Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Chocolate Cake with Ginger icing

In honour of it being Chocolate Week last week I wanted to bake a chocolate cake.  I'd fully intended doing a chocolate victoria sponge, using a recipe from my Good Housekeeping Baking book.  As I made the sponge I realised I didn't fancy chocolate icing (I was feeling a bit sickly after sampling a little too much of the mixture...).  After enquiring who does and doesn't like cherries in the house I decided to go with a ginger icing instead.

I won't post the recipe for the sponge, as it isn't mine to share.  For the icing I used 75g butter, 150g icing sugar, chopped stem ginger and some of the sugar syrup my stem ginger had been in.  I made up the buttercream icing as normal, adding the sugar syrup, then divided the mix into two.  I then added stem ginger to the half I was using to sandwich the cake, but kept the top layer of icing without the ginger pieces.  For a little bit of extra decoration I added the little gingerbread men.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Chocolate by Genevie

A couple of weeks ago I was sent a box of chocolates to review from Chocolate by Genevie http://chocolatebygenevie.co.uk/.

It's never occurred to me to buy chocolate online, after seeing this website it's definitely something I'll be looking at for Christmas presents though - what could be nicer than some chocolates waiting on the mat for you when you get in from work?  Beats a pile of bills any day.

I was sent a mixture of truffles, as I don't like praline, or anything with coconut in, Phil had those ones, and I had the remainder of the truffles.

They were nice, around the same quality as Thorntons.

There's a good variety of choice and price on the site, at £3.50 the delivery isn't cheap - but I'd rather pay that than have to go to the post office and queue for half an hour to save £1! My box came well packaged so I wouldn't be worried about chocolates arriving damaged.

All in all, a good product and service, one I can see me using in the future.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Chiquito - Breakfast Menu

I was sent a voucher to review the new breakfast menu at Chiquito's months ago, I finally got round to using it on our way to Wales a couple of weeks ago.

If I'm honest I wasn't really expecting it to be up to much, but I was proven wrong.

I had the Mexican Ranch Eggs and Phil had the Breakfast Feast.

My ranch eggs were spicy, but not so much that I couldn't eat it.  This would be a complete hangover cure for me, I'll have to make my own version next time I've hit the wine train too hard.

Phil enjoyed his breakfast, the only thing he'd change would be to have a bigger portion of beans!

Daisy was made a fuss of, and I was pleased that we were asked if we'd like a plate for her when our food came out.  She chomped on some of Phil's breakfast, and would have given mine a go if I'd let her - slightly too hot for her delicate tastebuds just yet!

The service was quick, efficient and very friendly. We were made to feel welcome but not overly mithered by our waitress  (one of my pet hates, being too fussed over while I'm trying to eat).

I also quite liked the beer bottle chandelier!  Sadly I don't think it will go in our dining room....

Monday, 7 October 2013

Recent eats - holidaying in Wales

We had a little holiday in Wales at the end of September (coinciding with my birthday).  We stopped in a Superior caravan at Presthaven Sands.  I'd never stayed in a Haven before so I wasn't sure what to expect.

The caravan was of a higher standard than I'd expected, but wasn't as clean as I'd have liked.  Thank goodness I brought my flashwipes with me!  Inside the van the floor was dirty, the cupboards had dried on food over them and inside the fridge hadn't been cleaned.  Outside the van there was also loads of cigarette butts.  I was disappointed mostly by that - it's not really the first thing you want to see upon arriving.  I noted all of that in the feedback form, I hope my comments are taken on board.  

The site itself was great, very friendly and helpful staff, and so many activities for children.  We took Daisy swimming, to the soft play and she went on the swings with Phil every day.  We went to the evening entertainment on 2 of our 4 nights, Phil managed to win the bingo on the second night.  We visited family, went to Llandudno, Conwy and Rhyl, and on my birthday went into Chester.

I'd definitely do another static caravan holiday - but I'll never become a caravaner!  Towing, packing and unpacking a caravan is not my idea of a holiday!

Onto the eating.... we had to have the standard caravan tea - corned beef hash.  

Phil also did us a lovely spag bol one of the nights.

I picked up some fudge in Conwy, the salted caramel was my favourite.

I had a Conwy Cream Tea - which surprised me to come on the same plate - but it saved room on our table so was fine with me.  Not sure about the whipped cream though...

For my birthday lunch I had a hankering for a burger, so we had burgers at a pub in Chester, and picked up a slice each of chocolate gateaux from Patisserie Valerie for our pudding.  I then had pizza for tea (piggy)

We didn't go wild with eating out, and with having Daisy with us we didn't want to eat out at night.  

We had a nice break,and it was lovely to see family.

Tarte Tatin

Last month I took part in the Titan Supper Club http://blog.titantravel.co.uk/2013/09/11/september-supper-club-tarte-tatin/ making a Tarte Tatin.

I'd never attempted one before, so when I was contacted to ask if I'd like to take part I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go*.

Whilst I love baking, I'm not much of a dessert maker - I tend to stick to Tiramisu as my signature dessert.

I didn't fully follow the recipe.... I didn't have to to make the pastry, so I used bought puff pastry.

After peeling, coring and chopping the apples I can see that my kitchen is lacking in a vital utensil - a corer!  It took much longer than I was expecting.  I slightly burnt my caramel - but I prefer a darker one anyway.

I was a bit shocked when I took my Tarte Tatin out and saw how much the pastry had risen, but it dropped slightly with the change of temperature after coming out of the oven, and then when I turned the tart out it didn't matter anyway.

The finished result was absolutely delicious.  The ginger didn't overpower, but gave a lovely heat that went well with the sweetness of the caramel.

It was heaven with some vanilla icecream and a couple of sprigs of mint!

*I was reimbursed for ingredients