Monday, 28 September 2009

SMS - Caramelized onion, sage and cheddar muffins

Aaarrggghhh, time has well and truly got the better of me this past week!! I even did this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe on the 22nd September as I knew I'd be pushed for time. But yes, a week early and I still managed to post a day late!!! It's totally my fault. And now this is only going to be super short post... Time management isn't going so hot at the mo but hey ho, I guess with a full time job there were always going to be some weeks where posting took a little bit of a back seat.

Anyway, back to these babies! When I first flicked through The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, this recipe was definitely one that caught my eye, although I think this combo wasn't really grabbing me. But how wrong was I! These are gorgeous. I caramelised a red onion slowly in a frying pan with some brown sugar and finished with a slosh of balsamic vinegar. Just yummy! We ate these for dinner alongside a simple salad and fresh out the oven they were just divine. The slight kick that the cayenne gives really adds to them. Can't wait to try some other variations!

Many thanks to HanaĆ¢ of HanaĆ¢'s Kitchen for choosing this week's recipe and don't forget to check out the other bakers.

Rosy xx

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Orange scented scones and some jam-related antics

I have a confession to make - recently I really seem to have lost my baking mojo. I came home from work the other night and had visions of a sweet, moist apricot frangipane tart. A couple of hours later, I had the toughest crust known to man in front of me with a heavy, eggy filling. Not what I had in mind at all! Then my attempts at a thin, crisp pizza base last night resulted in something much more like a large cracker. And pancakes this morning? Disaster! I mean, pancakes??! How can I mess those up? Hmmm. Not good.

So there was a part of me that was dreading this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe. But I persevered! Not wanting such fearful follies getting the better of me, I bit the bullet. It helped that I had a group of close friends coming over for a jam making sesh (the first meeting of the Sweet Supper Club founders but more on that another time) and what goes better with jam that orange scented scones??

A sunday afternoon of jam making fuelled by tea from pretty cups and glasses of pink bubbly! What could be better? Here are some of the lovely ladies in question...

And here's Laura dutifully munching away on the scone. If only they'd been edible! But I fear the fault is TOTALLY mine. The dreaded baking curse strikes again! I did something I've never done before - I misread the recipe and added too much salt. Ew. Ew ew ew. Salty scone, anyone??! Didn't think so. But I have to say, the texture was divine! Once piled high with clotted cream and JJ's mum's greengage jam (ours wasn't quite ready) they were yum. But then cardboard is yum with that much cream and jam...

So many thanks to Robin of Lady Craddock's Bakery and I'm so sorry to have messed them up! I have to move on now otherwise I'm going to start sobbing over my keyboard...

The jam! Look as these furry fleshed beauties...

We made two jams - cinnamon peach (yes! Sweet Melissa's cinnamon peach preserve!) and plum jam.

Ooo, bubbly, peachy, cinnamon scented yumminess...

Here's Laura stirring the plum jam. Did feel a little bit like a coven of witches gathered around a steaming cauldron, but I get the feeling that if the only thing witches did was produce sweet preserves they might have a slightly better reputation.

I was less impressed by the plum jam. If I'm totally honest with you, the curse struck again (seriously, how much can I mess up in one week??!) and it's not really jam, more of a slightly gloopy plum sauce. Oh well!

The brightside is how darn cute they look!!! What a feeling of satisfaction, looking at rows and rows of homemade jams.

Sky requested that we fill up these mini jam jars. Aren't they just about the most adorable things ever?

Just perched happily atop its bigger brother. Too cute.

So apologies again for being a total muppet and messing up this week's SMS - hopefully the new week will bring better cooking vibes and I shall create some food to be proud of. I'll keep you posted!

Rosy xx

Ps Don't forget to have a look at the other SMS bakers!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Cow Pie

Something happened whilst we were away on hols - we turned our backs for 2 minutes (well, 2 weeks...) and it's suddenly autumn! After a couple of weeks of 30C+ I can't say I minded being greeted by the crisp breeze and distinct autumnal feel in the air. I was slightly less chuffed by being utterly drenched on my walk home last night, but being curled up on the sofa with JJ afterwards, listening to the rain pattering against the skylight cheered me up no end.

There is one slight disadvantage to the sudden turn in the weather - I have lots of photos of salads to post about, but absolutely no inclination to write about them at all! A warming butternut squash soup or a deep, rich beef stew yes; a crisp marinated courgette salad - not so much. Gosh, it's making me chilly just thinking about it!

Thankfully, I have this beauty to tide me over. I wish I could say I was the creator of such a work of art but alas, no. It was my wonderful Dad. He is a fantastic cook and I always look forward to heading up North to see them, knowing that something delicious will be bubbling away on the stove when we arrive. (JJ loves visiting too but that probably has more to do with tankards of ale).

We visited a couple of weeks ago and, of course, we were not disappointed! This is my Dad's piece de resistance at any picnic - a cold steak and kidney pie. Oh it's good. Just look at that pastry! Mmmm....

Oh yes, come to mamma...

So tasty - perfect whether for a picnic in the summer or the centrepiece for an autumnal feast, although I'm informed that it is best served cold rather than hot. Just for you, dear readers, I have managed to persuade my Dad to part with the much coveted recipe - enjoy!

Rosy xx

Steak and Kidney Pie


2 lb good steak and kidney
2 tbsp seasoned flour
1 small onion
Red wine
Beef stock
Mushrooms (optional)

12 oz plain flour
3 oz lard
3 oz butter
salt & pepper
cold water

1 Trim the meat and cut into moderately large cubes. Toss in seasoned flour. Slice the onion.

2 Place the meat and onion into a casserole, barely cover with red wine/stock mixture, bring to simmer on the hob. Transfer to a slow oven (Gas 2) and cook for 2 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool well. [Can be done day before]

3 Make up the shortcrust pastry and refrigerate for 20 min. (That's rubbing the fat into the flour and adding cold water until it comes together! My Dad's a bit of a pastry legend. R x)

4 Line a lightly oiled pie dish with just over half of the pastry. Place some sliced mushrooms on bottom of dish if wanted; add cool filling. Cover, pierce and decorate. Brush with beaten egg.

5 Cook for 30 min in a hot (Gas 7) oven or until cooked and golden. Allow to cool.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Perfect Pound Cake

I went into this week's Sweet Melissa Sunday's swearing that I wouldn't modify the recipe. I really did, I promise!! But then it kind of went like this... We got home from Italy and I remembered that I'd totally forgotten to pick up more vanilla essence, so subbed in vanilla paste. And I didn't get around to buying the right sized tin (which I've been intending to get for ages). So with the first attempt I used a small loaf tin and, upon discovering some rogue blueberries in the back of the fridge I mixed them into the left over mix and popped it into my trusty mini springform tins - thus far only really used for left over mix but oh so cute!
I have to say the result was everything the title promised that it would be. Absolutely perfect. The crumb was light but not fluffy like a sponge cake - more dense and moist. Just delicious! In fact, it was so good I immediately dashed out to pick up the correct sized tin to make it again!
I did manage to have a little batter left over as yes, I didn't buy a large enough tin, but it was closer! Not doing very well today... I also popped some raspberries into the little cake and more blueberries into the loaf, just because I loved it so much!

Just soooooo good. I've now eaten way too much cake... Oops...

This has to be my fave recipe from the book so far, not just because it's perfect as it is, but it's also such a great base for experimenting! Thank you so much to the lovely Michelle of Veggie num nums and don't forget to check out the other bakers here! I'm not not off to eat more cake...

Rosy xx

PS In my haste to post, I totaly forgot one significant alteration that I made to the recipe (honestly, I don't know what's happened to my brain at the moment!). We don't have cake flour in the UK due to some stuff about bleaching agents. Anyway, I used a conversion thingy I found online and (having discovered that the weight of flour required was 220g) I used 190g all purpose (plain) flour and 30g cornflour (cornstarch). Worked a treat!

And JJ informs me this cake is awesome dipped in clotted cream. Yes, he dunked a chunk of cake in a pot of cream. Not just regular cream - clotted cream. Honestly! All my pretty china is totally wasted on him. Does anyone want to come over for tea so that it can get an outing??!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Wedding

So, predictably given the last post, my two dear friends are now husband and wife!! One thing that I didn't mention in the last post was that the wedding was held in Italy. It was absolutely stunning!

We had the run of an absolutely gorgeous Masseria in the rural heart of southern Italy. I really didn't want to leave!

The dinner was held outside under olive trees strung with hundreds of lanterns - just about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I hope these photos do it some justice!

Apologies for the brevity of this post - still so tired after all the travelling but stay tuned for some more photos from out Italy travels in the next few days...

Rosy xx

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Hen Party Afternoon Tea!!!!

Ok, so i'm going to warn you now, this is going to be a bit of a long one! So you might want to grab a cup of tea first... So - UNBELIEVABLY exciting - one of my best friends is getting married today!! Just too exciting for words, especially as I get to be a bridesmaid! As a bridesmaid, one of the main duties is to send the bride out into married life with a bang in the form of an awesome hen party. I think me and the other bridesmaid, Sarah, managed that one!!

It was all a surprise to Gen (the bride to be) which made it super fun for us to see all of her reactions. The day started off at her house with an afternoon tea. There were cupcakes (vanilla with vanilla frosting and chocolate with a chocolate ganache. The vanilla recipe is here) with initials and hearts on...

... and mousses; one chocolate (the recipe's here, although I didn't do a ganache layer. Instead, I covered the top in simple chocolate curls - a whole lot easier!) and the one below is a strawberry, white chocolate and rhubarb layered mousse. Oh it's good. It's so so good. The kind of thing that you eat in total disbelief that you made it! I still dream about the light, creamy and smooth fruity mousse layers. Ahem, drooling slightly but moving on!

We also decorated her front room - the theme was black and pink, so we had these swags of tissue paper heart chains. Just too pretty!
I think my favorite decoration were these woven hearts. I originally thought of making bunting but I just couldn't figure out how it would work with the slightly more 'modern' feel of the pink and black theme. So when I found the tutorial for these hearts on Once Wed, I just knew they'd be perfect! It took me a while to get the paper right (plain doesn't really work - both papers ideally need to be patterned) but once you've settled on two papers, the making of these is a sinch. But they look so effective, don't you think?
We also asked all the girls who attended the hen do to write notes to the bride to be, wishing her well in married life. We're opening the notes this morning over breakfast! That's the main reason I couldn't post about the hen do sooner - Gen doesn't know about this surprise either! I'm expecting some tears over brekkie... Good tears though!
And then there were the supplies for the evening festivities - the sash...
Very easy to make with some satin, black felt and paper backed iron on webbing. Much better than the normal tacky affair!

...and the fascinator - Gen had mentioned she'd seen some girls on a hen night wearing little birdcage veils so I whipped up this cute little number!
I really should have taken some photos as I went along as it's not really from a tutorial, but there's a great one on Once Wed that this is very loosely based on. Fascinators are very easy and so effective! A fun, short project for a rainy sunday - I'm not good at long craft projects as I tend to lose focus...
I wish I could give you all the details of the evening, but what happens on a hen night stay on a hen night I'm afraid! And the photos just aren't appropriate for public viewing... ;-) Needless to say, a good time was had by all!!
The next day, after a slow start, the mother of the bride, the bride and us two bridesmaids went for a leisurely lunch and to listen to some jazz at Thackerays. The perfect end to the perfect weekend!
So good luck to G and J today!!!! I could not imagine a more perfect couple and I'm so SO lucky to have such fabulous friends. Lots of love and wedding wishes guys!
Rosy xx

Sunday, 6 September 2009

SMS - Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake

My love affair with chocolate goes back as long as I can remember. I put it down to my Belgian routes... So many of my great food memories revolve around chocolate - eating Fauchon chocolate cake on the corner of a Parisian street, discovering Pierre Marcolini chocolates in Belgium (they stock them in London as well - AMAZING!!!!!), eating the largest piece of chocolate cake ever in Gail's in Hampstead with JJ after a long walk over the Heath... Oh how I love chocolate! And so of course I was utterly delighted when this week's Sweet Melissa Sunday, chosen by Sarah from Blue Ridge Baker, turned out to be a chocolate cake. And not just a simple chocolate: a fallen chocolate souffle cake! So I had high hopes for this baby. And I was so not disappointed - the best thing about this gorgeous cakey dessert how light it is. The photos make the centre look incredibly rich but in fact its light, smooth and just delicious. I didn't use good enough quality chocolate and that's something that I would change next time. I also didn't use the orange flavourings as I totally forgot to pick up an orange, but I switched it for a tablespoon of espresso which worked a treat. I only used a tablespoon of powder, dilluted with a tablespoon of boiling water, and I'm going to up that next time as they coffee didn't really come through enough for my liking. But seriously, a definite winner. Also worth noting that it's gluten free for those who are intolerant.
Do grab yourself a cup of tea and check out the other bakers' posts!
Rosy xx