Friday, 9 December 2016

Bailey's Eggnog Recipe

 
 
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Between all the Christmas lights getting switched on, open-air icerinks opening and the stunning festive windows, Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier to London. But it’s my favourite time of the year and when London is at its best. It's actually enjoyable to be snuggled up and cosy, making the most of the festivities.

Being a Londoner, festivities naturally mean an alcoholic beverage. I usually favour Bailey's but last winter I was partial to a hot toddy. A couple of weeks ago, I tried eggnog for the very first time at EatFirst's Festive Feast. Chef Benn Hodges whipped up his special Aussie version which went down very well with our party.


Having piqued my interest, I wanted to start looking into eggnog a little before the festive season get into full swing. Apparently eggnog was one of George Washington's favourite tipples; he made it himself and even aged it for a few days to let the flavour mellow. While I appreciate his enthusiasm and commitment, I feel like President Washington may have taken his eggnog a little too seriously..!

classic eggnog is a fairly straightforward drink which calls for a base of rum mixed together with egg, milk and nutmeg. Some eggnog recipes jazz it up with double cream, condensed milk or cinnamon sticks. I found a very tempting Bailey's Eggnog recipe. This is essentially my dream Christmas cocktail - warm, comforting eggnog combined with my festive favourite Bailey's. I whipped it up this weekend and wanted to share the recipe with you:

Ingredients:
  • 35ml Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 75ml milk
  • 1 split vanilla pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A sprinkle of nutmeg
Method:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1tbsp caster sugar until creamy and the sugar begins to dissolve
  2. Mix in 35ml Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur and 75ml milk. Stir in the seeds from a vanilla pod, scraped out with a teaspoon.
  3. Using a grater, grate the sides of a whole nutmeg into the bowl.
  4. With a cocktail strainer, strain the mixture into a Cognac glass.
  5. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, placed inside the glass at an angle.
For more Christmas cocktails check out Diageo's site, thebar.com. 
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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

EatFirst's Festive Feast


Last week, on a dark and grey Tuesday evening, still reeling from the US Election result, I managed to find a little sanctuary to help me forget about the woes of the world. My long-time blogger friend Ashanti, of the fabulous Adorn Girl blog, chose the perfect night to host a festive supperclub in partnership with EatFirstLondon’s first online-only gourmet restaurant. There literally is nothing better for lifting your spirits than a feast of Christmas comfort food, a beautiful setting and great company.

The supperclub took place at the gorgeous Dead Doll’s House; Ashanti transformed the top floor into an exquisite private dining room with the most decadent, Instagrammable table as a centrepiece. Utterly dreamy. I was really glad to catch up with Head Chef, Benn Hodges, over a glass of his Aussie Eggnog. He has an incredible career, being named ‘Chef of the Year’ in his home country Australia, before hopping across the ocean to work at Michelin-starred London institution The Ivy and Roka, one of my favourite restaurants. It’s safe to say his background set the bar for the evening very high!


Benn was appointed Head Chef of EatFirst back in January 2016. The concept is super simple, the restaurant is online-only, therefore unlike other food delivery services, each dish is designed to be transported and delivered. This really piqued my interest, I’ve ordered via delivery serviced before only to be let down with lukewarm food which hasn’t survived the bike delivery intact. Each dish on the EatFirst menu goes through rigorous development and is freshly hand-prepared by London’s best chefs. The meals are cooked and arrive chilled, with a three-step meal card for heating, plating and eating. Simple!



Our supperclub was to celebrate the new festive menu, which launches on Friday 18th November. The menu is full of Christmas classics as well as indulgent Thanksgiving-inspired desserts. I was super pleased to find tons of vegetarian options on the menu, from the truffle mushroom soup with walnut crumble and parmesan scone to the Portobello mushrooms filled with spinach, goat’s cheese and herbed crumbs. My absolute favourite was the truffle mac & cheese, I actually gasped out loud when I had my first bite. We also feasted on piles of sides – the roast potatoes were crisp to  perfection and the glazed parnsips drizzled with organic honey were divine.


The festive menu is out this Friday. Check it out by either visiting the EatFirst website or download the app, which is super easy to use. EatFirst currently serves zones 1,2 and 3 with 45 minute delivery slots from 11am-2pm for brunch or lunch and 5.30-10pm for dinner. Yes, I said brunch. That amazing development team have worked their magic so you can order perfect poached which are delivered to your door. With or without a delicious Bloody Mary mix. They are actual angels on Earth.

 
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Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Belvedere Bloody Mary


A couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to an unlikely collaboration at a very special event. Luxury Polish vodka brand Belvedere has collaborated with prominent South Africa artist Esther Mahlangu and (RED) on a special edition bottle for a really worthy cause – half of the profits will be donated to the Global Fund to fight HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis.

For those who may not have heard of Esther, she is one of South Africa’s most famous artists and one of the last skilled custodians of the traditions of the Ndebele people. Her art is inspired by the Ndebele people and their traditions, and her paintings are made from pigments from her surroundings – the black comes from the mud in the river and many colours are extracted from the African soil nearby.

At the event, I had the pleasure of meeting Esther and taking part in an exclusive art workshop, painting my own design inspired by her vibrant, geometric artwork. Esther paints with a chicken feather paintbrush, which is what we used to create our paintings too. It was such a special experience and I’m so honoured to be part of it. I think it’s really wonderful that she has been able to collaborate with Belvedere to help combat these diseases. The bottle she has designed has four of her designs, with each one carrying a meaning – security, support, change and unity.

I’ve only started appreciating vodka over the last few years. Suitably scarred by university bars which insisted on serving Smirnoff vodka, complete with its harsh bite to your throat as you drink it down, I gave vodka a wide berth. I took a trip to Sydney to spend time with my older cousins who introduced me to Belvedere at Zeta Bar in the Hilton. We had lemon flavoured vodka, which was so delicious and smooth that I persuaded the bartender to make us a special Belvedere lemon shot.

A few years later at the event, I finally understood why it tasted so smooth. I can’t claim to be an expert in the vodka distilling process, but speaking to Belvedere’s UK Brand Ambassador, I learned that the rye used by Belvedere is slow fermented over several days before its distilled several times. Belvedere use their own water source to purify and blend the vodka before it’s filtered twice. The resulting vodka is soft and smooth with a hint of vanilla which created a sumptuous velvety texture. Perfect for drinking alone and as a base for a good cocktail, which brings us nicely to the point of my post!  

If you follow me in Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that I have a soft spot for a good Bloody Mary. It’s not at all cool, but it’s one of my favourite cocktails. They’re perfectly acceptable at brunch and I always choose them over a bellini, but I pretty much drink them any time of the day now. The one stipulation is that it must be spicy. Sushi Samba and Bronte pretty much make the perfect spicy Bloody Mary but over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with a few recipes and made my own version, with just enough kick to start your morning.
Quite a lot of recipes call for fancy ingredients and I was incredulous to see one which omitted tomato juice! I’m a bit of a stickler for tradition so I kept it simple and of course red. A couple of recipes used horseradish, I can see the appeal of having a sharp kick to a Bloody Mary but my version just uses good old Worcester Sauce and Tobasco. If your palette doesn’t take well to spice, use a little less of those two ingredients and add a little bit more to suit your tastebuds.
Ingredients:

2 shots of Belvedere vodka

1 cup of organic tomato juice
4 tablespoons of Worcester Sauce
1 teaspoon of Tobasco
A pinch of celery salt and pepper
A squeeze of lemon
Fresh celery to garnish
Method:
  1. Throw it all in a cocktail shaker
  2. Shake what your mama gave you
  3. Pour it in a glass
  4. Cut some celery to garnish
  5. Let me know what you think!
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