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Monthly Archives: August 2012

When life hands you lemons, what do you make? Do you reach for the Hendricks, pouring a large G&T and adding a twist of citrus? Or do you zest and juice into a toothsuckingly sweet curd to lay hidden under swaths of marshmallowy meringue. Or do you simply smile, juice and throw together the best of the fruit bowl and garden herbs to make some modern summertime lemonades. I personally would recreate all these situations in a flash – I just can’t get enough of lemon. It’s such a simple fruit, and yet paired with a whole manner of flavours, the depth of sourness mellows to create some delicious taste sensations. Lemonade is seriously simple to make at home and can be created in seconds: juice, sugar, water, flavourings, ice, sunglasses, sunbathe. Life hands you lemons, you dang well get on with the living, drink in hand.

Each recipe makes enough for one jug of lemonade – about 3-4 servings

Pink Grapefruit Lemonade

2 lemons, zested and juiced

½ grapefruit, zested and juiced

140g caster sugar

1 pint cold water

Ice cubes

Slices of grapefruit to garnish

Place the lemon and grapefruit juice and zest, sugar and half the water in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is fully incorporated. Add the remaining water and mix thoroughly. Pour into a large jug and top up with slices of grapefruit and ice cubes.

 

Blackberry and Mint Lemonade

3 lemons, zested and juiced

140g caster sugar

1 pint cold water

A handful of blackberries, halved

A handful of mint leaves

Ice cubes

Place the lemon juice and zest, sugar and half the water in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is fully incorporated. Add the remaining water and mix thoroughly. Pour into a large jug and add the blackberries. Lightly crush the mint leaves to release their perfume and mix into the lemonade. Top up with ice cubes.

 

Thyme Lemon and Limeade

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 limes, zested and juiced

140g caster sugar

1 pint cold water

Ice cubes

A few sprigs of fresh thyme, washed and patted dry

Place the lemon and lime juice and zest, sugar and half the water in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is fully incorporated. Add the remaining water and mix thoroughly. Pour into a large jug and stir through the thyme sprigs and top up with ice cubes.

I have had some hits and misses with American cup size measurements. In a scone recipe I adapted, I ended up dumping half a bag of flour in the dough just to make it bind. Yet, I’ve made a batch of Cappuccino Cookies that ended perfectly; crisp chewy and perfect. I think it may come down to my basic failure to ‘do maths’. I realise it is a skill that is required pretty much everywhere, but when tasked with halving a measurement then tripling, I become confused and end up with cakey scones or bread-like cookies. So my (rather obvious) brainwave has been to purchase a nest of American cups in bright colours to make my guesswork a thing of the past. Because I post in grams on my blog, I have painstakingly weighed each cup to convert for your reading pleasure. You are welcome.

My first cup-converting experiment has luckily been a success. After a day of freelancing (business lady Victoria reporting for duty) I decided a little therapeutic baking was in order. Like one of those baking miracles I talked about in this post, I had every ingredient in. Bright flashes of green in these cookies add a little welcome colour to dark deep chocolate. Do not be put off by the rock salt topping; salt brings out the flavour in chocolate beautifully and pistachios will always be perfect with a little sodium chloride. Stack and serve after a long day of work. They are worth it I promise. I should know, I’ve done the maths.

Adapted from Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen

 

You Will Need

110g softened butter

100g caster sugar

100g soft light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

195g plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

¼ teaspoon table salt

100g good-quality dark chocolate

75g pistachios

Rock salt, for topping

Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer and a large bowl if you don’t have one) beat the butter and sugars together until pale and fluffy. With the mixer still running, add the egg and then the vanilla paste. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and table salt with a fork, then add all at once to the wet mix. Combine with the mixer on a slow speed and set aside.

Using a sharp knife, chop the dark chocolate into irregular chunks. Then chop the pistachios the same way, making sure there are some powder-like smithereens of nuts but also thicker chunks. Stir the chocolate and pistachios into the cookie mix, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 150oc/130oc fan/Gas Mark 2. Line two large baking sheets with baking parchment and scoop tablespoons of cookie dough spaced 2 inches apart on the sheets. Sprinkle with rock salt and place in the oven to bake for 18 minutes, or golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.

Can you eat a whole Crunchie? If so, I am impressed. I think this is a ‘skill’ that has evaded me somewhat. The honeycomb is too hard, gets stuck in my teeth and the texture is just weird. I’d sooner chip off the dairy milk coating and just eat that. I realise this makes me sound like I have false teeth. Rest assured I don’t.

Proper honeycomb however, is magic. I remember my first taste of it, as we toured the chocolate shops and factories round Margaret River in Australia. Someone bought a big bag of the homemade stuff and it was divine. The ‘combs were irregular, slightly sticky and a little soft. Perfect honeycomb, if such a thing exists, is like that.

Honeycomb is also a relatively simple and pretty thing to make. Watching the three ingredients melt together and turn from a sandy brown to a deep golden colour is lovely to watch and the transformation bicarbonate of soda brings to the mix is like baking magic. Smashed into shards and drizzled with chocolate turns a bar of honeycomb into a pretty present with just a little bit of effort. Of course, you could just eat a piece with a cup of tea, slightly smug in the knowledge that your honeycomb is far better and more sophisticated than a Crunchie. Sorry Cadbury, I think you need to step up your game.

 

Adapted slightly from Granny’s Honeycomb Toffee recipe

 

You Will Need

A little vegetable oil for brushing

175g granulated sugar

125g golden syrup (this is easiest to weigh with a tablespoon that has been heated in a mug of hot water – the syrup just slides off!)

1 ½ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

3-4 squares each of milk, white and dark chocolate

 

You will also need a sugar thermometer to heat the honeycomb to the correct temperature and three piping bags for the chocolate

 

Lightly brush a 7 inch square tin with vegetable oil and line with a sheet of baking parchment. Set aside. Place the granulated sugar and golden syrup in a large heavy based pan with two tablespoons of water. Place over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Then begin to boil the mixture. Keep a sugar thermometer handy and keep testing, you want the honeycomb to boil to the ‘crack’ stage, which is 156oc. Once the honeycomb is ready, keep your prepared tin next to you, then quickly stir in the bicarbonate of soda and pour straight into the tin and leave to cool. Leave your pan, spoons and thermometer to soak in hot soapy water to make it easier for cleaning.

Once the honeycomb has set, remove from the tin and place on a chopping board, still with the baking parchment underneath. To create shards, simply take a large knife and attempt to cut into the slab. It will shatter, but this is the effect you want. If you would prefer uniform honeycomb, mark into squares before completely set then break apart. This isn’t a foolproof method speaking from experience – honeycomb will break the way it wants to break!

To decorate, melt the squares of chocolate in individual bowls for one minute each, stir and reheat for a further minute. Place each type of melted chocolate into a separate piping bag and either pipe neat squiggles along each piece, or go a little less regimented with long sweeping lines like I have. Repeat with each type of chocolate then leave to set. Serve with ice cream, place in cellophane bags and tie with ribbon for a pretty present or simply eat as it is.

‘Murphy’s Law’, ‘Sod’s Law’ and ‘That’s Life’ are phrases I often attribute to working in an ice rink. There are always the times when it is useful; on occasion its warmer working on the ice than outside during the St Petersburg-esque Scottish winters, but more often than not, I will be working when everyone and their dog are having barbeques, drinking cider and eating ice creams. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job but it is rather soul destroying seeing girls flouncing around in sundresses and sunglasses as I trudge along in my thermals. So yesterday, when the sun put his hat on, I was determined to taste some of that summer sunshine despite my layers.

The idea for homemade cornettos is one that has been bouncing around my head fairly rapidly for the past few weeks, but I only just found the time to create these cuties. Which is madness really, as they involve four ingredients, look beautiful and taste fantastic with very little effort. Pistachio and dark chocolate work so well together, creating not just a fantastic texture contrast of smooth and crunchy, but also look visually stunning together. Other variations could lie with white chocolate and popping candy cones, milk chocolate and vermicelli cones or strawberry flavoured chocolate cones with freeze dried raspberries. So simple and so beautiful. Sod’s Law may be my working rule of thumb, but these cones are my summer blogging saviour.

Inspired by Recipes from a Normal Mum

 

You Will Need

4 waffle cones

75g good-quality dark chocolate

A small handful shelled pistachios, finely chopped

½ tub good quality ice cream, slightly softened

Place each cone in a mug, pointy end down. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through. Leave to cool for 2 minutes then spoon a teaspoon of chocolate into each cone and smooth round the insides using a knife. Dip the ends in the chocolate for an overlap, then sprinkle with pistachios inside and round the edges. Repeat with the other cones and leave to set in the mugs for about 2 hours. Set the chocolate aside, you can re-melt later to top the cones.

Once set, re-melt the leftover chocolate in the microwave. Fit a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle and fill with the ice cream. Working quickly, pipe the ice cream into each cone and begin to spiral inwards towards the top. Finish with a drizzle of the melted chocolate and the remaining chopped pistachios and freeze for 30 minutes standing upright in the mugs, then either serve or store in a freezer bag.