Posts Tagged ‘apple’

What I did yesterday

Yesterday, at Ham House, all the cool kids gathered for fun and drink and food so that we could show off the garden produce. The chef for the evening, Susie, basically did everything but I’m going to ride on her coattails and claim some of the amazingness that comes from being associated with it.

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Unfortunately, I was busy faffing around with vegetables and presenting the dishes so I didn’t get photos of everything. I can talk you through it though.

It started with bubbly and the canapes – mini bruschetta topped with onion marmalade and goat’s cheese and also spinach blinis topped with beetroot chutney and sour cream.

Then the guests were taken on a garden tour in the beautiful fading light.

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When they came back and were seated, we started with the kale and spinach soup.

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The bits and peices on the top were fried onions, roast root veg and pitta bread croutons. It was accompanied by homemade rosemary foccaccia bread.

Next up was the gnocchi…

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(I don’t have a photo of it before it went to the table, sorry!)

…accompanied by pretty garden leaf salad.

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The gnocchi was a big hit with the guests.

Next up, the mains were a venison stew with redcurrants and red wine and some garden veg. I don’t have a photo but you must trust me that it was so so tasty! The gravy was amazing. I tried to stop dipping the foccaccia bread into it and eating it but I couldn’t!

Also up were green beans in tarragon butter, roasted root vegetables and apples, a pumpkin and marrow gratin, a beetroot, courgette and mozzarella salad and – the only one I photographed – a caramelized elephant garlic, pumpkin and goat’s cheese tart.

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Loads of people raved about this and wanted some to take home with them.

Next, we gave them a few minutes to rest their stomachs before starting on dessert which was apple dumplings (these took me hours and hours to make!) baked in a caramel sauce. We served it with a fig and cinnamon swirl semifreddo, which was very well received.

After the overwhelming food onslaught, we were all made to come out of the kitchen and be applauded (like on Masterchef), the cafe manager did a little thank you, then a guest also said thank you from the guests and I stood patiently, wondering which of them was going to make the announcement that I was finally going to get my Michelin star….

I can only conclude that they didn’t want to do it in front of everyone else. Maybe it’s a more private affair, getting given your Michelin star. I’m sure they’ll be in touch.

Anyway, we retired back into the kitchen and sent out the little after-dinner nibbles, fresh raspberries and quince jellies.

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Everything that was made yesterday (apart from the obvious stuff like the meat and cheese), came from the kitchen garden and had been picked that day. There really is nothing like working with garden fresh produce.

I think it’s safe to say that a good evening was had by all and it was a lovely thing to be part of. Keep your eyes peeled for the next Supper Club. And if you’re in/near London, totally come to the next one.

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Things I have learned in the kitchen (part 2)

1. Sometimes, when the world is spinning around you and there are deliveries being piled up next to you and coffees to make and soup to stir and salad leaves to wash, sometimes the best thing is to just take some butter and flour and sugar and make a cake of Ham House.

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2. Rewording a cake name can cover up any mistakes you may have made e.g. calling it a ‘Light chocolate sponge with a hint of orange’ instead of ‘I squeezed loads of oranges in and still can’t taste a damn thing.’ Or ‘Spiced scones’ instead of ‘Why didn’t my yeast work and why are they so flat and doughy?’

3. Being the sandwich girl for a day will give you new found respect for the sandwich boy.

4. Occasionally, people who seem to leave their brains at the door when they come in, will surprise you by knowing where something is that you have lost all hope of finding. This one incident will make you see them in a different light.

5. When the going gets tough, some people will step up and some people will run off. The people who run off will remain in your bad books for a very long time.

6. Mixing raspberries in to the cake mix at any time apart from the very end will make your cake mix pink. Same with blackcurrants turning your mix blue-ish.

7. A tart always looks impressive (I’m talking about cakes there, by the way).

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8. Banana cake smells and tastes wonderful. Looks boring as mud.

9. Sometimes things which work at home, will refuse to work in a professional kitchen. One of these things is apple bread.

10. Blackcurrants smell amazing when they are baked into a cake/tart.

11. Whisking double cream into butter by hand will give you very very achy arms.

P.S. Part 1 can be found here.

Cake day

I bet you’re all hanging on the edge of your seat, wondering what happened after my gluten free failure the other day? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that I arrived in the kitchen the next day, eggs in hand, and rectified the mistake. The result was a nice light fluffy sponge with moisture from the plums and texture from the ground almonds and it all went fabulously.

Yesterday, I went into work a bit early and I thought I’d give those gluten free members of the public a bit of choice so I made a chocolate torte. My phone had a freak out so I couldn’t take any photos of that cake but you’ll have to trust me that the experiment was successful. I’ll give you the recipe at the end. I added raspberries and it went down quite well with the public. The first one sold out in an hour! Then I got a bit crazy and adapted the recipe to make a chocolate, orange and almond torte.

Now I tend to think of gluten free cake as Compromise Cake, cause it’s usually a rubbish version of real cake. I resolved to change this in my kitchen and to make cake that is actually nice, not just gluten free nice, which we all know, means ‘rubbish.’

I also attacked the Overripe Fruit bowl and made a banana and plum cake, an apple upside down cake and a savoury apple bread thing that we served with cheese.

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I made a total of 18 cakes yesterday. It was a pretty good day.

Chocolate almond torte
(adapted from BBC Goodfood recipe)
250g dark chocolate
210g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
5 eggs, whisked

Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease a round cake tin then line the bottom with baking paper and grease again. Melt the chocolate, butter and sugar down. Take it off the heat and let it cool while you whisk the eggs. Mix them in to the chocolate mixture then fold in the almonds. Bake on 170c for about 45 minutes or until it looks done. Let it cool in the tin. It will sink a bit and the end result is something denser than a sponge and lovely and rich. It is pretty when decorated with icing sugar and small edible flowers.

Adaption 1 – Chocolate raspberry torte

Everything is the same as above except you add the raspberries at the end and when it is finished, decorate the top with raspberries. There’s no hard and fast rule about how many raspberries to add. If you LOVE raspberries, then add loads. If you just want a little hint of something else, only add a few.

Adaption 2 – Chocolate orange almond cake
This one is spongier than the torte as I have added bicarb to rise it and rice flour to give it a lighter texture.

200g dark chocolate
210g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
60g any gluten free flour (I used rice flour)
5 eggs
75g ground almonds
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large orange or 2 small clementine/mandarin type things

Do the same as above by melting the chocolate, butter and sugar together. Then add the whisked eggs once mixture has cooled a bit. Add the flour and the bicarb then zest and juice your orange(s) in. Now here is where you have to use some initiative. Stick a teaspoon into the mixture (or your finger) and taste it. Does it taste orangey enough? If it’s orangey enough for you, then put it into the tin and bake. If not, grab another orange and get zesting and juicing til it tastes how you want it to. 

And so, my dears, go forth and bake! Be plentiful, be chocolatey and be gluten free!

Y is for….

YEHHHH!

(That’s me cheering because I’ve been nominated for another award.)

This time it’s the Super Sweet Blogging Award, given to me by WealthyMatters. Thank you so much!

First I have to answer the blog award questions so here goes…

Cookies or Cake?

Oo, tough. I guess biscuits, for dipping into tea.

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Vanilla

What is your favorite sweet treat?

Anything home baked. You can’t beat it. Banana bread muffins, flapjacks, gingerbread….

When do you crave sweet things the most?

About 4pm. Afternoon munchies.

If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?

Um. I dunno. Flapjack face…?

Ok, next up is my baker’s dozen of blog nominations. These are specifically ones which I have used for their recipes or that I like to read because of the beautiful pictures of food.

1. Biancalovefoodlovefashion – O, the bagels! O, the breakfasts! The loveliness….

2. Hungryhinny – I hardly know where to look. The recent spate of chocolate posts has made me very happy, as did this apple tart, which had me dribbling on my computer screen.

3. Prettygirlscook – I first noticed this blog when Italy was mentioned and I have not looked back since. Posts from the latest trip, to New Orleans, was a feast for the eyes.

4. Copycatmom – This is not necessarily a foodie blog but the recent challenge to eradicate processed food has made for fantastic reading. I loved the post about making ketchup.

5. Eat-move-love – this is a great blog for anyone looking for advice about healthy eating and exercise.

6. Thelittleloaf – O. My. Goodness. How amazing does this salmon and avocado on rye bread look?

7. Le Zoe Musings – Again, not a food blog but the posts which do contain food are beautiful.

8. Rantings of an Amateur Chef – Lovely lovely food. I wish this man was my personal chef.

9. Yes Chef! – I love taking a peek into this kitchen. I love the pictures of the family and I love looking at the things they eat.

10. Fitness and Frozen Grapes – She runs, she bikes, she swims, she writes, she cooks, she’s health and fitness embodied! I love when she writes about food on her blog.

11. Bagni di Lucca – It’s about Italy and there are pictures of food. I’m happy!

12. Pepper Bento – Fabulous looking food in cute little boxes. Brilliant!

J is for…

JAM!

Omygoodness. I love making jam. It’s so easy. But it appears to be such a skill. You essentially just get a load of fruit, add sugar and leave it for ages. I don’t even eat that much jam. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I had some, months ago. But I’ve made tons recently. Because it takes so long, it means I can loiter in the kitchen for ages, feeling nice and looking around at my favourite part of the house. With the time you spend loitering around, you can rustle up a batch of bread to have with your jam, should you wish. Jams and marmalades are fabulous homemade gifts. Don’t be intimidated. Just put a load of fruit and sugar in a pan and heat it. Plus, it makes you feel pretty Mastercheffy when you’ve got a batch done.

And to clarify, I’ve done some research, apparently the difference between jam and marmalade is that marmalade is bitter, presumably because it tends to be with citrus fruits and you use peel. But then there’s the added category of preserves. I think its something to do with whether the whole fruit is used and whether there is any pectin in it. Or just sugar. Hmm. It’s already got a bit too complicated for me.

Anyway, more importantly, what jam should I make today? There is normally some kind of discount or deal on at least one type of fruit in the supermarket so I’ll just let them decide for me. As an aside, if you were thinking of taking jam-making up, my most successful flavours have been fig and apricot. In terms of marmalade, I got my best feedback from a blood orange and cranberry mixture. Most unsuccessful flavour was grape, which would NOT set, no matter what I did to it. Good combinations of bread and jam are fig bread with apricot jam, apple bread with apricot jam and walnut bread with fig jam. Strawberry jam (soft set) goes amazingly well with homemade scones. I dare you to try jamming. Summer’s on its way so scones and jam are in order. Give it a go.

I is for…

iCHOC!

That’s right. iChoc. There is a product, a chocolate product obviously, called iChoc.

It started with iPod (did it?) which was fine. It’s a marketing thing, that’s the name they’ve come up with, that’s ok. Then there was iPhone. iPad. iTunes. iPlayer. iPhone touch. iMovie. iLife (apparently). iThis. iThat. iNonsense. And we somehow, by some jump in logic, got to iChoc.

Ok, what do all the iThings have in common? They are made by the same company and are electronic-type things. Great. I’m on board. It’s still a bit of an iOverload but iCan take it.

And then iSaw the iChocs. Are they electronic?…. Made by a computer company?… A bit new fangled and moderny?… The answer to all these is a big fat iNo. It’s just chocolate. It’s wrapped in colourful foil, pink, blue, yellow etc. On the packaging is a picture of a microphone. That’s iCheating isn’t it? Really? You can’t just take normal chocolates, see a successful marketing strategy and tag your product onto it, simply by drawing a picture of a microphone on the package. What’s ‘i’ about that?! Seriously? What’s ‘i’ about chocolate in colourful foil wrappers with a small picture of a microphone? That annoyed me, seeing that product. iRidiculous.