Sunday, 20 July 2014

Zebra Print Birthday Cake

 My beautiful little girl turned eight this weekend. Ever since March, she has known she wanted a Zebra Print cake - since seeing my gorgeous friend's Leopard Skin Cake!

I loved making this for her...

zebra theme birthday
Zebra Print Birthday Cake

9" square cake (recipe x 2)
7" square cake (recipe x 1.5)
White sugarpaste hand-painted with black food gel colouring mixed with vodka, inspired by The Krazy Kool Cakes.
Fondant bow in pink sugarpaste based on Make Fabulous Cakes.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Skinnee Chicken (with homemade kebab shop chilli sauce) Recipe

Flicking through August's Good Housekeeping, scanning for a spontaneous, quick supper, I came across a promotion for a brand of cooking spray, and a Lebanese recipe for Chicken Fattee, by James Ramsden.
Chicken Fattee is a Lebanese dish made up of layers, based on dried bread toasted in butter, with various toppings, the top layer always a yoghurt dressing. I had only about half the ingredients - which is why I've re-named it - so I improvised (a lot) and ended up with a delicious grilled chicken dish served with a chilli sauce just like one you'd get in a decent kebab shop! (Not that I would frequent one of those too often... ahem.)
Himself was pleased anyway...
lebanese chicken recipe
Chicken Skinnee

Serves 2
400 g chicken fillets
Olive oil (in spray form if you have it)
1 tbsp harissa spice mix (use ras el hanout for a real Lebanese flavour)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 stick cinnamon
300 ml tomato passata
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tortillas (or pitta)
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
3 inch cucumber, diced
Grill the chicken for about 3-4 minutes each side. Slice into bite-sized pieces.
Pan-fry the onion for a few minutes, then add in the garlic until softened. Add the harissa spice mix, chilli flakes, and cinnamon and fry for less than a minute then add in the tomato passata, red wine vinegar, and sugar. Simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened.
Dice up the salad - red onion, pepper and cucumber.
Grill the tortillas, with a spray of olive oil, for 1 minute each side until crisp, then quarter.

Serve the tortilla, topped with the tomato chilli sauce, then the sliced chicken and salad.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Zilouf's Islington - Restaurant Review

My brief for a girlie night out (really out, not just the local pub - Mums On The Town) was cocktails, cocktails and some food to set us up for the evening. Zilouf's ticked all the boxes. Located towards the Highbury end of Upper Street, we entered a seemingly regular pub, the clientele young, gorgeous and trendy (we fitted it perfectly, obviously). At the back, a dining room, cosy and quirky - some of the wallpaper could be construed as slightly rude, were they leaves, were they...?

Lovely, attentive and knowledgeable staff advised us on the cocktail menu, classics with a twist. Or, as we discovered, 'blow-your-head-off cocktails!' First round was a Margarita, a Mojito and a strawberry Daiquiri, giving the nod to the classics, along with a Hoxton 100 (ginger, lychee, chilli, lemon and fizz) and an Overproof Hurricane (a blend of rums, pineapple, Cointreau, lime, spices, and passionfruit). Strong, was one word. Second round was mainly Hoxton 100s. Oh yes, good choice.

The tapas-style small plates were perfect for sharing. Of the ten dishes on the menu we ordered eight, leaving out only the sprouting broccoli (I mean, who needs that on a night out) and the steak tartare - it's too rare for some people. But the dishes we chose were a selection of mouth-watering plates, all modern with an Asian-fusion theme. From the pork belly to the prawn toast, the flavours were zingy, fiery and oh-so-tasty, the seared salmon was 'lush', the cuttlefish fritter, 'unusual', and the spiced crispy beef the 'chilli-est' dish we had. A couple of vegetarian options - beetroot and feta salad, and a miso and apple concoction complemented pretty well, as did the triple cooked chips with mustard aioli. Feeling full - but not too stuffed, it was great to taste a little of everything, and head out for the rest of the evening with tingling tongues, taking the atmospheric buzz of Zilouf's with us.

270 Upper Street 
N1 2QU
Tel: 020 7226 1118
Cocktails: £7.50-9.00
Dinner: ~£35 p/p
Square Meal Ziloufs on Urbanspoon

Friday, 27 June 2014

Chocolate and White Chocolate Fudge Cakes Recipe

After some lovely feedback from the School Fete last week, I thought I would share the recipe for those fudge cupcakes. I used a recipe from a little book called Cupcakes & Muffins, 100 everyday recipes, by Love Food - I've had this in my cupboard for years and dip into occasionally, for just such occasions. As always I changed a few things to suit myself and what I had to hand. Interestingly, this recipe has no eggs which was one of the reasons I chose to make them, as Himself had decided to have French toast for breakfast...


Makes ~20

200 ml water
85 g butter
85 g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
225 g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa


50 g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
4 tbsp water
50 g butter
50 g white chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Godiva callets)
350 g icing sugar (I used Sugar&Crumbs Peach Melba flavoured icing sugar)
sprinkles or chocolate shavings, to decorate


Line your muffin tin with paper cases, and heat the oven to 180 C/gas 4.

Place the water, butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

Place the milk and vanilla extract in a bowl and dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in this. In a separate mixing bowl, sift the flour and cocoa, and then add the cooled syrup mixture. Stir in the milk mixture and beat until smooth. Spoon the batter into the paper cases.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until risen and firm to touch. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

For the topping, melt the plain chocolate with half the water and half the butter, in a Bain Marie. Stir until smooth, then leave to stand.
Repeat with the white chocolate, and remaining water and butter.
Sift half the icing sugar into each bowl and beat until smooth and thick.

When the cupcakes are cold, top alternately with each icing and leave to set. Decorate with sprinkles or chocolate shavings.

Monday, 23 June 2014

School Fete Baking and a Meringue Mission

The Squids had their school fete on Saturday - raising money for new equipment and building work for the school. A great opportunity to de-clutter their room! And a wonderful excuse to bake, bake, bake. Sugar & Crumbs sent me some Peach Melba flavoured icing sugar recently and I've been waiting for a chance to try it out on people.

I only kept one for myself...

Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Peach Melba Frosting (50p each)

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Chocolate Peach Melba Frosting (£1 each)


Also at the fete, I bumped into Felicity, food editor of Woman, who was selling a huge range of beautifully flavoured meringues, made by her own fair hand, to raise money for Mission Direct in order to help the people of the Dominican Republic rebuild their homes and their lives after the Haiti earthquake. She is travelling there in August with her children, so if you can, please help her on her Meringue Mission.

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Spice Tailor Chicken Korma

The Spice Tailor's sauce range come with a sachet of dried spices, a marinade and a sauce. Anjum Anand is a well known Indian chef - you may have seen her on BBC 2's Indian Food Made Easy based on her cookbook - and has now launched a range of sauces which you can cook at home for easy results and restaurant-quality dishes.

"Sauces so tasty and authentic, you'll think you've died and gone to India!"

They sent me their Korma Curry to try, in return for leaving some feedback on their website, which I have done. I'm not usually a huge fan of Korma, as I like my curry HOT, but recently the kids have given into their fear of spice, and have actually started eating Korma. I will always remember the day I got in from work and they came running to tell me in delight that they were eating chicken curry! Finally! Himself had made some with a jar of Sharwoods and some coconut milk, and they actually loved it.

So I thought I'd try this on them. I marinaded the chicken for about an hour, cooked off the spices as instructed, and added in the marinated chicken for a few minutes, followed by the sauce for a few more, and served it up with rice and peas. I told them it's not the same as the one Daddy makes, so that they were a little hesitant, but try it they did, and they scoffed the lot. They did say it tasted different, but still good!

The Spice Tailor Korma Curry 
Kids' version at it's simplest.
Of course I had to spice it up for my own dinner, so I added two Bird's Eye chillies and some dessicated coconut, with fresh coriander. I even attempted homemade chapatis! Which are surprisingly easy, and went with the Korma really well. 

I would certainly buy this again for the kids, and it would certainly be nice to have some of the other curry sauces in the range as a fall back for a quick curry when grinding spices, marinading meat and simmering for hours just isn't feasible. Washed down with a couple of Cobra beers -  the perfect Friday!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Spicy Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas Recipe

A quick and spicy recipe for Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas - not all that authentic I don't think but it got a 10 out of 10 from Himself...
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Serves: 2
2 chicken breasts, cubed,
3-4 tsp jerk seasoning (a mixture of allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, onion, thyme, and salt)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fresh Bird's Eye chillies (or Scotch Bonnets), chopped
Fresh coriander, chopped,
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tsp runny honey
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pepper
6-8 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cup rice
3 tbsp frozen peas
1 small stick cinnamon 
Marinade the chicken in the jerk seasoning, coriander, white wine vinegar, honey, garlic, chilli, and olive oil.
Prepare the rice by placing in a saucepan in 2 cups of water with the cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat.
Stir fry the peppers for 3-4 minutes, then throw in the chopped tomatoes and the marinated chicken, with the marinade.
Stir fry until the chicken is cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Make sure the white wine vinegar has cooked off and the sauce thickened a little.
Towards the end of cooking add the peas to the rice.
Once the rice is cooked, serve with the chicken in its sauce.