for the healing body

The last three weeks have been an adventure to say the very least….

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how clumsy I am… wish I could say I wasn’t, but as my mother has been fond of saying over the years “you’re an accident waiting to happen, just like your daddy!”. What can I say, she’s right.

Unfortunately for me, this time I’ve really gone & made a mess. Suffice to say, I managed to fracture & dislocate my metatarsals (in layman’s terms, I’ve broken my foot) as well as tear all my ligaments. One surgery & three screws later, I am slowly but surly on my way to becoming RoboCop.

It has been rough, more than rough, & being confined to my bed & couch for three weeks have been testing my sanity. Still, every day, there is a small but noticeable mark of improvement. Thank god for the small favours. I have another month in crutches before I’m allowed to try & walk, & three more months before the surgeon goes back in to remove the hardware.

Still, it could be worse. Just have to remember to be patient & take it one step at a time.

There is good news to all of this. A recipe in fact….

A friend of mine is a nutritionist, & after extensive complaining to her that the pain meds I’m on give me incredibly freaky dreams, but that coming off of them is absolutely not an option, she shared with me some advice on what I could eat that would make it all better.

Now, I’m a big believer in healing my body through food. Over the years it’s been very clear to me that what I eat has the ability to affect my mood, complexion & general health. So going a step further to think that I can ease some of my symptoms ¬†through a smoothie, really isn’t a far reach for me. Two days & two smoothies later, I can honestly say that I have given up my afternoon dose of painkillers & anti-inflamitories & not experienced anything more than a slight discomfort. Let me assure you, this was previously not possible before. Not unless you wanted me to be reduced to the sobbing tears of an infant.

So here it is… for anyone in discomfort who would like to try an alternative to over-the-counter drugs… here is the smoothie that has made my afternoons bearable once again.

Ingredients:
1 cup – pineapple (good for inflammation)
1 large stalk – celery (a natural painkiller)
1in cube – fresh ginger (again, for the inflammation)
1/3 cup – full fat yogurt (good for digestion)
1 tbs – flaxseed (intestinal health)
1 tbs – honey (to sweeten it)

Directions:
1. place it all in your blender & turn it on for several minutes. I let mine run for a while to make sure there aren’t any chunks, the last thing I want is to be chewing on a piece of celery. Once done, drink it immediately.¬†

Some of you might be cringing at the idea of drinking celery. I did. The truth is, that the pineapple & honey sweeten it so much that you don’t even notice, & the ginger adds a wonderfully spicy kick. It’s really quite delicious.

Personally, I highly recommend this to anyone & everyone, whether you’re sore from your exercise routine. In pain from an injury. Or just want a healthy snack.

Try it & let me know how it goes.

xxx

a little unconventional..

gluten free wedding cake

I can’t express how much I love wedding cakes. Especially when I get to do something a little unconventional….

This was my very first attempt at doing a drip effect on a cake… It wasn’t exactly what I was aiming for, but it’s come out looking pretty cool. With each new cake & design though, I find myself learning something completely new.

Here for example, I had to make the cake ahead of time in order to get the baking out of the way since it’s very time consuming. You see, I work around 9 hours a day, six days a week… that doesn’t leave me much free time to make wedding cakes on the side. So, I was advised by a friend who works for a very well known bakery that cakes can be baked, iced & frozen ahead of time, & as long as they are thawed out in the fridge, absolutely no harm will come to them. I decided to take the advice & give it a try. Unfortunately for me, the cake was still somewhat frozen when I started the decoration.

You might not think a frozen cake is a big deal, but let me assure you, it’s super cold temperature means it was attracting a lot of condensation. This ensured that the fondant always stayed wet & sticky, & it started to also cause the royal icing to dissolve. When I had originally done the drip, I had painted it a solid metallic gold with a hint of green… of course, as the royal icing began to melt, it started to show cracks through the metallic coating which revealed the orange colour of the royal icing underneath. Lucky for me, it came out to be a pretty neat effect. However, it also meant that the drip pattern also continued to grown & expand throughout the process.

Still, I was allowed to paint the base of the cake a gorgeous burgundy red & that made me happy. I thought about dying the fondant first, but decided that a solid colour may make the cake look tacky… so, I went with the painted effect which gave it some depth & texture.

The top two layers of the cake were pistachio cake, with strawberry puree brushed onto the cake, & a cream cheese filling…. the bottom layer was a bitter chocolate cake, with a caramel filling, & dark chocolate ganache on the outside.

Let me just say this… having gotten to eat the cake, I can honestly say it was just as good as if it had been baked fresh. I am so thankful to my friend & her advice because it gave me enough time to do the decoration without getting stressed. Note to self in future though… allow the cake to thoroughly defrost before starting on the decoration!!!

I hope you like it!

tips & tricks…..

It’s inevitable….

Every time I find myself elbow deep in buttercream, & fighting with air pockets & a level cake under my fondant…. I’m constantly swearing like a drunken sailor under my breath. My dog usually has this bewildered expression on his face as he looks at me like I’ve just escaped from the loony bin. Thank god he can’t actually speak, he’d tell everyone just how crazy I actually am.

….He may even be tempted to tell people about how when I roll out fondant, I can usually be found on top of my dinning table, marble rolling pin in hand, using the vast majority of my body weight to push that miraculous fondant out to the desired width it needs to be.

Yea… he has some stories.

Of course, now that I have two cakes under my belt for this month, now would be when I find this wonderful little video….

All I can say is, I have another wedding cake coming up for the end of the month. I’ve been given a free pass to decorate it however I please & I can assure you… I’m going with the tackiest colour combination possible & I fully intend to make it work!

As for the last two cakes? Well, since I sent them in pieces to an island & left final assembly up to my wonderful friends over at Chilli Catering, I’m still waiting to hear back on whether or not the photographers were able to take a photo. All I have is instagram pictures taken at about 05:00am, & they aren’t really worth the pixel space. I’ll show them to you any way…

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Both cakes look incredibly similar (in my defence… the wedding parties chose the flowers & colour combinations so there wasn’t much I could do about that).

Happy summer everyone!

rambling again

I failed at cheesecake.

It’s been a long time since I’ve baked a cheesecake & of course I attempted to dream bigger than I should have. Not that I’m incapable of dreaming big, but cheesecakes take a certain amount of fineness & I’m a touch out of practice.

Let’s add to the equation that my oven is currently on the fritz. If I turn it up to 160C, it won’t reach hotter than 100C. If I turn it up to 250C… well, it will waver between 150C & 170C. Not exactly a good foot to get off on when it comes to needing precision.

& I over-beat the filling.

Never over beat a cheesecake filling.

I’ve decided to try again. I’ve currently got another batch of pate sucree in the fridge… the electrician has just been round to fix the oven, & I’ve decided to first beat the eggs & then gently fold them into the lightly whipped cream cheese. This could also be wrong. I could also be looking at another failed cheesecake. I won’t know until I make it down to the shops to by more cream cheese & heavy cream.

I need to get back into the spirit of baking. I’ve been finding excuses constantly. My favourite excuse is that I hate to put up posts without pictures, & I just don’t have the time to set up my home studio again from scratch. It would appear that I left all my studio equipment in Syros in my hasty leave & it just needs to be done from the beginning.

I use work as an excuse too. Working six days a week, 17:00 till 01:30… I don’t wake up till 12:00… so I tell myself I just don’t have the energy, time or lighting to do it correctly.

All of these are excuses. Deep down I just want to get back to creating. I need it like I need to breathe.

There’s a certain fear that comes with getting back up on the horse. Metaphorically speaking of course. Enough excuses. iPhone pictures will suffice in the absence of a studio… just as long as I’m creating again.

NY cheesecake first. I swear, tomorrow I’ll make it to the shops to by the missing ingredients. Should have it ready by Friday. Maybe even take the excess to work to sweeten the mood & ensure I don’t eat too much of it.

I miss this. Even if it is just a ramble.

the sesame seed bagel

gluten-free Sesame seed bagels

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have absolutely no modesty when it comes to this creation. After all, it’s not only the flavour, but the appearance which makes it such a winning thing.

I’ve heard some great reviews out there about gluten free bagels from the people who know what they are talking about. I’m always a little disheartened by the images though. Sure, they may taste like a bagel, & have the general shape of a bagel, but somehow the final result always looks unkempt & there’s a note from the author about how tricky the dough is to work with.

With what I’ve done here, not only does it have the soft, chewy texture that a bagel should, but it actually LOOKS just like a proper sesame seed bagel. & to add to my boasting, I can say that the dough was a charm to work with.

Unfortunately, you’re going to hate me with what I’ll say next, & for that I apologise… I’m not sharing the recipe. At least not yet. It’s such a winner that I want to save it for a surprise in the cook book I plan to publish.

Please, try not to loathe me too much. I assure you it will be well worth the wait.

the egg trick

It’s one of those lazy Sunday afternoons spent lying on the couch. The kind where I sleepily rolled out of bed in the morning & wandered down to the park to enjoy a coffee in the sunshine. Also the kind where I baked an over indulgent chocolate cake & sat with the tin in one hand & a spoon in the other… yes, I may have eaten the whole thing.

It’s the kind of Sunday where I’m partly curious how much sugar & butter may be floating around my blood stream, & the other half of me is accepting the feeling of fullness in my belly with a sly smile on my face.

It’s just one of those lazy Sundays.

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There may have also been a fresh banana & some strawberries cut up on top of the cake as an afterthought… the perfect touch to that rich, moist, bitter chocolate sponge. An added compliment to the vanilla cream & milky chocolate ganache.

Do I regret it? Of course not. It was good for my soul.

So, whilst I sit here like the fat cat who devoured the canary, I scroll through my pinterest, my Facebook, & all associated social media I may subscribe to & I just happened to come across this video. A neat little trick on separating egg yolks. Thought I might share it & maybe recant my story about the mishap during my baking…

Last night, whilst I was putting together the sponge batter for the chocolate cake, I decided to be somewhat lazy & just crack my eggs straight into the bowl of my already running stand mixer…. Being the butter fingers that I am of course, I managed to drop the first egg, shell included, straight into the bowl & watched as it was smashed to smithereens & dispersed amongst the cocoa & butter. Horrified, I attempted to salvage what little shell I could before eventually waving the white flag. It did cross my mind to start from scratch, but then again, I’d just used the last of the butter & my good Valrhona cocoa.

“Well shit (pardon my language). F*** it, I’m the only one eating it…..” & with a shrug of my shoulders I continued, hoping that the motion of my balloon whisk on high speed would eventually pulverise it into oblivion & I could just learn to appreciate the extra calcium.

On occasion durring consumption, there was an added *crunch* to my mouthful… but I wasn’t trying to win any awards.

Lesson learned. First crack eggs, then add to batter.

Any way, enjoy the video. Maybe incorporate it into your baking routine. Or just snicker at my story. Either way, I hope your sunday is as lazy as mine xxx

your favourite…

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Do you remember what you said to me on our last day together? You told me that by the weekend, you’d be eating that banoffee pie that I had stashed away in the freezer for you. It was supposed to be your reward for losing the last of the weight you’d put on during your last trip to Athens. I knew it would work too since it was always your favourite.

It all seems so silly now.

The banoffee pie is gone. I think the movers threw it away when they were packing up the kitchen & transferring our life as we knew it into boxes…

I sat, watching them as they picked up the pieces that you left behind. Not that it matters really… our home could never be ours again as long as you aren’t there to share it with. Just a painful reminder of the beautiful life that we shared.

I haven’t baked in your absence. Actually, I haven’t even picked up a knife. It just hasn’t felt right. At least, not until now. The urge is coming back & I can’t get the thought of banoffee pie off of my brain. I think it would be good for me to make one again… not that I need it to remember how you would commandeer the whole pie & sneak off to a corner of the kitchen with the pie plate in front of you & a spoon in your hand.

I loved you for that. You always made sure I knew when you thought what I’d made was incredible. You gave me the confidence to try harder & get better.

I wont write a new recipe for the banoffee pie, you loved the original one so much you used to beg me not to change it. I will share the old one again though… I’ll share it with the hopes that anyone who misses you as I do will make one for you.

I miss you with my whole heart…

Continue reading

peach & rosemary preserve

peach, rosemary & white wine preserve... gluten-free

I think I’ve got the canning bug. Although of course I just had to wait until all the good fruits were out of season before I decided I wanted to try to preserve them.

Still, managed to get my hands on some peaches.

Here’s my dirty little secret though. I didn’t reach for those nice, fresh, just ripened peaches with that beautiful yellow coloured flesh…. I wanted my peaches close to death. All soft & squishy. Starting to turn colour. Completely unappetising to eat with that horrendous overly-rippened-now-starting-to-rot mushy thing going on.

Want to know why? These are usually the sweetest & make the best jams. Doesn’t do wonders for my pictures though… but holy toledo Batman, that flavour is GOOOOD!

What I’ve got here isn’t your typical preserve either. I mean, it’s not something I’d put on pancakes in the morning. It’s more for toasted english muffins, or paired with brie & prosciutto. It’s for the more savoury of pairings with the earthy undertones of the rosemary & the slight hint of spice from the pepper corns. Personally, I’d like a little less sugar in the recipe, but then we start getting into the realms of adding more pectin & it’s just not something I want to deal with.

I think maybe I’m going to start going crazy with the preserving process & start getting ready for homemade christmas presents. Continue reading

tall tier madness

three tiered wedding cake with pipped lace, peony flowers & an extended middle tier

 

I had the honour & privilege of attending my vet’s wedding last night. Not as a guest of course, but rather as one of the catering servers & also as the cake designer along with my partner Eirini.

Nice event, small, beautiful location… & of course, lots of booze. Like any good wedding should have.

Did I mention I also had the fortunate luck to witness my vet dancing on a bar wearing his wife’s veil & exposing his midriff? Oh yes, good fun. Going to have a hard time keeping a serious face the next time Loki needs a checkup.

Still, I do have a certain soft-spot for weddings. Between the booze & cake, there really can’t be anything but a good time.

This cake here gave us a hell of a time though. Even though the weather has cooled off, it has been humid as all hell. Do you have any idea what humidity does to fondant? Huh? Do you?!

Humidity makes fondant sticky. I mean stickier that superglue. Shiny too. It becomes a sticky, shiny mess that just loves to rip & mark all over the place.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that every road in Syros seems to be either on a steep incline/decline or on a hairpin turn. & the potholes! Did I mention that the design of the cake made it have a very high centre of gravity? Oh, yea. Transporting it was a JOYOUS occasion.

Still, for all the complaining I seem to be doing, Eirini & I were honoured to have the opportunity to put this thing together. Just getting to play with gold luster dust, pipping lace & an extended middle tier, more than made up for the frustrations that awaited us.

So here it is. Our newest creation. I think it may even be our last wedding cake for 2013 seeing as wedding season is over. That does make me a little sad. Anywho, still thrilled to have had all the opportunities we had this year, both of us have been incredibly grateful for all the work that has come our way.