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Monday, 25 April 2016

Devilishly Delicious Brownie Recipe -- Bake with Ariel





As a self-confessed chocoholic I love nothing more than a good chocolate filled dessert and brownies certainly fulfil that criteria for me.

After years of trying to create the ultimate brownie mixture I have finally achieved my perfect foolproof brownie. These brownies are just simply delicious and the best thing about this recipe is that it is so easy!


Cooking Equipment:
·         2 large mixing bowls
·         Small pan
·         Whisk (an electric whisk will definitely speed things up)
·         Spatula
·         Baking tray roughly 9.5 by 9.5 inches and at least 2 inches deep
·         Grease proof paper


Ingredients:
·         125g of white castor sugar
·         125g of light brown soft sugar
·         4 eggs
·         75g of dark coco power (I used Cadbury’s Bourneville cocoa)
·         100g of dark chocolate
·         180g of unsalted butter
·         60g of pain flour
·         200g of your favourite chocolate. I have used 100g of white and 100g of milk. Galaxy caramel works amazingly and gives you a delicious caramel brownie.
·         Teaspoon Vanilla extract


Method:
1.       Grease and line your tin with grease proof paper and preheat your oven to 175°c or gas mark 4.

2.       Separate the egg yolks and egg whites into two separate mixing bowls.

3.       Whisk the egg whites and white castor sugar together until the mixture forms stiff peaks like when making meringue.

The egg whites and sugar should combine to create a firm glossy finish, if yours don't just keep whisking and it will eventually!

4.       In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and light brown soft sugar together until completely combined.

5.       Melt the butter, 100g of dark chocolate and coco power together over a low heat ensuring the mixture doesn’t boil. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

6.       Using the spatula thoroughly fold in the butter mixture, the egg yolk mixture and the vanilla extract into the mixing bowl with the egg whites. Make sure to not whisk at this point or valuable air will be lost.

7.       Break up your chosen 200g of chocolate and place on the baking tray.

Readers tip -- Placing your chocolate pieces on the tray rather than mixing through the batter gives a very even distribution of chocolate chunks and you are guaranteed each brownie piece will have some.

8.       Pour the brownie batter into the tray and bake for 25 - 30 mins (remember fan assisted ovens may cook slightly faster). 

Readers tip -- when pouring the batter in the tray make a small dip in the middle of the mixture. As it cooks the batter will flatten out giving a perfectly flat topped finish.
      Be careful about over cooking or you will lose the rich gooeyness brownies need. They will continue to cook slightly when you take them out of the oven as they are a dense mixture. If they are not baked thoroughly you can always pop them back in the oven but you can’t change a burnt brownie.

9.       Leave to cool thoroughly then slice up and enjoy!


Some fantastic partners for these brownies are salted caramel or peanut butter ice cream, clotted cream, mascarpone or simply as pictured below a dusting of icing sugar and strawberries.



Happy baking!
Ariel





Thursday, 1 October 2015

Lush Synaesthesia Treatment -- Lush Spa Review


Synaesthesia -- A condition in which one type of stimulation invokes the sensation of another. For example the hearing of a certain sound produces the visualization of a certain colour.


I recently had the synaesthesia spa treatment from Lush at the new Oxford Street flagship store and it blew me away. Everything was perfect!

The treatment is a full body massage that brings in other elements of sound and smell. It is 120 minutes long, which includes a full consultation with the therapist. I had a lovely lady called Georgie who was amazing, she made me feel very comfortable and at home. The total cost is £125, which initially I did think was pricey but after having the treatment I can tell you it is worth every penny. 


Before the treatment starts you are encouraged to pick a word that jumps out at you from the wall, this correlates to a certain massage bar that will be used on you for your treatment.  I chose relax which had a sweet white tea scent.



After that you are encouraged to select a bottle that stands out to due to the word, colour or shape. I chose a pretty lilac bottle with the word forgiveness on it, which ended up being a lavender scent. I do find this mode of selection quite risky as you could end up with scents you really don’t like. Overall I was extremely happy with both my massage bar and room scent although to be honest I did have a sly sniff of the bottle to check I liked the smell.




After your massage which really does cover the full body; feet, legs, back, arms, stomach, chest and face. You are given a certain tea that matches your treatment with a massage bar and bubble bath stone to take home. I love the idea that you can take these home with you as it is a perfect little memento, now whenever I smell them I remember my treatment and feeling insanely relaxed.




The thing I loved most about the Lush spa was that it was so far removed from the white wash clinical feel you often find in spas. The atmosphere was fantastic, the staff were lovely and the décor was stunning.



I would highly recommend booking yourself in for a special treat, I have never felt so relaxed! I do feel the treatment is on the pricer side and is certainly not something I would randomly purchase myself but as a present or for a special occasion I think it's perfect.

If you fancy having a look at some other spa treatments Lush has to offer or wish to purchase one click here.


Thanks for reading,
Ariel 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Raising Awareness for Preventable Diseases -- Mesothelioma



Recently a lovely lady called Heather Von St. James who is a 10 year mesothelioma cancer survivor contacted me. Her aim is to try and spread as much awareness as she can for this rare but in most cases preventable disease. I was honoured that she wished me to help, which is why I have put together this post detailing some information on the disease.


I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like or how I would react to being told ‘you have cancer’.
The idea of something like that is a deeply terrifying thought to most.
The sad thing about our society currently is that all most everyone has experienced some sort of deep despair due to cancer, whether that be their own or linked to a loved one.

Cancer - a malignant growth or tumour due to an uncontrolled division and multiplication of cells within the body.

What is mesothelioma?
Pronounced me·so·the·li·o·ma

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that commonly develops in the tissues covering the lungs or abdomen. It is a cancer of the mesothelial cells hence its name.
Mesothelial cells are pavement like cells that line the body's serous cavities and internal organs, they form a lining called the mesothelium.

Commonly 75% of mesotheliomas occur in the chest (pleural mesothelioma) with the remaining 25% occurring in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma).

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, however it seems recently more and more cases are being presented. More than 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year, with over 3,000 in America.
Evidence from many scientific studies appear to show that most cases of pleural mesothelioma are directly caused from exposure to asbestos. This risk is greater if the person in question was exposed to large amounts of it from an early age or for prolonged periods of time. The same seems to be true for many of those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.


What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a heat and fire resistant insulting material that was used widely in building and manufacturing industries up until the mid 1970’s.
Asbestos can be found in three main forms brown, blue and white. Brown and blue asbestos are strongly linked with the development of mesothelioma, while more recent studies are now uncovering the dangers of white asbestos.
Asbestos in brown and blue forms have been banned in the UK since the late 1980’s, while white has only been banned since 1999.

A causal link between asbestos and lung disease has been known since the 18th century, with the link between asbestos and mesothelioma only realised in the 1960's. Unfortunately the number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK and America is predicted to rise sharply for the next few years peaking in 2016 because of the heavy use of asbestos in industry from the end of the Second World War up until the mid 1970s.

Despite the infinite amount of information out there stating the dangers of asbestos and its link to mesothelioma, it is not completely banned in all its forms in many countries. 


Who is most at risk to developing Mesothelioma?
·         Miners
·         Factory workers
·         Insulation manufacturers and installers
·         Railroad and automotive workers
·         Ship builders
·         Gas mask manufacturers
·         Plumbers
·         Construction workers
·         Family members of people exposed to asbestos at work can also be exposed because the workers can carry home asbestos fibres on their clothes.

This is not to say you are definitely at risk if you work in these areas now, the higher risk is for those who worked in these sectors at times of when asbestos was being used.


Symptoms:

Pleural mesothelioma 
·         Chest pain
·         Shortness of breath
·         Fatigue
·         Sweating and high temperatures
·         A persistent cough
·         Losing weight when not dieting
·         Loss of appetite
·         Difficulty swallowing
·         A hoarse or husky voice

Peritoneal mesothelioma 
·         Pain in the abdomen
·         Swelling in the abdomen
·         Feeling or being sick
·         Poor appetite
·         Losing weight when not dieting
·         Diarrhoea or constipation

This is not a definitive list of symptoms and just because you have some of these does not mean you should jump to the conclusion of cancer. Other factors such as occupation, age and exposure risk should be taken into account also.


I am worried I may be at risk what do I do?
Speak to your doctor or health practitioner they will be better able to help you and accurately judge whether you may or may not be at risk of developing mesothelioma.


I want to help what can do?
·         Share articles like this and Heathers story to spread awareness and reach a wider audience, stopping this cancer being kept in the dark.
·         Donate to cancer research charities
·         Sign petitions stating we want firm bans on asbestos and safer removal plans for when it is found in buildings.
·         Take part in the twitter chat on the 25th of September.


On September the 25 there will the first annual twitter chat to help spread awareness

I truly wish Heather all the best and hope she can carry on her brilliant work. It takes a very strong  person to decide that this is not something they will let rule them but flip it around and be so proactive in their work.

Thank you for reading,

Ariel

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup Recipe -- Ariel Cooks


If you are currently in the UK like me you would have most definitely noticed it is not summer anymore. This means autumn and winter is on the way bringing along with it the comfort food. This doesn't mean however you need to give up on healthy options.

This creamy healthy tomato soup is vegan, low in calories and fat but tastes delicious and indulgent! It is very easy to make and requires almost no effort. This recipe would also be fantastic in a slow cooker as once in the pan requires no further input, perfect for when you come in from the cold and don’t want to spend your evening slaving away over a hot stove.



Ingredients:
·         550g of tomatoes
·         1 stick of celery
·         3 spring onions
·         1 large onion or 2 medium
·         Stock cube of choosing
·         50g of creamed coconut (in solid form)
·         Optional - Chilli flakes

Method:
1.       An optional first step is to blanch your tomatoes and remove the skin, I personally didn’t as I was feeling lazy and don’t mind the texture this adds to the soup. However if you desire a smooth silky texture do follow this step. To blanch simply pour boiling water over your tomatoes in a heat proof bowl once you see the skins start to peel away pour very cold water over the top and peel off the skin using your fingers, it should come away very easily with no resistance.
2.       Slice your tomatoes in quarters and remove the inner stalk at the top, cut the rest of your veggies, this doesn’t have to be neat or particularity small as the soup will be blended.
·         Top tip! When cooking with spring onions, make sure you wash them thoroughly as often the top parts can have hidden grit in.
3.       Put all vegetables in the pan and crumble any stock cube of your choice over the top, pour in boiling water till it is level with the top of the veg. You don’t want to over fill on water as the tomatoes will condense down and you will be adding some coconut milk at the end.
4.       Let the soup simmer away for 30 minutes, try not to let the water boil as this will affect the end taste.
5.       Prepare the creamed coconut by mixing 50g of the solid product with 150ml of boiling water, stirring till smooth.
6.       Once the 30 minutes is up add the coconut mixture, blend and enjoy!


This soup is 100% vegan and should serve 2-4 people depending on whether it is being used as a main meal or starter.

Happy cooking!

Ariel

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Wining and Dining with the Blogginggals -- Camino Bankside Spanish Tapas Bar Review


Thanks to the lovely Zaineb who runs blogginggals and whose own blog can be found here, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a delightful blogging get together at the Camino Bankside Spanish restaurant. Camino is a Spanish tapas and wine bar known for its award winning Spanish wines, tapas & jamón.



First of all I wanted to say the thing that really stood out for me while I was there was the outstanding service, the staff were lovely and nothing was too much trouble. Personally I am very swayed by the customer service you receive, you can be in the most beautiful space with lovely food but if the service is bad that what you remember.

The service here was outstanding and the waiter we had called Patrick was extremely knowledgeable about the wines and even though I am not the biggest wine drinker I loved hearing all about the history of the wines and how they were produced.  With each wine they brought out they prepared a tapas dish to accompany it. The evening was well structured and I do think Patrick deserves a special mention as he is clearly passionate about his work which made learning about all the wine and food all the more interesting.

Although I am not usually the greatest fan of wine I did really enjoy the Cava, it was well balanced and slightly sweet. 

Food wise the tapas was lovely, all the dishes that came out were well presented and tasted amazing! I particularly adored the calamari, which is one dish I have to admit I am very fussy about. I cannot stand thick heavy and chewy batters but this was fresh and light with a delicious aioli (garlic mayonnaise like sauce). 



The Patatas bravas were also lovely and I loved that it came with a spicy tomato sauce and a mayonnaise.  I was slightly concerned about what I could eat being pescatarian but the menu holds an abundance of choice and plenty of vegetable dishes, so even the fussiest vegetarian would find something they liked. Although I didn’t have any myself the mocktails looked stunning so anyone that isn’t an alcohol drinker would have more than just the typical choice of fizzy soft drinks and water as an option.


The Manzanilla olives were marinated  in lemon zest, thyme, rosemary and were one of my favourite appetizers.

Camino had a very welcoming atmosphere I love the rustic but sophisticated look they went for with the large rustic wooden tables. I personally felt it gave off a casual professional vibe that would be perfect for after work drinks and tapas or even for a first date.




All in all I loved the evening, it was a lovely small and personal event run very successfully by the gorgeous Zaineb. I would highly recommended visiting a Camino branch if you are looking for tasty tapas, wonderful wine and superb service; they can be found in Bankside, Blackfriars, Monument and Kings cross. If you fancied checking out their website beforehand it can be found here


Thanks for reading!
Ariel