Calypso Chicken

Calypso Chicken
Years ago when my mum was going through a bit of a clear out of a forgotten part of the attic, she came across my father’s old collection of food magazines from the 1980s. With no interest in them herself she offered them to me which I thrillingly accepted and I have been lugging them around with me ever since from house to house, bookshelf to bookshelf, much to my husband’s consternation.

Taste Magazines

They are an absolutely fascinating read and I pick them up every so often when I need a little bit of inspiration that pinterest and my many food blogs sometimes can’t give me with their wonderfully retro recipes and advertisements for Ambrosia custard. Last week I was thinking about the current food revolution in the UK but these magazines go to show that most of us have always cared about the provenance of food and great recipes.

These Taste magazines feel very different to today’s Olive, Delicious or Observer Food Monthly, there are a huge amount of lengthy articles, illustrated recipes and not much in the way of news and only a little on restaurants. Plus, for the most part, the photos, when they are not amusing in their rigid construction with the cooks hovering over the dining tables with magnificent perms and billowing blouses, are frankly a little off putting. I can while away hours flicking through these magazines, some of the articles are still relevant and there is just the same breadth of culturally diverse recipes as modern magazines cover today. Our generation didn’t invent the foodie, they have always existed but now they are just a bit louder, more demanding and they write food blogs.

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

I got a little bit lost in some of the magazines again this morning when I revisited them. Topics covered within the pages range from sections tasting the best supermarket canned sardines. There are articles extolling the virtues of cream, a lovely account of a visit to Beatrix Potter’s country garden and a very detailed piece on drying herbs. Another piece written about modern technology champions the microwave and there is also a hard hitting investigation on whether a couple can live on one 3 kg chicken for a week. Spoiler, they could but they wouldn’t want to. Nail biting stuff.

The recipes themselves range from an exploration of food on sticks to a complicated dish of jellied seafood followed by chicken mousse, which they claim is perfect for a romantic lunch to celebrate the royal wedding. Having spent the week making endless use of the blackberries which I have been foraging there is a lovely looking blackberry and caramel soft scoop ice cream recipe which I wish I had seen a few days ago. Although I did turn my nose up rather snobbishly at a hot potato and frankfurter salad and a low fat recipe for hollandaise which recommends replacing the butter with margarine, eww.

Taste Magazine

However, this recipe for Calypso Chicken which was nestled in a piece about Floella Benjamin’s Caribbean food heritage leapt out at me as soon as I read it. I didn’t think I had ever braised chicken in rum before but suddenly as I began to imagine the possibilities the whole world made total sense. It used creamed coconut, an ingredient which is more than often replaced in modern recipes with coconut milk. Plus angostura bitters is one of my favourite things to use in the kitchen, I usually add it to my fruit pie fillings but I can be more liberal now I know how much it lends to savoury dishes too. Alcohol plus cooking only signals good and tasty things.

I have been messing around with the recipe a little bit, changing the chicken breast to chicken legs to garner more flavour, and upping the quantities of some of the ingredients for more impact. The rum, ahem. It is a brilliant chicken recipe, so easy to put together with a perfect balance of spice in the rich coconut rum sauce. I have been serving mine with crisply fried plantain and fresh chillies sprinkled on top which sparks it off deliciously and have made it several times in the past couple of weeks.

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Expect to see more 80s recipes soon, now I have started I am going to find it difficult to stop. And I haven’t even begun discussing the crazily elaborate desserts, suffice to say they involve a lot of moulds, jellies and unnecessary garnishes.

Calypso Chicken
Adapted from Taste magazine, March 1987
Serves 4

4 chicken legs, boned
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp salt
black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
500ml chicken stock
50g creamed coconut
3 tbsp dark rum
good dash of angostura bitters
pinch of saffron
Chopped fresh chilli and parsley to serve

  1. Mix the cumin, garlic powder, chilli powder and salt and pepper together then rub generously over the chicken legs.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish on the hob and as soon as it’s hot add the chicken, skin side down.
  3. Fry the chicken for 10-12 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden. Then with a pair of tongs remove the chicken, set aside and add the onion and green pepper to the casserole dish.
  4. Heat the stock in a small saucepan until boiling, then remove from the heat and add the creamed coconut, rum, angostura bitters and saffron until they are well mixed together.
  5. As soon as the onion and green pepper has softened and are staring to colour in the casserole add the stock mixture, stirring in well with the onions and peppers. Bring up to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the chicken on top of the stock, flesh side down and simmer for 40 minutes until the sauce has reduced to thick and creamy.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped fresh chilli and parsley, then serve with crisp plantain.

Escape (The Pinã Colada Cake)

(Escape) The Pina Colada Cake

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

One of the film websites I read recently had a feature where all the contributors had written about the worst tropes which are fallen back on time and time again on film and TV. One particular entry on this list decried the timeworn use of characters dancing in the kitchen. The writer said it was clichéd, unrealistic and twee. ‘C’mon, who does that?’ they lamented. Well, I do as it happens. I do it a lot to boot and I don’t mind who knows it. Obviously.

The two examples of this common trope which immediately spring to mind are at the end of Mermaids which I re-watched last week where they wiggle along to ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ whilst setting the table. This scene not only led me to become obsessed with that song when I was young, but also made me desperate to be part of their wackadoo family. As a sidenote, I was extra surprised and saddened to hear of Bob Hoskins’ passing a few days ago as it felt like I had only just seen him on top form, I had forgotten he was in Mermaids and on my re-watch his was the performance I enjoyed the most. Such a wonderful actor.

The second example is in the classic episode of Dawson’s Creek when the gang all band together to save the Potter B&B by dancing around the kitchen at breakfast time. Of course their dancing seduces the grouchy critic Mr Fricke into thinking that the Potter B&B is the best place he’s ever stayed in the world and they get a stellar write up. Works every time; Four in a Bed take note. I refuse to believe that these moments are embarrassment ridden or cheesy but they certainly serve as encouragement for me to dance more, for better or for worse.

Pina Colada Cake  |  Stroud Green Larder

In our house we love to dance badly everywhere, the poorer the dancing is the better. We throw ourselves around to the radio first thing in the morning, in the sitting room to perk us up on a Saturday afternoon and most importantly and significantly for this post, in the kitchen. Whilst waiting for butter and sugar to cream, whilst thumbing through cookbooks and most common of all when we are doing the washing up. It is the only thing that makes the dreary chore remotely bearable.

From his very first afternoon in our house whilst we were making the Sunday lunch Puppy has found our love of crazy dancing the best thing in the world. All I have to do is start to shimmy a little bit in time with Katy Perry and he has jumped up ecstatically, paws reaching for my hands so we can prance round the kitchen absurdly like a couple of escaped lunatics. The cats aren’t as impressed.

There are a few songs which absolutely guarantee a good old bop, our current favourite is Pharrell Williams’ Happy which is just invokes such joy but also sends me into fits as it goes hand in hand with those gosh darn hilarious minions. A particular favourite though, and you’ll be happy to know I am now coming to the crux of the matter, is Escape (The Pinã Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. We always put it on when feeling gloomy to cheer ourselves up. As soon as its opening drum beat kicks in Puppy immediately assumes the Tom Cruise from Cocktail swagger, well if Tom Cruise were tiny, furry, four-legged and drunk; still he has the charm in spades.

Pina Colada Cake  |  Stroud Green Larder

I was obviously listening to this song when I dreamt up this cake and the thought of it makes me smile, not just because it’s delicious but it also incorporates all the happy-go-lucky flavours of sunshine and paradise. It reminds me of dancing round my kitchen with my family and most importantly, it has glace cherries.

I have made this cake several times now and usually when I make something repeatedly I like to tweak things here and there, perhaps modify the icing, take a layer out, change the decoration. This incarnation though was perfect the first time I baked it and I have made it the same way ever since, even down to the number of cocktail umbrellas on the top.

This cake was made this week for a double celebration, it was a request from my husband whose birthday it was a few days ago and I also wanted to include it here to mark my official 99th post. Now, many people may choose to celebrate going into triple figures but hey I like 99. Plus it’s the bank holiday so I wanted to make sure this recipe was on offer to you should you want to make it and dream you are escaping to a tropical island.

Pina Colada Cake  |  Stroud Green Larder

Escape (The Pinã Colada Cake)

Coconut and Malibu Cake
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s recipe in Short and Sweet

150ml coconut milk
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
60ml Malibu
300g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
275g plain flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder

  1. Heat the coconut milk until boiling then remove from the heat and stir in the desiccated coconut, vanilla and Malibu. Leave to soak for 30 minutes so the coconut softens.
  2. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180°C then line and grease 3 x 20cm round sandwich tins.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on high for about 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time until evenly combined.
  5. Sift the flour with the baking powder. Fold into the butter, sugar and eggs alternately with the coconut mixture until just incorporated.
  6. Divide between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Pineapple Curd

1 227g tin pineapple chunks, whizzed up with juice in blender
3 egg yolks
2½ tablespoons cornflour
75g caster sugar

  1. In a small bowl blend the cornflour with a bit of the whizzed up pineapple until it’s formed a smooth paste.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir constantly on a medium heat until it begins to boil. Turn down heat and keep stirring as it thickens. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

Pineapple Frosting

8 egg whites (or 240g egg whites)
400g caster sugar
540g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
250g pineapple curd

  1. Heat egg whites and caster sugar in a bain-marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 160°F.
  2. Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  3. Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will curdle curiously. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  4. Add the salt and the pineapple curd. Mix in quickly and lightly.

Decorate the cake with toasted desiccated coconut, sun-dried pineapple, glace cherries and cocktail umbrellas.

Coconut and Cardamom Rice Pudding

Coconut and Cardamom Rice Pudding

Remember rice pudding at school, chalky rice congealing in tasteless gloop.

Well, this rice pudding is exactly like that.  Enjoy!

Just kidding, of course it’s not, it’s worse.

Just kidding, of course it’s not, it’s amazing!

Chuck any preconceptions you have about rice pudding in the bin as I’ve gone for something a bit different today.  Generally considered a nursery pudding due to the fact most of us ate a version of the congealing gloop at nursery school, it can have the tendency to be a big bowl of stodge.  This recipe is much more delicate and fragrant thanks to baking the rice in coconut milk rather than your normal whole fat and fancying up the whole affair with the warming spice of cardamom.  I’ve also thrown out the rice pudding text book which advocates a simple silky texture and instead scattered a handful of coconut flakes to the top which accentuates the coconut and gives a lovely crunch.

Coconut and Cardamom Rice Pudding2

The recipe was developed on the back of my current obsession with cardamom – at the moment I am looking to add it to everything and this past week I have been road testing the spice with all sorts of desserts and savouries.  If I see a recipe on pinterest that’s using cardamom then I’ve pinned it to my board quicker than a puppy chasing cheese.  This particular use here is my favourite so far as I love the softness of the coconut balancing with the burst of fragrant cardamom you get every other mouthful.  It makes for a very grown up interpretation of a kitchen classic.

The use of coconut milk also means that the recipe is delightfully dairy free.  I would thoroughly recommend Pride coconut milk as well which is easily obtainable in Sainsburys.  The only reason I mention it rather than allowing you to make up your own adult minds is that it’s half the price of other brands – about 80p, including supermarket’s own and has a very thick consistency.  So often I have been gipped by other brands which are too thin and have ruined recipes by making them bland and watery.

Coconut and Cardamom Rice Pudding4

I had a very definite idea of what I wanted from this rice pudding and after an hour or so of researching quantities in my oven baked coconut milk rice pudding I pleasingly found Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall’s recipe in the Guardian online.  I have nothing to prove and his recipe followed nicely the direction I had hoped to take.  So I swapped a few ingredients around and produced the below.  Now, I do have to apologise, mainly to Felicity Cloake from the Guardian, who berated writers for not using pudding rice in their recipes, asking us to stand up for our great national puddings.  However, since I’m not a writer, I’m a home cook and bearing in mind I have already tinkered about with the classic dish so much I didn’t bother going to the shops to get the pudding rice when I had plenty of arborio to hand.  It worked a treat.

Coconut and rice Pudding 3

Coconut and Cardamom Rice Pudding

Serves 4

Butter for greasing
80g pudding rice / arborio rice
65g caster sugar
400ml tin coconut milk
½ vanilla pod, cut in two, seeds removed
4 green cardamom pods, seeds removed
25g coconut flakes, toasted

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Grease a shallow baking dish which holds about 1.5 litres.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the rice, sugar, coconut milk, vanilla seeds and cardamom seeds. Fill the empty tin of coconut milk with water and mix in as well.
  4. Pour into the greased dish and bake for 1¾ hrs, making sure to stir well 3 or 4 times during the cooking time.
  5. Scatter over the coconut flakes and serve.

Bounty Cake {gluten-free}

Bounty Cake is a light coconutty gluten-free sponge infused with coconut rum and filled and covered with a lush chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.

The Coconuttiest Gluten-Free Bounty Cake in town

Did Bounty ever have a TV ad? If it did, I don’t remember it. Does this mean that it was such a popular chocolate bar that it didn’t need to advertise. The Bounty knew how amazing it was already. Adverts were for loser chocolate bars, Bounty was far too superior for that, it didn’t need to tarnish itself with lame slogans and cartoon rabbits. There is a word in our house for that kind of attitude Mr Bounty, Smuggo. But it shouldn’t be too complacent in its glory as I was not a big fan growing up. I think it was a chocolate bar designed for adults. I certainly remember my mum always choosing Bounties which we could never understand. Although I think this was clever planning on her part, as she could be confident that we wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole. The chocolate was good but the coconut? Yuk. Give me a Boost and be done.

Now though, I’m partial to a bit of coconut (Chocolate has long been my soul mate. I love you chocolate, always be mine) which is present here four fold. This recipe includes coconut milk, desiccated coconut for that authentic Bounty taste, coconut flour and in keeping with the idea that Bounty is really adult terrain I have gone one better and added grown-up Calpol just to seal the deal. Malibu (although you can use any coconut rum). Which did have a commercial and a slogan which I love to sing-song with glee whenever I bring it out of the drinks cabinet ‘the sun always shines when it pours’. It does, it really does.
The Coconuttiest Gluten-Free Bounty Cake in town

I almost didn’t mention that this wonderful cake was gluten free in the title as I didn’t want you to get all huffy and skip it. Please don’t though as this cake has seriously passed the gluten-free haters test, namely my husband, and I would happily make this time and time again for anyone and everyone. As with the gluten-free sticky toffee cake last week the key is adding in as much extra moisture as you can. This time around, as well as the Malibu and the coconut milk in the cake batter, I used a sugar syrup which is brushed over the cake after baking. The warm sponge soaks up the delicious Malibu syrup, making the cake sticky, moist and scrumptious.

If you have never tried swiss meringue buttercream then you must have a go on your next cake. Do not be put off by the slightly complicated method, it’s really quite easy. If you find normal buttercream a bit sweet and heavy then this is definitely the buttercream for you as it’s the most light velvety buttercream you will ever taste. You could use fresh egg whites but since you need so many then I recommend you use Two Chicks egg whites which come in a handy carton. You only need half the carton so you can freeze the rest ready for your next swiss meringue buttercream cake as after you’ve tried it once you will never go back.

The Coconuttiest Gluten-Free Bounty Cake in town

Bounty Cake (gluten-free)

Bounty Cake is a light coconutty gluten-free sponge infused with coconut rum and filled and covered with a lush chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 866

Ingredients

  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 60 ml Malibu
  • 50 g dessicated coconut
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 300 g unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 250 g gluten-free plain flour
  • 50 g coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Coconut Rum Syrup:

  • 2 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoon coconut rum
  • 2 tablespoon water

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 8 egg whites 240g
  • 400 g caster sugar
  • 560 g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
  • 300 g dark chocolate melted then cooled.
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 100 g coconut flakes to decorate

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and prepare 2 x 8” round cake tins.
  • Pour the coconut milk, coconut rum, desiccated coconut and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes, giving it a good stir, then turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs in one at a time, don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit lumpy it will come together.
  • Sift the flours and baking powder together.
  • Add the flour alternately with the coconut mixture, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed and mix until just combined.
  • Divide the cake batter between the two sandwich tins and bake for around 18-20 minutes until the cake starts to brown and come away from the sides.
  • Meanwhile you can make the sugar syrup. Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around three minutes then turn off the heat.
  • When the cakes are ready, take them out of their tins after five mins resting. Poke the top of the cakes several times with a cocktail stick.
  • Brush the sugar syrup all over the two cakes, then leave them to cool before slicing in half horizontally to make four sponge layers.
  • Heat egg whites and caster sugar in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
  • Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  • Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will look curdled. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen and just means you are nearly done. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  • Add the salt, the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • After frosting the cake, decorate with the coconut flakes.

Nutrition

Calories: 866kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 63g | Saturated Fat: 41g | Cholesterol: 178mg | Sodium: 71mg | Potassium: 323mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 1440IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 3.9mg