Tag Archives: summer

Summer means fruit, and lots of it!

28 Jun

I love this heat, don’t you? You can leave you’re doors or windows open all day, and most of the evening too. The days turn into a blur, full of music and fruity drinks, and the evenings are filled with laughter, grilled food and more drinks (ones with a little more kick though).

In my opinion the summer hasn’t really arrived yet though. We have had a few good days, but we had better in April. Hmphh, well such is the way in the UK hey?!

But we all carry on with our summer ways, refuse to wear anything but shorts and sunglasses, even in the rain. I like that English spirit, we are usually so disheartened by everything else.

But anyways, this months Mac Tweet, Mac Attack Challenge is rather rushed, as I am off to Cornwall tomorrow with the Boy. I cannot wait.

Pussy cats are being tended to by the 17-year-old sister….I am not sure what else to say about a 17-year-old with a free house to herself for 3 days, I shall tell you when I get back. But I know what I would have done. Don’t you?

So, Mac Tweets. This months theme is anything fruity, which is fab. So much is in season right now so there was so much choice.

I was going to try replicate the amazing Cherry macaron I had in Laduree, but I didn’t want to pit a load of cherries. Then I came to me.

When my sisters and I were kids, our Dad loved raspberry ripple ice cream. Every year it was like a occation, you see, my Dad doesn’t really like sweet things (crazy I know) but raspberry ripple ice cream he couldn’t resist. I remember like clock work, as the days grew longer and hotter we would start getting raspberry ripple ice cream with tinned fruit for pudding. Sometimes peaches or clementines, but always raspberry ripple. To me this is the taste of summer.

So here is my macaron creations, especially for my Dad.

Mascarpone Raspberry Ripple Macarons

For the basic macaron shell, follow this recipe.

Just add swirls of red food colouring. Do this once your shells are piped out by dipping a cocktail stick in a little food colouring and swirling it around the top of the macaron.

Bake as normal.

Mascarpone filling

1 small pot of mascarpone

1 cup of raspberries.

Beat together until light and fluffy. Pipe onto one shell and sandwich together with another.

Enjoy.

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Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

16 Jun

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”-William Shakespeare.

La Pomme!

This sonnet seems so apt for times of late. I was reading that in Shakespeare’s time, that their summer time was around May. Where those rough winds shake the May time flowers.

We are in the middle of June now, where is the sun? I have a feeling my flip flops won’t be worn this year.

We’ll they say ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ right? So I am baking comfort food. But more of that in a minuet.

I am rather excited by the way…on Wednesday I received my copy of Helene Dujardin’s (aka Tartelette to all you lovely bloggers) Plate to Pixel. For those of you know don’t know, Helene is an amazing food photographer, food stylist, cook, baker, blogger and author, plus a whole heap more. phew.

I started reading her blog, Tartelette about a year ago when I first started thinking about my business. Her food looked amazing, I was totally engrossed from the first click. It was a post about violet macaron’s. I still look at that picture now and crave macaron’s. The light caught beautifully on their little ‘pied’, their slight hue, reflected on the cake stand. And then I scrolled down.

Tartelette's Plate to Pixel

I spent over 2 hours that evening enjoying her blog.My eyes has a feast, and I wanted to gorge. This was the day that I really fell in love with the whole concept of ‘food’. Don’t get me wrong, I loved food before, but somehow it was just so much clearer now.

The next day I picked up my little point and snap camara and took dozens of cupcake photos.

To be honest I was rather frustrated with the results. Grainy, low light, etc etc. I blamed the camara. Poor thing, it wasn’t its fault. I was totally me. I was doing things like using the flash and auto modes. I was a nightmare. Still I went ahead and bought a new camara. In all fairness though, my P&S was a bit out of date.

I didn’t have much money, but I wasn’t going to buy something I didn’t have control over. I really wanted a dSLR, but I knew these babies where out of my price range. I asked around, read review after review online, and finally I popped into a camara shop and had a look. I knew I wanted something that had a decent macro and something with a good optical zoom was also important. The assistant showed me a Fufifilm Finepix S1900, instantly I knew it was the right camara. 18x optical zoom, manual settings, aperture and shutter speed control and 2 macro settings. It’s really just somewhere between and P&S and dSLR. All in all it was the perfect buy for me.

I started taking pictures as soon as I could. The pictures definitely looked better, the feel was there, but I really wanted to learn more. And this is where Plate to Pixel comes in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay I’ll be honest, I’ve never been much of a book reader. There I said it, out loud, kind of. It’s not that I don’t love stories, if someone could read to me I would be pleased. But I find it hard to stay on track. Dyslexic thing.

Once apon a time, my dear Grandpa, who is sadly not in this life anymore, said to me very seriously when I was VERY young “One day a book will change you’re life very fundamentally. It will change the way you think about things. It will answer you’re questions, feed you’re knowlage, and have you coming back with more questions, all at the same time” To be honest I didn’t believe a word he said. He was a publisher, and very passionate about books.

On Wednesday those words he told me all fell into place. I opened the front cover of this beautifully pictured book and read. There are only a few moments in my life that I can relate to the feeling I felt when reading this book. When I danced, and falling in love. It’s exactly the same. My heart was dancing. And all the pieces started to come together, it all made sense now.

So yesterday I decided to put into practice what I had learned briefly. It’s a big book so I didn’t get that far. Just learning the basics like, aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  But I can already see a little difference, and I suddenly started to unleash the art form behind photography, meaning drawing with the light. Isn’t that gorgeous?

I also wanted to try adapting some grain-free recipes, and because it was raining outside (no surprise there). I decided carmelized apples were a must!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see how they started looking more like 'pomme de terre'.

Time to bake. So here it is. It's naturally gluten-free, and almost guilt free. I used ground coconut and almonds as my, but I am finding it very hard to find it ground finer. If you have the answer to this, please help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Cake with Raspberry Streusel Topping

Makes 12 muffin sized cakes.

3 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced

50g dark brown sugar

185g soft butter

100g golden castor sugar

2 eggs

185g ground almonds

100g ground coconut

Streusel Topping

15g ground almonds

60g ground coconut

20g sugar

15g butter

some good quality raspberry jam

Pre-heat oven to 150c (I have a very cheap electric oven) that runs a little higher in heat then the average.

Start by frying the apple in 5g of butter on a medium heat for around 5 minuets. Add the dark sugar and cook for a further 5 minuets. Set aside.

Make you’re streusel topping by combine almonds, coconut, sugar and butter, and work together untill you have a crumb consistency. Roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and freeze.

To make you’re cake.

cream the butter and the castor sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Combine almonds and coconut and fold into the butter mixture.

Stir in the carmelized apples, and bake at 150c for around 35 minuets.

After 35 minuets, take you’re muffin cakes out, spread a good helping of raspberry jam on top of each one.

Slice thin slices of the streusel topping and crumble over the top. Bake for another 20 minuets at 140c.

Either strate out the oven (be warned they are piping, I burnt my mouth a little) as a cozy pudding with custard, or surprise your loved ones by packing it in their lunch box!

Mini Scone Muffins (Scoffins) Recipe.

5 Jun

 

I have a manic week ahead. Lots of baking for a summer fair on saturday, a 90th birthday cake and oh my, so much to sort out.

I bought myself some new equipment last week, exciting stuff, well to me. When it all arrived I  felt some slight suspense. I tend to buy online and then forget what I’ve bought. Imagine the scene. I was sat in the middle of my living room tearing open packaging at an unbelievable rate of knots. I ended up with a pile of brown paper and bubble wrap around me, and a heap of (presents) baking pans, baking sheets, mixing bowls etc in the middle of the room with me. I was like an over excited kid at Christmas.

I instantly wanted to use my new mini muffin pans. ‘What to bake’ I thought. Hmmm. This thought stayed with me for a little while. We were having a BBQ that night for our good friend who was back from Holland. I was thinking it would be great to bake something traditional. Something I rarely ever do. Scones…

I’m sorry, you’re going to cringe right now.

I HATE SCONES.

There, I said it, I got it off my chest. I know, I am English, I should love them. But I can’t stand them. You can’t eat them without feeling you swallowed a crummy brick. They just sit there in you’re stomach. So rich that you can’t eat nowt more. You see, I am all for eating, but I like the kind of food you can eat, and still have room for more later on.

So I reinvented that baby. The whole reason for me baking was to test out my new tins. So I had to make some sort of muffin. How about mini muffins. Mini Scone Muffins?

The amazing flavour of a scone, but in a light and airy muffin.

Uh, hello, AMAZING.

We ate them last night. My better half loved them. I honestly have no idea how I landed myself with such a supportive human being. He believes in me 100% and for that, well, I have no words.

Anyways, enough mushy stuff. I thought he was the one that named these little delights during our drunken BBQ. But apparently it was actually our good friend, you know, the one who is back from Holland for the weekend. It was quite a boozy evening. And my memory is poky at the best of times…

Him-“You know, you should call them Scoffins”

Me-“Genius”

So there we go. Here I have a recipe for you:

 

 

Mini Scone Muffins (Scoffins).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat you’re oven to around 200c

225g self raising flour

50g wholemeal flour

pinch of salt

55g butter, cut into small cubes

100ml milk

100g castor sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

5 handfuls of currents

1 egg, beaten.

Okay. Start by mixing the flours and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cubed butter and work together until well incorporated and flaky.

Add the sugar, milk and vanilla , and mix until you have a loose dough, almost like cake mixture. At this point add the currents. But by any means, don’t just restrict yourself to currents, go wild. Add chocolate chips, orange zest or sour cherries? The possibilities are endless.

Fill a greased muffin pan with your Scoffin mixture. I filled mine right to the brim so that I would get that classic ‘muffin top’ look to them, this worked perfectly. Then I brushed a little of the beaten egg on top, and popped them in the oven for around 10-12 minuets, or golden brown.

Remove from tin and enjoy warm with clotted cream, jam and a pot of tea.

Big Mac-arons

19 May

Ballpark Snacks  is the theme for this month Mac Tweets Mac Attack Challenge. This is the 1st Mac Tweets challenge I have ever entered and I am rather excited.

I’ve never been to any sort of ball game before. Not in person anyway. So when this challenge came up I was umm-ing and ahh-ing over what to do. I had a few ideas, but non I could relate to my own experience.

Then I remember The World Cup last year. We spent most of that summer BBQ-ing in our little courtyard, summer sun beating down on our faces, friends drinking cold beer and always a World Cup game on the television. It then it came to me. Burger Macarons. We ate a lot of burgers that summer.

But what flavours? I had some vanilla sugar, so I went with simple vanilla shells. I wanted the centre to look like a burger, so chocolate ganache seemed only good and right. There was something missing though. They didn’t quite look the part. Hmmm.

Cheese! Not just any cheese though. It has to be that horrid plastic cheese that only comes into its own when slapped on a good burger.

But I’m not about to put cheese in a macaron, eww.

Peanut butter played the part very well. Plus peanuts are a Ballpark Snack right? And they go so well with chocolate. I used crunchy peanut butter as I can’t abide the smooth stuff, too sweet, plus a little crunch is nice. Honestly I didn’t quite know I was going to add the peanut butter when I started, but that is kinda how I cook. A bit of this, a bit of that…

I also was trying something else new today. I usually bake macarons using the Italian method of pouring sugar syrup into the egg white, but I’ve been wanting to try the French method of just adding sugar to the white instead. Today was the day. To my surprise and complete delight they worked. I was sitting next to my oven just waiting to see those little feet, and honestly when they popped up I did a little dance in my kitchen. Very pleased!

So there we have it.

Grab you’re Big Mac-aron and enjoy the game!

French Macarons

Almond flour

150g almonds finely ground.

150g icing sugar.

2 egg whites aged.

Meringue

2 egg whites aged.

150g granulated vanilla sugar.

Filling

100g chocolate broken into pieces.

100ml double cream.

Macaron Method

Sift icing sugar and almonds into a bowl, add egg white and mix to a paste. Put to one side.

Put the second batch of egg white in a very clean bowl and start whisking on a low-speed with an electric mixer.

Once the egg whites start looking like thick bubble bath, add the sugar, little by little, while still beating.

When you have added all the sugar, whisk for a little longer until the egg whites hold soft, glossy peaks.

Add a third of the egg whites to the almond paste and beat to knock some of the air out. Fold in the rest of the egg whites. The whole process should take no more the 20-30 folds. It should flow like thick magma.

Scoop the macaron batter into a piping bag ( I use disposable ones as they are really easy to use) fitted with a half-inch nozzle.

Pip little half-inch rounds onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and give them a good few wraps on the counter. Leave to dry for around 30 minuets, or until you can touch the surface without it sticking to your finger.

Pre-heat you’re oven to around 150c. Put the macarons into the oven for around 15 minuets, but keep a watchful eye on them. You’ll know they are ready when you place you’re finger on top and move it from side to side, the macaron shouldn’t wobble.

Take them out and off the baking tray strate away, carefully peel them off the baking sheet and leave to cool.

Ganache Method

Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl.

Heat the cream until almost boiling and pour over chocolate. Mix and leave to cool on the counter.

Once cooled completely, pip a small amount onto a macaron shell and attach another. Place you’re macarons in the fridge for 24 hours. This helps moisten them a little. Remove from fridge 20 minuets before eating.

Enjoy!!!!

Say “Cheese”.

8 May

What is the secret of the perfect cheese cake?

Pretty Tray

Is it a fluffy filling or densely creamy? Plain and simple or full of fruit?

These are the questions I asked myself and The Boy yesterday.

Yes I do kind of value his opinion, but don’t tell him that or he’ll think he’s always right…

We came to the conclusion that we both preferred a non-baked cheese cake as it is the most refreshing and probably the most calorific.

A thick crumb base is always good. It’s always frustrating when you order a cheesecake and there isn’t enough base!

Because I really want an excuse to photograph my new cake stand/tray, I want it to be a simple looking cake. So instead of just vanilla, and because I am sure summer is poking around out there somewhere, I decide it must have some citrus notes, as this cuts through the creamy-ness of the filling perfectly. Organic lemons are lovely. I say organic because I find they have more flavour and for some reason have less pips…So I am decided. Simple Lemon Cheesecake….

“Chocolate” he says while whizzing round the supermarket. “Cheesecake must have chocolate in it”….*Cue a slightly horrified & confused face from me*.

Now don’t get me wrong, in most cases he would be on the money, but I wanted a beautifully crisp looking cake, and I was not envisaging me getting into a chocolatey mess (which happens with me and chocolate).

We settle for a chocolate chip base instead.

See, I can compromise 😉

So here it is.

Simple Lemon Cheesecake (with a chocolate chip base)

Ingredients:

Base

275g biscuits (any flavour you like, but I used chocolate-chip)

125g butter, melted

1 tbsn honey

pinch of salt

Filling

600g cream cheese

150g icing sugar

2 organic lemons, peel and juice.

285ml double cream

First of all you need to grease and line a 8 to 10 inch springform tin. Set aside.

Base

1. You need to smash those biscuits up, I know, this could be a difficult moment for some of you, but I promise, it’s worth it.

Using a food processor, pop the biscuits in and whizz up until you have what resembles fine bread crumbs.

If you do not have a food processor (like me), a sandwich bag and bashing implement will do.

I used a knife sharpener…Stick them in and smash away.

2. Melt honey and butter together in a small pan on a medium heat.

3. Put biscuits in a mixing bowl and add butter/honey mix and salt. Mix.

4. Once all the crumbs are covered, press the crumbs into the base and sides of your tin. Making sure you compact the mixture as much as possible.

Place in fridge for 1 hour to set.


Filling

1. In a spotless mixing bowl whip the cream cheese to a smooth consistency.

2. Add half the sugar and stir in. Grate the lemon peel in the bowl and add the juice of 2 lemons, little at a time. Add the remaining sugar and mix in.

3. Add all the cream to the mixture and beat with an electric mixer for 5 minuets.

4. Once you have a stiff mixture, spoon it into you’re biscuit base and smooth out. Place in fridge overnight to set.

5. Remove from fridge 5 minuets before serving.

Cherry Brandy Ganache Macarons.

23 Apr

The last few days have been manic. So much so, I haven’t even really had a chance to enjoy the beautiful, yet unusual april weather and sunshine.

Having a bit of a house re-jig moving the living room around to make room for the shinny new tv, in turn I now have space for a little table, so for the 1st time I get to sit here looking out my patio doors, rather then slumped on the sofa, laptop in hand (or on lap…) it’s the simple things, but they make all the difference for some reason.

Also getting ready for guests tomorrow as it’s Easter. I’ve never been that traditional about anything really, so there will be a mix of friends and family at mine tomorrow, I invisage enjoying the sunlight, kids searching for Easter eggs, BBQ and nibbles, and lastly but not least, cakes. And this is also why I am extra super busy, I’ve been baking.

I tell you, my kitchen, it is rather tiny, and the sun shreams through the window in the afternoon, and while that is lovely (I am not complaining sunsine), when I have my oven on the whole kitchen is around 10c hotter then the outside temperature. I came to cream my butter today to find all that remained was a sorry looking pool of buttery liquid. Hmm…

Anyways, onwards and upwards, the recipes today.

Cherry brandy Macarons with chocolate ganache.

150g Ground Almonds

150g Icing Sugar

2 Egg Whites, fresh.


2 Egg Whites, aged (left at room temperature for 24-48 hours).

150g Caster Sugar

37g Water

Food Colouring

Method

Sift the almonds and icing sugar togther in a bowl. Add the fresh egg white and mix to a paste. Set aside.

Put water and caster sugar in a sauce pan and heat to 118c, swirling the pan once and a while as to not burn the sugar.  You can add a few drops of liquid colour to the sugar syrup if you like, or if you have powdered colouring, even better, as the colour is more intense and you won’t be adding any extra moisture.

When the syrup reaches 115c start whipping the egg whites. At 118c pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the whites, keep whipping for 3-5 mins until your have a glossy but firm meringue.

Add a 3rd of the meringue to the almond paste and mix in, knocking a little air out. Fold in remaining meringue until the mixture is thick and glossy, and flows slowly, almost oozing. This should take no more then 20-30 folds as the batter will get too runny otherwise.

Fill you’re icing bag 2 3rds full and twist top the secure. I just use disposable bags as they are convenient. Snip the end of the bag, not to big, I don’t have a picture of this, but I will rememeber next time. Pipe out little circles onto baking parchment, about 1″ round.

Give them a few wraps on the counter, then leave them to dry for 15-30 mins to form thin skins. They should not stick to your finger when lightly touched.

Pop them in the oven at around 150c and bake for around 15mins, but the oven temperature and times will all depend on you’re oven, so experiment with that.

Hi there!

Once cooled, sandwich together with cherry ganache, cream, jams, buttercream or fresh fruit.

Mmm Macaron with Chocolate Ganache

Refridgerate for 24 hours, trust me when I say this is most immportant. Take them out 30mins before eating.

24 hours in the frigde, no air pockets!

Chocolate Ganache

112g Dark Chocolate

180ml of whipping cream or similar.

25g of soft butter.

Break up the chocolate and place in a bowl.

In a pan heat the cream, just under boiling. Pour over the chocolate and mix until all the chocolate has melted. Add the butter and any flavouring and mix. Refrigerate for 20mins then pipe into macaron shells.

Flavours

1tbls of cherry brandy.

Some grated lime or lemon.

Strawberries and Cream

Alternately fill macarons with fresh cream and strawberries for a light summery treat. Yum!

I hope you enjoy making them!