Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I Miss Blogging. Oh, and ‘Me’ in 52 sentencees.

I was reading through my old blog; I’m not most girls - which I haven’t done for years! – and it made me realise how much I miss blogging! It was probably the most committed relationship I have ever had with a body of writing and reading it back almost felt like reading a diary as it reminded me of significant events in my life, and what was important to me. I read a few of my regrets,  how confused I was about a guy who I really liked then but who I absolutely have no interest in now and remembered my sister's wedding.

I know that my baking blog is also a blog but I think I’m going to try and write more non-baking/cooking related stuff too.

One of the things that was huge in Blogville back in the day was Memes. I have no idea whether ‘Meme’ is an acronym or if it is an actual word and what it means but you don’t need to know any of that stuff to enjoy it! It was basically like a chain blog. So you blog about something and challenge everybody that reads your blog to write about the same thing on their blog. Now there were a lot of Memes going round so I tried to be rather discerning about which ones I did. This was one of the only ones I did and I even did a follow up. Clearly, I love talking about myself! So here I am, doing it again … apologies to anyone who read the first two as there might be some overlap. Oh and apologies to anyone who doesn’t give a damn about me and just came here to look at pictures of cakes!

Here goes …

I don’t keep a diary. I have attempted to about 4 times but each time, I lose interest after a few days. I think diaries are amazing because they capture how you felt on a particular day, or in a moment. I am currently reading ‘Oliver Twist’. I finished reading Oliver Twist since I wrote that last sentence. I have two tattoos. If I go to Vegas this summer, I’m getting a third one. On my wrist. I don’t have any qualms about turning 30 whatsoever. If I got married tomorrow, I’d have 7 bridesmaids. I’m extremely into the world cup at the moment. I am supporting Greece, Nigeria, England and Slovenia (sweepstake not by choice). Ultimately, I want England to win. I started writing this before England lost woefully to Germany. I’m wondering if my heart can take the constant disappointment. I love nicely scented body lotions and butters. I genuinely believe Ben & Jerry’s (yes, the ice cream company!) hate me. They discontinued my three favourite flavours; Dublin Mudslide, Chocolate Therapy and Fossil Fuel. And finally after a few years of so-so flavours, they’ve come up with Cheesecake Brownie but it is hardly sold anywhere! I am openly jealous of other mixed race people with lovely, soft, curly hair. As a child I wanted to be an architect. After University, I decided that journalism was where it was at. Then I was convinced that book publishing was the perfect career for me. Perhaps it still is, though maybe not in the same way that I thought. I have an Amazon wish list. I add more books to it than I buy from it. I’ve spent New Years Eve in Lagos every year for the last five years. I think the best smell in the world is the smell of frying onions. I also love the smell of petrol. My favourite film is ‘The Notebook’. I’ve seen it at least thirty times! Close favourites are ‘American History X’, ‘My Name is Sam’ and ’10 Things I hate about You’. I have never been in love. With a person I mean; I have been in love with food, and films, and songs and all sorts of other things! I have a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. I’ve only done about 12 of them and my 1001 days is up in January 2011. I go to the gym or for boot camp on average 5 times a week. I ran a half marathon in 2009. I’m doing another one this October. I want to run a marathon one day. Preferably the New York marathon. I speak Greek. I want to learn Spanish. I would like to learn how to play the guitar. My favourite city in the world is New York. I think Greece is the most beautiful country in the world. I’m committed to my celebrity crushes; Joshua Jackson and Josh Hartnett – I’ve loved them for years! I have the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know. I am strangely proud of that fact. I love theme parks but when I’m on a ride, all I can do is imagine the headlines if anything goes wrong. I make sure I read at least four classics a year. I have no idea if this is exactly 52 sentences :D

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Sesame Peanut Noodles

I have bad news and good news. The bad news; I'm back at work :( I no longer spend my days doing all the things I really love to do. The good news however, is that having a job pays better than spending my days doing all the things I really love to do!

The one thing I do like about working is that because my work day is much more structured, my eating habits automatically follow suit. I have three meals a day and snack on fruit and cherry tomatoes in between. Because I try not to eat a huge dinner, my biggest meal when I'm working is usually my lunch and though I love to cook, I can't be bothered to cook every day so I tend to cook up a big batch of something on Sundays and eat that three or four days in a row - I really don't have a problem eating the same food day after day; so long as it is something I love. I don't always cook something healthy for lunch but I do try to make sure it is not too carb laden (huge bowl of pasta = 2 hour struggle post-carb fest to keep my eyes from closing!) and that it contains vegetables and protein. I tend to try out most of my new recipes for lunch too! 

Last week, I decided to try out another recipe from Nigella Express; Sesame Peanut Noodles. I was considering stir frying some seasoned chicken breast to add some more protein to this recipe but decided that it wasn't necessary as I eat protein at breakfast and dinner. So Ms Afropolitan, this is a completely vegetarian recipe. Don't say I never gave you anything! :D

Don't be daunted by the list of ingredients; you will have a lot of them already and some can be substituted, for example, I used stir fry oil instead of garlic oil though I'm sure garlic oil would have given it that lovely garlicky  hint which I love. And a lot of the ingredients are pretty cheaply bought, e.g. beansprouts, a lime... give it a go, it's simple, healthy and pretty tasty!


For the Dressing
1 x 15ml tablespoon sesame oil
1 x 15ml tablespoon garlic oil
1 x 15ml tablespoon soy sauce
2 x 15ml tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
100g smooth peanut butter
2 x 15ml tablespoons lime juice (about the juice of 1 lime)

For the Salad
125g mangetout
150g beansprouts, rinsed
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into small strips
2 x spring onions, finely sliced (I love onions so I used 3)
2 x 275g packets or 550g ready-prepared egg noodles
20g sesame seeds
4 x 15ml tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1 - Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a bowl or jug.
2 - Put the mangetout, beansprouts, red pepper strips, sliced spring onions and the noodles into a bowl
3 - Pour the dressing over them and mix thoroughly to coat everything well.
4 - Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and chopped coriander and pack up as needed

Serves 8

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Happy Birthday Mum!

My mum is always on a diet and she absolutely loves chocolate, and specifically chocolate brownies. You don't have to be a math whizz to figure out that diets and brownies don't go together and so she usually (very admirably) abstains. So when I told her I was going to make her a cake for her birthday, she instantly requested 'those chocolatey things'. 'Brownies?' I asked. She nodded vehemently.

One of the main reasons I decided to blog about baking was so that it would motivate me to try out new recipes. So instead of making our (mine, my sister and my cousin's) tried and tested brownie recipe which I love, I decided to try out these 'Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies with Heath Bars and Pecans' (but without the pecans) from the 'At Home with Magnolia' cook book.

I think Heath bars are like Daim bars but I forgot to buy some so I just used white chocolate instead. My verdict? Hmmm - they were nice and very fudgy but way too sweet, and this is after I reduced the sugar and used brown sugar instead. The whole point is that the brownie bit is sweet but the cream cheese topping not so much and they balance each other out but I still think the brownie bit is way too sweet, and this coming from me; someone whom the term 'sweet tooth' defines better than any other! Also, they took forever to bake, at least twice what the instructions said!
Actually, I think I'll just try my regular recipe with this cream cheese topping next time.  Saying that though, everybody else really liked them so they're not terrible, I just personally think there must be a better recipe for these out there. I'll try and perfect it myself and let you all have my amended recipe.

Cream cheese swirl brownies with heath bars 

Cream Cheese Filling
227g cream cheese, not softened
28g sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

106g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter
113g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
200g sugar (I prefer brown sugar in brownies, I think they give it a better rounded flavour rather than just sugary sweetness)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
85g chopped Daim bars

Preheat oven to 170ÂșC / Gas Mark 3. Grease and lightly flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan
1 - To make the cream cheese filling: In a medium size bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth.
Add the egg and flour and beat well. Set aside.
2 - To make the brownies: In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium size saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth.
Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, and allow to cool to lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the Sugar
Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat well.
Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

3 - Stir in half of the chopped Daim bars. (white chocolate in my case)
Reserve 1/2 cup of the brownie batter.
Spread the rest of the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Drop the cream cheese mixture by tablespoons over the batter.
Next, drop the reserved brownie batter by teaspoonfuls in between the cream cheese filling.
Using a small knife, swirl the two batters together, forming a decorative pattern.
Sprinkle the remaining Daim pieces (white chocolate) over the top, and using a spatula, gently press into the batter.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the pan comes out with moist crumbs attached.
Do not overbake.
Allow to cool overnight before serving.