I recently learnt the true meaning of the word 'starstruck'. I met my hero of heroes, Nigella Lawson, at a book signing in Dublin last month. I queued for about an hour and a half in the freezing cold just to get my book signed and to have a glance at the woman who made cooking sexy. I absolutely love her! Her books have provided the Ramirez-Foran household with many happy meals and countless friends have enjoyed the wonderful fruits of my working with the recipes in her books.
At the queue I met this two very nice ladies who had gotten up at 5 am to take the train to Dublin from Galway to meet Nigella, and when they asked me what my favourite book of hers was, I couldn't honestly tell them! My love affair with her books started about 8 years ago during a trip to the Aran Islands, off the Galway shore. A stunning unspoiled part of the country at the time. At the bottom of the hill to Dun Angus and its magnificent cliffs, there is a small tached cottage converted into a cafe for the hungry hikers. I sat there and took a slice of the cake on offer, Chocolate Guinness Cake. My life was never the same again! I tracked the recipe for weeks, finally leading to Nigella and her book 'Feast'. The cake has become a classic in my household and I have shared it with many as I think it is, by far, the best chocolate cake ever!
In a recent visit to Mexico, I baked the cake for my father's 70th Birthday. He had two slices, which is amaizing for a man who does not like chocolate at all! All the Mexicans loved it too! On the down side, it took me three days to find Guinness Stout and when I finally did, I paid an exorbitant 12 euro for one small can!! The end result was worth it though! Check out the recipe of the cake in Nigella's website here. If you make it, you won't regreat it, it's absolutely stunning!
Feast also features many other wonderful recipes, I particularly love the Easter cake one in the chapter 'Cake Hall of Fame'. I have now bought all of her books and I eagerly await her TV programmes and future books. She makes cooking simple and enjoyable. Her 'Nigella Christmas' book is a dream and a must for all the jolly season's lovers. I have used it countless of times to get me through a few Christmases with the Irish family.
It was a true honour to meet her; she was everything I had hoped for her to be; glamourous, normal size, down to earth and really nice. She took time with each fan and talked to everybody! She said to me she's a big fan of Mexican food and asked me a few questions about it. Apologies for the dodgy photos, I asked a person behind me to take the pictures and they came out a bit fuzzy!
We are building a porch and the front wall at home. It has been four weeks of hell: dust, debris, plaster stains, cement powder, dirty builders' boot marks everywhere, the house is cold and dirty and my kitchen completely uninviting! Everything is covered with a fine layer of dust! Living, or attempting to live, while builders are in your house is a nightmare! One thing I can't get over, is the amount of tea breaks our builders take! Every time there is a break, the kettle has to be boiled, tea bags, sugar and milk for a "cuppa" (cup of tea) must be ready and the mandatory biscuits' tin has to be presented! Alan and I are putting on weight with so many cuppas throughout the day!
Work cannot possibly commence before a cuppa, then the elevenses cuppa, the cuppa after lunch, the 3 pm cuppa, the four-ish cuppa, the six-ish cuppa and the cuppa before he goes home! I have used more tea bags and milk in the last 4 weeks than in the entire 5 years we've been in the house! Enticing my builder to work harder, I baked this cake, my old time favourite treat for a cuppa, last week and it got eaten between the elevenses and lunch.
This luscious Victoria sponge cake filled with fresh raspberries and whipped cream with a lightly dust of caster sugar is my idea of heaven on a plate! The recipe came from Nigella Lawson's wonderful book 'How to Eat'. I've twicked it a tiny little bit, by adding some lime zest and with my choice of filling, but her basic recipe is by far the best victoria sponge cake I've tried: it's quick, simple to make and the whole thing tastes amaizing! I halved her recipe as I like the petitte 7" sandwich tins I have, but if you have bigger tins, double the recipe. For the one on this photo I used fresh raspberries with a sprinkle of caster sugar as they were in season, but I love it with raspberry jam and cream as well!
A word of advise; all ingrediens must be at room temperature and the butter must be very soft. Cold ingredients will affect the texture and airiness of your cake, so take them at least 3 hours in advance or the night before. Enjoy!