Cooking Ideas & Recipes by Joana Reis

April 23, 2014
by Joana

Patisserie Course- week 2

Lesson 2 – Le Gateaux!

I have started an 8 week Patisserie course, this course will teach me how to make all kinds of pastry and crèmes and in the end, I will be baking beautiful Classic Millefeuille, Palmiers and Profiteroles.

After the great first lesson, I was really looking forward to going back. This week was gateaux week and we made Black Forest Gateau, Madeleine’s and lastly, Victoria Sponge – not very French I know.

The good thing about this lesson was that I got introduced to chocolate decorating, in other words, how to make the little chocolate bits that the café chain, Patisserie Valerie, puts on top of their cakes.

I struggled with creativity at first, but ended up making some good-looking chocolate decorating pieces. To make these, all you have to do first is just put some melted chocolate into a piping bag and prepare a bit of baking paper in a tray. Now you pipe onto the tray and you make lines, flowers, stars or even love hearts. When ready, refrigerate for a couple of hours while you make your cake.

Again, all the recipes I made this week were delicious but my favourite was the Madeleine’s, they are delicious!


If you’re ever making Madeline’s, one little known trick is that after you have piped them into the mold, refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour or so. They’ll then rise better when you bake them.

I have to say I was really proud of my gateau. I never usually decorate my cakes or try making them look pretty. I’m always too impatient and just want to have a slice. But, I think this is a new beginning. From now on I’m always going attempt to decorate most of my cakes.

Black Forest Gateau

April 11, 2014
by Joana

Patisserie Course

I have embarked on an 8 week Patisserie course and I have to say I am very excited.

Pastry has always scared me a little bit, so this is my chance to get over that fear but also to learn some new techniques and ultimately learn how to make pastry/baking look pretty. I’m good at baking cakes, cookies, cupcakes and general cooking, but pastry is the one area that I haven’t adventured into.

This patisserie course will teach me how to make all kinds of pastry and crèmes and in the end, allow me to ultimately make beautiful Classic Millefeuille, Palmiers and Profiteroles.

Patisserie course

I will be doing weekly blog post with my progress and with lots of pictures of what I got up to.

Lesson 1- Le Puddings!

The first lesson has finally arrived; I was very excited but a little nervous. I wasn’t really sure what to expect or how big the class was going to be, but to my surprise, when I got there it was only me!

I have to say, if anything, I was very pleased by this because it meant I now had a one-to-one lesson with a professional pastry chef. As a result, I got a better lesson, he had more time to teach me a couple of techniques that otherwise I wouldn’t have learnt. One of them being – if like me you beat mixtures with the bowl tipped to the side, we are wrong. Its best to put the mixture in a flatter bowl and hold the whisk like a pen and do zig zags up and down.

The first lesson was fairly straight-forward. We made apple crumble, butter and bread pudding (with brioche bread), crème anglaise and chocolate fondants.

Bread and Butter Pudding

They were all lovely but of course my favourite was the chocolate fondants, they are delicious warm with a little bit of the crème anglaise.

Chocolate Fondant

The “lets make things pretty” tip for the lesson was on how to make your apple crumble more dinner-party friendly, by making them inside the apples. You can see what I mean in my picture below, I’m going to use this tip all the time in the future.

Apple Crumble

April 4, 2014
by Joana

Rocky Road Recipe

It was Mother’s Day last Sunday. Usually on celebrations like this (birthdays, christmas etc.) we have a big family dinner together at my parent house. This year, we decided to do something different, my family came to London for the day and we had a big picnic. I live in Dalston so I took them to London Fields park for the afternoon.

As part of my contribution to the picnic, I decided to make Rocky Road. Everyone loves rocky road and it’s the perfect treat for picnics and days out.

Rocky Road

Ingredients for Rocky Road Recipe:

  • 400g dark chocolate
  • 100g of small marshmallows
  • 100g of white chocolate drops/chips
  • 4 large meringues- broken into pieces
  • 125g butter
  • 3 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 200g tea rich biscuits

Method for Rocky Road Recipe:

  1. Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan
  2. Put the biscuits in a small plastic bag, a freezer or food bag is perfect. Then bash them with a rolling pin but not too much as you want small pieces of biscuit not crumbs.
  3. In a bowl, place the white chocolate chips, the biscuits, marshmallows and then fold in the melted chocolate mixture.

    In a bowl add the white chocolate, marshmallows and meringue

  4. Mix well, gently, until everything is combined.
  5. Tip into a baking tray, this can be made from foil, ceramic or glass, and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

    Rocky Road

February 9, 2014
by Joana

Chocolate Chip and Orange Cookies

My little sisters love my cookies, I normally make my double chocolate cookies but to change things a little I decided to modify the recipe and do chocolate chip and orange. They loved the new cookies so now every time I take the trip to the sunny Midlands to see them I have to take a batch of each recipe.

This recipe is really easy to make, perfect to make with children as they can get their hands dirty or if you are just getting into baking.

Chocolate chip and orange cookies

Ingredients for the chocolate chip and orange cookies:

  • 125g of butter, softened
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 185g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 200g of milk chocolate chunks

Method for the chocolate cookies recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar in a bowl until its nice and creamy.
  3. In a separate bowl beat the egg and vanilla. Add to the butter and sugar mixture.

    Cream the butter and sugars then add the egg and vanilla

  4. Sift in the flour and salt.
  5. Add the Orange Zest to the mixture.

    Add the Orange Zest

  6. Next add the golden syrup and mix well
  7. Finally the chocolate chip chunks goes in the bowl. Make sure the mixture is well combined.
  8. Place baking paper on top of a baking tray.
  9. Roll the mixture into walnut size balls for a homemade look, or roll into a long sausage shape and slice to make neater looking cookies.

    Chocolate chip and orange cookies

  10. Bake for 8 minutes.
  11. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 1 minute before moving to the cooling rack.

    Delicious and ready to eat

January 19, 2014
by Joana

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Over Christmas, I got a new stand mixer from Argos. I have never enjoyed something so much in my live, baking is now super easy and it takes half the time. The mixer is really good, comes with 4 attachments, a dough hook, aluminium whisk and beater. It also comes with a glass jug to make juices.

Food Mixer

The first cake I baked was this delicious chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. The chocolate cake is very moist and easy to bake.

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients for the Chocolate Cake:

  • 7 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 375g golden caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 300g plain flour
  • 125 ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp of vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp of salt

Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 145g icing sugar, sifted
  • 275g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 450g full-fat cream cheese

Method for the Chocolate Cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/ gas mark 3.
  2. Grease and line a 25cm round deep cake tin with baking parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks, the sunflower oil, vanilla paste, caster sugar and 200ml of water until very well combined.

    Mix the egg yolks, oil, vanilla paste, caster sugar and water

  4. Sift in the cocoa powder and whisk until nice and smooth.
  5. Sift in the bicarbonate of soda, flour and 1 tsp of salt.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. This is what I used my new food mixer for and I have to say it has never been so easy to beat egg whites.
  7. Fold the egg whites into the batter with a large metal spoon. Mix well until everything is combined. Be gentle as you don’t want to knock any air out of the batter.

    Fold in the egg whites

  8. Gently pour the mixture into the cake tin, bang it on the work surface two times to remove any large pockets of air.
  9. Bake for 1h and 10 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently prodded. Cover with foil after 1 hour if the cake starts to get too dark.
  10. Remove from the oven, cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a large wire rack. Remove the parchment from the cake. Leave until completely cool.

Method for the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and cream cheese and beat until well combined.
  3. Once the cake is cooled, slice it in half and fill with the cream cheese frosting.
  4. The cake will keep for 3 days in a cool place.

    Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting