Wedding Cake

Uncategorized

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, if you want keep up to date with my adventures on my Instagram @mariablackstone… I tend to post more regularly on there.

I have been busy with a new job – I am now working as a Graphic Designer for a wine supplier (lucky me), I have been away to Menorca and Belgium and spending the summer enjoying myself, and getting out as much as I can before I go to study in September. I have a wine course to go on next week, and am then starting a graphic design course a few weeks after that. I’m excited to learn lots of new stuff but apprehsive about the battle I will no doubt have with my energy levels. 

I also made my first ever wedding cake for a friend round the corner. I did a tasting for them and they chose vanilla and lemon – perfect for the summer. It was decorated simply with roses, berries and herbs from their garden. I was super pleased with the result and was amazing to know that people would enjoy all my hard work and efforts and that I could be a small part of their big day. 

If you’d like a cake for your special occasion, please do get in touch and I can discuss options and prices with you. 


A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Quick Tomato Salad

Recipes, Uncategorized

Tomato Salad.jpgUse the best of the summer’s tomatoes in this delicious, herby tomato salad. I served mine with lamb fillet marinated in garlic, rosemary & lemon & some buttered new potatoes. But it’s perfect on it’s own, served with some crusty fresh bread to mop up the juices. The perfect simple supper.

Ingredients

  • One or two large tomatoes
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes ( I used red & yellow from my mum’s garden)
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley
  • 2-3 basil leaves (I used purple basil from the garden)
  • A few chives
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Chop your tomatoes how ever you please, I sliced mine in big thin slices & halved my cherry tomatoes.
  2. Roughly chop your herbs, and add these to a bowl with the tomatoes
  3. In a cup, lightly whisk your vinegar and olive oil, and season to taste. You can add more oil/vinegar to suit your taste. I like mine quite sharp.
  4. Add this to your tomatoes & herbs and mix together. Add more seasoning if it needs it.
  5. Place into your serving dish & enjoy!

 

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

 

Mini Egg Blondies

Baking, Photography

Hi Everyone, 

Here is an easy and naughty treat to enjoy over the Easter holidays! Perfect to use up  any left over mini eggs – but if I’m honest, it’s more of an excuse to go and buy more mini eggs! 

I was really pleased with how the photos turned out for these. I baked them yesterday evening, by which time all the natural light had gone (I think I was being ambitious, thinking I could make, bake and photograph them in the natural light after I got home from work at 6.30pm!) 

I decided to experiment with flash, I set up the background, put the finished bake in place, though a little warm (I was eager to get to bed) and got the work. I haven’t really shot any food with flash before, apart from my studio arrangements at university. I will definitely continue to practice with this technique as it means I can photograph and cook more for my blog in the evenings. 

My photography work can also be viewed here.

Beautiful background by Woodrow Studios

Ingredients

225g butter

200g white chocolate

175g plain flour

50g golden caster sugar

150g soft brown sugar

3 large eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

2 x 90g bags mini eggs

For decoration (optional)

3 cubes white chocolate

Handful of crushed mini eggs
Method

  1. Line a square tin (approx. 21cm square) and preheat the oven to 180*c / 160 fan.
  2. Chop the butter and chocolate into cubes and melt together in a bowl placed over lightly simmering water. The mixture may split once melted but don’t worry, this will all be combined together into one delicious mixture. Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. 
  3. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy, you’ll want it to leave a trail on the surface when you lift the whisk. This should take a few minutes. You will probably want to use an electric whisk or mixer for this other wise you’ll be there all night. 
  4. Pour your chocolate and butter into the egg mixture and gently combine together using a spatula. 
  5. Add your flour and fold in until well combined. 
  6. Add your mini eggs and stir.
  7. Pour into your lined tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your tin. It’s cooked when you can insert a skewer and sticky cake crumbs are left but no raw cake mixture. 
  8. Leave to cool, then drizzle with some extra melted white chocolate and top with crushed mini eggs.
  9. If you can resist, leave in the fridge or somewhere cool overnight to achieve a delicious fudgy texture. In the mean time you can polish off the remaining mini eggs. (Yes, I purposely bought a family sized bag just for the decoration, don’t judge) 
  10. Enjoy! 

Don’t forget to follow my instagram to keep up to date with my foodie adventures. 

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Day 2 – 14th February 

Inspiration, Photography, Uncategorized

I felt very refreshed this morning after a great nights sleep, making the early wake up much easier. After a shower and some breakfast – a little fruit, yoghurt and a fresh omelette and doing my signature move of slipping over in the marble bathroom (take note Maria, mosquito spray makes floors slippery) we headed off on our bus. We had a tour of Colombo, stopping off at the Independence Memorial Hall and continuing on a very long journey to Nuwara Eliya. 

After about four hours driving we stopped for lunch at a restaurant over looking the Kelani river, I opted for an omelette (again) it was fresh and delicious. 


We continued our journey which lasted about another three hours. Stopping on the way to look at some tea picking ladies. This work is extremely skilled, and they have a target of picking about 30kg of tea leaves per day which takes around four hours, paying only 1000lkr. This is around £5 which makes me feel incredibly guilty that I would spend that on lunch without thinking about it. 


On route, we also stopped at a couple of waterfalls with breathtaking views. The weather at this time was very cloudy, it looked as if the rain was catching up with us but nevertheless it was still beautiful.  

We finally arrived at our hotel, called ‘Grand Hotel’ at around 5.15pm – a very long day but we’re greeted with a hot towel and delicious cup of tea. After freshening up, we are going for dinner and then I shortly after I will  head to my room to get an early night. Another early start for us tomorrow. We are leaving the hotel at 5.15am, travelling to Horton Plains National Park for a 9km hike/walk. We will have a picnic breakfast whilst we are there. We will then enjoy a city tour on a tuk tuk as well as high tea in the Grand Hotel. 

Having a really good time, 
A girl with an appetite for all things creative,
Maria x

A girl with a creative appetite goes to Sri Lanka

Inspiration, Photography

I know conventionally a food blog is all about posting recipes however I’m going to use it as a space to write about my trip to Sri Lanka… after all it is my blog! 
After a ridiculously long journey, leaving my home at 5.15pm Saturday and not arriving to my hotel until about 9pm I was relieved to finally be in Sri Lanka. I have never done a long haul flight before and as an anxious person I was worrying about every single little thing…where do I check in my luggage, will it get there, will I make it to the gate on time, how will I know where to go when transferring flights?!?!
Classic me though left a little too early and had tons of time, no queues when checking in my luggage meant I could have a little browse at the airport and then I went on to my gate. Transferring flights was a breeze as I knew deep down it would be. My first flight was a little uncomfortable – maybe due to nerves as well as the seat. I watched a couple of films in hope that I would get a bit more sleep on the next flight. Thankfully I did. After stopping in the Maldives for an hour and a half (which looked beautiful from the plane seat) we went onward to Colombo. 
I nervously waited for my luggage exchanging glares of desperation with a couple of ladies from Manchester. Eventually, after about an hour it came along on the belt, and I heaved a sigh of relief! Theirs came along at the same time so we plodded off happily! I was so tired I felt my legs were going to collapse underneath the weight of my rucksack. I exchanged some money and found my airport transfer, smiling widely when I found my name written on a sign. It was about an hour to my hotel (although it only seemed about 30-40 minutes) but I arrived and boy was I pleased to hear that I’d been upgraded to the executive suite. I came to my amazing room and had a lovely nights sleep. 


Day 1 of tour: 13th February

I woke up, got ready and had breakfast. I wasn’t feeling too hungry – partly due to nerves, I always seem to loose my appetite after flying. I was also feeling anxious about the fact I had a whole day to myself before meeting my tour group this evening. Little me in a country I know very little about. I decided to go out and have a little explore though. As lovely as the hotel is, I didn’t want to stay in all day. 

I’m glad I did, as I was approached by a Sri Lankan man, he chatted to me as I walked down the street, trying to give him little information and before I knew it I was getting into a tuk tuk with him. Going against everything that I was told as a child and scared shitless that I had no idea where I was, and no idea where he was taking me. I clocked a bottle of rum that belonged to the driver. This was full. He took me to a temple as it was their public holiday for their full moon festival. I got to see a real life couple getting married, we then went to another place of meditation, it was beautiful. Back in the tuk tuk and the bottle of rum was now two thirds full and I’m a little edgy. He then took me to a gem stone shop where I got roped into buying myself my birthstone. Typical of an English person feeling like they can’t say no. I did stand my ground and made sure I didn’t spend too much. The tuk tuk driver then took me back to my hotel. The ‘guide’ was lovely though, they really are very friendly here.

I then just took it easy and sat by the pool, with a book. Chatted to a lady who was on her own, she commented on my nail varnish and found out she too was on my tour. I met the rest of the group this evening and everyone seems lovely. From Canada, Chicago, Switzerland and England. 

We all went out to dinner with our guide and eat outside as a group in this place called the Dutch Hospital. (Not a hospital any more, it used to be in the 1700s) I had a vegetable curry and it was absolutely delicious. The perfect amount of spice, really tasty and the fluffiest rice. I am now off to sleep as we are leaving the hotel at 7.30am for a tour of Colombo and a long bus journey to Nuwara Eliya. 

Night all,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

X

Food Styling & Photography Masterclass

Food, Photography

Hi everyone,

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.

Figs.jpg

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.

For lots more foodie pics & to see what I get up to follow my Instagram –  @mariablackstone or Twitter.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Plum Jam

Food, Recipes, Uncategorized

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 …

 Ingredients

  • 1kg plums (I used Victoria plums) stoned & quartered
  • 1kg white, granulated sugar
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100ml water
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • knob of butter

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon to the pan.
  4. Dissolve the sugar slowly, without boiling the mixture. This takes about ten minutes.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Enjoy!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x