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Thursday, 22 December 2011

'Tis the Season for a Festive Photo

I spotted these cute Santa hats on top of olive oil bottles at Vom Fass in Bath the other week!

Christmas hats on oil bottles, Vom Fass, 
Bath 3635 R

Christmas hats on oil bottle, Vom Fass, 
Bath 3638 R

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas Cupcakes & Balls

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Christmas cupcakes

Last week I was looking around for cake recipes to make something Christmassy, when I came across the Baking Mad website. There were some interesting cupcake recipes and I settled on this chocolate one for my cakes.

Christmas holly cake balls 3508  R

As well as cupcakes, I wanted to make a few round balls and turn them into Christmas cake baubles, for which I used my silicone sphere moulds. If you don't have these moulds, you could make cake 'pops'.

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They won't really hang on the tree, they're too heavy!

Make the cupcakes according to your recipe and/or cake balls. Spread a bit of vanilla butter icing on the top of the cupcakes, or, if you made cake balls, sandwich two halves together with a little of the vanilla butter icing.

Roll out some ready made icing and cut circles to fit the top of the cupcakes. For the balls, you want to brush them with a tiny bit of warmed apricot jam (so that the icing sticks onto the cake) and cut out a larger circle of icing, gently easing it around the cake to cover it.

Decorate with coloured icing cut into holly leaves and chocolate beans, or any other decoration that you want. Dust with edible glitter.

silicone sphere moulds 3562 R chocolate cake balls 3451 R
Chocolate cake balls covered in icing 3453 R Christmas chocolate sponge cakes 3528 R
I made two sizes for the cake balls

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Some of the Baking Mad recipe ideas were lovely, but I went with my own design in the end

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The cupcakes were moist with good flavour

Christmas holly sponge cake balls  3523  R

I'm sending these little treats over to English Mum’s Big Christmas Bakeoff .

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Castello Cheeses + A Thank You

I was recently asked to try some House of Castello® cheeses, how can I say no to cheese? It's one of my favourite ingredients and we do eat a lot of it.

Castello® cheese 3540 R

There are currently 8 Castello® cheeses on sale in the UK, including Pineapple Halo and a fiery Black Pepper Halo. The cheese is produced in Denmark and can be found in all good supermarkets. I could only find two of the cheeses - the Castello® Creamy Blue and the Castello® Danish Blue Traditional.

Castello cheeses 3557 R

The Castello® Creamy Blue is sharp, salty and would be perfectly paired with crackers and ripe figs. The Castello® Danish Blue Traditional cheese is perfect with grapes, toasted rye bread and quince jam.

Castello cheese on digestive biscuit 3547 R
Castello® Creamy Blue on a simple digestive biscuit, it's the sweet and salty combination that I like

You can find out more about the House of Castello® cheese range on their website, where you will find a unique cheese tool, called Host Your Own, to help you create your ultimate cheeseboard.
They are also on Facebook and Twitter.

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Do you love your garden?

If so, take a look at the cracking Love Your Garden website. It's a wealth of information on looking after your garden, from lawn care to pest and disease control. There are even forums to discuss your garden problems, solutions and receive/give advice.

At the moment they are running a 'carrot' competition for bloggers and you could win a £200 restaurant voucher, or one of three copies of 'comfort & Spice' by Niamh Shields (from Eat Like a Girl) who is judging the competition.

Love the Garden tomato winner announced

I was the lucky winner of last month's 'tomato' competition judged by James Ramsden (with my summer tomato tart with a chilli cheese pastry) and I have chosen to go to the The Ledbury for my prize!

Thank you so much!

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes 3434 R

Sometimes my Google Reader throws up a real gem, like these pumpkin cinnamon roll pancakes. Lori from Recipe Girl says that this is the best breakfast treat she has ever made, and I have to agree! What a change from our usual boring pancakes with maple syrup and whippy.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes 3445 R
Cinnamon filling

I'm not going to put the recipe here, because the only change I made was to use mascarpone cheese for the icing, just click the link for it: pumpkin cinnamon roll pancakes.
If you don't like pumpkin or can't find it (I got mine in Waitrose) just make ordinary American pancakes instead, adding the cinnamon filling and cream cheese icing - D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.!

I believe the creator of the original cinnamon roll pancake recipe was Robin Sue from the Big Red Kitchen, she also has a recipe for 'baked' cinnamon roll pancakes, with a maple cream cheese drizzle..... WOW!

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Remember to wipe the pan out between pancakes

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes 3441 R

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Couture Chocolate - Book Review

I love chocolate and I LOVE this book! Couture Chocolate by William Curley is one of those books that you can't put down. The glossy, beautiful photographs will have you drooling and wanting to lick every page!

Rum & Raisin chocolate 3333 R
My rum and raisin bouchée waiting to be cut and coated in chocolate

But before I go any further, I want to mention a few things so I can get onto the good stuff.
You must have incredible patience to dabble in all things chocolate, many of the recipes have quite a few stages and some of the decorations/techniques are intricate. To make the best of the book you will need some special equipment including decent chocolate moulds and a good candy thermometer. Some of the ingredients can be expensive and elusive - kinako powder and cocoa butter for example - and the book suggests using fine couverture chocolate with Trinitario or Criollo beans listed in the ingredients, the minimum amount of chocolate being 500g (1lb 2oz) for tempering.

Couture Chocolate book inside view3401 R
Nice layout and plenty of detail

I'm pretty sure all of the chocolates and cakes in the book were made in William Curley's professional kitchen, so don't be disappointed if you make something and it doesn't *ahem* come out looking quite like the photo - you've just made the 'rustic' version and it should still taste delicious. Just remember to tell yourself that William Curley is the country's top chocolatier, winning numerous awards and accolades.

The pages of Couture Chocolate are well laid out and the recipes have quite detailed, easy to follow instructions, many with step by step photos and additional notes. William explains the origins of cocoa and the importance of cocoa content. He introduces divine exotic flavours and different textures to his chocolates. Tempering chocolate is quite tricky, but he gives us a couple of different methods to try, one of which is suitable for the minimum amount of chocolate. This book is more than just chocolates and truffles, there are chapters on bars & bites, bouchées, cakes & biscuits, patisserie and a brilliant one on ice cream, sauces & drinks.

Some of the recipes that I have marked to try include chocolate rum baba, chocolate & praline spread, sea salt caramels and an awesome looking chocolate & apricot roulade. Even if some of the recipes seem a little complicated, it's worth making the effort to try them. As the desserts are so beautifully presented, you can also use the book for inspiration and ideas.

This video shows William Curley making gorgeous sea salt caramel tarts from the book, page 190 - simple huh? (!)

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My hazelnut & feuillantine cakes, if you look closely you can see one is upside down - oops!

I made two recipes from the book, little Hazelnut & Feuillantine Cakes and some Rum & Raisin Bouchée.
The cakes were covered in what was my first attempt at tempering chocolate and although the tempering went quite well, I can see a digital candy thermometer going onto my Christmas list - accuracy is the key here! 'Feuillantine wafers' were listed in the cake ingredients and after some internet research, the closest thing resembling the wafers that I could get hold of were ice cream cone wafers. Apparently, feuillantine wafers are dried crêpes!

wafer cones 3335 R
Substitute for the feuillantine wafers

Hazelnut cakes 3342 R
Cakes just out of the oven

For the the rum & raisin bouchée recipe, I just poured the chocolate mixture into a parchment lined tin as I didn't have the recommended silicone pan. This was a relatively easy recipe and the chocolates tasted fabulous.

rum and raisin chocolates 3408  R
Finished rum & raisin bouchée

Couture Chocolate Book cover

An exciting book with some truly fantastic recipes, good ideas and beautiful photography. If you use the right equipment, recommended ingredients and have a lot of patience, you could be making chocolate delicacies to be proud of.
My rating is 9 out of 10.

The book can be bought from Amazon and all good book shops.

Couture Chocolate, by William Curley
£30.00 / Hardback, 224 pages
Publisher: Jacqui Small Llp
An Imprint of Aurum Press Ltd
October 2011
ISBN: 978-1-906417-59-8

With thanks to Dana at Quarto.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Nduja Cooking Club

Nduja! No, I'm not swearing! It's one of the new products from Unearthed, hitting the shelves of Waitrose at the moment.

Nduja Cooking Club  3133 R

What is it? Nduja (pronounced en-du-ya) is a spicy, spreadable cured pork sausage which is traditional and unique to Calabria in Southern Italy. It seems to be the latest trend in London and I was invited to a very special cooking club to find out more.

Nduja 3129 R played
All set for a Nduja party!

It was with some intrepidation that I accepted an invitation from Luiz at The London Foodie to join the Nduja cooking club, mainly because I had not tried Nduja or been to a cooking club before. Of course, I have cooked with my friends and done the bring a dish to a dinner party thing many times, but going to a stranger's house and cooking a course at a dinner with people from the internet? Sounds like something my mother warned me about!

Sometimes when you take a chance you can be in for a very pleasant surprise, in this case it was a fabulous afternoon. Some of the other bloggers had participated in cooking clubs before, and some were newbies like myself. Luiz has been hosting the London Cooking Club at his home for some time now and has a different theme each month - I was made to feel very welcome.

So what did we make?
Well, everyone prepared one course, some of us teamed up for the larger dishes, and each dish (apart from dessert) had Nduja in it - which was supplied by Unearthed.

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Unearthed Mezze Platter - prepared by Unearthed

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Spicy Nduja Palmier - prepared by May from Slow Food Kitchen
Delightful crisp bites of puff pastry, with Nduja and Parmesan cheese.

Nduja Cooking Club  3155 R fiddled with
Linguine with Nduja, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil - prepared by Fede from Pasta Bites
This was my favourite Nduja dish, the flavour was subtle and delicious.

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A drizzle of olive oil

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Pan Fried Cod on Butter Beans and Nduja, with a Lemon and Sage Dressing - prepared by Luiz of The London Foodie and Rosana from Hot & Chilli
This was a recipe invented by Luiz for an Unearthed Nduja Challenge, I adored the butter beans and side dish of samphire.

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Draining the butter beans

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Plating up

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Pimp My Piri Piri Poussin - prepared by Qin from In Pursuit of Food (this was the dish I helped to cook)
An easy dish to prepare, very succulent - was served with crispy roast potatoes and a Greek salad.

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Accompanying sauce for the poussin

Nduja Cooking Club  3229 R
Greek Salad - prepared by Sian from Domestic Sluttery
Crisp and fresh!

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Lemon Posset - prepared by Cassie from A Girl Has To Eat
O M G - D E L I C I O U S ! ! !

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Very rich and so perfect after the Nduja

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Crispy Pastry Nibbles - kindly prepared by Henry from Tales From The B Side

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Would I go again? Yes, YES and YES! And if you get an invite to a cooking club, I suggest you GO!
You can find the recipes on Rosana's blog, Hot & Chilli.

Thank you to Luiz, Unearthed and Wild Card PR for a great afternoon!

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved..

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Spider Web Cupcakes + New Dr. Oetker Products

spider web cupcake 3298 R

Dr. Oetker have some new decorating products available and they're rather good! I've been enjoying their bright food gel colours, which can be used in icings and cakes. I mixed a little red with the yellow to get a vibrant orange for the spider web cupcakes.

Dr Oetker 3305

spider web cupcake 3288 R

Spider Web Cupcakes
Not really a recipe but here's how to decorate:

Make some cupcakes and cover with a generous helping of chocolate ganache (equal parts of dark chocolate to double cream).
When the ganache has set, pour 2-3 cups of icing sugar into a bowl, mix with a little water and colouring until you have a slightly runny mixture that can be piped. Put the coloured icing into a piping bag fitted with a no. 2 nozzle and pipe circles onto the cupcakes. Drag a cocktail stick through the icing to make it look like a web.

Spider web cupcakes 3300 R

The new range includes soft gold pearls and soft shimmer pearls - far nicer than those rock hard silver decorating balls. I really liked the cake release spray, which worked a treat on my bundt tin and although I haven't tried it yet, there's a gold shimmer spray which is suitable to use on cakes, chocolate and icings.

The little sugar decorations are perfect for cupcakes, my favourites were the blue and white polka dots which ended up on a birthday cake. The cute sugar butterflies and tiny sugar flowers are easy to sprinkle and come in lovely pastel shades.
Although the alphabet letters are fun to use, they are rather fiddly and it's quite time consuming to go through all the letters for a message or name. Children on the other hand might enjoy choosing letters for their cakes, I stopped after decorating one cupcake...

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cupcake 3070 R

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The Dr. Oetker range is growing quite nicely and can be found in most of the larger supermarkets.

birthday cake 3103 R birthday cake 3126 R

With thanks to Sarah at Brando for Dr. Oetker, who sent me these products to review.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved..