So I’ve had a pretty tough week, and am generally quite scared to be telling the world this, as I tend to just keep everything bottled up and it well and truly popped its cork the other day. So please be kind, as I’m not sure about this.
I’m finding this whole graduate life pretty tough. We all get spat out the education system, without actually having much knowledge about the real world in my opinion, I got a 1st but don’t feel I actually know a lot haha! I’m not getting anywhere with job applications which is truly depressing, and I’m getting tired of having no routine. I’d like to think I’m good with change, but this whole transition period is not cool!
Moaning aside, (apologies for being so negative) I know something will come along which is meant to be for me. I decided I needed a bit of time away to clear my head, so booked some train tickets to Nottingham to see my partner in crime Daisy, who I will totally design a Nutella based recipe for soon. Watch this space Daisy. This girl is the one person that can relate to me and I’m sure she is pretty bored of my moaning, so I’m sorry for that haha but you’ll just have to put up with me. We are filling the weekend with what we do best, eating. Pancakes & bacon will be in order, along with a green smoothie, and then the hard choice of where to go for dinner, topped of with some cocktails. Sunday we are going to a food festival at Wollaton, seeing people like John Waite, Lisa Faulkner & Sat Baines, I’m excited about this and will keep you all posted about my adventure! Hopefully this will be a well needed trip away to smile again! Sadly, I didn’t get the job at Sipsmith, but I know I’m not the right person for the job, and they enjoyed my application so onto the next one, its all about learning and interview experience (right?!). I’m trying to stay positive, which is quite ironic as its currently pouring with rain, haha!
Enough of that, here is my recipe for vanilla and mascarpone pannacotta with a summer berry compote. Is it obvious that I love mascarpone yet? I could literally eat the stuff out the tub with a spoon. The smooth creamy mix complements the sharp/sweet berries so well and the deep purple colour contrasts with the pillowy white pannacotta. I used a mix of blackcurrants, raspberries, red currants and gooseberries, but it was a punnet of mixed berries which came in our Abel & Cole box, so frozen summer fruits would work well! Simply use whatever you have – be it strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, just experiment! I designed another recipe card, not as pleased with this one but I will keep working on them, I am really trying to push and challenge myself with this blog, and am loving it so far.
A lovely rich, smooth and creamy dessert, perfect to enjoy with friends at the weekend, or enjoy indulgently on your own, remember that there are no calories at the weekend (tiny fib)! Next week a slightly healthier recipe, a broccoli, lemon and chilli pasta recipe designed with my lovely friend Sarah in mind, This ones for you.
I’ll speak to you next week, hopefully with a smile on my face,
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).
200g Plain Flour
1 tbsp Icing Sugar
50g Lard, Diced
50g Butter, Diced
1/2-1 Medium Egg, Beaten
400g Strawberries, washed and diced
Zest and Juice of Half a Lime
1 tbsp Caster Sugar
1 Vanilla Pod/1tsp of Vanilla paste/Extract
2 Large Eggs plus 1 Egg Yolk
75g Soft Unsalted Butter, Diced
1 Pack of Lime Jelly
1/2 Pint of Water
3-4 cubes of melted white chocolate
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,