Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Baking and Prom Gowns...

The flurry of baking appears to have continued unabated, chocolate swirl meringues, thank you Bill Collison Cook Eat Smile Cookbook, melted mars bar cookies, inspired by Rosie Londoner, and apple and raisin strudels   Yes, finally got round to feeling inspired to use the Filo pastry mistakenly bought the other week for the custard tarts.

The meringues were delish, recipe below, the cookies were ok but to be honest weren't a massive hit with the children nor me and the surprise wild card strudels were little parcels of yuminess.

I used shop bought free range egg whites to make these as I had a carton of them in my fridge, and quite frankly would buy this again as I loved the fact that I didn't end up with a whole load of yokes sitting in the fridge that needed using up; as a result of the simplicity I have knocked up more than one batch of these little beauties.  Be warned though, they are very morish and contain just the right amount of chewiness, that every good meringue should have.

Makes 12 (ish)

100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped or broken
3 large egg whites ( see above)
150g caster sugar
cocoa powder to serve

Pre heat the oven to 150 degrees (130 degrees fan, gas mark 2) and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Heat the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until melted.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Put the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until the sugar is mixed in and the mixture is very stiff and glossy.
Drizzle the cooled melted chocolate over the meringue and use a metal spoon to fold it gently through to create a marble effect with bold chocolate streaks.
Carefully place spoonfuls of meringue in to 12 large dollops on the baking tray making peaks on each one with the back of the spoon.
Put the tray in the oven and cook the meringues for 30 mins.
Turn the oven off and leave them to cool and dry in the oven overnight.

Serve how you like, good with ice cream and strawberries or just on their own.  Yum scrum.  But don't take my word for it, try them out. I suggest you make these last thing in the evening, as this makes it nice and simple to leave in the oven overnight to cool.  It also means you wake up to a lovely batch of chewy chocolate meringues for breakfast...Just saying...

Apple and Raisin Individual strudels

1 packet of Filo pastry (12 sheets)
500g Cooking apples -peeled and cored
50g of Raisins or sultanas
50g dark brown sugar
1/2 lemon- juice only
1 heaped tsp mixed spice
50g of melted butter (I used dairy free spread as my daughter is dairy intolerant)

Pre heat oven to 200 degrees (fan 180 C/ gas mark 6)

Chop the apples into 1cm pieces and place in a bowl with the lemon juice, raisins or sultanas and mixed spice. Mix well.
Unroll filo pastry and brush top sheet with melted butter or spread.
Place onto work top and repeat with 2nd sheet.  Place this ontop of the first sheet.
Repeat with the remaining sheets to 6 double greased sheets.
Place some of the apple mixture along the lower short edge of each sheet leaving a 5cm (1")margin at the base and sides.
Fold sides over the apple and then roll each one up from the lower edge to fully encase the apple.

Place on a lightly greased and lined baking tray.
Brush the strudels with the remaining melted butter or spread and bake for 10 to 12mins til crisp and golden.

Transfer to a cooling rack and dust with icing sugar.

If, like me, you're impatient then get scoffing straight away safe in the knowledge that the remaining can be sampled cold with a cup of tea, coffee or something stronger later.  Possibly once the children have gone to bed.  

To off set the baking, my eldest and I took a trip into London in search of the elusive prom dress for her leavers ball; elusive because her requirements were: needed to be individual, slightly quirky or boho, reflect her personality and most importantly not be worn by anyone else.  Armed with these stipulations, as well as a wish list of what else she'd like to see, we set off.


The 10am start was slightly delayed; whilst she finished her geography GCSE work which then needed to be dropped off at school, in order to meet exam deadlines.

So 11.14am we set slightly stressed mother and an excited 16yr old.

I'd sat up the night before planning our day to maximise things she'd wanted to do as well as favourite haunts of mine that I thought she would enjoy, carefully weaving in food pit stops along the way.  Perhaps the false start was an omen of things to come?

Since the majority of clothes shops needed to fulfil most teenage girls can be found on Oxford Street and Regent Street we headed to Oxford circus with a quick stop off at The Photographers Gallery first.

Sadly this cunning plan did not go so well.  Strolling up to the door arm in arm and laughing about something we'd just seen, we were met with a sign on the door informing us that the gallery would be closed for annual maintenance for that week.  So strike two.  

To off set the disappointment, after a  quick re calibration of the days to do list, we set off for late breakfast and a much needed coffee.  Luckily the gallery is just around the corner from a fab cafe that could cater for just our needs.  The Breakfast club in Soho serves up every cornucopia of foodie delights you'd want to grace a breakfast menu along with some pretty great mexican inspired dishes and all round yummy anytime of day dishes. It also has great coffee.

My 16yr old went for the popular All American; stack of pancakes,eggs cooked how you want, streaky bacon, home style potatoes and herbed sausages whilst I opted for the slightly smaller pancakes and bacon with maple syrup.

I think next time I would go for the El Butty, fried egg and chorizo in a soft roll which had tempted me, but the dinner plan was to head to Patty & Bun for burgers hence opting for what I thought would be the lighter option.  Wanting to be completely transparent, I have to say that I thought the pancakes were a little stodgy; however the overall experience, portion size and lovely waiting staff not to mention the coffee (so great I had to have two cups) more than made up for it.

Overflowing with food we headed for the shops, and that elusive dress.  I'd love to say that it was a quick process, but that would be untrue.  After scouring Regent Street and moving on to Oxford Street, we stumbled into Miss Selfridge just as the light was beginning to fade.  There began the process of trying on every dress in the store.  

27 Dresses later a winner was announced...the very first one that my 16yr old had tried on, of course, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it fulfills all the criteria including not being worn by anyone else.

Will keep you posted.

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