March foodie round-up

It’s the end of the month again – where does the time go? So as it’s the end of March it means it is time for a quick foodie round up. Yay for that! So without further ado here’s a run down of everything that has been cooked, baked and eaten in the marvellous month of March.

Cooked & Baked
cheese strawspastry pinwheelschicken & mushroom soup piemini egg blondies, creme egg brownies, mug cakes, chocolate and banana cake (coming soon) and lemon and lime poppyseed cake (also coming soon).

Eaten
Harrison’sBrasserie Zedel, Nachos @ the Marquis of Anglesey, La Meridiana in Horsley for carb loading before a half marathon, Carluccio’sNineteen Ten, Iced coffees galore, the biggest pizza ever from Costco, Ikea meatballs, chips and gravy – EPIC!, Post marathon roast chicken, The Riverfront, brunch at Del ‘Aziz (again) and our first barbecue of the year – hooray!

 Here’s to some equally awesome baking and eating in April!

Lau xx

Advertisements

Cheese Straws

I made cheese straws at the weekend. I think the last time I made these was during a food technology lesson at school. I think I was probably about 11 at the time. Anyway I had definitely forgotten how easy these are to make and also how good they tasted. Like seriously good. All crumbly pastry and strong cheddar. Nom nom nom!

As I’ve already mentioned these are super easy to make. You’ll need just 2 ingredients, ready made puff pastry and cheese – I used cheddar as it’s my favourite! Yes that’s it.

The first thing to do is to grab your pastry and cover it in half of the grated cheese. I used half a sheet of pastry and grated about a third of a block of cheese. Now fold the pastry in half and roll out the cheese pastry to the thickness of a pound coin.

The next thing to do is to cut the pastry into strips about 1cm wide. 

Now twist them and place them onto a baking tray and sprinkle them with the rest of the cheese.

Bake in the oven at 220C for 12 minutes.

Now that I’ve rediscovered the wonderfulness that is the humble cheese straw I think they will be making quite a regular appearance in my kitchen (and my tummy)! What about you all, any pastry favourites? Also if you fancy some other delicious pastry things then checkout our pastry pinwheels post.

Happy baking, Lau

Brasserie Zedel – A little Parisian gem in London town

Zedel_sign

One of the best things about London Town, in my humble opinion anyway, is that you are constantly discovering amazing new places; be it museums, independent shops, hidden parks or in the case of this weekend – amazing eateries. That’s one of the reasons why I love this city so much. I never know what I’m about to discover, it’s like being a tourist all over again! This past weekend I met up with a good friend for a late lunch and she suggested Brasserie Zedel, which is slap bang in Piccadilly. After having a peruse on the site I was up for it as it looked like proper French food and not the touristy stuff like snails or frogs legs that I assume isn’t as widespread in France as one would think! So off I set with no clue of what to expect and ended up having the most brilliant taste of France (literally) smack bang in the middle of London.

You enter the Brasseries through a very unassuming little cafe with only a few tables and what looks like the most amazing tasting croissants – I most definitely need to return soon to try one of those! We headed through the cafe to a corridor lined with the most brilliant French posters and made our way downstairs to a very Moulin Rouge looking lobby that opened up into the most surprising room – the restaurant. The restaurant is a cavernous room that I can’t believe I never knew existed under the streets of London. It’s got massive marble pillars and huge bright lights and tables and chairs fill the space. There are also gorgeous red velvet covered booths and a grand piano with a pianist to provide wonderful background music. The place really is the most surprising of venues. I can’t believe it’s only just been bought to my attention – amazing.

So that’s the restaurant, now what about the important bit, the FOOD! I have just one word for you: sublime! Really everything that I tasted was exceptional. From the freshly baked bread and crispy fries to the delicious Croccroute de la Mer and succulent chicken in champagne sauce and then on to the scrumptious tarte tatin, the food was just perfect! I opted for the Croccroute as I had no clue what it was and I thought I should try something new (to me at least) and it was definitely a good choice. It was a selection of really fresh fish – mussels, salmon and trout – in a creamy sauce on a bed of sauerkraut and new potatoes. Not something that I would have chosen if I knew what it was as I once had a very bad sauerkraut experience, but this meal was so delicious I may be converted to such a delicacy. I honestly can’t fault the food at all. It was all delicious and seemed to have been kept faithful to the French recipes.

Even though the room was fairly cavernous and every table was full on Sunday afternoon it wasn’t an overwhelming restaurant at all – you didn’t feel like the noise was overwhelming or like you were eating in a massive air hangar, which is prove that they have got the vibe right. As for the cost, we had two courses and drinks and it was £25 each, which isn’t cheap. But when you remember you’re in central London and you’ve just had the most scrumptious French food you can’t really complain. Plus it’s such a great experience, it’s worth every penny!

If you’ve never been to Brasserie Zedel and you fancy a little taste of France when you’re next in London I highly recommend it. After all anywhere that has their name embroidered on the serviettes has to be worth a try right?

 

So tell me have you ever had a similar experience and discovered somewhere just round the corner from you that transports you to an entirely new country? It can’t just be me!

Delicious biscuits and a small baking accident

For some inexplicable reason I’ve realised that we haven’t discussed biscuits that often on this blog. How absurd is that. I mean I love biscuits and cookies, whether they’re chocolate or raisin, plain or covered in chocolate they’re a staple in my diet and life is always that little bit better when you have a full tin of them. Hooray for the fact that we replenished our rich tea stocks today – anyone else partial to a hot chocolate and rich teas of an evening? Tell me that’s not just me?!

Anyway I plan to rectify the lack of biscuit chatter today by sharing some biscuits we’ve made recently. They were discovered over on Amanda’s blog Rhyme and Ribbons a while back and we finally found an occasion to make them about a month ago when we headed off to meet gorgeous baby Isabella. We didn’t in fact take them in the end, but more on that after the recipe! When I first discovered them I knew I’d need to make them soon, mainly due to the name – soft monster cookies. Awesome name right? Thankfully they’re just as tasty as the name suggests and I think everyone will be had pressed not to eat three per sitting – go on I dare you not too!

Photo 12-02-2014 20 56 50

As ever you can of course follow the recipe that Amanda shared, or you can follow our slightly amended one – I imagine either recipe will result in scrumptious biccies!

So first up you will need:

  • 1/2 cup butter/margarine
  • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup M&Ms
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (a mix of white and milk chocolate)

Now get combining and baking like so for delicious cookies.

  1. Mix together the butter/marg and both sugars
  2. Next add the peanut butter (make sure you have a sneaky snack of PB at this time, you know in case it’s gone off…), egg and vanilla and mix everything up
  3. Now add the flour and baking soda until all combined and it’s looking delicious!
  4. Finally fold in the chocolate chips and M&M’s (next time I might add raisins to get a bit of a fruity mix in there – just a thought for you all)
  5. Line your baking tray and plop the balls of dough onto the tray, pressing them down gently
  6. Bake for 10 minutes or so on 180⁰C before removing them, letting them cool (just a little) and eating three whilst they’re warm. Yummy!

One very key piece of advice, from someone in the know… don’t drop the floppy silicone baking sheet you’re using on the floor as you take them out the oven too soon. As the biscuits will land on the floor and you’ll only end up with eight biscuits and not the planned 16. And if you only have eight and two days before you go to your friend’s house you know you’re going minus the biscuits as they’ll be in your tummy in less than 24 hours! Or so I learned anyway!

Consider it a lesson that I learned that you now don’t need to experience, you can can just learn from my pain – aren’t you lucky! Anyway hands up if you’ll be baking biscuits soon – come on you know you want to! Happy baking!

– Fi xxx

Discovering cheaper supermarkets

Since our younger sister started her second year of University she has been raving on (and on and on) about shopping at Aldi. This cheap food shop obsession is shared by Fi too, as she frequented Aldi herself when she was at Uni. I on the other-hand was all about Asda, as the cheaper shops of Aldi and Lidl hadn’t made their way down to Leicester when I was there. Anyway when the three of us had a sister getaway to the Peak District earlier this year we headed to Aldi for all of our food shopping – If I’m honest the fact that I was with two huge fans meant I didn’t really have much of a choice! So we went to Aldi and stocked up on everything we needed; garlic bread, crisps, sweets, lots of cereal, drink and £3.50 worth of pork to make this pulled pork recipe.

Since this weekend and the discovery of delicious cheaper ingredients I have been obsessed with both Aldi and Lidl, which is perfect as Fi and I have just discovered a new Lidl that has opened up in our London neighbourhood. Talk about perfect timing, right?!

The other day we did a quick food shop and spent a total of £15 on the following items; tortilla wraps, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, grapes, strawberries, spinach, blueberries, melon, bacon, yogurt, biscuits, croissants (chocolate and plain), Easter chocolate and toilet roll. Yes, all for £15! Now you know if we’d gone to our usual supermarket it would have been at least £20.

The thing about supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi is that they are all about unknown brands, rather than the big names you see everywhere else. Now I’m discovering that these brands are just as good, if not better than their well known counterparts. We’ve also managed to find our favourite Portuguese biscuits in our local Lidl, now that’s exciting and dangerous all in one!

So if you have one of these supermarkets I’d definitely encourage you to go check it out. Have a wander around and see what’s available. Here’s a couple of points to remember if you are heading shopping.

1. Be prepared to weasel your way around people or walk quite slowly around the shop. The aisles are quite narrow – I guess to fit in more stock, so it can be irritating if you want to zip around quickly.

2. Remember that you can’t pay by credit card, it’s cash or debit card only.

3. Also when you get to the till it’s all about being quick. So throw everything back into your trolley, pay and move along to the packing area to arrange all your bags.

4. Also remember to bring your own bags or be prepared to pay for what you need. But remember you’ll be packing your bags away from the till, so you won’t know how many you’ll need until then.

Happy shopping. Lau xxx

A super-duper soup pie

So yes many of you might be thinking I’ve lost the plot judging by the title of this post, a soup pie, I hear you cry! But I promise you I haven’t and what I’m about to share with you will undoubtedly become one of your staple meals – just for the simple fact that it’s just so darn easy and tasty. I may have mentioned in the past that one of my all-time favourite meals is my Dad’s chicken and ham pie. It’s one of those meals where seconds are mandatory and where my sisters and I fight over who gets to carry the bowl over to the sink to be washed up as it gives us precious seconds to scoop left over sauce out the dish (or perhaps that’s just me…). However one thing stops me from making the pie often and that’s that I can never really be bothered with making a white sauce. Yeah I know lazy indeed!

Anyway this problem is solved by the genius that is a tin of Heinz condensed mushroom soup. You fling this into the pie dish with your other ingredients – pre-cooked chicken, ham, fried mushrooms and leeks and stir it up and gently place your pastry on top and you’re done. The world’s easiest pie – what’s not to love?

Photo 09-02-2014 19 42 01

I’d heard the waffling about soup being used as a sauce in the past but I’d never thought to give it a whirl, and now that I have it has revolutionised my life. Now I can’t stop thinking of what else I can use soups for – perhaps a tomato one for a cheats lasagna or a fajita sauce. And maybe I’ll even try a chicken soup as a pie filling in the future, that’s got to work too right?! What about you have you ever used a magic soup as your sauce and if so I need details please!

Photo 09-02-2014 19 45 25

Happy pie making! Fi xx

Mug Cakes

Yes, today is all about speedy baking and by speedy I mean making a cake in under 5 minutes. Genius right? You’re completely intrigued now aren’t you!

Anyway before we get started on this recipe here’s a really quick background/history lesson before we get into this baking post.

Back when I was in my second year at university I lived in a house with three other lovely ladies who will always be my life long friends – it’s like in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, there are just some experiences that make you friends, no matter who you are. And okay we didn’t have to fight a mountain troll, but the shared experience of the ‘dog meat pie’, weird salsa lessons, Mrs Tozer (pronounced toes-ser didn’t you know) and the 20 crazy medics in our building during our first year in Leicester was clearly enough to make me recognise the amazingness of these three girls straight away.

So one afternoon probably just after our daily ritual of watching the lunchtime episodes of Neighbours and Doctors we were craving cake, but we had none in the house which in itself is crazy. Don’t believe me? We had a whole cupboard in our kitchen dedicated to snacks and it was always full of all the sweet stuff, so much so that the 6 guys living next door would always pounce on it when they nipped around for a cup of tea, because they new it had all the good stuff in it. Anyway, we had not cake in our goodies cupboard and no one wanted to go to the corner shop (literally 2 minutes away) or bake as that would just take too long. Luckily for all of us, the marvelous Nina decided to share her microwavable cake in a bowl recipe. Which took all of about 2 minutes to make – talk about a revelation! Plus I remember that when we turned it out of the bowl it even had syrup running down the sides, from the sugary goodness that we had placed in the bowl first. I think we only made this cake once, so I don’t have the recipe, mainly because we never let the cupboard of goodness get bare again. But this cake in a bowl has stuck in my mind ever since and I have always meant to get the recipe off of Nina.

Right that’s the history section over with. I know you’re probably all wondering why I waffled on about my uni years there, but it’s because I made a mug cake the other day and it reminded me of that time when the Hartopp Road girls made something very similar. So yes today I am sharing a recipe for a mug cake. I’ve seen these all over pinterest recently and then when I was flicking through the Sorted boys cookbook I saw a version from them. Actually having a physical copy of the recipe meant that I just had to make it. So on Sunday after a mammoth (11 mile) run I decided I needed a treat and went for it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 tbsp self raising flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 small egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil
white chocolate buttons

And here’s what you do:

spoon all the dry ingredients in the mug
Crack in the egg and whisk to combine
Add the milk and oil and mix
Add the chocolate buttons
Cook in the microwave for 2 and a half minutes on full power
Leave to stand and then eat

And here’s what mine ended up looking like. Nom nom nom!  

Seriously this was so good that it disappeared into my tummy in less than 5 minutes!

Quickest and easiest cake ever. Go on give it a go. You know you want to. 

Lau xx

The post Mug Cakes was first posted on This Rambling Corner as Speedy Baking – Mug Cakes.