29 Oct 2015

Review: Vindinista Wine Bar, London

Vindinista Wine Bar, London

The London Reporter gets slightly tipsy on red wine, white wine and even a little port at the cutest wine bar you’ve ever seen.

A few weeks ago, we'd had quite a hectic day of gallivanting around town. It was London's annual Open House weekend whereby you can have a good nose around properties usually closed to the general public. Afterwards we headed out West to Acton to try out the fairly-new-kid-on-the-block local neighbourhood bar Vindinista.

It's a cosy bar with elegant dark wood panelling and a minimalist feel with stools along the main bar and more at the large window which looks out onto the main street (great for people watching as you can imagine).

Interior of the bar at Vindinista Wine Bar, London

The owner, Paola Tich was very warm and welcoming and spoke to us about the bar before walking us through the wine list. Now this bar prides itself on making it’s wine super accessible and Paola was particularly proud that all of the wines are slightly off the beaten track. Paola and her staff use rather quirky one line descriptions on the menu to get to the point about every wine (so no fluffy talk here!).

For example, A Keermont Terrasse White from South Africa is described as a rich Chenin blend to make you purr, so for anyone who doesn't wish to get bogged down by too much wine talk but is still interested in what they’re consuming, this is an easy way of making sense of it all.

First up we had a flight of white and red wines. It’s a great way of getting to know what you like quickly and I’d encourage you to give this a go anywhere!

Meanwhile we munched on what these guys are being championed for on social media - truffle toasties! It’s fair to say that this will knock your socks off and is exactly what you crave for if going all out on a wine tasting session. The challenge is then to remember which wines go best and be able to say why!

Wine Quote

Now don't expect a three course meal here. It’s all about grazing, although the portions are a good size. We went on to enjoy yummy trout on toast, another toastie (yup, they are THAT good!) and munched on olives as we sipped on various wines stocked high up on the bar - literally!

Trout on Toast

As it became darker outside, we were immersed in candlelight and enjoyed the chilled ambiance. We were then invited to try a chocolate truffle that bursts in the mouth and was then washed down with a spot of port (remember this trick for your next dinner party).

Port and Chocolate Truffles

All the staff are really enthusiastic and wanted to get you excited and enthusiastic for everything they stock and I was thoroughly won over by their passion. Grab yourself a glass now ;)

Address: 74 Churchfield Rd, London W3 6DH
Twitter: @vindinista

Disclaimer: We were guests of Vindinista. All thoughts are our own.

22 Oct 2015

Banana Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

Banana Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

I've just arrived back from a Western Mediterranean cruise on the fabulous Celebrity Eclipse. If you'd like to take a peek, my instagram has a few photographs of the food and drink you can expect on this amazing ship. I'm still full to the brim with food, so this cake was one I made before I went away on my holiday.

Anyway, back to normality and a posting I wrote a few weeks ago but never posted..........

I've always loved cake and am definitely not one of the converted through watching #GBBO - it's been a lifelong love.

So onto the recipe, I've adapted Mary Berry's banana and lemon drizzle cake, messed about with it (sorry Mary) and came up with this delicious cake!

To achieve a light banana cake the only way is Stork SB (or alternative brand) and blackened bananas.  I've tried using all butter, or half butter and half Stork SB but it's still too heavy. I'm a fan of any one bowl mix and you can have this recipe in the tins in super quick time.

My filling may appear to be a little skinny but hubby doesn't like too much buttercream and as soon as dulce de leche meets buttercream it's very rich.

Banana Cake

You will need: 2 x 20cm round cake tins base and sides lined

For the cake:
175g Stork SB
175g Caster Sugar
3 eggs
300g self-raising flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons milk at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Icing:
175g unsalted butter, softened
350g sifted icing sugar
2 tsp dulce de leche

To decorate:
Dulce de leche
pinch of seasalt

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix for a couple of minutes with an electric mixer.
3. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins and level the top.
4. Bake for approximately 35 minutes until golden and risen.
5. Place the cake tins on a cooling rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the tins and place on the rack.
7. For the icing: Sift the icing sugar into the bowl of a mixer, add the softened butter, 2 teaspoons of Dulce de leche and a pinch of seasalt. Mix for 6 minutes until soft and fluffy.
8. Coat one of the sponges with half the buttercream, top with the other sponge. Spread the remaining buttercream evenly over the top sponge.
9. To decorate: Take a small icing nozzle and place into a piping bag. Place a couple of tablespoons of Dulce de leche into the icing bag and pipe thin lines evenly across the buttercream.
10.Can be frozen to stage 7.

4 Oct 2015

Summer Berries Pavlova Recipe

The finished summer berry pavlova

It's been a wonderful sunny weekend here in the West Midlands and on Saturday I went to Bridgnorth in Shropshire to buy what will possibly be the last of the late summer berries. We had a barbecue today and pavlova makes the perfect end to any meal.

There are quite a few meringue recipes on Kitchen Delights blog which is mainly because I use up any egg whites that I've frozen for a rainy day and more importantly meringue is one of our favourite desserts.

Summer Berries Pavlova

My favourite recipe for pavlova is by the super talented Alastair Hendy. His isn't a conventional method but gives a no fail meringue, on cooling the case cracks beautifully to give loads of character to the meringue. You will also be rewarded with a wonderful deep soft marshmallow layer within, the outer is delicately crisp. Should none of this appeal and if you must have the perfect meringue just leave in the oven overnight to cool but it won't have the soft marshmallow centre....

You will need:  either a hand whisk or a stand mixer and a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Draw a 20cm circle on one side of the baking paper then turn the paper over.

4 large egg whites
120g caster sugar
110g icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar

To decorate:
150ml whipping cream
4 tbsp natural yogurt
½ tsp vanilla extract
selection of berries

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C or 130°C Fan.
2. Add the egg whites and caster sugar to the bowl of a mixer. Whisk until thickened and firm this can take some time but keep on going. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until thick and shiny, about 4 minutes.

Whisking egg whites and caster sugar

3. Blob the mixture inside the circle on the baking tray.  Shape making a dip in the centre for the filling.

Shaped pavlova ready for the oven

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C or Fan 120°C. Bake for 70 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and leave the pavlova to cool on the baking paper.

The finished pavlova case

5. Whip the cream until soft peaks, add the yogurt and whisk again.
6. Remove the cooled meringue carefully to a large serving plate. Decorate with fresh and frozen berries.

A snapshot of a decorated pavlova

More meringue ideas:
Strawberry and Redcurrant Pavlova
Chocolate and Vanilla Berry Pavlova
Traybake  Meringue with Pears, Chocolate and Cream
Meringue Roulade with Elderflower Infused Strawberries