Friday, 30 March 2012

Pinapple upside down cake

Pineapple upside down cake is one of those cakes on my 'list' of cakes to make. I've only eaten it a couple of times, but I'm always enticed by the red glace cherries and the lovely golden caramelised pineapple ring's. It's pretty retro, and my mum always tells me of how she used to make it in domestic science (cookery class) when she was younger.
I served ours with minted mascarpone which is so fresh and delicious (recipe further below)
 Here is my adapted version of Nigella's cake.
Some recipes caramelise their pineapple first,some don't, but I prefer to so you get that lovely golden colour!

1oz butter
2oz caster sugar
6-8 slices pineapple from a 425g can, plus 3 x 15ml tablespoons of the juice
1 small tub of glace cherries
100g flour
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g soft butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Melt the butter and sugar in a non stick frying pan on a medium heat. Now add the slices of pineapple so that start to caramelise and brown nicely (without burning).
Now leave them to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Butter a square tin roughly 20 x 20 cm   (neither loose-bottomed nor spring form).
 Arrange the pineapple slices to make a pattern like in the below picture.
Fill each pineapple with a cherry, and then scatter them around the edges and any spare gaps.

Cream the butter and sugar. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla paste. Now mix together the dry ingredients, and gently fold into the wet ingredients.
Use the pineapple juice to loosen the mixture a little.

Pour the mixture carefully over the cherries and pineapple rings. The mixture will only just cover the bottom layer so don't worry if you think you haven't made enough!
I used a spatula. Make sure you don't reposition the cherries accidentally whilst doing the 'smoothing'.
Bake for 30 minutes. Now ease a spatula around the edge of the tin, place a plate on top and, with one swift movement, tip the cake the right way up!

The following pictures are taken with instagram!

Minted Mascarpone
A handful of fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon peppermint flavouring
1 tub mascarpone
300ml double cream

Wash your mint leaves if they are from your garden (like mine). Now blitz them until they are finely chopped in a food processor. Now add them to a bowl, along with the peppermint flavouring. Add the mascarpone and cream, giving them a good mixing together. Chill for 20 minutes or so, and there you have it! a gorgeous alternative to plain cream or ice cream. I first had this at Piccolino's in Manchester with Scott for my birthday meal, it was delicious and i couldn't wait to get home and give it a go myself!

The mascarpone really lifted the cake, and made the perfect combination. It also works really well with chocolate brownies and fondant's!

We had this after our main meal as part of our 'Thursday family night'. Even though my Dad was on a furniture delivery and Scott was on holiday skiing! But myself, grandma, grandad and mum had a lovley meal no-the less :)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Charm Bracelet's

Charm Bracelet's make me happy.

Charm bracelet's are gorgeous thing's. I really like making my own out of quirky one off pieces that I find and collect.
This is one I made recently. I really love the lamb charm Which is just a plastic toy lamb from a farm toy collection which I put a hole and jump ring through to make a charM. The yellow sickle is from a car boot sale (I had to rummage deep to find this) the pink vile is a Harry Potter Lego piece. I used to adore Harry Potter Lego, and built my own castle and surrounding buildings that were my interpretation of Hogwarts when I was younger. The skeleton foot is from a Simpson's magazine where they gave away a free build your own skeleton. The iron is from an old Monopoly game, and the other pieces were just in one of my jars full of plastic-y rubbish (which I love and don't really think are rubbish).
 This bracelet is a vintage one that my mum got for me from another car boot sale. It's beautiful but kept breaking. I took it apart and replaced the jump rings so now it still has it's lovely old look, but is now wearable!
Ive already posted about this particular charm bracelet, but I thought it should be included in this post as it is beautiful and part of my now expanding collection. It was my Grandma's and is very special to me!
And finally this piece which I made for college. Were doing a project about a journey, and these are all thing's I found on my journey, including fag ends, ring pulls, cap gun plastics etc. I really like how it turned out!
I love the colour of the pink vile! And it reminds me of the hours I used to spend building Lego things :)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Summer dresses, seabear and abstract dinosaurs!

A few moment's using instagram

1. New Earrings from new Look £3.99
2. Some gorgeous vintage toy rabbit's from my dad as a present
3. Trying on pretty summer dresses in Topshop
4. Seabear cooling down in the pool with all this sun were having.
5. Cecily's abstract dinosaur in college
6. More Seabear
7. Spending time with Georgie (GG) who's back from uni!
8. Mother's Day Victoria sponge  

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Frogspawn - tadpoles

Ever since I was little, I always wanted a pond, full of frogs, newts and fish! Maybe it came from one of my favourite childhood books/film - Matilda (when she has that cute little newt in the jam jar) or maybe it's just because Ive always liked gross slimy things, but anyway, Ive always wanted one!
Two summers ago a friend gave me a jar full of tadpoles and I was hooked! I spent that summer digging a pond, rearing tadpoles and creating a suitable environment around the pond for them with bushes and plants 
This is a photo from last year of my friend Nigel, who's pond is full annually of frogspawn.
The process starts with frogspawn like the above. You need pond or river water to keep them as tap water contains chlorine which will kill the tadpoles. I keep mine in a large plastic box in our porch.
The interesting thing about tadpoles (I'm a real frog nerd so this kind of things is very exciting) is that when they are grown indoors, their rate of development speeds up by about 3x faster than they would in the wild. It's because they react to the temperature around them, so as it warmer in the house than outside, my tadpoles have developed really quickly!
They spent 1 week in the jelly-like spawn, and between the 1st - 2nd week they began to 'hacth' from the jelly and swim freely. They were much smaller at first, but now after 4 weeks like the above picture, they have doubled in size.
They have a large head, and thin tail, and breathe only under water. Between week 6-8 (indoors) they will begin to form feet, and eventually arms, and will be able to breathe out of the water.
I feed my tadpoles pond plants (algae) but also they eat fish food! I use goldfish's fish food, the flakey variety.
I cant' wait for them to grow legs and arms etc! And I will keep you updated on their progress :)

Other creatures I have in my pond are Newts! I had these from Nigel's pond last year, but they were already fully formed, but occasionally I like to fish them out of the pond to see how big they've got! This little fella had a wonderful orange and black spotted belly.

 I put him in a container for a little while so I could document him, then i put him back in the pond! I don't feed these or do anything special for them, they feed and live of the environment!

 He's just so cute!
I just love nature and bugs, frogs and little creppy thing's. I just find it all so fascinating!
This is my pond! It's now two years old, and eventually I will put the tadpoles/ small frogs into them, but not until they are fully formed :) It's quite simple to make, but does require a lot of enthusiasm! I used rubber lining , and was given a few pond plants by my driving instructor. Unfortunately Seabear (My dog Molly) decided that she wanted to cool down in the pond the other day, and she snapped my water Lillie's! Fortunately the root is still there so they will grow back.. eventually!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Grandma's Chocolate Cake

 This is a secret recipe that my grandma uses for a biscuity chocolate cake which we have at special occasions and it's a real family favourite. I like to add caramelised almonds to the top as a little twist, but it is still the same recipe from 57 years ago when my grandparents bought their first stove and were given a recipe book free with this cake recipe in it!
Here is the recipe for the caramelised almonds.....
1 packet of flaked almonds
1 teaspoon of water
1oz icing sugar

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 8.
Place the almonds in a sieve and wet them slightly under a tap for a few seconds. Then sprinkle them with the icing sugar, making sure to coat as many of them as possible. Now line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and spread the almonds on the sheet. Now place in the oven for 5- 10 minutes, making sure you keep a close eye on them so they don't burn. Then take them out of the oven and leave to cool.
(pictures at the bottom)
I made it the other day as a treat and it still tastes so good.



Cheese on toast beth stylee

I love cheese on toast. It's one of those delicious foods that always makes you feel better, especially when your ill. This week i was not ill, but after making these as a snack before going to Abersoch a few weeks back, I have developed a new food obsession from them.
The recipe is from my grandma's cook book which she's had since she married my grandad, and its full of old recipes in a beautifully worn out handwritten book. It's become a bit of a family heirloom now and its been the source of many scrummy meals!
1 egg
3 handfuls of grated cheese
2-3 Slices of toast (depending on how cheesey you want them to be)
Salt&Pepper to taste

This makes roughly 2-3 slices

1. Grate your cheese into a bowl.
2. Now whisk in your egg. Don't worry if it looks a little wet, it's meant to at this stage, and the egg will fully cook !
3. Add some salt and pepper

4. Toast your toast briefly for a minute, or until fractionally toasted. This is just so both sides are slightly firmer.
5. Now spread your mixture on your toast, and grill on high for roughly 5 mins or until browned. If your cheese has toasted too quickly, lower the heat to ensure all the egg has been cooked.
And there you have it! Wonderfully thick, creamy warm cheese on toast :) I find the egg lessens the grease that you can sometimes get from just grilling the cheese.