London Day Two

On Sunday morning we got up a little late since we had been to the Kensington Roof Gardens the night before. It’s an amazing place, imagine a rooftop garden with a flowing streem with fishes and flamingos, lots of colourful flowers and trees and oriental lounges. Unfortunately it was raining that night and we could not really enjoy the gardens but had a lot of fun anyways. http://www.roofgardens.virgin.com/

So on Sunday morning we wanted to explore the area of Marylebone and walked from our B&B in Notting Hill to Marble Arch and then headed for Marylebone High Street. The sun was shining and warming us up and I was very excited for breakfast at “La Fromagerie”. It was very easy to find and the café was simply stunning. In the entrance there were fruit and vegetable stalls and inside shelves full of homemade jams, honeys, chutneys, flours, and counters full of bread, pastries, granolas and so on. And of course there was the (seperate) Cheese Room with an overwhelmingly big range of soft and hard cheeses. After we were seated (we had to wait a little), I ordered a cappuccino and the “Boiled Egg with Soldiers” which came with butter and sea salt flakes on the side. My friend had a “Pain aux Raisins” and the “Breakfast Pot” with granola, yoghurt and fruit compot. Everything was just perfect. Even if I am usually more of a sweet breakfast eater, I liked the combination of the granary bread with butter and sea salt flakes so much that I ordered more bread. The staff was also very lovely and we enjoyed our breakfast a lot. http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/tasting-cafe/

Breakfast at La Fromagerie

Next stop was Marylebone Farmers’ Market just around the corner. I was again amazed at the beautiful range of produce. I think I liked it even a little more than Notting Hill Farmers’ Market but to be fair we had arrived there quite late. One of the things I loved most were the colourful apple/fruit juices at “Chegworth Valley Juices”, the pepper crusted goat cheeses and the cheesecakes at “Windrush Valley Goat Dairy” and the beautiful vegetables at “Akiki Organics”. I just wished I were able to cook with all those beautiful ingredients. http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/marylebone/

Chegworth Valley Juices

Windrush Valley Goat Dairy

After that we were ready to get to know Marylebone a little better and went up Marylebone High Street further. It is a beautiful area, great for shopping (you can find stores like “Skandium”, “Le Creuset”, “The White Company”, …), eating and if you walk up the street all the way you reach Regent’s Park, a great place for a picknick or to simply have a rest (which we visited on another day). I also stumbled upon a bookstore called “Daunt Books” that I loved (it also had a wide range of cookbooks in stock 🙂 ). http://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/

The Village of Marylebone has a great website with all the restaurants and shops that is really worth visiting: http://www.marylebonevillage.com/en/marylebone-village/index.cfm

London Day One

We arrived in London early in the morning and headed straight for our Bed and Breakfast to drop off our luggage. Our B&B was just around the corner of Notting Hill Gate tube station and since Notting Hill is one of my favorite areas in London, the location was just perfect. When we entered the road, we knew that we had chosen the right place. The houses looked just as lovely as we had imagined, it was calm yet animate with a restaurant just beside our B&B and cheerful people on the streets. The B&B itself was also great and our host, Hilary charming and very helpful. We did not have breakfast at her place (I asked for a room without breakfast since I had so many places on my list and we were given a discounted rate), but we had a kettle in our room to make tea (Clipper!) and coffee and there was a fruit basket and cookies. Our en-suite bathroom was huge which we loved. Hilary even made our bed and brought us fresh towels once. I cannot recommend her B&B highly enough! http://www.26hillgateplace.co.uk/

Right after dropping off our luggage, we went to the Notting Hill Famers’ Market around the corner and boy, it was beautiful. I would love to show you a few pictures but I was just too hungry and forgot to take pictures once I held that glorious food in my hands. I tried Irish Soda bread for the first time at the stall of Celtic Bakers and happened to love it! I bought half a loaf of it and had it with amazing tomatos from The Tomato Stall. Everything else looked great as well and if you happen to be in London on a Saturday, you should definitely go there. http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/notting-hill/

With satisfied bellies we went on to Portobello Road Market since my friend had never been there before. The market takes places on Saturdays as well and happens to be very crowded and touristy on that day but is something you have to see once even if I prefer the area on other days.

On the way to Borough Market

And on we went to the next market… 🙂 Borough Market that is. I went there for the first time and simply loved the place, even if it was quite crowded and touristy as well. I would recommend to go early in the morning though. I was one happy girl when I spotted “Monmouth Coffee Company” but then I saw the huge queue in front and we decided that we had to postpone our visit since we both needed a coffee badly. Before leaving the market, we went for a quick visit of “Neal’s Yard Dairy”, “Gelateria 3Bis” and “Aesop”, all around the corner of “Monmouth Coffee Company” and places that are not to be missed. http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

Long queues in front of “Monmouth”

I had another place in mind that was said to have great coffee but was not really sure how far away it was. We decided to walk anyways and took the “Thames Path” (http://www.thames-path.org.uk/) which was lovely and very peaceful but took us longer than I had tought. In the end we were rewarded with great coffee at a great place, Fernandez and Wells at Somerset House. Somerset House is one of my favourite buildings in London and it has great expositions and free guided tours. Just make sure you get there ahead of time since the tours are often booked up. If you do so, you should spend your waiting time at “Fernandez and Wells”, have a great coffee and enjoy some of their pastries. I had a slice of gluten-free/dairy-free clementine and chocolate cake and it was amazing. http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/ http://fernandezandwells.com/somerset-house.php

Cakes at Fernandez and Wells

Then happened what had to happen in London. 🙂 The rain started to pour down. Luckily we were still inside the cafe and were able to wait until the worst had passed. After some time we decided to leave though, even if it still rained quite heavily and we arrived at our B&B with soaking wet feet. Just make sure you always (!) put on waterproof shoes in London and don’t let the blue skies in the morning fool you!

London Love

Last Wednesday I returned home from a five day trip to London. It was my third visit to London and I seem to fall in love more with this city each time I visit. There is barely anything about the place that does not make my heart burst with joy, from the friendly and helpful Londoners to the stunning streets and buildings to the great atmosphere and (of course) the wide range of amazing food.

I love to plan my journeys and read a lot about the places I want to visit because that way I can get more out of it and besides it somehow prolongs my holiday as I am able to travel to the place before I am actually physically there. And restaurants and other eating places obviously have a big share in my holiday planning. I know it can be just as nice and I do love the spontaneity of incidentally stumbling upon a lovely place but to me there is also a lot to the anticipation when it comes to travelling.

For now I leave you with a few first impressions but I will be back soon with more pictures and details about the places I visited and the great food I enjoyed.

Next to Portobello Road Market

Long queues in front of Monmouth Coffee Company at Borough Market

Amazing cakes at Fernandez and Wells in Somerset House

Marylebone Farmers’ Market

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Cider at The Elk in the Woods

Notting Hill

Bocconcini di Gelato

I have already mentioned on here how much I love ice cream. Ashley from “Not Without Salt” seems to love it just as much which is one of the reasons why I like her blog so much. As she says, “when given the choice, I will always choose ice cream”. A few weeks ago she shared a lovely video where she prepares dinner for a date night with her husband.  I could now go on telling you how incredibly beautiful the video is and how many times I have watched it but you should better take a look yourself. There is salsa and guacamole for tacos and then there is, of course, ice cream for dessert. Ashley melts chocolate with coconut oil and spoons it over scoops of ice cream to make “Little Bombes”. I have had such “Little Bombes” various times at Italian restaurants where they are called “Bocconcini”, but never thought of making them myself. Until Ashley posted her recipe. At that time I still had a long list of ice creams I wanted to try, including one of Ashley’s creations, which I have made several times to make affogatos or to serve with grilled peaches and apricots. This weekend was probably the hottest so far this summer here in Switzerland with temperatures rising to 35° C (95° F) and as I still had a batch of said ice cream in the freezer, I decided to finally give the “Little Bombes” a go.

Little Bombes/ Bocconcini di Gelato (measurements slightly adapted from Not Without Salt by Ashley Rodriguez, who adapted it from Jeni Britton Bauer via Bon Appetit June ′12)

  • Ice cream*
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • pinch salt

Topping suggestions (optional)**:

  • cinnamon
  • lime, lemon or orange zest
  • ground coffee
  • cocoa nibs
  • coconut
  • sprinkles
  • flake salt
  • candied ginger
  • turbinado sugar
  1. Scoop some ice cream onto a cold plate (or several cold plates), then place in the freezer until ready to dip (I used a mini-scoop and needed 24 mini-scoops for the amount of chocolate. If you have a larger scoop, 10-12 scoops should be enough).
  2. Melt chocolate und coconut oil in a (little) double-boiler (or as Ashley suggests in the microwave in intervals of 30 seconds stirring between each).
  3. Once melted remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  4. With a scoop of ice cream on a fork spoon the melted chocolate over the ice cream. Using another fork gently slide the chocolate covered scoop of ice cream onto a plate and sprinkle with any number of toppings (if using). Work in small batches and quickly return ice cream to the freezer. Let set for at least 10 minutes before serving. This can also be done several days in advance.

* I suggest you use this ice cream, it goes perfect with the chocolate, is really easy and requires very little time, as you don’t need to “put the base in the fridge for at least two hours or preferably overnight”, as with most ice cream bases (I used maple instead of brown rice sirup, because that was what I had on hand). It is not very creamy though which I liked with the hot temperatures but you can use regular vanille ice cream (or any other) if you prefer something creamier.

** I did not use any toppings this time (because I was afraid I would not be able to work fast enough and the ice cream would melt, as I was making the Bombes for the first time) and the Bombes were delicious anyways but if you have enough time or someone to help you, you should use the toppings Ashley suggests. I will definitely try them next time.

Ice cream is scooped onto a cold plate and returned to the freezer.

Bittersweet chocolate and coconut oil…

… melted in a double-boiler

Ice cream is taken out of the freezer and…

…chocolate is spooned over the scoops.

Birthday Cake

It’s my godmother’s birthday today and I am proud to say that I am her personal Birthday Cake supplier. 🙂 A few years ago I surprised her with a birthday cake at work and since she was very busy that day and hadn’t had the time to bake a cake herself, she got very exited about my surprise. The following day she even told me that she had liked the cake so much, she had eaten almost half of it for dessert and I was one happy girl! That’s how a little tradition was born.

Today I am making her the same cake I baked, when I surprised her for the first time. It is a recipe out of my first cookbook, called “The Return Of The Naked Chef” by Jamie Oliver which I got when I was around 15 (that was around 6 years ago…!) and I still use it a lot. I used it to make homemade pasta for the first time on my own which I still remember oh so well. Everything took so much more time than I had thought and in the end we had dinner almost an hour later than what I had told my family. Luckily they were very understanding and patient.

But back to the cake. It is simply called “Party Cake” and really just perfect for Birthday Partys in my book, especially in summer. A simple chocolate layer cake filled with whipped cream and berries, topped with a chocolate glace. Yum.

Two layers of light chocolate cake

Here comes my favourite part: Whipped cream is spread onto the base layer. Don’t you just love the texture of whipped cream?!

Now take a look at these beauties. Put a few into your mouth. Add the rest onto the whipped cream.

Glaze top layer with chocolate. Watch the chocolate drizzle down the berries…

Finished Birthday Cake. Deeelicious.

Party Cake (slightly adapted from “The Return Of The Naked Chef” by Jamie Oliver)

  • 3 heaped tbsp cacao powder
  • 200 g (7 oz) butter
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) raw sugar
  • 3 large eggs (preferably free-range, organic)
  • 200 g (1.6 cups) spelt flour (light or half light, half whole)
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 large handful flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp sherry (optional)
  • 200 ml (4/5 cup) whipping cream
  • 2 large handfuls berries (I used raspberries and blueberries)

Chocolate glaze:

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) butter
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) good-quality dark chocolate/couverture
  • 100 g (7/8 cup)  powdered sugar
  1. Line two 20-cm/8-inch spring form cake tins with parchment paper and grease sides. Set aside.
  2. Combine cacao powder with 4 tbsp of boiling water (in a little cup) und mix until smooth.
  3. Combine butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Add cacao mix, eggs and flour, mixed with baking powder, and stir thoroughly until smooth. Add flaked almonds and fold in.
  4. Preheat oven to 180º C/350º F.
  5. Divide the batter between the two cake tins and smooth out. Bake for about 25 min or until baked all through (check with a skewer). Let cool completely, then remove from cake tins.
  6. Whip cool whipping cream. Put base layer onto a serving plate (You can add a few lines of parchment paper around the sides to keep the serving plate clean). Drizzle base layer with sherry to your liking. Cover with whipped cream and add berries on top. Cover with top layer, press down and remove any excess cream (I like to add more cream in the centre, that way it stays more “inside”). Put into fridge.
  7. Melt butter, chocolate and sugar in a double-boiler. Stir well and let cool slightly (3-5 min).
  8. Drizzle chocolate glaze evenly over cake. Remove parchment paper lines if you used them. Put cake into the fridge to allow the glaze to firm up slightly.
  9. Let the party begin!

Chocolate-Apricot Clafoutis Cakes with Honey Drizzle

I found out about the “Turntable Kitchen” quite some time ago when someone featured the video to their first “Pairings Box” on their blog (I don’t remember which blog it was…). I loved the idea and wanted to subscribe immediately until I found out that the box wasn’t available overseas…

After that I somehow lost track of the blog and only came across it again a few weeks ago when I clicked on a link to one of their recipes. And again I couldn’t help but spending hours on the blog, drooling over recipes, looking at beautiful pictures and listening to good music. One of the recipes that particularly aroused my interest was one that featured apricots as apricots are among my favourite summer fruits. But they were not yet in season at the time… So I had to wait. Apricots are now in season and after having eaten a whole lot on its own, I grilled a few and enjoyed my mum’s compot for breakfast (with ice cream, one that is perfectly acceptable for breakfast, more about this in another post). Then I came across this recipe again yesterday and as we still had a few apricots, I decided to make it today. Here’s what I did:

Wet and dry ingredients are mixed separately

Wet ingredients are stirred into dry ingredients and mixed until a smooth batter forms

Dark chocolate chunks make their way into the batter…

The batter is poured into 6 well buttered muffin cups and topped off with an apricot half… and in the oven they go!

Nicely puffed after 25 minutes of baking

Ready to be devoured…

When I decided to make these little gems, I had an idea that were going to be really delicious… But when I took the first bite, I was sold. Imagine juicy jam-like apricots with melty chocolate… Heaven. Now hop over to the Turntable Kitchen and make these!

Notes:

  • I used whole spelt four instead of all-purpose as I like its deep flavour paired with dark chocolate.
  • I reduced the amount of sugar and used Sucanat. Since honey is drizzled on top of the cakes prior to serving, 2 tablespoons of sugar made for enough sweetness in my opinion.

Cherry Swirl Ice Cream

Ice Cream has always been my favorite treat. So it was only natural for me to start my blog with an ice cream recipe. I guess that one of the reasons why I love ice cream so much is that it was one of the only sweets that were allowed in our house when I was a child. When other kids were given cookies or cake in the afternoon, my brother and I had apple slices or carrot sticks with a slice of bread. But during summer and especially on holidays we were given an ice cream/frozen yoghurt once in a while, which was the ultimate treat! Later on my parents bought an ice cream machine and we made our own ice cream during summer or on special occasions. I loved helping with the mixing of the ingredients and watching the ice cream churn. At some point I started to make it by myself and now I am obsessed with making ice cream and use our machine almost weekly during summer.

Last year the German edition of the “Jamie Oliver Magazine” was released and when my mum bought the summer issue, we fell in love with the cherry recipes that were included. We made the Cherry Ice Cream first and it was a total winner! We remade it several times and when I saw the first cherries this year I knew what I was going to make with them. If you have cherries on hand, I would highly suggest you go make this ice cream right now!

Scoop topped with cherry coulis

Best enjoyed outside!

Cherry Swirl Ice Cream (adapted from Jamie Magazin)

  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 50 g natural cane sugar (I used Sucanat)
  • 300 ml crème double/double cream
  • 250 g cherries, pitted
  • 45 ml kirsch
  1. In a medium saucepan whisk cream, milk and vanilla seeds until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. With an electric beater beat eggs yolks and sugar together until thick and light coloured (about 5 minutes).
  3. Pour the hot cream/milk mixture into the yolk mixture and whisk well (this works best if you have someone help you pouring the hot mixture in).
  4. Return mixture to the saucepan, cook on low heat and stir often, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool down to room temperature. Then put into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Add crème double and put again into the fridge.
  6. Cook the pitted cherries with kirsch until soft. Puree in a blender. Allow to cool down and put into the fridge.
  7. Put the ice cream mixture into your ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions until the mixture is quite thick, then add a few spoonfuls of the cherry coulis (around half of the coulis) and continue churning until you can see a nice swirl. Return leftover coulis to the fridge.
  8. Transfer ice cream to a storage container and put into the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours.
  9. If the ice cream has been left in the freezer for more than 4 hours, put it into the fridge 15 minutes prior to serving. Scoop the ice cream and add some coulis on top.
  10. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If you cannot find crème double, I read that you can substitute half mascarpone/half whipping cream.
  • Jamie used 125 g of sugar in his recipe, I used only 50 g because I like my sweets quite tart. You might have to add more if you prefer yours on the sweeter side.