Thursday 31 March 2016

Breakfast Burritos

This is more of an idea than a recipe as you can include almost anything you want - but until recently it hadn't even occurred to me to make one of these before. They make a nice change for a breakfast/ brunch/ even lunch - a different way of serving a full English that means you need to cook less food (one sausage per person is enough for instance) so a little goes a long way - good perhaps if you are cooking for crowds.

I cooked some hash browns in the oven plus a couple of sausages, several rashers of streaky bacon and some scrambled eggs. I used Mission Deli wraps as they are really big.

Spread a little hot sauce on the wrap if desired, and sprinkle over grated cheese. Pile in the cooked breakfast....

.. wrap, and enjoy! I didn't take any photos of the finished dish but I still can't get the hang of how to fold burritos anyway! These made a nice change for lunch as my fiancé pretty much always wants a bacon sandwich at the weekend and I'm trying to find ways to do different things that he will still like!

Wednesday 30 March 2016

How to use a Garrett Frill Cutter to make Ruffles on Cakes

If you want a frill or ruffle on your cake the most consistent and professional way to do that is with a Garrett frill cutter. It’s a plastic circle with a ruffled edge, that comes with three interchangeable centres – each one gives a different width to your frill. You just pop one out and the other in.
I’d used a Garrett frill cutter before on this Princess doll cake, but didn’t quite know how to do it properly – you can see from the picture that I used the balling tool wrongly (well, this was 2013 and I was still learning!). I was finally shown how to do it properly in my wedding cake decorating class.
The cutter is pretty simple to use – select the width of frill you want and insert the centre into the cutter. The smaller the centrepiece, the wider your frill.
It’s best to use modelling paste for the frill – sugarpaste is a bit too soft and can’t be rolled thinly enough and flowerpaste is probably too thin and dries too hard. Modelling paste or Mexican paste retains a softer texture so it is nicer for eating, but at the same time it dries enough to hold the shape. I’ve previously written a tutorial on how to make Mexican paste here.
Roll out some paste and press down the Garrett frill cutter. Remove the inner circle you are left with so you have a frilled outer circle, which you cut in half to give you two separate frills. So far, so easy. Now, where I went wrong before is making the edges of the frill curl.
The best tool to use is actually called a friller (the clue being in the name!) though you can also use a cocktail stick. A friller is a thin straight tool that looks a bit like a veiner but is smooth. Place the frill onto a foam pad and roll the friller tool from side to side on each piece of the frill, as you can see here. Don’t be afraid to properly roll it so the icing actually stretches out and thins.

Then, place the friller under the middle of the section you have just rolled, and raise it into a little peak. When you have done this all the way around your frill will be really… frilly!

We all stuck our frills to the cake board that we had previously been trying out other techniques on in my cake decorating class. Most people just stuck their frills to the centre of the cake – you can stick them on using edible glue or by piping a little royal icing, ideally in a matching colour. I decided to stick my frill around the edge of the cake board – if I was doing this on a cake I would put it around the side. One girl had a good idea –when we’d previously done stencilling, she had stencilled a silhouette of a Spanish dancer, so she cut her frill into four sections rather than two, and stuck it on the stencil to show the ruffles in the skirt. You can get as creative as you like with your frill!


Tuesday 29 March 2016

Restaurant review: Tayyabs, Whitechapel

This review is rather overdue as I ate at Tayyabs around Christmas time for a team meal – as some time has elapsed I will keep this brief but essentially wanted to recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been there!
An award-winning restaurant, it’s near but not on Brick Lane – I’ve found in the past that some Brick Lane restaurants are more geared up for tourists but it is a short walk away in Whitechapel where you find the really good, authentic curry houses frequented by locals – such as Needoo Grill and Tayyabs.
Tayyabs is a family-run business that has been around since the 70s and once consisted of various premises – a restaurant, café, a sweet shop – that have since been knocked through into one. So the restaurant is big – one reason perhaps why it is popular with groups, though to say that is the only reason would be a huge disservice to the food.

Another reason for its popularity with groups, be they birthday parties, work colleagues on a Christmas meal (I fought for turkey and all the trimmings but was outvoted in favour of curry!) is that the restaurant is unlicensed, meaning it has a bring your own (BYO) bottle policy. There’s a Tesco not too far away where you can pick up a bottle of wine for little more than a fiver if you’re on a budget – and with the food in Tayyabs priced very reasonably, this is unlikely to be an expensive night out.
When I originally booked, I gave an estimated number of diners, and rang back nearer the time to confirm – and when I did, I was told that as we were a large group we had to choose a set menu in advance – quite simply menu 1 for £25 or menu 2 for £28, but that the whole group had to have the same thing. I hadn’t been informed of this the first time, and rather than ask everyone what they preferred, I spoke to a couple of people and decided to go for the more expensive menu as it gave more choice and also included soft drinks and desserts, which for £3 more than the menu without drinks or desserts seemed a no-brainer.
Yet when we arrived at the restaurant and were handed the a la carte menus, I told the waiter we had been asked to choose a set menu and he said it didn’t matter and we could have anything!
Tayyabs serves ‘proper’ curry – you won’t get a bright yellow chicken korma or almost florescent pink tikka masala here. One of their specialities is a karahi – a dish simmered in a deep cooking pot traditional in Pakistan. I think we asked the waiter to bring us a selection of dishes that we could share – I remember trying all sorts of things, and it was all very good, particularly the bread.
I am getting to know this area better as for the past year and a half or so I’ve been a reading partner at a primary school just a few minutes from Tayyabs; I go one lunchtime a fortnight to spend time with a 7-year-old girl who struggles a bit with her reading. So I’m quite used to the 25 min walk from my office, walking past student accommodation blocks, the London Muslim Centre and the East London Mosque – my walk usually coincides with hearing the call to prayer which is wonderful as I’d only ever heard that in Turkey before. You can see the men all hurrying to the mosque and it is a great reminder of how multicultural London is. So if your experience of curry in London stretches no further than Brick Lane, I urge you to explore the great restaurants in the surrounding area a bit more, and perhaps pay Tayyabs a visit.

Monday 28 March 2016

Meal Planning Monday Week 14

I was so tied up with making Easter treats and planning for a busy weekend while my parents were visiting that I completely forgot to plan a menu for this week! In a way that's a good thing as I need to get back on my diet so I'm going to do some pretty simple meals this week.

Monday - bank holiday
Lunch: crumpet pizzas (lots of crumpets left from weekend)
Dinner: sweet and sour chicken for me, chicken wrapped in bacon for him

Lunch: homemade Thai chicken patties
Dinner: leftovers from Sunday's roast for me, frozen pizza for him (as it's the quickest thing to cook as mine only needs reheating)

Lunch: protein drink with houmous and carrot sticks for snack
tuna and vegetables for me, chicken chargrills and mashed potatoes for him

Thursday - working from home
Lunch: Quinoa shrimp paella based on this recipe
Dinner: fish en papilotte with spiralized butternut squash for me (Inspiralized p174), chicken en papilotte for him, based on this recipe

Lunch: out with my fiancé for his birthday
Dinner: takeaway with my fiancé's family (his choice for a birthday meal)

Lunch: bacon sandwich
Dinner: Cajun shrimp and chicken etouffee (one of each, not mixed) - using a packet mix I got in New Orleans with garlic bread

Lunch: fresh pasta with garlic bread
Dinner: Slimming World cowboy pie for him, fish pie for me

Sunday 27 March 2016

Floating Anti-Gravity Mini Egg White Chocolate and Lemon Cake

I was really pleased with this Easter cake apart from one thing - I ran out of Mini Eggs!

I had this cake in mind for a long time after I got Lakeland's pouring cake kit for Christmas. I made a white chocolate and lemon cake, filled it with buttercream and lemon curd, and stuck Cadbury's white chocolate fingers around the outside. I used the Lakeland kit to make it look as if a packet of Cadbury Mini Eggs was pouring onto the cake, and I filled the top of the cake with buttercream and Mini Eggs - or tried to until I ran out, and added a few Cadbury's Oreo mini eggs to fill in some gaps.

It would have looked better with more Mini Eggs - I bought a couple of packets in the run-up to Easter and hid them in the garage (last year my boyfriend kept finding them in the larder and eating them!) but right before the Easter weekend wondered if I might actually need some more Mini Eggs. I ordered some from Tesco along with my online grocery delivery but they ran out, and when my dad went to buy a newspaper he had a look in the corner shop he had a look but they didn't have any either. So I had to make do with what I had, but it would definitely have looked better with more Mini Eggs.

I used a recipe from Lemony Loves Baking for the white chocolate and lemon mud cake but as the quantities were for a 6 layer cake I decided it was too big, so used two thirds of the quantities for all the ingredients.

I realised I didn't have any cream so just made a standard buttercream and used it with lemon curd in the cake. The cake was really moist and you could taste both the white chocolate and the lemon which was brilliant. So a big hat tip to Anna at Lemony Loves Baking for the recipe!

As for the Lakeland pouring kit - have you come across these before? I was a bit dubious that it was really necessary to spend £9.99 on a kit which is little more than a plastic base and a couple of rods, when I made this floating Malteser cake last year just using a plastic straw.

While the equipment cost pennies, it was a bit tricky to stick the Maltesers to the straw and they kept sliding off, so I had to do just a couple at a time and then put the whole cake in the fridge to set, and then do a few more, so the whole thing took hours and I needed a lot of space in the fridge - which I had at the time as we had not long before got a new American style fridge freezer and not yet gotten rid of our built-in larder fridge.

This year however the larder fridge has been removed and turned into an actual larder with pull-out shelving and my other fridge wouldn't have the space for a large and tall cake so I was a bit worried about what I would do if I needed to put the cake in the fridge. But I needn't have worried as it worked perfectly.

To start with, you decide if you want your floating element off to one side or in the middle, and screw the base rod into the appropriate hole and cover the other holes with blanking plates. Place the cake over the rod so it goes through the cake - it worked fine but it would probably have been more sensible to do this before I filled the cake, ie put one layer of cake over the rod, then spread over the filling and put the other cake on top, rather than put the entire cake over the rod!

Then screw the other part of the rod on top - you can either have it taller or longer depending on where you put the 'joint'.

I melted some milk chocolate in the microwave and put it in the fridge until it was very thick but still spreadable. I covered the top of the cake with buttercream and added the Mini Eggs, and then put the empty packet over the top of the bent part of the rod. Then all I had to do was put a dot of chocolate onto a Mini Egg and stick it to the rod and repeat. The eggs stuck fast right away and I didn't need to put it in the fridge at all.

As the final touch I spread the remaining buttercream around the edge of the cake and stuck white chocolate fingers around the sides, and then stuck a yellow polka dot ribbon around the base. A very nice Easter cake!

I'm sharing this as yet another entry with Alphabakes, the challenge I co-host with Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker, as the letter she has chosen this month is C and this cake has plenty of white chocolate.

I'm also sharing this with Simply Eggcellent, hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen.

I'm sending this as well to Tea Time Treats, hosted by Jane at the Hedgecombers and Karen at Lavender and Lovage, as their theme is Easter and spring.

And finally I'm sending this to the Food Year Linkup, hosted by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen.

Food Year Linkup March 2016

Saturday 26 March 2016

Homemade hand-decorated Easter Eggs

I made my own Easter eggs for the first time this year! They did take a bit longer than I thought and I didn't exactly plan elaborate designs for decorating them but I was still quite pleased with them.

I made some small Easter eggs last year using a silicon mould, which I filled with soft fondant. For a long time now I've wanted to make full-size Easter eggs so recently bought myself a mould from Hobbycraft, as it was only £1. I was a bit worried as it was rigid plastic rather than silicone so it was a bit difficult to get the chocolate out of the moulds but I did manage it - and I will explain how further down!

I made three eggs, two milk chocolate and one white.

To begin, I melted 250g milk chocolate in a bowl in the microwave and poured about half of it into both parts of the Easter egg mould. You don't need to spread it with a spoon - instead, tip the mould to swirl the chocolate around, making sure it goes right up to the edges. Put in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

At this point, the thinner chocolate around the sides will have set and the melted chocolate will have pooled at the bottom of the mould; this will be cooler and thicker but still not quite set. Using the back of a teaspoon spread this chocolate, and some more from the melting bowl, up the sides of the mould and return to the fridge to set again. After another 15 minutes or so take the egg out of the fridge and add a little more melted chocolate; keep some in the bowl for sticking on the decorations. Put the egg moulds in the freezer for 10-15 minutes for a final chance to set.

Getting the egg out of the mould wasn't as easy as if I had a silicone mould but it did work eventually. You have to pull opposite corners of the mould, then turn it over and gently push - you can see as the chocolate slowly starts to separate from the mould and eventually it will just pop out. I made three eggs so that should have been six halves but I ended up having to make eight as two halves broke - one of the milk chocolate and one of the white chocolate halves. Just pop the chocolate back in a bowl in the microwave and start over again!

To decorate the first egg, I used the leftover melted chocolate to stick a mixture of milk chocolate buttons, white chocolate buttons and some 'jazzies' - white chocolate circles with hundreds and thousands stuck on. On the other side of the egg I stuck some Tesco chocolate dotties (basically like Smarties) and some mini Jazzies which came in a little tube from Sainsbury's, in a chevron pattern. Leave for a little while to set.

If you are going to put anything inside the egg now is the time to do it - I used a mini packet of Maltesers and a mini packet of white chocolate buttons. I used a small paintbrush to brush the meltd chocolate along the edges of both halves of the egg, and carefully stuck them together. I left the egg for a little while to start to set then put it in the fridge to fully harden.

I made two more eggs - another one with milk chocolate, where I used a writing pen of white chocolate from Sainsbury's to draw chevons and stuck on some mini Jazzies. On the other half, I used the same writing pen to draw flower petals, using a large Jazzie as the centre of each petal, and stuck on a Dr. Oetker wafer butterfly. I put a packet of mini Maltesers and a packet of Tesco mini eggs inside the egg and glued it closed with melted chocolate as before.

I also made a white chocolate egg for my mum, and spooned a little melted white chocolate onto the shell so I could sprinkle over some freeze-dried raspberry pieces from Sainsbury's. I added some Dr. Oetker wafer daisies and some wafer butterflies, and did the same on both halves of the egg. My mum really likes flying saucer sweets so I filled the egg with them - the pastel colours look just the thing for Easter. I sealed it shut with some melted white chocolate.

 Here are some photos of the finished eggs (taken from both sides):

I packaged them up in cellophane to give as Easter gifts.

I was really pleased with these - if I'd had more time I would have made some chocolates to go inside, maybe next time!

I'm sending these to We Should Cocoa, as the theme is chocolate and eggs. It's hosted this month by Linzi at Lancashire Food on behalf of Choclette at Tin and Thyme.

Easter and spring is  the theme for Tea Time Treats, hosted by Jane at the Hedgecombers and Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

I'm sharing these with Alphabakes, hosted by myself and Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker, as the letter she has chosen this month is C.

And finally because it's Easter I'm sending this to the Food Year Linkup hosted by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen.

Food Year Linkup March 2016

Friday 25 March 2016

Easter Chick Cupcakes

These are from the same recipe as these chocolate Easter cupcakes which I blogged about yesterday, but I couldn't resist decorating a few as Easter chicks.

Ages ago I was given a set of Easter silicon cupcake cases from Lakeland - they look like the bottom half of Easter chicks with legs and everything!

I made the cupcakes according to the recipe in the link above and baked them in the silicon moulds, which I stood in a baking tray in case they fell over.

When they were cool, I cut out circles of yellow Renshaw roll-out icing and put them over the cupcake. I cut out thicker triangles to use as wings, and coloured a little bit orange to shape a beak. I also had some Renshaw black icing that I'd opened and used for something else, so used a tiny amount of that plus a tiny amount of white fondant icing (which I also had open already) to make the eyes. Do you think they look cute?

I'm sharing these with Alphabakes, hosted by myself and Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker, as the letter she has chosen this month is C.
I'm also sending this to Treat Petite, hosted by Kat the Baking Explorer and Stuart at Cakeyboi, as their theme is Easter and spring.

The theme for We Should Cocoa, hosted this month by Linzi at Lancashire Food on behalf of Choclette at Tin and Thyme, is eggs so these cupcakes fit in well.
Easter and spring is also the theme for Tea Time Treats, hosted by Jane at the Hedgecombers and Karen at Lavender and Lovage.
And finally because it's Easter I'm sending this to the Food Year Linkup hosted by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen.
Food Year Linkup March 2016