21 April 2013

Cooking with Bruce: Carrot Cake

This is my carrot cake recipe, which is an amalgamation of 3-4 other recipes I've used over the years. It's bloody good.

Carrot Cake - Bruce's Recipe

Cake ingredients
175g soft brown sugar
175ml vegetable oil / sunflower oil
3 eggs lightly beaten
3 medium carrots grated
100gm raisins
grated zest of one orange
175g self-raising flour (gluten free is fine)
1t bicarb of soda
1t vanilla extract
1t ground cinnamon (ideally freshly ground)
1/2t nutmeg (ideally freshly ground)
100gm chopped roasted walnuts

Icing ingredients
75gm butter
150gm cream cheese
350gm (roughly) icing sugar
1/2t vanilla extract
1-2t orange juice (and any zest lying around)
more walnuts to sprinkle

1. Preheat oven to 180C, oil/grease cake tin
2. Mix sugar, oil, eggs, carrots, raisins orange rind
3. Mix in flour, bicarb of soda, spices. Mixture will be runny, stir in walnuts.
4. Pour mixture into cake tin, bake for 45-60 mins until it springs back. Cool slightly, then turn out.

Mix all (except walnuts), and when cake is cool, spread over cake then sprinkle walnuts over the top.

2 April 2013

Whisky Cabal 9: where no bottle is killed

The gap between this, and the previous cabal meeting ( July 2012), conclusively proves we are incapable of organising a piss up anywhere. Sure, we'd made some beerfests and the whisky show, but cabal meetings? pah. useless. oh hang on, we had an unofficial one before xmas.
Due to the (un)seasonal snow, we were one drinker short, thankfully the remaining three were prepared to take some for the team. Go us.

As usual links for purchase go to our favourite lads at Loch Fyne Whisky. We've got to the point where we run bets on how quickly they'll get our order in the post, 6 hours has been the worst, and generally its 1-2 hours. These people understand our need for booze.

You'll notice our usual range for gradings. This is related to one of our number who complains about standardisation, and is at heart, a contrary bugger. Impressively, it's not me.

Harris 12yo Cask 4519 183/260 : Blair Athol : 58.6%

Nose: PVA glue, bourbon, ester-y
Palate: fighting yet smooth, sweet, citrus, fizzy, 80s sweet, oak
Finish: warm, honey, smoke
7-8 /10
Addition of water made it less fighty, but didn't really change the flavour of rating. An interesting dram, quite drinkable, but possibly bottled a little young?

Blair Athol is the mainstay of Bell's, but don't let that put you off.

G & M Mortlach 15yo 43%

Nose: meat (?), sulphur, egg, wet heather
Palate: warm, sherry, light, lemon, lilac sweets
Finish: short
6.5 - 7 /10
We like Mortlach, and the 15yo is a great easy drinking dram. Not very sherried (for a Mortlach), but it's a great introduction to good whisky.

G & M Mortlach 21yo 43%

Nose: sherry, spicy, honey, leather, salt
Palate: chocolate, honey, cinnamon, fruit, cakes
Finish: warm, lingering

8.5-9 /10
Ahhh yes, that's more like it. I repeat this story too often, but the first real whisky i bought was the 21yo Mortlach. I was at the whisky shop in Heathrow and the final call for our flight, Frances was dragging me out, and I was about to buy the 15yo as I'd just tried that, and the guy said for an extra fiver, get the 21yo. He was right. Very very right.
I do like my Mortlach. The two SMWS bottles in my cupboard support that thesis.

Glendronach Cask Strength 54.8%

Nose: sweet sherry, condensed milk, caramel, leather in a sports car (sorry, that was mine), butterscotch, xmas, ginger, lemons
Palate: sultanas, coriander and tandoori, aniseed
Finish: medium-long, very tasty, long warm, apples/sultanas
Yes, all three of us agreed.
This is a bloody stunning dram. Go forth young 'uns and buy, a bargain at just under £50.

Longrow - Rundlets and Kilderkins 51.7% 11yo

Nose: salty, bacon, smoke, reminded me of the 16yo Lagavulin
Palate: honey, salt, warm, peaty
Finish: long, salt, long standing tingle
8.5 - 9.25 /10

Don't ask about the .25, just don't.
This is year 2 of the R & K range, last year was the Springbank (also favourably reviewed here). The advantage of the smaller casks is that the whisky matures quicker as more liquid is exposed to the oak, and so picks up flavour quicker. Very very nice whisky, island-like without being overpowering.

Arran 53.9% Cask 1968 21 / 263
dist: 11/12/96  bot: 1/10/12

Nose: sweet tea, sherry, dessert wine, nutmeg, spices
Palate: aniseed sherry, wow
Finish: very very long, warm, happiness

The Arran distillery has become a bit of a favourite, there was a concern they were bottling a little young - but they are definitely hitting the sweet spot now. This was an utter corker. And yes, all three of us agreed. Twice in one evening.

Cask Strength and Carry On: Benriach 22 / 296 16yo 55.2%
Dist: 1996 bot: July 2012
Nose: sherry, salt, xmas cake, lemon/lime,
Palate: chilli, aniseed
Finish: long, spicy, fiery

7-7.5 /10
This from great lads at the Cask Strength blog who are aiming to work their way through the alphabet (C, for Cutty Sark, has just been released).
We liked this, but it suffered a bit following two blinders, it seemed a little vigorous to me - maybe it needed a few more years in the cask? Wouldn't turn down more of it tho'...

Talisker Storm 45.8%

Nose: salt, bacon, smoke
Palate: sweet, prawn cocktail, raspberry
Finish: short, peppery
6,7,8 /10
This divided our group, we'd all been looking forward to trying it. Especially me, after my recent conversion to Talisker at the Whisky Show (admittedly their 25 and 30yo expressions).
I gave it the 6, as I found it one-dimensional. It's good for what it is, but it lacked anything after the initial flavour hit.
I'll still try more Talisker, as those old ones were winners.

Port Charlotte PC10 59.8% 

Nose: phenol, salt, smoke (but only a little)
Palate: sweet, Fuck, huge, salt, honey, tangy, citrus, pepper
Finish: long, salt, pepper

9.5 - 10 /10
Yeah, they've done it again. It's a stunner. Absolute belter. We kept this as the last whisky as we knew it would cut through anything else we'd had. And it did. Bloody hell it's good. And scary. No links as it had pretty much sold out before release (make me an offer if you really want a bottle...)


1 April 2013

Cooking with Bruce: salmon with honey lime chilli glaze & white bean salsa

Righto, this isn't one of mine. This comes from the lovely kiddiwinks at Cuisine, and it's damn good.

Barbecued side of salmon with honey lime chilli glaze & white bean salsa

We had it the other night, and it's full of tangy mexican goodness, chilli, lime, salsa, hell I felt like diving over fences or setting up a cartel.
One probable reason why it's so good, is that it's Al Brown's. Go Al.