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Saturday Supper of Salmon and Med. Veg.

Lovely little supper of Salmon with Sorrel and Vermouth Sauce served with Summer Mediterranean Vegetables: both previously blogged and both lovely, especially the salmon dish)

Tip…

Use the search option in the top right hand corner of the website to type in each recipe to find the original blogs – enjoy!

Inspired by…

James Martin and Mary Berry, respectively

How easy…

Dead easy – perfect for a quick, sumptuous supper!

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Steeped in Kirsch

I don’t suppose I can really call this a recipe, but it’s definitely worth sharing. This dessert is gorgeously refreshing and tangy BUT with a definite kick – the sweet, juicy flavour of the pineapple combined with the subtle (but extremely alcoholic) taste of the Kirsch cherry liqueur is simply sublime. A lovely dessert, summer or winter, but especially good after something really spicy, e.g. a hot curry.

What you need…

1 ripe pineapple

80ml Kirsch liqueur

Sprig of mint, to garnish (optional)

What to do…

Cut the pineapple in half lengthways, remove the flesh and discard the core. Chunk the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Tip the pineapple chunks into a bowl, pour over the Kirsch and cover with cling film. Give the whole lot a good shake and then pop into the fridge overnight to allow the wonderful flavours to develop.

Serve the Kirsch-steeped pineapple chunks on their own or with a dollop of double cream or natural yogurt. That’s it – couldn’t be easier and very well worth the minimal effort!

Tip…

You might want to shake the bowl every now and then whilst it’s ‘gathering’ in the fridge, just to make sure the Kirsch is evenly distributed.

A little bit about Kirsch…

Produced mainly in Germany, but also in Switzerland and the Alsace region of France, Kirsch’s full name is kirsch wasser (pronounced vasser), meaning cherry water. Originating from the Black Forest, in the Southern area of the country, it’s an eau de vie (a type of brandy) made by double-distilling the fermented juice of the sour morello cherry. As it’s not aged in contact with wood (barrels are coated with wax to prevent this happening), kirsch is clear in colour, and the flavour subtley hints at its cherry origins, rather than being sweet and cloying.

Inspired by…

Absolutely no idea! Have been knocking this little one up for years!

How easy…

Simples!

Princess Birthday Cake

Well, this was waaaaaaaaay out of my comfort zone but I do like a challenge! Made for granddaughter, Georgia’s 3rd birthday, my first princess cake didn’t turn out too badly (although I was striving for a more refined look). The sponge was gorgeous (bit like the granddaughter) and the assembly and decorating job wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be given the fantastic stuff that you can now buy ready-prepared. But….working with icing is definitely not a natural gift for me

Serves 12 – 16

What you need…

1 x Barbie-styled doll (supermarkets sell cheap alternatives to the original)

1 x cake board

1 x deep, 15cm-round cake tin, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1 x 1 litre ovenproof glass pudding bowl, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1 x baking tray

1 x 6cm round cookie cutter

1 x icing bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle

500g unsalted butter, softened

500g caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

¼ teaspoon salt

10 large, happy eggs, lightly beaten

170g plain flour

200g full-fat Greek yogurt

500g self-raising flour

for the butter cream and decoration

250g unsalted butter, softened

500g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting

Pink food colouring

400g white ready-to-roll (fondant) icing sugar

500g pink read-to-roll (fondant) icing sugar

A fanciful collection of readymade flowers, cake decorations and glitter sprays!

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 160˚c/310˚f / gas 3.

If you have a tabletop mixer, that would be ideal; otherwise use a handheld electric whisk to beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until pale and fluffy. Gradually pour in the eggs, whisking the whole time and making sure that each addition is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. (Add a little plain flour if it looks like the mixture might curdle).

Still whisking, add the yogurt. Mix the flours together and then tip them in, whisking until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bowl, filling them both almost to the top. Pop them both onto the baking tray and then into your oven for 1 hour and 40 – 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out the clean and the sponges are golden.

Words of warning: the sponges rise massively over the top of the two dishes – don’t panic (as I did) – they’re supposed to!

Cool the cakes in their containers completely.

Meanwhile, make the butter icing by using a handheld electric whisk to beat the butter until really soft and then gradually whisking in all the icing. About half way through adding the icing, add a drop of food coloring – a little goes a long way. Add more nearer the end until you achieve shade you are looking for.

Back to the cakes: whilst still in their containers, trim the tops of the cakes level. Turn them out onto a board. Slice the pudding basin sponge into 3 layers. Slice the 15cm sponge into 2 layers.

Check your cookie cutter is big enough to go past the dolls hips and if so, use it to cut out a hole in the centre of each sponge slice.

Place 1 layer of the 15cm sponge onto your cake board and spread a little butter cream over the top. Add the other layer and again spread with the butter cream. Repeat with the three pudding basin layers, starting with the largest layer and ending with the smallest. Slather the whole sponge ‘skirt’ as it now is with butter cream, reserving a couple of large spoonfuls to use as ‘glue’ later.

Lightly dust your work surface with sifted icing sugar. Take 300g of the white fondant icing and roll out into a long strip, about 8cms wide. Attach to the bottom of the sponge skirt, pushing gently into the butter cream and leaving a ‘hem’ to spread out a little onto the board. Press a spoon right the way around the ‘hem’ to give a frilled effect (I did not master this!!!)

Roll out the pink icing to a 36cm circle. If like me, your circle isn’t very neat or accurate, use a large plate or round server as a template to cut around. Use your cookie cutter to cut a hole in the middle and then gently drape the ‘skirt’ over the cake (I folded mine in half to lift it from the work surface to the cake). This was the hardest bit for me – draping and arranging whilst trying to stop the fondant cracking or breaking. However, don’t worry if it does start doing that – you can use your decorative bits to hide pretty much anything!

Take the doll and tightly wrap her legs in cling film before inserting her into the cake. Make sure she’s standing up straight!

Use the left over white fondant icing to create a semi circle big enough to fit around the dolls waist and drop down over the cake skirt. Cut in whatever fashion you like and then ‘fit’ to the cake, using a little butter icing for glue if necessary.

Then, decorate to your heart’s content. I put the remaining butter cream in an icing bag with the star nozzle to create frills and swags and a waistband to hide tears in the fondant and clumsy joins; sticking flowers, silver balls and hearts wherever I fancied. I had also found a fabulous edible silver lustre spray that gave the pink dress a gently sparkly shimmer – very princessy! You can do as little or as much as you like here.

When complete, present your masterpiece to one very excited birthday princess and then….enjoy the spoils!

Princess cake 2 w

Inspired by…

BBC Good Food

How easy…

I struggle with icing and pretty cake decorating but I know it comes easier to other people. I spent a good chunk of the day, on and off, creating this and wouldn’t be in a hurry to do another one soon but hey, if you have the time and the patience, the recipient’s little face makes it worth the effort.

soooo, just wandered out to the garage where we have two (yes two) American fridge freezers that accommodate the food mountain created by this ‘ere blog. Armed with a sundae spoon, I delved into three new tupperware pots that were filled with yesterday’s experiments: fresh strawberry ice cream, coffee & kahlua ice cream and rum & raisin ice cream. WOW!!!! completely blown away with the success of these no-churn, spectacularly simple ice creams and am concocting other flavours….will blog these first three tomorrow, which will, of course, require further tasting before my fingers hit the keyboard….xx

Festival of Food and Racing

So, went to Goodwood today for the Festival of Food and Racing. Had an absolute ball and the sun shone throughout. After sniffing and sampling a variety of wonderful foodstuffs and losing badly (but without rancour) at several races, we have returned home with three bottles of gin (cucumber, gunshot and twisted nose if you please), one Lancaster Bomber cheese (might refuse to share) two bottles of chocolate liqueur (one’s a present and the other one I might refuse to share) and a bottle of maple syrup……hmmmm, not exactly balanced but I feel a good night coming on….xxx

Spring Dinner for 4

Good friends coming around for dinner tonight and we’re really looking forward to catching up, sharing time, wine and food with them. The menu is a combination of some of my favourite dishes, tried out and enjoyed thanks to my blog!

Thai Crab Poppadam Canapés

Chicken Liver Paté with Brandy

Chicken Wrapped in Parma Ham with Mascarpone Peas and Rosemary and Garlic Parmentier Potatoes

The Yummiest Profiteroles (Connagh’s favourite, hence his quality control test here ‘Oh wow Mum!!!’

Light and Zesty Lemon Tart

Happy Friday! xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Absolutely Delicious Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti

One from my daughter, Maddie, who found this recipe on the Internet to liven up her Uni dinners. What a joy when she offered to cook the recipe on her last trip home! As much as I love cooking, it is an absolute treat when someone else offers to do it and this recipe went straight to the top of my ‘favourites’ list of pasta dishes – it’s hearty and really flavoursome – the tomatoes and spinach contrast perfectly with the richness of the cream and the dish is quite honestly, just fantastic! A perfect family supper dish – thanks Madz – you can do it again!!!!

Serves 6

What you need…

Splash of olive oil

4 chicken breasts, seasoned

8 rashers back bacon, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

300ml double cream

8 tomatoes, roughly chopped

150g spinach

Sea salt and black pepper

150g Parmesan, grated

A large handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Dried spaghetti (amount depends on how hungry you are)

What to do…

In a large saucepan, bring to the boil salted water in which to cook the spaghetti.

In a large frying pan, warm the oil over a moderate heat and then cook the chicken breasts for 6 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Pop your spaghetti into the pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions: mine is about 12 minutes.

Add the bacon to the chicken pan and fry until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside onto kitchen paper.

Into the pan chuck the garlic. Fry for 1 minute and then add the tomatoes, cooking for 5 minutes. Toss in the spinach and pour in the cream, cooking through until the spinach has mostly wilted.

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and then tip it and the bacon into the sauce. Stir to evenly incorporate and then add the Parmesan and basil.

Drain the spaghetti and add to the sauce. Mix the whole lot together so the sauce beautifully coats the pasta.

Serve to six hungry people, perhaps with a glass or two of robust red wine and enjoy this truly hearty, really tasty pasta dish.

Inspired by…

Maddie, who found the recipe on the Twisted Food website

How easy…

Fast, easy and very student-friendly!

1st Proper BBQ of the Season!

So, we had one last week on the beach – lovely idea but…burgers with sand, sausages with sand, halloumi with sand…work in progress. Anyway, today was the first PROPER one and we went all out: halloumi, garlic bread with mozzarella, lobster tails with garlic butter, salmon with rosemary and garlic, chicken with my favourite marinade, sausages, burgers in brioche buns and posh roasted vegetables (not quite ready for salad!) Bloody marvellous!!! The sun shone, the wine flowed and the afternoon simply chillaxed by….happy days! (All recipes listed above previously blogged). xxx

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