Saturday, 25 March 2017

"Sally Cinnamon" Rolls

A note from Joelle... 

I've  caught the baking bug again! It's great news for everyone and everything except my waistline. 

Now, I've made Swedish cinnamon buns before (kanelbulle) but this was the first time making American-style ones. These are much bigger, made to tear apart, fluffy and soft in the middle and are made in a big pan altogether. Once cooled a little bit, they are drizzled
(more in my case, drenched!) in vanilla cream cheese frosting - perfect!
Impress yourself and your mates with this really easy recipe that can literally feed like, 100 people.

Ingredients

Roll:
100g plain flour
A splash of milk
4 tbsp Melted butter (unsalted)
Softened butter (unsalted)
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
4tbsp white sugar
1 packet or 1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp baking powder 
A pinch of salt

Icing: 
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp milk
2tbsp cream cheese
4 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the bread, pour the milk, melted butter and sugar into a bowl, add the dry yeast and let the mixture sit for about 2 minutes. Add the sieve in the flour and then fold the mixture. It will be very sticky and maybe a bit lumpy but that's just how it is!
Place cling film or a kitchen towel over the bowl and allow it to rest for 1 hour. PLEASE don't skip this step, the rolls won't get that airy rise if the dough doesn't prove at room temperature.
When the hour is up, admire your beauty! My dough tripled in size but once you then work in the baking powder, salt and another half cup of flour, you'll notice it shrink back to size.

Roll out the dough into an oblong and try to get it evenly thin (around 1cm)
Spread some softened butter on the dough first, then sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar.
Start rolling from the long end of the oblong until you get one giant roll and then cut the roll every 5cm or so. Don't worry if the whirls are super-tight, as we are baking them all together, they won't spread too much and lose shape.
Place all the rolls in a dish and allow them to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking at 180C for
Whilst the rolls are baking, it's time to make the delicious icing!
In a bowl, add the soft butter, soft cheese (I used Philadelphia), vanilla, milk and stir until smooth. Then add the icing sugar and stir until all is incorporated. Boom - you're done!
Once golden brown, take out of the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Then drizzle on the icing, whilst the rolls are still warm.
Eat straight away, but they are amazing cold too!

Let me know if you make these - they are totally worth all the faff! The perfect Sunday treat!
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Monday, 20 March 2017

Honeymoon in Vegas, Palladium

A note from Joelle... 
For one night and one night only, the concert performance of the hit Broadway musical, Honeymoon in Vegas came to London for the first time.
Freddie Tapner's London Musical Theatre Orchestra was conducted by the musical's composer, Jason Robert Brown and it was their first performance in their 2017 schedule.

The original film, starring Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker was released a bit before my time, so I had never heard of it before! And as you probably know from my other theatre reviews, when I get tickets for a new musical or play, I never google it or read reviews in advance - I need to see it with completely fresh eyes.
image: Nick Rutter
If like me, you've never heard of the film or musical, let me break down the synopsis for you (it's so bizarre):
The story follows Jack, a New Yorker who promised his dying mother that he would never get married. However, his girlfriend, Betsy is sick and tired of the "curse" and Jack's fear, so is keen to get married, even if it means eloping to Vegas. And that's what they do!
But after losing a game of poker to a Vegas gambling boss, who takes a liking to Betsy, the elopement goes really, really wrong - and of course, it's bloody hilarious.
Oh, and there are parachuting Elvises (Elvi (?)), a ghost of a dead mother, and a Hawaiian temptress - you know, your usual musical.
 image: Nick Rutter
What I noticed straight away was the diversity of the audience. The West End often gets a bad rep for only drawing in middle-class, middle-aged white people to shows, but tonight, Palladium was packed to bursting point with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Before the live band (who were not in the orchestra pit, but in full view on stage) took to the stage, I knew there had to be something really special about this show.
We all know Samantha Barks (BETSY) is an incredible actor and singer (she played Eponine in Les Mis, both in the West End and in the 2012 film!), but it was her co-star that stole the show in my opinion.
Arthur Darvill (JACK), who you'll know as the vicar in Broadchurch or Amy Pond's boyfriend in Doctor Who has a wonderful, earthy voice that marries so well with a large ensemble behind him. He was the real star of the show with not just his voice, but his comedic timing.

I also feel I need to give a special shout out to Simon Lipkin, who sang the part of Elvis. He really brought the house down with his charm and charisma.

The energy from the LMTO (including Jason Robert Brown), the supporting cast and the main cast was electric and that was the most refreshing thing about the performance - they all bounced off each other so well. When that happens, the usually stiff and reserved British audience relaxes more!
 image: Nick Rutter
With Brown's dazzling score made up of swing, rock 'n' roll and Hawaiian-inspired island numbers gave the show a varied vibe that people of all ages in the audience were tapping their feet to.
We gave the cast and band many standing ovations and they were so well-deserved.
(*)
Now, the only question left is: when is the full production coming to the West End? London is in desperate need of a funny, feel-good show like this.
4.5/5 stars.

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Monday, 13 March 2017

Wagamama x Meantime Brewing Company

A note from Joelle... 

Craft beer is taking over my life.
We have boxes of the stuff sent to us at work (shhh...) every month, so I've been sipping lots of weird and wonderful flavours recently. YAY for my taste buds, nay for my ever-growing beer bump that's got people on the Tube wondering if they should give up their seat to me.

To my delight, a friend and I were invited down to Wagamama in Soho to try out two new craft beers created by Greenwich brewery, Meantime (d' gedd it?) a week before the launch in restaurants nationwide.
Wagamama's executive chef Steve Mangle and Meantime's Ciaran Giblin popped over to chat about the inspirations and origins of the new beers ans also th special food pairings.


First up was 'Kikku', a chilli-infused beer. As I'm used to spicy food (I add chilli flakes to evreything) I think my tastebuds had been desensitised because I only felt a teeny tiny kick to this beer.. A part of me liked the subtleness, but more would make this brew a 10/10.


Our favourite was 'Kansho', a ginger and lime brew, which went with pretty much every dish including the puddings. I did taste much of the ginger, but the lime's tanginess along with the airiness off the beer made for a lovely drinking experience. It's light but doesn't leave you bloated at all.

Bao buns, braised beef ramen, udon stir-fry, mini cream cakes and bucket-loads of edamame beans - the beers went down a treat with all of the food on offer.

Meantime's craft beers are launching on 15th March 2017 in all  UK restaurants.

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