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.


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

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

New York Style Cheesecake
(recipe from foodwishes)

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


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
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


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.


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

3 medium potatoes
ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

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

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.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Perfect profiteroles

Just for the record, I made 50 of these on Saturday night, and they were gone by Monday night.

It is week three of my domestic independence here in London, and I've not had food poisoning, so all is well. To take a break from the long school days and exercise some productivity, I decided to bake some profiteroles, which doesn't require complicated ingredients nor much fancy equipment, perfect for a new-ish kitchen.

Perfect Profiteroles
makes ~30 small profiteroles
(adapted from essential desserts)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Extra equipment

Piping bag with long, narrow nozzle (How to make a DIY piping bag)


Choux Pastry:
50g (1¾ oz) butter
90g (3¼ oz/ ¾ cup)plain all-purpose flour, sifted twice
3 eggs, lightly beaten

375ml (13 fl oz/ 1½ cups) milk
4 egg yolks
80g (2¾ oz/ ⅓ cup) caster sugar
30g  (1 oz/ ¼ cup) plain all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

110g (3¾ oz) dark chocolate
2 teaspoons vegetable oil


To make the filling:
1. Put the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Set aside while quickly whisking the yolks and sugar in a bowl until combined.
2. Whisk the flour into the egg mixture.
3. Pour the hot milk slowly onto the egg and flour mixture, whisking constantly.
4. Wash out the pan, return the milk mixture to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture boils and thickens. Boil for two minutes, stirring often.
5. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla extract.
6. Lay plastic wrap directly over the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming, then refrigerate until cold.

To make the choux pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC, set on fan mode, and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. (210ºC for regular oven setting)
2. Put the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan with 185ml (6fl oz/ ¾ cup) water and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and quickly beat in the flour with a wooden spoon.
3. Return to the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes together in a lump and leaves the sides of the pan easily. Allow to cool slightly.
4. Transfer to a bowl (I used a standing mixer for this) and beat to release as much heat as you can. Very gradually add in beaten egg, until all the egg is added and mixture is thick and glossy – a wooden spoon should stand upright in it. If it is too runny, egg has been added to quickly, and you have to beat for several more minutes until it thickens.
5. Sprinkle the baking trays with water to create steam for rising the pastry in the oven.
6. Spoon rather small heaps (they rise a lot) of the mixture onto the baking trays, and leave room for spreading.
7. Bake for roughly 20 minutes, (20-25 for regular oven setting) or until browned and hollow-sounding, then remove and make a small hole in the base of each puff with a skewer. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to dry out. Cool on a wire rack, bottom-side up.

Filling the choux pastry:
1. Pipe the custard filling generously into the choux puffs with your smallest long piping nozzle through the hole in the base. The weight of the profiterole should increase noticeably after filled.

To make chocolate topping:
1. Chop the chocolate and put it in a large heatproof bowl with the oil.
2. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and remove it from the heat, and sit the bowl over the saucepan, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the water.
3. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

1. Dip the top of each profiterole in the chocolate.
2. Allow to set or refrigerate in airtight containers before serving.

It was actually pretty easy to do, just quite time-consuming! But it's all worth it, plus you get to lick custard out of the saucepan and the piping bag. Also, don't forget that remaining chocolate dipping, which deserves to be eaten straight out of the bowl with a spoon!

On a side note, I was really lucky to have the sun shining gloriously into my bedroom the next day, through my sheer white curtains, onto a broad windowsill – is this the perfect food-photography setup or what? Who needs fancy studio lights? (Okay, granted, I had a DSLR camera on a tripod with big fat zoom lens)

Let's just hope that the sun decides to shine every time I bake something new. London, be generous!
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