Sunday, June 26, 2011

STRAWBERRY AND REDCURRANT PAVLOVA


I watched Delia on a TV advertisement making Strawberry & Vanilla Pavlova, so next time I went shopping in Waitrose, I couldn't resist picking up the Waitrose Recipe Collection card.

I always use Nigella's pavlova recipe, which for me just can't be beaten, I looked at Delia's recipe and to me it's a meringue recipe and not a pavlova recipe. A friend brought us some homegrown redcurrants, I then returned to the Waitrose Recipe Collection card and made the vanilla cream and strawberry sauce. So basically, I have paired Delia up with Nigella!

The secret to a great pavlova is to make it the evening before and then let it dry out in the cooling oven. This way you will get a crisp outside and a marshmallow inner, bliss.

The vanilla cream, which is made with fromage frais and Mascarpone set to give a firm filling. Next time I would alter the recipe yet again and use my usual filling of softly whipped cream mixed with yogurt. The pavlova was delicious except for the cream filling which my husband wasn't very keen on. You must make the strawberry sauce though because it is so very, very delicious.

Has anyone else made Delia's Strawberry & Vanilla Pavlova?

Nigella's Pavlova recipe from How to Eat.

You will need: A large baking tray lined with baking parchment.

4 large egg whites, 250g caster sugar, 2 teaspoons cornflour, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they reach the soft peak stage. Whisk in the caster sugar a third at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Fold in the vanilla essence, cornflour and white wine vinegar.
3. Draw a 20cm circle on the baking parchment, put blobs of meringue on a baking tray, turn the greaseproof paper over and stick the baking parchment down onto the tray.
4. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment circle and flatten the top and smooth the sides.
5. Place in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 150°C and cook for 1¼ hours.
6. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven overnight to dry out.
7. Take the pavlova off the baking paper, fill with cream and decorate with fruit.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hotel Chocolat Birthday Gifts


Here is the perfect birthday chocolate gift from Hotel Chocolat - The Sleekster Summer Desserts Selection which consists of 25 beautifully presented chocolates.

All of the chocolates are inspired by classic desserts including Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Mousse and Eton Mess. My favourite chocolate in the collection has to be Summer Pudding which is a white chocolate truffle bursting with summer fruits and coated in strawberry powder.



There are lots more Birthday Gifts to choose from, including a wonderful Summer Goody Bag, Classic Champagne Truffles, Neapolitan Knickerbocker Glory and a range of birthday gifts for children too.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Celebrity Eclipse May 2011

I recently went on a cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse and thought I would share a few of my photographs with you.

It was wall to wall luxury, with 2850 passengers on board and more waiting staff than I have ever seen. The ship, staff, food, room, well everything really, was just fabulous. In fact more fabulous than fabulous!


Brunch had to be seen to be believed and whilst I have only chosen to show some cakes, pastries and jellies, not forgetting the huge X ice sculpture, there was more food than I have ever seen. In fact, it was the equivalent of eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner all at one sitting. Click here to go to YouTube to see brunch being served.

These little beauties were all hand made by Celebrity Eclipse chefs.

The Martini Bar was a huge attraction and they put on plenty of cocktail shows to keep us all entertained. Click here to visit YouTube to see these guys in action, it's truly amazing.

A few of the displays next to the Martini Bar.

This was a demonstration showing us how they make cocktails in the Molecular Bar. Click here to go to YouTube to see a demo.

This display of Vodka was at the side of the Martini Bar and all of the bottles are sitting in crushed ice.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jamie Oliver Tefal Hand Blender

Click on the photograph for a better view.

Following the success of the Jamie Oliver for Tefal Electrics Range, I recently received a Tefal by Jamie Oliver Stainless Steel Hand Blender which has been added to the range. This black and stainless hand blender has a removable stainless steel foot which can be cleaned in the dishwasher, it comes with a 500ml mini chopper, whisk, 800ml beaker and wall mount. The product is sturdy and well built and none of the accessories are flimsy, they are all very easy to assemble. The hand blender has a powerful 700w motor and a soft touch grip, making it comfortable to use.

I thought I would put the hand blender through it's paces with a couple of Jamie's recipes.

Jamie Oliver's King of Puddings

Whisk - this fits onto the top part of the hand blender. It takes a little time to get used to, mainly because the hand blender is quite heavy. I managed to splatter egg white but that said once I was in control again, it made a very good meringue mix.

Breadcrumbs


Mini Chopper
- comes with a removable non-slip base, bowl, a chopping blade and a lid which is a breeze to assemble and makes light work of chopping breadcrumbs. The bowl can be filled to three quarters full and has a calibrated measurement on the bowl.

Jamie Oliver's Tomato and Basil Soup

Hand Blender - The hand blender comes in two parts and is quickly assembled by pushing the two components together. There is a start button and a variable speed control, or a start fast speed button. It coped easily with the task of blending vegetables to produce a smooth soup. I found the hand blender a little heavy to use and I managed to create some splattering, which was unfortunate, especially as it was tomato soup. I think I was possibly over ambitious and should have used the hand blender at slow speed to reduce splattering.

Mango and Orange Smoothie


Beaker - useful measurements on the side, non slip base which can then be used for a lid. The jug is 21cm high with a maximum capacity of 800ml. I found using the hand blender much easier when it was used alongside the beaker. It produced a great smoothie.

Overall Summary: Will suit budding chefs and all Jamie Oliver fans. Looks both stylish and professional, the hand blender motor body weighs (approx 720g), is powerful, will look good in any kitchen, easy to assemble, performs well but be careful not to splatter and read the instruction book more closely. The mini chopper made easy, efficient work of chopping herbs, the stick blender made light work of pureeing vegetables and tomatoes for my silky tomato soup, the height of the beaker has been well thought out to use with the stick blender and a non-slip base that can also be used as a lid is very useful. The instruction book is fairly basic and does not come supplied with any recipes.

RRP £54.99

Thank you Catherine.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES

My strawberries are fabulous this year and I think the squirrel has got the message at last that my strawberries belong to me and not to him!


I was very fortunate a couple of years ago and won a huge prize from Rocket Gardens which included a fruit garden, a spring and autumn vegetable garden, herbs and other garden goodies as well. I couldn't use all of the prize and I donated lots of it to my Grandson's school who have an allotment, which is supervised and run by a very keen gardener, namely the caretaker. He couldn't contain himself with excitement when I told him his school and the children were to share in my good fortune and I know they have had lots of fun with all of the plants Rocket Gardens sent to them on my behalf.

I made some lemon cupcakes, topped them with butter cream and half a strawberry - delicious.

Makes: 12 cupcakes

You will need: A standard size 12 hole cupcake tin lined with paper cases.

125g softened butter, 125g caster sugar, 2 medium eggs, finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, 125g self-raising flour.

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, lemon rind and juice. Fold in the flour.
3. Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake in the centre of the oven until the cakes have risen and are just firm to the touch in the centre or bake for about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the cakes from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Buttercream

You will need:

175g softened unsalted butter, 350g sifted icing sugar, 3 tbsp boiling water, few drops vanilla extract.

1. Beat the butter in a bowl to soften it. Add the icing sugar, boiling water and vanilla extract, and beat until the icing is very smooth and pale in colour.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Prestat Celebrate the Best of British

Prestat, chocolatiers to Her Majesty The Queen, are flying the flag for Britain and I have been fortunate to receive a bespoke collection of five truffles presented in a fabulously contemporary, patriotic Union Jack box.

Prestat celebrates the engagement and wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales to Miss Catherine Middleton with this bespoke collection of their Finest Truffles.

The renowned artist and illustrator Kitty Arden designed the box featuring a billowing Union Jack to reflect a sense of national pride. Kitty then added an element of fun and indulgence by incorporating Prestat's typically exuberant swirls as well as their trademark pink and gold.Sea Salt Caramel Truffles - A dark chocolate shell filled with soft caramel infused with sea salt and enrobed in fine dark chocolate. These chocolates allude to us being a seafaring nation, while the combination of the softest caramel and dark chocolate infused with sea salt is as bold and daring as any great British hero.

Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles - Creamy white chocolate feathered in pink and filled with a rich chocolate Marc de Champagne ganache. As beautiful as a blushing English rose.

St. Clement's Truffles - A dark chocolate ganache combining the sun filled flavours of oranges and lemons carried inside a dark chocolate shell. Inspired by the ancient nursery rhyme 'Oranges and Lemons' which lists several of London's most historic churches.

Hazelnut Pralines - Lightly roasted hazelnuts melded with velvety milk chocolate to make this celebrated praline to represent tradition and excellence.

Passion Fruit Truffles - An exotic passion fruit chocolate ganache enrobed in the finest milk chocolate. These exotic and contemporary milk chocolates sum up the diversity, creativity and vibrancy of Britain in the twenty first century.

Prestat chocolates are all made by hand in London and are served at all major state banquets. Everyone from the Queen Mother to Roald Dahl regarded them as a favourite treat. The writer even referred to Prestat in his autobiographical recipe book, 'Memories of Gypsy Corner'. "I also adore so-called truffles...as Prestat makes them."

In 1975 Prestat had the honour of being awarded a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen. Prestat was awarded a second Royal Warrant by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in her centenary year.

Prestat chocolates can either be bought online or at selected retailers.

Why not visit the Prestat Shop in London at:

14 Princes Arcade
Piccadilly
London
SW1Y 6DS

Thank you Prestat and Isabel.
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