Sunday, 28 April 2013

Seven on Sunday: 28.04.13

The Cottage Garden: forget-me-nots, tulips, wall plants, buds, bee paradise, more tulips, rocket shoots.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Sunshine Marshmallows

I can grow vegetables in a garden pretty well but my pot plant gardening skills are practically non-existent. My proof in that statement can be found in the following photos.

Giant courgette.

Mangy habanero plant.

Oh, how I longed for planters overspilling with leafy greens and bubbling with fruit. I want fat orange habenaro to slice into stir fries or simmer in some autumnal chutney. I want shiny fruit delicately dangling of leafy green sturdy plants. My terranium skills are rubbish.

It doesn't quite make sense. It's the same principle. Plant seeds, water, (prune, if necessary), pick.

Maybe I'll never get the hang of it. I'll console myself with these orange and chilli marshmallows in the meantime. Sweet and just a hint of warmth, perfect summery marshmallows. Do you have any container/pot plant tips?

120ml orange juice
Grated zest of one orange
1tsp dried chilli flakes
23gr powdered gelatine
160ml golden syrup
440gr caster sugar
Vegetable oil for greasing
Couple of tablespoons of cornflour and icing sugar mixed together.

1, In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together the orange juice, zest, chilli, and powdered gelatine briefly. Leave this to sponge while you make the hot sugar syrup.
2, Add the sugar and golden syrup into a medium sized saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover it.
3, Turn the heat to low and stir until the sugar melts.
4, Using a damp pastry brush remove any rogue sugar crystals from the edge of the pan. You don’t want these falling in as it might trigger the syrup to crystallise. Turn the heat up high
5, Bring the syrup to a boil and continue to heat it until it reaches 130o/c on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat and leave to one side for a minute.
6, Turn your stand mixer on and slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl. Be careful not to hit the spinning whisk.

7, Beat until it goes pale and fluffy.
8, Whilst its beating, line an 8 inch square cake tin with greaseproof paper. Brush that lightly with vegetable oil and then dust with a little cornflour and icing sugar. Make sure you oil up the sides and dust those also.
9, When the marshmallow is ready, it will take on the consistency of really sticky bubblegum, carefully pour it into the prepared tin. Using a tablespoon dipped in water smooth the top out and then dust the top with some more of the cornflour/icing sugar mixture.

10, Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours until it has set.
11, Cut into squares and roll in more of the cornflour/icing sugar mixture. These will keep for around 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Coconut Baked Alaska Pops

I know there has been a bit of a craze for anything pop. Cake pops. Pie pops. Brownie pops. Pizza pops. You heard me. Pizza pops. But really, if you can put something on a stick, does it mean you should?

I tested this theory.

Cats - No. They get angry. If you persist.

Husbands - You'll need a big stick, and generally they're not best pleased about it. It's a no.

Phones - No real point there

Pen - PenStick! But also pointless. A no.

Honey - Impossible unless you keep it in motion.

Diet Coke - Just a puddle and a wet stick.

Baked Alaska - Yes. Big fat stick shaped yes.

Makes around 14


Coconut Ice Cream

2 egg yolks
50gr caster sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour
150ml semi skimmed milk
200ml double cream
1tsp coconut extract
5gr dessicated coconut (lightly toasted in a dry saucepan until golden brown)

Genoise Sponge
1 egg
25gr caster sugar
25gr self raising flour
5gr dessicated coconut
1/4 tsp baking powder

Sugar Syrup
2tbsp caster sugar
6tbsp cold water
(1tsp coconut rum - optional)

Italian Meringue
2 egg whites
70ml water
120gr caster sugar
1/4tsp white wine vinegar
Small pinch of salt

You will also need
A small cutter, around 4cm-5cm in diameter
14 lolly sticks, or cut down bamboo skewers
A little blowtorch


1, First make the ice cream by beating the egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour together in a heatproof bowl. Bring the milk and 150ml of the double cream up to a gentle simmer and stir in the coconut extract.
2, Pour this gently onto the egg yolks and sugar, whisking constantly. Pass through a sieve back into the saucepan and set over a low heat. Stir continuously until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 50ml double cream.
3, Chill until completely cold. Churn the ice cream base with the toasted coconut in an ice cream machine, following the machine instructions. Empty the ice cream into a 6 inch round silicone tin and freeze until completely solid.

4, Next, make the genoise sponge by preheating your oven to 190o/c and lining another 6inch silicone tin with a round of greaseproof paper in the bottom.
5, Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick, pale, and foamy. Gently fold the flour, coconut and baking powder until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 7-9 minutes until just golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Invert this onto a cooling rack and leave until completely cold before using.

6, Make the sugar syrup by stirring the sugar and water together in a small saucepan (with the rum if using). When the sugar has dissolved simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Let this cool slightly before use.
7, To begin assembly, using a small cutter, that is around an 4cm-5cm in diameter (shape isn't too important), cut around 14 shapes out of the sponge.
8, Remove the ice cream from the freezer and cut 14 shapes out of that too. My ice cream was about as solid as granite as my freezer is new and a bit overenthusiastic, so you might have to let it thaw ever so slightly. Return the frozen ice cream cut outs in batches so they stay firm.
9, To assemble the centre of the baked alaska pops, dip one side of the sponge shapes in the syrup quickly and press it onto an ice cream shape with a lolly stick or cut down bamboo skewer in between. Press this down firmly and lay flat on a baking sheet. Return them to the freezer until solid again - at least an hour. You can now leave them there for up to two weeks or so. When they are frozen solid, store them by stacking them in a plastic container, separated with greasproof paper so they don't stick.

10, When you want to (finally) eat them, make the meringue by placing the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on a high speed until they are just forming medium soft peaks then beat in the vinegar and salt.
11, Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. This needs to hit around 160o/c to 165o/c.
12, When you have hot sugar and fluffy egg whites, turn the stand mixer up to high and slowly pour in the sugar syrup. Be careful not to hit the spinning whisk with hot sugar. Beat for another few minutes on high or until they look thick and glossy.
13, Remove the frozen pops from the freezer, a couple at a time and dip into the meringue mixture until fully covered. Using a little blowtorch, scorch the outside of the pop until golden brown. Eat. Repeat.

I'm entering these into Kavey Eats Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream Baked Alaska challenge. You can read all about BSFIC here.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Seven on Sunday: 14.04.13

Rain, cold weather skin savers, blue skies, gargoyle cats, the cottage garden, crochet, long arm of the Peach.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

We Should Cocoa: Thyme, Honey & Cocoa Bean Scones

This month's We Should Cocoa challenge is hosted by Choclette who has picked honey. Last month's all singing, all dancing fame round up can be found here. Don't forget to check out Choclette and Chele's blogs.

Kneading bread is a type of therapy. You also get a killer arm work out that you can get no place else than the shouty personal trainer at the gym. But what happens when you just need something carb filled and warm as soon as you possibly can? Fresh from the oven? Instant house perfume?

Or what if you put the pole back up in your spare room and your arms are aching like a bitch and you can't face kneading bread?

These scones. You can get the whole lot turned around and out in less than 40minutes.

Recipe adapted from here

250gr self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
Small pinch of salt and ground black pepper
2tsps crushed roasted cocoa beans
2tsps fresh chopped thyme
1/2 tsp mustard powder
50gr cold butter
150ml milk
2tsp clear honey

1, Preheat your oven to 180o/c and line a deep pie dish with scrunched up grease proof paper.
2, In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and mustard powder.
3, Rub in the butter with your fingertips until its no longer lumpy.
4, Stir through the crushed cocoa beans (see N.B) and thyme.

5, Stir in the milk and honey slowly until it forms a smooth ball. Shape into a round flat disc about six inches in diameter, place in the pie dish and mark into eight segments.
6, Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown, risen and fluffy in the middle. Serve warm.

The cocoa beans have a rough skin on them which needs to be removed before crushing. Just rub them gently between your palms and pick out the bean.

They have a crunchy kind of texture which means you don't need to worry about your teeth. They have a rich, nutty flavour - the packet recommends using them in granola or crushed as a meat rub.

I bought them from the Covent Garden Hotel Chocolat branch.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Grapefruit & Rosemary Syrup

The weather tricked me. "Come outside", it said. " Look how sunny it is..." Then BAM! Fooled you. It's still cold. You do still need your gloves. And an extra jumper. And don't even think about putting those gloves away just yet.

It may be cold but there has been sunshine, and if that doesn't inspire your inner sun child then nothing will. I'm ready to welcome summer with vases of scented stocks, clean windows and a Pinterest board groaning with light summer fabrics, sorbets, salads and gin cocktails. Add this simple syrup to your cocktail repertoire.


2 large red grapefruit
200gr caster sugar
2 small sprigs fresh rosemary

1, Zest and juice the grapefruits. Put the juice into a measuring jug and top up to 500ml with water.
2, Add the juice, zest, sugar, caster sugar, and rosemary into a medium sized saucepan.
3, Bring up to a boil and boil for five minutes.
4, Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.
5, Strain through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of the rosemary and zest.
6, Decant into sterilised bottles or jars.

Grapefruit, Rosemary and Gin Cocktail
Fill a short tumbler to the brim with ice. Spoon on three tablespoons of syrup and 25ml of good gin and stir.
Top with soda slowly. Garnish with rosemary.