soberandhungry's Blog

we love wine, we love food and we love sharing


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Brandy & Port Fruit Cake (Mincemeat) with Brandy Icing

It was again my turn to deliver the goods for Bake Club at work. Seeing as it is getting cold and the shops are already starting to get festive I decided to create a comforting fruit cake with a mincemeat twist! I found some lovely mincemeat cake recipes online. Here is my take on a festive fruit cake – it fed 12 hungry faces.

slice of cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 140g butter (room temperature)
  • 140g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 85g Cranberries
  • 411g mincemeat (whole jar)
  • Splash of brandy
  • Pecans to decorate

Icing

  • 50g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • ~2 teaspoons brandy (need to judge by eye)

cake

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C/fan. Grease and line 2 x 20cm (8 in) round tins.
  2. Put all the ingredients into a bowl (except for the pecans) and mix thoroughly until thoroughly blended. Turn into prepared tins and place almonds on the top of one of the layers.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-50 mins or until the cakes are golden brown, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  4. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then loosen the sides with a small palette knife, turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  5. Mix the butter and the icing sugar. Add brandy in very small amounts until you have a smooth stiff icing. Lay over the plain layer and stack the pecan layer on top.


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Trogir – Croatia – would not recommend a visit

For the last leg of our holiday we traveled to Trogir which is a short coach ride away from Split. We would not recommend that you visit the area if you have spent time in Split because Trogir is a smaller, less impressive and touristy version of the former.

We visited the number one restaurant according to TripAdvisor at the time Don Dino and were hugely disappointed by the set lunch. Although we ordered two different pasta dishes the sauces were the same, the gnocchi was hard and the feta salad should have just been called a feta plate and was really salty. It did not really hit the spot.

Luckily we stayed in a really lovely apartment Ulica Matije Gupca 25 which had a lovely outdoor courtyard. We made use of this for a few of our meals enjoying a takeaway pizza from Riva one night and a large picnic from Konzum (the local supermarker) on another.

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Although the majority of the restaurants and cafes felt incredibly busy and bit ‘samey’ Café Bar Dovani is worth a visit for its ice cream Sundaes, one of which looks like Spag Bol!


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Grandma’s Polish Cake

Quite soon into our relationship I heard about a magical treat called Polish Cake; a childhood favourite of Dave’s, his uncle’s, auntie’s and cousin’s that their Grandma Moira used to make. As tall tales often go, when it came to anyone else trying to recreate this non-bake cake delight it would always fall shy of the legend. Several packets of Digestive Biscuits later we are a little closer and I have now joined the Polish Cake addicts (or chocolate crack as I refer to it). We have managed to get it ‘very good’ but we are still a stone’s throw away from Moira’s. The recipe below is for a large (approx 9″ x 12″) rectangular tin.

Polish Cake

Ingredients

  • 16 oz McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits
  • 2 large tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 3 heaped dessertspoons Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate
  • 1 heaped dessertspoon Cadbury’s Bournville Cocoa
  • 6 1/2 oz Stork margarine

Topping

  • 150 grams Dr. Oetker Dark Chocolate
  • 150 grams Dr. Oetker Milk Chocolate

Instructions

  1. Line tin with tin foil.
  2. Crush biscuits in a large bowl using a rolling pin.
  3. Melt margarine, syrup, drinking chocolate and cocoa in a saucepan.
  4. Pour melted mixture over biscuits, coating and mixing thoroughly.
  5. Put mixture in tin and spread evenly, pressing down gently with a spoon.
  6. Leave in fridge while preparing the topping.
  7. Melt the chocolate over hot water and spread over the biscuit mixture.
  8. Leave to set and cut into 2 inch slices.


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Vis – Croatia – where to eat / best restaurant: Konoba Stončica

After a couple of nights in Split we embarked on our next adventure to Vis the farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland. The ferry took a couple of hours and as we entered the harbour we were both pretty chuffed that we had decided to visit. Vis is stunning.

The island itself is not huge with an area of 90.26 square kilometres but it felt like there was a lot to do and the size of the island makes it accessible for exploration! All around the edges of the island are small intimate beaches and our host had recommended a small sandy beach which stood out amongst the pebble beaches we had become accustomed to in Croatia. This adventure led us to discover Konoba Stončica which was our favorite find on the island.

We rented bicycles to get there and where feeling pretty parched as we manoeuvred our way down the side of a hill to lock up our bikes.  Only intending to stay for a drink our eyes were drawn to the food and we stayed for 3 hours! Here we discovered some delicious Croatian Rose that we later discovered was a highly rated brand, the best Octopus Salad we have ever had and Croatian’s can cook potatoes as well as my mum’s Sunday Roasties. Again, the fish came out on a silver plate and they only had the freshest in stock (some items on the menu were not available because they had not been caught) and again we feasted on the best seafood that the Dalmatian sea had to offer. The total bill came to 575.00kn (2 people). After the meal we enjoyed some snorkelling in the sea.

TripAdviosr’s no 1 restaurant at the time of publishing this post is Roki’s. They specialize in ‘Peka’. A Peka is a large metal baking dish with a bell-shaped dome lid. It is used to cook food in an open fireplace, with hot coals and embers placed on top of the dome for even, slow cooking. You need to book 3 hours in advance and we chose the lamb. All the vegetables where freshly plucked from their gardens and their wine is home-made. The restaurant is situated in the heart of Vis and the owner will arrange a car to pick you up. It is worth a visit if you have the time. The total bill came to 496.12kn (2 people)

Some other useful notes if you are off to Vis:  

  • Outdoor Cinema: for 25kn you can sit out under the stars and watch one of the latest blockbusters (in English with Croatian subtitles, need a total of 8 people for the film to show)
  • Rent a bike: to get to all the beaches
  • Rent a Scooter: to get to Komiža which is the other side of the island. Ride through all the vineyards that make up 20% of the arable land
  • War History: we did not find the time to do it, but Vis is island steeped in war history. As well as tours revealing Vis’s secrets, there is a World War Two US bomber at the bottom of the ocean if you are into Scuba Diving. One for our to do list next time.


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Split – Croatia – where to eat / best restaurant: Konoba Matejuška

Following on from our amazing holiday in Pula we quickly booked another holiday back to Croatia to satisfy our hunger for Dalmatian life! This time we planned to visit 3 new areas. Firstly we went to Split, the second-largest city in Croatia. Our apartment was in the old town a stone’s throw away from the Diocletian’s Palace (a Unesco World Heritage site). We had done our research ahead of the trip and knew which bars and restaurants we needed to frequent for our short stay ahead of travelling to Vis.

The number 1 restaurant on TripAdvisor, as well as our favourite, was Konoba Matejuška. Situated off a side street from the main Riva, this unassuming restaurant probably only seats around 20 people. We had emailed and called ahead to book to no avail. On our first day we walked to the restaurant to book ourselves in and found that there was only one table available during our stay late in the evening (they do not check their emails we were informed).

On our arrival we were greeted by a very friendly waiter and ordered the local wine (the wine is usually classed as first rate or second rate, if you go for first rate you are getting a top notch bottle). He then came out with a huge silver plate of fish. You select your fish from the plate and that is what they cook with the fish charged by weight! For our starter we had muscles in a white wine sauce and squid ink risotto. The muscles were cleaned really well and were huge – the biggest muscles I have ever seen and the squid ink risotto was exquisite. We chose a large Sea Bass and a mixed fish plate including Tuna and Shark (with a side salad to add some colour). Our waiter de-boned the white fish at the table which was charming and impressive. The total bill came to 1,109.90kn (for 4).

Another restaurant that is worth noting is Trattoria Bajamont. Although it is not rated in the top 50 restaurants on Trip Advisor (and has some mixed reviews), other bloggers rated it, as did we. The muscles did have a little crunch at times but the sauce they were in was amazing. As we were looking at the menu the waitress came out to cross out all the dishes that had been sold out and we were quick to secure a spaghetti and scampi (king prawns) and a spaghetti and mixed sea food dish. They were both substantial portions and we enjoyed sitting outside the restaurant on a rickety small street in the heart of the old town. The total bill came to 435kn (for 2).

Some other useful notes if you are off to Split: 

  • Bobis: within the Diocletian’s palace there is a  bakery chain called Bobis – great for a cheap light bite.
  • The Basement of the Diocletian’s Palace: For 40kn you can go under the Palace and walk around the impressive basements (also good for GOT fans I am informed)
  • Tour Ticket: you pay 10-20kn to get into the attractions within the center. Rather than paying individually the most cost efficient way is to by a muti-ticket for 45kn which will get you into the Cathedral, Treasury, Crypt, Bell Tower and Baptistery.
  • Rent a bike: Split is really bike-friendly, we would recommend renting a bike and cycling around ‘Marjan’ a hill on the peninsula of the city. It is covered in a dense Mediterranean pine forest and completely surrounded by the city and the sea, making it a unique sight.
  • Froggyland: a fun collection of stuffed frogs in human poses 35.00kn