Friday, 30 December 2011

Happy holidays

Merry Christmas and a great start in 2012 to everyone out there, wherever you are!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Chocolate Christmas cake

Last weekend we went to a Christmas-do with friends and I wanted to create a fun chocolate cake that also looks festive so it was time to get the gold dust out. Just brush it on the before you place the Maltesers on the cake as you will need to apply some pressure and they would otherwise move around in the soft butter cream. Maltesers are great for this as they look like little Christmas baubles and their malty taste goes nicely with the spices and the rum but even chocolate covered hazelnuts or such could work well.


4 eggs
200g sugar
200g butter (room temperature)
pinch of salt
200g self-raising flour
100g cocoa powder
3 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp all spice
pinch of cinnamon
4 tbsp rum
4 tbsp milk
4 packs of Maltesers
edible gold powder

For the butter cream:
200g butter
100g icing sugar
300g chocolate custard/pudding (follow packet instructions)
pinch of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200°C and butter your baking tin. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites with a pinch of salt until it forms stiff peaks. In another bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy (with a hand-held mixer for about 5 min) and add the butter. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder and add to the mixture. When the dough gets too thick add the rum and milk. Now gently fold in the stiff egg whites. Bake for around 30-40 minutes in a 20cm/8 inch baking tin. Rotate the tin after half the baking time so it will bake evenly. If it gets too dark on the top cover it up with baking paper for the last 15 minutes. Let cool and cut into 3 layers. Place the sponge layers in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes before you assemble the cake. Cook the custard/pudding according to packet instructions and leave to cool. Cream the butter until pale and fluffy, add the sifted icing sugar, mix some more, then add the cold custard/pudding and cinnamon powder. Spread an even amount of the icing between the layers, stack the cake and apply a thin layer on the the outside. Place in the fridge to chill before you apply the rest of the icing layer. Brush the malt balls with the gold dust and place on the the top and sides of the cake.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Juicy sweet clementines and my friend the nutcracker. Here comes Christmas!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Chocolate Lebkuchen ice cream

Now the Christmas season has officially started for me. The fairy lights are dusted off and draped around the mantle piece and a freshly baked batch of cookies welcome the festive season in my house. And my first Christmas party. The first of many a drinks and feasts, crackers and toasts and get togethers with friend and family.
In shops Christmas started in October already with the arrival of Christmas pudding, mince pies, gingerbread, mulled wine and Lebkuchen. If you are not familiar with Lebkuchen I should explain that they are one of the classic German Christmas cookies. They can take on different shapes (round or rectangular are classic but there are now stars, pretzels or heart shaped ones too) but they are made with honey and lots of spices, candied fruit, almonds and nuts and are sometimes covered with chocolate. They were invented by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany in the 13th century.
I have never been tempted to make them myself as they are so easily available and usually nice and rather focused on cookie recipes that are maybe more rare as they are a regional speciality or just not as commonly known.
So my twist with Lebkuchen this year is to make it into an ice cream. Not dissimilar to a chocolate chip cookie ice cream just with the Christmassy flavours of Lebkuchen instead. You get the idea. The base is a rich chocolate ice cream with a hint of cinnamon.


300ml double cream
200ml milk
4-5 tbsp cocoa powder
3-5 tbsp sugar
pinch of cinnamon
2-4 Lebkuchen

In a pot heat the double cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder. If you use unsweetened cocoa powder add more sugar according to taste. Take it off the heat when it starts to boil and leave to cool. Crumble the Lebkuchen in to the mixture but discard the oblate on the bottom (unleavened communion wafer) if yours have any and the amount of crumbs depends on how big or small your Lebkuchen are. If they are small use one or two more. Chill the mixture in the fridge. Place in the ice cream maker for about 10-15 minutes or according to instructions for your machine. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Crema Catalana

So this has been on my to-do list for a while now. Ever since I got a blow torch I was dying to try my hands on a crème brûlée. I have made lemon curd before so I figured it shouldn't be too far out of my comfort zone. The original recipe for creme brûlée most likely originates from France and here in the UK it's known as burnt cream but essentially it's the same: custard flavoured with vanilla and a hard caramel on top, served cold. You don't have to stick to vanilla though. The Catalan version Crema Catalana incorporates cinnamon and lemon or orange zest. Then last week I got the Donna Hay subscription through and to my surprise I found a 'how to do custard' in there with tips and tricks. So then I really had to give it a go. And here is what happened. It is a lot more complicated and temperature is key. I miserably failed twice. First I tried a recipe where the egg-cream mixture is to set in a water bath in the oven. Maybe it was in there too long or the temperature still too hot, not sure, but it split and curdled. My next attempt was a version where you bring the egg-cream/milk-cornflour mixture back to the boil in a pot but I was a bit too eager and the temperature was too hot again and it separated again. There is no way to bring it back. In my last attempt on that day I tried to cheat with a store bought custard but the consistency was all wrong (too liquid so the sugar melted on the surface) and didn't get a crunchy caramel crust.
No to be defeated I revisited the second recipe again this weekend and paid more attention to the temperature and voilà, it worked. Silky custard with a hint of orange and cinnamon and a crunchy caramel top. The recipe is for 2 large or 3 small ramekins.


3 egg yolks
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
200ml double cream
100ml milk
2 tbsp cornflour
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
orange zest
sugar for the caramel

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks with the corn flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon until pale and fluffy. Meanwhile gently heat the cream, milk and add the orange zest to infuse. When it reaches 140°F take off the heat. Slowly pour into the egg mixture and whisk continuously. Place back on the heat and very slowly reheat again. When it starts to thicken take off the heat immediately and pour into ramekins and let cool completely. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar evenly over the custard and caramelise with a chefs' blow-torch.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Pumpkin soup with orange and coriander

I really love fall for the colours and when it comes to flavours all the variations of pumpkin and squash are amazing. Here is my hot-food-for-cold-days-recipe:


1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 red chili
500g pumpkin
400g sweet potato
bunch of coriander
2 oranges (zest and juice)
olive oil
800ml vegetable stock
pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper

In a large pot sweat the onion in some olive oil until golden, add garlic and chili. After 2 minutes add the orange zest and finely chopped coriander stalks. Chop the leaves as well but reserve for garnish later. Add the diced pumpkin and sweet potato to the pot as well as the stock and orange juice. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Puree with a blender, season with salt and pepper according to taste and serve with some cream, chopped coriander leaves and pumpkin seeds. Perfect for those cold days!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Frankfurter Kranz

Now this is a classic German cake recipe and a very regional one as well. My nan used to make it whenever there was an occasion and I would be looking forward to it all day. It is rich butter cream layers and red jam between a soft sponge in a ring shape, coated with more butter cream and hazelnut brittle ('Krokant' in German; you should be able to find it in German or Polish shops) for some added crunch. Finally decorated with butter cream swirls and cocktail cherries on top (sorry, in lack of such I substituted with Amarena cherries; taste great too but the colour is not quite right as it should be bright red but you will forgive me I hope). As the name suggests it's roots are in Frankfurt so not very far from where I grew up and 'kranz' means crown and it is definitely fit for a royal. I had been thinking about how to update this recipe but if it's not broken why fix it. It is one of those retro cakes that you just have to embrace. Plans for a tea party? Put you hair up and your apron on and happy baking!


4 eggs
4 tbsp cold water
pinch of salt
200g sugar
80g cornflour
120g self-raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
250g butter
300g custard
Red jelly (cherry or red currant are good)
Krokant for decoration
Candied cherries

Pre-heat you oven to 180°C. Separate the egg whites and yolk. Whisk the egg whites with the water and salt, add the sugar slowly and beat until it forms stiff peaks. Gently add the egg yolks. Sift in cornflour, baking powder and flour and gently fold in with a spatula. Butter your baking tin (mine is 18cm/7") and dust with flour. Add the mixture and bake for about 25 minutes. Leave to cool completely, maybe overnight. Cut into 3 layers. Cream the butter until pale and fluffy, then add the custard. It is a lot easier to apply butter cream when the cake is cold so place the sponge layers in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes before you decorate the cake. Spread red jelly on the bottom and middle layer and some of the icing. Stack the cake and apply a thin layer on the the outside. Place in the fridge to chill before you apply the next layer. Then coat in hazelnut brittle (Krokant), pipe swirls and place the cherries on top.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Salted popcorn ice cream with toffee sauce

I know, it might feel a bit out of place to post about ice cream in November when it's getting cold outside but then you can make your ice cream winter proof by adding a warm sauce or fruit compote. In this case it's a toffee sauce that goes well with the popcorn flavour and adds some extra texture to it. And as I love salted caramel I figured I might as well do a salted popcorn flavour.
I have a really strong memory about salted popcorn. It wasn't very popular or even common when I grew up in Germany as we seemed to favor the sweet variety. I went to stay with a friend in Berlin when I was a teenager and we went to an ex G.I. cinema. Not sure what film we went to see but it was English with subtitles. Unusual in Germany where films are generally dubbed. So we went in and sat down and I tucked in to my popcorn and almost choked as I expected sweet and got salty. What a shock! Like when you expect water and get lemonade. Or wine and get vinegar. That kind of thing. Times have changed and I have grown up to like salted popcorn, so much so that I would chose it over sweet anytime now.


For the ice cream
300ml double cream
200ml semi-skimmed milk
couple of handfuls of popcorn
good punch of salt
4-5 tbsp sugar

Bring the milk and cream to the boil. Add the popcorn and simmer for about 5-10 minutes to infuse the milk-cream-mixture. Let stand to cool, strain with a sieve and chill the mixture in the fridge. Place in the ice cream maker for about 10-15 minutes or according to instructions for your machine.

For the toffee sauce
75g light brown sugar
50g butter
3tbsp double cream

In a pan heat all the ingredients and stir gently with a wooden spatula. When they are all blended to a sauce take off the heat and it's ready for serving.

* Heston Blumenthal had been doing a salted caramel popcorn ice cream on his 'feasts' show on Channel 4. It's available to buy ready-made in Waitrose so if you want to enjoy it on your comfortable couch without having to get up first to make it that's your best option.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

More urban foraging

We went foraging again a while ago and we harvested some more crab apples, little red apples and quince. With so much fruit to use up I sorted out my preserving jars and got on to making more jelly for those cold days that will be coming. I mixed the green apples and quince, cut them into little pieces and boiled them with just enough water to cover the pieces. When the fruit is all soft and mushy (about 1-2 hours) spoon in a sieve with a cheese cloth and place over a bowl to drain overnight. I did the same with the red apples and the crab apple and the juice has a fantastic rosy red colour.


600ml apple and quince juice
500g sugar

Mix the sugar with the pektin. Bring the juice with the sugar/pektin to the boil and keep boiling for 5-10 minutes. Check with a candy thermometer for it to reach setting point at 105°C and test by spooning a little amount of the liquid on to a plate and wait for it to cool down. Check after a minute if it has set. If so pour into sterilized jars and let cool down.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Rainy days in Barcelona but I love the colours of fall.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Halloween skull and bat cookies with cardamon

I know I know, this is fairly late now for a Halloween post but I have been so busy working on our costumes for this weekends party. And what a fun it was. So here's my slightly belated post:


750g flour
1 tsp baking powder
225g unsalted butter, softened
125g sugar
1 tsp salt
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cardamon
2 eggs
royal icing sugar mix
black food colouring

Cream the butter until pale with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, salt, cardamon and lemon zest and beat some more. Add the eggs and lemon juice and beat until uniform and fluffy. Sift the flour and baking powder and slowly add to the mixture. Wrap dough in cling film and place in the fridge for about an hour. In the meantime cut your cookie shapes out of cardboard. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Roll out the dough to 3mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Using the stencil cut out the cookies with a knife. Before baking place in the fridge for 10 min to avoid shrinking and so they will hold shape better. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. Cool and decorate wit royal icing. The recipe makes about 50-60 cookies.

Chocolate and beetroot cake with popping candy buttercream

I used to love popping candy when I was a kid and there's no reason why we can't use it in a more adult version of a dessert. I added it in the purple buttercream between the sponge layers and it adds a bit of fun to this Halloween cake. The beetroot is great as it makes the sponge very moist and the colour is an extra plus. Don't be put off by the intense black colour of the icing. You won't taste it and it won't leave your teeth stained. To get this colour I had to use up almost half a bottle of black food colouring... Black food always has something fascinating, right? Not quite natural so absolutely perfect for Halloween!


For the beetroot sponge
250 grams self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
100ml vegetable oil
300g sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
2 eggs
100ml milk
2 tbs yoghurt
100g beetroot purée

For the spicy chocolate sponge
125 grams self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
50ml vegetable oil
150g brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1 eggs
50ml milk
1 tbs yoghurt

rum to brush the sponge cakes with
200g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
black food colouring
purple food colouring
2 packs popping candy
pomegranate seeds

Preheat the oven to 175°C and grease two baking tins of the same size. With a hand mixer beat the oil, sugar and vanilla sugar for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Sift the flour and cocoa and slowly beat in, alternating with the milk and yoghurt mix. At last add the beetroot and fold in. Divide in two and pour into the baking tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Take out of the tins and cool on a rack. In the meantime prepare the second batch according to the same instructions, bake and cool as well. Brush one side of the sponges with some rum. Now leave the sponges in the fridge to chill so it will be easier to apply icing later.
To make the icing beat the butter until pale and fluffy and slowly add the sifted icing sugar. Beat some more until uniform. Divide in two batches and colour with the liquid food colouring and add the popping candy to the purple batch. Spread the purple icing between the three sponges and use half of the black on the outside. Chill again for another hour and then apply the rest of the black butter cream evenly. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Pumpkin and black sesame ice cream cake

I have a Halloween dinner coming up this week and the colour theme is orange and black. Not very creative there but then it depends on what you do with it. For dessert I was thinking of pumpkin and black sesame so I created this layered ice cream cake on a black sesame and olive oil sponge base. There is another ice cream layer with black sesame and two layers of spiced pumpkin ice cream. You could make double the quantity of my recipe so you get two evenly coloured pumpkin ice cream layers but my ice cream maker is small so I had to do two batches and they turned out slightly different in colour and ever so slightly in flavour. I used a different coconut milk with less coconut content for one and that may have caused it. Oh, and before I forget it, the ice cream is dairy free. Might come in handy if like me you have a friend who is lactose intolerant.


For the sesame sponge base:
2 eggs
4 tbsp black sesame seeds
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
40ml water
40ml olive oil

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Beat the eggs and 3 tbsp of sugar until aerated and fluffy. In a pestle and mortar grind the remaining 3 tbsp of sugar and the black sesame seeds. Add to the egg mixture. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently without loosing too much air. Add water and olive oil and pour into a small baking tray and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.

For the pumpkin ice cream:
(enough for 2 layers):
600g roasted pumpkin
knob of ginger
1 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
pinch of salt
500ml or 2 cans of coconut milk
200g caster sugar

Peel the pumpkin and roast the slices in the oven for about 40 minutes at 175°C. Keep them covered with foil so they don't brown but get soft. When cooled down blend the pumpkin with the ginger, orange peel and spices to a fine puree. Add the spices, caster sugar and coconut milk. Pour in an ice cream machine and make according to instructions. Divide up in two portions for the two layers.

For the black sesame ice cream:
300ml coconut milk
6-8 tbsp black sesame seeds
100g caster sugar

In a pestle and mortar grind the sesame seeds to a fine powder. Mix the ingredients and pour in the ice cream machine and make according to instructions.

To assemble the cake:
Line a cake tin with cling film and spread half of the pumpkin ice to create the first layer. Put in the freezer to set. Now add the black sesame ice cream and place in the freezer again before spreading the second layer of pumpkin ice cream. Cut the sponge to fit and cover the ice cream with it. Pop back in the freezer. Take out ten minutes before serving. Take out of the tin and remove the cling film. Cut into slices and serve. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and a pumpkin pie

Thanks Giving is not a public holiday here in Britain but I used to celebrate it in Canada and I like the idea of celebrating harvest and the end of the season. Pumpkin pie is probably not only my favourite and I have given this classic a new appearance this year. From leftovers of my pastry I cut some leaves which I egg washed and added as decoration on top of the pie.


sweet pastry base
500g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
2 tbs rum
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
125ml single cream
1 egg
100g sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel and cube the pumpkin and place on a baking tray. Cover with foil and leave in the oven for 40 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Blind bake the sweet pastry and prepare the filling by processing the pumpkin and the spices. Add the egg, sugar and cream and pour into the baked pastry shell. Cut leaves from the remaining sweet pastry. To egg wash mix one egg yolk with a dash of water and a pinch of salt and brush on the rim of the pastry and the leaves. Bake for about an hour at 170°C until set. Rotate the cake after half an hour so it bakes evenly.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Colour lovers: Berrylicious

Delicious and rich colours from pinkish reds to purple to blue, from light to dark and warm to cold. This makes for a strong contrast and is nevertheless a harmonious palette.
Natural plant pigments localized in the skin and seeds of the fruit give berries their colour. Most of these pigments are antioxidants and berries are therefor sometimes classified as 'superfood'. Check out the palette at colourlovers

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Though it starts End of September Octoberfest is good fun and now available even in London.
Octoberfest actually starts in September in Munich but it's so much fun we now have our own humble little version in London.

Pink peppercorn decoration

I love the pink colour of these peppercorns. They make great decoration. You could add to a bouquet, draped around a wreath or dress a candle like I did. Simple but effective.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Yoghurt ice cream variations

The weather this week came like a surprise: heatwave in autumnal London with temperatures reaching 29°C and marking a record high for October in this country. What better way to celebrate this than with homemade ice cream. Since I have a new little helper in the shape of an ice cream machine my life is made so easy. Mix your ingredients together and pour into the chilled bowl, 20 minutes later you have a perfectly smooth ice cream thanks to it being constantly churned. I love it! The ice cream maker was a gift for my birthday but I had always wanted one, since I was a kid. Not sure why I never got one myself but it may be because I didn't think I could justify it using up precious space in my tiny kitchen cupboards or maybe because it felt too much of an indulgence. Anyway, I am glad I have one now and have been busy making all sorts of ice cream since then.
As I like keeping things simple I have tried variations of yoghurt based ice cream. It is very low in fat so even healthy. For a dessert. The other variation I tried is with coconut milk and that worked very well too. I added toasted coconut flakes for some extra texture. Very nice. And the other variation I tried was a salted pistachio ice cream. If you like salted caramel this one could be for you.


500g yoghurt
100g caster sugar
150ml blackberry juice

Mix all the ingredients together and place in the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or according to instructions for your machine. If doing by hand place the mixture in the freezer and take out about every half an hour and churn by hand and place in the freezer again and repeat the process until frozen.


400ml coconut milk
100g yoghurt
handful desiccated coconut

Gently toast the desiccated coconut in a hot pan or under the grill in your oven until slightly brown. Let cool down and add to the coconut milk. Mix all the ingredients together and place in the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or according to instructions for your machine. If doing by hand place the mixture in the freezer and take out about every half an hour and churn by hand and place in the freezer again and repeat the process until frozen.


250ml cream
250g yoghurt
150g salted pistachios
100g caster sugar

In a pestle and mortar crush the pistachios finely. Mix the cream, yoghurt, sugar and add the pistachios. Place in the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or according to instructions for your machine. If doing by hand place the mixture in the freezer and take out about every half an hour and churn by hand and place in the freezer again and repeat the process until frozen.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Mini lemon cupcakes with blackberry icing

I still had plenty of blackberries and elderberries from when we went foraging. To be precise I made a syrup by boiling the fruit with sugar and straining. Actually it's blackberry and elderberry syrup as I boiled the fruit with some sugar and let it reduce until slightly thickened, all in all maybe 10-15 minutes. That then became the flavouring for the butter cream icing to go on top of the mini cupcakes. If it turns out to be too wet just add some more icing sugar.
For the cupcake recipe click here

Sunday, 4 September 2011


View from our window and some lovely green apples.
Our neighbours two houses down have a big apple tree and left some of the fruit out for everyone to help themselves. How nice is that!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Shortbread with cheddar and rosemary

Shortbread is such a classic and goes back to medieval times though it had a slightly different shape and taste back then. It is really just a mix of three ingredients: sugar, butter and flour, baked at low temperature to avoid browning. Mary, Queen of Scots, made it popular in the 16th century and maybe for that reason it is being credited as a Scottish recipe though it was found all over the British Isles.
Traditionally shortbread was made with oatmeal flour but I used half plain and half spelt flour and it makes for a light and crumbly texture. The recipe will make about 40-45 cookies with a 2" cookie cutter and they are great with some cheese and chutney.


200g flour
100g butter
50g grated mature cheddar
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until it turns pale in colour. Mix the flour, cheddar and spices and combine with the butter. Knead but don't overwork the dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Urban foraging

Today we went foraging in the city and here are the fruits of our labour, literally: blackberries, sloes, elderberries and crab apples; all made into delicious preserves and sweet treats. It is highly satisfying growing your own food or going foraging and it always tastes so much more delicious.

Sloe gin is a classic and usually made with sloes picked around November after the first frost but I faked this process by freezing my sloes for a day. Once defrosted prick them with a fork and fill in a sterilized glass bottle. Add sugar and alcohol, in my case vodka rather than gin, and mix up. Agitate once every day for about 4 weeks and after that once a week for another 3-6 month. Over time the colour of the concoction will change to a deep red. Strain and keep in the dark.


75cl vodka
50g granulated white sugar
good handful of sloes

I also made crab apple, chili and rosemary jelly. Crab apples are too tart to eat but are great in a sweet or savory jelly. I only picked about 20 apples which I removed the stems and seeds of. Bring to boil with just about enough water to cover the wedges. Leave the skin on as it will be strained after anyway and the colour is so beautiful. Cook until soft and strain through a cheese cloth. The juice was enough for one jar of jelly. Even Martha Stewart likes crab apple jelly and she famously whipped up one during her time in jail with crab apples picked from trees on the prison camp grounds. Well, you just can take Martha out of the kitchen...


200ml crab apple juice
200g sugar
pinch of salt
2 small red chilies
some chopped rosemary

Boil the juice with the other ingredients for 5-10 minutes. Check for the setting point by spooning a little amount of the liquid on to a plate and wait for it to cool down. Check after a minute and if it has set. If so pour into sterilized jar and let cool down.


1 cup plain flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
pinch of ground cardamon
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
150g white chocolate chips
2 handfuls of blackberries

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Mix all the ingredients together but keep some of the blackberries for the top. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Colour lovers: fig and thyme

This is the colour scheme of the Provence: lavender, thyme, rosemary, olive and fig trees. Purple is mysterious, comforting and restful and is said to encourage the imagination and creativity. It can be either cold or warm depending on what colours you pair it with and green is a natural combination enhancing its calming features.
Check out the palette at colourlovers

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Lemongrass and ginger vodka granita

This granita is a refreshing dessert and a shot at the same time and perfect for a dinner party. We had a bbq this weekend and made Thai style chicken / tofu (marinated in a spicy curry paste) served with som tam salad so my dessert should go with these flavours. A granita is super easy to make and you can even do it some time in advance and keep in the freezer. Because of the alcohol it won't freeze solid but will have a slush like consistency. When you serve it make sure you chill the glasses in the freezer so it won't melt too quickly. The recipe will make 6 shot glasses.


1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vodka
3 stalks lemongrass
1 knob of ginger
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon

Bash the lemongrass stalks with a rolling pin to release the flavour. Thinly slice the ginger and add to the water, sugar and lemon juice in a pot. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to infuse the water and dissolve the sugar. Take of the heat and let cool down. When cold strain and add the vodka to the syrup. Put in the freezer for about 2 hours until ice crystals have formed. Rake with a fork and serve in chilled glasses.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Iced coffee with vanilla ice cream

I still like my coffee Vietnamese style in the mornings. My way of preserving the holiday feeling in a way. You brew one cup at a time in a small metal drip filter that sits on top of the cup. Just add a good dash of condensed milk and ready. I don't drink it on ice though but hot, purely because it is quicker. And then it's not as hot here as in Vietnam. But for the days when it is hot outside here is a cold sweet treat with homemade vanilla ice cream. You don't need a Vietnamese coffee filter, just brew it the way you always do and let it cool. Serve it over homemade vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and sprinkle with some cocoa powder.
For my vanilla ice cream recipe click here

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Colourful interiors in Udaipur

India is known for it's generous use of colour and the City Palace in Udaipur is no exception. Cool blue is more unusual to find though but it is a great contrast to the ochre and sand tones of the desert surrounding the city.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Apple and blackberry jam

We went to the New Forest this weekend and picked blackberries and there was just too much to use up fresh that I decided to make some jam. We also picked some apples, rather tart and too sour to eat raw but so perfect for this, too. The recipe will give you about 5 jars in the end.


500g apples
500g blackberries
150ml water
700g sugar
2 limes
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp allspice

Sterilise the glass jars in hot water. Peel, core and cut the apples into small cubes. Boil with the water for about 5 minutes. Add the blackberries, pektin, sugar, spices and juice of the limes. Boil for 10-15 minutes and use the 'spoon test' to check if it will set. Just dip the spoon in the mixture, let cool for a bit and hold horizontal. It's ready if it won't drip. While you test take the pot off the stove or you may go beyond setting point. Fill into jars and leave to cool upside down, turn again when slightly cooled down. This way you sterilise the lid with the boiling hot jam again.