Sunday, 29 May 2011

Madrid: A Quickie Food Tour

Mr G and I have just come back from a week in Madrid!
What a foodie heaven!

Gravity - defying fruit!

The paella was so yummy!

And the "Tortilla" (a Spanish omelette made with sliced potatoes)

And the "croquetas", the cod ones were my favourites.

They had macarons, which were very disappointing. They were far too crunchy. No chewiness at all.

The coconut macaroons though - delish.

We visited the Mercado de San Miguel - a food hall which had stalls and stalls of yummy treats.

These cakes were amazing.

This stall had the tiniest ice cream cones I had ever seen!

Hot chocolate and churros.

No trip to Spain would be complete without indulging in this Spanish tradition. We tried a couple of places but by far the best was Cafe Valor!

Words cannot describe how good the chocolate and the churros here were.

Yes, it really was as good as it looks in this picture.

Mr G opted for an orange flavoured chocolate.

It was so good, we went back for another on our last day in Madrid!

Buenos Noche Amigos!


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Egg Whites: Friend or Foe?

I generally try to avoid recipes that heavily involve the use of egg whites. Soft peaks, firm peaks, stiff peaks.....if I see those words, I automatically flick over to the next page.

Determined to get over my egg whites phobia, I recently tried two egg white based recipes.

The first was Angel cake from the Hummingbird Bakery book "Cake Days".

The cake was not as light as I hoped bit it did give me the opprtunity to use my new Bundt tin!

I thought "Fallen Angel" cake was a better description. The cake was just too dense, not light and airy like I had hoped.

But, the recipe had no butter or caster sugar so is good for those watching their waistlines.

Next up was Passionfruit Pavlova.

I used the Nigella recipe from "Kitchen".

Good old Nigella.

It really was the perfect pav.

The egg whites were whipped until stiff. You add the sugar whilst it is whipping which turns the mixture lovely and glossy.

Spread the mixture into a round disc-like shape and then bake in a low oven.

Just out of the oven!

I then topped with lightly whipped double cream and the pulp of five passionfruits.

The tartness of the passsion fruit against the cream works so well.


The meringue has a marshmallow texture to it - quite the opposite to shop bought meringues.

I don't think that I have gotten over my fear of egg white recipes quite just yet, but I'm getting there!


Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter Afternoon Tea

I hope everyone has had a lovely Easter!

I had two of my sister in laws round for Afternoon Tea.

I made a variety of sandwiches - I don't know what it is but sandwiches always taste better to me with the crusts cut off!

I found these cute mini Easter Eggs in Home Sense and that set off the colour theme for the tea party!

I also made a variety of sweet treats.

Of course we had scones.....

But I have to confess, I didn't make the scones! My lovely mum did.

Scones and I do not play well together.

I just cannot get the hang of them.

I dipped some strawberries in white chocolate.

And made mini Red Velvet cupcakes and mini chocolate cupcakes, topped with micro mini eggs!

I also dipped some marshmallows in milk chocolate.
It was far too hot to make a huge variety of cakes.

But I did make some shortbread rounds topped with glace cherries.

But best of all......

Check out my sugar!

I found these cute butterfly shaped sugar cubes in John Lewis. They are part of a range by Belle de Sucre ( and they are so cute.

I also got some handbag shaped sugar, because let's face it, we all need handbag shaped sugar cubes in our lives!


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

London Goodies!

Mr G and I have just returned from a short break in London.

Naturally, whilst we were there, I had to visit a few bakeries that I hadn't been to before.

Top of the list were: Ella's Bakehouse in Covent Garden, The Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden and Pierre Herme in Selfridges, Bond Street.

Ella's Bake house was a revelation. The cupcakes were quite dense but so tasty. I tried a Nutella one which despite the name had no chocolate and was mostly hazelnut, and a peanut butter cupcake. Both were lovely.
I also tried a peanut butter whoopie pie from Selfridges which was a disappointment. The Pierre Herme counter though......

Ah, Monsieur Herme.

How you have changed my life.

I have to admit, some of the flavour combinations were a little out there for me. I am a traditionalist at heart, so the creme brulee and salted caramel flavours cried out to me. I did try a chocolate and passion fruit macaron though, which was devine.

The creme brulee was far my favourite though. Positively life changing.

Yes, dear friends, a macaron that perfect can definitely be life changing.

But, my loyalties still lie with Laduree.

I treated myself to a box and also bought a box for my mum. Cos I love her.

All in all, it was a great trip.

Alas, the Primrose Cupcakes didn't make it home for pictures, but I can highly recommend the Coconut Cupcake. Yum Yum.

BBQ Cupcakes

As in cupcakes I made to take to a BBQ, not BBQ flavoured cupcakes!

I also got a new cake stand in lemon yellow. I promised Mr G this would be my last one until we get a bigger house!

As it is coming up to Easter, I made some chick and bunny shaped fondant toppers - glittery pink ones of course!

I had also bought these giant white buttons covered with hundreds and thousands from M&S ages ago. They were perfect with lemon coloured frosting.

I packaged some up to take to the BBQ.

Individual cupcake pedestals.

Where would life be without them?


Monday, 4 April 2011

Salted Caramel Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding is my favourite dessert. EVER.

I cannot resist ordering it from the menu and I always make it when we have people over for dinner.

I always make Nigella's Sticky Toffee Pudding as it never fails me (apart from one occasion which resulted in sticky toffee pudding on the kitchen ceiling but we won't go there...)

I decided to try this variation for a change which I found in a copy of the "You" magazine supplement a while ago.

For the Sponge:-

150g of pitted dates chopped

250ml water

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

75g unsalted butter diced

125g light muscovado sugar

2 medium eggs

2 tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

200g plain flour sifted

For the Salted Caramel sauce:-

100g light muscovado sugar

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

100g unsalted butter

150ml double cream


1. Pre-heat over to 190 degree centigrade / 170 degree fahrenheit / GM 5. Butter a baking tin measuring 27cm - 30cm x 18cm - 20cm.

2. Bring the dates and water to the boil in a small saucepan and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will froth up.

3. Cream the butter and sugar together and then add the eggs one at a time, then the syrup and then the vanilla and then the flour. The beat in the date mixture in two batches.

4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes until set and the pudding has risen.

5. While baking, put all the sauce ingredients into a pan to melt and whisk together until smoot. Pour half the mixture onto the pudding and serve the rest separately with double cream.

10/10 for this recipe!

Adding salt to the caramel sauce gave it another dimension.

I made it for Mr G and my Mum for Mother's Day and they both loved it too.


Rocky Road Bites

These are without a doubt my go to recipe when the occasion calls for some "Petit Fours".

All you need is 75g of marshmallows....
...and 75g of chopped brazil nuts.

Melt 100g of milk chocolate and 100g of dark chocolate and mix together!

Then leave spoonfuls of the mixture onto sheets of greaseproof paper to set.

Yum Yum.


(Apologies for the poor quality photography folks- it was really dark when I took these and the flash was playing up!)