Strawberries and Chicken

The boy, when asked what he would like for his birthday dinner, raised his eyes to the sky and thought long and hard. In fact he thought for so long I left the room to put the coffee on. He followed me shortly to announce. “Strawberries and chicken, mummy!”

Right ok, well after a little teasing out of the details, we both agreed the chicken would be fried, and the strawberries would be in the cake. Thank god!

It is a tradition in my house for birthday meals to be full of “Crappy kids food”. I hold my nose and buy all the things which are pretty much banned from my house, sweets, crisps, white bread, you get my drift. However this young boy requested fried chicken, mac n cheese, and a strawberry cake.

Whenever things are a bit wobbly in the family, arguments, disappointment, sadness. I usually resort to my staple comfort recipes. It is amazing how a big plate of fried chicken can bring a smile to a sulky child’s face, or help an angry sibling, calm down and ask for another hot and crispy piece of chicken.

The fried chicken and mac n cheese are a no brainer for me to make. The strawberry cake however took a bit of thought. In the end I used a simple recipe for vanilla cake, and sweetened some cream with icing sugar then added the strawberry pieces, English of course.

I leave you with my vanilla cake recipe and a few photos of said feast.

Happy birthday Rufus!

Strawberry Rufus Cake

This is a simple sponge cake, super easy to make and goes perfectly with a cup of tea, or a glass of Prosecco.

Ingredients

  • 175g (6oz) softened butter.
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar.
  • 3 large eggs.
  • 175g (6oz) self-raising flour, sifted.
  • 1tsp baking powder.
  • 1tsp vanilla extract.
  • pinch of salt.

For the Filling

  • Small tub of double cream
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • Couple of drops of vanilla extract
  • Strawberry Jam
  • Tub of strawberries

Method

Cream the sugar and butter together until light and pale. In a separate bowl sift the flour and mix in the baking powder and salt. Beat an egg into the butter sugar mixture, then gently fold in a third of the flour mixture. Repeat until you have mixed in all the flour and eggs.

Take two 8inch cake tins and line them with parchment paper. Pour in the cake mixture and put in a 180C oven for 20 mins or until the cake is lightly browned and pulling away from the edges of the tin.

Leave to cool while you whip together the cream and icing sugar and vanilla, until the cream is thick and spreadable.

When the cakes are cool take them out of their tins and spread the strawberry jam onto the top of one cake, then add a layer of cream and a layer of strawberry pieces. Place the second cake on top and add another layer of cream and strawberries.

Lovely x


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As Deep as The Hue of Red Wine

I actually survived three weeks of being a full time mum. Its the longest I have ever had my kids with me, all the time. They were constantly around me. I was constantly around them. We all survived, just a few skirmishes along the way. Pavlina (their nanny) was on holiday for a couple of weeks. Then on the day she was due to return, I got the phone call, she was sick and couldn’t come into work for another week.  She was in tears, I was in tears, the kids were in tears. We finally managed to pull ourselves together and actually it was a fun couple of weeks.

I have been doing a bit of PR for a friend of mine who had his first solo exhibition at The Photographers Gallery. Beautiful exhibition you should go and see. Anyway I take the kids to see it. We leave and they literally drag me kicking and screaming into McDonalds. I caved.  I figured a meal in McDonald’s would give me some bonus mum points, of course I am deluded but one lives in hope.

As we are sitting in Mcdonalds I get a text from a friend. “Hey I am assisting on a shoot for Mcdonalds, I thought of your lovely kids, would you be interested?”  How bizarre is that? So a week later they turn up and photograph not only the kids but me too…I wasn’t expecting that at all!

I also wasn’t expecting a call from my brother inviting us up to Scotland for the week. The kids has the most wonderful time. We spent a day rock pooling and searching for mussels. I had visions of us collecting bucket loads of mussels and cooking them for dinner. Uhh well we found a few tiny ones and Bella found one full grown mussel. Pasta it is then.

I took a few pictures oh and I made a crumble which was divine. I realised as I was about to rub the butter in for the crumble top that I did not have enough butter so used the rest of a pot of creme fraiche instead. It was really really good. I leave you with that recipe.

Rachelle x

church beach tildajump crumble

Apple and Berry Crumble

I am totally rubbish at measuring out crumble topping ingredients. I usually look at the amount of fruit I have and the size of the dish I am baking it in and then take it from there. I don’t think you can have too much crumble, so inevitably I make too much. I use a mixture of flour and rolled oats, please use butter and not margarine, that stuff is pure evil as far as I am concerned. I also use regular eating apples, I guess because I always have them around and cooking apples are (in my opinion) an unnecessary  purchase.

For the Crumble:

100g of rolled oats

100g of plain flour

75g of brown sugar

100g of cold butter (cut into small cubes)

1 large pinch of Maldon sea salt

For the Apple and Berry Filling:

800 grams of eating apples (cored and quartered. Put in a bowl of cold water with the juice of one lemon)

350g Frozen summer berries

100 grams of caster sugar

Juice of a lemon

Method

Preheat the oven to 190.C/375.F/gas 5

Butter a large baking dish.

Make the crumble add the flour, oats, brown sugar and salt into a large (ish) mixing bowl, rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles damp sand.

Place the berries and apples into the buttered baking dish. Add a couple of nobs of butter too.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 mins until the crumble is golden and the berries and apples are bubbling.

Serve with creme fraiche or cream or ice cream. I never have leftovers of this but if you are lucky to have some. Eat cold for breakfast!


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Can You Feel The Love

Ok who stole my seven year old daughter and replaced her with a fourteen year old oik. “Lola can you please pick up your clothes”. Her reply “I am not your slave! Why don’t you find someone else to boss about?  Oh yes and my favourite retort of the month.  ‘I wish you were dead and when you are dead I will spit on your grave’  I must admit the latter comment took me back a little, then I just smiled and said Mmmm bit harsh love!  She then proceeded to draw a (really quite good) picture of me in my grave and her, well you know doing her thing. I think it was titled I Hate Mum.

I stuck the “I Hate Mum” next to the “I Love Mum” picture (that she had drawn probably hours before) on the fridge. Lola didn’t see the humour in that – of course.

I felt that with all this “teenage angst” in the house, I should endeavour to lighten things up. You know, rise above the temper tantrums and well basically ignore them. Lola finally forgave me for my absolutely outrageous request. The forgiveness was actually fuelled by the Chinese New Year feast I made on Sunday. Nothing that a pile of singapore noodles and twice cooked pork can’t fix. Pork belly, such a brilliant and cheap cut of meat. Perfect for this dish. Oh and Julie no you cannot use diced pork shoulder! YOU NEED THE FAT.

Its been a week of celebrations, Chinese New Year, Pancake Day and Valentines Day is today. I have never really been a fan of VD (as I like to call it). If you love someone shouldn’t you show them pretty much everyday that you care. Anyway thats just my opinion. Lola woke me up this morning and asked if she could make me breakfast in bed because it was valentines day..Ahh you see who needs a bunch of flowers!

Anyway for the sake of my kids I channeled the spirit of VD and made a bunch of shortbread hearts dipped in chocolate. I love this shortbread recipe. Its easy and makes a ton of cookies. The recipe is by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa). One of my ambitions is to sit in her kitchen for a day watching her make giant amounts of food. Oh and also I would quite like to sit in Nigel Slaters kitchen, Carluccio..Ok I shall stop now! I leave you with some pics from the week and Ina’s fab shortcake recipe.

Have a great rest of the week. Oh and by the way I am launching another blog in a week or so…So exciting I can’t wait for you guys to see what I have been up to…

Love

Rachelle x

carlucmera

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cookiesvd

Shortbread Love Heart Cookies

This recipe makes about 12 large cookies. I roll the dough out to about half a centimetre thickness. Less is more when it comes to handling shortbread. When you get to the flour stage whizz in a food processor until just coming together. Cling and put in the fridge. If you don’t have a processor then use your hands to combine briefly until the mixture comes together. Leave to rest for half an hour. Enjoy x

Ingredients
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
Preheat the oven to 180C

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place the hearts on an ungreased sheet pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While the cookies are cooling. Melt 100grams of your favourite chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. When the chocolate has melted dip to your hearts content…(no pun intended)

 


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