Monday, 23 May 2011

Every Girl Needs a Bit of Banoffee Pie During Exam Revision

The title says it all. Believe me or not, I am not a big fan of sweets and puddings (at least not anymore). But when it comes to this time of spring, when it's time to bury yourself under a pile of Macroeconomics and Business Environment books and stay in the library after hours, only one thing can make you feel better! Banoffee Pie!

I had never heard about Banoffee Pie before I moved to Scotland. At first I was quite apprehensive about this pudding that sounded "too sweet to be true". After my first bite of Banoffee Pie I was in love! According to the inventor of the pie, Ian Dowding, the pie was born in East Sussex in 1972. Since then it has been a true crowd pleaser and Queen of Comfort Foods. Needless to say, it is the Boyfriend's favourite pudding and there is never enough of it! It was originally the Boyfriend's chef uncle, who introduced me to the wonderful world of this dessert and this is my own way of making it, updating the 1972 classic and making it a bit more contemporary and even more delicious!


1/2 pack of digestives
100g butter
1 tin of condensed milk
3-4 bananas sliced
lemon juice
250ml double cream
tub of mascarpone (200g)
50g icing sugar

Prepare the base first. Mix the digestives and butter in a food processor. Press the digestive and butter mixture in a round cake tin to form a base. Put the cake tin in the fridge. In a big saucepan boil water and put the tin of condensed milk in and let it simmer for 2 hours. When the condensed milk is ready, let the tin cool down. Take the cake tin out of the fridge and when the condensed milk tin is cool enough open it. It should look firm and smell like toffee. With a spoon or a knife start taking bits of toffee out of the tin and layer it on top of the base. When this is done, chop the bananas and drizzle some lemon juice on them, so they won't go brown. Layer the bananas on top of the toffee. Make the cream filling. Whip the double cream (not too much), add the mascarpone and icing sugar and gently mix. Layer the cream filling on top of the bananas and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

I prefer the cream filling not too sweet, since the toffee really does the job! If you want to make this the traditional way, leave out the mascarpone. Just to warn the faint hearted, this is not what you should be having if suffering from high cholesterol levels! And hey, it's exam revision time only twice a year...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Super Morbidly Disgusted

Hello from the rainy and revision ridden North-East! I have succesfully spent a Saturday cleaning, scurbbing, mopping, tidying and sitting in the library for four hours. I am truly enjoying the sparkling clean flat though. Since the Boyfriend is out and about, I have had the opportunity to catch up with TV and make a bit if student sushi. If you are a student and if you are skint, trust on this one - maki rolls filled with crabstick, cucumber and mayo. Not the most traditional option, but very tasty, easy to make and easy on your wallet.

I have always had a thing for Jamie Oliver. Absolutely love him! Initially I wasn't too sure about his new "saving the kids of America" project called Jamie's Food Revolution on Channel 4, but I cannot disagree with the gruesomeness of the facts. Almost a third of the population in America are obese (a BMI of over 30). There really is a massive gap in legislation when it comes to food, the ingredients and their origins. What really made me cringe was Jamie's demonstration of "Pink Slime". According to Jamie, 70% of America's beef is treated with ammonia. Ammonia is hazardous, but still the legislation in America fails to force the food producers to identify ammonia as an ingredient, not a process, in food packaging. This fact really shocked me. How can you know what is safe to eat? Should legislation not protect people? The foods shown on Jamie's Food Revolution should not even be called food or classified as nutrition. Schools offer kids flavoured milk as a part of a balanced daily diet. Flavoured milk contains more sugar than Coca-Cola - it is classified as healthy. The foods on offer in school cafeterias are unrecognisable.

This is not just a problem in the US. A quarter of Britain's population are obese too. Every individual has the right to consume what he or she wishes, but where is the self-preservation? Channel 4 really is gorging with the "fat shock factor". Supersize vs. Superskinny should really be a wake up call for everyone. It really seems like there is no respect left for food or eating.

The same problem with unidentified school food seems to be a problem everywhere. There has been a lot of fuss about the origin of food and especially ingredients in school food in Finland. A recent article proves that quite a few foods served in Finnish schools include colour additives, sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate, trans fats - and are low in nutrition. For example a food dubbed on the menu as "Pork in Cream Sauce" contains 40 different ingredients. A really alarming ingredient is monosodium glutamate, which is often related to allergies, obesity and hyperactivity in children. Is this what I have been eating all my childhood?

I know that there is a lot of hysteria around this topic nowadays. The truth is that most of the additives are made out of natural ingredients and do not have any effect on your health. But then there are the ones that do have an effect. Those additives should not be in our food. Where is the line between free market, corporate social responsibility, government intervention, personal resbonsibility and safe nutrition?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Recent Confessions

Ladies and gentleman,

I would like to take a moment and apologise for this appalling gap in my posts. A lot has happened in the past month, but I am finally back in the game.
I went back home in Helsinki during my Easter vacation. Spring had finally arrived in the Depp North and Helsinki went mad. While in Helsinki I had lovely lunch with the Parents at Salutorget – my all time favourite Scandinavian Bistro. We started lunch off with pink Lanson, following with a deliciously buttery and fluffy blini (Russian pancake), served with two types of fish roe, smetana and red onion.

Since I have not introduced any puddings on Confessions of a Student Foodie, it finally is time! If you like a bit of luxury in your life - you'll love this Tiramisu recipe! It is gorgeously soft and creamy and surprisingly very easy to make! This recipe is also egg free, since I was making it to a certain pregnant Auntie!


The sponge:
2 eggs
50ml flour
50ml potato starch flour (if not available, use 100ml regular flour for the whole recipe)
50ml granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar

Whisk the eggs and sugar together. Add the flours and vanilla sugar and mix. Pour the mixture on a big baking tray, so when poured it sets into a big rectangle. Bake the cake in 175 C for approx. 15 minutes or when the sponge is golden brown. When the sponge is ready let it cool down and then cut into three even rectangular pieces.

The mascarpone:
150ml whipping cream
250g Italian mascarpone
4tbsp icing sugar
4tbsp Marsala wine

Whip the cream - but not too much! Add the mascarpone and icing sugar and gently mix. Taste the mixture and if it needs more sugar, just add, since i perfer my puddings not too sweet. Add the Marsala wine and the filling is ready!

Cut the sponge into three equally sized pieces and pour strong black coffee on the pieces until moist. To construct your Tiramisu layer the mascarpone filling on top of the first sponge, top up the filling with another piece of sponge and another layer of mascarpone filling, repeat this once more with the last piece of sponge and mascarpone and sprinkle cocoa powder on top of the mascarpone to finish.

When I got back to Aberdeen, it was time to get back in the air and fly to Malaga. The occasion was the annual holiday with the Family and this time with a Scottish addition. I was very familiar with Spanish food before I went there, but did not except it to taste so much better! The freshness of the fruit and veggies was amazing. And on top of all that it was all locally produced. I drank litres of gazpacho, ate tons of olives and indulged in those lovely avocados during the ten day stay in Puerto Banús.

The casa we stayed in is also worth mentioning. Casa Kate is part of the villa complex Aldea Blanca in Nueva Andalucia. Wonderfully well kept and surprisingly quiet for Costa del Sol. A far cry from the noisy and touristic puerto, which was quite disappointingly packed with drunk British, Irish and Scandinavian tourists. I would mention a few places in Nueva Andalucia that are certainly worthwhile a visit. A restaurant called Güey quickly became our favourite of the holiday. A stylish restaurant, with a menu that was effortlessly mixing modern Andalucian and Mexican cusinas. I experienced some lovely ceviche and gorgeously cooked duck with a cherry-wasabi jus. The Dad got very attached to a certain Pumpkin Soup with Tiger Prawn Skewer and ordered it twice. Being very disappointed with the nightlife down at the Puerto, we adopted quite a surprising venue for our outings. La Sala has recently opened in Nueva Andalucia and has become quite frankly the “it” place for botoxed expats aged plus 50. Nevertheless, the tinto de veranos were more than delicious – especially if you mention the price. Although La Sala being a place where one can only arrive with a Ferrari or Porsche, we ended up spending far less euros on drinks there than down at the Puerto – and we were not forced to drink British drinks. Altogether the holiday was lovely and relaxing – despite five out of ten days it was raining very untypical for the region.

We have been missing the food and drink in Nueva Andalucia. I did take some goodies with me - anchoa filled olives and the delicious tuna in extra virgin olive oil. Needless to say that we have none left.

We have been celebrating quite a few events lately. The Royal Wedding was good - not only because of the day off. We had the pleasure to meet Kate and Wills here in Aberdeen. They weren't too lively that night though. May Day Eve is a big celebration for us Finns. We spent a hilarious weekend down in Dundee visiting two lovely Finnish girls studying there. A car full of food, drink and Finns drove down to Dundee and came back the next day with an empty car with sleeping Finns. Somehow the film The Hangover sprung into my mind thinking about that weekend!

I do solemnly sware that from now on I shall not be lazy with posting. Exam period is here and I have been sitting in the library during most days. Lately my diet has consisted of ham and Gouda sandwiches, KitKat's and Strawberry Ribena - a true student diet, eh?