Sunday, 18 September 2016

Eeasy Cheesy Scones - Recipe

 Sunday afternoon baking. When you are slightly hungover and need some stodge, these cheesy rock cakes are just the thing. Made simply with store cupboard ingredients, you can make them without cheese if you wish, or add in bits of onion or even fried bacon for extra flavours. Eat them warm with lots of butter. Hangover, cured...




Makes: 12

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins

Ingredients:

100 g butter
275 g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
150 ml whole milk
50 ml vegetable oil
1 egg
130 g grated cheese

(Optional - add chopped chives or spring onion for extra flavour)

Method:

Heat the over to 180 C fan and lightly butter a 12-hole muffin tin.

Using the dough hook on your mixer (or use your hands) combine the flour, baking powder and salt together then mix in the butter until you have a breadcrumb texture.

Whisk together the milk, oil and egg, and gently mix into the dry mixture. It will be a sticky dough with some little lumps.

Stir in the grated cheese (and onions or chives, if using).

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 mins until tops are golden brown.

Serve warm with lots of butter and a nice cup of tea.


As featured on: Link up your recipe of the week

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Nissi, Palmers Green - Restaurant Review

 Nissi on Aldermans Hill, Palmers Green is a friendly, family-run Greek restaurant well worth travelling to North London for. Clean and spruce with efficient, if a little brusque, waiters (they were busy, it was late), it's a great venue for a birthday get-together for a few lovely ladies, including a vegetarian and a wheat-intolerant. As the Prosecco flowed, despite the occasional fly-dunking, we ploughed through most of the dishes on the starter menu, sharing each one in true Greek style.


Halloumi; Kolokithokeftedes;Beetroot;
Louvi and Htipiti;
Spanakopittedes; Calamari

For Round 1, we ordered several dishes from the mezedakia menus. Htipiti was a delicious coarse dip of roasted peppers and chillies with feta cheese and herbs - so good we ordered it again for the second course. Grilled halloumi was tender and not squeaky at all, and the beetroot and bean dishes were subtly flavoured and easy to finish. My favourite was the Spanakopittedes, filo parcels with feta, spinach and dill. The fresh calamari was also tender in a crispy batter, a mixture of squid rings and baby squid, with cracked pepper.

Lamb cutlets; Grilled octopus;
Swordfish souvlaki; Greek salad
Dessert
Round 2 was a mixture of mezedakia dishes and a couple of mains. More hiptiki obviously, as it was so amazing, as well as a Greek salad, a spinach dish and enormous Cypriot chips. The grilled octopus was smothered in oregano, olive oil and lemon and was outstanding. Swordfish souvlaki was fresh and marinated with peppers and courgettes. Our one meat dish was lamb cutlets with an exquisite mint crust, and to finish there was complementary pistachio ice cream and with melons. 

Overall the food was excellent and I would definitely recommend sharing lots of smaller dishes rather than having one dish to yourself. There was no problem at all for our veggie friend nor our wheat-free one. The staff were attentive and rather charming at times, and more than accommodating when we couldn't decide...



62 Aldermans Hill, 
Palmers Green
N13 4PP

Meal for 5 including drinks cost ~£30 each. 


Nissi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal

Saturday, 27 August 2016

All Things Baked - Product Review

 All Things Baked is a new baking kit delivery service along the lines of Hello Fresh and Gousto, offering recipes and ingredients to help you develop your baking skills.
If you are inspired by GBBO, and would like to start baking at home, then this could be your first lesson.
 
 
 
They kindly sent me The Cake Box, their best seller, to try out. It contained a simple cupcake recipe, some vanilla pods, food colouring, Dr Oetker wafer daisies and some dried cranberries for decoration. Each month, if you subscribe, you will receive a baking tool and in my kit I got a lovely wooden spatula. To make the recipe you need to purchase your own basic ingredients - the eggs, butter, flour and sugar, icing sugar and cupcakes cases to bake them in.
 
 
My little girl had a friend round for a sleepover so by way of entertainment it seemed a good idea to try out the Cake Box with two 10 year old girls. Messy! But they were, with a little help, able to follow the recipe, and get those fairy cakes baked.
 
 
The fun part of course is always the decoration. The simplest icing is icing sugar with a few teaspoons of water and a dash of red food colouring, a good squirt of the gel giving a deep pink colour most pleasing to two young girls. Spread on easily with the wooden spatula, and then a variety of 'designs' using the wafer daisies and pretty cranberries. Your own creativity is required here and no techniques are described, so you will need to wing it, developing your own skills month by month.
 
 
Overall very simple to use and easy to follow. You can tell the creators absolutely love baking and want to share their knowledge. If you know very little about baking it's a great kit to start out with on your path to the GBBO!
 
Other kits available include the Bread Box, the Patisserie Box and even a Gluten-free Box. Price ranges from £5.99/month.
 
 

Monday, 8 August 2016

Gilgamesh, Camden - Review

I'd been looking forward to this one for six months. It was a birthday gift from two fabulous friends who seem to be under the impression I like food! Well... The voucher promised two Champagne cocktails and three courses in a unique Eastern atmosphere with the chance of spotting celebrity clientele (does an ex-tennis-player turned morning-television-presenter count?).

The setting immediately transfers us East. Gliding up the escalator to behold giant wooden sculptures and carved reliefs with bamboo plants dominating the dark wood interior and the newly refurbished retractable roof promising alfresco dining on warmer Camden days. We were warmly welcomed and walked by the bustling sushi station to our table. On venturing to the dark copper-clad bathrooms, you can sneak a peek at a whole range of private rooms, a nightclub and a lounge bar (Ginger Martini, anyone?). Comfy leather-clad booths dominate the window area with views over the Stables Market, while us voucher-bearing clients get to sit centre stage on dark oak tables with a slightly suspicious motif (if you squint sideways and cover certain parts...).



Gilgamesh's menu is quite extensive, offering dim sum, sushi, wok dishes and curries, and its pan-Asian theme is carefully selected for the set menu, a version of which we were offered. We started with cocktails which were fruity and icy, though on checking the drinks menu there were many classics and much champagne as well as an extensive wine list. Which of course we delved into soon after. To start I ordered the crispy chicken wings with a kimchi glaze and crispy garlic, served with a  thick sweet chilli sauce. This was delicious. I couldn't resist using my fingers and gnawing on the bones (luckily they had anticipated this and there was a finger bowl at the ready). Himself ordered crispy baby squid with a teensy amount of sweet soy sauce. Again, delicious, the tempura batter was crispy and the squid, which was served in its entirety (therefore not for the squeamish), was tender and tasty.


Cocktails; chicken wings; baby squid
a tentacle of baby squid; seafood jungle curry; spatchcock chicken in miso sauce.


 We were less blown away by the main course. A choice of four - seafood jungle curry and baby spatchcock chicken with miso dressing won out. I was tempted by the beef bulgogi - spicy boneless ribs - something I've never tried, but wanted to gauge the place on how good their curry is. And the jungle curry was like a thick Thai green curry. Plenty of seafood, calamari, prawns, and even a scallop, as well as some random lychees to sweeten it up. The chicken with miso tasted a little bland and unexciting, and even the extra noodles we ordered couldn't liven it up.

Dessert was beautiful. In appearance only. They were beautifully presented but tasted gloopy and lacked any flavour. Another table had a chocolate brownie - always a good choice - but our cheesecake with lime sorbet and yuzu tarts were, well, disappointing to say the least. 

Gilgamesh has a reputation to uphold. And I'm sure it does in many senses, but if you go for the food, prepare to be a little underwhelmed. The decor and location (and potential celeb clientele) is the real draw, I believe. You could, in theory, have a similar dish from one of Camden's market stalls of a percentage of the cost you pay here. But it's worth a visit just to see what all the fuss is about. So go along and dine in a Babylon-esqe palace with whatever vouchers you can find, but I wouldn't wish to pay full price for the food. Choose carefully.

The Stables Market
Chalk Farm Road
NW1 8AH

Meal for two (with voucher) and drinks ~£100




Gilgamesh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Washoku Masterclass with Valentine Warner

Washoku literally means 'food of Japan', covering all traditional Japanese cuisine, from sushi, sashimi to teppenyaki and yakitori. The focus is on fresh, seasonal ingredients (sometimes raw), sometimes rare but mostly accessible even in our western supermarkets. It's most definitely a user-friendly cuisine, using cross-over ingredients from our own gardens (well, the fresh vegetable aisle) and the freshest fish or meat you can get hold of. Fish in Japan holds a god-like status, so only the freshest and the best will do. Washoku by trained Japanese chefs is created with consideration for the environment, a simplicity which retains the nature of each component, and beautifully presented on a plate to celebrate it's natural beauty.

On a Washoku masterclass with TV cook, food writer, and now, Hepell Gin distiller, Valentine Warner, hosted by Panasonic in their test kitchen, we learnt just how simple it can be, and oh my, how delicious. Mr Warner spent some of his childhood in Japan (his dad was the British Ambassador there in the '70s) and returned many times to visit sake breweries and develop his own skills as a chef. Japanese chefs are super clean, sleek and graceful and their knife-skills are notoriously fast and meticulous.

Valentine demonstrated three recipes, using three kitchen gadgets by Panasonic, which we got to taste and then recreate. Firstly, Crab Chawan Mushi, or savoury fish custard, steamed in a cup. Sorry, did you say savoury fish custard? Well, yes... it did sound odd, but tasted absolutely wonderful - like a good quiche but without the pastry. Gently beaten eggs, with dashi slowly poured in, then sake and Kikkoman soy sauce. This is then poured over the crab in it's dish, and topped with shiitake mushrooms. With some cling film over the top, the bowl is then steamed (in Panasonic's Steam Combination Microwave, obviously) for about 15 minutes until there is a slight wobble. Then scattered with spring onions, toasted black sesame seeds and Furikake seaweed seasoning. See? Simple!


While the Chawan Mushi was steaming, we moved onto Mackerel Tataki. Mackerel is bang in season at the moment, and it's one of my favourite fish. Growing up in South West Kerry fresh mackerel was literally just off the boat in the summer months and little did I appreciate that luxury then. I loved it, just grilled. That's all. Fresh mackerel should be stiff, with a dark green back and iridescent shine.

For this recipe, Valentine used the Panasonic Slow Juicer to remove all the pith and juice from a lemon. The fresh fish was then chopped very thinly into small cubes, and gently mixed with toasted sesame seeds, ginger, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, Kikkoman soy sauce and reduced mirin. The tataki was then presented in a bowl and garnished with spring onion and thinly sliced nori. This recipe can also be made with fresh salmon or fresh sustainable tuna. A few of us had a go at making this and although it wasn't quite as aesthetic, it still tasted utterly sublime.


 Lastly, but obviously my favourite, a Summer Umeshi Cocktail. Deliciously refreshing, this drink is the perfect accompaniment to Japanese food. The sweet plum wine can be sourced in any Asian supermarket, and I've used it before as a dessert wine for a Thai meal. Really easy to make with aid of a Panasonic Blender to whizz up some ice cubes. See below for the recipe.




Ingredients:


·       125ml Umeshu sweet plum wine 

·       1/2 tsp yuzu (Japanese orange) juice Available in Waitrose 

·       Ice cubes 

·       Soda water

·       Fresh mint


Method:

-          Whizz up some ice cubes in the Panasonic Blender

-          In a highball glass fill halfway up with crushed ice

-          Pour in half a teaspoon of yuzu juice 

-          Pour over the Umeshu plum wine and top to the rim with soda water 

-          Garnish with a big sprig of fresh mint pushed well down into the glass 

-          Push in a straw 



Of course, all recipes are just a guide. Some of Valentine Warner's tips for cooking include using the best and freshest ingredients, and then experimenting and especially tasting your food - this is key to cooking Washoku for a healthy and balanced meal. Buy daily and fresh, instead of stock piling fresh ingredients. And don't keep opened sesame oil or soy sauce for more than a few months as they will lose their flavour.


Huge thanks to the Panasonic team for hosting the masterclass, and to Popcorn PR for the invitation and the photos.

Product Info:

Panasonic Slow Juicer MJ-L500 | RRP £199.99 | Available to buy now.

Panasonic Steam Combination Microwave NN-CS894 | RRP £499.99 | Available to buy now.

Panasonic Food Blender MX-ZX1800 | RRP £399.99 | Available to buy from August 2016.










Saturday, 16 July 2016

10th Birthday Cake

My little girl's birthday cake this year was designed by Mimi herself. She chose a design based on the leopard skin cake I made a couple of years ago for my friend, square and diamond in shape, with pearls around the edges and a big bow on top.
 
At the bottom a Victoria sponge, filled with vanilla buttercream, and on top a chocolate sponge filled with the same plus melted chocolate. Both layers crumb coated in vanilla buttercream with a giant pink bow and love hearts dotted around, silver writing and moulded pearls around the edges. Pretty simple, and very effective.
 
Happy birthday my darling. Love you. xx 
 

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Barraka, Mediterranean Street Food, Liverpool Street - Review

Barraka is a newly opened Mediterranean takeaway nestled in Artillery Lane, between Liverpool Street Station and Spitalfields Market. Ideal for a quick lunch away from your desk, or to grab something before you head to the pub after, Barraka serve food fast and fresh. The staff are friendly and full of enthusiasm. If you are a first-time customer you will get a cheer and the gong will be banged in your honour. They believe in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere - get this right and all else will follow.



From the menu you can choose a baguette, a Laffa wrap or a salad. Then fill with a choice of Mediterranean chicken, Chicken Schnitzel, Halloumi, Steak, or Chorizo. Sauce options are Baraka sauce, Tahini, chimichurri or chilli. Believe me they are big portions! And they really are fresh and tasty. My chorizo wrap was a range of flavours from the soft sensual pork chorizo to the subtle heat of the chilli sauce. The Mediterranean chicken was steeped in the secret sauce, and it was sumptuous.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Chicken Schnitzel baguette

Wander down Artillery Lane and you may be lucky enough to be offered a taster outside. Judging from where I was sitting (at the window) the fast-moving queue, the number of passers-by tempted in, and the banter between the staff and the regular customers, shows Barraka is a 'blessing'.

In July you can get a 25% discount on the food at Barraka by voting for your favourite dish below. Go along for your very own gong! 


What gets your taste buds going? Vote for your favourite dish to reveal your perk from Barraka. Valid in July 2016 only


Barraka
7 Artillery Lane, E1 7LP
Open: Mon-Fri 11am-9pm
Photos blatantly lifted from their website. Dead phone...