Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Candy Kingdom

It was my birthday a few weeks ago, and Matt organised a ridiculously awesome day out in London to celebrate. In a stroke of luck though, I was invited to a blogging event in the evening which I was allowed to bring him along to (he's doing quite well out of this whole blog thing lately) and I'm so glad we went. Spun Candy have partnered with Candy Crush to bring out a range of themed sweeties, and they invited a group of bloggers to make candy in their Covent Garden store.

They started off showing us how to dye sugar, shape it and mould it into sweeties and then they let us get a bit creative. We learned to make roses, candy canes (check out the monstrous one Matt made!) and lollipops, and it was really interesting to see how it gets done. There's only a small team in Spun of two people, but they make everything there themselves - pop in, if you ever want to see a demonstration!

You can see more information on Spun's collaboration with Candy Crush here.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Slow Cooked Honey & Garlic Chicken

Do you know anyone with a slow cooker? If you do, I’m sure you’re used to them singing its praises – oh, it’s changed their life! Oh, it’s just so easy! Oh, they don’t know how they got along without it!

I’m going to drop some knowledge now, so prepare yourselves accordingly – they’re right. They’re totally right. Slow cookers are AMAZING. I actually don’t have one, but Matt’s housemate does and we’ve kind of claimed it for our own (we’ll give it back, promise!). We first tried it out with pulled pork a couple of months ago – remember that awesome Dr Pepper and Jack Daniel’s recipe? I sure do *hungry face* We made the pulled pork a second time for a party, but decided to try and do a chicken recipe too for those people who don’t eat pork. And I am here to tell you it was an epic success. And also to tell you the recipe!

This was so easy. We based it on this recipe but tweaked it quite a lot – we substituted a few things, used a whole chicken instead of chicken pieces and upped the quantities. We’ve made it twice now and everyone raves about it. It’s sweet, spicy and actually pretty good for you – there’s not a drop of oil in this baby! It’s lovely on rice, but we usually just pop it in soft baps with a few lettuce leaves. It also makes loads - a good 10 portions!

Slow Cooked Honey & Garlic Chicken
1 whole chicken (we used a large one)
340g honey
150ml soy sauce
60ml hoisin sauce
50ml sweet chilli sauce
Half a bulb of garlic, crushed
1 onion, diced
1 stock cube, dissolved in a pint of boiling water
2 tablespoons cornflour
Sliced spring onions, for garnish (optional)
Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

1. In a big bowl, add all your ingredients except for the cornflour and stir to combine

2. Put your chicken in your slow cooker then pour the ingredients over it

3. Cover the slow cooker and cook it on low for 8-10 hours (we left it overnight)

4. When it’s done, remove the chicken from the slow cooker. You may find that it falls apart upon removal – slow cooking makes the meat ridiculously tender. That’s fine though, just get the meat out piece by piece, and start removing the bones (you can set these aside for soup if you’re feeling creative, or just throw them away). I recommend using a slotted spoon for this bit.

5. Put the chicken in a shallow dish like a lasagne dish, and shred it into smaller pieces (you can check for bones while you do this)

6. Pour the remaining juices into a saucepan through a sieve. Meanwhile, in a small jug or bowl, add a few drops of water to your cornflour to make a paste and stir together. If it’s too thick, add more water, if it’s too runny, add more cornflour. When it’s roughly the consistency of PVA glue, add to your saucepan of chicken juices and stir.

7. Bring the saucepan to a boil and let it reduce slightly – only needs a couple of minutes at full boil before it’s done, and keep stirring in case it burns. If it still seems too runny, add more cornflour and water (mix the cornflour into the water first, or it’ll go lumpy).

8. Pour the sauce over the chicken, tossing with forks to combine. You can leave this to cool and reheat in the oven later, or serve immediately with sliced spring onions and sesame seeds. The sesame seeds don’t add an awful lot in terms of flavour and texture, but they look nice.

Yum, this was SO good. Next up in our slow cooker adventures has definitely got to be some lamb or beef. I want me some brisket!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Italian street food with the Moretti Movement

Lately, the direction of my blog has been much more food than fashion themed, and I'm pretty much okay with that. Especially when I get challenged to make epic ice cream sundaes, and invited to events like this one, which involve all the Italian street food I can eat. Oh, I'm so in.

For a few nights in August, Birra Moretti hosted the Birra Moretti Gran Tour in a factory in Shoreditch, where some of the best UK street food vendors including Pizza Pilgrims, Forza Win, and Cheeky Italian got together to bring us the best in Italian street food.

While we were there, we were able to sample eye-rollingly amazing food - I'm drooling just remembering it! We were greeted with arancini, then grabbed a couple of slices at Pizza Pilgrims (how awesome is their pizza oven in a van?), then joined the queue for the ravioli stand. That queue was justified - butternut squash ravioli in a buttery sauce, topped with crumbled amaretti biscuits? Oh lord. I haven't even mentioned the gelato, but I'll never forget that sour cherry and ricotta.

Sadly the tour has now finished, but I'll be crossing my fingers that it comes back - I'm going to need that ravioli in my life again! Luckily, in a few weeks I'm heading to Florence for a few days, and this has definitely made me even more enthusiastic for it!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Cocktail hour: Gin Blackberry Smash

I have a weird problem. I like gin, but not tonic. I’m sure some of you are laughing at that, and I get it – it kind of makes me look like an alcoholic! But it’s not like I order a G&T “without the T” – I’m honestly not quite THAT bad. But it’s kind of a sad little problem, as I always think G&Ts seem super chic and they look oh so refreshing – but no, not for me.

It’s okay though, because Aldi asked me if I wanted some of their awesome Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin to make cocktails with, and I said yes, because duh, free booze – but also because it meant I could make a G without the T, but with something more interesting instead! And I did. I must admit that for these drinks we actually really needed a better strainer and straws (I spent quite some time picking mint leaves out of my teeth) but they were still hella tasty.

I'm loving my fancy new cocktail equipment though (and all the ingredients I have stashed away) - so much so that I may have to start a will with Redress Law just so I can leave it to someone worthy – I don’t want any will disputes to occur after I'm gone as I'm sure people will fight over that awesome cocktail shaker! I'm sure there are a few other things I could leave to people, but I'm just so damn attached to cocktails...

Gin Blackberry Smash
- Punnet blackberries
- Punnet raspberries
- Gin
- Mint
- Sugar
- Water
- Lime, for garnish

1. Grab a cocktail shaker and throw in some raspberries and blackberries
2. Add a couple of shots of Aldi's Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin
3. Throw in some torn mint leaves
4. Muddle everything together to crush the berries and make the flavours mingle
5. Add some ice
6. Add some sugar syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
7. Shake!
8. Get your glasses ready and pour - through a strainer if you have one
9. Drink! I recommend straws, but if you don't have any, just go with it. Tasty fruity smoothie.

Disclaimer: Aldi provided me with the gin, cocktail equipment and some Aldi vouchers for mixers.