Thursday, 31 July 2008
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Friday, 25 July 2008
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Cover any hole in the bottom of the flowerpot with thick tape, place on a sheet of newspaper, mix up the cement or plaster of paris and fill the pot three quarters full. Insert the dowel rod into the centre and hold upright until the cement sets (quick drying cement is essential otherwise you will be holding it for a long time!). When the cement has set, press the oasis onto the top of the dowel. Cover the oasis with silverfoil and decorate the pot and dowel with ribbons. Place a cocktail stick into each strawberry and press into the oasis as close together as possible. Although the strawberries need to be added at the last minute, make sure you allow yourself 30 minutes for doing this - it takes longer than you think as I found out!!!
Blue Peter eat your heart out!
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Sunday, 20 July 2008
The strawberry tree was a success and managed to stay upright despite the wind.
My Aunt (pictured below) made a lovely sunflower flower arrangement which made a stunning centrepiece and decorated the tent with icy swags and pink and green lanterns. It all looked so pretty! Mum had made delicious strawberry scones and I had made enough cake to feed an army! All the cakes were test recipes for the book and they all have the seal of approval - even the chocolate chilli cake! Washed down with glasses of strawberry punch, we all had a lovely afternoon, despite the English weather! Gareth and Amy were given matching T Shirts from one of their friends which said "Help, I'm in debt" "and Engaged" - a very apt present if you are followers of their blog
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Monday, 14 July 2008
Yesterday we made Cherryade - this drink always reminds me of Christmas as a child when the milkman would deliver a crate of fizzy pop a few days before Christmas eve - cherryade, limeade, cream soda, dandelion and burdock! We would go mad with excitement! This is a more summery version - made with fresh fruit, rather than E numbers!
juice of 4 lemons and zest of 1 lemon
3 heaped tbsp caster sugar
12 cherries, halved and stones removed
Place the lemon juice, zest, sugar and cherries in a heat proof jug and cover with 500ml boiling water. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally, so that the sugar dissolves. When cold, fill the jug with still or sparkling water and ice to serve. A perfect summer drink!
Friday, 11 July 2008
It has been a bit hectic this week. On Wednesday I gave talk to 60 lovely ladies from the WI - cooking for John and Gregg was easy in comparison with cooking for the WI! I was petrified! Still they ate every last crumb I had prepared so I can't have done too badly. I even got to sing Jerusalem - which I had always thought was a WI myth - clearly not! Another lady also spoke at the meeting and talked about the WI being the "Keeper of Crafts" now that needlework and cooking weren't being taught as much in schools and how some members of the WI are spending time in schools teaching these skills. This is such a wonderful idea.
Last night I was invited to Freddie and Charlotte's book launch in London of the Great Big Veg Challenge book. It is such a lovely book and filled with wonderful vegetable recipes and photographs. Two of my recipes have made it into the book - I didn't realise this until I saw the book yesterday and was so thrilled
Thank you Charlotte for your lovely words!
I wanted to take Freddie and Charlotte a present to celebrate their achievements so baked a batch of cinnamon and apple cupcakes, decorated with vegetables. All packaged up in a trug they looked quite pretty and Freddie had soon tucked in!
Thank you Freddie and Charlotte for a memorable evening!
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
I love sweet peas and just adore this picture of my mum picking sweet peas in her allotment. A small pot will fill the house with delicious scents of summer. Sadly their pretty petals are poisonous and cannot be used in cooking - although you can use garden pea flowers which are lovely in salads. Such a shame as they would look beautiful crystallised with sugar!
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
This dessert, with a pretty pink bow, would make a lovely alternative for a summer birthday cake. Topped with fresh summer berries, it almost looks too good to eat. The orange flavoured mousse is a perfect match for the sweet summer berries.
Serves 8 preparation time 30 minutes, plus chilling and 20 minutes baking
115g/4oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
115g/4oz self raising flour
1tbsp powdered gelatine
2 tbsp water
225g/8oz caster sugar
285ml sour cream
350ml double cream
200g/7oz cream cheese
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Juice and zest of 1 small orange
3 tbsp Cointreau or other orange flavoured liquor
1 packet of Savoiardi/trifle finger biscuits
450g/16oz strawberries and summer berries to decorate
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/180/375F. Grease and line an 8 inch spring form tin. Using an electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating with the hand mixer after you add each egg. Sift in the flour and add the orange and lemon zest. Using the mixer on its lowest setting, gently incorporate the flour to the cake mixture. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes until a knife comes out clean with no cake batter on when you insert it into the centre of the cake. Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle over 2 tablespoons of Cointreau and cover the cake with a clean damp tea towel. Leave the cake to cool completely. Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the mousse filling. Quarter fill a small saucepan with water and heat gently. When the water is simmering, mix the gelatine and 2 tablespoons of cold water together in a mug and place the mug into the sauce pan to gently heat the gelatine. Stir the gelatine until it dissolves but do not overheat otherwise it will loose its setting quality. Using an electric whisk, mix together the caster sugar, sour cream, 250ml of the double cream, the cream cheese with the lemon and orange juice and the Cointreau to a smooth cream. Add the liquid gelatine to the cream mixture and whisk well with your hand mixer. Keeping the cake in the spring form tin, wrap the sides of the tin with cling film to prevent any spillages and pour over the mousse. Transfer to the fridge for 3 hours or over night to set. When the mousse has set and you are ready to serve, remove the mousse cake from the tin and whip the remaining 100ml of double cream to stiff peaks. Place the cake on a serving plate and attach the biscuits around the edge of the cake with the double cream. Secure in place with a ribbon bow. Top the cake with the fresh berries and serve.
Monday, 7 July 2008
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
It has a great recipe translation on the box which made me smile - "How to make poppy-filling (pie) - one recipe from 105 years old book of recipes. Poppy to mill and then boil with milk. To cool and join suger. To make filling more thick, give please milled gingerbread. Further you can give succcessive: rum, cinnamon, muscat, honey, plum jam, lemon crust, clove". Perhaps this is why I have been going wrong. Anyway off to the kitchen to experiment!
The parcel also contained some other lovely baking goodies, some poppy seed chocolate, vanilla sugar, marzipan carrots and zebra chocolate rolls, cake candles with hearts and shamrocks on and napkins (and some packets of Mohn Bak just in case I still can't make the poppy seed paste work) Thank you lovely Maren - your parcel made me smile so much!!