Wednesday, 31 July 2013

July Foodie Penpals

Having sent a parcel to Germany last month, this month I received one from Germany. There's definitely an extra added excitement when you know your parcel is coming from abroad. I've had some great parcels from England too, but you know you'll have something new to try when it is from another country.

This month, I sent my parcel to a lady in Derbyshire called Denise. I sent her a selection of Japanese bits and pieces, which I hope she enjoys!
My parcel was from a lovely lady called Friederike. She sent me such a massive parcel of goodies that I don't even know where to start. As I opened it, it just kept going and going! Just look at this selection!

I think this needs a couple of photos to show what everything is! 

So first up, clockwise from top left, we have - 
Rye Bread - Friederike said she had always struggled to think up something traditionally German that she could send, until she thought of bread this month. I love British bread but am very happy to give this a try! 
Pumpernickle Bread - I have always wanted to try this. I have no idea what it actually is, but the name is just fantastic! 
Chickpea Flour - Frederike said this is her favourite thing in the parcel. Apparently it makes amazing muffins and pancakes. Life has been a bit too crazy lately to give this a go yet, but I definitely will soon!
Museli - I have to sleep in at work tonight, so this is in my bag ready for breakfast in the morning. I'm going to need a pick me up! 
Himalayan Salt - I recently said that we should get some decent salt, and voila! here it is. 

Second half (left to right) - 
Strawberry and Rhubarb truffles - These smell and taste so deliciously strawberry-y! From what I can make out of the German on the packaging, they're gluten free, vegan, nut free and soya free. 
Chocolate and brazil nut biscotti - I'm can't eat chocolate for two weeks, so haven't been able to dig into these yet, but I can't wait until I can. They look scrummy!
Yoghurt Gummies - My boyfriend and I dived into these straight away. They aren't as sweet as usual gummy sweets, and have that vaguely sour taste that yoghurt has. My boyfriend loved them, despite usually being a sweet hater. They are really morish! 
Vivani Mango and Coconut Chocolate - Again, not able to eat this because of my chocolate ban, but what an amazing sounding combo! I'm sure it'll be gone within minutes of opening the packet.
Grok cheese biscuits - These are SO cheesey. YUM! I could have eaten the whole packet in one go, but have been restraining myself! 

Are you interested in joining foodie penpals? Why wouldn't you be? The fun of making up and sending a parcel, AND receiving a box of goodies every month. It's brilliant. Click on over to see Carol Anne to find out more! 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

June Foodie Penpals

I had a lovely pair of foodie penpals matches this month! The Foodie Penpal powers that be (aka Carol Anne from Rock Salt) had obviously done some alphabetical organisation, so I recieved my parcel from Susan, and sent it to Sue!

Susan, from East Sussex, was a brilliant penpal, who tried really hard to send me a box full of things I'd like. After I told her I cooked a lot of Asian food, she even went to a local Asian supermarket just to buy me some goodies. How sweet is that?! Unfortunately, life has been crazy recently and I haven't had a chance to try out any of my goodies yet. I get fed at work, and while that's handy, it does limit the amount of cooking I do. However, I have a couple of evenings off this week, so will definitely be diving in!

Clockwise from left, my parcel contained:
Divine Chocolate - Delicious and fair trade. Perfect!
Golden Swan Long Life Egg Noodles - We are noodle fiends in this house so these are great.
Coconut Milk Powder - I've been looking for this for a while and I can't wait to try it out. There's a recipe for a coconut creme brulee on the back that I am trying to pluck up courage to try!
Fish Sauce - We use this a lot, so a bottle is always welcome.
Sweet Mango Chilli Sauce - This makes me want to grab some poppadums and dig in.
Chilli Powder - We currently have 2 chilli powders on the go, but one is blow your mouth off spicy and the other is basically just paprika, so hopefully this'll be a happy medium! 
Jelly Belly beans - One of my teachers at Middle School was half American, and always used to bring us these back after the holidays. I don't think I've had them since, but they're just as much fun as I remember!
Lemongrass - Fresh lemongrass is such a treat. It adds a lovely flavour and the smell is one of my all time favourites. 
Pancit Canton Chow Mein Noodles - I wouldn't usually use instant noodles, but they'll be a handy quick lunch for just before work.

Susan also sent me this lovely card that she had leftover from a trip to Japan. Isn't it beautiful?

Thank you for such a fantastic parcel, Susan! I can't wait until I have enough free time to try out all my ingredients! Susan doesn't have a blog, but Sue (the German lady I sent my parcel to) does, so you can see what she thought of my parcel over at Sue in Training. I had a bit of extra time the day I sent her parcel off, so I had fun decorating it with my washi tape! 

If you're interested in joining foodie penpals (and why wouldn't you be?!) this click the button below to find out more!


Friday, 14 June 2013

Good Food Show Summer 2013

I've never been to the Good Food Show before but have always wanted to, and living in Birmingham it would be criminal not to! It's only about 30 minutes from our front door to the NEC, so as soon as I saw the first bit of advertising for it, I knew this was the year to go. And when I saw that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were two of this year's celeb guests, my excitement levels went up another few notches! John came along for the ride, as well as 2 of our friends; one bake off mad obsessive like me and another who was more interested in the free alcohol samples!

It was great! I am so glad we went. The definite highlight was getting this:

New favourite possession? Probably!!

Even better, I just had time to ask him why my bread always looks cooked and risen but is still doughy inside (underproving or possible oven temperature), have a brief chat about what kind of oven I have (where I made a fool of myself by just saying "ummm an electric one") and exchange a little smile before my overexcited friend ruined our mature conversation by telling her we loved him. Haha. We made a hasty retreat after that!! 

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry's talk in the Supertheatre was great fun too. Lots of bake off innuendo, Paul making jokes about his own love life and they made a delicious looking bread and cake. Their banter is top notch and even the baking hating boys we dragged along were giggly.

However, the day wasn't all about the Great British Bake Off. There were loads of fantastic food stalls and cooking demonstrations. My only real criticism was the lack of variety in the produce stalls. Lots of cheese, alcohol, sausages and olive oil, but not much else. Having said that, the cheese was amazing and I ate far more samples than was good for me! I managed to resist buying, but loved the taste of this Castello Creamy White. Another old favourite of mine are Lymn Bank Farm who have an enormous selection of different flavours, all of which are delicious (except the chocolate orange, that's a step too far for me!). 

There were lots of things to tempt us for lunch, but we ended up with a hog roast bun from Castle Moor Farm. It was delicious. I absolutely love hog roasts, and this one was moist and flavoursome and came with the absolutely necessary stuffing/apple sauce/crackling combo that makes any hog roast complete!

True love is...

The only thing that made me regret my hog roast was when I was looking on the Good Food show website, and found there was a small area of the arena we had missed that had the winners of the Midlands Best Street Food competition. All the vendors look amazing, but I was especially sad to have missed Fresh Rootz, who look absolutely incredible. Their veggie and vegan, eclectic and sustainable selection of food looks right up my street. Hopefully I'll be able to catch them somewhere later this summer.

Another stall that definitely deserves an 'honorable mention' is Good Hemp. John has been using soya milk for a long time because it is meant to be more eco, but when we actually thought about it we weren't sure how it could be. Aside from the issues to do with rainforests (which is hard to find info out about), soy isn't really grown in the UK, so its all imported, which certainly isn't helping anyone. Enter Good Hemp. A UK grown product made into a milk that John actually much prefers to soy. We've been buying their milk for a while, and were really pleased to see a wider variety of their products at the show.

I also bought some amazing lemon and chilli fudge from Tan Rosie Foods (whose spice rubs and marinades were also delicious),a little treat for this month's foodie penpal from Cornish Sea Salt and a mandolin (the slicing kind, not the musical Captain Corelli kind!).

However, we spent longest browsing the Fox's Spices stall. We'd bought some stuff from them at the Ideal Home show a couple of years ago, and I was still dreaming about their Spicy Pineapple Chutney, so we knew that would be on the shopping list this time. They have so many amazing smelling spices, delicious condiments and dried products that we could have spent a fortune! Their products cover a massive range, from Indonesian sambals to whole spices to cury powder to mustard to dried mushrooms to Mexican flavourings. My only criticism is that they don't have a website; if you want to buy from them you need to call 01789-266420 to request a mail order catalogue. Hopefully they'll have a website soon! I could have bought everything from their stall, but limited myself to this selection.
Chipotle chillies, Ketjap manis, hot mago pickle, spicy pineapple chutney and smoked paprika. I've been on the hunt for smoked paprika, chipotles and ketjap manis for ages but not managed to find them anywhere, and the mango pickle and pineapple chutney are both ones we've had before and taste amazing with poppadoms or stirred into a curry. 

All of us had a fantastic day, and I would definitely recommend it. It's probably a bit late notice for this show (although there are still tickets left for Sunday), but there are 3 others later in the year in Glasgow, London and a winter one back here in Birmingham. I haven't booked a ticket for the winter one yet, but I don't think it will be long until I do!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Great British Bake Off Challenge: Mini Pork Pies with Quails Eggs

I know it's been a while since I last posted an attempt at one of the Great British Bake Off Technical Challenges, but I have still been making my way through them slowly. I'm just too lazy to blog about them! As soon as I showed John the list, he requested the pork pies straight away. However, I'd never used hot water pastry before, I almost never cook with pork and I barely even knew what gelatin was. It was definitely a recipe that made me panic! However, they've made two different pork pie style pies on the GBBO, and so I knew I had to overcome my fear! I started with the mini quail's egg pork pies, as they were made in a tin, rather than being hand raised. 

The recipe I used was this one, straight from the Great British Bake Off. The recipe was pretty easy to follow. The only slight issue I really had was on sizings. I found that the sizes of pastry discs to cut out that the recipe gave were much too big for my muffin tin, and there would never ever have been enough pastry if I'd done them all that size. As it was, I used all the pastry, and less than half the filling. Maybe do 1 and a half times the pastry, or less of the filling. In the end, I mixed up some more pastry used the rest of the filling to make another large pie that we had warm for dinner with veggies and gravy, so it all worked out for the best! 

The hot water pastry was easier than I thought actually. It was odd having hot pastry to work with, but it behaved itself well. I didn't roll it out quite thin enough, but I think that was my fault rather than the pastry! The rest of making up the pies was quite easy, just mix up the filling, boil and peel quail's eggs, then put it all inside the case and put another pastry disc on the top. 

Making up the pies 

Ready to go in the oven


The next difficult thing was getting the jelly into the pies. you mix gelatine with stock, then pour it in through the hole in the top of the pie. I don't know what I did wrong, but in almost all of my pies, there wasn't any space really between the filling and the pastry for the jelly to fill. A bit of wiggling did allow it to sort of pour in, but after they'd set and I cut it open, the jelly went in between the meat rather than round the edges. It didn't stop them tasting nice, but I'd love to try and get it right next time. 

I need 3 hands for photographing cooking. 

Finished pork pie the next day, after being left to set. 

Despite my misgivings with the jelly, they still made a delicious part of our picnic! 

So, pork pies successful (mostly). Not looking forward to the scary hand raised ones still on my list though! 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Foodie Penpals May

All the foodie penpal parcels I've received have been lovely, but this month's was extra fantastic! It was a combination of Stephanie putting in such a lot of thought, and the fact that it was the first parcel I've got from abroad. Stephanie is an American, living in Switzerland, and I requested anything local, things I might not have tried before, some of her favourite bits and lots of little things if possible. And she definitely didn't disappoint!

Going clockwise, starting from the top, we have...
Spitzbuben cookies: These were the first things I opened, and they are delish. Just like grown up jammie dodgers! 
Blevita tomato and basil crackers: These were part of a picnic we had last week, and they definitely provided a tasty crunch! 
Set of 3 jams from Stephanie's local bakery: I haven't opened these yet, because I haven't finished the jams Kathryn sent me last month, but I am sure they will be good when I do.
Toblerone and Strawberry Cheesecake chocolate bars: As Stephanie said, you can't have a parcel from Switzerland without chocolate, and these were both scrummy!
Selection of little boiled sweets: These are now living in my handbag, from when I need a sugar rush on the go!
Homemade lollipop: This is still sitting on the side in the kitchen, because it is far too sweet to eat! 

And on the packaging, there was this cute little drawing! I wonder if people would be impressed if I got my 25 year old boyfriend to draw a picture on their package? I'm not sure his art ability is any better than Stephanie's little son! 

I just had to put the cookies on this plate John's Mum recently bought us. They look too too sweet! I only did this for the photo opp then put them straight back in the tin, after eating one. Or two. Or three. The things I do for my blog!

Isn't the packaging on this strawberry cheesecake chocolate bar amazing? As if strawberry cheesecake flavoured chocolate wasn't enough to make you love it, it also introduces itself so nicely. 

Thanks for a gorgeous package, Stephanie! 

I sent my parcel this month to Maria in Cyprus. I sent her a combination of English goodies (cereal, cadbury chocolate) and some of my favourites (curry powder, green tea, sumac, wasabi peas). Unfortunately, neither Maria or Stephanie have a blog for me to share with you, but I certainly enjoying my foodie penpal experience with them both! 

If you're interested in becoming a foodie penpal, check out for more info!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Scotch Eggs Bento

John and I like good food and we usually like to try and eat pretty healthily. However, we both have certain junk foods that we love! Mine are pretty much all sweet foods, especially anything smothered in chocolate. John's are all savoury, and while we were still in Japan, I wanted to see if I could make one of his favourites, Scotch Eggs. I have no idea how popular these are in the rest of the world, but I rather think they're a fairly British institution! They are an egg (traditionally a chicken's egg) hard boiled and peeled then wrapped in sausage meat, dipped in raw egg, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. There is nothing healthy about them at all, but homemade ones taste fantastic, hot or cold. This makes them a perfect bento item, especially when made mini with quails eggs like these ones. You can commonly buy them everywhere in England, and lots of people (John included!) don't really consider a picnic complete without them!

Following this Jamie Oliver recipe, I successfully made a batch when we were in Japan (although I just used pork mince and flavoured it, rather than sausage meat) and then more recently, I made a batch for a bank holiday picnic. They're a bit fiddly, but taste so SO much better than shop bought ones. Definitely worth a try!

Fried and draining off the excess oil.

A very British picnic. Scotch eggs, pork pies (blog post on them coming soon!), strawberries, bananas, chocolate and salad. 

A bento made while still in Japan. Scotch eggs with cucumber, edamame, sweet potato, lettuce and salad dressing. 

Linking up to:

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Foodie Penpals April

This month I once again had a lovely time with foodie penpals! I sent my parcel off to Mina at Ant Steps,  a healthy lifestyle blog. I was a bit naughty with my parcel to her, and sent her some treats as well as some meal ideas. She's been away this week so I haven't heard what she thought of my parcel yet, but hopefully there'll be a blog post up later!

I got my parcel from Kathryn, over at SushiSushiBento, which, as the name suggests, is full of bento and Japanese food ideas! I was very excited to 'meet' another bento maker from the UK, all the other bento blogs I follow are American or Japanese. However, my bento and Japanese food collection is far too big as it is, so I asked Kathryn not to send much stuff along that line. Instead, I expressed a preference for anything homemade, and she sent me a lovely selection of different bits and bobs.

Japanese Ramen Noodles - John and I had said earlier in the week that we wanted to make our own ramen (after we'd visited the only restaurant we could find serving Japanese noodles in Birmingham and it was rubbish), so we'll definitely be using these to make a bowl of yumminess sometime soon!
Homemade Jam - I love anything homemade, and so I can't wait to try these 3 interesting jams (damson,                     ), all made out of fruit from Kathryn's garden.
Flaxseed (plain and cocoa) - This is something I've been meaning to try for ages, having seen it on lots of trendy blogs, but now I've got some, I don't really know what to do with it! Any good ideas anyone?!
Fruit and Nut Bunny Cookies - These were yummy and have all been eaten long ago!
Bunny card with a recipe for hummus and a can of chickpeas - You will notice a distinct absence of chickpeas, because pretty soon after the parcel arrived, John stole them to put in the Moroccan tagine he was making for tea. I will, however, buy some more and make Kathryn's yummy sounding hummus recipe soon. 

Thank you for such a lovely parcel Kathryn! 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Summery Smoked Mackerel Pate

Spring finally seems to have made it's way to England, and the weather is starting to hint at picnics, bike rides, BBQs and dresses. It might not be quite there yet, but it's definitely got me in the mood to start eating like it's the summer. We've eaten lunch outside a couple of days, still firmly wrapped up in jumpers, and it's so lovely to feel a bit of sunshine! 

This delicious pate always makes me feel summery, even if you eat it in the middle of December. It's a doddle to make, and makes for a scrummy and easy lunch. The fresh creamy, lemony flavour means that it'll be sunny for your tastebuds, even if it's gloomy outside! 

Start by breaking up the mackerel into a bowl and removing the skin and any bones, then add in all the other ingredients.

And mash up with a fork until it's a gorgeous smush

250g smoked mackerel fillets
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 tbsp double cream/single cream/creme fraiche
2 tsp lemon juice (fresh ideally, or from a bottle is OK too)
Black pepper to taste

1. Use your hands to remove the skin from the mackerel fillets. Break flesh into a bowl, feeling for and removing any remaining bones.
2. Add all the other ingredients and mix together with a fork, breaking down the fish. If you wanted, you could blend all or half of the mixture at this point for a much smoother pate. I prefer it left chunky though. Adjust flavourings to taste.
3. Enjoy, spread on wholemeal bagels/bread/biscuits, with sliced cucumber.

A perfect spring lunch! 

And there was enough leftovers for a bento lunch the next day!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Date and Orange Flapjack Slice

Today was a day for baking and cooking and spending all morning in the kitchen. I made a Japanese (ish) bento for the first time in ages, with a whole selection of my favourite things, but when I posted my photos on instagram, it was the photo of the date and orange flapjack slice I made that got all the likes.

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. After all, the recipe did come from my Mum and she is known for her delicious, crowd pleasing cakes. There are so many cakes that she makes regularly and all of them are delicious; smartie cookies, brownies, date loaf, caramel shortbread, mars bar cake, hot cross buns, chocolate biscuit cake, dark ginger cake, ginger shortbread, apple your mouth watering yet? Whilst none of the recipes are of her own devising, she has a hoarders instinct for finding fantastic recipes from here there and everywhere! When my friends and I were at University, she did a fantastic job of posting cakes round to everyone when budgets were low and exam stress high. While I tell myself my friends visit my house to see me, the amount of time we always seem to spend in the kitchen suggests that Mum's cake tins are a definite draw too!

Despite all these delicious offerings, I've only ever posted one, chocolate brownies, which is probably the most generic of all her recipes! It is really yummy though, so give it a go if you want something super easy. After I'd posted the photo of my flapjack, 2 of my friends asked for the recipe, so I thought I'd share it on here. I might even share some more of her recipes too...of the list above, which one tickles your tastebuds the most?!

So anyway, today I'm going to share the orange flapjack recipe to please Stacey and Alaina! The end result is sweet and gooey, not nearly as dry as a usual flapjack, but because of all those oats you can still kid yourself it's vaguely healthy! I'm normally a flapjack hater, but I love it, and my boyfriend is normally a citrus hater, but he loves it. Basically, its yummy. Make it, eat it.

Date and Orange Flapjack Slice Recipe

4oz (100g) self raising flour
6oz (150g) porridge oats
6oz (150g) soft brown sugar (today I used half muscavado and half white castor)
6oz (150g) marg (if you use a dairy free marg, the whole recipe is vegan. I used Pure Soya)
1 large orange, rind and juice (separately)
8oz (200g) roughly chopped dates
Pinch bicarb of soda (baking soda)

Preheat oven to gas mark 5/190C/375F and line a 6"x8" (roughly) tin with non stick paper.
Put dates, orange juice and bicarb in a small saucepan. Add a large splash of water, so the dates are mostly covered. Heat over a low heat, stirring frequently, until the dates disintergrate and it turns into a delicious sticky mess. Put to one side to cool slightly.
Melt the marg, then stir in flour, oats, sugar and orange rind.
Put half the oat mixture into the tin and press down. It needs some help to get it to cover the whole bottom, but a lot of squishing will get it there.
Spread all of the date mixture over the top.
Cover with the rest of the oat mixture. This is a bit stressful, as the dates are too soft and the flapjack is too hard! Mum's top tip is to basically slice the flapjack mixture up and put it on top of the dates sliced up, so you don't have to spread it. My take is just to grab bits, use my fingers to smoosh them flat and dump them on the top. Either way works!
Put in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Take out and leave to cool in the tin.

All boxed up and ready to send to this month's foodie penpal! 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Snow Business: Snowman Onigiri and Polar Bear Cupcakes

This post is one I wrote a while ago too, back when it first snowed. Since its April, you'd think it'd be way behind the times, but we went for a walk along the canals this week and there's still snow around. Will it ever be spring?!

I hate snow. A winter spent in northern Japan will do that to you. Add to that the fact that I was travelling all over the country while the snowstorms were going on last week, and you have the recipe for a rather grumpy girl! Luckily, the leader of the Brownie pack I help with came up with a solution...the Snow Challenge badge! For those of you who don't do Guiding, challenge badges are exactly what they sound like; you do a selection of challenges and then you get a badge! 

This Snow Challenge involved doing some outdoor activities in the snow, but also choosing some indoor ones to do too. Unsurprisingly, I chose the food challenges! The two for this badge were making a wintery meal, and decorating some cupcakes or biscuits with a winter theme. So, I cheered myself with having a baking and decorating session!

To start with, snowmen onigiri. Rice balls, filled with chicken mayo, decorated with nori, carrot, mangetout and ham. These were so fun to make, and really easy (although a circle punch would have made them less fiddly!)

This one got a hat too!

I also decorated some polar bear cupcakes! The recipe and idea came out of a magazine John's Mum gave me for Christmas, and as soon as I saw how cute they were I just had to make them! Other than the marshmallows as decoration, the recipe is entirely vegan. I nearly had a panic attack when I realised I was halfway through making a cake with no EGGS but I succeeded! My friend, Stacey, helped me and we decorated a whole family!  They were really fun to make, quite easy, and tasted DELICIOUS! 

Mummy and Daddy bear in muffin cases, and a baby made in a normal cake case. 

Recipe for Polar Bear Cupcakes
200g plain flour
75g dessicated coconut
100g caster sugar
30g almonds (I used ground almonds when I made it, but my mum used mixed chopped nuts. Both worked)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb. of soda
190ml coconut milk
4tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
To decorate
White marshmallows, both normal and mini ones
Dark chocolate/black writing icing/edible pen
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp hot water
150g dessicated coconut

Preheat oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6
Whisk together coconut milk, oil and vanilla. Mix in flour, coconut, sugar, almonds, baking powder and bicarb. 
Spoon into cupcake cases. As shown above, you can make large or small ones, depending on your preference. 
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until risen and golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool.
Cut the large marshmallows in half, and draw paw prints and muzzles on them (4 paws for each muzzle). Pipe dots on the small ones for eyes and ears. 
Mix icing sugar with lemon juice and hot water to make the icing. Put the dessicated coconut on a plate. Once the cakes are cool, cover with the lemon juice and roll the cake in the coconut until covered. Use the rest of the icing to stick the marshmallows to the polar bear. 

Death by knife!

If you want the cake but not the fuss, it still tastes yummy as a plain, big cake too! 

Great British Bake Off Challenge: Chocolate Roulade

I made this a while ago, and the photos have been patiently waiting until I could be bothered to type it up! 

When my whole family got together just after Christmas (I told you this was old!), Mum knew I would happily make the dessert. A quick look down the list of Great British Bake Off technical challenges, and one definitely popped out at me...a decadent chocolate roulade. Now way back when I was doing my GCSEs, in Food Tech, we had to design a cake. I made lemon swiss roll with a variety of flavourings. I spent weeks trying out different flavourings, sizes, toppings and ingredients, and so I like to think of myself as a bit of a dab hand at rolled up cake! Whether its because of this past practise, or just because this cake was really easy, this came together beautifully, and left the whole family in a state of chocolately bliss! 

6oz good quality dark chocolate
6 free range eggs
6oz castor sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
300ml double cream (this is how much Mary Berry's recipe asked for, but we used a lot less, maybe only 180ml or so)
Icing sugar, to dust

Method, with photos:
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas mark 4.
Line a 13x9 inch tin with greaseproof paper.

You start by melting the chocolate, then separate the eggs, with all 6 yolks in one large bowl, and all six whites in another. Whisk the egg whites until stiff (not dry, you should be able to hold them upside down without it falling out). Add the sugar to the egg yolks and whist until the mixture leaves a ribbony trail when the whisk is lifted.

Stir the melted chocolate into the egg yolks. 

Fold the egg whites into the egg/chocolate mixture. Do 2 tbsp first to loosen the mixture, then add the rest and fold in gently. Try to keep as much air in as possible. Sift in cocoa powder and gently mix in. 

Pour into a tin, and level by tilting the tin and gently encouraging with a spoon. Try not to squash out more air than you can help. Bake for 20-25 mins until risen and the top feels firm and slightly crisp. 

Once its out, leave it to cool completely in the tin. While its cooling, whip your cream. If you have a crazy father like mine who is convinced he can't eat cream, make some buttercream for his section. That does make it horrendously sickly, but my Dad has the sweetest tooth known to man! 

Once the roulade is cooked, get a large bit of greaseproof paper, sprinkle it with icing sugar and turn the roulade onto it, with a long edge nearest you. Peel off the paper that it was cooked with. Spread it with the cream, leaving a border along each long edge. Make a cut, about 1cm in from the edge, along the edge closest to you, halfway down through the sponge. Starting from this edge, roll it up. Be quite firm, and use the paper to help if you want. It doesn't matter if it cracks. 

Put it onto a serving dish and serve! It was DELICIOUS. It doesn't need anything with it, and you'll feel sick after even a small piece, but it'll be in that very satisfied, I still want to eat more kind of way. 

Next time you have a need for a fancy pudding, make this. You won't regret it! Just make sure there aren't too many people coming over. You'll definitely want leftovers. 

Original recipe is here, on  the Great British Bake Off section of BBC food

February and March food round-up

It's been a while since I've done much blogging. I've been moving, settling into Birmingham, finding a job, and just generally been feeling rather uninspired recently. But everything is pretty much on track now. John has a job, I have a job (hopefully), we're moving into a lovely new flat next month, we're meeting people, getting involved with things again, etc. It's lovely. And since I won a prize (of a month's supply of Able and Cole vegetable boxes - more of that in a future post, I'm sure) through Bits and Bobs Becs and Fay's Food Fables Meat Free March, I've been reinspired to take up blogging properly again. It might last, it might not, but lets see how it goes!! 

For this first post back, I'm going to do a quick round-up of some of the favourite thing I've made in the last couple of months. As you can see, I've been baking a lot! I've done more actual yummy cooking too, but I'll save that for some more detailed blog posts later! 

Valentines Day cupcakes for my Dad

Sweet sushi

I haven't stopped bento-ing, but I haven't had much call for it recently. This was one snack bento I made for me and my parents to share on a walk. 

Definitely the best things about Birmingham is the amazing collection of world foods available everywhere. We've been experimenting with food for all over the globe! This was for an Indian feast! 

Caribbean Pineapple beans with fried plantain and brown rice

Biscuit tree tower! So much fun to make! I used Mary Berry's Easter biscuit recipe, which was easy and delish!

Decorating hot cross buns for Easter! These ones had swirls to separate them from the other batch, since I don't like candied peel in mine!