Vanilla cupcakes with white chocolate frosting

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I know, cupcakes are so very 2010, but they’re still delicious (and I have a box full of cupcakes cases I need to use up). These are plain vanilla cupcakes made fromThe Hummingbird Bakery’s foolproof recipe topped with a cream and white chocolate frosting and some raspberries for fruitiness. My colleagues loved them and I was really glad I made them, as I rediscovered how fun piping is.

These were so scrumptious!

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Hummingbird Bakery’s vanilla cupcakes, makes 12

120 g plain flour

140 g caster sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

40 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

120 ml whole milk

1 egg

¼ tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

300 ml double or whipping cream

170 g good quality white chocolate

Decoration: fresh raspberries

 

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.

A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan then pour into the chocolate. Stir until all melted. Leave to cool, keep in the fridge for a few hours. Whip with an electric whisk and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. Decorate with raspberries. 

Dinner at Yauatcha, Soho

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Sometimes when I meet my friends in groups of four, especially in a bustling restaurant or bar it feels like I’m part of Sex and the City. Partly probably because we talk a lot about men, but also because the surroundings fit. One Michelin-starred Yauatcha could have been in New York, it’s that type of vibe. And sitting there with four Americans, it’s easy to pretend. It was high pace, lots of chatter, cocktails and dim sum.

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We ordered quite a few dim sum dishes to share, here some steamed dumplings with pork and prawn and Chinese chives and prawn. I absolutely adore steamed dumplings and these were amazing!

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The crispy spring rolls with mushrooms and black truffle was another favourite. The cheung fun to the right was also really good, I think they were filled with pork (char siu).

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These pan-fried dumplings with chicken were also really nice. Although my favourites are the steamed dumplings but I like to change it up texture wise too.

y8y10The crispy duck rolls were basically Peking duck as dim sum; stuffed with crispy aromatic duck and spring onions and dipped in hoisin sauce. Delicious!
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My absolute favourite of the evening was the steamed dumplings with lobster, tobiko caviar, ginger and shallots. So good!

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I always order turnip cake when in a Chinese restaurant and this was definitely the best one I’ve ever had. It was soft and almost fluffy and sprinkled with chives.

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The others were almost fighting over the squid with chilli, oats and curry leaves but I wasn’t a huge fan. I love squid and it was well-cooked (crispy topping, soft fish) but I think it was the addition of the oats that didn’t appeal to me.

We only had (although quite a lot of it) dim sum, but there are plenty of main courses and puddings to chose from too. The restaurant feels very cosmopolitan and lively and the kitchen definitely deserves its star. The lower ground floor is a bit quieter if one’s not in the mood for the hustle and bustle.

Yauatcha, 15-17 Broadwick St, London W1F 0DL

Chocolate and creme fraiche tart

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My colleagues are serious chocoholics so I try to bake something chocolatey for them every time I bring cakes into the offices. Last time it was this chocolate and creme fraiche tart that really went down well, and no wonder – it’s delicious!

The sweet pastry dough is the same as I always use nowadays; Raymond Blanc’s. It has never let me down and this time I defrosted a piece from the freezer and it was as easy to roll as the fresh dough.

The chocolate filling is from Rachel Khoo’s wonderful book  My Little French Kitchen and consists only of chocolate, creme fraiche and milk. It’s a little tart which nicely contrasts the sweet pastry.

Chocolate and creme fraiche tart, serves 10-12

Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s My Little French Kitchen.

1/2 batch sweet pastry dough

150 g mörk choklad

50 g mjölkchoklad

250 g creme fraiche

1/2 dl mjölk

en nypa salt

On a lightly floured work surface, evenly roll out the pastry into a circle 3 mm thick. Roll the pastry over the rolling pin and unroll it over a 24 cm loose-bottomed tart tin. With one hand lift the pastry and with the other gently tuck it into the bottom edge of the tin so that it fits tightly. Be careful not to stretch it. Cut off excess pastry by rolling the pin over the top edge of the tin. Take a small ball of pastry and gently press it all around the base of the tart to ensure a snug fit. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (this helps prevent shrinkage during cooking). Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 160°C.

Line the pastry case with aluminium foil and fill with baking beans, pushing them against the side. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and lift out both foil and beans. Return the tart tin to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes. Leave to cool completely. 

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl over a bain marie with the creme fraiche, milk and salt. Stir occasionally until melted. Leave to cool a little then pour into the pastry case. Leave to cool completely then place in the fridge to set. 

Dinner at Fera at Claridge’s, Mayfair

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One of my favourite British cooking programs on television is definitely The Great British Menu and after seeing Simon Rogan cook one amazing dish after another I really wanted to try his food. Unfortunately it took until now as Roganic closed, but I am thrilled that he’s opened Fera instead.

Having been to the same restaurant when it was Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s it was wonderful to see the transformation. The ambiance is a lot more modern now with an open kitchen and sleeker design but it’s still a stunning room that works well with the interior of the rest of the hotel.

When it opened Fera only offered a tasting menu, and although it now has an a’la carte as well we preferred the tasting menu consisting of seven courses.

First, we had an lovely amuse bouche with an incredibly light and airy goat’s cheese mousse and pea shoots.

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The first course consisted of three bite sized dishes, the first being rabbit with lovage. The rabbit was incredibly tender but the coating crispy and although I’m not a fan of lovage in general but I must say it worked perfectly in this dish!

 

 

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Next up was mackerel, oyster and seaweed in a wonderful combination which tasted like the sea. Loved the presentation too.

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Smoked roe and red cabbage was next (although I had requested mine without cabbage). It was a lovely foam, both thick and light at the same time. Wonderful flavours!

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Moving on to larger plates we got to enjoy scallops with parsnip puré and hazelnits which was nice and autumnal.

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Raw veal with oyster, Wiltshire truffle, kohlrabi and apple was motley dish. The applepuré, although lovely, was very acidic and didn’t harmonise with the more subtle flavours but I loved the combination of veal, oyster and truffle.

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Lobster, kale, lobster cream and crispy pork was delicious. The lobster was perfectly cooked the mild cream lovely in flavour and the pork and kale made it feel very seasonal.

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Next up was sea bass, grilled leeks and razor clams. The charred leeks were lovely just like the razor clams but I thought the fish a little bland.

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The suckling pig with celeriac, watercress, sprout tops and mead was interesting. One of the pieces of meat was crisp and lovely whereas for the the other one had a bit too much of the soft fat. I love crackling but find soft fat has a strange texture that doesn’t appeal to me. The watercress reduction was amazing though. ‘Very one dimensional, but in a good way’, as Caroline put it.

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The first pudding was chocolate malt nitro wuth prune and dandelion. I had mine without prunes and it was utterly delicious, but Caroline thought the prune jam married well with the malty flavour.

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The finale was a wonderful creation of baked figs, gingerbread cream, crispy gingerbread and fig leaf yoghurt. Just delicious!

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We had coffee and tea after our meal and also received some petit fours. I think we were to full to properly appreciate them though. My favourite was the elderberry meringue but the others (liquorice, hazelnut jelly and ginger) were lovely too.

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Our sommelier was very helpful and recommended beautiful wines and when he saw our longing looks to the kitchen when another table got to go in, he offered to show us around. Needless to say we were over the moon! Thank you.

We had a wonderful evening at Fera. We were well looked after, the food was terrific and the atmosphere really nice. I definitely thought some dishes were stronger than others but overall everything was well cooked and utterly delicious.

Fera at Claridge’s, 49 Brook St, London W1K 4HR

Sticky ginger cake

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This slightly spicy sticky cake feels very autumnal and although I’m not wild about the dark musty flavour myself I realise that this is a very classic type of cake in Britain. It’s sticky and although I served like a cake on it’s own when I made it for the office it is often served with butter, almost like a bread. I love trying classic British recipes and although all are not to my taste I enjoy coming closer to the food culture.

It was my first time baking with treacle, which is surprisingly unsweet considering it is a sugar product.

Sticky ginger cake, serves 8-10

Adapted from the cookbook Cooking for Chaps.

175 g plain flour

110 g soft brown sugar

2 tbsp ground ginger

175 g black treacle

30 g butter

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

125 ml boiling water

Preheat the oven to 175C. Butter and line a 20 cm springform.  

Mix flour, sugar and ginger in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix treacle, butter, bicarb and boiling water. Mix until the butter is melted then pour the mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix well.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry. Remove from oven and cover with a clean tea towel for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.  

Lunch at Goodman, Mayfair

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There’s steak and then there’s STEAK. Goodman serves the one in capitals; the type of steak that is full of flavour and melts like butter in your mouth.

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As you can see, this is proper steak. Perfection.

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Good steak is one thing, but the sides are almost as important. Almost. It is so disappointing when you have a nice proper steak cooked to perfection but with average side dishes like slightly soggy chips and an awful sauce. But Goodman has got it; the chunky chips are utterly crispy on the outside and wonderfully fluffy within. The truffle chips I ordered also had a nice truffle taste, from oil, but still.

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The spinach was also nice and the portion generous and the mash was velvety and delicious.

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And the sauce past the test too. The bernaise sauce was thick and a nice acidity. Det ultimata testet är ändå alltid bearnaisesåsen.

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Goodman, 24-26 Maddox St, London W1S 1QH

For more steak, have a look at my Hawksmoor review.

London’s best burger! – lunch at Soho Diner, Soho

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I had my suspicions after my last visit, and after being back once more I can conclude that Soho Diner in my opinion has the best burgers in London. There I said it! It’s quite a big statement but they are so so good. When I dream about a burger it is this once that appears on my retina.

I haven’t tried every single burger in London, but out of the (quite a few) ones I have sampled Soho Diner is the clear winner.

On my last visit I came here with a colleague. We were both starving and went all out ordered quite a lot of (actually a bit too much) food. First a plate of nachos to share which was just as you want them; nice guacemole, delicious salsa, good tortilla chips and nice cheese.

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Then it was time for the burgers (my mouth is watering just seeing this picture)!. We both chose a double which illogically has three patties (a single has two) and it was almost too big for me. The last bites I ate out of pure will because it was so so good!

The patties have a nice flavour, are nicely packed and pink in the middle. Extremely juicy. The cheese is just perfectly melted and gooey, the dressing a nice addition that doesn’t overpower the other flavours and the brioche bun sturdy enough not to fall apart and soaks up the juices. This, my friends, is perfection.

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The thick fries are incredibly crisp and absolutely delicious too!

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Although we were extremely full after that big burger and fries we couldn’t resist the puddings. Max had a chocolate brownie which came out plain, I like the no nonsense approach here, and it was to die for.

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I should have known better than ordering a chocolate milkshake but in a weak moment I did. It was perfect too and I was sad I couldn’t finish it.

Soho Diner (Soho Kitchen & Bar),19-21 Old Compton Street, London W1D 5JJ