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Showing posts from March, 2012

Pistachio Macarons with a Dark Chocolate Ganache

Today has been a Good Day. The sun is shining and the sky is a bright, clear blue here in Cardiff. Sam  - who turned 6 months yesterday - and I have been baking, the house is quiet while the rest of the boys are at work or school, and all seems very right with the world. It seemed like a day to try something new. I have wanted to try my hand at macarons for some time now, so today  felt right to be  the day. These pistachio macarons with a dark chocolate ganache were inspired by a little trip to the village Sam and I had yesterday. We stopped at our local deli for a coffee and a little something, and to sit in the sun. The little something turned out to be their version of these. They tasted so lovely, I knew I wanted to try my hand at them. I did some macaron research, and became a little confused by which was the best method to try. I know they are notoriously difficult to make, and so I wanted to make it easy on myself for my first time. But there were questions.

Not Viennese, but Swiss Cakes for the Weekly Bake Off

One of my strongest childhood memories is the ritual of our family's Sunday Tea, which always took a certain form. My nan would put the kettle on at just before 4pm, and a pot of steaming hot tea would soon be brewed. There were sandwiches, and always, always some form of cake. Quite often, if nan and mum had had a busy weekend, it would be provided by Mr Kipling. My brother and I looked forward to this with some enthusiasm, as there were quite often French Fancies and Vienniese Whirls, which were our hands-down favourites. We could leave the Battenburg Slices, and the jam tarts were often a bit too dry  for us (definitely not as good as homemade). But the soft sweet inside of an iced French Fancy (my favourite being the lemon yellow ones), and the moistness of the Viennese Whirls were something to savour. Of course, you can still buy these. But they just don't seem to taste the same somehow. So when Amy announced this week's Bake Off challenge as the Apricot Swiss

Tart with a Heart of Gold - Chorizo, Feta and Butternut Squash Tart

I'm the kind of person that is constantly thinking of flavour combinations, and how best I can use my favourite ingredients. Chorizo, squash and feta are three of my all time favourites, but I've never used them together. As soon as I knew that I was going to make this, and I could envisage the golden colours of the chorizo and butternut squash melding into deliciousness, the phrase popped into my head. "In television history, the "tart with a heart of gold" has become an important archetype in serial drama and soap opera , especially in Britain . During the 1960s, the character of Elsie Tanner in British series Coronation Street set the mold for future characters such as Bet Lynch (also Coronation Street ) and Kat Slater ( EastEnders ). Characters of this nature are often depicted as having tragic lives, but put on a front when in public to create the illusion of happiness. More often than not, these female characters are vital to their respective show

Whole Lotta Lemon - Luscious Lemon Yoghurt Cake for the Weekly Bake Off

I'm going to let you into a secret. One of my favourite little 'Me and Sam time' treats is every fortnight, when I take Ben and his friend Euan to their evening drama class. I pick them up, too, so there simply isn't enough time to go home inbetween. Sam and I (well, mainly 'I', clearly) have developed the habit of driving to a retail park near Cardiff City Stadium, where there just happens to be a really nice Costa Coffee, and a large branch of Hobbycraft. I get to browse the baking and craft goodies, and then, as it is approaching bottle time, we head over to Costa to take care of business. Once done, we get to have a good old chat (ie play) and mummy gets to look a bit of an idiot as she makes endless faces and funny noises to delight a six month old baby. Of course, you can't go in to Costa without ordering something . So mine is always the same. A diet coke (for thirst), a regular cuppucino (for taste and that 'ahhh' feeling), and a sli

Wow! Look what I made : Pastry @ Eckington Manor Cookery School

Over the years, Mike and the boys have got used to my obsession with cookery and all things related. They don't sigh anymore when they ask what I would like for Christmas/Birthday etc, and simply go to my Amazon wishlist, where I have usually bookmarked books, bakeware or some other thing for later consideration and possibly purchase. This Christmas however, they surprised me with a gift voucher for the cookery school at Eckington Manor. As our kitchen is currently out of action due to building work - and I was suffering baking withdrawal symptoms - it seemed like a good time to use this for the weekend and get away from the general chaos and mess that has descended. Lower End House Accommodation I'd never heard of Eckington Manor before. It's a 260 acre working farm in the Worcestershire countryside, now owned by Judy Gardner, who has also created a fantastic cookery school and luxurious, 5 star B and B accommodation. When I first looked at the details of the cook