Lit by orange light….

I was invited to a friend’s house last night, on one condition. We had to sit in the dark. It turns out we were marking Earth Hour by eschewing electricity. I admit that our gesture of solidarity to the planet was small, but sixty minutes of candle-lit gloom became slightly addictive. Four hours later we were still sitting in the murky light shed by a dozen candles.

Although gentle candle-light is flattering to a slightly sagging complexion, it turns out that cooking in the virtual dark is a nightmare. But in the interests of Earth Hour camaraderie, I have the perfect recipe, one inspired by the great chef Skye Gyngell. It’s so easy you could make this dish with your eyes shut. And so brightly zingily fresh-tasting is it, you could light a room with its orange glow.

Oranges in Rosemary Syrup

Serves 4

5 or 6 sweet, juicy oranges. I used Maltaise sanguines, a delicious variety of blood orange

2 good sprigs of rosemary, about 10cm long

150ml light, clear honey

Cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange. Stand the fruit on a chopping board and, with a very sharp knife, slice the peel off in curving downward movements. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the juice that collects on the board as you prepare the oranges. Slice the oranges thinly and arrange on a plate.

Bend and bruise the rosemary in your hands to release the aroma and place in a small pan with the honey and the reserved orange juice. Warm gently for ten minutes over a low heat. Allow to cool for a further ten minutes, remove the rosemary and pour the honey over the sliced oranges. Decorate with another sprig of rosemary and it’s done.

After my evening of enforced gloom I walked home by the gentle light of a wind-up torch. But opening the front door was like walking into a harshly lit lift in a municipal car-park. Blinking mole-like at my slightly alarming reflection in the dazzling hallway mirror, I realised there’s another peril to entertaining by candle light. It’s impossible to see quite how many times your wine glass has been filled up.

Happy Birthday to you…

Eggs On The Roof is one year old today.

When I started writing and photographing Eggs On The Roof, I got used to variations on a single, puzzled question: but what’s it for? The answer to start with was very simple – a slightly apologetic it’s for me. I wanted to write about food, books I’d read, paintings I’d seen and the funny things that happened along the way. I couldn’t do that as a journalist and certainly not as part of the PhD I’m inching towards completing. But over the past year I’ve discovered that it’s not just for me after all. I’ve made some wonderful friends through Eggs On The Roof. So this birthday is a joint celebration. Happy Birthday to Eggs On The Roof and happy first birthday to you too.

Any birthday needs celebrating, preferably with cake. And this cake is a good one. It’s light and flour-less and just as importantly, it’s quick and extremely easy to make. Which means you have more time left to celebrate.

Chocolate Mousse Cake With a Hint of Crystallised Ginger and a Whole Lot of Whipped Cream

50g best dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids

50g best milk chocolate

100g Green and Black‘s dark chocolate with ginger, which is 60% cocoa solids. If you can’t get this, use 100g of best dark chocolate and add around a teaspoon of crystallised ginger, minced very finely. Just remember that you need a total of 200g of chocolate for this recipe.

150g slightly salted butter

9 medium eggs separated

6 tablespoons caster sugar

250 ml heavy or double cream, whipped until soft peaks form

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Butter two 18 cm cake tins and line with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – add the ginger too, if using. While the chocolate melts, separate the egg yolks and whites into two bowls. Stir the yolks with a fork and whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Whisk the sugar into the whites. Once the chocolate has melted fully, allow it to cool for a few minutes and then mix in the eggs yolks. Gently fold in the egg whites, separate the mixture between the two cake tins and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes. Remove from the tins, allow to cool and then sandwich the two halves together with whipped cream. As the two halves cool they will sink slightly and wrinkle like a Saint Bernard’s forehead. If you want a smooth top to your cake, make sure that you turn the top layer upside down.