Monday, 27 February 2012

Our Saturday

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This weekend I think I had one of the best Saturdays ever. The day started of slow and a little lazy then in the late afternoon we decided to go for a long bike ride along the river Cam up towards north Cambridge. We hadn't done this ride before and I'm so glad we did. The sun was shining and although it was a little chilly, it was a perfect day. The river was littered with Cambridge University Rowing teams practicing with their coaches cycling alongside shouting orders. We ended up going all the way to Waterbeach which I roughly worked out was about a 12 mile round trip. Nothing too strenuous, my kind of exercise! On the way back we discovered a Hungarian Chimney Cake or Kürtőskalácsstall next to the river, the smell was so enticing that we had to stop. The last time we had one of these was in Berlin so it brought back nice memories. Its a yeasted dough that it rolled like a ribbon around a wooden cylinder and then baked on a spit. It is then rolled in sugar and your choice of toppings. Tim went for coconut which was nice but I will definitely go back and try the others including cinnamon, almond, chocolate & vanilla.


When we got home I decided to have a go at making the Jammy Lamingtons from Dan Lepard's Short & Sweet. I'm very sad to report that after 2 attempts at making them, both failed. I was left with a horrible dense sponge and a kitchen covered in chocolate and coconut. Next time I make them (if I ever do) I will stick to a different recipe. I didn't quite understand why after separating the eggs and getting a soft meringue with the whites you would then whisk them into the other mixture. Surely folding it in would give you much better results. Its quite frustrating as this is the first recipe I have made from his book so I'm not off to a good start. I will be attempting something else tomorrow night to take to my book and bake club, so I hope that I am a bit more successful. I hate when recipes go wrong, it feels like such a waste of ingredients and is also so disheartening. If anyone has made these successfully I would love to hear what I did wrong. Is it better to just stick to a basic sponge recipe? Now its back to the drawing board to choose something else to make for Wednesday night. Again if anyone has any Dan Lepard recommendations I would love to hear.


1. Waiting for the blossom to start 2. His & Hers bikes 3. Rearranging my windswept hair 4. River 5. Sun beginning to set 6. Coconut Chimney Cake

Sunday, 26 February 2012

me

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So, I initially got tagged to do one of these posts by Elizabeth in January but got a little distracted and completely forgot all about it. There are rules that go along with this but aren't rules made to be broken? I thought I would mix it up and just answer the questions that Elizabeth and Abigail set.


1. What is your favorite place you have visited? This is really difficult, I think it has to be somewhere in Croatia. Dubrovnik has a special place in my heart but Plitvice is just magical.
2. If you could name only one favorite band who would it be? Wow, this is really difficult, I listen to so much different music that it feel kind of impossible to choose just one. Growing up Led Zeppelin was always playing so I think I will have to say them.
3. What's sitting on your nightstand right now? A lamp, a framed train ticket from the day Tim and I met, my engagement ring and a polka dot Malfi that we bought in New York
4. Name one tv show you love and one you can't stand. I'll have to say Luther, although I don't know whether a new series is coming or not, we have also been watching a box set of Jonathan Creek recently. I missed it the first time round and its one of those 'so bad its good' type of programs. Something I can't stand is Jeremy Kyle (I don't think many people can to be fair though)
5. What's the most adventuresome thing you've done on your own? I used to fly off to Dubrovnik on my own every summer from the age of around 12/13 for a month long stay with my cousins. I have really fond memories of those summers and flying on my own.
6. If you had the chance to rename yourself what name would you choose and why? I don't think I would, I really love my name and love that its a little different (in England at least!)
7. What is your dream job? My dream job would be owning my own little cafe with lovely food and cakes and a gallery/art shop attached to the side of it.
8. What's your favorite workout? If you don't workout what would your favorite workout be? I love going for long bike rides with Tim along the rive Cam, it never feels like a huge workout and the views are beautiful. I love the idea of running but I really struggle with it. I plan on getting into it more this year.
9. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Another difficult question! Can you ask me in another 5 years time? We're still trying to see as much of the world as we can before we decide. It feels like every place we go we decide we want to move to. I do love living in Cambridge though, its a great city to live in, small but has a lot going for it and is close to London and more importantly, Stansted airport!
10. What do you picture yourself doing 20 years from now? Owning a lovely house, having a family, running said cafe, cooking, traveling.
11. What is your favorite style of art (contemporary, surrealism, cubism, impressionism, ect.) I love contemporary & minimal art. Artists like Bridget Riley blow me away but I also love figurative work, I love a good pencil drawing. Working in the Print Studio I feel very lucky to work with many amazing artists and be involved with the making of their work.
1. What is your favourite time of year- It has to be spring/summer. I love the that first spring day when you can finally wear a dress with no tights and the blossom in the trees but you can't beat a summer evening sitting by the river in Cambridge with friends and some drinks.
2. What makes you laugh- I laugh a little too much at You've been Framed

3. What was the last movie you saw at the cinema- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, such a great film, it really stuck with me for a long time after.

4. What's the one thing you couldn't live without- I don't know if he qualifies as a 'thing' but Tim makes life great and I couldn't live it without him (sorry, soppy I know!)
5. If you had extra time to do one thing, what would you do- travel travel travel!
6. Who was/is your celebrity crush- I think it has to be Jake Gyllenhaal
7. If you could go on holiday anywhere tomorrow where would you go- I'd love to do a road trip of the west coast of America, but if money really wasn't an issue, a huge round the world trip!
8. What inspires you- Just life really, its short and we should make the most of it. I don't want to look back in 20 years time and think what if. Its better to try and fail than to never give it a go.
9. What's your guilty pleasure- Carbs!
10. What's the best advice or wisdom that has been passed down to you- Never trust a short man (thanks mum!)
11. What's your current obsession- Have you not guessed from all my answers? Travelling! We're going to put together a list of places we desperately want to visit and then start working our way down the list!

Anyway, I'm off to get ready for work. I have some new recipes planned for next week before jetting off to Warsaw on Thursday for a festival that Tim is painting at- although we still haven't heard if our flights have been booked or when they are, why are festival organisers always so last minute? 

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Creamy Avocado Pasta

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Are you ready for one of the quickest, easiest and tastiest dinners? This meal is ready pretty much ready in the time it takes to cook your pasta or noodles so its great when you're short on time. I discovered the recipe on Pinterest the other day and have already made it a few times. The creaminess of the avocado means that you don't need any cheese so its great for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant. Next time I am going to try it with noodles to see the difference. It would also be amazing with some crispy chunks of bacon for a different take on a carbonara style dinner. 


Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows
Serves 2
You will need-
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 200g pasta/noodles, I used Tripoline
  • Fresh black pepper
Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the pack. Whilst its cooking scoop out the avocado into a food processor, add the lemon juice, garlic, salt & oil and mix until creamy- if you don't have a food processor you could use a fork to mash the avocado and then just mix it together with crushed garlic and the salt, lemon & oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed then when the pasta is ready, combine the two together and plate up. Add some freshly ground black pepper and some lemon zest if you fancy and then tuck in.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Pecan, Walnut & Almond Granola with Coconut

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I have been planning on making my own granola for a long time and I don't quite know what was stopping me. I finally succumbed on monday on an impromptu day off and got making. Now I wake up every morning excited about breakfast rather than feeling like I can't be bothered. Normally on a work day I grab a cereal bar or a pot of yogurt and eat it once I get to work but now I am happy to get up that 5 minutes earlier and get stuck in. Not only is this super convenient but oh so delicious. I'm looking forward to experimenting with some other concoctions when I start to get a little sick of it but right now this is being made on the regular. I enjoy mine sprinkled on top of some fat free greek yogurt but would love to hear some other suggestions. It is also great for a little late night nibble on its own, straight from the jar!

You will need-
  • 3 cups of rolled oats- I used up the last of my Rude Health oats that I won in their breakfast competition
  • Around a cup (if not a little more) worth of a mixture of almonds, pecans & walnuts, I kept them whole
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite dried fruits
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, if you don't have use olive oil but I thoroughly recommend getting some coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup agave, or maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
To begin preheat your oven to 170C then in a large bowl mix together the oats, nuts, coconut, oil & agave and mix till everything is thoroughly combined and the oats have soaked up the oil and agave. Next add the sugar & salt and mix.
Lay the mixture in a baking tray with a large rim- I used a few smaller baking trays and flatten it down into a thin layer. 

Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes or until its golden. Mix and turn the granola every 10 minutes or so to ensure its evenly cooked. 

Cool completely and then add the dried fruit, mix well and store in an airtight container.

For a quick breakfast, add 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt in a bowl and then add a handful of granola before tucking in.
Enjoy x

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Savoury Pancake Cake with Homemade Pesto

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Well,  I should begin by saying happy Shrove Tuesday (do you wish someone a happy Shrove Tuesday?) well,  HAPPY PANCAKE DAY! I thought I would go against the norm this year and have a go at making a savoury pancake cake or crepe cake. I have seen a lot of sweet variations crop up recently and thought I would try my hand at savoury using a combination of my favourite things. I'm not a huge fan of the English traditional sugar, but I can't let Pancake Day pass without some Nutella pancakes so I will be making some of those for dessert as well as attempting a cinnamon roll filling. Who knows, perhaps I'll have a mix of the two. Hope you all have a great day and don't get too many stuck to the ceiling!

For the pancakes-
  • 165g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml milk mixed with 110ml of water
For the filling-
  • 1/8 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil
  • 1/8 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Beef tomato
  • Buffalo mozzarella
  • Salt & Pepper

Begin by making the pancakes. Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat till really hot and then add a little oil before wiping it around the pan with some kitchen paper. Whilst the pan is heating sift together the flour and salt into a large bowl then crack the eggs into a well in the middle. Start whisking and combining the flour with the eggs and then slowly add the milk and water mixture a little at a time till its all combined and there are no lumps.


Ladle just enough pancake mixture into the pan and swirl around to coat the whole pan. When the pancake begins to bubble up check the underside and then flip over. Keep going till you have used up all the batter and have a nice pile of pancakes ready to be used.


Next whip up the pesto by adding the pine nuts, garlic, basil, parmesan and salt and pepper in a food processor. Add a drizzle of the olive oil and blitz together, add more olive oil till you have your desired consistency.


Now its time to get assembling. Evenly spread some pesto on your first pancake and then top with another. For the second layer add thin slices of tomato and then season lightly with salt and pepper. Add another pancake on top and then tea off pieces of mozzarella onto it. Keep repeating till you have used up all of your pancakes/ingredients. (Of course, if you end up with leftover pancakes then you can eat those for dessert but I don't really need to tell you that!)


Once your cake is built, its time to dig in- cut into wedges and get eating! Does anyone make any variations of this? I would love to experiment with some other flavour combinations.




Enjoy x

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Mexican Corn on the Cob

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Tim and I have been day dreaming a lot about going back to New York recently. One of the main reasons is to eat, eat and eat some more. The last 2 times we went we didn't venture off the beaten track too much and were a little clueless about all the amazing food on offer. The three places we did eat at a lot though were Balthazar's, Cafe Habana and John's -I think the first time round we spent half of our spending money on brunch every day at Balthazar's.


At Cafe Habana we first ate this corn/elote. Its barbecued corn rolled in butter, cheese and other goodness. We finally got round to making some of our own tonight by cooking the corn under the grill and it turned out great. Of course, it would be amazing cooked on the barbecue but considering that the England summer is about 6 months away (and lasts about 3 days) cooking it under the grill is a great alternative. This corn would be great served as a starter or side but also makes a fairly decent lunch if you eat a couple. If you can't find cotija cheese don't stress too much, parmesan makes a great replacement. If anyone does know where I can buy it in England please let me know!


Recipe adapted from All Recipes
Serves 4
You will need-

  • 4 corn on the cob
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated cotija or parmesan
  • Chilli Powder
  • 4 wedges of lime
Barbeque or grill the corn for 10 minutes or until its hot and charred. Next, roll the corn in the butter and brush all over with the mayonnaise. Finally sprinkle with the cheese and the chilli powder to taste. Serve with wedges of lime and eat straight away.


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Ginger Quorn with Mushrooms and Noodles

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So, in a bit of a feeble attempt to try and shift some of this weight that has been taunting me for the past few months I went on a search for healthy and low fat meals for dinner. Being a bit of a Pinterest addict I pinned a bunch of recipes to try out (I'm 'missigs' on there incase you were wondering). I am still working my way through those but I had to make a special mention about this recipe. It sounded tasty but I didn't expect it too be that moorish. You really don't feel like you're being cheated out of any flavour thats for sure. (This recipe is worth 1 syn on green and extra easy for all those Slimming World people out there)

Of course, if you'd prefer you could use chicken or replace the quorn with extra vegetables or even tofu.

Recipe adapted from Slimming Eats
Serves 2 but can easily be doubled
You will need-
  • 200g quorn chicken
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced into sticks
  • 1 pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 6 large chestnut mushrooms- I mixed it up a little and used a mixture of exotic mushrooms, shitake, oyster etc)
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 100ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100g dried noodles- I used wholemeal
  • A little oil, not extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper
In a small bowl mix together the cornflour with 1/2 of a 1/4 cup of water (sorry I don't quite know how else to describe it) until you don't have any lumps. Next add both of the soy sauces, oyster sauce & mirin and put to one side.

Now cook your noodles according to the pack instructions then drain and also put to one side.

Heat a wok or a large saucepan and add a little oil. Stir fry the quorn with the ginger and garlic till its all cooked. Remove them to a place then add a little more oil to the pan and cook the onion, pepper and mushrooms till soft. If it starts to stick add a little of the stock.
Once they're cooked remove them to the same place at the quorn and then pour the sauce mixture into the wok along with the remaining stock and heat gently until it begins to thicken.


Now add all the ingredients back to the wok along with the noodles and coat in the sauce. Season with pepper and then serve.

Pictures of Recently Enjoyed Food

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So, seeing as I didn't quite stick to my food photo a day challenge I thought I'd steal borrow Drea's post idea of recently enjoyed things and turn it into recently enjoyed food. Where its something I enjoyed eating or cooking.
OK, so I didn't actually enjoy eating this but I did enjoy making it, especially cutting the slits. I'll just blame Loraine for the rubbish fougasse recipe.
The Pièce de résistance at the first book & bake club
Some other treats at the book & bake club including peanut butter cookies, Oreo brownies and bacon & cheese twists
Preparing a mid week lunch on homemade sourdough, left over roast beef, horseradish, lettuce & tomatoes
A break from traipsing around in the snow at Stickybeaks (where I now work) Mexican scrambled egg with quacamole & a corn tortilla
A second break that day at Bill's for some warm scones with a good friend
The result of looking after and feeding my Herman Friendship bread starter for 10 days. A delicious cake filled with walnuts & chocolate chunks.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A Snowy Sunday in Cambridge

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Kings College & Chapel
Last Sunday, Tim and I set off for a long walk around Cambridge. We had a pretty heavy snow fall (for England) the night before so I was excited to take my camera out and get a bit snap happy. (Unfortunately the snow has now completely frozen over making for a very treacherous walk wherever you go). I thought I would share some of my photos of the always beautiful Cambridge. Sorry for so many photos, I cut it down so many times but have still ended up with lots.


Also, I should apologies for the lack of posts this last week. After a long time of talking about trying out something new I finally gave myself a little push (it didn't take much) and applied for a job in a lovely cafe in Cambridge called Stickybeaks. I had my trial shift today, and got the job! It's needless to say I'm very happy. It's seriously great to be doing a job that involves food. It feels like a massive step in the right direction for me.


The Chimney at Jesus College (where we got married)






The punts were still going strong and had made a path through the ice









I have a new recipe coming tomorrow as well as a 'Photos of Recently Enjoyed things' inspired by Drea

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Explorer Magazine- February

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For this month's Explorer magazine I went down the romantic route for Valentines day and did a creme brûlée with a twist. Creme brûlée is my husbands favourite dessert so I knew that by making this for him it would mean that he would do the washing up without complaining for at least a few days! This is dessert is definitely worth making for your loved ones and is bound to score you a few extra brownie points.

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