Baking Big Ben Biscuits

Ben 1

Hi Everyone,

Victor here. Hope you’re all good. I leave my job today to go on to new things, so I thought I’d knock up some Big Ben biscuits for my lovely colleagues.

Here’s how to make them if you fancy doing a bit of a bake off.

For the biscuit base I used Jamie Oliver’s Scottish Shortbread recipe. Usually I find shortbread a bit heavy, but this is lovely and light. As usual with a Jamie recipe, it’s really easy to follow too.

Ingredients

200g plain flour

50g caster sugar

125g butter

I also added a dash of vanilla extract, but that’s not in the recipe.

Method

Mix together the flour and sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter lightly, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add a dash of vanilla. Roll the dough in your hands gently, until it comes together. Pat it onto a floured work surface, until it’s about 1/2 cm thick.

Cut out Big Ben shapes with a knife, it’s a sort of thin rectangle with a pointy bit on one end.

Place these on a baking tray lined with parchment that’s been greased. Place in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees c/ Gas mark 3 for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they go brown really quickly. You want pale golden colour.

When the biscuits are cooked, place on a cooling rack.

Topping

For the topping I melted 60g of Dairy Milk chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. I spread this on the cooled Big Ben biscuits.

For the clock faces I used a Milky Bar Button and placed it on each biscuit while the chocolate was still soft. I very carefully drizzled milk chocolate onto the clock faces to form the hands (some of them went a bit wobbly…) and drew a cocktail stick down the body of the clock to give it some texture.

Here you go!

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Happy Big Ben Baking! Victor xxx

 

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Cooking up a storm at SuperStar BBQ

Hi everyone, hope you’re all enjoying the sunshine! We got into the summery mood last night in London with some tasty Korean cuisine.

After  meeting outside our favourite discount store, we took a walk to Superstar BBQ-easy to find though, it’s nestled into Central St Giles Plaza. From the outside SuperStar BBQ looks pretty unassuming. Inside it’s stylish and comfortable with cool copper-coloured lights, a bar in the centre and funky hanging cluster pendants dotted around.

We were quick to investigate the cocktail menu – choosing a Korean mojito (Kojito) with cucumber and a Fallen Angel in Busan-raspberry puree with rice wine. Delicious!

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With the sound of sizzling and intoxicating scents everywhere, we couldn’t wait to dive into the food menu.

We loved the starter of Salt & Pepper Chili Squid-lightly spiced and perfectly crunchy. The Tofu Kimchi was a tongue-tickling combination of soft tofu and tangy pickles.

Victor got a bit confused by the tabletop BBQ…

The concept of Korean BBQ was new to us. We were intrigued, and a bit confused, by the table top barbies- also a bit worried we might poison ourselves! But SuperStar BBQ provide a handy guide to getting to grips with the tongs and the lovely staff came to make sure we hadn’t set ourselves on fire…

Victor was on vegetable duty…

…while Charles was a natural, flipping her Sesame and Garlic Sirloin to get it nice and medium rare. Look at her little face 🙂

Being vegetarian, Victor swerved steak and went for Tofu Bibimbap-rice, vegetables and a fried egg-served in a hot stone bowl that cooks in front of you. Really fresh and tasty!

All that spice made us crave something sweet, so after sweating a little over the BBQ, the Original Snowball sounded amazing. An icy coconut cloud, it was feather-light, like eating actual snow! We were a bit dubious about the red bean paste on top, but it was delicious and hazelnuts added a nice crunch.

See it looks like real snow!

We had a wonderful time at SuperStar BBQ. It was a unique experience that we loved, having never sampled Korean food or cooked our own in a restaurant before. It’s such a lovely social thing to do, it brings a new dimension to dining out. Perfect for catching up with friends and tucking in to some really scrumptious food.

Thanks to Jeremy and the team for having us. We’ll be back soon!

Love Charles and Victor xxx

SuperStar BBQ, 4 Central St Giles Piazza, London WC2H 8AB

A Very Baking Sort Of Sunday

Hello, Victor here. I’ve been fairly quiet lately as I’ve a new job and I’m moving house so it’s all go. 

No today though…on my first Sunday at home since Christmas, I’ve been tempted by the cake tins. It’s so grim outside I wanted to make something tasty.

Well a few things…

I started prepping some moulds for Liquid Centre Chocolate Cakes (more of that later), then I did a bit of melting and made some gluten free Bourbon Biscuits – recipe here: http://www.goodhousekeeping.co.uk/food/recipes/bourbons-biscuits

I just substituted the flour for a Doves Farm Gluten Free one.

They taste pretty good but have unexplained hard bits in which I think is sugar 😢) 

  
They’re really sickly but tasty for the first one…

Then i made gluten-free bread from a great recipe from Gluten Free Goddess: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/delicious-gluten-free-bread.html?m=1

It tastes pretty good (except for more hard bits!) 

  
So I’ve still got the Chocolate Cakes to bake but after too many bourbons, I think I’ll leave the boyfriend to eat them…

  
Love Victor xxx    

Valentines at City Social

A modern British restaurant and one of super chef Jason Athertons – with a breathtaking City view, on the 24th floor of Tower 42 in the city ,City Social is a short walk from Liverpool Street station.

I have always heard great things about this place , with stunning views, knock out cocktails and devine food with panoramic views of the city; with The Gherkin, Walkie Talkie Building, Shard and Heron Tower all in your eye line, it really doesn’t matter where you sit.

 

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They made the building extra special for valentines ,with a love heart at the top of the tower , a great romantic touch which can’t be missed whilst passing through the city 

 

We began with cocktails with a seat at the bar –

I had the GOLD PLUM -SACHS – Havana Club Selection de Maestros rum, raisins, plum shrub, lapsing amaro, chocolate bitters, the fudge on a stick was an epic treat

My boyfriend had a classic Dark and Stormy.

We were then lead to our table which was located by the window over looking The Heron Tower with The Gherkin to our right and Heron Tower in front, it was the most beautiful view, the waiter even gave me a tour of the city, little did he know I have lived in London 9 years, top marks for trying

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A beautiful view from our table I am sure you will agree  

Service was undoubtedly exceptional , a different waitor / waitress for wine , starter , bread and the main meal.

We began with warm chorizo bread and creamy whipped butter.

For starter I had the ‘Tidenham duck breast slow cooked, amarena cherry, pistachio yoghurt, five spice, dried vinegar’

This was infused with so many different flavours it was so exciting.

‘Pigs trotter and ham hock with crispy Lancashire black pudding, apple, Madeira’ 

For main I chose the ‘Romney marsh lamb fillet’

This was also done to perfection , medium rare , with a perfect stack of parsnip and a dish on the side of ‘navarin lamb shoulder and bacon crumb, mint’, it was just divine.

 

‘Rib-eye steak , medium rare, triple cooked chips , garden salad and a boat of bernaise sauce and hollandaise ‘ just incase you couldn’t decide, this was juicy and chargrilled , just beautiful

Dessert we shared the ‘Chocolate Soufflé and orange ice cream’ this was well worth the 20 minute wait , I love Terrys chocolate orange and this was off the clock, I would go back just for the dessert

We shared a bottle of ‘Rioja’ and surprisingly the waitress offered still water, sparking or tap water, its very rare these high end restaurants offer tap water , it was nice to see.

If you are looking for a modern european restaurant with a guaranteed breathtaking view, this is a hot spot that must not be missed.

http://citysociallondon.com

This was another special touch , a view from the toilet cubicle , I believe its the same for the gents and ladies 

Love Charles XXX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronation Turkey 

Hello are you thinking just after Christmas -‘ I am sick of Christmas left overs’ ? 

I just love the hams and Turkey and cheeses, so I thought I would make the Turkey a little more fun by turning it into a coronation Turkey feast.

  
I just copied Jamie’s and a mixed few others recipes from Google –

Ingredients 

Turkey chopped up (as much as you require )

Mango chutney 3/4 tablespoons 

Garam masala 1 tea spoon OR curry powder 

Pepper 

Cream , a pour 

Mayonnaise 3/4 tablespoons 

Almonds and sultanas if you wish (I didn’t have any)

Method:

Literally just chuck it all into a bowl adding all the ingredients one by one judging on how much Turkey you have its up to you how saucy and creamy you want it , so keep adding to taste , try as you go. 

 
Best served in a warm pitts bread ,and salad leaves , you can still have your ham and pickles , cheese and biscuits. Delicious. 
Enjoy, love Charles XXX 

Burns night at Boisdale 

  
I am not even Scottish ☺️, but my boyfriend and I love to celebrate any occasion (thanksgiving, pancake day, Valentine’s etc ). 

For homesick Scots and curious Sassenachs who can’t get north of the border for Burns Night, we also booked a table at lively Scottish restaurant ;’Boisdale’ Canary Wharf for a true burns night experience; kilts, bagpipes, haggis, whiskey, it has the full package. 

  
The Canary Wharf branch also has great views of the financial district (Cabot Square) with Barclays next door, Morgan Stanley to the left and Credit Suisse to the right 

The menu was £50 ahead, which is quite a lot but reasonable,this included a window table and 4 course meal ; 

We began with a bottle of our favourite Spanish Rioja (not included)

Starter : Carpaccio of Aberdeenshire Angus beef
truf e vinaigrette, wild rocket & shaved Parmesan , 

I had the Dunkeld Scottish smoked salmon, horseradish  chantilly and lemon, delicious, the horseradish complimented the salmon perfectly 

   

 
Next the haggis , neeps and tatties; the consistency was delicious and sticky, much different from my home cooked haggis last year. 

 
This is where the fun began in true Scottish tradition. The Parade of the Haggis (traditionally piped in with Scottish pipers with the chef following, carrying the haggis)
Followed by the address to the Haggis (a reciter read the poem over the haggis, drank some whisky and then sliced the haggis), the below is very hard to understand when spoken- 


See video below – part of the speech above : 

  
  
   
Bagpipes were in full swing throughout the night circling the restaurant, with live entertainment starting at 9pm;  ‘Frank and Deans Burns Night Hootenanny’  : Rat Pack and a blend of swing classics, floor filling classic pop and a few Scottish suprises, from Bare Necessities – Fly Me To The Moon, to name a few, the music was great with a fabulous live band. 

The main dish arrived : Roast wild Venison of Scotland’s Rutherford estates, Crispy slow cooked haunch, braised red cabbage, parsnip puree

   

 
A delectable dish , the venison was served pink and melted in the mouth , the crispy haunch was also tasty , something I have never had before , rich in taste with a crispy top. 

Next up dessert , yes I could still fit it in, we had one of each ; 

Macerated Raspberry Cranachan Toasted oats, heather honey, shortbread

Dark chocolate, whiskey & salted caramel ‘tablet’ 70% Valrhona guanaja cocoa, caramelised nuts, honeycomb
 
The tablet had a crunchie base and inside (much like crunchie bars), with pistachio and sugar glazed peanuts on top , it was rich but moorish , I managed to polish it off. 


I finished off with a fresh mint leaf tea accompanied with my glass of Rioja , just in time for the band to begin ; 

  
   

Fear not if you have missed out Boisdale have a great menu , a £30 steak and lobster night and deals on the weekend , with live music most nights.

http://www.boisdale.co.uk/

Love Charles XXX 

  

In Need Of Redemption!

  
  
Our first meet up of 2016 and somewhere we’ve been dying to try-Redemption’s brand new Shoreditch branch. A bit of an Old Street secret so far…

With all-vegan , vegetarian food, no refined sugars or alcohol, it’s just what we need for a Jan detox.

We loved it already just looking at their website but the actual place is even better.

 Yep we took ALOT of time choosing (too much amazing stuff in the menu), but in the end we went for Kale and Lemongrass Laksa ; ‘a sublimely soothing and nourishing noodle laksa with shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, red chilli, ginger and coconut broth’ (Victor)   and Aubergine with Pomegranate , pine nuts , seasame seed and tahini (Charles)   with sweet potatoes , spring onions , pomegranate and coconut yoghurt to share.   

Everything was delicious- full of flavour with a touch of spice and really fresh. It didn’t stop there…

We shared Bliss Balls ; ‘three raw dark chocolate and date truffles rolled in chopped nuts’

  
And Lemon and Blueberry Cheesecake; ‘zesty raw cheesecake made from cashew nut cream, lemon and coconut, on an almond and sprouted buckwheat base’

  
We love this place- wonderful food that’s also good for you, in a simple, cosy environment, jugs of water were replenished and tea lights lit. 

Thanks to everyone at Redemption for having us! We’ll be back to try the entire menu!

   
 
http://redemptionbar.co.uk/

Love Charles and Victor xxx

20 Minute Winter Warmer: Sweetcorn Chowder

Wow, it’s cold tonight in London! Wanting a quick, vegan dinner, I adapted a little Jamie Oliver recipe for Sweetcorn Chowder. I’ve eaten half a huge pan full and still want more…here’s the recipe if you’d like to be warm and full to the brim in 20 minutes.

  
Ingredients 

1 white onion

1tbsp olive oil

1 potato, peeled and cubed

1tbsp plain flour

850ml almond milk

200g frozen Sweetcorn

Method:

Chop and fry the onion in the olive oil in a large sauce pan until it’s soft and a little translucent. 

Add the plain flour and stir. Cook for a few minutes, but continue stirring so it won’t burn.

Add the almond milk and potato and bring to the boil. Stir frequently to stop burning. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the potato is soft.

Add the Sweetcorn and bring back up to the boil. Serve immediately, well seasoned and with crusty bread.

Consider your cockles warmed!

Tenerife , Los Cristianos- Winter sun 👙☀️

This is a great holiday resort, having been 3 times now- once when I was young with my family, last year for a week during NYE and just arrived back from another glorious week. 

This small volcanic island is a must! Sitting off the West coast of Africa but surrounded by sea, the island receives a dry, sub-tropical climate with much milder winters than the rest of Spain but temperatures much cooler than in Western Sahara and Morocco that sit just east of the islands on mainland Africa.

Typically a Spanish island where they speak Spanish, you will find it’s always warm, Nov-Jan highs of 23-26; although fresh at night this is a great opportunity for winter sun, sea and a relax as you won’t find it half as busy as the summer months; which are even hotter.  

  

  

Los Cristianos is a town in Spain with a population of 20,506 and is situated on the south coast of the Canary Island of Tenerife.  

 

‘Located in the municipality of Arona between the cone of the mountain Chayofita and the greater mountain Guaz’ (Google.co.uk).

For many years this holiday hub was a quiet fishing village however nowadays the town is a holiday resort, with three sandy beaches; Las Vistas, one more leading into Las Americas, where surfing is popular and a few others in Costa Adeje if you fancy making it around the island (we did by bike), it also offers a multitude of bars and restaurants and its year round sunny climate.

Main points of interest ; the list is endless and I didn’t do them all, here are a few of my picks : 

*Siam Park and shopping mall (opposite the park – free) travel by free bus 

*Lora Park – travel by free bus 

*Central Park of Arona; Volcano Mount Tiede and Teide National Park, -coach trips are available however we hired a car to get a full experience of the drive upto the 12,000 foot mountain (Vilaflor is a beautiful village on the way up and you can stop at viewpoints on the way, there was a man with a goat, €1 for a picture and to feed him)

   
   

   
 
   
 

*Los Cristianos Harbour, sunbathe, swim or sit in one of the many restaurants and let the world drift you by 

      

*Tenerife Zoo Monkey Park, 

*Playa de las Vistas beach 

  
  

*Submarine trip- departing from Golf del Sur – travel by free bus, €53, a 2 hour dip with a scuba diving feeding show

*Aqualand 

*Jungle Park 

*Surfing – there are many coaching beach huts along the boardwalk between Los Cristanos and Las Americas, what better way to learn than to be thrown onto the waves head first 

*Bike hire- you can pick up a bike for as little as €9 for the day (we got ours from our hotel reception, but there are many places along the boardwalk ), the ride is great you can cycle around the coast all the way to Costa Adeje, we locked them up (locks inc) swam in the sea and sunbathed.

   
    
  

Now onto restaurants we definitely ate well, the fresh fish and salad is wonderful, here is a list of my favourite eateries and bars from the past 2 years : 

Piccolos Italian- local run, overlooking the beach, this has a great selection of Italian food, a great atmosphere and friendly staff (owner also owns Sama Sama, Watermelon (see below) and a fish restaurant). 

   
 

Watermelon- great for fresh fish and meat 

   
 

Sama Sama- great for pizza, ham and cheeses 

  

Sal Negra– fresh tapas selection 

Monkey – bar & grill, Italian they also have an Asian fusion, we tried Italian and the bar & grill – see picture of the Iberico ham Monkey bag below- 

   

  

Biancos- Italian, lovely decor and overlooking the musical lit up fountains, with Hard Rock Cafes pillars as a backdrop this is a fun, bustling restaurant (we spent our NYE here last year, with a set menu of around €70 pp this was a lot of fun, live entertainment, lovely food, party accessories and fireworks all around us)

Callao Arona beach club–  at the end of the beach just past the ‘Spring Arona Gran Hotel’ and around the corner (you have to walk over some baron rubbly ground, and past a gated villa on your right), this is a beautiful location on the beach, great for catching the sunset with a few tapas and cocktails 

  

Jamón y Mojo in the old town – on the top road by the old church , this is great for street food tapas, we literally sat on the road side in the mix, very Spanish – we enjoyed local cheeses with chutneys and jams, a selection of local hams 4/5 years old and local Tenerife wine – Rioja. 

   
   

Overseas – Chinese restaurant run by Tony and Jess, this is a very modern restaurant  with a great menu at a great price, always busy, it’s set just up the hill from the bottom beach, (head up the hill from Bungalow Atlantida, it’s on your right), afterwards we found a hidden gem upstairs in the shopping centre ; there is a large bustling food market , fresh meat is cooked in front of you, fresh pastries, wine, cheese and ice cream, this is very local so practise your Spanish 

   
   

Lunch bites 

El Rincon del pollo – chicken abit like KFC and Nandos ; they even told us there secret recipe for the spicy sauce, also so cheap – €1.60 salad €1.60 chips, €3.80 portion of chicken x3, €1.50 Fanta /Coke 

   
  

La Scarpetta , Los Abrigos- this is a small village just down from San Miguelwe had local fresh fish looking out on the small harbour 
   
 

La Barca – a great fish restaurant however we only ever went for breakfast, fed up of greasy fry ups we went for the Iberico ham on toasted bread with chopped tomatoes, orange juice and tea/coffee all for €5.75

  

Panaria – a great local patisserie with fresh pastries and smoothies, I always went for the selection of 3 pastries for €1 and the diy hot chocolate 

Bars- 

Havanas – a great bar for cocktails and chilled music overlooking the beach with Piccolos, watermelon and Sama Sama etc above 

   
 

Charlottes bar-

Next door to Comodoro apartments, this has a great location, great for an aperitif and/or a digestive, with palm trees at the side and the beach all around it even has live entertainment and heaters when it gets chilly 

   
   

Hard Rock Cafe-  this is always fun with loud music and sometimes live music on the stage, this place is always busy with 2 bars and a restaurant area 

   
 

There is also Magic Bar next to Hard Rock Cafe in the centre 

There are a number of bars below Havanas, Piccolos and Watermelon etc which have great views and music 

If you are after live music there is a great Irish pub 2/3 doors down from the H10 Las Palmeras Hotel, follow the sound of the great live music. 

I hope I have filled you in as much as possible 

Safe travels where ever you decide to go 

Love Charles XXX