Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘cheap’

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.

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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.

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