Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the tea cosy, brighton, uk

I am super late posting this and I apologize.  It's been the busy middle of the semester but I am out of the woods for a bit.

My one regret with this place is that I didn't try it sooner!  This quirky little tea spot is sooo amazing.  It's a definite must if you are ever in Brighton.  The Tea Cosy is absolutely covered from floor to ceiling in kitschy knick knacks and Royals memorabilia.  It was so over the top, which made it eve more enjoyable.

Last Sunday, I decided it was time to take a break from paper writing and do something fun, so Lenzie, Chad and I headed downtown to do a bit of shopping.

We stopped in here for some food and tea and it didn't disappoint.  The sandwiches that Lenzie and I got were oozing with cheese and tomatoes.  The tea pots were all covered in their own unique tea cosy and the dishes were an eclectic mix of China.  I was in heaven!  I'm such an old lady at heart.

Plus, the scones were seriously delicious and came with raspberry jam, my favourite!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Second Ugliest Cake to Ever be Made

Lets start with a trip back in a time where boxed cake and icing in a jar were two things that were considered 'tasty' and a perfectly acceptable thing to serve at a friends birthday party. Up until a couple weeks ago, that was the last time that I baked a cake. And it was horrendous.

At the request of the birthday girl (who happened to be Caitlin), I made a chocolate cake with rainbow chip icing. The cake, I suppose was all right - in the way that boxed cakes are. The icing was...well it was what it was. Things really went down hill with the combination of the icing and cake proved to be a little bit tricky though and it ended with the cake pretty much just falling completely apart. I was however able to use the icing as glue and kind of put the cake back together into some cake-like form.

Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago, and my friend Dana's birthday. I decided that I wanted to make a cake....completely forgetting my last experience with cake baking and icing. I consulted Dorie (Greenspan - my baking hero), picked a recipe and got to work. The actual baking of the cake was pretty easy....and then I got to the decorating and it became less easy. In the end though I suppose once you put fire on top of it, it isn't that ugly?

At least the cake remained intact throughout the entire process, so progress has been. I should say that this cake is delicious and totally worth making, even more so if you have cake decorating skillz (or even just skills).

Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Taken from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From my home to yours"

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yokes
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Icing:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1) preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans.

2) whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together butter and sugar until well mixed, then add the eggs followed by the egg yokes one at a time. Add the vanilla. Combine dry ingredients.

3) Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 26 - 30 minutes. Allow to cool before icing.

4) For the icing, beat the butter until soft, then add in melted chocolate, vanilla and powdered sugar. Decorate the cake as desired.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies

Welcome to November....ughhh. It really is the worst (ok, maybe March is the worst, but November is pretty miserable). It's too cold, but not so cold that you can do fun wintery things, and everything is dead and grey. Oh and Movember....I think it's fantastic that men are raising money for cancer. I just find it very confusing, generally speaking mustachioed men are kind of creepy, so how will I know if you're a creeper or you care about fighting cancer (an admirable attribute)? And if a guy isn't growing a mustache, does that mean that he's an asshole?

But I'm trying to focus on the positive things in life, because well really I've got it pretty good and I know I should stop being such a Wally Whiner.

Pomegranates are one of those things, and November, as miserable as it is, marks the beginning of pomegranate season . You should be able to tell by the name, but in case you can't these cookies are delicious.....I would recommend upping the pomegranate anrils just a titch...but other than that these are Amazing (yep, captial 'A').

Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies
From How Sweet it is

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, then pomegranate juice and mix until combined.
Fold in chocolate chips and arils. Refrigerate dough for 2-4 hours (or more). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, roll into balls and set on baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the rose, oxford: review #3

When I began my search for tea houses in Oxford the Rose kept showing up near the top.  Well, that and a fancy hotel, but we didn't have the time nor the budget for that.  Of course, we were too busy touristing as usual (I hope you're enjoying these picture heavy posts).

covered market

After reading reviews, I was hesitant to give my business to this place.  The Google reviews in particular had many comments about rude and unfriendly staff.  Service is very important to me.  Don't get me wrong, I like good food and that is a key part of going out but I am fairly competent in the kitchen, so when I do go out, it's all about the experience and a big part of that is service.

Despite the bad reviews, we decided to give it a try because the food-focused reviews were all fabulous.  One thing that held true was the deliciousness of the scones.  I think these were my favourite thus far on our mini-tour of UK tea shops.  They also gave you two small scones which was nice and made it easy for sharing.  Chad's friend Megan is currently doing her PhD at Oxford and came to meet up with us which was very fun!

I will say, our server was quite pleasant and the service was fast but the lady who seemed to be running the place did seem a bit off-putting and cranky.  Not enough to keep me from it if I were ever back in Oxford.  So try it out!

P.S. Also while in Oxford we went to the Bear, one of the oldest pubs in the UK dating back to 1242.  It was such a neat little cozy spot and the food was great.  The ceilings were really low and I took this funny picture of the boys.  Konstantin and Chad are both over 6 feet and had to crouch a little to get around.