Tuesday, May 23, 2017

CAS Pink Heart Die-Cut Card

CAS means 'clean and simple'. In cardmaking terms, that means lots of white space; one main image or focal point and minimal embellishments.
I saw a blog challenge on Addicted to CAS calling for CAS cards with the theme 'pink'. I remembered this one I had made a little while ago and decided to enter it.

My husband and I were trying out my new Silhouette Cameo cutter (about a year ago) and used one of the free patterns as a test. Perhaps we didn't have the blade on the right setting as there was a small section that didn't cut through properly, on the left of the heart. I could have used a craft knife to remove the extra bit but in a way I quite liked the way it anchored the heart to the circle.

There was also a defect - a small tear, I think - on the heart in the middle so I decided to cover it with a small sentiment card topper saying 'to my wonderful husband'. With the die cut taking up most of the card, and the need to show the white space behind the design, I decided this would look best as a CAS card on a plain white background.

It's our first wedding anniversary in a few weeks so I could give this to my husband then, but I would rather make something special if I have time!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 - Week 21

Lunch: chicken salad with mango and feta
Dinner: salmon, new potatoes and veg in a cheesy sauce for me, beef grillsteak and mashed potato for him

Tuesday  - working from home
Lunch: chicken salad with mango and feta and hot new potatoes since I am at home - OR if the weather is cold and we have leftover bread from the weekend I will have soup
Dinner: ready meal and veg after circuits class - OR the salad I would have had at lunch

Lunch: quick sandwich - need an early quick lunch as I have meetings from 12 until 2.30
Dinner: out with my mother-in-law for her birthday

Lunch: salad - either as before or Tabbouleh from Leon recipe book
Dinner: most likely home late after a work event, so something easy from the freezer or a salad I can throw together depending on the weather

Lunch: salad
Dinner: fish and chips from the freezer for me, chicken and chips for my husband, or if it's barbecue weather which I think from the forecast it might be, we have plenty in the freezer.

Saturday - bank holiday weekend
Lunch: early lunch with my parents then a cream tea in the afternoon with my friends for a birthday celebration
Dinner: eating at my friend's house

Lunch: Nigella's croquet monsieur bake
Dinner: grilled cod with jerk spice based on this recipe - or with chicken for my husband, with potato wedges

This is a blog hop, join in!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

KitchenAid Cooking Demo with Michael Moore

KitchenAid are known for their luxury free-standing food mixers (I have one in pink) - what I didn't realise is that the brand actually offers everything from kettles and toasters to fridges, ovens and dishwashers! I was able to see some of their products in action recently when I was invited to a cooking demonstration with chef Michael Moore.

The event was held at the KitchenAid showroom in London's Wigmore Street - a mecca of stand mixers with a beautiful display of them in different colours across one wall, as well as a showcase of other products and a full kitchen layout downstairs.

Upstairs there is a long counter where chefs can cook and demonstrate on one side while guests sip their drinks and watch on the other. I was late to the event (thanks to someone on the tube ahead of mine having a medical emergency meaning the train I was on was stuck in a tunnel) so I missed seeing Michael marinade some prawns but I watched him cook them on a skillet and they tasted delicious. The black rice was something I've never come across before and it tasted delicious.

Sipping Tattinger champagne out of the most beautiful 'open up' flutes from Chef  & Sommelier adding to a fun evening.

After the demo finished I got to meet Michael and have a chat with him - he's an effervescent, larger-than-life character who is well regarded in the industry and gives the impression of loving life and getting great enjoyment from what he does.

Michael Moore started out at the Savoy then moved to the prestigious Georges V hotel in Paris and has worked all over the world, in countries including Germany (at the Four Seasons in Hamburg, at the time the top-rated hotel in Europe), Italy, the Maldives, USA and Barbados, where his mother is from. He also spent three years at the Dorchester in the UK and later opened his own restaurant in Marylebone, London, which is now closed.

Michael's newest project is going to be The London Cookhouse - at the moment the details are shrouded in secrecy but Michael has announced this will be "a centre for gastronomic experience under one roof that will combine and complement each other providing interest and hands-on experience to all, despite their culinary knowledge and experience." I can't wait to go there!

The KitchenAid showroom

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blue Baby Bottle Congratulations Card

I spotted a blogger challenge on Ooh La La Creations Challenges for a card on the theme 'something beginning with B', which has given me the perfect opportunity to share this new baby card.

It's actually using a card topper I bought years ago from Ebay - I bought a small packet of them and thought I had used them all long ago and came across one left! You could make it quite easily by matting a piece of pattered paper onto a white card rectangle and then another smaller rectangle on top. The baby bottle is probably a die cut but wouldn't be hard to cut out yourself following a template or a picture - or even the real thing!

I used a rubber stamp saying 'congratulations' from a new collection that I think I got free with a card making magazine, on a blue card.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Restaurant Review: The Faraday, Epsom

Often when we go to the cinema we have dinner beforehand at a restaurant nearby; over the past few years we've eaten at most restaurants on Epsom High Street! One place we'd never been to is the Faraday (actually on Church St, on the corner of the High St) - a pub that we'd always walked past thinking it was too busy and probably more the sort of place you go to drink than eat.

Perhaps later in the night that is the case (judging by TripAdvisor reviews of bouncers on the doors and deals that appeal to the student crowd) but when we went it was actually fairly quiet - by the time we left it was nicely busy.

I like a pub that goes that one step further and I noticed xbox controllers and screens as well as board games which I thought was a really cool idea; they let you choose your own music to play (presumably for the whole pub to hear); the menu even mentioned that you could ask at the bar if you needed a phone charger - and a printing service, which says they can't print your whole thesis but are good for a few pages if you can't get to your printer. That seems one for the students!

The range and originality of the menu is impressive; as well as all the usual burgers they offer a chicken katsu burger which I've never come across before (though I love chicken katsu curry), a crawfish roll (not seen on menus often enough in my opinion) and some quite unusual vegetarian and vegan dishes like a Lebanese style aubergine crumble. I was really tempted by the desserts as well - specifically the cookie cup, which is a biscuit base filled with chocolate brownie, marshmallow pieces and chocolate honeycomb, served with vanilla ice cream - but in the end we didn't get as far as dessert (though our drinks pretty much counted as dessert!).

At that point I hadn't had a burger in ages so I decided to have the chicken melt burger - good value at £8.25 with a chicken breast topped with bacon, melted cheese and the BBQ sauce (the sauce really made it) and it came of course with fries.

I'd spotted something while perusing the drinks menu that I really wanted to try but knew the calorie count would be off the chart, so tried to persuade my husband to share one for dessert - but he wanted one all to himself! So we ended up ordering two 'freakshakes' - thick chocolate milkshakes with streaks of chocolate sauce down the inside of the glass, topped with a giant cookie balanced on top of the glass, with a swirl of whipped cream on top. There was a straw going through the cream and the centre of the cookie down into the glass, and threaded onto the straw were two mini chocolate profiteroles!

It was amazing though I could have done without the extra cream on top - and I only drank half of it as it was just too much. I was about to comment to my husband that we should have shared one after all, only to find he had already polished his off!


Monday, May 15, 2017

Meal Planning Monday 2017 - Week 20

I think sometimes we expect too much from smaller supermarkets, even the chains - I went into a Sainsburys Local on Saturday to buy ingredients for a Pad Thai and found they had no beansprouts. I had all the other more unusual ingredients already at home but didn't think it would be the same without the beansprouts - so for two meals this week I've had to make last minute alterations!

Lunch: chorizo and halloumi salad
Dinner: salmon for me, garlic and herb chicken breast for him

Tuesday - working from home
Lunch: baked potato with bacon and sour cream
Dinner: at a circuits class and not home til 8.30: Slimming World cauliflower rosti pie I keep intending to make but not having time to

Lunch: chorizo and halloumi salad
Dinner: salmon and vegetables for me, sausage and bean pasty with mashed potato for him

Thursday -
Lunch: Tabbouleh from Leon Salads book with chicken
Dinner: spaghetti and meatballs

Lunch: salad depending on what I have left in the fridge!
Dinner: something from the freezer with chips

Lunch: at a friend's BBQ that doesn't start til 1pm so it won't really be lunch I expect so might do brunch. I was going to do cloud eggs with bacon and hash browns last week but didn't have time, so will do them today.
Dinner: will depend on what/ when/ how much we ate at the BBQ. We could either have crumpets and hot cross buns (leftover from Easter which I froze) or something like chicken fajitas

Lunch: bacon sandwich for him, potato and salmon salad for me from this recipe
Dinner: Memphis style pork chops from this recipe with hassleback potatoes that I didn't do last week

Saturday, May 13, 2017

40th Birthday Showstopper Chocolate Drip Cake With All the Chocolate

This was my husband's second birthday cake - well, it was his 40th!

We spent his birthday with some of his family then saw other family the following weekend, so I wanted to make a cake for both occasions. For his birthday itself I made this chocolate R2D2 cake (a throwback to his childhood) and the following weekend I wanted to make more of a serious classic cake - but at the same time I wanted it to be a showstopper.

My husband loves chocolate so I decided to celebrate his love of chocolate by making something I'd seen a few (or more than a few) times on the internet. It's a 'drip cake' which means a chocolate cake with a chocolate glaze or ganache that is dripping down the sides of the cake; it's also something of an 'explosion' cake with various chocolate bars and types of chocolate sticking out of the top. They are intended to look as if they have been placed in a fairly haphazard fashion but are actually carefully arranged with pieces of different heights to create interest and balance and the appearance of a lot of chocolate bursting out of the cake!

For the cake itself, I actually had enough mixture leftover from the R2D2 cake (as the cake mould just said it took an 8-egg batter, but the recipe I used gave me far too much) to make a normal round sponge cake which I froze, and defrosted in time to make this.

For the other layer, I made the chocolate cake from this Konditor and Cook Curly Whirly cake as I remembered it being really good before (and it was).

To make the chocolate ganache on top, I used:
200ml double cream
200g plain chocolate, chopped

Heat the cream in a small pan and when it is just simmering, remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it has melted. Allow to cool until it is still a thick pouring consistency.

Here's a nice pic of some cake batter... I do like the before and after photos!

The cake, sliced through the middle - with the one I had in the freezer I ended up with four layers. For a drip cake you do want it to be quite tall.

 Like this - four layers of chocolate cake

I coated the top and sides of the cake in chocolate buttercream then poured the chocolate ganache over the top, encouraging it to drip down the sides. I stuck various chocolate bars and pieces of chocolate in the top, sprinkled over some giant chocolate buttons, and added some red stars (made of icing, which I bought from a cake decorating website) and a diamante '40' pick I bought from the same website.

 My husband's family seemed quite impressed and my husband loved it - though he had better not get used to having two birthday cakes!