Apologies for not being around as often as I’d like. These fruit tartlets taken from the July issue of Waitrose Food magazine were made and shot some weeks ago but life seems so easily to get in the way of blogging these days. My weekends are peppered with DIY and littered with chores so the baking and shooting doesn’t always happen when I’d like it to. These tarts were delicious even if they did take me most of the day to make.
I had a small glut of home grown courgettes recently so happened upon this Georgina Fuggle recipe for courgette, ricotta & mint parcels when googling recipes to use up vegetables. They were so quick and easy to make for my barbecue at the weekend they may well replace my standard quiche as a vegetarian side. The flavours were quite mild but nice and refreshing with the hint of mint. Hopefully my dozens of green tomatoes will ripen soon and I will be bringing you tomato recipes then!
The last weekend of July marked my Granma’s 80th birthday so a few weeks ago I set about making a gardening themed cake that could hopefully withstand travelling 310 miles to Cornwall in two trains, a plane and a car. I hadn’t intended to blog this birthday cake but took some pictures before it made its epic journey just in case and I do get asked for celebration cake recipes so here is the BBC Good Food recipe I always use. I have a increased the quantities by 1/5 below to make a slightly deeper cake as I was concerned about the number of guests increasing once I’d bought the cake board and box. This 8″ cake fed 28 with party sized slices cut in a controversial grid pattern.
I haven’t gone into great detail with the sugar craft work as I’m not an expert and the recipe is long enough already! Tutorials on splitting cakes, crumb coating, applying sugar paste and making decorations can all be found on Youtube or google which I where I learnt everything I know. The only thing I would say is never store a sugar paste covered cake in an airtight container or in the fridge. It will sweat and no one wants a sweaty cake no matter how pretty it looks.
Rum babas are a bit of a labour of love but so worth it. A common supermarket dessert of the 80’s they have disappeared seemingly without trace these days so I had to start making them. This Phil Vickery recipe is no longer available online but it has given me failsafe babas for 6 or more years now and the splashed and stained print out is getting harder to read so I thought I’d better immortalise the recipe now.
Essentially rum babas are a sweetened bread dough bathed in a rum syrup until swollen and heavy. You can top them with plain or sweetened cream and I opted for juicy Kentish cherries over glace ones. I make the recipe below and freeze most of them before their rum bath then defrost them when required and make up the rum syrup and soak overnight ahead of the meal.
Last weekend I went to Faversham Night Market held just after the summer solstice and was inspired by all the wonderful tarts and savouries on sale. The following day I set about trying to make a healthier tart so made a few tweaks to cut calories from this googled recipe for Cheesy leek tart. I skipped the cream and used some creme fraiche left over from last weeks almond cake with milk and cut down the cheese quota by a third.
The resulting tart was delicious even if I do say so myself and went rather well with a few jersey royals and salad.
After the disaster that befell the UK on Friday, there was nothing else to do but bake. I had been meaning to try out this Dan Lepard recipe for toasted almond madeira cake for a while and the end of last week seemed like the right time to give what seemed a very comforting and wintery cake a try.
If I’m honest I thought it would be a bit moister and denser than it was so may try it with ground almonds instead of toasted flaked ones next time. It was still delicious with a cup of tea on a rainy summers afternoon. Dan said the method of mixing in half of the flour before adding the eggs results in a finer crumb texture and it definitely does make a difference.
At the beginning of June I went over to Spain and spent a few days in the Galician region. One of the highlights for me was a visit to Mercado de Abastos, the food market in Santiago de Compostela. Being one of the few times I have taken my camera out of the house I know I need more practice at shooting food in the wild as it were but was quite pleased with the shots I captured. The market is housed in fabulous cool granite avenues which was built in 1873.
Last time I was in Galicia I was fascinated by the Pulpeira stands. A traditional Galician dish where octopus is boiled in large pots, fished out with a hook, cut into slices on a wooden serving plate and then seasoned with olive oil and paprika.
Tetilla is a Galician artisan cheese made from cows milk. Tetilla is Galician for ‘small breast’ which describes the pear shaped cone of cheese. This cheese has a pale yellow, thin, natural rind or sometimes no rind can be seen at all. Its texture is soft, thick and smooth with scatterings of air pockets. Yellowish ivory in colour Tetilla has a creamy mouth feel with buttery, slightly bitter and tangy flavours surrounding the palate. The maturing, which takes place between 10 and 30 days, happens in the hot and humid climate of Galicia.
With Galicia being positioned in the NW corner of Spain there is a lot of coastline so fish and seafood appear abundantly on menus. There is a huge selection of the freshest fish and seafood at the market.
Padrón peppers or pementos de Padrón are probably my favourite food from this region. They are a variety of pepper from the Padrón region in the province of A Coruña. The peppers are customarily fried in oil and sprinkled with sea salt and served as tapas.
They are small peppers (about 5 cm long), with a colour ranging from bright green to yellowish green, and occasionally red. While their taste is usually mild, a minority (10-25%) are particularly hot. Whether a given pepper ends up being hot or mild depends on the amount of water and sunlight it receives during its growth, in addition to temperature. There is a saying that ‘some are hot and some are not’ as you cannot tell from size or colour which are the hot ones.
On the outside edge of the market is a huge range of fresh fruit and vegetables.
One of the avenues in the food market built in 1873. It is the second most visited sight in the city after the cathedral.
After working up an appetite taking in the sights and smells, we enjoyed lunch at Abastos 2.0 who source all their ingredients from the market and change their menu daily based on what is available that day. Below is a seafood and salmon starter that was served with crackers and guacamole.