Saturday, 26 February 2011

Mary Poppins Cake

Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when I shakes 'ands with you 

Couldn't get a brunette barbie so had to do a little DIY on her barnet, that was the most fun bit of the whole cake. Was going to say it's a while since I played 'hair salon' but that's a lie.. was doing Miranda's last night, last minute on the tube on the way out last night ;)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


I´m trying out new things for our menus in Spain. I love Empanadas and got hooked in Argentina. The pre-made pastry you get out here is really great and it´s fun experimenting with fillings. 
I fancied trying beef this time and got thinking about these Australian Pies that my friend Dan once gave me the recipe for. The filling is rich and juicy with a kick. I actually didn´t have the recipe on me but what I could recall made a pretty tasty filling! I got a little bored of the small ones where you fold the pastry over so made some circular ones too, not sure how authentic that was, but they were still cute. 

200g minced beef
2 carrots diced small
1 finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 jar of red peppers
400g passata
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp of marmite/vegemite
1 tbsp worcestor sauce

Fry the beef and once browned put to one side. In the same pan saute the onion, garlic and carrots for 10 minutes. Now add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for at least one hour, the longer the better. Cool and fill the pastry and seal with egg wash. You need to brush the whole thing with egg wash too to make it golden and shiny.
Pop in the oven at 190C for 10-12 minutes or so.  

Friday, 18 February 2011

Chicken Basque

I don´t think I´ve ever come across anyone that hasn´t liked this dish. I just love it and cook it probably every time I am in Spain, and with much success at home too if I´ve bought home good chorizo. I started with a good old Delia recipe and probably have tweaked it over time but as I am about to go out for Tapas with my bro I will just post it how it is. It´s a great recipe and I don´t think you can really get it wrong. I am tired today, been working outside which has been lovely but perhaps I´m not used to the outdoors so much! Will post some of my handiwork tomorrow for you to see.

 10 fl oz (275 ml) chicken stock (or stock made from Marigold vegetable bouillon powder)
 6 fl oz (170 ml) dry white wine
 1 level teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Start by seasoning the chicken joints well with salt and pepper. Next, slice the red peppers in half and remove the seeds and pith, then slice each half into six strips. Likewise, peel the onion and slice into strips of approximately the same size. The dried tomatoes should be drained, wiped dry with kitchen paper and then cut into ½ inch (1 cm) pieces.
Now heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the casserole and, when it is fairly hot, add the chicken pieces – two or three at a time – and brown them to a nutty golden colour on both sides. As they brown remove them to a plate lined with kitchen paper, using a draining spoon. Next add a little more oil to the casserole, with the heat slightly higher than medium. As soon as the oil is hot, add the onion and peppers and allow them to brown a little at the edges, moving them around from time to time, for about 5 minutes.
After that, add the chorizo, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and toss these around for a minute or two until the garlic is pale golden and the chorizo has taken on some colour. Next, stir in the rice and, when the grains have a good coating of oil, add the sun-dried tomato paste, paprika and chopped thyme. Pour in the stock and wine, and add some seasoning. As soon as everything has reached simmering point, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Add a little more seasoning, then place the chicken gently on top of everything (it's important to keep the rice down in the liquid). Finally, place the wedges of orange in among the chicken and scatter with the olives.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over the gentlest possible heat for about 50 minutes-1 hour or until the rice is cooked but still retains a little bite. Alternatively cook in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C), for 1 hour.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Pierre Marcolini Chocolates

One day I hope to have a husband who goes on (short) business trips and brings me back little pressies from around the world (edible pressies and jewelry pls). In the meantime, I am lucky enough to have a sister who thinks of me when she's away :) I am now in Spain btw so watch out for seafood and lots of fried stuff mmm.

Animal cake

Little Imani surrounded by her favourite wild animals!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine's Brownies

Happy Valentines to you! Get in the kitchen and bake something for someone, and it doesn't have to be for the love of your life it could be for your brother or sister, your mum, your dog, FILL THE KITCHEN WITH LOVE! These brownie hearts left my kitchen as soon as they were baked this morning on to warm the hearts of others but I will make some flapjacks for Nick, I'm thinking they're a little less cutesy and a little more man-cake!
Whilst we're on the dove cupcakes are in a calendar this year , cute lil lovebirds!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Chocolate and ginger cookies

I spent most the day yesterday writing menus for various brunches, summer barbecues, Birthday parties coming up. I then jogged to Fulham to clear my head (it was a lovely day yesterday and felt like the first day of Spring) and then came home hungry. This is what happens when I exercise. I sometimes wonder if it's worth the energy when it comes to the post-jog binge. 
Looked in the fridge and saw many a jar but not much fresh food. There was this one jar full of Chinese stem ginger in syrup. It's been in there a year and I've not used it comes my made up on the spot recipe for Chocolate and Ginger cookies with measurements dictated by what I had in the kitchen but none the less came out delicious and chewy - phew.
160g dark chocolate
80g milk chocolate 
60 butter unsalted
-Melt the above in a plastic bowl in the microwave for 50 seconds, stir and then melt at 10 seconds at a time until smooth and silky.

In a seperate bowl with an electric whisk, whisk until pale and light...
2 eggs
30ml of the ginger syrup out the jar
120g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract/paste

Add the chocolate mix into the eggs and sugar mix and then stir in the below, sifted.
150g self raising flour
small pinch of salt
1 flat tbsp of cocoa powder

Dollop the mix onto baking sheet and leave an 3 inches between cookies to spread out. Sprinkle some choc chips and chopped stem ginger in syrup on each cookie. 
Cook on 180C for 9-10mins. They may look soft but take out the first batch, cool for 3 mins on the tray then put on a wire rack, its a this stage you get "the chew". Adjust the next batch accordingly, I made 12 cookies out of this mix.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Vanilla Extract - Make your own!

Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste used to be one of those things I would run out of all the time. Then I thought, it must be something I can can just make myself right? I think it's great because it works out cheaper, you can make loads of it and you get the extract with the vanilla seeds in there too.

Just fill a clean bottle with vodka and put in about 5-6 split vanilla pods. It will take about 3-4 weeks until ready but you need to swirl it around once every few days. Remember it wont taste sweet like some extracts/essences but it doesn't need to, chances are you're putting it in a cake or a batch of something with loads of sugar in it anyway! 

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Lemon Posset

This is a dessert for those of you who.. 
are afraid of baking
want to make something special for their valentine
want to make a quick dessert ahead of time

I am the latter. I am taking two lovely little girls to China Town all day tomorrow and then having some grown up ones over for dinner. Im cooking curry and want something small, light and sweet to finish off the meal that I can make today. This is so easy and one of my favourite desserts of all time. 
1. Pour 1 pint of double cream into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer.
2. Meanwhile, zest and squeeze two lemons and measure 150g of caster sugar.
3. Add the sugar to the cream and stir until dissolved and let the cream thicken simmering/gentle boil for a few minutes.
4. Whisk in the juice and zest of the lemons.
 5. Pour into a jug and stand in a bowl of icy water to cool down. Some recipes say pour straight into glasses here but I like to cool it down first, I think it makes a silkier texture and doesn't develop that skin on the top. Do stir it every minute or so.
 6. Pour into glasses or small bowls and cover with film and set in the fridge for at least an hour. I may put blackberries on the top of these, I just haven't made my mind up on that one yet.I filled 10 of these glasses but they are dinky so let's say this recipe serves 6 ;)

Friday, 4 February 2011

Prawns, sesame and soba noodle salad

I kind of threw this one together very quickly so wouldn't want to tell you the recipe until I make something similar again... which I will because I love this kind of thing and soba noodles feature quite a bit in my weekday lunches.
I've been quoting for a lot of summer jobs at the moment and there's something about prawns, so fresh and juicy, so pink and summery I picked up a pack. Oh I can't wait for halloumi, watermelon, eton mess, new potatoes and summer lamb, broadbeans, radishes, oh and peaches. Please Summer, I need to bathe in your light and eat the fruits of your labour ;) come soon. 

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Palak Paneer

This is one of those dishes you try and then say "Oh my god, I could totally be vegetarian, who needs meat?" I beg you to try this one when you next have a curry night. I have some friends coming over on Sunday for a curry night, little do they know it will all be vegetarian. This is because a. Dinner is cheaper without prawns and lamb, and b. Indian vegetarian food is the best out there. 
Now, I know this looks like a lot of work with the cheese, but it's easy really and is going to taste better than any packet paneer you can buy. (I have made this assumption having never bought it myself but I am cocky like that!)

To make the Paneer cheese - 250g
1.Bring 2litres of whole milk to the boil (I have used semi and it was fine) and as soon as it bubbles add 60ml of white wine vinegar and turn the heat off.  

2.The milk will curdle, this is good! Now pour it into a sieve lined with a cheesecloth and splash a little cold water over to stop sticking.
3. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze...

4. Once you think most of the water has come out, twist the cloth and place on a board in the sink. Pop another board on top and press firmly down until no more water can squeeze out.
5. Ta da! You have cheese in 5 minutes!
Now you have the cheese you need to make the spinach curry. I made a little spice dabba which everyone seemed to have in India. It looks pretty and smells incredible but it also so useful to just whip out and add this and that. You can also see when you're running out of something quickly.
In a hot wok and 2tbsp of veg oil or coconut oil add..
3 dried chillies
1tsp black mustard seeds
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
Wait until the mustard seeds pop..
Once popped, add finely chopped
5 garlic cloves
1/2 thumb of fresh ginger
2 fresh chillies
Once garlic is browned, add
1 chopped onion
1 chopped tomato
At this point, I added a bag and a half of spinach and a cup of water, stuck a lid on the wok for 5 mins to steam and then blended BUT my Indian friend taught me to boil/steam and chop the spinach before you start and then add. This is probably easier, but whichever you prefer. You must taste and add salt and pepper, it does need a good pinch or two of sea salt.
Add your paneer, cubed and stir in a little cream and butter just before stirring. You could skip the cream if health concious but I beg you not to skip the butter it does something magical at the end!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Wedding cake, flowers and cats!

Brandy soaked rich fruit cake base with marzipan, a lemon sponge, lemon curd and buttercream middle and a top tier of dark chocolate cake and ganache. Something for everyone! 
It took a while to cut every flower and shape the little cats to look like the brides photos but I got there in the end. I'm very lucky to have friends that will recommend me to their friends and trust in me to make the most special cake on their most special day. (Thanks Sophie)