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Delectable Desserts: Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Tart (WARNING: Super rich!)

23 Sep

I’ve got to admit, baking isn’t my strong suit. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook and I’m not bad, but when it comes to making sweet dishes I have a bit of a meltdown. I think it stems from the fact that I am quite creative in the kitchen and therefore not too good at sticking to a recipe, but with baking you need to be, or face catastrophic disasters.

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Disasters which the boy has witnessed; me having a meltdown on the kitchen floor when something doesn’t look like it did in the picture, or the time when I broke the freezer in a strop at icing not setting (we can only try to improve on the day before, after all!)

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After being gifted the chocolate cookbook from during yesterday’s event, the Boy decided that the Chocolate and Raspberry Tart was something he needed in his life, so I had a go.

There were a few issues. Number one, I don’t have any baking beans. This is an issue, but I made do with rice and foil. Not the best fix! Number two, I don’t have a large flan tin. Again, I made do with individual ones, but the process took way longer than it should! And finally, issue three, my clingfilm, is most definitely not ovenproof (don’t worry, I made this realisation before I put it in the oven). Despite all this, I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Thanks to Tales from the Chocolate Shop, who popped on Google when I was near tears and searching for “can you fix split ganache” the answer is yes. Thank goodness!

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Eric Lanlard’s Chocolate and Raspberry Tart Recipe

Serves 6

Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus chilling and cooling

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

175g (6oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

50g (2oz) cocoa powder

50g (2oz) golden icing sugar

150g (5oz) unsalted butter, cubed,

plus extra for greasing

3 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

500g (1lb) raspberries

For the ganache

200g (7oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped

200ml (7fl oz) single cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

75g (3oz) unsalted butter

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and icing sugar together into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and gently mix together, then add the vanilla and combine to form a smooth dough. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (fan 170°C)/375°F/gas mark 5.

Lightly grease a 24cm (9½in) diameter tart tin. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and carefully use to line the tin. Cover with ovenproof clingfilm and prick a few holes to avoid pockets of air while it bakes. Fill the pastry case with baking beans and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the clingfilm and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Leave to cool.

To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl. Meanwhile, put the cream into a saucepan and heat until steaming hot, but do not let it boil.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, gently stirring the mixture. Add the vanilla, then the butter and stir together.

Pack the cooled pastry case with raspberries, saving a few for decoration. Pour the hot chocolate ganache over the raspberries to fill to the top of the pastry.

Leave to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Serve decorated with the reserved raspberries dusted with a little icing sugar.

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Eating My Way Around: On The Roof With…. Q

29 Aug

I love a pop up. And I love eating. So the arrival of “On the Roof With…” at Selfridges was an interesting concept, and something that I was wholly interested in. I love the idea of taking spaces that are disused, misused or underused, and converting them into exciting new ventures to pique the interest of the masses. Sure, it might end up full of pretentious suits and boujis biatches, but it also might be something worth seeing or experiencing.

And this was the case with “On the Roof with … Q” Brought to you by the guys that do the Q Grill in Camden, the sales pitch was promising:

“We will be bringing a top team from Q Grill in Camden to deliver a BBQ menu unlike any other, paired with a lighter range of delicious summer dishes. On the Roof with Q will be a secret foodie haven that will offer a fun and fresh dining experience alongside a programme of talks from some of the most innovative and influential people working in the food industry right now.’’

With the time that Elle was spending in London drawing to a close, we decided to book the table for a balmy Tuesday and head on up after work. We arrived early and found a seat at the bar, where we sat and experienced some really unusually, and gorgeous tasting cocktails, before being shown to our table. The décor was amazing. Designed to make you feel like you are being transported back to a Victorian garden, the dense foliage and cute little birdcages provide a gorgeous setting to eat dinner, and the food didn’t disappoint either.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

We had a feast of delicious food, including chicken wings, tuna tartare and a huge rack of ribs to share between us. The meat fell off the bone, the sauce was thick and delicious, and we left the experience feeling happy and full.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

If you are in London, I would strongly recommend making a booking. Its one of those pop ups that you need to visit!

On the roof with…. Q runs till the 27th of September

Selfridges |400 Oxford Street | W1A 1AB

Great British Bake Off

22 Aug

It’s been a while since I updated on the kitchen of my abode, but there has been a lot going on in there behind the scenes. It’s that time of the year again when all the birthdays come in quick succession, so I have been in the kitchen botching up cakes all over the place. Pinterest dream I am not.

The first work of art (ha!) was for my Mum’s birthday. When we were kids mum designed and decorated us a plethora of cakes to show off our favourite Disney characters or passions at the time, and they were the best thing about birthdays. We used to wake with excitement on what would be on our cake this year, and Christmas was the same.

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So I thought it only fair to do the same for my mum. I first spotted this cake on Pinterest, and after doing some research, I designed my own. My Mum’s birthday cake: vegetable patch complete with rabbit (or rat, as the boyfriend thought) minus aubergines, as they kept coming out lilac, which was not what I was going for!

The second was a gluten-free cake for my visitors birthday. I had never tried a gluten-free cake before, and to be honest, the actual cake wasn’t the best example of baking! However, I freestyled a lighter frosting and decorated with fresh fruit, and the results were quite delicious, despite the below par sponge in the centre.2

And the third – Snickers Brownies. My friend Siobhan had requested these instead of a cake this year, as she was the recipient of the Pinata cake last year, and I happily obliged. I’m pretty good at brownies, and these ones are failsafe! So good that I have posted the recipe below, so you can wow your friends and be the Nigella of brownies. Enjoy!

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Ingredients for 12

  • 125 g butter
  • 125 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 0.25 tsp baking powder
  • 180 g cream cheese
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 3 snickers bar, or similar chocolate. I actually don’t like peanuts but have used rolos before.
  • Combine butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs.

Add flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir until well combined. Pour into a greased and lined 18 cm x 28 cm rectangular tin.

Beat cream cheese and caster sugar until smooth and creamy. Spoon randomly over chocolate mixture and swirl with the tip of a knife. Bake at 180 °C, Gas Mark 4 for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Add snickers slices.

What’s your go to crowd pleaser in the kitchen?

Happy Tummy: Quinoa and Goats Cheese Burgers

7 Jul

I’m a firm believer in you get out what you put in (although I don’t always practice what I preach!) but in the summer its so much easier to eat well, and you always feel better. I absolutely adore quinoa, but am never sure how to cook it other than sticking it in a salad. I first came across this recipe on Pinterest, and have adapted it as I’ve cooked it. Its quick, easy and delicious. Try it out!

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Quinoa and Goats Cheese Burgers

  • 2 1/2 cups/12 oz/340 g cooked quinoa
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup/.5 oz /15 g finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup/.5 oz/15g goats cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup/3.5 oz /100 g bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Throw the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a bowl and add both onions, the goats cheese and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into 1-inch/2.5cm thick burgers.

Heat the oil and fry the patties till they are brown on both sides. Takes about 6 mins on high for both sides.

I served mine with a spoonful of crème fraiche and half an avocado, although I think if you wanted to opt for a meat version a slice of chorizo or parma ham would add a little extra flavour.

Whats your favourite summer recipe?

2014 Travel – The New York Edit: Molly’s Cupcakes

11 Jun

I flippin’ love cupcakes. The good ones. The ones you bite into and they are soft and full of flavour, covered in frosting, and the more intricate the better. I love the light flavours the most – your lemons, peaches and berry flavours; I’m not a huge fan of the chocolate varieties (I know this makes me a strange person) and I can’t stand the overly sweet ones either. I like my frosting to taste like frosting, not sugar (that’s probably the slightly late to the party diabetic in me, kicking in).

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An example of a fantastic cupcake, as photographed by moi

There are tons of places that do cupcakes really badly though, aren’t there? The ones where you want to drown your sorrows in cake, and are left only partially submerged at the end, or the ones where you have been to the gym and feel a cupcake is the only way forward, and you inhale the calories and are very, very disappointed.

If you are looking for a cupcake like that then this review isn’t for you and I’m sorry (not sorry) that I can’t be of service.

HOWEVER….

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When wandering around my new neighbourhood one Sunday morning a few weeks ago (lost) I stumbled across Molly’s Cupcakes. Sure, a cupcake is perfect breakfast fodder, so I sat down to regroup and munched on a ‘peach cobbler’ cupcake.

Oh.My.Word.

The little shop is packed with fantastic flavours, and the best thing? The frostings are more like whipped cream, and really not too sweet. I took the boy back there when he was visiting, and we split a butterscotch caramel and a lemon meringue. Amazing. Divine.

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MUST EAT ALL THE FLAVOURS!

My only concern? When I go back to London in 2 weeks I might have withdrawal symptoms from these babies.

If you have the good fortune to be in Chicago, Iowa City or New York City, then you absolutely have to stop by. Ive never beenb so excited by anything in my entire life, and if you know me, youll know this is apretty big thing.

As Marie Antionette did or didn’t say, “Let them eat cake!”

Find them here: Molly’s Cupcakes | 228 Bleecker Street | New York City | New York | 10014

2014 Travel – The New York Edit: Murray’s Cheese Bar

9 Jun

Everyone knows I LOVE cheese. Its one of those things that features heavily in my day to day, and I often don’t even bother opting for the dessert menu, plumping instead for the cheese.

So imagine my delight when walking down the street in my adopted neighbourhood, I spotted Murray’s Cheese Bar.

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I waited till the boy arrived for his trip and casually pointed it out on a walk around the neighbourhood. “But we can’t JUST have cheese for tea?” I said out loud, while the little voice inside me screamed “WHYEVERNOT?!” “Yes we can” he responded, and my love for him was cemented forever. He gets the cheese.

We went in, and I nearly cried when I looked at the menu. Half is a list of actual meals that include cheese (think heavy on the mac and cheese, people!) and the other half has a Chef’s Selection, and a list of ‘flights’. These are three chesses paired with (if you wish) three wines that compliment, and the menu details the cheese, location and a short description of it, often including words like buttery and unctuous (great word).

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Image sourced from Murray’s Instagram feed

We opted for the chefs selection, 8 meats and cheeses picked for you by the cheese sommelier (1 – what a fantastic job and 2 – sounds like smellier, perfect for cheese 🙂 ). When asked if there was anything I didn’t like I gave a blank and confused look and uttered “I.LIKE.CHEESE” while the boy was less struck for words and explained that he didn’t like blue cheese (I fear there might be something slightly wrong with him but lets gloss over that) I think as the waiter left I totally lost any composure I had and hollered “THE SMELLIER THE BETTER!” – Luckily I was among friends and everyone sympathised with my excitement.

On that note, I didn’t manage to take any photos. I thought I had, and when I got home I was devastated to find that I hadn’t captured anything. So the photos used in this post are from the Instagram feed of Murray’s Cheese Bar (phew!)

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Image credits as above

It was awesome. Soft cheese, hard cheese, semi hard cheese, rinded cheese – it was all there. Pecorino (Italy), Old Chatham Ewe’s Blue (NY), Aged Goat Gouda (Holland)… they were all there. Any paired with some lovely accompaniments like caramel and honey, they were to die for.

My advice? If you have a dairy intolerance, probably best to steer clear. Otherwise, if you are in New York (specifically the West Village) get a table and enjoy a blissful dinner. It’s been the highlight of New York for me so far.

Murray’s Cheese Bar | 264 Bleecker Street | West Village NYC | 646-476-8882

2014 Travel – The Vancouver Edit: Fable Kitchen

29 May

This post is long overdue, and for that, I apologise. We went to Vancouver for 2 weeks at the start of May, and we had quite possibly the best holiday ever. The city is a juxtaposition of city and country, and the most beautiful backdrop to city life you can possibly imagine. In the next few weeks I’ll bring you up to date with my travels (from New York, where im based for the next month – I’ll tell you all about that too!) but for my first Vancouver post, Fable.

Recommended in my guide book (the Lonely Planet Guides obsession has taken itself to a whole new level) Fable was right down the street from the cute apartment we had rented, and so for our anniversary meal we rocked up. The guidebook said to get there right on opening to ensure you have a table or make a reservation. The guidebook was right, as we found on our last night, when we tried to go back.

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From the outside Fable is small, like a meek and mild little doorway, but don’t let that fool you, this is the place to be. We were seated, and the waiter explained our options to us. We opted for the canned tuna to start; a clever little take on what you expect. It comes in a kilner jar, with potatoes, tuna and sauce,and you add the powdered salt and stir it together, before splatting it onto toasted bread and going to town. Amazing.

The main course was duck breast, with creamed cabbage, a wild rice croquette and spiced apple. The flavours complimented each other perfectly and me and the boy felt sad we had opted to share a main course. there was ample fork war and it went down way too quickly!

the piece de resistance was the dessert. I am a huge fan of anything lemony, so opted for the lemon parfait. A sundae dish was presented to me with layers of biscuit, lemon curd,tarragon ice cream and topped with meringue, which has been toasted to marshmallow-esque perfection. It was heavenly. I still dream about that dessert, and am determined to find myself a chefs blow torch so I can recreate it and never have to leave the house again.

Fable (or farm to table) is a cacophony of locally sourced produce, cooked and prepared on the premises and nested in the lovely suburb of Kitsilano. It was by far the best (and least pretentious) place we visited in Vancouver, and its first on my list for our next visit.

Follow them on Twitter for their specials!

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get any photos of the food as my camera was playing up, but rest assured, AMAZING.