Thursday, 28 June 2012
I had my first sambuca on Tuesday, like ever. I know what you’re thinking - wrong time (6pm, before dinner), day (work the next day, potential hangover?) and place (shots at a restaurant?!) but rest assured. It was worth all the headache (literally, trust me) because it has to be one of the nicest drinks I’ve tasted yet. Adult cough mixture - what’s not to like?!
Predominant thoughts today? Please please puh-lease God let the good weather last through the weekend...... *please*
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Sooooooo, this post has been a looooong time coming - a month and a half long if we're going to be precise - but better late than never ‘ey? Read on. 11th May, for years, has been the one day, annually, that the best friend and I get together without fail. We tend to rendez-vous around December 25th too (*ehem* please note, all gifts welcome*ehem*) but as I’m a Christmas baby and Christmas tends to be a busy family time, it’s rarely the same day we meet up. 11th may, however, is her birthday you see - the one day guaranteed to be filled with giggles, gossip and gallivanting. This time around - with S working full-time for the first time and myself mid-way through a mid-exam crisis (I’m convinced this “day to myself” really helped me nail them.... I promise mum) - we decided on a day of indulgence and decadence (oi. Even if you're thinking it, don’t you dare say it. We're still young).
So off we toddled to Sopwell House Country Hotel & Spa, St. Albans, for a whole day of relaxation and remedies, pampering and preening, caring and cleaning, swimming and swigging. And what a luxurious experience it was. In the website’s own words,
“The Spa at Sopwell House has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment in a luxurious Japanese style and now offers a spectacular 14.5 metre indoor swimming pool and children's pool, Jacuzzi, starlit steam room, glass fronted Sauna, curved mosaic-lined experience showers, and a luxurious heated mosaic seat on which you can dry off and relax. The contemporary feel is combined with refined Japanese elements and warm natural materials while LED feature lighting creates a relaxing ambience, and the luxurious furnishings create a really distinctive and relaxing environment.
To compliment these luxury facilities we have created a new range of treatments, spa days and spa breaks, all thoughtfully selected to offer a fantastic experience at competitive prices.”
To top it off, a buffet lunch with plenty of choice for vegetarians, the freedom to latch onto as many fitness sessions as you please, unlimited access to the gym facilities and an hours treatment of your choice - we went for the all over body massage. Ahhhhhhh.
It’s a must do.
Sopwell House Country Club Hotel & Spa, Cottonmill Lane, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1
Friday, 22 June 2012
Yes, so we’ve established - I can’t say no to a slice of chocolate cake. Like, ever (, as the previous post will testify). But don’t you find that you too crave the foods that you haven’t yet mastered yourself? Take a macaroni cheese, for example, or a vanilla cheesecake. I can take it or leave it ‘cause I know I can probably make it better at home. I think this theory explains my irrational longings for cannelloni too - if it’s there I have to have it.
You see, I still seek the key to that perfect moist, light, yet rich (and highly elusive) chocolate sponge. So I resort to tasting every slice that’s ever put before my nose, just to see if it hits the mark. Victoria sponge, on the other hand, well, that’is something I think I’ve finally cracked; it comes out just as good each and every time. It's just as well really because the bf and I are fiends. Even better that it’s sooooooo simple to create that I can even leave him to it in the kitchen. Win-win? I think so.
What You Need:
225 g softened unsalted butter
225 g caster sugar
225 g self-raising flour
½ tsp vanilla essence
What To Do:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins.
2. Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat it hard with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, like whipped cream.
3. Break the eggs into small bowl and add the vanilla extract. Beat the mixture lightly with a fork.
4. With the mixer running on full speed add the egg very gradually to the butter/sugar mixture. It's important to do this slowly and gradually, to stop the mixture curdling. Once all the eggs are in, fold in the flour with a spatula or large spoon. The mixture should now be of a dropping consistency, so add a drop of water if it's too thick.
5. With a spatula or large spoon scoop half the mixture into each of the two sandwich tins. Transfer to the centre of the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until well risen and golden brown. To check they are cooked, slide a sharp knife blade into the centre of the sponge - the knife should come out clean.
6. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in the tins to cool for a couple of minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before decorating.
7. Once the cakes are completely cool, spread the jam onto one half and the whipped cream onto the other. Sandwich them together and dust the top with caster sugar.
I advise chilling this in the fridge and enjoying it cold with a hot, hot cup of tea. :D Happy Friday everybody
Thursday, 21 June 2012
Forget having my own desk (so awesome, mine to personalise and use and just... own), the convenient, close-by-easy-to-get-to location and the gorgeous, really rather picturesque detour through the park en-route. Forget even the novelty of being in an unfamiliar environment with lots to learn and plenty of challenges. I could, really, when cut comes to chase, discount all these factors for one simple pleasure that overrides them all. The best thing about my new job? The abundant supply of the most gorgeous cake for daily elevenses. Chocolate cake on the job? Oh yes please.
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
First day on the job and I’m positively bouncing off the walls - I love it! Pair that with probably the most perfect weekend I’ve had in a long while and you’ll find that Sim’s a happy bunny. I know I have been “fill-posting” quite a lot lately but I do have a spa day to tell you about still, as well as some of the boyfriend’s recent ventures into the kitchen (Oh la la, I hear you mutter). So stay tuned ;) More tomorrow, I hope, but until then, just a very (totally not gloating about my rather surreal state of happiness) quick picture post.
Sunday, 17 June 2012
Thursday, 14 June 2012
So here it is, recipe numero uno. I call it the cheat's cheesecake because it requires no cooking whatsoever. Just a bit of crushing here, some stirring there et voila. It sort of has me doubting whether I can even call this a recipe. Baked cheesecakes tend to be richer and creamier with a fuller belly of flavour - due to the eggs of course - but the light freshness that this one brings works like a charm every single time. Add to that that I managed to pull it together without any kitchen scales - score!
To make a cheesecake for 6 you will need:
150g digestive biscuits (you can also use ginger nuts, for extra crunch)
80g melted butter
110g caster sugar
120ml whipping cream (don't use any more, the cake might not set)
200g cream cheese
1 tbsp vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla pod
What to do:
1. Place the biscuits inside a sealable food bag and crush or beat, depending on your mood (I pelted mine, I was having a bad day.) Mix with the melted butter and 2 tbsp of the caster sugar, then pack it down tightly in the bottom of a 20cm cake tin with removable bottom. Then refrigerate.
2. Whip the cream until a soft peak stage - I'd say for 3-4 minutes if using an electric whisk on its highest setting.
3. Beat the cream cheese and remaining sugar together, add the vanilla and fold in the cream gently.
4. Spread into tin on top of crushed biscuits. Refrigerate for an hour or so and then serve.
5. Try not to eat all in one sitting. It is, after all, a cheesecake for 6.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
You know you have a good life/too much time on your hands when your life revolves around baking, bed and your boyfriend. What can I say, as per se, I'm a kept woman. How awful is that? I lunch with my ladies and prepare supper for my soon-returning-tired-from-work other half. Cheesecakes, sponge cakes, Indian cakes. You name it and I have time for it. More tomorrow. Recipes included, don't worry. Good night.
Sunday, 3 June 2012
It's official. I’ve lost my blogging mojo :O I mean when was the last time I left it a week? I think it's fair to say that post exams, I'm only really plodding along - weary and lacking in even a spark of inspiration. And that's probably why I haven't bothered to update you here - because I’ve been filling my time with nothing more than television, tequila and just too much junk food. No promise but probable that I’m back tomorrow. Wishing you all a happy jubilee weekend.