Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mushroom, Leek, Basil, and Pine Nut Risotto

Lately, I've been going to the vegetable aisle in supermarkets to stare at it for inspiration. I did that yesterday at Waitrose and came up with this. It's really light and summery. Before that, I came up with a corn, asparagus, and capsicum risotto recipe but I can't exactly remember what else went into it.

I haven't used carnaroli rice much- only about twice before and twice now- and I find that it takes much longer to cook than arborio.

4 cups chicken stock + 2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium sized leek, sliced thinly

1 cup carnaroli rice
0.5 cup button mushrooms, quartered
Freshly grated zest and juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons fresh basil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
30g parmigiano reggiano

Put the stock and water to simmer on low heat.
In another pot, heat the butter until melted. Add onion, garlic, and leeks, stirring until translucent. Add the carnaroli rice and stir for 1 minute to lightly "toast" the rice. Add 1 cup of stock/water mixture and stir constantly until absorbed.
Add the mushrooms and one more cup of water and stir. Keep on stirring until almost all the water gets absorbed. Once water is absorbed, add another cup of water.
Check the rice once in a while to make sure it's cooked. If the rice is still not fully cooked and the water has run out, add some boiling water from the kettle and stir. Repeat the process until rice is fully cooked.
Remove from heat, stir in lemon zest and juice, basil, and pine nuts. Garnish with parmigiano reggiano.

Motcomb Street

I already posted this on my travel blog here http://sid-sees.blogspot.com/2011/06/motcomb-street.html but here are some pictures!

Motcomb Street is a wonderful little street tucked away in Knightsbridge- it has restaurants, a chocolate shop, cafes, and eateries. And everything is wonderful.

This is just a roundup! You can find the whole post (with more pictures and writing- details!) on my travel blog here: http://sid-sees.blogspot.com/2011/06/motcomb-street.html

Monday, June 20, 2011

Teatime Treats

These are all adorable tea-time treats that are for the most part bite-sized. I used the same ingredients in a many of them. The tart filling is the same as the filling in the Victoria Sponge Cake. And the buttercream on the heart shaped cakes is the same that is in the mini tarts.. and the berries, well they're in everything. Almost.

I got around 30 little tarts, 4 big tarts, 20 heart-shaped cakes, and two 5" cakes from one pie dough and one cake batter. My dad took the Victoria Sponge (which was coffee-infused, tiramisu style) to his office, and I sent the rest of the cakes to friends' homes and took some to uni with me.

These are all pretty simple to make.

For the Victoria Sponge, make two vanilla cakes and when they're cool mix together 250g of mascarpone, 284ml of double cream, and two tablespoons of coffee together. Spread over one cake, top with berries, and place the second cake over it.

For the heart shaped cakes, either use silicon heart shaped cupcake cases, or a heart shaped cupcake tray. Make and bake them just like cupcakes and then pipe the frosting on top.

For the tart crust, make a normal pie crust and put them into pie tins for the normal sized ones and for the mini ones, place them in a mini cupcake tray. The berry tart's filling is the tiramisu filling and the mini tart filling is vanilla buttercream (tinted pink!)

Taste of London

After attending Taste of Dubai this past March, I was extremely excited to see what the London version of the festival would be like. And so, on Thursday the 16th, I made my way to Regent's Park Outer Circle in the bitter cold and drizzle (ok it wasn't that bad) to check out Taste of London. And I was not disappointed. Regent's Park itself is a beautiful park that reminds me of the English garden (go figure, considering it is in England).

But anyways, the tickets were more expensive than Dubai's. GBP26 at the door compared to AED75. The conversion is 1GBP to AED6 if I'm not mistaken. Do the math, I'm not bothered.

Taste of London was at least double the size of Taste of Dubai but the layout was pretty much similar. White semi-tents with three or four dishes from each restaurant- and around 4 restaurants to a tent. What they had which I don't think Taste of Dubai did was a small producers/business market with individual stalls belonging to small business owners. There was the usual cupcake business but other really unique ones (compared to what I've seen) were ones such as a chili oil business called David's Chili Oil or a cordial making one... I LOVED the pomegranate and rose flavoured one. There were also small businesses selling cupcake decorations. Edible sugar decorations. Really good idea. I got a few lovely edible pearls and heart shaped decorations.

And the dishes at some of those restaurants were absolutely divine! Such unique ones! I tried a chicken tikka pie with a BERRY compote. It was heaven. I had no idea that chicken tikka and blueberries went so well together but they do...
Also tried a pea and mint mousse with goat's curd... it looked like sorbet but.. obviously, wasn't. Good stuff.

The festival also had a cultural section promoting Jamaica and they had looots of Jamaican food which was soo good. One that I tried was deep fried yam balls... For some reason I always confuse yam for yak and was a bit concerned but yams are a vegetable and they have a VERY unique taste..

One chocolatier that had a stand there was Paul A Young whose stand had what I think are some of the yummiest chocolates ever. I tried a 70% chili one which was undoubtedly heaven but one which blew my mind was a sea salted caramel truffle. HEAVEN, I tell you. The shop is at Wardour Street and I am going to hunt it down and buy the entire pack.

Also, you know Bonne Maman, the jam brand? Apparently they do chocolate mousse and creme brulee.. WHICH ARE REALLY GOOD. I tried them. Yes, I did. DROOL.

And San Pellegrino had a lovely little tent to itself styled like a Roman courtyard with stone benches- and with every bottle of water they gave you sundried tomatoes, cheese sticks, and olives, because "water goes well with food" according to the guy at the stand.

The Ritz's English Custard Cake with Date Syrup

 The chicken tikka/shepherd's pie/berry compote which was surprisingly so so good- from Benares.

Cake! Baked stuff!

 The mint and pea mousse which I thought was some sort of sorbet at first. Reallllyy good.

That sea salted caramel chocolate truffle from Paul A Young chocolatier.. Wardour Street, here I come!

 A Cuban band.

David's Chili Oil.. realllllly good stuff.. It was mindblowing.. So spicy and amazing.

 Huge slabs of fudge.

 The crowd inside the small producers' market.
 more cupcakes! with edible wafer decorations
The deep fried yam balls. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oooh, look! More cupcakes

The title of this post says it all. I had made some basic vanilla on vanilla cupcakes a while ago and never managed to post pictures of them.

You can find the recipe for both the cake and the buttercream in an earlier post here.

Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quick Canapes

I was walking home yesterday and happened to look at the window in the building to my left- and there was a guy in his kitchen, chopping some basil leaves and frying some tomatoes in a pan. I actually stopped and stared and had this intense yearning to go cook something. Sigh. I miss cooking up meals. I love those times when you just have to make do with what's the in the fridge. It fuels creativity. And so today, I created two little bites that would be perfect for a snack- or a canape (I feel like being fancy).

First one is crackers with marmalade and feta cheese. I was so tempted to try the marmalade and feta combination and Yasmin at Red Panda Bakes said she has them all the time! And so I piled them on top of little crackers and bit into them.

Marmalade and Feta Cheese Crackers
1 packet cream crackers
1 jar orange marmalade
40g crumbly feta cheese

Spoon a generous teaspoon of marmalade over the cracker and top with crumbled feta cheese. That's it!

Next, I made bruschetta. I was GOING to make risotto and bought all the ingredients for it.. BUT, ended up forgetting the onion and garlic. And right now I'm not bothered to go down to the Tesco Express and buy any. And so I sliced up a mini baguette and spread some basil pesto on each slice. I topped each with a piece of sundried tomato and some feta. I thought the whole thing was going to be rather salty but surprisingly it wasn't!

And they looked pretty cute.. If I may say so.

Basil Pesto, Sun-dried Tomato, and Feta Cheese Bruschetta
1 baguette
1 jar basil pesto
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes
20g crumbly feta

Slice the baguette.
Spread a teaspoon of the basil pesto.
Top with one sundried tomato slice
Add some feta.

Yes, eating is part of the procedure.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Mini Rose Cakes

I haven't had a chance to blog in a while- I've been extremely busy with university work. Last week, we held a Model United Nations conference for high schools around the UAE. We had planned for the event for months and last weekend was the weekend that all our efforts bore fruit. I am extremely happy with the way things turned out- we all are. Everything was fabulous and ran so smoothly. I was Director of Logistics and Event Planning which meant I had a whole lot of running around to do the entire conference. I'm proud to have catered for the coffee break through Spontaneous Euphoria Baking and Dessert Services. I spent two days preparing around 200 cupcakes and was up till 3AM the night before the conference icing all the cupcakes. My mechanical piping machine was getting stuck for some reason so I had to resort to that which I fear most- a plastic piping bag. I'm glad to say I have overcome my fear- and LOVE using a plastic piping bag. You have a lot more control over the way the final outcome looks.

While the opening ceremony speeches were taking place, my friend and I snuck out to set up the table for the coffee break. I would like to ask myself why I didn't take a picture of everything just as soon as we finished setting it up because literally three minutes into the coffee break, EVERYTHING was gone. The only things left were some biscuits and like six mini cupcakes. Which then were all eaten up in the subsequent seconds.

Anyways, I sort of went on a fondant phase two weeks ago.. and I think I'm still on it.. I bought a few cake decorating books from New York City (which weighed a TON) and have been obsessing over every design in every book. One thing I cannot seem to master though is STIFF ROYAL ICING. I bought a flower nail, I bought the parchment, I'm holding my hand at the right angle, everything! but the icing isn't thick enough. And when I pipe on the flower nail, I can't lift the piping bag easily without smudging whatever is on the flower nail or dragging the parchment up with me (yes I stick the parchment on the nail with a little buttercream or icing).  SIGH. So these mini cakes were supposed to have those royal icing flowers on them.. but since that didn't work out, I made roses out of marzipan. These are suprisingly SO easy to make. I could make tons.

I wish I had a picture of what the cake looked like from inside. There were four layers, two pink and two plain vanilla- alternating.

This was another cake which required the same royal icing- but which didn't work out. So I made fondant daisies..

I'm still a bit messy when it comes to fondant.. the fondant seems to overlap and when I lift it up to smoothen it out it creases a bit. But I'm learning!