In which time is restored to its natural order

Today the clocks went back and we escape from British Summer Time back to Grenwich Mean Time. Time is restored to its natural order and its the good change which means an extra hour in bed.

In the meantime I leave you with what adventures the fantastic Mr Toad got up to when he read Mr HG Wells novel, the Time Machine: http://youtu.be/TT3xgNpXjkk

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Perfect Pancakes

I didn’t buy any croissants yesterday which means nothing for breakfast today, but with a few ingredients i can whip up some pancakes (American Pancakes I’m talking about). My granny used to make these for me when i came to visit, on to the griddle with the batter, onto the plate goes the mountain of pancakes. What I always loved was that they were all different shapes, and sometimes I was allowed to help and write letters in the batter. I never knew what recipe granny used but there are plenty out there on the internet. The trick is finding the perfect recipe. When you look up pancake batter you will be overwhelmed with so many different ratios of the flour-milk-egg. A few years ago I found this recipe (somewhere on the internet) and wrote it in a notebook. Ive never been able to find it again and not had much luck with other recipes, some made the batter just far too thin and some just made too much (and you can’t half an egg to half the quantity)

The following is my recipe which makes light fluffy mini pancakes, the trick is to have them rise at the beginning for a truly fluffy taste

300ml Milk (full cream!)

200g Self Raising Flour (sifted)

1tsp Baking Powder

1 egg (free range of course!)

(1 knob melted butter – I’ve never actually bothered with this though due to the faff)

Whisk together the egg and milk (in a 1l pyrex jug is useful). Sift the flour and baking powder. Whisk all ingredients together. The recipe says to make a  hole in the flour and slowly add the wet ingredients but i just bung the flour mix in the jug with the milk as its easier and Mix Mix Mix (you really do have to mix thoroughly to get it smooth, I tend to use a fork so the batter doesn’t get stuck in a whisk). Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and add butter (I also add rapeseed oil) then add spoonfuls of the batter. About 1tbsp per pancake seems to be about right. Let them rise then turn and keep turning till they are as you like them. Eat them all because the batter really doesn’t last more than a day)

Love Food Festival

Last Sunday was the Love Food Festival at Green Park Market, and if theres a celebration of food (with samples) count me in. The place was bustling and often quite difficult to get to the stalls but it was worth it.

Here are some of my hilights: The first thing that caught my eye and I made a bee-line to were these gorgeous panettone tins. Ive often wanted to buy one at christmas but I’ve also been looking for one that comes in an amazing tin and here I find them. The lady said they should be up on the La Bottega fine foods website in a few weeks (and free delivery if you’re local wooo!) – just don’t buy them all before I get the nice ones

la bottega fine foods stall panatone tins

The lovely Mrs Stokes was there with her beautiful vintage china (thats where the majority of my teapot collection comes from… and cups…). Riverford who supply me with our weekly supply of vegetables were so sweet and gave me a free tote bag when I went to say hi. Really yummy local cheese from The Bath Soft Cheese Co. They’ve been producing cheese on their farm for over 20 years. Rose Petal wine, Strawberry wine, Ginger wine, time for a tipple. The rose wine was so sweet and delicious from Field Bar Fruit Wines from who I bought a dinky bottle. Falafel with dates for lunch and so many cake stalls to choose from and i even got to try a raw chocolate brownie.

love food festival stalls

The thing about food fairs is that when it comes to the buying part they can be a little overwhelming, usually too many things you want to buy which would end up costing far too much. My advice is to set a budget before you go and say something like “Today I will spend £15 of delicious treats” (or whatever your budget, even “I will buy one thing for £3”). Try the samples, buy a cake or burger or something you wouldn’t normally find, them work out what you’d really like best for your budget. Instead of coming away regretful of not buying the expensive things you will have a lovely small collection of treats to taste and enjoy at your leisure.

The full stall list with links to online shops can be found on the love food website and dates of more events, the next one is Bristol 30th October

Surprise Socks

It started at lunchtime with the discussion “will you be wearing pink to support breast cancer on Friday 28th October” and me saying that I could wear pink from top to toe, and that I could almost do that with leopard print except I didn’t have any socks. Well that was that until an hour later when these were handed to me!

What a lovely surprise, not only are they leopard they are also pink and multicoloured so they’ll go with everything! (well thats my take on them). What lovely friends I have. I just adore new socks they feel so deliciously cozy, may just wear them tomorrow.

Swedish Saffron Cake

I have this really amazing cookbook, Long Nights and Log Fires – Warming Comfort Food for Family and Friends. I saw it in a  gift shop a couple of years ago, regrettably didn’t buy it and it went out of print. After first getting it from the library, this summer I got hold of a copy from the USA (alas forgetting their penchant for cups rather than grams). If theres one thing I love in a cookbook its beautiful photography (especially when you have random photos such as views or candles and glass wear), it really makes you delve into the atmosphere of the book – which here is ‘making winter warm and cozy’

Some recipe examples I’m aching to try include: Slow cooked onion and cider soup with Gruyere toasts, Polenta baked with Italian Sausage and cheese, and Languedoc beef stew with red wine herb and olives.

A very exciting part of the book is the Bakes and Desserts and the Swedish Saffron Cake caught my eye straight away. Saffron in a cake… how opulent and decacant! (apologies for the fuzzy photography)

long nights and log fires cake chapter

The first thing you need with this recipe is some time since you have to infuse the saffron in the warm milk for an hour.

Oven Temperature: 350F which is 177C

Cake Tin: It reccomnds 9in, i used a 20cm lose bottomed tin with a non stick liner (or use greased baking paper) with ground almonds sprinkled at the base (I used about 2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup (120ml) full fat milk

2 sticks (226g) slightly salted butter

1 teaspoon saffron threads

2 eggs (at room temperature)

1 cup (225-250g) raw sugar (I used golden caster – you can check the internet for more accurate conversions depending on what sugar you are using)

1  1/2 cups (188g) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Ground almonds, enough to sprinkle on the bottom of the tin (you can use breadcrumbs if you don’t like almonds or are allergic to nuts) I don’t think this bit is essential but it certainly made the cake more fun

(I got all my gram conversions from the internet so do double check them if you are unsure)

Melt the butter and heat the milk together in a saucepan till its steaming but not boiling. Take off the heat, stir in the saffron and leave covered to infuse for an hour

Whisk the eggs till frothy then whisk in the sugar till the mixture is thick and mouse like and leaves a trail when you lift the whisk from the bowl. I found an electric mixer does this a treat (I love my KitchenAid)

When the saffron milk has infused fold it gently into the mixture. Sift in the flour and fold in gently with a metal spoon

Pour into the the tin and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 mins until it is golden brown, springy to the touch and if you insert a skewer (I don’t have one so use a steak knife) inserted through the centre comes out clean. Take out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Once it is cooled sift over the icing sugar (I skipped this step and ate a slice after about 15 mins when it was still warm – it was so yum)

Store in an airtight tin and eat within 4 days

Swedish saffron cake

I have to say that this cake was truly delicious, the milk made it so creamy and the saffron gave it that special something. This is definitely something ill make again

Swedish saffron cake slice

Because the Times told me to (…or was it the Guardian)

If theres one thing I love on a Saturday morning its settling down with a coffee and pastry and browsing the saturday supplements (fashion ones that is). My favourites are the Times and Guardian which seem to include all the things i love in a magazine, especially the recipe sections, love hugh fearnley-whittingstall’s section, it was Quinces yesterday.

My slight problem is the ideas it gives me leading to shopping. These have included in the past yellow nail varnish and chiffon pleated skirts (both however are things ill be wearing in the long term). The yellow nail varnish was actually quite quirky (if you put an undercoat on because the rimmel one stains) and midi chiffon pleated skirts did catch on as a fashion so I was able to buy lots (more on that obsession another time)

I’ve been really wanting one of those jumpers which epitomises winter, you know the ones I mean they look sort of Scandinavian and make you think of skiing and curling up by the fire, the ones with the pattern in a circle round the neck. Well I hadn’t found the perfect one over the last few years but I’m always keeping my eye out. Theres quite a nice cream/brown all over patterned one in M&S which would look great with a tweed skirt and there was one in H&M with cats on but somehow wasn’t quite right.

Then yesterday This happened: Oh my gosh look it has foxes on it… and within 2h it was mine. IT HAS FOXES ON ITS SO CUTE! (p.s. its from Urban Outfitters)

urban outfitters fox jumper

Flapjacks Yums

Yesterday there wasn’t much food in the house and I couldn’t be bothered with making bread, when I suddenly thought: Flapjacks! Flapjacks have been around forever and something that you can always find in a childhood memory, not any specific occasion but i definitely remember enjoying them.

flapjack

I did a bit of searching for a not too complicated recipe (and one that measures golden syrup in spoons as opposed to grams – as if I’m going to actually weigh the syrup, what a mess that would make, and a waste). Since its the first time I’ve made flapjacks i started with this simple recipe from Delia Smith’s website. The only alteration I made was adding a handful of currents (I then got distracted looking up other recipes and I’m dying to try this apricot and pistachio one.

making flapjacks

The result was really yum and very chewy (although if you eat 2 your teeth feel like they might dissolve), and they’re definitely something ill make again, really quick and easy and not too much washing up either. The ones I remember as a child were much drier and less syrupy so I wonder what they were made from. Im really looking forward to trying different recipes which have varying proportions of Sugar/Butter/Golden syrup to see which combination makes the nicest. I also came across this interesting article from the guardian about making the perfect flapjack, it also muses that the heaviness of many of the commercial flapjacks you buy may be due to the addition of flour.

Revised link http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/flapjacks.html