Posts tagged blog
Posts tagged blog
I love Annabel Langbein. How can you not? She’s an incredibly inspiring cook and a national treasure in the New Zealand foodie world. I love her natural approach to food and her passion for simple, homegrown, free range, organic produce. If you’re unfamiliar with her I highly recommend delving into her ‘The Free Range Cook’ book, or in the very least checking out her detailed website: http://www.annabel-langbein.com/
I follow her regularly on both Facebook and Twitter and drool over her Pinterest pictures. A most recent drooling episode occurred when I came across the picture of her Mini Passion Moments, which was published in the NZ Life & Leisure Magazine. I just had to make them. I’ve included her picture, as well as my own, so you can experience the same food crush as I did.
The filling stays reasonably soft, unlike your standard custard cream/melting moment type biscuit. I’m not sure if I prefer one to the other. All I know is that these are delicious.
The colour of the biscuit depends on the type of custard powder you use. I used Birds Custard Powder in original flavour.
Oh, and here’s the recipe. Go on, make them, and don’t forget to thank Annabel x
220g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1¼ cups plain flour
4 tablespoons custard powder
100g butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1½ cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp
Preheat oven to 150°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence together until pale and creamy. Sift in flour and custard powder and combine to form a very soft dough.
Roll small teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on prepared baking trays. Flatten slightly with a fork dipped in flour. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
To make filling, beat butter and vanilla essence together with an electric beater until pale and creamy. Add icing sugar, lemon juice and passionfruit pulp and beat until smooth.
When biscuits are cold, sandwich together with passionfruit filling, using about 1 teaspoon of filling for each pair of biscuits. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
1. Pre-Christmas lunch with our little London family. I’d had my heart set on a Burmese restaurant called Mandalay due it having really good reviews, a huge menu and being well-priced. We ventured all the way out to Edgware Road at 1pm on Sunday on the Circle Line, only to find that it was closed (entirely my fault - should have called and booked ahead!). So, we ended up at a place called Bar Marrakesh, which was about the only eatery on the whole street that was open. Si and I both had the Moroccan spiced lamb pieces whilst the others had various tagines. The food was okay and the service was reasonably good - although there was no excuse for it not to be considering they had just a handful of customers in there at the time. One niggle was that I asked for a small side of hummus to go with my meal and at the end they charged me for the £4 starter option of breads and dips. I won’t rush to go back there but for an unplanned, unresearched bar meal it admittedly could have been a lot worse.
2. The highlight of the day was catching up with Simon’s cousin Jase, who we’d lived with when we first arrived in the UK. And that’s without the fact that he’d bought us big hampers of Kiwi food as Christmas gifts! Burger Rings, Minties, Pineapple Lumps and Watties Tomato Sauce… ahhh, the taste of home! :)
By the time we arrived back in Croydon it was almost dinner time and we were still full up from lunch so we opted for a quick dinner of leftover chickpea patties and salad in tortilla wraps. So instead of a recipe, I’ll leave you with a positive thought to finish the week: If you only focus on the negatives in life you’ll miss the opportunities that are right in front of you.
So very true! Be happy :) xx
1. Aforementioned in Friday’s post, we went to our first Premier League game in Fulham today. Under pressure from our football fanatic male friends in London I’d taken to “supporting” Fulham in the EPL - mainly because they’re reasonably close to the area we live in and because they’ve got a reputation for being a nice little, friendly, low-key club. Other than that I admittedly don’t know much about them, but that didn’t stop me from chanting “come on Fulham” every time the Bolton Wanderers closed in on them. My toes went numb from the cold, they sold out of hot chocolate before half-time, and even though the grounds only seat 25,000 (which is a poor effort in EPL terms) I’m glad I went. It was still a great atmosphere and a must-do English experience.
2. Gin and Tonic. What else is the weekend for, right? I had one at 1pm today with my pub lunch meal and I’m having another now at 11pm as we watch a recorded episode of Graham Norton and nibble on Lindt dark chocolate truffles. Pure weekend bliss! :)
Dinner: Another night away from the kitchen this week as we had dinner with Si’s brother Benji and his partner Amanda at Wok Wok in Clapham Junction on our way home from the game. Wok Wok is a chain that you should find scattered in most populated areas of London, which serves a vast array of Thai and Chinese food. I went for the £4.80 plate of Thai Green Vegetable Curry which came out just as spicy as it had promised on the menu and was reasonably good value for money. Wok Wok is a great, safe and easy dinner option for anyone looking for a cheap night out.
1. It’s snowing! I know most of the UK doesn’t find this a cause for celebration, but I’m excited! It’s my first taste of falling snow; ever. It’s just so pretty. (PS. Type “let it snow” into Google for a lovely surprise on your browser).
2. It’s Friday! That’s definitely a cause to celebrate. It’s our first (and only) weekend at home for December but we’ve still got plenty to keep us busy - including both mine and Si’s first live Premier League game in Fulham on Saturday afternoon.
Dinner: Homemade Chickpea burgers. These are a great, extremely tasty, healthy alternative to a takeaway meal. If you’re especially counting the calories you could ditch the burger idea altogether and serve the patties with fresh salad and a dollop of low-fat sour cream. The recipe made plenty and we’ve saved the rest of the patties to serve with salad inside tortilla wraps for a quick weekend lunch. The only criticism I have is that the patties were quite crumbly so when I make it again I’ll experiment with some egg and/or flour to make it bind together a bit better. The recipe below makes 6-8 burgers, depending on the size of your patties.
For the patties:
410g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
410g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 carrot, trimmed, peeled and finely grated
1 small onion, peeled and finely grated
50g sunflower seeds
2 tbsp tahini
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
Salt and pepper, to season
Oil, for frying
For the burgers:
Large burger baps/buns
2x fresh tomatoes
2x slices of cheddar cheese per burger
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until the mixture is fairly coarse (if you don’t have a food processor just mash the kidney beans and chickpeas together in a large bowl before mixing in the remaining ingredients).
Flour your hands and shape the mixture into burger-sized patties.
Grill patties in a frying pan on a high heat, in plenty of oil, until both sides are crispy and browned and thoroughly heated through - a few minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn.
Meanwhile, halve the burger buns and cover the bottom halves in tomato relish and cheddar cheese. Lightly grill both sides in the oven. When the cheese has melted, top with the chickpea patties, sour cream, sliced tomato and iceberg lettuce.
Today was all about Christmas!
1. I started making some of my edible Christmas goodies today. I usually make decorated shortbread cookies and my Mum’s recipe for homemade truffles but I’m living on basic kitchen utensils whilst in the UK so decided to make something a little easier. Keep a look out for future blog posts with more info!
2. Simon’s Christmas do. Due to my work company being Singapore-based I don’t get an office Christmas party. So, I was especially looking forward to Si’s one at Somerset House in London. It was a great night with berry margaritas, lobster and a string quartet - even if I did get car sick on the taxi ride home (sigh, I wonder if I’ll ever grow out it). I never thought I’d say this, but I think I’d rather catch the tube!
As we had the Christmas party I didn’t make dinner tonight. But here’s a recipe anyway - Ina Garten’s Mustard Chicken Salad. I tried this recently after seeing it on Barefoot Contessa’s Barefoot Classics and both Si and I really enjoyed it. It has a fantastic mix of sweet, savoury and tangy flavours.
1. I’ve finally finished off two big reports that have resulted in a few early mornings and late nights over the past week. It’s so good to be back onto a more regular work schedule.
2. Thanks to #1 I was actually able to take a proper lunch break today (where you move away from your computer and do something other than work for half an hour - you know the ones?) and went and bought myself a coffee. All of the major coffee chains have latte specials for the festive season and they’re just soooo good. I love AMT’s gingerbread and Starbucks’ praline but today I went for the creme brulee from Costa. It went down pretty well as I read the last few pages of We Need to Talk About Kevin. Well worth a read if you’re looking to buy a new book for the holidays.
Dinner: Mediteranean Vegetable Pie. This recipe came from one of my favourite famous foodies: Andy Bates. You can find the recipe here. It’s in no way a quick or easy dinner meal so only make this if you’re in the mood to spend some time in the kitchen. However, it is something you can make the night before, or during the day, as you can reheat it again later. It is worth the time it takes to make though - it’s absolutely delicious. If you’ve got friends or family coming over for a weekend lunch this is a perfect dish to make and serve with salad and warm, crusty bread.
After we demolished huge slices of the pie we treated ourselves to a dessert of homemade mint Oreo icecream. I used my basic homemade icecream recipe, which you can find here, but switched the vanilla essence for mint and crumbled in a whole packet of Oreos at the end (optional: add a few drops of green food colouring). Yum!
1. I’m healthy. I’ve spent the last four days with a cold and I’m pleased to have woken up this morning feeling a whole lot better. Good health is something I, like many others, take for granted far too often and having read this article recently I just feel so incredibly grateful that a cold is all I had to deal with.
2. When I opened my bedroom curtains this morning I spotted this little birds nest in the tree outside my window. I’m not sure if it has only recently appeared or if it’s just come into view as the last of the leaves have fallen off to make way for winter. I found it very sweet nonetheless.
Dinner: Cottage Pie. I remember having this for dinner many times as a young kid and not liking it very much. But then again, I don’t think I liked many foods when I was a kid - oh how times have changed! I’ve gone with a simple, traditional recipe here and didn’t do anything too fancy to it. However, I did mix wholegrain mustard into my mashed potato topping which I’ve listed as an option in the recipe below.
2 tbsp olive oil
600g beef mince
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 glass red wine
2 cups (500ml) beef stock
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or dried mixed herbs is fine too)
600g large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup milk
100g cheddar or (2 large tablespoons of wholegrain mustard and 25g of cheese for topping)
Fry onion and mince in a large saucepan with oil until onions are soft and mince is lightly browned.
Add vegetables, garlic, flour and tomato purée and mix together.
Add the wine and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the stock, Worcestershire sauce and herbs.
Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for around 40min - or until the sauce has turned into a thick gravy.
Meanwhile, make the mash by boiling the potatoes in water until tender. Drain well and then add the butter and 3/4 of the cheese (or all of the wholegrain mustard). Add the milk gradually as you are mashing, until you reach the desired consistency.
Spoon meat into an oven proof dish and season well with salt and pepper. Using a spoon, spread the mashed potato evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cook at 200 for 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is golden.