Friday, 15 March 2013

Clandestine Cake Club Book Launch

Last Saturday we held the book launch for the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook at the lovely Waterstones branch in Cambridge. With my trusty co-host, Miss Sue Flay, at my side and help from the fantastic staff at Waterstones we welcomed 20 cake club members along with members of the public to eat cake, talk cake and get to know the cake club.
If you aren't familiar with the cake club; it was set up by Lynn Hill 3 years ago as a chance for people to test their baking skills, meet other bakers and try their cakes. You bake a cake, bring a cake along, eat cake and then take some cake home! The book is a collection of members recipes (there are over 150 clubs in cities worldwide, from Cambridge to Calgary, Birmingham to Bangalore!) which makes it extra special and bursting with some really original ideas.

I baked a Blood Orange & Rosemary loaf cake for the club, which despite the odd sounding combination, works brilliantly well. Fresh rosemary is milled in a food processor and then folded into a cake mix flecked with blood orange zest and spices. The cake is baked in the oven and then a rich blood orange syrup is poured over before being finished with slices of fresh blood orange. The resulting cake is earthy and rich and the orange works perfectly to balance the savoury flavour of the rosemary. Try it, it totally works!

Normally the cake clubs are for those who pre-book only, but this one was a cake club with a difference. We set up on the first floor of the bookshop and invited passing customers to try the cakes and find out more about the club. It was a little daunting, admittedly, but everyone who talked to us was really friendly and interested - and also, who doesn't love free cake?

We recruited some new members to the Cambridge club that day and we really hope to see them at the next event in April (more details on the cake club site soon). To find your nearest next cake club event see the Events page of the Clandestine Cake website. 

You can buy the cookbook at your local Waterstones or here.

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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Foodie Snippets - Birthday, Duck & Waffle, Disappointing Strudels and Eat Cambridge

Well last week was my birthday! Well it was last Tuesday, but it is good to have a birthday week.

Over the weekend my Mum made Pani Puri for dinner. Traditionally eaten in 3's or 4's as a light snack, you tap a hole in the hollow puris fill with with mung beans or chickpeas, boiled chilli potato, tamarind chutney and finally the 'Pani' (meaning Water) which is a cold chilli and coriander chutney. You put the whole thing in your mouth at once and when you crunch down you get a refreshing hit of cold chutney. I bought a box of puris (it is very hard to make Pani Puri Puri's so most people buy them ready made and they are just as good) home with me and I plan to make them and blog it soon.

To start the day (after presents of course) we had breakfast at my favourite cafe, Gog Magog Shop - almond croissant for me and a trusty cheese scone for the Mr. Then we headed for the train to London.

Our first stop was Fortnum and Mason's for tea in their ice cream parlour. The tea (Afternoon Blend for me and Darjeeling Orange Pekoe for the Mr) was fantastic and served in ornate silver teapots with colourful cups, very swish and fitting. Unfortunately the strudels we ordered were really awful - soggy pastry and nondescript floury filling, and at £5.50 for two tiny strudels it wasn't cheap. I know Fortnum & Mason is popular with tourists but I had hoped such a legendary place wouldn't fall prey to becoming a poor tourist trap. Oh well. Along with the glacially slow service and the bad sweets won't bother again.

Things improved with a bit of shopping and sitting in Green Park, the weather was beautiful - the sun shone only on my birthday, which I think says something?

We then headed to the highlight of the day, Duck & Waffle, for a meal at sunset. This has been blogged about all over the place, so I will spare you another long review.  The view 40 floors up (and the ride in the glass lift), the food, the cocktails and service was all great. We ate our way through the menu and rolled out of the lift back to the train station happy. I even got a little plate of Petit Fours with a candle in as a birthday treat, so lovely. You must go. Order the duck and waffle (obviously), any of the breads (we had cherry tomato and goat's cheese) and the torrejas. It wasn't a cheap evening as we did over order a little, but you should have a blowout on your birthday. I grabbed a few pictures before the sun started to set and the lights came down.

Since the birthday blowout things have taken a healthier (ish, I still have birthday chocolate) and I've been enjoying this salad combo for lunches and also for dinner. Mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes, crunchy sliced radish, avocado, houmous, olives and salsa verde. You won't believe what a good combination salsa verde + avocado is - try it!

The other thing I must not fail to mention is Eat Cambridge, it started last Friday and is a week long food festival - starting off with lots of fringe events and a food market last Saturday and continuing with a street food market, food tastings, bread making, etiquette evenings and many more things. You can still catch some of the action this week - there is a street market at Hope Street Yard this Friday from 6pm - featuring some brilliant street food (yes there is street food in Cambridge) including Jack's Gelato, Steak & Honour, Fired Up Pizza and lots more - details here:

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Monday, 4 March 2013

Kitchri - Yellow Lentil Rice (Gujarati Recipe)

I'm probably not selling this recipe very well in the title, but it is a really nice rice dish - eaten a lot in Gujarati homes but there are various versions from other parts of India too. It is dead cheap to make, soothing and simple, so good for poorly tummies, which there are plenty of during this long drawn out winter. It is made up of basmati rice cooked with yellow mung dal along with a little garlic, salt and turmeric simmered in the water.

It goes with 'kadhi' which is a yoghurt based spiced 'soup' (for want of a better word) which is poured liberally over the rice. You can also eat it with a thin dal soup (again for want of a better word) or have it alongside any 'curry' with sauce.

And if you are under the weather just eat it warm on it's own or with a dollop of plain yoghurt. It is also ridiculously easy to make.

You'll find yellow split lentils in larger supermarkets (I found a bag in Morrison's!), Indian supermarkets and possibly larger health food stores. And, randomly, on eBay. Normal lentils won't work for this as they are too big, also these split lentils don't need soaking, you can use them straight away.

Serves 4

200g basmati rice
200g yellow split lentils
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove of garlic
Sunflower or mild olive oil
Boling water

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and then add in the rice and lentils and stir fry for a few minutes.
Then add in the garlic, salt and turmeric and stir fry for another minute.
Add the boiling water.
Bring to the boil and then simmer on a medium heat til the water is nearly all absorbed.
Turn down to the lowest heat, place some foil directly on top of the rice, put the lid on the pan and leave for 5 minutes to cook.
Remove the foil, check it is cooked through, fluff with a fork and then put lid back on til you are ready to serve with dal, kadhi or any sauce'curry' .

I'll be blogging dal soup and kadhi soon, so watch this space :)

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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Date & Coconut Granola and not always getting it right...

So I'll be straight with you, this Date & Coconut Granola didn't really go to plan, I was going to pretend it didn't happen and make it again and blog my efforts that time. But for two reasons I decided to blog it - 1) it is important to have some balance and remind you and myself that not all my recipes turn out perfect 2) when will I ever get around to making this recipe again, just for perfection's sake?

The recipe is fine and would have turned out fine had I not baked the dates and raisins in the oven with the oats and coconut. The raisins bloated and then burnt and the chopped dates caramelised and turned so tough they could break your teeth - not something you want in the morning, or ever. If I liked bircher muesli this granola would be much better soaked in milk to soften the jawbreaker dates.

So, stir the fruit in when the granola comes out of the oven and then put it in your jar - and you'll have much better granola than me. For now, I am picking the dates out of it and making do with some charred raisins.

Looking back on my blog, my granola has always been a bit haphazard, the last time I made granola bars but they crumbled so they ended up as granola!

Date & Toasted Coconut Granola
makes approx 700g

230g porridge oats
150g of dates and raisins or other dried fruit
150g coconut flakes
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil (or melted butter if you aren't being healthy)
1 tbsp of maple syrup
2 tbsp of mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame) - optional but nice

Preheat your oven to 110 degrees (Fan/Electric) or gas mark 3.
Mix the oats and coconut flakes (and seeds if using) in a large bowl.
Heat the honey, oil and maple syrup together in a small pan til a syrup and well combined, do not boil.
Pour over the oats and coconut mix and combine well - you can use a wooden spoon but you might have to get in with your hands to make sure everything is coated.
Spread the mix out over baking trays, you'll probably need two.
Put in the centre shelf of the oven for 1 hour, and take out every 15 minutes and stir, to ensure even toasting.
Important bit: When the granola is nicely toasted leave to cool a little and then sprinkle over your fruit.
Put into an airtight jar or container.

Eat with milk or yoghurt and extra fruit. It is also nice with a dollop of jam!

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Saturday, 2 March 2013

Foodie Snippets This Week - mac & cheese, free Yorkshire tea and fame at last!

A new feature that I hope to keep up on my blog, I instagram a lot (too much) and there are lots of little foodie goings on that happen during the week that don't make it here, so here are snippets from my week!

Saturday started off with meeting up with some lovely local bloggers for #WritingWithTea at Greens Coffee in Cambourne. We did a lot of chatting and catching up but not so much writing in the end, but it was great to meet some new people and also catch up with some old friends. This cinnamon cappuccino was so warming and perfect for a snow day. 

Mac and cheese. Sometimes you need cheese and pasta. Not to bang on about the weather but when is it going to get warmer? I haven't been warm for quite some time, and I can't carry on eating so much cheese! This was dinner and then leftovers for lunch, and I added a bit of chilli for even more comfort on a cold day.

Vanilla porridge with some homemade granola (blog coming soon), local honey and a banana. Getting back to eating healthier, and I needed some central heating (anyone else remember those ReadyBrek ads?)

Waitrose now sell Burrata! This is my first time trying Burrata, and whilst it would be great to get it from a proper cheesemonger this Waitrose version was really nice. We had it with fresh bread and really good olive oil. The next day we used up the leftovers to have alongside an aubergine parmigiana.

It's nearly my birthday! Yorkshire Tea sent me a birthday card and a free sample of Yorkshire Gold - a lovely thing to get in the post, and from a professional point of view - awesome marketing! I'll be enjoying a cup of this with my birthday breakfast on Tuesday.

And last but not least, I am in a magazine! I was interviewed for Cambridgeshire Journal back in November and their lovely photographer visited me before Christmas to take pictures of me, my beads and my studio. Although I am always mortified to see my face on anything, I'm really pleased about the interview and I think it is a bit great. You can read the interview here and if you're local you'll find the journal in lots of spots around town.

Next week it is my birthday and also Eat Cambridge - Cambridge's first food festival. On my birthday we are visiting the legendary Fortnum and Mason's for tea and pastries and then on to the more recently legendary Duck & Waffle for dinner, I cannot wait. I'll also be enjoying a Pie & Mash Night at 12a Club next week (as part of Eat Cambridge) along with the the Eat Cambridge Food Market on the 9th, plus we are also hosting a cake club on the 9th too - big week for food! 

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