A lesson in pastry

Shortly after coming back from Laos and Thailand I packed my bags again, this time for a rather different trip.  I flew to London to take part in an intensive pastry course at the Cordon Bleu (and if you follow me on instagram you will have already seen some photos of what we baked).  While the trip to Asia was a chance to spend some more time together before Alessandro and I go back to long-distance dating, the trip to London was a present to myself before I start my new job and any kitchen experiments will again be limited to early mornings, late nights or the weekend. I ended up doing the course with a friend of mine – it just so worked out that both of us were between jobs with some time to spare (and with a shared passion for baking) and it was amazing to spent 4 days together not worrying about anything else other than

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Vegan Meringue & an article

You might remember that a while back I got all excited about what I like to call vegan ‘meringue’, i.e. a gel made from boiled flax seeds and that can be whipped just like egg whites, and that I started replacing egg whites with flax seed gel in marshmallows and mousse au chocolate. Well, I was so excited about this discovery (and the slight lack around the web of useful recipes using it), I went out and wrote an article about it which is included in Chickpea magazine’s Spring 2014 edition. The article includes a recipe for making flax seed gel as well as a few recipes using it, including a recipe for vegan marshmallows. It is this last recipe which I am most proud of, because it was just so darn difficult to get right. There was about a month when there was no surface left in our kitchen that wasn’t at some point covered in marshmallow splatter, my

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Kamut and Polenta Bread

I have the habit of buying myself a Chrismas present each year. Nothing frivolous, but something I really want and something I might not otherwise buy. This time it was the third Tartine book – encouraged by a number of reviews, an article about the sheer amount of research Chad Robertson put into the creation of this book and my friend Sara who thought I would enjoy the book given the large number of recipes using ancient grains created by Chad. And Sara was right. I have only had the book for about a month, but in between the present-buying frenzy, traveling and Christmas itself, I have already baked the Chocolate Rye Cookies (crack in cookie form if you ask me), eaten far too many of a batch of the 50/50 sablés, munched my way through 3 loaves of the Toasted Buckwheat Bread and revolutionised my scones thanks to learning about Tartine’s technique of using both baking powder and sourdough

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Garam Masala & Coconut Stove-Top Granola

In case you have already made your way through your stack of new-reads acquired over the holidays, I would encourage you to track down a copy of Slow Food Nation, a wonderful read that does not seem to be getting the attention I think it deserves. I picked this book up on a whim when I was present-hunting just before Christmas and it is an incredibly well-written book by Slow Food’s founder Carlo Petrini. For those of you not familiar with Slow Food, the organisation’s mission is to “defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread taste education and connect producers of excellent foods with co-producers through events and initiatives.” Today the organisation counts over 100,000 members across the globe who, among other things, are active in seeking the protection of traditional foods, set up tasting seminars and work with those in the food industry to encourage them to source locally grown food. Rather refreshingly, there is no preaching involved in

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Cacao Nib and Buckwheat Crunch Cookies

  Since moving to Rome in November, Italy has not stoppped to surprise me – while healthfood stores are hard to track down and most Italians think nothing of eating sugar-laden pastries for breakfast, a pile of pasta for lunch and a pizza for dinner (which might also explain the mountain of prunes on offer in most supermarkets!), it is surprisingly easy to find a huge variety of different types of flours and sweeteners. My small local supermarket stocks spelt, buckwheat and kamut flour (in addition to a whole plethora of different types of wheat flours for baking and pasta-making), I know a couple of places where I can buy chia seeds and I can get my hands on maple syrup, agave syrup and molasses with a simple detour during my lunch break. While my impression is that there cannot be a big market for these ingredients in Italy given that I have yet to eat a homemade birthday cake

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House-hunting in Rome & Inspiration from the interwebs – May edition

House-hunting – the bane of my existence. While the past 12 odd years of moving across Europe (Germany-Austria and back, Germany-UK and back (a few times), UK-Brussels and back and, lastly, UK-Italy) have taught me a great deal about minimising the stuff we all drag around with us (well, except for my cookbook collection, but I am not willing to part with that) and to wrap my beautiful bowls I bought when we went to Japan carefully enough to survive a move half-way around Europe, the one thing I am still utterly crap at is house-hunting itself. I know what websites to use, what sleazy property agents to avoid, what questions to ask prospective landlords, what hidden costs to look for etc, but at the end of the day I struggle with the simple fact that, at least if you are renting in large cities, you will never find a place that ticks all your boxes. Now add a boyfriend to the

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Orange Mocha Marble Cake

While I am researching different eclairs recipes and different methods and ingredients for making pastry cream for a new recipe (which I am already very excited about sharing), I baked an Orange Mocha Marble Cake the other day to have on hand for easy breakfasts at home and to nibble on during the day. But before we talk about the Orange Mocha Marble Cake, I wanted to say that I was super excited to hear that my recipe for Toasted Rice Blancmanger was featured in the Guardian’s Cook section under the theme ‘WOBBLY’ last weekend! I absolutely love creating recipes and it is even better when others like my creations! Back to this marble cake – chocolate and orange is one of my favourite flavour combinations but the addition of coffee was new to me until very recently. I first came across this in the form of a Chocolate Orange Tiramisu at Jamie’s Italian which opened fairly recently in my

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