Comfort and Joy – Sunday Sevens 18th March

Radiant and Green Travels book review

Joining Nat’s Sunday Sevens post this week…

It has been a tough six months -moving home and starting a new job, but it seems that things are getting easier – the worst is behind me – a bit like Spring things are starting to bloom. Although right now, I have woken up to a lovely covering of snow!

I have been struggling health wise – back in January I decided to try a wheat free diet – I bought two books Radiant and Green Kitchen travels. I think this decision has added to my misery- Green Travels has a wonderful recipe for chocolate cake that looks delicious but the steps to make it are very complicated – you have to use hazelnut flour that you grind yourself! I have taken the trouble to make it twice now – but my palate has not caught up – it just tasted rubbery and bland! (I do feel a rant coming on but I will save it for another post!)

wheat free peanut butter biscuits

However these little biscuits have been a life saver! My friend, P came over yesterday and I showed her how to make these – they were hot out of the oven in 10 minutes and they are gluten free.

Put 200g of peanut butter in a bowl, add 100 – 175 grams of sugar, ( I use 100g the recipe calls for 175 but I cut down all sugar in recipes) add an egg and mix. Put small balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press with the back of a fork (tip if you want them crisp flatten them down – if you like them crispy on the outside and soft in the middle leave them a bit thicker. Also use dark muscovado sugar) Bake at 180 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Weekend Baking - Lemon Drizzle cake
Lemon Drizzle Cake

It has been a week where I have needed comforting – I’ve had 9 days of constant migraine so I have focussed on home comforts to soothe myself. I love baking – it is such a nurturing comforting activity. So on Monday I made a lemon drizzle cake and a dark ginger cake. The ginger was wrapped in one of my wax cloths (you can read how they are made on my other blog) – it helped the flavour develop for a couple of days and kept it very moist.

Comfort food - Mac Cheese
Comfort food – mac and cheese

I have also been reaching for comfort food in other ways – this Mac cheese was delicious – why should it be that carbs are demonised recently? I think food is so much more than the elements it is made from. I think this week has seen me rebel because despite cutting down on wheat – I am still getting horrendous migraines!

Seasonal Celebrations
Ready to decorate for Spring

My new tree arrived this week – we have a large alcove above the fireplace and I decided to buy an artificial tree to decorate as a way of celebrating the seasons. So I have been gathering items together to decorate it for Ostara which falls on the 20th of March – and Easter just after. I am not a pagan, but I love the story behind Ostara and it seems to be more Germanic – either way, Spring is a welcome guest.

Preparations for Spring Ostara
Eggs, Daffodils, Spring

 

I have been collecting egg shells – as well as polystyrene eggs to decorate – E and I will sit down together to paint them today which should be great fun. I will also save a few for little ones when they visit – we have little chicks too.

I am relishing the glorious bright sunny daffodils in abundance outside as well as in. They are so unashamedly vibrant – which is just what is needed after the dark months of January and February.

moon gazing hare embroidery
Ostara celebration embroidery

I have been loving slow sewing – this little Moon Gazing Hare embroidery was a delight to do – you can catch up with it on my made for mi blog. I am really enjoying hand embroidery – it is similar to colouring – there is no counting just following the lines one stitch at a time. It can be done easily while watching  listening to the Television.

Mini Vintage linen Quilt Embroidery
Mini Vintage Quilt Embroidery

I am using up all old vintage linens, (I found these pieces in a charity shop) to create mini quilts that I will be posting on made for mi soon. I think the sentiment sums up my week!

ttfn x

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tea pot biscuits – domestic child’s play for grown ups

I saw this lovely teapot cookie cutter in TK Max the other week and I could not wait to try it out. It is made up of two pieces one is the teapot shape cutter and the other is a stamp you press out. There is nothing to beat the flavour of buttery biscuits hot from the oven and this recipe can be made ahead of time, stored in the freezer so that when friends drop round unexpectedly, they can be hot on the plate in under twenty minutes, definitely one of those domestic goddess moments with minimal effort. 
Pressing the stamps in the dough feels like child’s play and so much fun sheer domestic bliss! If you can’t get hold of your own teapot biscuit cutter, why not use a stamp from you craft collection, (you can use a surface sanitiser if you need to, but they will be in a hot oven to kill off any bugs!)  There are some wonderful Christmas stamps out that look beautiful stamped across a heart shaped biscuit. They would make lovely home made gifts that are sure to be appreciated. 
8 oz SR flour (If you use plain the shape might stay better) 
5 oz butter
4 oz golden caster sugar
I beaten egg (save some of the white) 
Egg white and sugar to glaze
Sift flour into the bowl and then rub in butter to make breadcrumbs
Add the sugar and mix, then add egg to make a dough
(if the dough is very soft put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to make it easier to handle) 
Roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1/2cm thick
Press the stamps into the dough and then carefully cut round each shape, transfer to a buttered baking tray, wash with egg white and then sprinkle with extra fine/caster sugar.
(or if you wish to freeze place in a plastic tub with a layer of baking parchment to divide them and freeze. When needed can cook these from the frozen, just lay out in a tin)
Let the biscuits firm up in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes before placing in a moderate oven about gas mark 4, 180c or 350F until golden brown. 

Strawberry Shortcake Butterflies


A friend of mine gave me a butterfly cutter that came with a cake decorating magazine, I was having a tea party for friends and thought it would make a different version of the strawberry shortcakes. Mine were just a simple outline of a butterfly but you may be able to get the push button ones from a cake decorating shop that does the impression as well as the cut.

You will discover there are two types of shortcake recipes some versions create a softer mix which is added to a shortbread mould, but this recipe requires a mix that can be rolled out.

Many recipes will allow you to use either butter or margarine, but for shortbread it really does have to be butter, it is not only traditional but gives shortbread its taste, using margarine will give you a bland tasting shortbread. I know butter is very expensive compared with stork, but if you are going to the trouble to make something why scrimp on the ingredients?

200g / 8 oz of soft butter (leave at room temperature for a while it makes beating easier)
100g / 4 oz Caster sugar
250g / 10oz Plain flour
50g / 2 oz Semolina

To decorate: Whipped cream, strawberries and a little strawberry jam.
If you are using fresh cream you need to keep them in the fridge until ready to serve, or you could use buttercream.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, you will see the mixture gets paler the more you beat. When it drops off the beaters easily it is about right

Using a fork, gradually mix in the semolina and flour until the mixture finally comes together, try not to handle it too much or you will lose the air from the mixture.

Press together to form a large ball and then place on a floured surface.

Flour your rolling pin and roll out until it is about 1/2cm thick.

Starting at the edge of the dough, cut the butterfly shapes out carefully – press into the mixture and then use a fish slice underneath to transfer to a greased baking tray, then remove the cutter. It helps to maintain the shape of the butterflies.

Make in pairs cutting the second butterfly along the middle to divide the top wings, move the wings slightly apart from each other so that they will cook separately.

Using a cocktail stick or a butter knife, make indentations to the wings like a butterfly.

Keep cutting the butterflies in pairs until all the mixture has been used up.

Bake in a moderate oven, 160c / 325F or GM 3 for around 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Do not touch the biscuits until they have cooled a little as they will be very soft and fragile. After 20 minutes or so gently ease them off the baking tray and put them on a cooling rack, until they have cooled down completely. (essential as the cream will run if the biscuits are hot).

Take one of the flat butterfly biscuits and place two teaspoons of cream and half a strawberry on each side, and cover with a small spoonful of jam.

Add another small spoonful of cream in the centre, and then press the inside edge of the wing into the centre cream and allow to gently rest on the strawberry. Repeat for the other side.

Continue until you have created all your butterflies.

You can dust with a little icing sugar if you wish, or some edible glitter, and serve.