The Taste of Cinnamon

I’ve always been a big fan of Lisa’s interior design/lifestyle blog for the best part of three years and started using recipes from her food blog – Kitchen & Aroma – last year, when I made biscotti for the first time which, I have to say, was a huge success. As you can probably tell, I’m a fan! Plus, Lisa’s such a lovely person.

When it comes to cooking, there are few things I can resist more than the aroma of cinnamon wafting through the house. Back in the day when there was a bakery on every corner, I used to alternate between cinnamon buns and the great British Chelsea bun for my afternoon snack. Alas, those days are over so one Saturday morning, I decided to follow Lisa’s spelt cinnamon bun recipe et voilà, back to my childhood.  Spelt has a slightly nutty taste and paired with the cinnamon, let’s just say that two were not enough…

The Taste of Cinnamon

I’ve always been a big fan of Lisa’s interior design/lifestyle blog for the best part of three years and started using recipes from her food blog – Kitchen & Aroma – last year, when I made biscotti for the first time which, I have to say, was a huge success. As you can probably tell, I’m a fan! Plus, Lisa’s such a lovely person.

When it comes to cooking, there are few things I can resist more than the aroma of cinnamon wafting through the house. Back in the day when there was a bakery on every corner, I used to alternate between cinnamon buns and the great British Chelsea bun for my afternoon snack. Alas, those days are over so one Saturday morning, I decided to follow Lisa’s spelt cinnamon bun recipe et voilà, back to my childhood.  Spelt has a slightly nutty taste and paired with the cinnamon, let’s just say that two were not enough…

Autumnal Change

Despite going to bed at midnight, I woke up at 6:30 this morning.  I’m in a reflective mood – thinking about the last year and just how different my life is now.  This time last year, I was living a double life – pretending to be happy for fear that the reality would consume me.  Today, I feel like myself again, and that feels great.   This morning I decided to change up the breakfast routine with toasted seeded bread with home-made lemon curd (so easy and much nicer than shop-bought) and home-made hot chocolate (a Danish friend’s recipe) with my favourite magazine – The Economist.  I always start reading magazines from the back.  I wonder if this means anything… Any psychologists out there?

October marks an important moment in my life, a new chapter so to speak, for so many reasons. Today is my first day back at school.  It’s a part-time degree which I’ve been thinking about for the last two years.  It is a major life change and an investment mentally, financially and socially. To be honest, despite being offered a place on the course, I wasn’t going to enrol.  I don’t know why, I suppose I was afraid of change, fear that I’d be the oldest person in the class, that I wouldn’t be able to keep up or be as good as the other students after so many years out of education and the list goes on and on.  I shared all of this with a friend – Lasca – over afternoon tea at The Savoy (review to follow shortly) recently and let’s just say that she gave me the proverbial kick up the backside I needed! Enrolment done, fees paid and student ID card received.  School starts today! Excitement overload. I still have some fears but my life motto has always been “no regrets” and that’s not about to change.

Speaking of change, I’m so happy with my newly-designed website. What do you think? I wanted a change – something more professional and gorgeous – and instead of getting drastic and cutting my hair short (never a good idea when you have crazy curly hair), I have a new blog design. I had so many ideas and inspirations and was so excited to start my search for a web developer. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know all about the tears of frustration, faux-developers and those four minutes when I thought I would not only teach myself CSS, but would also design my own website. Craziness in London! Like I said, four minutes. I feel no shame in admitting that I have sat staring at my laptop, hands in my hair, wailing “I don’t understand why you’re doing this to me!”. Okay, maybe a little shame but hey, we’re not all perfect.

Enter Jenny Beaumont. I met Jenny when I lived in Paris for all of a few minutes at one of these fun expat evenings and subsequently found her on Twitter and since then, she’s been my WordPress, Linux and well, anything geeky guru.   To this day, I don’t know how she knows all of this stuff.  What I really like about Jenny’s approach is that she is about do the technical yet explain in an idiot-proof way.  Before any work commenced, Jenny had me look at designs I like, narrow it down to two and then I sent her a list of likes, dislikes and changes.  Simple yet effective.  Probably the most important question she asked was “is this design your ultimate site?”, which allowed me to think about all the features and styles I’d incorporate into the site without any time or financial constraints.  Adding a Japanese section is something I’ve wanted to do for years but I simply didn’t know how to do it.  I spoke to so many so-called developers who told me it couldn’t be done or that would have to be done with different programmes which aren’t available on WordPress etc.  Two long conversations later, without any technical misunderstandings, Jenny began working on my little ole blog.  I think it’s fair to say that I have never exchanged so many emails with one person in such a short period of time.   Over 3-4 days, Jenny designed and developed my blog.  It would have taken me months, maybe even years.  I’m not going to lie, I’m hard to please but other than the use of Serif font, which I’ve never liked, there wasn’t anything to change. Somehow Jenny was able to understand the site that I wanted before I even knew!   I’m so crazy in love with the blog – if it were a person, I’d break British tradition and hug it!  The best part about working with Jenny is that she wanted me to be happy with the site.  It wasn’t a case of just get it done and more on to another project.  For me, working with someone who cares about what they’re doing is a rare and wonderful treat. As if the design and development weren’t enough, she emailed detailed guides on how to use the translation plug-in, image functions and notes about how to change little things so I can be in control of my own site.  The problem with the internet is that there is so much conflicting information available. Having Jenny as my trusty source is an absolute bonus.  I highly recommend Jenny so if you have a blog or website and need some help, check out her site and/or Twitter.

Sometimes change really is a good thing.

Home-made Matcha Cupcakes

Come 15:00 and I need a little sugar so, combining my love of all things Japanese, matcha cupcakes were baked.

They’re very simple: take a basic cupcake recipe like this one from Nigella Lawson and add 1 teaspoon of matcha. Despite having a sweet tooth, I always decrease the amount of sugar suggested.  There is no way 12 cupcakes (with icing) needs 125 grams of sugar.  I used 70 grams.

For the icing, mix cream cheese, butter, matcha (I used 1 tablespoon for a very strong matcha flavour) and icing sugar.  Add a little sugar at a time because you don’t to over sweeten it. Ice your cupcake et voilà! So delicious! Like with all of my Japanese ingredients, I bought my matcha at the Japan Centre here in London.  Have you been there?  I used an average priced variety which comes in a foil pack and tin to keep it in optimum condition.  Perfect for those matcha biscuits I’m making in a few weeks.  Do you like matcha?

Living alone is somewhat of a deterrent when it comes to switching the oven on.  I’ve made nice with my friendly, cat-loving neighbours, who also seem to enjoy a little cake. Two cupcakes and several cups of hojicha later, I’m rather happy to be back in the kitchen.

Milla Bakes: Lisa Hjalt’s Biscotti

Prior to my sugar detox, I baked two-three times a month. In order to prevent myself relapsing into my addiction, I stopped baking and stopped eating dessert at home. Also, since discovering that I have a slight intolerance to lactose, I rather ‘treat’ myself once a month to Afternoon tea somewhere fabulous than make cakes.

Hallelujah for Lisa Hjalt, that’s all I can say! I recently discovered her fantastic blog called Kitchen & Aroma. The idea behind Kitchen & Aroma is incredibly simple: healthy and delicious recipes for everybody. I don’t want to cook with bleached, crappy white sugar or dairy any longer and Lisa has inspired me to no end. Not only are her recipes tasty, they’re environmentally conscious and nutritionally rich. Just look at the colour of the sugar. It sure makes you think about how processed most of what we consume is.

This was my first experience baking biscotti and after following the recipe to the letter, it turned out better than I expected. You can use whatever flour you want but following Lisa’s recommendation, I used spelt. Spelt, though not gluten-free, is said to be a much easier grain to digest. I’m keen to make a gluten-free biscotti using Amaranth or maybe even Quinoa flour.

You can find the full recipe here.

My Sunday afternoon was perfect: a good book, a pot of Gyokuro tea and some home-baked goods. A big thank-you to Lisa for sharing her recipe and for getting me back to one of my favourite pastimes: baking!

Home-made Lemon Curd

I was invited to the lovely little birthday party last night of a really nice American lady I met a few weeks ago, where I happened to meet some seriously cool chicks, including some Brits and even more amazing, a fellow Londoner!

Anyhow, as you know, I’m all about baking so I decided, with the help of one of the best Christmas presents ever – The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook – (thanks mummy!) to make cupcakes. I chose two varieties but they’ll come later. For one of them, I needed lemon curd. Off I went to Monoprix to stock up on some flour, butter and lemon curd, which I couldn’t it anywhere. Don’t the French eat lemon curd!? As I walked up & down looking at jams and getting flustered, I was overcome by shame and found myself thinking

You’re not really going to buy lemon curd, are you?!”

Shame Milla, shame!

So I made a detour en route home to stock up on lemons to make what it quite simply the quickest and most delicious lemon curd around. The reality is that like most things, nothing tastes as good as something made fresh and with love.

Ingredients:

Grated zest and juice of 2 large juicy lemons

2 large eggs

175 g golden caster sugar

110 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

  • Begin by lightly whisking the eggs in a medium-sized saucepan, then add the rest of the ingredients and place the saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Now whisk continuously using a balloon whisk until the mixture thickens – about 7-8 minutes. Next, lower the heat to its minimum setting and let the curd gently simmer for a further minute, continuing to whisk. After that, remove it from the heat.
  • Now pour the lemon curd into the hot, sterilised jars, filling them as full as possible and cover straight away. I used a 370 g Bonne Maman jar and the contents fit perfectly.
  • It will keep for several weeks, but it must be stored in the fridge.

Tell me that isn’t the easiest thing you’ve ever made. It is so tangy, sweet and beeping delicious, particularly on some toast post-pilates.