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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Recipe of the week - 24th January 2012

Chocolate Truffles

As promised, this week's recipe of the week is a chocolate one - chocolate truffles. These are incredibly easy to make, they simply require a ganache to be made. Sounds complicated and technical, I know, but it's really only a posh way of describing a mixture of chocolate and double cream which is heated together and then cooled and set, to give a soft and pliable mixture.

300g chocolate (this can be whatever you fancy - ultra dark, high cocoa percentage or bog standard milk chocolate or even white).
I large pot of double cream
1 knob of butter

Optional flavourings: whiskey, bourbon, amaretto, brandy, champagne. orange liqueur
Optional coatings: ground pistachios, almonds, cocoa, icing sugar, chocolate flakes (crumbled).

1. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place into a large bowl.
2. Heat the butter and cream together until it is hot but not boiling.
3. Pour the cream and butter mixture onto the chocolate and stir to dissolve the chocolate.
4. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperatures.
5. Place in the fridge to set fully for 4 hours.
6. Use a melon baller to shape the truffles.
7. Dip in a variety of toppings to get that professional chocolatier look.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Latest news and review of Bob Bob Ricard

This is just a quick update of my latest news. Exciting times! I've just been booked to present a show (to be shown in schools) on cocoa growing in Ghana. I fly out at the end of this month. I had my yellow fever jab yesterday, so I guess it's all going ahead. This is a dream come true. I love chocolate both in its raw form and cooked versions, so exploring its cocoa origins will be incredibly fascinating. For my version of how to make chocolate pots, see the link below. I'll add one of my favourite chocolate recipes in my next post.

So, what have I been up to recently? Last Friday, my boyfriend and I went to Bob Bob Ricard (just off Carnaby street) on a friend's recommendation. It's a great change from the clean cut, common place restaurants which frequent the streets of London. If anyone has seen the video game 'Bioshock' you'll have a good impression of its interior; think 1920's chic. We were sat in our own little booth which is far better than being placed at sea on a tiny table in the middle of the cattle market dining section found in most restaurants. It had the additional quirky touch of having a plug to charge something (your camera, mobile....?). Totally unnecessary, but I liked it. There was a also a hugely extravagant feature of button to request champagne. If only...I can but dream.

The food itself was correctly coined to me by my friend as 'posh comfort food'. The posh aspect provided by the high prices, while the comfort element was in the chicken pie, steaks and mash featured on the menu.

I was intrigued by the chicken and mushroom pie with a truffle sauce. Bob bob's the kind of place where you expect such standard fayre to be transformed into a magical, micheline style dish. I am not a fan of mushrooms, but wondered if the chef's expertise would be enough to alter this. However, on asking the type of mushrooms, I was disappointed to be informed that they were button ones. I can just about cope with porcini or portobello but not the dreaded button mushroom. I settled, in the end, for the onglet with green peppercorn sauce and caramelised onions. It was fabulous - quite the best steak I've ever had. Incredibly tasty while tender; proving why onglet is becoming increasingly more fashionable and popular.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend was less pleased with his choice, chicken kiev with a sweetcorn mash. It was exactly what it says on the tin and, combined with its meagre size, meant that someone was extremely unhappy about having to spend £20 on it. Oh well, he should have picked better!

Personally, I would recommend Bob Bob again and again and am less than subtly touting it as a possible valentine's destination.

P.S. Almost forgot to mention dessert - the best, and only, Knicker bocker glory I've ever had. Pure indulgence.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Recipe of the week - 5th January 2012

Poached Pears

Such a simple, yet delicious desert. Perfect for a dinner party where the main and starter are a little heavy and time consuming to make. These pears will make a simple and light alternative.

Serves 4


4 pears
1 bottle of red wine (don't bother buying an expensive bottle here, having tried both budget and expensive versions the end result really makes no difference)
200g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves


1. Begin by peeling the pears, leaving in the stick and keeping the pears whole.
2. Add all of the ingredients to a large saucepan and simmer gently for 30 minutes (or until the pears are tender).
3. Remove the pears and reduce the cooking liquor by half (keep an eye on it to ensure that it does not reduce too much and leave you with a sticky mess on the bottom of the pan).
4. Serve the pears with a generous lashing of sauce. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or short bread biscuit (purely optional and not at all necessary. This dessert is delicious by itself!)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

General musings....

Well, I really can't believe that it's 2012! When on earth did that happen? This year seems to have flown past. I'm not altogether pleased with 2011. Work wise, I spent 6 months training to be a teacher (although enjoyable in parts, not actually what I wanted to be doing) and then the next 3 months working at the Ginger Pig which although sounded promising to begin with, turned out not to be. This largely was due to my actual job being nothing like the one I had been promised. I had been led to believe that I would be running their new cookery school, but what with one set back and another, my job in the end actually entailed being a shop assistant serving many rude customers. One of the best comments was 'Girl, get me a sausage roll!'. I hated the lack of pleases and thank yous from many of the customers. One thing I think that should be outlawed is the use of mobile phones when in a shop. It is abominably rude to use a mobile when ordering and expecting the server and other customers in the shop to wait while you finish your conversation. Grrrrr.

Soooo, new year, new start hopefully. It's so difficult working out exactly what to do. We all want a job that pays well, is enjoyable and gives lots of freedom, right? Considering the financial crisis we are in, I'm beginning to realise that this perfect job does not exist and that settling for second, third or even forth best, may be the best we can ever hope for. How very pessimistic, but it's the way I'm currently viewing the world.

For me, 2012 will be about finding the *best* job possible, while still managing to find time to explore all the avenues that food offers. Whether it is eating out at restaurants, travelling to explore local flavours, or merely testing out some recipes which particularly tempt me in my christmas cookbooks. This year I received 'Mrs Beeton's, How to Cook.'Do these old fashioned recipes really have a place in today's cosmopolitan world? I intend to find out and report back to you.