Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Sunday, 27 May 2012
So I rejoined the masses and started 'working' again last week. A good opportunity came my way so it made sense to do it. It's funny that sometimes you can make a decision that is right at that particular time but later it's right to do something else. I have so much to take from my 'sabbatical' and am renewed in my long term goals.
'Stay committed to your decisions, but flexible in your approach' Tony Robbins
In other news, the sunshine came back with a BANG this week. It's literally become summer overnight and I am loving it! I think it took many people by surprise because I've seen some very red and blotchy people recently. People, please use suncream (and deodorant)!
Anyway, summer means summer fruits, so this afternoon I made some quick and tasty rainbow fruit sticks for us to eat outside. I used; grapes, blueberries, strawberries, melon, pineapple and kiwi in mine. Of course you can use whatever tickles your fancy.
|My son enjoying his fruit stick!|
What decisions have you revisited recently?
Peace & Love
Monday, 21 May 2012
|Red velvet cupcakes for the Bride-to-Be|
This weekend, I took being busy to a whole new level. As well as baking up a storm, I was literally all over London (East, South, North and West) celebrating various things with friends and loved ones :).
|The Beautiful Bride-to-Be and some of the guests|
|Bride-to-Be and another guest|
One of the highlights was definitely my cousin's hen party. She is expecting and so I thought it would be a tame affair so as not to induce premature labour... I was sooooo wrong :) My other cousin who organised it, had a surprise in store for us and even though I am the least prudish person I know, I was actually hot in the face for about an hour!!! If I had paler skin & could blush I would have been a beetroot!!
Enough said..... :)
I must say, I'm really excited about the wedding, it's been a while since someone in the family got married and I'm baking the cake which is cool (and a little scary as the venue is about 4 hours away!) I do love a challenge though, especially when it involves self-inflicted sleep deprivation!
Peace & Love
ps I made her some red velvet cupcakes (as she's a recent convert to the church of red velvet cake), with cream cheese frosting and the obligatory L plates. If you'd like a recipe for red velvet cupcakes click here. If you'd like more details on what went down then I'm afraid I can't help you, if I told you I'd have to kill you and I like you coming to visit me... :)
Thursday, 17 May 2012
|Black Cake ready to be 'watered' with rum :)|
This week has been all black everything! I am getting ready for my cousin's wedding so have been baking some Caribbean Rum Cake or Black Cake as it's better known. This is a labour of love cake and demands it's own post, (which it will get), but today belongs to Robert Glasper, jazz pianist and maker of beautiful music. I love his style and have listened to him extensively over the years but his latest album 'Black Radio' was beyond amazing. It's a jazz/ hip-hop/ neo-soul/ musical fusion of awesomeness that literally caresses my soul.
His show at the Barbican sold out before I could get my hands on any tickets, so when I got the call last minute saying he was playing an impromptu gig in East London, I was there. The queues were crazy; everyone and anyone was trying to get in!
|The queue, (taken with my iPhone)|
The concert itself was like being at a music festival. In true jazz style there wasn't a structured track list of songs, in fact there didn't appear to be any regard for time as they were literally thrown off the stage at around 1.30am which is hardcore for a school night! I loved it & can't wait to see him again in July.
In the queue, I bumped into my photography hero Paul Akinrola, Creative Director from P Designs Media. He is literally a genius with the camera (& film) and generously provided me with the pictures below. He is going to be a household name for sure so check out his stuff on his Tumblr and get to know!
|Me with singer Marie Dahlstrøm waiting to get in. Copyright Paul Akinrola|
|The man himself, Robert Glasper. Copyright Paul Akinrola|
|The AMAZING Lalah Hathaway. Copyright Paul Akinrola|
|The crowds inside the venue. Copyright Paul Akinrola|
|The crowds inside the venue. Copyright Paul Akinrola|
Peace & Love
Monday, 14 May 2012
Today's offering of Portugese Custard Tarts come from my newest book purchase 'Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter' by Lisa Faulkner. I'm really enjoying this book, the recipes are quite simple and it's basically filled with things I actually want to eat.
I amended the recipe in the book slightly because I didn't have all the ingredients. I went to the shops with a list of things I needed and came out with 3 bags of shopping and nothing on the list! This unfortunately is not a one-off for me, I actually love supermarkets. Like, really love them. There was a time that I'd sneak off to the supermarket at 2am and spend 1.5 hours just wandering around looking and buying. Plus I'm a sucker for the supermarket tricks that force you to walk through the whole store and pick up things you didn't go there for. They pretty much get me every time, I just get excited. I'm in recovery now and am getting better at sticking to the list but sometimes I have a relapse, like today :).
So without further ado, here is the recipe
Butter for greasing
250ml (8oz) double cream
150ml (1/4 pint) milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of cornflour
125g (4oz) caster sugar
150g ready-made puff pastry (chilled)
Flour for dusting
Handfull of blueberries and strawberries
1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF), gas mark 5 and grease a 12-hole muffin tin.
2. Put the cream and milk in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the saucepan as well as the empty pod. Bring to a simmer then take off the heat.
3. Whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a mixing bowl until it becomes a paste. Sieve the milk mixture into the bowl of egg paste and mix together quickly and thoroughly.
4. Return it all to the saucepan and heat over a moderate heat until it thickens but don't let it boil. Take the pan off the heat.
5. Whilst the custard is cooling, roll out the pastry as thin as you can, on a lightly floured surface. Roll it up into a sausage and cut it into 12 discs. Roll each one to about 3½ inches in diameter and gently press them into the holes of the muffin tin. Lightly prick the bases with a fork and fill to just over halfway.
Add 1 or 2 pieces of fruit per tart. (I added a couple of slices of strawberry and 1 blueberry per tart.)
6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes until they are browned on top. (note - my tarts did not brown so I put them under the grill. You must keep an eye on them though or they'll burn, not that that happened to me or anything...)
Leave to cool in the tin, before carefully removing them and enjoy!
The original recipe uses lemon rind (add at the milk stage) and I've also seen recipes with cinnamon which I think would taste perfect. That said I LOVED these tarts. I probably ate 6 of them and then had to exercise some restraint and share them with the family.
Let me know how you get on!
Peace & Love
Friday, 11 May 2012
a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalised system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
Not many people would admit that they are religious. Despite what the definition above says, most people associate religion with greed, intolerance, war and legalism (stressing the letter of the law rather than the spirit of it).
The truth is that I have been in a passionate love affair with religion for most of my adult life. I like the routine, the clarity and the sense of belonging that it brings. That was, until my love 'betrayed' me and suddenly I was on the outside, lost and confused. I looked around and saw so many people like me, some lost, some angry, some rejected some unconcerned. I'll never forget a gay friend of mine asked me with tears in his eyes "Why does God hate me? I wouldn't chose this life, I feel so abandoned because He doesn't accept me." It broke my heart.
This last year has been a real time of inward and upward reflection. A time of going back to basics and once again asking those difficult questions. I don't have all (or many) of the answers but there are some things that I know to be true;
- There is a God, He is alive, He is love, in Him we live and He lives in us.
- To love is the duty and calling of all men.
- God wants us to be our true and best selves and live our best lives.
Am I losing my religion? I don't think so, I would more say I am gaining a better awareness of my true self. What are your thoughts?
Peace & Love
Makes about 20 pieces
Line a 8in. square baking pan with lightly oiled foil. Half fill the sink with cold water and have ready a whisk and the bicarbonate of soda.
Place the sugar, syrup, cream of tartar, and vinegar into a medium-size, solid-based saucepan. Add 5 tablespoons water and set the saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to cook until the mixture turns amber-coloured and reaches 'hard crack' stage, or 300°F (154°C) on a sugar thermometer.
As soon as the caramel reaches the right temperature, remove the saucepan from the heat and plunge into the sink of cold water to speed up the cooling process. Working quickly, pour the bicarbonate of soda into the caramel and whisk to combine evenly; the mixture will foam up quite a bit. Pour into the prepared baking tin in an even layer and let cool.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water or in the microwave and stir until smooth. (Click this link for tips on how to melt chocolate correctly). Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Turn the honeycomb out of the pan, peel off the foil, and break into chunks.
Half dip each piece into the melted chocolate. Let harden before packaging.
Stored in an airtight container, it will keep for 2-3 days.
Monday, 7 May 2012
About two weeks ago my mum came to me and said that she was concerned about how depressing my blog is! Turns out she couldn't sleep one night and read through my entire blog before coming to that conclusion...
I figure I'd better redress that balance and set the record straight. Contrary to how it may appear, my life is not a series of unfortunate events like car clamping & bad news. I do in fact have lots of cool stuff happening and perhaps more importantly, I feel like this has been an amazing time of personal growth. Eight months back I talked about my pursuit of happyness and I can say that I am well on the way to attaining it.
Here are some things that are making me happy right now:)
What's making you happy?
Peace & Love
Thursday, 3 May 2012
So I finally managed to get an audience with Molly Bakes aka the Cake Pop guru here in London after a bit of miscommunication earlier on this year. I'm no stranger to cake pops but there is always something I can learn & I was excited to meet the woman behind the book.
Molly is lovely, very down to earth & helpful. The class lasted about 3 hours but in that time we managed to squeeze loads in. We made 6 different types of pops, animals, doughnuts, marbled and classic. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend anyone wanting to learn the basics and a bit more to go along :). Plus the chocolate pops tasted delicious!
|Me & Molly :)|
Peace & Love
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
I don't want to be a stinky poo poo girl, I want to be a flower child ~ Drew Barrymore.
I have recently become obsessed with sugar flowers. I think it's my way of remembering the sunshine which has all but disappeared. It has rained pretty much every day in England for the last 3 weeks. We had all these news reports about a drought and then suddenly the heavens opened and I can barely remember what the sun looks like anymore.
Being stuck inside gave me plenty of practice time so I had loads of sugar flowers hanging around the house. I decided to put them to use as cupcake toppers and experimented with a chocolate and coconut cupcake flavour. I used cream cheese frosting this time, but I think this would also taste nice with a mascarpone icing for a lighter flavour.
Chocolate and Coconut Cupcake
Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery)
80g (3oz) unsalted butter softened
140g (50oz) caster sugar
140g (50oz) soft brown sugar
200g (7oz) plain flour
40g (1½oz) cocoa powder
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
240ml (8½fl oz) full fat milk
2 large eggs
Cream Cheese Frosting
300g icing sugar (sifted)
50g unsalted butter at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3 and line 2 muffin trays with cupcake cases.
2. Put the flour, sugars, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt and butter together in a large bowl or food processor and mix until everything is combined and you get a sandy consistency. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any stray ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Add the desiccated coconut and continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
4. Fill the cupcake cases with the cake mixture until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean, or the sponge will bounce back when touched.
5. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooking make the icing. Mix together the butter and the cream cheese. Then slowly add the icing sugar mixing gently until you have a smooth icing that is quite firm. Leave to cool in the fridge.
6. When the cupcakes are completely chilled, pipe the icing on top and garnish.
I quite liked this combination as the desiccated coconut adds a different texture to the cupcake. Let me know if you give this one a try!
Peace & Love