Sunday, 29 September 2013

Vanille Kipferl de Sébastien

I just had the best time of my life. 

I catered for my friends' 3-year anniversary dinner and made them a 5 course meal.  I honestly enjoyed it better than they did.

Here's the menu

Amuse bouche of 3 mini crostinis -- pumpkin seed butter, parmesan and lemon ; miso ricotta and roasted tomatoes : ricotta with wholegrain mustard, basil, anchovies and orange zest.  
Appetizer -- ricotta gnocchi with herbs and lemon
Main - Romesco sauce potato cakes and spiced chicken
Dessert -- Torta Caprese with whipped cream
Petit fours -- crostini with dark chocolate and sea salt flakes ; hazelnut cinnamon crescent cookie ; chocolate hazelnut cookies ; crostini with white wine syrup soaked apricots, orange zest and mint. 

It wasn't bad.  Oh I loved it so much, thank you Kelsey and Nathan -- hands down my favorite couple. 

ANYWAY.  How does that relate to these cookies.  Well, I got the recipe for the hazelnut cookies I made tonight from the same cookbook as these cookies right here. And these raspberry chocolate cookies.   Yea it's a fantastic pastry book.  A bit on the $$ side, but it was a worthwhile investment for me.  I really only spend money on cookbooks and kitchen stuff and food.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Simple Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Guys, download the Martha Stewart Cookies App.  It's so pretty.  I really appreciate good-looking applications, especially on my iPad.  Nothing like cooking to a beautifully designed recipe page on a  9.7 inch 2048x1536 resolution at 264 ppi screen.
 These simple coconut macaroons is just a matter of mixing in the ingredients, putting them in greased muffin cups and baking them. 

These aren't very sweet.  I served them with my zabaione at a dinner party, but you can dust them icing sugar and they become perfect with coffee and tea.  The original recipe also included flaked almonds.  On a side note, I managed to throw a dinner party for 8 people for £8.   Homemade pizzas, flatbreads, spreads and sauces along with a lentil salad.  Mmm.  I don't know what I'm doing with my life, I keep cooking and hosting these dinner parties (I know I usually do, but for the past week, despite the lack of blog posts, I've been cooking loads and not studying much...)

Monday, 23 September 2013


Like all children, I wasn't a big fan of alcohol-infused sweets.  I loathed those chocolates, rum babas and especially zabaione -- the classic Italian custard made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine.  It's absolutely delicious but I was a silly child.   It's funny how your tastes change. 

Fortunately, now I love the alcohol taste in everything.  In fact, all desserts could benefit from a shot of rum to give it that kick and excitement.  All meats could benefit from a splash of red wine to give it more depth, and all fish could benefit from a dash of white for extra flavor.   Dear hardcore Muslims, sorry, you don't know what you're missing. 

This custard sounds so simple, doesn't it?  It can be a very refined dessert if you serve it in a shot glass with a spongefinger on the side.  It's also great with fruits, or just on its own, really.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies

Ah yes, the cookies are back.  I've said this before -- I like making cookies because they're easy to bring around and give to people.  I brought them to the library to spread the joy and I gave one to a friend who was stressing about an essay.  I think the cookie made his day, he even sent me a facebook message afterwards thanking me for it.  Maybe it didn't make his day but it made his day a bit better, I hope.... and this is why I cook :) I just want to make people happy with my food.
 So this is a recipe from Christophe Felder -- what a pastry chef, if you don't already know him.  His book, Patisserie - Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry is fantastic.  Step-by-step pictures and instructions -- it makes life easier and the cookbook more appetizing.  It's also a cool book because it's a pink hardcover 800-page book.  

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Orecchiette with Zucchini, Saffron & Leeks

Italian men are impossible to please when it comes to cooking.  Especially Southern Italian men, and especially with pasta.  They will always always compare your meal to that of their mother's and trust me -- it'll never match up to that.

True story: I was cooking with my cousin and her boyfriend and we were making courgette, saffron and prawn pasta.  I was chopping the onions, my cousin was dicing the courgettes, and her boyfriend was there complaining.  His mother sliced, rather than diced the courgettes.  Yes, that was apparently a legitimate complaint.  They’re both over 20, might I add.   And this is not a rare case.  This is also why I hate cooking for my Southern Italian father. 

However, fortunately, my flatmate’s not picky at all with the way I cut my vegetables.  I personally think courgettes are better diced in pastas, but I suppose it depends.  Here’s the recipe of a vegetarian version of the pasta. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Matcha and Orange Baked Oatmeal

I'M ALL MOVED IN!  Finally. It's such a beautiful house and I have such a wonderful relationship with my flatmate where she pretty much just lets me cook everything and she'll eat it -- it's ideal, don't worry, she's not taking advantage of me.  Every morning we have breakfast together, then lunch and dinner, I can't imagine having as good of a relationship with a man.
So, anyway, I've settled in, everything's good.  The kitchen's good but I'm still trying to figure out the oven.  As you can see from the photos, one side of my breakfast today is burnt....  Currently I'm baking cookies and I think that my oven is..... I think it's only a grill... I think the heat is only coming from above.. Oh God this is going to be a long year...

Friday, 13 September 2013

Vegan Stuffed Cabbage

My Grandmother once had a Romanian caretaker who was an awful cook.   Every time we went to visit, she insisted on cooking for us, and, every time, we unwillingly put everything down that fake smile of ours.  But when we cooked -- oh, when we cooked proper Italian food, she wouldn't eat it and would make her own food.   My family also disliked her for many other reasons, but yes, that wasn't nice. 

One of her "specialties" was her stuffed cabbage.  I've had good stuffed cabbage, I had a Romanian neighbor who made me stuffed cabbage and they were delicious.  It's usually rice and minced meat used for the stuffing, that woman's was more like rice and just roughly chopped up lard -- they were revolting.

Anyway, since I'm again on one of my vegan phases (yes, it started out as a challenge but now I do it quite regularly), I've decided to attempt a vegan version of this.

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