Thursday, 23 August 2007

Back from vacation but off again!

Will leave you with my niece's painting - one of the many she created while visiting me. More on food when I return...

Italian Deli - La Bottega

Found this little Italian Deli on Lower Sloane Street. It is lovely... quaint, tasty food, divine coffee and the best - chocolate cannolis! The chocolate cannolis are not made on the premises but wherever they are sourced from, they are 'heaven' sent! Like other little italian places, this place sells italian water, pasta, coffee.... a lovely place, slightly off the beaten path while shopping off Sloane Square.

Sunday, 12 August 2007


Simple dinner, simple fix for a Mexican craving and a quick dinner! One of my favourite recipes and probably the only meal I have made in the last couple of weeks. Cupcakes may count as a meal in my book but guess they don't really qualify, do they...
1/2 package of macaroni (250g)
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
1/2 green pepper (long slices)
1/2 red pepper (long slices)
3 1/2 tablespoons Taco seasoning (I usually find Old El Paso Taco mix packets in Waitrose or Tesco)
1 cup whole or 2 % milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar
1/2 sour cream (optional)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2 chopped green chillies
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced fresh Roma tomatoes
Blue Corn Chips (optional)
Cook pasta in lightly salted boiling water, 4-6 minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in saucepan; add green onion, chillies and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add in green and red pepper and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in taco seasoning. In small bowl, combine milk and cornstarch, add to olive oil mixture cooking until thick, stirring constantly. Stir in grated cheese; cook slowly stirring until melted. Add remaining ingredients except chips; cook until just heated through. Combine gently with pasta; serve immediately. Serve with corn chips. Amounts to about 4-6 servings.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Cloud Cakes

With my nieces in the house this weekend, baking cupcakes was the activity of the day. Never mind that we had visited Hummingbird Bakery, eaten a cupcake each and also packed some for home. Well, you know me... I probably had something to do with the cupcake suggestion (baking and eating)! We decided to make 'cloud' cupcakes' i.e. strawberry cupcakes with 'fluffy' icing. It was quick and easy. The cupcakes turned out well and while the basic icing also tasted nice, we probably should have beaten it a bit more to make it stiffer. The kids had a blast with the process and with the result :)
The recipe is taken from the Australian Women's Weekly - Cupcakes & Fairycakes recipe book. The book has fantastic pictures and simple, yet creative ideas for cupcake decoration!


Strawberry Swirl Buttercake

  • 90G Butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (10g) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam

Fluffy Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
  • 40ml water
  • 1 egg white


  • Pink coloured sugar

1. Preheat oven to moderate (180 Celsius/160 Celsius fan-forced). Line 6-hole texas or 12-hole standard muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, flour and milk in a small bowl with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium, beat until mixture is changed to a paler colour.
3. Divide mixture among cases; smooth surface. Divide jam over tops of cakes; using a skewer swirl jam into cakes.
4. Bake large cakes about 30 minutes, small cakes about 20 minutes. Turn cakes onto wire rack to cool.
5. Make fluffy frosting.
6. Spread cakes with fluffy frosting; sprinkle with coloured sugar.

My personal deviation from the above recipe - I skipped the strawberry jam for some cupcakes and added in chocolate pieces instead. Also, since I currently own only a mini-muffin pan - we made mini-cupcakes!

Fluffy Frosting
Combine sugar and the water in small saucepan; stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, without stirring about 5 minutes or until syrup reaches 116C on a candy thermometer. Syrup should be thick but not coloured. Remove from heat, allow bubbles to subside. Beat egg white in a small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. While mixer is operating, add hot syrup in thin stream; beat on high speed about 10 minutes or until mixture is thick and cool.

Pink sugar
Use granulated or caster sugar, depending on the texture you prefer. Place required amount of sugar in a plastic bag, add a tiny amount of colouring through sugar by 'massaging' plastic bag. Sugar will keep in a jar at room temperature indefinitely.
Sprinkle over icing.