Posts tagged all things kai
Posts tagged all things kai
As some of my regular readers have pointed out… I’ve been a bit slack on the blog front recently. Yes, I’ll admit it, I have.
Work has been busy lately, but that’s really only half the excuse. If I’m truthful, it’s because the weather got nice. Really nice. Like 29°C nice. Apparently the UK has been hotter than Spain over the past week (seriously, when does that EVER happen?!). So I dusted off last summer’s shorts from the bottom of my wardrobe and have been basking in this glorious warmth.
And it’s not just me either, half of London bared their pasty white legs along with me and we all crammed together in the city’s sparse parks, armed with sunscreen, cider and icecream. I think we’re all a little scared that this is the best weather we’ll get all year (touch wood) and we’ve gone all out in trying to embrace it - apparently Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, and all the other large supermarket chains, sold out of icecream and BBQ food over the weekend.
So, in keeping with this summer theme and preparing you for any future empty supermarket aisle dilemmas, here’s my best homemade summer salad recipe. It’s my own creation, based on some of my favourite salad ingredients, and it’s that delicious I could eat it every day.
- 1 red capsican (or 1/2 red and 1/2 a yellow capsican), thinly sliced
- 2/3 of a 400g tin of whole corn kernels, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup of red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of iceberg lettuce (use the crispy middle leaves, rather than the outer leaves), thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, julienned or thinly sliced (preferably not grated as the consistency is too wet)
Throw all the ingredients in a large bowl and add the mayonnaise (start with 2 tablespoons of mayo and then gradually add more if needed, until all the ingredients are just nicely covered). Mix well and serve alongside any main meal.
I find it goes nicely with a piece of steak or some marinated chicken. I often have it with Dijon Roast Chicken (you can find that recipe here) and a few roast potatoes. Enjoy xx
I try to eat as little processed food as possible and regularly buy organic produce and/or make my own when I have the time. We don’t keep muesli bars in our house, don’t eat any processed sugary breakfast cereals and don’t buy unhealthy snack foods like potato chips (although, I’ll admit that biscuits are my kryptonite).
If we’re hungry between meals we often eat fruit, mixed nuts or a piece of toasted Vogels with sliced tomato or organic peanut butter. But I’m always on the look out for healthy snack recipes that branch out from the norm and these homemade muesli bars tick all the right boxes.
They’ll take you ten minutes to whip up and they’re much healthier and cheaper than the processed supermarket bars that are full of chemicals and preservatives.
These are crammed full of fruit and nuts so they’re full of protein, low GI, low fat and energy boosting and you can tick off a couple of your 5+ a day. They’re also sweet, so they’re perfect for those mid-morning or mid-afternoon sugar cravings.
It’s such a simple recipe and it’s suitable for everyone - you can add and remove whatever you like to create your own flavours. I went with coconut and cranberry this time, but next time I might try raisins and a few drops of vanilla essence. Other options are chocolate chips, coffee beans, orange zest, dried apricot, dried banana, pumpkin seeds… the possibilities are endless!
- 2 cups of raw nuts (I used almonds, brazil nuts and walnuts)
- 2 cups of pitted dates (or you could try using prunes)
- 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (optional)
- 1 cup of whatever you desire (I went with cranberries and also added a large handful of shredded coconut)
Process nuts in a food processor or blender until they are finely chopped. Add dates and process again until the dates are finely chopped and the mixture starts to stick together. Next stir in the sunflower seeds if you’re using them and add your desired ingredients (cranberries and coconuts in my case). Line a small baking dish with baking paper and press mixture evenly into the dish. Refrigerate for one hour and then slice into bars. Store in a container in the fridge.
For the first time in my 24 years on this earth I didn’t get an Easter egg from Mum. But, all has been forgiven… because I got these instead!!
You see, since we’ve been living in the UK Whittaker’s has brought out not just one, but two, new flavours of chocolate:
1. Peanut Butter
2. Berry and Biscuit
But because we’re on the other side of the world I haven’t been able to whip into my nearest NZ supermarket to grab some (okay so I probably would’ve been lining up outside on the day they were released) but have still had to read all of my friends’ Facebook comments and statuses on just how good they really are. For a chocolate lover, this kind of torture is the equivalent to ripping my toenails out one by one.
Luckily, my Mum’s a fellow chocolate lover (addiction, obsession… whatever you want to call it is fine by me), and she fully understood the urgency of the situation. She sent over a block of each and they arrived today. We’ve already ripped into them and all I have to say is that their delicious little lives will be very short-lived in this household.
One of my favourite easy dinner recipes. They’re creamy and flavoursome while still being reasonably healthy. And they’re perfect for lunch the next day too!
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup shredded roast chicken
- 1 can black eye beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- Handful of fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 minced garlic (stuff out of the jar is fine)
- 2 cups grated cheddar or mozerella
- Jalapenos (optional)
- Sour cream
- 6 flour tortillas/burritos
- Oil, for grilling
Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese, jalapenos, salsa and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. Dot the top with sour cream, salsa and jalapenos. Fold edges over so they overlap in the middle, leaving the ends open.
Fry wraps one at a time in a large pan, with oil, over medium heat (not too hot or they will burn). They’ll need about 2-3 minutes each side. Serve on their own or with a crispy fresh salad.
Winston Churchill loved his food (one of many vices), and he once famously rejected a dessert saying “this pudding has no theme.”
I refuse to cast the same dire fate on you and instead I’ll give you a pudding with multiple themes.
It all started with a trip to Berlin where I met a very charming struesel at a bakery near our hotel. I haven’t been able to erase it from my mind since and haven’t been able to hunt down anything similar in London, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and make something similar at home.
It was shortly after this that I discovered the Whittaker’s recipe competiton on Facebook and wanted to come up with something a little bit creative and original.
After giving it some thought, my third and final inspiration came from the fact that I really love brownie and Si really loves cheesecake and from all of this, a dessert collaboration was born.
Let me introduce you to: Fudge brownie with a caramel cheesecake layer and stuesel topping. It’s a very long name, so if you can come up with something a little bit more clever than I’d love to hear your suggestions. Please leave me a comment below.
Here’s the recipe debut! I hope you’ll make it, try it and enjoy eating it, at least in Churchill’s honour.
For the Brownie:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa (preferably dutched but normal is fine)
- 200g butter
- 1 and 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 330g Whittaker’s Dark Block Chocolate (or any other good quality dark chocolate if you don’t live in New Zealand)
For the cheesecake filling:
- 300g cream cheese
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- Half a can of Nestle Caramel Condensed Milk (This is optional, if you’d like to give the cheesecake a caramel flavour)
For the chocolate streusel topping:
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 140g butter, softened
- 2 and 1/3 cups of flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa (preferably dutched, but normal is fine)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
(NB: This makes quite a lot of streusel so I used approx one third of it to sprinkle over the top of the cheesecake brownie and then froze the rest to use another time - it could be used a cheesecake base.)
Grease the sides and bottom of a large baking dish (I used a lasagna sized dish).
Melt butter and sugar in a pot over low heat until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.
Take off the heat, add chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.
Add egg and vanilla and stir until well combined.
Sift in flour and cocoa. Mix well, until fully combined.
Pour mix into your baking dish and set aside.
Next, make your cheesecake layer by using an electric mixer/beater to combine all of the ingredients together in one large bowl.
Carefully pour the mixture over the top of your brownie.
Now is the time to preheat oven to 180.
Next, make your struesel topping.
Put all of the ingredients, except the egg, into a large bowl and use your hands to combine until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Add the egg and use your hands again to combine. The dough will come together to form larger crumbs, that look like those in the picture below.
Sprinkle these crumbs evenly over the top of your cheesecake layer in the baking dish.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven at 180 for 40 minutes. Insert a knife to check that it comes out clean - both the brownie and cheesecake layers should be cooked. If they’re not, increase the cooking time, inserting a knife to check the progress every five minutes.
Remove the brownie from the oven and allow to cool on the bench. Once it has cooled you can cover and store in the fridge. This is best after it has been in the fridge for a few hours and the cheesecake is completely cooled.
I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now that my blog mostly features cakes, cookies and anything else that’s sugary and sweet. And yes, I won’t lie, my fridge and cupboards do often look like the inside of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory.
But, like any normal person I also eat three meals a day, including dinner every night. It’s just very rare that I remember to, or feel compelled to, share my dinner recipes on here. Perhaps it’s because I make fairly standard, basic homely meals that I figure are the same as everyone else’s. However, when I cook for friends I do get compliments on those “fairly standard, basic homely meals” (either they’re too polite or they’ve actually thought my cooking’s a little bit of alright), so here’s me making a pointed effort to share those dinner recipes with all of you.
The first I’ll present you with is Butter Chicken Pie. We’ve just come out of our first UK winter, which I bravely fought my way through with an army of comfort foods, so be prepared to find plenty of winter warming recipes on here.
This recipe makes one very large pie, enough for 5-6 people, or two medium sized pies, each one enough for 2-3 people (you can freeze the second one, uncooked, for an easy dinner another night).
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 large kumara (sweet potato), peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 cups of shredded roast chicken (perfect for when you’ve got chicken leftover from last night’s roast meal)
- 1 jar of butter chicken sauce (such as Pataks, or we use Tesco home brand)
- 600g-700g ready rolled shortcrust pastry (or enough to cover the bottom and sides of your pie dish
- 400g ready rolled puff pastry (or enough to cover the top of your pie dish)
Boil kumara and carrot in a pot until cooked. Drain, and then add the shredded chicken and butter chicken sauce. Stir together.
Preheat oven to 180 celcius.
Roll your shortcrust pastry into your pie dish, covering the bottom and sides (leave a little hanging over the sides). Pour in the butter chicken mixture and cover the top of the pie with your puff pastry. Pinch the edges together and cut off any excess pastry from the sides. Carefully cut slits into the top of the pie to vent steam.
Bake for 50 minutes in the middle shelf of the oven until pie is golden brown on top.
We serve ours with simple steamed veg, such as broccoli or beans.
Before we start, I’ll give myself a slap on the hand for a eating at a Greek restaurant while holidaying in Ireland.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way I’d like to tell you about a really great Greek restaurant in Ireland. In Dublin, to be exact.
However, I will quickly add that we’d set off with full intentions of eating a traditional Irish meal at the Porterhouse Pub in Temple Bar, but it was 8pm on a Friday night in the busiest area of Dublin… As you can imagine, there were no seats and it was packed full of very loud and very merry Irish men. After a full day of sight seeing we decided we’d put our riverdancing skills (hah!) aside for a few hours and instead sit down and unwind with a quiet and relaxing meal.
We wandered the streets looking for inspiration and browsing menus and it wasn’t long before we were greeted by the friendly owner of Corfu, who was standing outside his restaurant on Parliament Street encouraging us to come inside.
Now, I usually don’t allow myself be swayed by people who stand outside their restaurants to lure hungry diners in - we get enough of that on Brick Lane and in China Town in London that I’ve become immune to it - but the owner did offer us a great bargain of €15 each for 3 courses and a glass of wine. And we were tired, hungry and had no idea where we were going or what we were looking for. So we gave in and followed our new friend inside, which immediately felt more like his own home than a restaurant.
For starters, I had a Greek salad which was bursting (so much so that I couldn’t finish it in fear of ruining my main) with all the usual things you’d find in a traditional Greek salad - olives, feta, red onion etc. I'll admit that I wasn't expecting the food to be spectacular, due to the low price, so I was particularly pleased to discover that each vegetable tasted as as if it had been picked fresh that morning. There's nothing worse than a pre-made salad of soggy, wilted lettuce, and thankfully this was far from it.
For my main I went for the chicken breast in a creamy mushroom sauce and swapped the rice for a bowl of chunky chips (hey, don’t judge me - I was on holiday) which the chef was more than happy to oblige me. It’s a simple, common dish but the chicken was nicely cooked and the sauce was rich and creamy. I’d love to know exactly what went into it, because I’ve had cravings for it ever since!
And while the rest of my table ordered icecream for dessert I went for the homemade profiteroles with chocolate mousse. I didn’t have enough room in me to finish them, but they were just as delicious as the first two courses, with roasted nuts and a scoop of vanilla icecream.
The owner who’d lured us in at the beginning was our waiter for the night and he was particularly interested in hearing about our travels, telling us about his family in Greece and asking us how we were enjoying our food. If you’re on a date, or a romantic night out, I could see how this attentiveness could be a bit intrusive but we were on holiday and in high spirits and were more than happy to chat with him. It was actually nice to come across a restaurant owner and his chefs who are passionate about food, people and what they do.
After clearing our dessert plates he offered us a round of Ouzo shots on the house, and then another for the road. We accepted and left full, happy and a little more merry.
We enjoyed our weekend in Dublin, but it’s something we’ll probably never do again - at least not for a very long time. So, it’s a shame that I’ll probably never visit Corfu in Temple Bar again. If I lived in Dublin, I’d definitely be a regular. Instead, I’ll just have to live vicariously through all of you… do go check it out x
I seem to have some kind of photography dyslexia (…photogslexia?) which is quite an embarrassment considering I grew up in the same household as my talented stepfather Tony Carter.
Somehow, I’ve managed to get away with it for the most of my life, but as you all know I’m now a food blogger and bad photos are sacrilegious in the food blogging world. So I decided that one of my resolutions for 2012 would be: Learn to take better photos for my blog. I desperately needed help with this, and if it wasn’t for the fact that there is currently 11682 miles between us, I would’ve leaned on my stepfather for advice.
So, it was perhaps without coincidence that I stumbled across the Great British Chefs Food Photography Workshop event at Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea, only a few weeks into January.
The name of chef Tom Aikens rang a bell, but due to being new to London and all, it is regrettable that I’d never heard of his prestigious restaurant Tom’s Kitchen. As the saying goes, better late than never, and I’m glad the discovery finally came about. If you’ve also been kept in the dark until now then I’m pleased to be the one to bring this restaurant to your attention.
As part of the event we were treated to an array of delicious nibbles and menu samples, including salads, profiteroles and mini burgers. Sometime in the near future I’ll go back as a paying customer for a proper sit down meal, which will be followed with a full blog review for your reading pleasure. But in the meantime, take my word for it and go for a visit as soon as you can.
The event started with a quick visit from Tom Aikens, decked out in full chef uniform and clearly mid-shift, and from there we were taken under the wings of Great British Chefs CEO Ollie Lloyd and of course food photographer David Griffen. Their advice was intelligent but unpretentious and all three of them were ultra cool people to hang out with.
If I’m truly honest, I was going along for the food and the opportunity to meet Tom, as much as I was going along for the photography workshop. I was unsure exactly how much I would learn in that respect, in the sense that you can’t teach a fish to climb a tree, or however that saying goes. But David is smart, and obviously persistent, and in the evidence of before and after shots, here’s the magic he worked on me:
It was an absolute privilege to take part in the workshop and I look forward to becoming more involved in the GBC community and attending more of their events in the future. If you’re interested too, you can check out their website or Facebook page.
Nothing says you love someone like chocolate. It’s true - ask any woman (and possibly many men too). Usually I wouldn’t turn down a box of chocolates, especially on Valentine’s Day, but due to the truck load that we received at Christmas, I’ve enforced a chocolate ban in our household until further notice.
Which is fine, because we don’t really buy into the big commercial circus that is Valentine’s Day anyway. But, just so we don’t feel completely left out, we don’t let it go entirely unnoticed either. Si usually cooks me dinner, since that’s a rare occasion, and I take care of dessert. The problem this year though is that we’re both super duper busy this week. Social Media Week London is on which means I’ve been attending events and networking at all hours of the day and night. There’s no time for us to sit down together and eat a meal and dessert, let alone find the time to make them.
I couldn’t bring myself to sit by and do nothing though, so late Monday night I whipped up a batch of cookies that I knew would appeal to Si’s taste buds: Peanut Butter and White Chocolate, and sent him off to work with a lunch box full of them on Tuesday.
I may have snuck a couple for myself too and I have to say they were pretty good. I got the recipe from this month’s Good Food Magazine and the only change I made was doubling the amount of chocolate (a good move). I’m not going to proclaim they’re the best cookies ever, because it’s just not true, but they’re worth making if you like peanut butter and feel like something other than your usual choc chip. They were a little crumbly, so I’d maybe advise adding an extra egg. However, it was my first time making them so maybe it was just an off-batch. See the bottom of this post for the original recipe, and let me know your thoughts if you do make ‘em.
To accompany the cookies, I stopped off at Konditor and Cook and picked up two of their Mini Raspberry Fudge Tarts (Fudglets). A friend of mine introduced me to this adorable cake shop that has a cult following in London, which includes celebrity chef Nigella Lawson. As expected, it was bursting with people on Valentine’s Day, so I didn’t get to browse as much as I’d hoped to. No big deal - I’ll just make sure I go back again in the near future. The little tarts were delicious, with rich chocolate ganache atop fresh raspberries in a buttery, homemade pastry case. They were reasonably priced too, especially for central London, with two tarts for £2.50. The presentation wasn’t immaculate (I tidied them up a bit), but I’ll give them another chance considering it was probably their most busiest day of the year.
White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g crunchy peanut butter
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 1 egg (trial 2 if you choose, and let me know how it goes)
- 100g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 50g white chocolate chunks or buttons (I doubled it to 100g)
Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius and line or grease two baking trays.
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and egg and beat until mixed in well.
Sift in the dry ingredients and carefully fold together until combined. Stir in the white chocolate chunks.
Place tablespoon sized dollops of cookie dough onto the baking trays and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Because everyone loves tea
(If you don’t love tea I stand corrected)
And because life is far too short to drink bad tea
I’ve gotta hand it to Tea Pigs for their award-winning range of whole leaf teas. I’m a little bit obsessed with them, and I think I could single-handedly have kept them in business for the past few months (They featured A LOT in the Christmas presents I gave this year). Their tea temples are biodegradable, their packaging is recyclable, they run an ethical scheme for the Noel Orphanage in Rwanda and their tea is damn tasty. What’s not to love?
I was first drawn to the quirkiness of their name and packaging and it all went uphill from there. I especially love their “mood-o-meter”, a guide to choosing tea based on your mood and their “mix ‘n’ match" box, which gives you 12 tea samples of your choice for a mere £12.50. Thanks to the sample box, I’ve pretty much tried every flavour they have, so if you want any advice please ask. My two favourites (not an easy choice) are the Creme Brulee and Liquorice and Mint.
Brickbats are always hard…
Oh hell, who am I kidding? I love naming and shaming bad brands!
Blue Dragon is an international brand that is stocked by many of the major supermarkets here in the UK. They claim to be “passionate” about Asian cooking and sell “healthy” and “authentic” Oriental products. I’m just not sure what’s so authentic about their coconut milk which contains more added water than actual coconut…
With food additives in almost every product (including E471 which… NB: may contain animal fats - and is in this such product which Blue Dragon has stated is “suitable for vegetarians”), and with millions of food miles racked up on every item, it’s needless to say you’re much better off making your own curry and stir-fry sauces with fresh, local ingredients.
Add to this a small personal grievance with the brand after one of their “chefs” accused me of “pushing in line” to taste test a product at the MasterChef Live event in November (hello! I’m short - you can’t SEE me waiting in line! And I’m far too tactful to push!), it’s fair to say I’m a little ticked off at Blue Dragon. No one, let alone a potential customer, deserves to be treated badly, regardless of whether they pushed in on some line or not.
So, top tips for 2012:
Try Tea Pigs. You’ll be hooked.
Don’t bother with Blue Dragon. Who’s a fan of mass production anyway?