Sunday Recipe: Lemon Macaroons

I love anything lemony, lemon tart, poppyseed and lemon cake, lemon yoghurt. These lemon macaroons are fun to have ready for a picnic. This recipe will make 20 macaroons

You will need:
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 medium egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 80g caster sugar
  • yellow food colouring - paste will work better than liquid
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 10g butter
And this is what you have to do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper
  3. Whisk up the icing sugar and almonds in a food processor or with a hand mixer until you have a fine dust,
  4. Whisk in the egg whites with the salt until you get stiff peaks, add in 40g of caster sugar in a think stream whisking all the time until stiff and a glossy white,
  5. Add the food colouring and whisk to make sure it is evenly distributed through the whites. you may want to add more colour than you initially think because the oven will tan the macaroons and knock out some of the colour.
  6. With a large metal spoon, fold the ground almonds and icing sugar mix gently into the egg whites. It is important to mix slowly.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium nozzle so that the mixture does not escape.
  8. Carefully pipe circles of mixture on to the baking sheet. Aim for 3cm wide remembering to leave a space between each as they will puff up when cooking.
  9. Holding the baking tray with both hands give it a firm bang on the work surface to expel any remaining air.
  10. Set aside for 30mins to dry out, they will be ready for the oven when you can touch the mixture and not leave a fingerprint. Cook for 12 minutes in the middle of the oven then leave to cool on a tray.
  11. Whilst cooking make the filling - pour the lemon juice in a steady stream over the cornflour using a teaspoon to mix as you go.
  12. When there are no cornflour lumps left pour the mixture into a small saucepan along with the remaining 40g of caster sugar and lemon zest. Bring the mixture to the boil stirring constantly and simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken.
  13. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pour the filling on a plate and leave to cook.
  14. Once everything has cooled sandwich the macaroon shells together with a teaspoon of filling.

Sunday, 24 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Friday Finds!

It's July so it's supposed to be summer right? Well it certainly doesnt feel like it here, no, its cool, wet and windy and it's making me think all things autumnal. For my Friday Find this week I thought I would look for something autumnal and stumbled across Madelines Wardrobe on Artfire and her beautiful hand knitted shawls and scarves like this rusty orange and chocolate brown hand knitted scarf which would be great for a crisp morning!

Friday, 22 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Apple and Raisin Chutney

This chutney would go well with roast pork or even with cheese and crackers. If you use pretty jars they would be a great gift to make in preparation for Christmas or the holiday season.

You will need:
  • 1.8kg/4lb apples, peeled, cored and chopped

  • 4 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • Juice from one lemon

  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 900ml/1½ pint vinegar (cider or malt)

  • 450g/1lb raisins

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tso salt

  • 900g/2lb soft brown sugar

And this is what you have to do:
  1. Bring the apples, onions, garlic, lemon juice, mustard seed and 590ml/1 pint of vinegar to the boil.

  2. Simmer for 1 hour.

  3. Add the raisins, ginger, salt, sugar and the rest of the vinegar.

  4. Simmer until thick.

  5. Pour into clean, hot jam jars and cover as usual. Store for 6-8 weeks to allow the flavours to develop.

Sunday, 17 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Thirty Before Thirty – Number 23

“Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine”

Organising the Puckeridge Arts, Crafts & Gifts Fair back in May was great fun as I organise events as part of my job so I want really phased by it all (until the morning of the fair!) A big part of any event organising is marketing and promotion so that people know about it and well, come along!

I started with writing something for the local village news magazine but then from that, the local paper The Hertfordshire Mercury picked up on the story! I ended up with double coverage as the first piece went to print unedited and unfinished, so I complained and pretty much wrote a second piece for them which I am pleased with!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Simple Fruit Tart

I love a fruit tart for desserts after a meal, lemon in particular is my favourite but a mixed berry one is just as yummy.

You will need:
  • 375g/13oz digestive biscuits

  • 75g/3oz softened unsalted butter

  • 400g/14oz cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 240g/8½oz ready-made lemon curd, at room temperature

  • 125g/4oz fresh blueberries

  • 125g/4oz fresh blackberries

  • 125g/4oz fresh raspberries

  • 125g/4oz fresh redcurrants or pomegranate seeds

  • 125g/4oz fresh small strawberries, half hulled, half stalks intact

  • 10inch x 2inch deep loose bottom tart tin

And this is what you have to do:
  1. In a food processor blend up the biscuits and the butter to a sandy rubble then press the mixture into the sides and bottom of the tart tin. Place in the freezer (or fridge if that is not possible) for about 10–15 minutes.

  2. Clean the bowl of the food processor, then process the cream cheese and lemon curd and spread it into the bottom of the chilled tart tin, covering the base of the tart evenly. (Alternatively, just mix the cream cheese and lemon curd together by hand.)

  3. Arrange all of the fruit gently (so that it doesn’t sink into the filling too much) on top of the lemony cream cheese in a decorative manner.

  4. Place the tart in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. It does need to get properly cold in order to set enough for the tart to be unsprung and sliced easily.

The tart would be great served with some icecream or single cream

Sunday, 10 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Exhibition Number 2: Out of this World: Science Fiction But Not As We Know It – the British Library

Having worked at the British Library I do have a soft spot for their exhibitions and as such I know how long certain curators have wanted to present a science fiction exhibition.

I was intrigued as to how the Out Of This World exhibition was going to work, the PACCAR Gallery is vast in space and height and the last exhibition I saw, let me down in its build. This time, I was not let down.

The gallery, with its high ceilings and dark atmosphere was filled with the background sounds of strange moody noises to create a serene and separate space. Entering the gallery the first thing you come across is a flying saucer that has crash landed into a wall of books. These white walls are frequent throughout the exhibition creating separate areas for thematic purposes. Then eyes are drawn to a naked man (or alien) falling (or being sucked into) a lighted funnel, further over you could see a Tardis and a steam-punk replica of K9 and rising up above the cabinets, a tripod Martian from War of the Worlds.

Moving around in the space I could hear this robotic/computer generated voice talking and was intrigued. There sitting on a plinth was a little alien robot who looked asleep until you walked up to him and his eyes opened and he started to talk with the text showing on a screen on his belly. The exhibitions and digital technology teams did an amazing job on this and I can imagine children loving it.

Now, getting down to content. Did you know the Brontë sisters were amongst the first authors to write science fiction? No, me neither. Apparently in their youth, Anne, Emily, Charlotte and brother Bramwell created stories in alternative worlds of Angria and Gondal written in tiny 5” books with text so small it is only legible with a magnifying glass. More information on the Bronte sisters.

Other items of note included a first edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, an original score from Doctor Who, the first page of the War of the Triffids manuscript and letters from George Orwell to his publisher discussing the title of his latest piece...Nineteen Eighty Four.

Overall everything is spaced out quite nicely with quite a large quantity of first editions, manuscripts, ephemera and artwork. Cabinets were not over filled and there are enough to capture attention and perhaps remind someone of books they have read in times past. Information on the works was clear and explained what the piece was about as much as what it was reflecting.

Finally, one of the most fascinating and unexpected exhibits if you could call it that, is as you leave the gallery, you suddenly see yourself on a wall of mirrors similar to those found at a fair ground, and you realise that you were captured on video entering the gallery and now it is being played back before you. Now how the software knows when to play your clip is a mystery to me, perhaps its an alien at work.

Out of this World: Science Fiction But Not As We Know It is free to enter and runs until September 25th 2011.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011 | 1 Comment

Sunday Recipe: Caramelised Apple with Brandy Sauce

I love any dessert that has apples in it, thats my only reason!

You will need:
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

  • ½ bramley apple with the core removed - Bramley is a cooking apple

  • ½ miniature bottle of brandy

  • 50ml/2fl oz of double cream

And this is what you need to do:
1. Heat the sugar in a frying pan until melted and bubbling, then add the apple, cut-side down.
2.Allow the sugar to begin to caramelise, then add the brandy and cream, stirring a little to coat the apple.
3. Boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened, then remove from the heat.
4. To serve, place the apple cut-side down on a plate and pour over the brandy sauce.

Sunday, 3 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Thirty before Thirty - 13 months to go

Oh blimey it's creeping up on me faster than I'd like, but rather than think about my birthday next year I have been planning my party for this year to celebrate entering the last year of my '20s. My party will involve rollerskates, disco lights and probably a lot of bruises!

But anyway, back to the subject as its July 1st I thought it time for an update as there is exactly 13 months to go.

  1. Own a sewing machine, - not yet although I’ve dropped hints about it being a 30th birthday present or a moving in present.
  2. Learn to knit socks – Um......
  3. Visit Buckingham Palace – a date is booked into the diary, this will happen in September!
  4. Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall - not yet but am trying to think how this will happen, the Serpentine in Hyde Park is looking promising!
  5. Own a home (the BIG challenge) – Trying not to think about it in case it doesn’t happen yet.
  6. Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens – aware of this every day.
  7. Visit Dickens House – A summer trip or Spring next year with Mum.
  8. Go to a soap making workshop - DONE!!!! And now selling soap through my shop.
  9. Learn to hang wall paper –Mum has plans for Dad to redecorate some of the house later this year so no doubt I will be roped in.
  10. Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads – Well I had the holiday in April and still need to blog about it.
  11. Learn to make pastry – Um.....
  12. Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 – Um.....
  13. Make and wear my own dress – I have the pattern I want to make and have found the fabric, just need to buy it and make it!
  14. Read five books from my bookshelf - I currently own 40 books that I have not yet read - 1 book done Knit the Season, but I need to write a post about it
  15. Have a make up lesson – DONE!!! Although I wasn’t all that impressed. I had a free session at Bobbi Brown which was educational and expensive.
  16. Do something every day to make me smile – I think I need to start up my journal again, but by the time I get to bed to sit and write Im too tired. But I am taking time to notice more things that make me smile every day like the sun shining over the meads on my drive home at night, a text from a friend or a good song on the radio.
  17. Learn to change a car tyre – all I can say to this is ha ha ha ha ha ha!
  18. Be able to jog a mile without stopping - with my leg issues this is a BIG thing – I’ve got back to the gym this month with a personal trainer and that is helping me, I think it will take time to get to a mile but didn’t the journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step?
  19. Go to Rome or Sorrento – DONE (almost) flight leaves for Rome on September 30th.
  20. Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently – I’m trying really hard at this, I would say I’ve got it to 5.5-6hrs a night on week days which is an improvement.
  21. Visit Giant's Causeway – hopefully in Spring
  22. Have a dinner party - This is the plan for my 30th birthday
  23. Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine – DONE!!!! – coverage of the craft fair in the local paper.
  24. Sleep under the stars - I havent slept under them but I have been out late at night in a Texan field looking at them and I saw the Milky Way and Saturn.
  25. Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible - I am developing this as much as possible, making a conscious effort to opt for handmade or homemade where possible and I am learning to live more economically
  26. Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues – the gym is definitely helping. I will never be a ‘gym bunny’ but I do feel much better to go after work and at the weekend for a little brain space. I really miss rowing but that’s off limits at the moment, one day though, one day.
  27. Watch: Goodfellas, Casablanca, Dr Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, The Philadephia Story, A Street Car Named Desire, Ferri Beulers Day Off, Schindler's List, The Godfather and Citizen Cane – I watched The Godfather the other day but that’s it so far.
  28. Go to a comedy club – Soon!
  29. Finish my knitted patchwork blanket – Um, I’ve not actually knitted in about 4 months as I have been busy with craft fairs, I need to pick up my needles soon I think.
  30. Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries – Well there was Handmade Tales at The Women’s Library, Afghanistan at The British Museum, Out of this world at the British Library, and Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain.
I will get to blogging about the individual elements soon when I take August off!

Friday, 1 July 2011 | 1 Comment