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Author Archive | Rasa Pelham

My French pastry baking class

I know we are coming to the end of the week, but guess what I did last weekend! You obviously thinking: "of course it is going to be a French pastry course, since you have written that on the title"! Yes yes... that is exactly what I did and it's because I wanted to face my fear and finally be able to bake all these complicated pastries (especially puff pastry since it is more time consuming than I thought). Our tutor Pino Ficara taught us to bake Praline Mille Feuille (Napaleon Pastry)...

...Chocolate Eclair, Madeleine...

... and Creme Brulle....hmmm!

I was particularly happy to see savory option there as after all this sweet I felt a little too overwhelmed (I had cake before the class - really bad idea). Here it comes....

"PISSALADIERE" OR SAVORY PASTRY TART

Ingredients: 250g puff pastry
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 courgette, quartered and sliced
1 aubergine, quartered and sliced
1 red pepper,  cut into julienne
oil, butter, salt, sugar, pepper

1. Pre-cook vegetables: in deep pot over low heat add butter and olive oil, add onions, pinch of salt and about 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let onion cook gently without coloration, remove onto tray lined with foil and let cool.
2. In a oven tray add enough oil to barely cover bottom and over medium heat cook all the vegetables separately until tender. let it cool.
3. Preheat the oven at 200C. Roll puff pastry into square, place on the tray lined with baking paper and with a fork prick dough well to prevent it from puffing too high when cooking.
4. Place cooled onion onto ready pastry,

then arrange the other cooked vegetables.

Brush the sides with the egg yolk for the glaze...

Bake immediately until golden, let cool a few minutes before slicing and serving.
If you would like to attend the french pastry class yourself like me, go to  http://www.bakewithmaria.com/courses/
Rasa :)
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The story about how the spinach pretended to be a sorrel

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Last week I finally made the trip to my garden in London. Oh... how I love spring! I was actually expecting to face the worst: weeds and my neighbor's blackberries invading my garden. But instead I was delighted to see the sorrel and the rhubarb all recovered after long winter we had! I know you all know well about the rhubarb, but I really want to highlight how amazing is the sorrel. Well... this leaf vegetable taste crispy sour when raw and makes my childhood's favorite soup soooo yummy! I know it is not common to grow in England although it grows better in my garden then in Lithuanian climate. Never mind that.... my mum came up with this sour spinach recipe that matches my so loved sorrel soup... and she did not come up with that for me (since I am in England and can't buy sorrel in the shops). My mum's major goal was to get my little brother (age 10) to eat more spinach (sorrel soup was also his favorite). Let me tell you more about my little brother. He is like a most children don't like vegetables or anything green food related (except sorrel of course) and likes pizza, fries or cola. So you can imagine my mum's frustration to feed him with the healthy foods. That is how she comes up with sour spinach soup to imitate the sorrel soup... GENIUS!!!

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SOUR SPINACH SOUP

Ingredients: 1 onion
5 rashers of smoked bacon
2 carrots
1l chicken or vegetable stock
2 potatoes
200g fresh spinach leaves

2 eggs
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry onions, cubed smoked bacon and shredded carrot.
2. Add stock and diced potato. Bring it to boil and simmer it for 20 min.
3. Reduce the heat and add the spinach and cook for about 2-3min

4. Remove it from the cooker and stir in whisked eggs and lemon juice. season it to taste.

I hope you like it!

Rasa ;)

 

 

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The ways you can distract yourself from overeating…

I am known for overeating and even when I am full I can still fit the whole cake into my mouth (literally). So no wonder after Christmas (which obviously long time gone) I have put on sooooo much weight! I felt so discouraged as I could not fit into any of my jeans (except boyfriend or loyal cut)... :(
Anyway, I am back to normal and this is only because I kept myself distracted by my second favorite activity after cooking and eating: knitting and crochet. I found that there are a lot of social groups going on in London doing different kinds of interesting things. But I was only interested in joining the knitting club. My friends think that this is where I meet my granny friends... ha ha. But, no no... I am not the youngest there, you will have to believe me on this. There was a girl last week aged around 10 years, really eager to learn!
So far I finished most of my knitting projects and I am on something new at this moment. I am crocheting a collar! You might think that I got the idea from my "granny" friends that I met in the knitting club, but that's not truth, I always liked this style (my friend Vicki call it "old-lady style"). I am not finished yet, but there you go....

So far I have been crocheting circles and joining them together to fit the pattern.

Will defiantly update you when I finish it. Meanwhile if you are not the biggest fan of knitting or crocheting then this truffle recipe is for you! My friend Vicki thinks is the best thing you can eat as it contains all the vitamins you need like a vitamin bomb (she is a health freak). She says that whatever is healthy tastes the best... I normally disagree, but wow these are good!

DRIED FRUIT AND NUT TRUFFLES

Ingredients: 200g hazel nuts
200g walnuts
200g raisins
200g prunes
200g dry apricots
1tbsp honey
1tbsp lemon juice
sesame seeds or coco powder or chopped nuts or whatever to roll the truffles in

Just put all the ingredients into food processor, whiz for a minute, shape the balls out of mixture and roll it into coco powder or sesame seeds or what ever else suitable in that department.

Enjoy your healthy snacking!

Rasa xox

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The joy of Christmas cooking…

Christmas cooking is something I look forward every year, that is if I get to cook after all as the competition is usually humongous! Somehow during Christmas everybody wants to become a chef and show off their skills, but this year (even though I had more freedom) I felt like not cooking at all. I just wanted to sit there and rather eat-talk-drink-eat-nap-talk.... how is that possible?

Anyway I had no other option... and I mostly proud of this pie I baked above. It is Slovenian apple, walnut and poppy seed pie. I first got introduced to this pie by this Slovenian friend Maja four years ago (she never gave me a recipe, I had to Google it)  and I really loved it! So there it goes...

SLOVENIAN PIE

For the strudel dough:

  • 300 g flour
  • 3 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar.
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing dough

(You can also substitute store-bought filo pastry but I went all the way as I my dad was shopping and I was worried he is going to get something else... but really recommend to just buy the thing as it is really difficult to roll home made dough)

For the fillings:
The poppy seed filling:

  • 400 g poppy seeds, ground with a mortar and pestle or very briefly whizzed in a food processor with the steel blade
  • 200 g sugar
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 240ml cup hot milk

The apple filling:

  • 500 g apples, grated
  • 200 g sugar
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 1 lemon rind, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

The cottage cheese filling:

  • 500 g cottage cheese
  • 360ml Creme fraiche
  • 1 egg
  • 200 g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons raisins, soaked in rum
  • vanilla to taste

The walnut filling:

  • 500 g ground walnuts
  • 200 g sugar
  • cinnamon to taste

Topping: 1 cup sour cream

Separately for each filling, mix the ingredients well. Grease well (butter is best) a square or oblong ovenproof baking dish or pan.
For the strudel dough: Mix the ingredients in a bowl, knead thoroughly (ten minutes at least) and let stand to relax for one hour. Then roll out and cut into thin sheets the size of the baking container. (Alternately, purchase large sheets of filo pastry to suit your baking dish.)
Place a layer of strudel dough / filo pastry in the bottom of the baked dish. Brush lightly with melted butter. Spread half the poppy seed filling evenly over it. Cover this layer with another sheet of strudel dough and brush the dough with melted butter. Spread this layer with half the apple filling. Cover with another sheet of dough: brush with melted butter. Spread with half the cottage cheese filling: cover with a sheet of dough, brushing with melted butter. Spread with half the walnut filling: cover with dough and brush dough with melted butter.
Repeat this process with the remaining poppy seed filling, apple filling, cottage cheese filling and walnut filling, making sure to brush each layer of strudel dough with the melted butter as you proceed.
Top with a final layer of strudel dough: brush with melted butter. If you like, spread this last layer with 1 cup sour cream (thinned a little with milk, if necessary, to make it easier to spread).
Bake for about 1 hour in a medium oven (175C). Cut into squares and serve

BTW: This Pie is not only for Christmas so you can enjoy it any time!

Rasa

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Christmas decorations! (if it is not too late)

I love Christmas, especially the preparation for Christmas bit... you know, buying gifts and decorating... except I have not had a chance to decorate the festive tree for quite some time! You see, I usually spend Christmas in Lithuania and often I find that by the time I get there my little brothers (aged 12 and 9 years) get it all decorated without me.... Well, this year I thought I will go to Lithuania early therefore in advance I tried to negotiate if I could get at least one tree. It wasn't easy as my little brother got stuck with those traditions that the tree should be decorated exactly on 1st of December as that's when Advent starts. However I managed and the Christmas tree viewed above now is mine!

I don't know but I most likely to be late with Christmas  decorations, but if you are like me (being late) and stuck for ideas, there you go - I am sharing here with you!

Happy decorating!

Rasa xox

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Away from London

It has come up to a month since I exchanged my busy lifestyle in London for royal Windsor and I am ready to give you my feedback  so far. For those who did not know I left my old job for a cafe managing job so I get to learn practical ways to run my own cafe at some point and so far it have been life changing! Although I am learning a lot about the cafe industry (really enjoying that) the biggest thing that changed is my lifestyle. I am not saying that I am less busy, just that I am not living in such a rush anymore. The most amazing thing that now it takes me around 15min on the bike to get anywhere I need in town (that is a big difference to 1hour in London). So if I get a moment of "woops... I forgot my sandwich at home!" I have no regrets of coming back and getting it back. Well... that does not happen exactly like that, but you get the picture!
... And for the end here are some "royal" treats for you - the truffles...

ROYAL TRUFFLES

Ingredients: 250g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa content)
120ml double cream
50g butter
1-2 tbsp brandy or dark rum or any other liquor (I used "Tia Maria")

15-20 glazed cherries

for rolling: cocoa powder, ground almonds, desiccated coconut etc

1. Melt butter and chocolate together in microwave or in the bowl over boiling water.
2. Remove melted butter, chocolate from heat and add double cream while mixing it well.
3. Let the mixture to cool and then put it into the fridge for at least an hour
4. When the mixture is hardened scoop with the spoon the small pieces of chocolate and cover the glazed cherries with that and shape them into to the small balls. Roll the balls into the cocoa powder or ground almonds or desiccant coconut.

These would go splendidly with the tot of sweat cherry!

Rasa ;)

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Back to my childhood….

It is my birthday today and my mum and my little brother have visited me here  in London. So my mum baked me an apple cake (not a pie) as my birthday cake (well I requested that from her). It is very basic cake and even my brother could have baked it, but it brings back good childhood memories... Well, around twenty years ago, when I think I was 9years old my mum baked it for my personal birthday party where the only guests were me and her (I had a bigger birthday party on the weekend but my actual birthday was on weekday). So I remember I really liked it as it was quite nice to have another birthday "party"!...

Other then the cake, me and my family visited the Legoland in Windsor (I used my little brother, who is aged 9 years as an excuse to visit there...). I think what I liked most is the mini London made out of Lego (never mind the long queues and the fact that we only were able to make to seven rides through all day because of that). Here are the pics...

And back to my birthday cake, here is the recipe...

MY MUM'S APPLE CAKE

Ingredients:  5 apples (medium size)
7 eggs
8 tbsp sugar
8 tbsp flour (with the heap)
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the baking tin with butter
2. Cube the apples (remove seeds, but no need to peal the apple peal) and put them into the bottom of the tin
3.  To make the cake mixture whisk eggs with the sugar until pale, then add flour and cinnamon (if wanted).
4. Pour the mixture over the cubed apples and put into oven. Bake the cake for around an hour until golden brown.

I hope you like it ;)

Rasa xox

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Inspired by Sims game… (if you not in it please skip this)

I promised to someone (anonymous) to write a feedback about my previous bake sale, but I took quite a long time as you can see :(. You see.... I got addicted to Sims (literally) and I know that is very sad story, but this was the reason why I took sooo long to write this post (I will write more about this in the minute). Anyway, the bake sale... it was great experience, even though it wasn't as busy as the previous one  (I blame the rain for that!). But it was still fun as Bekka (my thoughtful helper) managed to keep me entertained at all times!... And, as embarrassed as I am (can't be more embarrassed after my Sims confession) I did try to dance ballet...

And here are few pics from the actual bake sale as well as new mini bakes, the mini cheesecakes...

Now back to Sims(if you have never played it this might sound like gibberish to you, so I recommend you skip it to the last paragraph)... Initially I got addicted to actual Sims computer game (later I got addicted to the Facebook Sims Social as well) and then only lived "their" life (or shall I say I was creating my own), even at night until 6am in the morning sometimes! I think what got me addicted is that I could achieve everything so easily... So, I have joined culinary career at Little Corsican Bistro where I started as The Kitchen Scullion (apparently the one who gets all the rubbish jobs from Chef) and meanwhile  I was learning recipes (some interesting ones like Goopy Carbonara, Eggs Machiavellian  and Baked Angel Food Cake that I would like to try to make in real life) from books at home so I could get up the level in cooking.  Eventually I became Five-Star Chef earning 350 Simeons per hour and recipe Librarian (???), builded a big house (not so pretty but really practical!), Had five children (long story, but in my defence one was adopted), and became "Filthy Rich" (at least that's the phrase they use to describe rich people :D). I even bought that Little Corsican Bistro and renamed it to The Friendly Nettle Cafe! So after all this no wonder I got inspired (or shall I say I got carried away) to take similar actions in real life... Last Sunday I popped in to one of my favourite cafes by Cambridge Heath  station to  "join culinary career".... Turns out they did not have any vacancies, I suppose it is not that easy to get any job in this life :(

To end on the happy note here is the recipe for the best seller so far, the Banoffee cupcakes. After all, this is supposed to be the feedback for my bake sale;)

BANOFFEE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:     300g flour
1tbsp baking power
1 egg
200ml milk
150g soft brown sugar
85g melted butter
2 bananas
150ml double cream (preferably elmlea)
Milk based toffee ( to make it boil a can of condensed milk for three hours) or 4 tablespoons of dulce de leche

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line 12-hole muffin pan with cupcake cases.
2. Sift flour and baking powder into the mixing bawl
3. In separate bowl beat the egg with milk, than add the sugar, melted butter and chopped banana. Mix it all up and tip it into the flour. After mixing it one more time divide the mixture into the cup cases.
4. Bake for about 25min until cupcakes are risen and golden (I am usually tempted to eat them at this stage... but don't, you will enjoy it even more with the topping!)
5. So, whip the Elmlea cream. I recommend Elmlea, because it goes velvety (not grainy) and never turns yellow! I know this might sound like I am promoting this brand but it is really good. I give the credit for this discovery to my dear friend Jacqueline who suggested this as I was not happy with double cream I was always using.
6. Pipe (or spoon) the double cream on the top of the cupcakes and follow it by toffee swirl.

Enjoy ;)

Rasa

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Another bake sale, but not any less important!

 Well.... for those who missed my previous bake sale, not to worry... here comes another one! I am expecting it to be bigger, better, sweeter ... and so on. So please bring yourself here on 27th of August and no, I won't be dancing ballet (just serving you with the mini bakes as always). Just that I used to like ballet when I was a child, but my mum send me to learn folk dancing instead :(... So I thought I will send my children to learn the ballet dancing... not any more after seeing Black Swan movie....
Anyway, I hope to see you soon:-)

Rasa

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After my first bake sale….

I just wanted to give you all thanks to who was buying my bakes last Sunday! It was great success as it raised £112 for the LoveUkraine Mission... and that's after deducting baking costs! Anyway.. here are the pics!

Rasa :)
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My first bake sale!

There you go, my first bake sale! Please attend! I am really excited for this :D. I know that the prices are high, but this is only for a good cause and the money will go to support Love Ukraine mission 2011. The address is.....
Highway Church Building
88A Romford Road
Stratford
E15 4EH
So... be there on 7th of August at 3.30pm :)
Rasa xox
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The Friendly Nettle Icon


Here it comes, The Friendly Nettle Icon (see picture above) which is practically me! My friend Vicki drew this in such detail that even the dress and the helmet represents the exact ones I have in reality. And yes I cycle as well and my bike is lookalike to the one drawn!
Thanks Vicki, as a thanks here is the recipe for the chocolate mousse that you always wanted! I have developed this recipe after once eating a nice chocolate mousse tartlet  at Hurwundeki cafe that is located next to Cambridge Heath station in East London (I love their arty antique look and I just found out that they also have a boutique and the hairdressers!). As for the recipe below I usually use pastry to hold the mousse, but since Vicki doesn't like it I wasn't dear to add it (she says that pastry is the pointlessly added extra calories). So if you want to use a pastry use a sweet one or use the ramekins (I reused "Gü Puds", which just show how much I used to be addicted to those desserts as I have sooo many of these little glass ramekins). So here it comes...

VICKI'S FAVOURITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Ingredients: 150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa content)

100g unsalted butter
1 egg
30g caster sugar
1 handful of raspberries (or other berries)

1 Preheat oven to 170C
2. Put both chocolate (broken into pieces) and the butter in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn't touch the base of the bowl. Leave it there until everything there are melted.
3. Whisk the egg and caster sugar together until pale and thick and increased in volume. Pour the warm melted chocolate and butter into the whisked mixture and and combine it well.
4. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins (or into pastry if you prefer) and bake them for 8min EXACTLY! (In fact once I forgot to bake it and me with my friends kept guessing why the butter have set on the top.... only later it got to me that I did not even baked it... it was quite embarrassing to admit that to my friends while we were eating it!)
5. Put the pots in the fridge for at least two hours (after cooling it down of course as apparently it would hurt the fridge)

Enjoy!

Rasa :)

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How "The Friendly Nettle" become "The Friendly Nettle Limited"

Today I thought to myself what is stopping me to register as a company... until I made a decision to actually do it! My friend Jacqueline now running a catering business told me that even if I am not trading at this moment I can still register and form a limited company (apparently she had registered limited company for 2 years until she started trading). After filling quick form and paying small fee (it can be as cheap as £5) I have been notified that my company will be formed within 3 hours (I had to check if it said 3hours not three days). However "The Friendly Nettle" turned to "The Friendly Nettle Limited" even quicker as I have received confirmation in 30min! This was the easiest think I have ever done, I think that even child could have done it! The only think I could not understand properly is when I was adding myself as a company Director it told me to assign at least one share to myself. So I did assign one share to myself worth £1.... Can anyone tell me what this was about? I hope I did not make huge mistake and by the time I do understand what it was I can still change it.

Rasa xox

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The food safety comes first!

I mentioned in my previous post that I will talk more about the other courses I took. Well.. here it goes! As boring as it sounds I did find food safety really interesting as well as challenging. I think if you are hygiene freak please don't read the rest... And the rest of us who are ok to eat out of date foods sometimes (if they look ok of course!!) and like to taste food with their fingers, welcome to my world ;). Because those are the biggest challenges to me! I remember eating dried mango one day at my work and after offering it to my colleague Puiyi (she no longer works with me) I have been told off that I could have poison her when she realized that it was out of date :&... Well, it turns out that she might have been wrong as now I know (I hold a Certificate of Food Safety) that there are two types of food expiry dates: "use by" and "best by". I will explain... "use by" is used mainly for meat and dairy and "use by" is for cereals, dried fruits and so many other things which are safe to use after the date, but the quality might not be as good. So if you reading this Puiyi, don't worry about out of date food as you won't always get a food poisoning. But if you are still not sure you can always use up many dried fruits or nuts that are about to go out of date by trowing it in the cakes dough like Chocolate Brownie or Carrot Cup Cakes.... Or if you feel more spontaneous or have lots of hope for the rest of this summer (weather wise) you can try to put it into home-made ice-cream... Hmm :b

VERY SPONTANEOUS ICE-CREAM
Ingredients: 5 egg yolks
200g sugar
250g milk (full fat)
250g double-cream
250g yogurt
2 medium sized bananas (mashed)
seeds and nuts of your choice (I used 1tbsp of poppy seeds and 1 tbsp of pistachio nuts)

1.First, prepare egg cream by mixing egg yolks with sugar and whisking until it becomes pale.
2.Put double cream and milk together into the sauce-pan and heat it up, but don't let it to boil. Then reduce the heat and add egg yolk mixture into the pan. Cook it on the small heat (just in case as it is very important not to get it boiled as then you would get an omelet, not an ice-cream) and mix continuously until it becomes thick (about 10 min).
3. At this stage it is best to cool the mixture down by placing the pot in the cold water as when you get the right consistency it is best not to overcook it.
4. When the mixture have cooled you can add the rest of the ingredients like yogurt, mashed bananas, seeds and nuts. Pour the mixture into the plastic container and put it into freezer.
5. After two hours scrape off the sides of the container and mix it with the fork. Repeat this after three hours and after that you can let it stay there until it is completely frozen or the time when you want to have a cool sweet treat.

Enjoy!

Rasa :)

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Just few updates so far…

I know I have not written here for quite a while.  This is not that I have changed my mind about my dreams... Well, I usually get carried away during summer anyway. And even though the weather wasn't so good as I expected I still feel super happy when I receive the smallest amount of sunshine :)

So... I will begin with the updates so far what happened in these two months. I have taken some bread baking classes of course as I got to the point where I needed somebody to show where I am going wrong (believe me the books withheld some truths about bread-making,  like never add any more flour to the dough even if you tempted to stop the dough sticking!). My favorite so far is the semi sourdough one that comes out sooo soft and it taste nothing like the bread you buy in the shops! Since my baking tutor Maria have shared the link for this bread, I have never bought ready baked bread from the shop...

The other courses I took was mainly about taxes as well as about food safety. But I will share more about this on my next post....

Goodbye for now ;)

Rasa

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