Kung Fu Café
Since 2011

Recession Proof Body Workshop | Peanut Butter Energy Bars (Vegan)



Well, a couple of weeks ago, Recession Proof Body visited us lot at CFP to give a workshop all about street workout and calisthenics.


The image above is of Lee, Ranjit, and Sai (from left to right), and I nabbed some of these images from their Facebook page (the others are either from my phone or from Claire Summers!).

Lee and Ranjit took the course that day, and of course, the first thing we all notice about them is the size of their arms. I knew what sort of movements we’d be going over today, and I had only ever seen people perform them on YouTube before, and so I feel that that standard of skill in calisthenics wasn’t actually real; I couldn’t wait to see them being performed before my own very eyes!

I do believe, as well, that these guys are being featured in every issue of Muscle and Fitness magazine for 6 months showcasing their various abilities and progressions to achieve their skills.

There were around 20 people in this workshop, and the workshop itself involved learning about some movements and their progressions, and trying them out ourselves, as well as watching some amazing demonstrations! The movements we covered were:
• Push up variations
• One arm push ups
• Pull ups
• One arm pull up
• Ring muscle ups
• Bar muscle ups
• Front lever
• Back lever
• And various progressions!

The picture above is Ranjit just before completing a strict one arm pull up, and Lee doing a strict ring muscle up with an extra 20kg plate!

The emphasis with street workout is that everything is strict! Most people have this idea that in Crossfit we ‘kip’ everything. Kipping is great to keep the intensity in workouts, but we do train a lot of strict stuff in Crossfit, too! I love it! I feel so bad-ass when I rep out strict pull ups and dips. Yeah buddy. I just find the gym memes on Facebook really hilarious! For example, take the one I found here:


The last time I checked, Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Dan Bailey, etc., sorta looked like the guy in that meme, am I right? Anyway, going a little off topic now! Back to the movements…

The great thing about these sorts of workshops, is that people discover their hidden skills; some people were pleasantly surprised with how strong they were! But of course, no one is going to be able to replicate the skill that these guys have, but they do give very useful progressions that people can follow, and how they achieved their ability. It’s a great reminder that we’re only human, yet with hard work and dedication, we can indeed achieve superhuman abilities. I will definitely be incorporating these things into my workouts, because I had no idea how to go about keeping strength training interesting and displaying strength in so many different ways.


Personally, the things I’m quite good at are the basic strict movements, such as pull ups, dips, and push ups. But I need to work with my front lever (I couldn’t get my abs to engage… just my arm pits!), and my explosive strength!

A lot of these moves are incredibly creative. We saw Ranjit perform strict bar muscle ups, which involves incredibly explosive strength, and then he showed us the sort of things they would do “for fun” or at comps, such as a cross grip bar muscle up, or a bar muscle up where you start with your hands with a chin up grip, and end with a pull up grip!

These displays of skills and strength were incredibly beautiful to watch, and these kinds of things are what I like to fill my weekends and spare time with. Some people don’t understand, but fitness is its own reward. I’m always working towards achieving various goals in a wide range of disciplines (currently it’s my PhD, Spanish, and Crossfit – all of which encompass many goals), and so I don’t understand why there’s so much hate in the world. Instead of hating another group of people or directing your energy towards destruction, why not create a better world for yourself, and others, by inspiring others and pushing yourself beyond your limits? I genuinely believe that if more people strived towards goals, there would be less hate.


So, yes, if you’re looking for motivation or even just a show, these are your guys! I was so buzzed the week after (and even now just thinking about the workshop) that I had such a brilliant week after, just because I was feeling so inspired after talking to these guys and being coached by them! I had rejuvenated energy, and more guidance for my own strength goals after just a one-day workshop, and so if they come back to the South West again, I’d love to see them in action again! Hopefully by them, I would have hit some of my own strength goals. 🙂



I’m definitely incorporating these progressions into my own training. I remember at the beginning of the workshop, Lee said that they don’t squat too much because they don’t want their legs too big for things like front levers, etc.! I still can’t tell if he was being serious or joking playfully :-/ Ranjit mentioned that if you did want to develop leg strength, pistols don’t really do anything for you, unless they’re weighted, and I agree, from personal experience! He also said that he runs and squats, but he focuses mostly on street workout now.



After being inspired by the amazing Recession Proof Body group, I thought I’d write up this recipe for peanut butter energy bars, because if you’re going to be doing their routines, you’re going to need a lot of energy! These bars are great to take into work or competitions, as they’re easy to wrap up or pop into lunch boxes.

If you store these in the fridge, I’m sure they’ll keep longer, but the texture changes as I suppose the peanut butter solidifies. I prefer these when they’re room temperature, if not warm!

Also, I LOVE these when they’ve come straight out of the oven, covered in the melted chocolate, popped into a bowl, and smothered with double cream… it is absolutely the BEST comfort dessert!



Not only does this recipe make for some amazing bars, but it’s a clever way to sneak in more fruit! Especially bananas; they can improve insulin sensitivity and provide an abundance of minerals to treat your DOMS… so these really are a great workout snack! Check out Well-Being Secrets to learn more benefits of eating bananas and the best ways to keep and store them, as well as for a few more banana recipes. 🙂

Peanut Butter Energy Bars
Adapted from: All Recipes, Peanut Butter Girl, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Enough for a 20 x 20 cm mould

Ingredients
Base:
• 4 x bananas
• 2 cups peanut butter
• 2 cups oats

Fillings:
• 2 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup seeds
• ¾ cup whole almonds (cashews, walnuts, etc.)
• ¼ cup whole pistachios, shelled (macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)
• A handful of toasted coconut
• ¼ cup goji berries (cranberries or other dried fruits)
• ¼ cup cacao nibs
• ⅓ cup honey (optional)

Topping:
• 200g dark chocolate
• 3 tbsp coconut oil
• Pinch of desiccated coconut, cacao nibs, or flaked almonds, to decorate

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mash the bananas with a fork in a large bowl. You may wish to gently melt the peanut butter over the hob in order to make it mix more easily. Add the oats and mashed bananas into the peanut butter, mix well, and then transfer back to the bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients (the above ingredients are what I added, but I didn’t use honey. Feel free to add in whatever you want!) and mix well, before transferring to a baking dish lined with non-stick baking parchment (I used a silicon mould, so it was non-stick anyway!). Bake for 20 minutes.

Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a saucepan with the coconut oil. Melt over a very low heat whilst stirring to combine. Pour over the top of the bars, and leave to set. When partially set, I sprinkled the top with cacao nibs and desiccated coconut. Flaked almonds would also work well, too!

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. I prefer to eat them when they’re room temperature, though!

First made: 19.07.2014

A Planned Spontaneous Weekend | Chive and Cheddar Scones



There’s nothing like a warm, fresh, chive and cheese scone with a little goat’s butter for breakfast whilst watching the beautiful woodland life right in your back garden. 🙂

What a lovely weekend I’ve had, embracing the English summertime weather! It was certainly a weekend planned in advance, but everything was pretty spontaneous, as it completely depended on what the weather was doing, as is usually the case when planning what to do in the UK. Ed suggested that we could go surfing, but I said I wasn’t really up for it. I mean, I’m a complete novice and have really enjoyed surfing the few times I’ve been, and call me lazy, but I just can’t be bothered to get wet… I find that I stay cold for hours after (unless it’s a particularly hot day), can’t be bothered with wet and salty hair, and my skin dries out and eczema flares up.

The top left picture is the ledge off of which the boys were tombstoning/jumping… dangerous!

Anyway, the past few weeks I’ve managed to get a lot of work done, except for last week… I was procrastinating making my presentation for Paris in less than a few weeks, and preparing for Ed’s visit (by making a lovely paleo cheesecake and non-paleo bread!). But you only live once, and I’m sure that I’ll make up my slack last week once I’m back from the conference. And it’s all part and parcel of living and doing a PhD anyway! Speaking of living, I’m going through a phase with Crossfit in that I don’t really care how well I do anymore.; my perspective has completely shifted and it’s actually rather liberating. I mean, I’m still going to train, and hope that my hunger comes back for it soon, but it’s just a hobby! And even if I don’t progress as fast as others, who cares?! My family still love me, and I’m pretty sure that Ed wouldn’t think any less of me based on that. I also have a lot of other hobbies and aspects about myself as a person; Crossfit is just one of them and it doesn’t define who I am. I’ve been telling myself this for a while but it’s only recently I’ve actually felt it. And it feels great! 🙂

Anyway, Ed came to visit and we actually did a lot over the weekend! I was treated to a lovely Japanese meal (one of my favourite cuisines!) and then we just went for a walk around Plymouth. Although Ed used to study at the same university as me, he’d never seen where I do my work! So I showed him the office and some of the labs, and then continued along the Hoe. It was such a lovely day that we decided to jump into Tinside Lido! It looked so inviting and cool… and it was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING! The sun was quite hot and the breeze cool, but after one dip in the water I couldn’t stay in there for longer than about 30 seconds! So I just spent the rest of the time sunbathing. I did feel like a proper tourist and felt far removed from Plymouth! 🙂


The lido water looked soooooo inviting, but was freezing!!!

It seems that we chose the right day to go sunbathing and swimming, because it rained on the following day (even though it started quite warm and sunny!). We visited the old Victorian Hazelwood House (home of the Peek family), and things had certainly grown since last time! We went for a walk around the grounds before settling down for some tea, and it was at that time it decided to rain. It was so beautiful though; no one else was around and it was so typically British. I would absolutely love to stay for a weekend in a place like this; although I would love the weather to be warm and sunny (it would make splashing in the stream a lot more enjoyable!), I think that even if the weather was raining, it’d still be a charming place to stay and be cosy. They have beehives, beautiful scenery, and lovely scones and cream teas. What more could one want? 🙂



The foliage sure had grown since our last visit a few weeks ago… look at the size of these leaves compared to Ed!!!

On the way back we decided to visit a pet shop called Sign of the Owl and it is full of all sorts of birds and animals. I loved the chicken varieties and the ducklings, too! I’d visited before where my dad had a large bird on his shoulder (got a cracking photo of that!) and my mum had another cute little bird pecking at her shoes laces. I would also do anything to buy some chicks and ducklings and keep them as my own! Sooooo cute!!!


My dad with a parrot on his shoulder at Sign of the Owl Bird Pets Centre, and the other bird pecking at my mum’s shoes! May 2008.

We also stopped off at my parent’s house; dad was away working and Tim was away with the uni, so mum made us welcome. My parents have also had a cute little bunny take up residence in their back garden, and makes an appearance several times a day. Unfortunately, it didn’t show itself when Ed was there. But it’s so adorable and when I returned with a different lens I managed to snap some pictures of it! 🙂 We named him “Bunny;” how original, hee hee! We put out some carrot for him and he took forever to find it! We’ve now left him a bowl of fruit (lettuce, cucumber, cherries and a few other things), yet he still hasn’t found it yet!


Anyway, when Ed left, I decided to make some scones as a way to show how much I appreciate how much I love the British countryside (apart from the hayfever…) and for my family to munch on. I should have made these scones a little thicker and smaller so they rose upwards a little more; I suppose that’s because I used a small plastic bowl (my mum bought some delicious Christmas puddings from a friend last Christmas) rather than a biscuit cutter, and so it squashed the edges a bit, and my scones were more like buns. But that’s ok, they were still delicious! Especially when warm and fresh out of the oven, smothered in butter! It’s also a lovely dough to work with; it’s not sticky at all, and I just kneaded it in the bowl so there was no mess on my kitchen worktop. I think that when they’ve cooled, they’d be a great alternative to sandwiches with some cured hams and lettuce. Yum, yum, yum!

Tuesday’s WOD @ CFP with Samantha:
5 x 5 deadlifts, 2-3 mins rest between sets

5 x 5 back squat, 2 sec pause at bottom, 2-3 mins rest between sets

6 x hill sprints, jog back down, and at the bottom do 10 tricep dips and 5 tuck jumps

Chive and Cheddar Cheese Scones
Little Spice Jar
Made 11 scones, 2.5″ in diameter

Ingredients
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 2 tsps sugar
• 2 tsps baking powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• 1 ½ tsps garlic, crushed
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ tsp pepper
• ½ cup butter, melted
• 1 x egg
• 2 tbsps water
• ½ cup sour cream
• 30g fresh chives, chopped
• 1 ½ cups mature cheddar, grated
• 1 x egg, beated, for brushing

Preparation
In a large mixing bowl, sieve in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add in the sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper.

In a separate, smaller bowl, crack in the egg, add the sour cream and 2 tbsps of water. Whisk until combined. Add to the flour mixture and combine. Add in the butter, chives and cheddar, and mix well until combined.

When you can’t mix well anymore, knead with your hands a few times until it all comes together. Preheat the oven to 205°C.

Line a tray with baking parchment. Roll the dough out on a separate surface, or press it out flat, until the dough is about 1 inch in thickness. Cut using a cookie/biscuit cutter and place on the baking parchment. Crack an egg in a cup and beat. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg over each scone. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pop into the oven for 16-20 minutes. These are best served warm with slathering of goat’s butter. 🙂

Baked: 08.06.2013 on a beautiful day, in many different ways 🙂

Conquering Puff Pastry | Raspberry, Almond & Cream Cheese Danish Pastries

I have never made anything with puff pastry before; I’ve been fearful of it after having heard such horrifying things about puff pastry going wrong. However, after having handed in my dissertation and having another badminton league match, I decided to give these Danish pastries a go; something that I simply cannot resist. Well, seeing as this was my first time, perhaps I should have followed a recipe that was in English, not Spanish…but I think it all turned out OK in the end!

There were tonnes of these pastries wherever I went in Buenos Aires. The residence I stayed in gave a choice of pastries for breakfast, from which we were allowed up to three each, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Me being me, I always got as much as I could get, and saved some for breakfast the next day, or for dessert, or for the weekends. There would be some delicious pastry horns filled with dulce de leche (which were a favourite of mine!), croissants (or “medialunas”), or Danish pastries with jam and a sort of custard design on top. To be honest, all three we delicious. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we would get two or three small slices of toast on either white or brown bread, with a choice of butter, jam and/or dulce de leche. Or on each day, you could choose to have cereal instead, with juice (“jugo” in Latin America), tea or coffee.

I gave two of these to Ed, ate about 5 throughout the day (eep!), left about 10 at home for the rest of the family, and took the rest to the badminton -> they were all gone (and I didn’t have any there, but there were two matches being played that night so twice the amount of people!). At first, from a distance, they thought they were the Argentinian “pasties” (empanadas) that I made for the match before, but everyone was complimenting them and saying that they tasted really nice! Not only that, but…. we are now Division 1 players for the ladies league! How cool is that? We’ve been promoted! 😀

When making puff pastry, there are two key elements: the détrempe (which is a mixture of flour and water), and the beurrage (or “butter block”). What you have to do, is simply roll out the détrempe, and use it to enclose a sheet or block or butter (the beurrage). Then it gets folded over and rolled, over and over again, to form layers of détrempe and beurrage.

I made the pastry the day before, and left it in the fridge overnight, before rolling it out and baking them in time for the league match the same evening. However, before I made the pastry, I watched the video below; even if you can’t understand anything, it’s incredibly useful to watch:

I’m not afraid of puff pastry anymore! Well, I still am, a little: When I was rolling the dough, it got to a point where I felt like slinging it out the window because it became incredibly sticky and impossible to roll. I think these tips when rolling out the dough will make it easier, as it definitely helped me:

  • Roll the dough ~¼” thick: too thin and it’ll tear and not be a puffy in the oven.
  • Be generous with flouring the rolling pin and work surfaces.
  • Work with small sections of dough: it’s a lot easier than trying to roll the whole dough out in one piece!
  • And finally, keep to dough as cold as possible. All of that butter, when it starts to get to room temperature, makes it incredibly difficult to handle.

    Although my pastries do look like a 10 year old child constructed them, I definitely want to tackle puff pastry again. This weekend I wanted to make a pear, apple and raisin strudel, but because of the amount of work I have to do I’ll give it a miss and reward myself perhaps the week after. It’s just, this weekend my nanny’s down from London, we’re meeting up with my other nanny on Sunday and my boyfriend is coming to my house on Monday. So if I made a large strudel this weekend, then we could all have it for dessert on Sunday and Monday. Oh well, there will be other times. Perhaps for next week’s match (the last one of the season 🙁 ) I can try croissants or pains aux chocolate.

    Next time I make these, I’ll definitely be filling them up with dulce de leche! 😀 So please give this a go, keeping this little tips in mind:

  • Roll the dough ~¼” thick: too thin and it’ll tear and not be a puffy in the oven.
  • Be generous with flouring the rolling pin and work surfaces.
  • Work with small sections of dough: it’s a lot easier than trying to roll the whole dough out in one piece!
  • And finally, keep to dough as cold as possible. All of that butter, when it starts to get to room temperature, makes it incredibly difficult to handle.
  • Be persistent and take your time. 🙂

    Raspberry, Almond & Cream Cheese Danish Pastries
    Source: Food and Cook
    I made 37 oddly shaped pastries

    Ingredients
    Détrempe (& beurrage):
    • 200ml cold water
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 150g strong white flour
    • 250g plain flour
    • 500g butter, at room temp. (the beurrage)

    Crema de almendra (almond cream): (taken from Cuinant)
    • 100g ground almonds
    • 100g sugar (I used 10g of Hermesetas sweetener)
    • 60g butter, melted
    • 2 x small eggs
    • 15g cornflour

    Filling:
    • crema de almendra (above)
    • 120g cream cheese
    • 60g icing sugar
    • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
    • 1 x egg, separated
    • almonds, slithered
    • 1 x jar of raspberry jam

    For the glaze:
    • milk
    • icing sugar

    Preparation
    For the détrempe & beurrage:
    Measure out the cold water in a jug, and put in the salt, letting is dissolve slowly. Melt 75g butter in a large bowl (set aside the rest of the butter and keep it at room temp.). Sieve the flour into the butter, and add the cold water/salt solution. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and evenly combined.

    Use your hands to form a ball, and score two deep cuts in the dough to form a cross with a knife. Wrap in clingfilm and pop into the fridge for 2 hours.

    Remove from the fridge and leave for about 10 minutes to bring the dough back up to room temp. (this will make it easier to handle). Then, roll out the dough, trying to form a sort of cross, suing the scores you made earlier as a guide. It doesn’t have to be neat, just make sure the middle is thicker than the rest of the dough.

    Place the remainder of the butter as a large block in the middle of the dough, and wrap the dough around the butter, like a package. Make sure the butter isn’t too warm; otherwise it’ll make the dough greasy.

    Then, use a rolling pin and bash the dough down to flatten it out. Fold the dough over, and bash it down again, whilst turning it over. Then fold it once more and bash it down. Do this a couple more times, before folding it over, wrapping it in clingfilm and putting it in the fridge for another two hours. Don’t worry if it isn’t 100% homogenous at this stage.

    Then repeat the above step twice or three times more, including leaving it in the fridge for two hours. By this time, the dough should be fairly homogenous throughout. The dough should be fairly springy when pressed with a finger, and can be frozen or kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.

    For the filling:
    To make the crema de almendra: Melt the butter in a large bowl, and mix in the ground almonds with a wooden spoon. Add the sugar and cornflour, and mix well. Add each egg, one by one, and the vanilla essence and mix again.

    For the filling, mix the egg yolk (reserving the egg white for later), in a bowl with the almond cream, cream cheese, vanilla essence and icing sugar until smooth.

    Remove the dough from the fridge; roughly roll it out so that you can use a pastry cutter to cut it into 4 pieces. Then, wrap each one individually and put back into the fridge. Keep one out so that you can work with it. It’s a lot easier to handle the dough when it’s as cold as possible. You can keep the dough in the fridge for up to two days, or up to a month in the freezer.

    Assembling the pastries:
    Use a rolling pin (and plenty of flour) to roll out the dough to about a ¼“ thick, then use the pastry cutter to cut the dough into 10cm x 10cm squares.

    Spread a tablespoon of the almond cream filling diagonally from one corner to one the other in a line over the pastry square. Then place a small teaspoon of raspberry jam and mash that across with the other filling, too. Try to keep only a thin layer in the corners, otherwise the filling will spill out in the oven.

    Sprinkle the filling with slithered almonds, and brush the rest of the pastry with egg white. Wrap the two other corners (without filling) over the centre of the pastry square, and brush the outside with egg white, and sprinkle a few more slithered almonds on.

    Do this for with the next dough piece, and continue until all has been used.

    Baking the puff pastry:
    When ready, preheat the oven to 180◦C, and pop all pastries on a baking tray, giving each one ample room as they do puff up. You will probably have to do this in batches. Leave them in the oven until the pastry turns golden brown in colour.

    Final touches:
    Let the pastries cool. Mix together a little milk and a little bit of icing sugar to form a smooth and slightly runny consistency, which can then be drizzled on top of the pastries to decorate.

    Bon Appétit!!

  • Pretzel Dogs | Badminton Match Buffet

    When I was writing up this post, I actually had the scent of hot dogs waft pass me. They weren’t cooking at the time. But I could smell them from the images. Don’t they just look so cozy? 🙂

    It’s a rule (well, an unwritten one I should think) that the host of a badminton league match always provides food and drink for the opposing team for once the matches are over. So for me, this is a brilliant excuse to bake. I put up a poll asking what I should make for the next badminton league match buffet, and had a lovely 10 people vote. These were the results:

    1) Pretzel-wrapped hotdogs (4 votes)
    2) (Savoury) empanadas (3 votes)
    3) Cheese danish with raspberry jam (2 votes)
    4) Traditional Spanish biscuits (alfajores de Medina Sidonia) (1 vote)

    I really was glad that a savoury treat was chosen. It’s easy to bake things, and lots of people bring sweets and all that. Neil always makes beautiful brownies. But I don’t think people would want anything else too stodgy and sweet, because people are usually conscious of calories and fat content. Not only that, but others bring tarts and cherry bakewells from packets, etc.

    Quiche, pineapple and cheese cocktail sticks and sandwiches are always brought along. Mark always bring some really nice sandwiches. Last time he brought some with homemade jam, and they were beautiful. I wouldn’t dare upstage his sandwiches. So I really wanted to make something savoury, and different from what I just mentioned. I think these fit the bill nicely. 🙂 Next time I think I may try empanadas. 🙂

    The only trouble is, is the my 12,000 word dissertation is due in less than 3 ½ weeks…I think I really should stop with the baking and start with the writing. And, as a result of having to get into uni early today, I rushed these…and forgot to put the egg yolk wash on and then a sprinkle of salt. Ooops…but they still tasted great without the salt though. These are definitely things that can be made ahead, and are quite unique.

    I can definitely see myself making these again! But I’d like to remember the salt next time and the egg yolk wash. 🙂

    Pretzel-Wrapped Hot Dogs
    Source: Smells Like Home
    Makes 16

    Ingredients
    • 1 ½ cups (375ml) hot water
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • 1 packet (~7g) dried active yeast
    • 4½ cups plain flour
    • 50g butter
    • olive oil
    • 8 or 16 hotdogs
    • ~1.5L hot water
    • 2/3 cups bicarbonate of soda
    • 1 x egg yolk
    • coarse salt

    Preparation
    Combine the 375ml of hot water, 1 tbsp salt and sugar in a bowl, and sprinkle the yeast over the top and leave for about 5 minutes. The mixture should smell wonderful. 🙂

    Then, sieve in the flour, and add the butter (which you should soften in the microwave). Use a wooden spoon to mix it all together until the dough that is formed it pull away from the sides of the bowl. This should take around 5-7 minutes.

    Grease a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, and place the dough in it, and cover with oiled foil. Then leave to rise in a warm place for an hour. I left mine to rise in the airing cupboard overnight.

    Preheat the oven to 230◦C. Line two baking sheets with olive oil, or use non-stick trays.

    Then, separate the dough into 16 equal pieces, and wrap them around each hot dog. If you have 8, wrap each piece around half a dog. If you have 16, you can use a whole one. 🙂

    Then, bring 1.5L of water to a boil. Then place in a large bowl with 2/3 cup of bicarbonate of soda.

    Then, pop in each pretzel dog, two at a time, into the large bowl. If you don’t feel at ease you can do this one at a time. Let them blanch for about 30 seconds each, and then take them out with a large slotted spoon, and pop them onto a baking rack to allow the water to drip off. This is important. Do this for all of the pretzel dogs.

    Then, pop them onto the prepared baking sheets, and brush them with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with coarse salt. Whack them into the oven for 12-15 minutes. Be careful, as the position in which the dogs are in the oven depends on how fast they cook. So keep an eye on them!

    Let them cool, and serve with ketchup, chimichurri, at parties, buffets, hot or cold! They can even be frozen, and reheated at a later date. 🙂

    Enjoy your party buffet!

    Alfajores | Valentine’s Day Argentinian Style

    My boyfriend and I aren’t doing anything special for Valentine’s Day. We were supposed to have celebrated our three year anniversary this time last month, but we never did. However, the opportunity presented itself last week when I came into possession (thanks to my mum!) of some vouchers for an Italian restaurant. So I supposed we have already celebrated Valentine’s Day a little early! As a result, I have only made a pretty little blue giftbox with some homemade goodies for him. He also bought me a cute turtle when he was on the ferry back from France this weekend. Unfortunately, these alfajores weren’t finished by the time I gave Ed the box, so I’ll present him a couple when we next meet, providing that the chocolate has hardened on time!



    Chocolate jacuzzi.


    My cute little soft turtle.

    According to Wikipedia, alfajores are traditionally Arabic, and they’re a long slender cookie, similar to the Italian Bones of the Dead biscotti-type biscuits. However, in Argentina they’re a huge hit, and involve a delicious bite of dulce de leche sandwiched between two cookie biscuits, and then usually covered in chocolate. They’re in every street corner in Argentina, and very commercialised. People would eat them for snacks, and as breakfast, too.



    One of the twelve alfajores that I bought home with me to the UK.

    I could spend a long long time talking about the deliciousness of these, and of the other foods I sampled in Argentina, but this will have to be for another time. For now, I will speak of only alfajores! They’re quite simple to make, but so delicious to sample!



    The ingredients of the alfajor biscuit.


    Cutting the biscuits.



    Getting ready to pop them in the oven!



    Alfajores ready for the dulce de leche filling!



    Each only had about half a teaspoon worth of dulce de leche.



    Ready for their chocolate coating…



    Just look at that chocolate! Talk about calories; altogether I used to about two and a half large bars of chocolate to coat these 23 alfajores!

    And there you have it! Alfajores just like those in Argentina! If you decide to make these, please don’t make the mistake I did when making the dulce de leche! And I really hope that you enjoy this little touch of Argentina in your kitchen. 🙂



    Can I really wait that long until the chocolate sets…?

    Argentinian Chocolate Coated Alfajores
    Adapted from: Tea & Cookies and Project Foodie
    Makes 20-25 alfajores.

    Ingredients
    • 215g (1 ½ cups) plain flour
    • 115g (¾ cup) cornflour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 135g lightly salted butter
    • 130g (½ cup) sugar (I used Hermesetas sweetener)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 2 tsp vanilla essence/flavouring
    • approx. 150g of dulce de leche
    • 275-300g milk chocolate
    • desiccated coconut, to decorate (optional)

    Preparation
    1. Melt the butter in the microwave in a large mixing bowl. Then add the sugar and cream with a wooden spoon.
    2. Sift in the flour, cornflour and baking powder and mix together. Then, beat in the egg, and then the egg yolk.
    3. Now, roll the dough into a large ball, place in cling film and whack in the fridge for 2 hours (or one day at the most).
    4. Remove the dough: if it’s too hard, leave to stand until it’s manageable enough to work with.
    5. Split the dough into portions. Seeing as it’s quite a difficult dough to roll out because it falls apart easily, it’s better to work with smaller portions.
    6. Use a rolling pin to roll out one of the portions as thin as possible (about 1/8 of an inch).
    7. Preheat the oven to 175◦C.
    8. Cut out shapes of your preference. Do this with all of the dough, ensuring that there are an even number!
    9. Bake for 5 minutes, and then swap the position of the trays from front to back and top to bottom, and then bake for another 5 minutes.
    10. Turn off the oven and leave the alfajores to cool for another 10 minutes in the oven.
    11. (Or you could just bake for a total of 10-15 minutes, ensuring that the position of the trays are swapped halfway through).
    12. Let the alfajores cool completely before proceeding with the next step.
    13. Sandwich the alfajores between approx. ½-1 tsp of dulce de leche.
    14. Leave to set in the fridge for a while, as it’ll make the next step easier by preventing the alfajores to slide around its dulce de leche centre.
    15. Melt chocolate in your preferred way, either in the microwave ensuring that you mix the chocolate after every 30 seconds in order to stop the bottom from burning, or over a bain-marie.
    16. Cover the alfajores in a generous layer of chocolate.
    17. Sprinkle with coconut if you so wish.
    18. Leave to harden, and then enjoy. Just don’t get addicted!

    Tips
    When rolling out the dough:
    It’s easier to roll it out in small batches, because that way you can ensure an even layer, and also the dough itself can crumble and break easily.

    When decorating the alfajores with chocolate:
    Lay the alfajores, once coated in chocolate, in a non-stick oven dish, as it’s a lot easier to remove them once the chocolate is dry, and to wash up afterwards!
    Be sure not to coat in in too much, otherwise you’ll end up with cracked alfajores when scraping them off of the dish! I learnt this through experience; although I knew at the time my alfajores would be difficult to separate from the dish, I was in a hurry and couldn’t be bothered…I’ve learnt time and time again that one has to be bothered and give plenty of love to the food, to get great tasting and exceptional looking results. What you give to your recipe is what you will get back. 🙂

    ¡¡Buen Provecho!!



    Cracked alfajores. :’-(


    These seem to be OK. I love the irregular chocolate ripples; this is where imperfections, as with most things in life, makes for uniqueness and beauty. Though they may have bumps and unsmoothed chocolate, they still taste pretty damn delicious!


    Happy Valentine’s Day! 😀