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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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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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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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Busy busy lives!

As I mentioned in my previous posts I do like to read the "stylist" magazine occasionally (only if I can get hold of it!).  Well... I don't read it inside out, but I quickly flick it through and sometimes I stop at the "work life" page (obviously after observing "gourmet-on-the-go" page). I don't know why this attracts me, but I do look forward to it every time. This page is about woman's diary (each time different woman with different occupation) who talks about her interesting job or business she has opened etc. I find especially intresting when they talk about business start ups and how they got successful.... and every time I read, I imagine that one day my picture (and my diary) will be displayed there. This is of course just a dream, but I always wanted to start my own business...
This time the article is about "CEO" Sarah Walter (picture above), but the other interesting ones to mention are about "the Flower Girl" Gemma Blaskey who opened a flower shop or Jennifer Irvine who launched dieting and convenience food service called "The Pure Package". I find them all inspiring and when I read their diaries I imagine what my diary would look like when I open a Cafe.... However there is one thing I find common in all the diaries: they wake up at 5am-6pm and go to sleep at 11pm-12pm.... I know that starting own business is a lot of work and sometimes can mean no lunch break (ouch!), but I kind of feel a little envy when people can survive on 5-6 hours sleep! Can you imagine how much more I could get done if I had more hours in the day! I always plan to do a lot and often get disappointed when I don't reach those goals (they are usually reaaally high! Or do I just spend too much time on day dreaming?). Never mind, but when I am depressed and when I have a sweet-tooth craving (it gets super strong when I am depressed!!!) I bake some carrot cup cakes. They are easy and quick to make and most of the times you don't even need to step out of the house to buy some special ingredients. That's because all the ingredients are very common and can be found at home without special planning. The other good thing about this recipe is that it is healthier than other carrot cakes. I say "healthier" because there is no cake that is healthy as sugar (which ever you use: brown or white) makes it bad for you. But at least these cup cakes have olive oil fat base which is safer to use as it does not release so much toxins when heated. I hope you like it :b

CARROT CUP CAKES (makes 12 cup cakes)

Ingredients: 3 medium size carrots (shredded)
150g cup brown sugar
2 eggs
120ml olive oil (you can try other types as long as it is not sunflower oil as the cakes with it taste like fried dinner!)
200g flour
55g or more nuts (in this case I used almonds and pecan nuts)
1tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp baking powder

1. Very simple! Just mix all the ingredients together and divide them into cup cake cases. I used silicon cup cases therefore I did not need to use disposable paper cases (but you are welcome to use it if you want!)
2. Preheat the oven to the 170C and bake the cakes for around 30min until golden. Good way to check it is to stick toothpick inside and see if it comes out clean. If it comes out clean that means it is ready!
3. If you have extra time and willingness to satisfy your sweet-tooth properly then make a yogurt icing for the cup cakes. Mix 200g icing sugar  with 1tsp yogurt, 1/2tsp grated fresh lemon rind and 1/2tsp lemon juice. When the mixture is even (with no lumps) and the cup cakes are cooled then pour the icing over it.

Enjoy!

Rasa ;)

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The moment of Desperate Housewives

I don’t know about you but I am a big fan of the American sitcom “Desperate Housewives”. In fact that's the only TV program I watch! Anyway, there is one part I find really funny where Bree (the one that has her own catering business) tried to steal the recipe from Katherine (one of her neighbors in Wisteria Lane). It all started when “the girls” (other neighbours) liked Katherine's lemon meringue pie better than Bree’s. Bree of course gets jealous (as you may all know she likes to be the best in baking). Initially she asks for the recipe, but to my surprise Katherine refuses! So Bree goes for even more shocking action and tries to steal it by breaking into the the Katherine’s house.... I always wonder why in Wisteria Lane people don’t lock their door? Is this what they do in USA? That surely would not work in London if you can imagine!

Anyway, few weeks ago I had a similar situation. My best friend Vicki’s birthday was coming up and I was looking for a good cake recipe she would really like. I knew Vicki loves cheesecakes, chocolate, coffee and alcohol (sometimes I am even concerned that she might be an alcoholic... ha ha, only joking ;-)). Anyway, I remembered that she really liked the cake that one girl (her name is Jada) from my Church made . It was a cake made of cookies, cream and of course alcohol! I decided to ask Jada for the recipe as I knew she got it from her aunt. And guess what, Jada told me that her aunt does not want to give that recipe away!!!  I was gobsmacked! How can this be? At that point I felt exactly like Bree felt, I finally could relate and understand her motivations to commit her “crime”. I bet if Jada’s aunt was living in the setting of Wisteria Lane and especially if she did not lock her house door, I would be definitely tempted to steal that recipe! Never mind,  I have realized that I still live in London and I absolutely have no idea where Jada’s aunt lives. So I had to come up with more civilized option. I decided to create a recipe from my own memory of how that desert tasted. I can only say that the cake came out successful and it managed to generate me some praising (that I always love!).  And... Jada, if you are reading this, I am definitely not upset. I am actually really proud of you that you managed to keep the promise you gave to your aunt :)

VICKI'S BIRTHDAY CAKE

1 can coconut milk (400ml)
1tsp icing sugar (if coconut milk is not creamy)
40g creamed coconut (if coconut milk is not creamy)
200ml coconut flavor rum (otherwise known as "Malibu")
640g cookies (I prefer all butter ones!)
300ml double cream
tiny bit of dark chocolate for decoration

1. Mix coconut milk with the rum.
First time I made this cake ( when testing the ingredients) I bought coconut milk that was creamy and thick. but when I was making it second time (for the actual birthday) I bought different brand ("Island Sun") and it came runny and not as sweet as previous brand. I was initially panicking, but quickly fixed it with a little bit of icing sugar (I find that icing sugar blends easier) and creamed coconut (luckily I had it in my cupboard!). I think it came out as good as the first time!
2. Dip cookies in badges and let it soak in rum and coconut milk mix for a little but no longer than 3min (otherwise it will turn into porridge!)
3. Line all soaked cookies into the spring form.
4. Whip double cream and cover cookies with it (Just don't whip it too much as then it is difficult for it to get through the cookies' gaps). I Don't think Jada put double cream in her cake but I did it so my cake looks pretty :D
5. Decorate it with flaked chocolate (just take the bit of plain dark chocolate and run knife edge trough it. At least that's the way I find the easiest to flake the chocolate.
6. Before enjoying keep it in the fridge for at least one night (Don't be tempted to put into freezer).

Whats your favourite cake?

Rasa :)

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Forget love – I would rather fall in chocolate!!

Its a Valentines day today and if you have not met your Mr right (or Miss right) there is always time for chocolate day! I am big chocoholic myself and this is my favorite recipe for chocolate brownie (my friends love this too, just try to leave it unattended and it will be gone before you notice it). Just whatever you do don't make the same mistake I do: don't bake it only for yourself (it is selfish and can be really unhealthy)

CHOCOLATE BROWNIE

Ingredients: 200g dark chocolate
250g butter
3 eggs
200g sugar
150g flour (Very important: don't put more flour then it is written here)
2tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
a pinch of baking powder
100g of caramel (its not sold in UK unless you go to Lithuanian shop. To make the caramel simply take a can of condensed milk and boil it for 3 hours WHILE IN THE CAN)
50g or more of chosen nuts (I used walnuts)

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a square shape form (roasting tin is perfectly fine) with greaseproof paper.
2. Melt chocolate and butter. Best way to do it is to place glass/metal bowl (with pieces of chocolate and butter in it of course) over boiling water and watch until becomes chocolaty cream... hmmm! Make sure that the bowl bottom does not touch the water
3. In separate bowl whisk egg with sugar. Don't overdo it!
4. While stirring the chocolate mixture add the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and the baking powder.
5. Pour the whole mixture into lined and ready baking form
5. Now it's the fun part! Imagine you are Jackson Pollock and start "decorating" the brownie by trowing in caramel chunks and nuts on the top of chocolate mixture.
6. Press nuts and Caramel lightly into the Chocolate dream so it sinks in a little. Bake it for around 25min (I beg you, please don't over bake it as I have done in the past. Not a very pleasant result). Enjoy and eat it quick before everyone else gets to it. Oh, and don't forget to keep it overnight in the fridge before that!

Happy Valentines Day!

Rasa xox

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Sometimes bad habits turn out to be good….

I will make a confession, I got a bad habit... I sometimes like to read over people's shoulders while I am on the train. As soon as I see an interesting article I start reading it and I even get angry when they turn the page (once somebody gave me their magazine after noticing I was reading it!!).  I know, its quite rude, but I can't help when I am bored. Can you relate?
The other day the train was really crowded and somebody was reading a "stylist"(I can't express how much I like that magazine and for those who don't know: it is free and runs out really quickly once it is published). I was looking over the reader's shoulder and I saw a picture of a cheesecake and as I was still on detox (read my previous post) I could feel saliva in my mouth. It was an interesting one, with the crumble! I was trying to get closer to the "stylist" reader to get the ingredients, but she did what everybody does and turned the page.... Luckily! Somebody at work was reading the same issue of "stylist" so I grabbed it like a mad woman and started looking for the page where the recipe was and I found it! Never mind my workmates as they are already used to me being mad. Anyway, here is the famous recipe which I have definitely tried baking. I have changed few bits as in ingredients they tried to promote "Bonne Maman" brand and I believe it is fine without it. I also find that it has goat cheese and I know that not everybody like it's scent (although it does make the cake taste lovely and unique) therefore it's allowed to be replaced by same amount of soft cheese. I hope you enjoy it as my friends did!

BERRY CRUMBLE CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:  75g butter
200g shortbread biscuits (crushed or processed as they are a bit stiff)
150g goat's cheese
450g full fat cheese
4 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
100g of caster sugar
75ml cream fraiche
8tbsp strawberry jam
150g summer berries (I bought my frozen as not in season at this moment)
40g plain flour
25g of oat flakes
Icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 20cm deep, loose based, spring-form tin with greaseproof paper.
2. To make a base melt 50g butter and stir in the crushed shortbread biscuits. Press this mixture over the base of the tin and set aside.
3. Beat together the cheeses, eggs, orange zest and 75g sugar with the cream fraiche. Spoon onto the base and bake for 1hour 15mins.
4. Meanwhile prepare berries mixture. Put the jam in a small saucepan with 50ml of orange juice and stir over a low heat. Bring to the boil and bubble gently for 5 minutes. Add the berries (defrost it first if you bought frozen) and leave it to cool.
5. After 1hour 15mins of baking cover the cheesecake with the berries mixture and return to the oven for further 1hr 15mins.
6. Meanwhile prepare the crumble. Rub the remaining butter and the caster sugar into the flour. Stir in the oat flakes and spread out on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15mins. Leave to cool, then brake it to the crumbs.
7. After cheesecake is completely baked and firm in the center sprinkle on the crumble mixture, leave it to cool and dust with icing sugar.

Enjoy

Rasa :)

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Who said that I can’t eat cheesecake while detoxing???!!!

It's the New Year again and to me that associates with new resolutions, new decisions, new plans and of course new diet with the promise that from now on I will be eating healthily in the smaller amounts (quitting cakes would be just too much!).  Well... this year I am trying DETOXING (I know, it's not great time to start blog about food when I am detoxing, but I will try...). My best friend Vicki loughs at my decision to detox as she recommends that I should be doing all year round (eating in moderation, not detoxing). But I can only say this, after eating all this food during Christmas and New Year I need to prepare mentally to eat less... Anyway, I read that to detox you need at least to cut on four main ingredients: alcohol (no problem, I don't drink that much), coffee (I drink it occasionally in very milky version), sugar (ouch!!), Saturated fat (that pretty much comes together with sugar in cakes!). So ever since I have started to "detox", I have been trying to satisfy my sweet tooth with natural sugars and somehow fruits doesn't do it.... And guess what! The other day while shopping at the health shop I have came across a recipe for Apricot and Banana Cheesecake without sugar (from the book called "Cooking Without"). Interesting, how can that be!? And I tried it... it may not be the sweetest thing, but at least I can say: "I am detoxing and I can eat cheesecake". Try it for yourself ;)

APRICOT AND BANANA CHEESECAKE (makes 4 small tall glasses or 2 big sundae glasses)

Base: 45g haselnuts
30g desiccated coconut
1 rice cake
Topping: 55g dried apricots
1 chopped banana
290g firm silken tofu (you definitely don't need to go to health shop for that, I found mine in Sainsbury's even though the staff there did not know they were selling it! It's where they keep cupboard ingredients etc)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated lemon

1. First, make the base. Toast the hazelnuts in and hazelnuts separately in oven until golden brown. Allow to cool then rub the skins off the hazelnuts.
2. Place all the base ingredients into a food processor until the nuts are chopped properly. Remove from the processor
3.To make the topping cut the apricots into small pieces and simmer in a small amount of water until soft then drain.
4. Process the apricots, banana, tofu, cinnamon and lemon rind until smooth
5. To assemble apply base first then the topping (you can make more layers if you are on the creative mood).

Happy detoxing ;)

Rasa xo

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