Sunday, 27 January 2013

Tiramisu (one of many ways to make it!)

There are no rules when it comes to Tiramisu, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. It can be as fancy or as cheat's way as you like, and as long as you have the core ingredients / blend of flavours it'll taste pretty good anyway. I think what would generally be considered the essentials are:

  • Sponge cake / sponge finger biscuits

  • Marscapone cheese

  • Coffee (instant coffee or espresso, whatever you have on hand)

  • Cocoa powder

  • Marsala or sherry (personally I think this is a nice to have rather than an essential, but I'm sure there are people there who know better that would probably correct me)

Some extras that I tend to throw in as well if they are conveniently in the kitchen already: crushed nuts, and a bit of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste to add to the marscapone. Note that these are optional extras (even more optional than the marsala) and don't tend to affect the "tiramisu-iness" of your final product too much.


Today was tiramisu day, since I had leftover sponge cake from yesterday when I made lamingtons. Stupidly, I didn't take any photos (and almost cried when everyone had left and I was planning my Oz day blog post, only to find I had no photos). I was so busy making food and eating that for some completely odd reason photos didn't even occur to me! Talk about being sidetracked. On the upside, it did mean that the food was wonderful since I got so distracted...

Mr T wasn't feeling the love for whipped cream and strawberries on his leftover sponge cake today, and so was kind enough to go and source some marscapone for me. As implied by the title of this post, tiramisu can be made in many many different ways and this is just what I did:

One way of tiramisu

1. Slice the sponge cake into two. Note: it would probably have been better to slide into 3 layers but since the cake was a little too soft light in this case I decided to avoid a crumby mess on my bench.

2. Instant coffee. Add a couple of splashes of hot water from the kettle to a couple of teaspoons of instant coffee. Nestle 43, Carte Noire, again whatever you want.


3. Dip the sponge cake into the coffee. I wouldn't recommend soaking - you could also brush the coffee on or use a spray bottle if you have the energy - or you can dip the pieces of cake (or sponge finger biscuits if you are using these) straight in the coffee for a second and that would work just fine too.

4. Marscapone mixture. I used equal parts marscapone (about half a small tub) and icing sugar and added in a tiny bit of vanilla. The marscapone was quite hard so I thinned it down with a little milk and a instant coffee mix. Basically this is just a taste test and you can be the judge of how sweet you want it. Texture wise I like mine a bit mousse-like since its easier to spread. 

5. Assemble. Cake (coffee side up), marscapone, dusting of cocoa powder, and repeat! Voila!


Other things you could do...

I've listed a few different things you could do with tiramisu; and I'm sure you'll see from this why I prefer an easy no-fuss way. After all, as long as its tasty and I don't brand it as authentic Italian tiramisu its ok right? (by the way, am I the only one who used to think that tiramisu was a Japanese word and therefore dessert?)

  • Sponge finger biscuits could be used instead of the sponge cake. This would be my normal option but I had leftover sponge cake in this case.

  • Marscapone mix ingredients. Recipes sometimes call for whipped egg whites to be folded into the marscapone, presumably to lighten it. Other recipesI have read call for whipped cream instead of egg whites.

  • Tiramisini (individually portioned), like Nigella Lawson's recipe. Great for parties or any occasion which calls for individual servings. I did this for a birthday at work once, and it was wonderfully mess-free. The lightness of each portion meant it wasn't too heavy for each person to eat a whole thing (I did the whipped cream trick to lighten the marscapone).

  • Tiramisu ice cream cake, Bill Granger has a great one. This is my all time favourite - it has ice cream instead of marscapone! And chocolate shavings instead of cocoa powder on top. An ice cream monster like me will surely choose ice cream over cheese every time...

  • Tiramisu cupcakes, Hummingbird has a recipe which involves scooping out the middle of the cupcake and filling it, then reassemble and frost (way too much work for my liking, I'd rather the tiramisini option).

Till next time, happy eating


Friday, 25 January 2013

Inspiration from a nomadic piano tuner and a chat about technology and consumerism

My favourite hobby is surfing the net. On a phone, a computer, anywhere, anytime.  The feeling of being “connected” at all times is paramount to feeling calm and every day these are my comforts.

ps ribbon

Then there’s googlereader (for the blogs I like to read), instagram and twitter occasionally. A short attention span, limited brain space and the need for things that are short and snappy means I will reply my whatsapp and text, but often set aside email and facebook, then forget about it.

I really like blogs and am always on the hunt for something new and engaging to read. A couple of days ago I came across Richard the piano tuner’s blog, a London based piano tuner that is nomadic. He has no fixed abode (even in winter) and carries his life on his back, gets about on his bicycle to get from job to job tuning pianos …  but in all other aspects sounds to be as much of a “normal” or “average” person as you and I. Instant respect for being able to live outdoors London in winter! The blog is also really nicely written and a great read about his adventures.

Whilst Richard's lifestyle would never be me (I can’t even tolerate an itty bitty bit of camping), it did get me thinking about how much stuff we have (and don’t need) and the insatiable need for new and different things. So starting with me I’m going to try and hit pause on the “stuff” and buying unnecessary things, and try harder to reuse, recycle.

Phones and other technology

My phone screen really really cracked and non repairable without paying a silly amount. I do often get the “what happened to your phone” comment, and whilst I’d really like a Galaxy Note 2, I can’t bring myself to buy one while this is still alive and kicking.


The annoying thing about Tech though is that it encourages consumerism. The printer ran out of ink a couple of weeks ago and instead of replacing the ink it was way cheaper to buy a new one. So I ended up trekking 20min to the small appliances recycling to dispose of the old one since I would have felt way too wrong just putting it in the bin.

I’m not even going to go into the living room technology. Partially understandable since Mr T stands for Mr Technology, but I’m really hoping nothing needs replacing or repairs for at least the next 3 years.  Either way, this is a big stop for now if I can possibly help it. On the upside, my little macbook is still going after 3 years!

Stopping to smell the flowers (instead of looking at an LCD screen)

This is one of my favourite photos (that’s me about to sink into a wave) and my technology tells me that it’s from summer 2006, which happened to be my last summer of freedom, i.e. uni.


The echivera is from my mum’s garden in 2005 when she first got into garden photography and I remember thinking that digital cameras were so cool back then (they still are, but the novelty value is less).

image (1)

And last but not least I’m going to make an effort to skype my parents and my Radley more often, because I should (and Radley is one of the most awesome things that's ever come into my life).


Will any of these things turn me into a better person? Possibly, possibly not but at least I can try. Thanks for the inspiration Richard!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Canary Wharf: a winters day out

Never knew the start of the year would have been so hectic! After the (what feels like a continuous) spell of travelling last year we will be spending some more time in London for the next little while - so, my upcoming posts are more likely to be more food and London days out focussed (hopefully more of an interesting read than wedding planning). After all, as JLO said recently "we seem to be happiest when we are eating or drinking something"... and everything else is just a bonus. One of our days out was with Miss E and JLo at Canary Wharf; as expected, lunch was priority one.

celery-apple saladchorizo-pancetta-saladchorizo lollipopsWe went to Iberica and whilst the food wasn't quite up to my favourite Dehesa, there were a few new things to try and new ideas for Spanish inspired home cooking, in particular the celery and apple salad with a balsamic / yoghurt dressing; chorizo lollipops; chickpea puree with chorizo, pancetta & tomato salad.

Then it was off to try and see the sculptures, which were scattered around Canary Wharf with a central area where all the activities were going on. Alas, it was freezing and the prospect of having to queue for 40min just wasn't working for us, so we went for a coffee and frozen yoghurt instead. On the way there we did find some chess pieces and a unicorn - and the sun was out!

rook pawn unicorn
penguinjubilee park

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Meringue Gelato Cake with Chocolate Sauce

I've been feeling rather absent minded and distracted lately with all that's been happening, but I think its time to turn my attention back to a primary love - FOOD! I had thumbed through Nigella's new book about a month ago after going to the book signing and the desserts look fabulously delicious and uncomplicated.

I was so inspired that I thought about doing a cookbook cook through, but since I've been back at work I've been feeling less than inspired to make the effort to cook anything but tried and trusted easy weekday food that requires no thinking. Also, if I did do a cookbook cook through, would it be cheating if I didn't follow the recipe to the letter and just picked out the ingredients and made it how I want to in order to come up with a similar result?

Nevertheless, the Meringue Gelato Cake with Chocolate Sauce definitely caught my attention and it turned out to be far too easy for an ice cream guzzler like me to eat. What's in it? Four key ingredients, and some extra cream for the sauce.

  • Meringue - crushed up. Mine are looking slightly darker than usual since I wasn't paying enough attention and they browned a little too much!!

  • Ice cream - vanilla (could be anything you want though really)

  • Chocolate - some shaved into the ice cream mix, and some made into a sauce (I just melted it and added a bit of cream)

  • Raspberries - for decoration and to cut through some of the sweetness.

ice cream meringue raspberries chocolate

After mixing up the ingredients and refreezing it all, it turned out a little like a different version of a Viennetta (without all the pretty swirls) or a cassata perhaps? Either way, it was great stuff and didn't last long in the freezer at all.


Next on my Nigella hit list: a chocolate hazelnut cheesecake!



Friday, 4 January 2013

Food diary: Toronto

It feels like forever since I've posted, but realistically its actually only a little over a week. Since meeting the lovely Nigella Lawson a month ago, I have managed to accumulate 7 lots of photos to sort through! A symptom of the Christmas season, with parties, food, food and more food, New Years ... and of course the list goes on. I'm actually at a loss as to what would be the most interesting to read / write about, so I'm going in favourites order.

The Toronto days have definitely been my favourite in recent memory. Mr T & I went to visit the family for a week, and there was so little stress, so much to eat, and so much freedom to do, well, nothing that it was completely awesome. Day 1, I even managed to unintentionally wake up way too early at 7.30am and take photos of the sunrise outside my window.


I got so over excited by the food that I even forgot to take my camera at times, I was so busy eating  - so unfortunately this is only a sample. And then there was the day where the SD card disappeared from the camera temporarily so I missed a WHOLE day of photos... but anyway, I won't talk about that.

Back to the food and my over excitement, the stand outs:

1) The standard Chinese place just down the road there's nothing particularly special about it but Mr T was raving on about the free soup that came before the meal, and I ordered my favourite spicy eggplant and pork and devoured the whole thing myself.

2) 4 lunches in a day - maccas, pho, ramen, donuts ... then going home for dad's big birthday dinner!

Here's some delicious ginger/spring onion crab and sesame glutinous rice balls in a ginger tea, that we had at home (don't ask me why there's peking duck written on the spoon).

crabtong yuun

Ramen from Ajisen. I am not usually a ramen fan (Miss B is) but this white soup based "tenderous ribs" ramen was pretty darn good. I was particularly thrilled that they had soy sauce eggs! (surprisingly hard to find in London). So thrilled I had to have two.


Then some turkey, stuffed clams (the stuffing was mixed with the clam then put back in the shell - you did wonder where the clam pieces were, but it definitely was tasty), escargot (family favourite for all except me) and a variety of western and asian sides for dad's birthday dinner. Yes peeps, that is choy sum you see next to the beetroot and sweet potato! We even had fried rice!

turkeysidesprawnsstuffed clamsescargot

The birthday cake was a champagne mousse cake. Interesting and had a few different textures; the middle one was like a berry compote but in a jelly form; I must try making this.

birthday cake cake xsection

presentsDinner was followed by presents, Mr T got another Lakers hat which I've stolen for the purposes of this picture. Oh and I must mention the junk food we ate on Christmas day. Whilst waiting for the evening party to be catered, we went to Popeyes since KFC wasn't open. I am loving their slogan! and the chicken was pretty good too. Being Christmas, the guy at the counter was feeling generous and gave us a free coke. I finished this off with some of my favourite popcorn of all time - Kernels. I can't find it in the UK and it shut down in Australia awhile ago so I was pleased to find it again.



Finally, something which I've never eaten before but were particularly good - deviled eggs (also known as eggs mimosa or stuffed eggs). These bad boys had the yolks taken out of them which were mixed with mayo, then piped back into the white and with a sprinkling of bacon and herbs on top. Yum! I'll definitely be making these as a snack next time we have a party.

devilled eggs