Orange & Fennel Storecupboard Macarons

The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit is my new favourite book.
Orange & Fennel Macaron

I bought it back in the summer and I've had it on my bedside table for the last few months.  It is very much a reference book, although the prose is so friendly, that I usually end up reading a few pages further than intended.
Flavour Thesaurus

It's a useful book to have to hand, on evenings when you can't quite think what to do with the ingredients you have in the house (hello, pea & rosemary soup). 

This was also the case when I realised that I'd got the MacTweets 14 deadline wrong by -5 days. Two days before the actual deadline. Putting it another way, one hour after the shops had all closed for Christmas.

Mac Attack

The Lazy Cook: Frozen Berries with White Chocolate Sauce

Following two months of dealing with an intense workload & feeling as though my temples were made of exploding rage, life is going at a slightly less frenetic pace this month. In turn, I'm finding the energy to do something with my evenings, other than stare at the television in a zombified fashion (or on one memorable-for-the-wrong-reasons evening, lying upside-down on the sofa for two hours).

Life always seems better when I have the time and inclination to prepare myself a meal from scratch; even more so when I am able to plan ahead and embellish meals with some finishing touch or other that says, I've made an effort.

I'm also quite likely to go blogging a bit more this month. I am almost certainly participating in this month's MacTweets, which has asked us to create sweet and savoury macarons. The last three or four challenges have been presented on a theme, which I'm not too good at (taste of summer..?).

Maison Cupcake is hosting the inaugural 'Forever Nigella' challenge. My entry for this is cooling on my kitchen counter as I write...

I'm also hoping to get time to enter WFLH's Monthly Mingle, as hosted by Ria's Collection. I have to make a chocolate recipe for Christmas; yes?

But for now, here is a really easy way to poncify ice cream. I have adapted this recipe, because I don't think the cream is necessary, especially when you have ice-cream helping you out in the background. It's a bit of a Nineties throwback, but if Take That can hack it after 15 years in the wilderness, then I think this dessert can make it back into the limelight.

You can use any berries you like, although personally, I would only use raspberries as part of a mix, not by themselves (too sweet with the white chocolate).

Frozen Berries with White Chocolate Sauce (adapted from recipe by Mark Hix)
serves four

100g white chocolate
4 tbsp whole milk
4 handfuls of frozen berries of your choice
Ice cream

Remove the ice cream and the berries from the freezer to thaw for ten minutes before making a start on the sauce.

Place the broken-up chocolate in a small pan with the milk. Gently heat until the chocolate is almost melted.

Whisk the milk and the chocolate together until the sauce comes together.

Take the pan off the heat.

Assemble the ice cream and berries.

Give the sauce a final whisk, then pour over the berries and ice cream before serving.

Cupcake Camp London: How It Went Down

A post of pictures, as I am currently on a drip recovering from a major sugar crash. Cupcake Camp London was simply caketastic.

A somewhat mundane aside, but I must praise the organiser, Daisy Coole, for putting together such a well organised event.
Our Cakes Looked Good & Got Eaten!

Amazing, Inspirational Cakes from Other Cupcake Crazies!

Mary Berry! I Have Been In The Presence of The Cake Queen!

Cake-Related Tombola & Frosting Shots - We Won A Much-Lusted After Cupcake Caddy!

Truly Brilliant Turnout!

Incongruous Celebrity Presence!

Delicious Cakes!

Cake Carnage!
We shall see you next year, Cupcake Camp!

Pink Lemonade & Vanilla Custard Macarons

My best friend in primary school was a girl called Catherine. I have never been able to remember when we first became friends or putting it another way, I can't remember a time when we weren't friends.

Catherine was super-intelligent.  I was better described as bright. Together, we didn't quite fit with the other girls in school, who were mostly into perms, My Little Ponies, picking on the poor kids and giggling about boys. We liked those things too (other than bullying and boys, who quite frankly, were beneath us), but we really preferred creating and becoming immersed in our own world.

Another girl was briefly allowed to enter our universe when we got to Top Infants class.  Rebecca, or Gloworm, as we used to call her (being the nearest we could come to pronouncing her Czech surname which began with a G, plus an oddly popular toy when I was small) was a disruptive influence and was always getting us into trouble. For a while, we delighted in the novelty of flouting authority, but she was soon given short shrift when we discovered that she had slyly been playing us off against each other in an attempt to oust one of us from our group.

Not that we needed our peers to help drive a wedge between us.

The Battle For Toad Hall: A Tale Of Two Toads

Welcome to my sorry Tale Of Two Toads. 

I made a promise to myself that my next post on here would not be recipe or food related.  Unfortunately, I was too tempted by the challenge extended on Amuse Bouche UK's blog to create the Ultimate Toad In The Hole in The Battle For Toad Hall.  

I am very poor at the moment and consequently I've found myself eating a lot of sausages. As much as I love casseroles, I am starting to get sausage fatigue, so I felt that an opportunity to pimp my sausages in a different way couldn't be passed up.

Realising that I was making a dish that should serve two to three people, I reasoned that there may as well be someone present to help reduce my gluttony and cast an independent eye over the finished dish. So I invited one of my friends, D., to help me out.

Prior to the event, I asked her to describe the properties of her ideal Toad:
"My (idea) of a good toad in the hole is light, non greasy with slightly crispy on the outside batter. Good quality sausages. I don’t really mind the ratio of batter to sausages as long as it tastes good and a gravy that’s in between thick & thin.  Don’t want much, hey!?"
Indeed.  Unfortunately the first Toad I made, the one which I had to serve for review, was a humiliating failure.