Thursday, 16 August 2012

My Mother's Garden

My darling Mum has worked so hard building my parents' garden from scratch in the last year, and it's really paid off. The garden is turning into a riot of colour. The delicate jewels of blooms take my breath away.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Gluten-Free Iced Summer Fruit & Meringue Parfait

This iced dessert, adapted from a great recipe by Nigel Slater, is a multi faceted gem: fresh berries and apricots are mixed together with home made ice cream and meringue to create a gorgeous cake style parfait. On a hot day it really makes your taste buds pop. You could make the ice cream and meringues in advance - or use good quality shop bought ones of course - and just bung it all together as a parfait when you're ready.

The Blueberry Ice Cream

My own

375ml double cream
200g blueberries
75g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
juice of 1 lemon

1. Heat the lemon juice, blueberries and sugar together for a few minutes in a pan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil so that berries soften and release their juices, then turn down to a simmer and stir gently until a syrupy consistency.

2. I chose to keep the berries intact in my icecream, giving an iced berry crunch to the end result. If you'd prefer a smoother consistency, mash and then strain the berry mixture, getting rid of any berry pips and skin.

3. Add the cream and vanilla extract to the berry syrup, and mix well.

4. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the maker's instructions, then place in the freezer for a few hours.

5. Alternatively if you don't have an ice cream maker, then pour the mixture into a plastic container, cover with a lid and place in the coldest part of your freezer to set. After an hour, take out and churn with a fork every 40 minutes or so until the ice cream has frozen in a smooth, soft-set way.

The Meringues

My own

1 and half large eggs, whites only, room temperature
75g caster sugar

1. Turn the oven to 150C (130C fan), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl for a couple of minutes until stiff. You'll need to use an electic whisk or mixer to beat the whites hard enough.

3. Gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition.  Beat until well combined and glossy and smooth. The mixture should be stiff enough that it stands up in stiff peaks.

4. Spoon the meringue in smallish circles onto the parchment paper. Leave enough room between them to allow the meringues to expand, I fitted 4 or 5 on a baking tray. If you want to turn them into nests just make a well in the centre of each.

5. As soon as the meringues go in the oven turn the heat down to 120C (100C fan) and bake for 2 hours.

6. When the time is up, turn off the oven and leave the meringues in it to cool for half an hour or so. After this time you can place them on a wire rack if they need to cool further.

The Parfait

Adapted from the Iced Apricot & Blackcurrant Terrine recipe by Nigel Slater in his brilliant book Tender Volume II. Click here to buy the book on Amazon.

Taeberries and/or raspberries, 200g total
4 fresh apricots, washed
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
Blueberry icecream as above, 500ml
Meringues as above, 200g

1. First make a berry coulis, by heating the tayberries and/ or raspberries in a pan over a low heat with the sugar and water. Turn the heat up, and let the berries boil for a few minutes before taking off the heat. Leave to cool.

2. Slice the apricots into thin pieces. Line a 2lb metal or loaf tin, or a freezer box with cling film, leaving some overhang over the edges. Take the blueberry icecream out of freezer approximately 10/15 minutes before the coulis has cooled.

3. Once the coulis is cool, scoop the icecream into a large bowl, and stir in the apricots.

4. Crumble the meringues into small chunks, and add them to the icecream, giving another gentle stir.

5. Finally spoon the icecream parfait mixture into the lined loaf tin, before pouring the berry coulis over the top. Using a skewer swirl briefly through the parfait to mix it up.

 6. Cover the top of the parfait with cling film, and place in the freezer for at least 5 hours.

7. Take out of the freezer 5 minutes before serving, and cut with a sharp knife.

This parfait was idly made to the sounds of Arcade Fire's album The Suburbs

Friday, 3 August 2012

White Rabbit, Rose & Lemon Marble Cake

Welcome to the recipe for White Rabbit, Rose & Lemon Marble Cake! There's no need to give this cake too much description, as the White Queen did such a good job of it in the Mad Tea Party post. Suffice to say it is a delicious and oh so pretty party cake, with a moist flavoursome crumb, and a psychedelic glamour all of its own.

My own
Serves 10-12

For the white chocolate rabbits and roses:
approx 350g white chocolate, broken into pieces

1. Make the chocolate rabbits and roses in advance. Gently melt 250g of the chocolate over a bain mairie, a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Stir the chocolate, and when melted, add the extra 100g, taking it off the heat but continuing to stir until melted.

2. When all the white chocolate has melted smoothly, carefully spoon it into the silicone moulds (I got roses one from Lakeland; the rabbit one from Baked & Delicious magazine). Place the filled moulds on a plate in the fridge for half an hour, before unmoulding. Don't touch them too much when unmoulding as the heat of your hands may soften them. When unmoulded, place the mice back in the fridge on a plate until ready to use.

for the marble cake:
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
250g caster sugar
250g self raising flour
4 eggs
1 large drop of rose water, for rose batter
1 large drop of lemon extract, for lemon batter
1 pin prick pink colour tint paste, for rose batter, I used Ruby by SugarFlair
1 pin prick yellow colour tint paste, for lemon batter, I used Primrose by SugarFlair

3.Turn the oven to 180C (160C fan oven). Grease a 20cm round baking tin and line the bottom with baking paper.

4. Cream butter and sugar together for at least 3 minutes in a large bowl until fluffy.

5. Add the first egg and a tablespoon of the flour, and beat well until smooth. Repeat the process with the other two eggs one after the other, adding a little flour with each and beating until smooth.

6. Then divide the batter evenly into two bowls. To one half of the batter add the lemon flavouring and the yellow colouring, and mix together gently with a metal spoon.

7. To the second bowl of batter, add the rose flavouring and the pink colouring, mixing until combined as before.

8. Dollop spoonfuls of each batter, one after the other, into the prepared baking tin. When all the mixture has been used up, swirl once around the spoonfuls of batter with a skewer.

9. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes. You'll know it's done when a skewer comes out clean.

10. Remove from the oven and leave the cake in its tin for 20 minutes before carefully turning it out onto a wire rack or a plate to cool.

for the icing (this makes more than enough, so there'll be spoonfuls of leftovers for licking!):
500g icing sugar
160g unsalted butter, room temperature
50ml whole milk
2 drops vanilla extract

11. Once the cake is cool, you can make the icing. Slowly beat the icing sugar and butter together using a food mixer or a handheld electric whisk until they are well combined.

12. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and vanilla together.

13. Add a couple of spoonfuls at a time of the vanilla milk to the icing, mixing well.

14. When all the vanilla milk has been added, beat the mixture quickly, and continue beating for a minimum of 6 minutes, until the icing is fluffy and light.

15. When you're happy with the consistency of the icing, spread it over the top and sides of the cake with a spatula or palette knife.

16. Before the icing starts to harden, quickly place the white chocolate rabbits and roses into the icing, pressing them in firmly so that they stay put. Place the cake in the fridge for 20 minutes, then take out at least 5 minutes before serving at room temperature.

This cake was idly baked while listening to Edith Sitwell sing William Walton's Facade