Friday, May 27, 2011

Peach berry pie

Do you ever have those weeks where you feel as though you are perpetually getting in and out of your car with hardly a moment to sit down with a cup of tea? Well, it's been one of those weeks for me. Each hour stretched to seam-splitting capacity with errands and work and no end in sight until next week arrives; couple that with rainy weather that leaves me sitting in my car looking like a miserable soggy cat hoping that my constant shivering is at least burning some extra calories makes coming back to my heated house and doing absolutely nothing seem like heaven on Earth.

Thanks to some skillful organising I managed to scrounge up a large enough time-chunk in one afternoon to bake a pie and actually eat it, s l o w l y. There's nothing like warm pie to give you strength to get back out there and do what you gotta do!

ease: 4/5.
prep time: 1 hour.
cooking time: 1 hour.
total: 2hours.

taste: 3/5. Middle of the road.

This pie was nice; it satisfied a sweet craving but didn't really offer much more than that. It did however, reignite my search for a great pie.

would I make it again: No - there are more pies to try!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Orange, cinnamon & yoghurt pancakes

As the Starks of Winterfell would say, 'Winter Is Coming.'

Winter's scent of moist soil and wet pavement has already begun to fill the dampened air, taking colour from our cheeks to lend it to the tip of our chilled noses. Scarves are coiled and tucked beneath upturned collars in an effort to make ourselves airtight and safeguard our warmth. Most days bring at least a drizzle of rain, making hair strands glisten with watery crystals. In spite of the bitter weather, my husband and I still venture out to move our legs and discover our surrounds. Each walk reveals something new, our most frequent one divulged a magical patch of fairy-esque toadstools, their cherry-red caps spotted snow white standing apart from the emerald grass and decaying leaves of Autumn's shedding; it was one of our best discoveries. I am sure we will continue our walks far into Winter's depth as our braving of the cold only makes coming home that much sweeter; like stepping into a cosy embrace.

Whilst Winter might be looming on my doorstep, within my dwelling I fight off frostbite with foods that remind me of sunny days and balmy breezes. For me, the bold sun-drenched colour of oranges along with their fresh citrus kick full of life and zest never fails to rouse me from a Wintry slumber.

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 5mins.
cooking time: 6mins each.
total: 17mins.

taste: 4/5. A stroll down Summer's lane.

These pancakes were delicious. I adored the tang of the yoghurt with the bright citrusy hit of orange that made these pancakes feel Summery. I also added a dash of cinnamon for some extra spice.

would I make it again: Yes.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Chocolate mousse & caramel tarts

Life is full of so many magical things. One particular joy I had the pleasure of experiencing recently was the beaming smile of a friend's child. One look at his cherubic face, lit up brighter than the evening star, and I was grinning ear to ear, filled with warmth and love. I wish my smiles were as pure as those of babes. Being around children helps to remind you of the multitude of possibilities of happiness. I have seen little ones giggle with glee at the sight of a funny face, or laugh hysterically at the sound of paper being torn in two. Joy in the little things, that's the key to happiness.

One of life's small pleasures is chocolate. Even my husband marvelled recently at its ability to induce bliss from the moment it begins to melt on your tongue, 'no other food has that effect on me' he said in between mouthfuls of cocoa goodness.
"Other things are just food. But chocolate’s chocolate." - Patrick Skene Catling
I couldn't agree more.

Excuse the ganache in this shot, the ugliness is thanks to some clingwrap and refrigeration.
ease: 3/5.
prep time: 2hours & 30mins for the pastry to be ready.
cooking time: 4hours to chill caramel, mousse and ganache.
total: 6hours & 30mins.

taste: 3.5/5. Ooey gooey fluffy chewy with a little crunch as well.

The mousse was fluffy and luxurious whilst the ganache was rich and fudgy. I think I took the caramel a whisper too far as it edged towards a slight bitterness, and to be able to stand up against the chocolate you need that sweetness instead. The pastry was nice and crumbly and overall it was a pleasant dish, but for some reason it just didn't 'knock my socks off'. Perhaps too many layers of sweetness without a spice or some contrasting flavour? I really don't know why I didn't love this more.

would I make it again: No - too time intensive for me without a big enough payoff.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Persimmon & sultana muffins

Since getting hitched I have had not one gentleman caller that was not related to me stop by; my husband is now the only one who rings my bell, so to speak. Until recently that is. You see, I have had another visitor frequent my doorstep, perhaps you know him?

He smells of childhood safety and sugary spice. His footsteps leave prints of flour dust and tasty crumbs. He is warm and rotund and welcome any time of the day. Have you guessed his name yet? Perhaps this old rhyme will help...

 Do you know the Muffin Man?
The Muffin Man, the Muffin Man
Do you know the Muffin Man
Who lives in Drury Lane?

The Muffin Man has been a weekly guest at my home latey, I blame the biting damp and leaden sky for my need of comfort from this portable baked good.  Nibbled like a mouse, torn asunder or split evenly and spread with butter you can eat them any way you feel like. They get you from breakfast to lunch without any effort and leave your tummy satisfied and your mind soothed. How can you not love a muffin?

ease: 4.5/5
prep time: 15mins.
cooking time: 25mins.
total: 40mins.

taste: 4/5. Moist, substantial and somewhat addictive.

Straight off the bat, these aren't the prettiest muffins at the fair nor do they taste particuarly fanatstic upon the first bite. But something strange happens mid chew and you find yourself wanting to try some more, and then more and before you know it one muffin has dissappeared and your fingers are already reaching for its twin.

The persimmon in this is more of a moisture factor than flavour factor; it's a little too subtle when baked into a muffin but it does add a soft sweetness and absolutlely luscious crumb. The sultanas bring the jammy sweetness to the party and with hint of warm spices (I would add more next time), it is a rather addictive, mellow muffin.

This made 9 muffins.

would I make it again: Yes.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Porridge with poached apricots, honey & creme fraiche

"in omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro" 
Translation: Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book

The pleasure of a good book is immeasurable to me. Getting lost within its pages whilst losing all concept of time is truly transporting and blissful. Most of my leisure time is spent exploring worlds within paper pages and black ink. Sometimes, however, I prefer something more visually tantalising such as a film or my favourite type of television program, a cooking show.

I had the serendipity of stumbling unto an episode of The Delicious Miss Dahl and became compeltely besotted with her adorable charm and quirky cooking. I particularly adored when she would read a quote from a book whilst sampling the products of her labour. I immediately asked my husband to obtain the other episodes and was crestfallen to learn that it had been prematurely cancelled and only a handful of episodes were made. This sadness was brief however, when I learned she had also penned a cookbook. A hasty trip to the library and I was back home, book in hand and a smile upon my face.

Needless to say her cookbook was a wonderful read, and I do mean read, as she not only spoke of her life but each seasonal recipe contained a snippet of her thoughts or humorous suggestions, such as "If its a rowdy sort of breakfast, you could also add some rum." Her words, and the gorgeous photography, were truly a delight.

Porridge with poached apricots & creme fraiche
adapted from Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights by Sophie Dahl
serves 2

1 cup oats
2 cups milk
1/2cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
handful of apricots
1 cinnamon stick
3tbs creme fraiche
2tbs honey

Combine oats, water and milk over low-medium heat and cook for 10mins or until oats are soft.
Meanwhile, simmer apricots in orange juice with cinnamon stick in a small saucepan for 5mins or until plump.
Pour porridge into two bowls, top with apricots, a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of honey.

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 5mins.
cooking time: 10mins.
total: 15mins.

taste: 3.5/5. Too luxurious for me, but not for my other half.

Whilst I found the luscious creme fraiche and sweet, syrupy apricots too heavy to eat first thing in the morning, R thoroughly enjoyed it. Flavour-wise, the creamy oats pair wonderfully with the slightly tart but sweetly rounded plump apricots, hint of spicy cinnamon and rich, tangy creme fraiche.

would I make it again: No - it was all a bit too heavy for me, but for those who like to indulge, dig in.