Sunday, 31 August 2014

Coconut and chocolate, a match made in heaven

I know cupcakes have taken a back seat in recent times to the newly popular macaroons and donuts, but I still love a cupcake. I have tried several recipes but the best seem to be Hummingbird recipes. These are my favourite - chocolate and coconut. The sponge is so light and fluffy, which is hard to achieve with chocolate, and the sweet coconut icing is so well balanced against the bitterness.

The sponge recipe: -
70g butter
170g plain flour
250g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
210ml whole milk
2 eggs
(The recipe then says to put a small bit of bounty bar in it but this didn't seem to work.)

Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor. Mix the wet ingredients separately then add them slowly to the mixture. Put in a muffin tin (Makes 12) and cook at 170C for 23mins.

The icing recipe: -
250g icing sugar sifted
80g softened butter
30ml coconut milk
Desiccated coconut to sprinkle on top
(I have halved all of the ingredients because I think this is enough to compliment the sponge...and I would like to keep all of my teeth)

Blend the butter and icing sugar then slowly add the coconut milk. Add to the cupcakes when they are cool and voila! With all the leftover coconut milk, a great excuse to make a curry...
#cupcake #chocolate #cocunut #hummingbird

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Pancakes - enough said

Pancakes! I seems a shame that many English folk don't touch a pancake unless it is of course pancake day. Then it is a sin not to. Well, I had a craving and thought I would see what happened...
There are different pancake recipes about but generally, the thin traditional ones have plain flour while the fluffier American style have self raising flour. I thought I would give the American ones a go with the, er, not traditional shape.

For the pancake mix I used:
1 egg
25g unsalted butter
1 cup of self raising flour
1 cup of milk (use the same cup as the flour)
Pinch of sea salt

For the first topping I used: cream cheese, crushed cashews, capers, thyme, black pepper.
Verdict: A good range of textures and layers of flavour; salt from the capers, fragrant thyme... some sundried tomatoes on top would add another depth.
Second course: A pizza style pancake with tomato puree, grated cheddar, spring onions, lemon zest and coriander.
Verdict: A winner, great variety of flavours.
Pudding: Natural yogurt, honey, raspberries and desiccated coconut. Ok, I cheated with the healthiness and put a sprinkle of sugar on. Buy hey, it wasn't in the batter.
Verdict: I should have pancakes more often...

Friday, 29 August 2014

Muff... as in an exhaust muffler...

I thought it was about time we saw what the fuss was about with the Olympic park (Stratford) and with a new area meant ...a new coffee shop! This was the hottest day of the year so outside seating by a canal was the ideal suggestion of Muff Customs Cafe. It had a definite motorbike feel with outfits (I'm sure there is a more butch name for the attire but then the cafe is called muff) and bikes inside. As it turns out, there is a bike motorbike workshop next door giving a reason for the theme. It has a very hipster feel about it, in spite of its bike repairs functions and, while it's decor was inviting and, as you would say in the 90's, 'cool', the menu was quite limited. I opted for the 'huevos rancheros' with their chillies, refried beans, fried egg and surprise cheese underneath. Quite the filling treat on a hot summers day. However T was a little disappointed. Not with the flavour of the sweet pulled pork bun, but the lingering hunger after. It looks like a muffin and it was the size of one. Excitingly quirky but doesn't quite cut if for a foodie. 
Atmosphere: 9  Interior: 9 Lunch: 6 Pudding: 5 (we didn't have either of the two options) Drinks other than coffee: 5
#muffcustomscafe #coffeeshop #huevosrancheros

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Grinding our way south ...twice in one day

About a year ago (still catching you up), we found ourselves venturing south of the river (in London) to a coffee shop that still puts a smile on my sandwich filled mouth. It's name was Grind, located in Putney. It was filled with such friendly faces and delicious smells... the menu was very inviting too! Spinach, goats cheese and sunblush tomatoes on oaty bread is what filled me that day. T was very satisfied with his chicken, almond and aioli in a rosemary focaccia. There was a great selection of teas and smoothies and a big crown of trendy brunchers.We liked it so much that we went back later that afternoon for threeses (the new elevenses). Who new you could have you banana loaf warmed with butter oozing on top. Yum.
Atmosphere: 9  Interior: 8  Lunch: 7.5 (delicious but a short menu)  pudding: 7 (again, delicious but a short menu)  Drinks other than coffee: 10
#grind #coffeeshop #sandwich

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A Timberyard with acres of treats

After poking our noses in a couple of other coffee shops, a delightful walk around Covent Garden and Seven Dials led us to Timberyard. From the offset, this coffee shop had worked it's charm. It's fresh and modern interior with large hanging lightbulbs, Ipads for free use around the window seating, a good sountrack and contrasting wooden with industrial metal feature tables (Accentuating the industrial style logo). The second viewing led your eyes astray to the large selection of undecidable puddings; donuts, cakes, brownies, giant cookies... I would come back for just an afternoon treat! I chose a quite tasty hummous, roast pepper chutney and spinach sandwich with a mactha tea (this didn't quite match but I'm here to experiment), while T chose a more meaty ham and cheese (While simple, it has been mentioned for it's greatness since). This was rounded off with a coffee, toffee and nut donut and a rocky road brownie (which we clearly had to share as both looked and tasted amazing). All was served on cosy wooden trays (they had to get more wood in to prove the name) with complimentary water bottles. A great place to work or relax or just indulge and a definite winner in the coffee shop food rankings (out of 10)...
Atmosphere: 9      Interior: 10     Lunch:  8    Pudding: 10    Drinks other than coffee: 9
#timberyard #coffeeshop #coventgarden

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

And so a love affair began...

My love of coffee shops began with a creatively displayed cake selection adorned with lashings of pastel-shaded cream, glossy caramel, cloud like meringue with pink rain and delicate sweet snowy cupcake peaks. I was mesmerized. So beautiful and oh so tempting. Little did I know that this was the start of things to come. 

The shop was Bea's of Bloomsbury, which was discovered entirely by accident. We (with T, the willing coffee shop companion) were on our way to try vietnamese baguettes when dessert seemed more inviting. Spoilt for choice, I decided on a signature cookie, known as a 'snickerdoodle'. Copious amounts of cinnamon and yum later, I was in love. T opted for the equally delicious and melt in the mouth 'blondie'. 

This was now well over a year ago and I decided to write this blog to share what I have been doing since. Many a coffee shop has now been visited, tried and tasted in London and other exciting places. I have sampled, scoffed and desired many a coffee shop treat. I chose now because I went back to the place where it all began (well, a sister chain in St Paul's). Bea's of Bloomsbury make afternoon tea! (See pic.) A delicious taste of scrumptiousness (um..for want of a better word). We (with T) began our feast with mini baguettes of known and lesser-known combinations (cream cheese, crushed almonds and thyme), followed by light and fluffy scones with fresh cream and strawberry jam. This was completed with several puddings. I'm not known to leave any dessert but even my sweet tooth couldn't finish it. This highlights were definitely the passion fruit marshmallow, rich brownie and perfectly light and the fragrant lemon cupcake. Mmm. 

Over the next few blogs, I'm hoping to update you on previous and equally as delicious finds, as well as sharing recipes that I like to try (successfully or not) and hopefully recipes that I've created. Even though I talk of coffee shops, it's the food I care about. Why not go to restaurants you may ask? Well, I have done a lot of traveling in my time and I have always found gratitude and respite in the fresh roasting smell of coffee surrounded by fellow people relaxing, enjoying a low strum of an acoustic guitar (or a Jack Johnson CD) and admiring the often quirky or arty interiors. They became a home away from home and have continued to become my place of calm and inspiration. I'm not a qualified food-eater or have any degree of expertise but I am human and therefore was designed to eat. And eat is what I shall do. 
#beas #afternoontea #coffeeshop