Spa weekend in Seville and two restaurant reviews

I haven´t been doing much wandering lately since I got pregnant and having Chloe but finally about a month ago now, we managed to escape for a short weekend break at a spa in Seville, taking Chloe with us of course. We met up with my parents in Seville and they also stayed at the spa, Andalusi Park, with us to help look after Chloe while we enjoyed the spa. We also gave them a night and a spa circuit as a favour for them looking after Chloe. The Andalusi Park is a lovely hotel, very clean and modern, with spacious rooms and we were really lucky and had the biggest balcony to sit out on and enjoy!Breakfast was included and comprised of a buffet which you could help yourself to as little or as much as you wanted. The spa, although fairly small was very relaxing and just what I needed after all those sleepless nights after Chloe came along. I´ve never been to a spa before but thoroughly enjoyed it, from the sauna-style room, to the water jets, jacuzzi and massage. My fav part was the jacuzzi and massage and my least favourite was the hot shower followed by a swinging bucket which when you pull the cord, drenches you in freezing cold water. Now why would anyone willingly tip freezing cold water over their heads? I would definitely reccomend this hotel & spa with it only being a hop,skip and a jump away from Seville city centre (about 10mins drive and there is also a shuttle service from the hotel) and it is also a reasonable price, around 65 euros per night with breakfast included.

The first night we arrived, we decided to eat locally at a restaurant within a short walk of the hotel. We ended up at a lovely restaurant, La Alacena (Cabo de Gata, Benacazón), which was decorated really nicely for Christmas.It was quite spacious so there was enough room for Chloe´s buggy. For starters we ordered some seafood bits & pieces (I can´t remember what exactly as I didn´t eat any of it seeing as I don´t like seafood very much) and some ham croquettes, which were very tasty. My mum and I ordered the "presa iberíca",a pork cut from the shoulder blade as far as I can gather with apples and a toffee sauce, which was absolutely delicious. The pork was lovely and tender and the sauce not too sweet or heavy.

My husband had fish and my stepdad had lamb chops. We were all too stuffed to order any dessert. I´m not sure what the bill was but dishes cost between 15-25 euros. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

We spent a lovely day in Seville seeing the sights. I don´t know who enjoyed it more, us or Chloe...she loved taking in all the new sights and sounds and hardly slept a wink all day.That evening we decided to go back into Seville and try a Japanese restaurant.I haven´t eaten in many true Japanese restaurants and they don´t really grab my attention much as I don´t like fish or seafood much so sushi is definitely a no-no! It took us awhile to find it but with the help of the SatNav we finally arrived at Sakura (Avda.San Francisco Javier 19). It is a fairly small restaurant with modern decor and Japanese touches such as prints and pictures. I had a meat & vegetable dumpling to start with, which was tasty although I don´t know where the vegetable was as it tasted a bit sausagey! I then had rice and if I remember rightly duck teriyaki. Everything was delicious but the portions were fairly small and it probably cost the same as the previous night but for a lot less food. The food was very nice and I´d reccomend this restaurant if you want something a bit different but for me the portions were a little on the small side. Unfortunately, I didn´t get any photos of the food as I didn´t have my camera with me!


Food Bloggers Unplugged

I was very excited the other day when I found out that Anne of Anne´s Kitchen had tagged me for Food Bloggers Unplugged- I´ve never been tagged before!!! It is an event created by Susan from on a A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate in order to get to know other food bloggers. The aim is to answer 10 questions about yourself and than tag 5 other bloggers to participate if they want to.

So here goes:
What, or who, inspired you to write a blog?
I started reading blogs such as Anne´s Kitchen and Gourmet Traveller, which I really admired and as I had time on my hands at that moment in time and I was getting more and more into cooking and baking, thought it would be a good idea to start my own blog as a way of pushing myself and honing my skills to become a better cook!

Who is your foodie inspiration?
My wonderful Gran as she was an excellent cook and made the most delicious cakes-she was always baking and cooking and I used to help her with the easy stuff and then licked the bowl clean!! So she was the one who probably sparked my interest in baking and cooking more! Her homemade apricot jam was to die for too!!

Your greasiest, batter-splattered food/drink book is?

Oh, a difficult one as I´m always flicking through all my cookbooks but it definitely has to be a toss-up between Delia Smith´s Complete Cookery Course and Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book, which I bought the first time I stayed in the USA, as all the recipes from it are yummy and usually turn out really well!

Tell us about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?

Another difficult one!! It´s really hard to narrow it down and remember!! I´m going to cheat and say a couple of things as I find it impossible to narrow it down to just one! Roast duck a l´orange in a Portuguese restaurant or roast suckling pig in Spain (particularly good in Segovia!), Eggs Benedict in the buffet breakfast in Niagra Falls (see Discovering Niagra post) and sweet things either the blueberry hotcake at Pamela´s Diner in the Strip District in Pittsburgh or cherry pie in the USA.

Another food bloggers table you´d like to eat at is?

I love Asian food so I´d probably pick something from either Gourmet Traveller´s or Sunflower´s Food Galore table but there are plenty of things I´d love to try on all the blogs I read, visit or follow!!

What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?

Probably a Kitchen Aid mixer for all my baked goods!!

Who taught you how to cook?

Apart from helping my Gran and Mum when I was little, I mainly taught myself how to cook using recipe books and I also did a GCSE in Food Technology, which also helped!!

I´m coming to you for dinner what´s your signature dish?

My signature dessert is definitely cherry cheesecake, not sure what my main course signature dish is! Maybe my Don Quijote burgers but since I´ve only made them for me and my OH not sure what everyone else thinks about them!

What is your guilty food pleasure?

I have a really sweet tooth so anything like chocolate etc. I absolutely love marzipan-in fact I used to prefer the icing and marzipan to the fruit cake-still do actually!!

Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

Don´t know! I don´t like coffee, beer or wine! Or maybe that I have lived in the UK, Germany, Spain and the USA!

Anyway,here´s the five I´ve tagged to join in although it´s not compulsory:

Gill at Gillthepainter

Extra Relish

Debs at thespanishwok

The Rambling Chef

and last but not least: Mamacook


Cheesy Mushroom Slice & weaning differences

I have noticed that there are a few differences in weaning in Spain and the UK. While Baby Led Weaning seems all the rage in the UK, I´m not so sure it´s very popular in Spain. I was given a rough guide from the doctor about weaning, however on this guide it says not to introduce veg till 6 1/2 months whereas in the UK, it is reccommended to start with veg before fruit, due to fruit being naturally sweeter and therefore babies liking it more.Chloe turned 6 months recently and we went along to the doctor´s for her injections and 6 mnth check-up. The nurse was asking what we had given her and when I mentioned that I´d already given her veg such as carrot & sweet potato, one of the nurses asked me why I didn´t give her something more normal! I immediately got annoyed and replied that it was normal to give sweet potato to babies in my country, which it is. In fact, many of the baby food jars have sweet potato & carrot combos! One of the nurses then replied but you´re not in your country, you´re here! I was fuming! Ok, I know the doctor´s have their reasons but if there aren´t any problems for babies in the UK, why would there be any problem for Spanish babies?Especially as I have read that sweet potato doesn´t cause much allergy! I just want her to have a healthy, varied diet so that she doesn´t grow up fussy, like me!!

Anyway, rant over! I made this dish at least a month ago but haven´t got round to blogging it! I´m getting quite a backlog of things I want to blog but haven´t had time to yet! This is another vegetarian recipe from my school days when we did a project about vegetarianism in Home Economics and is one of my favs!

Ingredients (for 2 people)

25g butter or margarine

3 spring onions, sliced

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

167g mushrooms, sliced

3-6 slices of bread

62g Cheddar cheese

3 eggs

1/2 pint milk

1/2 tsp mustard (I used Dijon but you can use English or whichever mustard you like)

1/2 tsp Worcester sauce


1. Fry chopped vegetables in butter or margarine till tender.

2. Cut crusts off bread and cut into rectangles. Place a layer in a greased casserole dish:

3.Spoon fried vegetables on top of bread:

4. Top with another layer of remaining bread.

5. Grate the cheese and sprinkle on top:

6.Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and Worcester sauce together and pour over the bread and mushroom mixture.

7. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 -60 mins at 180ºC or till cheese has melted and the top is a nice golden colour:


Tapearte 2011-Tapeando in Ciudad Real & the joys of weaning!!!

I´ve been meaning to post this for awhile now but just haven´t managed to get round to it!! I have been doing some baking including a mango and chocolate torte and Custard Pie but haven´t had my camera at hand. I´m also pretty caught up in weaning and homemade purees for my daughter. So far she´s tried baby rice & baby porridge, carrot, carrot & sweet potato, banana and apple. Thankfully she seems to like everything so far, not like her mother!! I´m mainly following the Annabel Karmel website & her recipes. The funniest reaction we´ve had was a disgusted face and then a shudder after trying banana for the first time. Maybe she´s going to be like her mummy and not like banana!

Anyway, on to the main post, Tapearte 2011. This is an annual tapas contest held in Ciudad Real, where restaurants and bars compete against one another to win the title of best tapa and it is voted by you, the general public. Participating bars/restaurants have leaflets or you can pick them up at the tourist office, which list all the tapas and places taking part. You can then visit the bar and try the tapa which you fancy the most for the small fee of 2 euros for a beer or other drink(some allow you to have soft drinks or Salobriña, a red grape & apple juice drink, others you have to pay extra if you don´t have an alcoholic drink!)plus the tapa! This year Tapearte 2011 was from October 12 -October 16. The bar then stamps your leaflet and you mark the tapa on taste, presentation and originality. If you collect 7 stamps, you can also enter a prize draw!

This is the first year that we actually managed to take part in it and I think now it is going to be a regular event that we will join in!The first bar we tried was La Calle in C. Mata, The tapa was pork tenderloin with caramelized onion on a slice of bread in a reduction of sherry (Pedro Ximenez, I think) .It was delicious, especially as the bread had soaked up all the juices howver not very good on the originality and presentation counts! Unfortunately, I didn´t get a photo of this!

The next place we tried was the tapa in Miami Gastro (in Avenida de Rey Santo), unfortunately I can´t remember exactly what it consisted of. I think it was a toast with mushrooms in truffle oil or something. It was good but a bit of a disappointment coming from them as I really enjoyed this restaurant when we went there.

Next we tried Guridi´s (C. Libertad) tapa. Guridi has already won the tapas contest twice before and this year, their entry did not disappoint. By far the winner in presentation at least, the tapa was a mini burger complete with a quail´s egg and served on a poppy-seed bun (the bun was a little dry, I have to say), a potato chip coil wrapped round a flower as you can see in the following photo:

We then went to La Esquina de Hierbabuena, directly opposite Guridi on C. Libertad, whose tapa was a tasty sheep´s cheese Encomienda de Cervera covered in pistachios and spearmint and fried.

We then headed for the main square and tried two tapas in different bars, the first bar we tried was El Portalon, whose tapa was a type of pie, with pastry at the bottom, aubergine and a bechamel sauce, rather reminiscent of a lasange but very tasty even if not very original.

Then, it was on to the bar next door, El Ventero, again can´t quite remember what exactly the tapa was but it invloved mincemeat, cheese and tortilla type bread and was a little spicy if I remember correctly. Another delicious choice but they lost points in my book for charging us extra for the tapa. (Both of these restaurants can be found in the Plaza Mayor).

Finally, we ended our tapas trail in Cafe del Arte (C. del Lirio), where the tapa was made up of a kebab with red & green pepper,onion, cherry tomato and kangaroo meat.Good but the meat was a little tough, the tapa itself was neither very original nor very well-presented.

My three fav´s were La Calle (Pork tenderloin and caramellized onions), La Esquina de Hierbabuena (fried cheese covered in pistachio and spearmint) and Guridi (the mini burger). Still don´t know who won this year´s Tapearte and in the end didn´t get round to entering the prize draw as we lost our leaflets but was fun doing it all the same!!


Belated Halloween Pumpkin Spider Cupcakes

Although Halloween is long over, I still had some orange and black fondant so I decided to make the Halloween pumpkin cupcakes I made last year as I also had a jar of pumpkin that needed using up too. I actually made these cupcakes last weekend but haven´t got round to blogging it until now!

Using round cookie cutters, I cut out circles of orange rolled fondant and stuck it onto the pumpkin cupcakes using edible glue. I then rolled out the black fondant and using a 16 icing nozzle and a 2 icing nozzle, cut out the head and body for the spider. I then cut thin strips for the legs, which I rolled between my fingers to shape them into spidery legs and stuck them onto the orange fondant-again with the edible glue! I then rolled some small balls of orange fondant for the spider´s eyes. I still have some black and orange fondant left so any ideas of what I can do with it, which aren´t related to Halloween, are greatly welcomed!! Looking forward to next Halloween when Chloe will be able to dress up and join in the fun!!


Halloween decorated biscuits (in a bit of a rush!)

After ordering the Halloween cutters and the black and orange fondant, they finally arrived and I could set to on making some Halloween decorated biscuits. I made my usual biscuit recipe, the one I used for Chloe´s Christening biscuits but it´s not easy juggling a baby and baking!! It took me all day to make these in between feeding Chloe, having dinner, taking her for a walk etc! Or maybe I´m just slow!!

I was going to decorate the ghosts with royal icing but in the end settled on glace icing as it was quicker to whip up and despite using a spatula instead of piping it on, I think they actually look quite neat!! I made the eyes and mouths with some black fondant and stuck them on with some edible glue. I then rolled out some black fondant and covered the gravestones and bats with black fondant. Using the glace icing, I then piped RIP onto the tombstones, unfortunately as the icing was quite thin, it was very difficult to pipe writing and kept blobbing out and joining up so it was harder to make out what it said(but had to make do as ended up having to rush it all). I then rolled out some orange fondant and covered the pumpkin- shaped biscuits and made eyes for the bats. I then cut out some black triangles and squiggly shapes for the eyes and mouths of the pumpkin and stuck them on with the edible glue again! I think by the time I finished it was 1 am!!

I was planning on doing more detail,like giving the pumpkins green stalks and maybe giving the bats fangs or mouths etc but as it got quite late and I was tired, I didn´t have the energy or the will! All in all though, I don´t think they turned out that bad even though they were decorated in quite a hurried manner!!


Blueberry Muffins with & without Streusal Topping

I made these Blueberry Muffins last weekend but now with having a baby, finding it difficult to get round to blogging things!! I´ve made various muffin recipes and have been on the hunt for a perfect muffin recipe for awhile now. However we have tough criteria to match as my husband
wants them to measure up to the muffins we had in America and so far they haven´t met that standard. For starters he says they´re too small....time for a new muffin pan, is what I say!! ; )Anyway, this recipe is the closest I´ve found so far and it is actually an American recipe taken from the book Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book!

Ingredients (for 12 muffins)
1 3/4 cup of plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
2tsp baking powder
1 beaten egg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sunflower oil

Streusal topping (optional)
3tbsp flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter

1.Line muffin pan with paper cases and preheat oven to 200ºC/ 400ºF.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and make a well in the middle.
3. Stir egg, milk and oil together, then pour into well and mix until combined.
5. Stir in blueberries when batter is almost combined.
6. Spoon into paper cases filling two-thirds full. Sprinkle Streusal topping on top of muffins and place in oven.

7. Bake for 18-20 mins until golden and cool for 5 mins.

Streusal Topping
Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon, then rub in butter till it looks like breadcrumbs the same as you would for a crumble.

And there you have it scrummy blueberry muffins with a streusal topping, I made half with and half without as wasn´t sure if my husband would prefer them plain or with the streusal topping. He liked them both ways but in my opinion the Streusal topping just makes these muffins that bit extra yummy!


Simple Rainbow Quiche

Yet another baking post but this time with a difference: a savoury bake!! As I mentioned in a previous post, I´m trying to eat more vegetarian dishes as I feel like I eat too much meat and as I had some shortcrust pastry in the freezer, which is a great timesaver, I thought I´d make this recipe.

My love of cooking came about due to helping my Gran bake and then at high school, I chose Food Technology as my Technology subject because I didn´t like metalwork or woodwork or any of the other options. One of the projects we had to do was about Vegetarianism and before that I really hadn´t tried much vegetarian food (and wasn´t really keen to try it either!!). I still have most of the recipes we used today and here is one of my favourites: Rainbow Quiche.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

1 packet of shortcrust pastry
1/2 red or white medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 - 1/2 red/green or yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 tomato, deseeded and chopped
1/2 courgette, finely chopped
2 eggs
1/4 pint milk
a knob of margarine/butter (about 12g)
50g Cheddar cheese (or other if you prefer)


1. Line flan dish with pastry.
2. Beat eggs and milk together.
3. Grate cheese.
4.Fry vegetables in margarine or butter for 5 minutes until tender.
5. Place in flan dish, add grated cheese and egg & milk mixture (season if preferred although I don´t think it´s necessary)
6.Bake for around 30 mins at 190ºC/Reg 5 until all or the majority of the liquid has set.


Easy No-Bake Key Lime Pie (minus the Key Limes!)

I like a good Key Lime Pie as it´s a bit like cheesecake (at least the ones I´ve tried anyway!) and as I had some digestive biscuits lying around that needed eating up, it was my excuse to make this tangy yet sweet dessert. Key Lime Pie is an American dessert and is usually made with key limes (hence the name) but of course if you can´t get Key limes, ordinary limes will do. They are also usually baked and even though I tagged it under baking, this recipe is super easy as you don´t have to actually do any baking!!According to Wikipedia, it is usually also topped with a meringue topping but again the ones I tried haven´t. So here´s the recipe, adapted from one of the editions of Better Homes & Gardens Cook book, enjoy!

Ingredients (makes about 8 slices)

100g oat digestives (or similar biscuits-I think gingernuts would be great for this recipe if I could buy them!)
50g butter
1/2 cup of lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 cup of whipping cream (2nd cup optional)
1tsp grated lime zest
1 1/4 cups of condensed milk

1.Process biscuits in food processor till very fine crumbs.
2. Melt butter in pan over low heat and add to biscuit crumbs,mix, then press into cake tin to form biscuit base, place in fridge.
3. Mix condensed milk, lime zest and lime juice in a bowl.
4. Beat whipping cream with an electric hand whisk till it forms soft peaks.
5.Fold into condensed milk and lime juice mixture, then spoon on top of biscuit base.
6.Freeze for 2-4 hours. If desired, whip up extra cup of cream and place on top and grate some lime zest on top for decoration.


Vegetarian Paella -style rice

Now that I´m no longer pregnant and need to eat as much protein as possible, I´ve started cooking some vegetarian dishes again as I was eating far too much meat!! This dish is tasty, quick to cook and low in fat and is quite similar to a paella!The recipe has been slightly adapted from Cocina Vegetariana rápida by Anne Wilson.

Ingredients (for 2)
1 cup long grain rice (I used Basmati)
pinch of saffron
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, chopped
3 mushrooms, sliced
handful of frozen green beans
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 litre vegetable stock (you might need to add a little more)-I used veggie Oxo cube
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp salt

1.Place vegetable stock in a pan and add saffron strands.When it reaches boiling point, remove from heat.
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion, garlic, tumeric, paprika, cinnamon and rice until rice is infused with spices.
3. Add vegetable stock, red pepper,mushrooms, green beans and salt.
4. Once boiling point has been reached, lower the heat and cook slowly for 20 minutes until rice is tender.


More Christening biscuits & Chloe´s Christening Cake

It´s quite difficult having a baby to find time to bake and furthermore blog about it, especially with Chloe´s Christening just around the corner I´d been busy organising it! As tradition states I had saved the top tier of my wedding cake-it´s a fruit cake so keeps very well particularly in the freezer-for the Christening cake. I took it out of the freezer to defrost 4 days before the Christening. I had planned to decorate it completely myself and had bought white and pink fondant, a smoother, edible glue, heart shape cutters and baby feet cutters. Unfortunately, it all went to pot...I did practice making the baby feet a couple of times and they turned out well, however my fondant had gone past it´s expiry date and was rock hard. Although I tried adding butter to it (I can´t buy shortening here!) and Glycerine, which helped it to become more supple and easier to work with, it was still very difficult to work with and cracked a lot. I also had a go at making some baby bootees which I think would´ve turned out if I hadn´t had the problems with the fondant/gumpaste mixture...they just collapsed and broke before I could stick them together. Luckily my mum had asked Amelia, who had made my wedding cake to make me a topper as a backup plan! She made me a beautiful ballerina teddy, a name plaque and some teddies for the side!

So in the end all I did was re-ice the cake with Royal Icing using the peak method (it´s easier than trying to get it completely smooth and time was of the essence!)with the help of my mum, then we stuck the teddies round the side of the cake and placed the teddy on top of the cake and the bootees and name plaque on the cake board and voíla!What do you think? Very cute,methinks! Will have to have some more attempts at the bootees and baby feet for the next one!!

I also wanted to make some decorated biscuits as favours for the guests even though I set myself up for a lot of work!! I made the biscuits on Thursday night, then using the leftover Royal Icing from the cake, I dyed a small quantity of it pink with red liquid food colouring. Using disposable icing bags and two Wilton no.2. nozzles I outlined the biscuits in white and filled in the bottles and the wheels of the prams. I then filled the prams in and the bottle teats with the pink icing, then on the bottles I piped Chloe´s name and simple designs such as lines for the measures and spots in pink and then on the pram spots and Chloe´s name in white. Practice definitely makes perfect as I think these are my best Christening biscuits to date and writing turned out much better than ever before.

To give my biscuits a more professional touch, my parents and I wrapped them in cellophane and tied them with pink ribbon curled at the end (I´m not really very good at doing these creative things so my parents helped me!!) and they turned out really well in the end! I was pretty impressed with myself! I definitely have to speed up though if I want to do this professionally some time!!


Piña Colada Cheesecake & Bricoreposteria

For all you Spanish, cake-decorating, baking addicts whether you are a novice or amateur cake decorator or baker, I thouroughly reccommend a new(ish) specialist magazine, Bricoreposteria, packed full of cake decorating ideas and detailed step-by-step instructions and photos telling you how to recreate the featured cakes, advice and explainations about different caking tools, icing nozzles etc and recipes of how to make your own edible glue, fondant etc. It comes out bimonthly and costs 4.95Euros...my only complaint is that it is quite hard to find at my local newsagents, which means that I´ve missed out on a couple of issues.

I haven´t got around to tackling one of the bigger or more difficult projects yet.However, I have made the following, simpler Piña Colada cheesecake, taken from the latest issue (No.6)

Here´s a slightly adapted version of the recipe taken from Bricoreposteria:

100g digestive biscuits (I used oaty ones!)
50g unsalted butter
2 coconut yoghurts
250g mascarpone
227g tin of pineapple
100g dessicated coconut*
50g sugar
6 gelatine sheets (you could substitute this for powdered gelatine sachets)
yellow food colouring (optional)

1. Blast the digestive biscuits in a food processor(great time saver!) and melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, then add melted butter to biscuits and mix, till biscuit crumbs start to hold together.
2. Press biscuit mixture into dish and place in fridge.
3. Place 4 gelatine sheets in a little warm water (here is where I got ahead of myself and made a slight both by placing all gelatine sheets in water and then consequently in cheesecake mix but in the end,it wasn´t a big deal and the cake still turned out pretty tasty!) and warm one coconut yoghurt in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, then add warm yoghurt to gelatine sheets and stir till gelatine dissolves completely.
4. Add the other yoghurt, the mascarpone, the sugar and the dessicated coconut and mix till well combined, then spoon over the biscuit base and put in fridge while you prepare the pineapple part.
5. Separate the juice/ syrup from the pineapple and heat the juice in a pan or in the microwave, add the remaining gelatine and mix till dissolved.
6. Blast the pineapple & gelatine & pineapple juice in a food processor and add a couple of drops of yellow food colouring if desired and place on top of cheesecake.
7. Leave in fridge for 4 hours or until cheesecake has set.

* As I´m not that fond of coconut, I would reduce the amount of dessicated coconut to 50g next time I make this cake or maybe even leave it out all together as I found it very coconutty tasting,plus the dessicated coconut gives it a very grainy texture, which I didn´t find that pleasant.
* Another adaption I might make next time is try making it with fresh pineapple and soak it in rum...then it would truly be a Piña Colada Cheesecake!


Giraffe Number Seven cake

I made this Number Seven Giraffe cake for my niece´s seventh birthday, which I took the idea for from Tartas de Fiesta Infantiles by Anne Wilson. I was planning on making my Hot Milk Sponge cake but decided to take a shortcut seeing as I have less time now and -horror of horrors!-used a packet cake mix, Mary Lee American Yellow Sponge cake, which was very quick, easy and delicious. I cooked it in two elongated cake tins and then shaped one to make a rounded face. I think I rounded it a bit too much so it doesn´t quite look as much of a number seven as it should! I then cut a triangle off the other to make it neck shaped, then stuck them together with a little raspberry jam!

This time I tried a different buttercream, Hannah Miles´ buttercream recipe from Big Book of Cakes & Cookies, as usually the buttercream recipe I use doesn´t set, which maybe due to the heat. I coloured the majority of the buttercream yellow and about 1/4 cup of it orange using red and yellow liquid food colouring. Using a palette knife I covered the cake with the yellow buttercream as smoothly as possible but still managed to get crumbs mixed in it. I need to learn how to crumb coat! I then filled a disposable icing bag with the orange buttercream and using a 12 " icing nozzle, piped orange blobs for the giraffe´s spots. For the mane and the giraffe´s mouth,nose and eyes I used sweets such as liquorice and blackberries and voíla a friendly giraffe number seven cake!

I think it was a big hit at my niece´s birthday party as it was soon gobbled up and some kids even went back for seconds or thirds! Next year I think I´ll have to make a bigger cake!!


Miami Gastro, Ciudad Real

Miami Gastro is a very new restaurant which opened recently at Avenida del Rey Santo in Ciudad Real and belongs to the same restaurant group as Miami Park, one of the supposedly most expensive and best restaurants in Ciudad Real. However, Miami Gastro is more of a gastro pub and is more of a place to eat small raciones rather than a large meal!

It is housed on two floors, the bottom floor is a bar area with some seated and standing areas whereas upstairs is a more formal sit-down restaurant area. The whole restaurant is very chic,modern and trendy.

When I went, San Fermines was about to finish so the waitresses were dressed in San Fermin outfits (white clothes with a red bandana) and there was a special menu for San Fermin although we didn´t go off that menu. Apparently there is also a special taster menu for only 20 euros but we didn´t see this at the time. We chose a rocket salad with cheese and a balsamic vinegar dressing (if I remember correctly), chicken sticks, which were long,thin crispy sticks of chicken in filo type pastry with a curry sauce (pictured below)-very delicious!

Mini gourmet burgers of beef/ox (buey) with gorgonzola cheese and rocket salad.I had a plain burger as I don´t like blue cheese although they offered to give me the burger with Cheddar cheese but in the end they didn´t have any! The burgers were very tasty, juicy,meaty and tender. We also couldn´t leave without trying the famous courgette flowers, which are coated in a crispy batter very similar to Tempura and stuffed with goats cheese and herbs, also very tasty but rather on the expensive side as you only get one courgette flower for 5euros!

Everyone went for yoghurt foam with fruit for dessert which came in little glass pots and were apparently delicious. I selected my dessert from the San Fermin menu, which I was luckily allowed to do, and decided on a cherry and almond tart. It was very reminiscent of a Cherry Bakewell tart and was absolutely yummy-one of the best desserts I´ve eaten in a Spanish restaurant.

All in all, I was very impressed with the restaurant, the food was amazing and the service was very helpful, quick and friendly. The only thing I would say is that the portions are fairly small and they are quite expensive,particularly the courgette flower for what it is! It has now become one of my favourite restaurants and I´m looking forward to taking my parents there next week! I also have to add that they do cocktails there but as of yet I haven´t been able to try any yet!


Amaretto Gelato

I had planned on making all types of ice cream, sorbets and cold desserts this summer seeing as it´s so hot that I never feel like baking or even turning on the oven but that kind of all went out the window since having Chloe as it´s really difficult trying to find the time!!! Anyway, I did manage to grab some time to make this Amaretto Gelato....I absolutely love anything Amaretto flavoured or with Amaretto in it! The recipe is based on a recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. Gelato is Italian based ice-cream which has a lower butterfat content than ice cream but it tastes just as delicious!

Ingredients (about 6 servings)

6 egg yolks (beaten)

2 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar

between 1/8 to 1/4 cup Amaretto


1. Place sugar, milk and egg yolks in a pan and cook over medium heat while stirring, till it coats a metal spoon. Be very careful not to overcook as the mixture starts to look like scrambled egg (I know as this happened to me!). If this happens, place in food processor/blender or use an electric hand whisk and blend or mix till you have a smooth,thin custard-like liquid.

2. Add Amaretto and stir to combine, then place in a airtight container and cover with clingfilm and place in fridge overnight or for several hours.

3. Place in freezer and freeze for about 45 mins, then remove from freezer, stir up gelato to break up ice crystals, then place back in the freezer for a couple of hours until set.

4. When ready remove from freezer and serve (I found that it was frozen solid and was very difficult to serve so I´d recommend leaving it to soften a little before serving) and sprinkle with crushed Amaretti biscuits.


Sabor y Sazón Columbian Restaurant, Ciudad Real

Since having Chloe I haven´t had much time for cooking & baking or blogging although I have managed to make a salad dressing, one quick chocolate cake which I whipped up in my Kenwood food processor and spaghett bolognese so it´s a start!! However, we have been doing quite a bit of eating out with my parents, trying out or taking them to new restaurants. As my parents have never tried Columbian food, we decided to take them to Sabor Y Sazón. Unfortunately, the restaurant is being sold so I think I must be a bearer of bad luck as the shop I liked, Fabricando Delicias, closed and a shop which was the only shop in which I could find tilapia also closed!

Sabor Y Sazón is a fairly small restaurant,not particularly chic but cozy. The restaurant does a taster menu for only 10 euros per person minus drinks so it´s very reasonable too. We all chose a taster menu, which is comprised of about 5-6 small courses. First of all we had empanadas, a type of cornmeal pasty filled with meat (shown below)

The second course was a fried cornmeal ball stuffed with meat, potato and rice (very delicious but also very filling!) (shown below)

We then had an arepa (a flat,round patty made of corn flour) with cheese on it, followed by two smaller arepas,one with chicken on and the other had tuna on it.By this time, I was full to bursting and yet there was still one more dish! However I couldn´t eat the tuna arepa or the final dish, which is a flat cake or patty made from banana and which was topped with prawns and thousand island dressing. As we were all so stuffed none of us tried a dessert but they also have a variety of tropical juices which you can have with either milk or water. My mum had mango juice with milk, which was lovely and creamy and tasted very similar to a mango lassi and on the waiter´s reccommendation , I tried a fruit juice I´d never heard of with water, lulo (also known as naranjilla) shown below:

Although it doesn´t look very appealing, it´s a greenish colour and is quite lumpy looking so a bit reminiscent of puke really, it has a sweet acidic taste, which was actually very refeshing and pleasant tasting!

As I ´ve never been to another Columbian restaurant before I have nothing to compare this restaurant to but on the whole, it´s a nice restaurant where you can find good, tasty, filling, and reasonable food.


Traditional Victoria Sandwich and a new addition to the family!

I´ve had a bit of a break from the blogging scene recently since the birth of my daughter, Chloe, the new addition to our family! Things have been hectic and I´ve been busy recuperating from the birth and learning how to be a new mum and any spare time I have, I´ve used it for catching up on all the missed sleep! It´s a good job my mum has been here to help out as I´ve had absolutely no time for cooking and baking or much else.

I made a traditional Victoria Sandwich (my first sandwich cake!) named after Queen Victoria as she was rather partial to it before I gave birth but didn´t get chance to blog it until now. So here´s the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 8)
100g/ 4oz butter at room temperature
100g/4oz caster sugar
2 eggs
100g/4oz self-raising flour
raspberry jam
whipped cream (preferably fresh rather than UHT although I can´t buy fresh cream here!)
icing sugar to dust

1. Grease and flour two sandwich tins .
2.Cream butter and sugar together till fluffy and light.
3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each.
4. Add remaining flour and mix till well combined, then spoon mixture into sandwich tins.
5. Bake in preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF or Gas No 4 for 25 to 30 mins.
6. When cakes have cooled, spread raspberry jam and whipped cream on one of sandwich cakes and then sandwich together.
7. Using a sieve, dust icing sugar over the top to decorate.


Restaurante Gabinadas, Ciudad Real

I haven´t been doing much cooking or baking recently, due to being pregnant and finding it increasingly more difficult to manoever (only about 15 days to go!! Gulp!). My mum is here helping us out with the cleaning, cooking etc and also so that she doesn´t miss the birth!

Anyway, I have been meaning to review this restaurant which we went to last time my Mum came to visit but just haven´t got around to it until now!! Restaurante Gabinadas is situated in C/Alcantara 8 in Ciudad Real. The restaurant is fairly small but decorated in a modern style. It is a fairly new restaurant but we have been three times now, always for lunch.

Usually we order from the Menu of the Day, which costs around 12.50 euros and includes a first course, main course and dessert or coffee and also bread. Drinks aren´t included in the price. One of the reasons I like this restaurant is that it has a wide choice of first and second courses. I had gnocchi with pesto for my starter, which was delicious but maybe a bad choice as I sometimes get a bit bored of this type of dish. Another good thing about this restuarant is that the portions aren´t too big as in some Spanish restaurants, just the first course fills me up! Last time I went to this restaurant I had Piquillo peppers stuffed with meat, which is delicious and I thoroughly recommend.

My husband and his father had Callos (tripe...yuk!), which although good,they said was a little salty or bland-I can´t remember which!

My mum and I chose pork fillet with pastry in a cranberry sauce for our main course, which was absolutely scrumptious (I´ve eaten it twice now!).As with most of the main courses, it was served with a tiny portion of mashed potatoes, a brussel sprout, a cherry tomato and a slice of beetroot (Spanish restaurants don´t really do much in the way of side dishes).

As dessert is one of the most important and my favourite course of a meal, the desserts are a little disappointing. Although the choice is quite wide, there is nothing on the menu that particularly grabs my attention. I had strawberries with cream, which was served in a glass and there is rather more cream than strawberries!

All in all a good restaurant to go for a fairly reasonable but good quality menu of the day,with plenty of choice. However it is important to reserve a table at the weekends as it is very busy and it can be difficult to get a table!


Easy Spinach & Cottage Cheese Pasties

This is fast turning into a baking blog! However, this time I´ve been baking something savoury and also vegetarian! I´m finally on maternity leave so have more time to make the evening dinner (which is usually a lighter meal, more like lunch for Brits like me!) I had some frozen spinach in the freezer and had bought some cottage cheese so I fancied making these pasties, based on a recipe in Delia Smith´s Complete Cookery Course.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

roughly 112g (4oz)fresh or frozen shortcrust or puff pastry (I used frozen shortcrust pastry to save time)
1 beaten egg

112g (4oz) frozen spinach
12g (1/2 oz butter
25g (1oz) cottage cheese
20g Parmesan cheese
a small clove of garlic, crushed
splash of lemon juice
1/8 tsp dill
pinch of ground nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste


1. Cook frozen spinach in an uncovered pan until all the moisture has evaporated.
2.Add cheeses, butter and the remaining filling ingredients and cook until butter has melted, leave to cool.

3. Roll out pastry thinly and using a small saucer/saucepan lid (about 15cm in diameter) cut 2 rounds of pastry.
4. Fill one half of the pastry circle with filling, then brush egg around the edge and seal well.

5. Make a small cross in the centre of the pasty and using a fork, press down with the prongs along the sealed edge to decorate.
6. Brush with beaten egg, place on greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 220ºC (425ºF) for 15 mins.


Torrijas (Spanish Style French Toast) & 6 weeks to go!

I don´t know whether Torrijas is classed as a cake or a dessert but it´s definitely one of my favourite Spanish cakes or desserts and they are very typical and traditional at Easter time, so I also decided to enter it in the Easter Cake Bake blog event over at A Slice of Cherry Pie (if you click on the above link you will find out all the details about this event and how to enter).

I had a bash at making Torrijas once before and wasn´t very successful.I think it´s because I didn´t buy the right kind of bread (apparently this is the main secret to making perfect Torrijas)and also I put too much bread to soak in not enough milk, so they didn´t get wet enough so this year I thought I´d give it another try. I used Mil Postres recipe for torrijas as a basis for making my torrijas and this time they turned out perfectly and were absolutely delicious (even if I do say so myself!). My mum did the frying though as she didn´t want any hot oil to spit out onto my pregnant belly!

Ingredients (makes 8 to serve 4 people)

8 slices of special bread for torrijas (if you can´t get this bread, you could use brioche, milk bread, French baguette or even normal sandwich bread, however it is important that it is thickly sliced)
1/2 litre (just over 3/4 pt) of milk
100g sugar
1/2 cinnamon stick
peel of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
abundant sunflower oil for frying
extra sugar & ground cinnamon (for dusting)


1. Place milk, sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon peel in a pan and heat until warm and milk becomes infused with the flavours. Do not allow milk to boil.
2. When milk has cooled, strain the milk through a sieve and put bread in milk and leave for some minutes (about 10-15) until bread has soaked up the majority of the milk. (as pictured below)

3. Dip bread in beaten eggs and then fry in abundant sunflower oil until golden on both sides.

4. Drain torrijas on kitchen roll to get rid of excess oil.
5. Mix sugar and cinnamon (I eyeballed the amount but there was definitely more cinnamon than sugar as I love cinnamon!)together and then dip the torrijas in sugar & cinnamon mix to coat them on both sides.

We put them in the fridge and ate them the following morning for breakfast.Yummy!

Anyway, the weeks are flying by and I am counting them down...there are only 6 more weeks (well 5 after this week finishes) till I give birth, which I´m looking forward to,well, maybe not the actual birth! ; ) and it´s all very exciting. I´m not sure how consistent my blogging will be up to and after the birth but hopefully will find some time to blog & bake or cook!

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