When we moved into our current home I was super excited about the garden, we had a beautiful grapevine round the back, a whole strawberry patch and best of all an apple tree. I couldn’t wait to make apple crumble, pies and sauce at the end of summer. But for some reason it only only produced two apples last year, yes, two whole apples! So I didn’t hold out much hope for this year but I was pleasantly surprised, the branches were full, yay!
I was looking for a something a little different from the usual pie and I got this upside down apple cake recipe from my friend Tanya, she had it scribbled down in a note book so I’m not sure where it’s originally from. This recipe is so delicious, it’s a bit more work than a regular apple crumble but it’s so worth it! The cake part is so light and fluffy with a little hint of spice, and the topping is just caramel goodness!
Ingredients – Topping
4-5 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
185g castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients – Cake
185g castor sugar
4 eggs, seperated
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a deep 22cm cake tin with clingfilm. Start by melting the butter in a frying pan, mix the apples with the lemon zest and juice and tip into the butter, cook gently for a few minutes and then add the sugar and vanilla. Let that bubble away for a few more minutes and then start removing the apples with a slotted spoon, you can add them straight to the cake tin at this stage. Turn up the heat and let the sugar mix caramelize slightly until golden brown, it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, pour it over the apples.
Now it’s time to make the cake mix, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, slowly add the egg yolks and then the vanilla. Mix up your dry ingredients and fold into the mixture. Beat the egg whites till they’re nice and stiff and fold that into the mix too. Pour the cake mix into the tin, be sure to cover all the apples. Bake for one hour, if the cake starts to brown to quickly, just cover lightly with foil.
Once the cake has cooled, turn it upside down onto your cake stand, ta-da! I served it with a dollop of creme fraiche for a bit of a sour kick since the caramelized top can be quite sweet but I think ice-cream or whipped cream would work well too. Enjoy!
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I have never been a fan of gin and tonic but one thing I learnt from our sailing trip was that people who sail, love G&T’s, so I had to ‘get on board’ and by the end of the holiday they were my refreshment of choice! So, with summer coming to an end here in London (did it ever really start?) and me, trying to hold on to that holiday feeling a little longer I thought I would make ice lollies based on the classic cocktail. Ingredients
6 shots of gin
600 ml tonic
juice of ½ lime
6 cucumber slices
Add your cucumber slices to your ice-lolly molds. Mix all other ingredients together in a jug (taste the mix to make sure it’s strong enough/not too strong), pour into the molds, insert the lolly sticks and pop in the freezer for a few hours and there you have it, gin and tonic ice lollies, it could not be easier!
All that’s left to do is is hope for one last little bit of warm weather so you can enjoy these babies in the sunshine!
white ice-cream bowl | charcoal pincushion napkin
Things have been a little quiet round here lately, I spent an amazing two weeks in Greece on a yacht so I’ll be posting about that soon but for now, cheesecake! On a very rainy Friday afternoon, with my parents, niece and nephew in tow we braved the wet weather and headed for a pick your own farm, our persistence was rewarded with a whopping 3.5kg of cherries! Perfect to make this recipe twice, which I actually had to do because the first one disappeared so fast I didn’t have a chance to photograph it!
I love the ombre effect that’s happening here, deep purple, a delicate lilac and the light creamy colour, gorgeous! Remember to only weigh your cherries after you’ve pitted them and just a heads up, when you’re pitting them, it looks like a scene from Carrie.
150g digestive biscuits
420g cherries pitted and halved
2 Tbsp cherry brandy
400g cream cheese
250g ricotta cheese
50g castor sugar
zest from 1 lemon
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
icing sugar and extra cherries to serve
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Before we get going on the base put your cherries in a small saucepan with the cherry brandy and simmer for about 5 min, then take off the heat and let it cool. Now it’s time for your base, I have a little cheat, put all the biscuits in a sandwich bag and smash them up with a rolling pin until they’ve all turned to crumbs. Transfer to a small bowl, add the butter and pop it in the microwave for 1-2min, just long enough for the butter to melt, mix it together till all the crumbs are coated in the melted butter and press firmly into your cake tin for an even base. That’s it! Much easier than getting your food processor out.
Next mix together your cheeses, sugar, eggs, zest and vanilla until smooth, swirl in your cherry mixture but be gentle, you’re going for a marbled effect. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 60min. Once it comes out let it cool and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours. I added the zest and vanilla the second time round and I think it really brought out the flavour of the cherries.
Once it’s baked and cooled it’s time to dress it up a little. Place a combination of whole and halved cherries on top and with a sieve gently dust with icing sugar.
Eat it quick because I can guarantee this one will disappear fast!
(Recipe from an old Waitrose magazine)
Vicky and I were at the garden centre last week, we stopped off for lunch and had the most delicious spring salad ever. It was really simple, just green beans, asparagus and pine nuts but I thought, as good as it was I bet I could make it better with some added ingredients. So here it is, a recipe for the greenest salad you’ve ever had that tastes like spring in a bowl!
Before I get stuck into the recipe I am just going to go off on a tangent and talk about pea shoots for a second. I did not know they existed before this spring, I had them on my plate in a restaurant a few weeks ago and I was amazed, they are so yummy and fresh tasting, there is no way to describe them other than the taste of spring! So if you see them in the shops, snatch them up, I have a feeling they won’t be on the shelves for very long. Ok, back to the recipe that gives new meaning to the term green salad.
Any greens you like, especially ones that are in season, I used: Asparagus, Broccoli, sugar snaps, fresh peas, spring onion, pea shoots
a large handful of pine nuts
juice of ½ a lemon
good glug of olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper
Lightly toast the pine nuts and set aside. Finely slice the spring onion. Chop the broccoli and asparagus into bite sized pieces and gently fry in a little olive oil until just tender. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together. Now it’s time to plate it up, start with your pea shoots, scatter your broccoli and asparagus on top and sprinkle over the spring onion and pine nuts. Lastly scoop out big chunks of avo with a teaspoon straight into the salad.
Now all that’s left to do is dress it, toss it gently and tuck in! We had ours with leftover roast chicken and it was a treat!
terracotta serving bowl | mini salt & pepper shakers
Happy Cinco de Mayo! To celebrate I thought I’d share a Mexican inspired dish, fish tacos with avocado salsa. I only had fish tacos for the first time a few years ago when I went to visit my brother in Texas where I had it at almost every meal, I just couldn’t get enough. Plus, they make fresh guacamole at your table, yum! round here we love avo so much we could have it for every meal!
Ingredients (makes enough for 2)
2 Salmon Fillets (you can use any fish)
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli powder
juice of ½ lemon
1 red onion
1 small chilli (red or green)
small handful of parsely
2 Tsp creme fraiche
juice and zest of one lime
handful of rocket
handful of cherry tomatoes
6-8 tacos (the small ones work well)
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Mix the chilli powder, and paprika with a good pinch of salt and pepper, coat your salmon in a little olive oil and the lemon juice, sprinkle over the spice mix. Pop your salmon in the oven for about 10-12 min. While it’s baking, finely slice the onion and chilli, scoop out bite size chunks of the avo with a teaspoon, roughly chop the parsley and combine with a large squeeze of lime.
Lastly, combine the creme fraiche with a good pinch of salt and pepper, lime zest and the remaining lime juice. Half your cherry tomatoes, try and use a variety of colours, it always looks prettier.
Enjoy at the table with the rocket and let everyone build their own taco. Don’t forget the hot sauce!
ceramic paper plate with rose print | ceramic paper plate with orchid print
On Tuesday this week Vicky and I learnt how to make gnocchi from a master, it was so much fun and a whole lot easier than I thought. My measurements will be a little sketchy as Nonna Crespino went completely by feel, she knew when the dough was just right.The gist of it is equal parts mashed potato to flour depending on how many people you’re making for. We made enough for an army and were rolling all afternoon!
1 kg potatoes (mashing potatoes like maris piper)
300 – 350g flour (we were told specifically strong Canadian flour from Waitrose)
1 tsp salt
The first step is an easy one, peel and boil your potatoes, be sure to get rid of any knobbly bits. Once the potatoes are cooked mash them until smooth, using a potato ricer will ensure perfectly smooth mash.
Create a well with the flour and tip the potatoes in, add the salt and egg and start to mix it all together, keep working it until all the flour is incorporated, if your dough is sticky add a little more flour. Knead until a smooth dough has formed. It should be soft but firm.
Divide the dough into smaller sections and start to roll it out into little snakes, about 1.5cm in diamater depending on the size you’d like your gnocchi to be. Once you’ve rolled out one snake slice into 1-1.5cm sections. Coat lightly in flour. At this stage you could stop and eat them as is but if perfect presentation is your style, read on.
To roll these little guys you can use the back of a fork but a gnocchi roller makes things much easier. Hopefully the photos demonstrate how easy it is but you just grab one end of the little block of gnocchi with your thumb and roll it over the board which creates these beautiful ridges (perfect for your delicious sauce to cling to) and pretty curled up shape. The beauty is in the irregularity of your shapes.
To cook the gnocchi just drop it into salted boiling water, once they rise to the top (about 3-5min) they’re done and need to be drained. Now you’ve made it, how do you eat it? I made it two ways but gnocchi is pretty much pasta so any pasta sauce will work well. First up the simplest and in Nonna Crespino’s opinion only way to eat your gnocchi. Simple passata: Chop 1 clove of garlic and 1 onion and fry in a generous glug of olive oil, once the onion and garlic is soft add a tin of whole tomatoes and let it simmer for a good 15 min, add salt, pepper and a pinch of chilli if you’d like. Coat the gnocchi in the sauce and top with fresh torn basil leaves and loads of parmesan
My second sauce is a little more decadent and rich, a gorgonzola and mushroom sauce. Chop 1 clove of garlic, and your choice of mushrooms (I used 2 portabellos) and fry in a generous knob of butter, once they are browned turn the heat down and add 150g of gorgonazola and 150ml creme fraiche, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste. Top with fresh thyme and parmesan. Both of these recipes make enough for about 2-3 people.
Now that I know how to make these delicious little potato bites I’ll definitely be making them more often!