Friday, 25 February 2011

Food News: Bubble Tea

From Whoopie pies to frozen yoghurt, us fickle Londoners are a sucker for fleeting food trends.
The latest to arrive on the scene is that of Bubble Tea.

Originating from Taiwan and commonly found on the streets of Xi'an, tiny shops in Shanghai and many a booth in Beijing, Bubble Tea is a cold drink made from black tea and plenty of frothed milk (hence 'bubble' tea). The exciting bit- balls of tapioca that float in the bottom of each glass, often referred to as pearls.
In America, it is referred to as Boba tea. 'Boba' originating from the Taiwanese for 'big breasts'. Naturally.

The milk tea is often mixed with fruit or fruit syrup, but my personal favourite is peanut bubble tea. Honestly- peanut milkshake- it's amazing.

I had heard rumours of bubble tea's arrival on the food fashion horizon, but this was cemented when I spotted a new little cafe in the West End selling exclusively bubble tea and oriental snacks.

For a more genuine experience, try the Jen Cafe in the heart of China Town (4-8 Newport Place). With the air scented with authentic Chinese food served up on plastic plates, the Bubble Tea menu is extensive and authentic. They also sell my favourite- peanut tea!
Alternatively you could try Baoxi Inn, within spitting distance (Aptly, for China Town...) of Jen Cafe.
Candy Cafe (3, Macclesfield Street) is another new bubble tea shop ("Live the bubbly life!); bright, breezy, student friendly and cheap.
HK Diner on Wardour Street is irresistible- it's popularity amongst ex pats is reassuring and its sesame pearl tea is tempting. If that wasn't enough to lure you into one of my favourite food districts, it also does alcoholic pearl teas.

I for one now have a massive craving for Bubble tea... so check back soon- there may well be photos and reviews !


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Porridge of the Week 26


Porridge of the Week 26
Karolina's Healthy Porridge- with caramelised banana

Category: Healthy
Cook the porridge as normal by mixing Scottish oats with oat bran (50:50) and pinch of salt and milk. Add about 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon and 2 tbsp of dried exotic fruits (pineapple, coconut, papaya, mango, etc. I also prepared caramelised banana. To make it heat a pan with 2 tbsp caster sugar, drop of vanilla essence and tbsp water. Leave it to bubble until dark amber in colour. Add sliced banana, toss it until covered in caramel and add tbsp of butter. Fry for another minute or so. Remove from the heat and place on the top of the porridge.

Thankyou so much to Karolina, the author of the Senses in the Kitchen blog, forsending me this great recipe- and for the amazing photos. I love it when people send me content, especially when it's new porridge ideas! I always welcome content, so feel free to send me anything of interest to
Okay, so there's a bit of sugar and butter in this porridge... But the oat bran and fruits more than make up for it. I love the sound of caramelised banana, so I'm really keen to give this a go. Karolina's blog is full of really gorgeous recipes, and equally gorgeous photography. I get serious envy (and hunger pangs...) when I check it out. You should go take a look- her blog is

Karolina- thankyou thankyou thankyou !

Karolina says...
"This is a porridge that I cooked last weekend, improvising little bit and trying not to waste last sad, rather dark and soft banana.t seems like a great winter porridge for cold day, when I can't get decent fresh berries (my favourite ones for porridge). I am not a big fan of bananas but I found it very tasty."


Monday, 14 February 2011



Smoked mackerel with broad beans and pancetta

This little dish has already made its debut on LouLovesFood. But its good, and i like the photo- so I'm putting it up again. try it.

Food Fact of the Day.


It's Valentines Day and I can only imagine that sales of chocolate are going through the roof...


~ The cocoa tree was so valuable, it's seeds were once used as currency. The price of a slave was 100 beans and the price of a woman's services would be worth 10- the same price as a rabbit.

~ Theobroma Cocoa, the name of the cocoa tree (and the beautiful chocolate company!) means 'food of the gods'.

~ The Aztec name for chocolate was xocolatl, meaning bitter water.

~ Pope Pius V thought chocolate was so disgusting that there was no need to ban it during Lent...


Monday, 7 February 2011

Dinner: 05.02.2011


Time for friday dinner again! This meal, I - don't quite- hasten to add (if only I had- it was rockin...)was not made by me! Sadly a late evening at work kept me away from the kitchen...

It starts with one fillet of cod, seasoned only with salt and pepper and a salad of grilled Jeruselum artichoke, watercress and roasted hazelnut. What i love most about this combination is that they are both so simple and easy. There are minimal ingredients but it needed literally nothing more.

The soup is leek and chickpea, drizzled with olive oil. And these we had with my new favourite thing- yoghurt flatbreads!


Sunday, 6 February 2011

How to: make Corn Dogs !

Like Salt Water Taffy and Tootsie rolls, Corn Dogs were a distinctly American phenomenon that I was familiar with through sit coms and movies without really having any idea what they were.
Until I worked with the Robin Collective on their Last Legs Vetinary Society event, they hardly crossed my thoughts, and when they did, they were regarded with suspicion and distaste in their unfamiliarity, tinged with contempt.
Yet, when asked if i knew how to make them and if I could cook them en masse for the Last Legs party, I did what I had to do. I lied through my teeth and scuttled home to research.

I found that corn dogs are in fact, bizarrely, polenta battered frankfurters. I compared recipes, sourced ingredients, and gave them a go...
They were surprisingly easy to make, and distressingly good. They went down a storm, and rather like discovering the secret underground porridge fan base, I discovered that it isn't just our friends across the pond that go wild for these weird little snacks on sticks.

So here is how you too can make your own corn dogs. They're fun for casual parties, and especially good for events like Bonfire Night. Give them a go and see if you too can be converted...

Corn Dog Recipe

As corn dogs are an American thing, I've done this in cups- not imperial. This batter makes quite a large quantity of corn dogs.

A pack of frankfurters
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. cornmeal (this threw me at first... Cornmeal is just yellow polenta though. You probably knew that... But I didn't even know what a corn dog was before I made one...)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 teaspoons of dried mustard powder
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
Some recipes call for added flavourings such as a teaspoon of chilli. I like to spice it up a bit. Don't forget the mustard powder as this really makes it!

Mix together all the dry ingredients.
Stir in the egg and the milk and mix well until the polenta has reached a thick smooth consistency.
If you don't have a deep fat fryer, I just filled a deep frying pan with oil and heated it on the stove. Once the oil was hot I used toothpicks to dip the corn dogs into the batter, then (carefully!) dropped into the oil.
They turn golden in less than a minute, so keep an eye on them- you may need to turn them over (forks not fingers please!) and as soon as they look done, take them out with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper.

You have yourself a corn dog! Awesome!
If there are any American folk out there who have a variation or improvement on the recipe, please get in touch!


Friday, 4 February 2011

Food Fact of the Day...

Recently I've been going mental for popcorn! Which is kind of awesome that I've discovered this fact...

Popcorn is actually a superfood. Super low calorie, it is also anti carconogenic and just 30g - that's half a small box of popcorn in the cinema - is equivalent to one daily portion of brown rice or wholewheat pasta. Popcorn also contains three times more fibre by weight than sunflower seeds, as well as balancing your blood sugar levels and helping to lower cholesterol. It even has a dose of B vitamins to boost your energy levels. Rad.

So eat up!


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Dinner !

Friday night, a friend of mine and I finally pried gaps in our ridiculous schedules to get together to do what we both love to do. Food geek out!
Aaron had planned to have dinner ready for when I arrived, but, as usual, chatting and flicking through cookbooks took priority, so dinner was a late one- giving me the opportunity to get involved.
Here are the recipes we tried- three courses, for old times sake.

Gordon Ramsay's smoked duck breast salad with pomegranate vinaigrette

He's much more relaxed with throwing things together these days (under my reproachful gaze) but he's still a recipe slut... And I'm kinda glad of it. This was possibly my favourite dish of the meal and I would never have discovered it otherwise. I sometimes think I should try out recipes a bit more often and expand my repertoire.
The smoked duck is so beautiful- really rich and strong against the salad and the sweet freshness of the pomegranates. I also loved the toasted flaked almonds.
The vinaigrette was made with pomegranate molasses (worth investing in if you like your Middle eastern cooking, or if you're a fan of Ottolenghi!) Dijon mustard, Olive Oil and groundnut oil.
The salad leaf contained chicory, for crunch. I've been loving Chinese lettuce in salads recently for that purpose, but chicory also adds a slight delicate aniseed flavour.

Tiger prawns, scallops and clams with tomato and feta

This dish contains some of my favourite ingredients- scallops and tiger prawns. With the fresh spring onion and tomato sauce, this is a really comforting rustic dish. A new favourite! We served it with yoghurt flatbreads- and I cannot recommend this enough. Like the smoked duck, that was one of my favourite parts of the meal, I can't wait to do them again!
They were really simple to make, and if you eat them cold, the yoghurt really comes though.
I'm so into these, I had to share the recipe!

Yoghurt flatbread
140g wholemeal flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
140g Greek yoghurt
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 tbsp clarified butter (or a mixture of melted butter and vegetable oil)

Combine all the ingredients, apart from the butter, in a bowl and use your hands to mix them together to a dry dough; add more flour if needed. Knead the dough for a minute or so, until it is smooth and uniform. Wrap it in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
When ready to make the flatbreads, divide your dough into six pieces. Roll into balls, then flatten them with a rolling pin into round discs about 2mm thick. Heat some clarified butter in a non-stick pan and fry the flatbreads, one at a time, on a medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Add more butter as you need it and keep the flatbreads warm as they are cooked.
Pudding was Gizzi's spiced pear and chocolate souffle with salted caramel sauce
The spiced pears were poached in orange zest, white wine, honey, vanilla and a mix of spices- Cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. if you do this, please please save the juices after! The smell is amazing and has so many possibilities.
The salted caramel sauce was another buzz word for me. I cannot resist anything with salted caramel...

Give one of these a go sometime soon!