Something Fishy, Birthday Celebrations and a Colourful Curry …

I thoroughly enjoyed painting today. I used salt to add texture to the sky within the fish – it was good to use it again and had forgotten how effective it can be:
IMG_2706It was my parents’ birthday lunch at the weekend. It went really well, there were a few surprises along the way and luckily all the food turned out as well as I had hoped;

Chicken Risotto with White Truffle Oil, served with Foccacia Bread was our main course. This was another recipe from Katie Quinn Davies ‘What Katie Ate’ and it was very tasty indeed. To follow, we had a choice of 3 desserts:

Tiramisu has been a long term favourite and here we had our own individual servings. I’d made the sponges and had assembled the puddings the night before, this gave the sponges plenty of time to soak up the coffee and brandy.

Strawberries dipped in melted chocolate and served with the buttery-est of shortbread biscuits went down well too.

I couldn’t give my parents a special celebratory lunch without meringues, it’s amazing how egg whites and caster sugar can transform themselves in to such deliciousness!! The leftovers were good the next day too 🙂

Yesterday we had a hot, spicy and very colourful curry. The weather has not been great so far this week and this hearty dish was just what we needed to brighten our day:



Flowers, Sheds and New Recipes …

This could possibly be the worlds most romantic gesture and I don’t think I’m exaggerating! Not only is my husband investing in a brand new shed (we thought our current one was going to collapse soon after we moved in here 12 years ago, we then thought it would collapse when we rotated it 90º a few years ago but it still held strong) but he has offered me a 50-50 share in it. He has spent much of the weekend clearing and sorting through our current shed, he has 3 weeks till the new one arrives and there’s lots to sort through. The plan is that I’ll be able to paint in there when it’s warm enough (might have to invest in a small heater …) instead of having to clear all my painting gear away from the table whenever we want to eat. Needless to say, I’ve had LOTS of ideas regarding the decor, something along the lines of my painting today springs to mind:

ShedWhether I manage to sneak in some bunting, fairy lights and flowers remains to be seen…

Last weekend, I bought a few new plants for the garden, there was such a lovely display of hellebores at the garden centre that I ended up buying three of them. I’ve not managed to take photos of them in colour that really do them justice, so I resorted to black and white, this is my favourite:

Despite forecasts of snow, there is definitely a sense of spring in the garden: For some reason (I am really not sure why, maybe just because I could) I threaded shells onto some string this week and hung them in the garden. We’ve collected hundreds of them over the years, each time we go to our favourite beaches in North Devon, we collect a few more. Anyway, at least they are seen displayed like this instead of being hidden away: I love the simplicity of these flowers:Food wise, we’ve tried out some new recipes this weekend. Yesterday, I made us a ‘Heston’ inspired dinner. We had home made pasta served with his take on a Carbonara Sauce. It was really tasty and as I had help with the pasta machine (from my youngest), it was really straightforward to make:
As the carbonara sauce required 6 egg yolks, I literally had no other option than to try Heston’s meringue recipe! The sugar in his recipe is half caster and half icing. The result was an incredibly smooth meringue mixture. I did then add some vanilla extract which wasn’t in Heston’s recipe but I do like it in meringues. We then added a spot of cream, raspberries, maltesers and really small marshmallows: 


Today, we had Pulled Pork served with a Spicy Sauce, Red Cabbage Slaw and Real Ale Bread Rolls (another Paul Hollywood recipe):

It was a delicious combination, we will be having the leftovers for our lunches over the coming days, it was a great way to use a slow roasted joint of pork.


Tea Cakes – a Truly Testing Technique …

I’m a huge fan of ‘The Great British Bake Off’. It’s competitive baking at its best, it’s always interesting, informative and above all it’s fun. The current series has recently finished and we are now being treated to the masterclasses. During these masterclass programmes, we, the viewers are shown how to bake the various technical challenges, properly.

Instead of a birthday cake on his 12th birthday, my oldest decided that a cake would be fine for his party (which was yesterday) but on his birthday, he would like tea cakes, as seen on the aforementioned programme. Unfortunately this meant that I had to make them before seeing them done properly on the masterclass programme.

Considering that I hand whisked the meringue/marshmallow (it has to be done over simmering water, otherwise it wouldn’t be cooked) plus the fact that my silicone tin is more muffin shaped rather than domed, I think they turned out quite well:

I’m particularly pleased with the biscuits, they are crunchy without breaking up too much and they had much more flavour than shop bought digestives. The tea cake itself is incredibly sweet – too sweet even for my sweet tooth but I’ll certainly be making the biscuits again.


Something Special for a Sunny Saturday …

My boys really love this Quiche Lorraine, it’s something they will happily eat either warm or cold and it goes equally well with a lovely fresh green salad and new potatoes as it does with crisps!!

The only down-side – if it can be called that – is that there are 4 egg whites going spare as the yolks have been used in both the pastry and the egg & milk mixture. As I didn’t want to waste them, I made some Brown Sugar Meringues for us to have as dessert. These were a HUGE hit. I’d never made meringues with a half caster sugar, half brown muscavado sugar combination before but I’ll definitely be making them again. The muscavado sugar gives the meringues a delicious taste of caramel: