Thursday, 23 May 2013

Lately in Anne's Kitchen...

This post is a round-up affair style of what has been happening in my kitchen....

Last week I moved house.

Why do I never learn? 6 times in 10 years and still not mastered packing and get super stressed to the point of swearing at people and getting far too emotional

there are still boxes we can't fully unpack due to housing people not installing promised furniture...

The new (shared, gulp) kitchen is tiny..and my saucepans are currently living in the communal hallway in a large old freezer bag. Super practical.

so we have to put shelves up...I am a girl and the drill is too heavy on this mornings attempt to put up a coat rack!

So, what's a girl to do?

Option a) Never move again. Unfortunately this will probably not be our home forever as is tied to my employment..

Option b) Contemplating selling all bar 10 favourite cookery books. I had more boxes of books than anything else packed. (This thought does however give me nightmares)

Option c) Win the lottery and buy a very big house. This would require buying a ticket however and luck.

Option d) Be patient and wait for my man to move in and get him to put the shelves up whilst I bake something nice to eat after!

But my favourite option of all? Eat more chocolate.

Say hello new lovely bag of Cadbury's Crispello!

Little chocolately filled and coated wafery parcels, eaten in one greedy or two sensible bites!

These were very popular too with my helpers who assisted my housemove, I am shocked I had any left but did fob them off with the crisps etc so more for me haha!

 Thankyou to Anya for my samples!

After the dust had settled, the discovery of local pizza place and basic kitchen items placed in appropriate cupboards, this was the first meal I cooked and ate - a quick spinach and mushroom curry, made using some chana masala spice mix and randomly some leftover black olives! Oh and a little peshwari naan warmed in the toaster, which I found in the 'carbs' box! 

And just before the house move - my guilty pleasure of shop bought garlic bread! One piece is just never enough!

Last but not least another pre-moving meal from the archives - a random assortment of fridge suprise by frying mushrooms, adding balsamic syrup and a wedge of brie, stir together and spooned onto rice cakes as I was out of bread. A great little lunch and worth repeating!

At long last too my holiday has come around, so I will abandoning you for the next fortnight but hopefully will return with lots of lovely food pictures to drool over!

Anne xx

Monday, 13 May 2013

Espresso, Chocolate and Ginger Pudding Cake

Coffee coffee coffee is mainly what I have been consuming these past few days, all in the name of research you see! De'Longhi set me a challenge to create a dessert, using their Vintage Icona Bar Pump coffee machine. Unfortunately when you work shifts for a living, fitting blogging and trial runs around can be a challenge in itself, and I found myself Saturday night priming the machine and making a few test espresso's, Bedtime was very late that night!

After mastering the machine, which is far easier when you have read the instruction booklet before the quick start guide its amazingly quick to product the perfect espresso! There is the option of single or double filtered, both which produce a beautifully smooth espresso in moments. I have also used the espresso to make my favoured americano coffee and have been very impressed by the results.

Preparing the coffee - I am learning to just slightly under fill it as otherwise I can't get it to clip into the machine:

The perfect Espresso - 

So now the coffee was mastered, it was on to making something sweet with its results! I did have ideas of creating a somewhat fanicer dessert than cake but then reality reminded me that all my cookery books are currently boxed up ahead of moving house at the end of this week, and the fact is fancy desserts are not really an area I am experienced in. The other challenge was that most of my cooking items were also boxed up, and I had to take my ingredients over to my mums house in order to bake so I had to be relatively organised with my planning for once!

When doing my planning, I started by writing down a few ideas, then deciding what flavour's work well with coffee, I.e. dates, chocolate, cream, cardamom, rum, ginger....and allowing for my current circumstances what was going to be achievable! Mum was in the kitchen helping me to decide and sniffing the selection of ingredients, ginger is not the best one to sniff!

Cake is something I don't think you can go too wrong with, and I decided to go along the lines of a pudding style of cake, baked in a dish rather than an iced type of sponge. One of the thoughts was sticky coffee pudding, rather than sticky toffee but I couldn't decide on whether to make a seperate sauce or bake it in the style of a self saucing pudding... I wanted to get the espresso flavour really into the cake, and soaked the dates for a good few hours in freshly made espresso, before incorporating it all into the mixture. The final result was a surprisingly light and moist cake, with a nice, smooth espresso flavour, compared to a coffee cake, which has an entirely different taste. 


225ml freshly brewed single espresso
100g ready to eat dates, chopped up

150g Self raising flour
175g butter or margarine
Butter for greasing dish
25g good quality cocoa powder - I always use a Polish one
3 eggs beaten
1 tsp baking powder
100g cinnamon infused sugar (from Sainsbury's)
1tsp ground ginger 

Start by soaking the chopped dates in the espresso for at least two hours

Pre-heat oven to gas 4

1) Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
2) Mix together the dried ingredients
3) Using a handwhisk or similar, add a third or so of the egg to the butter mixture, followed by about a third of the dried mixture, mix and repeat until fully incorporated.
4) Fold in the dates, reserving the soaking liquid

5) Butter the baking dish - I used a large rectangular pyrex dish, roughly a4 sized

6) Fill the dish with cake mixture and smooth over. Pour over the reserved liquid and bake for 55 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back. It should be moist inside but cooked through

7) Portion up and serve with lashings of custard or cream

Mum loved the cake, I think I would make a teeny bit sweeter next time but that's because I have a sweeter tooth!

Friday, 10 May 2013

New in my kitchen this week...well actually in the dining room!

Those who know me, know I like flowers. Pretty flowers. Though they do die off far to quickly and you end up left with a stinky vase and spending a good afternoon scrubbing it if like me you have neglected it for a few days... I will never be a domestic goddess and therapy has taught me that I am perfect just the way I am... the next best thing for me is anything flowery patterned...and my tablecloth from Dunelm Mill is simply quite perfect!

The pattern comes from a range called Homestead, and I had previously bought a seat cushion in the range for my office chair (ha office..more like desk / dressing table/ stationary storage etc in my bedroom, and I love it!) So when the nice pr lady for Dunelm Mill got in touch, I decided to extend to my small range and chose the 'Homestead' tablecloth, to go on my dining table. Though this is my old dining table...once again I have restless feet and am moving house again next week! I am starting to resent having so many cookery books...

Here you can see it underneath a rather delicious Cappuchino cake my super mum baked for my birthday! (And yes they are Christmas crackers...we are a special family!)

So back to my lovely tablecloth- its really good quality. It consists of a thick cotton and polyester blend, which has been treated with 3m Scotchguard and claims that stains will simply wash out without any pre-treatment. Despite having my brother over last week for dinner, it remained fairly unblemished so I will find out at some point in the future how true this claim is! (I am sorry dear brother if you read this but I never got any of those wine stains out of the previous tablecloths!)

Many thanks to Dunelm mill and Jennifer from Diffusion PR for all your help.
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