwing money at the problem (those fellas are about £1.50 a pot) but hey, I had telly to watch and Facebook to stalk.

All in all, a freaking delicious cake and a recipe to have till the day I die. Enjoy. 

Pomegranate, Vanilla and Coconut Cake.