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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Mojito Meringue Kisses with Sugar And Crumbs*

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently received some icing sugars from Sugar and Crumbs to review: Coconut icing sugar, Cherry Bakewell icing sugar and Cherry Chocolate cocoa powder. I love the idea of naturally flavoured icing sugars that make life easier and baking faster. The fact that it's a UK company is great as they're local and it's supporting our own economy etc.. I first came across Sugar and Crumbs at the Cake and Bake show in Manchester last year but couldn't buy any as I didn't think halls of residence were the best place to try them out! Last month I noticed on Twitter that people were mentioning blogger packs from Sugar and Crumbs so I cheekily emailed them to see if I could trial their products - this month it was confirmed that I would receive some packs. I was eager to open the parcel when it arrived and was then engulfed in a cloud of sugar! Unfortunately some of the icing sugar appears to have escaped the factory. I don't think it was the packets as they were enclosed but it didn't taste of much and nor did the coconut icing sugar so maybe it was that pack! However, I have ordered from their website before and everything arrived in perfect condition so I think this was just a one off. The packaging is light pink with a little see through cupcake on it and it's very cute. The cost is £2.99 for 250g of icing sugar or 125g cocoa powder and goes up from there. It's not the cheapest of icing sugars but it does taste good and saves you time plus, with the cocoa powder especially, you don't need too much and could always use half flavoured and half plain for the icing sugar if you wanted to make it last longer.

I have a confession to make. I don't really like coconut. So I was concerned when one of my packs was coconut flavoured sugar! When I rang mum she said coconut and lime went well together, so I did some googling and came up with mojito meringues. Aha! The theme I was given was Mother's Day and as mum left the other week, she said how nice it was that she now had a grown-up daughter to drink cocktails with. My decision was made. I would make mojito inspired mini meringues. I also found that the flavour wasn't very strong, I don't think you'd say the meringues had coconut in them unless you knew.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook: Healthier Brownies*

This is a bit of a different recipe to normal. It's sweet not savoury. These brownies are not perfectly healthy but they are better for you than my other brownies, although that might be in part because they are so rich that you only need a tiny piece to satisfy you! I received some flavoured icing sugars and cocoa powder from Sugar and Crumbs, a family run company that provides 'convenience without compromise' with 24 naturally flavoured icing sugars and 5 cocoa powders. They sent me coconut icing sugar, cherry Bakewell flavour and cherry cocoa powder in return for a review and recipes. Well, I leapt at the chance to try out their products as I've been coveting them ever since I tried the icings at last year's Cake and Bake Show. This recipe uses their cherry cocoa powder but would work with any of their cocoa powders (chilli, coconut, lime and orange).

I always make brownies by melting chocolate and butter in a bain marie so I was very dubious about using cocoa powder instead but the theory of it reducing the amount of fat and sugar in the bake - as lovely as chocolate is, it's not exactly light in those two ingredients! However, the sugar has to be kept fairly high in order to make the brownies soft and cracked on top. I have looked at so many healthy brownie recipes which involved kidney beans, beetroot or some other odd ingredient that I didn't want in my baked treats so I started looking at recipes involving greek yogurt and sour cream. I thought they sounded great but as the sleet came down this morning I changed my mind and used yogurt instead! The only thing is, my fridge just had raspberry and passionfruit yogurt in it! I suggest you use plain or vanilla flavoured low-fat yogurt instead. Also, why do people put oil in brownies?

Monday, 16 February 2015

Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook: Brown Rice With Lentils And Caramelised Onions

My mum took me to get my hair highlighted at Daniel Galvin once as a treat, although that treat did turn into a regular occurrence for a few years! Each time the appointment was over lunch, so we ate in the salon, where the menu was all terribly healthy and at the first visit I wasn't keen on any of the options but I had to eat something! That something turned out to be rice and lentils with greek yogurt and delicious caramelised onions as it seemed the most innocuous choice. I'm glad I chose it as it's yummy. Even though I no longer get my hair done there, I can still eat it, as one day was brave I asked mum to ask for the recipe! Duly armed I began to make it at home, although it was never as good because until recently I didn't know how to caramelise onions, but they're so easy to make and it tastes so good, plus it's filling and healthy! I tend to eat this on its own, nevertheless I sometimes have it as a side and add peas and sausages, as in  the photo. However you eat it, it's warming and easy to make. No hovering over the stove, just occasional checkups and you'll probably have leftovers to take into work in a thermos the next day.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Ching-He Huang's Yin And Yang Evening At Harvey Nichols Manchester

Eeeeeee! I've had such a great time tonight. I went to Harvey Nichols for an evening of food and demonstrations from Ching-He Huang and she is lovely, really, so nice! I'm writing some of this now and I'll add photos but I'm not going to post this until the morning (before mum arrives) because I think I drank too much to effectively spell check and photo edit. Suffice to say it was an incredible night. I was a tad concerned about going on my own but the people at my table were so nice and I have had an incredible evening. I ate far too much incredible food - as I was alone I received 2 persons portion for each course as they were sharing dishes - and I ate most of them! Starters reminded me i'm not keen on tofu but that I will now eat and love cashew nuts. Mains included the best spring rolls I've ever had - so fresh and not greasy, duck with rice and cashews, poached chicken, and I tried crab balls and prawn and scallop wontons - sadly confirming I don't like shellfish but they still tasted great - my table mates gladly ate what I couldn't. In the morning I'll add a photo of the menu for you. SO GOOD. Sleep now though.

Spring Rolls
Well, it's the morning after the night before and I thought I'd leave the bit that I wrote last night as it kind of conveys my excitement after the event, even if I was right about my spelling abilities - apparently I received potions instead of portions! I arrived slightly late, as we were being seated but got noticed, and complimented, by Ching-He Huang for my hot pink Chinese jacket. I received a Happiness cocktail on my way to my table (lucky number 7), which was, according to the menu, a twist on a Kir Royale with rhubarb, ginger, lychee and plum liqueurs instead of cassis, happily for me, it didn't really taste of ginger, and was in fact very tasty. Whilst enjoying my cocktail, I watched Ching demo spring rolls and I learnt to throw away the first few layers of wrappers as they would be too dry - very useful as I just bought some gyoza wrappers for when I don't have time to make them myself.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook: Korean Stir-Fry

Well, it's been a busy week and this week promises to be even busier, though I've almost finished another post so I'll put that up on Wednesday or Thursday. I had a self defence class last Wednesday and learnt that if anyone tries to choke me they'll have no chance - my neck retreats like a turtle's as soon as anyone gets near. On a more serious note, whilst I hope that I never ever have to use the skills that I'm learning, it's good to know what to do just in case. On Saturday, I went to Glamorous restaurant to eat dim sum (I'm missing Singapore's food (and heat)) with a couple of friends, and purchased Fuchsia Dunlop's book Every Grain Of Rice, which I'm excited to try recipes from. Upcoming, I have another self defence class, a trip to the city art gallery for my WW1 poetry class, lots of lessons and excitingly, I have two mega events. The first, on Thursday, is an event at Harvey Nichols here in Manchester to celebrate Chinese New Year with a tasting menu and cooking demonstrations by Ching-He Huang, and the second is that my mum is making a flying visit on Friday to see The Lion King, drink cocktails and eat more dim sum!