Party Food

To celebrate my mum’s 80th birthday we baked a Betty Crocker Devil’s Food cake. I resisted the urge to add a vegetable and decided to follow the instructions on the packet for once. We were not disappointed it turned out grand as did the rest of the celebrations!

My daughter added the finishing touches with an American style frosting made up with butter, cocoa powder, cream cheese and icing sugar.

Before cake, of course, we feasted on Far Eastern Pie, a favourite recipe from Josceline Dimbleby’s recipe book: Marvelous Meals with Mince circa 1982 (2012 edition now available). It combines warmth, spice, meat, spinach under a creamy, crunchy coconut topping, you have to taste it to believe how moreish it is.

Take: 675g beef mince, 4 garlic gloves, 5cm piece of ginger, 3 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp chilli powder or fresh chillies, half lemon juice, 40g ground rice (rice flour), 900ml milk, 75g desiccated coconut, 50g butter, 450g fresh spinach. Serves 6

Preheat oven Gas 5, 190C. Simmer coconut in milk 5 mins, set aside. Wilt spinach in boiled salted water 1 minute, drain, set aside. Melt butter and add spices, stir to mix in, add chopped garlic and ginger, after 1 minute add mince, break up over low heat until brown. Add spinach and lemon juice. Remove from heat and place in a shallow ovenproof dish.

Make the topping: strain the coconut, separate the milk and heat in a saucepan until simmering add rice flour, stir and let it thicken. Season, add a pinch of chilli powder. Spread over the mince and spinach. Melt butter and add drained coconut. When the coconut has absorbed all the butter spread evenly over the meat mixture. Bake for 40 minutes until top is browned and crispy.

It went down very well with a green salad and a few glasses of sparkling wine. Followed by a photo call after lunch with the grand daughters and Robbie who decided to get in on the act. Happy Birthday to the Lady in Red xx

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