Sunday, 31 January 2010

Pudding Night...

As part of the supper nights I have decided to host an evening soley dedicated to the joy of puddings. !

It is the perfect time of year, cold outside, Christmas has come and gone, spring is not yet in sight and with times
difficult for many I can think of no better way to soothe than the warmth and comfort of a home made pudding.
Especially the classic ones, syrupy, stodgy with loads of custard. These are like 'culinary cuddles'
reminding us of our childhood, school days, our mothers. Simpler times.

Britain has a long rich, often forgotten history of puddings and most people have a favourite...tell me
yours and I will do my best to accomodate - Friday 12th February.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Vintage Afternoon Tea

Sunday dawned a crisp clear day for my forthcoming guests. I awoke reassured that the tables, previously
laid, looked suitably pretty although I find it difficult to be objective. You need the observations and fresh
eyes of others for that.
The various pieces of china lovingly sourced were placed alongside, glass, silverware, pretty cake stands complete
with original victorian postcards written as love letters to husband and wife.

The tea menu consisted of small sandwiches, cakes - chocolate and guinness/honey and coconut/small pavlovas with cream and passion fruit/chocolate shoes filled with chocolate mousse - all served with leaf tea, prosecco and pink lemonade.

The old 'non original ' weighing scales I had found filled with jelly beans looked very cute. It is interesting to see that generally the same things tend to be popular, chocolate always seems to be a winner in any form and so do pavlovas.

One of my guests was Australian and was naturally very happy at the sight of them.

Thank goodness as they were my
third attempt ! I have made them so many times with no trouble yet of course on the day could not get the oven
temperature right.

The honey and coconut cake wasn't eaten, which is good as it helps to know what should be avoided in future. I had cut it into squares and as it was uncovered this had possibly made it too dry.

The chocolate shoes courtesy of Choccywoccydodah in Brighton worked well with the mousse piped inside, even though
they were very sceptical about it working . Odd, why on earth not ?

The large table of guests were ideal, they all knew each other well and were lively, cheery and very relaxed. They bought another guest unannounced which worked out fine and always welcome. A voucher was requested for a another
who couldn't make it.

I look forward to my next....

Monday, 4 January 2010

Happy Christmas Isabella...x

A homemade Christmas gift.. in keeping with our 'recessionista' Christmas 2009 !

Vintage tea cup with homemade coffee and chocolate cup cake, wrapped in pink tuille complete with edible
silver balls.

Christmas cakes..

Christmas pudding cakes... with love from my daughter.
So cute.

Christmas pavlova...

Pavlova with cream and winter berries.... Soft and gooey inside, crunchy on the outside.
Springform tin 25cm / serves approx 10
8 egg whites ( room tempertaure )
pinch salt
500g caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour
2 tsp white wine vinegar
the topping - optional
mixed winter/summer berries, warmed through - or
banana and passion fruit
whipped cream/mascarpone/ice cream - whichever you prefer
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 C.
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and draw a rough circle of about 25cm using the base of the tin you will use.
Whisk egg whites and salt in a large roomy bowl (spotlessly clean, as egg whites don't like contact with even the slightest trace of any other food substance and they will double in volume) until shiny peaks form.
Beat in the sugar a little at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Sprinkle over the cornflour and vinegar and fold in gently to avoid loosing any of the air you have so carefully added.
Pile the meringue on to the baking sheet within the circle and either swirl to create the shape you like or spread out and smooth the sides.
Put it in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to to gas 2/150 C and cook for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours. By then it will have risen and cracked a litle around the top and the sides. Check that it is dry and crispy on the outside, if not give it a little longer.
Then turn off the oven, open the door and leave to cool completely.
When you are ready to dress the pavlova, you can if your brave enough, invert it on to a large plate and remove the baking parchment. If it's too daunting don't worry about it...just leave it and be aware you will just have to take a little more care when serving to avoid giving your guests a mouthful of paper ! ( Something I have actually done I am afraid )
Once you have chosen your preferred topping you can add as you wish, it is difficult ot get this wrong as it lends itself to going overboard.
Dust liberally with icing sugar...Enjoy

Friday, 1 January 2010

A different Christmas....

For me, Christmas often brings thoughts of my own childhood, so different from my daughters.

Growing up in the North Island of New Zealand ( ' land of the long white cloud' ) means a warm Christmas, traditionally a day for the 'beach'. Not what we chilly northerners know as the beach but huge stretches of soft sand and rolling surf. Food is a similar affair to England even though it's warm, though there are differences due to the temperate climate and it's rich Maori/Polynesian heritage. Seafood is in abundance with the choices different to the U.K. Collecting Pippis, small shellfish encased in a black shell, was a childhood treat after a day on the beach. Once the tide went out they would lay on the sand and we would collect them up and eat them as they were, gritty and salty.
Toheroa was another shellfish common in my childhood,complete with a strange long tongue inside as per the
Maori name.

Pavlova was a staple, adorned with wonderful fruits like fegoa, chinese gooseberries ( kiwi fruit ),tamarillos & passion fruit.
Lamingtons, the ubiquitous sponge covered in chocolate and coconut was a favourite as was 'hokey pokey' icecream, a mix of the best vanilla studded with crunchy, slightly oozing toffee throughout. Next were jaffas, pineapple chunks, buzz bars, all washed down with 'Leeds' lemonade.

I am lucky enough to be able to source some of these things here now. Brighton has a sweet shop in the North Laines
which satisfies my a price and I was so excited to find there is a now a New Zealand restaurant in London,
the chef importing directly from New Zealand, with even a 'hangi' featured on the menu. The traditional Maori way to
cook meat underground.

The menu is a hymn to my past and I know I am going to love it when I finally get there..