I have a new camera

Baking, Photography, Uncategorized

I’ve really fell out of routine with my blogging, during the summer I had so much free time and a lot more daylight (good for photography) so creating blog posts was fairly easy and a fun thing to do, then I got sucked into the world of work as a recent graduate and found it hard to find the time. However things are looking up and not only that but they are looking exciting. I have now been offered a job from my internship, and am enjoying having my weekends off after working a part time job at the weekends.

I have also FINALLY bought a new camera, lens and tripod. Something I’ve been saying I want to do since my second year of university. I never had the funds, as it is jolly expensive. With spending a lot of money (especially when you don’t have much) comes a lot of consideration and thinking. I finally jumped in though and got myself a beautiful Nikon D810 and a 50 mm lens. I used it last weekend and photographed these delicious brownies and my, is it a beauty of a camera. I’m excited to continue using it to create lots of beautiful images that I’m proud of.

This post is less of a recipe and more of an update of stuff, because sometimes I need to remind myself of what I’m doing and achieving. I’m currently doing some freelance design/photography work which is going well and it’s lovely to know that others think my work is good enough for them to use for their own endeavors.

I also have just entered the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I know that my chances are slim (or pretty much impossible) with the tough competition out there but as my mum says, to be in it to win it you have to play the game (or something like that, if any of you know my mum she has a saying for EVERYTHING).

I’ll leave you to feast your eyes on these delicious brownies, which were a Meringue Girls recipe from their book, ‘Everything Sweet’. They are made with coconut flour, which is a great gluten free alternative (but still taste extremely guilty). I swirled in some peanut butter and added in some frozen raspberries for some added peanut butter and jelly time. (I used to love that cartoon). They are extremely decadent and are in good competition to my go to Thornton’s brownie recipe.

Brownie.jpg

I will promise to try and be better with this blogging thing!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Mulled Wine Jelly

Food, Recipes

Hello,

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!

Ingredients

300ml red wine or mulled wine
300ml cranberry juice
50g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
A grating of fresh nutmeg
2 clementines
5 gelatine sheets
4 tablespoons double cream
Zest of 1 clementine
Icing sugar to taste

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir well until the gelatine dissolves. Combine both mixtures and pour into 6 glasses.
  4. Set in the fridge.
  5. 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!

Mulled Wine Jelly 1

Enjoy the next few days & have a lovely new year.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Spooky Salted Caramel Shortbread

Baking, Recipes

This is the second of my halloween inspired recipes and this one is super easy and so so delicious. Thankfully, salted caramel is still popular and wasn’t just a phase like we all thought, so this recipe is a cheats version of a caramel shortbread – using a tin of caramel resulting in a softer caramel centre making this a little messier than the standard caramel shortbread but I never heard anyone complaining of having fingers covered in sticky, delicious caramel.

Caramel shortbread is a really nostalgic treat for me. My grandma lives in the Isle of Wight. I have been going there ever since I was small. There is a cafe on the pier at Yarmouth called Gossips. I always had, and always will have a caramel slice with a hot drink or milkshake or regret my choice when I decide to be adventurous and try something else. That’s what I love about food – it evokes memory’s and fun times from our childhood, or time spent with family, friends and loved ones. So this is my version, although I’d like to add it doesn’t quite match Gossip’s but it is delicious in its own way.

I used white chocolate to create the cobweb design on top, but this can be eaten any time of year. You could simply marble the milk and white chocolate into a swirly design, or just use milk chocolate for a plain, simple finish.

Ingredients

225g plain flour

175g unsalted butter, cold and cubed

75g caster sugar

1 x 397g tin of Carnation caramel

200g milk belgian chocolate

A few cubes of white belgian chocolate

Method

  1. Start by making the shortbread base. Rub together the butter and flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, and then press firmly into the base of your tin lined with a piece of greaseproof paper. I used an oblong tin, but a 9 inch square tin would work well.
  2. Put the caramel into a bowl and mix in 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt then – I ground mine with a pestle and mortar. Pour this caramel mixture onto the cooled shortbread base, spread evenly and place in the fridge to firm up slightly. It won’t go solid as using a tin of caramel results in a softer finsih.
  3. Remove the shortbread from the fridge and melt your chocolate. You can use a microwave on a low power or melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once melted, pour the chocolate onto the caramel and smooth over to create an even surface.
  4. Melt a few cubes of white chocolate and whilst still warm, using a piping bag pipe semi circles on the melted milk chocolate. Then use a cocktail stick to drag lines across the semi circles to feather the chocolate and create cobweb design. Alternatively, you could simply just pipe lines to create the cobwebs.
  5. Place in the fridge to set, and once the chocolate has hardened, you can cut into small squares, or bars to serve.

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This is a very indulgent treat, that is truly delicous to devour with loved ones over the Halloween weekend, or any time of the year when you want a sweet, naughty treat.

After a bit of makeup practice, and some online shopping I think I have sorted my self some kind of outfit for a Halloween party I’m going to. I just hope no one asks what I am, as I’m not too sure myself. I will post a picture next week! I’m aiming for something ‘Day of the Dead’ inspired. We will see…

Enjoy your weekend, whether your raving or behaving.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Halloween Meringue Tartlets

Baking, Recipes

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.

Makes 24

Ingredients

Pastry

I use half of Cassie’s pastry for this recipe and you can freeze the rest for another time.

225g cold unsalted butter, diced

350g plain flour

50g icing sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp water

Meringues – Meringue Girls Recipe

4 egg whites

Caster sugar – twice the amount of the weight of the egg whites

Lime Curd

Juice and zest of 3 limes

Pinch of salt

80g sugar

90g butter

4 egg yolks

Method

  1. 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.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Coffee & Pecan Cake

Baking, Recipes

This week I have been mourning the loss of some fantastic TV. My Wednesday’s from now on will not be the same. Not only have we lost Bake Off, but also what I think could possibly be one of the best TV dramas to date – Doctor Foster. I pretty much spent the hour on the edge of my seat, holding my breath after getting pretty emotional after Nadia’s speech and Mary Berry’s tears on Bake Off.

I spent the finale of Bake Off eating cake, (obviously) so in remembrance of the nations beloved show, this weeks recipe is for a coffee and pecan cake. Pecan because I don’t like walnuts. Sorry walnut lovers. This is the cake which I stuffed my face with, after spending an hour at a gym class – seems logical right?! (Wrong).

Perfect with a cup of coffee mid morning catching up with pals, or for a sweet afternoon treat. Try this lovely cake, which ditches the traditional buttercream icing, as one I’m not a huge fan and two, when making cakes for what my mum calls ‘home use’ we try cutting down on fattening icings and indulgence. Yes, cakes covered in thick smooth icing, look beautiful and taste delicious but if you’re like us and need your regular dose of cake, it can be helpful to cut back sometimes. Now I’m not trying to claim this cake is healthy in anyway, that would be like saying Nutella is good for you because it contains nuts – it’s not. Although I think we all secretly wish it was! This cake is simply drizzled with some runny fondant water icing, and topped with chopped toasted pecans. If you prefer though, feel more than free to top with coffee buttercream … Just don’t come running to me when your jeans don’t fit haha!

Ingredients

6oz / 170g golden/normal caster sugar

6oz / 170g margarine or butter

3 eggs

6 oz / 170g self raising flour

3tsps instant coffee mixed its 3tsps boiling water

5oz /140g approx pecans

Icing

1stp instant coffee

1tsp water

Fondant icing sugar
Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180c or 160c fan. Line your tin with silicone paper. I used a silicone square 9 inch tin, so something similar in size, but I like to add a strip of paper in the bottom so help get the cake out the tin.

2. Begin by creaming together the sugar and margarine. I used a kitchen aid for this, but you could use an electronic whisk or do it by hand and burn the extra calories, just make sure it’s really creamy, pale and fluffy.

3. Mix in your eggs one by one, combing well between each addition, if it curdles add a spoonful of the flour.

4. Toast your pecans in a dry pan on the hob, or in the oven, until the aromas are released and they are nicely toasted. Chop into small pieces.

5. Set aside a handful of your pecans, and add the rest to the flour and mix. This ensures an even distribution in your cake. Add in the coffee mixture into the butter, sugar and egg mixture. Then add in your flour and nuts and mix lightly until combined.

6. Pour the mix into your tin and bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, dependent on your tin size, until baked. To test, pierce the sponge with a skewer in the middle. If it come out clean and the sponge is springy to touch it’s done. Remove fro, the oven and leave it to cool in the tin, when cool remove from the tin and place on a serving plate/cake stand.

7. To make the icing, mix together the coffee and water until dissolved. Then add enough icing sugar to make a run in consistency, but thick enough to hold. The amount will vary and whenever I make icing, I tend to just add more icing sugar, or more water until I get my desired consistency and I usually end up with too much. So apologies on behalf of the lack of measurements here. Using a fork or a whisk drizzle the icing over the cake. Then sprinkle with the left over toasted pecans.

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A handy tip when making sponges – a general rule I use is double the amount of flour, sugar and butter in ounces to eggs. Eg. 6oz to 3 eggs, 8oz to 4 eggs. I find it easier to remember than using grams.

I am stating my new internship on Monday and am super excited, as well as being a little nervous. Wish me luck and I will post some spooktacular recipes at the weekend ready for Halloween!

Lots of love,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Roasted Pesto Veggies with Griddled Halloumi

Food, Recipes

Hey!

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

Ingredients

400g approx. mediterranean vegetables

2tbsp green pesto – fresh or jar

250g Halloumi – sliced into approx 1cm slices

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C / Fan 180°C / Gas 6.
  2. Place the prepared veggies onto a tray and coat with the pesto.
  3. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring half way through.
  4. After about 15 minutes, preheat a griddle pan, or you can use a frying pan if you don’t have one.
  5. Drizzle a tiny bit of oil on the halloumi then griddle on each side for around 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Serve immediatley. You want to eat the cheese when its hot, soft on the inside and crispy and golden on the outside.

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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.

Lots of love,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Sorry. News.

Photography

Hello to the small amount of you who are kind enough to read my ramblings, I really do appreciate it and I want to apologise for dropping off the face of the earth the past few weeks. Life got a bit crazy hectic, and then I had a come down struggling with fatigue the last couple of days but I am back, to tell you about it all and to virtually feed you with some recipes straight from my kitchen, (and by my kitchen, I actually mean my mum’s).

So what has happened since my last post? Well, I will tell you. I received my university results on the 1st of July, which was also my mummy’s birthday. We started the day with baked eggs, a large platter of fresh cut fruit, and some freshly baked croissants (straight from the freezer, sorry not sorry). It was far to hot to be making pastries in this heat.

I got my results at midday, and received a First Class Honours, I was really pleased, but at the same time with no job, it all felt a bit underwhelming, but I guess that is just me and my nature. We went out for dinner that evening to Zizzi’s, we sat outside and it was a lovely end to a hot day, I had pizza, slipped down with a few G&T’s and some ice-cream. We even slipped down a tiny slither of mum’s birthday cake made by me, which is basically the most decadent, rich chocolate brownie cake your lips will ever meet.

The rest of the week I spent cooking for a party to celebrate at the weekend. It was a joint party for my mum’s birthday, and my sister and I finishing university, whom which I am extremely proud of – love you sis! We had pulled pork, which didn’t actually pull but was still as tasty with my Apple & Thyme sauce, my Sticky Soy & Honey Sausages, Marinated chicken, salad and homemade bread rolls. For dessert, which is what our household is famous for I made black forest gateaux (which I will admit had me in tears; I was stressed okay) another chocolate brownie cake, a Mascarpone and Berry Tart; which I will make again and post up the recipe, Pavlova with mango and blueberry and a Lemon meringue, which I actually need to get the recipe for off my mum, because if something ever happens to her then I don’t know what I’ll do! The party was full of all the things I love – cooking, food, family & friends.

It was then time to fly to Amsterdam, with my fellow university buddy, who I am also very proud of for getting a first. It was an early flight Monday morning, up at 3 am. We both agreed that hopefully one day we will be rich enough to afford the reasonably timed flights. We filled our trip with lots of standard things like a canal cruise, the Van Gogh museum, and a two and a half hour queue in the pouring rain for the Anne Frank house. We also travelled to a town called Leeuwarden, to visit our friends that we met in Latvia, in November last year. They showed us some sights and took us to a pancake house on a boat. Yes, you heard me right – all the dutch things.

After coming back I’ve been getting back into my gym routine, and pretty much struggling with my lack in energy as well as cooking up ideas for you all to enjoy so again my apologies for the delayed posts. As promised, I will be posting some dip recipes – perfect for summer BBQ’s and a couple of Ice Cream ideas!

Stay tuned,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Monochromatic Patterns

Food, Photography

A series of images featuring intricate patterns produced by the organic shapes, textures and characters of natural foods, showcasing their unique qualities. Created in the darkroom using the camera-less technique of photograms, the images emphasize the relationship between analogue and digital methods and highlight the importance of both, that one could not be made without the other.

The series stems from my passion for food and cooking and aims to excite visually in the same way that food stimulates our senses – sight, taste, smell and sound.

See my website for more in this series.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Bakes and Cakes Show

Baking, Food, Inspiration

On Saturday the 25th October I went to the BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes show at the Design Centre Islington. The day involved interviews with bakers and chefs, book signings, demonstrations, master classes, competitions, food stalls and a theatre where celebrity chefs did a demonstration.

We arrived at around 10am and began our day with a book signing with Mary Berry, she was lovely and sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are all human and we are all ‘normal’. My mum being my mum commented on her dress at the Pride of Britain awards. We then continued to listen to some interviews/question and answers with Eric Lanlard, I also watched him do a demonstration later on in the day. We browsed the food stalls and bought some sweet and savoury treats to eat. A delicious sausage bap, macaroons, brownies and meringues from the Meringue Girls.

We then sat and watched a question/answer interview with John Whaite (Bake Off winner 2012) , who was extremely funny, and had a good relationship with his friend and interviewer Jo Wheatley (Bake Off winner 2011). We then watched a demonstration by the Meringue Girls, who I had the pleasure of meeting. Read more about this here.

The day ended with watching Mary Berry in the Bakes and Cakes Theatre, where she made a chocolate roulade, and some apple muffins. Chocolate roulade is a family favourite in our home, we have it every year on christmas eve. It is a tradition, and one I hope to carry on in the future.

My mum and I then went to dinner in the evening, to Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I had the Salvador, a pork and chorizo burger, with avocado, garlic mayo, fiery chipotle ketchup, crispy onions, in a brioche bun. Finished off with my favourite oreo cookie milkshake.

After a long, but thoroughly enjoyable day we headed home and crashed out on the sofa reading my new Mary Berry cookbook.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Borough Market

Food, Photography

On the 24th October I decided to take a trip to Borough Market after seeing some amazing doughnuts on Tom Kerridge’s ‘Best Ever Dishes’. As part of one of my university projects I wanted to do something food related, as this is what I’m passionate about and could be targeted towards a possible career area.

My senses were overwhelmed by smells and sights. I was so consumed by the amazing produce and different foods that I came away with an experience full of hope and excitement for my future, but very few photographs for my project. Which luckily for me meant I needed to go again. It gave me a chance to reflect on the photographs I took, and what I needed to do and think about on my next trip, to improve my images.

Here are two images that I particularly liked. I thought about developing this theme of photographing single produce.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x