Just popped in to say..

I’ve been really busy with a horrible 8000 word assignment due in. But I’m back!

Assignments handed in and I’m celebrating with a few days off work and this cupcake from Fallen Angel! Apple Crumble Cupcake.. A flavour I hadn’t come across before. Light cake, sweet apple purée, crunchy crumble, and creamy frosting. A sensational delight.

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Eating our way around New York

Around this time last year I turned 21 and for my 21st birthday present my boyfriend took me to… NEW YORK.

At the time I didn’t have a blog and now I do.. so it seems like a missed opportunity if I don’t tell you all about it. I’m rewinding the clocks and am going to show you how we ate our way around New York.

My parents had visited NYC the year before and advised us to book ‘The Original Greenwich Village Food Tour’ through http://www.foodsofny.com/

So we did…

We met the tour group outside Murreys Cheese shop on Bleaker Street. There where around 10 people in our group, so it was a really nice size. The tour cost $49 per person, averaging at about £30 – £35. You visit 7 restaurants and eat in each one, with a guide talking you through every mouthful.

The first place we went to was Joe’s Pizza – named the best pizza in New York and to be honest I really can’t argue…. it was amazing.

Next stop ‘Home’ a great little restaurant on Cornelia Street, Michelin recommended and can seat around 30 people. Their restaurant tag line is ‘Fine Wine. Fine Ketchup,’ and their homemade ketchup is definitely worth visiting for. However, here we tried their homemade Macaroni and Cheese and believe it not this was the first time I had ever tried Macaroni and Cheese. I was apprehensive. In the past when I thought of Macaroni Cheese I thought of an anaemic, pale, gloopy sauce, thickly coating pasta and all together tasting very bland… how I was wrong. This was creamy, cheesy, rich but not too rich, crispy on top and most importantly well seasoned. This was my favourite restaurant we visited and we went back for a meal the night after.

We then visited Faicco’s a little family owned Italian delicatessen, where we enjoyed little mozzarella risotto balls. Here are the two of us outside. We ate the risotto balls too quickly hence no photo..

Then walking a little further into Greenwich we reached our next stop – Palma Restaurant. Here we stopped for a little longer and relaxed with a nice afternoon glass of wine, whilst indulging on their mini tasting plate, featuring: BBQ Prune wrapped in Bacon, Risotto Ball, Artichoke & Parmigiano and Egg.. (I can’t remember the filling – it was along time ago)

Now for dessert – first stop ‘Milk and Cookies.’ This bakery does every type of cookie imaginable and the bonus is they taste incredible. All the cookies are baked fresh everyday on the premises, therefore the majority of the time they are warm out the oven. We tried the chocolate chip cookie and I would fly to NYC just to get another!

Before our second dessert stop we made a quick visit to our original meeting point ‘Murreys Cheese Shop.’ Love cheese? You have to visit. They do every type of cheese; smoked, stinky, hard, soft, goat, cow the list goes on.

Our final stop was Rocco’s a southern Italian pastry shop, established in 1972 and I think the pictures below talk for them selves. We were given a cannoli each, but could we resist going back in for another dessert… I think not!

Not only does this tour take you to some of NYC’s hidden food treasures but it also gives you a great insight into a very trendy area of NYC. I would give this food tour a 10/10 and would recommend anyone to book up. It is a must do whilst visiting NYC. The only tips I would give are… book in advance and don’t have breakfast before!

Birthday Meal: Dessert

Dessert: Sticky Chocolate Tart with Caramelised Carrots

100g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
55g butter
3 tbsp water
75g dark chocolate
2 eggs
37g melted butter
50g caster sugar
25g plain flour
1 carrot
3tbsp caster sugar
1tbsp water
Juice of 1 lemon

1) Place the flour, cocoa powder and butter in a bowl and rub together until your reach a bread crumb texture

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2) Bring the mixture together with 3tbsp of water and chill the pastry for 1 hour

3) Julienne the carrots and place in a pan with the sugar, water and lemon. Simmer until the carrots are soft and caramelised

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4) Grease 2 individual loose bottomed pastry tins. Roll out the pastry and place in the tins

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5) Blind bake the pastry with dried peas for 4mins and bake again without the dried peas for another 5mins

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6) Melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of water

7) Beat the eggs, sugar and flour. Add the melted chocolate and mix well

8) Place the chocolate mixture into the pastry cases and bake at 180 degrees for 8 minutes – they will be nice a runny in the middle

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9) Serve straight from the oven. Dust with cocoa powder with the caramelised carrots.

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Birthday Meal: Main Course

Main course: Soy Glazed Tuna

2 tuna steaks
1 cup basmati rice
50ml dark soy sauce
4 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Pak Choi
1 lime
2 spring onions
1 tbsp sesame seeds

1) Put the soy sauce and brown sugar in a pan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add the garlic, sesame oil and cool. Cover the tuna steaks with the marinade and leave for 5 hours

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2) Boil your rice for 12 minutes and toast the sesame seeds

3) Blanch the pak choi and place on the griddle to char

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4) Place the tuna steaks on the griddle for 2 minutes each side – they will be nice and pink on the inside.

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5) Take the remaining marinade and bring to a simmer in a pan with your chopped spring onions

6) To serve, slice the tune steaks and lay on top of a bed of rice. Lay 2 pak choi leaves on top. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and spoon over the marinade. Finish with a squeeze of lime.

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Birthday Meal: Starter

So whilst you have all been enjoying Valentines day… the gifts, the exchanging of lovely words. I haven’t. My boyfriend decided to be born on Valentines Day, which apparently means it’s ‘his’ day!?

Luckily I don’t really like flowers, too old for teddies and chocolates make me fat so I’ve never been a die hard Valentines Day fan. So this weekend I spent the Saturday prepping for his Birthday meal. 3 courses, wine, balloons, what else could a birthday boy want…

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I will post 3 posts, one for each course. These are fab dishes, not too complicated but look and taste great!

It would be great to hear what you think…

Starter: Pickled Vegetables, Parma Ham & Pea Shoots

10 baby carrots
2 baby turnips
8 asparagus tips
10 cauliflower florets
150ml rice wine vinegar
75g caster sugar
Pea shoots
8 slices Parma ham

1) Wash and prep all your vegetables

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2) Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil and submerge all vegetables. Pickle for 3 hours.

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3) To serve, scatter the vegetables over the plates, then randomly place the Parma ham and pea shoots

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Chocolate and Marmalade Tart

I want to make my first post something extra delicious… So I have decided to start with my Chocolate and Marmalade Tart.

The indulgence of the rich chocolate and subtle hints of orange makes this tart a winner with anyone and everyone.

I am not ashamed to say that I have used this tart as a weapon in the past. I have baked it to win over colleagues at work, as a peacemaker with boyfriends… the list goes on. However, my point is, people cannot say no to this tart, so give it a go!

Chocolate and Marmalade Tart

250g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
Cocoa Powder for dusting

For the filling:
200g butter
300g plain chocolate
60g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
150g thick cut marmalade

1) Firstly make the shortcrust pastry. Some people may say this tart should be made with sweet pastry, however I find you can get shortcrust pastry alot thinner and with the richness from the chocolate you don’t need a sweet pastry. Place the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together until fine crumbs.

2) Add 2tbsp of water or enough until the pastry can be brought together. Place the pastry in the fridge for 1 hour to prevent the pastry from shrinking when baked.

3) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a 23cm loose bottomed flan tin. Take the pastry from the fridge, roll out and place in the flan tin. The thinner the pastry the better, however do ensure there are know holes as the filling will seep out. Place baking parchment on top of the pastry and fill with dried peas. Bake the pastry for 10 mins, then take the dried peas out and bake it again for another 5 minutes until golden brown. This will ensure you don’t get a soggy bottom. Nobody wants a soggy bottom!

4) Now make the filling. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Whisk together the sugar, eggs and additional egg yolks then fold into the chocolate mixture.

5) Spread a thick layer of marmalade across the base of the pastry case. Pour your chocolate mixture on top and bake for 15 mins until set.

6) When cooled dust with cocoa powder and serve with a large dollop of mascarpone.