Monday 25 November 2013

Strawberries from our garden

We are having a great year for strawberries. The ones we can beat Little Miss 4 to that is. I managed to get my hands on these beauties over the weekend. Earlier in the year I weeded the bed, spread some strawberry food and re-mulched with pine needles. This little bit of preparation and some conscientious watering has definitely paid off with plenty of fruit.
Needless to say LM4 made quick work of demolishing them. We had a great afternoon in the sunshine.

Hope your weekend was rosy too!

Monday 18 November 2013

Raspberry Summer Fruit Pavlova

This is a variation on that great New Zealand dessert standby, the pavlova. I love pavlova: so simple, so delicious, and excellent for feeding to gluten free guests, just make sure you use actual corn-flour, not wheaten cornflour. Anyway, inspired by some layered versions I have seen lately, I decided to add some freeze dried raspberry powder into the mix and layer it up with some seasonal strawberries. Baked in a little over 1 and a half hours, it made for a great dinner party dessert. If your a Christchurch resident, you will find the raspberry powder at Rayward Fresh in Harewood.

Raspberry Summer Fruit Pavlova

It all starts with a standard pavlova mix.

6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
2 - 3 tablespoons freeze dried raspberry powder

250ml cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 punnets of strawberries

Preheat the oven to 125deg. C and line a baking sheet with non-stick paper.

Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Ensure the bowl and whisk attachment are spotlessly clean. Any grease will stop the egg whites from foaming up.

Combine the caster sugar and cornflour.
Add tablespoon lots of the sugar mix into the egg whites and beat well after each addition. The mixture should be smooth, glossy and thick enough to keep its shape when stirred.

Take the bowl from the mixer and fold the raspberry powder through the meringue.

Place equal amounts of meringue into two round shapes of equal size. I left the top one looking rustic and lumpy looking.

Bake at 125deg. C for 20 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 100deg. C for the remainder of the cooking time.

Leave to cool on the tray for about half an hour before transferring the bottom layer onto a serving platter. Do this by cutting the paper in half so you can lift the first pavlova up supported by one land underneath. Place your other hand, fingers spread, on top of the pavlova. Quickly invert the pavlova, then peel the paper from the bottom. Place the first hand onto the base and invert again. Gently place on the serving tray. If this all sounds too freaky, then you can just put the pavlova, paper and all - trimmed around - onto the serving plate. 

Whip the cream and icing sugar until stiff. Remove the leaves and stalks from the strawberries and chop into quarters depending on their size.

Fold 2/3rds of the strawberries through 2/3rds of the cream and spread onto the pavlova base. Place the top half of the pavlova on top and spread with the remaining cream .

Pile the remaining strawberries on top and your done! A simple, cheap and easy dessert that everyone will love.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam

It's always interesting what you stumble across when you go to an unfamiliar supermarket. In my case it was a small pottle of Clearwater Clotted cream gathered off the shelves at New World Ilam. What a great excuse for a batch of scones.

As per usual I had my chief kitchen hand near by. Luckily this time she was preoccupied with helping Nana feeding the lambs and arrived back just in time for tea wagon duty.

Sweet Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g butter
1 egg
milk to top the egg up to 3/4 cup of liquid

Clotted cream
Apricot Jam
Preheat the oven to 200deg. C 

Sift the flour, baking powder and icing sugar together into a large bowl.

Cut the butter into cubes, then rub it into the flour mixture until the whole thing looks like crumbs.

Whisk the egg and milk together. 
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and egg mixture. 

Mix together using a table knife until a soft dough is formed. Don't over mix or the scones wont rise.

Turn the mixture out onto the floured bench and gently form into a square that is about 4 cm thick. Use a floured knife to cut into 9 scones.
Place onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and well risen. The bases of the scones should sound hollow when tapped.

Pull up the tea wagon, round up the troops and break out the home made apricot jam, morning tea is served.

Monday 11 November 2013

Crochet Flower Bunting

I just finished making this great crochet bunting. Its super cute and very easy to make. The random nature of the flowers means you can make whatever flowers you want from odds and ends of wool. It would work equally well with cotton yarn. Then just join them all up a chain stitch. I worked 20 chain stitches in  between each flower, and about 40 at each end. The flowers are a mixture of stitches: all worked on magic loops and a base of 11 double crochet in the first row.

Little Miss 4 was very happy to gift it to one of her buddies as a 5th birthday present. With Christmas around the corner and at least four markets to get to, I know I am going to be making a few more of these cute little numbers. 

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Crochet Cotton Dish Cloth

It seems like the whole world has recently taken up crocheting; and I can see why: its simple, fast, logical in design, you only really deal with one stitch at a time, and it rewards beginners with a myriad of cute designs.
My Nana first taught me to crochet when I was a child. Don't ask me how old I was, as I really can't remember. I do remember making a huge chain that stretched across the living room. Crochet dish and face clothes are currently the thing to make. Mostly because they are easy to design and customise, and quick to make in whatever pattern you choose. I used a cheerful mixture of Patons Cotton 8ply colours and a V-stitch pattern for this bright and cute gift idea.

Crochet Dish or Face Cloth

Using a 4mm crochet hook and 8ply cotton yarn work 22 chain (ch) stitches plus 3 for the length of the first treble crochet.
1st row: work 1 treble crochet (tr) into the 4th chain [miss a chain stitch, and work 1 tr, 1 ch, 1tr into the next ch] repeat the bracketed sequence until the end of the row, work 1 tr into final ch st.

2nd row: work 3 ch [1 tr, 1 ch, 1 tr through the next chain space - the centre of the V - on the first row] repeat the bracketed instruction though to the end of the row, work 1 tr into the last space.

Work the thread around the entire chain, not through it - as shown in the picture.

Following rows: repeat the previous row until a square is formed - I worked 14 rows in total. 

Join on a contrasting colour, and work 2 double crochet (dc) into the corner of the cloth, work 21 dc along the first side, repeat this sequence along each side until 2 rows of dc have been worked. Break the thread and pass it through the loop to finish the work. Use a darning needle to weave in the loose threads.

Give it a quick steam press and your all done in less than an afternoon's work.