Saturday, 26 July 2014

Hello?

I might be talking to the spiders creeping around the corners of this blog, but I'm here to turn on the lights and wipe the dust away – second year at college has been crazy, but these are all you need to know about the past few months of the gastronomy of student life:

The most important things I've learnt from student living:
  1. Cream cheese and honey on toast makes a bangin' breakfast. Richard claims it to be "like cheesecake on toast". TIP: Stuff warm pita with the same stuff. It's ridiculous.
  2. If you don't buy it, you won't eat it. Do you really need a pack of McVitie's Chocolate Digestives every time you pass (or delibrately browse) the biscuit section in Tesco's?
  3. Light butter spread is pretty useless. I dunno, it might help with the calories and saturated fat and whatever, but it barely tastes like the real deal!
  4. Never let yourself run out of milk. Milk is the loo roll of the refrigerator. Gotta have it at all times. No milk means dry cereal, black coffee, black tea, no means of making hot chocolate, pathetic scrambled eggs, no impromptu pancakes... and the list goes on.
  5. Abstain from purchasing cereal. Mostly if you're someone like me who cannot resist eating cereal out of the box, cinema-popcorn style. I've opted for porridge oats, which are less edible straight out of the box.
  6. Frozen food is your best friend. Meat, veg, pizza, pies, ready meals – the best thing to do after a long day at dance college is sticking something into the oven for dinner which hardly cost anything.
  7. Sweet potato fries are the ish. Slice them up, stick them into the oven with oil, mixed spice and salt, and you're ready to go.
  8. Portion minced meat before freezing. It's not much fun digging your pathetic knife into a solid block of meat when all you want is just enough for two portions of spaghetti bolognese.
  9. Raw mushy sausages can become meatballs. Feeling like bits and bobs instead of rods? Worried that sausages and pasta don't look very sophisticated? Cut up raw sausages before cooking.
  10. You can indeed accomplish an epicmealtime 'handle it' recipe. I've done it, and it was glorious.
  11. Just take the mould off the cheese, nobody's going to die. Cream cheese and cheddar alike – I'm still here, aren't I?
  12. Don't look down upon a roasted onion half. It's gooood.
  13. Make and keep tons of tiny pancakes to use up expiring milk and leftover chocolate chips. You're welcome. Keep them in the freezer for an eternal breakfast backup plan.
It's been two years of student-living in an English country, but there are wonders undiscovered, the gaps of which my English boyfriend has happened to fill with his superior knowledge.

  1. Fire ovens still exist. Richard had one in his student house.
  2. Gravy granules! I'm learning.
  3. Golden syrup or honey with beef and gravy. *Melts*
  4. Mixed herbs can save your life. A sprinkle does magical wonders to almost anything.
  5. Sweet and sour sauce with spaghetti is legit.
  6. Actually, anything with pasta can be dinner.
  7. Yes, even gravy.
Other stuff you should totally try making:

  1. Peanut butter and banana milkshake: Blend two generous dollops of peanut butter, a chopped up banana, one or two tsp of sugar, and milk to cover 3/4 of what you've already got in the blender.
  2. Peanut butter and banana porridge: Stir in mashed banana and however much peanut butter into your warm porridge for an energising start to the day! Much needed when you start with a ballet class every morning at college.
  3. Nutella and peanut butter sandwich: I don't know why most people I speak to haven't tried this yet. Spread one slice of warm toast with nutella, the other with peanut butter, and stick them together. Watch them ooze and fuse. Enjoy.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The best pancakes ever

There are pancakes, and then there are crispy-edged, light and fluffy American pancakes.

My flatmate shared this recipe with me, and it has been somewhat of a morning mantra – a guarantee of no more lousy breakfasts, as long as we've got eggs and milk in the fridge, and I'm willing to get out the mixing bowl.

This recipe is the one. If you're still looking for the perfect recipe, look no further than below.

Ingredients:

135g/4¾ oz plain flour

1tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
130ml/4½ fl oz milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp melted butter (allowed to cool slightly) or olive oil, plus extra for cooking

Instructions:
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter.

2. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, and using a fork, beat until you have a smooth batter. Any lumps will soon disappear with a little mixing. Let the batter stand for a few minutes.
3. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter (or olive oil). When it's melted, add a ladle of batter (or two is your frying pan is big enough to cook two pancakes at the same time). Push fruit into the batter in the pan now if you wish. It will seem very thick but this is how it should be. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm (½in) thick.
4. Repeat until all the batter is used up. Add butter or oil to the pan before each pancake for a better result.
5. Serve immediately with maple syrup, chocolate, or extra butter.



Wednesday, 27 November 2013

New York Style Cheesecake


This recipe produces a perfect cheesecake – creamy, sweet, and addictive. I mean. Check. It. Out. New York Style, no less.

This sunshine circle of happiness is brought to you (and me) by Chef John from foodwishes.com.


New York Style Cheesecake
(recipe from foodwishes)

Ingredients:
3 tbsp melted butter
18 graham crackers/digestive biscuits, crushed finely
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 8oz packages of cream cheese
1½ cups white sugar
⅔ cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1tsp finely grated orange zest

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 175ºc.
2. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.
3. Mix crackers/biscuits and melted butter in a bowl until evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture into the bottom and about half an inch up the sides of the springform pan.
4. Whisk flour, sour cream and vanilla extract in a bowl, and set aside.
5. Stir cream cheese and sugar with a wooden spoon in a large bowl until evenly incorporated, about 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Pour milk into cream cheese mixture and whisk until just combined.
7. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
8. Stir in lemon and orange zests, and sour cream mixture. Whisk until just incorporated.
9. Pour mixture into springform pan and bake for about an hour, when the edges have puffed up slightly and the surface of the cheesecake is firm except for a small spot in the middle which should jiggle when the pan is gently shaken.
10. When the baking time is over, turn off the oven and let it cool in the oven for 3 to 4 hours to prevent cracks in the cheesecake.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Long White Cloud


Located a few minutes away from Hoxton railway station, Long White Cloud is a Kiwi-owned free-range, free-trade café-cum-gallery space which serves up interesting brunch-type meals such as smoked salmon scrambled eggs and french toast with bacon and banana.

It was pretty filled at 11 in the morning, but not enough to gather a queue. The interesting thing about this café is the fact that they display local artworks which are also on sale. When I was there two weeks ago, Kate Ardern's intriguing 'Into The Wild' paintings were up on the walls, most of them already marked as sold.

I got myself a full English breakfast, something I realised that I'd not yet actually had in this country.


It was filling – I think the word 'full' applies to the state of the diner's tummy rather than what's on the plate. The food was alright, the beans felt home-made and authentic though, definitely not Heinz.

What still lingers in my mind is their peanut butter and banana smoothie which is so simple but so good. It wasn't too sweet, and both flavours were balanced beautifully, inspiring me to try blitzing my own sometime soon.

They've got an evening menu as well with the likes of pies, burgers and fish cakes. I'd love to go back there some time in the future (it's in East London, so if I sound slightly dramatic, that's because it is a pretty epic journey. At least to me it is, anyway) to chill in their intimate setting with some French toast and bacon!

Long White Cloud
151 Hackney Road
Hoxton
E2 8JL
tel: 020 7033 4642

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Frozen Cream Cheese Frosting Sandwich


So you made some pumpkin cupcakes or carrot cake last night, and topped it with cream cheese frosting, which everybody knows is the best thing ever.

And then...

...plot twist: There's leftover cream cheese frosting.

But wait! Before you stick your finger into the bowl or hold the piping nozzle over your mouth, run out to the shops (or open your cupboard if you're lucky enough) and grab a packet of digestive/tea biscuits – that's all you need for these frozen cream cheese frosting sandwiches.



Frozen Cream Cheese Frosting Sandwiches
makes ~15 sandwiches
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cups icing sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
~30 digestive/tea biscuits

OR

how ever much cream cheese frosting you have left
how ever much digestive/tea biscuits is available to you

Instructions (really?)

To make the frosting:

1. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, (I used whisk attachments and it was fine) beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Reduce the speed and gradually add icing sugar, beating until just incorporated.
3. Add vanilla and cinnamon until well combined.
4. Increase speed to medium high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.

Assembly:

1.Pipe or spread cream cheese frosting generously on the flat side of one biscuit, leaving a little bit of space on the edges for the frosting to ooze out with pressure, and cover with the flat side of another.
2. Freeze for at least an hour.

The end product will be a sweet, delicious and moreish dessert snack which is super easy to make. The frosting hardens into an ice cream-like texture which holds itself well between the biscuits. Really, there's no excuse not to make these.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Homemade Potato Crisps

My flatmates are going home for the half-term break week, and have left behind some excess Maris Piper potatoes, so I thought that I'd try to make some potato chips. (Or crisps, as the British say)


They may look pretty decent, but these were the few successful, presentable ones. Many of them browned nastily, affecting the taste, and most of them crumbled after boiling. (Apparently boiling is only ideal for red potatoes)

If you haven't already guessed, this isn't a tried-and-tested-and-succeeded recipe post! The crisps were worth a try, but I'd much rather buy a packet of Walker's Extra Crunchy for less than a pound, than go through the process of slicing, seasoning and flipping. They've also got to be cooked at a temperature of about 220 ºC, which makes me cringe at the thought of my energy bills. #studentliving They don't even taste as good as a packet of crisps. They may be healthier, but if I'm going to have potato slices cooked in oil, it's going to be unhealthy no matter what, so I'd rather just go all the way and get me some Walker's.


If you doubt my beliefs, which might be a good thing to do, and really must have the recipe, here's what I've come up with from referring to Martha Stewart and Home Cooking Adventure.

Baked Potato Chips

Ingredients
3 medium potatoes
salt
ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

Optional:
ground herbs of your choice (I used oregano)
cayenne pepper

Instructions
1. Preheat the fan oven to 200 ºC and lightly grease a few baking sheets.
2. Peel the potatoes and slice them potatoes as thinly as you can with a knife.
3. In a big bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Use your fingers to mix and coat the potato slices in the bowl.
4. Lay the potato slices out on the baking sheets in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes, then take them out and flip each crisp over, to bake for another 15 minutes.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Dorset Cereals – Honey Granola


Dorset Cereals and their whole muesli thing has always appeared to me as overpriced bird food. (PS: I'm not a muesli fan) I do like granola, though, especially with nuts and honey, so I decided to give this box a try. (PS: It was on offer)


This cereal is seriously stripped down. Oats, pecans, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, all baked with the tiniest hint of honey and vanilla extract. This is perfect for people who absolutely love nuts and oats, as that's pretty much the main taste of the cereal.

I'm not too big on this cereal, but it's not bad either, considering how natural and healthy it is. A good choice for organic bunnies, but is definitely not for those looking for a Crunchy Nut or Cheerios alternative. And definitely no great after-cereal milk.
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