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26 Nov 2010

My midweek weekend in pictures.

As most of you who read my blog know weekends don't hold much value to me.  If I'm not busy with Pet Lamb, I'm working at the studio.  Since we're stuck at work while everyone else is off gallivanting and enjoying their hard earned time off we often decided to take a midweek weekend for ourselves.  Funnily enough, this works out better for us, the shops are quiet, no queues at the restaurants and the cinema is deserted.  Leads for a much less stressful day out, especially in the run up to Christmas.

This week our midweek weekend was spent enjoying this brisk weather in Whitby and Corbridge.  We were meant to spend the full two days down in Whitby but man alive was it cold, and closed!  It never dawned on me that a seaside town would close down for the winter.  Not that this bothered me, it meant I got to visit my very favorite shop in the whole world REfound Objects, but more on that later.












20 Nov 2010

Awesome things I bought in America - Part Three

Next on my huge list of kitchenalia I stuffed in my suitcase is this amazingly awesome 'oreo' cake pan!  I bloody love this pan, I just can't get enough of it!  The fact that the cakes taste like giant brownies rather than a normal layer cake probably adds to my adoration!

 How cool is that?!  But no, that doesn't mean you get to eat the whole thing with a cup of tea ;)


Total wow factor right there!!  But, just because you don't have this cake pan doesn't mean you can't bake this totally yummy brownie cake for yourself, just use two 9" cake pans instead :D

Ingredients:


1/2 cup cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
14 Tbs. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

3 1/2 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt 

Method:


Preheat an oven to 350°F (180 C). Using a small pastry brush, grease 2 sandwich cookie cake pans with shortening or softened butter, making sure to coat the details and crevices in the pans. Dust thoroughly with cocoa powder; tap out excess. (Bake Easy people, get some! I didn't dust either).

To make the cakes, put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and microwave until melted, stirring once, about 1 1/2 minutes. Alternatively, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over but not touching barely simmering water in a saucepan. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the butter, a few pieces at a time, until blended. Let the chocolate mixture cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, the baking powder and salt until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until incorporated.

 (I tempered the egg mixture by adding only spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture at a time initially).

Whisk in the flour mixture until combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread evenly. Gently tap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake until the tops of the cakes are shiny and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 35 minutes.

Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a cutting board.

Meanwhile, make the buttercream frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, the 3 1/2 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks.

Using a large spatula, carefully turn 1 cake over so the printed side faces down. Spread the buttercream evenly over the flat side of the cake. Place the second cake, printed side up, on top.

12 Nov 2010

Cupcake Fun

Has anyone noticed how good Tesco have been to the blogging world recently?  Every day I open my Google Reader to find a lucky fashion blogger showcasing some beautiful clothing from the new Tesco range (which is fab for a supermarket range, isn't it?!).  There I was, jealous of everyone thinking how fashion bloggers get all the breaks when into my inbox popped a lovely little email from who else but Tesco.  Not only have they been clothing the best dressed bloggers around but they're also launching an awesome Christmas cupcake decorating competition!  Wow, try saying that ten times fast!

All you have to do is bake yourself a pretty little cupcake and make an already adorable creation beautiful!  Two winners will get to spend an afternoon cooking alongside a delicious celebrity chef while ten runners up will be gifted a lovely cupcake decorating kit which looks suspiciously like this....







So, what are you waiting for?!  And if you fancy a little inspiration, here is what I whipped up this afternoon!



Let the baking commence!

8 Nov 2010

A little late!

One of my new year resolutions kinda got away from me this year. You know the ones you make, glass of champagne in hand and promptly forget as your head hits the pillow in the wee hours of January 1st? It all came flooding back as I was clearing out my bookshelves ready for a delivery of new furniture, whatever happened to using every one of my many cookbooks by the close of 2010?!  With gusto, I grabbed a big old pile, my magnetic shopping list and a pen before boiling the kettle and settling down to plan us some delicious meals. I mean, I've got a month and a half.  That's plenty of time, isn't it?!

I started yesterday evening after a particularly difficult market with Pet Lamb.  I got home, aching from the cold and desperately battling with my desire to phone in the usual from my local tandoori. After what seemed like hours tearing between the cookbook and take away menu I finally forced myself to lay the menu to rest and flick the oven on.

Anyone that follows me on twitter probably remembers me spouting my distaste for The Delicious Miss Dahl and don't get me wrong, I'm still not a fan of her work but when I found Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights in a cheap book store for £1.99 I couldn't help myself.


 This recipe is from the Spring section of the book but the horrid biting wind wasn't going to stop me from crusting up a rack of lamb!  This meal was amazing, I urge anyone with an oven to whip this one up.  Not only is it insanely easy to make but the taste is just out of this world!  So here it is, Sophie Dahl's crusted rack of lamb with rosemary sweet potatoes.

Ingredients:

2 three racks of lamb
Olive oil
1 egg white
2tbsp ground almonds
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2tsp ground cumin
A handful of chopped fresh mint, parsley & coriannder.
50g feta, crumbled (my addition but boy does it work)
2 medium sweet potatoes cut into fat chunks
Small handful of chopped fresh rosemary

Method:

First of all brown the lamb in a searing hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil.  You only want to seal the juices into the meat so just brown the sides for literally a few moments.

Preheat the oven to 170C fan.  In a mixing bowl whisk the egg white, ground almonds, herbs, cumin, garlic and feta together and pat onto the lamb making sure it is properly covered.

You want to put the potatoes in the oven around 20 minutes before the lamb, in a roasting tin covered in 2 tbsp of olive oil and the rosemary.  When they have done their time , add the lamb to the oven in a seperate tray and cook for a further 20 minutes.  This will give you medium rare meat so adjust the timing to your liking.





3 Nov 2010

Awesome things I bought in America - Part Two

Today is the perfect kind of day for getting cosy on the sofa and brewing up an aromatic cup of fruity tea.  Especially when you've been gifted Beauty and the Beast on Blu-Ray from your loving other half.


I was yet to find a decent infuser for my loose leaf teas until I discovered this adorable Alice in Wonderland themed cafetiere and tea cup in Disney Land.


Perfect with my delicious Black Cherry tea from my local favorites, Pumphreys.


Don't you just love days off?!

2 Nov 2010

Winner!!

Because I'm lovely, and would feel guilty over eating a delicious advent chocolate while my poor fiancee is resigned to a rubbish Xmen calendar, I've decided to give both of my advents away to two lucky readers. Woo!

I used random.org to generate two comment numbers, I would post them here but I don't know how. So, since I'm not very technologically minded, I'll just tell you.....

Comment 20 & 4!!  

Congratulations to PinkBow and E is for Eleanor!  I'll be in touch shortly!

Also, I've decided to start project 365 over on Flickr in an effort to get to know my camera.  If you're curious and would like to follow my progress have a looky over here.  I'd love to hear your comments.


Happy Dia De Los Muertos everyone :)

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