Happy Birthday, Me!

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I have just finished a week of celebrating my 25th birthday, and am justifiably exhausted!

It all began last weekend with my family. I made a rather cheeky request this year that my father cook a 3 course meal for all the family! This wasn’t just so my mum could have a break so soon after Christmas, but also to give my Dad a chance to do what the rest of us indulge in so frequently… Showing off!

First, there was a simply spectacular starter! The stuffed pepper re-awakened!!!

Pepper Trio

Cod fillet, chorizo, lemon zest, tomato pesto and toasted pine nuts, all baked to perfection inside a sweet red pepper! My mum actually helped him out in the invention of this beauty… I’d say it’s the third best thing they’ve created as husband and wife!

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Successfully (and rapidly) polished off.

This was followed some time later by a devilishly delicious dessert…

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A classic of my mother’s- Pear poached in port and spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, served with clotted cream

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Ooooohh…

But what I really want to talk about is the main course. The truly irresistable

Daddy Duck

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANA!!!!

Today is my Sister’s 28th Birthday, so last weekend she was home to celebrate with the family. I’ve mentioned a keenness to develop my confidence in baking before now, so while she was out on a birthday shopping trip with my Mum I set to work making her a birthday cake to be proud of!

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The Chequered Neapolitan birthday cake consists of 3 sponges- one chocolate, one strawberry and one vanilla. It’s brilliant because it actually looks 1000 times more complicated than it really is, so results in you (the baker) receiving far more praise than you really deserve. I wanted to make this for her, as I have a vague child-hood memory of us seeing two-flavour version of this being made on How To (or was it The Handy Men?) when we were little, and then my Mum baking it after sufficient nagging.

You’ve seen me make the strawberry sponge before, back when I was at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, but this time I developed the recipe ever so slightly by adding a tablespoon of powdered Strawberry Milkshake mix… You know, for extra strawberry oomph!

So. Here’s how it’s all done.

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Geeking Out for Operation: Cake Quest

The Monday just gone was my friend Diana’s birthday. Knowing carrot cake is her favourite, and knowing she was unfortunate enough for her birthday to land on a Monday, I couldn’t resist surprising her with a tasty treat! I’d never made a carrot cake before, and the prospect was a tad daunting, so Sunday morning I set out to find an easy recipe to build from!

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I would just like to side step, and take a moment to geek out about a free food app I’ve recently discovered that goes by the name of Yummly! Anyone who enjoys cooking and wants a world of recipes at their finger tips should download it and use it immediately! Simply search for a recipe (you can search by ingredient, country or even be specific like I have been here, or browse through the thousands they have on the home screen) and select. Want to hold onto it for future reference? Add it to your Yum List! Look through the ingredients and add anything you don’t have in the house to your built-in Shopping List. When you get to the supermarket, you have right in your pocket the exact items and measurements you require so there’s no longer the risk of finding yourself short of something halfway through cooking!

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Anyway, now I’ve got that out of my system, back to the carrot cake recipe.

I found a super easy to follow recipe via Yummly, that from the looks of it can also be found on the All Recipes UK website. I made a few tweaks, such as thickening the icing, adding a teaspoon of nutmeg, and making the vanilla a little more special, not to mention a few other tricks! So, with no further ado, here’s my Carrot Cake Recipe!

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Red Stripe Chicken and Gift Theft

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A friend’s birthday is fast approaching, and I’ve got her a Jamaican Cook Book as a gift. As I’ve thumbed through this book, I’ve noticed there are some fierce recipes! So I figure… As someone who’s as passionate about cooking as I am… She won’t mind if I get some use out of this before handing it over? I mean, her birthday isn’t until September, and I’m hungry for Jamaican now, so…

One of the many mouth-watering recipes in this book is
Red Stripe Chicken!
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The easy to make, tender, delicious chickeny good time.

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Chocolate Bombe

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After the recent development of an obsession with Rick Stein and Thailand, my parents bought a recipe book called “J. Sheekey Fish”, based on the London restaurant by the same name which has received oodles of praise from Rick Stein himself. One day when my father was thumbing through the dessert section, he was blown away by the idea of this “Chocolate Bombe”. I knew at that moment I had to make it for him on his birthday.

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Gooseberry Duck

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My Dad loves gooseberries. He always has. My Aunt Kris, his sister, recalls him stealing them from the neighbour’s gooseberry bush when they were kids. In fact, he very rarely shuts up nagging for a gooseberry pie or a gooseberry crumble or some kind of gooseberry treat. Nag as he might, it never happens. That’s why gooseberry duck seemed like the perfect main course for his birthday!

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Scallop BLT

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The Scallop BLT is one of my signature dishes that you’ve seen me make before, but this time I did a couple of things slightly different- mainly leaving the herbs out of the sauce.

My Dad is scallop crazy, which is why I selected this dish for him. My Mother, however, doesn’t like scallops at all. I know, I know, that makes no sense but there it is. She believes she doesn’t like scallops. Maybe she just says it for the attention? I don’t know.  Whatever the reason, this led me to make her halloumi (imitating scallops) wrapped in bacon for her portion.

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Scallop BLT and his vegetarian brother…

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Anyone who vaguely knows me knows that mathematics is not exactly my favourite subject. So for me to say that today was my first day of an AAT Accountancy Course should cause significant shock and impress!

To celebrate surviving day one of 33, I made one of my most favourite recipes for dinner- The Scallop BLT. This used to be Josie’s requested starter every birthday, but this year being her first of vegetarianism meant I had to come up with something similar, yet without the pig or fish. Halloumi wrapped in red pepper saw this mission accomplished!
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