Cupcakes, creatures and Holly Bell!

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This isn’t a recipe today, but I HAD to share with you my day out yesterday with none other than the very lovely Holly Bell.
I had a truly amazing day yesterday (29th). Two reasons; it was my mum’s 74th birthday and we had a family meal out, but before that I attended a course on cupcake decorating with Holly Bell (one of the finalists from the Great British Bake Off).
The theme of the day was creatures & flowers. We were welcomed by the very smily (and very genuinely warm & friendly) Holly at Bridge 67 Cookery School in Smeaton Westerby, Leics. We enjoyed a bite of breakfast over coffee, tea and juice, where we introduced ourselves and were presented with our itinerary and the most comprehensive & detailed set of instructions you could hope for.
Our day in the kitchen then began with a demonstration of Holly’s recipe to make the cupcakes. Then it was our turn to make ours. 12 cupcakes made & cooling later and it was on to making the fondant decorations.
Following a demonstration and with the aid of the wonderfully detailed set of instructions, we first cut some butterflies, flowers & leaves, formed them & left the to dry. (Forgot to photograph these, sorry!)
Next came the cutest little snails. I was surprised that mine did actually look like snails and not just strange slugs, but they really did! *happy dance*
We moved on to ladybirds & rose buds, followed by tortoises and plant pots. By now we were all flying with confidence under Holly’s expert guidance.
A break for lunch brought us beautifully crafted & presented sandwiches, crisps and home made biscuits to die for! There was even a glass of wine for those who wanted it!
Back into the kitchen afterwards we made buttercream that was as smooth and light you could float away as if on a cloud.
Now the assembly began! The buttercream was tinted as green as grass in the sunniest of meadows and our we ‘planted’ our roses and sat our ladybirds down in the sun beside them.
We rolled fondant & impressed a wood grain effect ready to place our snails; complete with a leaf or two to munch on.
Green fondant became grass on which our tortoise sat beside a pretty little plant pot of blooms.
A white full moon background became home to our owls; resting on a branch being all wise and seeing.
While others made ducks, I made robins and sat them on the sea of a swirly blue bird bath.
Holly taught us to pipe ‘roses’, ‘swirls’ and ‘high hat’ with buttercream on which we ‘landed’ our butterflies before we painted, glitzed and embellished them to shine & sparkle.
We were given lovely gold cake boxes into which we brought our creations home to share with our loved ones.
Mine came with us to the restaurant (complete with my cake stand) as a centrepiece for mum’s birthday. Mum loved them & they also received admiring glances and complimentary remarks from the waiters & waitresses too.
We sadly had to leave Holly and the cookery school at 5:15pm, but not before we were each given a bag of her wonderful homemade biscuits to enjoy later with a cup of tea.
Armed with the wonderful memory of a fantastic day with a fabulous teacher in the company if some truly talented and lovely ladies, not to mention incredibly detailed notes for our future creations, we hugged and sadly said our farewells. Not goodbye but see you again in the future!
Holly, I wish you the best of everything I would hope for myself. You have a wonderful personality, a kind nature & a skill in presentation & teaching that many would envy! May your future take you to the moon & back. Your butterfly wings have grown; let them unfurl and you will fly!
Love, hugs and thanks xxx

Pannini with mozzarella & pesto

Pannini with mozzarella & pesto
Another quick lunch recipe from me today:  Pannini with Sun-dried tomato pesto, tomato and Mozzarella.  Quick, easy and oh, so tasty!
 
Simply take:
 
1 pannini per person and slice horizontally
Spread generously with some Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (my fave is by Sacla)
Top with slices of fresh tomato
Add a couple of slices of Mozzarella cheese
 
 
 

I make mine in my sandwich press (one with flat plates) for a few minutes until golden and the cheese has melted.

You’ll find that the mozzarella cheese goes a little bit chewy, so be careful when you bite into it.

Enjoy!  x

Home made Humous

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I was after something quick and tasty to cook for lunch today so this is what I made.


There are lots of recipes out there for Humous (as well as lots of ways of spelling it!) This is the one that I use;

1 x 400g tin Chick peas, drained and rinsed
½tsp (2.5ml) Sea Salt (or to taste)
3 cloves of Garlic, peeled
4 tbs (60ml) Tahini paste
1 Lemon, juiced
¼tsp (1.25ml) Cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2-4tbs Soured cream

And this is how easy it is to make…

1. Place all of the above into a food processor, apart from the soured cream, and blitz to a smooth paste (this takes a few minutes).
2. Stop the processor after each minute or so and scrape down the sides to ensure that it is all evenly blended.
3. Adjust the lemon juice, salt and Cayenne pepper to your personal taste; adding a little more if necessary.  This mixture will still be quite thick.
4. Mix in a couple of tablespoons of soured cream and blend further.
5. Continue to add the soured cream, a tablespoon at a time, and then blend until you achieve the right consistency.  Personally I like it to ‘blob’ off the spatula.

6. Serve with hot toasted pitta breads or vegetable sticks such as carrots, celery, peppers etc.

Spiced apple & sultana cake

Spiced apple & sultana cake

9oz (250g) Plain Flour
2tsp (15ml) Baking powder

½tsp (2.5ml) Salt

1½tsp (7.5ml) mixed spice
4oz (110g) Granulated sugar
1 egg
5 floz (140ml) Milk
3floz (90ml) Corn oil
6oz (170g) Apple, chopped
1oz (25g) Sultanas
1oz (25g) Walnuts, chopped (optional)
2-3tbs (30-45ml) Soft brown sugar
Icing:
Juice of one lemon
Icing sugar


Oven temperature 190C / Gas Mark 5

Ok let’s cook!

1. Into a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, mixed spice and sugar together.


2. In a separate bowl/jug mix your egg, milk and oil.



3. Mix together until just combined.  Do not beat and don’t worry if there’s a small lump or two.  Just make sure that all the flour mix is combined.



4. Stir in the chopped apple & sultanas.



5. Don’t worry that this mixture seems a little dry as the apples will release some liquid as they’re cooked.



6. Pour your mixture into a greased traybake tin (or disposable foil traybake tray).  Alternatively, divide between 12 large muffin cases/wraps.




7. Sprinkle the top with the walnuts (if using) and then the sugar.



8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked.



9. Allow to cool and then mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make quite a thick icing.  Drizzle randomly over the top of the cooled cakes.



These can be served still warm from the oven or left to cool.  They’re also lovely warm topped with custard or ice cream.