Mar 062013

Raymond Blanc is one of my favourite chefs to watch. I am dying to go to his restaurant in Le Manoir in  Oxfordshire.  I recently came across his tips to making cocktails on a recent trip on the Eurostar in Eurostar Magazine.

He spoke how the cocktail has  changed from 20 years with swizzle sticks and bright paper Umbrellas now the cocktail is having a revolution and I would say more of a bespoke experience.  Here are some of his tips for the next time you are making a cocktail.

- That just like great dishes that are based on contrast, created by a build up of flavours. The same applies to cocktails.

- Follow the 3 S rule for cocktails

1) Strength, or the alcohol base, you should never blend to spirits

2) Sour,usually a fruit or a fruit juice.  You should only stir a cocktail when it does not contain fruit juice, lemon juice is the exception

3) Sweet, which is liqueur or something sugary and fizzy.

He uses the classic gin and tonic as an example- the gin the strength, the tonic the sweet, and the the slice of lemon or lime the sour.

I hope this helps next time you are coming up with a cocktail concoction. I think it is important to sometimes go back to basic principals.



Mar 052013

Why in the world we don’t seem to have these bars in the US? I see them everywhere here, so simple and how can you go wrong with chocolate, marshmallows, and digestive biscuits? Almost Impossible. The British version does not have nuts, but since in the US and I am American, Rocky Road Ice Cream has nuts in it,  I decided to add peanuts. Plus I had leftover honey roasted peanuts so I thought they would make the perfect edition.

Rocky Road Bars

Rocky Road Bars

Rocky Road Bars Recipe

18 oz of milk chocolate

8 digestive biscuits broken up but not ground/graham crackers would also work (about 4-5)

150 grams or 5.2 oz of Mini Marshmallows

3/4 Cup of Honey Roasted Peanuts or a Nut of your choice

Optional you could add 1/2 cup of raisins or dried cranberries- I did not want to give these any nutritional value so mine did not have them!

8×8 inch baking dish- line the bottom with greased parchment paper.

Rocky Road Bars

Rocky Road Bars

In a Double Boiler melt the milk chocolate. Once the milk chocolate is completely melted remove from heat and let cool slightly for 2-3 minutes. Then add your ingredients and mix together with a large spoon until all the biscuits, marshmallows, and peanuts are covered. Pour the mixture into the dish and evenly spread out. Refrigerate it for 2-3 hours until the chocolate had harden. Now ready to cut and serve.

It is great to eat on its own, but I took a little with some chocolate ice-cream to make my own version of rocky road ice cream!



Feb 272013

I have been wanting to make this cake for about 5 years now. And last week decided I was going to do it. I got this cookbook years ago after a business trip to Dallas. I went to one of Steven Pyles’s  restaurants and fell in love with his corn muffins. I liked them so much I asked the restaurant for the recipe, they said I could find it in his cookbook. It was out of print but I found one. In his book I came across this cake and thought it looked so good.

Heaven and Hell Cake

Heaven and Hell Cake

I am not going to lie this cake is a little bit of work. But would be great for a large dinner party and was able to make it a day a head. Was great to have one less thing to make the day of. I had a lot of ganache left over will let you know what later what it inspired me to make:)

Angel Food Cake

1 1/3 Cup of Cake Flour

2 Cups of Confectioners; sugar

2 Cups of egg whites (about 13-14 eggs)

2 Teaspoons of cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1 1/3 Cup of Sugar

2 Teaspoons of Vanilla

1 Teaspoon of Almond Extract

Devil’s Food Cake

1/2 Cup of Cocoa Powder

1 Cup of Strong Coffee

1/3 Cup of Shortening

1 1/2 Cups of Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

2 Large Eggs

1 1/2 Cups of cake flour

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 Teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

Peanut Butter Mouse

12 oz of Cream Cheese

1 3/4 Cup of Confectioners’ sugar

2 Cups of peanut butter at room temperature

3/4 Cup of heavy cream whipped stiff


2 Cups of Cream

2 Pounds of milk Chocolate chopped.

Angel Food Cake

Cut a circle of parchment paper or waxed paper to fit the bottom of a 10-inch cake pan. Do not grease the pan or paper. Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sift together the flour and confectioners’ sugar. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Beat slow;y while adding the cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating for 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and pour the sugar into the whites by tablespoons until all is incorporated. Continue beating about 3 minutes longer. When the egg whites form stiff peaks, add the vanilla and almond extract. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sprinkle half of the powdered sugar flour mixture over the top of the egg whites and fold in with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle in the remaining sugar-flour mixture and fold in again, using a minimum number of strokes so that the egg eggs do not deflate. Gently spoon the mixture into the pan and bake for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and let cool.  Once cool, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife to make 2 layers.

Devil’s Food Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Oil and flour a 10-inch cake pan.

Sift the cocoa powder into a small mixing bowl; drizzle in the coffee while whisking to make a smooth paste. Combine the shortening, sugar, vanilla, and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes on medium speed.

Sift together the flour, slat, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Alternately add the cocoa-coffee mixture and the dry ingredients to the sugar-egg mixture; continue beating until incorporated. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, carefully slice the cake in half with a serrated knife to make 2 layers.

Peanut Butter Mousse

Whip the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and creamy.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar.  Add the peanut butter, continue beating until thoroughly incorporated and fluffy.  Transfer the mixture to another bowl.  Place the heavy cream in the electric mixer bowl and whip until stiff.  Fold the whipped cream into the peanut buter mixture.


Bring the cream to a boil in a medium saucepan  Sti in the chocolate.  Cover the pan for the chocolate to melt quickly. Once Melted, whisk the mixture to combine thoroughly.  Let cool to room temperature before frosting the cake.



Place once layer of Devil’s Food cake on a cake plate and sppon 1/3 of the peanut butter mousse on top.  Place a layer of the ANgel Food Cake on top of the mousse, then spread with another third of the Peanut Butter Mousee.  COntinue layering until you have four layers of cake and three layers of mousse.

Whisk the Ganache and spread with a spatula over the top and sides of the cake to frost generously.  Chill for at least two hours before serving.



Feb 252013

I feel these are coming back into vogue. I have always loved them and sometimes forget how simple they are to make. Seriously, it is merging the best of two worlds a brownie and chocolate chip cookies! And the best part, they are so much easier than a chocolate chip cookie since you spread the batter out into a pan and dont have to make individual cookies and wait for one sheet to be done before the other sheet goes in!

Blonde Brownies

Blonde Brownies

Chewy Blonde Brown

Heat Oven 375

1 Cup of Dark Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup of Melted Butter

1 Egg

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla extract

1 Cup of Flour

1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda

1/4 Teaspoon of Baking Powder

Pinch of Salt

1 Cup of Chocolate Chips ( I used a mixture of white chocolate and semi-sweet dark chocolate)

In a mixing bowl add the dark brown sugar and melted butter and mix until combined followed by 1 egg and vanilla and mix for about 1-2 minutes. Sift in the flour baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix on low until evenly combined and then mix in the chocolate bits.

Grease a 8×8 inch square pan and evenly spread the batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a nice light brown crust has formed on the top. Let cool slightly before serving. I think these are great to serve as dessert and could spruce up with some chocolate sauce and ice cream, as an addition to a lunch and served on own or as I made them for a care package since they pack really well!


Feb 182013

My sister is in town visiting from Boston. She wanted to go to Brussels for the day, which in theory seemed to be a good idea but ended up being one of those days where everything kind of did not go our way.What we learned- Don’t go to Brussels on Monday. Pretty much everything is closed.

Although in the end despite nothing going how we had planned when we arrived back to London tonight we all said what a great day.  We did accomplish what we wanted: Ate a waffle, Fries, and had some beer. I highly recommend trying   cherry fruit beer.


Waffles at Le Funambule

Waffles at Le Funambule

Right next to the Manneken Pis- The fountain statue of the little boy going to the bathroom who is only about 1 foot tall!

Funambule Waffles

Funambule Waffles- You might want an extra fork! Our forks kept breaking

Mary's Chocolate

Mary’s Chocolate-According to Neil’s Belgium Co-worker the best chocolate in Belgium

Beer in the Grand Place

Beer in the Grand Place

Perle Sugar

Perle Sugar

I did buy some Perle Sugar at a mini market to make Belgium waffles at home!!! Neil, though just wants to eat the sugar straight from the box. Good thing I bought 3 boxes.

A note about the Eurostar- It is all about booking in advance. Tickets go on sale 4 months in advance and unlike  airline tickets where rates can vary and sometimes you can get a last minute deal, not the case with the Eurostar. They are always cheapest  buying further out and continue to get more expensive the closer to your departure time.




Feb 142013
Parmesan Crackers

Parmesan Crackers

Now these are super simple but look like they are a lot more work. We had another couple over for dinner last night and their reaction was “forget writing a blog, start selling these!” I thought that was funny. As Valentines Day was approaching, I used cookie cutters to shape the parmesan into hearts. If you don’t want to go through that , you could easily just eye the amount and make little mounds of parmesan.

Preheat 400

Using shaved or grated Parmesan, place a mound of parmesan inside cookie cutter and make sure evenly distributed on a silpat inside a baking sheet. (See picture below) Sprinkle with a little pepper and bake until golden brown. Let cool before releasing them from the cookie cutter.

Cookie Cutters and Parmesan Cracker

Cookie Cutters and Parmesan





Feb 122013

I think ratatouille is such a great addition to a meal. Although, tonight I am using the ratatouille as a filling to Crepes. Check out tomorrow how I plan to use the leftover ratatouille as an appetizer inspired by my recent trip to San Sebastian.




4 Cups of Matchstick Pieces of Eggplant ( About a half an Eggplant)

4 Cups of Matchstick Pieces of Zucchini ( about 1 1/2 Zucchini)

2 Small Yellow Onions sliced thinly

2 Red Bell Peppers Sliced into 1/4 inch slices lengthwise

4 medium size tomatoes seeded cut in half and cut into 1/4 inch slices lengthwise

5 Cloves of Garlic Chopped

2 Bay Leaves

3 Sprigs of fresh Thyme (Remove leaves from branches)

1 Tablespoon of chopped Flat Leaf Parsley

6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

In a large pot, (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven). With 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil a 1/4 of the chopped garlic, 3 tablespoons of water sauté the onions until cooked for 5-10 minutes. Remove the onions from the dutch oven and add the eggplant and zucchini with 1/4 of the garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Remove eggplant and zucchini from pan.  Now add with 1 tablespoon and 1/4 of the garlic the peppers and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Finally add remaining ingredients and the zucchini, eggplant, onions back into the dutch oven. Mix with a spoon until all well combines and let cook with a lid on low heat for 30 minutes. Ready to serve.

This goes great inside crepes, or as a side to really any meat or fish dish, and honestly I just like to eat it on its own. Tomorrow as I mentioned I will show you something to do with the leftover inspired by my recent travels to San Sebastian.


 Posted by at 5:01 pm
Feb 122013
Original Magic Cakes by Konditor & Cook

Original Magic Cakes by Konditor & Cook

Today, I was walking through, The Selfridges Food Hall, and I came across these little cakes. Tomorrow night we are having friends over for dinner. I said I would cook if they would provide some help to me on something else. Anyways, I thought these would be a perfect treat to have at the end of dinner.

They are called the Original Magic Cakes made by Konditor & Cook. The fabulous Sparkle Heart Shaped plates were purchased from Target a few years ago!

Feb 072013

In England it is tradition on your birthday to bring the cake or the cupcakes. So as my birthday approaches, Saturday, I thought I would make some special cupcakes. I am headed to San Sebastian, Spain for the weekend with a few friends and thought using the Bueno Bar in my cupcake would be a great idea. Since Nutella is one of my favorite things ever, what a better way to top my birthday cupcakes!

Bueno Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

Bueno Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting


1 1/2 Cup of Sugar (Separated out 1 Cup and 1/2 Cup)

3 Egg White

1 1/2 Cup of Flour

1 Teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon of Salt

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

6 Tablespoons of Butter

2/3 Cup of Whole Milk

16 Bueno Bars

Nutella Frosting

Preheat Oven to 350

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and  1 Cup of sugar until light and fluffy about 3 Minutes. Add in the vanilla, once the vanilla is combined alternate with dry ingredients (Flour, Salt and Baking Soda) and the milk.

In a Separate bowl, whip the egg whites, once foam forms slowly add in the remaining 1/2 Cup of sugar and continue mixing until peaks form. At this point fold in egg white mixture in 1/4 batches into the other batter.

Bueno Bars at Bottom of Cupcake

Bueno Bars at Bottom of Cupcake

Prepare the Cupcake liners, place two pieces of the Bueno bar at the bottom of each liner and then spoon the batter on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool completely before frosting. Top each cupcake with half of a Bueno Bar.

Happy Birthday to Me!



Jan 172013
Whole Roasted Sea Bass

Whole Roasted Sea Bass

Now the main course was going to have to be Fish. Since the trainer’s diet pretty much consists of only eating fish. When I was buying Monk fish earlier in the week, I started talking to a women who was buying whole Sea Bass for a dinner and she sold me on its simplicity. In terms of a main dish, this could not have been any simpler as a main dish.

Selfridges Fish Market

Selfridges Fish Market

Preheat Oven 375

My fish was 1.2 Kilograms.

In a large baking dish, I place 3 fresh springs of Rosemary, 1 and 1/2 Lemons Slices, 1 Cup of mini plum tomatoes cut in half, 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, 5 garlic cloves sliced,  1 red onion slices, and 1 Cup of white Wine. Cut about 3-4 slices on one side of the fish and place on top of all the seasonings. Drizzle with a handsome amount of Olive Oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes and done!


Whole Sea Bass & Seasonings

Whole Sea Bass & Seasonings