Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Italy Adventures!

7 Sep

Italy Adventures!

 

WP_000938-001

So I’m back from Italy and also back at school, so life is really hectic at the moment… Sorry for the lack of posts! This post is just to bring all you guys up to date on the most amazing trip of my life. Firstly, I must apologize for the picture quality, I unfortunately had to use my phone for all pictures as I forgot my camera like the feather head that I am! As most of you probably know I was in Florence, Italy for six days and I’ll say it right out, that city is AMAZING! I loved everything about it from the mind blowing gelato to the wonderful people to the beautiful narrow streets, it was like something you would see in a movie.

WP_000839

We stayed at a B&B instead of a hotel and it was the best idea ever. We stayed at Orti di Cimabue and the woman that ran it, Sandra, along with Giovanni were some of the nicest people I have ever met. They welcomed us with open arms and the room couldn’t have been more perfect. It opened out onto the garden, with a gorgeous breakfast served outside every morning in the cutest little garden.

WP_000615-001

 

 

Sandra had perfect English which was a great help for us and she had loads of knowledge about things to do, places to eat and must see areas. We would have been lost without her.

The city is breathtaking, I now understand why so many Renaissance artists and sculptors flocked to this city, it is steeped in inspiration and beauty.

WP_000642-001 - Copy

The buildings and architecture have been largely unspoiled and even though I call Florence a city, it feels much smaller and intimate when you let yourself get lost down the cobble-stoned streets only to stumble upon a tiny, unknown gelateria with gelato fit for a king.

WP_000669-001

It is these hidden gems that band together to make Florence a treasure trove of adventure and fascination. As for all the big sites that Florence is known for… Well there is a good reason they are so well known and it’s because they are all magnificent in their own way. The Uffizi and Academia Gallery’s are an art enthusiasts heaven, while the churches are something that everyone can appreciate simply for their beauty and feel especially the likes of Dante and Beatrice’s tiny, hidden church, that really is something outstanding. The people are wonderful, they are always so friendly and even though language was a big barrier for us, they nearly all have some English or at least try very hard.

WP_000840-001

And as for the FOOD! It was paradise, it really was. Between gelato and pasta and pizza and tirimasu, they just have cooking down to a fine art and I can only strive to be as good as the Italians someday.

WP_000645-001

The gelato is something I was very looking forward to and I have to say we really did make the most of our time on that front. I kept a track of each flavor we had tried and I made it my mission to try as many different ones as possible. It is very handy as it comes in all different size cups and it is the norm to put two or three different flavors in your cup.

WP_000980-001

This makes life much easier when you are trying to bless your taste buds with as many possible wondrous flavors as you can. In the end we had tried over THIRTY different flavors between us!

WP_000825

I was quite chuffed with myself, some of my favorites would have to be Biscotti, Nocciolo (Hazelnut), Black Cherry, Riso, Coconut, Gingerbread, Rose, Pear and Mascapone and Extra Dark Chocolate. These are only few of the most amazing gelato flavors you will ever find. I loved every minute.

WP_000928

 

The markets were a great area of interest for me, especially, Mercato Centrale, which was a huge indoor food market where you could get basically anything like meat, cheeses, fruit and veggies, bread, pasta and condiments such as olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

WP_000719-001

WP_000723

Everything was of top quality and it was quite torturous knowing that we were flying with Ryanair and could only carry 15kg! I did buy balsamic vinegar which is utterly amazing, and I now use it wherever possible.

WP_000711-001

 

The fruit and veg was just beautiful and I bought some to munch on for lunch one day, it was heaven and these grapes just captivated me so I thought I’d share them with you guys 🙂

WP_000715-001

 

We had to eat out every night while we were in Florence and you didn’t hear me complaining! The choice of restaurant was slightly overwhelming but Trip Adviser really was my saving grace. All the good restaurants were off the beaten track and out of the tourist spots but since Florence is so nice and compact it wasn’t a problem. Out of all the places we ate our favorite was Trattoria di Sordo which was recommended by Sandra and was the first and last place we had dinner in Florence.

WP_000990-001

WP_000988-001

The food was impeccable, full of flavor and beautifully presented, the staff where so nice and helped as much as they could with translating the menu and the atmosphere was perfect. My favorite dessert from the whole trip was one that I got here on my last night. It was lemon cake that consisted of a light, airy sponge sandwiched together by lucious lemon curd and finished with a generous dusting of icing sugar. Sounds simple but oh, it really was out of this world.

WP_000998-001

And to top it off they had the best Tirimasu out of all the three different ones we tried 🙂

WP_000993-001

 

Trip adviser really helped me find some absolute treasures that just blew my mind with how awesome they were. One was Gusta Pizza. After reading the reviews on TA, I was determined to get myself one of the famous pizzas so I figured out where it was and after about 20mins of taking wrong turns and getting lost, we found the little restaurant down a secluded lane just off Palazzo Pitti and to my horror they were closed! I was crushed, I went home that evening and scoured the internet to figure out why I had been deprived of delicious pizza. It turns out that lots of restaurants in Florence like to take a three week holiday in August. That really makes no sense to me but anyway. It was due to reopen on the day we were leaving so I dragged Mom all across the city to Gusta Pizza for a second time before we left and hallelujah, it was open! It really was worth the wait and I don’t think I’ll ever find a pizza as delicious again. I won’t even try to describe it because it was literally indescribable utter then pure bliss.

WP_001006-001

 

Another TA treasure was All’Antico Vinaio. It was a teeny, tiny sandwich shop just up from Gelateria de Neri that made the most drool worthy sandwich ever. You could also get wine for €2.00 with free refills, which is just an added bonus. There is always a huge line outside it that is a mixture of locals and tourists which is a sure sign of its quality. The ordering process is slightly hectic and stressful but the sandwich they hand to you at the end is so worth it. You can choose from a variety of spreads (sweet pepper, truffle, soft cheese etc) then veggies then cheese (mozzarella, pecorino, gorgonzola etc) and finally a meat (roast/smoked ham, salami, turkey, beef etc) The quality of the ingredients is impeccable and their bread comes hot from the shop across the street which they also own. The sandwiches are ginormous but don’t worry, you may initially feel stuffed but you will be back! I had sweet pepper, zucchini, smoked ham and mozzarella in mine.

WP_000820-001

 

One of our friends asked us to bring back some amaretti biscuits and wanting to get authentic ones we searched around and found an adorable little shop with all sorts of confectioneries in it from biscotti to nougat to chocolate.

WP_000923-001

They also had an extensive wine collection at the back. The range was huge and I’m pretty sure I looked slightly crazy as I walked around the shop with my mouth half open and my eyes nearly popping out of my head!

WP_000926

 

Even though we loved Florence immensely, we wanted to have one trip out of the city so we could witness the rolling Tuscan hills for ourselves. Since Tuscany is so well known for it’s wine, we joined a bus tour and went to a little winery in the heart of Chianti.

WP_000962

We got to sample five different wines, one white and four red and also balsamic vinegar, olive oil and grappe that they produce themselves. They served crostini, salami and pecorino with it which of course was quite scrumptious. I fell in love with the balsamic but it was unfortunately priced from €30-60 depending on how long it had been aged, which was kind of astronomically out of my price range!

WP_000963

They also took us to two little villages up in the hills called Castellina and Monteriggiano.

WP_000968

WP_000975

They were adorable and so picturesque. Many movies such as the Gladiator and Under the Tuscan Sun were actually filmed there.

These are just a few other pictures of super delicious food that will have me flocking back to Italy as soon as possible.

WP_000655

WP_000694

WP_000683

WP_000999

WP_000845-001

WP_000753

 

WP_000690-001

WP_001012-001

 

It was the best holiday I have ever had and I can’t wait to go back and explore the rest of Italy. My eye is on Rome or Venice now! As the food varies from region to region, I’ll be looking forward to delving into a new culture of food on my next visit and I would urge all of you, whether you have already been contemplating a visit to Florence or not, to go see it and soak up it’s beauty and more importantly its food!

 

 

Advertisements

Holiday Food Recap!

22 Jun

Holiday Food Recap!

As most of you know I was in holiday in Cornwall for the last ten or so days which I greatly enjoyed. One of the highlights of my trip was the food. It was utter heaven from slurping down rich Cornish ice cream to devouring the most amazing foccacia sandwiches I have ever laid eyes on and that’s not even including the amazing dinners my aunt and uncle made us while we were staying. So I’ll give you guys a bit of an insight into my snippet of bliss.

First day there we were served a beautiful corn fed roast chicken with buttery new potatoes and a big fresh salad, simple and oh so delicious! We were served all sorts of divine dinners during our stay such as creamy mushroom risotto, perfect veggie lasagna, gorgeous tomato pasta and a to die for chicken curry. It is safe to say that both my Auntie Liz and Uncle Mark are experienced and talented cooks. 🙂

Here is the tomato pasta courtesy of Uncle Mark on our last night, a beautiful way to end the holiday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me and mom made dinner on two nights, one night I made Honey Pistachio Crusted Salmon and the other I made Couscous Quiche. There was clear plates so I think everyone liked it even though it was quite nerve wracking!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As a sweet treat to end the evening I made my beloved Sticky Toffee Pudding which I enjoyed immensely, I won’t lie, and I hope they enjoyed just as much.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had a day visit to an amazing place called the Eden Project. It is a a charity that turned an exhausted china clay quarry site into three domes that are climate controlled and so filled with all sorts of tropical plants suited to the respective dome, Mediterranean or Rain Forest. It aims to have as small a carbon foot print as possible and stocks recyclable produce and all fair trade food. It is the most inspirational place ever and not only that but they also have unreal food just to top it all off! In the Mediterranean dome there was a choice of paella or authentic Italian pizza, we had the pizza and it was even better then we could have dreamed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe split that and then went into the main cafe area of the Eden Project which is also so cool. It is so well organised and has amazing food.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We shared a bowl of lentil and coconut soup and it was so good we had eaten most of it before I even remembered to take a picture… Sorry!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They had all sorts of yummy looking desserts too but we ended up going for the ice cream instead, I had mint chocolate chip and mom had hazelnut which was unusual but oh so delicious!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And here is a pic of one of the coolest flowers I have ever seen that was in the Rain Forest dome just to give you a glimpse of the awesomeness of the Eden Project!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you know, if you read my previous blog post of the Chocolate Sponge Cake, you will know it was my Auntie’s birthday while we were visiting. To mark the special occasion, we went  out for lunch… and what a lunch it was! We went to a place called The Hidden Hut, which is a small wooden cabin overlooking a gorgeous beach that makes the most delicious food ever!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We all had foccacia sandwiches, although I was sorely tempted to a serving of chicken rogan josh with pita breads. Mine had ham, cheddar and onion marmalade and everyone else’s had prawns. I honestly think it was the best sandwich that I have ever eaten in my entire life! The bread was crisp but still fresh and easy to eat. The ham was proper roasted ham, the cheddar was tangy, rich and smooth and the onion marmalade upgraded the sandwich from delicious to pure heaven. Something that really made it too was a simple but essential detail, all the filling stayed easily in the sandwich… this may sound like a silly thing to note but there is nothing that ruins the bliss of eating a sandwich more then if you end up eating two slices of bread and then scooping all the filling off the plate!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Only after we had ordered and sat down did we spot the big dish of paella cooking away in the corner, so we got one helping of that and we all had a taste although I was so stuffed after my heavenly sandwich that I could just about fit a few mouthfuls in! It was really flavorful and looked beautiful although I’m too much of a wuss to try the squid or mussels!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And lastly to finish off the perfect meal we got Cornish ice cream for dessert. Me and Auntie Liz got pistachio and my mom got mint chocolate chip, I was torn between getting pistachio or good old chocolate but my curiosity won out and I went for the pistachio. I was so happy I did because it was sooo good! It was a combination of the slightly sweet slightly savory pistachio and the creamy Cornish ice cream that was just to die for. I also tried the mint choc chip and it was the best I’ve ever had, it had all the essential qualities of a perfect mint ice cream, such as the smooth yet somehow still grainy texture, the sweet and just enough mint flavor and of course lovely big chunks of rich, bitter sweet chocolate chips.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The view from The Hidden Hut was just beautiful especially when it was such a magnificent day, as you can see. I would highly recommend anyone in Cornwall to go there, you will definitely not regret it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Later that day I made Auntie Liz a birthday cake, it was a Classic Chocolate Sponge Cake with Rum Infused Chocolate Buttercream and I must say… It was utter bliss all wrapped up in a moist, airy sponge sandwiched together by a rich, intense frosting. It didn’t last too long either which, I guess, means that everyone else had similar feelings on the subject!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the most vital travelling companion is the humble coffee, in its cardboard cup with loads of milk so you don’t burn your tongue (or your hand!) while racing around trying to find your terminal which is, of course, the one at the farthest end of the airport! Oh and a good book, can’t travel without that. 🙂

WP_000527 (1)

Lastly this speedy fritatta that I rustled up in the kitchen for dinner after a long day of traveling and in desperate need to use up the eggs before they go out of date tomorrow! Sometimes, it just really works out. Simple, nutritious (Much better then the rubbish, besides Starbucks :D, that you get at the airport!) and easy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Holidays!

12 Jun

Hello everybody, I’m heading to England today with my mom to see my wonderful aunt and uncle so I won’t be able to post anything for the next 9 days 😦 don’t worry though I will hopefully have lots of great recipes back with me that I can share with you all! So goodbye for now! 🙂

20130613-182352.jpg

Couscous Jumble Salad

4 Mar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I normally have sandwiches for lunch because they’re convenient and easy to pack in a lunchbox but at the weekends when I have a bit of time to stop and actually plan my mealtimes, this is the king of little gems I can come up with. This is a lovely light lunch that would actually be great to have during the week as well as the weekend because it can be made the night before. I used homemade tomato sauce that I had in the fridge but you could also use some from a jar. You could bulk this up by adding a tin of drained mixed beans or chickpeas, if you like. This would also be perfect for a picnic as a side dish or a main dish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Couscous Jumble Salad (Serves 2-3)

100-150g couscous

Chicken stock

3 slices of turkey breast, sliced into strips

1/2 red pepper, cut into thin strips

1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced

3 heaped tbsp tomato sauce

50g pistachios, crushed

75g plump mixed fruit, e.g. Raisins, golden raisins and cranberries

Salt and pepper

Grated mature cheddar, to serve

  • Put the couscous in a small bowl and add in enough chicken stock to just cover it. Cover with a plate and set aside for about 10mins or until all the chicken stock has been absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Put the tomato sauce in a small saucepan and warm over a low heat until bubbling.
  • Chop the vegetables, crush the pistachios and grate the cheddar.
  • When the couscous is done, transfer it to a clean, serving bowl and fluff it up using a fork. Pour in the tomato sauce and mix through.
  • Add the turkey slices, red pepper, cucumber, pistachios and mixed fruit, stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper,sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.

Mini Apple and Cinnamon Cakes

27 Feb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since the first moment I made this cake with my sister, I fell in love with it. It is simple and the combination of apple and cinnamon has been used repeatedly in all baking but this cake shows perfectly why these flavors are used so repeatedly. It is incredibly moist and this mini cake variation allows houses with only 2 or 3 people to make cake and not be daunted as to how much cake they’re going to have to either eat or waste. The icing sugar glaze is what makes these cakes as it gives the cakes added moistness and a little extra kick of sweetness and keeps you coming back for more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mini Apple and Cinnamon Cakes (Serves 2 generously)

1 large Granny Smith apple

1tbsp dark brown sugar

3/4tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 orange, juiced

1tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup coarse light brown sugar

1/2 heaped cup plain flour

1/4tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Flaked almonds

3 heaped tbsp icing sugar mix with a bit of water to make a slightly runny consistency

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/350ºf and line two 5inch x 2inch round tins, preferably with a spring bottom.
  • Peel, core and dice the apple then add it to a small bowl with the 1tbsp dark brown sugar and 3/4tsp cinnamon. Toss to combine and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the oil, egg, orange juice, vanilla and sugar for about 1min.
  • Add in the flour and cinnamon in batches until well combined then fold in the apples.
  • Divide between the two tins and sprinkle with flaked almonds.
  • Bake for about 25mins or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Let cool slightly, pierce holes in the top of the cakes then drizzle the icing sugar mixture evenly over them.
  • Let that soak in a bit then serve with cream, ice-cream or custard.

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash

14 Jan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You all know that I was recently in Hungary and it really inspired me to get to know a few traditional dishes from there. Now I admit this may not be the traditional way of making this dish but I wanted to do my own take on it and also try and make it a bit more healthy. This is a wonderful dish and I can see why it is a firm favorite in Hungary, it is a brilliant dish to warm your insides and chase away the cold. This is very important in a meal when you are living in minus conditions! It also has a mild spice from the paprika which only adds to the warming affect. Paprika is such an important ingredient in Hungary, you can pretty much find it anywhere, so of course I had to bring some home with me. If you like hearty stews and casseroles, you will love this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (Serves 4-5)

1tbsp olive/rapeseed oil

2 onions, roughy sliced

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks/strips

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1tbsp sweet paprika, more or less to taste

400g can chopped tomatoes

300-400ml chicken stock

2 large bay leaves

1 1/2tsp mixed herbs

2 large peppers, one red and one yellow preferably, cut into large chunks

1-2tbsp cornflour, mixed with a little water to make a paste

3tbsp half fat creme fraiche

salt and pepper

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized, heat proof casserole dish. Add the onion, garlic and chicken chunks and cook over a medium heat, stirring regularly until the chicken is browned, 3-4mins.
  • Add the paprika, tinned chopped tomatoes, enough chicken stock to loosen up the sauce, bay leaves and mixed herbs. Mix to combine then simmer over a low heat for about 10mins, then add the pepper chunks and continue to cook for about 20-25mins until the chicken is fully cooked and the peppers are tender.
  • Add the cornflour mixture and continue to cook for 2-3mins, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a little rice or mashed potatoes and topped with 1/2tbsp creme fraiche.

Perfect and Simple Cranberry Sauce

2 Jan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the first year I have ever made my own cranberry sauce for Christmas dinner and now I’m kind of kicking myself for not trying it sooner! It is a ridiculously easy recipe and tastes absolutely fantastic. It is quick to make and you could even make it a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge until you need it. I had way too much left over because there was only two of us but  I have it in the fridge in a sterilized jar so it will keep for about 2 weeks. You can use it for loads of things such as sandwiches, desserts or savory dishes such as cranberry and goats cheese puff pastry tarts. So delicious!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Perfect and Simple Cranberry Sauce

250g fresh cranberry

1/2 cup orange juice

2/3 cup light brown sugar, more or less to taste

  • Place all the ingredients in a small pan and cook over a medium heat for about 10-15mins, stirring regularly, until the cranberries soften and the sauce thickens.
  • Taste and add more sugar if needed. You can serve it cold or reheat it just before your meal.
%d bloggers like this: