Category: things we eat

The Gelato

Ice-cream is one of my very favourite things. And gelato is even better. So when we went to Italy we ate all the gelato we could.

I know what you’re thinking….. isn’t gelato just Italian for ice-cream? Simple answer no. The main difference is that gelato has more milk than cream so freezes at a lower temperature and is denser in consistency. It does taste smoother somehow too. I don’t know if I could pick gelato out from ice-cream in a taste test but for research purposes I’m happy to give it a whirl……

Before we went on our holiday I did some research and had about five gelateria’s in mind for us to visit during our stay.

In Lucca we went to Piniko and Grom. I had such delights as mango, coffee and nocciola (hazelnut).

In Venice we wandered to find Fantasy Gelato and I tried pistachio, stracciatella and peach.

In the little town on the coast, Lido di Camaiore, we visited Modo and at Viareggio,  Kremmy. Gav liked Kremmy best as they were very friendly and helpful. Translating the flavours for us and letting us try before we bought.

I loved our first visit to Modo not only because we’d walked and walked to get there so it was a perfect reward but also that just ahead of us into the shop went a large Italian family.  Each member of the family stepped up to the counter, chose their gelato and headed to the seating area on the promenade to tuck into the yummy dessert. And the best bit of that scene was that the Grandad paid for all the family. It was a lovely sight to witness.

I had more pistachio and I tried out chocolate and fig. And at Kremmy more hazelnut strawberry and nutella.

Finally in Florence we went to Grom again and Vivoli. Not sure which flavours I had but they were very good.

If you’ve ever watched the movie City Slickers then you’ll recall the scene where Billy Crystals character is testing another characters knowledge of what ice cream goes with different foods. Pretty sure those ice-cream making pair in the movie were supposed to be Ben and Jerry! Anyway, I felt a bit like that stood in front of all that gelato. I wanted to get a good combination of flavours in my cup. I can honestly admit that I didn’t achieve that goal. But they were all delicious in their own right so I’m not complaining and I think my favourite was the hazelnut.

Now to hunt up so gelato and keep practicing!

The Breakfast Love Affair – Eggs Florentine

I began writing this post by looking back to see when I last waxed lyrical about breakfast. A year ago, in fact over a year ago! Let me allay your fears and say that we have indeed been eating breakfast but clearly I’ve felt they were to boring too write about!

When we were in London recently Gav had Eggs Florentine, as I recall on the two consecutive mornings. Last weekend he returned from the shop with a bag of spinach, a pack of muffins (the English kind) and a new jar of hollandaise and asked me to make it for breakfast the next day. How could I refuse?

In case you are unfamiliar with this version of breakfast/brunch it is a lightly toasted muffin topped with wilted spinach a poached egg and a dollop of hollandaise. Mmm….. And since I’ve got my poaching sorted, what with all the practicing I did for the asparagus,  I managed to pull of a lovely morning meal. Definitely one that we will be trying again and with all that spinach it must be good for you too.

Click Tick List – Make Profiteroles

We were going to my sisters for dinner last Saturday. We have an agreement about the provision of the desert, whoever is the visitor brings the pudding. My wonderful sis always makes the puds from scratch and I usually buy them but last Saturday I decided to make them.

And since the Click Tick List had been on my mind I thought what better desert to make than profiteroles!

Making choux pastry is a strange affair but I got on with it.

I think my mixture was a little runny. The recipe I used did say you might not need to add all the egg but I threw it in anyway. If I were ever to have another go at choux pastry (doubtful….) I wouldn’t add all the egg. Lesson one.

I piped the mixture onto the baking tray but ended up having lots leftover and realised I’d made my buns a little small so I popped a bit more dough on top of each mound to use up the rest of the mixture.

If I’d have left them as they had been piped I think they would have looked much neater. Lesson two.

After the buns cooled I found that a few were not cooked all the way through. If I’d have left them in the oven another two minutes I think they would have been perfect. Lesson three.

I piped whipped cream into the centre of each bun and served them up. Oh yes and my chocolate sauce went wrong too. You can see the theme here right?

But my lovely family ate them all up and were almost complimentary! And of course I can cross it off the list.

The breakfast love affair continues – Chocolate Pancakes

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Indulgence at its best. My niece was round for a sleepover and I wanted to make pancakes for our breakfast but she isn’t a big blueberry fan (crazy I know.) I was trying to think of an alternative that she would like and of course chocolate was going to be a winner.

I used my usual pancake recipe and threw in the chopped choc before cooking. I’d found a bar of white, dark and milk chocolate mixed in together and this combination looked pretty and gave a balance of chocolate-ness.

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My niece and I had ours topped with banana and I have to admit it was a perfect addition. Apart from the fact that banana and chocolate are a great partnership anyway, the fruit made you think you were being healthier than you were but it also worked as a balance for the heavier pancakes. All in all a breakfast success.

Bun and Butter Pudding

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Last weekend I made this pudding for the first time and it was so easy and delicious I thought I’d share.

We were going to dinner at by BFF’s and for the last few years we have spread the cooking between us. If we are going to them I make the desert and vice versa. It works really great taking some of the pressure off the host. (My sis and I do the same thing too – except when she insists on doing both courses and then makes the most delicious Rice Pudding and I get asked by Gav why I don’t make Rice Puddings like that….. but I digress!)

Apologies if hot cross buns are just a UK thing. But I’m sure this would work with any spiced bread product just as well.

Assemble the ingredients and the ‘cookbook.’

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Cut your buns in half horizontally and butter. Reassemble and place in the dish adding the cubed marzipan and spreading the tops of the buns with the marmalade.

Then after warming the milk and cream, whisking that into the egg, sugar and vanilla you are virtually done. Just pour over and keep popping back to the dish for an hour or so to press the buns into the egg mix so that they get well and truly soaked through.

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Bake for 50 minutes and enjoy!

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It really was so good with the addition of the marzipan making this one of my new favourites.

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The breakfast love affair continues – Bircher Muesli/overnight oats

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I see many, many recipes on Pinterest for overnight oats and I wondered how it compared to Bircher muesli which is one of my favourite breakfasts ever since I made it as part of my click tick list.

As I mentioned in that original post there are lots of variations of Bircher, in fact the one I made was not true to the original which had apples/apple juice, nuts, rolled oats, lemon juice and cream (or condensed milk).

From my research around the internet I find that Overnight oats are almost the same as my version of Bircher except instead of apple juice they use yogurt in the overnight soaking as well as the milk. The ratio of oats to ‘liquid’ is still about twice as much liquid as oats.

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For my version I soaked the oats in milk and yogurt overnight and added grated apple (not strictly an ingredient that is added to this version), pecan nuts and maple syrup before serving.

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It was good but I just didn’t like it as much as my Bircher. Overnight oats seem to be much firmer and I like a bit of a sloppy muesli. Also there seems to be a need to add allsorts of flavours which is great for variation but when you work out those calories they really mount up and I wonder if the goodness of eating the oats becomes lost in the peanut butter/chocolate spread haze.

Glad I gave it a whirl but I shall stick to my tried and tested version.

The breakfast love affair continues – cinnamon rolls

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I was looking back at some photos of our US trip the other day and found myself longing for a cinnamon roll. I only had a couple while we were over there but they stuck in my memory for all their buttery delicate spiciness.

Cinnamon rolls are not a staple over here in the UK. We have leant towards the French for our breakfast pastry delights like croissant and pain au chocolat. This bun is said to have originated in Sweden and they have them around Christmas time in Denmark. You can get a cinnamon swirl in Starbucks but generally you don’t find them in bakery shops here.

After perusing recipes online and looking through our bread maker recipe book I decided that Chelsea buns was a pretty close match in terms of dough so I loaded up the bread maker and hunted out the jar of ground cinnamon.

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As you can see it is an enriched dough that includes an egg. Just look at that pale yellow goodness. Our bread maker takes 2 hours 20 minutes to knead the dough, to the stage below, so this recipe is not something you can really have for breakfast unless setting the alarm for 5am….

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I decided to try both cinnamon rolls and Chelsea buns so split my dough in half. Bit of a mistake on my part here as what I should have done is rolled the dough out and just covered half with one filling and half with the other. Doing it my way resulted in mini buns.

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And I should have paid closer attention to the corners of the dough and made it a proper rectangle instead of  Melanie haphazard shaped one!

Once the dough is rolled out cover it with melted butter…..

And then the filling of your choice. For the Chelsea buns I used soft brown sugar, raisins, sultanas and mixed peel with mixed spice.

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And for the cinnamon, soft brown sugar and ground cinnamon.

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Then I rolled it up.

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And sliced.

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And arranged in a tin. Here they are after another 30 minutes proving in a just warm oven.

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They flopped over a bit, I think this was as they were taller than they were wide because I had spilt the dough. Never mind it’s all a learning curve. Baked for 20 minutes.

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Yum.

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Double yum.

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Conscious of the amount of butter and sugar I had already poured into these beauties I went for a simple icing sugar and water topping. Next time I’ll use lemon juice instead of water to add a little zing.

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Cute and I have to say that both versions were delicious.

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Looking forward to trying the recipe again… all in the search for a perfect roll of course.

The breakfast love affair continues – avocado scramble, another variation

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The problem we are having at the moment is that we really are addicted to bagels. I know I liked the change of a quesadilla but overall I love bagels. Why has it taken all of these years for me to realise this? Maybe because they are just a few more calories than a simple bread roll?

Here’s the thing though…. I don’t care because they elevate a sandwich, be it a breakfast or a lunch one, a bagel takes it to the next level.

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This breakfast sandwich was scrambled eggs on top of thinly sliced tomatoes on top of crushed avocado. A good seasoning of salt and pepper completed this morning treat.

Yay for bagels.

The breakfast love affair continues – eggs and Quorn ham quesadilla

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Remember last time I shared a breakfast when I said I wanted to try the quesadilla? Well much to Gav’s disapointment I made it this week. He loves his bagels but put on a brave face and ate todays conconction.

I scrambled the eggs and set them to one side.

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Onto the tortilla I then added cheese, I used cheddar, then the chopped Quorn ham,

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and finally the scrambled eggs.

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I popped it back into the pan but before folding it over I sprinkled a little more cheese on top.

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Then let it sit in the pan which was on a medium heat for a few minutes. I flipped it over to melt the cheese on the top side.

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And there we go. I really loved it and although there was cheese in this recipe the amount of ‘bread’ was less so the calories sort of balanced out.

If I had my way I would eat these every week but I still do love bagels.

Is it a Donut or a doughnut?

A few weeks ago I went to the other side of Leeds to visit my niece and on the drive home the tunnel I usually go through was closed for repair so I took the diversion into the city centre and out again.

As I drove I saw the most glorious sight…… Dunkin’ Donuts has opened in Leeds! Oh glorious day! Oh the waistline……

That Saturday Gav and I made a stop at the newly opened shop for a take out of six lovely doughnuts.

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They were delicious and it reminded me of a very similar photo taken not so long ago on another continent.

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Two of these beauties are the same flavour but they look different don’t they? I’m sure that the recipes is different here than it is in the US. Our tastes are not the same. And of course they were delish but just not the same it’s that old thing about stuff tastes better on holiday.

Little things make me happy. Doughnuts and capturing stories like this are two of them.