Saturday, 30 March 2013

Babylon, Kensington Roof Gardens.

For the last part of my 21st my friends from home and I went to Babylon at Kensington Roof Gardens, just off the high street on Monday evening.
I had been here once before in the summer and it was gorgeous we sat outside on the balcony and had a delicious lunch, so I booked it for my birthday hoping that it would be like last year and the weather would be nice... I was wrong. It was freezing so we gave the gardens a miss. But they have flamingos and different themed gardens. A really nice addition to the restaurant.

To start with we had cocktails in the bar area, while we waited for the other taxi to arrive.
These ones below are vanilla passion, a mix of vanilla vodka, passion fruit and citrus flavours. Drink these and forget about the weather!

Everyone else had these babies! Tudor crush, I had it in the summer when I went so recommended it to my friends. It is a dangerous mix of berries and gin, I could drink a few of these no problem.

While ordering bread is put on the table and there is a great variety and it is all lovely and warm, They also topped up the bread which I thought was a nice touch. Some of the breads on offer included an onion bread, sough dough, potato bread and a wholemeal one. 

To start most of my friends had risotto. It was garlicky! The smell when the all arrived was very strong. Soo this one is for garlic lovers only!

I had goat's cheese that had been fried, served with beetroot and apple. It was delicious I love goat's cheese!

For mains two of my friends got the beef and I was very jealous it looked so comforting! really creamy mash and beef that you could pull apart served with spring baby veg.

I had the halibut and so did most of the girls. I switched the rice that was meant to come with it for the baby veg as I thought I would get too full otherwise and my dress was already a little snug. The black on the plate was squid ink as the pasta had squid in it and I really liked the idea of brushing it on the plate. It was a nice thick piece of halibut cooked perfectly.

For dessert I had this below, I chose wrong I didn't like it. I'll  be honest no one liked it. The waitress described it as apricot panna cotta with lime cream on a milk chocolate base oh and it had peanuts in between the apricot cream and the sponge... Lime and apricot in my opinion after eating this, defiantly don't go together! They also don't go with peanuts either. 

This however was delicious, however they called it hazelnut sponge in the middle. Well it was not sponge but it was a hazelnut mouse with very, very thin bits of sponge in the middle and a lovely chocolate sauce on the top!  

After we had finished our meal the waitress brought out a plate with a cone of ice cream and a candle in it with happy birthday on the plate. The cone also comes with the hazelnut sponge, yum. 
Overall I will defiantly go back to the restaurant, but I would say it is more of a summertime venue. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Hot Cross Bun Plaited Loaf.

The Easter weekend is nearly upon us if the creme egg cupcakes  weren't your thing and you prefer something more traditional this is a great option. It is the idea of a hot cross bun but in a plaited loaf, this makes the mix serve more people as it is sliced and it also makes it a lot easier to put in the toaster, if that's how you like it. It's the way it's done in my family along with copious amounts of butter and maybe some extra apricot jam!

For one loaf you will need:
500g strong white flour,
300ml whole milk,
75g caster sugar,
Pinch of salt,
Yeast sachet or 7g dried yeast,
 50g salted butter,
1 egg,
150g sultanas,
1 orange zested and juiced.
2 tsp ground cinnamon,

2 big spoons of apricot jam for the glaze,
Flour for kneading the bread on a surface.

Begin by bringing the milk to the boil. While doing this weigh out the dry ingredients.

Once the milk has boiled leave to one side so it is warm when you need to use it. 

Weigh out and put in a bowl the flour, yeast, sugar and salt.

Add the egg beaten.

And then the butter cubed and softened.

Mix this together roughly. Then begin to add the milk. Add the milk in 3 stages.

The dough should be very wet and be starting to come together.

Add the orange juice and the zest. Then add the sultanas and the cinnamon. 

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead until it forms a more uniformed dough. This will take 5ish minutes.

Place the dough in a bowl. Place cling film over it or like the fabulous baker brothers do, and now I do, use a shower cap that you nabbed from a hotel.

Leave somewhere warm for an hour.

By then the dough will have doubled in size.

Tip it out onto a floured surface knead again for about 5 minutes.

Get a large baking tray. Cover the baking tray with baking paper. Tack it to the tray using some leftover butter.

Shape the dough into a long shape so you can divide it into three.

Roll these out into three long sausages about a normal sausage in thickness. Then plait these and place on a baking tray.

Once on the tray you can tuck the ends of the plait and bunch the plait together a bit to make it more of a chunky loaf. Leave somewhere warm for 45 mins and then put in the oven for 20 minutes at 200. 

Once out of the oven place on a cooling tray while you make the glaze.

Put a couple of big spoonfuls of jam into a microwaveable bowl or jug and place in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Maybe another 15 seconds after that if it needs it.

Then sieve the jam to remove any lumps. 

Use a pastry brush and brush the jam onto the loaf.

It makes the loaf look amazing as well as making it deliciously sticky.

And that is that. The taste of hot cross buns in a loaf. Great for Easter weekend mornings or with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
If there are leftovers you could make a bread and butter pudding out of the leftover slices. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Chicken, Bacon and Pea Risotto.

Risotto is one of those things that is so handy to keep in the cupboard as it is such a great way to use leftovers. This is what this recipe is. Just leftover chicken from a Sunday lunch and bacon from weekend bacon sandwiches.

For this you will need to feed two hungry people:
140g arborio risotto rice, 
1 chicken or veg stock cube,
2 rashers of bacon fat trimmed off and chopped,
150g frozen peas, 
100g ish of chicken,
500ml boiling water,
large handful of grated cheese if you want. 
First chop and fry the bacon in the pan until crisp. Once crisp put to one side. 

Chop up the stock cube so it dissolves easily into the boiling water. Put the stock cube in the jug and pour the water over the cube fill the jug and stir until the cube dissolves. 

Put the rice in the pan you used for the bacon and use the leftover oil from the bacon as this has the bacon flavour already. Stir and coat the rice in the oil for one minute. 

Add the stock little and often and stir continuously. 

Tear the chicken up into bite sized chunks

Add more stock and keep stirring! 

Measure out the peas ready to add to the rice. 

Grate and add the cheese, keep stirring! 

Add the peas, chicken and bacon. Stir! 

Cook for a further 5 mins to heat everything through. 

Then it is ready to serve. The ingredients in this are totally interchangeable to whatever your leftovers are, as well as making them go further.