Last Saturday (17th) I was lucky enough to attend a masterclass in food styling & photography run by the Guardian. After a bit of a shock alarm (not used to an early wake-up call on the weekends) I got up and headed to the swanky Guardian offices at Kings Cross.
After a cuppa, we made a start. We all introduced ourselves – lots of professional photographers, beginners & all levels in between but we all had one thing in common though I think, which was enthusiasm. We were then introduced to the lovely ladies running the masterclass – Jill Mead; Photographer & Rosie Reynolds; Food Stylist. They made everyone feel so very welcome. I learnt lots of tips in the talks they gave us & it was so lovely to hear them talk so passionately about their subjects.
We then had a practical demonstration, where I picked up some tips on lighting & a bit about the best lenses to use. I now want a macro lens so I better get saving those pennies. I also did however, feel that I knew quite a lot of what was being spoken about which was great for my confidence as I don’t always believe in myself. All my practising and constant research is obviously working!
After lunch (which was fabulous, I had mushroom stroganoff, salad & chocolate cake) we started to take our own photos. We bought along a selection of our own props and were provided with some scones, fruit & veg, jam etc. I didn’t really feel like my practical session was on my side that day, I took a few photos but I think the most valuable part of the day for me was the talks in the morning and in fact sharing my knowledge & ideas with others & looking at others work & finding out about what they do. I wasn’t at all disappointed that my practical inspiration wasn’t on my side that day, as I gained so much!
I am looking forward to going on a shoot with Jill at some point in the near future.
One of life’s simple pleasures has got to be a slice of hot, buttery toast & homemade jam served with a cup of tea, or coffee on a drizzly weekend morning. Lazing around the house, in comfy clothes watching the rain drops fall on the window.
This jam for me was a bit of an experiment. I went to Garson’s Farm & picked some plums & bought some apricots from their amazing farm shop. The apricot jam, which funnily enough I thought would turn out better isn’t quite right. However, I’ve decided that you can buy it in the shops & it’s much less hassle. This plum jam however, tastes amazing which is good news, as I made about 5 jars.
I thought jam making would be quite easy, but turns out it was quite a stressful experience for me. I had to boil my jam for a fair amount of time, to bring it to the consistency needed. It was so worth it though …
1kg plums (I used Victoria plums) stoned & quartered
1kg white, granulated sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
tbsp lemon juice
knob of butter
Begin by sterilising your jars, I washed mine in hot soapy water then placed them in a low oven to dry. Keep your jars warm here until you are ready to fill them.
Place the plums and the water in a large saucepan, and cook on a low heat for about ten minutes until the plums start to soften.
Add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon to the pan.
Dissolve the sugar slowly, without boiling the mixture. This takes about ten minutes.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring to a rolling boil, and cook until reaching a jammy consistency. This is 105*c on a sugar thermometer. You can also test it, by putting some plates in the freezer, and spooning some mixture on the cold plate and leave to cool. It should wrinkle slightly when you push it with your finger. This can take anywhere from 5 minutes, but it actually took me about 25 minutes.
When ready, take off the heat and stir in the butter – this helps to disperse any scum on the top. Leave to cool for about 10 – 15 minutes and then ladle in to your hot jars. Screw on the lids straight away to seal them, and leave to cool.
Serve on hot buttered toast, or spoon into the bottom of a pastry case and top with almond cake filling for a delicious twist on a Bakewell tart.
It makes great gifts for Christmas, simply add a homemade label with some ribbon, or be greedy and keep all the jars for yourself.
Easter may have come and gone but this recipe is perfect to use up those mini eggs and indulge just once more before we get back to working on our summer bodies! Easter is usually all about chocolate, and don’t get me wrong I LOVE chocolate, but the Creme Egg brownies have been done so I wanted to go down a different route. Easter is also about spring, yellow is the colour that comes to mind for me – daffodils, tulips and Easter chicks!
These cupcakes are inspired by the humble dippy egg, seeing as Easter is all about eggs! They have a surprise centre. A delicious, tangy lemon and passion fruit curd, that ooze like a dippy egg when cut, or bitten in to. There are a few parts to the recipe, but these can be made the day before, and assembled the next day. After all holidays are about being relaxed and fun, so why not get in your kitchen and have a go.
6oz caster sugar
6oz self raising flour
Tsp lemon extract
I only used half for this recipe, but why not serve the rest with some meringues and cream, or spread on toast?
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
4 passion fruits
100g White Chocolate
140ml double cream (I used half an elmlea carton)
1. Add the zest, juice, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan, and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, once the mixture in the pan has melted I added this to the egg yolks and whisked. How about making some Easter chick meringues with the left over egg whites?
3. Add this back to the saucepan and whisk continuously on a low heat until thickened, and bubbles start to appear. Ensure you whisk all the time, otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled egg!
4. Pour this into a heatproof bowl, and cover with cling film, making sure the film touches the curd directly, to stop a skin forming. Once cool enough refrigerate.
5. Once cool, scoop the flesh of four passion fruits and stir into the curd, set this aside in the fridge until ready to use.
1. Melt the white chocolate, you can either do this in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave. If using a microwave, ensure you don’t burn the chocolate as it has a high sugar content.
2. Add the cream to the chocolate and using an electric whisk (or a hand whisk and some muscle) whisk the mixture till light and fluffy. It should be thick enough to resemble a light buttercream. Be careful not to over whisk, otherwise the cream will split.
3. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble.
1. Preheat the oven to 180 or 160 fan and line a 12 hole cupcake pan with 12 cases.
2. I used a kitchen aid, but you can use an electric whisk or do it by hand. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between to ensure each egg is encorporated to avoid curdling. If it curdles, add some flour and continue. Mix in the lemon extract at this point. I used a Sainsburys taste the difference one.
4. Add the flour, and mix enough to encorporate all the flour, but don’t over mix other wise your cakes will be tough.
5. Spoon the mixture into the cases, and bake for around 20-25 minutes or until light and springy, and a skewer comes out clean.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
1. Using an apple corer, or a knife cut out a hole in the centre of each cake. The deeper the more lemon curd you can fit in! Yummy!
2. Fill the holes with the curd, you can use a piping bag or a teaspoon. I found the curd was fairly runny, so using a teaspoon was easier than a piping bag.
3. Top the cakes with a spoonful of the frosting, and smooth over with a pallette knife. I aimed for a dome, to look a bit like an egg shape.
4. Top with freeze dried raspberries, and mini eggs. However, you can top with whatever you like. This for me is what baking is about! I like the tang of the dried raspberries, but you could top with a little fresh passion fruit, some flakes of white chocolate or whatever you fancy!
Check my other post for instructions on how to make the Easter chick meringues, 🐥🐣.
I hope you get in the kitchen and have a go at these, it seems complicated, but if you take it in steps its achievable and you can impress all your friends. Feel free to send me pictures of your bakes!
It’s that time of year again where gorgeous pink rhubarb is in season. I love roasting it and revealing its beautiful vibrant pink colour oozing with sweet juices infused with clementine, vanilla and spices.
I stumbled upon this recipe which I adapted from Waitrose when I was creating work for one of my final year projects at university. I created large arrangements from a recipes ingredients. The series is entitled Don’t Play With Your Food’ and depict a recipe’s ingredients arranged in a way to express the beauty of natural foods – their different colours, shapes, textures and characters. The other recipes I chose were Lentil Curry, Summer Fruits with a Lime, Mint & Vanilla Syrup, a Blood Orange & Beetroot Salad, and a Pistachio & Pomegranate cake. You can view the series here. The series stems from my passion for food and cooking. The images highlight that food is fun and enjoyable and aims to encourage people to think about the food that they eat in a similar way.
I adapted the recipe slightly – using some signiture spice from Waitrose, that was left over from Christmas. I substituted the cinnamon stick and star anise for a teaspoon of this.
2 clementines – one peeled, both cut into 1 cm slices
1 vanilla pod – split lengthways with the seeds scraped out
60g light soft brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp Waitrose signature spice (or you can use a mix of cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg etc)
Preheat your oven to 200*c or 180*c fan.
In a roasting dish, add the rhubarb, clementine slices, sugar, vanilla (seeds & pod).
Cover the roasting dish with tinfoil and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, add the maple syrup and return to the oven, this time uncovered and roast for a further ten minutes until the rhubarb has softened slightly and it’s perfectly pink surrounded by the cooking juices.
Leave to cool and then enjoy!
This is perfect served for breakfast on top of yoghurt, the vivid pink rhubarb and its juices bleeding into the bleak white of the yoghurt. I tend to blend my rhubarb with a stick blender as my mum and I prefer the smooth consistency. For a dessert idea swirl some rhubarb through natural yoghurt or whipped cream and serve with meringue. It’s simply delicious.
Nothing quite beats the smell of freshly baked bread filling the house. My dad is the bread baker in our house (sees himself as a bit of a Paul Hollywood, which is funny as he’s actually called Paul. He has taken over from mum and this loaf he made this weekend was pretty spectacular.
I decided to change things up on here, post pictures and maybe even some short films of food & things (especially now I’ve got my new camera). So there won’t always be a recipe but I’m hoping this small change will allow me to post more, be more creative and give you recipes that I’m really proud of, rather than rushing to put something crummy up (excuse the pun). If I don’t like this new way of doing things I’ll change it back!
I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, filled with lots of food & love. I’m apologising for the lack of posts in the past couple of months. I got a new internship, and was working 7 day weeks for a while, but I have now left my weekend job and for once in a very long time feel settled and fairly happy. I am loving my internship & am looking forward to what 2016 holds for me. I have set my self some personal goals, I’d like to remind my self that these aren’t simply New Year’s resolutions that won’t make it past January. Instead goals that I’d like to aim for and hopefully achieve by the end of the year. I’m not going to beat myself up about them if I don’t complete them, as I don’t know what life holds but I will work incredibly hard for them.
Onto the recipe, which is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. If you have any left over red wine from the heavy festive period, or any cream left over from all those desserts then this is the perfect recipe for you. I used a bottle of mulled wine (the type that’s already infused and spiced) but you can use some red wine and add those festive flavours, such as cinnamon, star anise & cloves. To his recipe I added a clementine, mascarpone cream, which was actually left over from the filling of our Christmas Eve yule log. But just use what you have, double cream is fine!
300ml red wine or mulled wine
300ml cranberry juice
1 cinnamon stick
A grating of fresh nutmeg
5 gelatine sheets
4 tablespoons double cream
Zest of 1 clementine
Icing sugar to taste
Place the wine, cranberry juice, sugar and cinnamon in a large pan. Add the nutmeg and prick the clementines with a fork. Add to the pan and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved. If you’re using plain red wine you will want to leave the mixture to infuse.
Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. Bring the wine back to a simmer (if you let it infuse). Squeeze the water out of the gelatine and add to the simmering wine mixture.
Stir well until the gelatine dissolves. Combine both mixtures and pour into 6 glasses.
Set in the fridge.
To serve, whip your double cream to soft peaks, add icing sugar to your desired sweetness & add in the zest of one clementine. Dollop on some of your cream & serve with friends & family!
Christmas isn’t complete with out an abundance of homemade sausage rolls. I always have the intention of making them to last over the holiday, but in reality I’ve eaten about 6 before they’ve even gone cold! I pack the rest of them away in an airtight container, and pick at them throughout the festive period. Knowing that I don’t need a sausage roll, nor do I really want one, but at Christmas you just eat and eat, because you can. Christmas time is all about over indulgence, because you know January is approaching and its going to be all about resolutions, healthy eating and working off these tasty sausage rolls in the gym!
I like to flavour my sausage rolls, this year I went for pork, apple and thyme. I love pork and apple, a classic combination, the sweet apple complements the rich pork. Thyme is a herb that also works well with the apple. If you made my apple and thyme sauce, and had any left over – you could put this in, instead of the apple.
1 apple – (I used a Nutribullet to make a pulp, you could use a few teaspoons of my apple sauce recipe, a food processor, or chop finely with a knife)
2 tsp dried thyme
Zest of 1 lemon and a few drops of lemon extract ( I use sainsbury’s taste the difference – the extract is optional, but adds a more intense lemon flavour, without adding liquid from the juice)
450g good quality sausage meat (I used my local butcher)
1 block of ready made all butter puff pastry (You can use filo pastry for a lighter version, but it is christmas after all!)
1 beaten egg for glazing
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, or 180 fan.
2. In a bowl, mix together the sausage meat, apple, thyme, lemon and seasoning with salt and pepper. Mix well to ensure the mixture is evenly incorporated. I tend to fry off a little of the mixture in a pan to test seasoning and flavour, you can then adjust accordingly.
3. With a rolling pin, and a little flour, roll out the puff pastry, to about 3-4mm thick, and keep it fairly rectangular. You want to then cut this in half so you have two long rectangles. If you wish to have smaller sausage rolls, you can cut this into three.
4. Divide your mixture and place in a long thick line down the middle of the pastry.
5. Roll the pastry up to encase the sausage mixture. Ensuring the pastry is sealed well.
6. Chill the long rolls in the fridge, for about half an hour.
7. Slice the long rolls into pieces – dependant on how big you like your sausage rolls. Place on a baking tray, I lined mine with silicone mats, you could use greaseproof paper. I snipped the top of each roll with scissors, purely to make them look nice.
8. Egg wash the rolls, and place in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the sausage meat is cooked. The bigger your sausage roll, the longer they may take.
9. Take out of the oven, and let them cool on a wire rack. (If you can wait that long) Serve to friends and family, or devour too many of them by yourself!
Enjoy! Have a lovely Christmas
A girl with an appetite for all things creative,
These past couple of weeks have been a bit all over the place but exciting in terms of my near future. I decided to leave my previous internship but after applying for jobs I secured an interview and a new internship with a restaurant chain and start in a couple of weeks so I am spending my free time getting ideas for my blog, cooking and photographing things so I can post in the coming weeks when I may be a little more busy than I anticipate.
I decided to get my self a Moleskin notepad and some black felt tips to sketch ideas for recipes when I’m lounging around or out and about. There are some exciting themed recipes in the pipeline … think Halloween and Bonfire Night. I cannot wait to start designing recipes for Christmas! It will be nice to have it in a special book so I can keep all my ideas in one place – instead of jotting them on scrap bits of paper or my phone.
This weeks recipe is perfect as a vegetarian starter or a light lunch. The pesto adds a punch to the roasted veggies and is simple and quick to prepare with just 3 ingredients. I always love grilled halloumi – its a staple side when I order at Nandos, so you could also serve this with some grilled chicken for a meaty alternative.
I used a pack of ready to roast veg bought from the supermarket, but you could always chop up your own – a mix of red onion, peppers, tomatoes, and courgette works well.
Serves 2-3 People
400g approx. mediterranean vegetables
2tbsp green pesto – fresh or jar
250g Halloumi – sliced into approx 1cm slices
Preheat your oven to 200°C / Fan 180°C / Gas 6.
Place the prepared veggies onto a tray and coat with the pesto.
Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring half way through.
After about 15 minutes, preheat a griddle pan, or you can use a frying pan if you don’t have one.
Drizzle a tiny bit of oil on the halloumi then griddle on each side for around 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve immediatley. You want to eat the cheese when its hot, soft on the inside and crispy and golden on the outside.
I can’t wait to get creating other delicious recipes for you to try, and looking forward to pushing myself creatively. I’m still learning Illustrator so will try my best to create some fun recipe cards for this recipe and others but am currently having a bit of a creative block with this. I’m also planning on creating a video of footage I shot way back, when I went to Amsterdam. All these skills will be useful to use in my career and I want to try and stay as creative as I can. I’m also looking forward to starting my new job and hopefully taking a positive step into my future.
Hope you all liked my chocolate truffle recipe – please do give it a go and remember to tag me in the results – either on Instagram or Twitter using @mariablackstone (as you can see I’m super original on the name front). Don’t forget to follow me either!
I can’t believe its been two weeks since I graduated, time has flown like my degree did and I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you about it – what I did over the weekend and show you a few pictures! No recipe this week as I thought I’d talk about the lovely food I ate instead but I will post a recipe for you next week!
Thursday 10th September:
We travelled up on the Thursday morning, I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning then got my stuff together and headed to Lincoln. We arrived around 2pm and checked into the hotel. We were lucky enough to get a beautiful view of the river and were so lucky with the weather! Bright sunshine. Laura (my sister) was quite tired from the drive so we decided to chill out for a bit before heading down the the Starbucks in the hotel, sat outside and had a bite to eat and a drink. It was so lovely to simply sit and watch the world go by. We mustered up the energy to head into town and had a wonder around the shops – why does doing nothing make you so tired?!
I bought a new dress from Fat Face, as if this wasn’t an expensive enough weekend haha! But hey, why not treat myself… right? That’s what I’ll tell myself anyway. We headed back to the hotel and a caught up with good friend Sarah, who’s off to Malta soon for a graduate job… beyond proud and wishing her all the success. We went back to the hotel, got ready and went out to dinner.
I booked a table at Carluccio’s. I had the bruschetta to start – Italian bread topped with a mound of fresh tomato, some garlic and herbs. For main I had my favourite pasta dish – a vegetarian option; which is so unlike me as I always love meat dishes. It’s the pasta dish with courgette, garlic, chilli and fried cheesy spinach balls. I certainly wouldn’t be kissing anyone tonight haha! I have the recipe somewhere in the kitchen, and want to try my hand at making my own version – so one day on here you may see the result! We finished off the meal (greedy I know) with dessert… a berry tiramisu which was creamy but nice and refreshing after a big meal. I won’t lie I was eyeing up my mum, dad and sisters salted caramel sundae though!
We finished the night at the Hilton, in the Electric Bar,, which is just next door to the Holiday Inn we were staying at. This is something I had wanted to do during university but never had the chance. Which is crazy because I spent three years there but it’s amazing how much I didn’t experience but there’s always the opportunity to go back and explore. We had some cocktails and headed back to the hotel for a relatively early night as Friday was going to be a long day! A pornstar martini was my cocktail of choice.
Friday 11th September
Got up at 6am, curled my hair – which in the end seemed like a pointless waste of time as it fell out before I had even managed to graduate but hey, you can’t blame a girl for trying. I got gowned up, had pictures taken and caught up with friends before heading into the cathedral for the ceremony. It was absolutely amazing. I hadn’t quite anticipated the length of the walk I had to do – heres me thinking I’d walk across the stage and it would be over. Little did I know I had to do a whole lap of the cathedral afterwards – struggled with this in my heels but I made the ceremony without falling over AND didn’t twist my ankles on the cobbles so I was winning all round. I felt such a sense of pride and achievement – especially at the end when we all got up and gave a round of applause. The atmosphere was amazing and I really had that ‘we did it’ moment. I don’t really remember much of the stage stuff, but that bit will stay with me forever.
We had a scone and jam after the obligatory throw your hat up in the air photo and after that I had a prize giving as I won the prize for Best Contemporary Lens Media student joint with Lucy Bick, my fellow course rep and friend. This was a nice small ceremony and it was nice to catch up with tutors after.
We ended the day with a meal at my favourite place the Horse & Groom. I had BBQ ribs – slightly regretted it as I was way too full and all I wanted to do was nap after. However, I left my parents and sister at this point and they had the journey home. I got back to the hotel and started to get ready for grad ball with my partner in crime Daisy. We met up with my housemates and had a few drinks before heading there. My feet were ruined and grad ball was a bit disappointing to be honest but I had a good time with my friends who I’ve spent the last few years of my life with and quite frankly I’m glad I didn’t spend it any other way!
Saturday, it was time to come home, after a big breakfast I chilled in my favourite cafe which I will miss dearly! How sad does that sound, but they do the best coffee, and the vibe is so chilled and lovely. It was then time to catch my train … bye bye Lincoln.
Sorry for this rambley post, hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I did. Some of them are only my phone ones so please forgive me that they aren’t the best quality. It’s times like these where I think how on earth did I gain a First Class Honours in photography ha!
Next week I’ll post you a lovely recipe for you to try out. Not decided if it will be sweet or savoury yet, but it will be delicious regardless!
First of all I want to apologise for not posting in a while.
As you know I started my new part time job and internship meaning I was working seven days a week and I underestimated how tired I’d actually be. It was also my graduation last week so I was trying to get ready for that – paint nails, prep outfits and pack (all the girly things haha).
I’ve also been more anxious than ever so have been dealing with that too, so although I had a recipe prepared to post, it hasn’t been my priority so I’m sorry for that.
This recipe is for some chocolate orange truffles. Perfect for gifts to friends and loved ones. I was inspired for this recipe by some truffles I continue to buy, by Monty Bejangles. They are so rich and luxurious. Also, my friends have been amazing to me recently and they definitely deserved a treat. A thank you goes out to my official taste testers Ally & Ellie.
This recipe is super easy, and requires little effort – just a bit of setting time and getting your hands a little chocolatey. But who ever said being covered in chocolate was a bad thing?!
Makes about 30 dependent on size.
200g chocolate – I used a mix of milk and dark.
100ml double cream.
Few drops of orange extract – I used Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Valencian Orange Extract.
Cocoa powder for dusting – you could use nuts too if you like
1. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until it is hot but not boiling.
2. Meanwhile, chop the chocolate and place in a bowl – I used a larger but shallower bowl so that it would set quicker in the fridge.
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and add the orange extract. Alternatively you could use the zest or experiment with your own flavour combinations.
4. Stir together until the chocolate is fully melted and combined. You may need to reheat the mix so you can place over a bowl of simmering water, or zap in the microwave on a low power – be careful not to burn it!
5. Leave to set in the fridge until firm. This should take about 4 hours but you can leave it overnight if you wish.
6. When ready to shape, sift some cocoa powder on to a plate to roll your truffles in. You could also use ground or flaked almonds or a nut of your choice. Take a small spoon of the mixture and roll into your desired shape. You may find dusting your hands with cocoa reduces the chocolatey melty mess. You can make them whatever shape you wish. Roll in the cocoa powder to cover completely.
7. Place back in the fridge to set. Serve when firm and ready for an indulgent homemade treat. Perfect with coffee or like I did, a glass of wine with my dear friends.
Why not give these a try, they make perfect presents wrapped up in cellophane with a nice ribbon and hand written tag. You can experiment with your own flavours, shapes and toppings and really personalise them. I hope you enjoy them as much as my friends and I did.
Next week I will tell you all about my graduation. A little late I know but I want to tell you all about my incredible day, and the delicious food I ate.
Hope you’re all very well, and again apologies for the delay in posting, please don’t hate me forever.