Sunday, 24 July 2016

Prague Cake

Prague Cake is one of the stand out recipes from the award winning best-selling cookery book Mamushka. I bookmarked this recipe for well over a year and was looking for the perfect reason to bake this intricate cake. Lo and behold, my work had a charity bake sale so I made the chocolate cake with a condensed milk filling, slathered with chocolate ganache. You do need a little extra time to make this cake, it's not your ordinary chocolate sponge cake, but what it takes in time is rewarded in this gorgeous and unique chocolate cake. 

5 eggs, fresh and cold
150g caster sugar
80g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing (optional)
175g flour
30g cocoa powder

5 tablespoon caster sugar
50ml cognac (I used rum)
1 tablespoon water

4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
200g (7oz) slightly salted butter, softened
240g condensed milk

300g plain dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
75g butter

1) Place a medium metal bowl in the freezer, for making the filling later on.

2) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and prep a 23cm (9inch) round spring form cake tin with a removable base by buttering it or lining it with  baking parchment.

3) For the sponge, beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl with an electric whisk for at least 5 minutes until very thick, pale and foamy. Trickle in the melted butter. Sift the flour and cocoa together and then gently fold into the batter with a spatula. Try not to knock any air out of the sponge - there is no raising agent, so air is all you've got to help it rise.

4) Pour the cake batter gently into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes. Test it by gently touching the top of with your finger - it should spring right back. Switch the oven off and leave the cake in the oven but with the door open.

5) Once the cake is cool, open the tin but not completely. To cut the cake into 3 equal discs, do the following place the base of the tin on something stable and tall (like a large jar) and push the cake out by two-thirds, then slice it horizontally with a bread knife. Push the cake up out of the tin a little more and cut across the cake again, making sure that the next disc is the same thickness as the first. You should end up with 3 discs of the same thickness.

6) To make the drizzle, heat the sugar, Cognac and measurement water in a small saucepan an boil briefly, then let it cool and drizzle over the sponges.

7) Next, make the filling by heating the egg yolks and measurement water in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whizzing constantly until the mixture turns thick and foamy. Stir in the cocoa powder and take off the heat.

8) Take the metal bowl out of the freezer and place the so dented butter in it, then beat it with an electric whisk. When it's starting to foam, trickle in the condensed milk, then gently fold in the cooled yolk mixture.

9) To make the ganache, pop the chocolate and butter into a glass bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Let it melt slowly, then give it a gentle stir once it looks almost melted - don't disturb it too much or it will go grainy.

10) Meanwhile, use the filling to sandwich the 3 sponge layers together, then spread the chocolate ganache on the top and down the sides of the cake.


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Tapas Revolution (Birmingham)

Recently hailed as Birmingham Best Spanish Restaurant at the Birmingham Food, Drink and Hospitality Awards, Tapas Revolution is one of the better restaurants to grace Birmingham city in recent years. Located in the much new and improved Grand Central Station, Tapas Revolution is located on the top floor. I was expecting an enclosed restaurant, but the restaurant is an open plan in an almost food court style. There are obviously pros and cons to this layout, I really enjoyed people watching. But I think if you want a more intimate setting, then perhaps the layout may be off putting. But, after all Tapas is all about sharing with family and friends........ 
The concept of Tapas Revolution, Spanish chef Omar Alliboy, wanted to share the traditional tapas in Spanish to the UK. I really liked the Spanish feel to the restaurant, there were charcuterie of meats hanging near the bar area which I think added a unique touch, this is not something I have seen in many restaurants before.

I was greeted by a Spanish waiter (a great nod to authencity) who ushered my friend and I to our seats. Our drink orders were promptly taken, as it's a Spanish restaurant, I ordered the Venta Morales Tempranillo, red wine  (£5.25). Our drinks and food order was taken in a timely manner, which I think is important especially after a long day at work - who wants to wait around for food?
As tapas is all about sharing, we ordered 6 Tapas dishes. I wanted a combination of Tapas food that I have previously tried before and new dishes. I had high expectations having eaten Tapas dishes in Spain.

To kick of the sharing feast, I like to order a combination of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. First up was the huletas de cordero, (roasted lamb chops marinated with spices and served pink £7.95). This is the first time, I tried eating a lamb dish in a Spanish restaurant. I asked for my lamb to be cooked medium, which it was and I thorughouly enjoyed the lightly spiced and yet moist lamb tapas.

Next up was the Torreznos con mojo dulce, (crispy pork belly with sweet and spicy sauce £5.75), now I LOVE pork belly so I had high expectations. The pork belly was tender, melt in your mouth, succulent pieces of gorgeous pork. I was very impressed with the presentation.

A firm family favourite when eating at Spanish restaurants, calamari fritos (deep-fried squid with alioli £5.50). Another dish that I had high hopes for. This has to be the BEST calamari I've tasted (even better than what I've tasted in Spain), the calamari pieces were sooooo thin. Simply gorgeous.

Patatas bravas (roast poatoes with spicy tomato sauce and alioli £3.95) was a I expected with a healthy dose of alioli, this was a great tapas to compliment the meat dishes that were ordered.  A surprise highlight of the night Tortilla de patatas (classic Spanish omelette with potato and onion £3.95). What's so special about the Spanish omelette, well it was nothing like an ordinary omelette, this was a high rises, succulent and moerish tapas - probably my new favourite tapas. 

To finish off, we ordered the Spanish classic, churros (£3.50). Gorgeous deep fried donuts with a rich chocolate sauce.

Tapas Revolution is open from 10am - 9pm Monday-Friday, 9am - 10pm on Saturday and 10am - 8pm on Sunday. I always ask the same question when I visit restaurants; "would I visit again?". The answer is yes, I loved the food, the service, the atmosphere and the prices are very affordable. 

Poitives: Friendly staff, good food, great atmosphere and a great location. 
Negatives: None that I can think of as of yet.

Disclaimer: I was invited to review Tapas Revolution, all opinions, as always are my own. 

Tapas Revolution Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Cherry Compote

I'm an avid lover of making chutneys, jams and curds. Especially in the Summer and Autumn months where some of my favourite seasonal fruits and vegetables are in abundance. I've been following Kylee Newton, owner of Newton and Pott for some time on social media, impressed by her unusual and unique flavour combinations and chutneys. Seasonal Summer fruits are in abundance and I miss them as the other seasons start. 
Cherries can be a bit hit and miss with me, it's not a fruit I buy every week (whereas there are others which I buy every week in the Summer without fail such as mangoes and pineapple) as I don't like the stone in it. But as I flicked through The Modern Preserver and having a glut of cherries (my local market stall sellers gave me a bowl full for free), I wanted to create a quick and delicious compote from this preserving book. The cherry compote has to be eaten within 3 days, so what I would suggest is to serve with granola, spread on toast and mix with Greek yogurt. 

Recipe from The Modern Preserver
Makes 1-2 250ml cups

700g fresh cherries
100g golden granulated sugar (I used granulated sugar)
100ml brandy (I used 50ml dark rum)
100ml orange juice

Stone the cherries then put in a saucepan with all of the other ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer, string intermittently, until the cherries soften and start to release their juices, around 15-20 minutes, or until it has a jammy consistency.
Remove from the heat and serve straightaway or cool then keep in the fridge and eat within 2-3 days. 


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Farofa Coated Chicken

I love the online food community and one of my most recent finds was Sous Chef website specialising in hard to find ingredients. I've brought a couple things on there, but what caught my eye with my most recent purchase was the seasoned cassava flour (farofa pronta in Portugese). You see I've had a long love affair with farofa when I visited Brazil almost 10 years ago. I love the flavoursome sand like ingredient which was served often with the national dish, fejoada, but also with chicken and fish. When I returned to the UK, I searched high and low for farofa, I even went as far to purchase the West African ingredient made with cassava tubers, Garri but as there is not a Brazillian community where I live, I wasn't successful. But as I love cassava and with many hard to find items available online, I knew it wouldn't be a long time before this was available online.
Instead of serving farofa as a side accompaniment, I decided to use this to create a coating for some chicken pieces which were crying out to be used.  This makes a delightful change if you want to change up the mid-week chicken meal.


4 Chicken legs quarters, skin off and still jointed
1 spring onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns or black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 egg yolk
75g seasoned farofa

Start by marinading the chicken. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl, season with spring onions, garlic cloves, parsley, pink peppercorns, salt, garam masala, cumin and turmeric. Mix well using your hands and leave to marinade for around 4 hours. Crack an egg yolk into a bowl and whisk. On a side plate add the seasoned farofa. When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to gas mark 6, set up the convey belt .....  Dip each piece of chicken in the egg yolk, then coat with the farofa and place in a large oven dish (you may need two). Repeat until all the chicken pieces are coated. Place the oven dish on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 1 hour. 



Friday, 8 July 2016

Hotel Chocolat Summer Chocolate Collection Review and Giveaway

Some days we have warm Summers other days it pours down raining. That's the thing with the Great British Summer, we don't always have one. But when the Sun is out, or in, there's no better ways enjoying the longer days eating refreshing chocolates with family and friends. Hotel Chocolat's Summer Chocolate Collection is ideal if you are celebrating, perhaps end of Uni, weddings, garden parties and BBQ'S and what's more is the chocolates do not appear to melt.
Inside the Summer Chocolate Collection, is: 15 refreshing summer chocolates, Mini Champagne Truffles, Creamed Caramel Puddles, Raspberry & Caramel Lick and two Summer Selectors. All this is for £35 which I think is a reasonable treat (especially straight after pay day). All these lovely goodies are displayed in a beautiful gift box so even if you don't want to treat yourself you can treat someone else. One of my favourites things in this collection was the Caramel Lick, it's so moreish and addictive.

The lovely people at Hotel Chocolat are giving one lucky reader of my blog The Summer Chocolate Collection Review.  To be in with a chance of winning, follow the instructions below.
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  • The competition will run from 08.07.16 - 07.08.16
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  • The competion will be open to UK residents aged 18 and over. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

As The Romans Do Cookbook Review

Italian food is one of the most recognised cuisines in the word: pasta, pizza and gelato are all associated with this culturally rich country. There has been a number of cookery books that have focused on regional Italian cooking, with a few also specialising in the cuisine of Rome. I am always intrigued with regional cooking and having been to Rome myself (I didn't have a great culinary experience) , I wanted to know more about the eternal city. Eleanora Galasso's debut cookery book introduces food lovers to the diverse and somewhat unknown cuisine of Rome. Eleanora has an impressive Instagram following of 45k, showing us the best of #foodhappiness and #romanity.
As soon as I flicked through the cookbook, I wanted to return to Rome and eat like the locals do. Eleanora's recipes are easy to follow and the photography is stunning. This is a very glamours Rome but the recipes aren't expensive to make or you end up foraging for some random ingredient.
There is a good combination of baking, vegetables, meat, fish and frugal dishes, so I think there is something for everyone. I've bookmarked quite a few recipes, especially from the breakfast chapter romantic dinners and cakes and co. I think what makes this cookery book stands out from other Italian cookery books is that there are only a handful of pasta dishes.

There are a whopping 11 chapters, all which showcases authentic dishes - also like that every recipe has a story and Eleanora's slight obsession with nuns. A nice little touch are that the names of the recipes are in Italian and English
As The Romans Do is split into the following chapters:
  • Breakfast: recipes to try include: Sticky Buns, Bricohe braid with chocolate flakes and sweet melba toast.
  • Merende: Bookmarked recipes include: Three bruchette of a kind, mini pizzas with tomato sauce and Polenta cake with pumpkin and apple.
  • Lunch on the run: Stand out recipes include: Rosetta load with mortadella, stracchino cheese & homemade mustard and Friday's salt cod with chickpeas.
  • Family Lunches: recipes to try include: Citrusy monkfish with fennel accompanied by runner beans in a walnut, mango & pomegranate dressing, filled beef too;s with argetti tart. 
  • Aperitvo: bookmarked recipes include: stuffed courgette flowers, polenta sandwich with baked sausage & cheese and fritter trio of Roman-style rice balls, potato croquettes and mini meat loaves. 
  • Romantic Dinners: stand out recipes include: crispy lamb cutlets with cauliflower and chestnuts accompanied by  potato and orange savoury cake, Roman-stye ravioli with broccoli, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes & ricotta. 
  • #FOODHAPPINESS Suppers: recipes to try include, pork chops with greased bread, aricca-style roast pork with "dragged" savouy cabbage and Lazio-style Ribollito soup.
  • Festivities: bookmarked recipes include: pineapple flavoured mimosa cake with candied flowers, Easter bread with egg and poached peaches in syrup with cream.
  • Cakes & CO: standout recipes include: Roman-style meringue with orange sauce, Chocolate, amaretti & tutti frutti cake and Apple, chestnut and hazelnut cake with candied oranges. 
  • Provisions: recipes to try include: Red Onion Preserve, Grape and Pecan jam and Negroni cocktail.
  • Midnight Munchies: bookmarked recipes include, Braised sausages with lentils, leeks and fennel, ice-cream drowned in coffee and frothy lemon sorbet.  

The recipe that I tried was the braised sausages, lentils & fennel. Quick, easy and most importantly it tasted amazing. I'm not one normally for lentils, but I loved the lentils in this dish and how it complimented the plump and crispy sausages. 

Recipe for Braised Sausages with Lentils, Leeks & Fennel
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, ceased and finely sliced lengthways
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into rough strips
400g pork sausages
250g puy lentils
350ml vegetable stock
10g fennel seeds
small handful of chives
salt and pepper

Warm the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the leek and fry for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the fennel and sausages and cook for a further 5 minutes until the sausages are browned on all sides.
Add the lentils to the pan and pour the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and leave to cook for 25 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and the sausages are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the lentils and sausages between plates and scatter over the fennel seeds and chopped chives to finish. Serve. 

Many thanks to Octopus Publishing for my review copy. 
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