Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Strawberries, Shortbread and Edinburgh Fog

Unless we're having folks round for tea, or I'm going visiting friends, I don't usually plan ahead puddings. I prefer the kind that can be assembled from the fridge, the fruit bowl and maybe the store cupboard and, incase I happen to fall asleep before I get as far as throwing them together, won't spoil if they have to wait until tomorrow. In short, just the kind advocated by Nigel Slater in Real Fast Puddings

I've realised I've got quite into whipping cream this summer. I should perhaps make that clearer: I'm whipping my double-trouble cream not picking up some quasi some-where-in-between kind-of-a-dairy product. No sir, I like the hard stuff. And it's got to stop at the softly-folding stage too.

This Celebrity Masterchef recipe from Dick Strawbridge got me inspired to try adding a little of my elderflower cordial to some cream for a bowl of late summer strawbs last week. I love the sound of Mr Stawbridge's poached quince, not that I had any but what I did have was deliciously crumbly homemade shortbread trimmings. (And I should share that recipe at some point too...)

Yesterday I did the honourable thing and rescued a punnet of rasps fae Fife from the reduced tray in Waitrose. I dreamt up a cranachan kind of pud but turns out I also dreamt up the oatmeal that was not to be found in the house. Of course, I conked out before I managed to fudge an alternative and I'm glad I did because today I remembered a recipe for Edinburgh Fog which I came across in Good Old-fashioned Summertime Puddings by Sara Paston-Williams. The versions I've looked up online differ slightly from my recollection of the above, most being spiked with Drambuie or whisky but I preffered Ms. Paston -Williams' suggestion of using madeira or sweet sherry. Which I think is rather more Morningside-lady-like, don't you?

Edinburgh Fog for Two: A Recollection...
In a dry pan, toast a tablespoon of flaked almonds until golden and set aside to cool ② Pour some double cream into a bowl. You won't need much 100ml or so but you do need it to be double. Add a tablespoon of Bristol Cream - and don't mind if your hand slips. Oops. Lightly whip into soft folds ③  Rinse your raspberries, shoogle dry and add to the cream with icing sugar to taste Crumble up a few ratafia biscuits, lightly stir to combine and serve topped with the almonds.

Which reminds me of something truly horrendous I saw on my way to work last Sunday which I thought I'd share with you for some cheap entertainment value. If anyone was in any doubt, this is why I feel it's safer to stay indoors and wait for the festival to pass...

Monday, 23 August 2010

flower power

Ok so, I mentioned I've much bottled up to share with you here and one of those tales was the results of my elderflower extravaganza earlier this summer. Well we're just a little late for the elderflowers this year (aherm) but there is a pertinent point! If you are in anyway inclined to jam, bottle or stew your own then I highly recommend to you River Cottage Handbook No.2: Preserves by Pam Corbin.  It's an incredibly useful book and having now tried several recipes: Candied orange sticks, Pontack, Winter Fruit Compote and Onion Marmalade, I really think it's a must have for the homemade gift giver.

The elderflower cordial really was very simple to make. The only bit of 'kit' it requires is a jelly bag and I resolved to fashion my own as coughing up (up to) a tenner for one seemed really unnecessary. Don't do it I say! If you've got a shelf edge, cupboard or anywhere you can hang an 'S' hook and place a bowl underneath - you are sorted. The muslin cost me under a pound and I could have made two bags with it but instead made one four layers thick. 

Sew-yer-own JELLY BAG:  
① Buy enough muslin to make a large square approx. 80 x 80cm. Fold the square in two with the selvedge edges on the long sides and fold in two again to make a square. With the raw edges together, sew a seam  0.5cm in. Now turn your square inside-out, press the seam flat and stitch 1cm in along all four edges, encasing the raw seam. To make loops to hang your bag from thread a needle with a double thickness of strong thread. Place three small tacking stitches in the corner to the inside of the stitching, make a loop about 3cm wide and secure with another few stitches. Repeat on each corner. Voila! 

The finer points of the elderflower...

 Pam Corbin recommends picking your elderflowers just as they are beginning to open, I missed this important point with the first bag of flower heads I picked - the one that I lost my kitchen scissors over the cemetery wall for! They smelt slightly musty in full bloom and the liquor went rather unappealingly brown overnight. It got ditched and I investigated some more before my second attempt...

In Food for Free, Richard Mabey advises not to wash the flowers or else loose the delicate perfume. I found that an enthusiastic tap on the kitchen counter was a better way to remove any beasties.  

Anna del Conte, in her collection Amaretto, Apple Cake and Artichokes recommends choosing an elder in a sunny spot to pick your flowers from as these will have the very best flavour.

And the flavour really is the best! So much lovelier than any shop bought cordial I've tried and with a beautiful golden glow. I quickly made a second batch as I'd wanted to give some bottles away but on tasting didn't feel quite so inclined to part with my small hoard of summer in a bottle!

What next from this delicious book? Bramley lemon curd: "it's like eating apples and custard". Pam - I'm hearing ya!

Monday, 16 August 2010

hop-hop this a-way, hop-hop that a-way...

It's been too long I know, but I've so much bottled-up (some quite literally) to share with you I'm planning an action-packed blogoramma this week! Hold onto your seatbelts!!

I had great fun at The MITS Summertime Hop Edinburgh (even briefly had my first ever queue!). had my cake and ate it from Aunty M's (sweet potato and pecan praline) which was well worth the wait (have since squeezed in another slice - more on that later...) and even got the chance to run around the other stalls to bag these two beauties.

I couldn't resist this birthday card which came from Leah Halliday's lovely stash of vintage finds. It's faux-cross-stitched and slightly squinty squares were right up my street and I've got the perfect little frame to pop it in and the perfect little place to hang it...

The brooch is by Laura Donald and I bought it as much for it's beauty as for  the story that came with it. No, not the Mills and Boon one on the very natty home-sewn paper bag but this one: so the story goes, the Isle of Wight plate was a rare charity shop find, carried home in a shopper by Laura's gallant man until it met it's fate upon the 'rocky' shores of their kitchen table. Oops! And so one crafters jetsam became another crafters treasure. The sharp edges are carefully sanded to make it what my Mother called a "limmey" (sp anyone?), a Caithnessian word for a washed-up shard of crockery. 

I love pictures and particularly songs about sailing ships. Here's one of my favourites: Sinking in the Lonesome Sea which Julias' Duaghters will be playing this Friday at Sun Bear on Lorne Street. 

I'll be "Citylink-ing: Smart-thinking" it through to Glasgow the next day for the last ever Made In The Shade SUMMERTIME HOP at The Lighthouse. The gals have much on the go with their newly made-over west end premisies and forthcoming new HQ at The Barras Centre. My-oh-my!