SulaFest, panick attacks and food

Last week, I drove up to Nashik to watch one of my favourite bands play.
If you’ve been reading TBF for a while, you probably know about my favourite bands and one of them, is young the giant.

FUN NEWS. I GOT TO SEE THEM PLAY AND MET 2/5th of the band.

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Aaaaaaah.
I have no idea what I said to them.
Honestly.
The only thing I know I did for sure, is embarrass myself {which is typical, because that’s 50% of what I do every single day}, but I definitely said something vague and incredibly irrelevant, like how I had a math paper on Monday.
Speaking of papers, my HSC boards are 2 weeks away and I don’t know how I feel about that.
But that’s another post for another day.

So here’s what happened.
Turns out the band were staying at the same hotel we were.
I did not know this until much later.
Like, after I met them later.
Eh.
So.
I thought I saw Sameer {the lead} at the entrance of the hotel and freaked out a little but baaaaht, I wasn’t sure whether it was him so I just waited in my car, mentally preparing myself.
Eventually, I got out of the car and trudged into the hotel lobby but sobsob.
He was no where to be found. Dejected, I dragged myself back to my car, which my father now parked in front of this white van.
I got in and began to explain my dissapointment to him when my father said, “Uh. The van behind us says Young The Giant.”
I cried a little and with my heart in my throat, got out of the car.
Upon reaching the van, I stuck my head inside the open door, and made eye contact with Sameer { fun fact friends: eye contact = you are now best friends. Everyone knows that. Psh}
and I think I awkwardly said hi anf asked for a picture.
AFTER THAT I HAVE NO RECOLLECTION OF WHAT I SAID TO HIM OR TO JACOB WHO LATER JOINED US FOR A PHOTOGRAPH BECAUSE I WAS A LITTLE MORE THAN STARSTRUCK.
I apologise to anyone I’ve ever made fun of for fangirling.

And that’s how it happened.
I made it sound overly dramatic and like an extract from a very badly written book but friends, my hands are still shaking.

FOOD:

SulaFest had some fantastic food stalls!
There were stalls by Café Zoe, Woodside Inn and Maroosh amongst others.
We got lamb burgers from Woodside
and the most tender pulled pork sliders on brioche from the Zoe stall.
So so good.
There was the ubiquitous coupon system which personally, I think is annoying.
THE COUPONS BECOME CASH LATER ANYWAY SO WHY DON’T YOU JUST TAKE CASH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Eh.

We also ate some delicious BBQ rub fries from Zoe which I LOVED. The served them with this incredible wasabi sauce. So good.

Apart from the incredible performance { yes, I drove all the way only to watch YTG play oh my god stop being so judgy} and the food, there were loads of pretty sunflowers and cool stalls.
I wanted to buy ALL the rock LPs but guess who doesn’t have a record player?
This gal.
Sob sob.

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Bring them baaaaaack.

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Whiskey Salted Caramel, Nutella + a Chocolate Cinnamon Layer Cake + Lately

Hi.
Let’s just talk about this cake for a while.

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It’s not the prettiest cake I’ve made in my whole, entire amateur baker life BUT
1. I made it for my parents marriage anniversary.
2. I’ve never done a fancy pants layer cake before. Or generally fancy cakes in general. I’m a bread gal.
3. It’s really, really RIDICULOUSLY yummy. I mean, it’s salty delicious caramel with a hint of whiskey and when I say salty, I mean perfectly salty. I HATE when restaurants put out salted caramel desserts and you can’t taste the saltyness so the next time you head to one of those cafès, take the name with a pinch of salt.

PUNPUNPUNPUN

Ahem.

The cakes are soft and fabulous. I’m not even joking, you could put your head on one of these babies and take a nap. So soft.

And the Nutella. Obviously. Needs to be everywhere.
Not that I’m complaining.

WHISKEY SALTED CARAMEL + NUTELLA CHOCOLATE CINNAMON LAYER CAKE

For the salted caramel:

For the cake:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste) GOOD QUALITY GUYS!

2 cups well shaken buttermilk or one cup yoghurt (dahi is okay) and one cup milk. I personally prefer the latter.

Additionally:
1/2 cup Nutella

PROCEDURE:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line two cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift in the cocoa powder and add the cinnamon and stir to combine.

In another bowl, blend together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the buttermilk/ yogurt milk mixture and stir to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Beat till combined, my Kitchen Aid usually takes 2 minutes. The batter will be a little lumpy, but worry not. Don’t overmix.

Divide batter between your two prepared cake pans. Bake for 40 minutes, until the edges of the cakes have come away from the sides, a tester inserted through the center comes out clean and the cakes are light and springy.
Let it cool before frosting.

The caramel:
Heat the sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, swirl the sugar on top so that it meets the liquid parts of the sugar. Do not stir.

While the sugar is melting, warm the cream and butter in a separate pan, over low heat until the butter has melted.

Once the sugar has completely melted, this should take about 10 minutes and the the sugar should have a deep amber colour, take the pan off heat.

Immediately whisk in the warm cream and butter mixture (be careful, as the hot caramel will bubble up)
If the sugar solidifies, return the pan to medium heat until the mixture is liquid again. {my sugar did actually turn into a hard lump after adding the butter-cream but it was okay after heating, so don’t worry about that}

Stir in the salt and whiskey.

Pour the mixture through a sieve and remove any remaining in dissolved bits of sugar. Let it cool.

For the buttercream:

Beat the butter, sugar and caramel till it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency.

CONSTRUCTION:

I’m no pro. {evidently}
But, here are some handy links to help you construct a pretty cake.

The layers:
I sandwiched the cake layers with the salted caramel buttercream and Nutella. On top, after applying a tough coat of the buttercream, I drizzled on the remaining caramel and topped with a few crumbled cookies to one edge.

Links:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GnL6BpFzA6Q

http://www.marthastewart.com/275519/how-to-assemble-a-layer-cake/@center/276954/great-cake-recipes

Gaaaah.

Apart from that, here’s what my life has looked like lately.

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Yeah basically.
This was the highlight of my week.
Ugh exams.

lately

Hi.

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Things have been crazy and I’ve had to get back to studying.
I’ve had basically no time to bake/cook, apart from a couple of odd weekends. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and I’ve been eating OUT more than I’ve been cooking, so I’ve a looooot of food to share with you guys. So for everyone who’s been looking for new places to eat, I’ve made a list of places you’ll find me at most often. I’ll share the list in a few days, once I get a breather.
How’ve you guys been? I’ve been getting a few emails asking about the blog and no, I’m not “quitting”, I’ll be back to my three posts a week routine AFTER my exams, which end in March.
So
Here’s what my life has looked like.
I really like you guys. I’ll be back before you know it.

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Nananananaan
I’ll see y’all in a week.

Goat Cheese, Watermelon + Cucumber Salad ie: the best salad i’ve ever eaten

I never thought I’d say that.
Ever.
Ffffffff.
But honestly, I had two helpings.

I like to think of myself as a healthy person. I’m quite a balanced eater, I exercise, I drink water instead of soda.
But recently, I’ve been feeling a little meh.
It’s probably all the meals I’ve eaten outside and well, a little too much dessert.
I’ve realised that my fruit + veg consumption has basically dropped to ZERO.
I’ve eaten absolutely NOTHING (naturally) green and the only fruit in my house was this decaying apple, now home to 17272827 fruit flies.

Which is why, I decided to set a goal this month. I’ve always been terrible with resolutions, these one year plans just don’t sit well with me. So, I’ve set a “month goal.”
This month, I’m loading up on fresh produce. Green smoothies, salads and fresh juices…Mmm, yes.

ANYWHO.
Back to this salad.
Oh my gawwww. Loaded with salty (super fresh!) goat’s cheese, maple-candied nuts, juicy watermelon balls and lettuce, I COULDN’T STOP EATING THIS.

Oh, a quick note on the cheese.
My parents just got back from a trip to Spain and they returned with LOTS OF FOOD. All for me, obviously.
The star? This hunka fresh cheese. Mmyum. I’m a major Goats cheese lover, so, I went absolutely crazy the minute my mum pulled the beauty of the bag.
IT’S JUST SO SO GOOD.

The nuts I’ve used, are a mixture of sunflower seeds, almonds and sesame seeds all candied in Maple syrup. But mostly, just sunflower seeds.
Also a product of Spain.
And so so addictive.
Someone come eat these with me.
Bye.

Goat Cheese, Watermelon + Cucumber Salad with Maple Candied Sunflower Seeds

Serves 2

1/2 head Romaine lettuce, cut up
1/4 cup salty goat cheese
(use more. Do it!)
A handful maple-candied nuts (use other nuts, omit or even make your own. Heat up a little maple syrup/honey and a touch of granulated sugar and toss the nuts in it at a low temperature. Watch carefully so that it doesn’t burn)
1 cucumber, diced
5 big green olives
5 watermelon “balls” (you can use cubes. Cut up a watermelon and uses pieces)

Dressing
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp each maple syrup and olive oil

To make the dressing:
Put everything in a bowl and whisk

To make the salad:
Combine the leaves, olives and cucumber in a bowl.
Add the dressing and toss to combine.
Too with watermelon, the nuts and sprinkle on hunks of cheese.

FEED YOUR FACE.
unf.

Nutella-Espresso Pull-Apart Rolls

Ahem.

I’m alive.
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I like to think that some kinds of food solve all your problems.
I mean, math homework? Make cinnamon rolls.
Sore legs? Green smoothies!
Heartache? Salted chocolate chip cookies to the rescue!

But.
I’ve never known of a food that makes sadness better.
Sometimes you just feel down and NOTHING can make you feel better. Ya feel me?
Except, except…
Nutella.
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Nothing screams caffeine like chocolate and obviously, coffee.
So I put them to sleep in a fluffy little dough pillow.

Then this happened.
Ta daaaaah!

These have a soft, espresso laced dough, and I’ve stuffed these babies with Nutella like whoa.

They work really well together. Nutella + Coffee = Thank you Amani you give us life.

Pull apart pieces of the rolls and dunk them in coffee. Mihihihihi, yes.
Except I HATE drinking coffee. I like the idea of drinking coffee and l love how it smells baaaaht nai. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

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Someone come fluff my pillows and make these for me.
I’ll love you forever.

Espresso-Nutella Pull-Apart Rolls

For the dough:
2 tsp fresh yeast, crumbled/ 1.5 tsp active dry
1 egg, lightly beaten
2.5 cups flour (lightly packed)
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp espresso powder
3 tbsp granulated white sugar
1/2 lightly warmed milk, full fat (you don’t want it to be too warm as that’ll cause your yeast to die)

For the filling:
1 tsp espresso
1/2 cup Nutella
1/3 cup brown sugar

For the filling:
Combine all ingredients in the filling together. Set aside.

For the dough:
Put the milk and the butter in a medium sized bowl/ in the bowl of your KitchenAid Mixer.
(I’ve done this with both my KitchenAid and my hands. Both work well.)
Sprinkle in the yeast and wait for 5-10 minutes to see if it gets frothy. If it doesn’t (unless using fresh), discard and start again.

Whisk in the egg and the milk.
Slowly, add in the sugar, espresso and the flour in 4 parts.
Now, knead using either your hands or the paddle attachment on your KitchenAid for 7-10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
Do not overwork!
If it’s too dry, add a little water.
If it’s too wet, add a touch of dough.

Put it in a greased bowl and cover with cling film. Let it rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

AFTER:

After it’s doubled in size, roll out the dough on a greased surface.
Roll it out into a thin, even circle and spread with the Nutella filling.
(Make sure you grease the surface so that the dough doesn’t stick!)
Roll it up so that it looks like a log and slice into little rounds.
Place them in a greased baking bowl and let the rolls rise for 45 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Place the buns in and bake for 15 minutes or till light brown and the sugar is bubbling.
Watch carefully, you don’t want them to burn.

I love you guys.
Thanks for sticking around.
Romeo and Juliet appreciate it.
(As do I)

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Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

I’m going to say this upfront.

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I’m (occasionally) allergic to peanuts.

Not always. But sometimes I choke and get a rash and can’t breathe. Not always, but sometimes.
(I was also allergic to Pepsi, but that was eons ago and all allergic tendencies vanished in a year. So there.)

Anywhooo, on days that I’m not feeling particularly allergic, I like baking with peanut butter because I have a penchant for the peanuty.
I do not fully understand why I wrote that sentence, but I refuse to delete it. It adds style to the blog.

Mmhm.

Getting back to the cookies, these are chewy and wonderful, crispy on the edges and soft on the inside. Basically the cookies of my dreams. Don’t over bake these beauties as they’ll be quite soft when you take them out, but fear not, they are not undercooked.
They’ll harden as they cool.

Obviously, dipping in chocolate is not an option. Nor are the sprinkles.

I’m watching you.

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Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

1 stick (100 grams) butter, softened (if using salted butter, such as Amul, omit the salt)

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup peanut butter

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

200 g dark chocolate + sprinkles to decorate

Directions:

Line/ grease a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until just combined. Don’t overmix, you don’t want hockey pucks.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add in batches to the wet ingredients and combine gently just until a dough forms.

Chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Scoop our balls of dough and press down gently with the back of a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes until edges are golden brown. Let cool till firm.

(Not)Optional:
Melt 200 grams of dark chocolate. Dip one edge of the cookie in and top with sprinkles.

Yessss. Mondays just got tolerable.