Monday, 22 September 2014

Black Magic Chocolate Cake

I've recently been craving chocolate fudge cake - you know the kind you get in practically every cafe, semi-gastro-pub and restaurant around the country? The super-rich, gooey, death-by-chocolate kind of cake? Yeah, that. Although the free-from deli near me does a pretty good range of cakes (plus their brownies are divine!) their chocolate cake just doesn't do it for me. I needed something absolutely sinful. 

So this is what I came up with - Chocolate-Espresso Fudge cake, with a hint of hazelnut, and topped with blackberries. 

It's very rich, sweet, sticky and with an almost brownie-like fudgy consistency, but surprisingly light in texture. I may yet do a bit of tweaking to the quantities, but this cake hit the spot and I'd definitely make it again. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Tropical Coconut and Pineapple Cake

It's rather late in posting, but in a bid to keep summer alive as long as possible, I thought I might as well put up this recipe for the fruity concoction of a cake I made shortly after my first lot of exams.

In keeping with the Tropicana theme of my (kinda) recent summer party, I decided to use the remaining, unused pineapple (from the cheese-and-pineapple-on-sticks) as well as some coconut-flavoured liqueur and Midori to make a fruity, slightly boozy, tropical cake.

I was aiming for a Hummingbird-style cake, and combined elements from two recipes to work with the ingredients I had in the flat: This one and this one.


OK, so I missed the whole of August - not a single blog post for over a month. Oops. You can tell I'm a rookie at this!

My only excuse is that life and law school caught up with me, and I had to prioritise the most critical things on my to-do list in order to get through it all. I suppose I could have made the time, but I would have felt guilty that I was frittering it away on an entirely frivolous subject, rather than working on something more productive. But I've passed the GDL (thank goodness!) so all the hard work was definitely worth it!

Now that September - and a new University term - has arrived, this blog could go one of 2 ways: either I manage to successfully work the blog into my schedule and revel in my newly structured way of life ... or I post more sporadically - when I've got a request for something specific or feel like I've got the time and energy on my days off... Who knows which road it will take?!

I think the most important thing from my perspective is that my baby blog remains something I actually enjoy doing in my free time (what little I have now!) and stays a source for my favourite 'foodspiration' and recipes I'm properly pleased with. That way, even if no-body else reads it, I can still look back at a record of all the lovely ideas, recipes and tit-bits that I thought were special enough to make the subject of a post. :)

A couple of 'arty' shots taken in August at Warkworth in Northumberland, just because. Wish I had a better camera! (and camera skills!)

Maia x

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Raspberry Pavlova Chocolate Brownie Pudding

There has been a bit of a glut of raspberries at my house recently, and I thought that, rather than piling copious quantities onto my cereal each morning, it might be nice to put some of them to better use - in some kind of free-from baking experiment! 

My first thought was to bake some raspberry chocolate brownies, which I've made before. But, unable to find a new brownie recipe I was happy with (after a whole 5 minutes scrolling through Google's suggestions), I 'invented' a recipe for a deliciously damp cake... flavoured with delicate orange blossom, orange zest and zingy fresh raspberries, and with a drizzle of tart raspberry and orange coulis over the top. The coulis, in the end, seemed rather unnecessary with such a moist dessert, but to paraphrase Nigella - when is cake ever about necessity? I will post the recipe for that one soon!

So after the initial fruitless (haha) quest for a gluten-free chocolate brownie recipe, I eventually (the next day) came up with this ever-so-slightly lighter, more pudding-y variation. It works well with the citrussy raspberry coulis, and is delicious served slightly warm, with lactose- or dairy-free ice cream.

Monday, 7 July 2014


...Bit of a lack of blogging recently! I've clearly been too busy enjoying the freedom of summer - There's been enough going on in life to write pages and pages of drivel, but I've just not got round to it (maybe that's a good thing?!) 

Since my last post, I've helped my brother move down to the lovely city of Chester, made friends with butterflies at the National History Museum, felt very under-dressed at my first Asian wedding, deconstructed a sundress into co-ordinates, bought a slightly battered 1950s larder cabinet off ebay (which I hope to make the subject of restoration/'before and after' post), had a few shopping sprees, and done lots and lots of cooking and baking... phew!

At the butterfly exhibition at the Natural History Museum - Open until mid september, and well worth a visit!

Maia x

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

DIY Paper Pom-Poms

Just over a week ago my flat-mate and I had a joint party to celebrate our belated birthdays. I love preparing for a party almost more than the party itself, so I really enjoyed getting stuck into the decorations! 

The theme was described rather vaguely as 'Lana-del-Rey-meets-60s-Tropicana'... so I went down the route of summery pink and orange colours, pineapple and cheese on sticks, a banner of palm-trees on a sunset background, flower garlands and flamingos!

Flower Pom-Poms by day...
...and by night, with butterfly lights!
(You can also just about see my flower garlands in the background!)

I have seen lots of these pom-poms hanging up in shops and cafes ever since the party, and after so many of our guests were impressed by the home-made decorations, I thought I'd do a post about how I made them - they use up quite a lot of tissue paper, but I'd definitely make more for future parties, or even to brighten up the flat more permanently!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Freedom! Henderson's Review and Party Planning

Oh hello again, life!

I finally finished my exams on 30th May, so I have the time and energy to do regular blog posts and other frivolous things once more! I have been relishing my long-lost freedom - baking sessions, G&Ts, sunbathing, a mini-shopping spree, sleeping past 5.30am, party planning and a trip to Edinburgh have all taken place in the last 5 days... So I'm loving life at the minute - at least until I need to get a summer job!

At the moment, things are revolving mainly around organising my joint (belated) birthday party with my housemate this weekend. It's a tropical 'Lana Del Rey-meets-1960s-Miami-tiki-party' theme, so we've been planning cocktail punch bowls and retro themed nibbles and decorations. So far I've dip-dyed a bed sheet for a sunset wall-hanging, made some enormous flower 'pom-pom' decorations and lots of flowery garlands. I'm hoping to do a little post-party round-up/'how-to' on the preparations and decorations some time soon.

One of the flower pom pom decorations

Dip-dyed bed sheet

Dip-dyed hands

I also need to have a little gush over an amazing restaurant that my boyfriend and I found today during our day trip to Edinburgh. Henderson's is a great little deli and bistro with a fantastic vegetarian restaurant in the basement. Although neither of us are vegetarian, they offer a range of vegan (i.e. lactose-free) and gluten-free options, perfect for my dietary difficulties! The best part though, was discovering that the gluten-free and dairy-free choices extended to the dessert menu - I was ridiculously happy to be able to choose something other than an unimaginative fruit salad. We shared a creamy vegan raspberry and lime cheesecake and a huge dense slab of rich chocolate nut cake between us.

Dheraj got a haggis pie from Grassmarket - definitely not gluten free!

Auld Jock's Haggis Pie

Enjoying our delicious gluten-free and dairy-free puddings at Henderson's

The atmosphere there was cosy and friendly, the staff were really helpful and the service was efficient. It had a lovely Mediterranean vibe with the white stucco walls, soft candle-light and pine and sea-green painted furniture.  I would definitely go again next time I'm up, and recommend it to anyone in the area - whether or not you are veggie, vegan or gluten-free.

Maia x

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Peanut Butter Cookie Chocolate Cheesecake

... AKA the Stuff of Dreams!

Cheesecake-topped cookie? Cookie-based cheesecake?
I 'invented' this delightful heart-attack-on-a-plate in a spurt of creativity, borne from the monotonous drudgery of Equity and Trusts revision. What can I say? I really needed chocolate!

It's basically what it says in the title - indulgent chocolate cheesecake with a peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie base. The saltiness of the squidgy, chewy peanut butter cookie contrasts beautifully with the rich, tangy sweetness of the chocolatey cream cheese on top - Heaven!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Birthday - Lime and Coconut Cupcakes

I have been revising pretty constantly for my up-coming exams (hence the absence of posts recently) but it was my birthday on Thursday, so my parents, brother, my boyfriend and I went out in the evening for tapas at El Coto in Newcastle. The restaurant is amazing and has separate gluten-free and dairy-free menus with lots of choice, so that was great... unfortunately, like almost every eatery I've visited, the desert menu had nothing to offer me and my dietary issues - sob!

So, about 45 minutes before I was due to leave my revision notes for the restaurant, I decided to bake something sweet that everyone could enjoy after the meal - these moist, delicately-flavoured cakes were made in my speediest ever baking session! 

And I still had time to change into my party outfit... for a girl that normally takes at least an hour faffing about getting ready, I was proud to say the least!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Chunky Chocolate, Banana and PB Muffins

This was bit of an experiment that I hoped would turn out fluffy little cupcakes - but the ripe banana, thick peanut butter, plus a generous helping of chocolate pieces weighed down the cake-mix, and they ended up being gorgeously chunky little muffins. 

Because of their moist muffin-osity, packed with all the 'good-for-you' deliciousness of banana and peanut butter, I think you could just about get away (as I did!) with serving these up for brunch on a lazy weekend.

I couldn't resist topping a few of mine with peanut butter and chocolate frosting and banana chips - possibly a bit too rich for breakfast, but they were (as Mary Berry might say) absolutely scrummy! 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Spiced Chocolate Brownies

I was craving something pretty specific yesterday - I needed to reward myself with something sweet and naughty to break up the monotony of revision, but it really had to be something rich and with a bit of bite, rather than the usual light, spongy goodness I tend to go for. And of course, because of my impending deadlines and impatient nature, it had to be relatively quick and easy to make... Brownies were the obvious solution!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Coconut Cupcakes

I've just started exam revision properly, and all I can think about is cooking lovely things! Food is such a distraction for me! I recently made some pretty good gluten- and dairy-free coconut cupcakes, so I thought I'd post the recipe on here, as a little break from my hard work...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Clinique Foundation Review

Following my earlier post about the Clinique 5-day foundation trial, I have given my 3 sample pots of foundation a whirl, and written a little review on them! 

I tried each foundation for 3 consecutive days, no powder, using the same skin-care products - Clinique's foaming cleanser, no. 4 Clarifying Lotion and an oil-free moisturiser - on each day, for an unbiased result (well, you can take a girl out of Biosciences...) These are my thoughts on them:

Friday, 28 March 2014

Gluten & Lactose-free ‘Pizza’

I had a go at making the Nouvelle Daily gluten-free ‘pizza’ - with great success! I was a bit sceptical about the cauliflower base, but actually it was really nice and didn’t taste over-poweringly of cauliflower. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly or precisely measure anything out (I’m not great at doing that!) but it turned out just fine. And pretty healthy too!
Pictured: Nouvelle Daily's delicious gluten-free pizza

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Clinique Foundation - Free 5-Day Trial

My skin is far from perfect - I'm prone to oiliness and occasional breakouts (especially when I'm stressed!) as well as suffering from dehydration, (I sound so attractive...) and I've never quite managed to discover the perfect skincare regime or makeup for me. When I discovered Clinique was offering a free 5-day trial of their foundations I decided to give it a go, and use the opportunity to attempt my first beauty post!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Latte Frosting

It was my mums birthday back in February but I had a few scarily close deadlines for training contract applications and coursework, so I made and iced these cakes in advance, and froze them so they kept - they freeze absolutely fine, and my mum loved them - apparently my best baking so far!

I adapted Nigella Lawson's gluten-free vanilla cupcake recipe.

She specified using 110g Dove Farm Gluten free self raising flour, however I realised after setting up and weighing out part of the ingredients, that I had barely any gluten free flour mix left… so after success with using ground almonds in cake mixtures previously, I decided to improvise with the ingredients in my baking cupboard. the cakes turned out fantastically well, with a deliciously rich vanilla flavour, and a moist, open crumb texture.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Old Banana Cake

Mmmm old bananas... how enticingly delicious, I hear you say!

I bought loads of bananas from the market recently, and this particular batch had a slightly odd over-ripe taste from the beginning... like super-strong banana flavour, even though they were bought under-ripe?! Weird. 
Apologies for the rather uninspiring phone picture of my last piece of cake - I promise you it was very moist and delicious!

Anyway I needed to use them up, and cooking them with various sinful things turned out to be a great way to disguise their slightly 'old' taste. 

Obviously if anyone fancies trying this recipe, you don't have to hunt down ready-fermenting fruits, any slightly blackened, nice and normal bananas will do!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


I love Basset Hounds! They're so gorgeously sturdy and droopy, and hilarious when they run. Absolutely can't wait until I can get one of my own... until then, I'll have to content myself with trawling the internet for cute pictures and videos...

(more pics here)

Hey, World!

This is my blog. 

I have no idea how it will go, or if anyone will ever see it... but sometimes I feel I have so many thoughts and ideas in my head (most of them nonsensical) that need to be sorted out, even if it's just for my own peace of mind! 

I tried out tumblr, and although it's fun and fairly easy to use, I didn't feel I had enough control over the design or functions... what started off being fairly organised soon descended into an un-restrained chaotic mixture of my muddled late-night thoughts, inspirational re-posts and various baking projects. I don't know how other people do it so well! 

So here goes. My blog of self-indulgent, probably frivolous, maybe interesting, or possibly even useful, stuff...