Friday, March 30, 2012

March Foodie Penpals

I was really excited to sign up for the brand, spanking new Foodie Penpals this month. What a fabulous idea - you are paired up with a penpal whom you have to send a food-filled parcel to and you in return will receive a parcel from another foodie penpal.

The day Bailey announced that there was a parcel waiting for me at the sorting office was very exciting. We went to collect it that very evening. My parcel came from Nicky of Kobocha Fashionista and was absolutely stuffed full of foodie treats.

Nicky's letter explained that she had made the most of living in London, where loads of unusual stuff is available, and got me a really great selection of extra-special snacky foods including fancy organic chocolate, crumbly cookies, posh cereal bars and raw chocolate brownies.

We immediately opened our packet of Pop Chips and enjoyed them with a glass of orange squash. An amazing idea - crisps that are 'popped' like popcorn! They were really lovely.

We also loved the Cliff Bars - who'd have thought an energy bar could be so full of flavour and texture?!

I'd never had raw chocolate before but my first experience of a Pulsin' Organic Raw Choc Brownie was certainly a good one. Fantastic with a cuppa.

Nicky did brilliantly at finding food we loved and her parcel has brought us so much joy, so thankyou very much Nicky! I still haven't eaten my Organic German Almond Chocolate from Vivani - that one is being saved for a special occasion!

As for my parcel, when I was first paired up with my penpal, Rach of Oh Sugar Cake Company, I was very excited to read all about her cakes, but was also quite nervous. What on earth could I offer to a cake expert such as Rach?

I soon relaxed about the idea and went with the flow. I decided I was going to look at this month's Foodie Penpals as an opportunity to try out some new things I'd never made before. First of all, I made some Cookies in a Jar for Rach to have a bit of a play with in the kitchen, as well as some Lamingtons as I thought they would travel well. Although not quite as beautiful as her baked treats, I tried my best!

Along with the homemade treats, I thought I would send Rach some exciting looking essences for her cake making that I found at Meezan Supermarket on the Curry Mile - coconut, banana and pineapple. I snapped them up as I'd never seen them before but apologies to Rach if they're actually quite ordinary! To see Rach's post about my parcel check out her reveal post.

I am so pleased I signed up to Foodie Penpals and would really recommend it to all you bloggers out there as a really fun and creative thing to do. If you'd like to read about some of the other Foodie Penpal swaps, head over to The Lean Green Bean. I personally am already looking forward to doing it all over again next month!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cake

Behold the cake I shall be bringing to tonight's Clandestine Cake Club meeting in Chorlton.

I am actually quite proud of this one. I really took my time with the baking of it for once and did it stress-free, over two days. It even looks quite pretty if I say so myself.

The idea, as per usual, came from a Primrose Bakery cupcake recipe. As the theme for tonight is A Vintage Spring Tea Party, I thought this would be perfect. All that will be missing is the cloudy lemonade!

The jam in between the two sponges is the Bellini Jam I made a few weeks ago, so everything is home made. I am keeping my fingers crossed that people like the cake, I did a practice version last week and took it into school - it went down very well!


For the Cake
335g butter
335g caster sugar
6 large eggs
315g self raising flour
37g cornflour
1 and a ½ tsp baking powder
4 and a ½ tsp milk
3 tbsp Bellini jam (or raspberry jam)

For the icing
110g butter
4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
380g white chocolate

To serve
4 dessert spoons Bellini Jam (or raspberry jam) 

3 punnets of raspberries
20g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Sift in the cornflour, self-raising flour and baking powder, stirring well to create a pale, smooth batter. Add the milk and stir well again.

Finally, add the jam and stir through roughly, so that the jam is combined with the batter but runs through the mixture in ripples.

Line two 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper and spray with cooking spray. Divide the cake batter between the two tins. Place both tins in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, swapping the tins between the oven shelves halfway through to ensure both cakes are cooked evenly.

Leave the cakes in their tins to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the tins and allow to cool completely.

To make the icing, mix the butter and icing sugar together. If you're finding it difficult to stir, start adding the milk and vanilla a bit at a time.

Stir all together until you have a thick buttercream. Don’t worry too much about lumps as once you add the melted chocolate the lumps will melt out.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave and add it to the icing.

Take the first of the two cakes and place it, bottom up onto a tray. Smother with jam and place the second of the two sponges on top.

Cover the entire cake with a layer of buttercream and leave for about an hour.

Cover with the second layer of buttercream.

Make a nice little pattern out of the raspberries. I did this wacky circle with another circle around it.

Take a parmesan shaver and make curls of white chocolate to top the raspberries.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Greedy Greek

Mother's Day weekend in Sheffield. What better way to spend the Saturday than taking your ma out for a spot of lunch on Sharrowvale Road?

I have always liked Sharrowvale Road. And I am not just saying this to be trendy but I remember saying to Bailey some years ago that it was going to be "The Next Big Thing" in the Steel City. Turns out I was completely correct! A stroll down it the Saturday before last and I could barely believe my eyes. It felt very much like a Chorlton Saturday lunchtime - cafés packed full of people, local fishmongers and bakery with queues going out of the door and down the street,  vintage shops full of treasures, fancy new cupcake shops, you name it.

We didn't get swept up in all the commotion though. Instead, we paid a visit to one of our old favourites - The Greedy Greek Deli. This is the ace no-frills Greek eatery that me and Bailey always used to order takeaway from when we lived in Sheffield but only "on a special occasion". Our good friends the Coppards are also big fans and I have many a fond memory of chowing down on a Friday night Halloumi Kebab in their living room.

As much as we love the place, mum was the only one of us who had actually eaten in before, so it was very exciting to grace their fine establishment with our presence. I barely had to glance at the menu as I knew what I wanted - a good old Halloumi Kebab - packed full of the stuff as well as loads of salad, houmous, olive paste and tzatziki wrapped up in a perfect fat Greek pitta. Aída, being a lady of taste went for the same thing as me. Winner.

On this occasion however, the Meal Deal caught Bailey and my eyes. For about quid more I could have my kebab with two side dishes. I went for the Butter Beans and Greek Salad. Mum and I loved our wraps, they were definitely up to their usual standard, and we couldn't believe how many pieces of halloumi were in there, it seemed never ending. My butter beans were nice but I was quite unimpressed with my sorry Greek Salad. Wilted lettuce and smushy tomatoes are a massive no-no for me as a salad lover, and there wasn't much feta to speak of either. Still, the kebab made up for it.

Bailey also went for the Meal Deal and chose the Pastitsio which he has been after trying for ages! His sides were the Briami and Greek Lemon Potatoes. Bailey's Pastitsio lived up to expectations and his Briami was soft and delicious too. But I have to give a special mention to those potatoes. Aaaah those potatoes! When I think of the Greedy Greek, it is those darned potatoes that pop into my mind and my mouth begins to water. The softest, lemonyest, most oily potatoes you will ever try, they tick all the boxes. We have tried to make them ourselves many times and have never come anywhere close. Delicious.

A lovely time was had at the Greedy Greek and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a hearty lunch to set you up for a good stroll down Eccy Road. Fine dining it is not, but if you want no-fuss good food then this is the place. Unbelievably cheap at £17 for three meals and three drinks, you can't argue with the prices. The staff are nice too. We saw a sign saying that if you go there at night you can bring your own wine too, I bet it's great for a good knees up!

Greedy Greek Deli on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Aperol Jelly

My mum Aída's recently-discovered favourite beverages are Aperol and Campari. I had never heard of said tipples until she started drinking them (and they are both so similar I can't tell the difference between them either).

As Aída isn't much of a "desserts person", we were a bit stuck for ideas on what to make for pud for her mother's day meal. Aída then mentioned she had a full bottle of Aperol in her drinks cupboard and I thought what a cool idea it would be to make her a dessert made from her favourite drink!

I had a little look at the back of the Aperol bottle and saw that some of the best Aperol cocktails could be made with oranges, lemons and lemonade. So I thought I would whack all of those ingredients in there for a bit of a wild jelly cocktail. I decided what ingredients I was going to use then stuck to the basic liquid-to-jelly measurements on the back of a packet of gelatine and voila, the Aperol Jelly was born.

I'm really glad I did it as Aída must have liked it it as she asked me for the recipe and made it again less than a week later!

I was really happy that everyone - not just the Aperol lover of the house - really liked the dessert. I only had a taste because I was just about to drive over the snake pass but everyone at the table was making "Oooh!" noises and saying it was really nice. It is a very boozy dessert too and about 10 minutes later Aída and Auntie Patricia were saying it had made them feel really tipsy! A great way to liven up a Sunday afternoon.

1 sachet orange jelly crystals
285ml boiling water
285ml orange juice
2 oranges
100ml Aperol
100ml lemonade
1 tbsp gelatine
250g natural yogurt
1 lemon
5 tbsp Splenda
Yellow food colouring (optional)
Orange slices, to serve

Sprinkle the orange jelly crystals into a jug and add the boiling water. Stir well until all the crystals have dissolved.

Add the orange juice and mix, before squeezing the juice out of the two oranges and mixing into the orange jelly mix. Pour the contents of the jug into a trifle dish and allow to set for a good four hours in the fridge or a cool place. We had to use the garage as our dish wouldn't go in the fridge.

When your jelly has been setting for about three hours, mix together the Aperol and lemonade in a jug.

Stir in the gelatine. Add the liquid to a sauce pan and cook over a low heat, just for a few minutes so that the gelatine crystals dissolve but not long enough for the liquid to heat up too much and certainly not enough for the liquid to boil. Leave to cool but not to set.

When the Aperol and lemonade has cooled, pour on top of the orange jelly which will make lovely different coloured layers. Allow to set for a further few hours.

When both jellies are fully set, put the yogurt into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the yogurt and add the Splenda. Stir well. You could add some yellow food colouring to make it look even more exciting. Pour the yogurt over the jellies.

Decorate with slices of orange to serve. A citrusy, sharp, boozy treat!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Having had and loved my Primrose Bakery Book for some time now, I always feel bad that I've barely baked anything from it. Ever since I bought it the recipe for Lamingtons keeps catching my greedy little eye.

I'd never actually heard of Lamingtons but they looked so adorable. Apparently they're a very popular Australian treat and sounded so yummy - moist sponge covered in chocolate or flavoured jelly. Very unusual!

The perfect opportunity for Lamington-making arose when I was deciding what to send to my Foodie Penpal for March. I needed a treat that was yummy enough for a cake lover but also that could survive being thrown around by Royal Mail. As Lamingtons are protected by a lovely layer of topping plus dessicated coconut I thought they'd be great!

Another potential problem I had to think about was whether or not the Lamingtons would arrive nice and fresh to their recipient. I remembered the wonderful Pastry King giving a tip on how to make cakes last longer when we saw him do his baking demo at Cheshire Cookery School Clandestine Cake Club meet. I tweeted him and he told me I needed to substitute 15% of the recipe's butter for oil and to add a dash of glucose to my topping. Lovely stuff. Cheers Pastry King!

The Lamingtons came out very lovely. Not only did I send a box off to my Foodie Penpal, I took some into work as did Bailey and the Morrises also got a couple of squares. Everyone was very impressed, my friend Iain ate two during a meeting at school about diabetes saying "I couldn't help it, they were so tasty." Unfortunately they weren't very pretty as the mixture sunk a bit due to me being an idiot and putting 100g too much sugar in (the recipe below is the CORRECT one!) I sort of got away with it by keeping different sized and wonky Lamingtons away from each other. Good stuff.


420g self-raising flour
450g golden caster sugar
50g cornflour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
75ml oil
425g butter
8 large eggs
6 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
200g dessicated coconut

For Raspberry Lamingtons:
23g sachet raspberry jelly
125ml boiling water
125ml cold water
A squeeze of glucose

For Orange Lamingtons:
23g sachet orange jelly
125ml boiling water
125ml cold water
A squeeze of glucose

For Chocolate Lamingtons:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
2 drops vanilla extract
A squeeze of glucose
350g icing sugar

Start by preheating the oven to ??????? degrees C. Sift the flours, baking powder and sugar together. Gradually add the vanilla essence and oil, beating in slowly.

Beat the eggs in one at a time.

Add the milk and beat well until you have a nice, smooth batter.

Line a rectangular baking tray with greaseproof paper. Spray with cooking spray and pour half of the cake batter into the tin.

Bake in the oven for ?????? minutes or until the sponge is golden brown and a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Remove the sponge from the tray and repeat the process with the second batch of batter. Once the sponges have cooled, slice the edges off the sponge so you have even sized and textured rectangles of sponge. The excess cake can be eaten (which is what we did) but could also be kept for making Cake Pops (this is what we thought of afterwards and wished we had done).

Prepare two bowls with the different flavoured jelly powders. Add the boiling water and stir well. Add the cold water and glucose to each before leaving to thicken in the fridge for a little while but do not allow to fully set.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping for the Chocolate Lamingtons. Melt the butter down in a saucepan before adding the cocoa powder, water, glucose and vanilla extract.

Add the icing sugar and stir to make a thick chocolate sauce. You will need to work with this straight away otherwise it goes too stiff to dip the sponge into. It's no big deal if you have to heat it up again - I did about three times!

Get your squares of sponge and your toppings ready, as well as a plate with the dessicated coconut on it and you can start rolling!

Dip the sponge squares into the jellies and the chocolate sauce carefully before rolling in the dessicated coconut and transferring to a plate. Leave to cool, preferably in the fridge and for a good few hours. Be careful not to let the jelly stick to the plate like I did! It will make your Lamingtons look quite messy.

Serve up your colourful Lamingtons for a lovely treat!


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