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Tastes of home part 8 - Porter cake

Porter cake is not very well known outside of Ireland but it is a recipe that uses something that Ireland is well known for exporting globally - Guinness! 

When my mother used to make this, naturally she had to buy some Guinness, these days you'll pop to the shops and buy a can or bottle. Back then (remember, small village west of Ireland about 30 or so years ago) we didn't have off licences in our village and the local shops didn't sell alcohol at the time. So I would be dispatched to the pub (I was well underage) to buy a pint of Guinness for my mother. 
Ok, you're probably thinking this is strange, but my parents were both teetotal (at the time) and the pub in question was owned by our next door neighbour. So I would go to the pub, order a pint without any questions being asked and bring to back to the house, being careful not to spill it. I did take a sneaky sip but didn't really like Guinness back then (I do like it now!).

Without further ado here is my version of Porter Cake

150g butter
150g soft brown sugar
300g plain flour
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp baking powder
200ml guinness (room temperature)
1 teaspoon mixed spice

If you like you can add, 50g sultanas, 50g candied peel and50g raisins to the cake. It was traditionally made with fruit in it, but as you may have guessed by now, I have an aversion to dried fruit in anything. 

Pre-heat the oven to 160c (fan), 170c (normal)
In one bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it becomes pale and fluffy 
Add the eggs one by one and stir though until combined
Sieve the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into the bowl with the creamed sugar and butter mix
Mix through and start to add the guinness stirring gently as you do
At this stage, you can add the dried fruit and stir through
Pour into a lined springform baking tin or a lined 500g loaf tin
Cook in the oven for 2 hours 
As it needs to cook for so long you may want to cover the top with baking parchment for the first 60 mins to prevent it from burning
Remove the parchment after 60 mins so that the cake will brown evenly.

Earl grey infused date and almond treats

I'm almost embarrassed to write this recipe it is so simple, but hey, I can't do complex all the time, can I?

A week or so ago I noticed I had a surfeit of dates in my cupboard. They're normally lurking in case I fancy cooking sticky toffee pudding. I'd love to say I have a great recipe of my own for sticky toffee pudding, but I always use one of my favourite chef's Simon Hopkinson's recipe, do check it out. 

So this time, I fancied doing something a bit different with the dates and wanted a quick and easy snack with a sweet kick so this is how this recipe came about.

100ml earl grey tea cold
300g dates stones removed
100g unsalted almonds

Infuse the dates in the earl grey for 2-3 hours
Drain the dates and place in a food processor with the almonds, reserve about 5 - 10ml of the tea
Pulse the dates till they resemble a rough paste
Add about 5ml of the tea to loosen the mixture somewhat but it needs to be relatively stiff and pulse some more
Roll into small balls

You can add some variety to this recipe by rolling the balls in desiccated coconut, cocoa powder or sesame seeds.

Another year, many recipes, Happy Birthday to me!

Wow! Its now been two years since I started with Kitchen Exile and what a journey it's been. For those of you who think a blog is easy, it's not! It is a lot of work and when coupled with a full time job, it requires a lot of willpower to come home and sit in front of the computer again and get writing. 

When I say it's hard work, its nice hard work. I love the creative process of creating a new recipe or revisiting old ones that I simply had forgotten about. I love to share those recipes with you and hope that you enjoy reading them and also cooking them.

Last year was one hell of a year for me. I won 2 BBQ competitions at Taste of Amsterdam and at the Big Green Egg festival. I had a recipe published in the Telegraph in the UK and a surprising win at the national Tasty Talent competition with my take on an East End curry. Not only I was featured in the Christmas edition of Foodies Magazine here in the Netherlands.

So who knows what in store for me in the next year.

So I hope you've enjoyed the last two years, here's a look back at a few of yours and my favourite recipes.

Guinea fowl methi masala with pilau rice and chapatis


This was a BBQ favourite, Chorizo style pulled pork.


Another popular BBQ recipe, good old fashioned ribs with BBQ sauce.


My very own personal favourite. Crispy chicken wings.


You have to finish on dessert and this rhubarb meringue pie is a good end.


So, a big thank you to all my readers and to those of you who have helped me on my way with Kitchen Exile. Another big thank you to my other half for putting up with having to wait before eating as I'm usually taking a picture of the food and also for sense checking my articles before I let them loose on the world.

Smoky Haricot beans with chorizo in a tomato sauce

This is something I cook when its just me at home, my other half has a fervent dislike of beans, so I get to have this all to myself, he doesn't know what he's missing out on! I like to call this "posh pork n' beans", due to the addition of wine and chorizo. 

Tomato and chorizo work well together and with the addition of wine and herbs it brings it to another level. I normally start this dish out on the hob and then finish it on the BBQ indirectly with some hickory chips to give it an extra smoky bite. Don't worry for those of you who don't fancy breaking out the BBQ you can cook the dish in the oven. I like to serve this as a side dish when I'm cooking but you can easily serve this as a main if you so wish. 

50ml white wine
50ml passata
½ medium red onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons adobe chilli paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
200g haricot beans
50g chorizo chopped into small cubes
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
10ml oil for frying

In a heavy bottomed pan add some oil and fry off the onions and garlic on a low heat until soft
Add the chorizo and turn the heat to medium, fry for 1-2 mins until it starts to release its oils
Lowering the heat, add the tomato puree and cook out for a further 1-2 mins
Next add the wine and turn the heat up high and cook for 1 minute
Add the beans, passata, oregano and adobe chilli paste and stir through
I then transfer this to the BBQ on indirect heat (150c) with hickory chips and cook for a further 20 minutes
If you don’t want to cook it on the BBQ, you can stir through a teaspoon of smoked paprika and cook it in the oven at 150c (fan), 160c (normal) for 20 mins
Season to taste and stir through the lemon juice

Potted shrimp

This is a very traditional British dish, but you don't see it very often in shops and is often hard to get hold of, equally so with brown shrimp. I first came across this when I lived in the UK.

Thankfully here in the Netherlands, brown shrimp or Hollandse garnalen as they are known, are very easy to come by. The dish is simple enough to assemble, but you do need to let the flavours infuse into the butter before adding to the shrimp.

300g pack brown shrimp
1g freshly grated nutmeg           
1g cayenne pepper

2g sweet paprika
1 clove garlic crushed
1 bay leaf

1/2 blade of mace
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
250g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt and pepper

In a pan on a low heat melt the butter
Add the garlic, nutmeg, mace, bay leaf, paprika and cayenne and cook for 5 mins to allow the flavours to infuse

Place the shrimp onto a jar
Take the infused butter off the heat and add lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir though
Strain the butter through a sieve into a jug before pouring over the shrimp in the jar
Close the lid and place in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours
This will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge

I like to serve this at room temperature with toasted bread