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Archive for May, 2011

It’s nearly time to go…

I’m finally off to get married in Gozo and then use my honeymoon to eat my way around Sicily. So because I might not be able to post anything for a month I decided to write one final bumper post – a collage of pictures and recipes from the last two weeks of last minute chaos which have stopped me writing all the things I wanted to post on their own.

I did somehow find time in amongst work and wedding preparations to eat a lot of delicious things and even make a few of them myself. So this is my week in pictures…

Roseleaf – Ruby red risotto and a Madhatter!

Great little restaurant down near the docks in Edinburgh which has hats all over the walls, serves cocktails in teapots and produces some seriously good food. The Madhatter cocktail is brilliant!

Cheese and Cherry Scones (adapted from Goodfood magazine)

Not together, a batch of half cheese and the other half cherry. Remember that amazing scone recipe I mentioned…

  • 450g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g cold butter, diced
  • 284ml buttermilk, halved into two portions
  • 2 tbsp milk plus extra for glazing
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g glace cherries, chopped
  • 50g mature cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt and bicarb and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Put half this mixture in another bowl.

For the cheese ones, add the rest of the salt, cheese and paprika. For the cherry ones, add the cherries, sugar and vanilla. Now mix in half the buttermilk and milk into each one and bring together to form a soft dough. Press out on a lightly floured surface to about 2cm thick and cut out with cookie cutters to form rounds. Place on a floured baking tray, brush the tops with milk and bake for 12-15min until golden and risen.

Chocolates, Calissons, Marzipan Fruit & Marron Glacé

A very generous gift of Puyricard Delicacies in return for the cakes I bring in to work when I’m in the mood bake.

Cherry & Coconut Cakes – made these as a birthday cake for Dawn last week

  • 225g butter
  • 225g self  raising flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50g glace cherries
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 tbsp warmed cherry or strawberry jam
  • 100g desiccated coconut
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a 12 hole muffin tin. Cream the butter and sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time. add the vanilla. Fold in the flour and chopped cherries and pour into the muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through. Remove and turn out on to a wire rack to cool. Dip the tops into the warmed jam and then the coconut.
And last but not least… The Daddy Steak Sandwich
  • 2 large rump steaks
  • 2 long ciabatta rolls
  • 1 punnet of chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1tsp english mustard powder
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2tbsp mayonnaise

Fry the onions and mushrooms together until soft. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and continue to fry gently until the liquid has evapourated. Season and fry the steak until medium rare (usually a couple of minutes each side, depending on how thick your steak is). Combine the mustards and mayonnaise and spread on both halves of the warmed rolls. Add the steak and top with mushrooms and onions. Ta da!

Speak to you all in a month, wish me luck!

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We may not be getting the weather that those living a little further south are enjoying  but despite some disconcertingly wintery days, it’s definitely spring. And spring means there are blossoms on every street in Edinburgh, on nearly every tree – a transformation that always helps to bring me out of the folds of January depression and rethink my annual resolutions to move back to somewhere with a more civilised climate.

This year spring is extra special because it marks the beginning of the run up to our impending nuptials (and I have the prospect of genuine Mediterranean sunshine and warmth to look forward to!). Unfortunately this also means things are even busier than usual so I’m finding even less time to write. And the pressure is on for the dreaded hen do, complete with humiliating outfits and party games which although intended to be a celebration of your last days as a singleton, have you doing things that no sane single person would ever contemplate.

As you can probably tell I had resolved not to have a hen, but when anyone asked Ross if he was ready for the big day his response was “yes, the stag is all organised!”. So I had to vacate my house last weekend while it was taken over by inebriated men who had been out partying all night. My cunning plan was to escape to a friends house and spend the afternoon in the sun with a jug of sangria and a mountain of tasty nibbles (any excuse to make party food). No pink cowboy hats. No collecting strangers pants.

Well things didn’t go quite according to plan – it rained nearly all day and the girls decided to ignore my threats of bodily harm and tried to dress me up in various kitsch accessories with a distinctly hen-ish theme. But it still turned out to be a generally pleasant experience and despite the lack of a BBQ we managed to eat ourselves silly, so all in all… a success. To give you some idea of the spread, we had everything ranging from cheese and pickle hedgehogs and mini burgers to scones with whipped cream and strawberry jam (seriously good scone recipe to be shared soon I promise). Unfortunately I was too busy arguing my way out of a veil and ridiculous glow in the dark sunglasses to take pictures of it all but I made more of these caramel tartletts with the left over ingredients afterwards.

The tarts are filled with a very light caramel crème patisserie, finished with a crunchy caramel drizzle and just small enough to pop a whole one in your mouth. Mmm, yum.

They keep relatively well in the fridge for a day so they are good for parties when you need to make things ahead and they are suitably delicate  for a spring party menu. In fact I could happily eat a whole plate of these without even noticing I had overindulged  so your waste line has been warned.

Spring Caramel Tartlets

Crème Patisserie recipe adapted from Nigella’s Feast.

  • 48 mini shortcrust pastry cases (I dont have the moulds or the patience for blind baking these myself)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 125ml milk
  • 125ml double cream
  • 150g castor sugar
  • 15g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp water

Warm the cream and milk in a pan. Cream the eggs and 50g of castor sugar and then whisk in the flour. Add the heated cream and milk into the egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and whisk  over a low heat until the custard thickens. Add the vanilla and set aside.

Caramelise the sugar by combining 20g sugar and 1tsp water in a pan over a high heat until it turns a caramel colour. Whisk into the custard and leave to cool.

Lay out the pastry cases in a baking tray or tupperware and fill with the cooled crème patisserie. Caramelise the remaining sugar with 2 tsp water and drizzle over each of the tartlets (you could also add chopped nuts or a variety of other toppings). Cover and store the tartlets in the fridge until ready to serve.

Our cat was more interested in eating the blossoms than the cakes. She has always been weird.

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