Sunny Lemon Drizzle Cake

The sun’s rays streamed through the window of our living room and I stretched out on the couch like a cat, contemplating what I would do for the next couple of hours.  It was Sunday afternoon and we weren’t due at a friend’s house for dinner for a few hours.  I had two hours up my sleeve to kill.  I pondered what to do… Online shopping?  Nope.  Organise upcoming holiday?  Nah.  Bake?  Yes, BAKE!  I would bake a cake to take as dessert.  The sun must have gone to my head as the only cake I could imagine baking was… Sunny Lemon Drizzle Cake.

I picked up this fabulous recipe a few months back at Cookery School.  It’s super easy, can be whipped up quickly, and tastes fantastic.  It’s a light and delicate cake, and with the addition of the citrus lemon drizzle, it’s beautifully moist.

Here’s the recipe… I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Ingredients
Cake:
2 large or 3 small eggs
4 ozs butter
6 ozs sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
6 ozs flour
Rind of 1 lemon grated
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons of milk

Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
4 tablespoons of lemon juice

Method:

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and continue to mix well.

Then add the lemon rind and juice.

Lightly fold in the flour, baking powder and salt.

Gently mix in the milk.

Pour the mixture into a greased and floured loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes at 1700C or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven.

While still hot, prick cake well with a skewer (I used a strand of uncooked spaghetti, because couldn’t find the skewer!).

Pour over the lemon syrup made from melting the icing sugar with the lemon juice over the stove.

Leave until fully cold before removing from tin.

It’s the perfect cake to have in the afternoon with your feet up and a cup of tea.  If having it for dessert (as we did), team with a dollop of yoghurt or a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream.

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A place like heaven

I remember someone once told me that Girona in Spain was like heaven, to her. On this particular Greek island which I went to, we met a Greek guy who owns a local bar. He told us of his adventure to one of the Thai islands, and in his own words, described that when he opened the window to their lodge, he thought he was in paradise. I suppose we all have our little get away place, our own kind of heaven or perhaps paradise.

This was my second trip to this Greek island, one which my fellow dishpiglet, Celia has had many visits to.

There are no Michelin star restaurants on this island, just simple tavernas. Not all our meals were great but we did have amazing greek salads, grilled squid and simple Mythos beer.

Nothing could beat this week of bliss and below is a photo diary of my paradise.

Caffeine addict

I am a self-professed caffeine addict. Caffeine headaches were once a big problem of mine. Having lived in Australia in the last 10 years, I was really pampered with great coffee in the vicinity. I tried to term myself a coffee snob because if the coffee’s burnt, I’ll throw it out. I recalled once whilst rushing to work, I walked into a café for a quick coffee, headed straight out with my cuppa and chucked the coffee straight into the bin. The barista had burnt the crap out of my coffee. It was so hot that I could not hold it in one hand! Just one sip, I burnt my tongue, smelt and tasted an awful coffee and could not bear the thought of letting the coffee spoil my day.

Funnily enough, this self termed coffee snob is no expert in coffee. I know what I like and what I don’t like. Ask me any further questions and I have no answers. My very first espresso was in Italy and it gave me a benchmark of what coffee should taste like.

Moving to London was a huge challenge, caffeine wise. I don’t really stoop to chain coffee shops unless I haven’t had sleep for 48 hours. Initially, I made the big move and switched to tea. Afterall, the British has always been known for their tea culture. Then Tapped and Packed opened up along Tottenham Court Road. When I moved to Holborn area, I had Monmouth Coffee not too far away from me and now at Farringdon, I have Workshop Coffee down the road. Talk about being spoilt!
You hear about these speciality coffee places in London and some of the initiators actually are from Australia and New Zealand. Kaffeine is one of them. Stylist named them one of the “Top 10 coffee shops in London”!

Just two nights ago, I managed to get a lucky spot in their coffee masterclass, a part of Zagat Kaffeine contest, thanks to Google London.

It was my first time at Kaffeine. Kaffeine opened about 3 years ago by Peter and his business partner. Peter is from Melbourne originally and I heard his business partner is from New Zealand.

Our masterclass started with James, the lead barista at Kaffeine asking us what we know about coffee. Nothing came to my head except for the fact that I like coffee! Trust myself to be a coffee snob, with absolutely no knowledge! Later on, I did remember one fact that the most expensive coffee in the world is actually processed through a cat. It’s called Kopi Luwak but that’s a story for another day.

Did you know, after oil that coffee is the next most traded commodity in the world? Hah! FACT which I learnt at the masterclass!

We started our masterclass with cupping. For a long while, I was trying to figure out what cupping was. As according to Wikipedia

Coffee cupping, or coffee tasting, is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. It is a professional practice but can be done informally by anyone or by professionals known as “Master Tasters”. A standard coffee cupping procedure involves deeply sniffing the coffee, then loudly slurping the coffee so it spreads to the back of the tongue.

James demonstrated the cupping process to us and we had some hands on trial, sniffing and slurping away. The slurping of the coffee was actually noisy! Just like how we are meant to slurp ramen!

Shaun, the UK aeropress 2012 winner taught us how to make our home brew using cafetiere/ french press coffee. It came down to the temperature of the water, the amount of water there is to the milligrams of the coffee grind and wetting of the grind. Did you know that you should not put the plunger lid onto the coffee until the last 10-15 seconds?

Next up, we were introduced to ‘Nessie’, their Synesso Cyncra coffee machine. I have always wanted to operate one of these. They look so sophisticated and when the chance came for us to pull our own espresso, I was totally charmed by Nessie. I want one at home! (wishful thinking!)

James taught us how to make a good cup of espresso and a double ristretto. Mmm. If only it wasn’t 8pm, I would have drank all that coffee! Good coffee does come down to the water, temperature, milk fat and the barista! At Kaffeine, everything matters and they try and control these factors to try and serve you the best coffee they can!

The master class ended with a latte art competition. Peter announced that the winner gets 10 coffees free! My heart was pumping when I did my pour. There were coffees at stake. The heart that came out was a tiny one and actually not as pretty as the one I did during practice! Lady luck was on my side and I won! The little caffeine addict in me was jumping for joy. I had a little taste of my coffee as well and it was really good.

Just when we thought that we had enough of caffeine for the evening, the cascara was introduced to us. A whole new thing which I have never heard of! Cascara is the dried skin and pulp of coffee cherries. We tried this amazing summery drink which Kaffeine concocted themselves! So light to the tastebuds and delicious!

I must say that if you enjoy a good cuppa and live in London, you do have to head to Kaffeine to check it out! Ditch chains and support independent coffee shops! Do check out their coffee masterclass if you are into coffee. You might just appreciate your homebrew that little bit more in the morning!

*Note: This is not a sponsored post and purely my own thoughts on the whole master class experience.

Hakkasan

Having lived in London for a few years, when new friends come to town they often ask for restaurant suggestions.  I have a list – a long one – which covers cheap and cheerful gems, middle of the range must-visits, and high-end budget blowing destinations.  I recently scribbled down a list for a fellow foodie, and a few days later I was invited to join her, her mum and a few other friends for a feast at Hakkasan.  Oooh, what an unexpected treat.

We arrived at the restaurant a dash early so decided to prop the bar for a quick cocktail.  One pink mojito later (delicious) we descended the stairs to the basement dining room.  The room had an undeniable nightclubby feel to it – albeit a classy nightclub.  Decor of dark wood, dim lights and a big sleek bar seemed slightly dated, and not entirely my style, but still incredibly luxurious.  We settled in our big corner table and I couldn’t help but realise how full the restaurant was – impressive for a Monday night.

There are many benefits of dining in groups.  Apart from the obvious – catching up with multiple friends at once – another huge drawcard is how much more one can sample from the menu.  We decided to share everything and must have had in excess of 10 dishes.

The dim sum platter consisted of eight delicately steamed and bursting with flavour dumplings – scallop, har gau, prawn and chive, and mushroom.

The salt and pepper squid was so lightly fried, it almost tasted healthy!  Super thin batter, with succulent and juicy squid.  Often this dish is completely butchered with thick batter and chewy squid.  This however was exactly how it should be with tender squid and the perfect amount of salt and pepper.  The best S&P squid I’ve had.

The duck spring rolls were a hit.  Thin and flaky pastry formed a capsule around the richly marinated duck.  The cucumber gave the roll a refreshing and light crunch.

Vegetarian gyoza with a lightly fried base came with a lovely dipping sauce.

The king prawns were the biggest king prawns I’ve seen since living in the UK.  I’m so sick of those tiny, little, shrimpy shrimps that keep appearing on my plate in other restaurants!  The fresh prawns had been butterflied and wok-tossed with a spicy yellow bean sauce.

The pan-fried Wagyu beef was a succulent success.  Fat chunks of tender beef coated in sticky Szechuan sauce put to shame all the other Szechuan beef dishes I’ve sampled in my time.

Zingy and fresh stir-fried asparagus, lotus root and lily bulb in black pepper.

Crispy skinned duck with black truffle and mushroom sauce was rich and beautiful, and had a great depth of flavour.  So rich was the dish, I was happy to be sharing with five others as despite being a lover of truffles, eating the whole dish to myself would have been a big ask!

A claypot filled with homemade tofu, aubergine and mushrooms in a chilli and black bean sauce made a good argument for becoming vegetarian.  The silky tofu was the smoothest I’ve tasted – if tofu was always this good, I’d eat it every day!

Hakkasan lived up to the reviews.  It’s a special occasion restaurant and is certainly the best Chinese food I’ve had. The highlight was the food – which, considering it’s a restaurant, is a good thing.  Its downfalls – the decor resembles a slightly dated nightclub or hotel bar, service was a little shady in patches (when you’re paying that much, it should be nothing but seamless) and the prices (yikes!).  Come for the food.  And come with a full wallet.

Dish Piglets’ Rating:  8.5/10.

Hakkasan
17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London. W1J 6QB.
Tel: 020 7907 1888.

Hakkasan Hanway Place on Urbanspoon

The StockMKT @ Bermondsey Square

I came across The StockMKT whilst surfing onto Mondo Mulia‘s blog not too long ago. The amazing photos from the event intrigued me and when I heard that they were having a double night special last week, I made an effort to get there and check it out. Afterall, I have heard a lot of fabulous reviews. Truth be told, it totally met my expectations and the dude and I had a great night, sampling amazing food and bouncing to the music of Albert Ball’s Flying Aces’ who were on that night.

We started off with Pom Pom Takoyaki. I have had these little pompoms in Singapore before but I must say that these girls served up a delicious deal. We ordered the takoyaki (octopus!) and the chicken and boy, they were yummy. Ours was missing some bonito flakes (think they ran out!) but we were still very pleased with the end product.

Our next stop was the Pizza Pilgrims. We were blown away by the amazing dough, quick service, good value and yummilicious pizza! The way they operate with the whole set up, we were just taken away by the simplicity of it all. AMAZING! We will definitely be visiting them quite often!

There was also Kamm & Sons serving Ginseng spirits… Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to try this but we love the get up!

Amongst the sweet shops at The StockMKT, I was drawn to My Sweet Tooth Factory. We had a salted caramel cheesecake to finish the night and were so pleased with our choice.

It was an amazing night and we can’t wait for the next StockMKT to try more food!