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  1. Author: Magdalena Marsden

    The cocoa tree story

    Where does cocoa tree grow?

    Cocoa tree was literary unknown to the Europe and Western World until about 16 century, when Spanish conquestors started to explore the New World (America).

    In 18 century, Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus, named cocoa tree ‘Theobroma’, meaning the ‘food of the gods’. This was because the Aztecs referred themselves to the tree as the tree which fruits are worthy food for the gods. The full botanical name is ‘Theobroma cacao’.

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    Author: Magdalena Marsden

    If you know me, you know I like a bit of a cake. Home baked cake is miles better than any shop bought one, but it's still a cake! (Translation: sugar, flour and all things not particularly healthy...)

    So, if you are looking for some good cake with a bit of a healthy undertone, I can offer Banana and Butterscotch Loaf.  I made it this afternoon and my husband was perfectly content with having it after dinner for pudding. So, you see, it is a very versatile cake...

     

    The loaf is also perfect for an afternoon snack and will still be a better option than a Twix for your packed lunch. The loaf has a really nice texture, does not crumble too much and it is not too sweet to taste. And if you are still feeling guilty after Easter you can even omit the chocolate, but you will be missing out!

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    Iced coffee is one of my favourite ways of enjoying coffee in summer. Iced Coffee is very common drink on the continent, but not so much in the UK. Well, I think, it's time to change that!I always offer refreshments, when I run my baking courses and this week, I decided to prepare my version of Iced Coffee. I was right that nobody really wanted a hot drink anyway and my iced coffee was a bit of a welcomed novelty.

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    Have you ever wondered, whether you can make cheese at home?

    Well, I did and after a visit to several working farms in Kent, watching re-runs of Victorian Farm on BBC2 and our favourite cheese place going out of business, I decided I will have a go myself.<blog_break>

    So, here is what I did (and if you have a spare 30 minutes, you really can make your own cheese too!)

    This is what you need to make your own cheese:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 ltr Milk (any will do, but best is to get one that's 'raw' e.i. not homogenised or pasteurised)
    • 2-3 table spoons of vinegar (or lemon juice - up to 6 table spoons) - I used White wine Vinegar, which has a lovely mellow taste
    • salt - table salt is best to start off with
    • Any other flavouring that you want to add to your cheese

     

    Equipment:

    • Thermometer
    • large pan
    • muslin cloth (or similar - sterilised gauze or tea towel)
    • colander
    • large bowl

     

    This is what you do:

    Heat the milk gently up to 38  C. Take it off heat and add vinegar (or lemon), stir and leave for a bit.

    You will see that in a few moments the milk curdles and separates.

     Then you just pour it on to a muslin cloth resting in a colander and bowl and twist the muslin cloth to squeeze the liquid. Leave it for 30 min or up to 1 hr - either hanged over the side of the bowl or somewhere where the water can still safely drip down.

    The next bit is just to add some salt (to taste) and mix in any other flavouring that you want to add. I added garlic chives from my herb garden to mine cheese, which gave it just the right flavour. 1 ltr of milk will give you about 200g of cheese.

    The cheese will last up to 1 week in a fridge (keep in airtight container), but ours never does - we just eat it straightaway! I hope this recipe is simple enough for anyone to re-create and I love to hear how you got on making your own soft cheese!

    Until the next time...

    Magdalena

     mm author

  5. Author: Magdalena Marsden

     

    A day out in London ! Hurrah ! Under the pretence of research (really it was a research, but still a lots of fun !) I headed off to London to visit Speciality and Fine Food Fair at Olympia. This was a trade show only, so I had my ticket in advance and also had the chance to plan which stall to visit. (Precise military operation, you see...)