Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Monday, 30 July 2007
Now, as you know baking is my passion but even I accept that I probably got a bit carried away! 9 different cakes is slightly excessive for 7 people!
Friday, 27 July 2007
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Anyway, rather half heartedly I used them to make a tart tatin. There is lots of debate about whether a tart tatin should be made with puff or shortcrust pastry. Personally I use either depending if I have any pastry in the fridge, but have a slight preference for short. The apricots were far nicer than I imagined and were really quite sour which went very well with the sweetness of the caramel. Not saying that I have overnight become an apricot fan but it was quite a nice dessert, served with a dollop of clotted cream.
Apricot Tart Tatin
500grams short or puff pastry
1 punnet of apricots
1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp Dulce de leche (toffee sauce)
(If you don't have any toffee sauce just add a bit more golden syrup)
In a saucepan, simmer the syrup, sugar, butter and toffee sauce until the sugar has dissolved. Wash and cut the apricots in half. Roll out the pastry to the size of the dish you are using. I usually use a 10inch round pie dish but have recently invested in a cast iron tart tatin dish. Pour the caramel mixture over the bottom of the dish, uncut site into the caramel and cover with the pastry. Press the pastry down of the apricots and bake in a hot oven Gas Mark 5/190C/375F/Aga roasting oven bottom shelf for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Leave the tart to cool for five minutes - place a plate on top and a hand under the dish and flip it over. You need to be really careful not to cover your kitchen in the caramel sauce so I usually do it over the sink.
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Monday, 23 July 2007
Arrrhhhh - the trauma of this weekend. I read Harry Potter all day Saturday (fantastic) and finished at 9pm. The problem then was that no one I knew had finished reading it (they still haven't) and I wasn't able to discuss it with anyone - I can't begin to imagine how JK Rowling managed to keep it all a secret for 10 years. Anyway a big thumbs up from me for the whole series and particularly the last book which I loved!
Yesterday, we painted our chicken coup red and white so it looks like an american barn. Progress is being made on the run so it should only be a few weeks now until the new hens arrive.
With spare time yesterday that I wasn't expecting, I cooked a nice Sunday lunch of Roast chicken stuffed with mushrooms:
Wild Mushroom Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken
200grams cream or mascapone cheese
150grams grated mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp dried porchini mushrooms soaked in boiling water and Marsala wine.
Salt and Pepper for seasoning
400ml Marsala wine
2 tbsp cream fraiche
Begin by making the mushroom stuffing. Cook the grated mushrooms in a frying pan in the butter. Season well. Finely chop the porchini mushrooms and add them to the pan (reserve the soaking liquor for the sauce). Cook until the mushrooms have gone dark and smell woody and earthy. Leave aside to cool. When the mushrooms are cool mix them into the cream cheese and season. You could add other flavourings at this stage (chopped chives, lemon rind etc if you wished). Using a flat hand ease your hand between the skin and the body of the chicken so that you have a pocket across the top of the bird. Fill this pocket with the stuffing (the easiest way is to use a piping bag but a spoon works OK too). Brush the chicken with olive oil and place in a hot oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pour over 200ml of the Marsala wine. Cook the chicken following the directions on the pack that came with the chicken. The chicken is cooked when you pierce the flesh with a knife and the juices run out clean. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and set aside. Place the roasting tray with the juices from cooking over the heat, add the remaining Marsala and some of the mushroom soaking liquor and allow to simmer. Season to taste. Stir in the cream fraiche and continue to heat gently until the sauce thickens. Serve with new potatoes and roasted vegetables with the sauce poured over.
Friday, 20 July 2007
Well today couldn't go by without a mention of Harry Potter (apologies to anyone who isn't a fan) - I am seriously excited and will be going to get my copy at midnight. Last year, we queued for an hour and a half at midnight to get our copies! Rather gallingly a friend phoned whilst we were queuing to say that she had already got her copy from a supermarket and there was no queue so we will be trying that route tonight and hopefully get to bed at a more reasonable time! All weekend plans have been cancelled, food is ready in the freezer and we will both be reading all weekend! Don't worry I won't be posting any spoilers on Monday! If you are a fan, have a great weekend reading the book - I know I will!
Thursday, 19 July 2007
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
Monday, 16 July 2007
Thursday, 12 July 2007
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
So what to serve a foodie extraordinaire....the meal ended up being very lavendery! Spiced monkfish, fennel salad with lavender dressing, new potatoes and home made sun dried tomato bread, lavender pavlova with fresh cherries and cherry sauce. To finish the meal Ben had brought us some delicious cheeses from his shop with some...you've guessed it....lavender crackers! The crackers were yummy - really crumbly and salty with a strong lavender aftertaste. All washed down with some nice wine and port. A perfect way to spend a Monday evening.
Monday, 9 July 2007
Well I have to confess that for the first time in a very long while I had a weekend off from catering and demos. My friend Tina from Law School came to stay for the weekend and we had a lovely time shopping, eating and relaxing.
On Friday I cooked a mint pavlova - 200grams egg whites (approx 6 or 7 eggs depending on how large they are), 400grams caster sugar and a tbsp of finely chopped mint - whisk the egg whites to stiff peak, continue whisking adding the caster sugar gradually until it is all incorporated - stir in the mint and spoon the meringue onto baking parchment in a circle. Bake in a cool oven for an hour, then turn the oven off and leave the pavlova in until the oven is cold. If you have an aga as I do this is slightly more difficult as you can't turn it off - I cook mine for an hour in the simmering oven and then remove it and place it on top of the simmering plate on a cake rack or the aga toaster and leave it overnight to continue cooking slowly - this gives a lovely "crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside" meringue. This was topped with double cream, sweetened with mint syrup and fresh raspberries and blueberries.
We spent yesterday at my mums having lunch and visiting Woburn (more shopping!). This little hedgehog (named Horace) has moved into my mum's garden. So cute!