Mich Turner simple cake decorating tips from Cake School

Mich Turner has been running the Little Venice Cake Company since 1999. Her stunning new book, Mich Turner’s Cake School, Expert tuition from the Master Cake Maker, has just been published. Its full of beautiful pictures of cakes, her favourite cake recipes and some very useful baking tips.

Get it for £20.50 from Amazon (free delivery over £25 or Amazon Prime),  £19.99 from Lakeland (you can collect in store or free delivery over £30) or  or for £22.50 from The Book People (free delivery over £25)

Mich Turner and her Rose Ombre Cake

Mich Turner and her Rose Ombre Cake

I went along to a cake decorating masterclass and she shared some top tips on getting cakes baked perfectly.

  • Always use room temperature eggs and butter
  • Make sure you cream the butter an sugar well, up to 15 minutes. (you can’t over cream)
  • Whisk the eggs well and add it to the cake batter gradually or it won’t be mixed well and the cake will be quite dense when baked
  • Use a metal spoon or rubber spatula to add in the flour, never a wooden spoon
  • Butter cream can keep for up to a month in the fridge

Mich says that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make impressive looking cakes. She demonstrated how to put together this gorgeous Raspberry and Rose Ombre Cake that is in her new book.

Here is her demonstration in Step By Step pictures.

  • 2 six  inch vanilla sponges were baked as the base for this cake, using an 8 inch sponge recipe.
  • This just take a basic buttercream made with unrefined icing sugar (Silver Spoon).
  • She then adds her raspberry coulis and rose essence to naturally colour the cream.
  • 3 layers of butter cream roses are piped on to decorate the cake, starting with the darkest pink a the bottom and a slightly pink cream on the top. This was surprisingly easy to pipe and the effect is quite stunning. I had a a go at the piping and if I can do it, anyone can.
  • You can easily create something similar and vary the cake, colours and flavourings to your liking.
Mich Turner making the Rose Ombre Cake

She slices each sponge through the middle by rotating the cake, not the knife, to get an even layer.


Mich Turner Rose Ombre Cake

She then mixes up some plain buttercream with rose and raspberry coulis to create a pink tinged icing. This is spread liberally in between the 2 layers.

Mich Turner Rose Ombre Cake

More butter cream is spread between the layers

Mich Turner Rose Ombre Cake

A very generous layer of that butter cream is spread on the outside, working from bottom to top

Mich Turner Rose Ombre Cake

The first row of piped roses is added to the bottom of the cake in the darkest pink. She always works from dark to light.

Mich Turner Rose Ombre Cake

Mich uses the standard nozzle and a disposable piping bag which comes with her cupcake kits, see below.

Mich Turner Rose Ombre Cake

The butter cream is gradually lightened with the addition of more cream and the rose piping is continued for another 2 layers.

Mich Turner (24)

Mich Turner Cake School

To finish off, she pipes some paler roses on the top of the cake, covering the whole top surface.

The only equipment she used was some piping bags, a few star nozzles, her Perspex Board and her very versatile extra long palette knife and you find most of these in her Cupcake Starter Kit.

Her new book, Mich Turner’s Cake School,  has a big section on ingredients, equipment and baking tips. The next part has a lot of beautiful cake pictures and recipes for cakes like an Orange Chiffon cake. On the cover is a very low fat Strawberry Chiffon Cake and an Italian meringue icing. It looks stunning and is quite low calorie too.

You can get her book and her  Little Venice Cake Company cake making kits on Amazon. Get the new book for £20.50 from Amazon (free delivery over £25 or Amazon Prime),  £19.99 from Lakeland (you can collect in store or free delivery over £30) or  or for £22.50 from The Book People (free delivery over £25)

Christmas Gift Guide for Gourmets

Thinking of original and interesting gifts for gourmets is not easy. There are so many things to choose from and every year, there are so many new products to confuse you further.

Here is an edit of some lovely food and drink gift ideas for Christmas.

Dazzle your guests with a Luxury Cheese Selection from Paxton and Whitfield. If you pop into the shop they can help you pick some of their favourites cheeses. Highly recommend the Lincolnshire Poacher. They do fab Christmas Hampers too.


Add an unexpected sweet to the end of your Christmas meal with these Hadji Beh Turkish Delights. I tasted them this summer and they were unlike any I have previously tasted. The texture is not too gummy. I like the yellow box with the mix of citrus and rose flavours.

turkish deligths

These clever people at Lily O Briens makes really lovely and unique pudding flavoured chocolates liek Key Lime Pie. The flavours are really zingy and every one is a surprise.

lily obriens

For a very tasty slow grown Turkey, order one from Copas Turkey. All their birds are free range and slow grown so they have a nice layer of fat which makes the meat succulent and tasty. They sell some useful kitchen accessories to help you carve and some nice condiments to go with your Christmas meal too.

copas turkey

If they have run out, you can order one online from Donald Russell or Waitrose and collect instore.


The perfect gift for the coffee lover is an AeroPress Coffee Maker to make a professional cup of coffee at home. It takes less than a minute and there are no fiddly parts to wash up. Instead of a slow drip into the middle of a coffee filter in old machines, this uses even pressure to produce a rich cup of coffee with lower acidity. Once you try this, you won’t go back.

For those of you who like a healthy Green Smoothie in the morning, the Nutri Bullet is must have gadget, make your smoothies and get healthy. It completely breaks down your fruit and veg (including tough skins and seeds) with no pulp. Comes complete with a cook book to help you get started quickly too.

The hottest kitchen gadget this year is the Vegetable Spiralizer. Use this to make courgette noodles for those of you who are on a low carb or a paleo diet. Use it to make other vegetable noodles and salads too.


This is a gadget that really caught my eye this year, the Unikia Stirio Automatic Stirrer which is battery operated and is extendable to fit different pot sizes. It’s great for making risotto, soups and anythings else that needs constant strirring without you having to stand over the pot for hours. Genius.

unikia automatic stirrer

For Festive Food hampers, here is a selection to choose from:

Lakeland Buttermere Hamper which has a plum pudding, brandy butter, chocolate fudge, Claire’s St Clements Marmalade, Liqueur Truffles and more (free delivery too).


lakeland hamper


John Lewis Hampers - read my review of a couple of the Christmas Hampers here.

john lewis hamper


Marks and Spencer Hampers with free delivery. This one is one of the many to choose from a Mulled Wine and Fruit Hamper

M&S Christmas Mulled Wine and Fruit Hamper


Here are some stocking filler ideas:

Camera Lens Coffee Mug

Whisky Chilling Rocks

Every budding chef would love one of these, to make creme brulee, or to use of a meCook’s Blowtorch

Make cooking over Christmas fun – get the chef one of these Christmas Novelty Aprons .

for a fun gift or secret santa, this Biscuit Pocket Mug

Spelt Quinoa Scones Recipe

This is quick and easy recipe that I learnt a a recent baking lesson at Le Pain Quotidien. It’s a clever way to use 2 highly on trend ingredients spelt flour and quinoa. The way this is made yields 4 very large scones. You can easily divide this into 6 to make a few smaller ones as you wish.

If you wanted to make more refined looking scones, you can always roll the dough out onto a floured surface and cut into circles. The presentation is up to you. The rustic hand shaped scones actually looked quite inviting.

Baking Lesson Le Pain Quotidien (39)

Eating them straight out the oven was delicious and crumbly. If you make a bigger batch, you can always freeze some and reheat in the oven when you need them.

Spelt Quinoa Scones

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

4 large scones

Spelt Quinoa Scones

This is very quick to make.


  • 62g Spelt flour
  • 148g plain flour
  • 24g quinoa (used dry in this recipe but you can use boiled quinoa too)
  • 40g currants
  • 32g almonds, sliced
  • 10g baking powder
  • 2g salt
  • 25g sugar
  • 82g unsalted butter
  • 20g whole egg, room temperature
  • 100ml full fat milk


  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, quinoa, baking powder, salt and sugar
  3. Cut butter into cubes and add to the dry mixture. Rub in until the mixture resembles course crumbs.
  4. Add currents and almonds. Mix to incorporate.
  5. Combine eggs and milk.
  6. Add to the mixture and stir just enough to combine. Do not overwork the dough.
  7. Divide the dough into 4 portions.
  8. Either roll out the dough or roughly form into rock cakes by hand.
  9. Put the formed scones onto a baking sheet lined tray.
  10. Glaze with egg wash.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes at 180C.
  12. Serve with clotted cream, butter and your favourite jam.

Whisky Tasting and the Hunting (Game) Menu at The Park Tower Knightsbridge

It’s the time of year for Game Hunting. Chef Pascal is a keen hunter and this time of year he likes to make the full use of the game that he hunts like venison.

Whisky Bar at The Hyde Bar Park Tower Hotel

The Whisky Bar

We had the pleasure of tasting some of the dishes he created on his ” Hunting Menu” at the Hyde Bar in theThe Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel. The Hyde Bar is a lounge bar that is off the lobby of the hotel.  The seating is quite private with tables separated by glass partitions. Every table has a plug point and WiFi, big plus points. On several evenings a week, there is a piano player who will gladly play your requests.

The Hyde Bar is also a Whisky Bar with over 130 premium brands on offer. They have a long and comprehensive Whisky menu with the most expensive at £250 a shot, the limited edition aged Dalmuir. In addition, they have a nice selection of cigars too but we didn’t have a chance to sample these.

The menu is not divided into the normal starters or mains. You can choose dishes in any order you fancy so we started with a Pheasant Paillard and Crispy Leg Confit with a Caesar salad. Lovely moist pheasant with a well dressed Caesar.

Pheasant Paillard and Crispy Leg Confit with a Caesar salad

Pheasant Paillard and Crispy Leg Confit with a Caesar salad

The Roasted Mallard Duck Breast with parsnips and green peppercorns was sublime. Done delightfully pink, the tender duck pieces and sweet parsnips made a tasty combination.

Roasted Mallard Duck Breast with parsnips and green peppercorns

Roasted Mallard Duck Breast with parsnips and green peppercorns

The bar manager Victor suggested that we pair 2 Dalmore Whiskies with our menu choices. They were the 12 year old and 15 year old .  If you find whisky neat is too strong, the flavour really opens up with just a dash of water. If you like it on the rocks, then use these special Whisky Stones
which act like ice but don’t melt to dilute your whisky.

Game menu and Dalmore Whisky Tasting

Game menu and Whisky Tasting

Game menu and Dalmore Whisky Tasting

Dalmore Whiskies


Game menu and Dalmore Whisky Tasting

Limited Edition Dalmore Whisky, Bottled 1990, Aged 21 Years. Bottle 76 of 777

Seeing as they didn’t have any Wild Geese that week, we ordered a couple of Venison dishes instead. Venison Parmentier followed. This had the most unctuous mash studded with chestnuts like hidden gems. The meat was rich and comforting, a real winner.

Venison Parmentier Game menu

Venison Parmentier

Venison Steak Hache Oeuf A Cheval was a not so little Venison Burger. A juicy meaty burger patty on a soft bun with a rich duck egg topping. Not for the faint hearted. This was a truly decadent burger, great ingredients and well executed. Although well seasoned, this dish was too gamey for me. If you do come I hear that the Venison meatballs are to die for.

Venison Steak Hache Oeuf A Cheval Game menu

Venison Steak Hache Oeuf A Cheval

We shared a light and tangy apple pie which had the lightest pastry and a filling with both cooked and fresh apple. It was not a chore to finish this pudding. Will definitely rate it as one of the best apple pies I have had in ages.

Tangy Apple Pie

So ladies, if you are planning a Christmas shopping trip to Knightsbridge, drop off your other halves here and order them a whisky tasting flight. They will thank you for it. It is also a great place to have a drink if you are in Knightsbridge as it has a lovely ambience and is not too crowded.

The Hyde Bar
The Park Tower Knightsbridge ·
101 Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7RN
0207 2358050

The Hyde Bar The Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel

The Hyde Bar, The Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel


The Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hyde Bar at the Park Tower Knightsbridge on Urbanspoon

EatCookExplore was a guest of the Park Tower Hotel

Tea smoked duck with a spiced plum sauce

Tea Smoked Duck with Spiced Plum Sauce Canapes It’s the party season and if you are doing a party at home, kick off the party with a delicious zing with some tasty anapés. Here, I have made a very simple Tea Smoked Duck with a Spiced Plum Sauce canapé served on some Chinese soup spoons.

Smoking food at home is not as hard as you might think. I did a smoked fish recipe a while back and it took about 15 minutes. All you need is a steel wok, some fragrant tea leaves, some spices and a good lid. Don’t be afraid of cooking with duck.

This tea smoked duck recipe is for a simple but impressive canapé, just in time for your Christmas party. I used duck legs as I prefer the flavour but you can use duck breasts instead.

To serve, I used slices of duck but you can shred the duck meat instead. It’s all a matter of presentation. If you use duck breasts, you can take the skin off after smoking, cut into strips and deep fry. This will produce some very crispy duck crackling which you can use to sprinkle on top of your canapés.

The final result is a mouthful of smoky duck with a tangy spicy plum sauce and a hint of freshness with the slice of plum of top. If you don’t want to make canapés, you can assemble the ingredients into a salad instead. A very versatile recipe.


Tea smoked duck with a spiced plum sauce and crispy duck crackling

Tea smoked duck with a spiced plum sauce and crispy duck crackling


  • 2 duck legs or breasts if you prefer
  • Soya sauce
  • five spice powder
  • Lurpak cooking liquid
  • Long red chillies, sliced thinly }
  • Spring Onions, julienned }For Garnish
  • 2 plums, thin slices }
  • For smoking
  • some rice
  • tea leaves
  • sugar
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 stick cinammon
  • For the plum sauce
  • 450 g Victoria plums, stoned and quartered
  • 150 g dark brown or muscovado sugar
  • 30 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 5 cm ginger, grated
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 red chillies (optional)


  1. Marinate the duck with the soya sauce and five spice powder for at least 30 minutes
  2. Make the plum sauce by simmering all the ingredients for about 15- 20 minutes until the plums are soft.
  3. Leave to cool, remove the star anise and blitz using a hand blender or putting it into a blender.
  4. Meanwhile, line a wok with foil.
  5. Add the ingredients for smoking, the rice, tea leaves and sugar.
  6. Heat the wok on a high heat until the ingredients start to smoke. Then turn it down to a medium heat.
  7. Place a metal rack on top of the smoking ingredients and place the duck,skin side up.
  8. Cover tightly and don't let the smoke seep out or everything will smell.
  9. Leave it on a medium heat.
  10. Smoke for about 15 minutes. (don't open the lid).
  11. Remove from the rack.
  12. Heat a wok or big pan and pan fry the duck skin side down in some Lurpak Cooking Liquid, about 10 mins or depending how well you want the meat to be done.
  13. The remaining fat on the duck skin will render and make the skin crispy.
  14. To serve,shred the duck and arrange on individual canape or Chinese soup spoons.
  15. Drizzle with some of the spiced plum sauce and decorate with a slice of plum, slivers of chilli, some spring onions and coriander leaves.
  16. Serve.

This recipe used the Lurpak Cooking Liquid and was developed for Lurpak Cooks Range.

Get Wagyu Beef in Economy Class? On Qantas you can

So Qantas has just launched their new innovative Economy Class meals where Wagyu beef can be found as one the meal options. So what is different with these new meals.This is the result of a 12 months of research with suppliers and passengers. I have never flown with Qantas so I can’t compare with what they used to serve before.

qantas new economy class meals launch in London

Firstly, they have done away with those trays that have lots of interlocking bowls and plates. Mostly to reduce waste.

There is now just one non slip place setting and a big non slip plate. The meals are 50% larger as a lot of passengers say they don’t get enough to eat. I don’t usually, especially not for normal airplane meals, but I guess the majority do. There are now 4 choices of meals instead of 2. To get the Wagyu beef option, it is one of their exclusive options, you will need to book this prior to getting on the plane.

So we tried a couple of these options at the Qantas HQ the other night. We were served by the Qantas crew in full uniform and from their normal flight trolleys, just like we were on a plane. This was after they did their full inflight safety announcement, tailored for this room in London. It was quite novel.

qantas new economy class meals

One of the things that got the most attention was the garlic infused bread roll, it was served warm and was very tasty. Reduces the need to have a pat of butter on the tray.

I had the Scottish Salmon which is the local option from the UK. It was quite a substantial portion. It was not overly dry and was quite tasty. They will have a local meal option depending on the flight destination. The pudding was a very delicious passionfruit mousse.

We were then served the in between meal options that you get on the plane which was a choice of pizzas. This didn’t work so well as the bread was soggy and very messy to eat. In case you got peckish, you can have apples or chocolate bars like twix and kit kats.

So if you fly Qantas from this month onwards, you get to look forward to these new meal options. You can find more details on their website.

qantas economy class

EatCookExplore was a guest at Qantas HQ London






Gift Guide idea: John Lewis hampers

When you think of Christmas gifts, a food hamper is one of those things that seems to be an easy gift option. There is always something that someone will like in a hamper.

John Lewis this year has introduced a whole variety of hampers. You can choose one of the ones they have preassembled or even make up on of your own by choosing what goes in it.
John Lewis Hampers
It’s quite easy to do. Firstly, you choose the box, a stocking or wicker basket to fill and pick your own items. Pick one for a children, ladies or mens. On the next page, you will see a selection of items (not all food) that you can fill your basket with. Besides food items, there are home accessories, toys, trinkets, notebooks, scented candles or booze.

I got sent a couple of these to review. The first one is the Deli Tray which had a bottle of Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port, some Cornish Charcuterie Chorizo, Sweet Basil Olives, The Fine Cheese Co. Rosemary Crackers, Piccalilli for Cheese and Fig Chutney for Cheese.

John Lewis Hampers (2)

The second one is a very Festive Treats Hamper which had a lot of goodies in it including a bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, some shortbread biscuits, tea, Christmas chocolates, Maxwell & Franks Christmas pudding, Cranberry & White Chocolate Fudge and some tomato chutney.

John Lewis Hampers (4)


You can see all the hamper choices or personalise your own on their website.

Taste of Korea launches in New Malden

Last week, this ‘Taste of Korea’ was launched at the Tesco in New Malden. Several aisles were filled with Korean food products and they had some tastings of some of the more popular dishes. This is an annual event for promoting great Korean foods to UK and European markets, which supported by Embassy of South Korea.

This event will be focused in providing most popular Korean foods in Taste of Korea to the increased number of Tesco Stores throughout Southern England. In this year, the visitors to Tesco would have more chance to experience excellent Korean foods through various tasting events and by purchasing Korean foods in a larger number of Tesco stores. If you wanted to try more Korean products, Korea Foods, the massive supermarket is just across the road too.
Taste of Korea Tesco New Malden

I bought some Korean BBQ marinade sauce and some spicy Gojujang to try out some Korean recipes at home. Check your local Tesco if they are participating in this too.

Taste of Korea in Tesco