I was invited to a friends house for a Girls Night In on Friday night but with one condition. "Claire you have to bring me olive penguins! Deal??" Some people just aren't happy with a bottle of plonk. I've made quite a few batches of Pingu's over the last couple of years and they were a huge hit at my 40th Bithday Cocktail and Canapes party with one little chap stowing away in a friend's pocket so she could recreate them herself.
They are admittedly a wee bit fiddly to do but the cuteness makes it all worthwhile. Ideally you need jumbo black olives for the body and smaller ones for the heads. Slit the body and use a knife to stuff it with cream cheese and a damp piece of kitchen roll to remove any smears. The beaks are a wedge cut out of a slice of carrot which then forms the feet. A cocktail stick brings everything together.
I've not tried it, but if for some reason you don't like olives you might be able to do something similar with black grapes. I even wheeled them out in a festive version for our Pinnies and Petticoats Christmas Party. Tomberries and piped Philladelphia formed their Santa hats.
Toffee, Fudge, Tablet and the likes is just not something that is in my culinary repertoire. Its one of those scary things that I fear would just go horribly wrong. At an end of term soiree with Rock Choir one of the members made the most amazing Baileys Fudge. She assured me it was really very simple and was happy to share her recipe. I decided it would be perfect for the School Fair Cake and Candy Stall. Alas it all went a bit pete tong. Without a sugar thermometer I over boiled it and got Baileys Toffee. Just call me Willy Wonka.
Second attempt, with a borrowed sugar thermometer form F worked a treat. This is definitely the way to go. Going to have to get me one especially as it will also come in handy for preserve making.
120ml evaporated milk
200g white sugar
200g soft brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml Baileys (plus a couple of glasses for yourself...)
200g icing sugar
In a heavy bottomed pan put the evaporated milk, butter, both sugars and salt and heat to melt. Keep stirring as you increase heat to boiling point.Stir constantly until your sugar thermometer reaches between 230-240F (soft ball)
Take off heat to cool for a minute or two before stirring in the Baileys and the vanilla extract. Then slowly sift in icing sugar in portions into the pan stirring thoroughly each time.
Once icing sugar all in stir thoroughly then transfer into a lined tin. Leave parchment over the side which makes it easier to lift out. Leave in the fridge for an hour to set.
Cut into squares and eat (ideally with a cup of Baileys Coffee...)
Finally a recipe that I bookmarked a couple of months ago but never got round to making. Chicken Skin Popcorn by Nigel Slater. I am a big lover of popcorn and go for savoury every time. I also have a real guilty food pleasure in eating crispy chicken skin so for me this was a match made in heaven.
It was so good. Buttery, crispy, salty indulgence. Great to accompany an afternoon in the sunshine with G&T to wash it down. I tweeted my Popcorn a la Nigel Slater and got a reply from the man himself: Extraordinary. We were eating some chicken popcorn only yesterday. Such fun.
@foodiequine You have made me very happy. That recipe is definitely going in the new book.
— nigel slater (@NigelSlater) May 25, 2013
I'm linking the Popcorn up to the Nigel Slater Dish of the Month Challenge hosted by Farmersgirl Kitchen and A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate. Plenty of inspiration over there if the chicken skin popcorn isn't quite your thing #DishoftheMonth Do let me know if you give the Penguins or the Fudge a go. I do love a nice nibbly bit.