Saturday, 30 June 2012

Lemon Courgette Cake

If the idea of using any vegetable other than carrots in desserts is alien to you, trust me: this fresh and summery lemon courgette cake is the best excuse to start, and no one (not even picky children) would ever guess unless you told them. Light and zesty, the recipe below produces a moist sponge that is delicious on its own but can be coated with a crunchy lemon sugar crust or cream cheese frosting if desired. I have provided the recipes for both down below.

To top it all off, it's also dead easy. Step 1: Stir everything and bake. Step 2: Surprise everyone!

Lemon Courgette Cake
Makes one 12 x 9 inch rectangular pan

Stir all together in a large bowl until just combined:
1 large (approx 400g) courgette/zucchini, grated
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Handful of sultanas
1 3/4 cup (225g) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
A dash of ground cinnamon and nutmeg (or mixed spice)
Optional: A handful of chopped nuts

Line a 12 x 9 rectangular pan with greaseproof paper. Pour batter in and spread evenly. Bake 30 mins at 160C fan assisted (180 C without).

If coating with sugar crust, immediately pour topping over when cake is still hot. If using cream cheese frosting, let cool completely before coating.

Above: with the lemon cream cheese frosting
  • Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
*It is crucial that your cheese and butter (the butter especially!) is at room temperature so that your frosting isn't lumpy. If you forget to take them out of the fridge in advance to soften, just zap for 5-10 seconds in the microwave before beating.

Beat together with an electric mixer until creamy:
100g icing sugar
200g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
50g butter, softened to room temperature
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Lift the cake out of the pan onto a large chopping board or flat surface, and peel the greaseproof paper off the sides of the cake (leave the bottom). Spread the frosting over the cooled cake evenly with a spatula. Slice into squares and eat!

To store, keep refrigerated.

  • Crunchy Lemon Sugar Crust
Stir together in a small bowl:
1/2 cup (100g) granulated or caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Pour and spread evenly over the cake immediately once it is out of the oven (so the juice soaks through and the sugar stays on top). Leave in the pan until completely cold, then slide out quickly onto a large chopping board or flat surface. Slice into squares.

Store at room temperature.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Catering for the London Film School project "The Waiting Room"

SAM TAN'S KITCHEN HAS MOVED! Please visit the new website/online store at for all catering enquiries. You can also follow Sam on InstagramFacebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Since I first posted about cooking for low-budget films and the importance of feeding your cast and crew well here, I have received numerous requests by budding producers both in NYC and London asking if I could feed their teams at an affordable rate. Unfortunately I have often been unable to fulfil these requests, either because I am busy with class or because I happen to be in the wrong country at the wrong time!

Last week however, the timing worked out so that I was able to cater for four days on "The Waiting Room", a short film project by students at the London Film School. I thought I would share some pictures of the basic hearty lunch plus dessert I provided them throughout the shoot.

Thank you to producer Tara Verma for getting in touch and to the fun and appreciative crew- it's always nice to cook for nice people! :)

Day 1: Beef ragu lasagne (plus vegetarian version) and dressed salad.
Dessert: Carrot banana cake with cream cheese frosting
A HUGE hit this was- I guess low-budget films rarely provide good desserts!

Day 2: Malaysian Nasi Goreng (fried rice) for the mains...

 ... and sticky apple cake for dessert. With a teeny tiny hint of booze. 
Possibly why it got even more 'oohs' and 'aahs' than yesterday's carrot cake :)

Day 3: Sausage and butter bean casserole with garlic and herb bread. 
Mushroom and chunky vegetable version for the non meat-eaters. Warming comfort food for a chilly day.
Dessert: Crunchy top lemon cake.

And last but not least...

Day 4: Olive oil pasta with sausage, bacon and mushroom

Dessert: Chunky chocolate brownies- finally one of the chocoholics!

What you get when you ask hungry eaters to "look candid" while stuffing their face.

Lead actor Edward Hayes-Neary, caught eating more than his share of brownies by producer Christine!