Another bake sale

It’s no secret now that I love a good bake sale. I have contributed or helped organize a few over the past couple of years. Recently I hosted one in aid of a charity I have been volunteering with for 2.5 years, North London Cares.

I had been wanting to do a bake sale for the charity for quite a while, but the right combination of time and location never seemed to come up. However, an opportunity presented itself earlier this month when H. and his guitar partner J. hosted a concert in our neighbourhood. As they were going to have drinks during the intermission, I decided people might  be hungry as well and thought it would be the perfect opportunity.

Here’s what I baked:

Normally I get a bit stressed about making so many things at once, but surprisingly it went incredibly smoothly, despite the fact that it was my first time making 3/5 goods (brownies, pastries, and carrot cake cookies). I made the brownies and cupcakes (minus the icing) on Friday and the other 3 items, plus the cupcake icing, on Saturday.

Everything went down a treat, with the brownies and cupcakes being the most popular. The carrot cake cookies didn’t look like much but they were really tasty. I’ve since made them again to take to work as a snack. I wouldn’t choose puff pastry for a bake sale again — way too crumbly — but I was glad I decided to do one savoury thing as a couple of people commented on how they were pleased that they had the option.

Special thanks for my friend B. who contributed two other baked goods, cookies and a lemon loaf, and to A. who made gluten- and dairy-free cupcakes. I raised £110!

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Broccoli & Gorgonzola Tagliatelle

This is a great spring pasta dish. I found the recipe in an old delicious magazine and adapted it based on what I could find.

This dish is straightforward to make and manages to be light yet filling and decadent yet not indulgent. It even looks a bit summery. I used Gorgonzola in place of Dolcelatte and pine nuts instead of walnuts, and I personally think it worked very well. I’d recommended using the best pasta you can find. I normally use (dried) wholewheat, but this time decided to go for fresh and I do think it made a difference.

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A Month of Meals (v. 2.0)

Three years ago (doesn’t seem that long!) I published a month of meals and decided it was time to do an updated version. I had the idea again in March, but as the two months three years apart were so similar (including a long weekend visit from my dad as well as 3 days at a conference), I decided to do April instead. You’ll see a few differences to 3 years ago — namely, I only made four new recipes the whole month (these are bolded). I started strong, but since the second half of April was taken up with finishing my thesis, I was rather distracted then!

Fri 1 April – Chilli con carne
Sat 2 April – Kale Caesar (V)
Sun 3 April – Roasted duck legs with roast potatoes and carrots
Mon 4 April – Vietnamese Cauliflower soup (V)
Tues 5 April – Beef & peanut stew
Wed 6 April – Leftovers (beef stew) + kale salad
Thurs 7 April – Leek risotto (V)
Fri 8 April – Nachos! (V)
Sat 9 April- Away (out – Black Swan in Suffolk)
Sun 10 April – Away (Pesto noodles) (V)
Mon 11 April – Kale Caesar (V)
Tues 12 April – Sweet & sour pork with rice
Wed 13 April – Homemade pizza
Thurs 14 April – Leftover pizza with ….guess what…kale Caesar
Fri 15 April – Bacon & leek pasta
Sat 16 April – Chicken enchiladas
Sun 17 April – Cauliflower soup (V)
Mon 18 April – Pad Thai
Tues 19 April – Leftover cauliflower soup (V)
Wed 20 April – Spinach salad (V)
Thurs 21 April – Out (Granger & Co)
Fri 22 April – Ramen noodle soup (V)
Sat 23 April – Mushroom & leek tart (V)
Sun 24 April – Skillet chicken
Mon 25 April – Leftover chicken + broccoli Greek salad
Tues 26 April – Thai Beef curry
Wed 27 April – Out (Wings Wednesday)
Thurs 28 April – Couscous salad with tomatoes, spring onions, and feta (V)
Fri 29 April – Takeaway curry
Sat 30 April – BBQ with friends in Manchester

April 2016 Favourites

It’s May. How did this happen? Here are a few links for your perusal. The blog has been quiet lately but that is about to change again.:) The biggest news in April is that I’ve become one step closer to finishing my thesis — I submitted a full draft to my supervisor at the end of last week, and it felt really good. Finally, I can take a little breather!

◌ Spring is here and with it cravings for lighter and fresher food; here are collections of spring recipes from the NYT and the Guardian.

◌ Anyone in the mood for an edge-of-your-seat policy show needs to start Line of Duty immediately! It was the perfect antidote to writing and editing. Seasons 1 & 2 are on Netflix and season 3 has just broadcast here in the UK.

A Long Love Affair With the Scottish Isles.

◌ A good explainer on sulfites in wine.

Terrifying.

◌ H. and I were lucky to see Bug the play earlier this month, and were blown away. So, so good.

◌ Behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

East Anglia

Last weekend, H. and I left crazy London for 2 nights/days in rural East Anglia. We were celebrating: the 10th was H.’s birthday, and it was also the last week of term for me. We rented an Airbnb cottage that was right on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Even though we (fortunately) live in a part of London where we can easily access what little wilderness is left here, these couple of days allowed us to reconnect with nature a bit, and were just peaceful and relaxing all-around (well, except the driving in and out of London part).

Snape, Suffolk
Snape, Suffolk
The best spot for a simple lunch! The brownies were the best we'd ever had.
The best spot for a simple lunch! The brownies were the best we’d ever had.

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Beef & Peanut Stew

I’m not really a beef stew person. Unless I’m in Ireland and I’m in a pub and it’s pouring rain and steaming up inside and I’ve already had a couple of glasses of red — then I might order a beef stew. Otherwise, it’s not something I crave or actively seek out to make. I made this because I bought the wrong cut of beef by accident. To use up my stewing beef, I searched for a recipe and ended up making this one from The Kitchn. It appealed to me straight away because both H. & I love peanuts/PB in savoury dishes. It is a bit like a a non-vegetarian version of this amazing soup, but a bit less rich as it does not contain coconut milk.

This dish is best as a weekend deal as it takes around 3+ hours to make in its entirety. I followed the recipe quite closely although I used a can of tomatoes instead of chopped ones. The stew needs the moisture — the only word of advice I’d give for this one is to keep an eye on it towards the end, as you’ll likely need to add water. The end texture is more curry than stew (I think of stews being a lot more watery), but whatever — the taste is fantastic!

I served it over couscous but millet would be even better.

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Lime, Yogurt, & Pistachio Cake

This is the third thing I’ve made out of Rachel Allen‘s Bake and all have turned out really well– it’s becoming one of my most dependable baking books.

This cake, in my humble opinion, happens to be the perfect cake for spring. It’s light and really moist so keeps well, and very, very tasty.

Lime, Yogurt & Pistachio Cake, adapted from Rachel Allen:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Sift the following into a large bowl: 225g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Add in 75g ground almond and 70g caster sugar.*
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 tbsp honey, 250ml Greek yogurt**, 150ml sunflower oil, and the zest of 1 lime.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet until they are just combined. Add a handful of chopped pistachios (optional).
  5. Pour the mixture into a baking tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. (The recipe says 50, but mine was done around 38 minutes so keep an eye on it).

Serve with a dollop of cream or yogurt, both optional as the cake is very moist. In addition, you can also top it with syrup as Rachel suggests, by boiling 150ml water and 100g sugar until it is reduced by half (about 5 moinutes). Then add in the juice of 1 lime, boil for a few minutes longer, and finally add with 1-2tsbp rosewater (optional). Drizzle over the cake after poking holes in it with a skewer.

*The original recipe calls for 100g so add more if you prefer sweeter cakes.
**The original recipe calls for plain Greek-style yogurt, which I used, but honey would also be nice.

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March 2016 Favourites

◌ Stunning aerial photos of Hong Kong.

◌ The location (and purpose) of the world’s longest fence may surprise you!

◌ I first made this Greek broccoli salad a few weeks ago, and have made it several times since — it’s that good!

◌ Can someone please re-do my kitchen and incorporate several of these features?!

◌ Hehe. Whisky-smelling Golden Retriever!😀😀😀

◌ Love these pigs.

◌ Looking forward to seeing this exhibition at the National Gallery.

◌ Currently reading this. And bringing this with me on a much-needed weekend away on Saturday.

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, on a rare moment off from conferencing!
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, on a rare moment off from conferencing!

Tuna Casserole

Oooh man, it’s been a busy few weeks. The latter half of March brought me to my knees. Teaching + conference + revision deadlines + job applications + PhD has meant I’ve been feeling a bit on autopilot, working through my responsibilities but perpetually feeling behind. (Oh, academia). And that’s just work-related stuff.😦

Well, we often turn to food for comfort and there is no better dish to turn to than this one. The nostalgia of tuna casserole….where to begin! This dish will bring all of those childhood memories back but elevates to a completely new level. Chips + cheese + mushroom + cream + noodles….several of my favourite ingredients!

When I saw Meaghan’s post, I knew I had to make it as soon as possible. It did not disappoint — this is one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while! Though there are a few different steps involved, it’s easy to make. Moreish comfort food at its finest. Even though we are getting into spring, and this is more of a winter dish, I urge you to try it. You really can’t go wrong with this one!

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Rhubarb & Blood Orange Crumble

Citrus is abundant at this time of year, and recently I have been seeing blood oranges popping up everywhere (apparently, their darker colour flesh comes from an antioxidant pigment and blood oranges have more of a berry taste than a typical orange). To take advantage of the seasonal fruit, I decided to make this crumble from delicious magazine. Crumbles are one of my favourite desserts, and they definitely have to be one of the easiest ones out there, although I did almost forget to put the sugar in this one.

If I was to be completely honest, the orange taste is not very strong or distinctive. It adds a hint of zest and of course it’s rather tart anyway with the rhubarb. This dish is best served with a drizzle of cream and great for breakfast dessert or a snack. It will keeps in the fridge a few days although it tastes best the day it’s made.

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