30.4.16

Orange and ginger madeline recipe

Orange, cardamom and ginger madelines.



Hello everyone,

I'd been trying to hunt down a vintage madeline tin for my latest recipe, I have trawled everywhere and in the end, had to buy a new one. Whist this has the bonus of being non stick which is great! It does lack giving them the deep shell pattern so I'm still after an old one and I suggest you look too!

Now Mr VGL wanted something that resembled a jaffa cake, but I needed to take it to a whole other level!
These bite size treats will leave you wanting to polish the lot off in one, washed down by a steaming mug of tea or black coffee.

You will need a madeline tin. (mine is a mini one)
Set your oven to gas 5.
Grease your tin well!

Ingredients

110g butter
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
6 cardamom pods
3 bantam eggs or 2 small chicken eggs
tbsp honey
zest of one orange

For the topping
Melted dark chocolate
crystallised ginger

Method

Melt the butter till just melted.

Smash cardamom pods and remove the seeds, crush seeds in a pestle and mortar (or bash in a bag with a rolling pin) discard husks.

In a clean bowl combine the sugar, flour, orange zest, ground cardamom, honey and eggs, and mix well.

Gradually add the melted butter whilst mixing. Its quite wet and sticky.

Spoon a tiny bit of mixture into each mould leaving them just under filled.
*top tip- keep a bowl of fresh water near by, dip your finger in and then gently pat the mix down into the mould.

Bake for 12 - 15 mins for minis and 15 - 20 for large.
Leave to cool slightly then turn out.
Makes 40 small or 20 large.

Then melt the best quality dark chocolate you can lay your hands on.
I used a microwave and added a drop of concentrated orange oil (optional).
Drizzle or dunk its up to you and then top with some crystallised ginger.

Let me know how you get on!


Emma x


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23.4.16

Lemon and violet bundt cake.

    

Hello everyone,

I spent yesterday experimenting with my new bundt tin, I've been pondering over which to buy for a while now. I wanted a beautiful old one, but heard so many horror stories about turning them out, so in the end I put aside how wonderful an old one would look in my photos, to how beautiful I wanted my finished cakes, and bought a rather splendid silicone one from my local cook shop in Ampthill.

I just want to take a moment to tell you my tips for using a silicone bundt mould for this recipe...
Firstly a light spray with a baking spray or a swish of melted butter over the whole inside of the mould, then pop into the fridge for 5-10 mins, this gives extra help of easing out the cake at the end.
Secondly- I found my mould took a lot longer to conduct the heat than a tin, so by cooking it at a lower temp for slightly longer, and covering it lightly with a disc of baking paper (grease proof) helps to get a nice even bake.

     

Now I'm going to write the method out with the ingredients so give it a read through first, then when you come to do it it should be easier!

Set the oven to gas 4.

Weigh 4 large eggs (shells on), then measure out the same quantity of butter (I like salted), and the same quantity again of caster sugar, cream these together.
Grate in the zest of two lemons, a teaspoon of vanilla paste and a pinch of salt, mix well.

Then weigh out 100g of ground almonds, whilst they are on the scales- top up with self raising flour to the weight of the eggs, add a pinch of salt and half tsp baking powder, a handful of poppy seeds, and mix together on the scales.

Add one egg with a spoonful of the flour mix to stop it curdling and mix, repeat this until you have used all of the eggs then mix in the remaining flour mix. Add a teaspoon or two of milk to make the mixture silky.

Pop into your bundt mould smoothing over the surface, cover with a disc of grease proof paper and put in the oven for 45 to 60 mins, after 45 mins take off the paper and press the top lightly, if it springs back its done, if not leave it for a bit longer, mine took 55mins, but all ovens vary.

Leave aside to cool slightly then place a board on top and turn out ( this is where I hold my breath and cross everything). I think this is where the silicone mould came into its own as it was so easy to turn out.

Leave to cool whilst you make the icing....

   

I used 1/4 of a packet of icing sugar, violet food colour (mix red and blue) and added lemon juice a little at a time whilst stirring, you want a nice smooth consistency that's drizzleable.
Drizzle over cooled cake then decorate with edible flowers. I crystallised some violets from my garden and I will do a post on these, but you can buy edible flowers ready to crystallise from Jan at Maddocks farm organics, check out her website www.maddocksfarmorganics.co.uk she also does bumble bee courses!

  

Tadahhhhh 

  

  



Let me know if you give it a go! I'd love to hear how you got on!

Emma x


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Vintage tin planter.


Hello everyone,

I have a little obsession with vintage planters! Mr VGL rolled his eyes at me this morning when I purchased yet another tin bath- "But this one is perfect for that space" I cried... there was no space, I just had to have it!

Then there was another trip to the garden centre to buy some gorgeous geraniums.
I love geraniums!
The fact that if I do forget to water them, or I'm on my hols, they seem to not mind having a dry spell.

They look so pretty on our new farmhouse table, although they are now safely tucked up in the greenhouse ready to be hardened off.

I'm still not sure where I will place them, but the planter is so neat I guess I'll move them around a lot.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend!

I've been experimenting in the kitchen again today and have a beautiful recipe going on the blog tomorrow so be sure to pop in for that.

Emma x





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16.4.16

Pistachio and rose shortbread



I love making biscuits as gifts and these are so cute, perfect for mothers day and bridal showers.
The base of this recipe came from the wonderful Ottolenghi cook book but I have pimped it up by adding dried roses and a rose drizzle for something a little extra. 

Ingredients

6 cardamom pods
200g salted butter
25g ground rice
240g plain flour
35g icing sugar (+ extra for dusting and icing)
Handful of pistachios
large table spoon of dried rose petals
1 drop of rose water (for drizzle)
1 beaten egg.


Method

Using a pestle and mortar crush the cardamom pods and remove the shells, then grind them up as fine as possible, don't worry if you haven't got a pestle and mortar- put the pods into a bag and bash with a rolling pin.

Now I used my magi mix for the next bit, you can do it by hand but its really hard work.
Beat the butter, ground rice, flour, icing sugar and cardamom dust until it comes together into a firm paste/dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and roll into a log with your hands to a diameter thickness of about 5cm. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour.

While the dough is chilling, blitz the pistachios with the rose petals until you have a medium to fine crumb. Scatter onto a flat board.

Brush the log with the beaten egg and roll into the crumb mix pushing down slightly to get as much as possible covered. Wrap again in clingfilm and refrigerate for thirty mins.

Cut into 5cm rounds and lay on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Bake in the top of the oven at gas 2/150C for 20-25 mins

While the shortbread is baking, mix roughly 2 table spoons of icing sugar with a tiny bit of water and one drop of rose water, mix to a paste and add pink food colouring (optional)

Wait for the shortbread to cool, then dust some with icing sugar and drizzle the rose icing over the rest, scatter with extra rose petals.

Will keep in an airtight tin for one week.

Make sure you follow my blog (see sidebar) so you don't miss out on my recipes.

Emma x



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11.4.16

Because it's raining

                     

Just of late I've been finding myself turning away from my smudged lose florals to paint simple yet contrasting landscapes. Painting completely off the top of my head (although I've walked over many a beautiful English landscape in my time), these watercolours come free and easy.
It's made me want to explore a different style and push myself out of my comfort zone, and the practice is always good!
I'd love to hone into this style suitabaly enough to exhibit by the end of the year, so I think that's my goal to work towards this 2016.
I've painted in watercolours since my teens, and my grandfather used to take me out with him to stately homes to sketch and paint the gardens. I remember being shy when people came to have a look at our work, and I'd lean over mine as much as possible so no one could see lol.
I realise now how important it is to share a craft or skill with the world, and to inspire and be inspired.

I hope the beginning of the week is treating you kindly, mine are back to school tomorrow so I'm looking forward to getting together with my mum for a quiet catch-up over tea and cake.

Emma x
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9.4.16

Homemaker


Yes a homemaker really is a job and yes it's ok to be one, and yes it's flipping amazing!

So It's been two years since I gave up running my little salon, it was a tough decision to make as I'd run my own business for ten years, and before that, I was a college lecturer.

Having done everything in kinda the wrong order, having kids first, then finding a husband, and basically living up to super-woman was great and I loved every minute, but it's not healthy to keep going at that pace for the long term.

I did find it a bit awkward at first when people asked me what I did for a living, it was met with 'oh, couldn't you just of got a cleaner?' 
Or
'So you're a housewife then?' Accompanied by a look of puzzlement.

For one, I can't stand the term housewife. A housewife is very 40s, 50s & 60s.
And I do not just exist to please my husband.

I'm many things, an interior designer (yes, I went back to college in my new found time), a crafter,  painter, and a photographer, but above all I'm a homemaker!

I love having the home warm, welcoming and beautiful for when the children come home from school.
It's great enjoying the simple things like hanging laundry out to dry. 
I get so much joy out of creating things for my family, I'm always decorating and I just love having the time to look after all of our animals.
There is never a dull or quiet moment and I'm never bored. Quite simply, I don't know how I ever found the time to do anything else.

Whilst the kids are growing up it seems to fit all of our lifestyles, and when they fly the nest, well Mr C and I have decided we'll move to Suffolk and run a beautiful B and B, which will suit us both as I can carry on making everything homely and he can cook a mean breakfast! 

Now when someone asks me what I do, I'm proud to tell them 'I'm a homemaker'!

Emma X 




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Our bantams

Lavender (pekin lavender bantam)

I just adore our little brood! We decided to add chickens to our ever expanding menagerie a few years ago and it's one of the best things we've done!

We chose bantams as they are little and we wanted to let them roam free around our cottage garden, bigger chickens destroy a garden in minutes. A friend of mine has had to have a run built for her large hens which seems a shame, but they ate and dug up everything in site.

Bantams however cause minor disturbance although they are still partial to my primulas and ranunculus flowers, but they don't really do that much harm. 

The one thing they are great for when left to roam free is pest control, they eat all of the bugs and slugs except lady-birds which is a bonus.
And the eggs.... Wow! Out of this world! They may be little, but they are all yolk, and as gold as gold can be, they are amazing to bake with!

They take themselves off to bed at night and sleep in a converted coal bunker.
We do sometimes have the odd stray when a hen is sitting broody somewhere and doesn't go home. 
Mr VGL and I were out in the pitch black last night with wellies on and phone torches out trying to find our missing tiny hen Bluebell, after much trampling across flower beds and a near miss with the pond we eventually found her tucked up inside the compost heap sitting on half a dozen eggs- there will be lots of baking tomorrow!

Have a great wkend!

Emma x
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4.4.16

Cutting garden for wedding flowers.


It's been an extremely busy time here in our cottage garden as my little sister is organising her wedding breakfast this August (yes they already ran off and got married). I may have missed the ceremony but she's making up for it by throwing a classic country styled day, and I am in charge of the flowers- YAY!

We're both collecting jam jars and luckily for her I have a heap of pretty props to use, but I've mainly been concentrating on planting blooms that are great for cutting and will be in full show at the end of August.

Now I always grow dahlias but this year I've added even more to my collection, I like to start them off in pots in the greenhouse first then I plant them out once they have established and all fear of frosts have passed. I'm really excited to have introduced cafe au lait to the collection! It has gorgeous cream blooms the size of diner plates!

My other favourites for this time of year are sweet-peas which just keep coming the more you cut them, I actually sell these at the garden gate, they are one of my favourite summer flowers.
And I also love cosmos! They are just prolific and keep on giving plus they make an excellent cut flower.

I shall try and keep my beloved rose collection going but can never really tell at the end of August what state they will be in, really depends on how hot the summer is, but I'm sure we'll have some! The one rose that never fails and keeps blooming through to December in our garden is the white rose 'Iceberg'. I've always grown this variety no matter where I've lived and it's always impressed me by its constant blooms, even when all the leaves have fallen it's still full of white roses.

Everything is now planted and the greenhouse is full! I'll keep you all updated with how its all coming along!

Oh I do love a wedding!

Emma x


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