The other day I made some macarons and I thought I’d get a bit creative with the shells. I’ve seen this kind of decoration several times on different blogs and websites and wanted to have a go myself. The filling here is a simple lemon curd and I used diluted gel colouring and a wide stippling brush to get the effect on the top.
Monthly Archives: June 2012
Cupcakes by Rose Apple Bakery
Just a very short post today which is a shameless plug for Rose Apple Bakery’s cupcakes. I have been baking and photographing the standard range for the website and these are some of my favourites.
You can visit our website to see the whole range.
The Wedding of A & H
This post is slightly different from my other posts and I regret to say that it is not about food, but a reflection on a beautiful Saturday wedding and an opportunity to share some of the photos I managed to hurriedly snap in-between the busyness of the day :p
Many thanks to A & H and their families for such a wonderful day!
The wedding was held at our church in Queen’s Park, London where the sanctuary is very traditional with built-in pews, a high ceiling crisscrossed with dark wooden beams and an ornately carved pulpit. It can seem quite dark and imposing, but with bursts of colourful flowers at the end of every pew and flowing tulle drapings cascading over the sanctuary, the building was absolutely transformed. Sunlight streamed in through the arched windows and gave off a cool, blueish light as H and her bridesmaids made their way down the aisle to the tune of Pachelbel’s Canon played on the piano, violin and flute.
H’s dress was beautiful and suited her to a tee. It was a fitted floor-length number with floral embroidery and just the right amount of sparkle. Her veil had been customised by her maid-of-honour (aka fashion blogger Kit Lee of styleslicker.com), who had also made her own vintage inspired maid-of-honour dress.
As A & H stood at the front of the church, hand in hand, I was struck by how perfect and important the moment was. The joining of two people before the presence of God is a solemn, yet joyful occasion, a reason for absolute thanksgiving and awe at God’s perfect provisions for A & H through the years they have been together so far. In gentle, still voices and with the tiniest touch of nervousness, “…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer…”, A & H made their vows and carefully exchanged rings. There was some muted sniffing as some of the ladies wiped tears from their eyes, and I for one was glad to be wearing waterproof mascara. As A kissed his bride a ripple of applause broke out and looking around there were smiles on every face, beams of happiness for the newlywed couple.
The reception after the ceremony was artfully done. What is usually a rather plain hall was hung with strings of handmade doily bunting and scattered with glass jars filled with dainty sprigs of baby’s breath and creamy pink roses. Golden sunlight streamed through the open doors and the breeze which so persistently whirled around outside, gently wafted inside, sweet with the smell of flowers. Children (and a fair amount of adults!) were crowded around a table laden with pick n’mix, stuffing strawberry bonbons into striped paper bags whilst other guests made their way to the photo booth in the side hall or smiling and pointing, looked at photographs of A & H which were strung up around the hall. There was a delicious finger buffet and a simple but elegant white wedding cake as the centrepiece.
H is a huge fan of baking, and A is a huge fan of eating said baking so they came up with the idea of a wedding bake off competition which would then become part of the dessert table. Of course, my contribution to the bake-off was macarons. I made a simple raspberry and white chocolate filling and decorated half with sugar flowers and pearl sugar dragees and the other half I personalised for A & H with an edible pen. It was hard to see these macarons being eaten as they had taken a while to make, the personalised ones especially, but I had to quickly get over it as the next time I turned around, the plate was empty and the only thing that suggested there might have been macarons there at all was the faint whiff of almonds and a couple of broken flower petals!
Anyway, dearest A & H I hope that you had an unforgettable wedding day and are having an even more unforgettable honeymoon. Can’t wait to see you when you get back! xxx
“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
For those of you who have stuck with this super long post to get all the way to here, I just want to mention again that at some point in September I will be running a macaron making class in Greenwich, London and that I can also run macaron classes at my home kitchen in High Wycombe. If you are interested to know more or would like to be informed when more details are available please click here.
Simple “Surf n’ Turf” Egg Fried Rice
Fried rice is one of my all time favourite foods. I have eaten it in many different restaurants all over the world, but nothing can beat home made fried rice. This recipe is great for using left overs as you can put almost anything into it. Plus, it’s simple, tasty and can be made with no fuss and very little washing up afterwards! :)
2 cups long grain rice, cooked
500g deshelled frozen prawns, defrosted
500g minced pork
700g frozen peas
Deep fried shallots for garnish, optional
- Mix 1-2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce into the minced pork and leave to marinate for about 30 mins.
- Once marinated, fry in a dry, hot wok until cooked through and browned. Set aside for later.
- In a bowl whisk the eggs and season with a splash of soy sauce. Add a tablespoon of oil to the wok and cook, like an omelette, but breaking the egg into pieces as it cooks. Set aside for later.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of oil into the wok and wait until very hot. Place the rice into the wok and fry until the rice is broken up and slightly shiny from the oil.
- Stir the prawns into the rice, then add the peas, minced pork and egg.
- Add soy sauce to taste and continue frying for approximately 5 minutes.
- Divide into bowls and sprinkle some deep fried minced shallots on top.
- cook the rice 1-2 days before as this will give a chance for it to dry out slightly. If you use freshly cooked rice the finished dish may be too wet.
- it doesn’t matter too much if ingredients stick to the bottom of the wok, just make sure you scrape them off before they burn and this will all add to the taste of the rice.
- use a well seasoned wok as this will add a lot of flavour as you fry the rice. The longer you fry the more taste will be imparted to the rice (this is a good upper arm work out!)
- you can replace the pork with a packet of bacon rashers, smoked bacon adds a wonderful taste to the rice, or if you’re a real meat lover then you can use both minced pork and bacon!
Baby Shower Macarons
A couple of Sundays ago I organised a baby shower for one of my dear friends from church. Her first child is due in August and so the ladies all brought gifts and of course I brought macarons. As she doesn’t know if the baby will be a boy or girl I made half pink and half blue and then embellished them with some sugar flowers.
The flowers are really simple to make. I used coloured sugar paste and flower shaped cutters, with yellow royal icing in the centre of the flower and then the same royal icing to secure the flowers to the macaron shells. I also have some exciting news… I will be hosting a macaron making class at the Vanilla Workshop in Greenwich, London in September (date and time to be confirmed). The class will be taught by Chef Fabricio Cano from Fabcooking and I will be assisting. In the class we will be teaching the basics of macaron making and will also show you how to make three different fillings. There will be lots of tips and tricks for making perfect macarons, things which you won’t get from a recipe book. If you’re interested to know when the date, time and exact macaron flavours are finalised you can use the form on this page and I will let you know once the class is available for booking.
Mexican Avocado & Bean Salad
This delicious Mexican salad was introduced to me by a friend. I’m no aficionado of South American cuisine and so I’m always eager to discover new recipes. I hadn’t come across Mexican salad before, and I found it to be fresh, colourful and delicious. For the meat eaters out there you could always add some strips of chicken and for the wine drinkers, this salad goes well with a chilled white. It’s pretty healthy (if you don’t consider its fried tortilla base) and is just the thing for a light summer supper…. if the summer weather ever comes that is!
For the salad:
350g tinned sweetcorn
350g tinned black beans
1 red pepper
200g green beans
6 flour tortillas
10ml sunflower oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning
For the dressing:
1 red onion
Half a bunch of coriander
1 red chilli
10g ground cumin
60ml balsamic vinegar
120ml olive oil
100ml sour cream
- Dice the red pepper, tomatoes, avocados and garlic. Top and tail the green beans, slice the onion and chilli, and roughly chop the coriander.
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes.
- Place the pepper, green beans, avocados, tomatoes, black beans and corn into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl mix the ingredients for the dressing.
- Heat sunflower oil in a frying pan. Cook the tortillas in the pan, one at a time, on both sides until they are crisp and golden in colour.
- Mix the dressing with the salad and spoon onto each tortilla. Top with sour cream.
I hope everyone has enjoyed the bank holiday and all of the Jubilee celebrations. On Saturday morning I went to see the boats gathering by Tower Bridge before sailing to the starting point of the river procession, and even that early on was struck by how many people were gathering. There were Union flags everywhere, and even several life-size cardboard cutouts of the royal family. Sunday and Monday I spent watching everything on tv, before going to the common near the house to watch the village beacon being lit for the Jubilee.
This has been said way too much over the past four days, but the Queen really is a timeless symbol of this country and it’s at times like this I am so thankful to live in Britain and be to be able to see celebrations such as this.
This weekend I also made hundreds of iced gems. For some reason they popped into my head, and I was distressed to find that they are no longer sold in supermarkets. They remind me so much of my childhood, snacking in the car on the way home from school or being kept occupied at various boring occasions. And obviously I would eat them in the traditional way of biting off the sugary top and eating the biscuit last.
So, not being able to buy them, I decided to make my own. I adapted the recipe from here, adding extra flour as the dough was very sticky, and using brown sugar instead of muscovado.
125g butter, softened
50g caster sugar
50g brown sugar
2 eggs, medium or large, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
360g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
500g royal icing sugar
- Cream the butter and sugars together in a bowl.
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Sieve in the flour and baking powder and mix until a soft dough forms.
- Sprinkle some flour onto a clean worktop and knead until the dough becomes smooth.
- Divide into 2 flat disks, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about 30mins.
- Remove from the fridge and using a rolling pin roll out the dough between two sheets of cling film. (the dough should be about 5mm thick).
- Use a 3cm round cutter to cut out the iced gems and place onto a lined baking sheet. You can place them quite close together as they will not spread.
- Preheat the oven to 170c (fan) and place the baking sheets into the fridge for another 20 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and bake for 12-15mins, until golden brown.
- Make the royal icing according to instructions on the packet, ensuring that the consistency is quite stiff so that it will hold its shape once piped.
- Mix in the colouring of your choice before placing into a piping bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle.
- Pipe each biscuit base with the icing and leave to dry completely (this will take a few hours).