Monthly Archives: September 2010
Home time is lovely isn’t it? No matter how much you like school, it’s great to get home. And if there’s a bit of time to linger, chat with pals, search for conkers, be outdoors…well that’s all the better. Our household is settled into the new school year – routines now familiar, friendships established. And homework. Good thing there is sometimes a chocolate cake made by Mummy!
At seven years old, what’s better than having a friend around to play and some yummy chocolate cake? But how about some beetroot? I’m sure lots of children love it but my little boy isn’t one of them. My challenge is constantly getting more vegetables into him, so a secret beetroot ingredient is brilliant. I’ve read about chocolate beetroot cakes decided to give it a try. I looked at a few recipes, including a lovely one on Scandilicious. However I cannot help but tweak a new version of my own. I added a few big spoons of velvety mascarpone cheese to the mix to lend a lighter, smoother texture. And I made it very chocolatey. The beetroot is miraculous – it gives the cake a gorgeous fudgey crumb and delicate sweetness. I love it.
Beetroots are so beautiful with their amazing colour and pleasing shape. Lots of fun to photograph. Deep pink stains everywhere.
So on to the homework. No, that’s not homework…he’s actually drawing trains!
I hope you like the cake and a visit to a little part of our day. If you have time, drop me a comment. Always so delighted to hear from you. P.
There’s nothing like travelling is there? New vistas, new faces and friends, and wonderful new foods and flavours to experience – it just ups the intensity of life. I’ve been a sort of gypsy my whole life, as the child of a diplomat and later as a grown up with an enduring wanderlust. It’a a heady feeling, that one when you are about to embark on a journey to somewhere unfamiliar. A mix of excitement, trepidation and adventure. For me, an addictive feeling. I’ve been lucky enough to live in some of these places, and really learn about them, a knowing that only time in a place can bring. I spent a few years in Texas as a teenager, and then in Southern California during university. Both of these places rich in glorious produce and flavour. And chilli peppers.
I adore chilli peppers and, living now in rural England, don’t find them nearly enough. To my delight, the beautiful and historic Waddesdon Manor – close to our home – hosts a Chilli Festival each year. Complete with Mariachi singers, a bounty of hot sauces, fiery foods, and most delightful for me, a stunning variety of peppers. I bought some gorgeous Poblanos to bring home and cook. Sometimes I make Chilli Relllenos with these, or bake them with a walnut sauce. Today I fire roasted them to eat with an abundant pan of pork carnitas. Imagine – with the mood and the flavours – it was like a trip without the journey.
Avocados are delicious with chillies, corn and spice. I asked my husband to help me and mash some up for me for a guacamole. Now he would say that he isn’t really much of a cook – but he decided to spice the guacamole up with a few drops of this most delicious Chipotle Pepper Sauce – and the result was amazing. I can’t make it any other way now!
I serve the Carnitas with a basket of fluffy warm corn tortillas, a homemade tomato and cilantro (coriander) salsa, a big bowl of guacamole, and as an extra special treat, the delicious, smoky roasted Poblano peppers.
So it is September in the English countryside. Or is it?
More soon. Don’t forget, I love to hear your thoughts and comments. P.
Perhaps you are feeling as I do – just not quite ready to say goodbye to summer. Yes, the gardens are past their best. The flowers giving a last brave encore but their edges are crumpling and their glory quietly fading. Yes, the children are back at school, smart and crisp in slightly too big uniforms. And yes, the wind is bringing a distinctive autumnal note. But it’s not over yet! We can still celebrate the lasting colours and brightness, and some fairy cakes are just the thing for that. As a surprise treasure found in a September lunchbox, a little cake always brings a smile!
Turn on the oven and heat to 180 degrees centigrade. Choose 12 pretty fairy cake – or small cupcake – liners and place them in a fairy cake/muffin tin.
150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2-3 tablespoons of milk
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the vanilla essence. Stir in the flour swiftly and with a light touch. Don’t overmix. Listen to something nice on the radio instead. Add a couple of spoons of milk to keep the mix from being too thick and dense. It should just about drop off a spoon. Working quickly, fill the cake liners. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes are nicely risen and golden. Don’t keep opening the oven but just keep a watch through the oven window (if it has one) after about 15 minutes.
Take the cakes out and let them cool on a rack.
Simple fondant icing
300g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons water (you can replace 1 or 2 spoons with lemon juice if your want lemony icing)
Mix the water into the icing sugar and give it a good stir until it is smooth and glossy. If you wish, you can add a few drops of food colour to tint the icing.
Decorating is especially fun and satisfying. Flowers, glitter, icing sugar, sprinkles, berries…
We still have lots of village teas happening, the last of the cricket teas, and cake sales – fairy cakes always go down well. Or give a little box of them wrapped in tissue and ribbon as a lovely present. Or you could just eat them, with a cup of tea, relaxing in the garden with a good book.
Let me know what you think. Any nice ideas for decorations? I love to hear from you so please drop me a comment if you have a moment! P.