A glittering start to the New Year….
I realize I have been awful at updating my blog over the last month and a half. This is because:
a) school became mental – the combination of Christmas parties and a rush to get everything finished before the end of term
b) YM and I returned to the Motherland for the Christmas holidays after a year and a half in Mexico
I realize that Scotland has the internet now and that going home is not an excuse for not cooking. However, my primary reason for returning home was to stuff myself with curry for three weeks and you should be pleased to know that I accomplished my mission with half-a-stone bells on!
Flying back to the UK was a bit of a culture shock after being in Mexico for so long. It started off pretty poorly with BA messing us about (surprise!). As a result, poor YM had to put up with my filthy mood on a long haul flight to Madrid on the vastly inferior Iberia airlines. However, this was all turned around when we eventually reached Heathrow. A couple of rather lovely Italians (whom also happen to be a couple – how meta!) picked us up and whizzed us back to their flat in Richmond. They will now been known as the Lovely Italian Couple or LIC.
The LIC then proceeded to give us one of the most wonderful ways of recovering after a long haul flight. Imagine a laid-back, relaxed Christmas lunch that stretches languidly into dinner consisting of all your friends you haven’t seen in ages. Friends that cook up a weird and wonderful storm with much laughter and banter (cannelloni, followed by cheesecake…and then machboos??!!). Wine and conversation flowed, bad films were watched and chocolates munched by the handful…..this is the only way to travel and I only hope the LIC realize that they have set the bar for every time we return home!!!
The next day we returned to YM’s ancestral home by way of King’s Cross, breaking into Spanish without realising to the confusion of the train conductor and me professing my horror at paying a pound to use the toilets – that’s more than 20 pesos!!! I then spent a lovely few days eating, drinking and catching up on Come Dine With Me. Special thanks to YM’s parents for putting up with my constant hogging of the stove. I’m really sorry, but I’m a total wimp when it comes to the cold and I have a feeling that it’s just going to get worse…The last leg of the journey home was courtesy of my lovely brother and his snazzy black Audi – travelling in style!
Coming home for Christmas is always a slightly odd sensation. Firstly, this was our first Christmas as a family in Scotland, usually we hotfoot it back to Bahrain to escape the dreary greyness that is Scotland in December. The first few days with all four of us are always wonderful as we aren’t all used to being together. However, the fact that we aren’t all used to being together starts to make itself known and by the end of the holiday the grating of nerves is audible. I suppose when you are used to having your own space and your own routine, it is hard to fit into someone else’s and I’m sure this is a pretty universal feeling. As always, it was awesome to catch up with friends, family and the Dr Who Christmas special but I am still amazed that no matter how old I get, my parents have the ability to reduce me to a whiny, sulking, spoilt little brat. So, here is a public apology parents, I know I’m doing it – I just can’t stop myself!
Anyway, I’m back now and full of resolutions for 2012. I have decided to give myself realistic goals for this year that I might have a hope of carrying on after the first flush of enthusiasm has waned (usually around the 2nd of January). So here are my goals for 2012, set out in black and white so I can’t turn back…
1. Try and update my blog at least once a month
2. Take a proper cooking course to start building up my technical skills
3. Turn the iron cage on the roof (formerly for hanging laundry) into a mini greenhouse for tomatoes and chilies.
So what do you reckon? Potentially doable and this blog will be a great way of keeping tabs on myself and my progress.
I’ve decided to kick off this year with some delicious and decadent little chocolate cupcakes (mostly as an excuse for trying out my new pot of edible glitter).
You will need the following ingredients for the cupcakes:
- 100g of plain flour
- 20g of good quality cocoa powder
- 140g caster sugar
- 1 and a half teaspoons of baking powder
- 40g butter
- 120ml milk
- 1 medium egg
- Vanilla extract
Follow with the sugar.
Finish off by adding the butter. It will help you out a lot if your butter is at room temperature – unless you have an electric beater or arms of steel. Once you have added the butter mix everything together until you have a bowl that looks like it is full of little brown grains of sand.
Now in another jug, whisk together your egg, milk and vanilla extract.
Now add half your milk mixture to the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Slowly keep beating and adding the rest of the milk mixture, bit by bit. Make sure you don’t overbeat – all the ingredients should be just combined. The resulting mixture will be quite loose, don’t worry about this.
The cupcakes go into a preheated oven at 170C for at least half an hour. Take them out when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
After pulling your cupcakes out (and forgetting to use oven gloves, thereby burning yourself) put them somewhere to cool and crack on with the frosting.
You will need
- 150g icing sugar
- 50g butter at room temperature
- 20g cocoa powder
- 20ml milk
Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl.
Follow with the butter.
Beat the butter into the flour mixture, again going for the chocolatey grains of sand appearance.
Add half the milk and keep beating until the mixture starts to come together.
Once you have a bog brown lump, add the rest of the milk and keep beating. The longer you beat it, the lighter and fluffier the frosting will become.
Spoon or pipe onto your cupcakes and finish off with edible glitter.
Hummingbird Bakery eat your heart out. These little cupcakes are lighter than air with a rich ganache-like frosting that lifts them into pure chocolate decadence. A pretty good start to my 2012 (and YM agrees too!)
Happy New Year everyone!