Saturday, 1 March 2014

One Little Month... February

hyacinth, guacamole, wallpaper, taco seasoning, carrots, blonde star, invader,
ice cream, daffodil, seeds, camera strap, quilting, birthday in a can, coffee fudge cake, cookies, amaryllis

One Little Month is about the little things that have made me happy during the last month.

February was about distractions... cooking, making, and pottering.



Some other things that made me happy were...

Dancing to this tune in the brief flurry of snow we enjoyed one Tuesday night.

This Cauliflower Alfredo sauce.

The idea of a quilt top like this one - crazy beautiful.

#POSITIVEFRIDAY

The unexpected kindness of a blogland friend, if you haven't already visited Nicole, then her blog really should be your next stop, she's a genuine star.



I hope that you had something to make you smile too...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

White Toblerone Ice Cream...


Toblerones are my airport weakness, I can't go through the duty free with out snapping one up, I love love love them!

Unfortunately I didn't get to go any where far flung and exotic (or even mildly exciting for that matter) to pick up the one that went into this Ice cream... It was on offer in the department store near my workplace just after Christmas... But a Toblerone is still a Toblerone even if you don't get the fancy pants holiday to go with it.


I've spent the last few weeks pottering around at home and as a result a lot of happenings have happened in my kitchen, including baking these amazing Kouign Amann, I saw them, pinned them, made them.  I had all the ingredients in, even frozen raspberries so yeah that definitely happened, but unfortunately no picture, they were so scrummy they got snaffled before one could be taken.  Any way... the point is, I then spent an awful long time nosing around The Sugar Hit, (if you haven't visited, you really really should) and came away wanting to make ice cream...


So here it is, the combined result of manically reading The Sugar Hit and scoring a discount Toblerone, my White Chocolate Toblerone Ice Cream...

The method is borrowed from Sarah, who borrowed it from Jeni (whose book is so on my wish list right now!)

100g white Toblerone, melted
60g cream cheese
pinch salt
500ml milk
3 tbsp cornflour
250ml cream
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp glucose
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp honey
75g dark chocolate

Beat cream cheese and salt together in a bowl until smooth, slowly whisk in the melted Toblerone and set aside.

Whisk 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornflour until smooth and set aside.

In a saucepan mix the rest of the milk, cream, sugar, glucose and almond and bring to boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.  Return to the heat and whisk for one minute till the mixture thickens slightly.

Slowly incorporate the milk mixture in to the cream cheese mixture, whisking until smooth and then refrigerate over night.

Just before you churn you mixture, melt the dark chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.  Start to churn the ice cream and when it has started to freeze through (after about 5-10 minutes) stream in the honey, followed after a minute or so, by the melted dark chocolate.  Once churned, empty in to a freezable container, this recipe makes just over one liter, a litter and a chef's perk to be precise!

Freeze and enjoy.


This baby is smooth and creamy, rich and white chocolaty, a little almondy, a little honey-y, with crispy flecks of dark chocolate, hmm mmm!

Let me know what you think if you try making it,


p.s.  Another tick off the list,  I'm on a roll this week!


Sunday, 23 February 2014

super duper new camera strap...

I was given this scarf by my lovely friend Marie for my birthday last year, it's just one of those scarves, you know? The kind that you can wear with everything.  Super pretty... who doesn't love heart shaped polka dots?  And it's big.  You can wrap it round your neck a couple of times.  So warm too.


So yeah... I decided to chop off a bit and turn it in to a camera strap!

I've been wanting to make a strap for my Diana Mini for quite some time, but nothing I'd tried or seen had been right, until I saw this on Pinterest... now I wasn't about to start messing around with fancy clips and bits of leather, but I knew it was totally happening, and I knew just the scarf to use!


I decided that I didn't want to use the whole scarf, so I found a tutorial for a rolled hem, cut off a strip from one of the short sides, hemmed both of the raw edges (I'm pretty impressed with my skills btw, look at that hem up there!) and then tied the smaller of the two pieces to my camera. Easy!


I think it looks fab, the polka dots, or hearta dots if you will, totally match the girly feel of the Dina Mini, it looks so much better than the standard plastic strap, and is way more comfortable to carry around too!

Also... this means another big tick on my what will catey make next? list!


I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend...

Monday, 17 February 2014

After Eight Cookies...

The cookie baking adventure continues, but this time I developed the recipe... So proud!

Any hoo, here we go...UK readers, please imagine this description is being read by the M&S food lady...

A whole after eight mint... surrounded by a soft, fudgey, chocolate chip studded cookie... drizzled with white peppermint chocolate... this is not just any cookie... this is whimsycate's After Eight Cookie...

Oh yeah baby, these cookies are goooood, they make my heart happy!


I love After Eights, in fact I love any kind of mint chocolate and when this idea popped in to my head a few months ago and I knew I had to make them.  There have been many attempts before I got it just right, (which made my workmates and brother in law happy), but now I've got them just right so they can make everyone happy...

These are to the cookie world what the brownie is to the cake world. Indulgent and sexy!

Make them for friends and family, or a new (or old) beau and watch their faces as they fall deeply in love with you!  You're welcome!

Notes
Because this is the first recipe I've worked on like this, I felt like i had a lot to say about it, but if you are as impatient as i am, feel free to skip straight ahead to the recipe...

This is based on the crinkle cookie recipe so when the dough has been in the fridge for an hour feel free to ball it up, roll it in icing sugar and drop it on your baking sheet for yummy little crinkle cookies.
Although I'm British, the recipe is in cup measures, because I find it easier to remember this way, if you don't have cups i urge you to go buy some, it's so much easier... or if you must make these right now... I've added the weight in ounces for you.  
The half a cup of melted butter is really half a block for the UK readers and a stick for us readers, (the first time I tried measuring butter using cups resulted in a frustrating mess).
When I say chocolate chips, I actually just use chopped up chocolate blocks... I'm not sure if it makes a difference.
I had trouble baking more than one sheet of cookies at a time, so I just do them in batches, and put the dough back in the fridge between times.
Aaand finally... I really do recommend using After Eights, I tried a few different home brand supermarket versions and they just weren't as good, not only in flavour but in performance too, the minty middle ended up on the outside!


Ingredients
1/2 cup of butter melted
1 cup of soft brown sugar (6oz)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of cocoa powder (2oz)
1 1/3 cups plain flour (7oz)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3/4 cup mixed white and dark chocolate chips (4.5oz)
A box of after eight mints (you can eat the leftovers!)

For the drizzle
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (3oz)
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Method
Makes 15 - In a bowl mix the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and peppermint until combined then stir in the cocoa powder, flour and mixed chocolate chips, use a sturdy spoon as the resulting mixture is quite tough!
Once everything is stirred in thoroughly, pop in the fridge for an hour or more.

After an hour put the oven on 350F / 180C / gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Get your now hopefully hard cookie dough out of the fridge and shape two teaspoon sized lumps in to flat squares slightly larger than your after eight, place the mint between them and being careful not to crack it, smoosh the dough securely together around the sides.  Place the cookie on the sheet and repeat leaving about 1 inch between the cookies.

Cook for 10-12 minutes until the edges are set and the middle still looks ever so slightly under.  Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

When the cookies are completely cool put the oil, peppermint and white chocolate in a bowl and cook in the microwave for 30 second bursts until melted then drizzle over the cookies.

Store in the fridge or a sealed box, for up to a week.

Enjoy!


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I spent my weekend pottering about with my my hubby and my best friend, who drove 3 hours in the pouring rain to come cheer me up, she earned her title!  I'm definitely on the way to OK.

In other news, you may or may not have noticed that I've started to use capital letters in their correct place, I had an odd prejudice against them, but just like my prejudice against gold jewelry, one day it just went away, so now I have both capital letters and a gold wedding ring!

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I hope you've all had a good weekend, please let me know what you think if you try out my cookie recipe...


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

pottering...

"...to busy oneself in a desultory though agreeable manner..."

This is a bit of an odd rambley post, but then I've been in a bit of an odd rambley way recently.

Things in my little world have been confusing and scary, there have been appointments, tests, and tablets to take, a lot of waiting and unanswerable questions, but this short chapter of life is nearly over and i'm OK.  Or at least i will be, I just need to get through the next few weeks and things will start to feel better, we'll be on to a new chapter.

I've been trying to keep myself busy, to take my mind off my troubles: pottering around in the kitchen, doing bits and bobs of housework, rearranging cupboards, making plans, thinking, dreaming, noticing...


On Thursday nights I've been attending a pottery class, it's fun, I learn new things, meet new people and for two hours a week I get to forget everything else that is going on in my life.  Although I have some way to go, each odd misshaped piece that comes of the kiln makes me happy.

These are the pieces that I made and finished last term: the little pot above is the first thing I threw on the wheel, I love that glaze, it's cream stoneware on top of brown, i used wax resist to create the stripes where the brown shows through.  I gave it to my mum at Christmas as a salt pot (with home made pomegranate salt), hopefully by next Christmas i'll have something a little less... dumpy to give her!


This is my kitchen window sill... you can see a slab pot that i'm using as a planter for my supermarket herb pots, a tiny rough pot made from leftover clay, that I use for my opal engagement ring when i'm washing up and another dumpy pot that i'm using as a tray for my mini daffodils.

I love those mini daffodils, they were only 66p in Morrisons, and watching them grow over the last few weeks has brought my a little joy every day, so when I saw them on sale again this week i snapped up another pot.


Strangely, although I've been able to enjoy the pretty yellow blooms of the daffodils in a relatively short time, watching the painfully slow appearance and growth of these teeny amaryllis shoots has brought me more joy, oh boy has it, i'm not sure how i'll cope when it finally flowers... in a whole 10-12 weeks!


This is the other end of my window sill, there's our cactus, he's a big old thing, passed on to us by family friends, we're not the best at looking after him, he madly spawns babies when he's unhappy, but occasionally when we get it right we are rewarded by beautiful purple flowers, long elegant trumpets that appear and disappear within a few days.  Tucked behind him you can see the propagator...


I riffled through the seed tin yesterday looking for seeds that could be planted in February, i had a need to plant something, to have something else growing in my house.

For some reason we have lots of seeds, even though we haven't attempted to grow anything since 2011... in 2012 we had the excuse of the wedding, last year we were just lazy... but hopefully this year there will be something green growing in the green house.


I chose these aubergine and rainbow blend tomatoes, two vegetables that we like and eat often.  Three rows of seeds in the propagator, one of tomatoes, (shown above) sown in a drill, two of the aubergine, lightly covered by compost.  the soil should be kept damp and hopefully I'll see some wee seedlings appear in 10-14 days... I'm looking forward to it :)


So, pottering, pottery and potting, these are the things I've been filling my days with...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

One Little Month...January

 brunch, fringe, gerkins, amarylis, roses,
graze, morning, Arco, cookies.

One Little Month is about the little things that made me happy during the last month.

January was about comfort food, new growth and dark mornings.

I hope that you had something to make you smile too...


Saturday, 25 January 2014

mocha cookies...


My love for cookies has grown exponentially over the last couple of months, I blame Pinterest... i'm not sure how i'm supposed to resist pinning all those delicious recipes, and then of course I have to make them, it would be rude not to!

This recipe is from one of my new favourite blogs how sweet eats, yummy food, beautiful photography, written with humour and with an awesome dose of real life thrown in for getting-to-know-you good measure, it's a real treat of a blog.


These cookies are chewy in the middle, crisp at the edges, with a rich deep mocha taste, a super shot of caffeine and chock full of caramelly white chocolate chunks.

Jessica states that she isn't a coffee lover, so I imagine using her suggested amount of coffee powder would give only a mild flavour, so for a real big coffee kick, i added a lot more to mine, double in fact, i l.o.v.e. coffee!


(I've added in the recipe below as it was originally written, only changing up the amount of coffee and the particularly American terms for the British equivalents.)

Ingredients

1/2 cup of butter
  3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cups of flour
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
4 tablespoons coffee powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of white chocolate chips

Recipe

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy.  Add flour, cocoa powder, coffee powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix until combined.

Fold in chocolate chips.  Roll in to balls and set on baking sheet.

Bake at gas mark 4 for 8-10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Keep for up to a week in an airtight container - if you have that much will power!


The cookie baking adventure continues... I'm working on a recipe of my own, (although there is probably a version of it floating around the interwebs already) it's not quite right yet but I'll post the recipe when I work out the kinks and finally hit the jackpot, until then, I'll just have to keep working my way through all the prototypes - s.h.a.m.e!