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Sunday, 30 June 2013

PAVLOVA

Good Morning to you,


I've had a busy week this week.... sitting, yes that's right, sitting. Well, it is not as bad as it sounds, as  I have been sewing little Polly's welcoming quilt, which is coming along quite nicely. I have also been watching and enjoying the tennis being played at Wimbledon.
  
The  tennis  has  been played  between the  sunshine and the  showers and there have been some  exciting developments. Some of the big seeds, such as Roger Federa  and  Rafael Nadal  have been beaten, which was quite a shock, as they  are  tremendous  players. A number of tennis players have  had  to  withdraw, due to injury,  but  I  am  pleased  to  tell  you,  that Andy  Murray,   from  Scotland,  is  playing  some marvellous tennis and  is through to the next round.

Apart from tennis, what is the first thing which comes to mind, when you think of Wimbledon. Would it be, strawberries and cream with a glass of champagne.

I cannot offer you champagne, but I can offer you strawberries and cream, presented in a slightly different way,


..... a Pavlova, which is a delicious mixture of  meringue, which is soft and gooey on the inside, and crisp on the outside, layered with double cream and strawberries, oh yes and a few blueberries and raspberries added for good measure. I think if you have a sweet tooth you will love this dessert.

This delicious meringue based dessert, some say was created in Australia in honour of the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova and some people say it was created in New Zealand.  Whoever created it, I give my thanks, as I love this dessert.


Today, there is no music, as I need to get a wiggle on, as I am looking forward to watching the tennis this afternoon.  I have even brought out the "big guns" ..... namely my Kitchen Aid, to allow me to do the job of mixing the egg whites a lot quicker, so my hand whisk is languishing in the drawer..... until it is needed to hand whisk the cream, so without further ado, let's put on our aprons and get started.

INGREDIENTS
FOR MERINGUE


4 medium sized egg whites
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
1 level tablespoon of cornflour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

 Using baking parchment,
cut an 8 inch (20cm) circle

1 circular baking pan

Pre-heat oven to 130 C 


Place the egg whites into a bowl
and whisk until the egg whites
form stiff peaks.


Continue whisking the egg whites and
add the caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at 
a time, until the meringue is
stiff and glossy.
Add the cornflour, vanilla extract
and white wine vinegar


and whisk until combined,
this will take about a minute.


Put a little meringue onto the 
baking pan to secure
the parchment paper.
Don't be scared, this does work.


Spoon the meringue onto the
parchment paper
following the circle, but do not
go over the circle as you will
not be able to remove the meringue
from the baking sheet. I left
about 1/2 inch all the way around.

Once you have created your circle
fill in the centre with meringue.
Make a slight dip in the centre.
(This is going to hold your fruit and cream)


Place in the pre-heated oven and
bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Until the meringue is firm
at the edge and slightly 
soft in the centre.
You will see a little crack has formed
on my baked meringue, don't worry
as this does happen.
Allow to cool and remove the baking 
parchment at the base of the meringue.

INGREDIENTS
FOR TOPPING


450 g (1 lb) strawberries
225 g  (8 oz)  blueberries
125 g (4 1/2 oz) raspberries 
(sorry I forgot to add the raspberries
to the photograph)


500 ml (16 fl oz)  double cream


Wash and dry fruit
Reserve 3 strawberries and
cut the rest of the strawberries into quarters


Whip the double cream until 
soft peaks form


Fold in two thirds of the strawberries
and blueberries
Keep the raspberries to decorate the top
of the dessert


Spoon the cream and fruit onto the meringue
Arrange the reserved fruit on top


Cut the Pavlova and place on a 
plate and decorate with
extra fruit

or 


spoon Pavlova into a martini glass

pick up your spoon,
and dive in!


There are a few things I would like to mention.  If you are making a Pavlova for a family occasion, which I often do, I double the ingredients, as you do not want to make a small one, as I promise you, people will want more.  Remember to increase the size of the parchment paper as well.

You can make the meringue the day before you need it. Store in a cool, dry place and then decorate the following day. 

.... and finally, please don't worry when the meringue cracks, as it is impossible to keep it from cracking as the meringue is not hard and crispy like the shop bought meringues, this is soft and chewy and gorgeous, trust me once you have made this Pavlova, you will never buy shop bought meringues again.

Have fun decorating the Pavlova with your favourite fruit as that is the fun of home baking, you can add just what you like.

My taster this week is Uncle Ted who is 82 years old. I rang and asked him if he could eat cream, I described the dessert and he said "Yes hinny, it sounds great".... hinny is a North East saying which is a term of endearment.  So we packed half the Pavlova in a Tupperware box (yes I still have Tupperware) and George popped it down to him. George said, when Uncle Ted opened the box his eyes lit up, so I think it is safe to say he was pleased with his gift.

Oh yes, before I forget, I used the three egg whites which I froze last week, plus one other which I had already frozen.  I defrosted them overnight in the fridge and brought them up to room temperature during the morning.... and they worked like a dream, so you see there is no need for wastage.

Take care and I will see you later in the week,

This week I will be joining,


and





Thursday, 27 June 2013

BLOGLOVIN'

Good Morning to you,


This is a short and sweet post, but one I wanted to share with you.

I know many of you have changed to bloglovin', but just in case you have not, I wanted to remind you that as from July 1st you will not be able to read your blogs in Google Reader as that facility is ending.

If you are unsure how to make the transition from Google Reader to bloglovin', then pop over and pay a visit to,

you will find a wonderfully, easy tutorial to follow and also, I know you will love her blog.




Wednesday, 26 June 2013

ORCHIDS

Good Morning to you,


I love cut flowers, I love arranging them in a vase and placing them on my kitchen table.  

I enjoy admiring them whilst they continue flowering, but how long is that....  one week, maybe two,

but, if I buy a house plant, well that really is a different story, as house plants, as long as they are treated correctly, can last for a long time and give many years of enjoyment.

I think most of us love Orchids,



with their delicate petals and their exotic look. You can choose this beautiful pink,



or this delicately spotted purple/pink colour. It looks as if ink has been splattered onto the petals.  Do you remember, as a child, using ink nibs which were dipped into ink pots.... if you do, these spots will look familiar, because I remember, if you dropped a little spot of ink onto blotting paper, this was the effect it caused.  Of course this was done when the teacher was not looking!


Maybe, you prefer something a little richer in colour, such as this one, but whichever Orchid you choose, care for it correctly and you will spend months enjoying the beautiful flowers.




I love repotting my Orchids into visually attractive bowls.



When choosing a bowl, make sure it is deep enough for the Orchid.


They are happy, as long as you give them plenty of light, but not direct sunlight.



There are a few things you need to know about growing Orchids. The first is, they don't like getting their feet wet.  What I mean is, don't allow the roots to sit in water, as this is something Orchids hate. My rule of thumb is, I allow the top of the compost to dry out completely and then I pour half a small teacup of water into compost. 



I say compost, but it is a special Orchid growing medium.
  
If you decide to keep your plant in the plastic container, which it was originally planted in, then watering is much easier.  Water the Orchid and allow the water to drain away before replacing it in it's decorative pot.

Spray the Orchid with a fine mist of water, every couple of days and they will reward you with continuous flowers for many, many months. They especially like the humidity of a bathroom, but only if there is plenty of light.


But what do you do, when the last flower has bloomed and died, do you throw your plant away and buy another one?  Please don't do that, keep your money in your purse, as there is a way to encourage another stem to grow.  All you have to do, is snip away the old flower stem. Can you see the clean cut? That is where I cut the old stem.


Whilst waiting for the stem to grow, I keep the Orchid on the kitchen windowsill, where I can keep an eye on it.

After a couple of weeks, keep checking to see if a new stem has grown.  As once it appears, it grows pretty quickly. If you look closely, you will see that the new stem grew beside the old cut stem. It does not always happen this way, as it can pop up anywhere. I cannot tell you exactly how long it will take, because sometimes, it takes two weeks, sometimes, three, maybe more, as we all live in different climates.  

Allow the stem to grow to about 4 inches and very gently, tie the stem to the cane. I cannot emphasise the word gently, enough,  as these stems are very delicate.  They also have a tendency to want to grow outwards, but we want to  gently, encourage the stem to grow upwards.


As it continues to grow, tie the stem to the cane again and continue this way until the stem has reached it's correct height.  You will know when this happens, because you will see little buds forming on the end of the stem.



Something else which is important, is to feed the Orchid.

The directions will be on the container, but I feed the plant once a week when the flowers are blooming and once a month throughout the rest of the year.

I hope you have found these tips on caring for Orchids helpful.

Do you know who told me how to do this?  It was my lovely daughter, Danielle.  

When we last visited, Danielle had so many beautiful Orchids blooming around her house.  I asked her how she managed to keep so many beautiful blooms. Danielle told me, when she is shopping, she looks out for the Orchids which are being sold which look a little tired, because they are usually reduced by quite a lot of money, she snaps them up and nurtures them until she is rewarded with new blooms.  Then when the blooms have faded, she snips off the stem and waits for a new one to grow. She did say the ladies at the payment desk  always look at her as if she is a little nutty, because who buys plants that are looking tired and past their best.

Danielle is just like George, because that is what he does with Bonsai trees, he buys the ones at reduced prices.  He then gifts them with new soil, a new decorative pot and sometimes he will trim the roots and this way he manages to have many beautiful Bonsai trees, without paying a fortune.

So you see, thriftiness runs in the family.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I will be joining, 



Sunday, 23 June 2013

RASPBERRY SUMMER DESSERT

Good Morning to you,


The weather here is not warm, the sun is not shining, but at least it is not raining, so what can a girl do, but ignore the weather and get on with something pleasurable.... and I have something very pleasurable to bake today,


A Raspberry Summer Dessert

This dessert took me an age to make.... not because it was difficult, but because the battery in my camera was low.

Last evening, I thought to myself, I must charge my camera battery as I did not want it to run out midway through taking photographs, but I became involved in making supper.

After supper and whilst I was washing-up, I thought to myself, "I must remember to charge my camera battery when I have finished washing-up".

I made coffee and was chatting to George, then I picked up my sewing and began sewing the hearts for a quilt I am making for little Polly who is coming into the world in the next couple of weeks.  As I was sewing I thought.... yes you have guessed it, "I really must charge my camera battery when I have finished sewing", but I became so engrossed with my sewing, it totally slipped my mind.

I went to bed...... and that's right, I did not charge my camera battery, so of course I had to do it first thing this morning..... and it takes a good couple of hours, so everything was on hold until the battery charged itself..... and of course I kept checking and the light remained red, it was like waiting for water to boil. So I wandered into the garden and did a little gardening..... and yes, you are right, I lost myself in the gardening..... do you see a theme developing here, I do lose myself in things I am doing. So by the time I came indoors it was lunchtime and that was only because George came into the garden to water his bonsai trees and mentioned that he thought I was baking a tasty little treat today. I dropped my gardening tools and hotfooted it back into the kitchen, to find the battery had turned to green and was completely charged, it probably had charged itself twice over. 

So, I have washed my hands and put on my apron, so I think we had better get cracking, as time is moving on.

The music I have chosen to listen to today is a collection of songs from the film, Peter's Friend's.


This music makes me think of Natasha, as this was her favourite film in 1992 and she loved the music.  She had finished her A Levels and had began her first year at Bristol University.  When she came home for the holidays, this music could be heard throughout the house...... do you remember  as a teenager how we all seemed to  love loud music, the louder the better.

But now it is time to press on, we really must start baking before time slips away from us.

I am listing the ingredients for the pastry, as they are slightly different, but I am not going through the process as we did that when we made the Lemon Meringue Pie, but I will need to show you the baking tin I used as it is different from the Lemon Meringue Pie tin. 


It is a little deeper, as the pastry must come up the sides of the baking tin. So you will need a 9 inch   (23 cm) buttered baking tin which has a depth of about 2 inches (5 cm).

INGREDIENTS FOR PASTRY

175g (6 oz) plain flour
125g (4 oz) butter cubed
40g (1 1/2 oz) sugar
1 egg, separated
 2 tablespoons of  cold water


You will find the pastry will be a little short, but this makes for a lovely textured pastry.  When you roll out the pastry and put it in your baking tin, you will find little pieces might fall away, as mine did. Don't worry, you can patch the pastry using your  spatula. It creates a lovely texture as you can see in the photograph.  Also I used scissors to trim the pastry instead of my usual knife, so the edges are not as straight as normal, but have a lovely rustic look about them.

When you have lined the baking tin with pastry, place it in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking.


INGREDIENTS
FOR THE VANILLA CREAM FILLING


75g (3 oz) sugar
3 large egg yolks
50g (2 oz) cornflour
250ml (9 fl oz) milk
1 vanilla pod, split 
300ml (10 fl oz) single cream
300ml (10 fl oz) double cream


1 tablespoon of icing sugar to dust over
the raspberries


450 g washed and dried raspberries

METHOD


Whisk together the sugar, egg yolks and 
cornflour in a bowl,


until the ingredients are fully
 incorporated and the
mixture is smooth


Split the vanilla pod 


Heat the milk, single cream, vanilla pod
in a saucepan
until just boiling
you will see the odd bubble emerge.



Add the heated vanilla milk, to the egg mixture
a little at a time,
pouring slowly, be sure
to keep whisking.


Return the mixture to the saucepan.
 Place over  a low heat and
 keep whisking
until the mixture has thickened.
You will feel the texture thicken
and little bubbles will appear.
Please remember it is important
to keep whisking.

Place the vanilla cream into a large heatproof
bowl, remove the vanilla pod,
cool and chill in the fridge

TOPPING

450 g (1 lb )  of fresh raspberries


Wash and dry the raspberries


Remove the vanilla cream from the
fridge and whisk until smooth

Whisk the double cream until stiff
and gently fold into the vanilla cream 



Spoon mixture into the pastry case
and smooth to give an even surface.

Chill until set, about an hour


When the cream has chilled, remove from
the fridge and arrange the raspberries 
on the top.


Sprinkle with icing sugar


Cut yourself a slice, arrange some
extra raspberries on top,
pour over some cream
and there you have it,
a perfect Raspberry Summer Dessert

...... and now for the verdict of my resident taster, George, who always seems to appear at the right moment.

This Raspberry Summer Dessert,
"Makes him think of sunshine and sunny days,
he would love to eat it in the sunshine,
 sitting on a garden swing.
The dessert was light 
and the tartness of the raspberries
offset the sweetness of the cream,
It was scrumptious"

So there you have it, all in all I think a resounding success, maybe I should rename it A Raspberry Sunshine Dessert, in honour of George.

Oh yes, before I go, you will be wondering what to do with the three egg whites which were not used.  Place them in a zip lock bag, label them and place them in the freezer.  We will be using them next Sunday to make Pavlova...... did you really think I would waste them?

Oh yes, and another thing, just in case you are wondering who little Polly is, Charmaine is Danielle's best friend and she is expecting her first baby in the next few weeks..... we are all so thrilled for her.

I am going now, honestly, so take care and I will see you later in the week,

This week I shall be joining,





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