Friday, 27 March 2009

Dusting off the icing bag!

For Christmas I asked for an icing set and received a neat little set from Tala, and finally have put it to use 3 months later!

Growing up my mum always made my birthday cakes, from beautiful fairy castles complete with ice cone turrets (that my uncle sawed off much to mum's horror!) to the cat shaped cake which took the best part of mums afternoon to pipe buttercream all over!

Last year I kept it simple with a lovely coconut sponge cake but decided this year I wanted to make something more special and challenge myself......I made a 23cm vanilla sponge, sandwiched together with good strawberry jam....and so 2 hours later, 48 petals individually cut and hands dyed between varying shades of green and pink this is the result!

I still have a lot to learn but am pretty pleased with the result and mum loved it, which makes it all worthwhile :)

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Nectarine, prosciuttio & mozzarella salad

This is more assembly of very lovely ingredients than actual cooking but I wanted to share it with you all.

I made this on Sunday as a starter for Mothers Day meal and after an amusing incident when mum mistook the pine nuts as lemon pips, it went down very well!

Its lovely, easy to assemble, light and summery, you can find the recipe here at bbc good food. Their's is made with peaches but I could only find nectarines which were semi-ripe upon eating, following 4 days on our windowsill, though I don't think you would want them too soft for this dish anyway!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Lemon Tiramisu

This year for Mothers day, mum asked for Tiramisu when I prompted her for pudding suggestions...however I had planned a more summery fishy meal and concerned the coffee flavourings would clash afterwards...after a little googling I stumbled across this recipe by James Martin for Lemon Tiramisu (link removed as vanished!) and decided it would be much more suitable!

Post making notes - I think my retro serving dishes (have been in the family about 30 years!) are maybe smaller than James used as ended up with 5 filled and a seperate bowl. Additionally the lemon syrup made a lot and barely used half! Maybe go for 100ml of water rather than 200ml. Another tweak is that my plan to use the lovely Italian Amaretti biscuits I was given for Christmas backfired, as I had, ahem, got a bit peckish in the week and didn't have enough leftover! In the end I used trifle sponges courtesy of Waitrose, which I sliced in half to fit the dishes and used to make two layers, rather than the one layer stated in the recipe.

The main point is though that they taste lovely, creamy and lemony and with a little tweaking are a definate 'keeper!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Back from Amsterdam

I am now home sweet home, and seriously thinking about salad after 4 days away involving lots of bread and cheese! Chips are definitely not on the menu here this week either!

As I type, the sun is streaming through the window, an old Masterchef is on TV and I have a pile of cookery books lined up, trying to decide what to cook this week! Really struggling to decide though, am hoping Jamie will inspire me shortly as I need to go food shopping!

I also phoned the office first thing and told them I would be back tomorrow instead, not that I can really blame jetlag as the flight was only 50 minutes! The sunshine was too tempting to resist!
Whilst in Amsterdam, I couldn't resist going in a select few kitchen shops whilst there and picked up these cake decorations; dark chocolate coated coffee beans, multicoloured chocolate drops, the cutest bunnies ever and Easter sprinkles!

Unfortunately to poor lighting and a not so great camera, a lot of the food pictures didnt come out very well, so not many to show here!
Hot, sweet peppers stuffed with fresh cheese we had in a Mexican Steakhouse...spicy little bombs that were weirdly addictive!

Inside the Heineken brewery, we got to try some barley liquid which tastes very strange, a little like rice crispies in liquid form!

Random pictures of central Amsterdam:

Mozzarella fingers with sweet chilli sauce, lovely gooey centre with crispy outer:

My friends chocolate pancake, it was huge!

One of the many canals!

My new friend Mikey, he took a shine to me in a bar and spent the evening on my lap. He obviously gets fed well as he weighed a tonne!

Steak and chips, perfectly cooked to pink:

A window to drool over:

More sightseeing:

Our interesting 'snack' courtesy of KLM. Both rolls were similar to brioche, though less sweet, one contained mascarpone with a hint of lemon, interesting but edible, the second I didn't eat as was cheese and mayo, which is not my cup of tea!

Our huge breakfast at Heathrow Airport, was an early start so needed something hot and filling!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Out of Office!

Just a quick post to say I am off on my foodie travels to Amsterdam at the crack of dawn tomorrow!!

Back next week with piccies!


(And on an equally exciting point I managed to get tickets to see Michael Jackson on tour this summer!!!)

Monday, 9 March 2009

Fusilli with creamy pancetta & spinach sauce

This was our Sunday night supper, according to what was leftover in the fridge, pretty good haul this week!

Serves 2

200g good quality Fusilli pasta
150g pancetta, cubed
1 fat clove garlic
150ml approx 1/2 fat creme fraiche
120g fresh spinach
1 egg
Handful grated parmesan
Pinch sea salt
Freshly milled black pepper, as liked

Boil pasta as per instructions, about 1/2 way through the cooking time, heat a seperate pan to medium and fry the pancetta, once browned, slowly add the spinach, stirring frequently, mince the garlic and add (I used a coarse microplane and grated directly into the pan). When the spinach has wilted down, remove from heat. Beat the egg in a bowl, add creme fraiche and parmesan, season to taste and mix in really well.

Drain the pasta quickly so that it keeps hot and return to the pan (I have self draining lids on my saucepans), add the pancetta and spinach mixture, add the cream mix, stir well quickly with a wooden fork / spoon and place lid back on pan, allow to stand for 2 minutes before serving

Friday, 6 March 2009

Meatloaf with baked beans

I have memories of meatloaf, very bad memories of an awful, pre-packaged in a tinfoil tray, dry tasteless meatloaf my dear mum used to buy when I was young.

This really put me off for life, even the thought of making it didn't exactly fill me with pleasure...

However the boyfriend *loves* meatloaf and so, I have finally overcome my fear of M and am pretty impressed by the results! Meatloaf is never going to be pretty, either for serving or taking photographs of. I tried several picture angles but its not to be. However I did refrain from posting a picture of the actual mixture.

I did almost not post this recipe but is too good to stay in hiding!

The original inspiration for this dish came from Olive magazine, though I found doing pork only was a little heavy, have now tweaked to our liking! This is also pretty good value for money and feeds up to 6-7 people. This is moist and meaty, very man friendly dish!

400g minced beef
475g minced pork
1 large carrot, approx 200g
1 large onion
5 tbsp creme fraiche
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tin baked beans
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried thyme + extra for dusting (fresh is also nice but dried is cheaper)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
50g dry breadcrumbs

You will need a large oven proof dish, at least 2 inches in depth. Mine is by Pyrex, approx 21 x 30 cm

*This can be made up to 24 hours before cooking, you will need to ensure all elements are cold before assembling*

Finely mince the onion and carrot - I used a mini food-processor for this, place in a microwavable bowl and cover, cook for 5 minutes.

Pre-heat oven, fan assisted 170o, approx 190o for other ovens

In a large mixing bowl, combine both minces, breadcrumbs, egg, thyme, s&p, creme fraiche, tomato ketchup and mix well. Add the carrot & onion mixture and combine thoroughly. Place half the mix in the dish and flatten out.

Drain most of the liquid of the baked beans:

Tip the drained baked beans onto the meat in dish and spread out.

Easiest way for next part is to use your hands to take a handful of the meat mixture and flatten out thinly in the palm of your hand, place in dish and repeat to make an even layer, until all mix used and then smooth out. Pour / spread over the reserved liquid and sprinkle a little more dried thyme over and a twist of black pepper.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, remove foil and bake for a further 25 minutes or until the top has lightly browned.

For serving use a knife to cut into sections. We had ours with basmati rice, a broccoli & cauliflower bake and salad.

Never going to be a weight watchers dish but very tasty! :)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Adorable Blog award!

The ever lovely Maria over at The Goddess kitchen has very kindly awarded me with this little beauty:

I find blogging is very much an ever growing community of like minded foodies and lovely people. I love scouring blogs for recipes and inspiration and reading often how the recipe has come about, it gives them a personal touch, which is often missing in cookery books.

And so I would firstly like to pass the award back to Maria! I will try not to duplicate Maria's list of wonderful foodie blogs which I also frequent, so please bear with me whilst I add to my list!

Katie @ katiecakes

Please include the award logo in your blog or post. Nominate as many blogs which show adorability, cuteness and charm. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

Happy blogging :)

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