Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Banana and Peanut Brittle

I'm always being surprised by the different ways Thais find to eat bananas. As well as having numerous different types and sizes, they sun dry them, fry them, deep fry them. As well as havingWe were given a huge bag of what seemed to be heavily fried banana chips. They were extremely moreish so after eating most of the bag I decided to use them to make some brittle,

I used half weird banana chips and half salted peanuts but you could use any nuts you fancy. I like the addition of salt to any caramel so if you use unsalted nuts I would add in a few pinches of salt. This doesn't last more than a few days but you have eaten it all by then anyway - mine didn't last 5 minutes (seriously!)

Bash it up and sprinkle it over ice cream or just enjoy it as it is - just be careful of your teeth!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Pancake Bananas

In days gone by, I would enjoy pancakes just once a year on Shrove Tuesday. I know, it's madness and I can't understand why because pancakes are easy to make and, as far as I'm concerned, are perfect at any time of the day. These days I have come to my senses and often make pancakes for Saturday breakfast when I fancy a change from eggs. 

This week I made cinnamon pancakes for brekkie and had some mix left over. We also had a fridge full of bananas so I had a bit of a lightbulb moment inspired by this pin I remembered seeing a while ago. Instead of making regular banana pancakes, I dipped the bananas in the pancake batter and fried them in butter. 

*If you're having these for breakfast, I would recommend making the batter the night before. If they are for dessert then make it in the morning and pop it in the fridge :)

Enjoy with a sprinkle of cinnamon for brekkie or maybe some ice cream and toasted nuts for pud!

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Lab Made ice cream

I’m pretty sure this is about as edgy as ice cream gets!

Made to order in what look like KitchenAids there seems to be some kind of witchcraft involved. The steam of the liquid nitrogen seeps out of the shop, shrouding the whole place in mystery.

*photos taken from Lab Made's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LabMadeHK

Matt’s sister introduced us to this great little spot in Hong Kong when we visited her in April. Six months later we ended up back here on 30th October so naturally there was a Halloween twist. 

As you would expect, the flavours are suitably ‘quirky’ - you won’t be finding strawberry or vanilla here! There are normally just about 4 flavours which change every few weeks. Last time I think I had blueberry muesli flavour which was delicious and has crunchy granola pieces - basically a breakfast ice cream!

This time we sample 'Muddy Graveyard' which was chocolate and peanut butter ice cream topped with crushed biscuit and popping candy and 'Bloody Tears' which was raspberry, white chocolate, coconut and almond. The Chocolate and peanut butter was obviously delicious - you can’t really go wrong with that flavour combination - but my favourite was 'Bloody Tears'. It sounds like there might be too many flavours going on but it just worked! The ice cream was white chocolate with almond pieces and it was topped with purple coconut shavings, blueberry coulis and an eyeball made from white chocolate. I had to stop myself from going back for more!

I don’t know whether similar places exist in other cities but I would definitely recommend paying Lab Made ice-cream a visit if you are in Hong Kong. Apart from the fact that the ice cream is scrumptious, it’s an exciting experience watching your ice cream being made especially for you in a matter of seconds!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Penang: it's all about the roti!

I want to stay in Penang and eat Indian curry with my hands forever. Scrap that, I'm moving to India!

After a morning of walking around Georgetown, we were hungry and in need of a good lunch. Pausing outside an Indian cafe, we were beckoned in and ordered the vegetarian banana leaf set (it seemed to be necessary to order before we could sit down).

A large banana leaf was placed in front of each of us and then curries, rice and pappadams were heaped onto the leaf. The waiters felt sorry for us and gave us cutlery but there was no way we were missing out on the fun, so we got stuck in with our hands! It was delicious, we were stuffed and it cost us 10 Malaysian Ringit (about £2).

Dinner was a similar feast - I'm pretty sure we broke all the rules by insisting we had roti when the waiter really wanted us to have chapati instead! We accidentally ordered too much (no surprises there!) and left happy but so full I almost felt sick!

The following day, after conquering the jungles and inclines of Penang Hill all morning, we indulged ourselves with an array of samosas, bhajis, sweat breads (and other things that frankly I don't know the name of but they are deep fried and tasty and that's all I needed to know!).

Georgetown is a vibrant and interesting little city, it's bustling atmosphere outdone only by the incredible food on offer! Next stop, Kuala Lumpur and needless to say we'll be stocking up on deep fried finger food for the journey.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

I scream, you scream ...

When you've spent the morning walking round The Grand Palace, the sun searing through your factor 50 to create some impressive tan lines, you need an ice cream. In Thailand it seems that you never far from someone selling coconut ice cream, whether it be in a cup, cone, shell or bread roll (yeah, I don't get it either) but in Bangkok there are more and more artisan ice cream shops and stalls popping up.

Most offer the classic scoops in a variety of delicious flavours. But this little stall on Khao San road sold what I would describe as 'Magnum-style' ice creams only far superior. Each flavour has a different design made from chocolate and icing which when bitten, gives way to ice cream heaven. The effect was wonderful and I've never seen anything like this before.

Almost too pretty too eat eh? Only obviously not. I can confirm that the mint chic chip is yummy and I've got my eye on the Tiramisu flavour for our next visit...!
A bit peng (expensive) at 80 baht (about £1.50) but worth it to try something a bit different :)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Fudge Candy

About a month ago I went to a baking seminar with a friend and was given 11 tins of evaporated milk by the sponsor. To my knowledge I have never drunk or eaten evaporated milk and I've certainly never used it myself. I got it in my head that I could probably make fudge with it and, although it turns out evaporated milk is not generally used in fudge, I went ahead with a bit of experimental candy making nonetheless.

I have expanded my kitchen equipment so that I now have a very basic set of scales and a small baking tray (I'm definitely moving up in the world!). Of course there is still a distinct lack of a sugar thermometer and the scales are not exactly precise so I wasn't really expecting a success...

But it worked! Well I mean I made something .... I'm reluctant to call this fudge because it's not the crumbly type of fudge that I would call 'proper fudge'. It's more like the stuff you get inside a Cadbury Fudge bar (remember those?) so not quite 'proper' but still sweet and buttery :)

Considering my basic equipment and the fact I largely ignored all the recipes I found, I'm quite pleased with how this turned out. And hey there's always the other 10 tins ...…

300g caster sugar*
100g butter
300ml evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 pinches of salt
*I reduced the sugar content by 50g because I used evaporated milk but I think that may have affected the texture which is not like true fudge.  
- Line and grease a small baking tray or cake tin (I didn't line mine and the fudge was difficult to get out).  
- Put the sugar, milk and butter in a saucepan and heat until the butter and sugar have dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and stir constantly. The mixture should look like it's about to grow into a fudge monster and escape from the bowl (but not actually do that!) and make sure you keep stirring. 
- Keep boiling until the mixture reaches soft-ball stage. If you have a candy thermometer this is 118C but as I don't I checked by dropping a tiny amount of mixture into a bowl of water. When the mixture forms a ball soft enough to press, it is ready. For me this took 25 minutes but I would start checking after about 15 minutes. 
- Once the mixture has reached soft-ball stage remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Then add the salt and vanilla extract and beat for a few minutes. (according to James Martin you are supposed to beat until the mixture thickens and loses it's gloss. I forgot about this so I'm not sure how important it is but it may give you a better texture)
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tray or tin and leave to set at room temperature. (Once it had set I cut it and kept it in the fridge but if you live somewhere cooler and less humid than Thailand it might not be necessary!)
- Don't eat it all at once! (No, really don't, you'll be sick!)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Nutty French Soldiers

Or something like that…..!

French toast (or eggy bread) is up there with my favorite breakfasts (and I'm a girl who loves her breakfasts). I'm always amazed by the magic eggs and a splash of milk can do to a humble slice of bread.

Frankly crispy bacon and maple syrup is the ultimate accompaniment to a stack of french toast or pancakes but as I'm currently meat free (and at any rate bacon is hard to come by here in Thailand) I had to come up with an alternative.

And it turns out this is a pretty great alternative. It satisfies my peanut addiction and, topped with super sweet Thai pineapple, it's a great way to start a Saturday.

If you want a great Saturday morning, you will need:

Peanuts (lots- I can't tell you exactly how much as I have no measuring equipment :/ )
5 slices of bread
3 eggs
6 spoons of milk (I used soy milk but any milk will do)
Pineapple or whatever else you fancy piling on top

Throw peanuts into a pestle and mortar and pestle away. If you have a food processor you could use that instead but make sure they are still a bit chunky and not completely ground.

Whisk the eggs together and then gently whisk in the milk. Cut the bread into soldiers and soak them in the egg and milk mixture. Dip the soldiers into the nut mixture so that there are nuts on both sides.

Heat butter or oil in a frying pan and cook the soldiers over a medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side or until they are golden brown.

And it's done! Easy, huh? If you're silly like me stack them up like Jenga but that's not strictly necessary!