27 February 2013

Mini Earl Grey Tea Loaves

I love the proper British tea- china tea plates and silver tea strainers- you might as well do it the proper way! I worked at the most beautiful christening party in the summer where a grandmother had collected a whole set of vintage china tea crockery over her lifetime for the first christening of her daughter's children. It was such a lovely idea and the whole event was stunning. 
Since then I'm attempting my own collection and found some beautiful china tea sets on Portobello Road. 


I also bought some proper apple and cinnamon flowering tea from the BBC Good Food Show in Glasgow and there is nothing better than a proper cup of fruit tea. Eteaket in Edinburgh is a small tea house that boasts a huge list of beautifully sounding fruit teas and blends along with delicious dainty cakes and sandwiches.
My personal favourite tea is earl grey and I'd heard of a recipe for an earl grey tea loaf in Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's great Britain."

This is my adjusted version of the recipe baked in these little loaf cases I found in my local cookery store. 
They are a rather doughy, bread-like consistency and so are perfect plain or toasted and spread with a little butter and jam. 


Ingredients:

150g raisins
150g dried cranberries
100g sultanas
3/4 mug hot water with 3 earl grey tea bags
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 egg
200g caster sugar
400g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

For the syrup:

200ml water
3 earl grey tea bags
Juice of 1 lemon
100g caster sugar



Boil the kettle and fill a mug 3/4 full with hot water and 3 earl grey tea bags. Let the tea infuse until the water cools and becomes luke warm. 



In a large bowl mix together all your dried fruit and the zest of the lemon and orange and then remove the tea bags from the water and soak the fruit in the tea-infused liquid. Leave the fruit for a few hours or overnight until it has absorbed most of the tea. 




When the fruit has absorbed the tea, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Add the caster sugar and egg to the fruit mixture and stir thoroughly. Next add all the spices, baking powder and flour and using a large metal spoon, fold all the ingredients together until fully incorporated. 

Lay the loaf cases on a baking tray lined with a sheet of baking paper (to prevent the bottom of the paper cases from burning) and spoon in the mixture to about half way up each case. 


Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 mins until golden brown and cooked the whole way through. (You can test this by pricking the loaves with a clean knife and if it comes out clean then they are cooked.)

Put the loaves on a cooling rack and get on with making your syrup:

In a large sauce pan,heat 200ml of cold water with 3 earl grey tea bags and the juice of 1 lemon. Bring to the boil and then brew for 3-5 minutes. Next remove the tea bags and add in 100g caster sugar and continue to simmer the mixture for a further 10 minutes until it becomes a syrupy consistency.   
Remove the syrup from the heat and prick the loaves all over with a knife. Pour the syrup over the loaves so that each loaf absorbs the sugary syrup. 







Serve on dainty little tea plates with your favourite brew for a perfect afternoon tea. 










23 February 2013

Roasted Plum Frangipane Tart

Frangipane makes a deliciously rich filling that contrasts well with the slightly tart roast plums.


Frangipane is a mixture of ground almonds, butter, sugar and eggs that is used as a filling for cakes, tarts and pastries.  Roast plums are always comforting- I made this when I had a whole morning to enjoy baking it and it looks beautiful before and after baking- a very easy and simple technique that produces a show-stopping result. 



Although it looks difficult, it's actually quite a simple recipe- I promise!
This pastry recipe always produces a great flaky sweet pastry that holds its shape throughout baking and can be used for most sweet pastry desserts.
I used the rest of mine for little jam tarts- an extra little perk to enjoy after supper! 
I hate wasting any pastry so if you have lots left over, freeze it and bring it back to room temperature the next time you need some. 

Ingredients:

Pastry:
200g soft slightly salted butter
400g plain flour
1 dessert spoon icing sugar
1 1/2 dessert spoon caster sugar
1 egg
4tbsp cold water

Frangipane:
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1tsp almond extract
2 eggs
200g ground almonds

7-8 plums
Sprinkle of caster sugar
Creme fraiche or cream to serve



Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and put a baking tray in the oven to heat.
Weigh out your soft butter and flour and add to a large bowl. Using the ends of your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until you have what looks like breadcrumbs. 





Using a metal spoon stir in the egg, sugar and water until the dough starts to come together and then using your hands, shape it into a ball. 
Wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for 30mins. 


To make the frangipane, cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk. Once light and fluffy add in the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each addition. Then whisk in the almond extract and ground almonds until fully incorporated.


Once the pastry has been chilled, lightly flour a work surface and using a floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry thinly. Then lay the pastry over a greased 25cm tart tin. Using a bit of extra pastry push the pastry into the bottom of the tin and into all the grooves. Using a knife cut off any extra pastry from around the sides of the tin.




Next spread the frangipane over the pastry base until it reaches about half way up and smooth over with a spatula. 




Next, remove the stones from the plums and chop into thin slices. Arrange the plums over the frangipane and sprinkle with a light dusting of caster sugar.






Bake in the preheated oven on the heated baking tray for 30-40 mins until golden brown.  
The plums will release a lot of juice when cooking so don't expect the middle of the tart to be completely set when you take it out. As the tart cools afterwards it will set more. 

Serve with creme fraiche.





Hope you enjoy it!



Adapted from:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/plumandalmondtart_86705

20 February 2013

Poached Eggs and Avocado




Sometimes I just really fancy something different for breakfast. 
I love eggs and avocado and so this is just a very quick recipe to knock up for a delicious and very nutritious breakfast.  

Not all people are a fan of chilli in the morning but for me it works well and gives this dish a little kick to get you going!

Ingredients: (to serve 2)

1/2 a red chilli (deseeded and chopped into small pieces)
2 avocados
Small bunch of fresh coriander
2 pieces rye bread
2 large eggs
Vinegar
Salt and pepper

Cut the avocados in half, remove the stone and scoop out the flesh. Chop into small pieces and mix in a large bowl with the chopped coriander leaves and chilli. 
To poach the eggs, put a large pan of water on the hob on a high heat. When the water is simmering break an egg into a ramekin and add a drop of vinegar. Using a balloon whisk, whisk the water round until you create a sort of whirlpool and then pour the egg from the ramekin into the centre of the water. Poach for approximately 3 minutes and then remove with a large spoon. Repeat this for the other egg.
Serve the eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper on top of the rye bread with a generous serving of the avocado mixture. 


This breakfast also goes well with my quick mango smoothie:



Peel and chop the flesh of one very ripe mango, removing the large stone from the middle.  Blitz the mango in a food processor with 3 tbsp of natural yoghurt, one banana, 1tsp of caster sugar and 175ml milk. Serve over ice. 











16 February 2013

Canapés and Cocktails

This year I wanted to make my Mum's birthday a little bit extra special. So what better way to celebrate than a few of her closest friends, some canapés and cocktails. 
Surprise parties turn out to be way more stressful than you think- and there's always the worry that the receiver will have spent the days before disappointed and glum (in their ignorance) at the lack of plans. I wanted to host just a small party with afternoon tea themed canapés and girly cocktails with lots of chocolate and flowers of course! 




Lemon curd and blueberry cupcakes:

175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1tbsp milk
175g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon

150g soft butter
300g icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Next slowly whisk in the eggs one at a time with the vanilla and milk. Then add the flour, baking powder and lemon zest and juice and whisk again until fully incorporated. 
Bake in cupcake cases for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. 



To make the frosting, cream together the butter, icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth and then pipe on top of the cooled cupcakes. Next, swirl a little lemon curd through the icing and top with blueberries. 




Chocolate, pistachio and cranberry fudge:

(to make 30 small pieces)
175g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
20g condensed milk
15g salted butter
50g pistachio nuts
75g cranberries

Melt the chocolate, condensed milk and butter in a pan over low heat until melted. Then take off the heat and stir in the cranberries and pistachios after chopping them into small pieces until fully incorporated. Spoon into a lined tin and refrigerate until set. Once fully set, take out the fridge and chop into bitesize pieces. 




Smoked mackerel, beetroot and creme fraiche on rye bread:


To make the smoked mackerel mixture; mix together half a large pot of creme fraiche, 4 smoked mackerel fillets (skin removed and flaked into pieces) and season with black pepper and a teaspoon of horseradish. Spoon onto rye bread squares and top with grated raw beetroot. 



Spiced apricot and honey tarts


Smoked salmon and cream cheese bilinis:

Mix together half a pot of philadelphia cheese, 1 teaspoon of horseradish, the juice of 1 lemon and season with salt and black pepper. Then add in half a brunch of finely chopped fresh dill. Spoon onto bilinis and top with a square of smoked salmon and a sprig of dill. 


Raspberry and elderflower cocktails:

In a food processor, blitz together a large pack of raspberries. Then drain through a sieve to remove the seeds, leaving a raspberry syrup. Pour a little into the bottom of a champagne glass and top with sparking elderflower. 


Deliciously tangy and crisp, it's refreshing and fruity without being too sweet.


I also made some white chocolate and raspberry bark and spiced apricot tarts. 




I found some star-shaped sparklers from John Lewis to light the cake- though it was a bit tricky setting them all off at once!




It was a lovely afternoon and mum was thoroughly surprised!


Happy birthday to my wonderful mum
x