Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Star Wars Custard Creams

I feel like I haven't baked from properly in ages, so with this week being my brother's 39th birthday - it was time to get back in the kitchen. I couldn't think of a good cake to make as I'd already made his dream one...him being eaten by a shark....yeah, that's what I said. So I thought instead of a cake I would make some treats instead. What treats you ask? Well, Star Wars custard creams of course!

I saw these great cookie cutters on Sew White and knew I'd be using them for one of my brothers.  I Tweeted the lady herself earlier and she still has a few packs left! We're not a big fan of iced biscuits in our family so I knew that wasn't the way to go.  I've also always wanted to make custard creams so I thought these would work great.

The recipe comes from BBC Good Food and says it makes 20 biscuits (10 pairs), this was about right. I doubled it although I would say you probably only need half the amount of filling unless you want the filling extra thick.

  • 100g butter
  • 100g flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g custard powder
  • few drops of vanilla essence

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 75g butter

  1. Cream sugar and butter, then fold in flour, custard powder and vanilla essence until a roll-able dough is formed. Alternatively combine all ingredients in a food processor, and then by hand form the dough.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  3. Flour a surface and roll out dough to roughly 1/2 cm thickness. Then cut out shapes, ensuring there is a duplicate of each shape you cut.  

  4. Place shapes on a baking tray covered in baking parchment (or greased and floured), ensuring that one of each pair is put on upside down (i.e. flipped over, rather than rotated). Place in oven for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

  5. Blend the icing sugar and margarine, and then use to fill the custard creams once they are cool. Place a bit on the bottom (i.e. non-smooth side) of the first biscuit, then push the bottom of the first biscuit's pair onto this. Don't force together as otherwise the filling will just explode out the sides! Leave to set in a container or eat there and then.

    I was a bit worried that the patter in the cutters wouldn't come out but they kept their shape and pattern really well which was great. Darth Vader made a great custard cream, Yoda, not so much (which is probably the only time that sentence has every been said.) But he was small so they'd be great for little hands.

    Overall the cookies came out great, tasted better than a regular custard cream and my brother loved them. Win!
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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Motel Schmotel - Brighton

So as I mentioned in my Brighton post we were looking for a nice little place that had parking in the center. This wasn't as easy as it sounded but then we found Motel Schmotel, the name instantly drew me in, it seemed quirky and fun - and that's exactly what it was.  Checking it out on tripadvisor really sealed the deal, check it out for yourself if you're thinking of staying there.

It on Russel Square which is literally about two streets away from the shopping center, not that you'd know - it's lovely and quiet when you head to bed. We got there a little early which was great as we got parked out front which they gave us permits for, we were too early for check in so they kept out bags and put them in our room for when we got back which was lovely. So we went shopping :)

We stayed in room 4 which slept 3, a double and a single and it even had its own little balcony! It's a shame it's so cold at the moment so we didn't get to use it but I can imagine it's lovely in summer, or even spring to be honest! The room was a good size in my opinion, some reports say the rooms are tiny and I guess if it's a double it could be smaller but ours was quite big really so can only go on that. Perfect for us.

The decor was really nice and fresh, light walls, big mirrors and a few quirky features and prints. The 'pleasure' one did make me laugh as a mother and daughter staying together, but very Brighton so how could you not laugh.

Every room has its own bathroom, small but who cares, no shared bathrooms is always a plus and nicely decorated too. You can't see the shower in this picture but it's just to the right. Every room also has it's own flatscreen TV and there's free wifi, you really couldn't complain.

One of the bits I loved the most was the welcome book in the room. It had all of the information you need about breakfast, the local area, where to go, where to eat, if you need anything etc and a bit about them. The restaurant recommendation part was the best, we found an amazing restaurant, that I'll write about later and they were spot on with their reviews.

Motel Schmotel pride themselves on being green, organic and local as possible so all of the food is as local as possible and you get more than just the normal option a greasy fry up. Their full English, which we chose came with egg, thick cut bacon (yum), Sussex sausage, homefries, roasted tomato and chili relish (seriously, they need to sell this by the BOTTLE) and toast. My only tiniest suggestion would be that the butter that came with it wasn't so cold as it was hard to spread - and that is literally the only thing. It was really filling, but without making you feel sick and not a spot of grease in sight. I do hear though, if you pick the boiled eggs that they draw faces on them! I love this!

You get a good size fridge in your room with a good bottle of milk and also water which was a nice touch, and forget the rubbish shortbread you normally get in hotels for your tea - here you get Penguin bars...PENGUINS!! And to top it off you get a little piece of mint rock on your pillow with Motel Schmotel written through it. All of the dated aspects of hotels and B&Bs you think of are banished here and replaced with something just that little bit different.

I really couldn't recommend this place enough if you're thinking of staying in Brighton 5/5 from me!

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One Night In Brighton

This week I have my first week off in a long time, so we thought we'd do something fun with it. We'll be spending a few days in Southampton, but first we decided to spend a night in Brighton after falling in love with it the last time.

We were hoping that it was going to be a bit warmer, but hey, snow was fine too... We searched for a long time to find a hotel with parking, which by the way doesn't really exist in the center. Then we stumbled upon Motel Schmotel which said it had it's very own parking, hurrah! They'll get their own post but I will say that the place was lovely, a few fun quirks, great location and we managed to get parked right outside which was a major bonus.

So after arriving we of course headed straight to The Lanes, stopping in a tea room on the way for a quick drink, 'That Little Tea Shop In The Lanes', it was quaint and quite tightly packed but cute with miss-matched crockery. After fueling up we kept going. I can imagine if you live in Brighton then trawling around these shops doesn't seem that special, but for us it's still a bit special and very quirky so of course we loved it. I'm a bit poor this month so I held back from buying too much, we did however find a great fabric shop where we picked up some cherry print fabric perfect for a rockabilly dress and top - will keep you updated on that one! Speaking of which I did find Dollydagger, I was a little disappointed as it was very small, you couldn't really move around and felt like you were being watched like shoplifters, I hate that.

As we were in Brighton it would have been rude to not visit Choccywoccydoodah, I love that the Easter display was still up and of course wanted to put the whole display in my house. I always think their window displays are amazing and the Easter bunny theme didn't disappoint. I was hoping that maybe the Easter eggs would be reduced so I could snap one up but alas, it was not to be. £30 for an egg is just too much for me, even if they were beautiful....which they were. I did however take lots of pictures of the cakes, who doesn't?

On the recommendation of my friend and her lovely blog we headed to JB's American Diner. You could imagine that this would be my Mecca. With Elvis blasting out the doors I instantly knew that me and my victory rolls would love it. We didn't have a full meal, especially after reading the review, but did opt for a sharing starter to keep us going and a mammoth milkshake. I won't lie, I basically went for the peanutbutter milkshake after hearing how amazing it was. And I'm glad I did.  If you think all you get it what's in the glass then my friend, you are MISTAKEN. You also get a massive jug filled with all the goodness that didn't fit in to the glass, and I'm not exaggerating when I say this, but it was enough for three milkshakes....THREE! I've honestly never have a better milkshake, full of ice cream, peanutbutter, actual whole peanuts....I know....I know. With whipped cream, sprinkles and even a cherry, it couldn't have been more 50s if it was served by someone called Peggy Sue...which I actually wish it was. I will however leave you to read Tora's blog on the milkshake as I could bang on forever about it - but hers is so spot on I shall leave you in her capable hands.

Some people go away to shop, to sight-see, but as you can clearly see, we go to eat - I won't pretend otherwise.

We also had an amazing dinner at a vegetarian restaurant Terre à Terre. I can't stress this enough, if you are in Brighton.. GO TO THIS PLACE, GO NOW! This was actually in the welcome pack at Motel Schmotel, their review of it made us book straight away. Again this will also get it's on post so look out for that, I've never been to a vegetarian restaurant before and I'm extremely fussy - and I loved it, I wish I was eating there right now to be honest. We had the tapas, if you can't decide what you want then get the tapas it was such a great idea and really was amazing. We even had dessert, I rarely bother but they sounded to lush I couldn't resist.

The next day after check out we headed back into town and couldn't resist going to Peter Andre's New York Coffee Club, we tried to go last time but it hadn't opened yet. I'm not actually a coffee fan but my family loves him and they all love coffee, all I can say is that my mum really liked it, and she hates coffee in most places so they did well. We actually didn't stay too long before heading to Southampton as it started to snow and shopping no longer had the same pull so we cut our losses and headed back to the car.

I think I'll have to go back to Brighton in the summer and do all of the tacky summery bits then, maybe take Elvis, I did actually see three Figaros which was nice but made me wish I had mine with me. I also want to go on another peanutbutter milkshake and veggie restaurant feeding frenzy.

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