Wednesday, 22 June 2011

London



Last week i went on a day trip to London and what a day it was! The definite overall highlight (minus the obvious food/cake/chocolate thing) was being with someone that really knew London well. Being able to actually walk around, rather than getting the tube, and seeing everything from a different perspective was just lovely. It's amazing how many wonderful things there are to find when you take the time to find them.



We started off heading to Old Spitalfields Market which was a fabulous collaboration of food, antiques and general oddments. I couldn't believe i hadn't been there before. An extra bonus was finding a Montezuma's shop tucked in the market hall where i couldn't resist stocking up on some chocolates...more on that another time!



We then headed through Leadenhall Market (Hotel Chocolat, more chocolate) to Borough Market. It wasn't quite as busy as normal with it being a Thursday but there was still plenty to entice, beginning with a hog roast!



Of course, there was the obligatory consumption of Portuguese egg custard tarts (oh my) and, as well as indulging on the visual feast, i got a little box of macaroons to try. And some tea! Via various other places and detours, we then set out for South Bank to look at books and beach huts.



With the Hummingbird Bakery being the only other must-go-to place, the rest of the day was quite ad hoc and lovely for it. Alongside other places, Covent Garden was visited where we found this rather awesome ice cream shop; Icecreamist.



The camaraderie of the place was fantastic with the theme and feeling being whole-heartedly carried through and, most importantly, the ice cream was pretty damn good.



A combination of properly made, smooth ice cream, great flavours and the simple practice of serving it with an italian style 'scoop' (for which the proper name eludes me) made it quite the experience. I had the chocolate and hazelnut and chilli and ginger flavours...cor!



There was so much that we did and saw that i can't even recall half of it right now, but i will revisit a few specific things in seperate posts. I just can't wait to go back and walk around until my feet fail me all over again.



P.S. Just realised that all of these photos are aligned to the left...very annoying but i'm not going to sort it out now! Also, on a similar note, i have recently realised that the template settings are all correct to look good on IE but it looks pretty damn awful on Safari (and probably a lot of other browsers). Double doh!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

21. Chorizo Carbonara


Unfortunately, this is quite a poor photo of poor presentation for what was a rather nice dish! It was made in two parts, with both halves coming from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Every Day book. First of all, i made his Tupperware Mexican Chorizo which is a brilliant idea. As he wrote, you can make your own chorizo but it is quite quite a lengthy process and this simple blend delivers on so many of the chorizo flavours without the hassle! Plus, any that's left over can be kept in the fridge for around two weeks, ready to go at any time...luckily i do have some left over so will be rustling this up again in the near future.

After that, the actual 'carbonara' part of it is a pretty basic format and only takes as long as the pasta takes to cook; definitely a bonus. Apart from a bit of seasoning, most of the flavour comes from the tupperware chorizo which i left to mature and mingle for a day before using. Very filling, very simple and very delicious...yum!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

20. Butternut Squash And Sage(ish) Risotto


As if to back up the 'BBC Good Food is amazing' claim, i've gone for another recipe from there; butternut squash and sage risotto. I spent ages contemplating what kind of risotto to cook but in the end just went for the good ol' butternut squash...probably the risotto flavour i've had the most and it's always been consistently yummy, something that i found quite reassuring considering it was my first attempt at a risotto!

Overall the recipe was quite straight forward, especially with having an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, and didn't get too complicated or fussy. I didn't have much chance to read through the comments to pick up any useful tips but i did find that i only used 1 litre of stock...although, having said that i did guesstimate when it came to the amount of arborio rice, so i might have just had less of that! In terms of the sage(ish) aspect, while getting the ingredients somewhat last minute i couldn't find any fresh sage so instead opted to add a bit of dried to the oil which the butternut roasted in. Then, to give a bit of a bite and depth to the finished dish, served with some crispy bacon on top in place of the crispy sage leaves. I found it worked quite well with the bacon serving as another texture and flavour while the sage still came through, balancing out the finished dish nicely.

The general reception was thumbs up all round, so definitely a keeper in the recipe folder!

Monday, 13 June 2011

19. Chocolate And Caramel Layer Cake


This recipe came from the ever inspiring BBC Good Food; initially, i spotted it in one of the magazines (possibly the easter edition?) but it is on the website too. It was always going to be a good cake (after all, where can you go wrong with a wealth of chocolate and sugar?!) but it really did surpass expectations. Not only was it relatively simple, despite possible appearances, it tasted absolutely delicious and the sponge was fantastically light and moist.


The way in which the sponges were made in batches of two, grouping together the vanilla and chocolate mixes and the chocolate and chocolate caramel mixes, made the whole process quite simple and straight forward, as i mentioned earlier. Also, I think it was the use of natural yoghurt that made them so soft and light; definitely something i'll have to try in my other more traditional sponges as a tweak.


I followed the recipe word for word up until it came to sandwiching together the layers...i just couldn't bear to use a shop bought tin of caramel! Instead, i opted for a basic butter cream icing, two thirds of which i left as plain vanilla and the final third which i flavoured with cocoa. I obviously haven't tried the cake with the caramel filling, but the butter creams did work very well and carried the extra joy of having a little bit of elbow grease behind them!


I 'iced' the cake as per instruction with a simple chocolate ganache, which i had more success with than that from the cloud forest cake! Then, rather than leaving it plain as it was a special cake for someone leaving at work, i just topped it with some mini mini marshmallows, caramel cubes from Divine Deli, little crispy chocolate balls and some milk and white chocolate drizzled over.


All in all, considering how eye catching of a cake it is (especially if it were to be made by someone with a bit more refinement!) it really is quite simple. The main challenge is just co-ordinating kitchen space with the numerous bowls and tins it needs!



It has been a long time since i've posted (nearly a month, oops!) but things have, as ever (!), been quite hectic and my time in the kitchen has been drastically slashed. I've got a couple of things lined up to cook this week though, and hopefully i'll get back on track with the blogging!