88A Romford Road
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
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)
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.
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
250g milk (full fat)
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.
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 ;)
As I my plans to open a Cafe becoming more and more real I have started thinking about the menu. So I thought to myself: "what Cafe is without sandwiches and what sandwiches are without nice bread?". At that time I have decided to learn how to bake the bread. Yes, I can bake cakes, but to bake bread is the whole new game. The only bread baking I have done in the past is by bread making machine. Should this count? I actually don't like machine bread anymore as it always comes out square shaped and taste like any other bread. I like the rustic look and that's what I want to achieve with my sandwiches as well. So firstly I checked out few courses and I did find them super expensive (this is probably why I have no formal training on cooking or baking). However I came across this blog where the blogger (Maria) offers courses at her own house and that's definitely cheaper! Anyhow I have bought loads of book for bread baking as I could not wait for my next lesson. As I really got bored with basic bread (probably because of the baking machine I have) I went for this Hungarian potato bread recipe (picture above). Sounds amazing, but sooo messy. You see, the dough was so sticky that I kept adding flour which did not help much. Also, I started in the evening and I did not realize that this would take me 4 hours! I thought I would leave it to rise (from yeast) overnight, but then the book warned that it may over-rise if I leave it for more than two hours so I got stuck with it for a night (I kept alarm clock so I could wake up to do another step for the bread cycle). I also got really sick as I have this really bad habit to taste everything I cook or bake so I did the same with the bread dough (I know, I know really bad, but I have done it with the cake dough and I was fine). And they say that it is unhealthy to eat warm bread, but this must have been worst! Eventually I got the result, which was not too bad, only that the crust was super thick and a little bit burned. Never mind I will get it improved! It is only my first time and nobody can judge me for the bumpy start! Therefore I am not giving away the recipe until I am super confident about it. For now I will give a recipe for the sandwich that I made with that bread. I must say I have enjoyed and was proudly eating during the lunch time. It was so good that I forgot to eat my soup that I usually eat with the sandwich!
3 slices Parma ham (thorn into smaller pieces)
1tbsp lemon juice
fresh ground black pepper
butter for spreading
4-6 bread slices (or more, it all depends on how much of sandwich filler you put on one slice)
1. combine all the ingredients except the bread and butter
2. Butter the bread slices (very important as butter stops sandwich from becoming soggy)
3. Apply Sandwich filler!
The end ;)
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
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!)
55g or more nuts (in this case I used almonds and pecan nuts)
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.
And finally, I bought herbs. Most of them are wild flowers, weeds and things that grow unwanted everywhere. Well you know... nettle for instance :) I have never seen anybody sowing nettle seed, nettle just comes uninvited whether you want it or not. But, before you get all angry with the nettle I have to say: nettle has good qualities! Like people, nettle is not perfect, but definitely wants to be friendly. Nettle tea fights coughs, tuberculosis and asthma; It also counters arthritis, rheumatism, tendonitis and other disorders of the muscles and joints; Nettle tea combats a variety of intestinal disorders; Nettle tea fights skin problems; Nettle tea fights allergies like eczema, and hay fever. And many many more things :)
Finally I would just like to say that "Kaziuko Muge" is lots of fun and is a must visit event when you are in Lithuania! And you can always negotiate prices there! Well that's the part I find most fun! :)
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?
I just came back from IFE Food and Drink Exhibition where I had such a great time! It was overwhelming as I not only had a opportunity to try different foods but also to see new products that are about to come onto the market (to the shops to be available for us to buy and enjoy).
The winner in my mind is this drink called "Wood Juice Birch" (made from Birch sap). The reason why I can appreciate it is because I know the truth value of it as traditionally in Lithuania (in old days) we used to collect tree "sap" (in Lithuania we call it "sula") for many health benefits (my grandma could make you the whole list for you). It's only available in spring as the water streams (sap) starts traveling trough the tree after heavy winter, therefore this would not work in UK (simply because there is not enough of snow during winter).
Here is the description on the bottle: "From centuries Birch was seen as very beneficial for human health. It was used to help eliminating extensive water from organism and get rid of body toxins. It was recognized by great nutrition and health values. Birch sap is 100% vegetal juice collected on early spring directly from the trees located in untouched nature where no industrial facilities are around...."
The other day me and my friend Vicki have been visiting some good friends who just had a baby girl (very quite one by the way!). I offered to cook as I realized that they might be already busy with hosting (and the baby of course). As I wanted to cook something we traditionally eat in Lithuania I decided to go with goulash. I know it may not be exactly Lithuanian (originally Hungarian), but we cook that a lot as it is so warming for the cold weather (it's like a comfort food for me). There are soooo many versions of goulash as a soup (traditionally) or a stew with many vegetables or just with onion. But I must say that my favorite is with apples as it gives such a zest to it! Paprika stays as the vital ingredient of course but you can change traditionally used beef with turkey if you like. Here is my version of goulash. I hope you enjoy it ;)
500g beef (diced)
1 red pepper (or which ever colour you prefer)
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree
400ml stock (I like chicken stock)
150g cream fraiche (and more if you love it)
1. Heat up a large pan and fry the beef (in batches) in a little oil (I try not to use any oil as I have this belief that oil turns toxic when heated, instead I splash some water over it to stop beef pieces from sticking to the pan).
2. Remove and put aside fried beef and in the same pan (where the beef released its fats and juices) fry diced onions, shredded carrots, sliced pepper and chopped apple until golden brown (again, I use no oil as the beef juices should keep it from burning). Add paprika, tomato puree, pepper and salt to taste.
3. Return beef pieces to pan and add the stock. Bring it to boil, reduce the heat and relax (but watch out for hungry people who keeps sneaking in and asking "Is it ready yet?", "When is it going to be ready? and so on). This simmering goes on for at least an hour. Only when the beef is ready (means it is soft, not chewy) - the goulash is ready for the next step.
4. The perfect goulash needs to be thickened (in England I noticed the corn flour is used for that, but in Lithuania we just use normal wheat flour). So in separate small frying pan melt butter and fry wheat flour on the low heat (keep whisking while adding flour until it becomes like a paste). Pour the mixture into the goulash pan and turn off the heat.
5. The last bit of course is to taste it if all the flavors are combined well (add salt if needed). Then mix in cream fraiche and fresh parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Gero Apetito (or Enjoy your meal in eng.)
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)
Ingredients: 200g dark chocolate
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!
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
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
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.
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 ;)