Friday, 28 June 2013

Lake District Cheeses

some text This week I've been in the Lake District and, as usual, food has been one of the highlights of this holiday. If there's one thing that Alun's family don't do by halves it's food. I've been keeping the house stocked with yummy sourdough bread, perfect and filling for lunch at the top of a fell after a steep climb. We've been indulging in tasty sticky toffee puddings from the excellent Booths supermarket, which I recommend to everybody visiting the Lakes for its excellent selection of local foods, from vegetables to beer. The highlight though, as ever for me, has been the cheese. Booths supermarket has a fantastically stocked cheese counter with local cheeses but I had great fun at the Low Sizergh Barn farm shop, which boasts an award winning cheese counter, recognised as one of the top 200 in the country by the British Cheese Awards (the picture below is just of the blue section). Above, you can see the bunch I picked out. I particularly enjoyed the crumbly tang of the Keverigg, made using milk from Winter Tarn farm's organic cows at the nearby Appleby Creamery, incidentally the same place the Brie was made. My personally favourite though, which if you know me won't come as a surprise, was the Brinkburn goats cheese, a moist delicately sweet and fresh cheese made by the Northumberland Cheese Company.
In the picture you can also see a few slices of my experimental linseed sourdough - all verdicts agree its a good'n!

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy my pretty cheese board and that if you're lucky enough to visit the Lake District you will look beyond the stunning scenery and explore the rich variety of foods that the land provides. If you have any cheese recommendations for me then don't forget to leave me a comment, I'm always looking for new ones!

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Pre-craftparty macarons trauma!

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Hello chaps! While I'm having a lovely time in the Lake District (more of that later) I thought I'd share my macaronage trauma from last week after they went down so well at the Etsy Craft Party on Thursday. They went fairly well considering that I've never made them before and, to boot, wasn't baking in my own kitchen, however there is definite room for improvement.

Things that went right:
1. Shape - they stayed round and didn't crazy morph
2. Colour - pretty and pink!
3. Texture - nice and chewy inside and quite crispy on the outside

Things that went wrong:
1. They stuck to the paper - cue interesting double knife scraping technique
2. The inside sort of separated from the crust. Coupled with the sticking you have goo stuck to paper and empty crust. Sad face. This meant that they were super fragile when trying to glue them together.
Anyway, work in progress, I think!

The recipe that I used was from the BraveTart blog with the help of Eat Live Travel Write's illustrated version - thanks both of you! I'll copy it below in case any of you fancy trying it - leave me a link and a comment if you do!

French Macarons
4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour, or whatever nut you like
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar*
5 ounces egg whites (144g), temperature and age not important!
2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2g) salt
Please refer to BraveTart's blog for instructions as they are lengthy and detailed and I won't do them justice. For my filling I piled a shittonne of icing sugar, cocoa powder and Cointreau into a food processor and blitzed until it was what I wanted. Have fun, kids!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Another cake table - Etsy Craft Party!

some text Today I bring you one of the most magnificent cake tables I've seen in a long time - the one from the Etsy Craft Part that I went to last week at the lovely flat of lovely blogger and Etsier ohNOrachio. The party was cake and craft central and everybody weaseling away on their little projects. You can see my little GROW badge underneath some lovely homemade strawberry ice cream rustled up by Els of Zerabifish (need to get that recipe). That was one of the things that made it such an amazing day - creative lovely people putting their efforts together to make a great day for everybody. I even had a go at macarons, of which I am fairly proud of for a first time attempt and I feel silly for having been nervous of turning up with them beforehand, as everyone was very complementary.
For much better pictures of everything that went on, head over to Rachel's post on OhNoRachio's beautiful blog. And a big thank you to both her and Harriet Gray for their amazing hard work and for organising the day in the first place.

PLUS - Look out for my post on macaronage in the next few days!

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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

This Redhead Says HELLO!

Say goodbye to...

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And HELLO to...

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That's right, I'm ditching the woodblocks and ushering in a new era. I've been weaseling away for the past couple of days revamping my blog. As well as the long delayed name change, you may also notice the shiny new buttons above my ginger mug --->
Hooray! So feel free to test them out and follow This Redhead Says on Pintrest, my Tumblr, Twitter etc. You know the gig. Facebook coming soon!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Frances Marr ceramics update - New kiln!

some text some text Exciting things are happening! My lovely mum has bought herself a shiny new kiln and today is it's maiden voyage! Frances Marr has been working hard and there are lots of lovely things packed in there, snug as a bug in rug, and I can't wait to see how they all turn out. I'll keep you all posted! And so will she, probably. Check out her blog, Roundways Reminder, here.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Mogwai and a quick salmon paté.

some text A yummy salmon spread with the leftover steak from last night, mixed up with a dollop of mayonaise, some double cream, a teaspoon of horseradish, some fennel and black pepper and a little lemon juice. Yummy with toasted slices my of first sourdough loaf with the new starter!
Oh and some not very summer appropriate music. I can't stop listening to Mogwai's soundtrack to french series Les Revenants (The Returned), which has justed started airing on Channel 4. I watched the first episode on telly and then went and gorged on the rest the next day. Shameful. Oh to be on summer holidays!

Monday, 10 June 2013

A fresh start and a fruity, custardy cake.

Cake and herbs

Well, another year done and dusted, and time to forget exams and essays and concentrate on the good things in life. My herbs are growing, I've conjured up a new sourdough starter and the world seems full of potential once more. Things are changing, growing, getting their energy back after this long long winter, myself included. Although it feels a little like I'm in limboland, sleeping on a pullout bed and flitting between my parents' and Aluns' houses, all of my things in boxes, these weeks are an opportunity to contribute and experiment.
As the garden begins to flourish I've come back from London to a rather over-excited rhubarb plant. I decided to try out this cake, which, with a bit of tweaking, has turned out pretty tasty, very much like some of the buttery Breton offerings from my childhood in France. The recipe is a BBC Good Food offering that calls for rhubarb, although in the picture above I replaced that with black currants frozen in absurd quantities from last year's glut, cooked with the liquid drained off as well as I could. The stronger flavours of the currants worked well with the buttery comfort of the cake and perhaps the rhubarb would be even better if cooked with slightly less sugar initially. Either way, a versatile recipe good for tweaking.

Rhubarb and Custard Cake
- 1 quantity Barney's roasted rhubarb (see recipe, below method)
- 250g pack butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
- 150g custard (I mixed up half a pint of Bird's powdered custard - was fine)
- 250g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g golden caster sugar
- icing sugar , for dusting

1. Cook the rhubarb. To do this, cut then stems into finger size pieces, rinse and shake off the excess water. Spread onto a baking tray or dish and coat in sugar, around 50g, perhaps less if you like the tartness, like me. Cover with foil and place in an oven pre-heated to around 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for 15 minutes or less. The longer you leave them the less shape they will have to them. I followed the instructions on the BBC Good Food site and ended up with mush. It still worked well in the cake, though.
2. Next, butter and line a 23cm loose-bottomed or springform cake tin and pre-heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. You may wish to follow this instruction but I found that my cake began burning round the sides long before it was cooked in the middle. I have started heating the oven to gas mark 1, although our oven is very hot so this may equate to gas mark 2 or 3, maximum.
3. Keep back 3 tbsp of the custard in a bowl. Beat the rest of the custard together with the butter. Add the sifted flour and baking powder intermittently with the eggs to keep the mixture loose then add the vanilla and sugar until creamy and smooth. Spread the tin with a layer of batter, then a dotted layer of fruit and some splodges of custard and keep doing this until you run out of fruit/cutard/batter. Try to keep some fruit back to dot on top of the cake before putting in the oven.
4. Bake for 15 mins then cover with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes more. This is one of my tweaks to try and stop it burning round the sides before the middle is done. You make wish to follow the original recipe and see if it works better for you. It's ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then cover with icing sugar. Very tasty with a dollop of creme fresh and a cup of tea.