Monday, 23 February 2015

Double Chocolate Cream Pie (with fruit)

I felt it necessary to mention the fruit in the title due to the large amount of cream, chocolate and butter that you will find in this pie. This is now me new go to pudding recipe as it looks impressive and can be made quickly and simply, and oh yeah it tastes amazing. This was one of the things I served on my New Years day brunch and am just itching to make it again but even with the generous appetites that Joe and I have we can't manage a whole one by ourselves, not quite. 

you will need;

400g packet digestive biscuits 
200g dark chocolate 
200g white chocolate
250ml double cream 
1/4 cornflour
4 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla essence
50g butter
2 cups of mixed berries

So you see lots of butter and cream but no added sugar and plenty of fruit. Also the egg yolks will be heated through so safe for pregnant ladies to chow down on too. 
method;
  1. Break your biscuits into crumbs, you can use a food processor for this to save time or just beat them with a rolling pin in a bag. The second method is a great stress reliever. Meanwhile melt the dark chocolate over a pan of water, (you know my feelings on microwaved chocolate), once melted add the butter. Once the chocolate and butter are melted together pour into the bowl of biscuit crumbs and mix well.
  2. Transfer your coated crumbs to a cake pan and press into the bottom and sides to make a base. Leave this to chill in the fridge whilst you make the filling.
  3. Separate your eggs, remember you can freeze the egg whites so they are not going to waste.
  4. In a pan gently heat the cream and vanilla. Whilst that is warming, not bubbling, melt the white chocolate over a pan of water. Take care white chocolate catches easily.
  5. Whisk the egg yolks and cornflour together and then mix into the the white chocolate once it has fully melted. 
  6. Remove the chocolate and the cream from the heat. Slowly add the cream to the white chocolate and egg mixture. 
  7. Once this is fully incorporated return the bowl to sitting above a pan of water.and gently whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. 
  8. Transfer the thicken mixture to the biscuit base and return to the fridge for at least 3 hours. When you are about to serve cover the top in fruit. You can leave it out on the table but after an hour it may need to be returned to the fridge for the cream to hold the thick consistency.
This keeps for around 3-4 days, if it lasts that long!



Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Make Shaped Nursery Pillows

It has been a little over a year since my awesome baby boy came into my life. This last week is the first time in over a year that I have had more than 3 hours sleep, literally he fed every three hours until last week. I have to say as exhausted as I was, (still am), I cannot complain my life is richer every moment he is in it. Working full time, no maternity leave for the self employed, I have learnt many things. I have learnt how to work when my baby sleeps, to make use of 3am when Seb has drifted back of to sleep and I am wide awake, I have even managed to keep the constant worry and guilt that comes with the parenting gig at bay 40% of the time. I have not managed to learn how 'they' do it. 'They' being those other working mothers, bloggers, writers who manage to be so brilliant. They have clean stunning homes, they look amazing and they still craft, cook and blog. Well I started off feeling like a failure then I remembered two of my favourite bloggers, who are also parents. These two women are, in my opinion the most creative women on the world wide web but why their blogs are my favourite is their honesty, their honesty that allows readers to engage with them and reminds readers we are all human. Rachel and Mandi will share no make up selfies and show you pics of the non photo styled messy area of their homes. Last year Mandi wrote my favourite blog post of the year which you can read here.

I remembered the words of my photography tutor who said, "Ansel Adams does not exhibit his bad photos", then I remembered the words of my friends; "how do you do it" and I realised we are all living up to unrealistic goals me included. So to everyone out there I have this message; I only clean up when people come over, I only take outfit photos when I am in make up and just by fluke look okay that day, I feel like a monumental failure most of the time, I am always chasing my tail. It has taken me over a year to make these nursery pillows, and guess what I still have three to finish.
I have two favourite stores in Paris one is Nature & Decouvertes and the other is Petit Pan. Petit Pan is a mercerie (haberdashery) but in fact it is so much more. It sells stunning fabrics, home linens made up from their stunning fabrics, artisan tissue paper lights painted by hand, tiles, clothing and books of inspiration. It is also the place that I cannot help but spend money in. When I was pregnant I would spend forever gazing at the fabrics and dreaming of the dresses I would make for myself when I was back to normal sized. This is yet to happen due to the distinct lack of time. I did however buy a few fat quarters and wanted to use them to make bright coloured pillows for Sebastian. Armed with my fat quarters and some textural fabric for a sensory experience from my stash, some of which came to Paris I set about making my pillows. 

I drew large fun shapes onto brown paper, it is cheap and my favourite way to make fast patterns. I drew a pac man shape, a cloud, a guitar, a cactus, a whale, a star, a giraffe, a crocodile that looks more like a strange monster, a pear and a jigsaw shape. When you are thinking about shapes like this consider how it will look as a silhouette. If you can't imagine that type whatever shape you have in mind followed by silhouette into Google images. The shape needs to work visually without any details. 

Using the paper templates as a guide I cut out my shapes in the cotton and in the textured backing fabric.
With the right sides together I stitched them up on the machine leaving a gap large enough to turn them the right way out through and to put the filling into. as you can see my designs were filled with curves. Before you can turn the cushions the right way out you will need to cut small notches in the fabric so that the curve stays a curve and lays flat, you cannot skip this step and have a nice pillow.

After stuffing the pillows to the amount of squishy that you would like close the opening by hand using ladder stitch. There you have it beautiful nursery pillows in a little under a year and counting. Of course you can complete this in your own time.

Friday, 13 February 2015

A Capital Adventure

Let me begin by making a statement about the rail prices in UK, they are terrible. It is cheaper, and quicker for me to travel from another country, France to London on the Eurostar than it is for me to travel from my village in West Yorkshire to the capital. Shame on you UK rail, shame!So here I was on a trip from my adopted home in Paris to another capital London. I never really did well in London, perhaps I am just a country girl, Paris has a much smaller population and seems to operate at a more manageable pace for a girl from a Yorkshire village. London is exciting though, for example I sat and had coffee when I arrived and I was surrounded by people having full on business meetings. Laptops were flying, smartphones in abundance and then my antennae picked up the meeting that was happening on the table right next to me. The chap next to me was a TV producer and he was telling the woman opposite that he produced Going For Gold with Ireland's own Mr Henry Kelly and Bodger and Badger. For my non UK readers and those who unlike me have a life and have no clue about these shows I added the links, watch and be amazed.
This day was a momentous on as it was the first day that I spent away from my 13 month old son. He had a daddy day. I jumped in with a baptism of fire as  I would be in another country, I was not across Paris and able to be home in minutes. All in all Sebastian coped with this a lot better emotionally than mummy did. I was up before dawn, walked the dog, got ready and then stood at the bedroom door watching him sleep and willing myself to leave, somehow I managed it and made it to the train.

Why put myself though all of this? Well I had an important meeting with a talented business woman. Almost a year ago I met Elena of Sew It With Love on Twitter of all places, and to think that I once had no idea what Twitter was. In fact at one point I thought it was a hip lesbian term that I didn't know because I am not hip but that is an embarrassing story that I will not go into right now. Long story short my teenage sister explained to me what Twitter was and I realised I had humiliated myself at an art soiree.
I digress I met the Elena with a background as a fashion designer she decided to set up Sew It With Love in Old Paradise Yard a collection of very cool creative studios. The whole place made me very envious and I longed to work there. The studio buildings are surrounded by a walled yard with planters growing vegetables and benches to enjoy in the summer months. There is a pretty nice cafe on site also and only a few minutes walk from Waterloo Station.
Being the savvy creative women that we are we got talking about the possibility of working on a collaborative project. Now I hate to leave you on a cliffhanger but I am a superstitious woman and the project is in the early discussion stage. We both have so much to do and think about but I will tell you this, it is bloody exciting. Now not another word about it....not yet anyway. Watch this space.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Cauliflower Wings

 
As a vegetarian there are certain things that you just become envious of, one of those things are chicken wings. There is something comforting about watching your friends dip into a bucket and eat. Whilst my vegetarian alternative does not have to be served in a bucket but if you feel like it you can. This recipe also turned out to be vegan, I never intentionally make vegan dishes as I have a long standing love affair with all things dairy but occasionally it happens, this is a good thing as my younger sister has recently defected from dairy and ventured down a vegan path and it is good to know that I can feed her.

I served my wings with the BBQ Sauce that I made in a previous post.

A correction has to be made. It was pointed out to me in the comment box that honey is not vegan. I hold my hands up and declare that I thought bees were insects not animals and yes I would make an utterly lousy vegan. I am sorry if I have offended anyone but think about what my poor vegan sister has to put up with, the endless questions alone, and cut me some slack. Thank you to Zola for pointing outmy mistake and giving me the opportunity to aplogise and correct.

you will need;

for the marinade - 
1cup cider vinegar 
2 spring onions, sliced
3tbsp soy sauce 
3tbsp lemon juice
3tsp mixed herbs
2 cloves garlic 
1tbsp honey (or vegan alternative)

1 head cauliflower
cassava flour 
oil for frying 

method;
  1. Begin  by mixing all of the marinade ingredients together. Next cut your cauliflower head up into 'wing' sized pieces about 2 bites depending on the size of your mouth.
  2. Place the cauliflower wings into the marinade. Leave them for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight if you can be patient. You will need to stir the mixture around every so often to make sure all of the cauliflower is evenly marinated.
  3. Heat some oil in a pan, around 1/2 an inch deep. Put your cassava flour onto a plate and take a marinated cauliflower piece into it and evenly coat before frying until golden brown. As the 'wings' are wet from the marinade you don't need to coat in beaten egg so you can keep the recipe vegan if you need to.



Friday, 30 January 2015

Sunshine Wall hanging

If you saw my post on how to add colour to a room with washi tape you will know that I am trying to make our bland rental a little more vibrant for Sebastian. Read about my washi tape walls here.

When you live away from family it is nice to find ways to bring them into your life and home. There is twenty years between my sister and I and I would sing you arr my sunshine to her all the time and when she started to talk she would sing it back to me, it was adorable. It is a special song for us and it is nice to carry on a tradition with my son and tell him that myself and his aunt India used to sing it together.

Using a selection of vintage fabrics and calico I made this wall hanging for his room.
I hand drew the letters, the rough and ready look was ideal for this project. I attached them to the calico background with bondaweb, you can never have too much bondaweb in your house. I hand stitched around the letters with embroidery floss, I liked the way the hand stitching looked and it served to make the letters more secure, after all I hope this becomes an heirloom item so I want to make it to last.
After stitching all of the letters I pressed the calico and decided to add a backing. This would cover all of the stitches and as the calico was so thin you would get a hint of the vibrant patter showing through. Luckily I had more of the old orange and brown curtains I used in the letters. I placed the right sides together and sewed all the way round on my machine leaving a small gap. I turned the piece the right way round through the gap and pressed it again before closing the hole by hand using a ladder stitch.

When you create your home in particular a room for your child try to make personal pieces and fill it with meaningful objects that have a story.


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Deep Filled Quiche

Sunday brunch is a big thing here in Paris, it is the thing to do on a Sunday. So as a Parisian it only seemed right that I host my own brunch. So on New years day that is exactly what I did. The key to a Parisian brunch is many courses, as my brunch was on 1st January I anticipated hangovers, add to that my 12 month old a casual buffet brunch was the more suitable choice. In a true cultural exchange I served welsh rarebit on baguettes which went down a storm, as did my huge deep filled quiche.

you will need;

10 free range eggs (yes 10)
1/2cup cream
2 courgettes
200g fresh spinach
180g cherry tomatoes
1 recipe shortcrust pastry
2tsp dried thyme
pich nutmeg
salt and pepper
150g feta
a little oil

 method;
  1. Begin by preparing your vegetables. Coat the tomatoes in a little oil and salt and roast slowly at 160C. Slice your courgettes and coat with oil and herbs and cook on a griddle pan until soft.
  2. Meanwhile tear your spinach and wilt down with a little nutmeg until all the liquid is released.
  3. Line a cake tin with shortcrust pastry and bake blind for 15-20 minutes. 
  4. Arrange the vegetables and feta in the baked pasty shell.
  5. Beat the eggs and cream together, season and pour over the vegetables. Lay a ring of courgettes on the top. Cover the pastry edges with foil to prevent them from burning and bake at 180C for half and hour or until the eggs have set.
Do you like the look of the fruit covered cake to the right of the quiche? Of course you do. The recipe for that will be coming soon.