February Feasting

Chocolate-coconut-cupcakes.jpg
Lent is traditionally a time of culinary restraint, when meat and fish, fats, eggs and milky foods aren't touched for forty long days. Thankfully, our favourite food bloggers don't seem to have got the memo.
February's best recipes from our favourite, and highly recommended food bloggers.

Image © Kate Doran, The Little Loaf

Lent is traditionally a time of culinary restraint, when meat and fish, fats, eggs and milky foods aren't touched for forty long days.

Thankfully, our favourite food bloggers don't seem to have got the memo. Not least The Little Loaf's Kate Doran, who kicked this week off with a fantastically indulgent recipe for Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes topped with Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Toasted Coconut. Still, Kate has something of an excuse. Monday marked the fourth birthday of her enormously successful food blog, and the celebrations look likely to continue until June when her first cookbook, Homemade Memories: Childhood Treats with a Twist, is published. Kate is the first to admit Lent is something of a struggle, not least because her husband is a "raging carnivore" and they both have a serious egg addiction ("Mine go into cakes, his into six egg omelettes; somebody help us...").

Staying with all things naughty and chocolatey, the latest recipe from Mondomulia is for Black Bean Brownies. You can reassure your dentist though - Giulia insists "My brownies are not too sweet AT ALL," though she admits they have "a very rich chocolate taste." The recipe is adapted from a similar one in the new Hemsley + Hemsley cook book, but Giulia was forced to improvise when she discovered she didn't have all the ingredients. Main differences include halving the number of tins of black beans, adding self-raising flour and throwing in a bit of light brown sugar ("because I had used up all the maple syrup I had").

Thankfully, Niamh from Eat Like a Girl is on hand to get us back on a healthier track. She's also had our head spinning with wanderlust because both of this week's meal suggestions originate in sun-soaked Borneo. While the whether outside is frightful, her colourful recipes (for Fish Soup and Fish Salad respectively) look quite delightful. "What I loved about these recipes," says Niamh, "is that they are not complicated, but they are full flavoured, and very healthy too. This is proper home cooking, using the ingredients from the sea and the land surrounding it."

Meanwhile Karen, over at Lavender and Lovage, has also been looking further afield for kitchen inspiration. This week she tries out an Amish recipe for Dutch Baby Oven Pancakes with Blueberries and Blood Oranges. We've touched briefly on the subject of brightly-hued food already, but when it comes to colour, you can't get much more vivid than the "glorious ruby-red" of a Blood Orange. Karen confesses: I look forward to the Blood Orange season with greedy anticipation – they are so sweet and juicy. The season in Europe is short, from late January to early March, so I tend to grab them while I can and often buy several kilos for day-to-day eating as well as marmalade making."

From marmalade to rémoulade. That's what the French call the mayonnaise-based root veg salads that are so popular over winter. Food writer Rose Prince has four ideas for them on her fantastic blog, which use single cream instead as the main ingredient. Combine with either parsnip and apple, beetroot, celeriac and broad bean, or swede. If you can bare to share, even better - Rose maintains this is "good food for feeding the masses". Talking of 'masses', we might be visiting a confessional before the Easter service starts - these recipes look sinfully good...