Monday, 22 February 2010

A good day for the roses ...

I was lucky to get the day off on Saturday and spent it, as I often dream of spending the day, in the kitchen baking at a leisurely pace. I was making a batch of cupcakes to take to a friends 30th in Glasgow that evening and went for, what I might describe as, a sedate disco theme. I actually nicked the idea from a memorable cupcake I enjoyed at Centotre last summer (washed down with a raspberry milkshake) and decorated them with the palest pink buttercream and white jazzies. I like the jazzies, they add the random charm of hundreds and thousands but without the mess, not that I'm opposed to mess y'know, but it would take a lot of practice to get sugar balls on target.

The sorbet colours (officially sorbet, the Guardian says it so) extended to the clothes horse where I had my new cardi airing after a little launder along with my cashmere wristlets. The cardi was an irresistable find on my fist visit to Bicycle Thieves. I'd been thinking of this exact colour and lo-and-behold found it for what was a very reasonable price people. Trust me, I'm a reasonable lady. Anyway, I'm very much in love with the new cardi partiularly in it's freshly pressed and floraly fragant state.

The roses are the hangers-on from the flowers I received last weekend. I'm so glad I caught a photo of them before they fade. It seems wasteful in a way, to cut long stemed flowers so short but I noticed you actually get to see them better, when you look down into them in a small vase. And hopefully it will keep them hanging in there, just a little longer...

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Squirrel nuggets

I'm very excited to finally get my greedy paws on this book and get busy with my first batch of sweeties. How could I resist 'squirrel nuggets'? The nut toasting stage filled the kitchen with deliciously nutty smells, cracks and creaks. I had to keep a close eye on the tray as it cooled by the windowsill as our resident commando critters would think nothing of scaling the harling to get a load of free nuts! I never tire of the furry entertainment as we watch our squiggely neighbours descend upon the bird feeder with the most balletic of moves, which always reminds me of this BBC wildlife film.

It was very simple recipe to follow, although when I make them again I think I'd choose a slightly less bitter, erm more suggary chocolate. I took them round to our not-so-furry neighbours but kept one or two for sampling purposes. I think they'll be very good with coffee. I have to get one of these before I attempt some of the other recipes but there's plenty of treats inside that don't require extra equipment.

I've taken to feeding the birds this winter and have been reserving some of our kitchen scraps and concocting variously flavoured gruels which always disappear no matter how un-appetising them may look. I checked out some interweb advice first but pretty much anything goes so long as you rehydrate any dry stuffs first and watch out that you don't attract unwanted pests. On todays menu was a lardy load of past-it xmas pud, tortilla, sausage fat, brown banana, stale porridge oats, oh and forgotten about asparagus (well this is Morningside). I put them on little leaf plates (my Beatrix Potter moment) at various heights so all the wood pigeons, blackbirds, crows and brave blue tits could get a peck before you-know-who scadaddles off with the lot...

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Cheesy peasy

I was thinking a lot about gnocchi yesterday. I love the gooey, sticky texture: perfectly comforting food. I didn't have a recipe in mind when I went shopping but essentially this is a variation on a dish from the most dependable of cook books: Real Fast Food.

We don't have a cross-party consensus on blue cheese in our kitchen so I got a small piece of Taleggio to make this very simple sauce. Really, it made its self...

[for two]
pack of ready-made gnocchi, 500g
Taleggio, 100g
crème fraîche, 2 tbsp (or a little more)
garlic, a very small clove, bruised

Warm oven to 200°C. Cook the gnocchi as per pack instructions. Drain the gnocchi and place in a shallow oven dish. Add a small, bruised garlic clove to the dish. Stir in 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche and the cheese (scooped into small lumps) and stir. Season and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Serve with a wintery salad. We had spinach, grated carrot and finely sliced celery with oil, lemon juice and a sprinkle of fennel seeds (just to be poncey).

A good haul

It doesn’t happen often – a good day in the charity shops – but I had just that last week and returned from a trip to North Berwick suitably chuffed with my finds. I never been to North Berwick before. It's is a very pretty coastal town full of lots of local shops. Interesting deli's, a speciality tea shop and SEVRAL sweetie shops. I didn't bring home any Berwick Cockles but I found a lovely rosie dish, some squashed Beatrix Potters, a velvety-soft Viyela kids shirt (for the craft stash), and some very spotty cupcake cases. Even better, most of the haul is not for keeping but for giving to some special friends. I can't wait to seeing my finds re-read and re-loved.