Tuesday, 23 February 2010

More Fairy Cakes

Yes, yes, I know we've got these covered already - but as a rainy day activity what better than these little spongey treats? ("more mixing mummy").

Pop them in the oven ("Ot, 'ot - burn your wingers" (we sometimes have trouble with the letter 'f'!)) then slather in white chocolate butter cream and go to town with the Barbie sprinkles.

A little too rich for small folk (shame eh? all the more for mummy...) but she was easily placated with a more suitable alternative so all's well that ends well...

Monday, 22 February 2010

Victoria Sponge (with a 'helping' hand)

"Come to our tea party" said a good friend.

"I'll bring a cake" I replied, conveniently forgetting my free time is currently in overdraft and finding the time to do baking would mean bumping the 101 other more urgent tasks even further down the to-do list.

But hey - no surprise that I didn't take too much convincing to forgo Tesco and laundry in favour of floury delights.

What to make? No time for pontification - ingredients for Victoria Sponge all present and correct - so Victoria Sponge (Domestic Goddess) it was

The wee un volunteered her services but I soon learned that babies are absolute rubbish when it comes to creaming butter and sugar to a mouse like consistency. Thanks heavens for the Kitchen Aid...

Fancied something different for the filling: not keen on cream (and nor is my host) so whipped up a white chocolate buttercream and studded it with juicy fresh raspberries.

The photo doesn't do its majesty justice (alas courtesy of a mobile phone) but suffice to say - all (guests) impressed and all (cake) devoured with relish.

Rich and calorific - yes - but then surely that's the point of good old English afternoon tea?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

How I Destroyed My Pan Collection (Part 2)

Once again my pursuit of the perfect oriental salmon has cost me dear

This time Mirin Glazed (Nigella Express)

Ludicrously simple to make: mirin, soy and soft brown sugar (which within minutes of opening the bag always seems to become rock hard brown sugar and a right bugger to decant without coating the rest of the kitchen in fine muscovado scented particles...but I digress). Slosh the salmon around for a few minutes and cook, adding some rice vinegar to the sauce at the end. How could that possibly go wrong...?

By doubting the great sage is the easy answer.

The method clearly states that one should cook the salmon for 2 mins on each side but being an infidel - albeit a fleeting one - I thought that didn't sound very much and went for 3 mins instead. Result - well depends who you ask...husband said 'burnt to a cinder' though I preferred the more poetic "heavily char grilled". Semantics perhaps, but add the sticky sauce factor to the overcooking and another pan past its prime.

It is worth noting that the bits that were still edible were delicious - so much so that I made it again, following the instructions to the letter and using an old and slightly unloved pan just in case. And as is the way of such things, this hardware lives to fight another day...

My dinner was too delicious for words. Husband's raw in the middle. I assure you - and him - that this was not deliberate on my part and now I guess I just have to hope it will be third time lucky

Monday, 15 February 2010

Teething and a Dinner Party...

My inclination towards domestic goddess-hood has been severely impaired by the baby's dentistry - namely the molars that are causing her untold misery and bother (we were lucky with the rest - hardly any hassle at all - and now it is pay back time...)

So what do you do when you have had no sleep for a week, are so tired that you can't remember your own phone number and have even stopped eating toast cos frankly heating up the bread is way too much effort? That's right - you throw a dinner party.

Cursing the gene that is scientifically known as the "if you are going to do something you may as well do it properly" chromosome it was an all-out assault on the kitchen. And this was a tricky ask...

Six people - two veggies (proper no fish veggies), one person who doesn't eat cheese, one person who doesn't eat fruit or nuts in savoury dishes, one person who doesn't eat ginger or cinnamon, one person who is allergic to peppers...takes some planning let me tell you.

A simple starter seemed the best way forward - a platter of halloumi, vine leaves, hummous, pitta etc

For the main course a recipe I have been meaning to make forever but as it's something that serves 6-8 and is not easily altered had been hitherto untried...

Pretty easy to make - nothing more arduous than a load of stirring. Past practice in the art of filo made the assembly relatively unstressful too. And it looks way more impressive than it ought to so lots of 'oohs' and 'aahs' and even a 'wow' (though wasn't sure whether the astonishment displayed by guest was a genuine compliment or more of a 'blimey, who'd have thought it?'). Make of it what you will...

Off piste (in Nigella terms) for the accompaniments: Ottolenghi chargrilled brocolli salad, a green bean and sesame salad and a nifty combo of roasted new potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potato and cherry tomato. And not a morsel remained.

Desert - and the trusty apple crumble (as per previous post) plus Chocolate Raspberry Tarts (Domestic Goddess again...)

The latter was possibly the bridge too far, the straw that broke this very tired camel;'s back. Looked great, tasted good - but not enough to warrant the time and effort that were already in short supply and ended up in overdraft.

The chocolate pastry was easy enough to make (by hand) but incredibly short - and so by the time it had chilled in the fridge it was more like a big rock-hard lump of crumbliness, rather than a dough you had any hope of rolling. Disloyally perhaps, I recalled a Jamie trick of cutting and pressing slices into the little tins which worked pretty well. But then there was freezing the cases for 30 mins, then baking, then cooling, then filling - all around bath and bedtime and lots of comforting cuddles and teething powders. ..

Went my own way on the filling (when did I ever follow a recipe to the letter?) and mixed melted milky bar with marscapone which was so delicious had eaten half of it before it got near the tarts. One tip - keep at room temperature for while before serving otherwise it's not quite as soft and sumptuous as it should be...

Anyway - lots more wows, replete and happy guests - and another long, long night. We're back on the butties for a while...