Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Missing Blogmas Day 11 Post: The Food of Prague

So in the stress of trying to catch up with the posts I missed in Prague and writing two a day for the last week, I forgot to post this one, so I'm having to go back on my word about my last Prague post, because it's actually this one (sorry). 

When you think of Prague, it's beer and fairytale buildings that come to mind. At least that's how it was for me. I asked as many people who'd been to Prague as I could about the food, but no one really had anything to say, which was strange considering I loved it so much I wanted to dedicate a post to it. 

I was so pleasantly surprised with the variety, the flavours and the combinations and I just wanted to stay until I'd tried every dish possible. 

From street food to traditional stews and back-street cafe treats, this post will have you salivating. 

Street Food

When doing my Prague research, I'd read that the place to find the staple street food was the hot dog stands, and I instantly thought of New York hotdogs. You know, the ones that are pretty grim but everyone says you have to try at least once. Well I couldn't have been more wrong. These were proper bratwurst sausages wrapped in the traditional rohlik (long bread roll). This was the first thing we ate upon landing in Prague, and it filled us right up. 

That cute little swirly roll-thing up there is called a Trdelnik. It's made from rolled dough which is very similar to that which makes a pretzel, wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and sometimes walnuts. These were everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Every second stall at the Christmas market was selling them, and you couldn't walk down a single street without coming across a shop dedicated to selling only them. Having tried one though I can understand why. They're so moreish and will appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth. 

Staromacek Restaurant 

Tucked down one of the backstreets of Old Town was this cosy, little place. A lot of the restaurants around Old Town are quite touristy and don't offer a lot of authentic Czech cuisine, and they're not cheap either. This place was packed and the menu was both authentic and reasonable. Kurtis ordered 'Meat on a Pin' not knowing what to expect. When the above showed up, we were the centre of the whole restaurants attention. That's one fancy kebab. 

I ordered pork stuffed with ham, leeks and Roquefort cheese. It was so scrummy but didn't really look that appealing to the eye, so I thought I'd leave the yummy ingredients to speak for themselves. 

Kolonial Restaurant

This was my favourite meal of the entire trip. After a good 5 hours of sight-seeing on the coldest day (-4) we were starving and desperate for somewhere warm and something to eat. We weren't picky. But we were so lucky to stumble across this gem in the Jewish Quarter. It's actually a cycling restaurant, as you can tell by the quirky decor. Random, yes, but it'll definitely stay with me. I loved how they'd used bike parts to make up dinner themed artwork on the walls, and the hanging bike chains above the bar. 

For starter we ordered the cheeseboard. We weren't aware however that as you progressed up the board, the stronger the cheeses got. That 3rd cheese, OH MY LORD. I love my cheeses but that was stronger than I could handle. It tasted amazing, but was definitely best in moderation. It also made me fingers smell like feet. I loved their take on a classic cheese on toast, with spring onions and sweet chilli, and the jar contained Camembert with garlic. 

For main, I had the classic, traditional goulash in a bread bowl, and Kurtis had Babicino "Hoopla Popl"which was cubes of roasted potato dumplings with homemade boned duck, smoked pork flank and white cabbage. 

As hungry as I was, there's no way I could have finished mine, even though it was the tastiest thing I had out there. Just like the British beef stew really, but containing caraway seeds and both sweet and smoked paprika, giving it a warm, spiced taste.  

I only had a spoonful of Kurtis' but the rabbit (which I'd never had before) was so good, and the dumblings were just like gnocci, but with a crispy outside.  

This is definitely one meal I won't ever forget. 

Christmas Market and Cafes

The best thing about the Christmas markets for me is the variety of food and sweet treats on offer. From roasted nuts and marzipan in every flavour you can imagine to hog roasts and giant rounds of cheese, it's no place for anyone on a diet. The spectacle itself is a feast for the eyes. 

As you'll know I love baking, and I'm so interested in cakes from different countries. I can't quite remember the name of the swirly pastry packed full of cream, but it was hella tasty. 

The last cake is honey cake (Medovnik) , and you can buy it from any cafe in Prague. It's butter, nut and honey heaven. 

As you can see, we well and truly embraced the food of  Prague, and I can't wait to go back and try even more food! 


Friday, 5 December 2014

Blogmas Day 5: The Christmas Tag

So I was tagged by the lovely Ana Celia Wanderley from Oh My Louboutin  to do the Christmas tag, in which I answer a variety of questions about Christmas. I would love to hear your answers to these questions too. Just leave them in the comments below ( can you tell I went a bit crazy on PicMonkey?) 

What is your favourite Christmas movie?
It would have to be the Nightmare Before Christmas for me. Christmas and Halloween are my two favourite holidays, and this film encapsulates them both. I love anything by Tim Burton, and Oogie Boogie's song weirdly gets me in the holiday mood. 

Do you open your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Definitely Christmas morning. I've never met anyone who opens them on Christmas Eve. Maybe one if you can't bear the wait. Every other year my gradparents come round in the morning to give us their presents, and have breakfast with us, and on those years we can't open our presents until they've arrived and we've all eaten breakfast, so me and my brother are well trained in patience and restraint. When we were younger we couldn't bare it, but we've had practice now. 

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
We always play games after Christmas dinner, and lat year we played the game where we all have the name of someone stuck to our foreheads and we have to guess who it is. Grandad had Tom Hanks. We're all shouting 'I got shot in the buttocks' (with accent obviously) at him, as well as multiple other Forest Gump quotes. He never got it, and we must have looked like absolute loons. 

Favourite festive food?
Leftover turkey and stuffing sandwiches with Branston pickle. Don't get me wrong I love the main Christmas meal, but there's something about leftover food that makes it taste amazing. My Aunty Annie has also introduced me to brussel sprout sandwiches which have to me made with real butter, on warm granary bread and sprinkled with black pepper. Sounds grim, but I tried it last year and it's lush.  

Favourite Christmas gift?
The one I remember most was when I got my first laptop. Mum had individually wrapped the laptop case, and the internet security software and made me open that first. I had no idea what was going on and was trying to look grateful for these gifts that I couldn't do anything with. Then Mum pulled out a big present from the very back of the tree, and low and behold it was a laptop. 

Favourite Christmas scent?
Nutmeg and cinnamon. Whenever I smell those two I'm always reminded of Christmas. I've been looking for ages for the perfect candle the smells just like it, but so far I've had no luck. 

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
Obviously when I was little we used to put the mince pie and carrot in the living room before bed. I find it quite sad that we don't do that anymore even if we've stopped believing *sniffs* just for the sake of tradition. 

What tops your tree?
It used to be a fairy, but a few years ago one of my Mum's friends made handmade jewellery, and she also made Christmas decorations out of copper and bronze wire and beads, so we have a cute, star that sits on top now. Our tree is very colour coordinated, so all the decorations are copper, bronze and gold too. 

As a kid, what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you asked for but never received?
I don't remember asking for anything crazy in particular, but I guess that craziness came in the form of me circling practically every toy in the Argos book. 

What's the best part about Christmas for you?
I think the relaxation. The lead up to Christmas is so hectic and quite stressful, and I'm sure everyone is working their butts off for it too, so it's nice when Christmas comes for everything to just stop. For you and your loved ones to be in the same room, slobbing out over tubs of chocolates and leftover turkey, watching movie after movie after movie. 

If you would like to be tagged, just say in the comments below with a link to your blog, and I'll add you below. 

I tag Yaya Duran from My Dreamality


Friday, 7 November 2014

Dishoom London: The Trendy, Budget Friendly Indian Restaurant

Today I thought I'd share with you one of my favourite restaurants: Dishoom

Finding somewhere to eat in London is always a stressful endeavor. We all love to explore something new when we go to London, yet so many of us fall into the disappointing trap of sticking to the old and familiar. But I myself will admit it's hard to find a balance between the generic, uninspiring chains and pretentious rip-off gimmicks.

You can spend hours trawling through review sites, and never really find what you're looking for, and I honestly believe the best way of finding out about new places is word of mouth. I'd seen a few people on Facebook talking about this restaurant, so when me and the boyfriend were in London in the Summer for our anniversary, we decided to check it out.

I loved it so much, that when in London on Tuesday with my best friend, I just had to take her there, 

The first thing you'll encounter when going to Dishoom, both in Shoreditch and Covent Garden, is the queues. I see queues to a restaurant as a good indication of how popular the place is. Whether it's lunchtime, a weekday evening or the weekend, there will be queues. But trust me when I say they go down pretty quickly and it's worth the wait. You'll be served samples of they're non-alcoholic beverages in the meantime though: the hot chai is delicious. 

If there's room, they'll send you to wait at the bar with a buzzer until your table is ready. Make the most of this and check out their cocktail menu: all their cocktails feature an Indian twist and are made right in front of you. I would recommend the Chaihito: A mojito with chai spices. Embrace the atmosphere, and before you know it your table will be ready. 

The second thing I'd suggest you take in whilst you're there is the decor. I fell in love with it instantly. I'd describe the interior design as following a strong 1920s Bombay direction, with dark woods, coppers, pastels and monochrome. Vintage Indian portraits and paraphernalia deck the walls, and the whole venue has an exotic yet homely vibe. 

 FOOD. Let's talk about the food. I swear I'm addicted to Indian food. It's my cuisine of choice, so I've tasted a fare few curries in my time. The first time I went, I tried their Dishoom Calamari to start. Being Greek, I've had so many variations of Calamari, but this was by far the most interesting. I don't know what spices they put into the batter, but they made it quite sweet, which was then combated by garlic and chilli. Delicious. 

This time round, me and George (the bestie) got the Chicken Ruby Curry and the Mattar Paneer Curry. I'd tried the Chicken Ruby before after being told by the waiter that it was the best thing on their menu, so I had to get it again. 

Both these curries are soooo flavoursome, they'll put your local curry house to shame. The bowls you can see in the picture look small, but I could barely finish mine. The sauces are rich and fragrant in both. The chicken melts like butter in the mouth, whilst the paneer is creamy and soft and soaks up all the flavours of the sauce. We had a bowl of rice and a plain naan with these. The rice is fluffy, and the naan is thin and crispy and lightly brushed with butter. 

This seems like a really cliche Indian meal, but the subtle twists in flavours and the execution of simple things like the naan bread mean it's set way above your normal curry and rice. To top that off, this entire meal came to £11 EACH!! 

I'm sure you'll admit, for one of the trendiest, most popular restaurants in LONDON, whose food is something you'll forever crave after your first visit, that is an absolutely steal!!. 


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Blogger Bake Off Final - Petit Four: Coffee Victoria & Lemon Meringue Tartlets

And so, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case of which I'm certain [...]  Yes there were times, I'm sure you knew when I bit off more than I could chew. But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spat it out . I faced it all and I stood tall, and baked it my way! 

What's a final without a cheesy ballad thrown in there somewhere? I'm sure the British Bake Off will have one tonight when they announce the winner (RICHARD! RICHARD!) 

This week, I decided after the chaos of the entremet, there was no way I was tackling a croque en bouche, so went for petit four instead. Make a miniature version of anything and it's adorable, so I did these minis of some baking classics, the victoria sponge and lemon meringue pie (I also like to pretend I'm a giant when eating them). 

This entire challenge has been incredible and I would personally like to thank I Love Crafty for organising the entire thing. I've learnt so much from doing this, and don't really want it to stop. That's where you guys come in. If you would like to see the baking continue on Blood, Sweat and Heels then leave a little comment below, because I'm seriously considering making it a permanent feature. Whatever the decision may be, there is a Christmas Blogger Bake Off in the pipeline. 

I really hope you've enjoyed this flurry of baking that's been going on recently and have been inspired to don your apron and get elbow deep in dough. 

Coffee Victoria

225g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for tin
225g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
100ml cold espresso

Filling / Icing
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp cold espresso

1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Butter one large, deep baking tray, and line the base with baking paper. 
2. Using an electric whisk on high speed, whisk the butter in a large bowl for 1-2 minutes until very pale and fluffy, then add the sugar and continue to whisk for another 1-2 minutes. 

3.  Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well with each addition until the mixture is amalgamated.

4.  Sift and whisk in the flour and baking powder in two goes, just lightly, then whisk in the coffee. 

5. Tip the mixture into the baking tray, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when poked. 
6. Whilst that's baking, for the filling cream the butter in a bowl using an electric whisk for about 1 minute until very pale and fluffy, then gradually whisk in the icing sugar and whisk for 1 minute longer. Finally whisk in the coffee. 
7. When the cake is done, remove from the baking tray and peel off the baking paper. Leave on a wire rack to cool. 

8. When cooled take your cake cutter (I used a shot glass and a knife for this as I didn't have a cutter small enough. Remember, petit four are meant to be eaten in one go) and cut out as many circles of sponge as you can get out of your cake. 

9. To get my icing effect, I used a piping bag and a small star nozzle, but how you decorate yours is completely up to you. Add the filling to one circle, and then gently place another on top, and ice. 

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

175g plain flour
100g cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk

2 level tbsp cornflour
100g golden caster sugar
finely grated zest 2 large lemons
125ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
juice 1 small orange (or breakfast orange juice)
85g butter cut into pieces
3 egg yolks and one whole egg

4 egg whites, room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
2 level tsp cornflour. 

1.Preheat the oven to 200C 
2. For the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and  tbsp of cold water into a bowl. 

3. Using your hands, bind the ingredients together until it forms a dough. This will require you to really work the butter into the mix, so there are no lumps of butter. Use an electric whisk if it helps. 
4. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface , gather together until smooth, then roll it out. 

5. Using the same cutter you used for the Coffee Victorias, or a shot glass and a knife, cut out as many circles as you can get from that piece of dough. Pull all the off-cuts together and roll out again and cut more circles. Repeat this until you're out of dough. 

6. Fill a muffin tray with muffin cases, and place a circle in each one. Using your forefinger, poke the dough right into the corners to create a yorkshire pudding shape. Stab each one with a fork and put the tray in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes. 

7. Once chilled, line each bit of pastry with tin foil, and add baking beans for a blind bake. 

8. Put into the oven for 6 minutes. 
9. Remove from the oven, and remove the baking beans and foil. 
10. Put back into the oven for another 6-10 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. 

11. For the filling, mix cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. 
12. Make orange juice up to 200ml with water and strain into the pan. 
13. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. 

14. Beat the egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. 
15. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon (It will bubble, but won't curdle). Take off the heat and set aside while you make the meringue. 

16. For the meringue, put the egg whites in a bowl. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without over-beating. 
17. Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick. 

18. Using a teaspoon, add the lemon filling to your cases, filling just to the brim. 
19. How you want your meringue to appear is completely up to you, I used a piping bag and a small star nozzle, piping the meringue in tiny blobs. 

20. When you've piped the meringue, turn the grill onto it's highest setting, and set the tartlets under it until the tip of meringue start to brown. Keep an eye on them because this process happens quite quickly. 


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Great Blogger Bake Off: Week 9 - Mango and Lemon Entremet

Jesus Christ this week was hard! I kinda brought it on myself though, choosing to do an entremet. It was a massive mountain to climb trying to pull this off, and I can't describe how ecstatic I was getting it out of the tin yesterday to find that it had set, because it so easily could have gone the other way. I was even more surprised to see that it was the cake of choice for the Showstopper Challenge on the Bake Off yesterday, which gave me a huge sense of achievement. 

I want to apologise for not being as vigilant in photographing the baking process this week. I would get so caught up in the complication of this behemoth of a cake, that i'd do two steps of the recipe without even realizing, or having taken a photo, but hopefully you get the gist if you want to give it a go yourself.

I don't want to take all the credit for this recipe. I need to thank Pastry Workshop Blog for the flavour inspiration and method as well. I found with this cake, no matter what recipe you follow, you're going to have to make your own changes. When working with temperamental consistencies such as mousse, ganache and glaze, you'll end up doing whatever you can to make it set, regardless of what the recipe says. 

Pastry Workshop got the flavour combination on point! The sharp lemon mousse combats the sweetness of the mango mousse and white chocolate glaze, and you get a really subtle hint of lime from the ganache. You can't quite put your finger on it at first, but you know it's there. 

I am dead chuffed with this, and urge any of you to give it a go. It's time consuming and you'll pull out most of your hair making it, but the result is well worth it! 


Poppy Seed Sponge
6 egg whites
A pinch of salt
150g sugar
100g poppy seeds
50g shredded coconut 
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp vanilla extract

Lemon Curd
5 egg yolks
215g sugar
100g butter
15g lemon zest
90ml lemon juice

Mango Mousse
350g mango puree
100g sugar
45ml water
2 egg whites
6g gelatine (plus 30 ml cold water) 
250ml double cream, whipped

Lime Infused White Chocolate Ganache 
150g white chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
20g butter
zest from 1 lime

Lemon Mousse
80ml lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon 
Half of your lemon curd
7g gelatine (plus35ml cold water)
2 egg whites
100g sugar
45ml water
280ml double cream, whipped

White Chocolate Glaze 
300g white chocolate, chopped
300ml double cream
3g gelatine (plus 15ml cold water) 


1. Preheat the oven to 170C 

2. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they're stiff. Gradually stir in the sugar, mixing until the whites are nice and shiny. 

3. Stir in the vanilla extract

4. In a separate bowl, mix the poppy seeds, coconut, flour and baking powder together, and then fold this into the egg whites. 

5.Spoon the batter into a round cake tin (I used 23cm to start with, but after baking it shrunk from the sides, so to make the stacking compact, I moved it over to a smaller one). Place into the oven for 30-40 minutes or until lightly risen and golden brown. 

6. When the cake's done, let it cool down in the pan then remove and cut the cake in half lengthways to get two equal sheets of cake. 

7. Place one sheet of cake back in the cake ring you're going to use for the stacking process, and put the other half to one side. 

8. For the curd, combine the egg yolks, sugar, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of hot water and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until melted, thick and creamy. It might take around 20 minutes so be patient. 

9. When the curd is done, strain it through a sieve and then split the curd into two equal portions. You will use half in the lemon mousse, and the other half for decoration. 

10. Place aside to cool down completely. 

11. Combine the gelatin for the mango mousse and the assigned amount of water in a small bowl and let it bloom for ten minutes. 

12. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook the syrup until it begin to thicken - about 5 minutes. 

13. Whilst the syrup cooks, whip the egg whites until stiff.  Begin pouring the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites, mixing all the time (preferable with an electric whisk). Mix until glossy. 

14. Reheat the gelatin for a few seconds and stir it into the mango puree then combine the puree with the egg whites. 

15. Whip the double cream then fold it into the egg whites. Then pour the mousse into the cake ring on top of the first layer of poppy seed sponge. 

16. Place back into the fridge and allow for the mousse to set. I allowed 2 hours. 

17. For the lime infused white chocolate ganache, bring the heavy cream to the boil. 

18. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest. Let the mixture infuse until it's completely chilled.

19. Strain through a sieve and then bring back to boiling point. 

20. Remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate. 

21. Mix until melted and smooth and then stir in the butter.

22. When the ganache is at room temperature, pour it over the mango mousse and put straight back into the fridge to set. 

23. When the ganache is set, place the second layer of poppy seed sponge on top and put the cake back into the fridge. 

24. For the lemon mousse, mix the gelatin and water in a small bowl and allow to bloom for ten minutes. 

25. Combine the lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan and bring to boiling point. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool, then strain through a sieve. 

26. Warm up the lemon curd and add to the juice and zest. Set aside. 

27. Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook the syrup for 5 minutes until thickened. 

28. Whip the egg whites until stiff and then gradually add the hot sugar syrup, mixing well with an electric whisk until stiff and shiny. 

29. Stir in the melted gelatin then add the lemon curd. 

30. Whip the double cream. 

31. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature then fold in the whipped cream. 

32. Pour the mousse on top of the ganache and put back into the fridge. From this point, it's up to you how long you leave it in the fridge for. 2 hours will be enough for the mousse to have set, but I wanted to leave it in for as long as possible before adding the glaze, so I left it overnight. If it's your first time making this, overnight is best, just to make sure. 

33. For the glaze, combine the gelatin and water and let it bloom for ten minutes. 

34. Pour the cream into the saucepan and bring it to boiling point. 

35. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth. 

36. Add the gelatin and mix well. 

37. Allow the glaze to come to room temperature then pour over the cake.