Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Life without the food? No thank you!

Sometimes I wonder what the life would be like if there was no food. I mean, we all have seen the films and cartoons set in the future, where the eating contained of swallowing a pill or two of different colours and that's it! There was no family gathering around the dinner table, no fancy restaurant dinners for two, no tea parties filled up with cream cakes and hot beverage, no take aways, no more pleasures for the taste buds, for the soul, for the people. Imagine.. No more hot stew on the stove, no more smell of freshly baked bread, no more cake decorating. Instead, we replace the quality of life as we know it with the convenience, speed and less washing up. And I tell you what.. I don't want to! For me the quality of life lays in the hot bowl of soup. In my mum's scramble eggs and my husband's chilli. In the cup of tea! So I have decided to prove them wrong doing by cooking something absolutely stunning for dinner this weekend. Three course meal with side dishes, starters and dessert. Something my mother would be proud of. And I'm going to sit my family around the dinning table for this. Not one of our usual Saturday meals, "lapping" in the front of the telly. Keep your fingers crossed. And sorry can't do it earlier than Saturday.. No time! :)

Here are some great treat ideas...

Double Chocolate Mousse Heaven

Very Berry Tart

Layered Chocolate Mousse

150g good dark chocolate (I used Lindt's 90% cocoa)
150g milk chocolate (I used Dairy Milk)
2x 250g cream 35%
100g sugar
500g milk
2 tbsp liquid rennet

  1. Break the dark chocolate into a TM bowl, crush it by pressing a Turbo button a few times until fine crumbs. Weigh in 50g sugar, add 250g cream, 250g milk, add 1 tbsp liquid rennet. Cook together (7 minutes/90°C/Speed 5)
  2. Pour the chocolate into a bowl or silicone mould and leave in the fridge for couple of hours to chill and set.
  3. When the dark chocolate is set, prepare the milk layer. Crush white chocolate in TM bowl by pressing Turbo a few times. Add 50g sugar, 250g cream, 250 milk and 1 tbsp of liquid rennet. Cook for 7 minutes/90°C/Speed 5.
  4. Using a fork scratch the surface of the dark chocolate layer gently for better adhesiveness. Pour the milk mixture over and leave in the fridge to settle.
  5. You can add a white chocolate mousse if you wash by crushing 150g of white chocolate and cooking it for 7minutes/90°C/Speed 5 together with 250g cream, 250g milk and 1 tbsp of rennet (do not add any sugar at this stage). My favourite chocolate for this is Lindt's White chocolate with touch of vanilla.

Cooking Monster's Tip: You can convert this recipe into a double or triple layered chilled cheesecake, by adding more rennet, or gelatine instead (5 sheets per each layer). You can make a biscuit base first by crushing 200g biscuits (chocolate chip or digestives) in TM bowl by pressing Turbo a few times and mix it with 90g of melted butter.

Very Berry Tart.


4 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mixed berries or other fruit
Ready made thick custard
Whipped cream
Jelly of your choice (prepared with some water and set in the fridge to start setting)

  1. Heat up the oven 180°C/Gas mark 5. Butter and layer with some parchmin a tart baking tin with removable bottom.
  2. Insert a butterfly whisk into a TM bowl
  3. Add the eggs and butter to TM bowl (1 minute/Speed 3)
  4. Lower the Speed to 2 and whilst it's mixing keep adding the flour and baking powder spoon by spoon until all mixed well.
  5. Bake 20-25minut until golden brown.
  6. When cooled down, you can spoon out some of the cake from the middle to create a hole for the fruit.
  7. The way to decorate it it's entirely up to you. created the layers of custard, cream fruit, jelly, custard, cream, fruit, etc...
  8. You can sprinkle the top with some roasted pistachios nuts or dust with some icing sugar.
This recipe is also perfect for making a sponge cake cut in half, with some fruit and cream in between.


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.

And so, after some miserable months and recent weeks of rain, we finally got it! A few hot summer days!! Lucky you out there who live in place where you have proper, hot, predictable summers. Here, in the UK, we are lucky if it doesn't rain at the weekend. And I always find this funny, that knowing this and living in those conditions all their lives, people here still act surprised when it rains ;-)

(Sorry if I sound all superior here, but if there's one thing English people know how to cope with, it's rain. Sure, those, so typically English green fields look pretty when you're looking out of the window of a plane, but once you've landed, you'll soon discover exactly WHY everything is so green. So while the slightest glimpse of sunshine sends the English folk into a frenzy of suntan lotions, rolled up trouser legs and lunchtime sunburns, it is the rain that we're really comfortable with.)
Anyway, last weekend was HOT! And you could immediately experience the beauty of a British summer at midday at Tesco - packed, instead of laying on the beach, everyone is queuing up at the tills, buying bags of ice-cubes, boxes of beer, gallons of lemonade and tons of suntan lotion bottles. Rushing through the supermarket aisles, quickly not to miss out on this glimpse of sunshine. To later enjoy it from the inside of their cars lined up from the parking to the exit and all the way to the beach. You know it's summer when it takes you more than an hour to get to the sea-front, the journey that normally takes you 10-15 minutes. 

Soon after you start hearing the typical noises of the British summer - kids laughing whilst they play in garden inflatable swimming pools (come on! who would waste money in the UK and invest in an outdoor pool, that they going to use for a few days of the year!?). You can smell the barbecued meat, the cling of beer, Pimm’s and lemonade glasses and most of all, you can really feel it - the summer is finally here. Good things happen to those who wait!

And so, on Saturday after sending off my little one with her dad to the Sea Life Centre in Brighton and cleaning the whole house, I have prepared the Biryani Chicken with Cucumber Raita, went shopping (yes, I was one of those, yet there's no beach for busy mums), Sunday prepared the bread dough for the burger rolls, the homemade burgers, and cool fruit salad with some minted sugar.

And thinking I'm going to rest on Monday, I have unexpectedly ended up hosting 3 hungry kids and their mums over for a lunch in my garden. Quick.. quick.. What should we have? Oh, my best friend, my saviour, my darling Thermie - thank you for helping me :) Together, in few minutes we had a "Cheater's Pizza" in the oven, cold lemonade in a jar and some fruit coctails for the kids. And the sandpit, inflatable swimming pool, pop up train-shaped tents for the kids, the parasol on, and in a lovely company I have spend my last (for a while at least) free Monday, before I go back to work full time next week (for 2 days only before I board a silver plane and take off on holidays, that is!!)