Cappuccino Cake

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After a somewhat long working week, I’m pleased to be entertaining for a few friends this weekend! As much as I love cooking though, I don’t want to spend the entire time in the kitchen, so want an easy dessert that would last the few days. What else but cake?

First visit is this evening from my friend and colleague Steph, and my girlfriend Charlotte- both huge lovers of coffee! I’ve no doubt that Cappuccino Cake will go down very well indeed, and with any luck enough will be left for when Scott and Simon visit tomorrow!

Ingredients

  • 125g of Self Raising Flour
  • 125g of unsalted butter
  • 125g of Caster Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 40 grams of Instant Coffee (Nescafe Gold Blend would be best!)

NOTE: The are ingredients per tier. I expect you to do at least two tiers. One tiered cakes are a pointless waste of space.

For icing two tiers:

  • One vanilla pod or a teaspoon of vanilla concentrate
  • 500g of Icing Sugar
  • 250g of Unsalted Butter

And finally:

  • A handful of Cocoa Powder

 

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Thailand: The First 24 Hours

20 June 2015

I’m. Hungover.

After a long, long journey to Bangkok from Botswana, I took a good sleep for what remained of the morning, and then sprung onto the Khao San Road with a few others I’d met in the hostel. Here, you’ll find plenty of good market stalls selling clothes and snacks which you can buy for fair prices, or if you’re good at haggling, VERY low prices! There’s also a number of nice restaurants and bars.

I was starving and heading out with the intention of finding some gooood Pad Thai, but got distracted by this:

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What kind of woman would I be if I didn’t try it?

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It was like really, really, really crispy fish.

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Fishing on The Zambezi

Sunday 7 June

After much charming and asking around following my vow to go fishing on the beautiful Zambezi River, today it finally happened!

A friend of Matt’s, Owen (that being his English name, rather than his Slozi name which is something that has slipped my mind but is saved on the notes on my phone which is now smashed) delivers the mud to us each day for house building, and also indulges in fishing every weekend. Not only this, but he has a reputation of being pretty damn good at it too! He kindly obliged to take me out on the river to help me catch my dinner.

I met with he and a few of his friends at 11am (we had discussed 10am, but you know Africa) and we made our first stop back at Owen’s house to pick up their things.

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Good News and Goodbyes

24 May 2015

Well, I’ll start with the news about my Nature Guide exam!

I passed my practical!

It was actually an incredible drive, down more to luck than anything else. As soon as I entered the reserve, I found a pack of six lions hunting. I followed them all the way to the watering hole of Kwantu’s only hippo, who we could see peeking out the water. “He’s fine” I thought “He can see the lions. He won’t put himself in any sort of danger.”

Then, to my amazement, the hippo got out the water, marched right up to the lions and chased them all away with their tails between their legs! I mean, I knew hippos were territorial but… Wow! It gave me plenty to talk about!

Next we saw some rhinos, but didn’t stick around for long as the examiner was keen to see me do some tracking…

We finally found some droppings which I stopped to take a look at and, just my luck, I’d never seen such a type before! I used my guiding and tracking tools (in other words, a book about poo) and although it took some time and very careful examination I finally (and correctly!) identified them as Eland!

It wrapped up with a beautiful view in the valleys and a few teas and coffees!

That afternoon was my practical exam which, if I’m honest, I felt less than prepared for… I’ll find out the results in a couple of weeks but to be honest, I feel more than satisfied following that practical!

After the exam, Densely took us students on one last unforgettable Game Drive

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Before dropping us off at dinner, where they recognised me on the Kwantu register by my recent CORRECT title!

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Thank god I did that “practise pack” on Sunday though, because after an early morning three hour drive and the adrenaline of a two hour written exam I was ready to drop, and frankly good for nothing. So the next morning, I got up a little earlier to pack my bags and say my goodbyes to the Kwantu staff that had really made my time there as enjoyable as could be!

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Happy New Year!

I write this, my first post of the new year on the first day of 2015, absolutely EXHAUSTED following a marvellous New Year party thrown by Josh and Stephen, again with a cheese theme but this time in the form of fondue.

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After many cheesey treats and ginny delights, we got a good dance on before making our way down to the Thames to enjoy the inevitably fantastic firework display. This was followed by more gin and dance. The perfect New Year celebration!

I was asked to contribute something to be used with the fondue cheese goo on this evening, so set about having a little think as to what that could be. I thought about making some flavoured breads then cutting them into cubes and frying into croutons, but goodness what a lot of work for the time of year. Then is came to me. Another simple, tasty treat that allows both you and the eater to get creative!

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Flavoured Pastry Cups!
(For filling with melted cheese, and other delights!)

The flavours I made this time were Rosemary & Garlic, Chilli & Chorizo and Tomato & Basil, but you can go with whatever! I considered doing a Pear & Roasted Red Onion… A weird mix on their own, but one I thought would complement certain cheeses? Well… Perhaps next time. For now, I’ll tell you about these!

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Merry Fudge-mas!

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This Christmas, I wanted to take on a new challenge to show the people I love how much they mean to me at this special time of year. Fudge, I decided, was something I had never done before AND something I could get experimental with when it came to choosing flavours!

After a little research and ensuring I had the correct equipment (mainly a food thermometer capable of exceeding temperatures of 150c) I finally managed to limit myself to the following 3 festive fudges:

Traditional Vanilla
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Chilli Chocolate
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Bailey’s Coffee
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before portioning them into bags and decorating to sit on Christmas Tree branches, or posting off to loved ones!

It was an intimidating quest, but once you get into it it’s not too hard… You should have a go!

So! Here’s how it’s done.

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Goat’s Cheese and Red Onion Tart with HOME MADE PASTRY!!

The other delicious thing I brought back from Amsterdam was a couple of lovely Dutch cheeses. A scrumptious Gouda with Pepper, and an irresistible Goat’s Cheese.

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The question of what to do with Cheese The First was answered very quickly

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And as for Cheese The Second? Last weekend, Stephen hosted a cheese and wine night at his home… The perfect excuse to make some delicious cheese-based snacks for all!

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One of the reasons I enjoyed making this is that it reminded me of my days working at Gresham College- the early days, that is, back when Barbara Anderson was the Academic Registrar! We would occasionally host events that had marvellous drink receptions at them which included copious amounts of wine and, when we were lucky, delicious canapés produced by Fine Taste Caterers. One of these canapés would be a miniature Goat’s Cheese and Red Onion Tart! They were outstanding and along with the never-ending pour of red wine, I was in heaven! More often than not, these evenings would feature a spontaneous 30 minute break consisting of Barbara and I hiding in the kitchen, guzzling wine, gossiping and scoffing these delicious canapés! Unfortunately, such delights retired along with Barbara eight months later, but the memory remains as strong as the cheese! I knew these would be a favourite for Stephen’s party!

Another reason I enjoyed making this, or perhaps I should say was proud to make it, is that after much threatening I finally made my own puff pastry! So this recipe contains a step by step walk-through for that too, and I hope more pastry lessons are to follow!

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Pork, chorizo and Couscous Tagine

IMG_3606Sometimes, the best meals are the ones filled with ingredients and elements that remind you of the people who make you smile. Now frankly, I don’t think I could make just one dish that reflects ALL the people in my life who make me happy, but this tagine is a good start!

First, tagines will always and forever remind me of my dear friend, Stephen Swinnerton. They are his signature, his territory. The first one he ever made for me was beef and the tenderness blew me away. The most recent one he made me was pork, at which point I sussed this tenderness was no fluke, but a delicious result of the patience and care that goes into tagine cooking! He bought me my own for Christmas and it’s been kicking around for a while. Finally, the time arrived for me to give it a go with a few special ingredients of my own!

Within the ingredients list are the other special elements that remind me of people who make me smile. There is the chorizo and oregano, given to me by the fabulously Spanish Diana Requena, and the chillis, carefully grown to an adorable size here in our home by my father! Finally, I experimented with a little chipotle paste… Chipotle will always remind me of Eric Cartman.

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Ingredients

  • 2 pork steaks
  • A friendly amount of chorizo- sliced or diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 chillis, chopped
  • 500g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • About 100g of couscous- plain or flavoured, the choice is yours!
  • 2 peppers- red and yellow- diced
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Salt, pepper, oregano and paprika
  • Chipotle paste
  • 1 more carrot, shreddred

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Let’s get cooking!

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