The High Tea Experiment

It is fair to say that a friend and I have this slight obsession with baking and food. We wanted to join our forces and create something extraordinary…… No more needed to be said as our thoughts were clearly identical – we had to host an afternoon tea. Not just a boring old tea with some scones and clotted cream. We had to go all out. And we did –  with the following result: IMG_2324

 

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It was a raving success and boy, did we have a bit too much fun planning and preparing. We might even start making this an annual treat for our friends … I’m sure none of them would object.

Now, 7 recipes are a tad much for one post, so I thought I’d start with one of the winners: Lemon Tarts. Refreshingly light and perfect for a Summer Sunday. Admittedly also quite a bit of work with all the little cases and blind baking, but definitely worth it.

Lemon Tarts

Lemon Tartadapted from Mary Berry’s Tarte au Citron Recipe

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Orthorexia Nervosa

Have you heard of orthorexia nervosa? For those who haven’t – it is defined as an eating/mental disorder characterised by preoccupation with avoiding food perceived to be unhealthy. Over the past few years our society has formed a slight obsession with healthy eating, counting calories and various dietary inventions, which all seem to be labelled as”the best/healthiest”. To name a few:  Atkins diet, vegetarian (being the most harmless), pescetarian, vegan, raw-food-diet and saving the best for last – fruitarianism (these people literally only eat what naturally falls from a plant). What happened to simply enjoying food? I am fully aware that eating meat on a daily basis isn’t at all sustainable and shouldn’t be done. However, I could never give up any type of food, especially not animal derived products. But, being a foodie, from time to time I take an interest in these bizarre diets. A non-vegan friend of mine recently had an interest in trying to make a vegan dessert – she chose vegan banana ice-cream. Imagine succeeding in making super healthy and ultimately tasty ice cream without animal fat?? Sadly, it was a bad introduction to veganism. Some things are just not meant to be recreated without animal products. What is ice cream without cream (and no – coconut milk/cream does not count as a substitute when taking the penetrating, lingering, out of place coconut flavour into account!)?? Well, basically frozen mashed fruit, so frozen baby food. YUMMY. NOT. I mean, it was actually quite tasty, I love mashed banana, but seriously, how is this ice cream?

After this experience, in an attempt to make a non-vegan healthier version of ice-cream, I decided to try making frozen yoghurt. Bought frozen yoghurt is definitely just as satisfying as full on italian gelato (unlike vegan frozen mashed fruit) and healthier. So I figured home made fro-yo was worth the try. It was – not quite as creamy (sadly, I don’t have an ice-cream maker so creaminess is hard to achieve) as bought fro-yo, but definitely delicious and enjoyable. Still not ice-cream, but a much better alternative to the failed vegan attempt.

Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt

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Peanut Butter Cheesecake

After my no-bake Nutella cheesecake heaven, I decided to attempt the same idea with peanut butter. Why peanut butter? BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME! It’s my replacement Nutella and definitely kept me going this past Lent. And because I tried an amazing PB cheesecake at my local GOAT and, being a foodie, had the immediate urge to re-create.  This was actually my second attempt after having failed miserably the first time round. After my initial freestyle recipeless experiment I learnt my lesson and decided to actually follow a Hummingbird recipe as guidance. Of course I had to add a touch of MasterChef garnish with a PB smear and some peanut brittle :-). Success!

No Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake

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The List You Have All Been Waiting For

GOODBYE LONDON! Thank you everyone for an amazing year – it will definitely never be forgotten. I have had so many memorable experiences and built great friendships. Leaving will not be easy (multiple tears have already been shed) – who knows, maybe I shall call this city my home again in the near future, I love this place!
For the past year I have been known as the London restaurant-connoisseur amongst my friends; my phone has a secret long list of recommendable places to go. How will they decide where to have dinner once I leave? With the help of this post. I present you with an excerpt from my list, enjoy:

Restaurants
Princi – Soho, good for Italian desserts and pizza
Burger & Lobster – Lobster for £20!
Hakkasan – Tasty but pricey Chinese food in Mayfair
Modern Pantry – Clerkenwell, great brunch
Caravan – Kings Cross, great brunch
Big Easy – Kings Road, burgers, lobster, fajitas, the best
Suksan – Park Walk in Chelsea, a hidden Thai gem
Nopi – Soho, one of Ottloenghi’s finest venues, don’t stay for dessert though, wasn’t worth it
Lahore Kebab House – Aldgate East, great for canteen style cheap Indian curry and lamb
Dishoom – Covent Garden, possibly one of the best Indians in town, also good for brunch
Masala Zone – All over the place, also Indian, for the full experience order a Thali
Tayyabs – Whitechapel, extremely chaotic and terrible service, but excellent spicy Indian food
Assa – Off of Tottenham Court Road, a cute tiny Korean where I guarantee you will be the only non-Korean
Social Eating House – Soho, great dinners and amazing desserts
Sketch – Off of Regent Street, worth going for tea just so you can have a look at both toilets, one is egg themed, the other music box themed
The Breakfast Club – Best pancakes for miles
Duck&Waffle – Liverpool Street – 24 hour heaven, great for breakfast and dinner, trying the dish duck&waffle when you’re there is obligatory
Spice Market – In the W hotel, great pan-Asian cuisine
La Relais de Venise – Marylebone, there is only one thing on the menu: Entrecôte and fries. Amazing.
Patty & Bun – Marylebone: Best. Burgers. Ever. (Honest and MeatLiquor aren’t bad either).
Granger – Decent brunch in Notting Hill
Atelier Robuchon – Michelin starred restaurant in Covent Garden with an amazing pre-theatre menu!
Crazy Bear – Asian in Fitzrovia with devilish cocktails
10 Greek Street – Soho, great for an intimate dinner
Duck Soup – Soho, great for a glass of wine and nibbles
Fernandez & Wells – Multiple locations, great for some wine and nibbles
Kopapa – Covent Garden, brunch
Chez Elles – Brick Lane, cute French brasserie
Goat Chelsea – My local pub, 50% discount for locals on Wednesday and great biweekly cocktail classes
Santore – Exmouth Market, great Italian, yummy pizza
Honey&Co – Warren Street, tasty Middle Eastern food, but rather small portions
The Wolesley – Picadilly, a classic for any time of day
Le Caprice – Picadilly, great for lunch and Jazz
Berners Tavern – Above Oxford Street, great for brunch and dinner
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – In the Mandarin Oriental, probably the best meal I have had in London
Sapori Sardi – Family run Sardinian restaurant in Fulham
Electric Diner – Brunch in Notting Hill
Cinnamon Club – Indian at the old Westminster Library
Hawksmoor – Steak!
Workshop Coffee – Clerkenwell, great for brunch and coffee
Balthazar – Covent Garden, français, good for dinner and brunch
Uyen Luu – Amazing Vietnamese Supperclub at the chef’s home
The Market Place Restaurant – Chelsea Farmers Market, perfect for an outdoor jug of Pimm’s in Summer
Sydney Street Noodle Bar – Outdoor Vietnamese noodle bar hidden just off of Kings Road, great for lunch

Cafe’s/Cake/Gelato
Timber Yard – Covent Garden
Bagariet – Covent Garden, only has two tables, so you might have to fight for them
Konditor and Cook – tasty baked goods off Borough Market
Lola’s – Best. Cupcakes. Cake. Ever.
Megan’s – Kings Road, yummy cakes
Leyas – Camden, amazing cakes
Kahalia – Brick Lane, coffee and cakes
All Museums – The V&A has amazing cakes and is great in Summer
Gelupo – Ice cream in Soho
Gelateria 3bis – Ice cream by London Bridge
The Coffee Works Project – Islington
The Langham – great for Afternoon Tea

Drinks
Experimental Cocktail Club – China Town, you might not find the door at a first attempt
Barts – Sloane Avenue, speakeasy bar with a great vibe
Angelsea Arms – Chelsea, always packed!
The Commercial Tavern – Shoreditch somewhere, really cool pub with multiple styles of interior design
Kensington Roof Top Gardens – High Street Kensington, great views and cocktails
Aqua Bar – London Bridge, in the Shard, possibly one of the best views
Artesian at the Langham – Innovative, relatively pricey, but amazing cocktails
Archers Bar – Soho, great vibe with singing waitresses
Amouse Bouche Champagne Bar – Parsons Green
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels – Covent Garden, wine bar with a mystery wine one can guess and potentially win a bottle
Vinoteca – Soho, wine bar
The Blind Pig – Soho, comfy leather chairs and a good vibe
Book Club – Shoreditch
Simmons – Camden, great cocktails served in teapots
The Swan at the Globe 

The list could go on and on, but I think I’ve given you all enough to start with!

Being the last post from London for now, I thought I’d stick to a very British recipe: Bakewell Tart. You can never go wrong with almonds and raspberries. It took 3 girls only 2 days to get through the whole cake… must be good!

Bakewell Tart

IMG_2106adapted from bbc food

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Hazelnut Inspiration

So, as I previously mentioned, I have recently started taking one ingredient and basing a menu around it. Reasoning behind this new approach is an open house I attended one evening at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School. It was amazing and inspired me to up my game until I maybe one day decide to rob a bank of £30’000 for LCB’s educational fees. Until then I shall follow my own syllabus and teach myself the basics of classical cuisine. Today’s choice: Hazelnut. Why? NUTELLA, obviously! The best ever invented chocolate spread is based on hazelnuts. So….. anything made with hazelnuts must be good, right? With that in mind, I took a recipe from LCB for the main and once again attempted to be all master-chefy 🙂

P.S. For all you Nutella freaks – check this article out for inspiration on some crazy things you can do with Nutella. I’m tempted to try the Nutella, peanut butter and bacon sandwich….nom!

 

Sautéed Beef Fillet, Butternut Squash Purée and Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

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taken from Le Cordon Bleu

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Polenta Inspiration

WE DID IT!!! My friend and I successfully ran the Race for Life yesterday evening in Battersea Park. It was such a great event with an amazing atmosphere – over 3000 people had signed up to run, jog or walk the distance :-).

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I managed the 5k in just over 25 minutes… not too bad for an awful long distance runner. Thank you to everyone for your generous donations, together you helped me raise a grand total of £1’711.00 in aid of Cancer Research UK!!!! If you have not yet donated but still wish to do so, the link below is active until early September:

http://www.justgiving.com/themedicalgourmet

Moving on to today’s recipe – recently I have started taking one ingredient and basing an entire menu around it. Today’s choice: Polenta. Polenta is great in cakes and breads (nothing beats chilli with cornbread) but also makes a great side to mushroomy dishes. It reminds me of my childhood holidays in the warm italian part of southern Switzerland. The reason behind my choice of polenta is a recent dinner invitation. They served a delicious polenta/lemon/almond cake for dessert. I had two helpings (despite a starter, a main and an exploding food belly). The minute I got home I tried to find a similar recipe, determined to re-create this heavenly lemony dessert. I don’t know if it’s exactly the same recipe, but it sure tasted just as good :-). The strawberry coulis is an addition of mine, I felt the dish needed some fresh fruity sauce to round it off.

Beef Fillet, Mushrooms, Sherry Sauce, Creamy Polenta

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adapted from Fast Food by Laurel Glen and Wildeisen

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Bringing Out Your British Side

Essential British Experiences:

  1. Afternoon tea – nothing beats fresh scones
  2. Sunday roast – but not on the same day as afternoon tea….that would make you vomit
  3. Spending a weekend in the country in wellies and barbour jackets
  4. Queueing half naked for a club in the middle of winter
  5. Horse riding
  6. For all you Londoners: Secret Cinema is a must!
  7. Clay pigeon shooting – be sure to rest the gun correctly on your shoulder, otherwise you may end up with painful bruises… not that I’m speaking from my own experience
  8. Sunday brunch – one of my favourite things about the brits – eggs benedict, royale, pancakes, bacon, sausages… you need to try them all!
  9. Stand up comedy
  10. Watch a musical – a must see for everyone: Book of Mormon
  11. Have a drink at Aqua Shard – the view is priceless
  12. Renting a barclays boris bike and trying to look all cool while removing it from the docking station as an attempt not to look like a tourist…. I clearly failed at this
  13. Running/walking for charity
  14. Up your drinking to british level for one week and see how your liver responds
  15. Watching a Premier League football game – if you’re lucky you might learn a new word or two if you’re sat next to intellectuals with a rather broad vocabulary of swear words…highly entertaining.
  16. Acting all upperclass and watching a horse-race, merely as an excuse to dress up in one of those fancy hats
  17. Watch the Oxford-Cambridge boat race
  18. Picnic on Primrose Hill with strawberries and Pimm’s
  19. Renting a pedalo in Hyde Park after having wandered around Kensington Gardens
  20. Hunting with horses and hounds
  21. Experiencing a tube strike…. London just wouldn’t be the same without one of these fun days
  22. I’m not even going to start on art, restaurant, bar and drinking experiences… the list would be miles long… but the above should keep nouveau brits busy for a while

This recipe ties in perfectly with the above as, in my eyes, it is an english classic. No dessert is simpler or better than a good old crumble with custard. It is hearty, warming and a perfect finish for any menu. Funnily enough, just as I served this crumble, my mother called me. I told her I had made crumble with custard for some guests….. I have never had anyone with so much food envy and excitement on the other side of the phone: she was ecstatic about the custard.  At least I now know what dessert I shall be making when she comes to visit ;-).

Apple Crumble with Cinnamon Custard

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Nutella Cheesecake Deconstruction

After having finished all 10 seasons of Friends I needed something new to watch….. what better foodie-suited brainless TV-show is there than MasterChef? I was up-to-date with the new season within just over a week….. waiting for a new episode to be aired is AWFUL!!! I WANT TO SEE MORE AMAZING FOOD AND KITCHEN DRAMA.

Anyways, regarding my cheesecake. I have never really been a fan of cheesecake or plain cream cheese icing until a couple weeks back, when I ordered a baked peanut butter cheesecake at a local pub (my reasoning behind this daring order: anything with peanut butter must be good and it was the only thing on the dessert menu I had never before made myself). It was amazing! So I thought to myself, it must taste even more amazing with Nutella. After a rather disappointing attempt of trying to bake a Nutella cheesecake, MasterChef inspiration struck: How about a no-bake cheesecake with an almost 1:1 Nutella : cream cheese ratio? And why not deconstruct it to lighten the whole dish up, make it look all fancy and pretend one day I could be on MasterChef? Using Nigella Lawson’s recipe as guidance, this is what I came up with. OMG it has taken cheesecake to a new level for me. No-bake and deconstruction is the way to go. Everyone loved it.

It also made me think whether or not to try the recipe with peanut butter instead…… I shall keep you updated.

Deconstructed Nutella Cheesecake

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Number 2/5

Following the previous post, I present you with cake number 2 of 5 baked for the birthday festivities. A true must for both chocolate and amaretti lovers. Amaretti are possibly my favourite biscuits, they should be yours too. And don’t get me started on Amaretto, the tastiest liquor ever created. Those sours are dangerous. Remind me again why I decided to give up alcohol for Lent? At least there are only 22 days left and Fortnum’s Easter sponge pudding (honey, amaretto & almond sponge pudding with a soft chocolate centre….nom) waiting at the end of it. Not to forget the amaretto butter topping, Easter dessert wouldn’t be half as good without it.

Enough about Amaretto. This cake, like the Linzer, is best after having rested in a cool place (e.g. cellar) for a day or two. Perfect if you have a lot of baking or cooking planned!

Chocolate Amaretti Loaf Cake

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adapted from Wildeisen

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Martha’s Linzer Torte

Birthdays are funny things. The hype around celebrating them seems to come in two phases. The first one starts with birth and lasts probably until 25. At 25, after having (hopefully) graduated and joined the real working world, every reminder of age is given the evil eye and subconsciously creates internal stress: career-wise, relationships, friendships, financially, where to go in life, aaaahhhh….! Recently I saw a 15 page CV….. how am I ever going to fill so many pages in the next few years? Too much to do and so little time. Also, if you’re female, mid twenties-thirties and single, I’m sure you can relate to this dialogue from When Harry Met Sally:

Sally: AND, I’m gonna be forty.
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it’s not the same for men.

The second phase of celebratory hypes starts round about retirement age, 60 years, and lasts for the rest of your life (YAY some celebrations at the end of the 40 year working tunnel). Last week we celebrated a very special birthday within the family. Planning for the 3 day weekend (apparently the older one gets, the longer one wants to celebrate, one day isn’t enough) had begun months before. The closer we came, the only thing on the birthday boy’s mind was the party. The excitement was comparable to that of a 4 year old eating chocolate cake for the first time. Being 23, I didn’t quite understand how one could be sooooo excited about getting older, but I guess the older one gets the more appreciative one becomes of age and life (oooooo words of wisdom…. :-P). Let me get back to you about that when I turn 60.

With a guest list close to 50 and a Sunday morning plan of coffee, tea and cakes, no more needed to be said. I successfully took on my first cake marathon and baked 5. Luckily some cakes, like the one below, are best baked 2 days in advance. This made life a little easier, however with the additional skiing, small-talking and remaining birthday madness, sleep deprivation was to be expected.

Finally, about this first cake: my mother grew up with a nanny/maid called “Martha”. She joined the family when my mother was born and stayed for 50 years. Martha was like a grandmother to me. She could also bake like a goddess; her cakes were divine. The Linzer Torte (swiss style, not Austrian and overly spiced) is one of her recipes. Deciphering her jumbled handwriting and trying to follow her thoughts wasn’t the easiest, but definitely worth it. Sadly she passed away a few years ago, but she is always remembered when one of us decides to whip up a cake for a special occasion. The Linzer has become somewhat of a family tradition. With its special almond paste filling and generous layer of jam, it’s always a winner.

Martha’s Linzer Torte

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