30 April 2011

Big Day Out - Total Greek Yoghurt Masterclass

Last week felt like a bit of a right of passage for me as a blogger, I went to my first ever blogger event! I admit I still feel like a relative blogging novice so was nervous about going & who else might be there? Would they all be well established, incredibly successful, very clever foodie bloggers? Well yes, most of them were, but I needn't have worried, from the second I walked into L'atelier des Chefs in central London, I felt very welcome & was chatting away in no time!

The event was hosted by the team at Total Greek Yoghurt, the theme of the day being 'living a healthy lifestyle'. After a delicious smoothie (made with Total of course) we took our seats for a Q&A session with Hala El Shafie, expert nutritionist & co-founder of Nutrition Rocks, her ethos is everything in moderation, a little bit of what you fancy does you good & faddy diets don't work. A women after my own heart!

Me asking the very important question....'are carbs really that evil?!'

Next we were introduced to Phil from Skinny Latte Strikes Back, she shared her own story of turning her life around from being unhealthy, unfit & unhappy to...well, healthy, fit & happy. My favourite comment from her was that dress sizes are BS! Reassuring to know I'm not the only one who has a wardrobe that varies from a size 10 to 16!

Finally we got to the bit I was looking forward to the most...the food! Andre Dupin, former Chez Bruce & Claridges chef was to be our guide for this part. Andre had created a range of 3 savoury & 3 sweet recipes for the occasion, all incorporating Total Greek Yoghurt. He carefully demonstrated each recipe (in front of a rather particular film crew!) before we were let loose in the kitchen!

Here are the results of my efforts.....


Vegetarian Samosas with a Minted Yoghurt Dip

Pan Fried Medallions of Pork with Total Greek Yoghurt Gribiche & Fennel

Tartare of Mackerel with Minted Cucumber Soup

It's difficult to choose my favourite dish as they were all yummy, I'd never really given much thought into using yoghurt in savoury dishes (other than tatziki!) so they were a bit of a revelation. I think at a push I'd have to say the Pork Medallions were my favourite, the fennel salad added a lovely fresh crunch to the dish & having never tried Gribiche before it was delicious!

Then it was onto the desserts....


Drop Scones with Caramelised Pineapple & Total Greek Yoghurt


White Chocolate Mille Feuille with Spiced Plums

There was also a recipe for a Chestnut Tiramisu, but I ran out of time so unfortunately didn't get a chance to try it. However several people around me were eating it, making the appropriate yum & mmm noises, so I imagine it was very good! Out of the two desserts I made, my favourite was the pancakes, but them I'm a sucker for anything involving pineapple. Click here to see a list of the full recipes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day out & would like to say a big thanks to all involved & all the lovely people I met. I will certainly be getting a bit more experimental with my yoghurt! Till next time, Rebecca x

22 April 2011

Biscuits not bullets...testing out a cookie gun!

I hope you're all enjoying the Easter break & the sun is shining for you as much as it is here in the Royal Borough? This week I'm testing out another of the kitchen gadgets I received at Christmas & this time it's a cookie press. Looking at it, you'd think you should grout your bathroom with it, but I have to say after a bit of trial & error it was actually quite nifty. It's made by Kuhn Rikon & comes with 16 interchangeable discs that produce a range of shapes from stars & flowers, to Christmas trees & something vaguely resembling a pumpkin! I made the same cookie dough I used a few weeks back for my Cookie Stamp, then you roll it into a sausage, load it into the gun & get trigger happy!

I decided I'd make a batch to give as gifts this Easter rather than eggs, so I chose the most spring like shapes (sorry the bat & dinosaur will have to wait for another day!)



These are 'abstract' according to the booklet, squiggles to me!



Stars that could be flowers...



more flowers....


& even more flowers!



Hearts

What I discovered was that there was a bit of a knack to shooting cookies, some shapes required a quicker trigger speed than others, (I do realise how ridiculous this sounds!) The other thing that was a bit of a revelation for me was using a non-stick baking liner. It was recommended in the instructions to help the cookies stick & they were right! I tried shooting them onto greaseproof paper & straight onto the baking sheet, but no joy. I bought mine from Lakeland for £5 & I think it'll be a fiver well spent.

I ended up with 80 odd cookies from one batch! As they were for Easter I packed them into these really cute bunny bags also from Lakeland. Beats an over packaged, over priced choccie egg any day I think!



Next week I'll share with you what happened when I went to my first ever Blogger event organised by the lovely people at Total Greek Yogurt, so prepare yourselves for lots of yogurt related recipes in weeks to come! Have a lovely weekend with you & yours, Rebecca x

13 April 2011

Sweet Nostalgia #3 - Sherbet Dip Dab

The next of my sweet nostalgia is the Sherbet Dip Dab, in my opinion a sweet that's far superior to it's cousin the Sherbet Fountain (never a major fan of liquorice!) I remember tipping the left over sherbet, the stuff that I couldn't get to stick to the lolly, into a glass & adding water. It made the most sickly sweet slightly fizzy, pretty tasteless pop that had tooth decay written all over it! That is if there was any sherbet left as I was also partial to using the lolly like a shovel :-)

For next time I'm off on the search for a Cadbury Minatures chocolate machine money box thingy....Rebecca x

4 April 2011

The most complicated cake ever - Patience Cake!

I thought I'd completed a pretty big challenge when I finished my 52 week baking marathon earlier this year, but that seems like a walk in the park compared to this weekends creation! I first came across a Patience Cake on the blog Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker. It's written by Gesine Bullock-Prado who as well as being a whizz with all things sugar, also happens to be Sandra Bullock's sister! I remember being in awe of it, promising myself I would have a go at it at some point & with Mothers Day on Sunday I took the plunge...

It's an American recipe so I've converted the quantities from cups, I also changed the flavours from pomegranate & key lime to blueberry & vanilla. Have a look at the original blog post for the full method, I just wanted to share a few highlights of my experience. This is not a cake you can just 'knock up', it took me around 4 hours from start to finish, so you do need an awful lot of patience & when you read the ingredients list, your own chicken could also prove useful!

So deep breath, are you ready? Here goes....

First off you need to make the cakes, you need 2 layers of each flavour so you'll need double the quantities of ingredients listed here.

420g plain flour
300g caster sugar
8 eggs
150ml vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
4tsp baking powder

For the vanilla layers you'll also need 125ml milk & 125ml water mixed with the seeds from a vanilla pod.

Vanilla batter looking lovely & creamy

For the blueberry layer I made a puree by gently heating 250g blueberries in a pan with 1tbsp sugar & a dash of water until they mush down. Pass it through a sieve to get rid of the bits, which should give you around 150ml, then top it up to 250ml with milk. It was a beautiful purple colour, then I added it to the cake mix & this is what happened...


Cake mix the colour of cement...not good!


Rescued to something that looks edible with some red food colouring

So by this point I had 4 layers of sponge cake, 2 vanilla & 2 blueberry, I left them to cool while I got on with making an epic quantity of frosting! Ingredients are...



600g caster sugar
250ml water
15 egg whites
Pinch of salt
900g butter
Few drops of red food colouring




So if you've been counting so far, that's 2 x 8 eggs for each batch of cakes plus 15 egg whites for the frosting, a massive 31 eggs in total, hence the chicken comment!

By this point, I'll be honest it was starting to turn into a 'I'm losing Patience Cake!' But no turning back, had to push on to construction & I did pick up a really helpful hint on how to evenly slice a cake into layers. Use a ruler to measure up the cake & pop in a cocktail stick at regular intervals so you end up with something looking like a UFO. Guide your knife using the markers & you'll be amazed at how even they end up!

With each layer sliced into three, I had twelve layers in total. The top layers I left to nibble on as they were too uneven to use, then I picked the four neatest & sandwiched them together alternately using the frosting. The cake went into the fridge for about an hour to allow the frosting to set.


To get the puzzle effect I cut a crater out the middle, spread a thin layer of frosting inside the crater & over the top, added an extra layer to cover the hole, inverted the whole cake, inverted the chunk I'd taken out & squished it back in the hole. Sounds simple doesn't it, but by this point it had turned into the 'I don't have the Patience for this Cake!'


Anyway, I'd got this far, had to get to the end....final thing was to cover the rather bashed looking cake with the remaining frosting, which resulted in this!


I was frazzled & was now referring to it as 'this bl***y cake!' Anyway, I had a moment, drank a large glass of Rose & took another look at it. I was quite chuffed I'd done it! But I guess the final test was how it looked when I cut into it & most importantly how it tasted. So, did it look like Gesine's? No, but it didn't collapse into a heap of crumbs & I was quite pleased that I'd managed to create the general effect intended. It tasted nice, but if I'm honest considering the amount of time & ingredients that went into it I was expecting to be blown away. It's not as sweet as it looks, particularly the frosting which is a good thing, but I'm sorry to say I found it a bit on the bland side :-(

Anyway, mission accomplished, I have made a Patience Cake, it wasn't to my taste, but that's not to say you might love it! I'm going for a lie down to recover! Rebecca x






30 April 2011

Big Day Out - Total Greek Yoghurt Masterclass

Last week felt like a bit of a right of passage for me as a blogger, I went to my first ever blogger event! I admit I still feel like a relative blogging novice so was nervous about going & who else might be there? Would they all be well established, incredibly successful, very clever foodie bloggers? Well yes, most of them were, but I needn't have worried, from the second I walked into L'atelier des Chefs in central London, I felt very welcome & was chatting away in no time!

The event was hosted by the team at Total Greek Yoghurt, the theme of the day being 'living a healthy lifestyle'. After a delicious smoothie (made with Total of course) we took our seats for a Q&A session with Hala El Shafie, expert nutritionist & co-founder of Nutrition Rocks, her ethos is everything in moderation, a little bit of what you fancy does you good & faddy diets don't work. A women after my own heart!

Me asking the very important question....'are carbs really that evil?!'

Next we were introduced to Phil from Skinny Latte Strikes Back, she shared her own story of turning her life around from being unhealthy, unfit & unhappy to...well, healthy, fit & happy. My favourite comment from her was that dress sizes are BS! Reassuring to know I'm not the only one who has a wardrobe that varies from a size 10 to 16!

Finally we got to the bit I was looking forward to the most...the food! Andre Dupin, former Chez Bruce & Claridges chef was to be our guide for this part. Andre had created a range of 3 savoury & 3 sweet recipes for the occasion, all incorporating Total Greek Yoghurt. He carefully demonstrated each recipe (in front of a rather particular film crew!) before we were let loose in the kitchen!

Here are the results of my efforts.....


Vegetarian Samosas with a Minted Yoghurt Dip

Pan Fried Medallions of Pork with Total Greek Yoghurt Gribiche & Fennel

Tartare of Mackerel with Minted Cucumber Soup

It's difficult to choose my favourite dish as they were all yummy, I'd never really given much thought into using yoghurt in savoury dishes (other than tatziki!) so they were a bit of a revelation. I think at a push I'd have to say the Pork Medallions were my favourite, the fennel salad added a lovely fresh crunch to the dish & having never tried Gribiche before it was delicious!

Then it was onto the desserts....


Drop Scones with Caramelised Pineapple & Total Greek Yoghurt


White Chocolate Mille Feuille with Spiced Plums

There was also a recipe for a Chestnut Tiramisu, but I ran out of time so unfortunately didn't get a chance to try it. However several people around me were eating it, making the appropriate yum & mmm noises, so I imagine it was very good! Out of the two desserts I made, my favourite was the pancakes, but them I'm a sucker for anything involving pineapple. Click here to see a list of the full recipes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day out & would like to say a big thanks to all involved & all the lovely people I met. I will certainly be getting a bit more experimental with my yoghurt! Till next time, Rebecca x

22 April 2011

Biscuits not bullets...testing out a cookie gun!

I hope you're all enjoying the Easter break & the sun is shining for you as much as it is here in the Royal Borough? This week I'm testing out another of the kitchen gadgets I received at Christmas & this time it's a cookie press. Looking at it, you'd think you should grout your bathroom with it, but I have to say after a bit of trial & error it was actually quite nifty. It's made by Kuhn Rikon & comes with 16 interchangeable discs that produce a range of shapes from stars & flowers, to Christmas trees & something vaguely resembling a pumpkin! I made the same cookie dough I used a few weeks back for my Cookie Stamp, then you roll it into a sausage, load it into the gun & get trigger happy!

I decided I'd make a batch to give as gifts this Easter rather than eggs, so I chose the most spring like shapes (sorry the bat & dinosaur will have to wait for another day!)



These are 'abstract' according to the booklet, squiggles to me!



Stars that could be flowers...



more flowers....


& even more flowers!



Hearts

What I discovered was that there was a bit of a knack to shooting cookies, some shapes required a quicker trigger speed than others, (I do realise how ridiculous this sounds!) The other thing that was a bit of a revelation for me was using a non-stick baking liner. It was recommended in the instructions to help the cookies stick & they were right! I tried shooting them onto greaseproof paper & straight onto the baking sheet, but no joy. I bought mine from Lakeland for £5 & I think it'll be a fiver well spent.

I ended up with 80 odd cookies from one batch! As they were for Easter I packed them into these really cute bunny bags also from Lakeland. Beats an over packaged, over priced choccie egg any day I think!



Next week I'll share with you what happened when I went to my first ever Blogger event organised by the lovely people at Total Greek Yogurt, so prepare yourselves for lots of yogurt related recipes in weeks to come! Have a lovely weekend with you & yours, Rebecca x

13 April 2011

Sweet Nostalgia #3 - Sherbet Dip Dab

The next of my sweet nostalgia is the Sherbet Dip Dab, in my opinion a sweet that's far superior to it's cousin the Sherbet Fountain (never a major fan of liquorice!) I remember tipping the left over sherbet, the stuff that I couldn't get to stick to the lolly, into a glass & adding water. It made the most sickly sweet slightly fizzy, pretty tasteless pop that had tooth decay written all over it! That is if there was any sherbet left as I was also partial to using the lolly like a shovel :-)

For next time I'm off on the search for a Cadbury Minatures chocolate machine money box thingy....Rebecca x

4 April 2011

The most complicated cake ever - Patience Cake!

I thought I'd completed a pretty big challenge when I finished my 52 week baking marathon earlier this year, but that seems like a walk in the park compared to this weekends creation! I first came across a Patience Cake on the blog Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker. It's written by Gesine Bullock-Prado who as well as being a whizz with all things sugar, also happens to be Sandra Bullock's sister! I remember being in awe of it, promising myself I would have a go at it at some point & with Mothers Day on Sunday I took the plunge...

It's an American recipe so I've converted the quantities from cups, I also changed the flavours from pomegranate & key lime to blueberry & vanilla. Have a look at the original blog post for the full method, I just wanted to share a few highlights of my experience. This is not a cake you can just 'knock up', it took me around 4 hours from start to finish, so you do need an awful lot of patience & when you read the ingredients list, your own chicken could also prove useful!

So deep breath, are you ready? Here goes....

First off you need to make the cakes, you need 2 layers of each flavour so you'll need double the quantities of ingredients listed here.

420g plain flour
300g caster sugar
8 eggs
150ml vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
4tsp baking powder

For the vanilla layers you'll also need 125ml milk & 125ml water mixed with the seeds from a vanilla pod.

Vanilla batter looking lovely & creamy

For the blueberry layer I made a puree by gently heating 250g blueberries in a pan with 1tbsp sugar & a dash of water until they mush down. Pass it through a sieve to get rid of the bits, which should give you around 150ml, then top it up to 250ml with milk. It was a beautiful purple colour, then I added it to the cake mix & this is what happened...


Cake mix the colour of cement...not good!


Rescued to something that looks edible with some red food colouring

So by this point I had 4 layers of sponge cake, 2 vanilla & 2 blueberry, I left them to cool while I got on with making an epic quantity of frosting! Ingredients are...



600g caster sugar
250ml water
15 egg whites
Pinch of salt
900g butter
Few drops of red food colouring




So if you've been counting so far, that's 2 x 8 eggs for each batch of cakes plus 15 egg whites for the frosting, a massive 31 eggs in total, hence the chicken comment!

By this point, I'll be honest it was starting to turn into a 'I'm losing Patience Cake!' But no turning back, had to push on to construction & I did pick up a really helpful hint on how to evenly slice a cake into layers. Use a ruler to measure up the cake & pop in a cocktail stick at regular intervals so you end up with something looking like a UFO. Guide your knife using the markers & you'll be amazed at how even they end up!

With each layer sliced into three, I had twelve layers in total. The top layers I left to nibble on as they were too uneven to use, then I picked the four neatest & sandwiched them together alternately using the frosting. The cake went into the fridge for about an hour to allow the frosting to set.


To get the puzzle effect I cut a crater out the middle, spread a thin layer of frosting inside the crater & over the top, added an extra layer to cover the hole, inverted the whole cake, inverted the chunk I'd taken out & squished it back in the hole. Sounds simple doesn't it, but by this point it had turned into the 'I don't have the Patience for this Cake!'


Anyway, I'd got this far, had to get to the end....final thing was to cover the rather bashed looking cake with the remaining frosting, which resulted in this!


I was frazzled & was now referring to it as 'this bl***y cake!' Anyway, I had a moment, drank a large glass of Rose & took another look at it. I was quite chuffed I'd done it! But I guess the final test was how it looked when I cut into it & most importantly how it tasted. So, did it look like Gesine's? No, but it didn't collapse into a heap of crumbs & I was quite pleased that I'd managed to create the general effect intended. It tasted nice, but if I'm honest considering the amount of time & ingredients that went into it I was expecting to be blown away. It's not as sweet as it looks, particularly the frosting which is a good thing, but I'm sorry to say I found it a bit on the bland side :-(

Anyway, mission accomplished, I have made a Patience Cake, it wasn't to my taste, but that's not to say you might love it! I'm going for a lie down to recover! Rebecca x






 

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