Tuesday 14 December 2010

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Today I fly to China! Which means, no baking for TWO AND A HALF WEEKS! No melting 70% dark chocolate in short bursts in the microwave, no licking of the mixing spoon clean afterwards, no dropping of the cake mix on the way upstairs to use my neighbours oven (not that I’ve er, ever done this)…

However, this does open up a whole new blogging opportunity to me. What do they eat in China? Chicken’s feet, pigs tongue, rotted duck egg, oh and smelly tofu – a favourite! I shall try my best to be the weird obnoxious foreigner at the dinner table in restaurants and take lots of photos of the meal. I would say I’ll also go round the food markets and wade around in fish slime and take photos too, but this will be heavily dictated by what my family want to do – my grasp of the Chinese language isn’t fluent enough for me to venture on escapades alone and not get mugged/ thrown fish at.

Hey, could happen.

Then, hopefully I might write something vaguely interesting about it (think the food speaks for itself), and post it up (I’m going to ignore the boring part where we eat loads of rice). But you won’t hear from me for a while, as the Great Firewall of China also blocks Blogger, so you will have to be graced by these posts upon my delightful return :)

So that’s it for now! I’ve got two photos to show you; presents from the UK to friends and family back home:

We’re trying to fatten up our family, whilst giving them type II diabetes, obviously. And judging by those Burberry perfumes, we think that they smell, too.

Anndd some delights from China (this photo was taken in on a trip to Beijing in 2007):

Regrettably I didn’t try any. I really should have, because, you know, at least these maggots were cooked. And dead.

Lesson learned today: always be prepared for mugging or spontaneous fish throwing. Always.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Chocolate and Chestnut Cupcakes

IMG_7516 edit
Timer rings, are you listening?
In the gyp room, hobs are glistening,
A wonderful sight, we’re happy tonight,
Baking in a winter wonderland.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Chocolate Macaroons and Micah’s Truffles

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Today, I made the mother of macaroons. I was so happy, I made a whole family of macaroons. And then I ate them all. Well, I gave some to my friends, but I ate the rest.

And then I was going to say that the lesson learnt today was not to get born a macaroon but then I thought that this would be taking the metaphor too far, so I shall instead talk about why I love macaroons so much – move over cupcakes, this is where it’s AT.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

A cake….in the shape of a dumpling?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a GIANT DUMPLING CAKE!

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This cake was made by a friend and I for a friend’s birthday, and we decided on a ‘Chinese Themed Cake’, for reasons that, to this day, I am not sure of. Plan A was to make a steamed Chinese cake, but this was impossible because neither of us had a steamer, or a big pot, or a steaming tin pot thing. So we moved on to Plan B: a Chinese-y decorated cake, with three tiers and dragons spiralling down them and painted Chinese symbols and lantern shapes; but you just reading that will guess it’s pretty difficult (if not, my birthday is at the end of August). But we were on a strict time budget.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Bretton Butter Cookies

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Possibly the most beautiful thing in the world? Apart from my face, obviously.

Okay, seriously, they look nice, and it’s pretty simple to make! You can’t go wrong really, AND you can eat the dough. It’s a win win situation.

Monday 11 October 2010

Back to Black(‘s): White & Dark Chocolate Mousse with Red Berry Coulis

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Now that I’m back at uni, I really shouldn’t be baking. I really don’t have the time, and I really should concentrate on my work. Well, that’s what I always say, right after I’ve spent 4 hours in the kitchen. I mean, especially this mousse; the cookbook warned me that it would takes hours of preparation and create tons of washing up, but I’m sooo close to baking everything in the Green and Black’s cookbook I reckoned it was worth it. But ohmigosh when I started I underestimated the washing up. Thing is, I only have 2 bowls, so when I came to whisking and mixing and separating I had to keep washing up the same bowls and then dripping washing up liquid all over my furry slippers.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Birthday card recipe no. 8: Vik’s Cooking 101

This is obviously THE recipe of the cookbook. I mean, without it, I wouldn’t have been able to make Ayo’s Rice For All, Kcy’s Nasi Goreng (blog post to come), Jen and Luca’s spaghetti OR Florence and Britt’s amazing tomato pastaaaaa. And what would you have done without these amazing recipes to drool over and follow? Starve, probably.

I mean, Vik’s cooking class probably wasn’t the most challenging of the recipes (making it a. easy to photograph and b. easy to make. Oh and c. easy to snack on along the way – crackers=yum).

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Saturday 2 October 2010

Birthday card recipe no.7: Chocolate Digestive Biscuit Cake

Just looking at the ingredients makes me feel like my arteries are thickening. Emma didn’t specify how many people this cake was meant to serve, which is a dangerous step. What if the person who I made this for thought it served 2? Oh, but it’s okay, because I get to eat some along the way; and spare them some ;) Besides, if I use dark chocolate, it will help ‘lower blood pressure and have antioxidant effects’, which will TOTALLY cancel out the whole artery-thickening thing. Obviously.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Birthday card recipe no. 6: Ayo’s Rice For All

There is a story behind this recipe (well…’recipe’ is a stretch). Our rations included three one kilo bags of rice, and we chief rationers calculated that to be 8 cups of rice for a meal, and overall we’d be able to have 4 of those meals. However, we didn’t really specify how big those cups were. I presumed we’d just use the cups we brought with us. Problem was that everyone’s cups ranged from small tea-sized-cups to massive travel mugs. Ayo’s cup happened to fall into the latter.

IMG_6676Surely a recipe that doesn’t even fill the whole page can’t take that long to make, photograph and blog?? Read on…

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Birthday card recipe no. 5: Joe’s Essex Noodles


There is just something comforting about eating noodles. Singing ‘mmmmm….noodle soup!’ is pretty satisfying in itself. AND you can write with them. Can the humble noodle do no wrong?

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Birthday card recipe no. 4: Florence + Britt’s Amazing Tomato PASTAAA!!!

collage of pasta
I was appointed a chef in our first night at Bombong Tiga,
With Florence and Britt, we impressed with our pasta,
We added some sauce, some veggies and this thing called ‘corned beef’,
(Some tinned reddish stuff that was supposedly meat),
We cooked and we served; the portions were small,
But hey don’t complain! It’s Raleigh rations for all!
I think and I hope the meal went down well enough,
Because trumping ‘Amazing Tomato PASTAAA!!!’ is going to be tough.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Changing for the sweeter (and apologies for the messy transition)

I realised today in ‘10 tips for a better food blog’ (I didn’t know people got so into these things) that in order to get your blog better known you will need to make yourself known in the foodie community, and to start by at least commenting on other people’s posts. They probably had a point.

I’ll start tomorrow.

But, I mean, is it too naive to think that some 40 year old working mum will just be browsing the internet and think “Oh! What should I cook tonight…In The Kitchen?? Hm… I will type those very three words into a BlogSpot search engine and hope to find some suitable recipes accompanied by blatant witty dialogue”. And then find my blog and tell Susah, Sarah and Jane at church group on Sunday all about this girl’s road-to-self-discovery-through-chocolate-cooking-and-other-important-things?

Well, it could happen.

However, I have decided that ‘In The Kitchen’ (despite being useful in the above search engine example) would be a little generic. I mean, I can imagine that is EXACTLY what Susan would be saying to Sarah (behind Jane’s back, because she loves the name).

So on the way to the airport (en route to Prague with family), we passed a road with a name that was perfect for my blogging purposes: Pudding Pie Lane (a perfect excuse to blog more sweet recipes, hence bake more and eat more chocolate). Now I can see the conversation between Susan and Sarah:

”Oh yes, THAT blog! When I first saw it I had an image of the gingerbread man strolling along the pavement and Hansel and Gretel waving at me from behind their candy cane windows! Cute. And memorable”. This would probably still be behind Jane’s back because she preferred ‘In The Kitchen’. You can’t please everyone.

Pudding Pie Lane: I like it. I hope you do too.

p.s. sorry about the messy layout of the blog right now. It's late and my eyes are blurry and I know that's not an excuse but it's the best I've got.


I would have gotten more photos, except that some sadist had plonked the sign right in the middle of a patch of stinging nettles. And I happened to be wearing a skirt. I now have a dozen or so neat little bumps on my legs; a nice addition to my collection of mosquito bites from Borneo :)

Lesson learned today: Don’t stomp about in a bunch of stinging nettles. Common sense should have taught you that already. Either that, or you don’t have any nerve endings.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

A Digression into Dumplings

This was an article I wrote for a magazine at uni on how to make dumplings, and I was so proud of it (mostly of how I managed to stand up for 4 hours on end making them no not complaining once) that I wanted to share it on here! So taking a step back from the birthday recipes, dumplings are dominating the day.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Birthday card recipe no. 3: Comfy Carbonara

There is always something comforting about creamy carbonara; even just hearing the alliteration is soothing. So when I cooked this recipe from Hunny (who was one of the top chefs for our expedition),  I knew I was in safe hands ;)

Monday 13 September 2010

Birthday card recipe no.2: Alice and Sam’s Beautiful Banoffee Pie

One fateful day, when we were minding our own business, fixing pipes, digging things up for no reason – you know, the usual – when we saw the village chief strolling along our direction. What did he want us to do now? More taps and standpipes? Or worse, a showerhead? No, he came bearing gifts (well, a gift), and – lo’ and behold – it was fresh fruit! (something we had not seen in a very long time). And not just any kind of fruit, it was a plant of about 20 or so mini Borneo bananas. They were brilliant, they were slightly brown, but most importantly, they were A BAKING OPPORTUNITY.

I have to say that this baking opportunity was missed by me due to other commitments (probably hair plaiting), but Sam and Alice did a great job given our rations. Despite the ‘offee’ part not coming out quite as expected, we all had a lovely dessert and an even lovelier sugar induced night of singing, charades and (eventually), sleep. Here’s the exact recipe that they used:


Making this at home was pretty easy to do, and didn’t take long. It also gave me an excuse to buy biscuits and condensed milk. Okay, I have to confess, that is why I choose to make this recipe next. It did not disappoint.

I started by making the base, adding some crushed pecans because I accidentally overestimated a ‘spoonful’ and the mixture was slightly too buttery.


Making the toffee required some research, however. “Boil the condensed milk to create yummy fake toffee!” was slightly vague on how exactly to go about doing that. Do I pour it into a pan and heat until bubbling? Or do I stab some holes in the top and boil the tin in some water for 10 minutes? Well, it definitely wasn’t the latter, because that’s what we did in Borneo and toffee (even the yummy fake variety) was not the end result.

A quick search of google then told me that I had to boil the unopened tin of condensed milk for 3 hou- 3 hours?! Oh dear, that was a lot of waiting around time dangerously near the freshly replenished tin of biscuits. It had to be done.

So I waited….

And I waited…

And I waited…. and voila! Yummy fake toffee!

Surely the biscuit base had to have set by this time. So I began to pour the toffee on top…


Except that it didn’t seem to want to pour. Or drop, or dollop, or just come out of the tin. But then, I realised, I wasn’t in the jungle anymore and had access to electricity (and namely a microwave)! All I had to do was heat it up and then surely it would pour faster than you can say ‘tropical rain’.


I was wrong. 2 minutes in the microwave only made it go bubbly and smell like feet (I am still unsure of how that happened). I guess it was time to use the trusty spoon and stir it. Damn technology.


Now, for the last part, shedding out a thousand pounds and a 14 hour flight to get some bananas was probably a tad excessive, so I had to make do with British bananas instead. Actually, they probably weren’t even British. But anyhow, I only had to walk 5 minutes to buy them, which was a pretty good improvement on the previous time span.

And this was how it came out!


From mess tin or ramekin, this recipe proves that banoffee pie is accessible to all crockery, and is a very versatile recipe. A case of ‘don’t just try this at home, try it in the jungle too!’.


Lesson learned today: Don’t microwave condensed milk made toffee. Unless you have a foot fetish.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Birthday card recipe no.1: The best BREAKFAST in Bombong Tiga!

I heart porridge. I’ve actually grown scarily fond of Quaker instant oats (especially with Nescafe fortified milk powder topped with condensed milk or peanut butter or, best of all, Milo chocolate powder) since living off Raleigh rations, and whilst everyone else was sneaking in crackers or noodles in their mess tin I was happily munching (or more like slurping) away at my yummy gooey mess.

Friday 3 September 2010

Blog from Borneo, Raleigh rations and whole lotta food.

Selamat Pagi! Sorry for the lack of updates recently, but I have now finally returned from my Travels In the East (i.e Borneo) with Operation Raleigh. Not having any electricity, it was quite difficult to blog whilst out there, really. It took a little while to get to grips with technology again, but now I’m sat with my trusty laptop and typing away, so prepare for a mammoth read coming up! 

A little about what Raleigh does: “Raleigh is a leading youth and education charity and since 1984 our expeditions have inspired over 30,000 people from all walks of life, nationalities and ages to be all they can be, helping them develop new skills, friendships and volunteer to make a genuine difference to communities and environments across the world.”

With sponsorship from UBS (an investment bank), off I went to the Sabah region of Borneo for 5 weeks to build a gravity water feed system in the remote village of Bombong Tiga for the first 3 weeks and then trek in the Sabah jungle for 1 week (I know that doesn’t add up to 5, but there was training in between those times). There’s so much to say about what I did and how I found I found it (tough but amazing), so I’m just going to concentrate about what I did In The Kitchen and sum up the rest of my trip in photos:


Where we stayed during our project phase in Bombong Tiga

10I Loop 133             S73F4864

                                                   Inside our home                                                                                    My bed


Working hard on project

The kid we named Spiderman


Et voila! A water system!


Cooking in the jungle

First night it the jungle with tropical rain and my leaky tarp :(

That was pretty short summary of my time (I thought that maybe posting my 1 and a half hours worth of video would be a tad excessive) there. But on the food side, the summary won’t be as long!


During our project phase we were living in the community hall (as pictured above), which was our bedroom-come-kitchen-come-dining room-come-living room. We worked pretty hard to make a hut a home:


This was our kitchen area – many culinary delights were created here. Well, as delightful as you can get with tinned Raleigh rations:

Chicken lucheon meat, anyone?

Every day we had 3 people on chef duty. Dinner was just crackers and spread (not much to blog about there except that it was boring to eat) but lunch was pretty inventive. Served in our mess tins and eaten with sporks, it was definitely a time to bond over instant noodles and beef curry…



We even had some pretty good baking opportunities! Cinnamon cake, bread and butter pudding, peach crumble, Milo fondue, Milo flapjacks (Milo is a chocolate malt drink really popular in Malaysia, and pretty damn addictive… maybe because it was the only form of chocolate we had…) and smiles all round!

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We had quite a lot of tinned peaches, so one night we made *drum roll please*… peach crumble! I was panicking slightly for not having any scales (the last time I tried to improv a cake it tasted like feet – but I did go and add every single ingredient in the cupboard – maybe some soy sauce got into it?), I was slightly anxious, but the recipe for Bombong Tiga peach crumble is actually pretty simple to do and also pretty damn good!

This pretty much sums up the cookathon during our project phase. During the adventure phase (trekking in the jungle) we didn’t have as much food (okay, we barely had any food because we didn’t want to carry it), and all that was required was to boil purified water and rehydrate instant pasta.


Before the trek we had two days training in a camp (not quite the same as you’d get in the UK, more like a flat piece of grass with a ‘toilet’) with some challenges that we had to complete as a group to win points. There were food related challenges, and one of them is something I’m not going to forget anytime soon…

I swear I could still feel them wriggling around in my stomach.

There was a lot of gagging and coughing involved after I ate one, but I’m pretty proud of it :) I think it tasted a bit like a wriggling lychee, but I wasn’t about to swish it round my mouth to find out.

When we were in the jungle, our two jungle guides would cook for us every night, as served them jungle style. The last night was my favourite: bamboo root and tapioca collected during the day trek, the former stir fried with seasoning and the latter boiled with pea leaves:


Fruit was pretty abundant in the jungle, and I was lucky enough to try lots of exotic fruits. And as a personal reminder to myself, I rated and commented on each one :)

So all in all, being In The Kitchen during Raleigh Borneo was pretty exciting, I’ve learned there’s quite a lot that you can do with tinned food, and lots about Malaysian food in general. I think my friends from my project phase picked up on this foodie thing pretty quickly because for my birthday I got my own personalised recipe book. And I plan to make every single one and blog about them, so watch this space!

Coming up next: Xinmei’s birthday recipe book and the culinary delights of Kota Kinabalu (the capital of Sabah).

Lesson learned today: Traditional Malaysian food is delicious. Maybe except for the maggots.

Bombong Tiga Peach Crumble

Bombong Tiga peach crumble:
Serves 17 hungry people

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Foodie goes North

Angel of the North, Lake District, Hadrian's Wall, Yorkshire moors....Yorkshire pudding...Yorkshire tea...

I think you know where I'm going with this. The five hour something train journey up to visit my boyfriend bought a whole new culinary experience; though not all of it traditionally Northern, might I add. There was a good bit of Chinese food and Polish food (I think?) thrown in there too.

Now let's see... first experience of Northern food was Pret, much of the same, really. Crayfish sandwich and Jalapeño chicken wrap for him, butternut squash and spinach soup for me (no pictures unfortunately - would look rather touristy taking photos in Pret, I feared). However, it was still REALLY YUMMY. Maybe it was the Northern weather, maybe it was the company, maybe it was the E numbers and MSG; it was goood. But, as I was inspecting my napkin (thought I should pay it some respect before viscously crumpling to wipe my hands with), the message of "Pret creates handmade natural food avoiding the obscure chemical, additives and preservatives common to so much of the 'prepared' and 'fast' food on the market today." let me conclude that it was definitely the first two reasons as to why it was REALLY YUMMY.

Getting on to photo-worthy food, Thursday involved a trip to Betty's and Taylor's of Harrogate (pictures taken stealthily - don't really think paparazzi would be Betty's cup of tea), for a Nice Cup Of Tea And A Sit Down.

It being the home and producer of Yorkshire Tea; I immediately went for that, and my boyfriend opted for the Yu Luo white tea - sharing the name last name as him, which is fate. Obviously. We shared a Yorkshire Fat Rascal scone, still hot from the oven, served with creamy white butter. I have to say, never has tea serving been more confusing. The tea come in a teapot (fine), with hot water to top up and a jar of milk (all fine), but there were these strainers that looked like standard headgear of the The Saucepan Man from the Faraway Tree. I figured it was to pour the tea through. And that is what we did. And boy, was the tea good; there must be something about Betty's water supply.

Now, the scone was one a different scale. All crumbly and buttery and rasiny, perfect.

I've just realised the next bit's not in chronological order, but I just HAD to share the Betty's bit first. Before filling ourselves with tea and cake (what a combination), we went to watch the much anticipated Toy Story 3. I won't get into the details, but this is definitely a Pixar triumph and worth the 10 year wait between the movies.

So in terms of movie snacks, we stumbled across a strange Polish shop selling all kinds of things that I couldn't read. It looked colourful, it looked cheap, it looked interesting, so we went in. Well, definitely cheap, as a 1.5l bottle of ice tea came in at 59p. Taste, on the other hand, was yet to be questioned.

So, in the strange new shop, I saw something that caught me eye. Banana? Chocolate? Banana chocolate? Yes please! Banana is the only fruit I really like with chocolate; it's just the right amount of creamy to fit the texture of chocolate. Anyone agree?

But, like I said, taste was yet to be questioned. When I tasted this, it was...slightly strange. The banana was a layer of jelly like substance that tasted more mint-beer than banana, and I'm not sure what the chocolate on the outside was (my Polish in unfortunately still in it's early learning stages, I can just about manage 'vodka' ^^). It was Nestle though, so I'm guessing some kind of dark chocolate Kit Kat like exterior would be best to describe it. Anyway, I ended up chewing round the edge and just eating the chocolate, leaving a gooey yellow...thing in the wrapper. Rating out of 10 would probably be a 3; nothing compared to the Elderflower cake my boyfriend bought me in Betty's!

This pretty much concludes the culinary side of my trip Up North. I haven't included much of the Chinese food, but it included a visit to Red Chilli (possibly the best Chinese restaurant I've been to) They had xiao long bao dumplings, nuff said. On top of this, boyf's household were lovely, and I took back zhong ze (glutinous rice in reed leaves) to stuff my face with at home =)

Lesson learned today: Don't buy banana chocolate. It's weird.