Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

World Takeover Countdown

The world takeover will begin in less than a week. It is occupying most of my brain space, especially the space that would usually be reserved for blogging. So instead I am going to list the things that still need doing.

1. Arrival of second set of business cards and get fancy business card holder.

2. Website bits and peices tweaked and mobile version of website sorted.

3. First month of social media plan finalised.

4. Design for launch invitations.

5. Make sure one invite super fancy and edged in gold leaf (that one is for the queen).

6. Make sure I have queen’s address in phone book.

7. Work out good people to associate with on social media (@thequeen and @michelroux obviously, but who after that?)

8. Tell all friends that I will no longer be associating with them as they ‘are not famous enough for me’.

9. Buy shares in William Curley’s chocolatiers.

10. Refuse to have elevenses from anywhere else.
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Cake day

I bet you’re all hanging on the edge of your seat, wondering what happened after my gluten free failure the other day? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that I arrived in the kitchen the next day, eggs in hand, and rectified the mistake. The result was a nice light fluffy sponge with moisture from the plums and texture from the ground almonds and it all went fabulously.

Yesterday, I went into work a bit early and I thought I’d give those gluten free members of the public a bit of choice so I made a chocolate torte. My phone had a freak out so I couldn’t take any photos of that cake but you’ll have to trust me that the experiment was successful. I’ll give you the recipe at the end. I added raspberries and it went down quite well with the public. The first one sold out in an hour! Then I got a bit crazy and adapted the recipe to make a chocolate, orange and almond torte.

Now I tend to think of gluten free cake as Compromise Cake, cause it’s usually a rubbish version of real cake. I resolved to change this in my kitchen and to make cake that is actually nice, not just gluten free nice, which we all know, means ‘rubbish.’

I also attacked the Overripe Fruit bowl and made a banana and plum cake, an apple upside down cake and a savoury apple bread thing that we served with cheese.

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I made a total of 18 cakes yesterday. It was a pretty good day.

Chocolate almond torte
(adapted from BBC Goodfood recipe)
250g dark chocolate
210g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
5 eggs, whisked

Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease a round cake tin then line the bottom with baking paper and grease again. Melt the chocolate, butter and sugar down. Take it off the heat and let it cool while you whisk the eggs. Mix them in to the chocolate mixture then fold in the almonds. Bake on 170c for about 45 minutes or until it looks done. Let it cool in the tin. It will sink a bit and the end result is something denser than a sponge and lovely and rich. It is pretty when decorated with icing sugar and small edible flowers.

Adaption 1 – Chocolate raspberry torte

Everything is the same as above except you add the raspberries at the end and when it is finished, decorate the top with raspberries. There’s no hard and fast rule about how many raspberries to add. If you LOVE raspberries, then add loads. If you just want a little hint of something else, only add a few.

Adaption 2 – Chocolate orange almond cake
This one is spongier than the torte as I have added bicarb to rise it and rice flour to give it a lighter texture.

200g dark chocolate
210g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
60g any gluten free flour (I used rice flour)
5 eggs
75g ground almonds
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large orange or 2 small clementine/mandarin type things

Do the same as above by melting the chocolate, butter and sugar together. Then add the whisked eggs once mixture has cooled a bit. Add the flour and the bicarb then zest and juice your orange(s) in. Now here is where you have to use some initiative. Stick a teaspoon into the mixture (or your finger) and taste it. Does it taste orangey enough? If it’s orangey enough for you, then put it into the tin and bake. If not, grab another orange and get zesting and juicing til it tastes how you want it to. 

And so, my dears, go forth and bake! Be plentiful, be chocolatey and be gluten free!

Potential life-changing stuff here today

Ok, I’m calling today’s post Cop Out Thursday, as I woke up late and am having a friend over for breakfast so haven’t really time to write the post about worms that I was planning to (don’t worry, I don’t mean tapeworm, I mean my actual worms that make compost for me).

So what’s going to happen is this. I’m going to show you a collection of photos which don’t really mean an awful lot to anyone and were picked in a hurry. Are you up for that? Ok, let’s do it.

First up, it’s a dinosaur drinking from a glass….
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Second, we have a quote from a magazine that I’m sharing with you because I feel it is important.
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I’ve always felt the same way about free standing cupboards actually.

Next is a really old recipe with the original spelling of the word ‘apricot’ which made me giggle. Rather like a small child.
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Next up, a Christmas tree made of chocolate slabs. Obviously. (I did say it wouldn’t really mean anything, didn’t I?)
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And now, some tomatoes in my garden.
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And finally, to see off this fabulous, well-thought-out, life-changing, awesome post, a photo of me with some clingfilm stretched over my face.
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O wait, one last one, Yaya with an egg box on his face.

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Y is for….

YEHHHH!

(That’s me cheering because I’ve been nominated for another award.)

This time it’s the Super Sweet Blogging Award, given to me by WealthyMatters. Thank you so much!

First I have to answer the blog award questions so here goes…

Cookies or Cake?

Oo, tough. I guess biscuits, for dipping into tea.

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Vanilla

What is your favorite sweet treat?

Anything home baked. You can’t beat it. Banana bread muffins, flapjacks, gingerbread….

When do you crave sweet things the most?

About 4pm. Afternoon munchies.

If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?

Um. I dunno. Flapjack face…?

Ok, next up is my baker’s dozen of blog nominations. These are specifically ones which I have used for their recipes or that I like to read because of the beautiful pictures of food.

1. Biancalovefoodlovefashion – O, the bagels! O, the breakfasts! The loveliness….

2. Hungryhinny – I hardly know where to look. The recent spate of chocolate posts has made me very happy, as did this apple tart, which had me dribbling on my computer screen.

3. Prettygirlscook – I first noticed this blog when Italy was mentioned and I have not looked back since. Posts from the latest trip, to New Orleans, was a feast for the eyes.

4. Copycatmom – This is not necessarily a foodie blog but the recent challenge to eradicate processed food has made for fantastic reading. I loved the post about making ketchup.

5. Eat-move-love – this is a great blog for anyone looking for advice about healthy eating and exercise.

6. Thelittleloaf – O. My. Goodness. How amazing does this salmon and avocado on rye bread look?

7. Le Zoe Musings – Again, not a food blog but the posts which do contain food are beautiful.

8. Rantings of an Amateur Chef – Lovely lovely food. I wish this man was my personal chef.

9. Yes Chef! – I love taking a peek into this kitchen. I love the pictures of the family and I love looking at the things they eat.

10. Fitness and Frozen Grapes – She runs, she bikes, she swims, she writes, she cooks, she’s health and fitness embodied! I love when she writes about food on her blog.

11. Bagni di Lucca – It’s about Italy and there are pictures of food. I’m happy!

12. Pepper Bento – Fabulous looking food in cute little boxes. Brilliant!

Thoughts

I’m having one of those I-can’t-think-what-to-write-about days. Well, actually, I should qualify that statement. I’m having a bit of a lazy morning where I’ve spent an hour or two reading other blogs and listening to an audiobook so now my brain is in too many different places to think of something to write about. So I shall just list the thoughts that are in my mind right now.

– Will I ever become a world famous piano player? Or will I forever be stuck on the line, “And you come to me on a summer breeze” from How Deep Is Your Love? And are ten fingers enough to play this piece of music? At the moment, I need about twelve to be able to play it properly.

– Chocolate and cherry mousse cake is fabulous. And making a genoise sponge for the first time went ok. As did making custard from scratch…

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– Beouf bourginon is not actually that difficult to make. It is also extremely tasty, despite its easiness…

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– Planning an African adventure is muchos fun, even if it isn’t going to happen for over a year…

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– I can’t cope with X Factor winner James Arthur’s ‘my-parents-divorced-when-I-was-a-kid-and-now-I’m-traumatised-for-life’ routine. I just want to shake him and say, “Get over yourself! Grow up! I know your parents are divorced but SO ARE EVERYONE ELSE’S!” He writes songs about it which are really ‘deep’ apparently. So his Mum says. “Yeah,” she goes, serious face on and eyes looking down to the ground. “It’s really… It’s really… (she searches for the appropriate word, having used deep about four times already)… It’s really… deep.” Thanks for that, o mother of great eloquence and feeling. It’s good to know that, as a man in his 20s, the single most important that has happened in his life is still the separation of his parents when he was in primary school. Sometimes, Mr Arthur, people are better apart. Get over it.

– My rooibos tea has gone cold.

– There is a cat digging in the garden. I didn’t know cats dug.

– I am really intrigued about what happened with Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend. I genuinely really like him. I just finished reading his autobiography, Blade Runner, a few weeks ago and it was really good. He seems like a down-to-earth, decent type. And a brilliant athlete. His arrest for murder seems totally at odds with the man I imagined him to be. Of course, a book written by him will obviously give the impression that he portrays, not necessarily who he actually is. And by the same token, a charge for murder is not a conclusion of guilt. There’s this space in between the law and the media and the person’s own voice, where they reside, and I don’t suppose I can know who he is or what has happened. I guess we will see what the outcome is.

– Today I am going for lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in way too long. I am excited.

A Valentine’s mix-up

Yesterday, I finished work at 3pm and decided I’d potter into town and get some ideas for Valentine’s Day. Unusually for me, I didn’t have anything planned. Now I’m a girl who loves to plan a surprise. Any occasion. I’ll get started on plans months in advance. I love it.

So Valentine’s Day was on the horizon and, for some unknown reason, I just didn’t get round to planning anything. I’m ok at last minute so it wasn’t a major problem but I was a little surprised. That’s why I decided to wander around town for a while looking for ideas yesterday. I thought I could form a plan whilst seeing things to get inspiration. 

I went into the fancy, preppy Jack Wills and perused the sock section. I visited Molten Brown and smelled the many shower gels. I looked at the photo frames in Zara Home, the jumpers in Crew Clothing and the books in Waterstone’s. Eventually, whilst wandering around M&S, I decided on a nice pair of pyjamas (that I will inevitably steal and start wearing within a week) and, remembering that it is just Valentine’s and not a full on birthday or anything, restrained myself enough to just decide to buy some chocolates to go with the pyjamas.

I headed straight for my favourite chocolate shop. It is called William Curley’s and is a haven of chocolatey goodness. It has won awards. It runs chocolate cookery courses daily. Its chocolates are flavoured with the delicate tastes of Scottish heather and Richmond Park honey. It is phenomenally good quality. I always put a little something from William Curley’s on the side of birthday gifts.

Danda called while I was on my way there and asked me where I was.

“O, just in Waitrose,” said I, sneakily. For I am very sneaky sometimes. “I’m getting us some dinner.”

“Brilliant. I’ve been at the garage all afternoon. The gears on the taxi broke. The mechanic just got finished and I’m driving back. Do you fancy going to the cinema tonight?”

“That sounds great. Call me when you get here.”

I hurried to William Curley’s, for I would have to get home and hide the presents before Danda got back or it would ruin the surprise. Turning into the little lane, I started to imagine what chocolate I would pick for him. I pushed open the door, stepped into the shop and looked up…..

…. At Danda!

There was a moment of recognition as we both realised what had happened. He was at the till paying and just suddenly said, “Get out!” pointing wildly at the door, at which I turned on my heel and fled, laughing uncontrollably.

O well. There goes the surprise! And now I have to think of a new plan for the chocolate part of the present, as I obviously didn’t get any. Maybe a hug will do?

An evening in Venice

Well, not exactly. But it sounded good, didn’t it? Did you think I was about to tell you that I’d gone all the way to Venice just for the evening?…. Ah, if only.

What actually happened was that I went to Covent Garden, to a restaurant called Polpo. Now, the more astute amongst you will be thinking, I’ve heard that name before, didn’t she mention that a while ago?

Well, yes I did. To celebrate having done 200 posts, I cooked a big Italian feast with all the recipes taken from Polpo’s cookbook which, by the way, is the most beautiful cookbook I have ever seen and the recipes are so simple, only about four ingredients in most things, but so delicious. Since having the cookbook, I have been meaning to go to the restaurant. Finally, last night, my friend and I decided it was time to go.

After a bit of faffing around in Hammersmith station trying to get onto the same platform and figure out which train to get and then walking an extremely long way around, we made it to the restaurant. It was long and thin and in the middle, there was a bar where people perched, with plates of different cicheti (which, I think, means starters) nibbling and chitchatting on tall stools. Behind this, was an area with lots of small tables. We were seated against the back wall by a lady who’s smile remained in place all night, despite my requests for recipes from the kitchen, which must have been a bit annoying and slowed her down.

The menu was a paper place mat and I recognised so much of it from the cookbook that I already felt like I was in a familiar place. The Smiths and Goldfrapp played somewhere in the distance and gave me a good feeling about the evening.

We ordered four small plates of food to share for our starters and mains and, unfortunately, my photographs came out either too dark to see or lurid yellowy from my flash. So just bear with the bad lighting on these photos please.

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An aubergine and parmesan wrap

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Spicy pork and fennel meatballs (these were really good)

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Flank steak with rocket and white truffle cream (this was the recipe I requested from the waitress, it was lovely)

We also had a bruscetta with ricotta, proscuitto and artichoke which we stuffed in our faces so fast that I forgot to photograph it. It was really really good though. Maybe my favourite thing, along with the steak and truffle cream.

For desert, I had a panna cotta with rhubarb and pistachio…

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… and my friend had a tiramisu.

Both were tasty and served in a small glass, so just the right size after all the other bits had filled us up. My only sticking point with my panna cotta was that I had a small teaspoon when I really wanted a huge soup spoon, to be able to eat it faster. I also had an alfogato di caffe (I think I’ve spelt that wrong), which is an espresso with a ball of vanilla ice cream in it. It’s a very Venetian thing, apparently. So I got one, in my ongoing attempt to become an Italian coffee-lover. I was unsure whether I was supposed to drink the espresso then eat the ice cream afterward or wait for the ice cream to melt, therefore sweetening the coffee then eat the whole thing with a spoon. I went for a bit of both but I’ve definitely got quite a way to go before mastering the technique. When I go to Venice (one day) I will make sure I have it sorted.

Afterward, we got something called chocolate salami, which I have made before at home. It was tasty when I made it so we ordered some of that as well as all the other things we were having for desert.

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It is essentially a fridge set chocolate biscuit, with lots of things crushed up and mixed into it. It was quite a bit saltier than mine, so was slightly at odds with where we were in our meal. We were on sweet and we were happy there. Then suddenly salty came along. It was nice but probably needed something else with it. It would have been nice dipped in coffee, to warm it slightly and make the chocolate a bit melty and added a little edge to it with the coffee taste. Well, anyway, I know for next time.

All in all, we were very happy with this trip. It also wasn’t that expensive, given how many different things we ate. I was pleased to see that the fame from the book hadn’t turned them into an expensive once-a-year type of place.

The people at the next table started chatting to us at one point about what the chocolate salami was and what we had eaten and what we recommended for deserts. It’s nice that way. It has an informal feel to it. The waitress checked in on us regularly, was happy to get into conversation about the truffle cream and how great the cookbook was. And the high seats at the bar, where people ate small plates of antipasti with glasses of wine or vin santo, were constantly full. I imagine it’s an ideal place to perch if you’re dining alone or just looking for something small and tasty after a long day at work. Very nice indeed.

Thumbs up for Polpo, just how I wanted it to be after loving the cookbook so much.