Friday, 23 May 2014

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup with Bacon Bits


Its good to be back on the farm after the most amazing trip to Prague.


Although the days have been lovely and mild without any wind, the nights are getting cooler and I've finally pulled out the winter duvet…another great way to get through the long nights is to tuck into steaming bowls of hearty soup.


To make this delicious cauliflower soup you'll need:
300g cauliflower, washed.
1 chicken stock cube,
1 C boiling water,
1 generous C milk,
150g extra mature cheddar, grated,
dash Tabasco,
Salt and pepper
2 rashers crispy bacon, chopped,
truffle oil.


Roughly chop the cauliflower and throw into a pot along with the stock dissolved in boiling water.
Allow to simmer and add the milk.
Simmer until the cauliflower is cooked through.
Add a generous splash of Tabasco, salt and pepper.
Use a stick blender to blend until smooth.
Return to the stove and throw in the grated cheddar, stirring until it has melted.


Dish up generous portions and sprinkle with bacon bits, drizzle over a little fresh cream and truffle oil.


Serve with fresh crusty bread and butter...


Snuggle up on the couch in front of a roaring fire and enjoy.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Chocolate Macarons with Kahlua Ganache


Macarons - these humble morsels have a reputation for reducing grown women to tears…both the women tearing their hair out doing the baking and those doing the tasting.


Despite having ample opportunity to taste the real deal while living in France for a year, I've never really understood all the fanfare around macarons. For some reason they never really captured my imagination - or my taste buds for that matter.


That is, until a friend came over for dinner and brought a batch she had made…to say I was bowled over is an understatement.


They were so soft and light, seemingly completely insubstantial, yet packing a punch of chewy sweet delicious lingering flavour…I was smitten…and once they were sob finished, I had to have more…immediately!


Louise mentioned the Ottolenghi recipe so I did a quick search which came up with a few different options as well as instructions and oven temperatures that varied quite widely.
After a few experiments, I've found a combination that works well with my oven. 


In a food processor whizz together:
110g icing sugar, 50g ground almonds, 12g cocoa powder.
Once its a fine powder, sieve into a bowl.
Using an electric beater, whip up:
2 egg whites until stiff.
Add in 40g castor sugar.

Once the meringue forms soft glossy peaks, add half the almond mix and fold in gently. Add the remaining mix and fold until incorporated.


Place a piping bag upright in tall glass to make it easier to fill then scoop the meringue into the bag.

Line 2 baking trays with non-stick parchment paper. As a guide you can draw circles leaving spaces to allow for the mixture spreading.
Pipe the meringue into each circle forming a disc.
Give the tray a bash on the counter to remove air bubbles.

Leave the trays out for 15-30 minutes for the mixture to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC and bake for 12-14 minutes.
At 12 minutes open the oven door to allow steam to escape.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the trays.

Allow to cool.

I have found that the macarons on the bottom tray tend to crack so I pipe fewer onto this tray but after trying countless a few variations in my oven, I've realised they are a necessary sacrifice to prevent the top tray from cracking…they still taste every bit as delicious.


For the ganache, heat 100g double cream in a saucepan.
Once its simmering, remove from heat and add 100g chocolate (I use Cadbury's Top Deck).
Allow to stand for 2 minutes and then whisk until its smooth and glossy.
Add 2 T Kahlua and mix it in.

I put my ganache into the fridge to harden.
After 10 minutes it should be firm enough to scoop between 2 macaron wafers.


Last week I headed out to dinner with friends in town and wrapped a few macarons in a gift box for the hostess.
I decorated my box with beautiful ribbon and an exquisite button from the new Incomparable range


I parted with these macarons rather reluctantly…next time I think I'll pop to the farm stall on the way and take a bunch of flowers instead!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Yoghurt Fig Cake


We are slowly heading into Autumn here…we've had a few weeks of insanely hot weather so its taking a while to adjust to days that are slightly cooler and noticeably shorter.
The last of the summer's fresh fruit is on the shelves in bulk for a steal.
I couldn't resist a few huge boxes of figs for R29 (that's about £1.60!)

Before I have to resort to making fig jam, I Googled a few ways to use up all of this figgy deliciousness and found myself tempted by this light and tasty yoghurt cake which I originally saw over on Life Love Food.


I adapted it slightly and it is perfect for a hot summers day when you're serving tea and need something tasty but light to serve.

You'll need:
4 eggs, separated,
1/2 C castor sugar,
3T flour,
1 and 2/3 C full fat plain Greek yoghurt,
juice of 1 lemon,
6 figs, cut in half from the top down.

Cream together the egg yolks and castor sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the flour and stir until combined.
Then add the yogurt and lemon juice until combined.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them into the yoghurt mixture.
Pour into a greased springform pan and top with the figs.
Bake at 180ºC for 50 minutes until golden brown.
The cake will rise to the edges in the oven but will subside once removed.
Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.


If summer had a taste, it's all wrapped up in this cake.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Blaize's 40th


My (older) brother turned 40 in January…crazy really. We were just kids not so long ago. 
Luckily we had a weekend-long party where we could behave as though we were kids again!
He had a big bash up in the wine cellar on the farm…we decorated the storage crates and wine vats with hundreds of fairy lights and balloons.


Mother Nature put on quite a special show with the exquisite views and a beautiful sunset.


The theme was Gunther and the Sunshine Girls - not one I was familiar with and I'm rather sorry I had to Google it to figure out what to wear as I'd prefer to live in blissful ignorance!


There were a lot of moustaches being sported…some of them by the men!


…and pouting was the order of the day…I think it might be best to let the pictures speak for themselves...







An incredible, mostly memorable party celebrating a very special human being.
Happy Birthday Blaize.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins


If you're looking for a healthy, low fat recipe for banana muffins then you've come to the wrong place click on my earlier banana muffin recipe for delicious virtually fat-free muffins and read no further…really, you have been warned! 


These banana muffins are easy to whip together in 5 minutes and require only one bowl - my sort of wonderful.


Which leaves me with only one question…what are you waiting for?


Turn the oven to 180ºC.
Mix together the following:
3 bananas, roughly mashed,
1 C sugar,
2 C flour,
1 t bicarbonate of soda,
1 t vanilla,
3 T sour cream,
2 eggs,
1/2 C butter, soft,
1 C chocolate chips (I used Cadbury's Top Deck)


Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases in a muffin tin.


Pop them into the oven and keep yourself occupied for 20-25 minutes while they bake.


Try to allow them to cool before inhaling enjoying them with a hot cup of tea...




Monday, 17 March 2014

Chewy Ginger Biscuits


Ginger is a firm favourite around here - whether its pickled, ground, fresh or crystallised there's bound to be a large supply in the store cupboard. 


The spicy aroma of ginger biscuits cooking is impossible hard to resist. 
With this in mind, I whipped up a quick batch of gingery, cinnamony soft sugar cookies.


To make a fresh batch, turn the oven to 180ºC and gather the following ingredients together:
1 & 1/4 C flour,
1/2t bicarbonate of soda,
1t ginger,
3/4t cinnamon,
pinch of nutmeg,
pinch salt,
3/8C butter,
1/2 C sugar,
1 egg,
1/8C honey
1/2 T water,
4T sugar and 1t cinnamon for dusting.


 Sieve the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt) together and set aside.


Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg.


Stir in the water and honey.
Add the dry ingredients and mix well.


Scoop tablespoon sized portions into your palm and roll them gently.
Dip in the sugar and cinnamon mix.
Place onto baking paper on a baking tray, press down slightly and bake for 8-12 minutes.


Let them cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
Wrap them up in wax paper, tie them with baker's twine and finish off with a cheerful gingerbread man button. A cute and tasty homemade gift to take along for your next tea date.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Crafting for Baby - Softy Giraffe


I'm guest posting over at Someday Crafts as part of their Crafting for Baby series.
This softy giraffe is a quick and easy toy to create to take along to a baby shower as a sweet gift.


You can create your own giraffe using the template above (Note: seam allowance not included).
You'll need fabric, various coloured ribbons, stuffing, sewing machine and thread.


Cut 2 giraffes from complementary fabrics. Turn the template over for the second piece.
Pin various lengths of ribbon loops facing inwards on the right side of the fabric along his neck for the mane and 1 piece for the tail.


Place the fabric right sides together and sew together (I double back over the ribbons to secure them firmly into place) leaving a large enough gap to turn right side out and stuff.
Fill the giraffe with stuffing and hand stitch the opening closed.


If you can't bear to part with him, whip up another one or two.
Wrap in tissue paper with a big ribbon and an Incomparable heart pendant - the perfect finishing touch.


Optional: You can sew a patch of minky fabric or corduroy onto the body pieces before stitching together to add an extra tactile element for baby.

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