26 June 2013

C'est Macaron!

My good friend Stacey and I recently signed up to take a macaron class at Ganache in East London. Macarons are hot topic at the moment, but to be honest the only ones I've tried were during our trip to Paris last year and sadly, I don't remember overly wowed by them. Still, we were determined to master this delicate and intimidating French treat as they do look really cute and impressive. And of course, they are the namesake for our future bakery cafe! I was hesitant going in.. Whyyy did I insist on Googling 'macaron fails' before I went in..? Those images were burned into my brain. I was convinced it would be a culinary disaster.

Luckily, I was proved wrong. Very wrong. The class ran for about 3 hours and we were given step by step guidance and very helpful tips which I would never have received had I been winging it alone at home. I'm still not 100% converted to the ways of the macaron as the flavour is a bit too delicate for my liking, but I suppose I could tweak this if I get brave enough to try this again in my own kitchen.

21 June 2013

Karpo, Kings Cross

Situated in the heart of Kings Cross in the Megaro Hotel, Karpo has caught my eye many a time as I've have been drawn in by the brightly coloured exterior and bustling crowds. Obviously, one can't judge a book by its cover, but it had been on my list of places to try for a long time. I took the plunge and treated a friend and I to a two course lunch with bubbles on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. The interior is unusual but bright and inviting and the staff very welcoming. Definitely recommended.

We enjoyed:

* Maple glazed pork belly, wild garlic & walnuts
* Chilled asparagus soup, spring truffle & brioche
* Roast duck breast, crispy leg, artichoke & pear
* Caramelised halibut, San Marzano tomatoes, basil & olives

07 June 2013

Orange-Scented Broccoli with Glazed Tofu

Feeling inspired and particularly creative, I came home from work one afternoon with a strong idea of what I wanted to eat for dinner. I'd been idly updating spreadsheets all afternoon, while mentally compiling a list of the fresh ingredients I had bought recently. Tofu, broccoli, oyster mushrooms, oranges. I always make sure I have a giant bag of Jasmine rice on hand, so this meal was practically putting itself together!

I made the orange-scented broccoli from Appetite from Reduction and adapted this recipe from Olives for Dinner for the glazed tofu. I'd never made either of the recipes so was unsure as to how they would turn out and work with each other, but they seemed to compliment each other perfectly. I've only recently starting cooking with Chinese rice vinegar (a recent salad turned out to be an acidic disaster) so I was very wary about the tofu being too overpowering. The sauce for the glazed tofu was actually fantastic and definetely something I would make again. It proved to be a quick and satisfying after work dish which was very easy to execute.

05 June 2013

Three Easy Brunch Ideas

I love brunch. It really has to be my favourite meals of the day. Many times, I have woken from a food related dream (sad, I know) and instantly know what I feel like eating and how experimental I want to be. Other lazy weekends, I have sat about in bed mentally running a list in my head of what ingredients I have to work with. Pancakes are an obvious weekend treat, and my mother has always told me the results are much better if you are prepared and make the batter the night before and let the gluten relax overnight. I, of course, have never been this organised, but one can set herself goals!

I was given a blender and food processor for Christmas and I cannot live without them! A blender makes smoothies in an instant, and I always make sure I have frozen bananas or mangoes waiting in the freezer. I have experimented with various fruit but our verdict is the simpler, the better. We like ours dead simple: 1 diced banana (either fresh or frozen), a squirt of honey or agave nectar, cinnamon and milk or soy milk. You can also add in a tablespoon or two of peanut butter, or my personal favourite: speculoos paste, with a sprinkle of mixed spice.

My boyfriend is very skeptical when I tell him he is eating something vegan, so now I don't reveal my kitchen secrets. A couple of years ago, I was very excited to buy a copy of Vegan Brunch as soon as I could get my hands on one. Isa is one of my favourite cookbook authors and I would definitely recommend you invest in all her books! I love her recipe for Brazilian French toast. Creamy banana and soy milk and mixed with other ingredients and soaked into stale bread, and with a sprinkle of cocoa powder you have yourselves a delectable treat so indulgant that you won't even miss the eggs.

Cooking with Waitrose: The Art of Michelin Star Cooking

I've been eyeing up the different cooking classes that Waitrose offers for quite some time. Unfortunately, I always sit on it for too long and by the time I get around to booking myself into one, the ones that I want are all booked up! Luckily, I was able to snap up the last spot in last Saturday's Michelin star Spring menu class. The class ran from 9.30am - 4.30pm and cost me £160 after a small discount that I received for being a Waitrose card member.

We were greeted with a selection of tea, coffee and pastries and then introduced to the chefs who would be guiding us through the days four courses. For each course, we were lead into a separate kitchen where we could sit and watch the chefs demonstrate how to execute each step, while we made notes in our recipe binders. It was quite intimidating as there were a lot of steps requires for each dish. It was definitely worth it, and I left feeling quite smug now knowing I can (hopefully) put together a beautiful plate of food. Usually my food looks like I've slapped it on the plate with a shovel! Each was eaten after plating (though I took the lamb dish for my boyfriend who declared it amazing) and paired with wine.

First course: chilled asparagus velouté with truffled goats cheese

Second course: seared tuna loin with oriental dressing 

Third course: sous vide loin of lamb, braised shoulder ragout, pea and bacon fricassee and pea purée

Dessert: inverted lemon tart, summer fruit salad, lemon yoghurt sorbet, sesame orange tuile and orange muscat pearls

04 May 2013

Quick tofu ricotta open sandwich

This makes for quick and healthy breakfast that will keep you full for a while! I had half a block of tofu sitting in my fridge, so I halved the recipe for Tofu Ricotta from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. To be honest, I much prefer Cashew Ricotta (also from V'con) but to my dismay, we were out of cashews. Tofu Ricotta is still good, but I can't envisage myself smearing it on EVERYTHING like I do with Cashew Ricotta. That being said, it made for a great sandwich topper with avocado, tomatoes and vegan chicken slices and kept the hunger pangs at bay!

30 April 2013

Quick noodle soup with crispy tofu

My boyfriend is deceptively fussy. He doesn't come across that way but over time, I have learnt that he's not too crazy about tomatoes, noodles, pasta, cous cous mushrooms, tofu and anything too crispy. So on nights like this when he's out and I'm cooking for one, I'm free to experiment with any ingredient without stressing if my other half will enjoy it.

I was feeling quite lazy tonight but still determined to make something un-boyfriendly so I threw together a quick noodle soup, topped with some crispy tofu and fried shallots. Tasty.


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