Happy Pancake Day!

Happy Pancake Day!

Whether you like them thick and fluffy or thin and crepe-like, everyone LOVES pancake day!
Growing up, I always used to look forward to the one day of the year where we would have “breakfast for supper”. My mum would make the most delicious, hot, fluffy pancakes that we would smother in melted butter and sticky maple syrup, a few pieces of smoky bacon on the side… heaven on a plate.

These days, my two little “beans” LOVE pancakes… and I mean LOVE with a capital LOOOOOOVE. Every Sunday morning, our ritual is to wake up early, have tea & biscuits in bed, followed by pancakes for brunch. We make big fluffy ones that soak in all the delicious sticky goodness that you can pour on top.

My eldest is a big fan of chocolate chip pancakes, while I tend to make a slightly healthier version for my youngest with mashed bananas and blueberries. The best part is that I make lots of extras and put them in the freezer so that they can be reheated in the toaster – a perfect quick hot breakfast before school!

There is nothing better than lingering over brunch with my loved ones – delicious food, gorgeous coffee (in a cafetiere with a Couva of course!), great moments with family. It puts a smile on my face just thinking about it!
Beige Forest Couva Coffee Couture

My favourite “go-to” recipe is a slightly modified version of the one found in the Delia Smith book “How to Cook”.

The best thing is that you can adapt this recipe to suit your tastes –

  • Use less liquid to make the batter thicker for thicker and fluffier pancakes
  • Add more liquid until the consistency of double cream for thinner pancakes that are more like crepes
  • Add in lots of toppings while you’re cooking the pancake: blueberries, chocolate chips, sliced banana, raspberries, sliced strawberries, raisins… the possibilities are endless.
  • Or you can mix flavours into your batter before cooking – mashed bananas are great, orange zest and dried cranberries, raspberry jam and flaked almonds, cinnamon and chopped apples and raisins.
  • If you prefer savoury flavouries (!!), what about mixing in some grated cheese and some crumbled bacon… yum!

And pancakes don’t have to just be for breakfast or pancake day! They make a really great dessert with some ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Cooking pancakes as a family is also a great opportunity to involve little ones in cooking – measuring ingredients, learning about different textures, helping with mixing, etc.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!

Happy flippin’ pancake day everyone!

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Delicious Pancake Recipe (makes about 8)

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of self-raising flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups of milk
3 tbsp melted butter

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add in the egg, milk, and melted  butter. Mix everything together, just until everything is combined. You don’t want to over-beat the batter – it’s ok if some dry ingredients are still visible.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan or griddle pan over medium-high heat. Pour ¼ cup of batter on the pan for each pancake. (*if you are adding anything to your pancakes, like chocolate chips, or sliced fruit, add it now).
As the pancake cooks, you’ll see bubbles starting to form on the surface of the pancake which tells you it’s time to carefully flip it over. You’ll also notice that, if you sneak a peak under the edge, the cooked side is getting lovely and golden brown.

Cook the second side for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until golden.

When cooked, serve them immediately, or you can put the cooked pancakes on a plate in a warm oven until they are ready to serve – no one likes cold pancakes!

Serve these with warmed maple syrup and butter, or some Nutella, or whatever else you fancy!

The BEST no-bake chocolate cheesecake

The BEST no-bake chocolate cheesecake


I don’t know about you, but I love cheesecake. I love all kinds of cheesecake – plain vanilla ones, cheesecake with fruit on top, chocolate cheesecake,… you name it, I like it.
But I have to say that one of my absolute favourites is one that I make from a recipe by Martha Stewart. Her “No-bake Chocolate-Crust Cheesecake” is divine!
It’s got a gorgeous texture to the filling – light, almost mousse-like. The other thing that I love is how easy it is to make. I think my record so far is 15 minutes – start to finish!


The other day, my loved ones and I had been invited to a BBQ with friends, and I had been tasked with making dessert. I asked my little one what I should make, and straight away he answered “chocolate cheesecake”.
A traditional cheesecake takes time – the mixing, the baking in a water bath at low temperature, and the resting…. Time I didn’t have after  a long day at work.
So, in my haste, I made something up that turned out to be pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. (Well, so did the other taste-testers!!).

I basically took Martha’s recipe, added a few things, changed some other things, and ended up with a gorgeous No-bake Chocolate Mocha Mousse Cheesecake that is to die for!!

With the bank holiday this weekend, it is the perfect dessert to make – it’s quick and easy, no oven is required, and it pleases the masses (big and small!).

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart Omnimedia


No-bake Chocolate Mocha Mousse Cheesecake

  • For the crust:
  • – 7 ounces chocolate biscuit crumbs (*If you don’t have access to store-bought biscuit crumbs, simply whizz up some chocolate digestives, some Oreo cookies, or some Bourbon biscuits)
  • – 3 tablespoons sugar
  • – 6 to 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1. Place biscuits in a food processor; process until finely ground. If you don’t have a snazzy food processor, you can get the same effect by getting the days’ frustrations out by putting the biscuits in a plastic zip bag, and bashing them to smithereens! 
  • 2. Mix the biscuit crumbs and 3 tablespoons sugar in a bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of melted butter, and mix well until crumb mixture holds together. You don’t want the mixture to be too dry, so add a bit more butter if it needs more moisture.
  • 3. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a pie plate, preferably a spring-form pan (about 6 inches/ 15 cm). Press the mixture down, lining the bottom and half-way up the sides of the pan. (*Helpful tip! Use the back of a large spoon or the base of a measuring cup to help press and smooth out the crumbs). Put the prepared crust in the freezer while making the filling. 
  •  
    • For the filling: 
  • – 1 packet cream cheese (about 250g), softened
  • – 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • – 1 tsp vanilla extract (make sure it’s a good one!)
  • – 1/2 cup double or whipping cream
  • – 1/4-1/2 tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1/2 tsp hot water
  • – 150g dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

  • 4. Mix together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, vanilla, and dissolved coffee until well combined. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold this gently into the cream cheese mixture.  Lightly whip cream to soft peaks, and fold into cream-cheese filling. Slowly mix in the melted chocolate, folding it in carefully to make sure to keep as much of the fluffiness of the whipped cream as possible.
  • 5. Pour the filling into the prepared biscuit crust, smoothing down the top. Place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set before serving. 

  • To serve:
  • – 50g dark chocolate, melted
  • – 1 pint fresh raspberries 

  • 6. Using a fork, drizzle on the melted chocolate. Serve with fresh raspberries. 
    • (*If you don’t have fresh raspberries available, you can also use frozen raspberries. Take 1 cup of frozen raspberries with 2 tbsp of sugar, and warm them in the microwave or on the stovetop. Serve with the cheesecake as a sauce). 

Another way to make this is in individual portions. Place the filling mixture into individual glasses (martini or wine glasses are perfect for this!) and sprinkle the tops with the biscuit crumbs. Then pour the raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries on the top! 

Working lunch…

Working lunch…

It’s less than one week to go before we’re going to be at the London Coffee Festival, and there is still LOTS to get done. 
(*The London Coffee Festival is on April 3rd to 6th, at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Couva will be at stand SR40 – hope to see you there!)

After dropping of my little one at school, I quickly did my week’s shopping, and picked up a loaf of fresh giraffe bread, some bistro salad full of lambs lettuce and beets, and one of those really yummy (and totally lazy!) ready-roasted chickens from the hot food counter. 

If I do say so myself, I have just made the yummiest, most delicious sandwich… The perfect thing to enjoy as I’m working through lunch. 

Photo: Couva Coffee Couture

I know a chicken sandwich doesn’t sound like much, but to me, it’s heaven! 

First, the bread has to be really fresh, and preferably white giraffe or tiger bread (I know, I know, it’s not the healthiest option – but I like it, ok?!).
Next, I slather on some mayonnaise – the real stuff. None of this “diet” or “low fat” malarky. 
I then slice a few red tomatoes and lay them on the mayo. I then sprinkle quite generously with freshly ground black pepper. 
Then I add on some salad – not a few thin, wimpy leaves of iceberg. I’m talking a nice big handful of of interesting, flavourful greens – rocket, lambs lettuce, spinach, etc. The mix I buy has some grated raw beetroot in it which is just gorgeous – the earthiness of the beets really adds a level of flavour, and the crunchy texture is nice in contrast to the soft, squidgey bread. 
Next I gently pull apart some of the freshly roasted chicken and lay it on the salad leaves, and top it off with the next slice of bread. 
Voila! 

Personally, I don’t think sandwiches are complete without some salt and vinegar crisps and some dill pickles on the side (Kettle Crisps Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar crisps and Waitrose Dill Pickles are my favourites!). 

The perfect lunch! Now back to work!

Couva Coffee Couture
www.couva.co.uk
Nigella’s quick chocolate mousse with a Couva twist!

Nigella’s quick chocolate mousse with a Couva twist!

Photo credit

On Saturday night, we had some friends round to ours for supper. About 7 years ago, this would have meant a lovely quiet evening, some candles, nice wine, linen table cloth and napkins. I would have thought through a menu with a plated starter, a main course that consists of different complimentary elements, a pudding that was lovingly crafted (ok, maybe by M&S but still….!), followed by coffee, liqueurs, and possibly some delicious chocolates. 

This was not our Saturday night. 

At 5:30pm, our friends and their 2 boys (aged 6 and 3) arrived with a clang and a shout through the letter slot. They traipsed in, coats and shoes flying (by the 6 and 3 year-olds), and a murmur of apology from the parents. Our 6 year old came clomping from his bedroom upstairs, jumped onto the banister and slid down (his new favourite mode of transport – stairs are “so” last week!), almost taking out 2 of the adults in the process. Not to mention, introducing the 2 visiting boys a new way of potentially killing themselves while visiting our home. 

Photo credit

Instead of the menu plan that I described above, the plan for Saturday night was more about making sure that little people had enough to eat of as many of the main food groups as possible with the minimum amount of arguing, tears, bribery, and food-flingage. 
We started with crisps… yes, our starter was crisps. They were the snazzy kettle-cooked ones, but they were still crisps. For the adults, I really went all out with some shop-bought hummus. 

After a lot of discussion and rearranging (imagine, if you will, something like human tetris around a dining room table!) we finally sat down and I served big platters of pasta (with just a bit of butter, just to be on the safe side!), chicken cacciatore with lovely chunks of roasted red peppers, onions, olives all swimming in a delicious tomato-ey sauce, garlic bread, a big crunchy salad, and a big bowl of cucumber (because when all else fails with kids, give them cucumber!). 

Generally speaking, it was a success! For my son, who hates when different foods touch on his plate, he successfully kept the pasta, the cucumber, the bread and the pieces of chicken sufficiently separated. For the other 6 year-old, I got an ‘almost thumbs up’ for the chicken and the garlic bread who told me that the garlic bread was”not nearly as good as they serve at school, but it’s pretty ok”… I’m taking that at the highest praise possible from a 6 year-old boy! 
And the 3 year old only climbed on the table once, and fell sideways off his chair twice – neither time a result of trying to avoid an incoming mouthful. 

As for the grown-ups, seconds and thirds were had by all. 

But the real winner of the evening was pudding. These days, I’m all about making the minimal amount of effort… there just isn’t enough time anymore to slave over recipes that require a multitude of steps or close monitoring.
So I chose a recipe I have used a number of times before with great success… Nigella’s Instant Chocolate Mousse. But I gave it a little something extra – Couva style! I added some instant espresso coffee powder that I diluted in a teaspoon of water. The result was out of this world! The coffee lifted the flavour of the chocolate, intensifying the richness. So delicious! 

The ingredients might put some people off, but really, all the bits come together in a deliciously gorgeous mixture that will please anyone. I really urge you to try it! 
Let’s just say, that it was the only time all of Saturday evening that all 3 boys sat still and quietly for longer than 5 minutes! 


makes about 4-6 servings (or 2-3 for very greedy people!)

Ingredients

1/4 cup (60 ml) hot water
1/2 to 1 tsp instant coffee (use more or less depending how much you want to taste the coffee)1 1/2 cups (150 grams) mini marshmallows (you can use big marshmallows, but cut them into small pieces)
1/2 stick (50 grams) soft butter
9 oz good dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces 
1 cup (284 ml) double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Mix the instant coffee into the hot water. 
  2. Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate, and coffee-water mix in a saucepan.
  3. Place the pan over low-medium heat, to melt all the ingredients together. Give it a stir every now and then to help to melt everything evenly. Once its all melted into a smooth glossy mixture, take it off the heat to let it cool.
  4.  In a separate bowl, whip the cream with the vanilla extract until it’s thick. 
  5. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled slightly, fold in the whipped cream, mixing it until you have a lovely smooth mixture. 
  6. Pour the chocolate cream mixture into glasses, small pots (about 1/2-3/4 cup for each), or into one large bowl. Put it in the fridge to set until you’re ready to enjoy it!

    When you’re ready to serve it, you could add an extra dollop of whipped cream, some chocolate curls, a sprinkle of coffee powder, or even a few chocolate covered coffee beans.

    Enjoy!

Couva Coffee Couture… stylish wear for your cafétière!
www.couva.co.uk