Monday, 14 April 2014

Mocha Choca Madeleines

Having chanced upon some madeleine tins while in Calais in November last year, I returned to London with all the best intentions of churning out try after tray of the tiny delicacies. I would be making madeleines every weekend, my kitchen would be filled with edible seashell shapes in all colours of the rainbow, all with different flavours. Best-laid schemes of mice and (wo)men, and all that...and so the tins languished in my kitchen cupboard for the next few months. 

Anyway, Ari sent me a link to that John Whaite off the GBBO's* recipe for madeleines flavoured with chocolate and coffee. They sounded tasty, and not too complicated. So I gave them a go. He also includes a recipe for a cocoa-flavoured dipping sauce, but I left that out and simply dusted with icing sugar instead.

*That's Great British Bake-Off for those of you not au fait with today's yoof slang. 
Mocha Choca Madeleines (adapted from John Whaite's recipe for the Telegraph)

100g salted butter
2 eggs
100g caster sugar
1 tsp coffee extract (I used this)
85gms plain flour
15g cocoa powder

- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

- Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then set aside.

- Put the eggs, sugar and coffee extract into a mixing bowl, and beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy, and tripled in volume. This should take about 12 -15 mins.

- Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the egg mixture, then pour in the butter. Gently fold these into the egg mixture until smooth and silky.

- Fill the madeleine moulds about 2/3 full, then bake for 8 - 10 mins or until the madeleines look slightly browned around the ages. Turn them out of the tin as soon as they are baked or they will stick. Lightly dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder (optional). 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

First Aid

If you find yourself with a cut, a scrape, a bruise, or a wound of any sort...please do not seek me out. My stall at the Tea Rooms may have a rather impressive collection of First Aid kits, bandages, and various lotions and potions, but they're all rather, erm, old. Strictly for display, or to frighten off some squeamish friends. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Stranger In My Camera

I found a Diana F+ at a car boot sale several months ago. I'm usually not too keen on cameras from Lomography, but the lady selling it enticed me with the offer of a free, unused roll of 120 film. There was already a roll in the camera, so I took it with me to Belgium to test it out. The shots above were taken by the lady's daughter (I assume), and the only ones of her photos that turned out. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014


What's a holiday without a visit to at least one ramshackle second-hand bookshop, eh? Pele-Mele is a small-ish Belgian chain (there are two other branches in Brussels) that buys and sells books, magazines, records, and some toys. It's also a brilliant way to escape from a grey, rainy Brussels day. 
For the hardcore tram aficionado
The majority of books and records are Belgian or French, although there's a small selection of English-language books toward the back of the store. (See this photo above? It's here, as well as on the wall in front of it.) You might have to do some pretty thorough excavations to find an interesting book (be prepared to wade through lots of airport-books/Paulo Coelho/non-Harry-Potter J.K Rowling/perhaps even a Dan Brown or two!, you get my drift), as most of the tomes on offer seem to have been offloaded by backpackers passing through the capital. Still, isn't that part of the fun of second-hand shopping? The thrill of looking for treasure, the possibility of finding something special! 

Or you could simply pick up a few copies of Tram 2000 for the special tram-spotter in your life.
Beautiful wallpaper - I need this
Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier 55
1000 Brussels

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Rocks and Bones

You don't expect me to miss out on dinosaurs, do you? Even though I'd already been there on my first trip to Brussels, I had to revisit my favourite Belgian museum again. There's something pleasantly old-fashioned about this place - the beautiful wrought iron stairs, awkwardly posed models, and the glass-fronted cases in the geology section. Having lots of big dinosaur skeletons around don't hurt either. 

Rue Vautier 29
1000 Brussels

Friday, 21 February 2014

Broad Bean Blossoms

The last couple of days have been unseasonably warm for the time of year, and my broad beans have been flowering away. I planted three seeds in November - all have sprouted, but this particular plant is the strongest (and now prettiest!) looking of the lot. The blossoms seem so delicate, and up close, smell very sweet. I hope this means I'll get to enjoy some broad beans in a couple of months.