13 2 / 2014

I love baking cakes for my friends’ birthdays. To me that’s what birthdays are really all about- cake! And it’s such a nice gesture to give someone a homemade cake. I usually ask someone what their favourite cake is in advance of their birthday but whenever I’m in doubt, I make an ice cream cake. Who doesn’t love ice cream cake?! It’s wonderfully nostalgic and reminiscent of youth, not to mention insanely delicious. The addition of not one but TWO layers of brownies adds something special to this cake and makes it a bit more grown up. I surprised my roommate with this cake for his birthday and he said it was the best part of his day. 

For the cake, you will need:

1 springform cake pan (8 inches)

Butter for greasing the pan

1 tub of vanilla ice cream

1 tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream (or any other ice cream of your choice!)

Crushed oreos

For the brownie layer:

8 ounces bitterweet chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 350° F and allow the ice cream to sit at room temperature so it will spread easier.

Put the chopped chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Let cool. In a separate bowl whisk the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt for about three minutes.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine, then add in the flour and the nuts. Pour the mixture into the greased pan.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, then remove the outside of the springform pan and slice the brownie round in half horizontally. Leave the bottom half of the brownies in the pan and replace the outside of the springform pan. 

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Cover the bottom layer of the brownie with the softened vanilla ice cream. Add the other brownie on top. It’s okay if it’s a bit broken, just put it on as best as you can. 

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Top the second brownie layer with the other ice cream, smoothing the top. 

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Sprinkle with crushed Oreos and put it on a plate in the freezer.

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After the cake has been in the freezer for a couple hours and you are ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan to release the ice cream cake. Remove the side of the springform pan. Placing the bottom of an upside down glass can help. 

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15 1 / 2014

To me, there’s nothing more American (or delicious) as blueberry pancakes. Ever since I was a little girl, they’ve been in my repertoire for special breakfasts. My roommate’s birthday is today, so I decided to wake up early and make him this special birthday treat.   

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For this recipe you will need:

1 cup of flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 tablespoon of melted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan

Blueberries, maple syrup, and any extra fruit or toppings of your choice

Preheat the oven to very low, about 100° C (200° F). Have a baking sheet ready for the cooked pancakes, so you can keep them warm in the oven while you finish cooking the rest.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the egg, milk, and melted butter (make sure the butter has cooled) and stir to combine. Do not over mix- it’s okay if there are a few lumps.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and swirl in a knob of butter to coat the pan. I used two pans for speedier cooking. Once the butter is bubbling, pour about ¼ cup of the batter in the pan. Sprinkle over blueberries (or any other fruit of your choice). Once the bottom is golden brown and small bubbles form on the top, flip the pancake over and cook for another few minutes, until golden brown.

Serve warm with maple syrup and extra fruit. 

23 12 / 2013

The holidays are all about tradition and one of my absolute favorites has to be making cookies. Every year my mom will send me lots of holiday food magazines to get me in the festive spirit and on the plane ride home I’ll dog ear all the recipes I want to cook. I love greeting old friends with little bags of baked cookies- it’s such a great way to indulge in holiday spirit (and an inexpensive present!). These cookies are a grown up version of everyone’s favorite chocolate chip cookie- the salt makes them out of this world! 

For the cookies, you will need:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt 

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 large egg 

1 tsp. vanilla extract

8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Maldon or other flaky sea salt

First, preheat the oven to 375° F 190° C. 

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter with the three different sugars. 

Mix on medium speed for about three to five minutes, until light and fluffy. 

Add in the egg yolks and the egg, followed by the vanilla extract. Mix until combined. 

Add in the flour mixture on low speed and mix until just combined. 

Using a large wooden spoon or a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. 

Mix until combined. 

Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, drop the dough in uniform balls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. 

Sprinkle each cookie with a small amount of salt. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. The cookies will finish cooking outside of the oven, so don’t worry if they look a little doughy at first. 

My little helper!

Cool for two minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. The cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container. 

I put mine in plastic bags, wrapped with festive ribbon and delivered to all my nearest and dearest. 

29 8 / 2013

There’s something really fun and girly about making a big cake. I usually make cakes for birthdays or celebrations, but sometimes it’s nice to make a big cake for a casual dinner, just for the hell of it. I’ve made this strawberry cake a few times and for as impressive as it looks, it’s actually really straightforward to make. The recipe makes two cakes, so sometimes I’ll freeze one of the cakes just to have on hand in case of emergencies. But if you really want to impress, use both cakes and go for the four tiers! 

For the cake, you will need:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs (at room temperature) 

3/4 cup sour cream (at room temperature) 

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

1 tsp. grated orange zest

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/4 cornstarch

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 pint heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Preheat the oven to 350° F

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Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans. 

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Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, either by hand with a wooden spoon or using an electric mixer. 

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Add in both zests, followed by the eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla. 

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Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula, making sure the batter is evenly incorporated. 

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Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl. 

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Add to the batter slowly, until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. 

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Pour the batter into the cake pans, making sure they’re as equal as possible. 

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Bake the cakes for about 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then on wire racks for another 30 minutes, until they reach room temperature. 

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Lay the cake on a large serving platter fitted with long strips of parchment paper. (You will pull these away after, so the board is nice and clean.) Using a serrated knife, slice each cake in half. 

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Slice the strawberries and whip the cream until firm but still soft. Lay the first layer on the parchment, then cover with the whipped cream and strawberries. Repeat for each layer, finishing with the top. 

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Remove the parchment paper. To serve, cut the cake into wedges using a large, sharp knife. 

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29 8 / 2013

As much as I love cooking pasta from scratch, it often requires a lot of attention and time, something I seem to have less and less of these days! (Cue sassy apron with some kind of cooking with wine joke.) I’ve been wanting to make homemade pasta for a while, and being home in Portland seemed like the perfect opportunity. Although it’s time consuming, the dough isn’t as delicate or temperamental as you would think. It’s extremely satisfying to make your own pasta, though it really encourages appreciation of the ease of the store bought kind! 

For the pasta dough you will need:

2 1/2 cups flour

3 eggs at room temperature

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

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Dump the flour on a clean surface, preferably marble. Using a fork, make a well in the center of the flour. 

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Crack the eggs into a small bowl, then pour into the center of the flour. 

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Whisk the eggs together, then add in the oil and the salt. 

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Slowly incorporate the flour to the egg mixture, then once it’s all roughly combined, start using your hands to knead the dough for about five minutes. 

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Knead using smooth, light strokes, turning it as you fold and press. It should be soft and pliable, but dry to the touch. If the dough is dry, add a little bit of warm water. 

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Once you’ve kneaded the dough, wrap it in cling film then allow to rest for 30 minutes. 

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Divide the dough in four and shape each portion into a log. Lightly dust with flour and flatten slightly with a rolling pin. With the machine’s rollers at their widest setting, crank the dough through the machine two or three times. Fold it in thirds, turn the dough 90 degrees and feed through again. You may need to add flour if the dough feels damp or tends to stick. 

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Reduce the width of the rollers by one setting and pass the dough through.

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Select the appropriate cutter on the machine and crank the pasta sheet through. 

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If you are making long pasta as I did, dry it on a clean broom handle or a wooden spoon. Keep out of reach of puppy! 

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The pasta is best cooked in a large pot of boiling salted water, for about 3-5 minutes. I made a sauce of olive oil, garlic, sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and a healthy portion of salt and pepper. 

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Delicious, and so satisfying to know you made it from scratch! 

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I served the pasta with a large green salad topped with pine nuts and parmesan- a perfect meal for the end of summer. 

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29 8 / 2013

People always ask me how I got into cooking. Though the answer is a variety of reasons and influences, I really got into cooking as an extension of baking- I’ve been baking since I was a little girl. One of the first recipes I ever attempted to master was the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie. Almost everyone is familiar with the nostalgia of the yellow bag- and slowly, over time, my flat, lumpy disks turned into puffed and golden chocolate chip cookies. I learned important fundamentals of baking while attempting to master the recipe- never melt the butter in the microwave, always let it come to room temperature on it’s on, don’t over mix the batter once the flour is incorporated, and always use large eggs. 

I recently made these classic cookies, the recipe on the back familiar like the lyrics to a song you used to know all the words to. They came out perfect, which felt very satisfying indeed! 

For the cookies, you will need: 

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

1 package of Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 F

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Beat the butter with the granulated sugar and the brown sugar until light and fluffy. It’s easier with a stand mixer, but a bowl and a wooden spoon will do just fine. 

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Add in the eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add in the vanilla extract. 

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Add in the flower, and mix until the dough is combined. Be careful not to over-mix. 

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Add in the chocolate chips and the walnuts, stirring thoroughly to combine.

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Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, drop the dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Shape into uniform balls using damp hands. The cookies should be about 2-3 inches apart. 

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Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack for further cooling. The cookies can keep for 3 or 4 days in an airtight container. 

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21 7 / 2013

Everyone has a food they crave when they’re feeling a bit worse for wear. I have friends who swear by milkshakes and have heard a “full english” does wonders. I, rather strangely, always pine for asian food the day after a big night. One of my dearest friends is leaving London for NYC so last weekend we all went out on the town for one last hurrah. The following afternoon I made this salad to indulge my craving and feed a friend. It’s a lot simpler to make that one would assume, and most of the ingredients you may have on hand if you cook asian food relatively frequently. Cooked salmon is also delicious in this salad- you can find a similar recipe here.

For the salad you will need: 

2-3 bundles of soba noodles

1/2 rotisserie chicken (or leftover cooked chicken)

1 red bell pepper

1 large carrot

1/2 cucumber

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 red chilli, seeds removed and minced

1 lime

3 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)t

4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon sriracha 

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Handful of fresh cilantro

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Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for about 5-7 minutes, or according to the package directions. You can also use whole wheat spaghetti. 

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Once they have finished cooking, drain the noodles and rinse them in cold water. Set aside. 

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Prepare the vegetables. Peel the carrot into long ribbons. Halve and thinly slice the cucumber and red pepper. 

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For the dressing, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger, chilli, scallions, and a dash of hot water. Whisk to combine and taste for seasoning. If it’s too salty, add some grapeseed oil, or any other light oil you have lying around. 

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Using clean hands, shred the chicken. Add the chicken and vegetables to the salad, tossing with the dressing and making sure all the ingredients are distributed evenly. 

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Add in the chopped peanuts… 

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And the sesame seeds. 

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Stir everything together and taste for seasoning. Either refrigerate or serve. The salad keeps very well in the fridge for a day or so and makes a great packed lunch!

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21 7 / 2013

Though I appreciate a good cocktail, I’m usually rather lazy about making them at home. Sure I’ll whip up a bloody mary for brunch time and my roommate makes the BEST old fashioned, but I never really take the time to try new cocktail recipes at home, usually preferring a bottle and a cork screw. Last Friday I had two of my oldest friends over for dinner and I wanted to make something special to celebrate the lovely London weather and the fact that we were all together. This is my ideal cocktail- light, refreshing, and with two of my favourite flavours, ginger and cucumber. The trick to making a good cocktail is simple syrup, which is really very easy to make and it keeps well in the fridge for a couple days. Well that’s a good excuse to make cocktails if I’ve ever heard one! 

For the drinks you will need:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 three-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups vodka

1 bottle soda water

3 limes

1 cucumber

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To make the simple syrup, combine the water with the sugar and bring to a boil. 

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Prepare the ginger and add to the sugar and water. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Once it had cooled slightly, I put it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. 

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Meanwhile, squeeze two of the limes into a large pitcher. Add in half a cucumber, chopped. 

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Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave the remaining cucumber into long, thin strips. These will be used as garnishes for the cocktail. Slice the remaining lime into thin rounds.

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Combine half of the cooled syrup with the vodka and soda. Taste the cocktail. If you want it a little sweeter, add some more of the syrup.  

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Fill tumblers with ice and the shaved cucumber and lime. Pour of the mixed cocktail and serve. 

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21 7 / 2013

A few summers ago, I was a long-suffering intern at an art gallery in New York City. Anyone who has ever visited New York in the summer knows that it is impossibly hot. I spent my glorious intern days schelpping around the city in the miserable heat, running errands and searching for bizarre items only a contemporary art gallery would need. Though I loathed my job, the one perk was that every day the office would order lunch from the same deli (the amazing Columbine in Tribeca) and we would all sit and eat together. I survived off their “Malibu Veg” sandwich and a watermelon salad made with ricotta salata and mint. Though my intern days are behind me, I fondly remember those lunches and always make a watermelon salad whenever the weather is really hot. It’s refreshing, light and summery, perfect for the sunny climate in London. For the salad you will need:

1 bag of arugula or watercress or a mix of the two

Half a small watermelon, preferably seedless

1/2 cup chopped feta

1/4 cup flaked almonds

Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of one lime

4 tablespoons rapeseed oil 

Salt and pepper

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In a small pan over medium-low heat, toast the almonds for about two minutes, tossing frequently. Be careful to make sure they don’t burn. 

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Prepare the salad ingredients. You want the watermelon to be in manageable cubes without any white of the melon rind. Keep the feta on the small side as well. 

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To make the dressing, whisk the lemon juice with the rapeseed oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

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To assemble the salad, spread the leaves out on a large platter. Scatter over the watermelon and the feta, and sprinkle over the chopped cilantro.

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Drizzle with the dressing…

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And top with the toasted almonds.

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I served this salad with grilled flank steak, though I imagine it would be good on it’s own for a light lunch. It’s easy to forget how good watermelon is, and it’s especially delicious with the sweet/savoury combination. As with most salads, it’s best eaten the day it’s made. 

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09 7 / 2013

By some strange twist of fate, it actually feels like summer in London! Coming back from a whirlwind trip to Maine for the Fourth of July, I was prepared to wallow in post-vacation blues for a few days. In 80˚ weather, it’s almost impossible! Craving something healthy and summery, I decided to use my often neglected grill pan and make this refreshing salad. 

For the salad you will need:

2 chicken breasts

4 cups of rocket (arugula)

1 courgette (zucchini) 

1-2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 cup of small, cooked beets, cut in half

1/2 cup of crumbled feta

Fresh basil, chopped

Lemon

Garlic

Olive oil

Thyme

Salt & pepper

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Place the chicken in some cling film then pound with a rolling pin or an empty bottle. You want it to be thin, about half its size. 

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Now for the marinade. Combine three cloves of minced garlic with the zest and juice of one lemon. Add salt, pepper and thyme, then drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil. Whisk to combine and pour over the chicken. 

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Make sure the marinade coats both sides of the chicken. Cover with cling film and allow it to sit in the fridge while you prepare your other ingredients. 

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Heat a grill pan to medium. Chop the courgettes into thick slices, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

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Add the courgettes and allow them to cook on each side for about five minutes, or until they soften and develop nice grill marks. 

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Add the cherry tomatoes and allow them to soften on the heat, turning occasionally, about four minutes. 

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Once the vegetables are cooked, move them to a cutting board and slice the courgettes in half. Add the chicken to the hot grill and cook on each side for about five minutes, until they are firm and bouncy. (Weird, but the term works!) Remove the chicken from the pan and immediately cover with aluminium foil. 

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To serve, scatter the rocket over a large platter. Add the sliced beets, feta, tomatoes, courgettes and chicken. Drizzle over balsamic dressing (dijon, balsamic, salt, pepper and olive oil). 

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Top the chicken with the julienned basil and serve. 

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