BAKE

Vanilla Salt Marshmallows

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It probably isn’t much of a surprise to those of you who saw the pictures I shared of my new apartment, or those who saw pictures of my last, that I am an avid reader, which my groaning book shelves can attest to. In all truth, that isn’t even the half of it, as I have said before, I now read most of my books on my Kindle. While quite a few of the books I read are thriller (anything by Gillian Flynn) or comical shorts (Sloane Crosley and Mindy Kaling) I have a special place for those who write about food. They capture my attention, inspire to be more adventurous with my cooking and make me wish I could be a better food writer.

Vanilla-Salt

When Alma books offered to send me a food fiction book, I instantly said yes, and it rocketed straight to the top of my summer reading pile. Vanilla Salt (hey that’s the type of marshmallow in this post!) by Ada Parellada is the story of a the failing restaurant of a stubborn, stuck in his ways chef brought back to life by the new, beautiful, vivacious foreign kitchen help. Whilst the over arching plot is the typical generic romance that you want when lounging around in hot weather, what really makes the book special is the love affair between the author and the food she writes about. As a chef herself she brings a life and magic to the scenes in the kitchen that make you feel as though you, yourself are standing over the pans stirring them. Like the movie Chef, I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, this book shows the importance of social media in the food industry, and how it has changed how people discover and share their experiences of food.

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As soon of I read the title I imagined up sugary pillows of vanilla-y marshmallow capped with a savoury twist of maldon sea salt. There is nothing quite like a homemade marshmallow, it is so much smoother and moist than it’s shop bought counterpart. With the help of a candy thermometer they are relatively simple to make, and you get to experience my favourite bit of kitchen magic. The moment when, as you slowly trickle hot sugar syrup into the bowl, the egg white goes from an unattractive foam to puffing up into something luxurious and thick.

Slight side note to this post. I finally found graham crackers in the UK (At Loon Fung in Chinatown)! Which meant I finally tried my first ever s’more and it was amazing!

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Previously on BAKE

 

One Year Ago- Sticky Chicken

Two Years Ago- Moules à la Marinière

 

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Vanilla Salt Marshmallows

makes 16 large mallows recipe by Jennifer Brown

Ingredients

1 egg white

½ tsp lemon juice

280g sugar

60ml water

5 gelatin leaves

1 ½ tsp glycerin syrup

Seeds of one vanilla pod

5 tbsp cornflour

flavourless oil

maldon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Leave the gelatin leaves to soak in a bowl of cold water.
  2. Wipe the inside of the bowl and mixer beaters with a piece of kitchen tissue dipped in lemon juice. This removes any trace of fat from the equipment which would stop the egg whites from holding any air and puffing up.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pan mix together the sugar, water and glycerin. Put on the stove over a medium high heat, and using the candy thermometer boil until it reaches 120C.
  4. When the sugar has reached 105-10C start to whisk your egg white until it forms stiff peaks.
  5. When the sugar has reached 120C turn the beater down to medium-low, gently pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl, making sure not to hit the beater (this will cause the sugar to fly out of the bowl which is both dangerous and messy).
  6. Squeeze the water from the gelatin leaves and add with the vanilla to the marshmallow mix.
  7. Turn the whisk up to medium high and beat until the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature.
  8. Whilst the marshmallow is whisking generously coat the inside of your plastic tub with oil.
  9. Pour the marshmallow into the tub, cover lightly with clingfilm and leave to set for an hour.
  10. Using an oiled knife cut the marshmallows into squares and then coat them in the cornflour mix.
  11. To add the salt to the marshmallow, using either a paint brush or the tip of your finger dab a tiny amount of water in the middle of the marshmallow (this will help the salt stick). Press a few flakes of maldon sea salt to the marshmallow.
  12. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Notes

specialist equipment: candy thermometer stand mixer or electric whisk plastic tubs

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Around the Web – 2

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^^^ breakfast/organic fruit from Wholegood at work

After deciding to skip last weeks round up as I was away, I am back with the second instalment in my new series. It’s been a fun foodie few weeks. Last Friday after months of cancelled plans I finally made it to Street Feast at Dalston Yard. It was a great way to cross off a couple of places on my London restaurant wish list as there was a great mix of established names as well as some smaller brands. I was so excited to see a tomato free option on Pizza Pilgrims menu, and they did not disappoint with portobello mushrooms and truffle oil over a roux sauce, definitely a combination I will be recreating at home.

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^^^ It’s only take 5 years to get a photo of the four of us together

The next day we headed off to Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future screening in Stratford. The level of detail in the recreation was incredible. In the weeks preceding we were given new identities and encouraged to dress up for the performance. I worked at the garage and Dan was a high school student. Apart from what felt like obvious cougar overtones it was fun to pretend to be someone else for the evening. I particularly loved the characters they had walking round interacting with the crowd (Lorraine told us that she was upset that her Mum would not let her on prom committee and Lou came up to ask us if we were enjoying the food from his diner) and acting out scenes from the film. We were lucky enough to see most of the scenes from up close (I have friends who missed nearly all of them) starting with seeing a commotion out of the corner of my eye that turned out to be the scene where Marty got run over. The whole thing culminated in a screening of the first movie on the town hall which we watched from the faux grass town square being lapped by a Delorean (!!!!!!) at appropriate parts of the movie.

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^^^ In our costumes (Texaco workers were told to bring a chamois cloth hence the one hanging from my belt)  for Secret Cinema before we had to hand in our phones

For the rest of the day I am going to be in the kitchen experimenting with recipes for the next few weeks content, so I shall leave you with a few things that have been inspiring me this week.

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^^^ beautiful chard/fennel panzanella

I want to do: more painted herb pots for my balcony, five was not enough! I have been obsessed with the idea of adding some colour to our tiny 2.4m² outdoor space ever since seeing Laura Gummerman’s painted outdoor rug. I just love her fun use of colour around her home, I can’t wait to get started on this fun coloured mat gallery wall project next!

I want to eat: smashed avocado and herbs with crepes posted by Shu on her stunning instagram and I have not been able to stop thinking about them. I love crepes, and I always think of savoury pancakes having something heavy and hearty as a filling so this light summery alternative really caught my eye.

With this for dessert: pistachio gelato, one of my absolute favourite summer desserts of all time.

I want to go: To Alexandra Palace. I can see it in the distance every time I stand at my kitchen sink, and after seeing Shiny Thoughts gorgeous photos from there we’ve decided to break out our bikes on Sunday and cycle up there for their farmers market.

Getting some serious kitchen envy: from Love Taza’s city apartment kitchen update, I just love those charcoal cabinets.

Foodie Fact of the week: marshmallows were originally designed as sore throat soothers, and they actually work!

Also around the web: one of my photos was included in a Huffington Post round up of rice krispie treats it’s so exciting to see something I made up next to some of my favourite bloggers.

Previously on BAKE

One Year Ago- Sunday Night Cake
Two Years Ago- Julia Child’s Madeleines

Social Media Links

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^^^ roasted strawberries and cream cheese bagels/fennel and ricotta foccaccia

Magical Healing Noodle Soup – Cookbook Review – The Kind Diet {Vegan}

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“Let food be thy medicine
and medicine be thy food”
- Hippocrates

For half of last week I averaged about 5 hours sleep a night, I drank more alcohol than water, skipped meals, overate processed food and generally treated my body as an expendable commodity. Don’t get me wrong, I had the best week, cramming a family wedding, street feast, secret cinema and a pre-honeymoon-breakfast-picnic into a long weekend. This week I am feeling it. I have been a grade-A bitch snapping at anyone in my vicinity, I have had a dull headache for 5 days, my skin is sallow and flakey and I have more than my fair share of mouth ulcers (sorry – overshare!).

It’s no wonder that I spent most of Sunday curled up in my pajamas taking comfort from reading The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, about healing your body with a nutrient filled vegan diet. I can’t claim that this is the best written book, parts definitely smack of Cher Horowitz in style, and as mentioned in many less favourable reviews she does lean heavily on food substitutes like veganaise and faux butter. What it is is a beautiful collection of pictures that serve as healthy living inspiration. The food is bright and colourful and Silverstone looks radiant and healthy in the photos of her and her husband.

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Obviously you want to to take an untrained celebrity’s guide to nutrition with a pinch of salt. That being said, not leaning too heavily on the statistics in the book, meat production is tougher on the worlds resources and reducing our intake will lower our carbon footprint and impact on the environment. Flicking through beautiful photographs of radish tabbouleh and over stuffed hand rolls is a fantastic reminder that there is a plethora of delicious vegan dishes out there that would make for a fun change of pace at dinner.

The book is split into three sections, flirting, vegan and superhero based on how far you want to take the diet. Whilst the text is slightly preachy about her vegan macrobiotic diet I appreciated the sections where she recommended simple changes that could be made to anyone’s diet. She talks a lot of balance and chi, which isn’t really my thing, but it did serve as a healthy reminder to think back to the cause of any ailment and see if there is a nourishing solution rather than just popping another pill out of a packet. For me, it is usually dehydration headaches as I am terrible at remembering to drink enough, so I have been trying to hold off on taking a paracetamol, and instead drink a large glass of cold water. Also some people who eat a strict clean diet develop a heightened sense of taste, I have experienced this a couple of times myself during my more virtuous bouts of healthy eating. This is very obvious throughout the book as everything is under seasoned and lacking in the herbs and spices an average pallet would crave.

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I read somewhere that some of the best cookbooks are those that inspire you to experiment in the kitchen and create your own version of it’s recipes. I wouldn’t call this ‘one of the best’ cookbooks I’ve read, but it has certainly influenced my home cooking. The superhero section is full of ingredients I wouldn’t usually experiment with like daikon, nori and umeboshi plums which are starting to filter into my kitchen cupboards.

Flicking through the recipe section (which is approximately the second half of the book) in my run down state I was immediately drawn to ‘Alicia’s Magical Healing Soup’. It is packed with a boatload of vegetables, and as you can drinking the water they are cooked in you are maximising the amount of nutrients you take in. The recipe is so simple, which is exactly what you need if you are feeling under the weather. You simply chop a lot of vegetables, throw them in a pan and then serve. I would recommend either making your own vegetable stock, or plumping for a really good quality one as it really does make a difference to broth based dishes.

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Just a quick thank you to Rachel Phipps, who’s fantastic new cookbook review column has inspired me to start my own.

Previously on BAKE

One Year Ago- Sunday Night Cake
Two Years Ago- Julia Child’s Madeleines

Social Media Links

Alicia's Magical Healing Soup

serves 2 plus leftovers for lunch recipe adapted from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.

Ingredients

1l good quality vegetable stock OR 1l water plus 4 tbsp of miso paste - reserving the paste for later in the recipe

1 carrot, cut into quarters lengthways and then chopped into 2cm chunks

½ daikon radish, cut into quarters lengthways and then chopped into 2cm chunks

2 celery sticks, finely sliced, reserving the leaves

150g broccoli, cut into small florets

4 white mushrooms sliced

4 oyster mushrooms sliced

½ medium leek sliced

1 inch ginger finely chopped

3-4 tbsp soy sauce

black pepper

handful of watercress

noodles of your choice

to top:

sliced red chilli

fresh coriander

celery leaves

sliced spring onion

soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Bring the stock/water to the boil.
  2. Add the carrot and daikon and bring down to a low simmer.
  3. Add the celery, broccoli, mushrooms, leek and ginger. Simmer for a further 7-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still slightly firm.
  4. Whilst the soup is cooking, in a separate bowl, cover the noodles with boiling water and cook until slightly al dente. You want to drain them just before they become completely soft (but would still be considered edible) as they will finish cooking in the broth.
  5. If you are using miso instead of stock mix the paste with a little water from the soup to loosen it and then stir through the soup.
  6. Season to taste with soy sauce and pepper.
  7. Distribute the noodles between the bowls, and top with the soup.
  8. Serve with bowls of chilli, coriander, spring onion, celery leaves and a bottle of soy sauce and let people garnish as they would like.
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Rosemary and Orange Zest Wholemeal Biscuits

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Last week, Dan’s little sister married the love of her life (also named Dan) in a beautiful Jamaican themed ceremony overlooking the ocean. I have never known Hannah without her husband, they had already been dating for three years by the time I met them. I can’t imagine them apart, they are perfect for each other, they are always making each other laugh, and always seem most happy when they are together. There is more than a little bit of eye rolling from her brother whenever we hear tales of the lovely things her husband has surprised her with (which is all them time!). But I know that Dan is not so secretly pleased that such a wonderful person has pledged to spend his life looking after his little sister.

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A few months ago when I was reviewing personalised kitchenware from Getting Personal, Hannah hinted that they would make great gifts for her wedding. When the lovely people over at Getting Personal heard this they were more than happy to send her a few presents to make her day just that bit more special. After celebrating their December engagement with a personalised Christmas ornament with the time, date and coordinates of the proposal (at sunset overlooking the sea in Jamaica) a beautiful set of champagne flutes with their wedding details on it made the perfect follow up gift.

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By far my favourite, and the most fun was a personalised doormat. As we checked into the hotel we asked if it was possible to sneak off part way through the reception to put it outside the honeymoon suite. The events organiser was even kind enough to take a few photos of us putting it out. Hannah said she noticed walking over a doormat as they went to the room but it wasn’t until they went for breakfast the next day that they saw what it was. It now sits outside their front door announcing to everyone that they are newlyweds.

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I could write an essay of my favourite moments of the day, it was sweet and funny and full of little details that made it uniquely them. The cake topper was a bride dragging the groom away from his work tools. Sitting in the sunshine listening to waves lapping in the background and Bob Marley playing over the decking. The proud look on the Father of the Brides face as he walked her down the aisle. The speeches had everyone in tears, and bent over laughing, especially over printouts of embarrassing photos of the bride and groom as children. Eating cupcakes in the hotel lobby at 1am after we’d all been kicked out of the function room because they were trying to clear up. But I think the one that springs to mind first was the groom nervously answering ‘I do’ before the registrar got even half way through speaking.

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I am a little disappointed to say that this recipe didn’t really work for cut out biscuits, the dough is just a little too wet and short (crumbly). Because I am stubborn and really wanted to give the happy couple heart shaped biscuits with their married name on, I kneaded extra flour into the dough, and took about three attempts per finished biscuit to cut them out. If you want to make cut out biscuits I would highly recommend using Sweetapolita’s original recipe, I have made it a couple of times now and it has always worked perfectly.

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Why then am I sharing this recipe? Because with the leftover dough from the dozen I made simple pressed biscuits (I hate to waste food) and they were fantastic, even if I do say so myself. The pressed cookies were demolished within a couple of hours of getting home after the wedding, and the bride admitted that the dozen she received as a gift were polished off in the day and a half before they left for their honeymoon. The flavour combination was based on ice cream I tried at Maltby Street Market last year. They were made with the groom in mind as he enjoys rosemary so much that we bought him a bush as one of the wedding gifts (it also symbolises longevity, friendship and wisdom which makes it a traditional wedding gift). The rosemary and salt give the sweet cookies an interesting and unexpected savoury twist, whilst the subtle citrus note makes it almost floral. The wholemeal flour adds a dense nutty richness to the biscuits which rounds out the rest of the flavours. The biscuits are firm with a satisfying snap which makes them sturdy enough to be dunked in a steaming cup of tea, if you don’t find that to be the ultimate British faux pas.

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Previously on BAKE

One Year Ago- Sunday Night Cake
Two Years Ago- Julia Child’s Madeleines

Social Media Links

Rosemary and Orange Zest Wholemeal Biscuits

recipe adapted from Sweetapolita I estimate this would make 40-50 cookies

Ingredients

375g wholemeal flour

½ tsp salt

225g in cubes, softened

200g caster sugar

1 egg cold from fridge

4 sprigs rosemary, stalks removed and finely chopped

zest of 1 large orange

juice of 1/8th large orange

Instructions

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale a fluffy, this will take about 3-4 minutes in a stand mixer.
  2. Add one tbsp of flour into the butter and sugar, this will help to stop the mixture from curdling when you add the egg.
  3. Add the egg and continue beating.
  4. Slowly beat in the flour until completely combined.
  5. Add the rosemary, zest, juice and salt, beat until evenly distributed.
  6. Remove half the dough from the bowl roll into a ball, wrap in cling film then flatten to about 2 inches thick. Repeat with the second half. Leave to cool for 45 minutes in the fridge.
  7. Roll the dough to about the thickness of a pound coin, then return to the fridge for 15 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  9. Roll the cookie dough into balls about the size of ping pong balls and arrange on the baking tray about an inch and a half apart from each other. Using the back of a fork press down to flatten them.
  10. Pop the baking sheet into the freezer for 15 minutes.
  11. Bake for about 7 minutes until golden brown round the edges.
  12. Cool the sheets for 10 minutes on a wire rack before placing the cookies directly onto the rack to finish cooling.
  13. Store in an airtight tin, eat within a few days.
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Mexican Baked Eggs {Vegetarian}

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I have made this recipe for Mexican baked eggs three times in the past seven days. Partly because they are so damn tasty, partly because they are seriously easy, and partly because it took me a while to get the spice levels just right. Just FYI you don’t need to add a green chilli and, a teaspoon of paprika and half a teaspoon of cayenne. You don’t even need just half a teaspoon of cayenne, those chipotle chillies are hot enough on their own. And I like my food spicy, so take that as fair warning!

On Saturday, Dan and I headed to Hyde Park for a picnic with some of his school friends and their lovely girlfriends. We camped out on blankets under a tree near the lake and shared sandwiches, sausage rolls and flapjacks. We talked of upcoming nuptials and new babies in their high school group of friends. Congratulated one of the couples on taking the plunge and moving in together. About how quickly the last 11 years has gone. Occasionally the chatter would die down, and we would just watch the world go by, and enjoying being in each others company.

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The afternoon passed too fast, and soon I was packing my favourite warn national trust blanket into my dotcomgiftshop recycled bag (from a blogger event a few weeks ago) with leftover quiche and oatmeal raisin cookies. Three of us ambled back through London, via Chinatown, Soho and Hackney until we ended up back at the flat just before sunset. I whipped up a batch of these eggs for two hungry and slightly inebriated boys before they sauntered into Dalston to enjoy a few cold beers in the warm night air.

This dish is hearty and filling, but the tang of the lime and tomatillos keeps it feeling fresh and in keeping with summer meals. If you can’t find tomatillos, you can substitute with tomatoes, though the latter are slightly sweeter so you might want to add more lime. Like my sweet potato and black bean burgers, this vegetarian dish is again Mexican themed. A strong mix of herbs and spices is an easy and healthy way to make a bowl of vegetables and beans something truly delicious. I love black beans, as well as adding healthy dose of protein to the meal, they are also rich in soluble fibre, which helps to regulate your blood sugar level and keep you full for longer. Five cloves seems like a lot of garlic, but because it is added so early in the cooking process the flavour isn’t overpowering. I am one of those people who will pick up every cold and bug going around so garlic features heavily in my cooking as it helps to strengthen your immune system. These baked eggs are a balance of tastes, tang from tomatillos, a pinch of salt, sweet red pepper and savoury beans. Each mouthful is differently balanced from the last, with different textures, flavours and sensations from one to the next.

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Previously on BAKE

One Year Ago- No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream
Two Years Ago- Stoned Fruit Galette

Social Media Links

 

Mexican Baked Eggs {Vegetarian}

serves 2 very hungry people recipe by Jennifer Brown

Ingredients

2 chipotle chillies, rehydrated and finely chopped

300g new potatoes

2 tbsp rapeseed oil (or other flavourless oil)

1 red onion, diced

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 red pepper, diced

100g kale (about 3 leaves), destemmed and cut into fine (about 3mm) ribbons

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

pinch of salt

1 tin black beans, drained and rinsed

2-4 eggs depending on how many each person wants, Dan likes 2, I prefer 1.

120g tomatillo, diced

1 ripe avocado

1 lime, cut into 1/4s

small tub of sour cream (more traditional) or natural yoghurt (my preference)

fresh coriander to taste

Instructions

  1. Pour boiling water over the chipotle chillies to rehydrate them, leave them to one side for about 20 minutes.
  2. Put a pan of water on to boil.
  3. Cut the new potatoes into equal size chunks, mine were quite large so I cut each one into eighths.
  4. Boil for 10 minutes and drain.
  5. Put a large frying pan on a medium high heat and add the oil.
  6. Fry the onion for two minutes until slightly softened. Add the garlic and continue to fry for a further minute.
  7. Add the pepper and kale, pour over a couple of tbsp of hot water, just enough to stop the ingredients from sticking to the pan and to semi steam the kale. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180C
  9. Add the potatoes, beans, chillies and spice, stir for a minute until evenly distributed.
  10. Skin, pitt and cube the avocado.
  11. Put half of the avocado in a bowl, squeeze over ¼ of the lime, toss to make sure it’s evenly coated and place the avocado pitt in the middle. This stops the avocado from oxidising and turning brown.
  12. Place the over half of the avocado and the tomatillos in with the rest of the mix and stir through.
  13. Using a slotted spoon transfer the vegetables to a baking dish, trying to leave as much of the liquid behind as possible.
  14. Crack your eggs, and very gently pour on top. It’s surprisingly easy to break the yolks at this point.
  15. Brush the yolks with a little sour cream/yoghurt to stop them going rubbery during cooking.
  16. Bake for 15-18 minutes, checking at 15 minutes to see if the eggs whites have become opaque.
  17. Serve hot, sprinkled with coriander, with lime wedges, a bowl of sour cream/yoghurt and the extra avocado.

Notes

due to the fast addition of each ingredients I recommend chopping them before you start cooking, leaving the avocado until you need it as it will oxidise.

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