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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Taste of London - 19th June 2011

This was my first experience of taste of London. They run similar events all over the country. For those who don't know, ToL is a festival where lots of chefs and food proprietors bring their offerings to hyde park. My boyfriend and I bought standard tickets for £20 which turned out to be excellent value. This allows you to visit the stalls and pick up free samples of whatever they're offering. You have to buy the chef's food separately using different money called 'crowns'. My friend and her boyfriend attended ToL the day before we did. As it was their anniversary they bought VIP tickets for £90 per person. However, this turned out to be a major disaster since the only thing they received additionally was access to the 'secret garden'. However, once inside the secret garden they realised that there was nothing extra they could get unless they belonged to one of the many companies (e.g. British airways) who had areas there. Basically, they paid extra for nothing.

However, my boyfriend and I were perfectly happy with the value of our ticket. We spent our time wondering around all the stalls eating all the free samples of food and drink that we could find. We queued up for a wine tasting and there we learnt how to match drinking water with wine. A great tip here: do not add ice cubes to bottled water, you are simply mixing tap water with mountain water. So obvious and yet I'm sure most of us have committed that cardinal sin.

We bought with our crowns a plate of fettucine with freshly grated truffles (the first time I've ever tried them; they were totally delicious) and a malaysian chicken meal. We also downed several shots of toffee vodka, where the sweetness decreased the burn somewhat. We bought some aged balsamic oil (£12.50 for 100ml) and 10 vanilla pods for £6 which seemed very good value. All in all, a great afternoon.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Recipe of the week - 4th July 2011

Blueberry and white chocolate muffins 

These delicious muffins are bound to satisfy the sweetest of teeth. They combine tangy blueberries which burst explosively over the rest of the muffin mixture with creamy white chocolate. Feel free to substitute the blueberries for raspberries. I originally made this recipe with raspberries but found them too sharp for my taste. 

makes approximately 16 muffins

2 large eggs
125 ml vegetable oil
250 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (not strictly necessary)
200g caster sugar
400g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
100g white chocolate (chips or a bar broken up into small pieces. Break the bar up in a large poly bag, tied off, with a rolling pin)
150g fresh blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Place the egg, milk, vanilla essence and sugar bowl and beat until the sugar has dissolved using an electric mixer or wooden spoon.
3. In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, white chocolate and salt.
4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix loosely with a wooden spoon, don't worry if it's not totally smooth. You definitely do not want to over beat the mixture.
5. Line a muffin tin with 16 muffin cases.
6. Fill each muffin case with 2/3 of muffin mixture.
7. Bake the muffins for approximately 30 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Recipe of the week - 3rd July 2011

Vietnamese Noodle soup

I first sampled this soup whilst trekking in Sapa, North Vietnam with the local tribal women. One of the best experiences of my life. I was worried about the food which they were going to provide us with but this turned out to be an amazing revelation. Incredibly simple to make and very tasty. The language barrier meant that I couldn't decipher exactly what was in it, but after several attempts, this is the closest thing to it. It's an extremely healthy soup too (great for people watching their calorie intake) since it is full of vegetables and also contains protein from the omelette.

serves 2

1 tbsp bouillion vegetable stock powder
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 sweetheart cabbage (sliced)
1 carrot (sliced into lardons)
1 l hot water
3 eggs
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 noodle bricks from Sharwood's medium rice noodle packet

to make the omelette:
1. Begin by making the omelette.
2. Add the vegetable oil to a frying pan, heat for 1 minute.
3. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat thoroughly.
4. Add the eggs to the frying pan, as the egg begin to set, use a wooden spatula to bring the egg towards the middle of the pan in folds, uncooked egg should fill the spaces at the edge of the pan.
5. Continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the under side is golden brown.
6. Turn the omelette over and fry until the other side is done.
7. Turn the omelette onto a board and once cool, roll into a swiss roll shape and thinly slice to produce fine slithers of egg.

to make the soup:
1. Add the hot water to a sauce pan on a medium heat.
2. Add the soy sauce, bouillon and sugar.
3. Add the cabbage, carrots and noodles.
4. Boil for 4 minutes or until the noodle are cooked through.
5. Serve the soup in two, deep bowls. Garnish with the egg and copped coriander.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Cake Bake for Marie Curie

My boyfriend's mum asked me to bake cakes for her friend's charity cake sale. I love any excuse to bake, so one for a good cause where I could make masses was something which I was not going to refuse. In the end I made lemon mini cupcakes (incredibly easy to make), white chocolate and blueberry muffins (my favourite flavour of muffins) and a trusty old coffee cake.

Here are the two coffee cake sponges, prior to baking.

Busy making one of the many icings of the day. This is the coffee butter icing. Butter icing is my favourite kind of icing.

Lots of white chocolate and blueberry muffins, both mini and normal sized ones (I ran out of muffin cases).

The finished coffee cake and lemon cupcakes.

All of my afternoon's efforts arranged together.

 A really awful photo of me at the charity cake sale. Beautiful weather.

 Here's a selection of all the cakes people had kindly made and donated to the good cause.

Success! only one slice of my coffee cake remained by the time we left. It can't have tasted too awful...