Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Vegan mini tarts with chocolate ganache and almond recipe

I made these deliciously rich and almost guilt free tarts at work today with a couple of students, they really enjoyed building these cute little treats. We also did strawberry jam tarts too which went down well. Customers loved them, even the non vegans and chef Jonathan wolfed his down, despite being against anything vegan!

For the pastry
300g plain flour
50g icing sugar
50g ground almonds
200g vegan margerine
1 pinch salt
water to bind

For the ganache
200g dark chocolate (I used montezumas)
100g soya milk (try replacing with orange juice or black coffee for a different flavour)
20g margerine
1 pinch salt
20g icing sugar

Flaked almonds for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  1. Blend pastry ingredients except the water til they form a breadcrumb texture (or rub between your fingers)
  2. Add the water to form a paste and chill for an hour
  3. Roll out to the thickness of a pound coin and cut out circles with a cutter or by using a glass and going round the outside with a knife
  4. Place the circles into mince pie moulds (I used a rubber one for easy removal)
  5. If making the jam tarts, place a spoonful of jam into the pastry wells and bake for 12 minutes, checking after 9 incase your oven temperature is slightly hotter.
  6. If making the chocolate tarts then place the naked pastry into the oven to bake for 9 minutes until golden
  7. Meanwhile heat together ganache ingredients over a low heat until smooth and glossy.
  8. Remove shells from oven and spoon hot chocolate ganache into the wells. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds
  9. Enjoy and do be careful with those molten hot jam ones!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Baked white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake recipe

Here is an easy and impressive cheesecake recipe that tastes amazing.

2 large packs ginger biscuits
half a pack of butter, melted

600g soft cheese
300g double cream
4 eggs
1 vanilla pod,scraped
200g caster sugar
100g melted white chocolate

2 punnets raspberries
1/2 a jar of berry jam

Preheat oven to 160 degrees
  1. Blend biccies and butter in a blender til it resembles sand that would build a great sandcastle
  2. Spread this evenly over a large 22cm cake tin (removable base) and push down with a glass
  3. Clean the blender and add your second set of ingredients, blend til smooth and pour over the biscuit base
  4. Get a large tray (big enough to fit your cake tin) and fill it half way with water. Place your tin in this and then into the oven. Cook for 1.5 hours
  5. In the meantime heat your jam and berries until the raspberries are slightly soft (3 mins ish)
  6. Remove from oven and place a towel wrapped plate on top. This will prevent cracking
  7. Once cooled, slice into portions, pour over your berry sauce and serve!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Urban Choola Restaurant Review

Urban Choola has been open just three weeks. As soon as I saw the sign I was intrigued. This cosy little spot has been host to many restaurants / cafe's over the years, Amigos and Bohans are the previous two and I enjoyed eating at both of them. Amigos has moved furthur down London road to a bigger and shinier venue. I've no idea what happened to Bohans but their vegetarian breakfast sandwiches rid me of many a hangover.

The theme for this place is Indian street food, once inside you can see this reflected on the exposed brick walls - colourful prints illustrating various people enjoying street food in India.
I think more traditional, ethnic Indian images and wall hangings would be much better but I'm not judging their furnishings and this is the image they want to go with, so that's alright.

The menu is short, a good sign and has sections such as "small bites", "all time favourites" and "tandoori and the grill". I order chicken masala dosa, lamb seekh kebab for my mum and masala chicken wings.

A short while later my wings arrived on their own, so me and my mum ended up sharing them. They were accompanied by "khacumber" salad which consisted of chopped carrot, cabbage, lemon, red onion and fresh coriander. This was nice and seen as they'd salted the onions, they weren't too pungent, as raw onions usually are.
There was also a coriander lime dressing and the nine wings were covered in a thick tasty marinade.

The dosa and kebab arrived ten minutes after we'd finished the wings. My mum's masala fries which accompanied her kebab were so good! I could have eaten all those but she wouldn't have been happy about that. My dosa was tangy from the fermented lentils in the batter, with a rich masala filling and chunky chicken breast pieces. The chicken was dry, which is typical of authentic Asian chicken dishes. Some people might object to this overcooking of chicken but I ate chicken like this when I was growing up so this is how I personally prefer it.

It doesn't take much persuasion for me to agree to share a gujwa halwa (carrot pudding) with Ma.
Warm, sweet and buttery, with flavours of cardamon and almond, this pudding evokes lovely memories of my childhood. Didn't manage to snap a pic of this as we were almost finished it before I realised. It basically looks like a squishy orange pulp, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! What it lacks in appearance it makes up for in taste though. I'll be back again for their delicious sounding creme brulee with a twist.
Our meal, with a pepsi, came to £20.20

Food - 8/10
Service - 9/10
Value - 9/10

Monday, 8 April 2013

London Visit - A few pics

Intense chilli chocolate from that amazing chocolate shop near borough market

Happy shoppers at Borough market

Lots of cheese and salami, including scarmoza! My favourite!

Another stall selling cheese

The new "Shard"

My treat for the day- goats milk ice cream in cappucinno and black forest flavours, creamy and stretchy

Nice looking pastries

At Borough market

Stall in Borough market selling liquorice and other sweet treats

A creperie in Camden

Great clothes here, I love the quirky selection

Nutella crepe, delicious!

Camden street

Boats on the canal

Salt and pepper tofu in a Vietnamese restaurant

Colourful vegan breakfast at a wonderful small cafe

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Masala Tilapia & Harissa Salad Recipe

This is so good I had it two days in a row! It's easy and impressive too, perfect for when the weather gets warmer.

Ingredients: Serves 4
2 large tilapia fillets
2 yellow peppers
1/2 iceberg lettuce
1 cup of frozen peas
6 large new potatoes
1 handful fresh coriander
2 tbsp garam masala (the foil packs from Asian supermarkets are superior)
Sea salt
Olive oil for frying

For the dressing - just mix together:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp harissa
2 lemons
1 tbsp honey
1 tiny pinch salt

  1. Chop potatoes into bite sized pieces and boil, adding the frozen peas to the pan 4 minutes before the spuds are done
  2. Finely slice and mix the pepper, iceberg and coriander in a large bowl
  3. Chop the tilapia into bite sized pieces, dust in the garam masala and salt then fry oil in a hot pan, don't be too attentive here, leave the fish to catch a little - a bit of charring adds smokey-ness and depth to the fish
  4. Drain the potatoes and peas, mix with the salad and pour over the dressing, combine well 
  5. Plate up the salad and top with the delicious spicy fish.