It’s my birthday today, so I thought I’d make a delicious chocolate cake. I know cakes can be more sophisticated than this, but somehow, for a birthday, only childish pleasures will do. Not to mention that no one has made me a cake since I was a child, so I thought I might as well bake my own! I think birthdays are for treating your loved ones and giving them good surprises from presents to a party. The recipes here are proper, fun party food and can be made well in advance, and can happily be left in the kitchen while you’re hiding behind the sofa, waiting for the guest of honour to walk in. Just keep it simple and you won’t be stressing when you should be enjoying the occasion. Find out what’s cooking at Tom’s restaurants at www.tomaikens.co.uk

MILKSHAKES

2 scoops vanilla ice cream 3–4 ice cubes half a tsp vanilla essence 300ml whole milk 1 banana 1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

APPLE JELLY

1 litre fresh apple juice from about 15 to 20 apples 2 vanilla pods Lemon juice to taste 8 leaves of gelatine 4g caster sugar

Method

The apples can be just cut into four pieces and placed through a juicer, but make sure that you have a litre of juice. Remove all the scum with a ladle, place the juice into a pan and bring to a simmer, skimming off all the scum. Add the vanilla, sugar, gelatine and lemon juice to taste. Place this into a metal bowl set over ice, and then stir every few minutes. Pour into a jelly mould and put in the fridge for an hour until firm. Turn it out and serve.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE

This recipe makes a cake large enough for at least 10 to 12

220g butter 220g caster sugar 4 eggs 4 tbsps golden syrup 120g ground almonds

220g self-raising flour 60g cocoa powder Pinch salt

For the icing 220g granulated sugar 220ml milk 280g dark chocolate 110g butter 80ml double cream

Method

Grease and line a 7in cake tin with greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and sugar and whip it until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, syrup and ground almonds. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together and fold this into the mixture, then place this into two cake tins that are buttered and floured and bake for 30–40 minutes at 180˚C. Turn out and cool it on a cooling wire. To make the icing, place the sugar and milk in a pan and dissolve the sugar, bring it up to a boil and then simmer for eight minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the chocolate, add the butter and cream and stir this in until it’s melted. Place it in the fridge to chill until it’s thick enough to spread and pour onto the cake. Cut the two cakes in half, then spread one third of the icing between the layers and the rest on top.

SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN WINGS

2 cloves garlic 2tbsps sesame oil 4.5 tbpsp dark soy sauce 4tbsps light soy sauce 200g sugar Pinch salt 6tbsps rice vinegar or white-wine vinegar

Method

Roast the garlic in the sesame oil and then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Then take off the heat and cool.

2kg chicken wings 2.5 cm piece galangal 5 lime leaves 4 chopped lemongrass Nugget of ginger Small sprig thyme 4 shallots chopped 4 small green

chillies Coriander stalks Salt half bulb garlic 3 large chilli, chopped finely 2 tbsps chopped ginger 100ml sesame oil 100g toasted sesame seeds

Method

Place the wings into a pan and cover with water, bring it to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Skim off any scum, add the galangal, lime leaves, lemon-grass, whole ginger sliced, a sprig of thyme, shallots, small green chilli, and coriander stalks. Add salt to taste and half a bulb of garlic. Simmer for about 45–60 minutes until tender and then place it into the sweet-and-sour sauce, add the chopped chilli and ginger. Leave this for a day and then remove from the marinade. (You don’t have to leave this in the sauce for this long it’s just that the flavour is greatly improved.) Take a non-stick frying pan, place it on a medium heat, then sauté the chicken in sesame oil until lightly coloured. Put into the oven for 10 minutes at 180˚C. Remove it from the oven, and add a little of the marinade it’ll reduce in the pan and become sticky. Roll in the sesame seeds and eat when still hot. If you have any sauce left, use it as a dipping sauce.

CARAMEL ICE CREAM

750ml milk 250g sugar 250 cream simmered 10 egg yolks

Method

Mix 100g sugar with the egg yolks and whisk well. Simmer the cream. Make a caramel with the rest of the sugar by placing it in a pan and letting it go very dark on a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn down the heat and pour the cream onto the caramel and whisk in well. Pass the mixture into a clean pan, add the milk, then pour onto the egg yolk. Mix well and put it all back into the pan, then cook out on a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, to 85˚C. Pass mixture through a fine sieve into a metal bowl and set this over iced water to cool. Once cold, put mixture into the freezer and stir every five minutes. It thickens as it freezes, and once it starts setting which should take about an hour leave it to go hard.

CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

1 litre milk 300g milk chocolate, chopped 200g sugar 10 egg yolks 250g cream

Method

Whisk the yolks and sugar together with a whisk until pale. Heat up the milk and cream together, place onto the egg yolks and sugar mix, then place into a pan and cook on a low heat to 85˚C. Pass mixture through a fine sieve into a metal bowl, and whisk in the chopped chocolate until it’s melted. Cool, freeze and stir as above.

CHEESE STRAWS

750g puff pastry For the cheese filling Sprinkling of flour 3g salt Lea & Perrins Worcester Sauce for drizzling over the pastry 1g smoked paprika 1g cayenne pepper 150g grated Cheddar 150g grated Parmesan 2 egg yolks for egg wash, with a little milk added

Method

Roll the puff pastry into a rectangle about a fifth of an inch thick with a little flour and salt, then egg wash, and place it into the fridge to rest for 20 minutes. Drizzle with Lea & Perrins, and brush-sprinkle on half the paprika and cayenne. Liberally sprinkle it with half the cheese and then fold it over and re-roll it out to the same size, brush with more egg wash and sprinkle with more cheese and the remaining spice, then place it in the freezer to chill. Cut into 6in lengths that are ½in wide, then twist the ends until they meet in the middle and the straws are twisted the entire length. Bake at 180˚C for about 10 minutes until they’re golden brown, then remove them from the oven and leave them to cool on a cooling tray.