Monday, 29 October 2012

Every man needs a good steak

I hope you all had a nice weekend and are getting into the Halloween spirit. I popped back to London on Saturday night for the celebration of Joe's parents silver wedding anniversary.

We celebrated at one of London's most well-known steakhouses, Goodman.

Steakhouse London Goodman

It's a low lit, luxurious open room steakhouse with a lively atmosphere. Plump men in smart suits - one to add to the lists of hangouts for single ladies looking for a husband to be... - couples and families sat around spacious, dark mahogany tables and leather booths chatting the night away and eating mammoth size steaks.

We were greeted by a sweet chatty young man as well as a a thoughtful complimentary bottle of champagne for the occasion. Before we ordered we were shown a huge plate full of different raw cuts of meat. We all took a stake in the steak... and not to disappoint...

Huge, tender steaks were brought to our table, with delicious sides too - truffle chips, mac n cheese, creamed spinach and honey glazed carrots to name a few!

No worrying about my iron intake for a while! Plates wiped clean we finished off with some sweet cinnamon sugar covered doughnuts served with a cup of coffee cream.

Steakhouse London Goodman - Dessert

After a perfect dinner I wanted to see the meat! (I wouldn't recommend doing this before the meal) and some of you may want to stop reading now. 

We were taken downstairs to see their in house dry aging room.

I'm a huge animal lover, and I did ask if the cows were looked after. He assured me that they lived happy lives and also told me some ate corn and some ate grass. He obviously knew his meats and explained to us all the in's and outs. All I could say was that my steak tasted good!

Say hello to the chefs....

The steaks are cooked in big specialist charcoal ovens to help retain flavour.

Steakhouse London Goodman - Kitchen, Chefs
Steakhouse London Goodman - Kitchen, Chefs

Amazing food but an even nicer evening, fingers crossed I will too be happily married after 25 years!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Stuffed Jack-O-Lanterns

For all you out there planning on celebrating Halloween (everybody I hope!),
Here's something dead easy and a little bit scary.

You have to get these guys carved and cooked!

^One went funny :-(
Some excitement over the dinner table and maybe your children will eat their vegetables!

Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns

All you'll need is a couple or orange bell peppers and stuffing as you please.
I filled mine to the brim with noodles, chicken and finely chopped roasted vegetables, plopped it on a plate and started to wiggle with excitement and glee before I tucked right in.
Great, simple, healthy and most importantly getting you into the Halloween spirit.
Carve your peppers first, carefully slice the head off, stuff them full of goodies and put them at 180C for 5/10 minutes, take them out the oven and make your best ghost noises. My peppers were smiling at me, but maybe you can make yours a bit more scary!

 I'm also in need of a trick or treating partner if anybody fancies getting tons of free sweets with me?? I have a great 'I need sweets' face, guaranteed to make people empty their cupboards!

Any exciting outfits or Halloween plans?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

My Lovely Auntie Anne

On my pleasant independent weekend I had an epiphany, I could bake whilst nobody was in the house, this is somewhat of a rarity for me; I could sing at the top of my lungs, prance around the kitchen in my pj's and whilst the oven was on shift my little bottom into the sofa and watch gossip girl.
I had all sort of thoughts on what to conjure up, but one lingering smell had wiggled its way up my nose and wasn't leaving.

Auntie Anne's Pretzels

I get a whiff everytime I'm shopping, I'm sure some of you guys have sniffed them out before, dreamy, fresh pretzels. Soon there will be no more fighting off the urge, instead you'll be racing to the nearest supermarket to pick up all your necessary ingredients and you'll be whipping up your own little healthier, cheaper batch.

Goodbye Auntie Anne, an acquisition, takeover, replacement... 
Auntie Kelly

Ingredients (this will make 12 large pretzels):
2 teaspoons of dry active yeast
500g of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
250ml warm water
2 tablespoons of butter
2 heaped tablespoons of baking soda
400ml of boiling water
1 egg
1 tablespoon of oil

Rock Salt,
Seasame Seeds,
Brown Sugar & Cinnamon,
- Whatever you please!

So, now it's the baking part, firstly you'll need to make the dough. I'm no professional bread maker, my local bakery makes smashing bread so I've never felt the need but I've done it a few times and it's so so much easier then people think. The only annoying this is you need to wait an hour for the dough to rise, but it's worth the wait!

1. Mix together the 250ml of warm water, the sugar, and the yeast until fully dissolved, place in a warm place for 10 minutes. A thin layer of foam should form on the top. 

2. Mix the flour, butter and salt together with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs. When the yeast mixture has slightly foamed pour it over the crumbs, combine the two so you are left with a big ball of dough.

3. With your oil lightly coat a large bowl rub your dough around the oil so a thin layer covers it. Leave it to rise for an hour to an hour and a half in a warm place.

Auntie Anne Pretzel Recipe

4. Once risen to around double the size, take one handful and start shaping the pretzels aswell as preheating the oven to 180C.

- Roll out your dough so you it is thick rope sized and around 15inches long.
- Then fold as shown below...

How to make pretzels

5. Pour boiling water into a pan approxtimately 400ml and add the baking soda, so you get a white bubbly solution, slowly dip each pretzel into the solution and then place them onto a greased baking tray.

6. Glaze the pretzels with a beaten egg and then cover with toppings you like, salt, sesame seeds, sugar or plain cook for 5-10 minutes until golden!

My piled high, light, sugar coated delights, with a little cinammon kick.

Auntie Anne Pretzel Recipe

I also made a salted batch that accompanied me to campus,

Eat immediately and if for some crazy reason you have some left over, cover them tightly!


Sunday, 21 October 2012

An Instagram Weekend

I've had an extremely chilled out weekend, sadly most of my house went back home but I had a work overload so stayed up in Birmingham.

I wrapped up warm

had a peppermint tea with a touch of honey- dreamy drink

And headed out to the library.
 I thought it was going to be awful without my girls or boyfriend stuck thinking about all the adventures I could be having. 

But bizarrely I had the best weekend, I did spend most of my days in the library but I had a huge bag of pick n mix to get me through. And I've decided I like it in there - not embarrassed by my nerdy ways - I go for 8 hours, spend 3 hours with my head in my books, 2 hours browsing the internet, 2 hours people watching and 1 hour going for little strolls around campus.

I'd leave before it got dark pick up some fruit from the market and groceries and head back home to pamper myself, bake and catch up on all the series I fell asleep halfway through during the week. Snuggle into bed, with a hot drink, my fluffy socks and everything is just perfect.

I also got stuck into a new book I purchased. I read my first of JoJo Moyes' books in Thailand 'Me Before You' - I sobbed for a good hour on a jam-packed bus. A nice cry though, hugely recommended!

A little bit of pampering

and baking of course - Auntie Anne's pretzels!
 Much easier then I thought and were scrum-diddly-umptios.

Some classic student dinners,

Fluffy socks,

Favourite teddies - shecky and shelly

And my cosy bed which I happily retired to.

Sometimes a little bit of 'me' time is what we all need!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Ultimate Hangover Cure

My house has always hosted the sleepovers, for years I've had my girls stay over after heavy nights out. We'd wake up giggling about our antics the night before and spend the day wrapped up in bed watching films. But one thing was crucial, a hangover remedy. The time would come when we would finally venture downstairs, we'd huddle round the fridge and then the cooking would commence.  Nothing did it better then 'grub', it had to be stodgy, salty and greasy - so wrong, but so right.

We would cook up a feast, the diets would be out the window and we would become men for an hour or two. 

This year I've found a new cure...

A soft roll, toasted for a bit of crunch, fried egg keeping the yolk soggy, grilled sausages, salty onion rings and any meat your fridge has to offer - they will be permanent ingredients for me from now on.

It's a winner, a real hunk of a sandwich, rough and tough. Perfect for every man and the naughty women out there.

Guaranteed brownie points if you rack up two. If this doesn't hit the spot, nothing will. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Granny's Cheesecake

Huge brawls, growling stomachs, destroyed relationships over none other than,

Granny's cheesecake.

Today I've decided to share with you a timeless family recipe, a south-african delight taught to me by my amazing Granny! It's made for all our family dinners and always completely devoured (like everything else)! A crumbly divine biscuit base topped with the smoothest, creamiest topping. I can't sell it to you enough. For dessert I normally make it as a cake and the recipe is very similar, a smaller round dish is needed and only 6 digestives and a little less butter. However, these little squares are perfect to nibble on when you're out, to share with friends, just perfect for all occasions! 

So grab your crockery and I guarantee you'll love my Granny too after this.
You will need:
For the 'cheesy' bit
2 Eggs 
400g of Cream Cheese
125ml of Double Cream
150g of Sugar
For the base
8 Digestive Biscuit
100g Butter

Toppings and fillings can be added but I made this one naked!

1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Take your digestives and put them into a strong sandwhich bag, whack them with hands/rolling pins/a baseball bat - until crumbly! If you want a thicker base (like me), you can add more digestives.

2. Melt your butter and mix it into your crushed digestives, you don't want them to be soaked in butter, just moulded together by the butter.

3. Push into the base of your dish so the crushed biscuits are held tightly together.

4. Now for the main event. Seperate your eggs, put the whites into a seperate bowl. Mix the egg yolks, cream cheese, double cream and sugar into one huge bowl, remove any lumps until smooth.

5. Whisk your egg whites, until peaks form, the longer you whisk them the better. If you don't have an electric whisk you need a strong arm and a fork!

Lucky for me... Mr Whisk to the rescue

6. Once thoroughly whipped, fold in your egg whites, now mix as little as possible you want to keep the air in the mixture, you want it to be fluffy!

7. Spoon your mixture carefully on top of the biscuit base and with the back of a metal spoon spread it out evenly.

8. Bake for 30 minutes, don't open the oven!!!

9. Once cooked leave in the oven for around 2 hours.

And once cooled...

You'll be making them again tomorrow.
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