Checking into Hong Kong

I am so sorry it’s been a while since my last update! I’ve packed a bag and I’ve gone travelling! Not many recipes to update but plenty of photos in the next coming days to entertain you.

First stop: Hong Kong

I haven’t been back in about 6 years and lets just say it’s a long overdue visit. As soon as I landed I hit a supermarket to stock up on my favourite snacks and pick up dinner! Check it out!!

20140621-224212-81732759.jpg

My first meal when I landed. Clockwise from bottom right corner: Mixed meat cuts of broiled chicken in ginger and spring onion, roast duck and honey roast pork. Braised tofu with pak choi and carrots in oyster sauce. Plum sauce. Ginger and spring onion oil dip. Sweet and sour pork with peaches!

After dinner I hit the supermarkets to pick up a few snacks…

20140621-224632-81992267.jpg

Best candy aisle ever!

Nirvana Spa – Berkshire

nirvana spa

It has been a rather stressful year for both my sister and I, since we can’t make time for a holiday we both took a day off work to check into a spa for the full on pampering experience.

Nirvana spa is a little paradise away from the fast paced, sardines in a tin can, life in the rat race, world of city dwellers in a smog filled environment surrounded by cloying petrol cars. So prepare yourself to journey into a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is aptly named Nirvana.

My sister highly recommended Nirvana spa after she attended a friends Birthday there. In her words, “you’re a fish and you’re going to love it!” We bought the “Just the two of us” package for £290 which included lunch, free use of all the facilities, unlimited drinks, a 40 minutes floatation treatment, a complimentary skincare consultation, free hire of robes and towels and a full body Swedish massage. Lets just say we were feeling incredibly relaxed afterwards.

True to her words and for all you water loving people out there, Nirvana spa is worth every penny! The 40 minute floatation treatment in the celestial pool, helped relax the mind, body and soul. 60 tonnes of Dead Sea Salt and 21 skin enhancing minerals, 40 minuets of complete weightlessness and you feel as if you’ve slept for 5 hours…wow!

It didn’t stop there either, there were a number of different pools and hot tubs to choose from, some located in the spa garden. Everyone is incredibly friendly, customer service is first class and the lunch provided was wholesome and filling with a wide variety of hot and cold salads and grilled meats.

Not quite believing we could spend the entire day and evening at the spa, from the time we checked in at 10am we didn’t leave till 11pm. So, if you’re like me and enjoy being in the water, find your way to a Nirvana spa.

 

 

Pavlova

photo 1

Strawberries are coming into season and if you’re looking for a light, fruity dessert then look no further than the humble pavlova. So many times I have tried making a basic meringue and failed, this recipe however I have tried time and time again and has never failed me.

You can make 18 mini pavlovas with this recipe or one giant one!

This is taken from Nigella Lawson’s book How to be a Domestic Goddess.

Ingredients

  • large egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 500 grams caster sugar
  • teaspoons cornflour
  • scant teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 750 ml whipping cream (whipped)
  • 750 grams blackberries
  • 750 grams raspberries
  • sprinkling of icing sugar (for dusting)

Method

You will need 3 baking sheets, lined with parchment.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4/350ºF.
  2. Whisk the egg whites with the salt until they’re holding firm peaks but are not stiff. Gently add in the sugar, spoonful after spoonful, still beating, until you’ve got a bowl full of gleaming, satiny, snowy meringue. Sprinkle the cornflour, a few drops of vanilla and the vinegar on top and fold in to combine.
  3. Draw 6 circles of approximately 10cm / 4 inch circles (using a pint glass as a guide, if this helps) on each of the parchment-lined sheets.
  4. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment into the delineated circles, and spread and smooth to fill. You want to make the meringue slightly higher at the rims, or just use the back of the spoon to make an indentation in the centre to hold the cream and fruit later.
  5. Put into the oven, turn it down to 150ºC/gas mark 2/300ºF, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave them in for another 30 minutes, then take out of the oven to cool. I just transfer them, on their baking parchment, to wire racks.
  6. When you want to assemble them, dollop cream into the indentation, and smooth it with the back of a spoon, leaving the odd peak. Place, one by one, a few blackberries and a few raspberries so that they look well filled but not crammed. Dust with icing sugar.

photo 2

 

Australian Crunch

20121204-092846.jpg

Fond memories of school dinner puddings and desserts. The Australian Crunch! Thick coconutty crunchy goodness with a layer of peppermint cream and a thick slab of chocolate on top. Have it with custard or just as it is, watch out though they are incredibly moreish.

This recipe was taken from a Be-Ro cookbook, for those of you old enough to remember, those books were a staple in Home economics class. Keep an eye out for them because I have yet to come across a recipe that has failed me.

Ingredients

225 g (8 oz) margarine
150 g (5 oz) caster sugar
75 g (3 oz) desiccated coconut
75 g (3 oz) crushed Cornflakes
1 x 15 ml spoon (1 tbsp) cocoa powder, sieved
150 g (5 oz) Be-Ro Self Raising Flour
100 g (4 oz) chocolate melted 

Method

1 Heat oven to 180ºC, 350ºF, Gas Mark 4. Grease a Swiss roll tin 31 x 21 cm (12½ x 8 inch).
2 Melt the margarine over a low heat.
3 Stir in the sugar, coconut, cornflakes, cocoa and flour. Mix well.
4 Turn into the tin and level with a knife. Bake for 20 minutes.
5 When almost cold cut into squares or triangles.
6 Cover with melted chocolate if wished.

 

 

Brighton – Small Batch

Small Batch

It’s gastro style coffee at it’s best, nestled away in Jubilee square next to myHotel. If you get there early enough then you must sample the fresh chocolate twists and almond croissants. Not to mention a selection of cakes, cookies and sandwiches. Perfect place to people watch, catch up on news or get a quick bite to eat. Did I mention the really good looking baristas?

 

Brighton – Cafe Coho

cafe-coho

A cafe to kick back and relax in. People watch, read, draw inspiration from the view and everyone around you.

I like the one situated on Ship Street, there are a few others dotted about Brighton. Serving beautifully presented hot and cold food, cakes and pastries, teas and coffees. If you are looking for fantastic food, warm and friendly customer service then this is the place to come.

On one of my spontaneous trips to Brighton, visiting a couple of friends, they had to jump up and down on top of the bed to get me up so we could go out for breakfast. During the weekends, this little cafe is a hive of activity and if you’re slow to get there, there won’t be any space! Well worth the wait if your tummy isn’t arguing with you!

 

Strawberry Windmill Gateau

Windmill Gateau

I only came across this recipe by chance whilst playing Baking Roulette with my sister. This is taken from the book, McDougalls Better Baking. It’s a classic Victoria Sponge all dressed up on top. Really simple, looks stunning, the sponge is extremely light and perfect for when strawberries are in season. No strawberries, no matter pile on any other soft fruits to enjoy with a cup of tea. Perfection!

Ingredients

100 g Softened Butter
100 g Caster Sugar
100 g Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
250 ml Double Cream
1 punnet Fresh Strawberries

 

Method

  1. Prepare the cake mixture by creaming the butter and sugar until pale, lightly beat the eggs into the mixture incorporating a spoonful of flour at a time.
  2. Divide the mixture into three greased and lined 18 cm sandwich tins.
  3. Bake the sponge mixture for 20-25 minutes until firm to touch at 180c. Turn the cakes out onto a cooling wire.
  4. Whip the double cream and sandwich two of the sponges together.
  5. Spread the remaining cream on top of the cake and cut the final sponge cake into 8 equal triangles.
  6. Place the triangles on top of the cake in a fan shape and decorate with the fresh strawberries and a light dusting of icing sugar.

 

Top Tip

When sandwiching the sponge cakes together, use some warmed up strawberry jam before spreading on the whipped cream, place some strawberry halves on top of the whipped cream before sandwiching the cakes together. Now this makes for a truly decadent gateau brought up to date.

Roast Chicken Soup

Chicken soup

Sainsbury’s new advertisement for Making your Roast go Further. Not only can you make an easy, fresh and filling meal for the next day but you can also save yourself some money! Here, I decided to put that to the test.

Roast Chicken and Root Vegetable Soup (serves 4)

This is a very clever recipe using up all your left over chicken and roast vegetables from your Sunday roast. Here’s the best part, you cook everything in one pot! Keeps well in an air tight container in the fridge for a couple of days. Really easy, super quick and yes it is a recipe that works!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 800g (total weight) left over cooked roast vegetables, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 x 15g pack of fresh thyme, leaves washed and picked
  • 1 litre chicken stock made from chicken stock cube
  • 300g leftover roast chicken, shredded
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • creme fraiche to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the leftover vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes, adding the garlic and the thyme for the final minute.
  3. Add the chicken stock and the chicken to cook, covered, for 5-10 minutes, until the chicken is piping hot. Stir in the lemon juice.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove about half the vegetables and chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Using a stick blender, whizz the soup in the pan until smooth(or blend in a food processor), then return the reserved chicken and vegetables to the pan and heat through.
  6. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of thyme

Ultimate Fudge

Using a tin of condensed milk and a lot of elbow grease and muscle power, this recipe only takes 15 minutes to prepare and mix up and another 25-30 minutely for the fudge to set properly. It is worth the work and the wait!

This recipe was taken from the Carnation website, super simple to follow, just make sure to keep stirring that pot and watch you don’t burn yourself. Hot sugar burns the worst!

20121211-183806.jpg

 

Ingredients

  • 397 g Tin of Condensed Milk
  • 150 ml Full fat milk
  • 450 g Demerara sugar
  • 115 g Butter

Method

  1. Place the ingredients into a large non-stick saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously and scraping the base of the pan. Take care while the mixture boils and during stirring as the fudge will be VERY hot! To test its ready drop a little of the mixture into a jug of ice-cold water. A soft ball of fudge should form. Or check with a sugar thermometer if you have one (approx 118°C).
  3. Remove from the heat and beat the fudge until very thick and starting to set (about 10 minutes). 
  4. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to cool before cutting into squares.

Depending on how you like your fudge this one is slightly crumbly with a soft buttery texture. There is still a heavy taste of condensed milk in the fudge, although reading other reviews just add a few glugs of baileys or vanilla extract and hey presto, flavoured fudge!

 

Sugar scrub those lips!

Lush scrubI’m not sure about you but this cold and blustery weather we are experiencing in England has my lips all dry, sore and chapped. Only one thing for it! I head on down to my local Lush store and I picked up one of their lip sugar scrubs.

I was given one a long time ago and now it seems to be permenantly in my handbag. This time, I chose Mint Julips. Packed full of sugar crystals to gently buff away the dry flaky skin, jojoba oil to moisturise and the minty peppermint oil leaving your lips fresh and a little tingly.

Give it a go!!