Rocky Road - Cranberry & Macadamia

Treat alert! 

I've been dying to make some rocky road for days now, and seeing as I had a spare half hour, and a lot of dark chocolate winking at me, there was no excuse. When it comes to biscuit based chocolate treats I tend to want a bit more colour and subtle flavour as the bitter dark chocolate can hog the limelight somewhat. I've tried it with dried cranberries and macadamia nuts and it really balances out and adds that extra hint of flavour to compliment the chocolate.

Preparation time: 15-20 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins

125g soft unsalted butter
300g dark chocolate (Green & Blacks is great)
200g light digestives
100g marshmallows (cut into quarters or use mini marshmallows)
40g macadamia nuts
40g dried cranberries

Place the digestives in a plastic sandwich bag/cling film, tie the end and bash it with a rolling pin to get various sized chunks - largest needs to be roughly 2cm.
Chop your macadamia nuts in half/quarters - leave a couple for later! 
Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a pan over a low heat.
If you need to cut up your marshmallows do it now, and into quarters.
Pour 3/4 of the melted butter and chocolate into a mixing bowl, and add your crushed digestives, nuts, marshmallows and cranberries (leave a few cranberries for later) and fold altogether.
Line a 24cm/9in square tray (or any shallow tray you may have) with greaseproof paper.
Place the mixture into the tray and pat down so it's packed in tightly.
With the remaining 1/4 of chocolate in the pan, lightly reheat it so it's back to a melted state, then pour over the top of the mixture in the tray.
With the leftover macadamia nuts, place them into a sandwich bag/cling film, tie up and bash with a rolling pin until they're ground to tiny pieces. Sprinkle over the top of the mixture in the tray.
Pop a couple of cranberries over the top for some colour too.
Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
When ready cut into fingers.

You should have about 20-24 pieces.

If you have an alergy to nuts the recipe will obviously still taste lovely without them (the biscuit gives all the crunch factor you need).


Where in the World...

After a long shopping trip on Saturday to that new beast of a complex in Shepherd's Bush, I felt a good feed was warranted, and luckily there were many a place to eat. It is mostly your chains like Yo! Sushi, Wagamama, Nandos etc, and while I am a big, well alright huge, fan of quick-bite-on-a-budget meals, I wanted more. So I went for pizza at the plaza. But this is not just any pizza, oh no, and it all depends on where in the World you choose to go.

Fire & Stone have devised a fantastic approach to toppings by categorizing them into continents and countries, which means if you fancy Thai green curry chicken, Bavarian roast pork or even Peking duck, you certainly can and it comes disguised as a pizza. I was feeling quite adventurous and ordered the Bombay - Tandori chicken with mint and cucumber yogurt, broccilli and mango chutney, I kid you not. I must admit the broccilli stumped me and didn't quite work with the other toppings, and on the whole it tasted how I imagined it would - like a curry on top of slightly odd Naan. 

But it does work and is a fun place to go in a group so you can try out the various places you were anxious to order yourself! If you'd like to play safe though, I'd recommend the Melbourne - roasted butternut squash, brie and toasted pumpkin seeds, melt-in-the-mouth lovely. If there's one quam I have with Fire & Stone, it's that their knives aren't sharp enough to cut into the base and the edges of the pizza base get quite hard as it cools. So it's probably best to eat around the edge before delving into real deal.

It appears as though there's only two branches in London, Westfield and Covent Garden (and yes I've been to that one too). Both have disabled access, wonderful decor and incredible wood-fire ovens within a gigantic copper funnel which is proudly centred for everyone to see. 


Return To Cookie Mountain

After recently watching 'Stranger Than Ficiton', I got a sudden urge to bake thanks to Maggie Gyllenhaal's character Ana Pascal. So I scanned the web, shunned a few suggesting ready made American cookie dough and came across David Lebowitz's recipe for a classically scrummy cookie, but amended a little as to suit me.
Either take a look at his, or follow the recipe below:

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) firmly packed demurer sugar
8 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1cm cubes
1 large egg (whisked)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda/powder
1 large cup (175 grams) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 big bar (200 grams) chocolate (normal - not cooking chocolate)
1/2 cup(100 grams) walnuts or pecans, crumbled

Adjust the oven rack to the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 300F (150C). Line three baking sheets with grease-proof paper.
Chop up the chocolate into 1/2cm chunks.

Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the whisked egg, vanilla essence, and baking soda/powder. Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chunks and nuts.
Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon (10cm) balls and place them, spaced 4 inches (10cm) apart, on each of the baking sheets (they spread).
Bake for 20 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Swap the trays over half way through. When done remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

(Little did he know it makes about 15-20 cookies).


After scouting out a span of standard coffee houses in central London, I stumbled across a little beauty.
Lantana, tucked away between the more well known heavyweight foodies of Fitzrovia (Salt Yard, Fino's), modestly welcomes you to enjoy some of their honest coffee. Now when I say honest, I mean coffee that's not tainted by Starbuck-esque syrups and enough frothy cream which would go to better use in a mock-up custard pie attack on Bush. I ordered a flat white which came with a subtle leaf signature atop a comforting cuppa - though I did flirt with the idea of a long black! 

The decor of the the cafe is clean, comfortable and intimate; perfect for taking a date, meeting a friend or trundling along to with your laptop to escape the office. The staff have a wonderfully relaxed antipodean attitude (it's an Australian cafe) which makes a refeshing change from the franchise androids. Their menu is another bonus if you're feeling hungry - I would normally say 'peckish' but the portions you get here aren't for the peckish, which is brilliant! The first time I visited Lantana I went for the Moroccan lamb skewers with flatbread and mint yogurt served with a choice of two salads; as you can see it's rather impressive, and delicious.

After such a good experience, I thought it might be too good to be true, so I took my flatmate along for lunch to see if I'd enjoy it as much second time round. Last time I had already eyed up the various cakes on show, tantilizing me to come back for them. So I did. And went for the Hummingbird cupcake which was a scrummy combination of banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnut and pinapple with citrus cream cheese frosting and some sexy coconut flakes to finish it off. Divine. 

I'm following the owner, Shelagh Ryan's blog scramblingeggs where she logs her endeavor to bring Londoners the best coffee experience, and lends some of the recipes from their menu. I'm sure I'll have a crack at some of them soon, so I'll let you know how I get on. And in the meantime, go and pay Lantana a visit, it won't disappoint.