Tag Archives: recipe

The Macaroon Afternoon*

16 Jul

I’m not a huge fan of stepping out of my comfort zone, but I do see the benefit of forcing myself to do things that scare me. Long gone are the days when I used to hide behind my mothers long skirts and duck my sister throwing mud at me, and now I must stand alone (mainly because at nearly thirty it would be a bit weird for me to be hiding behind said Mother, who, like Yoda, is now smaller than me.

When I saw a deal on macaron making classes, I roped in my BFF and booked us a slot.

Macarons

And it was great fun! We rocked up in our pair and it became immediately apparent that there were three types of people who did this sort of thing.

1)      The Fun Finders.

So us, and the hen do that were also there. Not down with taking life too seriously, none of us cried when anything went wrong – we had fun and were amazingly pleased with the outcome.

2)      The Die Hard Bakers

identifiable by the fact they arrived alone (no BFF to weigh them down) and immediately were drawn to each other, to make a ‘powerpair’. Before you could draw your whisk for a duel they were bonding over their previous successes and failures in independent macaron making, shouting buzzwords such as lavender water and rose oil. We made a beeline for the opposite end of the room, as every time we laughed in the queue they glared. No funsies.

3)      The ‘One More Enthusiastic Than The Other’ Couple

Lets face it, boys and macaron making do not go seamlessly together on the whole; they are no sausage and mash. The reluctant boys turned up, dragged along by their girlfriends as a fun day out, and looked perturbed to be there. One had an attitude where he rolled his eyes at the fun personality of the instructor, only to be shot down in glares from us girls who were there to have a good time, LOVED her, and weren’t prepared to have anyone steal her sparkle. Then there was the guy with the huge beard, who unfortunately got covered in macaron mixture fairly early on and spent the rest of the time picking it out of his beard. Hahah!

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We macarooned with the best of them for three hours, adding colours and fillings, and generally learning a whole lot. I have to take some time to talk about Jojo, the instructor, as she had the most addictive personality and was one of the loveliest women I have had the pleasure of meeting. So much so that when I asked my friend if she wanted to go to another one, she said she would happily pay thirty pounds to sit in a room with Jojo for 2 hours as a self-confidence booster.

If you want to try out the macaron making classes, you can book here from the fantastic Flammen and Citronen. I think it would be a really fun thing to build into a hen weekend, or something unusual to do if you had friends to stay.

*Actually, that’s not what we did. A macaroon is a small cake made with coconut; a French Macaron is two little bites of dreaminess sandwiched together with buttercream. We made the latter, but I wasn’t going to let the truth get in the way of a good title!

Happy Tummy: Quinoa and Goats Cheese Burgers

7 Jul

I’m a firm believer in you get out what you put in (although I don’t always practice what I preach!) but in the summer its so much easier to eat well, and you always feel better. I absolutely adore quinoa, but am never sure how to cook it other than sticking it in a salad. I first came across this recipe on Pinterest, and have adapted it as I’ve cooked it. Its quick, easy and delicious. Try it out!

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Quinoa and Goats Cheese Burgers

  • 2 1/2 cups/12 oz/340 g cooked quinoa
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup/.5 oz /15 g finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup/.5 oz/15g goats cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup/3.5 oz /100 g bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Throw the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a bowl and add both onions, the goats cheese and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into 1-inch/2.5cm thick burgers.

Heat the oil and fry the patties till they are brown on both sides. Takes about 6 mins on high for both sides.

I served mine with a spoonful of crème fraiche and half an avocado, although I think if you wanted to opt for a meat version a slice of chorizo or parma ham would add a little extra flavour.

Whats your favourite summer recipe?

The Monster Cake and a Birthday

31 May

My little sister is one of my favourite people of all time. She has this unfounded ability to cheer me up, make me laugh and put me in my place at all times, and I love her for it.

Last weekend she turned 26, and to celebrate, I planned a weekend of fun. We had afternoon tea at the Hilton on Saturday, dined at Duck and Waffle on Sunday and I made her a ‘monster’ birthday cake.

What do you think?

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Monster cake, pre-eyes. At this point I was stressing because the icing was melting and sticking to the kitchen counter. Not my finest hour!!

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The finished article! Didn’t manage the eyelashes, this was hard enough! #personaleverest

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Big Tinker and Little Tinker enjoying Dishoom in Shoreditch for dinner

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Duck and Waffle fun, 40th Floor, Heron Tower, London (right by Liverpool street station). NOTE: you HAVE to book!!!

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Danielle chowing down on the plate, which was made of white chocolate. Petit fours, cupcakes, cream teas and sandwiches. You had to roll us out of there!

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?

Portugal: A Culinary Quest

31 Jul IMG_1938

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”J.R.R. Tolkien

There are 2 types of people in this world: the sort who eats to live, to give themselves enough energy to keep going. They don’t savour each bite, don’t look forward to eating their food and trying new things – they simply eat because they must.

“I am a better person when I have less on my plate.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Then you have the other sort. The people who dream in multi-coloured joy of foods that they cannot wait to eat; whose taste buds explode like fireworks to new foods and who relish going out into the big wide world and sampling lots of foods that they have never tried before – a bucket lists of tastes and flavours.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf

I’m type 2. And I would rather die than be type one. I am the sort of person that is constantly exploring new foods, new combinations and new recipes. The type of girl who bakes for fun (despite avoiding sugary treats and therefore feeding those around me) and who cooks to de-stress. I cook for happiness, I cook for sadness. When someone dies or something bad happens I can often be found with my music blaring, stirring furiously at the stove, because it’s my happy place. Food boosts my soul. (And also my waist line, goddamit!)

Yesterday I flew back from a stay in Portugal, and over the next couple of day’s I’ll share my highlights, with the important stuff first. THE FOOD.

I’m a big believer in the idea of eating tapas and small bits; that way the greedy pig in me doesn’t have to opt for one item on the menu, and can instead eat a little bit of everything. I also love to dine on seafood, and frequenting a house right by the sea means that you can eat the freshest seafood that you will ever eat, against a beautiful Mediterranean backdrop.

Some of the highlights of my visit were: white wine sangria, squid and prawn kebabs, ice-cream and mussels – in fact there were too many delicious delicacies to pick!

 Ice Cream

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Seafood Cataplana

ImageA cataplana is a bit like a Portuguese version of a Spanish paella, but minus the rice. It is cooked in a large bronze dish, but without the rice it becomes more of a fish stew; packed with prawns, mussels, clams, sliced pork, langoustines and plenty of peppers and tomatoes. It’s a really hearty dish and a little strange to eat in the heat, but it’s a must have when on the Algarve. We valiantly tried to defeat it but it won!

Squid and Prawn Kebabs

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Delicious squid and prawn kebabs in my favourite restaurant, Pedros

The clue is pretty much in the title with this one :)

Clams with Garlic

ImageClams with garlic is one of my favourite Portuguese dishes. Served with bread for dipping in the juices, you squeeze the lemon over and get stuck in.

What is your favourite holiday food?

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.”

We Are Tinkering In The Kitchen!!!

30 Nov

Little Tinkers,

Thank you for all the kind words over the last week or so and I apologise for the dramatic “I bid you adieu” and then no more posts!

I’m sick again, (it doesn’t rain, it pours!!) so I’ve barely raised my head from the pillow this weekend, but I am starting to feel a little more alive.

And I have good news! Jules has taken the helm on the new project and cooked up some great stuff, so we are now operating on our own blog at http://www.tinkeringinthekitchen.com.

It might not stay looking like that as we are deliberating behind the scenes as to turning it into something fabulous! But we would love you to follow us there too. We promise it will be just as amusing :)

In fact, we are running a bit of a competition; if we can get 300 subscribers before Christmas we will give away this fantastic gift.

The Hummingbird Bakery is quintessentially British; a bakery first set up in Covent Garden and brought the Red Velvet Cupcake into the public eye! I’m pretty terrible at cupcakes but I have this book and I can guarantee they rarely go wrong, so good are the recipes. We are also aiming to get 300 followers on Twitter (@Kitchen_Tinker) in this time too, so if you enter on Twitter and subscribe you will automatically get entered twice. Yay!!

We will announce the winner at random on the 1st of January if we reach the target, and pop the prize in the post there and then, so one of you lucky people will get a lovely prize to blow away the January blues! If you don’t want to be entered please follow us anyway, we need the support!

This is available to everyone, so get following!

And just as an aside, thanks for all the positive comments and great response to our new effort. Jules and I are very touched.

Lots of Love

‘Belle

xxx

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