Loved-up syllabubs!

Yay! Shiny chocolate hearts – nailed! Oh Mr Paul Hollywood I am in love with your method for tempering chocolate. So simple, so clear.

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Tempering chocolate

‘Break 150g/5½oz of the plain chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 47C/115F (use a kitchen thermometer to check). Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining 50g/1¾oz of chocolate and stir until the chocolate has cooled to 31C/90F.’ From the Great British Bake Off, ‘Chocolate Creation Showstopper’ cake.

For Loved-up syllabubs:

Coat silicone heart moulds with tempered chocolate. Chill until set. Remove and fill with strawberry flavoured syllabub. Use a turkey baster to inject a little fruit coulis into the centre of each, cover with a little more strawberry syllabub. Invert and serve with a small glass of lemon syllabub and fresh strawberries. Decorate with fresh mint sprigs.

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#38 EASTER FOOD NEWS: Make, do and spend!

Make

Layer. Sandwich. Coat. Drizzle. Plonk…if you’re going to be making one thing this Easter, try my Mini Egg cake for Sainsbury’s. A guaranteed show stopper! SSSsssh it’s much easier than it looks!

mini-egg-cake-560_6bf6a12c5370bd09d16d4fc38905c324 Click here for recipe

Click here for video

Do

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Eat chocolate whilst burning off calories! What more do you want? Get yourself booked onto a Chocolate Ecstasy tour. There’s still a few places left on the Chelsea Tour on Easter Sunday – a one and half mile walk tasting the most exquisite chocolates as you go. The tour finishes with a sit-down mini chocolate tasting. HHuumm all that sitting and tasting – I’m not sure you burn off ALL those choccy calories. Oh well. Pass me a passionfruit salted caramel please. Tours from £30. www.chocolateecstasytours.com

And Spend!

choccywoccy doo dah book

For £25 you can get your hands on a copy of the gorgeous Chocolate, Cake & Curses from Choccywoccydoodah. Don’t expect recipes and secrets on how to sculpt ‘those’ gravity defying wedding cakes. This is more of an insight into the minds of those chocolate geniuses with inspiring stories and anecdotes from Christine Taylor and the team. Of course there are recipes to satisfy that need to cook up a choccy storm from Chocolate Pie to Chocolate Bread Pudding to Dripping Chocolate Millefeuille.

choccywoccydoodah

Getting lost in choclate heaven. Choccywoccydoodah, Carnaby Street, book launch.

Mini egg cake photo: Charlie Richards. Chocolate tour photo: www.chocolateecstasytours.rezdy.com

#11 FOOD NEWS: World cake-in-a Cup; Italy vs England re-match, frozen yogurt & hello Moscow mule!

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…
 Every monday

World cake-in-a Cup

Inspired by these fun flag mugs, it only one meant thing…an Italy vs England World cake-in-a Cup re-match! Using Sainsbury’s cake-in-a-cup recipe as the base, will my country-inspired additions make it a new winning recipe or as disappointing as an own goal?

Ingredients

To kick off, I start with a risky decision and take out solid performer; Vanilla Extract and for England add 2tsp Pimms and 2 Chopped Strawberries.  For Italy, I add 2tsp Limoncello – possibly a disastrous choice or it could be a touch of magic for the mix. Just before the second half (before putting in the microwave), I top off team Italia with 1 fine Lemon Slice.

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When the England team think they’re finished we’ll top them off with a fresh strawberry. Both teams will get a good shower of icing sugar before the next round.

england final

England: Not a great looker – a bit lumpy and bumpy, but Chopped Strawberries added a whole new dimension to the game.

italy final

Italy: Rose to the occasion perfectly, an extremely slick performance, however Limoncello could have been slightly stronger up front.

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Final score….

1 – 1 

Personlised mugs from £8  http://www.moonpig.com, for Sainsbury’s original Cake in-a-cup recipe click here

Top theme

Wild west strip

The Wild West in Kent; The Garden of England. It may not be a combo that instantly springs to mind but as an advocate of having the best of both worlds it was the perfect location for one awesome party!  Two (very strong) Moscow mules, led me to constantly daydream (whilst attempting to dance like a cow-girl) about farming on the surrounding hop fields and orchards, then as dusk fell I put full attention into toasting marshmallows, eating popcorn and gorging on local and speciality cheese. Bliss.

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For a wonderful family run campsite in this beautiful tranquil spot (with lovely quirky touches such as a communal tipi and camp fire starter packs!) visit www.bedgeburycamping.co.uk

Frozen assets

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On honeymoon in Puglia I had the best gelato I’ve ever tasted; full-on creamy-dreamy satisfaction! The honeymoon/ holiday feeling probably added to the whole experience but I must say I did get a sweet little holiday feeling at Yog this week, a little stroll along Exmouth Market, nipping into the ice-cream parlour-style shop was a real treat. Going with the ‘healthier alternative to ice-cream’ idea my coconut, cherry and tropical fruit combo was delicious, but I think my friend Jen got it right loading her pomegranate frozen yogurt with Oreo cookies! Get experimenting and that holiday feeling at Yog http://www.yogyogurt.co.uk/

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Yog selfie – had to be done 

Top 2 Britalian frozen treats:

Britalian iced canapes

strawberries

Instant summer fruits ice-cream 

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Father’s day menu: The recipes

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So my old dad after 50 years of work, enjoying his retirement, decided to go for a quick holiday to Spain to visit my brother on hol to play a bit of tennis – as you do. I’m not sure how much tennis will be played – paella and beer will probably be more the order of the day! This means we brought Father’s day 2014 forward, so good news for my lovely blog followers as the recipes are now here should anyone want to give them a go this weekend! Dad’s never going to get Blancmange in Spain.

Mini fish finger open sarnies

Beef and Stilton shirt & tie pie

Espresso blancmange Martini

For a bit of background on how I ended up with this tantalizing trio, please click here. Not worried? Read on and enjoy!

STARTER

Mini fish finger open sarnies

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50g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
Zest of 1 lemon, plus 1/2tbsp juice, plus lemon wedges, to serve
75g ciabatta breadcrumbs,  plus 4 slices
275g skinless cod fillet, cut into 12 x approx 6cm x 3cm fingers (See Britalian tip)
4tbsp mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic (1 crushed, 1  halved)
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
Peashoots or watercress, to garnish

1 Place the flour onto a plate. Pour the beaten egg into a shallow dish. Mix the lemon zest into the breadcrumbs, season to taste, then tip onto another plate.

fishfinge step 1 crop

2 Take a piece of fish and dust it in the flour, next dip it in the egg (allowing any excess to drip off) and finally into the breadcrumbs. Chill for 1 hour – this will firm up the fish and make them easier to handle.

3 Meanwhile, mix the mayo with the crushed garlic and lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.

4 Preheat the grill to hot. Wipe the cut halves of garlic over the ciabatta slices and set aside.

5 Heat the oil in large frying pan, add the fish fingers and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 mins either side until golden-brown and cooked through (you may need to do this in batches – keep already cooked fish fingers warm in a low oven). Remove the fish fingers from the pan and place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.

fish finger strip

6 Literally just show the ciabatta slices to the grill, to warm, then pile on the fish fingers. Add a spoonful of the garlic and lemon mayo and garnish with the watercress or pea shoots. Serve with extra lemon wedges (if you remember – I forgot for the pic!).

Britalian Tip

If you can only get cod fillet with the skin on, you will need approx 350g, when the skin is removed you should have approx 275g of fish left.

MAIN

Beef and Stilton shirt & tie pie

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Serves 4

2tbsp olive oil
700g stewing steak, cubed
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
200g leek, trimmed and sliced
3tbsp plain flour
500ml beef stock (made with 1 stock cube)
100g Stilton, crumbled
250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
500g pack shortcrust pastry
1 medium egg, beaten
1tbsp poppy seeds
1tbsp sesame seeds
Steamed Tenderstem broccoli, mini carrots and new potatoes, to serve

ingreds pie crop

1 Heat 1tbsp oil in a large non-stick saucepan, fry the steak for 3-5mins, until browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

2 Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan, add the onion and leeks and cook for 3-5 mins until softened, then return the steak with any juices and mix well.

3 Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually pour in the stock, stirring, season to taste. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer very gently for 1 hour 30mins until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

4 Remove from the heat, stir through the Stilton until melted, then stir through the mushrooms. Set aside and allow to cool.

5 Preheat the oven to 200’C, fan 180’C, gas mark 6. Spoon the steak mixture into a 1.5L rectangular oven-proof dish. To make the pastry lid, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin, and cut out a rectangle large enough to cover the dish. Reserve the trimmings.

pie strip

6  Dampen the edges of the dish, then press strips of pastry from the trimmings onto the dampened edges, brush with water, cover with the pastry lid, then press the edges to seal. Use the remaining trimmings to make shirt and tie shapes. Secure into place with a little water. Cut a couple of slits along the ‘tie’ for steam to escape.

 pie about to go in oven

7 Brush the ‘tie’ with the beaten egg and decorate with the poppy and sesame seeds, then brush the ‘shirt’ with the remaining egg and place on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 mins until the pastry is golden. Serve with the steamed vegetables.

PUD

Espresso Martini blancmange

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36g pack chocolate blancmange
3tbsp caster sugar
500ml whole milk
70ml espresso
300ml double cream
3tbsp Martini Extra Dry
1tbsp icing sugar
12 chocolate coffee beans by Sainsbury’s
Cocoa powder to dust

1 Empty the contents of the pack of blancmange into a bowl, then add the sugar plus 3tbsp of the milk. Mix to a smooth paste.

2 Heat the remaining milk and espresso in a saucepan until warm. Add a little of the warm milky coffee to the paste, mix, then add the remainder and stir well. Return it to the saucepan.

steps espresso martini

3 Bring to the boil, then stirring continuously, simmer gently for 1 minute. Rinse 4 x martini or dessert glasses with cold water and shake to eliminate excess water. Pour in the liquid. Allow to cool to room temperature then chill for 3 hours until set.

4 Very softly whip the cream with the martini and icing sugar. Divide between the dessert glasses, then decorate with the chocolate coffee beans and dust with the cocoa powder.

dessert eaten

‘My lovely dad’ card from the fab https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AbbyRoseCardDesigns

Thanks to Helenka at http://www.ilovemygrub.com/ for inspiring conversation on shirt-shaped food!

#6 FOOD NEWS: Edible art afternoon tea, Buckingham Palace & a cheeky Negroni!

Edible art: It’s the real deal!

afternoon tea crip

Espresso Martini in Soho or afternoon tea in Park Lane (with compulsory  touristy pics of Buckingham Palace)? You won’t find me saying no to either. But for the same price as two cocktails in London my mate Nic found a great Groupon deal: Chocoholics Afternoon Tea. We literally inhaled yummy open sandwiches, savoured endless cups of tea and marvelled over (and ate) designer cakes that sat on top of an artist’s palette made of chocolate. Set in the peaceful surrounds of the Hilton hotel – perfect for uninterrupted  girlie catch-ups. All of this and one of the prettiest doggy bags I’ve ever seen!

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#3 FOOD NEWS: Sounds of Paolo Nutini, wild garlic pesto & couture chocolate curls

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN

This week’s must-haves:

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BOOK: Never mind Will and Kate, Milton Keynes received a visit from our favourite King (of the Jungle). The gorgeous Gino D’Acampo has been promoting his new book Pronto, let’s cook Italian in 20 mins. Simple cooking with good ingredients – a great collection of quick, tasty, affordable recipes.

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