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!
The nights are drawing in and the clocks have gone back which means winter is well on its way. First though we have Halloween to look forward to. Personally, this isn’t really a big deal for me – I’m more of a festive, ‘I love Christmas’ kind of girl. A bit like Elf really, without the costume.
However some people do love it and go all out, so I thought I’d have some fun with a couple of recipes. Which reminds me, I totally still need to find some kind of Halloween outfit – not a lover of fancy dress. I’ll post another later in the week too. Perfect for you to make for your parties, or to indulge in alone to make your self feel better about giving lots of sweets away to ‘trick or treaters’ (I usually prefer eating the treat sized bags of chocolates instead of handing them out, greedy I know).
This recipe is hugely inspired by the Meringue Girls and their new book ‘Everything Sweet’ which is available to buy here on Amazon. It is stunning, both the recipes and the photography, shot by another inspiration, David Loftus.
I’ve used their meringue recipe and made their little pumpkin meringue kisses to top my crisp pastry tartlets which are filled with lime curd – the most tasty ‘goo’ you’ll be exposed to this Halloween. For the pastry I used a delicious recipe from Good Food Magazine by Cassie Best – it’s crisp, sweet, and easy to work with, for all those who may be a little frightened of making pastry. Alternatively, you could use shop bought to save on party preparation.
Caster sugar – twice the amount of the weight of the egg whites
Juice and zest of 3 limes
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
Start by making the pastry. I used a food processor for this. Put the butter and flower in the food processor with a pinch of salt and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. If you want to do it by hand, rub together with your fingertips. Add the sugar, and whizz or stir again to combine.
2. Add the egg yolk and water and blitz again until it forms large clumps. If the mixture seems too dry, add more water a tsp at a time, but no more than 3 tsp in total.
3. Tip this onto a work surface and knead briefly until it comes together to form a smooth dough. Avoid overworking as this will result in a tough pastry. Flatten, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins or longer.
4. When ready, roll out half of the pastry to a few mm thick, and using a pastry cutter cut to your desired size. I used a petit four tin so cut my pastry to fill these, but you can make bigger tarts if you wish.
5. Line this with some greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or rice/lentils. Bake in the oven at 180c/160c fan for around 12 minutes. Remove the rice and paper, and bake for another few minutes until golden and crisp. We wouldn’t want any soggy bottoms. Leave to cool, until ready to use.
6. To make the meringues, weigh 4 egg whites, and then in a separate bowl weigh out double the amount of caster sugar. Put the sugar in a roasting tin lined with greaseproof paper and place in a preheated oven at 200c/180c fan for five minutes. The edges of the sugar will start to melt. Remove from the oven.
7. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer start whisking the egg whites in a grease free, clean bowl. Whisk slowly to make small bubbles, and then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
8. Turn the oven down to 100c and turn the mixer up to full speed. Add the hot sugar spoonful by spoonful until fully incorporated. Once all the sugar is added, whisk on high speed for 5-7 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should feel smooth between your fingers, with no grains of sugar.
9. Pipe the meringues, using orange food colouring. See this lovely video for help. You want your meringue bases to be the size of your tart shells so they fit on top. Place in the oven to cook for around 45 minutes – 1 hour until the meringues lift off the paper.
10. Meanwhile, make the lime curd. Put the lime zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a little saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat.
11. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add to the saucepan and whisk. Return the pan to a low heat and whisk constantly as the curd starts to thicken. Do not stop whisking – we don’t want scrambled eggs. Once the curd thickens and releases a bubble or two, remove from the heat. I added a bit of green food colouring for extra halloween fun but this is optional. Place the curd in a disposable piping bag, leave to cool and then refrigerate.
12. To assemble, fill your tartlet cases with some of the lime curd – using a piping bag is easiest but you can always use a teaspoon. You can paint faces on your meringues with black food colouring and a clean paintbrush. Then top your tarts with these. Serve and enjoy!
The tangy lime curd complements the sweet meringue pumpkin which adds an element of fun that children can help with on half term next week, and will go down a treat at a party, or simply as a little afternoon treat with tea or coffee. Stay tuned for another ‘spooktacular’ recipe.
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.
I am starting to get a handle on my job lists, after having parties and a trip to the Isle of Wight. I see a lot of you liked my Amaretto Gelato post last week, and next week I’ll have another alcoholic ice for you adults to enjoy (sorry kids!) but here’s a recipe you can all enjoy… a beautiful berry tart, perfect for using our beautiful British berries, that you may have picked yourself, with children or bought from the market or supermarket.
This weekend just gone, after getting back from a completely over indulgent trip to the Isle of Wight (what Grandma’s do best) I threw a small Barbecue to celebrate my sisters results from University. She got a 2.1 and I am so so proud of her, as along with studying, she worked full time, kept up a flat, found time for the gym and socialising with friends. There was about 10 of us, and we had a BBQ with the usual stuff, and then this tart, the biggest trifle you’ve probably ever seen and a surprise peanut butter and chocolate cake, which would have remained secret had my sister not gone in the garage! I had an amazing time with friends, food and drinks and we were also spoilt rotten. We each received a beautiful bunch of flowers, a Links of London Graduation charm, a Spa Weekend and £100. Thanks Mum & Dad! I may post up the recipe for the cake soon!
Berry, Custard & Mascarpone Tart
225g/8oz Plain Flour
50ml (aprox.) Water
Custard (I only used half of this mixture, but why not use the rest in homemade ice-cream, or with sponge pudding. You can use all of it for a more custardy taste, or fill the extra tartlets with this mix and top with fruit)
300 ml Milk
2 Eggs + 1 Yolk
1 Vanilla Pod (or 1 tsp paste/extract)
75g Butter, diced
1 Tub of Mascarpone
Assortment of Berries I used a 400g tub of Strawberries, and a mixed berry pack from Sainsbury’s (raspberries, strawberries and blueberries)
1. Start by making the pastry. In a food processor (or by hand)blitz/rub together the flour and fats until breadcrumb consistency, then add the water until a dough forms, you may not need all the water, likewise you may need a little more, I’ll leave this up to you! Once combined, tip on to a surface, form a ball, flatten and wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest and chill.
2. Once chilled, roll out the pastry. Lightly flour the rolling pin and surface and roll out the pastry to a few mm thick. You want it as thin as you can make it, for a nice crisp result. I used an oblong tin, but a round one is fine. Roll the pastry onto the rolling pin and place carefully in your flan tin. Press the pastry into the edges using a wooden spoon handle, or your fingers being careful not to rip your base. Don’t worry if you do, just patch it up with some spare pastry. With any left over trimmings, you can make some mini jam tarts, or tartlet shells to fill with left over custard. Place the flan tin back in the fridge to relax, while you make the custard and remember not to trim the pastry right to the edge as otherwise it will shrink back.
3. To make the custard, place the milk, and split vanilla pod (scraping out all the lovely seeds) in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornflour until smooth and creamy. Once the milk has come to the boil, leave to infuse for ten minutes.
4. Brink the milk back up to the boil, then whisk into the egg mixture. Return back to the saucepan and whisk continually until boiling, and really thick. Then add the diced butter and whisk in until melted and smooth. Place in a bowl, and top the surface with clingfilm (ensuring its in contact) to stop a film forming. Leave to cool then refrigerate.
5. While the custard is chilling, preheat the oven to 180c fan/200c, fill the pastry case with parchment, and baking beans/rice/pulses and blind bake for 10-15 minutes. After this time remove the paper & beans and trim down your pastry if you so wish. Return to the oven and bake for another ten or so minutes until the pastry is nice and golden. Leave to cool.
6. When ready to assemble, mix half the custard with the mascarpone, you may want to use an electric whisk to get a really smooth consistency or just use some muscle and burn the extra calories. Spoon in the tart and smooth evenly over the pastry – don’t worry about this looking neat as you are going to pile it with berries.
7. Add your berries, I chopped the strawberries in halves and quarters for the bottom and added the raspberries and blueberries! This creative bit is up to you! Which is why I love to cook. Make it your own!
Keep your eyes peeled for next weeks post, a refreshing G&T sorbet! Time for me to go back to the job hunt! Wish me luck!