Archives for category: Uncategorized

It’s been a while since I posted as part of ‘The Gallery’, but I am making an effort to balance my life and that includes balancing my blog, too.

I had grand intentions of documenting my California adventures over the Christmas holidays, but due to one thing and another my grand ideas faded away. When I saw the theme for this week’s Gallery I knew I had to showcase our trip to Muir Woods, one of the greenest places I know.

The Redwoods are one of California’s natural wonders and the lush climate of the coast keeps everything green. If you are ever in the San Francisco Bay area, Muir Woods is definitely a place to visit.

P1080613

P1080646

P1080623

P1080663

The Gallery

Gallery logo

It’s that time of year when we decide what to do and where to go on holiday. Do we go away, do we stay local?

One place that sprang to mind was a camping holiday in France. Having visited there a twice in the past few years to see family, we have fallen in love with the Brittany countryside and especially the food from the region.

One of my favourite memories of our first trip to the Brittany region of France was when Martin’s uncle, Philippe, took us to the Chanson in Nantes. That evening, we went to a small restaurant that specialised in galettes and crepes. I’d never had galettes before, but they have quickly become one of my favourite things to have when we go to France. Martin and I loved them so much that we purchased Farine de blé noir, the flour that makes them so special, and brought it back to England so we could try making them ourselves. (Turns out, it’s just buckwheat flour, so we can still make them anytime we like even though our special French flour has long gone.)

Since we’d been talking of France so much, we decided to make a special meal of galette complète to remind us of our visits to the galette place in Nantes (I can’t recall the name of the amazing restaurant) and also to the Le Chat Botté in Clisson.

45050_431673533623_7779723_n

To make a special meal for two, you will need:
For the galette/crepe -

  • 145g Buckwheat flour
  • pinch sea salt (sel de Guérande, if you’ve got some!)
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml semi-skimmed milk

Filling for the complète:

  • ham
  • strong cheese like cheddar, comte or Gruyere, grated
  • 1 egg for each person
    • In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, salt
    • Make a well and add the egg and a bit of milk to form a smooth paste.
    • Then add the rest of the milk, mixing thoroughly.
    • The batter should be smooth and have a ribbon-like consistency.
    • Leave to sit at least 30 minutes.
    • In the meantime, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Ladle a spoonful of batter into the centre of the pan and tilt it so that the mixture spreads easily over the hot surface. Make sure that you have a very thin layer of batter.
    • Cook the galette for about 2 minutes or until the edges curl up and the bottom begins to brown.
    • Flip and cook the other side. Continue this process until you’ve used up all your batter. Makes approx 4 galette/crepes.
    • To fill, melt a pat of butter in the skillet and heat the galette on one side for about 15 seconds.
    • Flip the galette over and scatter almost all of the cheese around the crepe. Let the cheese melt then add the ham, sprinkling on the rest of the cheese.

P1080810

    • Crack the egg over the ham. Gently fold each side of the galette so that the filling is sealed. If the yolk doesn’t seem cooked enough, break so that it runs slightly, and cover with a lid until the egg is cooked.

P1080812

  • Alternatively, to cheat… scatter the cheese over the galette, add the ham and then add a sunny-side up fried egg on top, fold the sides of the galette in… et voila! You don’t have to worry if your egg cooked or not.

P1080814

Serve with ice cold brut cidre, from Brittany of course.

We’re going to keep researching our holiday, in fact a few places have caught our eye like Thomson AlFresco La Grande Metarie campsite in Carnac, but until we make it back to Brittany, we’ll have to keep the memories alive with the taste of our home made galettes.

*This is a sponsored post, although the recipe (and opinion) is my own*

It’s been a while since I’ve rocked the cupcakes on the blog, and since it’s what my blog is named after it seems only fitting they get a feature.

My colleague’s beautiful wife celebrated her 30th bday this weekend, and to help with the festivities I was commissioned to make cupcakes.

For this occasion I created lemon cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting.

The cupcake and buttercream frosting recipes were courtesy of my trusted Primrose Baker Cupcake book, but nothing beats the marshmallow frosting recipe from Nigella’s How to Be A Domestic Goddess (Autumnal Birthday Cake Frosting).

I dolled up these tasty treats with lemon slices and sparkles and thought they turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Cupcakes

I hope the birthday girl thought so too… Happy Birthday, Helen!

20121202-100448.jpg

For more Silent Sunday treats – head to Mocha Beanie Mummy

Silent Sunday

I can’t believe we are in the home stretch to 2013. 2012 has passed way too fast for my liking. Looking back through the photos which have documented this year, I haven’t been baking or blogging about baking nearly enough.

And though this has been a recurring sentiment, I’m getting back in the proverbial (blogging) saddle. Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. There’s going to be a whole lot of baking, eating, sharing and best of all a big trip to the motherland.

Stay with me, dear readers… but in the meantime, here’s a taste of what went on in the downtime:

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge in honor of the Diamond Jubilee. Recipe from Primrose Bakery Baking Book, although I used fresh strawberries in place of jam and Earl Grey/Lemon whipping cream. This was my first go at the traditional British cake. I was happy with the way it turned out and will most likely bake it again when tradition calls.

Hepburns

My baking book of the year is definitely ‘Baked In America‘ – maybe it’s because I’m American, but mostly because this is one AMAZING baking book. Recipes from this book are featured many times throughout the blog in 2012 and will continue to be featured in the future. One day I’ll finally make it to Chiswick to Outsider Tart and hopefully meet my baking heroes – the two Davids.

The brownies above are called Hepburns (Kate, rather than Audrey) and probably the best brownie recipe around. They make ideal treats for any occasion – school fetes, birthdays or general parties.

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake brownies

Brownie tower

These Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Brownies were made especially for my mother in law’s un-birthday party. As her party food was served buffet-style, I wanted to make a special desserty treat that attendees could eat as little or as much as they like. So these brownies were cut into 1.5 in squares and served on cake stands mixed with the Hepburns featured above.

Orange polenta cake

Another series of books which have inspired breakfasts, dinners and baking alike are the Leon books. The Orange Polenta Cake is from Leon – Baking & Puddings, book three, as featured in the ‘Teatime’ section. This cake is an ideal accompaniment to Earl Grey tea and also gluten-free!

Trish's Two Cents

Martin has been working on building a set of speakers over at his dad’s house. I like to take a baked treat when we go over. One weekend in September, Trish’s Two-Cents from Baked In America caught my eye and I had to give it a go. This is the best ‘pound-cake’ type cake I have ever had. It is definitely going to be in regular rotation for when cakes are called for.

Pumpkin pie

And last, but not least, in the baking recap is Pumpkin Pie. This is a recipe traditionally served at Thanksgiving, in fact was featured in my Thanksgiving blog post from 2011, but I am not celebrating Thanksgiving this year so it was moved to Bonfire Night. While this recipe is from the back of a Libbys can, it is home-made with love and reminds me of autumnal days past.

Watch this space for Christmas treats to come soon…

Skillet

Love All Blogs

Cocoa Boutique, a luxury artisan chocolate club, recently launched their website and I was asked to test out their ‘Tasting Box’. Never one to turn down chocolate, I agreed.

The box arrived on my doorstep and The Whiteman 3 tasting team was off. Inside the beautifully packaged box were 15 different varieties of chocolates, an letter introducing the chocolatiers who created the tasty delights and a menu describing each chocolate and which chocolatier made them. If you’re into your chocolatiers, this tasting box featured Barry Colenso who was on the team that made Kate and Wills ‘groom’ wedding cake… fancy! Additionally on the menu, Cocoa Boutique included a score card for each chocolate. Like wine tasting, chocolate has its own subtle flavours, notes and textures, this was a way to keep track of all of them.

Cocoa Boutique Package

Each evening over a week, as an after dinner treat, M and I tucked into the chocolates, studying the menu to see which ones we wanted to try first.

I went for the Rum Cafe Cream a blend of milk and dark chocolate with an infusion of rum. I gave this one an 8 out of 10 as I felt it could have leaned more toward the dark chocolate side, but that might be personal preference.

Next up was the Cocoa Dusted Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel. There were three included, but I just tried one. This was something very special. I gave it a 9 out of 10.

Other highlights included the ‘Pamela’ which had painted flakes of pink and gold on top and the Dark Chocolate Coffee Beans.

As far as a box of chocolates goes, this is a very special treat. The presentation is amazing and it is a fun way to try different varieties you wouldn’t normally get in your everyday selection box from the supermarket. It would make an ideal treat for a dinner party as it lends itself to discussion and conversation about chocolate.

Box of Chocolates

Being a self professed connoisseur of chocolate, my only critique is that I think the chocolates could be a bit more adventurous. Who knows, maybe in future Tasting Boxes, Cocoa Boutique will push the boat out and include some wild combinations! However, this was an introduction Tasting Box to a new company, I think they got it spot on.

If you would like to try your own Tasting Box or become part of the artisan chocolate club, Cocoa Boutique are offering an introductory price of £9.95 or you could enter to win free chocolates. To keep up to date on all things Cocoa Boutique, you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

**This is a review. The Tasting Box was sent to me free of charge, but all views are my own**

My son is very expressive and his emotions run high even at such a young age. If he’s happy, he’s all jazz hands and hugs. Alternatively, if he’s in a mood the situation ends up looking like this.

Emo G

I’m not breaking out the Thursday or Taking Back Sunday tunes just yet, but we’ll see what happens when he hits the pre-teen and teenage years… (hah!)

For more fabulous photos, check out:

Hands up, who loves chocolate? *hand raised high up* Yep, I love chocolate. I was also lucky enough to be approached by a new chocolatier Chocolate by Genevie to review chocolates available from her new online shop.

Last week, I was welcomed home by a very pretty package. Thankfully, my husband saved the unboxing until I got home from work.

Pretty package

shiny box

unboxing chocolate

Inside were eight beautifully crafted chocolates.

Eight is enough

close up chocolate

Not only did these chocolates look beautiful, they tasted beautiful. Just rich, indulgent cocoa each teamed with pistachio, marzipan, coffee, or just more chocolate ganache. This ‘Silver Box 8 Chocolates’ is only available from the website for £8.99 and would make a perfect gift for someone who enjoys chocolate. Thanks, Genevie!

There are a few competitions from other bloggers to win Chocolates by Genevie, if I were you I’d make sure to enter!

*I was sent a box of chocolates for review, but these thoughts are my own.*

In the baking world, whoopie pies have been all the rage recently. Having tried dried out and tasteless store bought versions back home in the US, I scoffed at this phenomena when it crossed the pond. I thought, “Why would people get into this ‘treat’ when it wasn’t all that tasty?”.
But then after reading about the origin of whoopies in Baked In America, I decided to see what the fuss was all about.

We’re big fans of gingery type cakes so the Shoo-Fly Whoopies recipe seemed the right place to start. Full of goodness like ginger and black treacle, I was suddenly coming around to the deliciousness that would be the whoopie pie.

Black treacle

If you’re not familiar, whoopies are like big cakey cookie sandwiches, filled with a cloud like creamy filling. They can be made into all sorts of different flavor combinations. The Shoo-Fly Whoopie is a take on the traditional ‘Shoo-Fly Pie’ hailing from Pennsylvania Amish country, also where the whoopie pie is said to come from.

Having lived in England for nearly eight years, I have become interested in the origins of regional baked treats and local traditional dishes. Finding one that celebrated a local tradition in the US was quite exciting. I’m not aware that my hometown in California has a specialty, unless you count chain restaurants… hah!

Whoopies pre oven

Big cake cookies

The recommended filling for the Shoo-Fly Whoopies was a caramel frosting. All I can say – it was YUMMY!

Sugar for frosting

Frosting filling

My whoopies turned out GIANT sized, which I suppose is only a problem if you are watching your caloric intake. I have since halved the size of scoop to make much smaller whoopies so they are still an indulgent treat, but with less guilt.

Whoopies piled up high

Finished whoopie pies

Have you tried homemade whoopies yet? They are in a different league to anything you might find in the store, now matter how much the label says you can taste the difference.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,756 other followers

%d bloggers like this: