Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Hurray for Fitzbillies

All I can say really is YAY.

The Chelsea Bun is back, and also a whole host of other goodies. I'm so pleased Fitzbillies is back and improved, and also it is a proper bakery where everything is made there, and made properly. We've already had a chelsea bun each but we visited again at the weekend.

I had a perfect hot chocolate (made from ganache made in their kitchen) and a wonderful coffee choux bun. Mr Giraffe had a cheese chelsea bun which is simply an excellent twist on the classic sugary treat - topped with cheese and filled with more cheese, leeks and mustard.

The tea is also very good here, proper loose leaf served in a pot. We'll be back for the coffee and also for lunches.

The re-opening of Fitzbillies really makes it feel like Cambridge is edging towards being a decent place to eat.

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Friday, 26 August 2011

Church Street Gallery, Saffron Walden

I am breaking the blog silence (I did leave you with brownies though, in all fairness!) with some really excellent news.

My jewellery is now available to buy in the beautiful Church Street Gallery, just down the road in Saffron Walden. This is my first ever 'bricks and mortar' stockist so I am very very pleased indeed.

I went along to a preview evening for the Saffron Walden Maze Festival - mainly to snoop at my jewellery on display but also to look at some of the other work. I picked up some amazing wax paper bunting from Mangle Prints, which is now proudly displayed in my studio.

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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Ridiculously Good Oreo Fudge Brownies

Bet you are already thinking about when you can next bake.

I am very late to this party, I saw the brownies on Lorraine Pascale's show a few months ago (ok it was January, doesn't seem that long ago!) and ooohed over them and then never got round to making them, which is my usual trick. Ireena made them and so did Katie and I ooohed again.
I kept on buying oreo cookies and they'd get opened and suddenly there were no more oreos. So I bought a pack and hid them at the back of the cupboard for a few weeks, and finally today I made oreo brownies.

I make a lot of brownies but I think these might be the best. Rich, sweet and almost moussey in the middle (from whisking eggs, something I've never done for brownies) and very crispy on top - and then you get an oreo in there too - magic!

You should definitely try these, I think they'd be great in place of birthday cake or even for a dinner party. Or for, you know, eating two in a row. The brownie base itself without the cookies is a great one.

I made three alterations - I didn't include the 2 extra egg yolks - mainly because I didn't have enough eggs but really I felt it was a bit unnecessary. The chocolate was just broken into small pieces, I think grating chocolate would get melty and messy! And I had some fudge chunks lying around so I put those on top before baking, they melted into the batter and then when cooled became crispy and sticky, yum!

Recipe on BBC Food.

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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

General eatings

I've been doing some good eating lately (whilst trying to lose a bit of weight, hmmmm, not working), so I thought I'd condense some of the yummy things into one post.

First off, lovely greengages in my garden. The wasps are eating most of them but we managed to save a few, a recipe coming up soon for Plum Crumble Bars.

Have any of you been watching The Good Cook? I'm sure I've seen Simon Hopkinson before but I can't remember where, and wikipedia doesn't jog my memory, but that is beside the point! I have really been enjoying the programme, the filming is interesting - sometimes over the top - and the recipes are really really good. I made the aubergine feta and parsley recipe over the weekend and it was fantastic. Sure to please veggies and meat eaters. Next on my list is the baked parpadelle, cheese and onion pie and the piedmontese peppers.

Next up, broccoli pesto. I like pestoing (I made a new word!) things. Asparagus, peas, broad beans, and of course basil. In my attempts to be healthier I tried out the Double Broccoli Quinoa recipe on 101 cookbooks for lunches this week. The pesto is nice, a little more woody than other vegetables - I think a handful of sweet frozen peas would help here. Although I also skipped the cream to be healthier, which is probably what it needs.

Last Saturday I asked Twitter where to go for a decent  coffee and a slice of cake in Cambridge, The lovely Miss Sue Flay suggested Jocalatte on Burleigh Street. I was not disappointed! Lovely fresh homemade cakes, great coffee and in a beautiful vintage style tea room setting. I'll be going again. They also do little homemade chocolates and cute cupcakes.

I think that is my foodie round up done, a new recipe featuring greengages coming tomorrow :)


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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Lavender Wholewheat Scones

Until now I have only ever used lavender in my bath, probably like most of you. There are a few things that lavender really works with especially sweet things. I've heard lovely things about lavender panna cotta, I've eaten lavender shortbread before. I've seen some people put it with lamb but I'm not entirely convinced about that.

I had been given some very nice strawberry and rhubarb jam and the best thing to do when you get jam is make scones! The perfume of the  lavender in the scones works really well with the sweet jam, and I think the wholemeal flour makes it nutty, meaning the lavender doesn't overpower.

I am by no means an expert on scones yet, these still didn't have the required oomph that I was looking for, I think they need self raising flour, which I keep forgetting to buy. And in fact I keep forgetting to get more plain flour too, hence the reason for wholemeal - which worked out nicely anyway!

I used this recipe, subbing with wholemeal and 2 teaspons of baking powder. And my lavender was in the form of homemade lavender sugar (grab a bunch of lavender flowers, hang upside down for a month, remove purply bits, add to a jam jar of caster sugar, wait a week), so I just replace the plain sugar with that.

The lavender comes through really well, not too soapy and just the right amount of perfumeyness.
They are perfect for a tea party!

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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

My first jewellery making class

Yesterday I took my very first jewellery making class!

I've been making jewellery for nearly 5 years now and all of my techniques are self taught via all the wonderful craft blogs out there and the tutorials you can find on YouTube.

One thing I really wanted to learn properly was pearl knotting, and a commission for restringing a pearl necklace spun me on to book a class and go. At first I thought I really wasn't going to ever get it, like most things, but after a few test pearls I was feeling confident to make the whole necklace.
The class was run by Sally at The Beaderie in Cambridge, only 5 people which was just right and Sally is an excellent teacher. I came back with a lovely freshwater pearl necklace which felt like a great achievement in 2 hours. Along with the commission I have to make I have plans for knotting some chunky long necklaces with some of the millions of beads I have left from past bead buying sprees.

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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Kale Chips

Kale is one of those vegetables that I do like but always ends up getting left in the back of the fridge to go off. I received some in my veg box and after a week I really really needed to use it up. I normally put it on pizza but we weren't having pizza so I made kale chips, which I've heard about before.

Kale chips are super duper easy, it is nearly not a recipe.
Just wash your kale, remove the stalky bits and tear in to medium sized pieces. Drizzle over some olive oil and season, toss to cover all the leaves.
Bake in a low-medium oven (about 150c) for 10-15 minutes, turning every five minutes to stop them buring - mine caught a little bit which means they go a bit bitter.


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Monday, 1 August 2011

The Hole in the Wall, Little Wilbraham, Cambridge

I think Cambridge maybe in danger of becoming a good place to find good food. Slowly, very slowly new places are opening up which are inventive, yummy and good value. The opening of The Hole in the Wall Cambridge by Masterchef finalist Alex Rushmer has been much anticipated by foodies in Cambridge, especially me!

We went along for Sunday lunch on the most beautiful sunny day. The pub is set in a very pretty Cambridgeshire village, lots of cute cottages, well-kept gardens and scenic countryside.
The pub itself is also very nice-  a 16th century building with beams and low ceilings. Inside it still has quite a pub feel, I don't think a great deal has been done to the decor since they moved in, maybe something they are working on? Some of the fixtures are a little dated and the carpet is the extremely 1970s, but it doesn't really matter once you start reading the menu.

The menu comprises of 3 starters, 3 mains and much to my glee FOUR puddings. This is a good start. Often so many restaurants stick a couple of puds on, ice cream and cheese. Ice cream is not pudding! Vegetarians are catered for here too, only one dish on the starters and mains but both were fantastic and well thought out.

For starters I had the pea & ham soup which came with toasted brown bread. It was sweet and fresh with lovely smokey pieces of ham in the soup, I could have done with a bit more bread though, only one small piece for a large bowl of soup. My husband had the tomato and mozzarella salad which combined at least 4 different kinds of tomatoes in an olive oil and basil dressing with creamy mozzarella. The green tomatoes were my favourite, crisp on the outside and very soft in the middle, perfect.

For main I had the confit duck with pork cassoulet and very creamy mash. The duck was done to perfection, fall off the bone and the cassoulet had huge chunks of slow cooked pork inside. My only complaint would be that it was quite under seasoned, though salt and pepper were provided.

The vegetarian main which my husband had was really really well thought out. The peppers had been pre roasted til smokey and soft then stuffed with cous cous studded with aubergine, courgette and deep fried cheese, yes deep fried. It was then covered with goats cheese and cooked til bubbly.

The choice of puds was, as already mentioned, excellent. On the menu was a honeycomb cheesecake (my choice), lemon tart with blackberry sorbet, mirabelle plum charlotte and chocolate peppermint pots. My cheesecake was fluffy and rich at the same time, with a gingery based and a creamy top with chunks of honeycomb inside and on top.

My husband had the plum charlotte, we’d previously had the excellent apple charlotte at Le Gavroche so it had a lot to live up to. Whilst it wasn’t as good as Le Gav it was brilliant, the bread was so crispy and the inside very soft and full of plummy goodness.

We will definitely be going again soon, the food was excellent and the menu varied. The service was a little shakey but they’ve only been open for 2 weeks. I think now is an excellent time to go because so much seasonal produce is on show.

The Hole in the Wall Cambridge
Primrose Farm Road,
Little Wilbraham,
CB21 5JY


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