Happy 2nd Birthday to this little blog of mine!
I know it has been an age (I am so so sorry) but I thought I should celebrate a second year of florashedden.com. A lot has changed since I set up my wee corner of the internet – the photos thankfully are one of them! I unfortunately missed my (our?) 1st birthday due to the minor issue of filming a semi final and a complete cocoa carousel collapse, so in all fairness a cake and some favourite snaps was due. Here is what I have been up to since I last checked in:
- since January I have been pretty much solely focused on the book. The process has been fascinating and I am now itching for you all to see it.
- two weeks ago we finished the beautiful beautiful photos by my all time favourite lady Laura Edwards (SQUEAAAAAL!) This was my favourite part of the process and I love it so much already. What a phenomenal, gorgeous, funny and creative team I had, I adore you all: Tab, Annie, April, Laura, Kendal, Jaz, Eleanor and Sybella. THANK YOU.
- last week I moved home after my lease finished at the lovely Harbour House. Though I will miss the lovely sea and baltic St Andrews wind, hopefully I will now have more time to blog!
- it has been a summer full of wedding cakes and bakes
- and I have been busying myself with lots of other exciting projects that I can hopefully tell you all about soon
All in all I have had a pretty bloomin’ good two years and I am so grateful for the lot of you that tune in and listen to my sporadic updates, nonsense tweets, constant photos, ridiculous playlists, and general blethering. It has been such a giggle – here is to another two years of salt, sugar and silliness!
Tomorrow’s the day, and yet again I am quite unorganised. We have been feasting on mid week pancakes in the flat quite a lot recently so maybe we could just call the whole thing done? I will try and summon the courage to make some tomorrow, however I cannot guarantee anything… It’s been a bit manic my end as I am fast approaching the deadline for the book manuscript. I am spending all hours of the day cooking, testing, scribbling notes, washing the dishes and then come the night sitting on my laptop writing it all down. I really love it, but boy is it time consuming! My inbox is in a very sorry state also and lots of things have fallen off the endless to do list but we are getting there – one final push! And so I leave you with my very trusty “drop scone” recipe, one I have been using for all 20 of my years. The whipped maple butter is a lovely alternative to the hundreds of cheap sugary toppings normally on offer in the shops. It will also keep for ages in the fridge and is delicious on toast and scones. Happy flipping!
PS if you are looking for a more savoury version to enjoy tomorrow, I have a Courgette and Poppyseed Pancake recipe up on The Scotsman just now. And for those who like music in the kitchen as much as I do, here is the playlist I have had on repeat for the last month.
PANCAKES WITH WHIPPED MAPLE BUTTER
For the pancakes:
225g self-raising flour
40g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 large egg
butter for cooking
For the butter:
150g softened unsalted butter
50g maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
For the whipped butter place the ingredients in a free standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat for five minutes of so until light pale and fluffy. You can use a hand his but it will take longer. Set aside. For the pancakes weigh all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until the batter is smooth. Heat a little butter in a non stick frying pan and use a piece of kitchen roll to make sure the whole pan is covered. Spoon in dollops of the batter, making it as round as possible. The pan should be on a medium heat. Allow to cook for a few minutes or until bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake. Flip and cook for a further few minutes. Serve warm slathered with the maple butter and more maple syrup if you fancy it.
If I am honest the days in between are probably my favourites. Christmas is fun – chaotic, booze fuelled and a lot to juggle and I do really love it – but I love a leftover sandwich more. I hope you are all enjoying an elasticated waistband currently. In the run up to Christmas it all got a bit manic at my end so I forgot to tell you about The Kitchen Cafe, which was on the radio on Christmas Eve. Sorry all. If you want to listen to me talking about the big day, post the big day you can still catch up here. I did, however, think I would share the recipe for my dish on the programme with you (despite it no longer being Christmas) as it will still make for a lovely winter pud or Hogmanay dish. I am really enjoying all of us being home with our crap wifi, disastrous weather and general slow pace lifestyle so I haven’t been cooking a huge amount but I will try and get back to you all with some Hogmanay thoughts and a wee look back at whats been a pretty quiet 2015, NOT! Enjoy the leftover chocolates, sherry and day time telly in the mean time.
Also – what I am listening to this month.
CHOCOLATE CHESTNUT TART
For the pastry:
100g cold unsalted butter
150g plain flour
65g icing sugar
2 tsp cornflour
splash of whole milk
For the filling:
100g cooked and peeled chestnuts (the vacuum packed ones are best)
100g ground almonds
100g softened unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 – 3 large pears
50g dark chocolate chopped roughly
Preheat the oven to 170C. To make the pastry blitz all the in ingredients in a food processor adding the milk at the end to bring the dough together. Alternatively Rub the butter into the flour, cocoa, sugar and cornflour until it all comes together again adding the milk at the end to bind it. Cover and chill for 20 mins at least. During this time make the filling. Grate the cooked chestnuts using your finest grater and add them to a bowl with the almonds, butter and sugar. Mix well until you have a paste like batter then add the eggs baking powder and vanilla. Mix again until smooth. You can add a few tbsp of booze if you want at this stage. Finely slice your pears (skin on). To assemble, roll the chilled pastry out on a floured surface until roughly 3mm thick. Use it to line a 20cm fluted and loose bottomed tart tin. Press thoroughly into the sides then trim off any overhanging pastry. Place the filling into the tart and spread until smooth all over. Fan the pear slices over the top before finishing with the chopped chocolate around the edges. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the chestnuts filling is cooked through (it will not longer be soggy to touch). Enjoy with a big dollop of dairy (or if you have any left over some brandy butter – I won’t tell if you don’t!)
The first time I cooked artichokes was in the French Alps. We have been a few times and it’s normally in the middle of July, when the weather is promised to be hot and the tourist scene quiet (no snow, no go for some). What we went to however was 8C and pissing rain. We lit the fire in the chalet four times in one week. At home there was a heatwave and a water drought. Brits abroad eh? In an attempt to keep spirits high we tried not to dwell on it, ate plenty of ice cream, marched around lovely old castles in anoraks and visited the markets in the nearby village. It was here that I first spied globe artichokes, and of course bought them instantly. We returned back up the very foggy hill and lit the BBQ in shelter to prevent the drizzle putting it out. After I wrestled with the green flowers for a good hour, shed a tear over the wastage, then realised I should have soaked them all in lemon water, we set about charring them. This was a slow, damp process, outside in the dark. Mum cooked fish inside using an oven, prepared a salad, bread and some dressing, and did the cooking equivalent of lapping me. Twice. The result, however, was delicious and we gorged on a new found favourite. That was until dad lost a tooth on a very tough exterior leaf I had failed to remove. We have two weeks of holiday pictures with “toothless wonder”. Since then I have practiced my artichoke prep, and no one else has lost a tooth. I jump at any chance to get whole artichokes nowadays and picked up these lovely ones from Roots and Fruits in Glasgow on my last trip. We did, despite it all, have a very nice trip to the Alps.
4-6 globe artichokes
1 large lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Begin by juice half of the lemon. Add to a large bowl of cold water. To prep the artichokes begin at the bottom of the “head” if you like. Clip the tough leaves of one by one working your way up until the softer yellow flesh is visible. Once you have reached this stage cut the greener top off so you have only a yellow head. When you cut the top off the bright purple centre should now be visible. Cut in half. Working quickly take the other half of your lemon and rub over the now exposed yellow flesh where you made the cut. This will prevent it browning. Take a teaspoon and scrape out the purple and furry “choke” from the centre, and discard. You should be left with cup shape. Squeeze a little lemon juice into the centre then submerge the whole thing into the prepared lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Once all the artichokes are prepped you need to boil them. Tip the lemon water, the artichokes and the lemon rind from before into a deep pan and place on a high heat for 10 minutes or until a knife can cut them easily. Drain and allow to dry off for a few moments (it won’t take long as they will be hot). Brush with the olive oil and charr them on a screaming hot griddle pan or BBQ that is also very hot. Enjoy with a little more lemon juice and pinch of salt.