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Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas 2009! - and a SHF reminder!

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Don't forget you still have time to join December's Sugar High Friday - all the info can be found here.

And here is my submission for SHF - The Holiday Edition!

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Mince Pie Ice Cream

It's just whipped double cream, add some good vanilla custard, some sugar and churn in your ice cream maker. When almost frozen add 3-4 mince pies and churn for a minute or so, until everything is well mixed. EASY!!
If you need a recipe, Delia has one here.

You can make a few white chocolate holly leaves for decoration. Using some clean leaves, spoon white chocolate over and leave to set before peeling off.

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2009 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Chocolate Snowmen Krispies!

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My snowmen even got to play in some real snow, as we had a huge dump of magical, beautiful flakes.

Ok, don't laugh when I tell you that these didn't start out as snowmen. I had planned to make little decorated Christmas trees, but when it came to the decorating bit, I discovered that most of the 'trees' had been eaten by a certain someone. The few remaining ones ended up as snowmen as I had lost the enthusiasm to decorate.
My husband doesn't eat marshmallows so I made up this recipe without them, it does make the krispie treats a bit more solid though!

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Melt the chocolate, caramel and butter together

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Ready to add the rice krispies

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Shape with a coconut pyramid maker

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Dip in white chocolate

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Decorate - easy, compared to the melted snowmen cupcakes I made last year!

Chocolate Caramel Krispies - Snowmen, Trees or Squares.
You can use your favourite rice krispies recipe, which will make for softer treats, or use my recipe which does not use marshmallows.

This recipe makes a lot of little cone shapes, I got a bit bored half way through and dumped the rest of the mixture into a tin and made some squares.
If the mixture starts to set hard and you haven't used it all up, you can put it into a microwavable bowl and heat for a few seconds to make it pliable again.

60g/2oz butter
228g/8oz toffees
114g/4oz good milk chocolate
170g/6oz rice krispies

In a very large saucepan, gently heat the butter, toffees and chocolate together until melted.
Add the rice krispies and stir until they are all coated in the caramel mixture.
Working quickly, form little cones by spooning small amounts into a coconut pyramid shaper, leave to set on baking parchment or a silicone sheet.
If you don't have a cone shaper, you can form them in your hands but be careful as the toffee mixture can be very hot.
You can also spoon the mixture into a tin lined with baking parchment, smooth down with the back of a spoon, leave to set and cut into squares.

White chocolate for dipping the cones in
Black tube of icing for the eyes & buttons
White tube of icing to stick on the noses and hats
Little bit of orange ready rolled fondant for the noses
Dried cranberries for the hats
Edible glitter to sprinkle over if you want

Melt the white chocolate and dip the cones in, leave to harden.
Using the black icing tube, dot on the eyes and buttons.
Make little noses out of the orange fondant and stick them on with a bit of white icing from a tube.
Stick on dried cranberries for the hats and sprinkle with edible glitter.

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You can put the mixture into a tin a press down to make squares

These snowmen krispies are headed over to Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies, being hosted by Susan. Don't forget that the page is being updated as the entries come in, so have a look!

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Our snowy village

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2009 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Food Blogger Connect 09

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Davina and Mowie doing what food bloggers do best!

You might have heard about Food Blogger Connect, a conference held in London especially for food bloggers. It was the first one to be held here in the UK and another one is in the planning.

The event was organised and hosted by Beth from Dirty Kitchen Secrets, Jamie from Life’s a Feast, Hilda from Saffron & Blueberry and Mowie from Mowielicious, and was held at Levant, a Lebanese restaurant just off of Oxford Street.

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Meeting up with Sunita, Deeba, Pam, Davina and Jamie

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And Nora, Christina and Sarka

After a delicious buffet of Lebanese food, rounded off with amazing Oreo truffles courtesy of the talented Davina from The Sugar Bar and some cupcakes she had organised from LOLA’s, we sat down to listen to the presentations.

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The fabulous food

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Pouring the tea

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Eating lunch with Davina, Sunita and Deeba

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Those fabulous cupcakes from LOLA’s

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Photographing dessert

First we were welcomed to the conference by Beth, and then Jeanne from Cook Sister! said a few words about the BloggerAid cookbook, which you can buy to raise money for the UN World Food Programme's School Meals Programme (you will even find a recipe from me in there!)

This was followed by presentations from:

Meeta - who discussed photography, lighting and the use of props. Some of her top tips include adding a "splash of colour" to your photos, also add some texture to give a feel them a "feel" and to keep your shots "simple and clean".

Kang - who talked about taking photos in low lighting conditions, and how to adjust your camera's settings to get those shots.

Jamie and Jeanne spoke about finding your writing style and voice. Jeanne also discussed copyright and how to protect your blog.

Lastly Kang talked about social media and the different ways you can enhance your blogging experience.

To read all the presentations in depth, visit the Food Blogger Connect website.

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Time to listen to Jeanne from Cook Sister!

There were many food bloggers who travelled quite a distance to come to the event, including one of my favourite bloggers Deeba, who had come all the way from India. Some of us got together in the evening for dinner at Vivat Bacchus, near London Bridge and quite a few bloggers met up the following day for a food tour and lunch. You can read about the events from the other bloggers at the Food Blogger Connect round-up.

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At Vivat Bacchus with Jeanne, Jamie, Deeba and Pam

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And Sunita, Mowie and Alessio

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My platter at Vivat Bacchus

Some of the other food bloggers that I met were Sarah from Maison Cupcake, Kerrin from My Kugelhopf, Kavey from Kavey Eats and Oz from the The Kitchen Butterfly.

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We were given a goodie Bag filled with foodie treats

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Gifts from foodie friends

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2009 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas Macarons!

Did you know that it's Christmas in TWO weeks time??? I've had so much going on this past month that I'm struggling to fit it all in!

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I adore macarons, and two of my favourite bloggers, Deeba and Jamie, have started Mac Tweets, a blog for macaron lovers. It's a place where you can find macaron recipes, inspiration, ideas and join the Mac Attack challenge. If you want, you can also tweet about your triumphs, woes and 'feet' with the Mac Crowd.
For the latest challenge, I decided to make some festive cranberry macarons, adorned with pistachios and filled with white chocolate vanilla cream. I used my favourite recipe which I adapted for 1 egg white, especially useful for a small batch, which allows you can be experimental without wasting lots of egg whites. I know some people don't weigh their egg whites, but I prefer to and if you are making macarons for the first time, that would be my top tip as eggs really do vary in weight. I leave them out to come to room temperature for an hour or so first, and I always allow them to rest for an hour after piping. I've tried leaving the door ajar with a wooden spoon, and have cooked them with a closed oven door and haven't really seen any difference.
If you want a circle template to put under your Silpat or parchment paper as a piping guide, you can find one to print here.
For lots of tips, advice and macaron tales, visit the Mac Tweet site and have a go at making some - they're delicious!

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Festive Cranberry & Pistachio Macarons with White Chocolate Vanilla Cream

This recipe uses 1 egg white and only makes about 14 halves, 1½" across. I've added the amounts at the end for 4 egg whites.

42g ground almonds
75g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
38g egg white (roughly 1 large egg white)
10g granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of dried sweetened cranberries that have been minced or chopped finely
Couple of drops of red food colouring
Handful of pistachio nuts, finely chopped

White Chocolate Vanilla Cream
60ml double cream, whipped until stiff
60g white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Mix the ground almonds and icing sugar together in a bowl and put to one side.

In a large clean, dry bowl, whip the egg white with a pinch of salt until it becomes foamy and stiff. Gradually add the granulated sugar, whisking well after each addition, until the mixture is stiff and shiny.

Gently fold in the almond mixture and the minced dried cranberries using a large spoon or spatula, until incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and firm, but with a bit of 'flow' to it. Don't over-mix it or it will be too runny.

Fill a piping bag with a 1cm round tip and pipe the mixture onto Silpat or baking parchment. Tap the sheets gently to remove air bubbles and sprinkle a few chopped pistachio nuts onto half of the macarons. Let dry at room temperature for about an hour or so before baking.

Bake in a preheated oven, 160º/325F for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.

Remove from the oven and leave to go cold. Peel off the Silpat or baking parchment.

Whip the cream until stiff and gently fold in the melted chocolate and vanilla bean paste. Pipe or spoon onto half the macarons and top with the other half before serving.

Amounts for 4 egg whites
125g ground almonds
225g icing sugar
110g egg whites brought to room temperature
30g granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
3 teaspoons of dried sweetened cranberries that have been minced or chopped finely
Couple of drops of red food colouring
Handful of pistachio nuts, finely chopped

White Chocolate Vanilla Cream
150ml double cream, whipped until stiff
150g white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

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My festive macarons are headed over to the brilliant Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies, being hosted by Susan. Don't forget that the page is being updated as the entries come in, so check them out!

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Some other Christmassy cookies on this blog:
Triple Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cookies
Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti
Pecan Pie Cookies
Chocolate and Pistacho Wedges
Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies
Chocolate Caramel Nuggets
Macademia and Ginger Fingers

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2009 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

November BBC Good Food Show with Miele

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Last Thursday I went to the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham, courtesy of Miele who are one of the big sponsors of the show.
Once again, the show didn't disappoint. You would think that it would become boring and the stands would be the same each year, but no! There are new foods to be discovered, new appliances and fantastic gadgets - and this year MasterChef Live was bought to the show. Visitors could take part in the famous invention test and find out if cooking "really doesn't get tougher than this!"
I joined the Miele Cookery Experience along with other food bloggers, and cooked with Mark Lloyd. We also got to see Gordon Ramsay in the Supertheatre, as well as catching various chefs in the Magimix Theatre and the Market Kitchen.
I'd like to say a big thank you to Lauren and Cherry from Miele's PR company, Forever Better, for inviting me and for a great day!

The other food blogger attendees were:
from Joanna's Food
Rejina from Gastrogeek
Alex from The Princess and the Recipe

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Where to start?

There was time to browse some of the stands before lunching with other Miele guests. The Hairy Bikers came by to chat and do a book signing.

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Hairy Bikers David Myers and Simon King talking to the Miele guests, they are really lovely

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I remembered to take a snap of my starter, delicious smoked salmon

After lunch we headed off to the Miele Cookery Experience, where we cooked along with chef Mark Lloyd. We made venison sausage toad in the hole with red onion, chilli and redcurrant jam, together with some buttered purple sprouting broccoli which was steamed in the Miele steam oven. The batter for the toad was fantastic and I'll definitely be using that recipe again.

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Cooking at the Miele Cookery Experience (photo courtesy of Forever Better)

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Chef Mark Lloyd coming over to see if we were keeping up!

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My toad in the hole, chilli onion jam and brocolli - very tasty

After the cooking, we went to see Gordon Ramsay in the Supertheatre, he cooked 3 courses and was very entertaining.

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Gordon Ramsay and Mark Sargeant

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The prep room for the Supertheatre

I spent the last few hours visiting the stands and buying a few goodies to take home with me.

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Furness Fish & Game

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Paella pans from Spain

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Smoked foods from Port of Lancaster Smokehouse

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Oils and vinegars

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Cute cake stands with little hanging strawberries

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Giant cinnamon sticks from Fox's Spices

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Handmade chilli sauces

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Gorgeous kitchen appliances from Miele

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The MasterChef kitchen, all ready and waiting with the bags of mystery ingredients

Some of the celebrity chefs at the show

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Rachel Allen cooking Yorkshire puddings

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Rachel Allen and Jason Atherton in a cook off

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Chef Jun Tanaka

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Lovely Hannah Miles and Thomasina Miers

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Mary Berry

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My book signed "keep the pans hot!"

Thanks once again to Miele and Forever Better!