…since I last posted anything.
I guess I’ve been pretty busy – I’ve done a lot since I last wrote, including teaching English at an international school, moving countries and starting a PhD. I’m actually sitting in the PhD office right now, looking out the window at chirpy undergrads heading to their lectures. It’s a nice campus, with nice people and I think I’ll be alright. So far, I’ve managed to break through the shy/can’t-be-bothered wall that usually stops me from being sociable and I have to say, I’ve met a nice bunch of people that way.
So, I thought I’d share the recipe for a Chinese/Japanese fruit cream cake that I’ve made a few times. Growing up as a child in a very Asian environment, this cake automatically screams birthday to me. It’s made up of a light sponge, with chopped fruit and cream sandwiched between two layers. Then the entire cake is covered in a light, creamy icing and topped with more chopped fruit; as you’ll see in my pictures, sometimes the sides get a bit more decoration by way of sliced or chopped nuts. There are many variations out there, using different fruit and sometimes flavoured creams, but what I’ve made can probably be regarded as the classic version.
Continue reading It’s been a long time…
I already have a draft post that’s been half-written for nearly a month now. The problem with that is that there’s too much to describe and I think I’m a little too pedantic, which makes it more work than it really should be.
However, I had a lovely time in London over the weekend and thought I’d share a little of what I ate.
First, I made figs and goats cheese as a quick starter for lunch on Saturday. I believe figs are in season now, and the figs we bought certainly lived up to that, subtly sweet and juicy. I picked up some goats cheese from the butcher down the road – it’s a gorgeous sweet, cheese with a rind and creamy outer layer similar to camembert, with a firmer, almost crumbly centre. After slicing the figs open with a cross-cut (see this for a proper written description), I wedged a small piece of the amazing goats cheese in the centre. Then I baked them at about 180-200°C for 5 to 8 minutes, just enough to melt the cheese and allow the figs to warm up a bit. It’s a classic pairing and I certainly understood why after the first, warm burst of sweet and salty melted cheese in my mouth as I bit into the fig.
Continue reading Figs and goat cheese
As I type right now, I look up occasionally and see the heavy raindrops pitter-pattering outside the doors leading to the garden. It’s a strange sort of rain – heavy, but not a proper downpour, and the sky has that weird quality of being almost overcast, but not quite. The sun’s managed to peek through a little so overall there’s a rather dreamy feel to it.
I’ll stop rambling on about the weather now, even though it was what originally inspired me to write this post. The past month or so has been filled with mostly glorious (read: sunny) weather, although I do draw the line at 30°C heat in a country that’s built around a climate that doesn’t usually stray over 20°C.
However, the upside of all that heat was lots of flower photos…
Continue reading Flowers and scones: in the midst of summer
Last week I made this cheesecake twice, the first time to try out the newly discovered recipe, and the second because I enjoyed the first attempt so much. Also I had friends over.
We had oven baked “fried” chicken, using a recipe I saw on the Food Network on a show called Not My Mama’s Meals. They call it Unfried Chicken, and I was amazed that it isn’t actually the grease and oily skin that makes a good piece of fried chicken, rather it’s the crunch, which the cornflakes manage to produce very well.
However we dove into the chicken so quickly that I completely forgot to take pictures, so I’ll move on to the cheesecake I made instead.
I found the recipe on a blog called Parsley, Sage & Sweet; this post in turn came from another blog called Cook Book of Trial and Error. I was attracted to the idea that you could make a decent cheesecake from a cheese that is pretty much fat free (the quark I bought has 0.2% fat), and the comments seemed promising.
Still, I was rather skeptical, but it was an easy recipe to put together and quark is cheaper than regular cream cheese, so I thought it was worth the attempt. Continue reading Skinny cheesecake
As I ran through the ingredients for this recipe again, I realised that I’d made a vegan recipe! I’m not vegan or even vegetarian, so I don’t usually look out for vegan recipes although I do consult blogs dedicated to vegan food as I love the creativity needed to make a nutritious yet tasty meal without meat.
I found this particular recipe because I ran out of eggs and the shops close at 4.30pm on Sundays. I’m going for an interview early tomorrow morning so I wanted take a packed breakfast with me, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted muffins, specifically banana muffins, as I have a couple brownish bananas in the kitchen.
The original recipe was simple and I only made a few changes, mainly substitutions because of ingredient availability, with the exception of two: I omitted baking soda because I felt that adding it might make it taste funny (I’ve had bad experiences with excessive baking soda). I also added 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon because I like the taste. Continue reading Banana muffins
Admittedly not my most original baking post as I made brownies, again.
In my defence, it’s a different brownie recipe, and one I made without the convenience of my scales or measuring spoons. I was over at my best friend’s flat and she doesn’t own scales, measuring cups or spoons. It’s amazing how dependent I’ve become on my baking equipment, when only a few years ago I didn’t even know that measuring spoons existed.
So I stepped into her kitchen and asked for the scales. Scales? What scales? Fortunately her flatmate owned a measuring jug. Then it was on to Google to find out the equivalent of a cup to mls on the jug. I have a funny feeling that the quantities I ended up with may not have been exactly what the original recipe called for, but the end result was still delicious.
This time the only change I made to the original recipe (apart from my suspect measuring devices) was to add about 50-60 g of dark chocolate chips to the brownie mix. Other than that the recipe is exactly as Deb, of Smitten Kitchen posted it, here.
I used the melting in the microwave method as I didn’t really feel like setting up the water bath. It came out fine, as the following pictures can attest. Continue reading Spring, with a whisper of summer, via brownies
So spring has finally arrived. It seems as if everything and everyone is making the best of the warm(ish) weather, and I am no different. I’ve been for long walks and picnics in various parks and just generally chilled. For now, I just intend to make the most of my free time, so in addition to working my way through the library and making a few stabs at my own writing, I’ve also walked around the city sketching whatever catches my eye. Looking at my surroundings with an artist’s eye really does make a difference – so many things stood out that I previously did not notice.
I often have my head in the clouds, but I do want to share some pictures that I feel best sum up my wanderings over the past week:
Continue reading Spring (and shortbread) madness
I was feeling lazy the other day so I cracked open a can of tuna, shoved a sweet potato in the microwave, threw lots of sweet chilli sauce over everything and filled up a bowl with spinach for a salad.
Oh, and I made a cup of tea.
I made a really quick lunch the other day.
First I sprinkled a thin chicken breast with garlic powder and pepper which was then pan fried.
Next I built up the sandwich with the addition of cucumber, red onions and spinach. As I don’t like raw onions, I let the slices sizzle in the pan beside the chicken, which made them nicely soft but not too crispy.
This was then all topped off with a generous drizzle of sweet Thai chilli sauce and sandwiched between lightly toasted wholemeal bread.
I’ll admit it was one of the messiest sandwiches I’ve eaten due to chilli sauce dripping out as I ate it, but at the same time it was one of the most satisfying I can remember having in a long time.
Or as it said in the Tesco leaflet, Chicken and Prawn Chow Mein.
I picked up the February/March free recipe booklet when I went shopping last week and left it in the living room. One of the guys I live with, M, decided that the recipe was simple enough and we ought to try it out. There’s only three of us in the house and the recipe said it served four to six, but we eat a lot.
The recipe below is what we did, which is a slight adaptation from the original as we weren’t able to get exactly the same ingredients. Amazingly, it all only cost us just under £10, which is far less than what we’d pay at the local Chinese takeaway. Continue reading Chicken & Prawn Noodles