Monday, 29 October 2012

The Daffodil Supper Club

It's booked... and there's no going back!
So, here it is; my big fund raising project for 2013!

I am hosting a pop-up eatery, named...

 "The Daffodil Supper Club"

I have hired 40 Alfred Place, enlisted the help of friends and family and am hosting 2 evening events over the St David's day weekend. The purpose is to raise money for Alzheimers research (whilst living out my fantasy of running a mini-restaurant without actually leaving the day job I love or needing to re-mortgage my house!) I'm so excited!

So, if you'd like to pay me a visit, here are the details:-

On Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd March 2013 I will be serving up a menu of 3 set courses.
The cost is £25 per head to include a complimentary glass of wine / soft drink and cup of tea/coffee.
To reserve a place(s) you will need to pay a £15 per head deposit to my JustGiving page and state your name(s) and which night you'd like to attend.
The remaining £10 per head is payable in cash only on the night.
Please also state if you require the vegetarian alternative.
I am not entirely sure of the bar situation yet - it will either be BYO or a reasonably priced bar - this will depend on the license and I will update this asap.

The menu, on both evenings, will be this (or something very similar) :-

"Colours of the flag" nibbles,
a glass of wine or
a non-alcoholic "dragon's blood" fruit cocktail
Posh Welsh rarebit
Welsh sausages and mash
(Pork&Leek and  Lamb&mint sausages
served with braised leeks and creamy mash)
Warm triple chocolate and nut brownies
served with Welsh ice-cream
Teas / Coffees

So, I think that's all I need to say for now; except to tell you exactly where this place is:-
One of the many, many reasons I love Bristol is that it has the world's only permanent empty restaurant that you can hire as a "pop-up"...!

40 Alfred Place,

Much love and "Iechyd da!" (good health) to you all...! 

Jo xxx

Monday, 1 October 2012

Clevedon Cup Cakes & My First Bit Of Fundraising

Yesterday I went on a cupcake making course to Clevedon. It was a treat to myself that I also got for Annabel last Christmas and my Mum got for my sister as a gift.
I'll be honest, I (along with a few others) wondered, due to my fascination/obsession with the topic what I had left to know on the subject.The answer is.... still quite a lot, which kind of renewed my interest and left me keen to keep learning more - it was a fantastic course!

We rocked on up ready for a full day and soon met Dianne (an absolutely hilarious woman from South Wales, who gave us her entire life story, barely stopping for breath for a good 15 minutes). We heard about how she was a reluctant apprentice for "the only baker in the village" as a teenager, the 3 types of wedding cakes she'd made for her brother throughout the 3 decades that he'd found new wives, the 6 kids she'd had before she changed her gender preference in a partner, the cakes she commissioned for her civil partnership and her hatred of compilation CDs if they weren't made by her. Then it was over to us to say who we were and to give an overview of our "baking background" and "baking audience" - starting with me! Yikes!

The group were, as Dianne had predicted, a real mixture who ranged from saying "I've never made a cake" to "My next step is a food hygiene course to try and make a living out of this".
I guess I was somewhere in the middle, although it was obvious I was "a keener" as I proudly spoke of my Kitchenaid and all the cake books I'd already spotted on her bookshelves. I couldn't wait to get started; this woman/cake guru will be able to answer every cupcake query I've had I thought - and she was!
And these were the finished results...

En route home I called into Rhian's house hoping to offload a few, and her Mum, who was there having a cup of tea, absolutely insisted on paying me a £1 to have one. I persisted in trying to decline the money but when she'd left, a £1 was still sat on the table.

A couple of months ago my 92 year old Grandad passed away. He'd been blessed with good health for the majority of his life but a few years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimers and it was sad to see the person we knew fade away. I have a pretty small family and for that reason I haven't had to deal with grief in my adult life until now. It felt a bit wrong to feel sad when 92 is such a good age to achieve, but losing my last grandparent was a hard thing to get my head around. With so many people living longer and with dementia set to challenge a huge part of the population, I recognised that my Grandad, having children and Grandchildren who loved him, was one of the lucky ones. He was always so grateful for the life he'd had and, despite being alone for more than 30 years after my Nan died, he absolutely refused to do anything other than live in the moment. We were lucky to have him around for so long and lucky that research had meant medication was available to slow the onset of the symptoms. And for that reason, I'd been thinking about how I could fund raise for Alzheimers research. Then yesterday all my ideas just seemed to click together...!

I picked up the pound coin from Rhian's coffee table and declared to her that that would be the first step towards making a lot more...!

Then I took the remaining cakes to work and for the first time sold my baking to my colleagues.
I'm nervous about "going public" on here about my big fund raising idea yet but am really excited about it and have given myself lots of time to achieve it! I've so many friends in Bristol always willing to lend a hand to a wacky and inspiring project so I'm confident I won't need to worry about pulling it off when the time comes.
It is after all, as my Grandad liked to say "nice to be nice!"

Watch this space and the details of my "big project" will unfold over the next few months...

In the meantime, if you want to make roses like these....

or make icing embellishments like these...

or make impressions in your icing like this...

The fair cake online shop sells a lot of the stuff you'll need...

Or maybe take a trip to Clevedon and do a course...?

I apologise for my lack of detail explaining the process of rose-making and icing cutting but I have to get moving as I'm off to the pub to meet Nic to discuss my "Big Project"

J :)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

"Quite frankly...

.... that was a totally amazing dessert!" said Harriet a good 20 times (she was a little bit tipsy but I'm sure she was sincere; she stood by her statement(s) the following day as I passed her the leftovers :) For my dinner party last Sunday I wanted to use an idea that I first saw on "Come Dine With Me Down Under" (the Aussie equivalent show of "Come Dine With Me" U.K).
Ages ago my sister bought me some silicon cupcake cases, and if I'm honest they haven't been used until now, but I've been waiting to put them to good use...

... as chocolate "moulds"! So, over a pan of hot water I melted a bowl of white chocolate and when it was runny enough I poured it into the silicon cases, swirling the chocolate around and emptying out the excess that fell to the bottom of the case by pouring it out again. Then they got got put straight into the freezer in a flat position. After a short while they had set and the silicon cases could be carefully peeled away and the edible chocolate cups could then be stored in the fridge...

In the background you can see the huge bowl of blackberries that I have picked 
from directly behind my garden. I got all these on the same day too...

The day I picked them I saw a punnet 1/4 of the size on sale in Sainsburys for £4. Get picking NOW!

Which leads me onto the filling for the white chocolate cups... "Creamy Blackberry Mousse".
Blackberries and white chocolate go so well together!
I followed the recipe that I googled and found on the Daily Mail website...
Here's the link...

There was quite a lot of leftover mousse; to make 6 chocolate cups of mousse next time I will do as follows...

Easy Blackberry Mousse for 5/6 Small portions

Place 200g of blackberries in a blender with 50g of icing sugar and a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Whizz to a puree

Pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.

Stir in 200ml of double cream and whip into a fluffy mousse.

Transfer the mousse into the chocolate cups and decorate with some whole blackberries.

(A mint leaf would look nice to compliment the colour too).


Then I repeated the process but made dark chocolate cups and this time filled them with 
"Irish Cream Mousse". Confession time... I bought a "mousse base" from M+S that just had to be mixed with cream... I'm not sure if it was a top-seller as the fact it was 10p suggests it might not be, but it certainly tasted nice...! I might be googling "Irish Cream mousse" next time if I repeat this mousse combo though...

And finally, I made some solid chocolate hearts to serve with the mousses by poring the remaining chocolate into my heart-shaped ice-cube tray from IKEA...

 And here they are, with a drizzle of toffee and chocolate sauce and a few chocolate curls that I made by pulling my "serrated edge peeler" along the smallest edge of a bar of dark chocolate. Yep, they really do make serrated edge peelers - I was kind of struggling to pick something the last time I got passed the Pampered chef catalogue by one of my reading volunteers in work! 
I'll admit, I was a little bit drunk at this point in the dinner party and my photo, taken in rubbish lighting, doesn't really do it justice but you get the idea...

I was pretty happy with the presentation though, and the fact all my dinner party guests started photographing their pudding was more than complimentary enough!

J :)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Go Bananas (for the Murray Match)

Yippee; I am a bridesmaid for the Backhurst wedding!
And in preparation for the dress shopping I am cutting down and exercising hard.
And so for the first step of the healthy eating regime...


Fool yourself Banana Ice Cream 



(And that's the list - great isn't it!)


Freeze chunks of banana

Blitz the chunks of frozen banana in a food processor



You can also add lots of other stuff into it if you want some variety.
I opted for some agave nectar and organic peanut butter.

And here are a few other ideas on here too...  


And I'm sat here eating a bit whilst typing this and listening to an audiobook on my iphone.
I kind of like doing 3 things at once - I'd love to say that this is fully possible, but I've been told off a few times whilst watching films with people so I recognise it's not really doable!

Now, I do have a plan that I have concocted with Annabel to make something altogether more indulgent, creative and sinful for the big day but I'm going to have to keep that a secret until 16th February. And no, it's not cupcakes, so please don't ask me, my lips are sealed!
All will be revealed in my scheduled blog post for the big day!

Congratulations again to the happy couple; you've both been there through every high and low I've had for so many years now. I love you guys and cannot wait for your big day! You're truly "A list" friends; thank you James for making Annabel so happy and thank you Annabel for bringing James back to Brizzle!

J :)

P.S. One other thing; I forgot to get them an engagement card, I'm sure I'm forgiven as I had quite a lot of "stuff" going on at the time that meant I wasn't my usual self :s However, I made them a "bridesmaid acceptance card" instead - wrote that poem myself too... (okay maybe I hear something similar once - it's all about stealing the good ideas isn't it...! ;)

Right, I'd better get moving, I'm off to Bella's to watch the Wimbledon final - Go Murray!!!
(and I'm taking their card, gift - and some fool yourself banana ice-cream) - hope they like it too!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Beautiful Bundt & Perfectly Piped Swirls

I've had a fair bit of time on my hands this past couple of weeks. It's been kind of nice to see old friends and more of my lovely nephews but what to do when you find yourself with a bit too much time...? Renovating a chair is always an option if you agree with the eHarmony advert, as is watching the French Open tennis (better option, so I did some of that). Inspired by the force that is Nadal, I resolved to get back in the game and booked my orthopaedic surgeon appointment for my wrist and enlisted Kirstie to help me out with a gentle game of short tennis. And then, after I'd squeezed in a bit of schoolwork, I did the one other thing that I do best - I baked!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

(taken from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook by Tarek Malouf)

This recipe is for a large 20cm, 3 layer cake but I experimented with making cupcakes out of it recently and it worked brilliantly. You really must use greaseproof lined cases if you don't want a stained cup case though as the oil content is quite high.

(for the cakes)

300g soft, light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil (I used 250ml - it just looked so much and had faith in my carrots being moist)
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

300g carrots grated
100g shelled walnuts (plus extra to decorate)


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don't worry if the mixture looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.

Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand until they are all evenly dispersed.

Pour the mixture into the cupcases (no more than 2/3 full).

Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until they are fully risen and a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the tops bounce back to the touch.

These quantities made about 20 cakes.
Once cooled you can frost them. Cream cheese frosting is perfect for these and I like the Hummingbird Cream Cheese Frosting recipe so I used that:-
These quantities frost about 12 cupcakes according to the cookbook, I trebled the quantities below (but I did had frosting leftover).
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

Mix the butter and icing sugar together, then gradually add the sifted icing sugar.
Wendy Kitchenaid made light work of this as always :)
Then you need the PERFECT NOZZLE! This is vital. Using a disposable piping bag, I like to use either a big, soft swirl nozzle or a Wilton 1m nozzle (no need for a "coupler" especially). You can buy them from here:-
And what you do is fill the piping bag fairly full by stretching it over a glass and smooth a little frosting to the edge of the cases with a palette knife. Then, with the piping bag in an upright position begin at the centre, apply consistent pressure and make a complete swirl pushing down slightly at the end to finish the swirl.

But one cake variety is never enough so I made Chocolate Bundt Cake (whilst feeling very guilty for still not returning Priya's tin). It will come back to you soon Priya, honest!
And the recipe I got from the marvellous Shutterbean website. I love, love love Tracy Shutterbean and Joy the Baker (Wilson) and their podcast keeps me amused on many a car journey.
I will re-type Tracy's bundt cake recipe as I have converted the U.S quantities into their U.K equivalents but you can see the original step-by-step process here (also love her flower idea - classy!)
But, if you'd rather the U.K quantities, here they are...

Beautiful Chocolate Bundt Cake

For the Cake
2 sticks of butter (230grams) - plus more for the pan.
1/3 cup of cocoa powder (45grams)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 cups plain flour (plus more for the pan) 300g
1 3/4 cups sugar (360g)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream (150g) (used a 150ml pot)
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Glaze
4 oz dark choc (115g)
1 1/2 tablespoons agave
1/2 cup of double cream
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Make the Cake:

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat to 350 degrees (180)

Butter and flour a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt and water and put over medium heat. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the flour, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended (it will be very thick). Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each to blend completely before adding the next. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (40-45 minutes).

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Let cool completely before making the glaze. 

Make the glaze:

Put the chopped chocolate and agave nectar into a medium bowl and set aside. 

Combine the heavy (double) cream and sugar in a medium bowl and put over medium heat. Stir constantly until the cream is hot and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. If it's very runny, let it sit for a minute or so to thicken. Drizzle (I slathered) the glaze over the cake.
Then I decorated mine with lovely sprinkles and silver balls - ahhhhh!

Happy Birthday to me!

I did have 16 others helping me out with consuming these treats though (just so you know!)
And I got so many lovely cards and gifts but this one from Kay is definitely sums up my outlook for the year ahead...

And finally, I got this amazing print from my sister's family and my parents.
I cannot wait to hang it up above Wendy - how totally retro American cool is this...!
It's by Patrick Edgeley from this website and appears to be scrolling across their homepage at the moment!

So that's it, another year older, another year wiser! I'll confess I was a bit nervous about turning 34 but now it's here, how do I feel...? Exactly the same! Roll on 35; if only because I'd like a print for my study...

J :)

Saturday, 17 March 2012

New Life Cupcakes

I like a personal challenge; who doesn't...? Well, a personal goal was to make this blog a reality and keep it going for a year, posting about once a month; then my undisclosed plan was to put it to bed and tick it off the list. The only thing I didn't manage was the final post in December. So, I've changed my mind and decided that what I'll do instead is just pick it up if and when there are projects worth mentioning.

A few weeks ago my sister had a baby shower in preparation for the arrival of her 2nd baby. She was threatening games to "identify the food in the nappy" or "pin the nappy on the baby". It takes all sorts...! Luckily, none of that transpired; it was a tame affair with an enormous Chinese takeaway and a pretty large amount of cupcakes made by yours truly.

I wanted a theme that wasn't too cringing or tricky - and as I was looking at toppings in Sainsbury's the idea came to me... butterflies! And a few egg themed cakes as there's plenty of Easter stuff about at the moment. "New life Cupcakes" if you will..... you HAVE to know I am saying this tongue-in-cheek!

So, I'm sure everyone has seen Mini egg nest cakes but why not butterfly-it-up with some "Giant Snowies"...

My cupcakes are the chocolate ones from "Cake Days" and the frosting is the following:-

I did, however have to add a lot more icing sugar than the recipe suggested - it was way too runny!
I am still in search for the ultimate chocolate frosting recipe...

Or how about white chocolate button butterflies...?

These have silvversppon chocolate sprinkles; if I'd have had the Wilton Jimmys they'd look better.
And, as I always have to have a fruit option here are the lemon cakes with orange and lemon butterflies made with Silverspoon jelly sweets:-

I think the crowd liked the Cupcakes :)

On a more sombre note, just before Christmas I had another kitchen bereavement:-

R.I.P my little Russel Hobbs mixer! I think that totals 6 hand mixers in the last 2 years that have been burnt out through overuse! :S

However, continuing with the "New Life" theme... Meet Wendy! :)

My very own KitchenAid in that 1950s-esque soapy blue. I love, love, love her!

And so does everyone else as soon as they set foot in my kitchen.

I'm a very lucky lady to have such beautiful kitchen gadgetry.

Jo :)