Saturday, 15 April 2017

Beano Birthday Cake

 12 years old.
 
Beano fan.
 
Happy Birthday to my boy.
 
Xx
 
 
I welcome comments on the state of Dennis. Was someone drinking Prosecco whilst making fondant figures?!!
 
 
 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Chicken Breasts with Chilli, Lime and Hoisin - Recipe

Another surprisingly easy recipe... A Thai-Chinese fusion, using whatever I could find in the fridge and store cupboard. I'm so glad I keep buying spices...


Chicken with Chilli, Lime and Hoisin

Marinading Time: as long as you wish! But anything from 30 minutes to overnight
Prep Time: 20-30 mins
Cook Time: 20-30 mins

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tsp light brown sugar
juice 2 limes
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp chilli bean paste/sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
120 ml chicken stock or water

On the side:

4 stems broccoli
1 small onion, chopped
dash of soy

Method:

To prepare the chicken, use a sharp knife to cut deep slashes in a diamond pattern. Mix the garlic, sugar, lime juice, soy and chilli bean sauce together in a bowl. Place the chicken in a dish and pour over the marinade mixture. Leave to marinade as long as you can. 

Once you are ready to cook, heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade and fry for about 5 minutes on each side, making sure it is cooked through. Once cooked, add the remaining marinade, along with the hoisin sauce and stock/water, and simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile stir-fry the broccoli and onions together in another pan. Once softened, add a dash of soy sauce.

Serve together with the sauce from the chicken drizzled over the top. With rice and freshly chopped coriander.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Carrot Cake with Orange Frosting - Recipe

I wasn't going to blog about this, because I thought it was a bit of a disaster when I made it. But the reactions I got from Himself (not a cake fan) and when I took it to work was so good, I thought I should try and remember how I did it! It's a good carrot cake!
When I whisked up the mascarpone, it went all curdled (due to the orange zest I guess), so I kept adding icing sugar until it came back together. It was still really runny, but I wanted to get it done, and we had a visitor, so with him watching, the disaster unfolded...
It was so runny it just seeped down through the cake. I mean, it looks fine in this photo, right? But 5 minutes later it was all over the cake stand! I kept re-loading it for a while but it didn't let up.
Had to cut a slice to try it, obviously, and even then the frosting cascaded down the centre!
So it didn't look good... But it tasted amazing. Which is why I needed to share it. Perhaps the whole drizzle effect kept it moist and fresh for longer! The frosting eventually hardened, so it was more presentable, and everyone loved it. 

The recipe is taken and adapted from Rhubarb&Rose's Decorated.

Carrot Cake

Prep Time: 20-30 mins
Cook Time: 50-60 mins

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:
 
For the cake:
 
100 g pecans, roughly chopped (you can pre-roast them if you wish - 5-10 mins in the oven)
320 g golden caster sugar
180 ml rapeseed oil
3 eggs
225 g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp ground cinnamon
6-7 carrots, peeled and grated
Zest of half an orange (save the other half for the frosting)
 
 For the frosting:
 
1 tub mascarpone (~250 g)
Zest of half an orange
100 g icing sugar (plus more as needed)
 

Method:

Line a 18 cm cake tin and heat the oven to 170 C.

Beat together the sugar, oil and eggs, until pale.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda, cinnamon and a pinch of salt, and beat until combined. Next, fold in the grated carrot, orange zest and chopped pecans.

Pour into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about 50-60 minutes - check towards the end with a skewer, it should come out clean.

Allow to cool, then turn out on to a wire rack.

For the frosting, beat the mascarpone with the orange zest in a mixture until smooth. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat. If it curdles, keep adding more icing sugar until it comes back together and is a runny consistency. If it becomes smooth and thickens, well done - that's how it should be!

Slice the cake in half horizontally, and then pour some of the frosting on top of the bottom half. Place the top half back on and then pour the frosting over the top and let it drizzle down. It may seep, just keep and eye on it and re-apply it if needed. If your frosting is nice and thick then just smooth it over the top as you wish.

Decorate with any leftover pecan nuts, if you wish.



Have you had any major cake disasters, which you managed to salvage?










Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Easy Mexican Beef Wraps - Recipe

Making a meal out of nothing seems to be a specialty in our house. Although Himself had cooked for the kids, there wasn't much left for our dinner. He'd cooked a huge batch of bolognese, ready to freeze in batches, so there was that, but it didn't appeal somehow, late on a Tuesday evening.

So I delved into the fridge to find what else was hanging around - some tortillas, cream (almost past its best), half a lime, bits of vegetables... so I thought I'd take some of his cooked mince meat and turn it Mexican. With spices from the store cupboard, and less than half an hour, here's how to make a delicious, quick, spicy, Mexican beef wrap:



Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

300g mince meat 
1 small onion, chopped
half a pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 fresh green chilli, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano 
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1-2 tbsp tomato passata
2 tortillas

To Serve:

1-2 dollops of soured cream (squeeze half a lime into 100ml cream)
Fresh coriander

Method:

Saute the mince beef until it is brown and cooked all over. Set aside.

In a clean pan, saute the onion and pepper for a few minutes until soft, then add in the garlic and chilli, and fry for one more minute. Then add back in the cooked meat.

Stir in the herbs and spices, and then add in the passata. Allow to cook down for up to 10 minutes, adding a little more passata if necessary, not letting it dry out. 

Warm the tortillas, then spoon the mixture in the centre. Add a dollop of sour cream, then fold and wrap the tortilla. Serve with another dollop of soured cream and fresh coriander.


Buen provecho!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Tredwells, Covent Garden - Restaurant Review.




Lunch date with Himself. It's not often we get to eat out together, sans bambinos, and when we do it tends to be a rushed lunch. This time we made a bit of an effort and met outside Leicester Square tube station. We had a gift voucher for Tredwells, and I'd booked the Star Deal through Bookatable, three courses and a dessert cocktail for £29 each. I checked via email beforehand and got a prompt and positive response. But we still had to get back for the school run...

When you want to try somewhere fancy, or even just famous (not always the same thing!), these star deals are a good way of doing it on the cheap. Obviously you don't get the full menu (though you can still have that if you are willing to pay more), and for a quick (ish) lunch in Covent Garden, it works well. 

We were seated upstairs in the mezzanine, overlooking the outside space, and Dishoom across the road. We watched as the queue there grew and grew, with someone offering aperitifs while they waited, whilst we sipped on our (non-alcoholic) drinks. Watching this clock too:



Tredwells is owned by Michelin starred chef and MasterChef presenter Marcus Wareing. He doesn't actually cook here, I'm assuming, but his name is enough to draw people in. Situated right in the heart of Theatreland and Seven Dials, and named after the Butler in Agatha Christie's The Seven Dials Mystery, it has a handsome, dark-tiled interior, with a laid back eclectic atmosphere, and superbly attentive yet unintrusive staff. The Star Deal menu offered four starters, four mains, and four desserts, with one of each incurring a supplement and sides were extra too. Essentially British dishes, each with some flamboyance. Below each dish is a recommended wine specific to that dish. If only it hadn't been lunch time...

Music Bread
We ordered music bread (also extra), doused with lemon and balsamic, which was an excellent start. Thin, crispy and infused with the sweetness of balsamic vinegar and a touch of lemon juice. Beautifully presented, I suspect it was named for the attempts to look like sheet music...!


Pork Belly and Ham Hock Raviolo, carmelised celeriac and mustard
Chargrilled Tardivo Radicchio, Sairass ricotta, nestle pesto
Starters were presented MasterChef style. Things I'd never heard of mixed with unrecognisable components. My pork belly raviolo was actually delicious, tender pulled pork inside a pasta square with sweet caramelised sauce and just a hint of a tang. Himself ordered the radicchio, not really knowing what it was.. he wasn't overly impressed! The nettle was slightly overpowering the rest of the dish, the radishes (I assume that's what they were) al dente and rather chewy, the ricotta quite bland. The salted slices of 'bread' were lovely though.


Chargrilled Lamb Chop, slow cooked shoulder, broad beans, mint
Slow cooked Sea Bream, lyonnaise leeks, parsley
Main courses appeared small, but actually were just enough when you're having three courses - as long has you have triple cooked chips on the side. The chips were very crispy and some were hollow inside, missing that fluffiness you expect. My sea bream was delicious, light and healthy, with green all over it. Himself was somewhat disappointed with the size of his lamb chops and complained that one was cut in half - turned out that was the shoulder part. Both were overcooked, he thought, not red in the middle as promised. The broad beans and mint sauce saved the dish though. You can't beat mint sauce.


Salted caramel soft serve, honeycomb

Orange blossom panna cotta, yoghurt mousse, almond cakes
Desserts are not usually our thing - I make them, but don't often eat them. As the portions so far were just-enough, (and dessert is included in the offer!) we went for a salted caramel ice cream with honeycomb and a chocolate mousse with orange blossom panna cotta. Rich and decadent, the mouse was not only pretty but scrumptious too, and the salted caramel - well, you cannot go wrong with that flavour. A perfect ending. 

Mini espresso martini

Finally a mini Espresso Martini each, and then back out to Covent Garden's tempting shops and home in time for the school run.

There are so many places to eat in Covent Garden, and although I may not return here (though maybe for the ice cream), it was a relaxed and reasonably priced lunch. For an evening meal I believe you can also avail of the Star Deal menu, pre- or post-theatre, so it's worth a visit for the prestige and the presentation. 

4A Upper St Martin's Lane, WC2H 9NY
020 3764 0840


Bookatable Star Deal: £29 per person for 3 courses and a dessert cocktail

Actual bill £77.


Square Meal Tredwell's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Thai-spiced Salmon Fishcakes - Recipe

This recipe was torn out of a newspaper many years ago and has been splattered numerous times and it's faded from much use over time. I almost know it by heart, as I've made them so many times, but I like to keep referring to it, just in case I miss out any crucial ingredient! I've blogged it before, but it's been a while, so I thought it was time for a revival.

These are delicious. Not like the rubbery fishcakes you may order in a Thai restaurant, they are fluffy, flavoursome and fishy, served with the obligatory sweet chilli sauce.

Please make them. You will thank me.

Again, apologies for the poor photograph. Prosecco-fuelled hunger.


Thai-spiced Salmon Fishcakes
Prep Time: 30-40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves 4 as a starter

Ingredients:

Oil for frying
5 spring onions, finely sliced
2.5 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 x 170 g tins salmon, drained (you can also use crab, or a mixture)
85 g mashed potato
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
A few drops of Tabasco (optional)
Plain flour
1 egg, beaten
Dry breadcrumbs

To garnish: lime wedges, salad, fresh coriander, spring onions

Method:

Firstly, boil and mash the potatoes, I used about 4 medium sized ones.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or wok and sauté the spring onions for 1-2 minutes until they begin to soften.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute more. Add the lime juice to the pan and quickly remove from the heat.

Place the tinned fish in a bowl with the mashed potato. Add the onion mixture, lime zest and coriander, Tabasco (if using) and season with salt and pepper.

Flour your hands and shape into 8 Fishcakes, or 12 smaller ones. Dust with flour, then roll in the beaten egg, and coat with the breadcrumbs.

Heat a little more oil and try the Fishcakes for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Serve with a little salad, sprinkled with spring onions and coriander, and sweet chilli sauce. 



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Friday, 17 March 2017

Godiva's Atelier Easter Egg


'Atelier' is a French term for 'workshop' or 'studio', where a principal professional artist works together with students or apprentices to produce a piece of fine or visual art. This week, at the five Godiva Chocolate stores around London, executive chocolatiers Jean Apostolou and Ilse Wilmots made an appearance at each store to handcraft the delicate white chocolate butterflies as finishing touches to this year's Godiva Atelier Easter Egg. 

Standing 66 cm high (that's a small child), weighing about 13 kg (again, about two newborn babies) and with enough chocolate for about 70 people, this spectacular showpiece is actually on sale for a mere £1000!

Do you know enough people to club together to share one??!!

Godiva's Atelier Egg

See one of these five exclusive giant chocolate eggs at Godiva stores at Harrods, Selfridges, Regent Street, Covent Garden Market (below) or St Pancras International Station.






Me, I'm going to enjoy these, slightly smaller ones...