Tag Archives: cooking

Warning: This Will Change Your Life. Chicken, Edamame and Ginger Soup

2 Apr

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Pret – a -Manger inspired Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup.

A few weeks ago I forgot to take lunch into work, and nipped out to Pret to get food on the run. I opted for the Soup-er Healthy Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup for a quick lunch, and I’ve not been able to get it out of my head since, with it obviously not appearing on the menu again, like a mirage in the desert.

Like when I was a teenager and insisted on playing the same album on repeat until my sister threw it away, I have become somewhat obsessive about popping in just on the off chance that they have it again, totally prepared to throw my sandwiches at a passing seagull and stock up if ts on the menu. It hasn’t been.111

So I decided to recreate it. I Googled the soup to see if I could find the recipe, and all I found was a soup-er unhelpful pret page telling me about the fantastic wonder of said soup, sans recipe.

But wait……… it did have the main ingredients. I could totally work with this.

Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup

According to Pret: dairy free, egg free, gluten free and under 200 calories (unless you buy a cream cake to go with it, or a family pack of crisps).

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Ingredients

1 cooked chicken

3 spring onions

One red onion

3 tsps sliced ginger

1 tsp garlic paste

2tsps tomato paste

2 packs edamame beans

Handful kale (optional, freestylin’)

2 pints chicken stock

Method

Shred the chicken meat from the roast chicken, removing the skin. Heat some oil in a large stockpot and throw in the shredded chicken. Add the diced onion, ginger, garlic paste and tomato paste, and stir. Fry for 2 mins before adding 2 pints of chicken stock. Simmer. Stir in the tamarind paste and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 20 mins.

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Voila!!

Seriously, this soup will change your life.

Have you ever eaten something that you wish you had the recipe for or could recreate yourself?

Sushi Making at Suzu

11 Nov

A few months ago I saw a deal on one of the discount sites, and in the spirit of living in the moment and treating each day like its your last, I decided to buy a sushi making course.

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When my Grandfather died on Sunday, I wanted to do nothing more than cancel it till further notice, curl up in my bed and delete the daylight. I think that’s expected when you lose someone close to you, so I closed the doors to the world apart from loved ones, boyfriend and housemate, and licked the emotional wounds.

You might not believe in signs, so on this occasion I will ignore you and plough on with my story. My Grandmother had handed me a pile of papers that she thought I might like to have, and I had stuffed them in my handbag, too sad to read them. But late last week I pulled out the envelope and flicked through the papers. One thing was a small promotional book about sushi made by a Japanese beer company, and in it was the different types of sushi and which beer went well. As I read, a small, folded piece of paper fluttered out the back from where it had been hidden, and landed on my lap.

I unfolded the paper, and there was a note from my Granddad in his jagged scrawl. Scribbled across this ripped page I read Japanese words plus their English translations; words and phrases designed to show politeness in another language.

That was my Granddad all over. We used to go to the Italian restaurant in my home town and he would speak to the waitresses in Italian. They were all born and bred in the UK and didn’t have a clue what he was saying, but he would attempt all the same. I had to keep the class. I felt like it was his way of telling me to pull my socks up and get on with my life. After all, I’m still living mine.

The class was amazing. Two and a half hours of being taught how to make sushi (accompanied by us scoffing our creations) and sipping plum wine. We got taught California rolls, hokosaki and nigiri, as well as getting a cookery book and a roll mat to take home with us.

If you are based in London and fancy checking it out, click here.

What have you done a little differently recently?

Let Them Tweet Cake!

16 Sep

The last few weeks have been manically busy with birthdays, sick people and work so once again, writing has taken a backseat.

* Slaps hand and promises to try harder in future*

I’ve been on hand making chicken soup, buying cough medicine and generally doing a Florence Nightingale routine for various people, and as everyone who has ever come into contact with me knows, I am a notorious feeder. I genuinely believe that you can show love through food, feel better from the right veggies and garner comfort by eating. This might go against any advice by doctors, but you know what, I am laughing in the face of the doctor. Some food nurtures the body, other food nurtures the soul. And although I appreciate and recognise the importance of a healthy, balanced diet (blah blah blah) I also know that a birthday cake makes you feel the love. RIGHT?!

I had 3 birthdays in August, and for each and every one, I made a cake. There were a few touch and go moments, a dusting of tears and maybe, just maybe, a minor temper tantrum when all the fiddly little wafer curls kept falling off one of the cakes, but on the whole they were fairly successful.

1) The Boy’s Birthday Cake

Picture the scene. As much chocolate as you can physically get into a cake, with a ribbon twisted round the outside, for added effect. If I was Willy Wonka’s wife, it would be a really happy union.

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2) Mother Superior’s Birthday Celebration

This one was a hard task for me. My Mum doesn’t like chocolate cake or many chocolate based products, so I had to revise my tried and tested method to create something she would like. I swapped out the chocolate cake for lemon cake with lemon marmalade baked in, and decorated the outside with hazelnut wafer curls. Winning.

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3) Workmate Celebrations

One of the girls on my team also had a birthday, so I decided to show the love with cake. Why not. We had seen pictures on Pinterest (where else?) of a Pinata cake, and so with inspiration from the Great British Bake Off, I decided to go forth and have a go. The man in the supermarket thought I had an eating disorder as I stockpiled Smarties and various types of chocolate, but all in all it was successful, and a definite show stopper for the future!

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What have you guys been up to lately?

Cupcakes – Nailed It!

11 Jul

Birthdays are my favourite time. Not my birthday, but the birthdays of my friends and family; the people I love. I find so much pleasure picking out a gift that sums up my relationship with that person or something thoughtful that will show them I pay attention and put some thinking into picking. I even think I prefer it to my own birthday.

EAT ALL THE CAKE!!

EAT ALL THE CAKE!!

I also love cake. As a child my Mum made cakes and decorated them beautifully, and I have always wanted her to start her own business. Over the years I have had clowns, Little Mermaids, four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie (this is a personal favourite as she made the pie lid stand up to see the birds inside) and all sorts of fantastic Christmas cakes.

It’s given me the bug. I’m pretty good at whipping up savoury treats, but desserts have always caused me problems. Little Tinker won’t let me make pancakes on Pancake Day as they come out like door stops while hers are thin and papery, and I was kindly asked not to choose Home Ec as a subject to GCSE after an incident that involved slightly too much baking soda and a cake explosion, taking out the other kids who were sharing the oven.

There are rare times when I pull a blinder, but it’s taken me a few years and time to realise that it is an exact science, and not like savoury food where I can throw stuff together and it come out right.

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My Great Grandmother used to bake the most perfect chocolate cake; it was moist and delicious, with a layer of apricot jam and then set chocolate on the top. Everyone loved it and it didn’t last five minutes when it got home, wrapped in the old fashioned baking parchment that she used to parcel her sweet treats up in. the whole fun of getting the cake and the build up to it was part of it; opening the parchment and finding the delicious cake inside, that we had been dreaming of since we polished off the final crumbs of the last one.

I love baking birthday cakes for people. I’ve posted previously on my successes, but glossed over the times that I have had cake meltdowns in the kitchen, covered in cake mix and having incinerated a batch of cake dough to the inside of the oven. It’s often hard to do, but I love the way it makes you feel when someone has made you a cake. My Mum created the memories for us every year, never making us share a cake (we are 6 days apart) and I love to recreate that for other people

This weekend marks my best friend’s 27th birthday; the day that she is back to the same age as me and no longer refers to me as the older one. She had exactly 2 months each year to do this, so I smile graciously about being the oldest and take the jokes on wrinkles and Zimmer frames.

So I decided I wanted to make those cupcakes that look like ice-cream cones (damn you, Pinterest!) I thought that it might be difficult, but after the Cookie Monsters and Kit Kat cake successes I gave it a try as I’m starting to become a bit of a one trick pony.

The result was pretty horrendous. The cakes were a doddle; replace the cupcake cases with those free standing cones, but the topping was a bit of a nightmare. Let’s get to the truth… I cried. It was the freezer that started the sneaky cake hate spiral; a pizza box got jammed as I was trying to open the drawer, squeezing the frosting out of the piping bag and into my freezer, and then breaking the drawer. I sat on the floor, fish slice in one hand and sobbed about how my cakes were going to look like one of those ‘nailed it’ Pinterest memes. You know the sign of a good boy when they look at you, look at the cake mess you are standing in and declare “it’s not what it looks like anyway is it chicken? It’s all about how it tastes”.

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So anyway, back to the cake Armageddon. Cakeageddon. I scraped the runny frosting off the cupcakes, the walls and my kitchen floor and after getting really stressed with the boy when he suggested eggs WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT FROSTING?! WHEN DID YOU LAST MAKE CUPCAKES?! I decided to a) say sorry and b) sleep on it.

The results were fruitful. I woke up with a renewed plan and decided to reread the recipe which I had skim read about three months previous.

Turns out it did need eggs. The frosting is made with a meringue mix to start, and then the buttercream is gradually worked in to prevent the meringue peaks from collapsing and give it a thick and creamy texture.

VOILA! They taste pretty good too.

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If you want the recipe then click here, they also have a great buttercream recipe that is dead easy!

Have you ever had any kitchen meltdowns? We won’t talk about the time I set fire to my Mums favourite cookery book when cooking pasta on the gas stove.

Let Them Eat Cake

19 Nov

This weekend saw the birthday of my friend Lauren, and since I didn’t have a clue what to buy her, I thought I would make a cake.

Let me give you some background. I used to be pretty bad at cakes. I had a dream that I might be a modern day Julia Childs, and at school I looked forward to the module in Home Economics where we made cakes. I whisked and prepped my first cake ever, put it in the oven, and promptly blew it up, taking out the two cakes in the oven above. Turns out you CAN put too much baking powder in cake mix. Who’d have thought it? I was kindly advised by the teacher to try something different for GCSE, and my hopes and dreams of becoming a chef were crushed (as if).

hyperbole and a half, one of my favourite cartoon blogs.

If you’ve been reading my blog a while you’ll know stubbornness is kinda my thing, and like the French teacher who told me I’d never amount to anything (I then proceeded to walk out of my final exam with a high A) I’m a pretty good cook. I do the Christmas dinner for my friends, and I’ve been known to rustle up entire three course meals for dinners. So f**k you, teachers!

So, back to the cake. Pinterest has been distracting me from daily life for a while now, and it makes me feel pretty inferior when i see all the absolutely outstanding recipes that people make, while I draw smily faces on the top of cupcakes. Out pops Stubborngirl! “Well if random, faceless Pinterest stranger can create masterpieces from cake, then so can I!” I think, without any background knowledge of said faceless user.

I looked at this one.

Bit much? Maybe.

Then I saw this one…

Yep, probably still a little too much effort for a Saturday.

And then I found my inspiration. A Kit Kat and M&M cake, In actual fact, I had my eye on it for a little while, but could never justify making it for a night in with a film. Although I reckon I could have had a good go at destroying one by myself :)

I went to the shop with a spring in my step, and some slight anticipation. I have done this before you see. When I was 20, I decided to lovingly craft my then-boyfriend a birthday cake. He loved playing the guitar, and in my head I would make a white cake with a guitar on it and be crowned the best girlfriend ever. Fantastic idea. In reality, my mother came home to me rocking and crying, sobbing at her “I don’t know how you do iiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt!!!! Yours always look so gooooooooood!” When she investigated the situation, my cake looked like it had been hit by a car at speed and flattened, and the ‘guitar’ icing shape I had made was no more than a hotdog looking disaster with a really long sausage. Turns out that my head is far more creative than my hands. Mum had to sort the cake out, he was amazed, but I couldn’t lie and say that it was my work of art, in case friends and family started commissioning me for cakes. Imagine, me not being able to refuse and a birthday cake for a party looking like this…

“I don’t get it, she used to be so good at cakes!”

Anyway, I got there, bought all the ingredients, including four family packets of KitKats, and danced home, singing a song about baking a cake (It happens, can’t help it) and set to work.

It was awesome.

I sandwiched it together with chocolate spread, feeling very grown up (cake sandwiching?! Normally I just cover cupcakes in frosting so you can’t see how misshapen they are) and stuck the KitKats on the side.

Fuck. There might not be enough KitKats to go round. Not going back to the shop, I thought. Man already thinks I have an eating disorder due to the incorrect correlation between the amount of KitKats I am buying and my body weight. Must fit round!!

Panic over. They fit round. I iced the top with the M&Ms, and then spent 25 mins dancing round my kitchen like Will Smith in the Fresh Prince, marvelling at how amazing I am.

See!!!!!

“And lo, behold the cake that will end all cakes.”

To Your Posts… Let The Bake Off Begin!

27 Aug

My sister and I decided, in normal penniless fashion, to spend the Bank Holiday weekend together doing sister activities. Last night we had bruschetta for dinner (messy, don’t choose for restaurant fodder!) and watched I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and Don’t Mess With The Zohan. The latter was a bit disappointing but the first was hilarious.

So this morning, armed with a weekend at the gym, we decided to have a bake-off, after initially planning to visit my Granddad and then for plans to change. Neither of us bake very often, preferring to cook savoury food, but in total exercise avoidance it seemed like the best idea.

We baked three types: carrot cakes, vanilla and lemon, and mixed up the icing while we waited for them to cook. And they were a success! If you know me at all you will know I cant do puddings, and I am so bad at baking a cake that my hopes were shattered when it came to making GCSE choices, and I was asked kindly to not choose home economics after putting too much baking powder in some cakes and taking out all the muffins in the oven.

(cupcakes with vanilla icing and raspberries)

We impressed ourselves. The kitchen became a production line of icing and piping, of hearts and flowers and icing sugar inhalation. My little sister managed to get carrot cake mix all up the wall and on the white cupboards that my mum keeps so pristine, with her saying “Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have pressed the turbo button on the whisk”.

Yep, I am impressed with what we created. We coloured icing and added sprinkles etc, until my sister, ignoring what I said, decided to try colouring some herself. It resulted in her being covered in red food colouring and looking like the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

(my sister is so creative!)

But she persevered, and created cute little cupcakes, while I went for speed and simplicity. It was so much fun! the grass in the one above is made of icing mixed with desiccated (or defecated as my sister calls it) coconut and lots of food colouring.


The piece de resistance in my opinion has to be the cookie monsters. You can see the one at the back left was my first attempt as his eyes are a bit squiffy (or ‘the one that did drugs’ as my sister calls it) but I gradually improved, although my fingers are now bright blue and stained from food colouring.


(Cookie monster cupcakes. Made with mini Maryland cookies, white chocolate buttons and desiccated coconut. I wanted to make red Elmo ones too but as Danielle pointed out, no one likes coconut except me, and I cant eat them anyway).

(Ginger cupcakes. Vanilla icing mixed with powdered ginger, with crystallised ginger chunks.)

(my creations!!)

Shame my cupcakes are all dressed up with nowhere to go. I’m going to take some round for Lou tonight, and I hope Lilly likes the Cookie Monsters!!!

Hope you are all having a fantastic weekend. I have started a Facebook page for this blog in addition to Twitter (apparently social media is where all the cool kids are!) so if you subscribe or follow anywhere please like it. I hate that its called a fan page but ill post updates there that are too long for Twitter!!
‘Belle xx

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