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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

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Fresh Strawberries and Cream Cake Recipe -- Ariel Cooks

I am a huge fan of Japanese and Chinese cakes, the sponges are always so light and fluffy with plenty of fresh fruit! They can however be quite complicated and difficult to replicate, so after many failed attempts I have created this recipe which is an adaption of a strawberry shortcake recipe which is a very popular western inspired cake in Japan.



This recipe does require quite a few different steps to create it and the batter can be quite temperamental so try as hard as possible to follow the recipe precisely.

Ingredients for cake batter:
·         125g Cake flour -- To make plain flour into cake flour measure out your flour, then remove 2 tablespoons of flour and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
·         80g of granulated sugar  
·         45g of demerara sugar
·         4 eggs at room temperature
·         3 tablespoons of milk
·         1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
·         25g of melted butter
·         Ice (not needed for cake but needed in cooking method)

Ingredients for topping and filling:
·         300ml of double cream (can also use whipping cream)
·         1-3 tablespoons of icing sugar, the amount depends on how sweet you would like it, I would recommend going lower and adding more as you taste it
·         ½ a teaspoon of vanilla extract
·         500-600g of fresh strawberries (roughly two boxes)


Equipment:
·         8 inch circular cake pan
·         1 large mixing bowl, 3 medium
·         Electric whisk
·         Grease proof paper (baking paper)

 Cake batter method:
1.       Preheat the oven to 180°c and line the cake tin with grease proof paper.
·         A tip I have to always ensure moist cakes is to place a small tray at the bottom of the oven with some water in, this creates steam preventing the cake drying out. If this recipe is followed properly however you will not need to do this, as the higher percentage of egg should keep it from drying out. Although if your first attempt comes out dry maybe try again with the tray of water.
2.       Separate your egg whites and yolks.
3.       Take a heat proof bowl and poor in a few inches of not quite boiled water, it’s very important it is not boiling! It should be warm bath temperature. Place a medium sized bowl over the top and add in the egg whites and the sugar. Whisk into stiff peaks.
4.       Gently fold in the egg yolks until fully incorporated with the vanilla extract and milk followed by the sifted flour.
5.       Finally fold in the melted butter (when melting the butter make sure it is over a gentle heat).
6.       Pour the batter into the cake tin, when full gently tap the tin on the counter twice to remove excess air bubbles.
7.       Bake for 25-30 minutes, try not to open the door at all during this time. The cake is done when it’s a light golden brown and springy to the touch.
8.       Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
9.       Once cool depending on the thickness and how confident you are with your slicing skills, slice into 2-3 layers horizontally. Wrap the whole cake in cling film and place in the fridge while you are preparing the filling and topping.

Method for filling and topping:
1.       Fill a mixing bowl with ice and cold water then place a glass bowl over the top.
2.       Add in your cream and icing sugar whisking until stiff peaks form, then fold in the vanilla extract.
3.       Slice the strawberries thinly and vertically as these are going to be layered over the whole cake. Keep the slightly less attractive slices apart from the neat ones and these will be used between the layers with the cream as the filling.
4.       Take the cake out from the fridge, place the first layer on a flat plate or cake stand and add a generous layer of the cream icing followed by the strawberry slices, repeat if you have another layer to go.
5.       Finally place the top layer of cake on and now cover the entire cake including the sides in the cream icing, delicately place the strawberry slices over the top and sides until most of the cream is covered.





This cake is definitely not the easiest to make and requires a lot of different steps. It is however light, fluffy and delicious making it worth the time and extra effort. If you don’t get it right the first time don’t be disheartened and try again, cakes like this take practice and once you have it you can adapt it to your personal tastes. This cake is great with pretty much any fresh fruit, I re-made it recently with mango which was particularly good!  


Happy baking!

Ariel

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Strawberry Fondant Hot Chocolate -- A Hug in a Mug!

I am a huge strawberry fondant chocolate fan! I always pick them out of a box of Quality Street or Roses. 
So you will understand my delight when I stumbled across this super quick and easy hot chocolate recipe that tastes exactly like a strawberry fondant chocolate.

Best thing about this recipe? It’s instant and only needs three ingredients including the milk!

For an extra treat this hot chocolate goes excellently with whipped cream and chocolate buttons! 


Ingredients:
-3tsp of strawberry Nesquik
-3tsp of chocolate Nesquik
-200-300ml of any hot milk of your choosing (the more milk the less strong the taste)

Method:
Just mix the strawberry Nesquik and chocolate Nesquik powder in hot milk, it’s that easy!

I did wonder whether to actually do a post on this recipe (if I can call it that) as it so easy but many of my friends had never thought of it, so I decided to share it with the internet!



Thanks for reading!

Ariel