Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.‏

Well, I tried.

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Erm. Yum?

Given how sewing heavy this blog has been lately (and there’s still more to come – just waiting for Hurricane Bertha to chill out a bit so I can go and get some photos), I thought I would mix it up a little by throwing some baking in the mix.

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It totally looks like this cake has been thrown somewhere alright. Ain’t no need to try and get this in focus, it won’t help any.

And to welcome the return of Great British Bake-Off to our screens, I thought that I should take this as my cue – and will theme my baking accordingly. For example, this week (the first week back), the contestants were asked to make their own take on the classic swiss roll.

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This is a swiss roll. Honest.

As this was my first attempt at a swiss roll, or anything like it (I know, right, you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the photos. Professional.), I went straight to the source. The Mother Ship. AKA Mary Berry herself. Or at least, her recipe on the BBC website for a chocolate roulade (it’s not cake if it’s not chocolate).

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This is how I imagine Ms Berry herself would react if she saw what I’d done to her creation.

The recipe itself is straightforward, although very different to the cake I’m used to. It uses 6 eggs – separated and whisked) , no other fat and no flour. Just sugar, melted chocolate and cocoa powder. And you still get a magnificent rise.The filling is simply whipped cream which you spread on the cooled cake before rolling it up/smashing it to smithereens.

I think this may have been my problem when it come to rolling it up, actually – the cake rose so well and therefore was so thick it really just didn’t roll very tight. Or maybe it still needed to cool down a little. Or maybe I needed to be a bit more forceful in the rolling. Who knows. One thing I do know is that you need to spread the cake all the way to the sides, otherwise you end up with two end slices with no filling.

Whatever it is that made it look like it came off the wrong end of one a Hulk Smash, it still tastes delicious, so I certainly can’t blame the recipe!

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Proof that someone found it tasty.

I could have pretended this never happened and not put it on the blog, but to be honest, I laughed so hard about the end result that I had to share it wide. Also because I had been so smug in the rolling process, imagining the beautiful photogenic outcome – only to instead end up with this…

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It didn’t even deserve a proper plate.

So, although this wasn’t a complete disaster (as it is completely delicious – I feel like I need to keep repeating this in order to retain a semblance of dignity), it’s certainly not one of my finest moments. What’s been your biggest disaster in the kitchen?

Today’s quote is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee. I bet he could roll a fine roulade in his time.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.

It’s funny how friends you knew from school, growing up together as you battle through adolescence and beyond, can lead such different lives to you – yet when you see each other the years slip away and you’re giggling together like you’re still sitting at the back of the bus. As it was when my school friends and I recently met up for a long lazy pub lunch and country stroll – and I also got the chance to grill my friend Ben who has recently established Puddle Lane Duck Eggs, a farm supplying free range organic duck eggs. He currently has around 600 ducks, laying 450 eggs a day – and he will soon be increasing the number of ducks he has so that his farm produces eggs throughout the year (Apparently ducks lay eggs all year round, but they stop two months before their hatching date, and start again on their hatching date. How do they know?!)

Ducks. All the ducks. (Picture from organicduckeggs.com)

Ducks. All the ducks. (Picture from organicduckeggs.com)

Duck eggs are particularly good for baking, resulting in a much fluffier, more moist, better risen cake – this is apparently because they are higher in albumen and fat than their chicken equivalent. Also, the larger yolk to egg-white ratio, and because the yolks are richer and thicker, (Or as I said, the yolks are just more yolk-y. I’m good at the words.), they are much better for custards and creamy fillings. Not only that, but if you need to go gluten-free, use duck eggs as the extra protein in the whites will help bind the gluten free ingredients better. So what are you waiting for?

Ben was kind enough to give us all a dozen eggs to take home, with the promise that we would share with him the outcome of any baking. I decided to go for a simple Victoria sponge recipe as I thought the simple flavours would better show off the use of duck eggs then something more complicated (read: chocolatey).

Look at these beauties.

Look at these beauties.

I baked my sponge in two batches as I wanted to make a behemoth of a cake and I only have one 20cm cake tin. The first batch was a three-egger (a technical term I’ve coined), and for this I used 175g self-raising flour, 175g caster sugar, 175g butter and a teaspoon of vanilla. Cream the butter and sugar first before adding the egg and vanilla in stages, before finally folding in the sieved flour. Then bake in a lined tin for about 30 mins at 180 degrees, or until risen and golden in colour – it’ll be fully cooked when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the top is firm with a bit of bounce when you press down.

Oh so yolky.

Oh so yolky.

I then followed this up with a two-egger (seriously, I should copyright this s**t), and just changed my proportions accordingly (i.e. two-thirds of 175g is about 110-120g each of the other ingredients*. Unfortunately, I got a bit distracted and baked this second cake on the grill setting (Please note: not to be recommended, unless you like your cakes black on top and liquidy in the middle), and had to use another two of my eggs to make another batch.

(Since making the cake, I’ve read a few more recipes, and I think in future I will use the traditional Women’s Institute way of weighing the eggs in their shells, and then using the same weight in flour and caster sugar. This probably makes a lot more sense when using duck eggs as they are so much bigger. However, I don’t think it really made a difference to the bake – it was delicious as it was!)

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If all else fails, add more whipped cream.

History sidebar: Did you know that the Victoria sponge is so named because one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting (Anna, the Duchess of Bedford) used to get peckish at about four o clock (I hear you sister) and so created teatime to stave off the “sinking feeling” she got because lunch wasn’t big enough. Come on, we’ve all been there. You should see the stuff shoved in my office drawers to get me over the mid-afternoon slump.

At first the Duchess had her servants sneak her a pot of tea and a few breadstuffs into her dressing room, but then started to invite friends to join her for an additional afternoon meal at five o’clock in her rooms, of small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, and tea. Soon, Queen Victoria herself took up this craze – and declared the simple sponge cake to be her favourite of the cakes. See here for more information.

Did you also know, fact fans, that the Victoria Sponge is a cake baked on a tangled web of lies? Apparently a true sponge,  is made from a whisked mixture of eggs, sugar and flour, with no fat added.

Does the icing sugar mask the bitter taste of deceit? (Image brazenly taken from The Internet)

Does the icing sugar mask the bitter taste of deceit? (Image brazenly taken from The Internet)

Despite being a WI member, I don’t like jam. Don’t tell anyone, I don’t want to get excommunicated. So I instead filled my cake with lashings of whipped vanilla cream (just add the beans from a vanilla pod to the cream before you whip it up) and fresh strawberries. Sprinkle a bit of icing sugar over the top, all fancy-like, and off you go.

We really did notice a difference using the duck eggs. The sponge was such a beautiful yellow colour, it looked like it was out of a magazine, and the cake was deliciously moist and flavourful. (And he’s not paid me to say that). I’ll definitely be hitting Ben up for supplies next time we meet. For more information about his farm, take a look at his website  – but if you can’t get a hold of Ben’s eggs, do hunt out duck eggs at your local shop/market, and give them a go. You’d be surprised at the difference!

Words that lost all meaning to me in the writing of this post: yolk; sponge.

Today’s quote is from Douglas Adams

*You might not want to follow my half-assed recipe, and who can blame you! I recommend you look at this Guardian article about how to make the perfect Victoria Sponge, or even go straight to the mothership and use the WI recipe, which is given here.

 

 

 

 

When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.

What’s your favourite biscuit? I dabbled with Hobnobs for a while, but they seem a little smug to me, and the Tunnocks Teacake will always have a special place in my heart (although – is it a biscuit or, like the Jaffa, actually a cake? In which case, I allow myself two favourites. That’s not cheating, that’s science) – but I will always come back to the humble bourbon. A classic. And chocolate, as all biscuits will be, when I am in charge.

So, for Valentine’s day this year (oh as if I need an excuse to bake), I decided to have a go at baking my own bourbon biscuits – a little bit inspired by this giant Bourbon my boyfriend brought me home from the shops one day.

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A biscuit the size of my face. The way to my heart.

I got the ingredients from the Good Housekeeping website – seduced by the claim that all recipes are triple tested! – but as Valentine’s Day is a time of gooey love and hearts and smushy stuff, I decided to break out the old heartshape cookie cutters and personalise them a bit.

It’s a really simple recipe, and would make about 15-20 traditionally sized/shaped biscuits. As I made greedy giant sized over stuffed large biscuits, along with a few smaller ones, I got around 10-12 biscuits, and ran out of icing for the last few. No matter. An un-iced Bourbon is still a chocolate biscuit, and therefore not to be sniffed at.

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I’m a softy at heart.

You will need

For the biscuit:

250g (9oz) plain flour, plus extra to dust

125g (4oz) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes

125g (4oz) caster sugar

2tbsp golden syrup

50g (2oz) cocoa powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

3tbsp milk

For the filling

75g (3oz) unsalted butter, softened

125g (4oz) icing sugar

15g (½oz) cocoa powder

1. Put all the biscuit ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough on to a work surface and bring together. If you don’t have a food processor, I think this biscuit is very similar to a shortbread – so, add the diced butter to the sieved flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda, and then rub together until you get a crumb-like mixture. Then add in the sugar, golden syrup and milk and mix in till fully incorporated. Then bring together into a dough as above

2. Roll out the dough on a sheet of baking paper, to about 5mm thickness. Which makes some big-ass bourbon biscuits, so make it a bit thinner if you have a more delicate appetite/are more of a lady than me. Then use your cookie cutter to cut out biscuits to whatever shape you desire. Remember, the biscuits will be sandwiched together, so you need an even number. I had to re-roll out my dough a couple of times to make sure I got the most out of it. Any more than that, I think the dough will get too stick and warm, so try and fit your cookie shapes as close together as possible.

3. Place in the fridge and chill for 30min.

4. Make a cup of tea, play with the cat.

5. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) mark 4.

6. Place the biscuits on lined baking trays and bake for 20-25min, or until you realise that as you have made the biscuits different sizes, the smaller hearts are beginning to look a little burnt crispy.

7. Leave to cool completely.

8. To make the filling, put the butter into a large bowl and sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder and mix until combined. This takes a good lot of effort, as it’s really thick icing (don’t be tempted to add any liquid, it’s meant to be like that). I did it by hand and started to regret it as my biceps began to ache – so if you have a hand mixer, now would be the time to use it.

9. Sandwich the cooled biscuits together with the chocolate filling, using a piping bag if you want a neater finish. Or, like me, your fingers. That icing really is thick.

10. Repeat step 4, with added biscuits.

Today’s quote is from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera

 

There was an Old Person of Putney; Whose food was roast spiders and chutney; Which he took with his tea, within sight of the sea; That romantic Old Person of Putney.

It’s that time of the year when thoughts turn to sterilising jars, cutting out circles of fabric with pinking shears, and the sickly sweet smell of cooking sugar and vinegar starts to permeate the flat. Well, if you’re me anyway. Yes, it’s time to dig out the kilner jars, and start making chutney.

I’m not in the country for Christmas this year, and I’m very busy with house things, and practising the ukulele for a cabaret I’m in (sorry to my new neighbours, it’s not the best sound to hear coming through your walls on an evening), so I thought I wouldn’t try anything different this year, and instead make my life a bit easier by revisiting an old favourite – Mary Berry’s Christmas Chutney. This also has the benefit of needing to be made in advance, then left in a cool dark place to mature for a month or so before eating. As I most likely won’t be handing out presents until as while after Christmas day, this suited me fine.

“What could go wrong?” I thought to myself. “I know this recipe like the back of my hand.”

In a genius time saving flash of inspiration, I decided to chop all the vegetables the night before, ready for me to chuck them in a pan as soon as I got home from work the next day (there is a lot of chopping involved in this recipe. I recommend using a) a food processor or b) a gas mask, in order to save your eyes when finely chopping 7 onions. I used neither, as I thought it would be a lovely relaxing thing to do in front of the TV. Relaxing, if running away from the chopping board every five minutes screaming “My eyes! My eyes!” is how you like to chill out of an evening.)

Look! at all the lovely chopping I did… Glance! at the recipe below… Gasp! as you slowly realised you forgot to read the section where it instructs you to peel the tomatoes before chopping… Weep! at the acceptance that you will be having tomato soup for dinner every day for the rest of the week… 

Tomatoes. So many tomatoes. And none of them any use.

Tomatoes. So many tomatoes. And none of them any use.

If ever there was a lesson to be learned about reading the recipe in full before embarking on a project, this would be it.

The recipe makes about 2.5kg worth of chutney. This is a lot of chutney. A lot of chutney. It will fill a lot of those fancy schmancy “presentation jars” you fell in love with at Lakeland. So you need to get sterilising those jars.

Jars. Lots of jars.

Jars. Lots of jars.

I don’t have a dishwasher (although I’m hoping this will change soon – hello, January sales), so my preferred method is to wash the jars in hot soapy water, before placing them upside down on a couple of sheets of newspaper on the oven shelves and putting them in a pre-heated oven (275°F/130°C/Gas 1) for about 15-20 mins.

To stop the glass jars shattering, remember that hot food goes in hot jars, cold food goes in cold jars.

The recipe is below, from the BBC Good Food website.

Ingredients

900g tomatoes

3 red peppers, 1 large aubergine and 1 green pepper (total weight of about 900g/2lb)

6/7 small/medium sized onions (about 700g), peeled and fairly finely chopped, by hand or in a food processor

4 fat cloves garlic, crushed

350g granulated sugar

300ml/½ pint white wine vinegar or distilled malt vinegar

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

1 tbsp paprika

2 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Peel the tomatoes. I repeat. PEEL THE TOMATOES. To do this, prick them with a sharp knife, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for a few seconds then drain and cover with cold water. The skins will now come away easily. “Easily”, but not quickly. Do this bit in front of the telly.

2. Chop the tomatoes and aubergine and seed and chop the peppers. Put in a large heavy-based pan with the chopped onions and crushed garlic and bring to the boil.

3. Cover with a lid, lower the heat and gently simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally, until tender.

4. Tip the sugar, vinegar, salt, coriander, paprika and cayenne into the pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to boil for 30 minutes or so, until the mixture achieves a chunky chutney consistency and the surplus watery liquid has evaporated. Take care towards the end of the cooking time to continue stirring so that the chutney doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. I’ve often found this bit has previously taken me almost an hour to do, so make sure you’ve left enough time in your evening. I was sterilising jars and spooning chutney at way past 10pm. Not ideal.

5. Ladle the chutney into sterilised or dishwasher-clean jars, sealing them whilst still hot. Leave to mature for at least a month in a cool dark place.

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The finished product! Not sure how to decorate these yet – need to raid the fabric scraps.

 Today’s quote is from Edward Lear.

Comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love

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Straight out of the oven.

Well this quote is a bit overly dramatic, but kind of fitting for this comforting toffee apple pudding recipe from the Domestic Sluttery website, completely weather appropriate.

I’ve recreated the recipe here – it’s super easy and works like magic. And the sauce gets tastier as the days go on (we’re on day three now)

Ingredients

4-5 small or 2-3 large eating apples

125g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

90g caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

75g butter, melted and left to cool

1 egg, beaten

175ml milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:

100g brown sugar

30ml maple syrup

225ml boiling water

A couple of handfuls of chopped pecans (I think walnuts would work really well too)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

2. Peel and slice the apples to about 1cm thick, then use them to line the bottom of a roasting dish (it has to be fairly deep, as the pudding does rise – mine’s a couple of inches deep)

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, caster sugar and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the butter, egg, milk and vanilla extract, then mix together to form a batter.

4. Now the recipe says to leave it to thicken slightly for 20 minutes, but I ran out of time and didn’t do this. Not sure it makes a huge difference, so let’s call this an optional time-dependent step.

5. Pour the batter evenly over the apples, smoothing down the top.

6. Put the brown sugar and maple syrup into a bowl and top with the boiling water. Stir quickly so the sugar dissolves, then tip the whole lot over the apple batter before sprinkling over the pecans. At this point it looks like you’ve created a hot sticky sweet mess, but trust me – it’s meant to look like that.

7. Honest, don’t worry it’s fine.

8. Bake for 40 minutes until it’s golden-brown and well-risen.

9. Eat it hot with custard or ice-cream (Or cold a couple of days later straight out of the dish. No judging here.)

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Check out that sauce. Hot, sticky and sweet. And very moreish.

Today’s quote is from the Song of Solomon

Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile

Don’t you just love Autumn? The kind of Autumn with crisp blue skies, crunchy leaves and conkers. The kind of Autumn where it’s acceptable to have soup for every meal, where you walk through the park arm-in-arm with your friends and lovers, wrapped in scarves. The kind of Autumn that is actually called Fall and only exists in Central Park in films.

We’ve been waiting a while for Autumn to start, here in London, as the sun made a belated appearance. But now the clocks have turned back, and I barely see daylight, it’s hard to deny that the season has begun. But that’s fine by me, as it is the perfect time of year to break out the hearty carb-loaded meals, and rummage through my cupboards in search of the chestnuts I knew I had bought one time, and then forgotten about on Christmas Day. And Time Out magazine luckily gave me the perfect recipe, combining the two ingredients.

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Can’t work out if this is a blurry photo, or just the steam rising off the pan…

It’s a really easy recipe, and perfect for a cosy evening in.

Ingredients:

300g basmati and wild rice

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into largeish chunks

4 garlic cloves, crushed

200g pre-cooked chestnuts, halved

250g spinach

25g unsalted butter

100g cream cheese

1. Cook the rice until tender, drain fully, and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the butternut squash and fry until tender (about 5/6 mins)

3. Add the garlic and chestnuts and cook for a minute.

4. Add the spinach, cook for another 5 mins.

5. Add the butter and rice to the pan, stir well and leave to cook for about 10 mins. Don’t stir (this way you get a nice crust at the bottom of the pan)

6. Finally, break up the mixture with a fork, stir through the cream cheese, season, and serve in front of a roaring fire (or the tv…)

Today’s quote is from William Cullen Bryant

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Not only do I agree with the assertion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I would go further and say that it has the power to make or break a weekend. A good breakfast of french toast, or pancakes, or huevos rancheros, or just a full English (I could go on) can really set you up for an awesome day of fun in a way that soggy cereal or a limp piece of toast really just doesn’t. 

Blogging's just a excuse for me to show off my new pink scales, if I'm honest with you.

Blogging’s just a excuse for me to show off my new pink scales, if I’m honest with you.

Unfortunately, in the week I don’t the luxury of time to have sit down to such a feast (or rather: I choose my duvet over eggs), and have to resort to breakfast hunched over my desk whilst desperately trying to catch up with emails and hoping no one talks to me until I at least have my coffee in my hand.

There are things I can do to soften that blow – and when I discovered this homemade chocolate coconut granola recipe in the Vintage Tea Party recipe book by the elegantly named Angel Adoree, I knew that I would be breakfasting on this for years to come. It’s really easy to make, chockful of goodness, but with a side portion of sin. Like all the best things in life.

Granola a go go.

Granola a go go.

Ingredients:

240g (8 1/2 oz) rolled oats

175g (6oz) flaked almonds

70g (2 1/2 oz) shredded unsweetened coconut

70g (2 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar

40g (1 1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder

90ml (3fl oz) honey

50ml (2fl oz) vegetable oil

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 120 deg C

2. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients up to and including the sugar.

3. In a separate bowl, mix all the rest of the ingredients together.

4. Combine the 2 bowls, then pour onto two lined baking sheets.

5. Put in the oven for an hour and a quarter – stir even 15 minutes or so, to stop it baking together in one big lump.

6. Serve up with yoghurt and fresh fruit. Start your day!

I normally also throw in a few handfuls of whatever selection of nuts and seeds I have in my cupboards (pumpkin seeds work really well), and I have only just found somewhere near me that sells shredded coconut – although it says not to, I have made it with dessicated coconut several times, and no one has died as yet. So the moral of this story is, to make granola you can chuck a load of things you like together, mix it with honey and cocoa, bake it, et voila. Good, eh?

 Today’s quote is from the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Whenever a boy comes, you should always have something baking.

Well, I do love a list. So I thought I’d do another one. This time, it’s less a to-do list (don’t need more pressure, thanks!), more just a list of things I want to try out in the kitchen. This was sparked by my trip to Paris this weekend (pictures to follow…), where at every corner I was met with a delicious display of macarons, and reminded that I’ve been wanting to try making these for a long time. That, and the return of Great British Bake-Off, of course.

I love baking, and I’m ok at it, but I’m pretty slapdash about the measuring, and the following of instructions, and I think many of these things on my list require a level of exactitude/concentration that doesn’t sit well with me.

– Macarons

– Marshmallows

– Cake pops (I know, I know, I’m totally behind the curve on this one. In about three years time, I’ll be talking about how delicious those Cronuts look)

– Italian frosting

– Char siu buns (My other half grew up in Hong Kong, and these are his favourite snack. I’ve mastered char siu pork, and never thought the buns were something people in their kitchens at home could realistically do – surely there’s some kind of magic involved? – but this Jamie Oliver recipe looks so simple, I think I need to give it a try)

– Salted caramels

– Rainbow layer cake

– Mojito cupcakes (Or any booze-related cupcakes. I’m not fussy)

– This chocolate strawberry nutella cake (Difficulty-level isn’t the reason I’ve waited for this one -my other half sent it to me back in June and I promised it would be the first thing I baked in our new house. Not long to wait now!)

No doubt, I will post any resulting successes/disasters here!

Today’s quote is from Cher (Clueless, not Turn Back Time)

Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!

My other half and I recently exchanged on the flat we are buying together, after about a year of looking and a couple of heartbreaks along the way. We celebrated, as is almost obligatory, by opening a bottle of champagne and toasting the future, and the possibilities ahead of us (sofa buying being a key point of excitement!).

Being sensible types, and not huge drinkers, we didn’t manage to get all the way through the whole bottle of champagne (it was a school night!), and then came the question of what to do with the rest. I realise at this point I’ve probably lost what little readers I have – to open a bottle and not consider drinking it all must seem like anathema to some of you, and shamelessly wasteful to the rest, but wait! Before you rush off grumbling, instead of tipping the rest down the sink, or bathing in it à la La Moss, I instead turned to the power of Google, and found a nifty little recipe for using the rest – Champagne and Strawberry Jelly. I used this BBC Good Food Recipe, but amended it for what I had available to me at the time.

This recipe was almost a disaster. I had never used gelatine before, and had only found the crystals in the shops, rather than the leaves, and instead of reading the instructions properly, I then just kind of had a go. At one point it didn’t look as if it was going to firm up at all, and there was a layer of goop on the top, so I gave it another whisk, put it back in the fridge, and then forgot about it completely.

Two hours later, just before going to bed, I suddenly remembered the impending disaster I had stored in the fridge, and went over with the intention of tipping it down the sink, weeping silently to myself about the waste of bubbles. But to my surprise, as I tipped the bowl, no liquid came, only a solid-ish goop of jelly-type stuff (it would be too kind to call it jelly at this point). So I mixed in the strawberries, put it in some glasses and hoped for the best. And although I may not win any awards for presentation, they actually taste delicious. The champagne flavour is subtle, and nicely sweetened, and strawberries are always a good addition to bubbles. The recipe is below, should you ever find yourself with spare champagne!

jelly

Ingredients:

300ml (10 fl oz) hot water

Leftover Champagne/Sparking wine (~ 500 ml)

55g (2 oz) Caster sugar

2 sachets of gelatine crystals

A good couple of handfuls of chopped strawberries

1. Put the water and sugar into a small saucepan over a low to medium heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar.

2. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and allow simmer for five minutes, before removing the pan from the heat.

3. Quickly add the gelatine crystals to the pan and whisk furiously to make sure they have all dissolved.

4. Pour the Champagne into a large heatproof bowl and add the sugar syrup mixture, whisking to make sure it is well mixed.

5. Allow to cool thoroughly, then refrigerate the jelly for about one hour, or whenever you remember to check it.

6. As soon as it starts to thicken, stir in the strawberries, and divide the jelly between however many glasses you want, depending on how greedy you are. I filled four small wine tumblers.

7. Refrigerate for four to six hours, or until they have completely set.

8. Enjoy!

Today’s quote is from Dom Pérignon

Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.

pasta

…And here it is. Drunken Penne. Pasta cooked in red wine. Served up with garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and pancetta (ahem… gammon, because there was no pancetta in the supermarket I was in at the time. I bought gammon instead thinking, “What’s the worst that could happen? One of these days my lazy substitutions will come back to bite me on the ass.” And reader, it did – one day I will tell you about my failed attempt at a fig tart, but it’s currently too raw).

I won’t recreate the recipe here, as I took it wholesale from the Domestic Sluttery website. To cook the pasta in wine, you just need to boil it in salted water for around 3-4 minutes first, then add it to a pan of red wine which has been heated to the boil, and cook for a further 6-7 minutes (or until the pasta is cooked and has turned burgundy).

I suspect it would taste even better if I used the proper ingredients, but it was delicious as it was. And now I’m wondering what else I can boil in wine. Any ideas?

Today’s quote is from Benjamin Franklin