Blog has moved, searching new blog...

Friday, 31 May 2013

Food: how to make Italian meringue

Since I bought my new stand mixer, I've been aching to try out a whole load of new recipes and techniques. Although making bread is high up on the list, I couldn't resist having a stab at Italian meringue and I'm so glad I did. Italian meringue is different to the more common place French meringue. French meringue is simply made by whipping up eggs whites and then gradually incorporating caster sugar - you then bake it off. This type of meringue is commonly found in pavlovas, shop meringues and toppings of lemon meringue pie. I love this meringue because, when cooked well, you get a delicious chewy toffeey centre. The Italian meringue is the French meringue's more sophisticated cousin and, as such, is harder to make - it involves using very specific temperatures and making a sugar syrup from scratch  The end result is a very light and fluffy meringue with no hint of sugar crystals (an almost marshmallow texture) which is used to top fancy cakes and pastries. The Internet is surprisingly sparse in terms of offering suggestions on how to make it: I used several recipes for inspiration including this and this.

I used my Italian meringue as an alternative to topping cupcakes. It made a much lighter and less rich topping compared with buttercream. I approved and will definitely be making it again. The quantity below will easily top 12 standard cupcakes. I piped the meringue on and then used a blow torch to toast the meringue to give a lovely caramelised flavour.

A note on equipment:
Italian meringues are tricky to make - it is ESSENTIAL that you have the following 'special' pieces of equipment: a cooks' thermometer and stand mixer - they simply will not work without.

you'll need a stand mixer, cooking thermometer, saucepan and jug

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Beauty: L'Occitane Evening

L'Occitane Putney
My friend Julia has just finished her medicine degree. She found out she passed yesterday and is now a fully qualified doctor - congratulations Dr Hine! We thought it would be fun to go and celebrate by going along to a L'Occitane evening at her local store in Putney. It was advertised in the Stylist magazine which can be found free on the tube every Wednesday. Tickets were £10 but this included a goody bag worth £50.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Food: choosing a stand mixer - KitchenAid or kMix?

my new acquisition/baby 
Eeeks. I'm very excited  After much research I've just purchased a stand mixer in the form of a Kenwood kMix. It took me ages to decide which to go for - the kMix or KitchenAid. In truth, I've been dreaming about owning a KitchenAid my entire life (that, and a Dualit toaster). However, in the past year, I've seen a little sense and realised that it's important not to buy things just because they're beautiful and as such inevitably overpriced. It's important to do proper research on the topic and not to buy things just because of a name or certain look. However, one thing I do know, is that all my friends who own a KitchenAid are absolutely in love. I've never heard a bad word said about them, but what comes with that, is a hefty price tag - £469.95 on Amazon.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Food: Pea, Mint and Halloumi Fritters and a Quick Chinese Stir Fry recipe

Pea, Mint and Halloumi Fritters

pea, mint and halloumi fritters
I'm in the middle of setting up a gourmet petite cupcake company (exciting times!) so apologies for the reduction in posts, but I wanted to share with you this amazing pea and halloumi fritter recipe. It's fresh and healthy and makes a great alternative to potatoes or pasta as a side dish. They're even more delicious when cold, so Martin's been sent off to work with them for his lunch - no complaints so far!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Restaurant Review: Cucina Asellina

Cucina Asellina
My friend Laura and I were looking forward to a long overdue girly catch up last Friday and decided to go to Cucina Asellina, a restaurant hotel on the Strand. I’ve been before and I enjoyed the food and vibe - perfect for a Friday night. We clearly weren't the only people with that idea. We were sandwiched on a table for 2 between 2 other pairs of girls.  Cucina Asellina is one of those places where the tables are longer than they are wide and they’re placed relatively close together. This means you can hear your neighbours’ conversation better than your own.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Life: How I bought my Samsung Galaxy S4

Galaxy S4
Sorry, if this posts seems pretty boring, but I wanted to tell you about my new phone and how I went about deciding how I would pay for it.

I like technology (I might not be very good with it), but I really enjoy owning a smartphone. I rely on it so much - obvious things like calling and texting people, but also checking my emails, getting directions via google maps, downloading skobbler as an inexpensive and accurate satnav, and using it to entertain myself on journeys with games/music. I've owned a couple of iPhones in the past and have loved them dearly. I still remember the massive buzz I got when I purchased the first one 4 years ago - it was so very exciting. When I bought my next one (the iphone 4), I was still pretty happy but I didn't have the same buzz. I put that down to my age and the fact that although it was a far quicker and more modern version - fundamentally it was still very much the same phone, so there wasn't all the fun of exploring its new features.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Restaurant review: The Marylebone Hotel

108 restaurant
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had previously eaten afternoon tea at the Marylebone Hotel. Whilst I was there, I took a peek at the restaurant and I liked the look of it. When I got home, I checked out the menu online and found it to be mostly made up of steaks and grills. I'll be honest - the main reason as to why I was keen to eat here is that I saw that the steaks came from the Ginger Pig butchers and the cheese on the cheese board was from La Fromagerie. I used to work at the Ginger Pig in Marylebone and know how incredible their meat is. I also used to walk past La Fromagerie every time I left work. It's always looked so tempting, but so far I've never ventured in.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Food: Courgette Frittata

courgette frittata
So in my last post I said I was making spaghetti bolognese for tea. Well, that didn't happen. I managed to buy all the ingredients to make it, apart from the mince! Argh. I've done that far too many times. I get so distracted by the smaller, less important ingredients and forget to buy the most important one. So no spaghetti bolognese for us for tea. Instead, I had to look into our near empty fridge and cobble together a dinner made out of very few ingredients. I decided upon courgette frittata. Luckily it was delicious so Martin didn't feel like he was missing out (too) much.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Food: What I Ate Today - 8th May

Since I returned from Egypt, I've been back on the healthy diet bandwagon. I just thought I'd share with you the things I've been rustling up.

Firstly, lunch was my current favourite, quinoa. I really enjoyed roasting off some butternut squash a couple of weeks earlier and incorporating that into a quinoa salad, but it was time consuming and yesterday I wanted food, fast! Instead, I microwaved a couple of sweet potates for 10 minutes and scooped out the flesh. I added some cooked frozen peas, freshly chopped mint and a can of black eyed peas, and voila! a super easy, tasty and healthy lunch. I made loads too - Martin's been instructed to take it to work everyday!

quinoa salad with sweet potato, peas, mint and black eyed peas