Friday, 28 January 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 4

This week has been a bad week photographically speaking - I'm confessing to two cheats. One because I forgot to take a picture on Monday, and took an extra one on Tuesday, and one because the picture I took on Wednesday was so uninspiring, I took an extra one on Thursday, which was a marginal improvement.

So for the 4th time, here is a snapshot of my week in pictures.

Saturday 22nd
Duplo Dad! This in one of the figures in Mini-M's baby Duplo set. An uncanny likeness to my other half. I have told her that not everyone is lucky enough to have a realistic Duplo dad ;o)

Sunday 23rd
This tongue twister is printed on an information board on the corner of Constitution Street and Queen Charlotte Street, in Leith, Edinburgh.

Monday 24th
The Lighthouse at Newhaven Harbour - a popular bugging walking destination.

Tuesday 25th
Traffic lights and rain, through the car window on the way back from a cake delivery run.

Wednesday 26th
Mini-M's newest toy which has shot to the top of her favourite chewing and general bashing about list - 'Sir Prance-a-Lot'

Thursday 27th
Lights on the 'Skandi Arctic' in Leith Docks - which also featured in Week 1. It's been in for a while, and there seems to be a lot of welding and angle grinding going on.

Friday 28th
South Leith Parish Church as it was getting dark, on the afternoon buggy walk.

Daring Bakers January 2011: Chocolate, Coconut, Jelly Polkadots

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

This is basically a fancy french patisserie style cake of beauty (and epic-ness) in the preparation. It's a very thin patterned sponge which is used to line a mould and form the cake walls, which are then filled with mousse, cream, or other such layers of gooey yumminess.

This filled me with excitement at getting the chance to tackle something so technical, and hopefully produce something beautiful, and dread at how on earth I was going to make it non-dairy and still yum. I think that after a day of frantic whisking, chilling, baking, cutting, melting, whipping and layering, I got there - largely thanks to the expert baby care assistance from my lovely sister, and my ever patient other half - thanks guys!

Here are a few photos of the during and after of the construction. In the end I went for a chocolate-cardamom and plain vanilla sponge around the outside. I lined it with melted dark chocolate to stop the fillings seeping through, and filled it with a layer of raspberries in jelly, a layer of sponge trimmings, a layer of chocolate soya ganache (which tasted a lot nicer that it sounds!) and whipped coconut cream with some sponge polka dots on the top.

Here are some in progress photos...

And the finished article - Phew!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Secret Cappuccino Cupcakes

Yesterday morning Mini-M decided she wanted to have an early nap, and was snoozing again by 9am. Not that I was complaining - I used the unexpected opportunity so whip up a quick batch of cupcakes (I still think of them as buns from my childhood, but calling them that will probably just confuse things).

Whilst I was making the mix, I put some cappuccino chocolate truffles (not homemade sadly, because I don't have THAT much free time!) in the freezer. When it came to filling the paper cases, I dolloped in a teaspoonful, then put in a frozen truffle, then covered it with another spoonful of mix. Bingo - a hidden cappuccino-y chocolate-y centre to each cake :o)

In stealth mode

Naked (i.e. unwrapped)

The hidden truffle revealed

Secret Cappuccino Cupcakes (makes 10ish)
For the cake:
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g margarine
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 10 frozen chocolate cappuccino truffles
For the icing:
  • Approx 50g butter
  • Approx 200g of icing sugar
  • Chocolate sprinkles for decoration
Preheat oven to 180C (170C if you're using a fan oven)
Line your cupcake tin with paper cakes.
Cream butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy
Add the eggs and vanilla along with 1tbsp sieved flour to stop it curdling and mix well.
Sieve in the rest of the flour and beat until combined.
Add the milk if your mixture is a little stiff.
Put a teaspoon of the mix in the bottom of each paper case, then add a frozen truffle, then top with another spoonful of mix.
Pop into the preheated oven and bake for about 15mins until they are golden.
Remove and allow to cool completely before icing.
To make the icing, beat the butter until soft and gradually sieve in the icing sugar until the desired consistency is reached.
Spread on the top of each cupcake and dip in sprinkles before the icing sets.

Enjoy! Or give to someone as a present like I did - I am reliably informed they tasted lovely!

Friday, 21 January 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 3

Week three, and the photos continue - am secretly quite impressed with myself that I have not given up yet, and not cheated (apart from the 8-into-1 panoramic stitch in week 1).

15th Jan
Today was a baking day - completing this month's Daring Bakers challenge - here's a sneaky peek, but you'll have to wait until reveal day on the 27th to find out what it is.

16th Jan
Mini-M has a fascination with my glasses - usually pulling them off and throwing them away, but here she is wearing them!

17th Jan
The setting sun over Newhaven Harbour at about 4pm

18th Jan
Veg puree ready for freezing - how rock and roll life is!

19th Jan
An egg poacher getting some serious chewing - why are non-toys so much more exciting than real toys?

20th Jan
Winter trees near Drummond Community High School

21st Jan
A practice Kirigami paper heart, for February's Thing-A-Day challenge - which will no doubt get its own post here soon!

See you all next week!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A Proliferation of Parsnips

Parsnips... a veg that up until recently I would have sworn I hated, mainly because I think they taste of soap. And to be honest, if you just give me some cooked parsnip on its own, I still do. But since it's the winter - not a very veg-friendly time in Scotland, and parsnips are hardy creatures, our veg box has been full of them. And then I found a pack drastically reduced in the supermarket, and I'm a sucker for a bargain, which is how I came to find myself in the situation described by the title - parsnip overload!

So I did a bit of foodgawker surfing and felt the parsnip inspiration. Below are the results of the recent parsnip-fest on the menu in our house!

Parsnip Risotto - largely inspired by this recipe by Lucullian delights. But minus the parmesan, with some crispy Spanish ham, and balsamic syrup.

Here's a very rough recipe! (Serves 4)

Saute 1 chopped onion, in 1 tbsp olive oil, with 1 large pinch of dried rosemary, until the onion is soft. Add a little more oil, then tip in 3 small parsnips which have been peeled and diced. Allow to soften for about 5 mins. Then add 225g of risotto rice and stir until the rice is well coated in the oil. Add about 150ml of cider, and gradually about 1.2litres of chicken stock, in your normal risotto making fashion (some go for the gradual addition and near constant stirring, others bung it all in at the start and hope for the best. Me - I'm between the two - I add the first half of the liquids slowly with lots of stirring, then usually get impatient, and chuck the rest in at once). Meanwhile, in as small a pan as you have, simmer 3tbsp balsamic vinegar with 1 tbsp brown sugar until it goes syrupy. And multitasking to the max, finely chop some Serrano ham, or chorizo, or bacon, or basically anything meaty and salty, and fry until crispy. Drizzle the syrup and sprinkle with crispy ham before serving.

This was lovely - and didn't taste sad and disappointing at all, despite a) being made of parsnips, and b) missing the parmesan cheese and butter that usually make risotto yummy.

Next up I went for a parsnip and lamb tatin, based on a recipe by Food and Cook. It was also a parsnippy pleasure!

Parsnip and Lamb Tatin (serves 4)

Chop 1 onion and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil with a generous pinch of dried rosemary. Then add a couple of medium parsnips, peeled and sliced, and about 250g of left over slow roasted lamb shoulder. Cook on the hob for about 5 mins until everything softens down a bit, then roll out 1 packed of ready made puff pastry into an approximate circle, and use to top your pan, pushing it down well around the edges (but don't forget like I did, that the pan edges are HOT!). Brush with beaten egg, then pop in the oven at about 180C for about 25 mins. Tip out onto a large plate or board, and cross your fingers it hasn't all stuck to the bottom!!!!! It adds and extra element of excitement to the dish. Mine did a bit, which is why it doesn't look too photogenic.

And finally, so that baby Martha didn't feel left out of the parsnip love...

Parsnip, apple and coconut puree (makes about 6 baby portions)

Peel and finely chop 1 apple and 1 parsnip. Put in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water, and a couple of tablespoons of unsweetened dessicated coconut. Cook until the parsnip and apple are soft, then blitz with a magic wand.

Happy parsnipping!

Friday, 14 January 2011

A Picture A Day: Week 2

Hmmm - so much for my plan of posting again this week before installment 2 of my daily photos. Best laid plans and all that. It's been a busy week, back to the usual 'routine' (by which I mean normal chaos rather than special holiday chaos). Our Christmas tree is still up - aiming to have it down by the 6th Feb! Hey ho - life goes on - going to justify it by saying I'm upholding a long standing family tradition, since my Mum has some Christmas decorations that have been up continuously for years!

So on to the photos...

8th January
The jelly beans of sadness. Well OK, they were actually pretty yummy, but not chocolate - still doing the dairy free thing :o(

9th January
A cross-stitch I've had on the go for about 5 years. I'm hoping I'll get it done before Martha outgrows the Flower Fairies!

10th January
Oops - I broke the cooker! Somehow I opened the top oven and it fell off in my hand on the right hand side - if you look closely you can see it hanging squint. It has since thankfully been repaired by my multi-talented other half - phew.

11th January
Martha with her new toy - very good for chewing and waving about apparently!

12th January
The Shore, Leith taken during a 15 minute baby-free evening wander for some fresh air after a very screamy day.

13th January
Mmm - Pomelo - a £1 Lidl bargain

14th January
The view from the top level of the multi-storey car park at Ocean Terminal.

Friday, 7 January 2011

My New Year's Resolution: A Picture A Day, Week 1

Instead of making a useful New Year's resolution, mine is a bit abstract for 2011... to take a picture every day. I'm not limiting myself to just one picture mind you, but only one from each day will be blogged.

Since I'm no photographer, I freely admit now that some out of the 365 will be terrible, and a good few taken at about at 11pm at night of random things in the house, when I suddenly realise I've not snapped anything interesting during the day! But hopefully it will be an interesting way to document the year, and improve my photography skills in the process.

Unless I break it during the course of the year and have to replace it, all the pics will be taken on my wee point and click Kodak EasyShare C813, and possibly in times of desperation, my phone. But I'm not blaming the bad ones on lack of a fancy camera - they will be all my own fault!

January 1st
Me and the hubby - let's see how we look this time next year when Martha's mobile and causing chaos!

January 2nd
Waves on the beach at Dunbar taken on a daytrip from our holiday rental in Gullane

January 3rd
Friends came to visit us in Gullane - including Claire, who carried Martha on a rather chilly walk, to give our backs a rest. (Check out the AGA in the background - cooker envy!)

January 4th
Me, Jono and Lisa during a twilight walk at the John Muir Country Park - maybe by the end of the year I'll have perfected the art of self portraits too...

January 5th
5 days in and cheating already - this is technically 8 photos, which I stitched together. A panorama of the beach at Gullane on our last day before heading home.

January 6th
Pleasantly surprised to see the festive Poinsettia was still surviving after a week of neglect.

January 7th
An ENORMOUS boat docked in Leith and visible from our house. It's called the Skandi Arctic and a quick Google reliably informs me that it's an offshore subsea construction and diving support vessel - so now you know!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Christmas Baking

So, this festive season was full of baking and general kitchen happiness, which was a lot of fun in the making, and tasty in the eating. Pictures were duly taken of a variety of the creations, and I thought I'd pop them up here. No recipes, no more chat, on with the cakes!

Mini Chocolate Cakes a) filled with blackcurrant jam, covered in cherry brandy butter icing with pink sugar sprinkles, and b) covered in dark chocolate coffee ganache with chocolate butter icing and chocolate sprinkles

Mini gingerbread men decorated one snowy afternoon by myself and the lovely Em :o)

Christmas Dinner Pie - which we had for Christmas dinner, filled with sausage meat, turkey, apricots, cranberries and general Christmas yumminess

And lastly but not leastly, 2 decorated Christmas cakes - one for us and one for my Mum.
Phew! Job done.


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