Gin, Tonic & Elderflower Sorbet

Food, Photography, Recipes

Hi Everyone,

So like every graduate I have been thrown out of the education system, into the big wide world, and am now on the search for a job. With job applications come rejections and me feeling like I need a drink. So what better way than combining the job application process with alcohol. No really, this recipe was actually thought up for a job application, promise!

It was for a job application for an award winning, London based company called Sipsmith who make gin and other spirits. I had to create something for a designer role that showed why I am perfect for the job. I wanted to think a little out the box, and decided to do what I do best and create a recipe card. So instead of me typing out the recipe, I am going to show you all my design. Of course you can use any gin you have and for the elderflower I used Belvoir Elderflower Cordial. Fingers crossed I get the job, and if not I had a fun time making the recipe, and the design so it was worth it regardless. (I say this as I’m trying to be positive, but lets face it, nobody likes rejection).

Let me know if you like this idea, as I will continue to design recipe cards that you can all print and add to your collections!

Recipe Card

The perfect recipe for all the adults to enjoy, on a hot summers day – perfect for this heatwave that is meant to be coming our way! Let me know what you think, and if you have any ideas that you want me to try out then send them my way!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Wimbledon Strawberry & Lime Tarts

Baking, Food, Recipes

Wimbledon Tennis commences on the 29th June, and is one of the sports I love to watch, it reminds me of summer and I always admire the players’ strength and determination – they are the only person responsible for their win and I think that takes a lot of mental strength let alone the physical strength. I have always been pants at sport so I admire most sports men and women to be honest with you (also a bit jealous).

When I think of Wimbledon, I think of tennis, and strawberries, so I thought up a little creative recipe, which takes a little time and care but is well worth it. These little tarts would be perfect to pack up for a picnic to eat on Murray Mount/Henman Hill, or to have with afternoon tea whilst you celebrate the final with friends & family, although let’s be honest you don’t really need the tennis to enjoy these tarts, because they are simply divine all on their own. The lime in the strawberries makes these tarts really refreshing and cuts through the rich creamy custard, and crumbly pastry. The perfect mouthful (or three).

Ingredients

Pastry

200g Plain Flour

1 tbsp Icing Sugar

50g Lard, Diced

50g Butter, Diced

1/2-1 Medium Egg, Beaten

Strawberry Base

400g Strawberries, washed and diced

Zest and Juice of Half a Lime

1 tbsp Caster Sugar

Custard Topping

300ml Milk

1 Vanilla Pod/1tsp of Vanilla paste/Extract

2 Large Eggs plus 1 Egg Yolk

50g Cornflour

75g Soft Unsalted Butter, Diced

Jelly Top

1 Pack of Lime Jelly

1/2 Pint of Water

3-4 cubes of melted white chocolate

Method

You can make the jelly, custard and pastry cases the day before, and assemble when needed.

Start by making the jelly

1. Melt the jelly cubes with a bit of water in a microwave, then top up with water to create 1/2 pint of liquid.

2. Line a tin with clingfilm roughly 20  by 20 cm (but this is just a guide) then pour in the jelly mix so its roughly 1/2 cm thick. Leave this in the fridge to set.

Pastry

1. In a food processor blend together the ingredients, minus the egg to form a breadcrumb like texture, add the egg bit by bit until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Be careful not to over mix, as this will activate the gluten giving you a tough pastry. If you do not have a food processor, you can rub together the flour, sugar and fats with your finger tips, then add in the egg and knead together.

2. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill for about half an hour to allow the dough to relax.

3. Once its chilled, you can start to roll out the pastry, I do this between two sheets of clingfilm which allievates the need for extra flour and it makes much less mess. I used a 24 hole (4.5cm) petit four tin, but if you dont have this you could simply make your tarts a little bigger. Try and roll the pastry as thin as you can, it requires a delicate hand, and some patience (as I discovered) as the dough is quite fragile, but the end result is so short and delicious, almost like shortbread. I used a 7cm cutter to do this, and trimmed the edges, with a smaller cutter to neaten – this is optional, but remember to not trim too much as the pastry can shrink.

4. Fill the pastry cases with squares of non-stick paper, and fill with baking beans/rice/dried pulses and refridgerate again to rest before baking for about 15-20 minutes. At this point preheat your oven to 200c/180c fan.

Tarts

5. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, then remove the paper and baking beans, you can brush the insides with a little egg white left from the custard filling but this is optional. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes, until golden brown, as Mary Berry would say, we don’t want any soggy bottoms.

6. Leave to cool fully in the tin before carefully transferring to a wire rack.

Whilst the pastry is relaxing you can start the custard filling (créme mousseline)

Custard Filling

1. Bring the milk & vanilla pod just to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for ten minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and cornflour until smooth and creamy.

3. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, then pour through a sieve onto the egg mixture, whisking well.

4. Pour this mixture back into the washed saucepan and set over a medium-low heat and stir constantly to ensure that lumps don’t form. Do this until the mixture boils and thickens – this should take about four minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to pipe. Stir in the butter whilst still warm.

5. Transfer to a bowl, and cover the custard directly (so that it touches the custard) with clingfilm, to stop a skin forming, leave to cool then refridgerate until needed.

Strawberries

1. In a bowl, add the diced strawberries, lime zest and juice and sugar, stir and refridgerate until needed. With the other half of the lime why not make my Green Twister  Smoothie.

Assembly

Now all of the constituent parts are ready, comes the fun bit – the assembly.

1. Simply take half a teaspoon of the strawberries and fill each tart case – the strawberries would have created some liquid, try and avoid filling the cases with lots of liquid as the pastry will go soggy.

2. Pipe over the top the custard filling, you may want to give it a beat to loosen it after its firmed up in the refrigerator. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a teaspoon and spoon a bit in each one to fill the cases nearly to the top.

3. I then cut the jelly using a 3.5cm cutter and piped on a swirl of white chocolate, and topped the tarts with this. This bit is optional, but completes the tennis theme.

There you have it, 24 delicous tarts – don’t worry if some break, mine did too – just use the bits of pastry with some of the left over custard and call it cooks perks! I know this recipe is quite long, and contains a few different parts, but I promise you these are well worth the effort!

Let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy them as much as I, and my family did.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Green Twister Smoothie

Food, Recipes

I’m a lover of sweet bakes and indulgent treats, but I do love creating and eating healthy food too, which is full of nourishing goodness for our bodies, to keep us fit and healthy. If we do this, it means we can enjoy the occasional naughty treat … right?!

So as well as trying some of my more indulgent recipes, how about try this super quick green smoothie recipe. It is super refreshing, as it doesn’t contain milk, so its good for any one with a dairy intolerance. It tastes like the refreshing twister lollies I used to have as a kid, but who am I kidding, I am never too old for a twister lolly!

You’ll need a high power blender to make this recipe – I used a NutriBullet, but a stick blender would also be fine.

Ingredients

1/2 small pineapple – I find this smoothie tastes better made with frozen pineapple, it seems sweeter and more refreshing, but isn’t essential, you could cool the smoothie in the fridge or with some ice.

1cm piece of ginger, peeled (aprox.)

Large handful of spinach leaves

Juice of 1/2 a lime

150 ml of water (or enough to create your desired consistency) you could also try using other waters like coconut water.

Method

1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Serve and enjoy, it really couldn’t be simpler.

This really makes me feel good on the inside, it wakes me up and refreshes me. The ginger adds a spicy note, while the pineapple adds the sweet hit we all crave, and the lime adds a sour, refreshing hit. Ginger has health benefits such as aiding digestive problems, nausea, pain reduction and has anti-inflammatory qualities. You could also add a tablespoon of flax seed to this smoothie for added fibre, and nutritional value.

Green Smoothie 1

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do, and don’t let the colour put you off.
A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Summer Fruits, with a mint, lime and vanilla syrup.

Food, Photography

Here is the second image in a growing series to accompany the Lentil Curry I posted about at the end of January. This image was inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe, which I adapted slightly. I plan on creating my own version, and serving it with a homemade vanilla ice-cream, and a pecan praline. Again, I will test this and post up the results for you to try soon.

I will continue to post these images as I create them. I am currently trying to juggle keeping this blog, applying for graduate jobs and producing my university work.

Fruit Salad

My photography work and more information on this series will be updated on my new website http://www.mariablackstone.co.uk and please get in touch if you would like to purchase prints.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,
Maria x