Friday, 25 July 2014

Easy Homemade Lemonade

When its really hot there is nothing more refreshing than real lemonade.

Although you can just buy it, making lemonade is great because you can make it as sweet or as tangy as you like and this method is super easy. You can get the satisfying feeling of making something yourself but without much effort. Its win-win!

I based the method around this recipe but adapted it for my own preferences.

You will need:
5/6 lemons (depending on how big they are)
Between 10-20 tablespoons of caster sugar
Plenty of ice and cold water
A few mint leaves (if available)

Roughly chop up the lemons and throw them in a food processor. There's no need to cut the skin off, just cut the whole lemon into 3 or 4 pieces. Give them a little pulse until they've broken down a bit. Add half a litre of cold water and a few ice cubes and give the mixture another blitz until the lemons are broken into small pieces. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a jug and return the lemon back to the food processor. Add another half a litre of cold water and blitz again. Pour the mixture back through the sieve, making sure all the lemony juice is pushed through.

Top up the jug with another litre of cold water and slowly add sugar, one spoonful at a time, stirring as you go, and add as many spoonfuls of sugar until its sweet enough for your own taste. I like lemonade to be quite tart so only add 10 spoonfuls of sugar. 10 spoonfuls takes the edge off the sharpness of the lemons so if you'd prefer it to be pretty sweet you'd need to add between 15-20 tablespoons of sugar.

Serve in a glass of ice, add a few mint leaves and enjoy in the sun.

The perfect accompaniment for a sunny afternoon in the garden.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The only chocolate brownie recipe you will ever need

Now, I really mean it that once you've made these brownies you will throw out any other recipe you're holding onto. I've been making these for years and they are heavily requested by my family and friends. Easy to make, super chocolatey and insanely gooey - what more could you want from a brownie recipe?

As I said above, I've been making this recipe for years and I have no idea where I got it from. It was originally on a print out from the website I found it and tucked inside a big Mary Berry cookbook until I got this recipe folder for my birthday a couple of years ago. I promptly wrote it into the folder and threw away the print out.

I love this folder, I use it all the time and its from Paperchase (my favourite stationary shop)
Because I no longer have any clue where I found it I can't credit this recipe to anyone and I really wish I could for bringing this wonderful creation into the world. Anyway, on with the recipe!

To make 16 squares you will need:

200g dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter at room temperature
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
60g cocoa powder
60g plain flour

1 square brownie tin (a silicon one is best to use so you can avoid the boring job of greasing and lining a metal tin)

First, preheat your oven to 180°c. Start by breaking up your chocolate and placing it in a heatproof bowl over a gently simmering pan of water. When melted, place to one side to cool slightly.

Next, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy using an electric whisk (or a wooden spoon if you don't mind it taking a long time and being tough work). Make sure the butter is soft and it will make it a lot easier to beat if its cut into cubes.

Slowly add the beaten eggs and beat in until its combined and then mix in the vanilla essence.

Mix in the cooled melted chocolate until its completely combined (and then lick the bowl the chocolate was melted in). Finally, sift in the flour and cocoa powder and carefully fold in until it is combined.

The mixture should be thick and glossy. Pour into your brownie tin and set it on a baking tray to make it easier to get in and out of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes poke a skewer or the end of a fork to see if its cooked. If the skewer is completely coated in brownie mixture then stick it back in the oven for a few minutes, but if only a bit of gooey mixture comes up with the skewer then its cooked. The top of the brownies should be firm but still quite fudgy. 

Leave to cool in the tin for about half an hour before turning out onto a wire rack to cool for a further 20 minutes. When cool enough you can cut it up and enjoy when still slightly warm!

If you can see the knife in the picture above and the one at the top you will get some sort of idea as to how gooey these brownies are.

 Incredibly rich and enough to satisfy any chocolate craving. The top of the brownies are a bit crunchy so it provides another texture other than just chocolatey goo and they're firm enough not to fall apart or collapse.

Because of how rich and heavy these brownies are I think they're particularly good served as dessert, warmed up and served with vanilla ice cream.

Then again, they're pretty good on their own!

They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days (if they last that long).

If you're a chocoholic and you refuse to try these then I'm afraid you'll be missing out!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Birthday Celebrations in Cosy Club - Cardiff City Centre

Last week it was my friend's birthday and to celebrate we went into town for some food and drinks. The birthday girl wanted to go to Cosy Club, which is part of the same group as the Lounges (read about the Fino Lounge here). Cosy Club is similar to the Lounges and there are few around the South of the UK in town or city centres and they are open all day, for brunch and coffee to dinner and drinks. Cosy Club Cardiff is located in the St Davids 2 centre and is on the first floor with huge windows looking over The Hayes so is really bright and helps to create a relaxed atmosphere. It has a similar feeling to The Plough - the quality and offering of food and drink and the layout of the restaurant makes Cosy Club a casual yet special place for a birthday meal.

I decided to splash out a bit and order a Raspberry Mojito. As I'm only a poor student I normally can't afford cocktails as they can be pretty pricey, and even though this one wasn't cheap it was definitely worth it.

Mojitos are my favourite cocktail and this one was beautifully made. The addition of raspberries made it even better than a standard mojito and the flavour came through nicely but didn't overpower the lime and mint. Very refreshing on a warm evening.

I wasn't particularly hungry and opted for some tapas. I think the menu has changed since I went last week looking at the website and two of the dishes I had have changed or been taken off the menu.

From left to right: chorizo cooked in red wine; broad bean, pea and mint paté; and honey glazed 5-spice pulled pork. I think its been made more expensive on the new menu but they still offer 3 dishes for cheaper than they would be individually and they are still served with ciabatta. If you're looking for traditional Spanish tapas dishes then this isn't what is on offer at Cosy Club but its still really tasty.

It was all delicious; the chorizo was very flavoursome and the pork was very juicy and tender. I really enjoyed the broad bean, pea and mint paté and I think its a shame that its no longer on the menu. It was fresh and was great spread on the ciabatta.

Three of the other girls also ordered tapas and I tried some of the falafels with cumin and coriander yogurt that my friend ordered.

They were really tasty and well spiced and are still available on the menu so I recommend trying them out.

The rest of the girls all had the falafel burger.

The service was wonderful in Cosy Club and our food came quite quickly after ordering. If you're looking for somewhere a bit more interesting than the standard coffee shop or chain restaurant for lunch or dinner in the city centre, then check out Cosy Club, you won't be disappointed!