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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Garden Update + Our Artichokes

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It's a fantastic feeling when you pick that first ripe tomato or courgette etc. All the sunshine we had a few weeks ago has done wonders for the garden, and here are a few things we are picking now.

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The first sweet baby tomato


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Courgettes/zucchini


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Herbs including rosemary and sage


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Mirabelles ready to drop

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Ready for cooking

I've saved the best until last - artichokes!
For many years, the only vegetable that my youngest son would eat was the artichoke, so my husband decided to grow some from seed. These have been patiently growing for 3 years now and we have at last been rewarded with a bumper crop of beauties.
About three years ago, when he was 12, the son went on a school trip to the French Alps. While his friends were shopping for trinkets and novelties (and mainly chocolate!) to bring back home, he found a vegetable stall in the market selling artichokes. He proudly came home with two huge ones.

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Hope he still likes them!

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

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Swirled Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tarts

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If you want to try something sweet and a little different, these salted caramel tarts might be just the thing. I clipped the recipe from a Delicious Magazine when they had a chocolate special a while back, and the recipe was courtesy of Hannah Miles - a Masterchef runner up from a few years ago.

I didn't particularly care for the chocolate pastry and the second time around I used Dorie's sweet tart dough, which is pretty foolproof. I made these a while back and I'm pretty sure I subbed cream for the crème fraîche as that was what I had on hand. This recipe calls for salted butter and as I always use unsalted butter, I added added some Fleur de Sel that I picked up from a shopping trip in France.

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Swirled Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tarts
Recipe adapted from Delicious Magazine

Recipe makes 6-8 depending on size of tart cases.
I used unsalted butter and a little French salt, but you can use salted butter as in the original recipe.

1 x Sweet tart dough from this recipe

For the caramel ganache:
225g granulated sugar
60ml water
120g unsalted butter, cubed
A couple of pinches of salt
3 tbsp double cream

For the chocolate ganache:
200g plain chocolate, broken up
4 tbsp double cream
30g unsalted butter, cubed
A couple of pinches of salt

Make the sweet tart dough and bake tart cases ahead of the filling, keep in an airtight container until ready to use.

Make the caramel ganache.
In a heavy based frying pan, dissolve the sugar in 60ml water over a low heat. Increase the heat until the syrup turns a deep amber colour. Don't stir the pan or the sugar will crystallise - you can swirl the pan a little to cook the caramel evenly.
Take off the heat and leave to cool for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the butter with the pinches of salt. Set aside for 2 minutes and then whisk in the cream, beating until smooth and glossy.
Transfer to a glass bowl and chill for 15 minutes to cool and thicken.

Make the chocolate ganache.
Heat the chocolate, cream, butter and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.
Set aside to cool a little.

The recipe says to loosely swirl the caramel and chocolate ganaches together and to fill each tart case with a generous tablespoon. I found it easier to spoon the chocolate ganache into the tart and then swirl in some of the caramel with a spoon.

Serve at room temperature with cream or ice cream if wanted.

Printable Recipe

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

Friday, 17 July 2009

Enjoying the Cherry Season

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As soon as this sign appears in our village, you know that the cherry season is with us. Even though the season is short, we try to make the most of the cherries, and this year they are really big and juicy.

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Some left-over chocolate cake can be made into a simple Black Forest trifle, no recipe as it's one of those things you just throw together.
In the bottom of a serving glass, or dish, I spooned a little chocolate ganache (chocolate sauce would be just as good), on top of that I put some chocolate sponge. I then added some halved and stoned cherries that had been marinated in a few tablespoons of kirsch (pour the juice and liqueur over the sponge). Top with some lightly whipped double cream and some grated chocolate.

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

Friday, 10 July 2009

Thirsty? Try a Raspberry Cooler!

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We have more raspberries than we know what to do with lately, and one easy way to use them up is to make a raspberry cordial - a sweet, non-alcoholic fruit concentrate that is diluted down with water/lemonade to taste.

This went down a treat in the mini-heatwave we had last week, and is a great way to use up the smaller, softer, more manky raspberries that you might not want in your desserts.

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Raspberry Cooler
Adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine

350g fresh raspberries
200g caster sugar
1 lemon sliced
1 orange sliced
225 ml cold water

Ice and cold or sparkling water/lemonade to serve. See note at end.

Put all the ingredients (raspberries, sugar, lemon, orange and 225 ml water) in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring often.

Leave to cool. Pour through a sieve, pressing the mixture down well with a spoon to extract all the juices.

The syrup can be stored for up to one week in the fridge.

To serve, pour a little of the syrup into a glass, top up with water (still or sparkling) and ice.

Note: You can also dilute this with lemonade or a mixture of lemonade and sparkling water if you want it less sweet. The lemonade we get here is quite different from that in the US. Ours is a sparkling lemony beverage, and can be replaced with something like 7-Up, Mountain Dew or Sprite.

(Printable Recipe)

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

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Anyone for Tennis?

It's been a busy couple of months, school is almost finished for the summer and the British strawberry season is here. I have an overload of beautiful garden raspberries and these little tarts are one way to use them up.
I used Dorie's sweet tart dough from this post and filled the baked cases with a little whipped double cream. Just add ripe, summer fruits.

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Little pastry cases ready to bake

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Filled with strawberries, raspberries and a few blueberries

Wimbledon
Last Saturday, my 15 yr old son took me to Wimbledon! His name came up for tickets at our tennis club, and because the person in front of him swapped his tickets for No. 1 court tickets, we got seats on centre court. Although I've been a few times before, these were really good seats, not too far up and just behind the royal box - which was interesting because it was 'Sporting Saturday' and they had quite a few members of our Olympic gold medalists as guests, including Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Dame Kelly Holmes, and Sir Chris Hoy along with other members of our winning cycling team.

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A view of some of the outside courts

The weather was wonderful as we walked around - you can get right up to the edge on the outside courts - the sound that the racquet makes as it hits the ball is electrifying.

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Getting up close on the outside courts

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Finding your way around

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Henman Hill

We sat on the famous 'Henman Hill', which was filled with anticipation as our man Andy Murray would be playing later, then headed off to centre court for the main matches.
These were the matches we saw and the results:

tennis results


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Centre court, absolutely packed

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Our man in action

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That famous roof

Even if you are not a great tennis fan, going to Wimbledon is a fabulous experience - and you don't have to be on the best court to have a great day (but it sure helps!)

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

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