Category Archives: Guest blog

Guest Post: Victoria’s Sponge

This week’s recipe comes from the lovely Victoria of I Love Meal Plans.

Here is my version of a Victoria sponge; I find the key to making this cake magical is the way you combine the ingredients, so follow the instructions carefully! This cake was for my husband’s 30th birthday and so to feed all our guests I made a 10oz sponge. I would normally make a smaller cake, so the recipe below is for a 4oz cake. The measurements of this recipe are easy to increase or decrease as necessary. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 oz softened unsalted butter
4 0z sifted caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
4 0z sifted self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk (approx)

•••••••
Method:
1. Line two round sponge tins with baking paper and grease them with alittle butter.

2. Pre-heat the over to 180°c.

3. Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.

4. Add one egg and mix well, add half the flour and mix again.

5. Add the second egg and the rest of the flour, baking powder and vanilla essence, combine into a smooth mixture.

6. Pour a little of the milk into the mixture, you need the mixture to be ‘droppable’, this means it should fall slowly from your spoon. If the mixture is too thick and sticks to the spoon add more milk, if the mixture is too runny then add a spoonful or two of more flour.

7. Gently pour the mixture evenly into each sponge tin, make sure that the tins are not filled more than halfway (or it will overflow as it rises and end up on the bottom of the oven floor!).

8. Use a palette knife to spread the mixture across the sponge tin to give it a flat surface.

9.Cook in the middle of the oven for 20 mins. Test the cake is cooked by touching the top of the cake, it should spring back up and not leave an indentation. If the cake is ready gently remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack. If the cake needs longer leave for a few minutes inthe oven and test again.

10.Sprinkle the hot cakes with caster sugar, this gives a nice topping to thecake, but if you want to decorate your cake like I did use the icing recipe below.

Icing:
Ingredients:
40z softened unsalted butter
8 oz sifted icing sugar
2 drops vanilla essence
Strawberry jam

••••
Method:
1. Beat butter and icing sugar together until smooth, add vanilla and blend.

2. Spoon icing onto cake and smooth with a palette knife.

3 . Sandwich the cakes together with butter icing and plenty of strawberry jam.

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Guest Review | Camino, King’s Cross

This review comes to you from my sister Mary.

The first time I found myself at Camino, a Spanish bar in King’s Cross, was for my boyfriend’s work night out. As it was my introduction to his colleagues you can imagine how I had to exercise restraint when it came to sharing the tapas tidbits I had gingerly selected from the vast range of options. Coming from a family of 6 where ‘etiquette’ went as far as ‘eat it before someone else gets there first,’ holding back was an unfamiliar experience, so I was delighted when my brother was offered a table just for two.
If your mouth is in the mood for a party then Camino is certainly worth investigating. The dishes are traditional and varied, taking you on a culinary journey through the different regions of Spain, as the name suggests. The diner’s voyage, however, should be a small undertaking, as the restaurant is bang next to the station at the bottom of an office complex in Regent Quarter. Don’t let this put you off though as the atmosphere inside is warm and contemporary with brick walls, candlelit tables and an open kitchen. Continue reading

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Guest Post | Cheese scones

Victoria is our guest blogger this week. After noticing a lack of baking on this blog she kindly offered to contribute something warm and wintry. Her own blog, I Love Meal Plans, is well worth a goosey. Continue reading

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Guest Post | Onglet: Ghetto sous vide-style

Is sous vide the cooking method of choice for the terminal pedant, or a guaranteed route to perfectly cooked food? Whatever your view, this unusual method looks set to make the jump from professional to home kitchens sooner or later. Continue reading

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Guest Recipe | Bazooka Picnic Bombs

by Esther Walker



Picnics get a bit out of hand, if you ask me.

The whole point of eating outside, surely, is freedom from the petty bourgeois rules associated with eating inside. Isn’t it all about eating stuff freely, catching a frisbee with one hand and holding a sausage in the other?

So why do all picnics these days involve plates and cutlery? Why do people think that you can bring an assortment of shabbily-wrapped ingredients to the park and then “make your own sandwiches”? No, no, no. You have to be ingenious with picnics. Balancing a plastic plate on your lap heaped with warm coleslaw, a pre-cooked cocktail sausage from Marks and Spencer and an unbuttered slice of Warburton’s is not okay. You can’t just attempt to recreate your kitchen on the nearest bit of public ground that isn’t totally covered with dog poo.

The best picnic I’ve ever had was bought from the Bull and Last pub on Highgate Road and eaten on Hampstead Heath. We bought two mini pasties each, one Scotch egg to share, four bottles of cider and two small tubs of ice cream. Best. Picnic. Ever. No assembly required. No need to stack plates smeared with mayonnaise and ketchup, grass and ants back into plastic bags. Just roll all the packaging up, recycle what can be recycled and bin the rest.

So I’d like to share with you an idea for one ingenious item in your picnic basket this summer, called a Bazooka Picnic Bomb. It’s basically a potato salad inside a baked potato and it’s absolutely brilliant. My example bomb is made with creme fraiche and chorizo, but you can put whatever you like inside your Picnic Bomb – a more summery combination might be creme fraiche, chives and mint, or garlic and spring onions (if you’re not planning to kiss anyone at the picnic).

Anyway, the method remains the same whatever you put inside.

1 Take a large baking potato and prick all over. Put it in the oven for 1hr30min at 200C.

2 Remove from oven, cut in half and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Mix with your ingredients and spoon back into the empty shells.

3 Bring the two halves back together and wrap carefully in foil. Put back in the oven for 20 minutes.

4 Remove from oven and tie up with string to secure.

The only extra item you’ll require is a spoon. And, let’s face it: maybe not even that.

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Guest blog | Praying, wincing, and gorging: A typical Passover Sedar

by Alex Franklin

Last night saw sixteen family and friends gather round numerous trestle tables to celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover: a time to commemorate the freedom of the Jews from slavery 3,000 years ago. Food forms an integral part of all Jewish events and Passover is no different. The opening prayers are punctuated by the eating of pain-inducing food such as whole pieces of horseradish, parsley in salt water and a boiled egg in salt water. The resulting wincing symbolises the suffering of our forefathers.

A typical Sedar plate containing Matza, Maror, Charoset, Karpas, Zeroah, and Beitzah

Fortunately we get to gorge on good stuff once we’ve got the opening prayers and pain over with. Our family meal reflects our Ashkenazi roots: I come from a line of Jews once based in Poland and Russia and many of the food traditions come from that region. We start with delicious, penicillin like, chicken soup cooked over a 24 hour period. It’s accompanied by doughy style kneidlach which are basically yummy dumplings eaten with unleavened bread called Matza. We then move onto a veritable smorgasbord of cold meats such as cow tongue and salt beef accompanied by pickled cucumbers and the most popular of Jewish foods: Viennas. Viennas are pre-cooked baby beef sausages you boil for  few minutes before serving. Invariably they disappear from the table moments after they’re served and are then covered in ketchup and mustard.

Dessert is always a tricky one – no milky ingredients are allowed according to the Kosher dietary laws and no flour is permitted for Passover. So what does that leave you with? Well predominantly almond base cakes such as brownies and wonderful fruit kebabs that leave you feeling somewhat refreshed after the two hour meal.

Some refreshing fruit kebabs

Hebrew songs cue the close of the Passover meal and we all roll home stuffed like a good Kosher chicken. We then do it all again for second night of the festival 24 hours later.

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Guest blog | Triple mustard potato salad

by Sam Gordon

This is a great recipe for those who enjoy all of the ingredients in combination, and could be appreciated by potato salad purists as well as newcomers. The ingredients can be multiplied to produce a ‘batch’, which will keep in the fridge for about a week, or left as is for a single helping for a hungry, confident eater of average food capacity (but probably above average fondness of potatoes/mustard). The mustard ratio is only a guideline, and should depend on individual taste. Even if you don’t particularly like one of the mustard variants, it is recommended that you add a tiny amount (not enough to be detectable by taste, however) just so that you can boast about there being three types of mustard, which sounds more impressive than two or, Heaven forbid, just one.

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7 x baby new potatoes, chopped into quarters

4 x tablespoons of Hellman’s mayonnaise (probably not worth making your own)

1 x tablespoon of crème fraiche

1.5 x teaspoons of Dijon mustard

1.5 x teaspoons of wholegrain mustard

1 x teaspoon of English mustard

Handful of chives or parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they can be easily penetrated with a sharp knife, but still take a moment to slide back off it. Drain and leave to cool for about fifteen minutes. Stir in the mayonnaise, crème fraiche and mustards. Season with four scrunches of the peppermill and about two and a half of the saltcellar. Mix everything together. If you are prepared to use your hands in this process, so much the better, as the added dexterity will ensure that each potato will be covered equally with all elements of the lubricant. Scrape hands with a teaspoon to recover the lubricant that will inevitably be coating them. Any lubricant that remains on this teaspoon can be considered beyond recovery, and should probably be licked (this also saves on washing-up). Best enjoyed on toast with a leafy salad, with ham, or, for particular potato enthusiasts, stuffed into the crispy jacket of a baked potato that has been hollowed out.

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