Christmas Canapés with John Lewis

Festive ambience at the Waitrose Cookery School

Its December (how?!), therefore it is fully acceptable to eat, talk and drink ‘Christmas’. I managed to catch the switching on of the festive lights with my little one and I am rather enjoying all the Christmas adverts! Do you have one that you love? Buster The Boxer is a huge hit with my 2 year old that I have even had a sneaky peek at their merchandise.

Christmas Lights Switch On

I am one who does not need any help to get into the spirit of the festive season but I went into Christmas ‘overdrive’ if that’s such a word when I had the chance to attend a Christmas Cookery Event hosted by John Lewis at the Waitrose Cookery School on Finchley Road. I was so excited and rather nervous to experience my first ‘Masterchef’ moment. I was rather intrigued as I have never been to a cookery class before and in the brief, I had the understanding that we will be making 5 different festive canapés in a few hours. Ps. nervous was an understatement when I walked up to their GORGEOUS kitchen. The kitchen here is wonderful, it has everything that I have ever wanted in a kitchen including a magic washing up trolley where there’s no need to actually do the washing up. Guess what, I had every right to be nervous as their expert chef Gerard kindly suggested that yours truly should go on a knife skills course. A basic one at that 🙂 Ps. my Kitchen Wishlist has grown by leaps and bounds ever since I had a feel of this shiny impressive kitchen. I could do with some new knives (hint hint husband)!

Look! (I spy with my little eye, the magic washing up trolley on the top left)

Waitrose Cookery School

Dressed crab, shaved fennel all on top of a homemade crab cracker! This was lush and it was prepared beforehand all ready for us when we arrived.

Dressed Crab with Fennel on Cracker

Armed with quite a few of these delicious crab canapés tucked in my belly, it was time to get cooking! Chefs Gerard and Shauna showed us the ropes by demonstrating step by step how to cook each recipe where we all try to listen intently whilst trying to get lots of pictures. I was most definitely in a room full of bloggers, a variety of technology whipped out trying to capture the best angles. This was a great way to learn especially since I had very adept cooking buddies.

John Lewis Christmas COOK Event

I thought I would share my favourites from the evening and you can recreate them at home for your family and guests.

Confit Duck Samosa, served with a Spiced Pear Puree

(makes 12 samosa)

Confit Duck Samosa

For the Confit Duck Filling

75g Confit Duck Leg

80ml Pedro Ximinez Sherry

30g Cape Raisins

1.5tb Hoisin Sauce

For the Samosas

2 sheets of Filo Pastry, cut in half and then again lengthwise into 3, leaving you with 6 pieces of Filo

50ml unsalted butter, melted

For the Spiced Pear Puree

2 ripe Pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

1/4 tsp Bart All Spice

1/2 Lemon, juiced

1tsp Reserved Sherry Liquor

1. For the confit duck filling – In a small pan combine the raisins and the sherry.

Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to soak for 1 hour. Once

soaked strain the raisins, reserving the sherry.

In a small bowl mix together the soaked raisins, shredded confit duck leg,

hoisin sauce and ½ of the reserved sherry. Mix well, cover and chill.

2. For the samosa – Preheat an oven to 160C. Lay a strip of the filo lengthways

on your work surface and brush all over the the melted butter.

Place a tsp of the filling at the top of the sheet of filo. Fold the top right hand

corner over to make a triangular shape. Follow the triangular pattern all the

way down the filo strip. Brush again with the melted butter and place on a

baking tray with the seam underneath. Repeat with the remaining filo and

filling.

Place in the oven and bake for 6-7 minutes until golden, turn the samosa

and bake for a further 6-7 minutes until golden brown all over. Remove,

place on a cooling rack and let cool.

3. For the spiced pear puree – Place the chopped pear pieces into a mini

blender. Add the allspice, lemon juice and sherry liquor. Blitz to a smooth

puree, remove and pour into a small container.

4. To serve – Spoon a tsp of the spiced pear puree onto each samosa and

serve.

Prepping The Confit Duck Filling

Confit Duck Samosa

Confit Duck Samosa

Confit Duck Samosa

We also whizzed up a lovely spiced pear puree to go with the crispy samosa and the pairing of this was delicious. How cute is the little Kenwood mixer too, I had a good browse on HERE when I got home!

Spiced Pear Puree

Confit Duck Samosa

I took my time writing this post as I actually tried recreating them at home! Made an inspired version of these more-ish samosas but instead of duck confit, I used minced beef fried with onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, tomatoes. Mixed in some orange rind for good measure. Replaced butter with melted dairy free spread in order for our little one to join in the eating fun.

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It was a hit even with the toddler! She couldn’t wait to sink her teeth in my samosas, haha.

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Back to the John Lewis Cook Event, we made Parmesan Risotto Balls (Arancini)! Risotto has always been one of my favourites in a restaurant but I have never made it at home. What more, deep fry it. Its not too difficult but definitely labour intensive as there’s lots of stirring involved. It was mouth watering and I must make a mental note to make this for my husband soon.

Parmesan Risotto Balls

(makes 40 balls)

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For the Risotto

1 Shallot, peeled and finely diced

1 clove Garlic, peeled and finely crushed

1 sprig Thyme

20g unsalted Butter

1/2 tbsp Sunflower Oil

1 tbsp White Wine

100g Arborio Rice

450ml Vegetable Stock, warmed

80g Parmesan, finely grated

For the Panne

2 – 3 tbsp Plain White Flour

1 Egg, cracked and beaten

100g Dried Breadcrumbs

1. To cook the risotto – Place a medium sized pan onto a low heat. Add the oil and butter. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes until the shallot is soft. Pour in the white wine, bring to the boil and let bubble until it is almost fully reduced.

2. Tip in the arborio rice and coat in the shallot and wine mix. Begin to add the warmed stock, a ladle at a time and stir until absorbed by the rice. Continue to do so with all of the stock ensuring that the stock is fully absorbed otherwise your risotto balls will be too wet.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan. Season with  pinch of salt and cracked black pepper. Spread out onto  flat tray and place in the fridge to cool.

4. To shape and panne – Once cool, remove from the fridge and scoop using a measuring spoon into 10-15g balls.

5. Dust each one with the flour, then coat with the beaten egg and finally roll each one in the breadcrumbs. Roll each ball gently in the palm of your hand to form a nice round shape, place on a clean tray and return to the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm up.

6. To cook the balls – Meanwhile heat a fryer to 180C. Remove the balls from the fridge. Place in the fryer and cook until golden in colour. Remove and place on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.

7. To serve – Season with sea salt, and place a cocktail stick into each. Serve with some lemon mayonnaise.

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Hope you enjoyed my two favourite recipes from the cooking class. Leaving you on a ‘sweet note’. Chocolate mousse domes with raspberry! If you would like the recipe, do give me a shout and I will be happy to share 🙂

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Thank you very much for inviting me John Lewis, I enjoyed myself and would recommend the Waitrose Cookery School classes to all. Time to have another good browse on John Lewis but I think I found a winner –> This Digital Crock Pot Slow Cooker!

 

 

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Ice Monster Taipei – Taiwanese Desserts

We jumped at the chance of a baby-free outing when my parents volunteered to babysit.  I quickly did some research and decided that we should definitely try one of the most famous desserts in Taiwan – shaved ice. We dropped in at one of the top shaved ice eateries, Ice Monster.

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The menu is definitely something, the variety was endless .. it was so tough for us to make a decision. We settled on their bestseller, the Mango and the Bubble Milk Tea Sensation. You can also take a peek at how they prepare your desserts as they do it right by their doorway.

Check out their branding .. got to love their ‘grumpy’ bright yellow monster.

When our desserts arrived, we just stared at each other .. channeling ‘ITS HUGE’ thoughts. Overwhelming, we should have shared but we we were greedy and wanted to try more than one flavour.

On first bite, I was rather surprised at the silky smooth texture of the ice. Quite different compared to the Malaysian shaved ice dessert (Ice Kacang) that I grew up with. Super soft shaved ice that melts in your mouth like cotton candy. Amazing! Refreshing and oh very addictive. They must add some sort of condensed milk to the ice. The mango was very fresh and this is not surprising at all as Taiwanese mangoes are abundant.

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Bubble Tea Sensation was interesting, looked like a Chewbacca. It was a deconstructed bowl of ‘frozen’ bubble tea. Creamy ribbon like shaved ice served with a side of ‘pearls’.

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The bill came up to 400 TWD , about £10. Definitely quite dear if you compare this to a street stall selling shaved ice but cannot complain for the quality, variety and experience 🙂

One for the books, baby-free ‘date night’ when we were on holibobs.

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xxx

 

Raspberry Lemon Scones

No recipe post 🙂 Just felt like whipping up some scones without following a set of guidelines. Rogue baking. Haha!

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Not too shabby at all, especially with a warm cup of tea. Have a great day ahead xxx

In the mood for some Easter bakes

Happy first day of spring! It has been too long since I have particularly enjoyed whipping up sweeties in the kitchen. With help from ‘Teletubbies’ and leaving bubba to her own device, I managed to make not one but 2 lush goodies. I have been browsing the glorious Easter section on the Waitrose website for a few days now.

Their themed Easter baking section was definitely inspiring as it made me penned recipes I wanted to attempt on a scrap piece of paper. Of the late, I just go oh that’s nice and just admire them through the screen.

After much deliberation, I decided to make my own ‘Crunchie’ bar for the first time. The recipe worked fabulously and I was mighty pleased with the end result. Managed to take photographs along the way to share with you too.

Who knew the ingredients to make honeycomb is so basic! Extra plus point to a recipe if they are already present in the food cupboard. The recipe is on HERE.

Honeycomb ingredients

100g caster sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate
200g dark chocolate (I used 100g)

Melt the sugar and golden syrup under a medium heat. Low to be safe 😉

Golden syrup

Mixed it to a paste till it reaches 140C, I was lucky I found my sugar thermometer lying around somewhere.

Sugar and golden syrup paste

This part was very cool, the mixture just froths really quickly when you beat in the soda bicarbonate!

The making of honeycomb

Quick quick, pour it into your lined pan. Look at that colour!

Leftover honeycomb

Homemade Honeycomb

I was super chuffed that it worked! It set really quickly and I could carry this large piece around everywhere 😀

Shiny homemade honeycomb

Smash the honeycomb into shards, I used a wooden spoon. Initially, I wanted to ‘Google’ how do you smash honeycomb into shards. Haha.

Broken honeycomb

 

Easy Homemade Honeycomb Shards

Drizzled warm dark chocolate all over the lush honeycomb.

Honeycomb Shards

Voila! It was the perfect piece of mess. Chocolate drizzled honeycomb, thanks to recipe by Waitrose.

Chocolate Dipped Honeycomb

On to the next bake! Mutated Blueberry Bunny Scones. Recipe from HERE. Its another easy recipe although I did struggle when it came to folding the dough into an adorable bunny shape. Mine looks like they have been through tough times.

There’s a video attached to the recipe which was wonderful but I totally forgot how they folded the ears and it was too late when both my hands were covered in scone dough.

Blueberry filling

Lush blueberry filling with lemon juice and sugar.

Blueberry filling made with lemon juice and sugar

Scone dough all rolled out.

Scone dough

Rolled out scone with blueberry filling

Check out my bunnies before they were popped in the oven. They are slightly wonky but oh well, at least they still resemble rabbits.

Blueberry Bunny Scones

Bunny Scones Before Baking

Easter Rabbit Scones

Blueberry Scones

Oven time! All done now after baking them for 10 minutes.

Blueberry Rabbit Scones

Bunny scones with blueberry eyes!

Homemade Bunny Scones

Easter bunny scones

Blueberry Bunny Scone

My loyal fan 😉 She definitely ate it like I would..  the nose and eyes first!

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Hope you enjoyed my Chocolate Drizzled Honeycomb and Blueberry Bunny Scones, do share when you try them out.

Ps. you can Shop Easter with 15% off orders over £40 with code KX15. Ps, you can even order lush party food from Waitrose Entertaining if you are not in the mood to host ‘homemade’ or grab indulgent chocolate eggs for the adults. I LOVE luxury chocolate eggs with a passion, once a year after all.

Aaaah, I should definitely do this more often. I forgot how much I enjoyed baking and trying new recipes!

xxx

 

Bake Sale Cupcakes

Bake Sale

LOVE LOVE love these very adorable chocolate toppers! Made with help from Baked By Me‘s cupcake and ribbon mould. There’s a little slot to convert them to lollies too.

Easy peasy vanilla buttercream cupcakes accompanied by some chocolate lollypops.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcake topper

Crossed Charity Ribbon Cake

Closed up charity cupcake

Bake sale cakes

Have a delicious day ahead.

 

Festive Chocolate Moulds

Santa stuck going down the chimney?Santa Chimney Lollipop Mould Gingerbreadman and little gingerbread house mould! Gingerbreadman and gingerbread lollipop mould Snowman and christmas tree!Snowman Christmas Tree Mould and a waving Santa!
Waving Santa Chocolate Mould

They are currently on offer for £4 on my little website. They are very easy to use, just add melted chocolate. Allow to set and pop them out. Ps. they are oven safe too if you want to bake shortbread or make crayons, soaps and other crafty delights. They are also perfect for making your own dairy free chocolate.

Just on time for Oktoberfest.

Fun fun fun! Seen this? Perfect timing eh when winter blues starts kicking in (jokes)

Beer Mug mouldHomemade Beer Mug Chocolates

Is this not perfect? A delight for a beer AND chocolate enthusiast. Cheers!

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