Friday, March 28, 2014

Carrot Cake Cupcakes


Don't these little beauties make you want to smile? What's so special is that the pansies are the first brave little flowers to make a showing in the garden this spring. I use the word "spring" with slight hesitation as it's barely above freezing yet..... but I had to make a fuss and garnish my cupcakes with the first blooms from the garden. The cupcakes are scrumptious - very hard to resist - frankly none of us did, they were gone in a flash.



Friday, March 7, 2014

Orange and Lemon Mousse


This mousse is my ode to Spring. It should really be titled "happy mousse" as I imagine this is what happiness would taste like. Fresh, light, zingy, uplifting and leaves you wanting more. I warn you, it's quite tricky to stop eating. You could strew some blueberries or raspberries over the top if you wish, that would be nice, indeed whatever makes you happiest. The sound of bird song, the feel of sunshine on my face however faint and the glorious realization of not having to shroud myself in my all encompassing down winter coat undoubtedly adds to my feeling of happiness.



Orange and Lemon Mousse.

1 ½ teaspoons gelatin powder
Juice and zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean
3 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Method

1.     Zest the orange and lemon, set aside.
2.     Dissolve the gelatin in the orange and lemon juice in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
3.     Separate the eggs, beat the yolks with ½ cup of the sugar and the vanilla flecks removed from the vanilla bean until very thick and creamy.
4.     Add the gelatin mixture to the yolk mixture and mix thoroughly.
5.     Beat the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage, add the remainder of the sugar and continue beating until glossy.
6.     In another bowl whip the cream until fairly stiff.
7.     Fold the cream into the egg mixture.

8.     Pour into individual glasses or one large bowl, decorate with a few curls of  orange and lemon rind.



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Carrot and Coriander Soup



This is pure comfort in a bowl. I ventured out through the snow and ice last weekend to the indoor farmer's market.  It was lovely. Hearty breads, interesting teas, bolstering coffees, scrumptious treats but rather slim pickings on the produce front. Or so I thought until I spied some stupendous carrots. Yes they were weather beaten, gnarly and covered in mud but that was what made them so special. They were just waiting to be turned into a delicious bowl of carrot and coriander soup. Isn't it amazing that some beaten up carrots can be roasted to produce a fantastic sweetness and richness of flavor. Now that's something worth getting excited about.




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Brie and Cranberry Relish Grilled Cheese


Grilled cheese, welsh rarebit, croque monsieur - all delectable cheesy, gooey delights from their respective countries. I'm currently on a quest to sample as many variations of these delights as I can and thought I'd start off with a Brie and Cranberry Relish Grilled Cheese. It was fabulous. I used a goat's cheese brie which was suitably runny and stinky, just the way I like it. The cranberry relish was made by Sarabeth's so I knew it would be wonderful. If you would like to make your own, take a look here. I used a fairly firm whole wheat bread which crisped up nicely in the pan and held up well under the gooeyness of the brie. As with any recipe that only has a few ingredients you really need to use the best quality you can, it makes an ordinary dish very extraordinary. I actually ate this for breakfast and it was a wonderful start to the day.



Monday, February 10, 2014

Chickpea Soup with Tomatoes and Warming Spices.

 

If like me you're frozen to the marrow and feeling a little out of sorts, whip up a batch of this soup.  It'll not only get you back on your feet it'll put a positive spring in your step. Not to mention it costs mere pennies to make. Almost all the ingredients are cupboard staples and as with most soups you should feel free to supplement ingredients that you prefer or have on hand.  Garlic, tomatoes and lots of fresh herbs always makes me happy and I love the chickpeas as they lend a nice meaty texture but white beans would work splendidly too. I meant to add some baby spinach leaves but forgot - no matter, I'll add it to the leftovers when I warm them up.  This soup only gets better with a little time to set up. It's extra special with a thick slice of artisan bread, spread with butter, sprinkled liberally with Parmesan cheese and popped under the broiler for a few minutes - heaven!