Saturday, 26 March 2011

An Anniversary Lunch

Yesterday, Jim and I celebrated our six year anniversary.  We met in a nasty dive bar and since then have been inseparable.  We now have a beautiful little cottage, two beautiful pussy cats and have a wedding planned.  We’re all grown up! Ok, so that photo doesn't exactly scream grown up but its one of my favourites! 

Jim booked Comptoir Gascon for our anniversary lunch.  It’s near Barbican tube station and was really good.  I could have happily sat in there and eaten one of everything.  Literally, one of everything.  Including the desserts.  I totally wish I had taken a photo of my dessert…

Jim’s Seafood “barleysotto” & chorizo

My gorgeous Cassoulet Toulousain (that confit duck leg was so delicious…)

Jim had a slice of vanilla cheesecake and I had a citrus meringue tart for dessert

The staff were lovely, the food was delicious and would definitely recommend it! (Plus they have a little food hall in the corner of the bistro.  I should have bought extra desserts to bring home.)

We then took a walk along the river.  It was beautiful.  

Saturday, 19 March 2011

We Should Cocoa: Lime and Chocolate Cocktails

This month’s We Should Cocoa is being held by Chele over at Chocolate Teapot.  The magic ingredient we have to use is Limes.  You can see the Tea round up here!

Yesterday, the best friend and I had a bit of a stress detox.  You know when you feel that everything has just been getting a bit much and you need to let your hair down?  We’ve been having one of those couple of months!  We went to a Comic Relief event.  It sounds pretty tame doesn’t it?  I can assure you it wasn’t.  I mentioned in a previous post that I was learning to pole dance.  To begin with it left me with bruises, every muscle in my body either ached or felt like jelly.  Then it got fun.  Seriously fun.  So fun in fact I’ve signed up for the Level 2 course which starts on Monday!

The Comic Relief event was held in a bar.  The main attraction was obviously pole dancing.  Male pole dancing.  We haven’t laughed like that in weeks. 

We decided to get ready around my house, as then it’s only a short walk into town.  And when I say get ready, I not only mean high heels, fake eyelashes, gossip, we also include a healthy dose of social lubrication potions.  Or these:-  Lime and Chocolate Cocktails.  They aren't the prettiest of cocktails but they are tasty!  I made my own lime vodka a couple of weeks ago.  So really, it was just taste testing something pretty delicious.  My head hurts a little bit, but it’s ok, it was for charity….  That’s my defence anyway… 

½ measure of lime vodka
1 measure of Tia Maria
½ measure of lime cordial (plus extra in a shallow saucer)
½ measure of chocolate syrup (like Monin coffee syrups)
I used a standard UK 25ml measure

You will also need:-
Ice, cocktail shaker, tea strainer (for catching the little shards of ice), grated chocolate dark, martini glass.

1, Prepare everything first.  Dip the entire rim of the martini glass in the lime cordial and then roll in the grated chocolate. 
2, Fill the cocktail shaker with ice and add in all the ingredients.
3, Give it a really good shake until the outside of the cocktail shaker turns frosty. 
4, Strain through the tea strainer to catch all the little shards of ice.
5, Enjoy.  Responsibly, of course!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Green Velvet Cupcakes

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

I admit that green cake batter looks erm, well, interesting? 

The recipe I used is from the Hummingbird Bakery.  I used a lot more green colouring than I had to use for making the red version.  It tastes delicious though!

I used a simple butter cream icing recipe (cream together 150gr butter, 350gr icing sugar, a tablespoon of milk, ½ tsp of vanilla extract together).  I dyed one third of the butter cream bright green and then swirled it in lightly with the remaining plain butter cream.  Spoon it into a piping bag with a large star nozzle and pipe swirls onto the cupcakes.  Sprinkle with a little edible glitter. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I have a copious amount of vodka kicking around the house.  Well, it’s all in the cupboard under the stairs but I have been racking up a collection of vodka.  Do Jim and I like vodka? Nope.  Not really.  You know when you’re young (that’s 18 Mum, if you’re reading) (definitely NOT any younger *cough cough*) and you drink too much and you swear off that particular drink.  Vodka and red wine are my drinks I tend to avoid. 

So I’ve decided to turn it into flavoured vodkas and vanilla extract.  This is my first post of my forays into getting rid of the vodka.  This is Lime Vodka.  Well, Limecello.  It uses the same principle as Limoncello.  It sounds fancier.  I made this a while ago.  It’s nearly ready.  Which is handy…

750ml vodka
5 or 6 limes
Couple of table spoons of sugar

1, Zest the limes.  Be careful not to get any of the white pith as it will make your Limecello bitter.  Not cool.
2, Pour the 750ml of vodka into a sterilised 1 litre bottle.  This makes it easier to shake.
3, Stuff in your lime zest and the sugar. 
4, Shake it.  (Optional: Pretend you’re a swanky bartender)
5, Leave it in a nice cool place for 2 weeks, shaking it on a daily basis.
6, And it’s ready.  It’s good mixed in cocktails or used in baking.   

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Meringue Mushrooms

I love meringue.  Mainly because of all the things you can make out of it.  Mushrooms are fun.  Plus any ones that get “accidently broken” can be turned into perfect one person portions of Eton Mess. 

2 egg whites
100gr caster sugar
¼ tsp white wine vinegar
Melted chocolate (for gluing the caps to the stems)

1, Make sure that your bowl and whisk/whisk attachment is spotlessly clean.
2, Beat the egg whites until they are foamy and add in the vinegar.
3, Carry on beating the egg whites until they reach soft peaks.
4, Turn the speed up and slowly start adding in the caster sugar.
5, Carry on beating the mixture until you can rub a tiny bit between your fingers and it doesn’t feel grainy. 
6, Preheat your oven to 100o/c
7, Line two backing sheets with non-stick or greaseproof paper
8, Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. 
9, Pipe stems by holding the piping bag vertically and evenly squeezing the bag and lifting the nozzle.  This will give you a little pillar of meringue.  Use a finger dipped in water to flatten the top of the pillar.
10, To pipe caps, again hold the piping bag vertically to the lined baking tray and squeeze.  Let the meringue form a little disc, keep squeezing and lift the piping bag slowly.  Again, use a damp finger to smooth out any peaks or ripples that may have formed.

11, Bake for 2 hours, turn off the oven, leave them to cool completely before removing from the trays.
12, Use the melted chocolate as glue to stick the caps to the stems.  Dust with a little cocoa powder for a mushroomy look.

Original recipe here

You can colour the meringue to make coloured tops too.  Divide it, pipe stems, reserve a little white meringue for detailing, colour the remaining and pipe caps and then clean out and reload the bag with a small tip and the white meringue.  Pipe little dots over the surface of the coloured caps and use a damp finger to gently smooth down any peaks.  Cook as before. 

*hums the Mario theme tune*

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Savoury Vegetable and Goats Cheese Pancakes

Did everyone have a lovely pancake day?

I meant to get this post up last night and then I meant to do it when I got in from work today but I got seriously side tracked with a job application (and a blog post about mushrooms, which I’ll get to later).

We had these courgette, mushroom, kale and goats cheese pancakes for main and then good old fashioned pancakes with lemon and sugar!  I used this recipe for pancakes.

Savoury Pancake Filling
(These are approximate weights and measures, I cook savoury food by eye and in handfuls, sorry!)

Ingredients (for two-ish)
6 closed cup mushrooms
Half a courgette
A large handful of kale
Soft goats cheese (as much as you fancy!)
Olive oil

1, Make the pancakes and keep them warm in a low oven.  Try not to leave these hanging around for too long or they will dry out.
2, Slice the mushrooms and finely julienne the courgette.  Fry the mushrooms with a little bit of olive oil until lightly browned.  Tip in the courgette and add in a couple of table spoons of water until the courgettes are a little cooked.  Sorry I’m naff at this savoury cooking malarkey.  I mean cook them to how you like them.  Some people like them cooked to death, I like mine with a bit of bite.  Remove them from the heat and keep to one side
3, Blanch the kale in salted boiling water and strain well.  Shake out as much water as possible.
4, Put one of your precooked pancakes back into a clean frying pan over a medium heat. 
5, Put your goats cheese and half the cooked vegetables onto one side of the pancake, season it if you want to, and flip the other side over it.  Heat it through until the cheese has slightly melted. 
6, Eat.  

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Baked and Delicious Magazine

Do you buy food magazines?  I have a terrible habit of buying them, flicking to the sweet/baked things (nearer the back) and then tossing the rest of the magazine onto the coffee table.  Where it stays.  Someone might flick through it again.  But it generally lives there for a while.  Until it’s swept into the recycling. 

Then I was emailed about this magazine by Paul at Neoco.  It looks pretty good to be honest!  The website is here, you can find their facebook page here and details of the subscription here

Fluffy American Pancakes

Perfect Sunday brunch

Find the recipe here!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

When in Rome...

We were looking at the calendar and when we would be back from Kemi and spotted that we had a nice long weekend.  Relaxing would have been a good idea.  The other good idea was Rome.  Jim is quite impulsive.  I’m normally the voice of reason. 

So after touching down in Heathrow from Helsinki, we waved goodbye.  Fully in the knowledge we would be back there in 13 hours.  So after a panicked get home, wash some clothes, shower, checking the cat feeding schedule was still ok with a friend (we totally love you for looking after them Mr M…) a brief sleep, we were back on the road.  We had to transfer at Milan to actually get to Rome. 

We stayed at a villa near Ciampino which is a short train hope away from Roma Termini, the main train station in Rome.  The villa was a short drive to either Sessone or Ciampino stations and the villa actually provided a little free shuttle service which was brilliant!

We did all the touristy parts of Rome.  Colosseum, The Forum, St Paul’s Basilica and the Vatican City (which is amazingly stunning even if you’re not that religious), the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, etc.

Look it’s Jim and I with a gladiator!  Well, he wasn’t a real gladiator, we figured this out when he pulled out a mobile phone…

I think it’s impossible to go to Rome and eat badly.  From pizzas, gnocchi, pastas, gelato and most importantly chocolates, its near on impossible to eat badly.  We ate lunch at a gorgeous little restaurant that only had on the menu what they decided to cook that day.  I will find the link and edit this post later.  The restaurant at the villa was amazing too.  Proper home cooked Italian food.  I almost dribbled when recounting it to a friend.  That delicious. 

So all in all I have one important thing to say about Rome.  Go there (and eat a lot.  I promise you’ll love it)