Sunday, 27 January 2013

Cupcake Decorating Party

A friend asked me to make some cupcakes for her daughter's 10th birthday. It then turned into a decorating party (eek!). So I made three 'samples' and brought them along, with all my tools (thanks to Cake Decorating Magazine, especially the grass nozzle - furry!), with the following checklist:

Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe by Annie Bell)
Cupcake stand
Buttercream icing
Piping bags and nozzles
Icing colours
Moulds, cutters, and tools
Cupcake pods (to take them home)
Sprinkles and cookies to decorate

Cookie Monster

Princess Crown

The kids then decorated their own cupcakes, mostly cookie monsters, I have to say. It all went reasonably well, considering... and now for some wine...

From this... this!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Rebecca Rabbit Cake

A friend's little girl turned three this week, and she asked me to make her cake. She loves Peppa Pig and chose, of all the characters, Rebecca Rabbit for her cake. I googled Rebecca and just tried to recreate her 'house' which is basically a hill with some rabbit holes. Rebecca herself is made of marzipan, and the green fondant icing came in a packet which warned that the "'Quinoline yellow': may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." Whatever - with all the chocolate and jellies, it's not going to make that much difference surely, but thanks for the warning!
Love using my grass nozzle (from Cake Decorating magazine)!

Golf Cake

Himself's dad turned 80 this week. They are taking him to Tenerife for a golfing break. So I made him a cake...

Golf Cake
Kidmade ladybirds and butterflies
Another Nigella chocolate cake, and entry to my Cake Gallery.

Monday, 14 January 2013

January Supper Club

A menu suitable for a dinner party in January, where people with a new healthy attitude will still enjoy eating!

Starter: Smoked Mackerel Pate, served with crusty bread and green olives

Recipe from Good Food Feb 2013

Main: Asian style braised Pork stew, served with rosemary potatoes

Pork marinaded in red wine and soy sauce

Braised Pork: recipe from Easy Entertaining by Good Food

succulent and melty

Dessert: Magic Lemon Cheesecake

Recipe from Annie Bell's Baking Bible

A delicious, well-received supper club, with far too much Rioja... (not so good for the January diet!).

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Squid&Pear, Sustainable Street Food, Ethical Event Catering

Bei Li, Photographer

In early December, I was lucky enough to be asked to assist photographer Bei Li on a seasonal food photo shoot, with chef Claire (Pear) who has worked in Michelin starred restaurants, and Lisa (Squid) who has a background in photo-shoot production but now prefers to be known as a 'great eater'. They both have a passion for food which is evident in the way they work, and the enthusiasm they portray when talking about what they do. Squid&Pear have been awarded a Three Star sustainability rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the first ever catering company to do so. And well deserved too!
'We provide top-notch seasonal and sustainable catering for events, photoshoots, film/TV shoots, weddings, office meetings and parties - or any other occasion where there are palates to delight and bellies to fill in London.'

On my arrival, Pear was already busy preparing for that evening's dinner party, so Bei and I took the seasonal vegetables outside to make the most of a winter's day sunlight. Bei made the most of the natural light and chose the most appropriate of backgrounds on which to shoot - a conveniently unused outdoor cafe with raw wooden tables and white-washed walls.
As Squid arrived with the much needed hand-warming device (coffee!) we moved on to shoot the freshly delivered seafood, which Pear needed to cook for that evening.

I look forward to seeing Bei's photographs on the website, but below are my attempts to capture her compostitions on my camera phone.

Beautiful beetroots - red Crimson Globe, yellow Burpee's Golden and some British heritage carrots
Seasonal vegetables


Scallops, mussels and a crab who was so cold he stayed still for the shoot!
A huge thank you to Bei for her guidance, and to Lisa and Claire for teaching me the word 'epicurean'.

Eco Age Interview
Honest Cooking Interview

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Forever Nigella #22 Food to Cherish your Loved Ones

Forever Nigella #22 is hosted by Sally of Recipe Junkie and the Attack of the Custard Creams.. This month’s challenge is to blog any Nigella recipe which represents Food to Cherish your Loved Ones.
 Forever Nigella is organised by Sarah at Maison Cupcake.

I don't actually own any Nigella cookbooks (Shock! Horror! Although it is my birthday soon...) but I have been dipping and diving on, and this Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake was one of the first cakes I made for my little boy and has been a resounding success every single time I've made it.

First attempt was a practice run for my little boy's 6th Birthday cake. A 'Well Done at School Cake' it was called.

Next appearance was at the 6th Birthday itself...
6th Birthday Mario and Luigi Cake

And then my little girl jumped on the bandwagon for her fifth - a Tangled cake.
This was a square Nigella, plus some mini Victoria sponges for the tower:
5th Birthday Rapunzel Tangled Cake

Followed by Grandma's 75th - 75 sweets for decoration instead of candles... (trebled Nigella's quanities here!)
Grandma's 75th Birthday Chocolate Cake

And then by special request, my little boy's seventh birthday 'That chocolate cake again this time with Bowser's Castle, please, Mammy'. So a round one, and a square one, with the round one chopped up to make various turrets.

7th Birthday Bowser's Castle Birthday Cake

And my little girl's turn again, for her sixth.
First a practice run - doubled the quantities again for this giant cupcake, and then a repeat of this for a My Little Pony special.
Scrummy Suppers & Quirky CakesMy Little Pony Birthday Cake

A friend at work, who, strange as it may seem, loves chocolate cake... simplicity working surprising well.

Work Girl Birthday cake

And finally (for now) a friend's little girl turned four, asking only for purple, orange and green... well what else could I do, besides chop Nigella's round cake in half and make a Rainbow cake.

Rainbow Cake

So if you love someone, make them a chocolate cake!

Forever Nigella.

Coconut and Cointreau Truffle Pops

New Year's Eve. Travelled back from up North. Invited to friends' house avec kids. 'Shall I bring some food?' 'Only if you have time'. So I quickly rustled up some brownies...

And then attempted some truffles!

These were purely an experiment. I loosely based the recipe on Snowmen Rum and Chocolate truffles from The Vintage Tea Party by Angel Adoree.

I heated some creamed coconut, dissolved in about 150 ml water. Then added a large knob of butter and melted this together. Then poured this hot mixture over 150g dark chocolate broken up into squares,whisking as I went to melt the chocolate slowly. Then added a pinch of salt and a couple of measures of Cointreau. Once the mixture was smooth, I chilled it in the fridge until firm. Unfortunately this didn't happen before we had to leave for the party... so they stayed there until well after midnight!

It was quite solid by the time I began to shape them, but still went a bit gooey in my hands. I took a teaspoon or so and just rolled them vaguely into a truffle shape, stuck in a cake pop stick, rolled in some sprinkles or cocoa powder and left them to set again. 

Attempted some styling on New Year's Day...