I very rarely wake up in the morning feeling like I want to be healthy but I woke up this morning wanting to go for a run. Maybe it was the yoga I’ve started doing or the fact I’ve started using hashtags on Instagram but I’m becoming dangerously close to a healthy lifestyle. At least Pret appears to be on a one shop mission to corrupt this attitude with its dark chocolate and sea salt bars. Following my run I decided to continue the theme with a banana and peanut butter omelette. Unfortunately the box of 12 eggs I bought less than a week ago has fallen prey to Mark-Francis/Violetta’s insatiable poached egg habit, there was 1 left. So I fiddled around a but. I present to you the (in keeping with the theme of recent posts) gluten and dairy free, protein rich breakfast pancake, eatable in lent without fear of guilt.
- Combine 1 egg and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Mix together. Add 50-75ml milk and (for an extra sweet/salt hit) a pinch of sea salt(optional).
- Pour mixture into a heated frying pan and cook on medium until the bottom of the pancake starts to become easy to release from the pan.
- Fold in half and serve with a drizzle of honey and a chopped banana.
My colleague Molificent and I came upon the topic of cakes the other day (you would have thought this topic came up a lot given I work in a cafe but apparently not so much) and I began wondering, as only the mind of someone staring at cake all day can, why we have red velvet cake. Why not other colours? Admittedly a green cake might put us off our food, but why not a blue cake. Unnatural yes, but then what is natural about the vivid red hue of a true red velvet cake? To be terribly British of me, it is the epitome of the difference in cuisine between Americans and English. The English like basic, traditional stodge and couldn’t care less if it was plated up. The Americans like exciting colourful reinterpretations of the classics like cake pops and whoopie pies (stereotyping I know but this is a food blog post not a political argument). So I scoured the internet for Red Velvet Cake recipes. I discovered that unfortunately the cocoa was essential for more than just flavour. The chemical reaction between the cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and red food colouring was what increased the intenseness of the red colouring. How was I meant to recreate this given that there is no such thing yet as a white chocolate cocoa powder. Molificent suggested investing in a dehydrator, but firstly I can’t afford another slightly unnecessary kitchen implement, secondly it wouldn’t have the same effect as cocoa as the whole point of cocoa is the lack of dairy or sugar and finally my housemates wouldn’t let me buy anything more that might clog up our kitchen surfaces. So instead I upped the bicarbonate of soda to increase the acid levels to supplement the acid in the cocoa and added white chocolate pieces to add a white chocolate flavour in lieu of the cocoa flavour. The result was the moistness of a red velvet cake with the overwhelming sweetness of a white chocolate cake (NB this recipe is for the sugar addicted only). My only regret is that I didn’t add enough blue food colouring so the resulting cooer of the cake was too green, for future reference, a whole bottle of blue gel food colouring will be needed.
Blue Velvet Cake
300g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Bottle of Blue food colouring gel
1tsp Vanilla extract
350g Plain white flour
1tsp Sea Salt
1tbsp White wine vinegar
2.5tsp Bicarbonate of soda
150g white chocolate, finely chopped
600g Icing sugar
250g Cream cheese full fat
2 tbsp lemon juice
- Cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and vanilla extract, beat well. Add the flour, food colouring, salt, chopped chocolate and buttermilk, mix.
In a cup mix the vinegar and soda and immediately add to the cake mix. Pour immediately into two prepared sandwich tins.
Bake in the oven at 180oC for 30-40mins until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool COMPLETELY.
Meanwhile mix the WELL SOFTENED butter with lemon juice and icing sugar together. When beaten, add the cream cheese. Spread onto the cooled cake as a a filling and topping. Serve.
I have a feeling that I reviewed Johns’ formal hall at this exact point last year. Every year Mark Francis has a birthday dinner and every year it is Johns formal. Last year I was particularly scathing about the unnecessary silver service which resulted in a cold, mediocre meal. Since I was more impressed this time round, he Johnians around me requested I write a revised view of Johns’ formal hall so that their college didn’t retain the bad name on my (I’m sure) celebrated blog. One thing I will always say about Johns is that they are always going to be above some formals as they offer wine with the meal for no extra cost, and it is decent wine. While I am sure that those who see formal as a chance to have a whole bottle of wine with a meal will be disappointed with 3 glasses; for the majority this is a nice addition to the meal.
Another nice touch at Johns is an individual menu card for each person, potentially un-environmental; for a birthday, a nice touch. We started with crab bisque which was impressive. A usual economically friendly version of this most colleges would use to make a profit put of students at formal, would be to serve a thin soup with a touch of crab flavour. At Johns I was impressed to see pieces of crab in the soup, no corners shaved here. It was a balanced and delicious starter.
The main course was a roast lamb, which I have to admit was roasted very well, melting off the bone. It was served with alright roast potatoes (sorry Johns I’ve had better), basic mint sauce and red current jelly, an exciting gravy (there wasn’t enough) and sautéed carrots. I am still not satisfied ( and probably never will be ) with the silver service approach to presentation but overall it was tasty and a lovely version of the Sunday roast favourite.
Dessert was classic pannacotta with a rather odd coulis but the most buttery,crumbly shortbread biscuit that made the dish. A good light ending after the rich main course. Nothing overly fancy but still presented better than the other courses. After the 3rd glass of wine had been finished, and coffee (or for Mark Francis, tea…..why he just got given a coffee machine is beyond me) Johns ended on a high. I would tell you how after this my shoe was left (and a month later still is ) at the porters lodge in St Johns – disclaimer, I did leave with shoes on- but that’s another story….