Monday, 22 September 2014

Cupcakes for Pinnies & Petticoats 2nd Birthday Party

Can it really be two whole years since I headed along to meet up with a bunch of cake loving strangers with only my cake pops for protection? How quickly time passes when you're stuffing your face and making new cakey friends. For Pinnies & Petticoats second birthday the theme was 'Party Food'. As it was also National Cupcake Week and I'd been send some related products to try out it would have been rude to not make some. 

OXO sent me a cupcake corer (RRP £6), cupcake icing knife (RRP £4.50) and Baker's duster wand (RRP £10) And asked me to choose a naturally flavoured icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs. I was very impressed with the wide range of flavours but couldn't decide between Salted Caramel and Lime & Coconut so asked them to choose for me. They must have had the same dilemma as they sent me both.

With cupcakes baked it was time to put the corer to the test so I could fill them with Mackays Lime Curd. Mixed results unfortunately. Not sure if I just didn't have the knack but whilst the device cut a lovely round hole it didn't remove the core and I had to resort to a teaspoon for that bit. Any tips most welcome on what I did wrong?
Icing next. You use the flavoured sugar to make butter icing jut as you would regular icing sugar. One made I spread it on with the icing knife. This was a big success and I can see this wee utensil becoming a much used piece of kit in my kitchen. Toasted coconut finished them off. 
With my trusty cupcake carrier and a cupcake display stand borrowed from a friend I headed off to Pinnies and Petticoats. A disappointing low turnout for our birthday meet but there was definitely quality over quantity and it was lovely to get a proper chat with all of the bakers who did make it along.
Black Forest Fruit Brownies
Prosciutto, goats' cheese and asparagus rolls
Mary Berry's Chocolate Cake 
Jam Tarts with homemade Bramble Jelly
Mini Summer Fruit Pavlovas
Pistachio Meringues and Orange Meringues
Lime & Coconut Cupcakes
Olive Tapenade Pinwheels
Peanut Butter Squares
Party Hedgehog & Top Hats

A fantastically tasty selection of cakes and bakes. I will admit to eating more of my fair share of the party hedgehog. I cannot resist a cheese and pickled onion combo on a cocktail stick. My cupcakes went down really well and there was lots of interest form fellow bakers in the concept and taste of the flavoured icing sugar. 
Our next meet is scheduled for Wednesday 22nd October with a "Farewell to GBBO" theme. The venue is Rosie Thistles Tearoom and you can find all the info on our Facebook event page. I am absolutely loving this theme and it's the night before my birthday! I've already started pondering over my choice of bake and at the moment a filled centerpiece loaf, mini pear pies and savoury parcels are all in the running. Suffice to say that I will most definitely not be attempting a Swedish Princess Cake or Baked Alaska!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Wild Rose Escapes, Prehistoric Cookery - Day 2

The second day of our Prehistoric Cookery Course at Wild Rose Escapes. Read my first post here for day one with Pit Roasting, Pot Boiling and more. Sunday morning, the sun was shining on the Highlands and we headed down to the riverside to do a wee bit of foraging for spring greens. Could there possibly be a more idyllic setting?
Our main meal was to be Clay Baked Mackerel. This was stuffed with our foraged sorrel, garlic, butter and seasoning before being wrapped in hay and reeds. 
Then came the messy (and fun) bit. Covering it all up with clay. Much trickier than you would imagine. It would have made a wonderful Generation Game challenge.
Our parcels of fish were placed on stones around the fireside where we kept an eye on them and turned them around every so often to ensure even cooking. 
Time for a mid morning snack. Foraged flowers this time. Gorse and Violet combined with honey, flour, eggs and milk to make beautiful looking and tasting pancakes.
Flatbreads with Wood Sorrel were also cooked on the hot stones around the fire. A precarious balancing act to get them close enough to the heat without falling into the ashes.
Throughout our weekend, in adiition to forming friendships with Rosie and Alex, their daughter Thora and baby Martha we also bonded with their menagerie of animals. An honourable mention has to go to Mary a rather special - in all senses of the word - chicken. 
Time to crack open the clay and reveal our Sunday lunch. In addition to the clay baked mackerel we'd also cooked some up on a cast iron pot with bulgar wheat and greens. This was served up in the roundhouse along with our flatbread and Nettle Beer to wash it all down.
Such a wonderful setting for Sunday lunch complete with candles burning above us in the candelabra. Our plates were scraped clean before being thrown in the fire along with our fish bones.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye. We had had an absolutely fantastic weekend, learnt so much and thoroughly enjoyed the whole prehistoric experience from start to finish. Rosie and Alex were passionate, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and the perfect hosts. We left armed with a info pack of recipes and information on fire lighting, edible wild plants and how to build a pit oven. But most of all we left with wonderful memories and new found friends. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

2014 - A Summer of Food and Fun

We had a fantastically busy summer and managed to squeeze in a lot of Food and Fun along the way. Our first two weeks were spent holidaying in Italy but once back home there were still lot of adventures to be had...

Muddy Boots
We had a fantastic day in Fife at Muddy Boots. Farm shop, cafe, play area, pig racing, soft play, duck racing, picnic areas, grass sledging, zorbing, jumping pillows, quad train, welly boot dogs and lots more! Totally recommend it for a fun filled visit.

Hot Air Balloon
After close to two years of trying and numerous cancellations we finally got up into the skies in a big red balloon. An amazing experience flying over FyvieCastle and the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside. Well worth the wait in the end. A fantastic adventure from start to finish - one more scored off the bucket list.

Kyle's Birthday
My baby boy turned 12. How is that even possible?! With no kitchen he cooked himself an alfresco Birthday breakfast of Pancakes, Bacon and Maple Syrup. His sophisticated tastes in birthday cake came in the form of macarons from Almondine. Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Balsamic, Raspberry, Lemon, Passion Fruit, Strawberries & Cream.

Commonwealth Games
We spent a fantastic three days in Glasgow taking in the sights and sounds of the Commonwealth Games. Gymnastics at the Hydro where we witnessed a Scottish Gold Medal. The final night of the Athletics at Hampden complete with Usain Bolt and the somewhat soggy end of the Women's and the start of the Men's Cycling Road Races followed by a late lunch on the way home at Gloagburn Farm Shop

Black Isle Show
A visit 'home' for The Black Isle Show. It's the local agricultural show where I was brought up and has always been a much looked forward to annual event. Plenty to see and do and lots of tasty goodies at the food fair. Lovely to catch up with my fishbox friends from Coast & Glen

Belladrum Festival
Lots of fun at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. We've been going from this start but this year splashed out on a Tipi and did it in style and comfort. Glamping is definitely the way forward. Not sure I'll be able to go back to slumming it now. There was a fantastic choice of food (and drink!) on offer throughout the weekend Some of it cooked up by the happy campers at our Tipi.

Glenbervie Flower Show
I'm often a Pipe Band Widow during the summer as Foodie Loon plays the pipes with Newtonhill Pipe Band. Boy has now joined on the Snare Drum and girl is mastering the Chanter. One of my first ever blog posts was about The Great Glenbervie Bake Off. It's always a fun event to tag along to and see all the exhibits of baking, preserves, fruit and vegetables.

Fly Fishing on the River Dee
I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever attempt at Fly Fishing on the River Dee. Alas no beginners luck but it was an amazing experience. Wonderful setting, mesmerising water, great hospitality in the bothy and only a touch of fisherman's arm the next day. The consolation prize of a whole smoked salmon was most welcome.

Lonach Highland Gathering & Games
Another event which I've blogged about in the past. The Lonach is a highland games like no other. The historic Parade of the Lonach Highlanders is a sight to behold. They had been marching since 8am with six official stops for a dram and goodness knows how many unofficial ones. The corporate hospitality was fantastic and both the big and little kids were thoroughly impressed by the amazing skill of the balloon modeler. A grand day out which provided a fitting end to the summer holidays.