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    Cake, Recipes

    Recipe: Blondies / White Chocolate Brownies

    I love this recipe, although I’m never really sure what to call them; white chocolate brownies sounds a bit silly, but blondies seem to require explanation.  Either way if you’re a fan of white chocolate these are delicious.  Below is the basic recipe for the blondies, but feel free to experiment; I’ve made this recipe adding 100g of cranberries or with a delicious Spanish liqueur, Licor 43.

    blondiesBlondies

    300g quality white chocolate, chopped

    200g butter

    3 medium eggs

    150g caster sugar

    ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

    200g plain flour, sifted

     

    Method
    1. Heat the oven to 180°C or equivalent.  Line a baking tin (18x28cm size is recommended) with greaseproof paper – trust me, this is a lot less messy than greasing a tin and trying to get the baked goods out later.
    2. Boil some water and then allow it to simmer.  In a bowl over the pan of simmering water, melt butter with 150g of the chocolate.  Once it’s all melted leave it to cool (trust me) and then give it a good, quick stir to combine it.
    3. In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until combined and the mixture looks pale.
    4. Beat in the melted white chocolate mixture, making sure everything comes together.
    5. Chop the remaining 150g into chunks (I tend to attack mine with a rolling pin) and sprinkle the chunks into the mixture.  If you’re adding fruit (cranberries work well), add this now.
    6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or  until the top is firm but the insiders are still a bit soft.
    7. Leave to cool and cut into squares.

     

    Round ups

    July round up

    Wow, what a month July was.  Oddly, considering I managed to blog much more this month, it was also the month I seemed to end up in a lot of other cities with a weekend away in York and trips to Leamington Spa and London (no blogposts about them though).  I’ve varied some of the posts in July too, adding product reviews in among the usual reviews, recipes and round ups.

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    A bit of naughty and nice with just two recipes this month; one for a blueberry balsamic glaze which really added the finishing touch to my rainbow salad, and a recipe for Gluten-free Chocolate and Cointreau Cake .

    Reviews

    It was a great month for pop up food events, as I went to one of Brum Yum Yum’s Lunch Market where 63 Islands and the Cake Doctor were selling their wares for the afternoon.  I also made it along to the Colmore Business District’s annual Food Festival – their best yet.  And not forgetting my first visit to Two Cats Roaming Kitchen, a north-eastern European fine dining pop up and well worth seeking out.

    Plus I visited one of the most hidden away cafes in the city – so hidden I didn’t even know it existed until I went for lunch!

    Product reviewschocolatebombe

    I decided to add in some reviews of more unusual food items I came across, the first being Beanies gingerbread flavour instant coffee, after developing a bit of a habit for gingerbread soya lattes.  I also stumbled across Tyrrell’s Vegetable Crisps when looking for something a bit more interesting in my lunchtime sandwich meal deal, and finally a Selfridges salted almond and crunchy toffee Bombe I found in the sale…I know, chocolate in the sale!

    Coming up in August I have reviews from Two Cats’ July event, the recipe for my favourite blondies, mojito chocolates from Hotel Chocolat, The Electric’s Food Film Club and much much more!

    Events, Food and Restaurant News, News, Pub and Drinks News

    Summer Food Events

    Summer is traditionally a bit of a quiet time for pop-ups as everyone seems to be off festivaling it up.  But not this year, this year there’s a whole pile of delightful food adventures to get your teeth stuck into.  Below is a list of a few of them – as much to remind me as help promote some great food vendors!

    Hare & Hounds Summer Kitchen Takeover

    Clarke and Lee are back with their Asian soul food at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath on Thursday 31 July at 6.45pm.  The menu includes: Fried Capeling, Sriracha Mayo; Radish, Watermelon, Coriander Oil, Black Sesame; Lamb Rendang, Nasi Lemak, Sambal Ikan Bilis; Kaffir lime granite; and Green Tea and Red Bean Falooda.  Tickets cost £22.50 (plus booking fee) and are available TicketSellers.

    As part of the kitchen takeover season at the Hare & Hounds, Pop Up Dosa will be there on Thursday 7 August for some authentic Kerala delights.  Pop Up Dosa are a firm favourite at Full to the Brum as is their Gunpowder chutney, so we’d really recommend this one.  Tickets for a 3 course meal for just £12 are available from TicketSellers.

    I’ve not experienced Alan ‘Fingy’ Thomson’s Peruvian and Latin food but if he’s teaming up with Pip’s Hot Sauce we know it’ll be good.  They’re at the Hare on Thursday 14 August from 7.30pm, with £15 for 3 courses and tickets available from TicketSellers.

    http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/

    Pika Pika

    I’ve caught Pika Pika a few times when they’ve been at Cherry Reds in Kings Heath, but they’re down the road at Ort Cafe in Balsall Heath this time round, with a pop-up event on Wednesday 30 July from 6pm.  Booking can be done by calling Josie at Ort on 07845083322.

    http://wearepikapika.tumblr.com/

    LunchMarket

    Brum Yum Yum’s Lunch Market is running until August which means this Friday lunchtime you have one more chance to catch it at the Square in Birmingham City Centre.  But fear not, Brum Yum Yum will be popping up at its usual monthly spot in Kings Heath.

    http://www.brumyumyum.com/

    Kitchen School’s Supper Club

    Based in Edgbaston, the Kitchen Cookery School’s supper club starts on Friday 8 August with a seasonal experience where they reinvent the unloved marrow.  Three courses, including all wines, are £50 and dinner starts at 7.30pm.  On the night you’ll be talked through the menu and have some interesting aspects of the cooking process demonstrated to you (Sous Vide, foam making, and molecular gastronomy insights, as examples).  It sounds like a fantastic experience for food enthusiasts and we’re looking forward to trying one in the future.

    http://www.kitchenschool.co.uk/events/supperclub-august/

    The Church’s Crayfish Boil

    After the success of the last few it’s easy to see why the guys and gals at The Church are bringing back their Crayfish Boil on 25 August for the Bank Holiday weekend.  For £15 you’ll be severed up a bowl of fresh crayfish served in a cajun broth with sweetcorn, potatoes and lemon, plus a Soul Food Brownie for afters.  Food is served from 4pm and tickets are available here.

    http://www.churchjq.co.uk/

    Product reviews, Reviews

    Review: Selfridges salted almond and crunchy toffee Bombe

    photo 1a

    Who doesn’t love a bit of sales shopping, particularly when sweet treats are involved.  Whilst buying cards in the Bullring Selfridges I stumbled across a half price salted almond and crunchy toffee Bombe and thought I’d treat myself.

    Produced in the UK for Selfridges and, according to the package, are ‘crafted by Marasu’s – one of London’s most exclusive petit fours companies’.  Although oddly when I had a look on Selfridge’s website I could find two other Bombes but not the salted almond and crunchy toffee Bombe.

    The packaging itself is lovely and geometric which makes it feel all that more special.  Once you work out where to peel the labels from and get inside, you’re presented with a spherical chocolate bombe, or rather two semispheres of chocolate because, lets face it, trying to eat a sphere of chocolate isn’t going to be easy.

    chocolatebombeEach semisphere has the centre edge cracked to reveal the salted almond and crunchy toffee.  Once you bite inside there are flakes of flavour inside, which give it a familiar sort of Swiss Toblerone taste, although this is produced in the UK.  The chocolate is milk and not too bitter with the salted almond and crunchy toffee breaking it up to give it a more interesting experience.  The saltiness is actually quite pleasant and compliments the creaminess of the chocolate and providing a quirky aftertaste, rather than overpowering it.

    At about 5cm in height, the Bombe should be enough to satisfy most chocoholics and if you’re looking for a small but tasty which feels like a real treat, you could do a lot worse than pick up one of these.  And given that I got my first Christmas email last week, I feel reminded that it would also work well in a posh Christmas stocking.

    Pop-up and Event reviews

    Colmore Business District Food Festival 2014

    This time last week I was heading back to the office full of all the delights from the Colmore Business District’s Food Festival…and what a great event it was!  The CBD food festival has been running for a few years, but this year really felt like it’s best one yet – the sun was shining, there were plenty of people for a great atmosphere but the queues were minimal and moved quickly.

    With stalls spanning the breath of Colmore’s fine food and drink offerings, there was everything from fine dining to coffee shops, gin parlours, real ale, dim sum, hot dogs and more.  Most of the stalls were selling items for the £3 mark, which was a great move and seemed to add to the quick turn over in people waiting.  There was also a demonstration stage and a live music stage with a great band playing when I attended – though sadly I didn’t catch their name.

    Feeling a bit spoilt for choice I opted to start with sweet chilli chicken from Jojolapa, a place I’ve heard really good things about.  The chicken was well cooked but I found the sauce too sweet without enough kick to it for my taste, which was a little disappointing but not enough to put me off visiting.

    I stopped off at Urban Coffee for a taste of a Yipsy Macaron which was light, chewy and lovely.  Then after a short wait whilst men with clipboards inspected the stall, it was The Bureau’s Deli Dog for main…a lovely meaty sausage with fresh bread bun.  I wasn’t overly keen on the onions, but then I rarely am on hot dogs, but overall a very nice and easy to eat dish – perfect for a food festival!

    After some time watching the band on stage I headed to Opus Restaurant, based on Cornwall St in the Colmore Business District.  I fancied something sweet and their Strawberry Bombe did not disappoint.  Desserts always seem to get a bit forgotten about in restaurants, but this sphere of meringue with a strawberry and mascarpone filling and strawberry sauce was just stunning.  Fresh, light and a perfect summer pud, it made you want to scoff it down and savour it all at once.  The meringue was crisp and chewy and just perfect.  I enjoyed my trip to Opus last year, but this made me want to return sharpish.

    The Colmore Business District is a fine showcase of the delicious food on offer in the heart of Birmingham city centre.  It runs for two days once a year, and already, I can’t wait until next year.  http://colmorebusinessdistrict.com/

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    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    BrumYumYum – 63 Island & Cake Doctor

    I hate a love/hate relationship with lunchtime.  My office is based just meters away from countless places to grab take out and eat, which can be both a bless and a curse.  Some days overflow with possibilities and sometimes I’ve overwhelmed by choices and end up with a soggy sandwich from a supermarket.

    So when my friend Ruth suggested lunch on a day when the sun was blazing in the sky and Brum Yum Yum’s Lunch Market was in session, it seemed like an easy choice.  Located in The Square, an area of the city poised for redevelopment (or so we keep being told), the Lunch Market sits around an area of Astroturf and picnic benches, which is really quite delightful – and unusual to find in the city.

    On our visit there were four vans (and the Beer Market) of which we ended up visiting to two of them; 63 Island and the Cake Doctor.

    63 Islands

    63islandsDescribed as ‘streetfood from Caribbean Islands’, 63 Island offered a choice of three different island dishes served in a tortilla with coconut infused rice & peas and Caribbean ‘slaw.  With three options on sale, including the Cuban Frijoles Negros for vegetarians and Keshi Yena – Curacao-inspired and amazing according to a mutual friend, I went for third option, Trinidad-inspired Chicken Pelau.  It’s described on the postcard menu as “chicken caramelised in ‘burnt sugar’ alongside pigeon peas, carrots, peppers and rice.  All simmered in coconut milk and stock with scotch bonnet pepper undertones”.

    I was asked what kind of sauce I wanted with it and let the stallholder decide (I was feeling brave), who added a delicious mango chutney and hot sauce.  Usually I’m not a big fan of burritos as I’ve had such mediocre ones, but this was delightful.  Each of the flavours was able to come through individually, from the moist chicken to the delicately creamy, yet fluffy coconut rice, the sweetness of the mango and the spice of the hot sauce which danced on the tip of the tongue rather than overpowering.  The burrito was moist yet not swimming in sauce and a delight to eat.  Definitely something I’d be more than happy to try again.

    https://www.facebook.com/SixtyThreeIslands

    Cake Doctor

    cake

    Intending to finish lunch with an almond-milk cafe latte, I was a little disappointed to find out that the Cake Doctor was not allowed to administer coffee due to nearby shops selling similar.  Though I was very impressed to see almond milk being offered at the same price as regular milk – good work, Doctor.  However the cakes on sale looked so good I threw caution to the wind and went for a slice of the Victoria Sandwich cake, with lashings of cream, strawberries and jam holding the sponge together.

    I’m a firm believer that sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to get right and the Victoria Sponge is a prime example.  Too often the sponge can be too dense or soggy.  Thankfully this was neither; light enough yet with a buttery firmness, the cream and strawberries neither weighed down the sponge nor were lost in it.  And for £2.50 it was a very good, decent slice of cake.

    http://www.cakedoctoruk.co.uk/

    On our way back to work we stopped in at the Beer Market.  I’m not a beer drinker and though they had cider, wine and Aperol Spritz’s I prefer soft drinks if I’m heading back to the office.  But if you fancy a lunchtime tipple the beer selection is decent with offerings from Purity and Flying Dog.

    Both 63 Island and the Cake Doctor were fantastic choices for lunch, vastly superior to a soggy supermarket sandwich and I’d be happy to visit both again.  Brum Yum Yum’s Lunch Market is in The Square every Friday until the 1st August.  Visit http://www.brumyumyum.com/ for more details.

    Recipes

    Blueberry balsamic dressing makes everything better

    I’ve been convinced I dislike salad.  I have my reasons and they’re usually a combination of soggy, bland lettuce leaves which make you bored of chewing before you get full.  But it’s summer and after feeling a bit under the weather I thought I needed to inject a lot more veg into my diet, so it was time to revisit the dreaded salad.

    My plan was for tuna mayo with a rainbow assortment of colourful veg.  If the saying we eat with our eyes is true, I didn’t want to subject myself to a plate of just green.  So I added orange pepper (diced), a good measure of sweetcorn, cucumber (because even though it’s a salad staple, I love it), sun-dried tomatoes (which taste like pizza), and stripes of carrot to go with the insipid lettuce.  Already this was looking good.

    And then I remembered blueberries.

    I can’t remember where it was, but once I had blueberry vinaigrette on a side salad and though I’ve forgotten the place, the taste is one of those things I’ll remember for a while.  Sweet and zingy all pepped up with a nice light vinegar taste, it’s truly a wonderful dressing and why it doesn’t feature in more places I’ll never know.

    After reading a few recipes online I got bored of trying to convert cups and made up my own measures.  I’d give you the full recipe, but really I made this to taste and I’d recommend you do too.

    Blueberry balsamic dressing

    • Blueberries
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Olive oil
    • Juice from half a lemon
    • Sugar

    The main thing is use a food processor / blender, blitz the blueberries first and then add the rest of the ingredients sparingly until you get the taste you want.  The recipes I read online suggested honey in place of sugar, but I didn’t have any to hand and it’s just something to balance out the lemon and vinegar, rather than needing the honey taste.  I started with 30 blueberries, 3.5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, juice from half a lemon and a big pinch of sugar and went from there.  After adjusting the flavours I watered it down a little to make it easier to pour.

    The next day I took my salad to work and the tuna mayo stayed untouched in its container, where I ate my way through the rainbow.  And there’s plenty of ingredients left for tomorrow.

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