Day of Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday marks the launch of forty extensive days during which I shall abstain from all things chocolate and all things fizzy (not including hot chocolate and fizzy water). Wait, one more caveat, I am allowed one Sunday off - of my choice - to pump that blood sugar as high as it will go.

Our final fling was a glorious excess of all things nice. Vats of Nutella, slightly plastic cheddar cheese, good old sliced banana’s and of course, obligatory Maple syrup. This I tell you is wonderfully decadent whilst living in Africa. Nutella has to be smuggled from English supermarket shelves in airplanes and over countless boarders to reach our Zimbabwean dining tables. 

To justify the air miles alone, I feel compelled to take up the challenge and remind myself of exactly what Lent is about; a spiritual sacrifice that will push my own little faith to greater depths.  It’s not all about the chocolate.

And now the countdown to absolution, freedom and gluttony. It awaits me on Sunday April 8th  - deep breath and dive!


Cherry, Apple & Sauterns Jelly

I made these beautiful jellies last week, not a special occasion - just Tuesday night supper with ma & pa. There is something radiant about transparent sweet wine engulfing fresh fruit that makes this pudding seem almost too sophisticated for your average Tuesday night. 

Cherry, Apple & Sauterns Jelly

Prep Time – 20 minutes
Setting Time – 3-4 hours

Makes 4 x 250ml glasses

4 leaves of gelatin (enough to set 525ml)
37.5cl Muscat (or any other pudding wine)
1 tbsp caster sugar
150ml fizzy water
150g cherries, pitted plus a 4 to garnish
1/2 green apple, cored and thinly sliced

1/ Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes or so.  The texture of the leaves will change from solid glass window panes to pliable, see through jelly. Remove from the liquid and squeeze with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible.
2/ Pour the Muscat into a pan and heat gently, not allowing the liquid to simmer. Remove from the heat when the sugar has dissolved and stir in the softened leaves until they have all but disappeared.
3/ Allow to cool slightly until the mixture begins to thicken (about 10 minutes) - this will help will help the fruit to be suspended in your glasses rather than just float to the top.
4/ Place a dense cluster of fruit at the base of your glasses and gently pour over an inch or so of liquid. As the fruit begins to float, stop and place the glasses in the fridge. After about 30 minutes pour the remaining jelly over the fruit (and garnish with a whole cherry. Allow to set for 3-4 hours.


'Well Kneaded' comes up trumps.

Two very inspiring friends have thrown caution to the wind and opened their very own firebread buisness. All its taken is to convert a very old, very retro Citroen van into a food truck complete with wood fired oven, hatch and stacks of energy.
The result is bespoke firebreads created to fulfil your lunchtime wishes. Would that be rocket, chilli, walnuts, British portabella mushrooms, leek, rosemary, plump mozzarella or virtually any other topping you could dream of?

Follow them on twitter to find out their latest location and hunt them down. How very New York.

Have a closer look at Bryony & Briget in action!  - http://vimeo.com/33879899


Mumma's Blueberry & Vanilla Steamed Sponge

This weekend I did a spot of baking and M & I perfected a recipe. 

Surely nothing is evocative of a British pudding than a piping steamed sponge? I have to hand over this recipe to my mother who puffs, proud as a peacock, every time this pudding hits the table.

Serves 6-8

Prep Time – 20 minutes . Cook Time – 2 hours

175g butter, softened plus a little extra for greasing
175g caster sugar
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
100g blueberries
1 tbsp plain flour
175g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

1/ Grease a 1 litre pudding basin liberally with softened butter.
2/ In a medium bowl cream together butter and sugar until pale and light. Stir in lemon zest and vanilla essence then slowly add the beaten egg.
3/ Lightly wash the blueberries in water, drain off any excess water and sprinkle the  plain flour over the fruit.
4/ Fold in the self raising flour and baking powder through the creamed mixture and finally fold through the floury blueberries (the flour on the outside will help them cling to the batter and not all sink to the bottom).
5/ Spoon the mixture into a pudding basin and cover with buttered kitchen foil, making a pleat in the foil across the top of the basin. Tie firmly with string.
6/ Steam for 2 hours, until risen and turn out. If you don't own a steamer put an upturned saucer in a deep pan and rest your pudding basin on the top. Add cold water until its about 1/4 of the way up the basin. Put the pan on the heat and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature and keep topping up with water, more often than you think, every 15 minutes to make sure there is constant steam. 
7/ To serve, turn out and lavishly smother golden syrup on the top. 

Tip – If you unveil your pudding and are sure that it may not be cooked through in the middle (perhaps a little water has tunnelled its way inside) then give it thirty seconds on high in the microwave. Not the best, I know, but when there are six hungry people waiting for their pudding....