A Liittle Bit Of Exciting News!

Dear all,

It may have become apparent that I have not posted for a couple of weeks. Well – there’s a reason for it, and it’s not just laziness.

I am hugely excited to announce the launch of The BritPop Bakery, my very first little mini-venture!

The BritPop Bakery is my new baby business, selling little organic bites of cake on sticks. I’m very excited.

However, as a sad result, this does mean that I won’t be able to post here each day any more. If I did that, i’d have no time for anything, not even exercise, and now that I am attempting to run a cake business, exercise is extremely important.

I will still post recipes and things here occasionally so do please keep checking back – but, if you are curious and want to make my day, i’d be hugely honoured if you’d pop over to the new website and take a look.

I can be contacted through Facebook and Twitter – if you have any thoughts on the new site and would like to share them, i’d be incredibly grateful.

Lots of love, and I really hope that you are all well and happy!

Jessy xxx

 

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Ridiculous Baking: Make Your Own Mini Lollipop Cupcakes!

Ok. I have been told off a bit recently for posting too many cake-themed posts. Personally, I think that this is ridiculous because who can possibly have too many cakes?

And, anyway, I have no choice: I must show you this recipe because I just think that these are too adorable for words! In fact, if I could make them every week and just have them as a permanent fixture in my kitchen, I so would.

What you’ll need:

1 batch of Foolproof Basic Mini Cupcakes  (I’ve made the mini version here but you can always make full-sized ones if you like)

1 batch of Foolproof Frosting in the colour of your choice – it doesn’t have to be pink!

A bag of clear, hard-boiled sweets, the old-fashioned kind. (I bought mine from Marks & Spencer, they were 99p for a big bag)

Wooden cocktail sticks, or proper lolly sticks (you can buy these from craft shops such as Cake Craft World or HobbyCraft)

Sprinkles and edible glitter to decorate, if you like to go a bit overboard, like me

A baking tray lined with silicon or greaseproof paper

Step One:

Once your cakes are baked and cooled, you can begin by icing them! But first, you need to make sure your oven’s hot. If it’s still on from the cakes, turn it up to 200 degrees Celsius, and if you’ve made your cakes in advance, turn it on.

You can use a teaspoon or a piping bag and nozzle, whichever you like.

(I use, and really recommend, these Easy Squeezers by Cuisipro – they cost under five pounds and I know that they are stocked in Selfridges but I am sure other stores sell them too.

Somewhat embarrassingly they are designed for children, but I find them perfect for icing smaller cakes quickly and neatly! Cuisipro haven’t paid me any money to say this, or sent me any free stuff, by the way.)

However, you choose to ice your cakes, ice them carefully with a swirl and pop them back on the cooling rack when done.

If you are decorating them with sprinkles or edible glitter, do this now before the icing has set.

Step Two:

Take a boiled sweet in the colour of your choice and, using a sharp knife, cut it into quarters or halves, depending on how big you’d like your lollipop to be. I quartered mine.

Cut through the sweet by very carefully placing the blade of the knife over the top of the sweet and, in one firm motion, pushing down to break apart the sweet. This ought to give you a clean break. For goodness’ sakes, be careful of your fingers!

Now, place your quartered pieces of boiled sweet onto your lined baking tray, making sure that they are evenly spaced:

Now, pop the tray in the oven, but leave the door ever so slightly ajar. These need hardly any time at all – usually about 60 seconds – to melt. Keep a close eye on them, and once they have melted and begun to bubble slightly, take them out at once.

Be warned: I f you leave them in for too long they will very suddenly lose their colour and go all syrupy.

Step Three:

Now, working very quickly before the sweets set again, gently pop your toothpicks or lolly sticks into the bottom of each sweet. Press it in and roll it over slightly, to ensure it is surrounded by the sweet and will be held in place firmly when it sets.

Repeat this with all of your sweets.

If you’d like a perfectly round edge to your lolly, take a butter knife and gently oil the blade with olive oil. Carefully squidge and press in the sides of the lolly in when it’s still melted to smooth and mould it, and this will give you a perfect edge.

You don’t have to do this, though; I think it’s quite fun to leave them a bit rustic, it looks adorable.

When you are happy with the shape of your lollies, just leave them on the tray for a minute to cool and harden fully!

Step Four:

Once your lollies have fully hardened, remove them from the baking tray by gently pushing the blade of a knife underneath them and pulling them off. They ought to pull off quite easily.

Repeat the above steps until you have all the lollies you need!

Now, if you have made mini cupcakes and used cocktail sticks for your lollies, you will need to just trim the sticks slightly to make sure that they fit in the cakes properly.

Just take about an inch or so off for mini cakes, or leave them at the full size for standard-sized cakes.

Now for the fun bit! Gently push your lollipops into the top of each cupcake:

…and repeat with the rest!

Try varying the design and arranging on a pretty stand or plate to make even more of a visual impression.

Now eat and enjoy!

See you tomorrow, and thank you very much for reading my post!

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

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Video Tip! How To Peel Ginger With A Teaspoon

Well…so this is exciting! The Daily Home has officially now entered the world of the moving picture. How amazingly modern.

This video illustrates a genuinely useful method which has saved me loads of time and countless bits of ginger. Enjoy!

(Also, please bear with me; I know that my filmaking skills are worse than rubbish, but they will get better. Ahem…)

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

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Deliciously Decadant Dulche de Leche Brownies

I love brownies. I imagine that pretty much everyone loves brownies. But here’s the question: how to make them better? What’s the ultimate brownie?

I was rummaging through my cupboards the other day when I found a jar of Dulche de Leche. This traditional Argentinian caramel is, in my humble opinion, one of the most delicious things in the entire world! (and it’s low fat too. Yes, seriously).

You can make it yourself by gently boiling a tin of condensed milk, but I must confess I tend to buy it as I never get quite as amazing results.

Mmm, just look at that. Doesn’t it look fabulous?

So, I thought; why not combine dense, squidgy chocolate brownies with a swirl of delicious Dulche de Leche? Surely one of the best, most indulgent puddings ever!

The brownie recipe is adapted from a book called ‘The Sweet Life in Paris’ – well worth a read! I have jigged around the quantites, and added ground almonds to make it a little denser and moister.

What you’ll need:

100 grams plain flour

40 grams ground almonds

120g butter, at room temperature, plus a little extra for greasing the tin

175 dark chocolate, finely chopped (use a brand with a high cocoa content of at least 70% – Green & Blacks is good and reliable)

25g cocoa powder

3 large eggs

200 grams soft light brown sugar

1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract

Roughly 250ml Dulche de Leche (this is variable, use a little more or a little less depending on your preference, but don’t go overboard or your brownies won’t set!) I like Casa Argentina Dulche de Leche, available from Waitrose – it comes in a 450g glass jar and it’s the smoothest I’ve found.

Equipment:

An 8-inch (20cm) square cake tin

A length of tin foil

A hand or balloon whisk

A wooden spoon or spatula

A saucepan

A wire cooling rack

A spoon and knife

Step One:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Grease your cake tin lightly with butter, and line with the tin foil, like so:

You might need to use two pieces of foil and overlap them.

Grease the tin again, over the foil.

Using tin foil gives the outer edge of the brownie a good, chewy outer edge and stops it from falling apart when you try to cut it – important in this case because this is a very squidgy brownie!

Step Two:

Melt the butter on a low heat in a saucepan, until is it beginning to froth gently.

Now add the chopped chocolate – stir it continuously until the chocolate has fully melted and the mixture is smooth.

Now, take the pan off the heat, and whisk in the cocoa powder.

Step Three:

Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Your mixture might go a little lumpy at this point; if it does, don’t worry! It’s just the eggs reacting to the slightly warm mixture. It’s not a problem.


Now, fold in the sugar, then the flour, and finally your vanilla extract.

This will give you a beautifully rich, dense and extremely thick mixture!

Step Four:

Now for the fun bit!

Assemble your greased and lined cake tin, your brownie mixture and the Dulche de Leche.

Spoon half of your brownie mixture into the cake tin, levelling it gently with a spoon.

Make sure it gets into all the corners! Don’t worry; again, it will look a bit lumpy.

Now, using a spoon, drop just under half of the Dulche de Leche on top of the brownie mixture, in even blobs. Swirl a knife through the mixture carefully.

Next, spoon over the rest of your brownie mixture on top. Level the top as best you can, then drop the rest of your Dulche de Leche into the centre of your mixture.

Using a knife, very gently swirl it out until you have a pretty swirled pattern!

Step Four:

Pop the tray in the oven. After half an hour, take the tray out. If the centre feels just lightly firm, they are done! If the centre is not firm, pop back in the oven for up to an extra ten minutes.

Once your brownies are done, take them out of the oven and leave the tray to rest for five minutes.

Then, take your wire cooling rack and gently lay it on top of the brownie tray. In one quick motion, turn it over so that the tray is upside-down on top of the cooling rack. Carefully lift the tin off the top of the brownies – the foil should still be on top of the mixture.

Wait for another five minutes, then gently peel the foil off the brownies – be patient, if you do it too early you’ll lose chunks of brownie when peeling it off!

Now, slide onto a chopping board, cut into squares and enjoy! These are great on their own, cold or fresh out of the oven, or warmed through with a dollop of cream.

These brownies will keep quite happily in the fridge or an airtight container for up to three days.

Note: I am really sorry but I don’t have a picture of the finished article; Alex and his brother arrived home and thought it would be fun to start pulling my hair and taking pictures of me with ‘stretch face’ and so I sort of forgot to take the last batch of photo’s.


However, I promise you, these are utterly delicious, and well worth a bake.

See you tomorrow!

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

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Skinny Kitchen: Alex’s Thai Beef Salad

Hello all! I’m very sorry I didn’t post anything yesterday.

I was at Chessington World of Adventures regressing to my childhood, having my face painted like a bat, and literally falling out of my seat in excitement for Kat Brown’s birthday.

Ahem.

So, to make up for it, i’m giving you Alex’s recipe for Thai Beef Salad. This salad is nothing short of legendary, and that is not an exaggeration.

Alex and I eat this for supper every single Monday night pretty much without fail; I actually get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t. It’s jam-packed full of goodness, light and healthy, and incredibly delicious – just what you need after a heavy weekend and a Sunday roast!

This recipe serves two – please note that we were making extra when we took the photo’s, so don’t worry if the quantities look a little large!

Also, this recipe is how we make it, and can be easily adapted to suit what you have. If you have little gem lettuces in the fridge, use them; likewise with the mangetout and sugersnap peas. Make it your own!

What you’ll need:      

For the salad:

2 steaks, or 1 approximately 500g cut of beef – use a chewy and flavoursome cut, such as Rump or Onglet. The texture in this salad is all about the chewy steak and the contrasting crispy vegetables, so don’t worry about spending money on expensive fillet. Do not worry about the fat; you’ll trim this off before eating.

1 small iceberg lettuce

1 small bag mangetout

1 small bag sugersnap peas

2 spring onions

3 vine tomatoes

1/4 of a cucumber

1 handful each of fresh Coriander, Basil and Mint

For the dressing:

2 Birdseye Chillis (optional)

1 tablespoon Palm Sugar (available from most supermarkets or Oriental food shops)

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon fish sauce

Equipment:

Two chopping boards and sharp knives (one for the meat, one for the vegetables)

A large mixing bowl

A small heatproof bowl or pan, for blanching the vegetables.

A griddle pan

A pestle and mortar for your dressing

Step One:

First of all, we need to griddle the steak.

If your meat is in one piece, cut it into equal-sized steaks.

Season your steak well with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. Massage it into the steak until well covered.

Heat a griddle pan on a high heat until it is smoking. Do not put any oil in the pan; you have already oiled your steaks.

Sear your steak until it is to your liking. In my opinion, this recipe is best with rare steak, and for this 1-2 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the steak) is perfect.

Once you have griddled your steaks, take them off the heat, put on a  chopping board and leave to rest.

Step Two:

Using a sharp knife, shred your lettuce. We have also added ½ a bag of mixed salad here, as we had it in the fridge and needed to use it. Remember, this recipe is versatile and can be easily adapted to suit what you have in your fridge!

Put your lettuce into the large mixing bowl.

Cut your tomatoes in half and, using a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds.

 Then slice them into thin strips and put into the bowl with your lettuce.

Chop your spring onions and cucumber, discarding the cucumber seeds, and put into the bowl with your lettuce and tomatoes.

Tear off a handful each of the Coriander, Basil and Mint, and add to your salad ingredients.

Step Three:

Boil a kettle. Trim the mangetout and sugar snap peas, and place them into your small bowl or pan. When the kettle has boiled, pour over the boiling water, and blanch the vegetables until just softened.

Sieve the vegetables out and run under the cold tap to prevent them from cooking any further.

Place into the mixing bowl with the rest of your salad ingredients.

Step Four:

By now your beef ought to be well-rested. Trim the beef into thin strips, cutting of any pieces of fat as you go.

Pop the beef into the salad bowl.

Step Five:

Now to make your dressing!

Chop your Birdseye chillis finely, if using.

Place the palm sugar into the pestle and mortar, and grind a little to loosen the paste. Then add your lime juice, chillis and fish sauce. Try not to get any lime pips into the dressing.

Taste a little on the end of a teaspoon; the dressing ought to be equally sweet, sharp and salty. If more salt is required, add a little more fish sauce, if  it’s not sweet enough, add a little more palm sugar, and if it’s not fresh and sharp enough, add a little more lime.

Adjust the dressing until it is to your liking, and once it’s perfect, drizzle it all over your salad ingredients and give it all a good mix around.

Serve into individual bowls and eat immediately.

Perfect!

See you tomorrow.

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

Note: We usually use the Ginger Pig when buying our meat in Borough market. However, on this occasion, we bought this beautiful piece of beef from the Northfield Farm stall, and it was exceptional. The butcher on the stall was also very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

No prior connection, etc etc – just wanted to give them a mention as it was such good meat!

You can find Northfield Farm’s website here.

Tel: 01664 474271

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Review: Thu Do Vietnamese – A Contendor to Cafe East’s Crown?

Face Judgement: Yay! It was great!

Thu Do Vietnamese Restaurant

237 Lower Road, Surray Quays

London SE16 2LW

Alex and I have a little guilty pleasure.

Whilst there is no shortage of good food in Borough, there is a shortage of cinemas. And, sometimes, when it is mid-week and we feel lazy and fragile, we like to go to the cinema and also to eat.

Sadly, in many areas of London, good food and the cinema is not compatible. Of course, there are lots of amazing boutique and art-house cinemas which offer great food and clever films, but I am not talking highbrow viewing.

No, I’m talking the full Cineworld / Odeon / whatever blockbuster experience; lots of surround sound, flashing lights, large chairs with cup holders for three-pint paper cups of fizzy drinks, and sticky carpets.

It was in a car park next to Surrey Quays Odeon – just next to Canada Water tube and thus a short hop from London Bridge – that we found our usual haunt and haven’t looked back since; the frankly amazing Vietnamese restaurant, Café East. We have spent many happy evenings stuffing ourselves to the brim with Pho there and then waddling over to the Odeon, smugly swerving away from the popcorn counter.

One of Alex’s brothers, Charles, is currently living with us whilst he finds a flat in London, so last night we decided to take him to the cinema, and introduce him to the delights of Village East.

Oh, cruel world. We had elected to go on Tuesday, because usually we go on Wednesday and forget the monstrosity to non-Orange customers that is Orange Wednesdays, and encounter a packed cinema and even more packed Village East. But, this time, we had really dropped the ball.

Upon arrival at Village East, we quickly realised that the lights were off and it was eerily quiet. Turns out Village East is closed on Tuesdays. Noooooo!

In a big fat panic, I cast my mind back, and remembered that we had once eaten at a rather good Vietnamese restaurant just around the corner, on Lower Road. As a last-ditch effort to save our Viet and Cinema evening, and with a good hour to go before the film started, we decided to give it a go.

A pleasant, just-over-five-minute stroll took us to Lower Road, where, at number 237, in a slightly unprepossessing location surrounded by lots of Estate Agents, we found Thu Do.

It’s a sweet-looking little place: tiny inside, and surrounded by an adorable wooden picket fence outside with tables and chairs for smokers and cold-bravers.

Please forgive the picture quality; it was rather dark!

Upon entering, we found a fairly empty restaurant with one local Vietnamese couple eating their supper quietly in the corner.

The extremely sweet owner then noticed us and bustled out of the kitchen, asked us to sit wherever we liked and gave us the menu.

This place is a proper husband-and-wife team effort. It is a family restaurant; the cooking is done by the wife, and the husband serves. Do not come here if you are looking for a very smart restaurant; whilst the décor is pleasant enough and the place is clean, the interior is not anything special.

The food, however, is.

To start, I ordered one of my favourite things; Vietnamese Summer Rolls, or gỏi cuốn. These were absolutely outstanding. Really fresh, perfectly at room temperature, with a generous amount of filling, juicy prawns, fresh coriander and rice vermicelli.

I also noticed the addition of tiny, weeny strips of seasoned egg in these; I have never had this in a summer roll before, but it worked beautifully!

The boys, feeling less healthy, asked for Chicken Wings and Crispy Fried Squid. Alex is really particular about his chicken wings; he pronounced these really, really good, and certainly as good as any we used to have in Asia.

Fried to a crisp and coated in just the right amount of Shrimp Paste, these came with a scattering of tine, gloriously flavoursome pieces of onion.

Yum.

The squid was just as good; searingly hot, sublimely fresh, wonderfully light and crispy, perfectly flavoured and not at all rubbery.

But it was the Pho that really stole the show, for me at least. Charles and I went for Chicken Pho (phở gà) and Alex went for Beef (phở bò).

It was, for me, perfect Pho; clean, really fresh, beautifully flavoured stock, homemade rice noodles (and the chicken is organic, which is amazing at these prices).

Alex’s beef was very good, but whilst I preferred the Thu Do Chicken Pho, Alex preferred Café East’s Beef Pho, as he said the soup was just a little better flavoured. So, there we go – one win for each restaurant.

In closing, there were three things I really loved about Thu Do.

Firstly, the food. It was genuinely – and somewhat surprisingly – fantastic.

Secondly, the atmosphere. Café East is more of a canteen-style place and I do not mind that in the slightest. But, here, it is a very personal affair; the husband and wife team seem genuinely delighted to have you in their restaurant, and the service is so attentive and sweet.

Thirdly, the price: It was amazing. The boys drank beer, I drank diet coke, we are until we were stuffed, and out bill came to, in total, £44.00. You really can’t say fairer than that.

See you tomorrow!

Love,

Jessy xxx

PS: If you go, here’s a tip: Ask for chopsticks if you prefer them, as the gentleman owner seems to usually give Westerners a spoon and fork.

PPS: We went to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy. It was awesome!

Thu Do: Scores on the Board

Food: 9/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Service: 10/10

Value: 10/10

Because they have NO INTERNET PRESENCE AT ALL – like, no reviews, no website, no nothing, not even a phone number (this is kind of cool; feels like a real hidden gem!) I thought i’d give you a map:

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Foolproof Frosting: Easy Buttercream Icing

As promised, to go with the Foolproof Basic Cupcake Recipe, here’s my recipe for easy buttercream icing.

This is the simplest way to get that lovely, light whipped cupcake frosting and it’s never gone wrong!

What you’ll need:

This quantity will yield enough to cover the quantity listed in my Basic Cupcake Recipe; approximately 12-14 standard sized cupcakes, and about 30 mini cupcakes.

100 softened butter (unsalted, if possible)

150g icing sugar

1 tablespoon hot water

1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla essence

Equipment:

A bowl

A wooden spoon or spatula

A handheld electric whisk, balloon whisk or freestanding electric mixer with whisk attachment

Step One:

Put the butter in your mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon for a minute or so until really soft.

Then, using your electric or handheld whisk, beat it for two minutes until fluffy.

Step Two:

Add your icing sugar, and whisk in carefully – you might want to give it a stir into the butter first to avoid having an icing sugar explosion in the kitchen!

Now, add the hot water and vanilla essence and whisk on high speed for at least three to four minutes – the longer you whisk it for, the lighter and fluffier your buttercream will be.

Around five minutes is ideal!

Step Three:

If you are colouring your buttercream (the example here is pale pink), add a couple of drops of natural food colouring of your choice to the mixture, and beat for another minute or so until the colour is even and thoroughly incorporated.

If you are icing your cakes immediately, your buttercream is ready to use straight away! If not, it will keep happily in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

See you tomorrow.

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

 

 

 

 

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