Antonia Landi

Archive for the ‘Student life’ Category

Stuffed chicken breast with garlicky beans – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on March 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

You are only a few ingredients away from making a lovely Italian inspired dish. What better incentive to get started?

Sometimes, I forget how much I love a certain food until I eventually eat it again. This especially happens with green beans. Whenever my mum made it, I used to wolf down half the bowl myself, but for some reason I never really cooked with them myself. Well, that’s about to change cause it turns out that I really love green beans! But something I love even more than green beans is umami. I’d happily swear to never ever eat sweets again, as long as I have a moderately (un)healthy supply of all things savoury. Hard cheeses and cured meats are only some of the foods naturally rich in umami and they both feature in today’s recipe. Throw in a good dose of garlic and I’m in heaven! Did you know that umami can be found in breast milk? We’re basically raised on it! And next time you find yourself craving some miso soup, remember that umami is a big part of Japanese cuisine.

If you’re not a big fan of pesto, don’t fret – there are many other things you could stuff your chicken with. How about some plain soft cheese with a bit of lemon juice, chives and crushed black peppercorns? Or if you’re looking for something more robust get yourself a pesto made with sun-dried tomatoes. Same great umami flavour, without the mountains of basil. If you’re looking to save some pennies, you can opt for a simple prosciutto instead of the real deal Parma ham, although I often find that it’s better value to get the latter. And if you’re cooking for two, there’s always a couple of slices left over that you can eat out of the packet when no-one’s looking… after having washed your hands thoroughly, of course. Oh and don’t worry If some of the filling spills out – just serve it on the side with the chicken. If you really don’t want to make a mess, you can cook the chicken in little parcels made out of baking paper – simply put the chicken on the paper, fold it over, and then fold the edges together. That way, there will be no spillage on your baking tray!

Feeds 2:

2 reasonably large chicken breasts

2 tbsp pesto

1 heaped tbsp soft cheese

4 slices Parma ham

250g green beans

2-3 garlic cloves

Good olive oil

Salt, pepper

 

Bake chicken breasts on a medium-high heat for 25-30 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

This week I’ve really been struggling to decide on three links to give you… so I’ll cheekily include two in one: The first one tells you all about how Parma ham is made, and the second one is the official Prosciutto di Parma website, which has tons of information and most importantly: great recipes!

If you’re not a fan of green beans, here are 30 other sides you could dish up!

Finally, if the concept of umami still confuses you, this website has all the info: From what it is, to where you can find it – you’ll never have to go without!

Lunch x2 – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

Nothing is sadder and less appetizing than a few bits of bread, thinly covered with a bland filling, straight from the supermarket fridge. We all eat sandwiches like that far too often – I say, it’s time for a change!

 

Britain is a nation of sandwiches; there are no two ways about it. And while I love a good, decadently filled homemade sandwich that has fresh veg and fillings poking out at the side, I dislike nothing more than those awful, cold and soggy sandwiches you get with your ‘meal deal’. Who wants to look forward to that? No wonder people can’t find the joy in cooking and eating if all they live on tastes, well… horrible.

I haven’t made many videos that work well as lunch, because I often told myself that people wouldn’t have time for that in the morning. I’m one of the laziest people you’ll ever meet and no matter how much I enjoy cooking, I don’t want to wake up half an hour earlier every day just to spend it on the stove. But this term I find myself eating at university a lot, and since I prefer preparing my own food instead of paying over the odds for something substandard, I always take a packed lunch with me.

The great thing about these two recipes here is that they work wonderfully in single servings, taste delicious and they are so quick to prepare. I bet any of you that you could make either of these dishes in six minutes or less. I’m not even joking.

These are only two of many recipes that can be re-arranged, re-developed or invented from scratch that work great for lunch. If you have a day off, treat yourself to a warm lunch, or if your work has a microwave, even better. The tuna and broccoli noodles are quickly becoming a favourite dish of mine, and the couscous salad is easy to transport, superquick and supereasy to make. But whatever you want to take with you, do invest in a good lunch box. Don’t do it like me, you’ll have tuna leaking all over your bag and you’ll be smelling it for weeks! Although I must say, I do enjoy the company of the cats I’m attracting.

 

Both recipes feed 1

 

Couscous salad:

75g couscous

Enough boiling water to cover

50g feta cheese

2tbsp raisins

1tbsp pine nuts

Salt, pepper

Olive oil

Pinch of cloves and/or nutmeg (optional)

 

Tuna noodles:

1/2 can responsibly sourced tuna in brine

1 ‘nest’ of egg noodles

150g frozen broccoli

Salt, pepper

Soy sauce (optional)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

Fed up with the usual sandwiches? Me too, and so is Hugh! Follow this link for a great guide on how to make lunch tasty, everyday.

If you’re unsure about where you can get responsibly sourced fish, here is a list of Supermarkets and their involvement in sustainable fishing.

If you have leftover couscous may I suggest making it into a tasty quiche? This recipe looks so fantastic, I might just have to try it myself!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Bread – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

This week, I’ve decided to make myself sound like a bit of a hypocrite and declare bread to be ‘better than toast’. Well, let’s just put it this way: All bread can be good toast but not all toast is necessarily good bread. In fact, once you’ve baked your own I’m convinced that little else will satisfy you just as much.

Bread is such a basic thing that we rarely stop to think about it. Supermarket bread is readily available at any time of the day and stays soft for days, but rarely sports a great crust. Of course, you could go to an artisan baker, but I’m somehow reluctant to pay a fiver for a loaf that I could just as well make at home. And yet, baking bread doesn’t really catch on with the younger generation. I don’t know if it’s because it’s seen as something old-fashioned to do, or if people are put off by how long the whole process takes. Granted, it’s much quicker to go to your nearest store and buy some than make your own, but homemade bread ages far better and gives you endless possibilities. Besides, you could make your whole flat smell of freshly baked bread and snack on a warm loaf afterwards. What’s not to love?

There are no two ways about it: making bread does take time. But that doesn’t mean that this is a bad thing! Schedule your bread-making on a day you have lots of little things to do, that way you can cross things off your list while you wait for the bread to rise. Make the dough and then tidy your flat, knock the bread back and skype with your parents afterwards, stick it in the oven and do your nails while you wait.

If you’ve never baked bread before I would really urge you to take your time with this recipe. Get a real feel for the dough, see how it changes beneath your hands while you are kneading it. After all, breadmaking is an ancient tradition and so vital. Take your time and think about what you are doing; you’re effectively transforming three basic ingredients (water, flour, yeast) into food with only your hands and some heat. You can probably already tell, but I really find something almost magical in making bread.

It is needless to tell you just how many different kinds of bread you could make. Wholemeal, with seeds, sweet, savoury, you can play around with different flours like spelt and rye, make a tin loaf one day and then burger buns the next – I could go on forever. Take this very basic recipe, memorize it forever, and run with it. Quite honestly, the best advice about breadmaking I can give you.

Makes one loaf:

500g strong white bread flour

7g dried yeast (1 sachet)

2 tbsp olive oil (optional)

1-2 tbsp salt, to taste (optional but recommended)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

Want to know more about baking your own loaved? Check out this website for a thorough bread baking 101.

Once you’ve made your loaf you can either eat it as it is or make it into this heavenly creation (hint: goes down great at parties!).

And finally, don’t ever get tempted to throw out hard bread. There’s still plenty of life in it!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Homemade chocolates – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The shops are filled with bears holding up hearts, roses are basically shoved in your face and everyone is supposed to be happy and in love. But why not use this time to treat yourself to some handmade sweets?

It’s Valentine’s Day alright. Quite possibly the worst holiday of the year. You either feel under pressure to make a romantic gesture to your partner, or supposedly need to feel bad because you don’t currently have a partner. Either way, it’s not very cheerful, is it. So instead of spending money on some horrible stuffed animal, get a few bars of chocolate and make the magic happen! Celebrating Valentine’s Day should be about the people that you love, be it friends or family. And trust me, after they’ve tried these delicious chocolates, they will love you.

Working with chocolate is really tricky and easy to mess up. Many people will tell you that you’ll need to temper it by closely monitor the chocolate’s temperature and suggest a myriad of techniques to aid you in your quest for the chocolate of the century. The truth is, as long as you don’t get water into your melted chocolate, you’ll be just fine. True, the chocolate you’ll produce won’t be glossy and shiny, and won’t have that characteristic ‘snap’ when you bite into it; it’ll look and taste more like a truffle. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad! So stop faffing about with your thermometer and let’s melt some chocolate.

Melting chocolate is pretty straightforward. The only two things that could go wrong is if you accidentally get water into it (remember, even a tiny amount can ruin your chocolate, so be extra careful) or if you burn it, but if you’re as impatient as I am, that isn’t likely going to happen. The great thing about making these yourself is that you can personalize them to suit the person you are making them for. Think about their favourite chocolate and customise: chopped or whole nuts, dried fruit, tiny marshmallows, experiment with layering two kinds of chocolate or add a small amount of cereals – there is so much you can do. There is no right or wrong – think about what you like and then make it! This is a great opportunity to really bring your ideas to life.

I find working with silicon moulds easiest – when you choose one, make sure you take its shape into account and go for the one with fewer details. For example, it’s easier to get the chocolate out of a heart shape than it is to get all the corners of a star out without breaking anything. It takes about 4 hours for the chocolate to set, but  I would suggest leaving it to set overnight. And if you have leftover melted chocolate, simply dip some fruits in it and let them to cool on a baking sheet. There’s nothing like a few sweet treats to reward yourself!

 

Makes approx. 20 chocolates:

150g white chocolate

150g milk chocolate

150g dark chocolate

Fillings like cereals, nuts, dried fruits, dried chilli flakes, marshmallows… be creative!

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

 

If you’re up for making chocolates but you don’t have a mould, or you want to make something a bit more sophisticated, why not try making your own truffles?

For the future Chocolatiers among you and for those who want to know the tricks of the trade, here is a great and simple guide on how to properly temper chocolate.

And if you’d rather keep the chocolates for yourself but still need a gift for your loved one, have a look at these great ideas for homemade presents.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Egg Fried Rice – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 1, 2012 at 11:16 am

Picture: Antonia Landi

There really isn’t much to say about today’s recipe, apart from that it’s quick, easy, and just delicious!

 

 

Fried rice is one of those treats that we all indulge in, but rarely think to do ourselves. A staple in any Asian restaurant and take away, fried rice is a very British way of having Chinese. It’s just foreign enough to tickle our taste buds with unusual flavours, but it’s still made up of ingredients that we know and love.

 

Today’s fried rice is supposed to be served as a main dish, but it can very easily be transformed into a side by halving the amounts. If you’d prefer a more substantial meal, try adding some ham to the dish. And if you’d like to be a bit more fancy, I’ve got just the recipe for you! Just have a look at the links at the bottom of the article.

 

I often used to make egg fried rice with simple vegetable oil – it’s cheap and it works. But if you really want to take your dish that little bit further, do invest in a nice bottle of sesame oil. There are two kinds of sesame oil out there: light and dark. Dark sesame oil is made out of toasted sesame seeds and has a stronger and more complex flavour. Both work wonderfully with today’s dish, just keep in mind to use less oil if you choose the dark one, as you don’t want it to be overpowering. If you feel like it, try seasoning the dish with a dash of soy sauce.

 

Last but not least all I can tell you is to run with it. There are so many things that you can add to a simple egg fried rice to make it as complex or as simple as you like, from a grown up seafood version to a very simple side of fried rice with spring onions. Think of your favourite ingredients and then make them work together. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can invent new recipes!

 

Feeds 2:

100g uncooked long grain rice, cooked as per instructions

2 eggs

1 large carrot

1 packet baby sweetcorn (usually 175g)

1 handful frozen peas

4 spring onions

Sesame oil

Salt, pepper, soy sauce (optional)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

 

Nobody I’ve met has ever really been sure of how to properly cook rice. There are so many methods I won’t even get involved in it! If you are looking to achieve heavenly fluffy rice, follow this link.

Feeling fancy? Here is a great Thai version of fried rice, just begging to be teamed up with a glass of chilled white wine.

By far one of the most useful websites on the internet, Love Food Hate Waste has great tips on what to do with leftovers and how to make food go further.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Vegan Bolognese – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on January 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

I’m back and I can’t wait to get stuck in. Prepare yourselves for some delicious cooking coming your way, because I’ve got great things lined up for you!

After a lengthy winter break due to a minor injury I’m finally back doing videos. Having a break every so often is really good, as it gives you time to reflect on what you’ve achieved so far and also gives you the opportunity to plan ahead. And boy do I have some ideas! First of all I’d like to introduce you to TVP. If you are vegan or vegetarian you probably already know what I’m talking about. TVP is short for textured vegetable protein and comes in little granules as well as bigger chunks. It is an ideal substitute for mince and has so many advantages over meat. It’s cheap – especially if you buy it in bulk, it lasts forever, it’s low in calories, and it looks and tastes great. There’s really nothing TVP can’t do.

One of the reasons I’ve decided to make this video is because it’s January and most of us are dieting, or feel like we should. To compare: one serving of TVP has 125 calories, compared to the 350 calories of 200g extra lean beef mince. You can see where I’m going with this. Nowadays you can find TVP pretty much everywhere; check your local supermarket (it usually likes hang out with the stuffing mix…) or health food store. Health food stores will usually have TVP for cheaper and carry two kinds: light and dark TVP. There is absolutely no difference between them, except that the dark TVP has been coloured with caramel to make it look even more like mince. Honestly, once it’s on a plate, you really can’t tell the difference.

I must warn you now, since I’ve just recently gotten 15kg of the stuff there’s a good chance I will be cooking with it every now and then but don’t worry, if TVP is just not for you, simply replace it with some mince and follow the recipe as usual. And for the icing on the cake, or if you are indeed cooking for someone who is vegan, simply get some vegan parmesan to complete the dish.

Feeds 2:

200g short pasta

1 can chopped tomatoes

75g or 1 sachet TVP

1/2 diced onion

2 garlic cloves

1tbsp tomato concentrate

Olive oil

Basil to taste

Salt, pepper, other herbs & dried chilli to taste

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

For a more thorough explanation of what exactly TVP is click here.

If you’ve grown to like TVP and are wondering what else you could use it in, then why not start with a taco?

Last but not least here is a list of common veggie/vegan/raw foods and what they are. Very helpful if you feel a bit lost!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Toad in the hole with simple onion gravy – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on December 1, 2011 at 2:27 am

Picture: Antonia Landi

Toad in the what? I don’t know, but just stay with me, okay? I promise this dish is so moreish and comforting, you won’t want to eat anything else until March.

So, for those who don’t know this dish, it’s basically sausages in a giant yorkshire pudding. Doesn’t that sound fantastic? It’s really easy to make and so great during winter. Plus, if you master this one, you’re bascially already an expert on how to make yorkshire puddings, so really it’s two recipes for the price of one!

For some reason I always thought that there must be some kind of wizardry going on when making yorkshire puddings. I fell in love with them the moment I set foot in Britain, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how they make them. Why do they rise so much? What do you mean pour the batter in hot oil? That’s not gonna make any difference… is it? Turns out, it really does make a difference! I have since been told that the yorkshire pudding batter rises so much because of the egg, although my knowledge doesn’t go beyond that. Sausage-wise, it’s easiest to keep it traditional – this is a British dish after all! Use nice plump bangers that’ll stay moist throughout the cooking process, unless you happen to be vegetarian of course! In that case opt for this tip: I’ve never been a big fan of overpriced quorn style veggie sausages – they cost a fortune and more often than not the taste is quite disappointing. So if you don’t mind getting your hands a bit dirty go get some sausage mix – you’ll usually find it in the aisle next to dried stuffing mix. It’s dirt cheap, makes a load of sausages, and you can season and shape them any way you want! I’ve used them in Toad in the hole before, and boy are they tasty. But I am rambling. To get back to the topic: make sure your oil is seriously hot before adding the batter (use vegetable oil, as olive oil starts burning at high temperatures), try not to open the oven once the batter’s in and if your toad is collapsing when you take it out, stick it back in for another few minutes! The trick is to make it get nice and crispy, so that it won’t collapse under its own weight. If you’re having serious trouble with it, try making individual toads in a muffin tray – they are easier to heat up quickly and therefore less prone to disasters.

A note on making your own gravy: You really don’t know how easy it is until you make it yourself. I was a firm supporter of instant gravy, and I can still see the benefits of it, but when a dish really makes the gravy shine, it’s definitely worth making your own. There is virtually nothing that can go wrong and it’s just fun and so easy! Besides, nothing can beat that ‘I just made my own gravy’ feeling.

 

Feeds 2:

For the Toad in the Hole:

4-6 bangers

125ml milk

75g flour

1 large or 2 small eggs

Salt & pepper to taste

Vegetable or Sunflower oil

 

For the side:

200g Cauliflower florets, cut into bitesize chunks

Olive oil, salt & pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan (optional)

 

For the onion gravy:

Half an onion, sliced

Knob of butter

1 tbsp flour

Half a stock cube

250ml water

Seasoning to taste

 

Heat oil in oven dish in a preheated oven on a high heat until very hot. Add sausages, reduce heat and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Add batter and bake on a high heat for 20 minutes or until crispy.

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

 

Ever wondered how Toad in the hole got ist name? This is by far the best explanation I could find!

Almost entirely unrelated to this week’s recipe, I came across this charming website that explains all the British culinary eccentrities to the non-Brits among us. Mainly aimed at those living in the USA, it’s a great read if you want to have a laugh!

If you’ve made too much roasted cauliflower (and who can blame you – roasted cauliflower tastes delish!) here is a great recipe for a lovely casserole.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Mushroom risotto – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on November 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Picture: bbcgoodfood.com

 

Hailed as the quick and easy midweek supper, risotto actually took me quite a while to perfect. But once you’ve got your technique down, it’ll definitely become a favourite.

Making risotto is all about stirring stirring stirring – unlike instant polenta, there is no cheat mode to delightful risotto! I used to find making it really stressful, as I’m usually busy doing three different things at once when I’m cooking – chop while you cook, that kind of thing. I would’ve been really grateful if someone told me at the start that risotto requires your full and undivided attention, so here it goes: Risotto requires your full and undivided attention. That means measuring and chopping and grating all the ingredients before you start, and having them at arm’s reach. As if you were doing a cooking show! This way, you can pay close attention to what is happening inside your pan, which is very important. By stirring the rice frequently, you do not only prevent it from burning to the bottom of your pan, you also release its starchy goodness, which leads to a heavenly creamy risotto. Do make sure you use either Parmiggiano Reggiano or Grana Padano as these cheeses blend into the sauce wonderfully. Mushroom-wise there is not much you could do wrong. Go for wild mushrooms as they have a bigger and more diverse flavour range than the more traditional mushrooms you find in your supermarket. Remember, mushroom season is almost over, so make the most of it while you can! Think girolle, oyster, brown beech, pied bleu – the list goes on and on. If you’re struggling to find any, have a look at dried mushrooms – they keep forever and all you need to do is soak them before cooking! My favourites are girolle, oyster and porcini mushrooms, but there are endless possibilities. If there’s a big Morrison’s supermarket near you, get your mushrooms there. They have the biggest variety of mushrooms I’ve encountered in a supermarket so far, and their labels tell you about the variety’s taste and texture. Last but not least don’t attempt cooking a risotto with long grain rice – it won’t work. Have a look at the links below to find out why. Carnaroli is my rice of choice, but Arborio is generally easier to find – I got my rice from asda though, so there’s no need to go to an overpriced deli for it! Just shop around and I’m sure you’ll be able to find what you need.

Feeds 2:

180g Carnaroli rice (Arborio is fine as well)

Half a chopped onion

1 garlic clove

Knob of butter, plus approx 40g to finish

Approx 200g-250g wild mushrooms

1l good quality chicken stock (good stock cubes will do; or veggie ones for a vegetarian version)

1 small glass (125ml) white wine

Handful of grated Parmiggiano Reggiano

Seasoning to taste (remember the stock is already quite salty)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

 

What’s the difference between basmati and Arborio rice? And what about Carnaroli? Does it really make a difference? Find out here why risotto rice is different and get acquainted with 5 different types (yes five!).

I’ve never made any kind of stock myself and I don’t really mind admitting that, but I feel like I should at least give you the option to do it yourself. And who knows, maybe with this second version that uses no chicken bones at all and is only supposed to take an hour I might even try it myself!

OH NO! I’ve made too much risotto! Yeah right, we all know that you just wanted to have enough leftovers to do these super tasty rice fritters.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Baked potatoes with two fillings – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on November 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Picture: bbc.co.uk

Aah, the good old baked potato. Crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, there’s not many dishes that can make one feel warm and fuzzy inside quite like this one. Pair that with how easy it is to make one, and you got the perfect lazy day dinner.

In Switzerland, there’s a dish we make called ‘gschwellti’ which basically consists of boiled potatoes accompanied by an extensive cheese platter, so the idea of pairing potatoes with cheese isn’t foreign to me (especially if you consider the more well-known raclette). But that’s just about how far the Swiss will go. Over here, the classic baked potato is loaded with a mound of cheddar, but there are so many other great toppings to choose from too. From baked beans to a posh chilli, from a simple helping of cheese to a healthier veg alternative – there is nothing the baked potato can’t handle. And that’s what’s so great about this dish – the potato is like a blank canvas, itching to be painted on and you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Today, I’ve chosen two of my favourite toppings – tuna mayo, because it’s so easy to make, and Brie, bacon and cranberry sauce, because the sweetish-salty-creamy combo of this fancy topping is just divine. Plus, it’s got cranberry sauce in it, which’ll give it a nice Christmassy twist! But do have a look at any of my previous recipes, as some of them would make fantastic toppings – the homemade chilli and the boozy mushroom sauce from the polenta recipe are only two of the many options to choose from! So do go out and get yourself a bag of baking potatoes and bake the winter away – and do share your favourite topping combos in the comments below!

Makes 2 baked potatoes (1 of each)

2 baking potatoes, roughly the same size

Olive oil

Salt

Bake the potatoes for approximately 1 hour (depending on size) on a medium-high heat

For the tuna mayo:

1/2 tin responsibly sourced canned tuna

1/2 tbsp mayonnaise

Capers (optional)

Salt, pepper, dill to taste

Small handful grated cheddar

For the Brie, bacon & cranberry:

4-5 slices Brie

2-3 bacon rashes (best cut with scissors!)

2 tsp cranberry sauce

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

First time potato baker? Here are fourteen helpful tips on how to make your baked potato a success!

For those who want to be more spud-literate, here is a great link that summarizes which kind of potato is best for which kind of dish. Incredibly helpful, and yes, that’s a purple potato.

And for the purists among us, here is a simple recipe on how to make your very own cranberry sauce.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Baked Alaska – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on November 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Picture: bbcgoodfood.com

Ever put ice cream in the oven? No? You should try it, it’s delicious!

Now, before you call me mad, I should add that the ice cream is protected by a thick layer of whipped egg whites – that is unless your first attempt fails, just like mine did!

The video you are watching is actually the second attempt at this dessert. In my first video, I thought it might be nice to put a layer of jam over the top of the ice cream, so that it would create a nice red rim around the ice cream once you cut into the baked Alaska. What I hadn’t considered is that it caused the egg white to slide away from the ice cream, causing a big rip to appear in my meringue. The heat seeped into the centre of the cake and you can imagine what the end result looked like… Messy, to say the least. But we all make mistakes, and after a night of sulking I simply made another one. Nothing like a bit of cake to cheer yourself up, right?

Now, apart from having a freezer full of baked Alaska, I’m actually quite glad that this little disaster took place. If it hadn’t, I probably would’ve never talked to you about what happens when things go wrong in the kitchen! This in itself is such a big topic, that I couldn’t possibly cover it all in one article. I have, however, put some very useful links at the bottom of this page, so do check them out. To make sure that you succeed, take good care when whipping the egg whites. Your bowl and whisk should be absolutely free of any oil – the best way of doing this is running a wedge of lemon across your equipment just before starting. Make sure you separate the eggs correctly – you will be at the mercy of your egg whites, so be really careful not to drop any yolk into it. As a little pointer: it is easiest to separate an egg when it’s cold, but egg whites are best whisked at room temperature. And if things do go wrong in your kitchen, start from the top and remember: this happens to the best of us!

Makes 1 baked Alaska:

1 flan case (approx 6 inches, or 100g – often referred to as medium flan case)

3 egg whites

Half tub of dairy ice cream (500ml)

Raspberry jam

150g caster sugar

Approx 60-70g frozen berries per person

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

If you’re in the kitchen often enough, chances are that at some point you’ve either burnt, broken or over-salted something. While at the time this might seem like the end of the world, do have a look at this website before you bin everything – you might be able to save it after all!

For some baked Alaska related info and a lovely recipe for dainty mini versions of this dessert, click this link (and do ignore the apostrophe mistakes…).

When making meringue, you can never read up too much about it. From failing to separate eggs to over-whisking, the truth is that a lot can go wrong. But there are great little tricks that prevent you from making these silly mistakes! You can find some of them here.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

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