Sunday, 31 October 2010

Lemon Polenta Cake

"If you were to imagine what lemon curd would taste like in cake form, this would be it."

Yes, you guessed it, this is from Nigella Kitchen... page 272.

This lemon polenta cake is utterly delicious. It's moist, buttery, rich and so refreshingly lemony. I also love the gritty, crumbly interior provided by the polenta and ground almond in place of flour here.

The dusting of icing sugar on top is my own touch to cover up the over 'goldenness' of the surface. I left the cake a little too long in the oven because I was replying to emails. Typical!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Grasshopper (Glee) Pie

Grasshopper cocktail is one of my favourite after-dinner drinks. It's sweet and refreshing. (However, it can be a little sickly if you have too many... How do I know? I've tried it.)

It's called 'grasshopper' because of its green colour which is provided by the crucial ingredient, Crème de Menthe (mint liquor). Typically the drink is made with equal parts of Crème de Menthe, Crème de Cacao Blanc (white chocolate liquor), and milk or cream. This is a 'shaken' cocktail which simply means all the ingredients are poured into a cocktail shaker with ice and then shake to mix before straining into a chilled cocktail glass. If you wish, a light dusting of cocoa powder at the end makes the cocktail extra special.

I was watching an episode of Glee last year, The Rhodes Not Taken. April Rhodes (played by the adorable Kristin Chenoweth) made her first appearance on Glee, if you can't remember what happened in this episode; and the Glee club performed one of my favourite performances from them, 'Somebody to Love'.

Anyway, let me get to my point, also in this episode, a character (Mrs. Schuester) ate four slices of grasshopper pie and I thought, "edible, chewable cocktail? I've got to try it!". But I didn't as I was busy with my other cooking project at the time.

This recipe is from from Nigella's new cook book Kitchen (The Nigella project may have already begun before I know it). And guess what? Her inspiration for this pie was from Glee!!

The base/crust of the pie is made with bourbon biscuits, dark chocolate and butter. And the delicious filling is made by melting some marshmallows with milk, adding the two necessary liquors and folding this mixture to some whipped cream. You can enhance the green-ness by adding a few drops of food colouring until it turns a light jade colour, but it's entirely optional. I did. I couldn't help it.

The pie then needs to chill in the fridge to set for at least four hours. I made it last night, so it's definitely ready to be served for my Glee evening with friends.

Before serving, crumble a bourbon biscuit and sprinkle on top of the pie... delicious!

So, Gleeks or not, enjoy!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Spaghetti with Marmite

Here's the truth: I never had Marmite. Not until this afternoon. People say and even its adverts say it's a 'love it' or 'hate it' kinda thing. And I don't like not liking things.

love or hate?

This recipe is featured in Nigella Lawson's new book "Kitchen" and there are so many recipes I want to try and I'll start here, I guess. Are you sensing a new Nigella project?! Well, maybe...

There are only four ingredients in this dish, spaghetti, butter, marmite and parmesan cheese; and a little bit of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce.

And my verdict on Spaghetti with Marmite: it's delicious. I'm not sure how to describe the taste of marmite. It's salty, savoury, like beef stock cube or concentrated gravy. I think it's still too early for me to join 'I love Marmite fan club' but I certainly do not hate it.

Have a great weekend.

Spaghetti with Marmite
Recipe by Nigella Lawson
For list of ingredients and instructions, click here.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Rum, Nigella Lawson and Cake

Last Friday, I received an email from Jamie Oliver magazine that I won a rum tasting event in London. What a nice surprise! I was gonna be in London anyway, but for another reason (I'll get to it in a sec).

Wednesday, 13 October 2010
The Rum tasting took place in the trendy, Circus Bar in Soho. There were acrobatic, fire-eating, burlesque performances throughout the evening. Hot stuffs...

The tasting itself was conducted by a guy called Jamie (not Oliver) and he knows rum. Rum is not normally my drink of choice, cider is, but expensive booze for free? Why not. We tested few different kinds of rum, from the generic commercial one to the £500 a bottle one; and also two cocktails, Mojito which I love and Jamaican Mule, made with rum, ginger beer and lemon (I think. I wasn't thinking very clearly at that point) which was also very refreshing.

At the end of the event we all received a goody bag with more rum inside, a Jamie magazine and cookbook.

My friend and I stayed a little longer at the bar and ordered the dessert platter which you can see below. They are passion fruit panna cotta, raspberry ripple and white chocolate cheesecake, chocolate trio, banana bread with chocolate ice-cream, pineapple sorbet and black forest gateaux in a jar. Oh so delicious!

Thursday, 14 October 2010 (the day I turned 23)
So, the main reason I was in London was for a book-signing event with Nigella Lawson. How exciting! for me anyway. I absolutely love Nigella Lawson. She's like a member of the family I never had or my friend's very hot mom. I have yet come to a conclusion.

At exactly 5 pm, Nigella arrived at the book store and I had to pinch myself that it was really the domestic goddess. She was so beautiful. It wasn't long until it was my turn to speak to her. I told her how happy I was to meet her and how much I like the apple and mustard sauce from her latest book, Kitchen. Nigella signed my book and she wrote Happy Birthday....

In the evening I met up with my friends, Rani and Elisabeth for dinner. At the restaurant my friends surprised me with birthday cake. It is traditional to have candles on a birthday cake, but my friends decided to challenge that custom and put a portable torch/fireworks on the coffee and walnut cake. It felt somewhat special especially when everybody sang Happy Birthday to me.... however dangerous. If you're not covered by your insurance for burn damage, please do not try this at home. The torch took ages to burn out which gave me enough time to write my will on a napkin, just in case.

the cake, the torch, my will and a frightened smile :)

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes on facebook or email. Yous all made my day.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Pumpkin Soup

So, to answer your question, of course I have not stopped cooking or eating. In fact food is all I can think about all day and then I dream about it all night...

I am the kind of person who relies heavily on food for any moods. I always believe that home-cooked meals are the best excuse for a good time and the easiest way to make any good times, better.

Even after the crappiest day, I know I can count on food for comfort (sure, the cold drinks help too).

And for me the cooking ritual itself is as equally therapeutic and pleasurable as eating the end products. From the moment I apply heat to a pan or when I turn on the oven, I know I am on my way to something good. I find repetitive activity like chopping, whisking and kneading are incredibly relaxing.

I love the sound of sizzling oil as it makes my stomach growls with excitement; the stirring around the pan, and the wonderful aroma that fills the kitchen whether it's the smell of freshly baked bread, a simple roast chicken or the pumpkin soup below...

Aaahhh... it's great to be back.

Pumpkin Soup
by Stéphane Reynaud
Serves 6

1.2 kg pumpkin
3 onions
2 tablespoons sugar
100 g butter, cubed
salt and pepper
sour cream

Peel the pumpkin and cut it into large cubes. Peel and slice the onions. Place the pieces of pumpkin with the onions in a saucepan, cover with water, add the sugar, cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the butter, purée and season. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream.