Damson and Frangipane Tart

Damson and frangipane tart recipe | Hello Victoria

As I mentioned in the lemon tart recipe post, one of my favorite cookbooks is by the Bouchon Bakery. It contains a recipe for a plum tart that uses a wonderful pâte sucrée crust, and frangipane filling. I made it before as a thank you for some plums I was gifted, and have loved the combination ever since. Frangipane works well as a base for almost any fruit, especially stone fruit. So when we were given a load of damson a week ago, it was the first recipe I wanted to try.

Damson tart with frangipane | Hello Victoria

Damson tart with frangipane | Hello Victoria

Now, a word of warning here. Unless you’re a masochist for baking (like me!), I won’t recommend making a damson tart. Instead, use any larger plum, or even nectarines, or peaches. The amount of wedges you need to cut from the tiny damsons is ridiculous, and takes ages. However, if you’re like me, and have more damsons than you can eat (and a lot of free time), why not? (more…)

No-Churn Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream

No-churn strawberries + cream ice cream | Hello Victoria

In my quest for more no-churn ice cream recipes, I came up with this delight. It’s strawberries and cream season over here, especially with Wimbeldon just over, so why not ice cream? Enter my way to use up some of summer’s red + juicy bounty – strawberries and cream ice cream!

Now, just a word of warning, this stuff is rich! Basically, lots of no-churn recipes out there use only cream, with no milk. The increase in fat (and the ability to whip it up) makes it nice and soft sans ice cream maker. The only thing is that you’re eating a lot of cream. So this is the kind of ice cream to consume in small doses, just like gelato! (Man I love gelato…)

No-churn strawberries + cream ice cream | Hello Victoria

I’m working on another vanilla base that uses some milk in it to cut the fat, but it’s not ready yet. I’m hoping to use is to make honeycomb ice cream, just like the kind Richard loves from Nothern Ireland, but am debating adding a ripple of chocolate to it. Good idea, or keep it simple? (more…)

Easy Three Ingredient Pineapple Popsicles

Three ingredient pineapple popsicles | Hello Victoria

Now, lots of recipes out there call themselves quick, simple, or easy… but I am here to say that THIS pineapple popsicles recipe, is seriously easy! You just chop up some pineapple (or buy it pre-cut – it’s up to you how lazy you want to be) and mix it with two other ingredients.

Three ingredient pineapple popsicles | Hello Victoria

As with most new recipes that I try these days, this one comes from the latest Waitrose magazine. Seriously, I love this thing. So if you happen to have a giant pineapple ripening on your counter, and need something to do with it – why not try this? (more…)

Refinishing Furniture with Danish Oil

Refinishing furniture with Danish oil | Hello Victoria

Okay, so it’s been quite a while since posting – our trip to Kenya and the subsequent business of life when we got back has kept me away. It’s just a quick post today as I still have to go through our photos from the trip, and have yet to make much worth posting.

A while back, we obtained a table and chairs for our living/dining area. We loved that they were old and worn, but the colours didn’t quite match up, and the scratches on the chairs were quite severe. I didn’t want them to match exactly, but wanted the colours to be more similar.

Antique farmhouse table | Hello Victoria

It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the chairs were more yellow, and the table more red/orange

Staining seemed to be the obvious choice, but I didn’t exactly want to go through the hassle of all the sanding and refinishing. I did that before with a set of thonet style chairs that had been painted white (a travesty) and could still remember how long it took me to strip them all down to the point that I could stain them again. And then, of course, I forgot to use a wood conditioner and the stain ended up being all blotchy. 🙁 It was quite upsetting after all that time and effort. (more…)

No-Churn Pina Colada Ice Cream

No-churn pina colada ice cream | Hello Victoria

You have no idea how excited I am about this recipe!! Well, if you know me at all, then you’ll probably be able to guess how excited. I consider ice cream to be the best food group of them all. 😉

When I moved to the UK, one of the items I couldn’t bring with me was my Kitchenaid mixer. This was not just a loss in terms of making things like marshmallows and other meringues, but in the loss of ice cream. See, I got the ice cream attachment for my mixer a few years back for my birthday! It’s pretty great being able to make my own flavours etc. – but without the machine, I couldn’t do any of that.

No-churn pina colada ice cream | Hello Victoria

Now, I had heard about no-churn recipes before, but had only tried a couple in the past. This one got me excited in more ways than just being able to make ice cream; I happen to looooove pina coladas. Give me pineapple and coconut any day… and throwing in some rum doesn’t hurt!

What makes this no churn ice cream work is two things – the alcohol and the cream. By whipping the cream to soft peaks before freezing, you’re essentially adding the air that would have been churned in during the freezing process. The other thing that helps prevent the mixture from turning into a solid pineapple-coconut-popsicle, is the alcohol. It changes the freezing point of the mixture, helping to keep it soft. (more…)

Warm Sweet Potato, Chickpea + Tahini Salad

Sweet potato, chick pea + tahini salad | Hello Victoria

Just a quick post today. I’m on a roll with the salads and lighter fare lately! Maybe it’s the warm weather, or maybe it’s because Richard is away? I find that when I am alone, I tend to eat almost entirely vegetarian cuisine, completely without thought. I guess my brain doesn’t think “meat” when I’m alone.

But it does still think “comfort food” which is why I really love this salad. Not only does it have some unusual flavors in the tahini and miso paste, but it’s got the warmth and hearty sweet potatoes. It’s the kind of salad that works well in the summer and winter – it’s easy like that.

Sweet potato, chick pea + tahini salad | Hello Victoria

Now, the only thing to be careful of is the tahini. Not everyone will like it – it’s a bit… bitter? Maybe it’s just the lemon juice. I really like tahini but I can imagine that it’s not to everyone’s taste. However, it is the star of this dressing, so don’t bother making it if you’re not a fan.

Sweet potato, chick pea + tahini salad | Hello Victoria

Feel free to adjust the amounts of red onion and parsley to your heart’s content – same with the potatoes and chickpeas. The great thing about salads is that you can simply make them however you want, it’ll work. Feel free to throw in other things too! I think some toasted chickpeas would do nicely – don’t you?

Sweet potato, chick pea + tahini salad | Hello Victoria

Warm Sweet Potato, Chickpea + Tahini Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1kg sweet potato, cut into cubes
  • Oil for roasting
  • 426ml can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 0.25-0.5 of a red onion, finely chopped
  • 0.25-0.5 cup chopped parsley
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 0.25 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp miso paste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the sweet potato with some oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  3. While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, mash the garlic with some salt and pepper until you get a smooth paste.
  4. Add the lemon juice, tahini and miso and mix together. Add the water and olive oil whisk to combine. Add more water to achieve the desired consistency.
  5. Assemble the salad while the potatoes are still warm, and enjoy!

Notes

The miso paste adds a depth of flavor, but isn't necessary.

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Adventures in Foraging: Stinging Nettle Pesto

Caprese salad with stinging nettle pesto | Hello Victoria

While in my course at the Northwest Culinary Academy, we spent a day at an allotment garden in Richmond. Part of what we learned was about foraging for edible items. One of the things readily available in the springtime is stinging nettle! As the culinary students were required to use a foraged item in their menu development (and the pastry students were their guinea pigs), I got to try plenty of nettle pesto!

Now, if you’re like me, you may not have heard of stinging nettle before. Honestly, I don’t know how I wasn’t aware of it until that day, as it’s everywhere! It’s not just prolific, but it’s also the kind of thing you should be aware of… it hurts! Seriously, don’t touch this stuff without protective gloves. I accidentally touched the bag I was putting it in with my arm, and got stung. I guess my gloves got some residue on the outside…

Stinging nettle pesto | Hello Victoria

But while stinging nettle, well… stings, it’s also one other thing – free! Homemade pesto is one of those things that always seems to cost too much. Fresh basil and pine nuts aren’t the cheapest things to buy. So I decided to try my hand at making some nettle pesto using not just free stinging nettles, but the cheapest nuts I could find! I think pine nuts could give it a better flavor, so if you’re flush, go for it! Buuuut… if you’re trying to save on money, try walnuts! (more…)

Recipe Testing: Chocolate Banana Muffins

Chocolate banana muffin recipe | Hello Victoria

So I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect banana recipe – banana bread or banana muffins, I’m not picky. I’m always buying bananas, in an effort to get my 5 a day, but they keep ripening too fast!

Richard thinks I’m crazy, but when a banana has more than a few spots, I sort of lose interest in eating it. I like my bananas more on the green side. Speaking of which, when I was in Nepal, they had the best bananas (and they were always super green)!! As the food in the orphanage I worked in was dal bhat twice a day (gets a bit monotonous) the piece of fruit as dessert each evening was most enjoyable. And one of the best fruits I found, was the humble banana! It might have been the lack of variety in my diet, but those bananas were like the equivalent of candy over there.

Chocolate banana muffin recipe | Hello Victoria

I’ll eat the ones on the right, but the other ones are only good for baking IMHO

So in an effort not to waste my spotted bananas, I’ve been baking with them! Unfortunately, lots of the recipes just aren’t quite as good as I’m hoping for. I want something decidedly more-ish, but kept ending up with dry or bland, and certainly not banana-y enough. Like all my made up words there?

Chocolate banana muffin recipe | Hello Victoria

After all those failed attempts (okay, two), I decided to rework a banana muffins recipe that I had. I could vaguely remember a good recipe from an old job that I had loved, and used it to alter my current one. I increased the banana amount considerably, added some chopped chocolate, and a bit of cinnamon. It’s still not quite perfect yet, but good enough to share. (more…)

Homemade Pizza Dough

Home made pizza dough recipe | Hello Victoria

Every pizza is a personal pizza if you believe in yourself

A couple of years ago I found myself working at a little cafe in Victoria. It was a great job, as there were only two of us in the kitchen, and we had plenty of freedom in terms of our hours etc. One of the other great perks of this job was the lunch! Most restaurants etc. have free food as part of the job, but from my experience it’s almost always unhealthy! Pasta, pasta, pasta… pretty much cheap carbs every day. But here we could make our own lunches with salads, sandwiches, and the occasional pizza!

They would make these individual pizzas for lunch each day, with different toppings. And boy, were they good! They would also sell the pizza dough for people to make their own at home.

Home made pizza dough recipe | Hello Victoria

Easy pizza dough recipe | Hello Victoria

As the baker, it was my job to make the pizza dough in large batches, and then we would defrost a few each day. These small balls made perfect thin crust personal pizzas – so you can imagine I decided to make them at home! I adjusted the recipe a little bit for myself (I’m not super into whole wheat flour), and then would make a batch and freeze them. Then, all you need to do is pull a couple little pizza dough balls out, and let them prove/defrost for a couple hours. You can even bring them out first thing in the morning, and let them defrost in the fridge. (more…)

Kitchen Progress: Demolition + Repairs

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

welcome to demolition!

Okay, so I’ve given you an overview of our plans for this kitchen, and what we’re hoping to accomplish. We thought it would be a relatively straightforward couple of days, but boy… were we wrong! Once we started demolition, we realized we had created quite the mess for ourselves.

Let me try and break down where we went awry.

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

oh look! It’s Richard’s hand!

So on our first day of demolition, we removed all of the upper cabinets, which also meant moving everything in those cupboards to our living room. Let me tell you, living in a kitchen/living room for about a week isn’t fun. Bleh. We also had to remove the range hood, IKEA GRUNDTAL pot racks off the wall, as well as anything living on the counter tops. We kept stuff in the lower cabinets, and didn’t bother removing the fridge etc., as none of that was changing besides paint.

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

range hood and stainless panels removed

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

Once everything was out of the room, we contemplated the tiling. Before we could paint or start putting up our new METOD cabinets, we would have to remove all the existing tiles. This was precisely the moment that things went wrong… (more…)