19/04/2014 § Leave a comment
15/04/2014 § 2 Comments
Shopping list (from Aldi):
- unsmoked gammon joint (small)
- pasty vegetables: 2 leeks, 6 new potatoes, 1 sweet potato, 1 large carrot
- 1 pack smoked mackerel fillets
- cucumber (though you’ll only use about 1″ thinly sliced)
- 1 tub low fat cream cheese
- large knob of butter
- 1 lemon
- 2 packs bruschetta (tomato & garlic varieties)
- 1 tub pate – whatever you fancy
- 1 tub olives
- pack cocktail tomatoes
- 1 packet of wholemeal bread rolls
- 1 pack pastrami beef
- spring onions and iceberg or other lettuce/watercress
- 1 bag tortilla chips
- 1 bar chocolate (I prefer milk)
- 1 tub double cream
- 1 pack raspberries
- icing sugar – you’ll only use about 2 oz
- fairy cakes ingredients: soft margarine, eggs, SR flour, caster sugar, icing sugar
- treats – we had chocolate buttons & bunnies, mini eggs, mini marzipan eggs and a couple of packets of fav biscuits (I love pink wafers)!
Shopping list from AN Other supermarket:
- 2 packs Jus Rol shortcrust pastry in a block (not pre-rolled)
I’ve tried supermarket own brand pastry and found it’s greasy and generally ugh. Although slightly more expensive, Jus Rol is the best I’ve used. I keep a couple of blocks in the freezer, ready for emergency pasty-making!
I’ve listed fairy cake and pasty vegetables as you’ll probably have some of them already, as I did when I investigated the back of the larder and veg rack! Cocktail sticks are also fun though I forgot them and we used our fingers!
Preparing the buffet (morning) all this took me about an hour:
- Put ham on to boil gently for an hour or so. I usually soak the ham first, but there’s no need if time if short. When cooked, fish out the gammon joint and KEEP THE LIQUID in the saucepan.
- Put a selection of veg through slicing attachment in food processor or slice by hand so they all cook quickly. I added a sprinkle of herbs too. Let them boil in the ham liquid until cooked, then strain and leave on one side to cool.
- Take shortcrust pastry out of fridge to reach room temperature.
- Bake fairy cakes – I used a 6 oz/4 egg mixture, but everyone has their favourite recipe so I’ll leave the detail to you. I made 18 cakes but only 16 got to be decorated (BOYS!) I’ll say no more!!! Set cooked cakes aside to cool.
- Chop up the ham into smaller pieces (keep a bit aside to slice for your lunch – it’s delicious) then using blade attachment in food processor, give it a blast. Or chop up into smallish pieces by hand. I like my ham looking like breadcrumbs. Set aside till later.
- Mackerel pate: remove skin and obvious bones. Pop roughly flaked fillets into food processor with blade and whizz. Add half tub cream cheese, 1 tsp mustard and a tbsp of double cream. Add butter and whizz until smooth. Pop pate into a bowl, squeeze in juice of half lemon, generous grinding of black pepper and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover with cling film and pop into fridge.
- Cake icings:
chocolate ganache – melt 200 g chocolate and 200 ml double cream GENTLY over low heat, stirring as you go. When chocolate has melted, whisk thoroughly and pop into basin, covered with cling film for at least 2 hrs (it will set even though it looks runny)
cream cheese icing – whisk remaining half tub cream cheese, drop of double cream and squeeze of lemon with as much icing sugar as you need to make a soft icing (this will also stiffen up a bit in the fridge). Cover and pop into fridge.
Finishing the buffet – start about an hour before:
Preheat oven 200 degrees
- make pasties: combine strained veg and ham in a large bowl and mash up a bit. Adjust seasoning if necessary but it’ll probably be salty enough. Roll out pastry on floured worktop, cut around a small plate then wet the edge of each circle. Pop a dollop of veg/ham mixture into centre then stick together and crimp. Brush with a beaten egg, pop onto non-stick baking tray and cook for about 20 mins (until they smell delicious and look golden brown). Place on cooling rack until you’re ready to stack them up onto a plate.
- decorate fairy cakes: spread half the cakes with chocolate ganache and half with cream cheese icing. Decorate each with a few raspberries and some chocolate buttons. Pop back into fridge until you’re ready to dust them with icing sugar and place on cake stand.
- make rolls using pastrami beef, spring onions, lettuce & watercress – you can find all sorts of other ideas online but we like ours quite plain. Cut each roll in half and stack them up. Cover in cling film until ready to eat.
- pop tortilla chips, olives and mini eggs etc into pretty dishes.
Dressing the table – takes about 10 mins:
- plates, napkins, cocktail sticks for olives
- stack fairy cakes onto stand and add a few chocolate treats inbetween
- spread bought-in pate or mackerel pate onto bruschettas and decorate with half slice of cucumber and a halved olive
- stack up mini pasties and decorate plate with some watercress or cocktail tomatoes
Feed dog then put dog in charge of ‘defence of kitchen’ (against lightning strikes by hungry boys). If dog is already full of food then there’s less chance she’ll pinch anything! Brush hair (mine, not dog), adjust lipstick, remove pinny, change t-shirt and you’re ready to party!
If you’re a good planner, then you could make pasties and cakes well ahead and freeze them. I only decided to do a ‘buffet’ at about 10 am and then went shopping! So I’ve written this post so that I can remember roughly what I did and in what order, even though I made it up as I went along! It all worked out fine, there was plenty for 6 of us. I made 15 mini pasties and they were all devoured!
I guess it would make a good picnic too if you took the pate in tubs and spread it onto bruschettas as and when – yeah – I feel an Easter picnic coming on!
Enjoy the holiday weekend.
10/04/2014 § 6 Comments
there’s lots going on at the moment with celebrations and concerns in equal measure!
Let’s celebrate first with a week in Cornwall ::
It’s our 30th wedding anniversary on 14th April and we’ve decided to spend the whole month of April enjoying trips and jaunts around and about. We gasped as we caught our first glimpse of Porthleven harbour – still no boats. Earlier in the year, winter storms smashed the huge wooden baulks leaving boats unprotected in the inner harbour. Ten sank in the storm and the remaining fishing fleet and pleasure boats were still on land, up on their chocks in the boatyard and harbourside. Hopefully by now, they’re all bobbing about in the harbour enjoying some Spring sunshine.
The Napoleonic cannon still on the edge of the seawall since the waves moved it.
Then Cardiff for a few days …
A wonderful couple of days in Cardiff, at the St David’s Hotel overlooking Cardiff Bay. We boat tripped up the river, instead of catching a bus into the city centre. I shopped till I dropped and we had an amazing time!
We had decided not to buy each other anniversary presents, but to wait until something grabbed both of us. The art deco Smiths clock did! We loved it as soon as we saw it, high up on a shelf in a new vintage shop in Wellfield Road, Cardiff. Now it has pride of place on our mantlepiece, to commemorate our 30 years of marriage.
I then tripped off to Wales, to see Dad – the boys in tow!
Now we’ve an anniversary meal with all 3 of our children to look forward to this weekend and I’m planning a few surprises so will maybe share with you next week, after I’ve surprised them!
I’ve quilt commissions and fairs to plan for but, like a huge dark cloud over 28th April, my wonderful husband is having yet another major operation. Let’s hope the cloud of concern is quickly replaced by a silver lining and lightning recovery.
03/04/2014 § Leave a comment
Not for long – a couple of weeks maybe.
See you soon
21/03/2014 § Leave a comment
A sea-green gossamer thread winds between my needles with silken sheen and breathy touch …
I fell in love with Exmoor as a young girl. I knew the place before I could walk – where the East Lyn meets the West Lyn lies Lynmouth in North Devon – a tiny seaside village forever bound to Lynton, at the top of the hill, by the Cliff Railway and surrounded by the mystical beauty of Exmoor. I must go there again very soon.
There’s lots about the Natural Dye Studio on their website and I can only think that some of the magic of their surroundings is woven into their most beautiful yarns – I can almost feel it when I unwrap a skein of their deliciously dyed – and Exmoor named – yarn.
How I have struggled with beautiful Withypool. I began my search for patterns well before it arrived through the letter box and throughout the lengthy wait for my yarn toys to be delivered just after Christmas. Crochet patterns stacked up in my head, on my laptop and my chair-side table but no matter how I tried, none worked for me on my hook.
I then found the Rill Scarf on Ravelry. Whilst pondering the picture problem in Coventry last week, I began knitting – and just as with my previous attempts – failed! (Not due to the pattern which is well written). In desperation, I cast on just 20 stitches once more and did my own thing …
What do you think? I’m not through my first yarn cake yet, so there’s a way to go but I’m in no rush. Sometimes I’ll snatch just a couple of rows whilst I enjoy a bit of a sit down, sometimes a whole evening – it makes no difference – it grows VERY slowly and I’m not measuring! I shall reach half-way at some point in April – maybe when I’ve just started yarn cake 2.
Will the 2nd half look like the first – more or less – probably!! I haven’t written it down and counting rows is fiendishly difficult. One thing’s for sure – I’m not unravelling it again!! I can’t help thinking about a lacy border, but maybe the simplicity of the wobbly edge (hopefully less wobbly once blocked), will work.
Have you worked with lace yarn that isn’t fluffy? I’m not sure I’m a good enough knitter, really. Yarn with a bit of pile seems to hide a multitude of sins. All I can see are wobbles, when I look at the close-ups – oh dear.
What’s on your needles/hook as Spring arrives?
Enjoy the weekend.
20/03/2014 § Leave a comment
17/03/2014 § 4 Comments
on the spur of the moment!
Yesterday morning, I was up and about by 6 am. A chalk blue, cloudless sky and sunshine beckoned me outside shortly after my morning chores with dogs and duck, and my first cuppa of the day! Eventually, after a mooch around the garden, listening to the birds and spotting ever more blossom on the trees, I headed up to my studio for a spot of early morning quilting! Radio on, I was interested to hear that Skipton had been voted the best place to live in the UK, closely followed by Monmouth and Falmouth. Now, I love Falmouth and we’ll be visiting Cornwall soon, but I haven’t been to Monmouth for a couple of years.
“What’s to stop us?” I thought. One of our lads was at home to do doggy/ducky duties and after a lightning search online, we found a Romantic Sunday night offer at the Kings Head in Ross-on-Wye. We were on the road by 9.30 am and in Monmouth for a light lunch and afternoon stroll.
Then a short trip to Ross where the hotel was marvellous – great atmosphere, very relaxed and lovely food. We’ve just got back home and I feel as though we’ve been away for a week!
This morning, I tripped out after breakfast, camera in hand. I’d spotted a quaint shop front covered in vintage metal advertising signs at Gwalia Stores and wanted to snap it up! Unfortunately, a delivery van was blocking my shot so I waited and waited for him to get on his way. Fifteen minutes later, I ventured into the store to see what he was up to as there was no sign of anything being unloaded.
As I left, I noticed a huddle by the van! “We could be some time, love” they laughed, as I said I’d been waiting for them to move it …
A brilliant way to start the week! It was so lovely to be able to enjoy some freedom and fresh air.
What did you get up to at the weekend?
PS It’s our wedding anniversary next month – 30 years!! So the advertised ‘Romantic Get Away’ seemed appropriate!