Tuesday 28 September 2010

Chocolate truffles

It hardly seems the weather for chocolate in Spain right now as the days are still really hot and the last thing you want is a truffle sliding around in your fingers! 
But we had a couple of stormy days and truffles were needed to comfort our guests at coffee time! 
I didn't have any cocoa powder at home so had to use a Spanish hot chocolate powder for kids, cola cao, not ideal as they don't look as sophisticated but tasted damn good all the same.

This recipe made me loads, see pic - so maybe halve it?! 

500g of dark good quality chocolate
200ml of whipping cream
50g of unsalted or slightly salted butter
2 tablespoons of tia maria / baileys
2 tablespoons of brandy 

The trick is to melt the chocolate in the microwave little by little with the butter. When it has cooled slightly you can add the cream and alcohol but then you must pop it covered in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 

When it is hard but workable, you scoop out the chocolate into roughly the size you would like your truffles. I then spoon them onto cocoa powder or chopped toasted almonds/hazelnuts and roll around. 
Pop back in the fridge for a few hours again or keep in the freezer for weeks and weeks. 
A dangerous thing to do ;)

Pastry for a tart - a tip!

Sometimes it can be hard keeping the shell for your tart thin and crisp enough and the more you work it with warm fingers the worse the outcome.
Well a really good tip is to refrigerate your pastry until it is a real solid block and then grate it into your tin. Once all grated you can lightly press the shavings together with your fingers and quickly patch any holes. It looks weird but you'll have to trust me on this one!
Always bake for a good 20 minutes before you add the filling, prick the base all over and brush with milk to make it nice and brown. 

Friday 24 September 2010

Here comes the veg...

Got to admit, the packing away of a delivery detracts a little from the excitement of the produce or what will be done with it all but alas, it all vanishes within a few days and we start all over again. It will be weird to go home and not to cook for 16 people everyday, just dinner for one until the next event! 

Thursday 23 September 2010

Cute things

In Spanish restaurants you can usually see the desserts as you walk through the door in a tall fridge. You can guess what will be in there too.... arroz con leche, 'pudding', creme caramel, natilla, tocino de cielo.. and then at the bottom of the fridge at toddler height are all the plastic toy like ice creams. Today I succumbed and I bought myself a Pingu ice cream, I was so happy! 

Another cute thing I came across today was when I was making sweet potato gratin and this potato thought it was a flower, see you wouldn't get that at home because apparently us British wont buy irregular looking veg in the supermarket! Reminded me of Nursery when you make potato stamps with poster paint.

And how can I post cute things and not put a piccy up of Josh my nephew, his sweetness surpasses all those hopefulls in the dessert fridge! 

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Balsamic Red onion, goats cheese and thyme tart

I could have eaten this on my own, but I shared it because I'm a nice girl. The trick is to slice the onions thick and fry in a little olive oil before splashing in a good glug of balsamic to glaze them and make them sweet as they caramelise... only when they're perfect do you make your tart.

Pears in Malaga wine and walnut cream

Colly made me this dessert earlier in the Summer, I think it was a Jamie Oliver recipe. I've recreated from memory and made some adjustments but it was truly delicious and piddly easy. 

  1. Peel pears
  2. Cut bottoms flat at base so they stand up in a saucepan
  3. With a citrus peeler zest 1 orange and squeeze the zest of 2 over the top
  4. Add a large glass of Malaga Wine (Moscatel) or just a semi sweet white wine
  5. sprinkle over a heaped tbsp of caster sugar and split a vanilla pod and pop into pan
  6. Put on the hob and when the juices come to a boil, cover with an oven proof lid and pop into the oven at 180C for about 30-45 minutes
  7. Take out the oven and out of the juice and leave to cool
  8. Simmer the juice to make a more syrupy consistency
  9. Toast a handful of walnuts and when cool, whizz in a food processor, add juice of a lemon and zest, a tbsp of sugar and a tub of creme fraiche ( or jamie uses mascarpone) 
  10. Serve this along side your pears with zest and a couple of walnuts for texture. 
  11. pour over a little of the syrup on the pear
  12. drink remaining syrup ;)

Thursday 16 September 2010

Fish and Seafood Curry

It's the Brick Lane Curry Festival this Sunday and I'm so bummed I wont be there (I am in Spain at the moment cooking for some watercolour artists) If you're in London and like all things hot and spicy please go http://www.curryfestival.co I reckon it will be a fantastic atmosphere. 

To celebrate I cooked a fish curry. It's a mild curry so you can taste all of the wonderful flavours from the fresh fish but it's still got a spicy kick and feels like a curry that's good for you. I'm tired now so two photos is all I can muster but will post recipe shortly!! ...

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Jewelled Beetroot

I want to thread a thin gold chain through these beauties, tie them round my neck and strut them down a catwalk! But alas there is a lunch to be made.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Lick your lips, hehe

Egg n Chips

Half the fun of 'egg n chips' has gotta be piercing the yolk with a chip and then dip dip dipping, no?

Yes...Best toastie tea.

Friday 10 September 2010

Galvin at Windows

So, I escaped to Spain for my Birthday and it was bliss... remember my blog on the marshmallow cake? It is now a month to the day gone by and I must tell you about Galvin at Windows, it was perfect. 
Nick must know that 'the way to a mans (my) heart is through his (my) stomach.'

I wake to the kitchen expletives of Nick attempting his first ever pancake. About 20 minutes later I am somewhat calmly presented with a plate of perfect pancakes and crispy bacon drenched in beautiful maple syrup. With a side order of champagne. Wowzers this was what my breakfast dreams are made of. 

Bit of Saturday kitchen and a cup of tea and then onto the Saatchi Gallery for a mosey around. Enough moseying and we're ready for a snack in the Kings road market right next door. The market smells gooood. We share a chorizo and rocket sandwich and Nick buys be a coconut I'd been eyeing up. 

The novelty was what tasted good, it didn't quite take me back to the Caribbean like I thought it might... and without the sand between your toes and the sun blasting it's not quite the same. It's great to watch the guy behind the stall slice off the top though and once you've sipped all the juice you take it back to the stall and he hacks it into three with a big knife and the top of the coconut that was sliced off previously for your straw is used to scoop out the young flesh. Clever.

Next stop, onto Fulham for The Harwood Arms. Nick took me here for our first anniversary and later that year it gained it's Michelin Star. We've tried to book since with difficulty, such is the way you now need 2 months notice! Well we popped in for some Staropramen and bar snacks and these are no ordinary bar snacks. 
Crispy braised shoulder of roe deer with tarragon mustard and a venison scotch egg. Delicious... don't wanna get full I secretly know what's coming next!

The view at Galvin at Windows is quite something and I fell in love with London all over again. We arrived early and went for cocktails in the sky bar with 360 views over the city to watch the sunset. The Bar menu sounds pretentious with everything from Caviar to Cristal to Creol Savannah rum. The Bloody Mary is made with Chilli infused vodka and truffle oil but you know what..it's bloody good. 

The service here is excellent, there's a hell of a lot of money being spent (The guy next to us ordered the Cuvee Dom Perignon Rose at £450 for him and his wife!!) but there's no snobbery in the air and the atmosphere was relaxed and light.

The food was exquisite (and yes the first dodgy pic is mine and the second off the website!) I had Cured Loch Duart salmon, Cornish crab, avocado cream & Naccari caviar followed by South Coast John Dory, orange braised endive, cauliflower purée, curry oil & golden raisins. I can still taste it, sublime. 

The bill came with complementary homemade marshmallows (Nick said this is most probably to soften the blow ;) ) and although there was no room left for dessert, even the coffee and petit fours stood up to its Michelin Star standard. 

Thank you Nick, what a wonderful day ; ) x

Monday 6 September 2010

Peachy pastries

I have been busy busy cooking for clients, but did make some little pastries for staff tea time. I actually used nectarine and peach jam and puff pastry with a hint of cinnamon and sugar, lovely with a cup of tea! So here´s something to have nibble on until I get back to posting!

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Birthday Tea Party

This morning I am sad as it's time to take my birthday cards down. Then I thought, I haven't blogged my tea party or my pretend Birthday that Nick treated me to! So, firstly... I had a wee tea party a couple of Sundays ago with some old friends, it was chilled and so lovely to see some friends I hadn't seen in years. There was lots of sugar and bubbles consumed and I was a happy girl. I even geeked it up and made my own bunting ;)

I was a little pushed for time to be making the food so I made some mini trifles and banoffee pies in shot glasses.. OH MY they are sweet and just two spoonfuls of deliciousness without the guilt hit!