A little salad and a great big cake

I went back to work this week after a 12 week holiday/sabbatical. A bit of a shock to the system, but I have coped. This does mean there’s less time for swanning around the kitchen and I need to get back to being a bit more organised on the menu-planning front. Which didn’t really happen this week. So I rustled up a couple of old favourites to see us through. Missy B requested the chicken waldorf salad. Hardly a winter warmer, but she loves it and I have been asked to include the recipe for this one. So here goes (for four people):

First make the dressing: 

Mix together 5 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt, with 2 tsp runny honey, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1½ tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp finely chopped dill. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Toss this with 2 apples, cored and finely sliced, 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced, 3 spring onions, finely sliced.

Season four chicken breasts and lightly oil a griddle or frying pan. Cook the breasts on a high heat until cooked through, then slice them (or not, as you prefer).

Serve the chicken and the salad on a bed of gem lettuce leaves and sprinkle some chopped pecans on the top. I like them toasted. Missy B prefers not to have them at all.

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This week’s culinary highlight, however, was my friend Emma’s birthday cake. Very flattered to get this role – and slightly nervous!! Hope my little bro is reading this one – my first attempt did NOT go well. Most of it is in my freezer and I have sent Grandma Battenburg home with the rest. So a) if you are offered a chocolatey trifle at either of our homes in the near future, you will know the provenance of the cake element and b) I was right to be nervous. Cake one was a basic chocolate sponge that should have been a doddle, but it went from not cooked to dry in the couple of nanoseconds it took me to answer the door to the bloke from Naked Wines delivering a box of goodies. So my plan to waft around on Saturday afternoon like a lady of leisure, having deposited Missy B with her grandparents for the night, was in tatters. Cake two was much more successful, I am pleased to report. This was another chocolate one, this time with buttermilk and a barely perceptible dash of coffee. I made two, just in case. Both were beautifully moist and I just about managed to get them iced and delivered to Emma’s at 7.30pm, before rushing home to slip into something a little less comfortable. I decorated the cakes with little marzipan bees (40 of them in honour of the occasion – that took a while but they were very cute) and some edible petals for the bees to feast upon, made from thin slices of mango, beetroot and sweet potato, dried very slowly in the oven (idea pinched from Great British Bake Off and executed very nicely, if I may say so). Very pretty and finished off with a sprinkling of gold stardust. As we hot footed it to Emma’s to make the cake drop, Mr B muttered something about no one ever eating cake at parties, but he was mistaken on this occasion – the first one disappeared very quickly and seemed to go down well. It got the thumbs up from the birthday girl and our proper chef friend. It was a great party – loads of great food, lovely people and lots of dancing to work off the cakes.

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 Thank you and Happy Birthday Emma!!

 

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