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Monday, 29 December 2014

Honey Mustard Ham

Hi guys, this is a recipe I made a while ago. My mum had brought me up a large gammon steak and it sat in my freezer for a couple of months as I simply had no idea how to cook it (I don't like pineapple). Come the Christmas holidays and there I am, trying to use up all the edible contents of my kitchen, still with no clue about the gammon. Cue Delia online and her gammon with honey and mustard recipe. Perfect, I thought, and then I realised that my steak was only one but much larger than her two (Liam was also eating it). What to do? What to do? I decided to follow her instructions and just increase the measurements to work for my steak. It was time to get my calculator out. I'm going to make things easier for you and say that if you have a steak that's for x number of people then just times the numbers by that. And maybe add a little extra, after all, more of this delicious sauce isn't a bad thing.

Friday, 26 December 2014

An Unbirthday Present

So, it is my birthday today - I'm 21! My family have a tradition of giving presents to the rest of the family on our birthdays (so on my mum's birthday my sister, dad and I each get a present as well), so today I thought I'd give you an unbirthday present. Although I cooked a healthier version of butter chicken and some delicious salted caramel fondants today, understandably (I hope), I didn't feel like writing a long post on my birthday, so instead I shall give you a piece of food trivia and a photo of me in my new hat, making the fondants. The hat has a huge pink pompom on it!! I love it!! I'll post the recipes soon - the butter chicken will appear as part of my Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook series.

Trivia: Marc de Champagne isn't a type of champagne used in food preparation (like I thought it was) but rather a colourless brandy, made from the leftover grape skins, stalks and seeds from the first stage of champagne production, which are then distilled. If you don't believe me then you can google it!


I hope you like your unbirthday present - does your family do anything like this?

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Dumpling Recipe and Merry Christmas!

Boiled dumplings
Happy Christmas Eve and here's a early christmas present for you all: I've finally written this blog post about cooking dumplings with my cousin's Taiwanese wife, Charlene! We cooked together last Monday and it was great fun to make dumplings with someone who knew what they were doing. My sister looked after Charlene's two adorable little boys so we could cook in relative peace, although Charlie (aged 3 and a half) decided to "help" us with a very funny opinion as to how dumplings should be folded - in half and then half again before being squished into a ball - fortunately he didn't cotton on to the fact that we gave him the same wrapper each time, rerolled when he wanted a new one!
Charlie rolling out his wrapper

Included in this post are two videos on how to pleat dumplings but you can also get a dumpling press, from here or here, just make sure you cut the wrappers a few sizes bigger than the edge of the mould as it will sink in when you put the filling in it. I wound up using the largest of my round biscuit cutters with the middle sized mould. Interestingly, once Charlene had showed me how, I found it much easier to pleat them by hand than use a press as it doesn't matter what size your wrappers are.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Our Daily Bread

Now that it's almost christmas (whoo!), and you hopefully have some time off, why not try baking your own bread? It seems daunting but it's actually surprisingly simple. Just make sure you start in the morning and not at 8pm like I normally do, so that you have time to let it rise and cook without being kept awake. Even though the whole process takes around 3 hours, the hands on time is maybe 25-30 minutes. You could do it whilst cleaning, cooking something else, or as short breaks from revision and at the end of it you get delicious homemade bread. It tastes incredible with good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar and I often find myself at midnight on the night I made it having a little snack!

a midnight snack to reward myself

Admittedly, I only started making my own bread once I got my KitchenAid (I think I need a name for it - any suggestions? The best name will get a special recipe named for them) but as that coincided with moving into a flat with a good kitchen, I don't think it was the only reason and you certainly don't have to have one to make bread. Your hands will work perfectly, as has been proved for 30,000 years (thanks Wikipedia!). I started by making brown bread, which I later learnt is very hard to master, but switched to white bread when I couldn't get brown bread flour one day. If you make your own bread, I honestly don't think brown bread is much "better" for you than white - there's only 6 ingredients in both and no preservatives. Anyway, I'm sure I read somewhere that brown bread is better in some respects but worse in others, so to be honest, it's your personal preference.

Friday, 19 December 2014


I've been juggling a cold with a lot of catching up with friends now that I'm home this week and haven't been paying you the attention you deserve. But. This is a quick set of photos to show you how I view London (clue: basically just an opportunity to eat) and to let you know that on Monday I made dumplings with my cousin's wife, who's from Taiwan, and one day soon when you wake up there will be a recipe and videos on how to pleat dumplings up for you to enjoy - maybe you could make a family project of it over Christmas? My first cousin/second-cousin-once-removed (not sure which way round they are), "helped" adorably by showing us how you should fold a dumpling (though without filling I'm not sure how great it was!). Also coming soon will be a recipe for bread that you can make at home. The reason these posts aren't happening immediately is two fold; firstly I'm shattered and secondly I need to send Charlene the photos from Monday first! However, I'm going away for Christmas, to a sleepy village where there's not much to do but curl up but by the fire and read/write blog posts/revise so I should finally start uploading more recipes.

Selfridges had giant bottles of popcorn on sale
Surely it would go stale before you could eat it all?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes

So, it's terribly late and I've been rushing around all day sorting things out, but I did promise you the red velvet cake today. Therefore, with 10 minutes on the clock before midnight, I'm dashing this off. I apologise if this doesn't quite have my usual panache but I'm sure you can still tell it's me! And, to be honest, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words and this cake, if I do say so myself, is fairly spectacular. I also forgot to take photos of the snowman/penguin making process so I can't talk about that anyway!

Although all of these photos are of the cake I made for yesterday's christmas party, the recipe is actually for cupcakes, as I'm aware that students read my blog (hi there) and probably won't want to make a three layered cake and have access to all the tins etc. Cupcakes on the other hand only require cases and ideally but not necessarily a cupcake tray to support the sides as they cook. To make a three layered cake you just need to double all of the quantities and bake it for 25 minutes in three 8 inch cake tins. The mix makes 18 fairy cakes (the best size) or 12 american cupcakes (far too big, and anyway, you get less of them!). For the larger ones just add 3-5 minutes to the baking time.

Friday, 5 December 2014


The finished macarons
So, I've been frantically, and unsuccessfully, trying to finish a few christmas presents before Sunday, so all my spare time has been spent doing those rather than blogging, but I did find time to make some macarons  on Wednesday AND THEY HAVE FEET!!!!!! For those of you not as excited as I am, they are a mark of a successful macaron and notoriously difficult to achieve - they're the ring at the bottom of the shells that you can see either side of the filling in the above photo. The feet may have been going slightly outwards and there might be a few difficulties with cooking times/temperature but I'm so happy that it worked and they tasted good. The last (first) batch I made nearly reduced me to tears, although that might have been the pricey Valhrona chocolate bars that I'd just wasted!

Ready to go in the oven
I'm not going to give you a recipe just yet as I haven't perfected them but I will practice more in the new year and tweak it before posting my version of the classic. To make these I followed Entertaining with Beth's video and recipe with Ladurée's macaron book for additional guidance in french (it counts as work then!) and so many sites telling me how not to go wrong that I've forgotten most of them, although I do remember Chocoparis' tips as being particularly helpful in telling me where I'd gone wrong so I could avoid it next time.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

French Fougasse

Ready and waiting to be eaten
Fougasse is a delicious type of bread that you get in France, that is often stuffed with different fillings - my favourite is made with bacon and shallots. I used purchase this in Paul bakeries on trips to London and was disappointed when they changed it from being a large tear and share bread, to a personal sized tear and keep bread! I can't find it in Manchester and so I decided to make my own! (And for some reason I just read that in Jeremy Clarkson's voice!). What better reason to make it than for the French society's French food evening? Grace came over to help, and make her own contribution, a Moroccan salad, and between us, we made 6 fougasse that were so good we decided not to take many of them with us to the food evening (none got eaten there anyway as I arrived late and all the other food had already gone!).

Monday, 1 December 2014

Chicken And Cashew Nuts

So, you've all been waiting a long time for this dish and for that I apologise, I was trying to get a burn rate of less than 50%! My overriding piece of advice is to be careful when you make this - I've burnt myself with the oil twice in the five times I've made this. It was probably worth it though and that warning aside, let me tell you about the first time I ate this dish. It was in Thailand at the Rayavadee hotel, we'd just come back from a day of snorkelling around the islands (ok, I bobbed about them in a life jacket but that ruins the image!) and were relaxed and sun kissed. When we arrived at the restaurant I wanted something simple, without coconut milk, and chicken with cashew nuts caught my eye - it's one of my sister's favourite dishes, so I knew it tasted good. The sauce, which the chicken is cooked in, combined with the crunch of cashew nuts and the knowledge that there's three of your five a day (but doesn't taste like it) included, all combine to make this dish a constant favourite. 

The basis for this recipe came from The Wanderlust Kitchen, as did the tip for how to cut the chicken into thin slices. However, I have changed the recipe as it didn't include any vegetables and my family strongly believed that the best ones (from restaurants we've been to in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) contained lots of vegetables.