Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Restaurant Review - Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food

Restaurant name: Gordon Ramsay Plane Food 
Location: Departure lounge, terminal 5 at Heathrow
Description: A bit more upmarket than your typical departure lounge restaurant, this is one of Gordon Ramsay's outposts and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has its own bar as well. It even provides 'picnics' - basically a packed lunch that you can take on the plane with you.
Reason for visit: Brunch before a long-haul flight - I never particularly like the food you get on planes so thought I would indulge in a decent breakfast.
I ate: fishcakes and lime mayonnaise from the express menu, as I wanted something quite light, followed by pineapple carpaccio with passion fruit sorbet.
The food was: The fishcakes were excellent and the lime mayonnaise just right. The thin slices of pineapple were refreshing and the way the food is presented is very good.
The atmosphere/service was: The express menu costs £16.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three, but I only wanted the one course from that menu, and I really wanted a side dish of macaroni cheese from the a la carte menu and a dessert from the full dessert menu; the waiter said that would be no problem. However, I think the waiter must have misheard when I ordered the dessert as he brought the wrong one, but apologised and quickly replaced it with what I wanted. I did also notice that the man at the next table ordered a coffee and a full English breakfast; his food came and he pointed out they had forgotten the coffee. So maybe remembering what people have ordered wasn't their strong point on this particular day!
Service was fast, which is what you want when you're waiting for a flight, but I also felt I could have lingered at the table and read a newspaper if I didn't want to go and sit at the departure gate. It was a nice, peaceful restaurant, full of business travellers and mainly solo diners with a few small groups, rather than families or young couples.
Price range/value for money: Obviously more expensive than other departure lounge restaurants but it is Gordon Ramsay. I think the peaceful atmosphere also makes the extra cost worthwhile.
Would I recommend it? Yes, it was an enjoyable meal and a nice way to relax away from the bustle of the departure gate before a flight.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Humpty Dumpty Creme Egg Cake

 Humpty dumpty creme egg cake

This is a great cake for Easter - it has Cadburys Creme Eggs baked in the middle!

I made it for a meeting of my local Clandestine Cake Club which had a triple theme. First it was "Once upon a time", plus Easter, plus a hidden ingredient. That was quite a lot to get into one cake and everyone else made Easter cakes decorated with chicks and mini eggs, and a few people also had a hidden ingredient. I was more interested by the "once upon a time" theme and was thinking about nursery rhymes and fairy tales and realised that there was one that would also fit the Easter theme - humpty dumpty! I then remembered that I had seen recipes online for chocolate brownies with Cadburys creme eggs baked in the middle and wondered if I could do the same with cake. Strangely, I couldn't find any recipes or blog posts on the internet for Cadburys creme egg cakes- I found plenty of brownie recipes and also cupcakes but I couldn't find an example where someone had tried it in a cake. So I wasn't sure if it would work or not... but look how it turned out!

Cadburys creme egg cake

 I did wonder about freezing the creme eggs before I baked them in the cake to see if they would hold their shape better; if you want to have a go at making this cake and trying that I would be interested to hear how it turns out. The eggs did remain relatively intact anyway the way that I did it.

Humpty Dumpty Cadburys Creme Egg Cake - an original recipe by Caroline Makes

For the loaf cake:
175g softened butter or margarine
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
125g self-raising flour
50g cocoa powder
50ml milk
6 Cadburys creme eggs

For the humpty dumpty cake:
120g softened butter or margarine
120g caster sugar
2 eggs
80g self-raising flour
30g cocoa powder
20ml milk

For the buttercream
200g softened butter or margarine
400g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder

Roll-out fondant to decorate: I used two 250g packs of Renshaw ready-to-roll icing in teddy bear brown (though I didn't use it all), plus about 500g of white ready-to-roll icing, half of which I coloured blue with Sugarflair baby blue gel paste, and some Dr. Oetker wafer daisies. I also used a tiny amount of black sugarpaste though you can also use an edible pen or mark on the mouth with a curved modelling tool or a spoon and I bought some edible eyes by Suck UK, though you could make eyes from white and black sugarpaste. I also had a brickwork embosser from the Sugarcraft Patchwork Cutters range though you could use a knife if you don't have this. You'll see pictures and explanations of all these below.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line a loaf tin or spray with Cake Release and do the same with either a small round cake tin or line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.

For the loaf cake, cream the butter and the sugar with an electric beater then add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and the cocoa powder and finally the milk.

I bought a pack of six Cadbury's creme eggs in the supermarket for £2 which I thought was pretty good.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared loaf tin and gently press in each of the creme eggs once you have taken them out of their wrappers of course. I pushed them down like the ones you can see in the back row, then spread the cake mixture so it covered the tops of the creme eggs, as I thought they would melt too quickly in the oven otherwise. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Cadburys creme egg cake

 Do the same process with the ingredients for the humpty dumpty cake, without the creme eggs. Bake this in either a small round cake tin or as cupcakes; it doesn't matter because you are going to crumble this cake up like when you make cake pops.

 Here is the loaf cake - leave it to cool in the tin for a while then turn out onto a wire rack.

You can see that the creme eggs have melted and actually left holes in the bottom of the cake. This didn't seem to be a problem for me but if you have any ideas on how to stop this happening I'd like to hear them!

 When you have baked the other cake or the cupcakes, leave them to cool and then crumble up the cake into a large bowl. Make the buttercream by creaming the butter and icing sugar with the cocoa powder and add a little at a time to the cake crumbs and mix well, kneading with your hands, until you have a dough consistency. Have a look at this post on cake pops for some pictures and a step-by-step description.

When you have your ball of cake roll it between your hands to make it a little more egg-shaped. Then roll out some white fondant and cover the cake ball - it doesn't matter if the bottom is a bit uneven (I find it quite hard to cover a ball without ragged seams on the bottom) as you won't see the bottom of the cake.

Then colour some fondant in another colour - I used baby blue - or roll out some coloured fondant and cover the bottom half of the egg. Again the underneath won't be seen.

I wanted to make it look as if Humpty Dumpty was wearing a shirt so I cut out a triangle of white fondant and made some buttons in blue. I stuck this on the front.

I found these edible eyes in a gift shop; they weren't cheap at £4.99 but I thought they would be fun to try out.

I also made a hat out of fondant and a mouth - though I didn't get the smile right, but I couldn't move it as the black fondant would have left a mark. Roll out some sausage shapes in blue fondant to make the arms and the legs which you will fix on later.

When the loaf cake is cold, roll out some brown or reddish-brown coloured fondant - I used teddy bear brown - and cover the cake. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the cake first then cover with the fondant. Place it on a cake board.

I bought this patchwork brickwork cutter/embosser a while ago after making this dog basket cake 
and decided it would be perfect to make the wall.

Simply press into the fondant so you can see the brick pattern.

And finally assemble the cake - sit humpty dumpty on the wall, and fix on his arms and legs with either a little buttercream or edible glue. I added some Dr. Oetker wafer daisies on one end of the wall.

Humpty dumpty cake

 I had no idea what the inside would look like until I cut into the cake at the Clandestine Cake Club meeting.... I was really pleased to see the Cadbury's creme eggs had kept their shape and melted a little, but when you eat the cake you definitely know you are eating a piece of the creme egg at the same time. This was quite a fudgy cake and really delicious.

A wonderful experiment for Easter!

The Clandestine Cake Club meeting was very enjoyable; it took place in Waterstone's cafe so we drank tea and ate cake while surrounded by cookery books.

Here are some of the other delicious cakes that CCC members made, around the Easter theme, some of which also had a hidden ingredient, but nobody else used the "once upon a time" theme.

I am sending this to We Should Cocoa, created by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and hosted this month by Rachel Cotterill as the theme this month is Easter.

The theme for Love Cake, hosted by Jibber Jabber UK, is "springing into Easter".

Monday, 14 April 2014

Meal Planning Monday 2014 - Week 16

Turkey mince bolognese for him and turkey-stuffed cabbage rolls for me


My boyfriend is out so I'll have leftovers from yesterday
 burger and chips; I'll have a vege burger and no bun to cut the calories.

Oven baked Thai cod for me along the lines of this recipe; the same but with chicken for him.

Friday - Bank holiday
Lunch potato cakes (I'm trying to use up stuff from the freezer before I hopefully move house!) with sausage gravy for me, fry up for him

Dinner roast lamb and mint sauce for me, chicken for him

Breakfast toast/cereal

Lunch Today I'm going to a friend's in Devon for her birthday and baby shower which is very exciting... not sure if I'm leaving before lunch or after so if I'm at home I'll grab a quick snack
Dinner At my friend's house

Breakfast/ Lunch Still at my friend's house, she usually makes a mean sausage sandwich the morning after!
Dinner May not get back until late as it's a long drive so something quick for dinner - either pasta or something easy from the freezer.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Roast Chicken with Zesty Chickpea Stuffing

This is a variation on a roast chicken recipe that you could try over Easter. The recipe comes from Franglais Kitchen, though she says to use a whole can of chickpeas and I could only get half a tin into the cavity. So once you have the chicken that you plan to roast, you need:
half a can of chickpeas
half a lemon
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garam masala
pinch of chilli flakes
salt and pepper

Mix the chickpeas with the seasoning in a bowl

Spoon inside the cavity of the chicken and block the gap with half a lemon

Roast the chicken as normal, remembering to add on the cooking time for the extra weight of the stuffing

Carve the chicken and serve with the spicy chickpeas

I'm sending this to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Five Ways with Capricorn Goat's Cheese

Last year I won a "best blog award" sponsored by Capricorn goats cheese, and my prize was... a year's supply of goat's cheese! I was very pleased and quite intrigued to see how much a year's supply would turn out to be, and whether they would send it all in one go... luckily they sent me vouchers instead. I received 24 vouchers, each for 100g of goat's cheese worth £2, which works out at a packet of goat's cheese every fortnight. Unfortunately it took me a little while to find anywhere that would accept the vouchers  - through trial and error I found that the only supermarkets which appear to stock Capricorn are Waitrose and Tesco and the vouchers could only be used in store and not for online orders. There was a small Waitrose and a small Tesco near my office (there is neither near my home) and for several weeks I went in only to find the shelf space for the Capricorn cheese empty. I'm not sure if they were having supply issues - this was near the start of the year when big parts of the west country suffered from flooding and Capricorn is based in Somerset after all. Eventually the goat's cheese came back in stock and I was able to use my vouchers, though Tesco told me I could not use more than one voucher at a time. Even so, it won't be hard to use them all!

I love goat's cheese, particularly the soft kind, and there are so many things you can do with it. Here I'm going to give you five ideas.

First of all here's an idea from my mum as I gave her a few of the vouchers: grilled mushrooms with goat's cheese. You need one large portabello mushroom per person, which you fry on both sides in plenty of oil to keep them moist. Slice the cheese and place on top of the mushroom, and place under a hot grill for a few minutes. These are great as a starter or as part of a salad.

Speaking of salad, goat's cheese is a lovely addition to any kind of salad but one flavour it goes particularly well with is pear. For this salad I made some toast - Melba toasts would probably be better to use here - and used little gem lettuce as it's my favourite kind. Peel and slice a ripe pear and arrange on the plate and then place a portion of goat's cheese in the middle. This is particularly nice if you warm the cheese in the microwave for a few seconds so it softens and the inside is runny. Finally drizzle with balsamic glaze or balsamic vinegar and serve.

From salad to burgers... my staff canteen at work was advertising a burger with goat's cheese one day which I thought sounded lovely, and wasn't something I had eaten before. But when I got to the counter I found that while the sign said goat's cheese, what they put in my burger was most definitely stilton. Never mind... so the next time I cooked a burger at home I decided to try it with a slice of goat's cheese. If you haven't tried this particular combination then I recommend it!

I don't often eat gnocchi and have never made it before but I do enjoy it, so when I came across a recipe on the BBC Food website for goat's cheese gnocchi I decided to give it a go. It's fairly simple to make but there is obviously a trick to getting it just right as mine was quite doughy. To make enough for three or four people (depending on appetite) you need:
2 large potatoes
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g goat's cheese

For the sauce:
200ml chicken stock
150ml double cream

Peel the potatoes, bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until tender. Mash the potato and gradually add the flour, mixing together to make a dough. Add the goat's cheese and mix in.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a long sausage shape and cut into small pieces.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in the gnocchi. They only take a few minutes to cook and are ready when they float to the surface.

To make the sauce, bring the stock to simmering point in another pan, remove from the heat and stir in the cream. I made this to go with chicken breasts so I cooked the chicken in the sauce. Add the gnocchi to the pan with the sauce and serve.

On a similar note I decided to make ravioli. You can easily find a recipe for the basic pasta dough online; I have a pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid which is great.

Roll out the pasta and cut into squares and place a few pieces of cooked bacon and a bite-sized piece of goat's cheese on each pasta square.

Place another square of pasta on top and press the edges to seal. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil.

Boil for a few minutes until the pasta is cooked. I served these sprinkled with parmesan cheese - the ravioli parcels are quite uneven so I think I should get the special ravioli attachment for my Kitchenaid next!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Slimming World-style Apple Creme Brulee

This dessert was inspired by one from the Slimming World Love Desserts recipe book but adapted to fit the ingredients I had in the house. I made it for a food tasting at my Slimming World group and was meant to use sliced mango for the base. I thought I had a tin of mango in the cupboard but the night before found it was mango puree, and I didn't have time to go shopping again, so I decided to use apples instead! It worked fine and while it isn't my favourite dessert I have ever made, it is pretty healthy and is a nice light alternative. The recipe I used was for individual desserts but I made this in one large dish as it is easier to share at food tasting.

Serves 4
3 apples, peeled and sliced
300g fat free Greek-style yogurt
4 tbsp sweetener
a few drops of vanilla flavouring
4 tbsp caster sugar
Each serving is 3 syns on all choices

Slice the apples and layer in the bottom of a dessert serving bowl.

Mix the yogurt, sweetener and vanilla and spoon over the apple.

Sprinkle the caster sugar over the top, and caramelise using a cook's blowtorch or a hot grill.

And that's all you need to do! The caramelised sugar on top gives a lovely snap when you dig in with a spoon and it's nice to have a slightly naughty topping on what is otherwise a very virtuous dessert.

I'm sending this to Dead Easy Desserts, hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy and created by Maison Cupcake, as this dessert is very easy and probably takes no more than about ten minutes to make.