My middle son has it right (or second eldest as I like to call him, so fearful am I of ‘middle child’ syndrome); he gives up chocolate for Lent.
Now this is not a humble-brag about how wonderful my son is, how he is already able to deny himself pleasure in the quest for enlightenment. Oh no. He actually doesn’t like chocolate. He’s a chocolate rejector (what did I do wrong?!) so for him, giving up chocolate is no hardship. He doesn’t eat it anyway. But it does get him brownie points with his teachers and other parents. READ MORE
I’m not going to mess about. I have stuff to do. The kids are at their Dad’s house over the Easter weekend so it is DIY central here. There’s a drain to unblock, a fence to erect, shelves to drill in and lino for a playhouse to buy. I have even painted the inside of the playhouse with rogue tester pots. Yes, I’m THAT kind of busy. READ MORE
Easter is calling and for me, I stick with tradition. It has to be lamb. But tradition only needs to reach so far.
This recipe combines the flavours released from dry roasting the spices with the more urgent heat from fresh chilli and ginger. The combination is a winner. And how long you cook the lamb is totally up to you. I am not one to dictate whether your lamb is pink and juicy or slow cooked and falling apart. READ MORE
I love Simnel cake. I love all things Eastery in flavour. And as the mother of hungry boys, flapjack has a special place in my heart. So, this Simnel Easter flapjack is everything and more that I’m looking for in an Easter treat. Simple, moreish, not too hard on the pocket and really rather Eastery indeed. READ MORE
We’ve been decorating again. We ruin every holiday with trips to Wickes, Ikea and the Dulux Decorator centre. I worry that the boys will only have memories of misery amongst DIY tools from their childhood. That and being asked not to touch the baked goods as they’re for work. READ MORE
I wasn’t going to blog this. I kind of dislike when people talk about the good they do. I was taught to be humble, don’t brag… all that jazz. But a few folks asked for the details of these baking kits we are selling at my son’s school in the week before the Easter holidays and if it helps other people raise money for good causes, then hey, it’s worth sharing. So here I am talking about how altruistic I am. Apologies. Anyway, if you end up making some of these up I hope they sell well and raise lots of money. READ MORE
I really wanted to post something hugely traditional like a Simnel cake, some regular hot cross buns or even some kind of lamb dish.
But I couldn’t. I opened the larder door and the chocolate chips called to me. I had some yeast sachets that needed using up, plus some strong white flour that’s almost done for. And I really don’t like waste you see. It bothers me hugely.
The rest is history. But look! They’re very pretty. See:
Grease and line a 20cm springform tin with clingfilm – this is important as it makes it much easier to remove later. Mix the biscuits, melted butter and sugar together (you can use a food processor if you wish), stir in the chocolate chips and press into the tin using the back of a metal spoon. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
To make the cheesecake layer, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in a stand mixer, with an electric handheld mixer or with a wooden spoon until combined. Then gently fold through the whipped double cream with a large metal spoon. Spoon a third onto your chilled biscuit base, then add half of the crème egg pieces, add another third, then the rest of the crème egg pieces and then the last third of the cheesecake mixture. Smooth until flatish and pop back in the fridge for 1 hour.
Melt the chocolate in short bursts in the microwave or over a bain marie then add the oil, stirring well. Pour over the top of the cheesecake and add the mini crème eggs to the top. Chill for another 2 hours.
To serve gently remove the springform tin and unpeel from the clingfilm. Cut into slices using a knife dipped in hot water for clean cuts, though beware this dessert is messy when served. Gobble it up quickly!
Failure can be a good thing. Take London for example. The first time I took a solo trip to London it was a disaster.
In 1999 I was a fresher at Liverpool University, studying for a degree in English Language & Literature. One day I bought a copy of Vogue. Now given I was a chunky size 14 this was ill advised. However this copy did feature a writing competition. Which I of course, being full of arrogant youthfulness, entered.
Months later I received a very proper looking embossed letter telling me I hadn’t won, but I was a runner up. How exciting! Imagine! A girl from Leicester, via Liverpool, being invited to London! All the L’s and all the exclamations. At this point I should have been happy in my triumph, left it there and declined. But I didn’t.
I bought a pashmina. Because that’s what I imagined women in London who were invited to Vogue House might wear. It was beige. I also bought a pair of pedal pushers in a kind of gold colour. They fit badly and made my already reasonable sized backside look gargantuan. I also wore a white loose fitting peasant style T shirt. And heels. A pair of heels that barely fit, were again beige, and hurt considerably. Oh and a beige handbag that didn’t fit much in. Not an umbrella for instance.
But wait! The horror wasn’t complete! I decided, the night before I caught the train to London, from my teenage bedroom in Leicester, to fake tan my whole body.
Reader, I don’t think I need to tell you how bad I looked. A beige monstrosity, streaked in orange. It rained in London, as it often does, and I, being a girl from up North, had no idea that carrying an umbrella in the heat of the capital’s summer might be a good idea. I arrived; wet, streaked, stressed and beige.
I managed to sit through the lunch, in a panelled board room, with Alexandra Shulman (Editor), Miranda Sawyer (Journo) and Nick Hornby (Author), the latter whose work I bought days before to swot up on.
Shulman and I didn’t speak. I imagine she was concerned the beige horror might be a contagious disease. Sawyer chatted kindly, though clearly not engaged in anything a 19 year old student might have to say. (I don’t blame her). Nick was lovely. So interested in everyone. A real gent.
I took the Midland Mainline back to Leicester on the to pick up my Fiat Panda, feeling London was so very unattainable to me. I had embarrassed myself and done a disservice to every girl from the Midlands trying desperately to reinvent herself.
Just 3 years later I moved to London, again, solo. And it was anything but a disaster. I loved it. And I never wore a beige pashmina again. Or gold pedal pushers. (The same can’t be said for my love affair with ‘Holiday Skin’ fake tan).
I made a lovely video with the Scoff folks to show how to make these very easy white chocolate mousse eggs. You can see the vid on my YouTube channel and also the Scoff one. You can watch it below too.
Makes about 9 though depends on the size of your chocolate eggs
For the curd:
70g castor sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
For the mousse:
2 large eggs, separated
125g white chocolate
9 hollow milk chocolate eggs (though how many you fill will depend on the size of your eggs of course)
Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, allow to cool a little. Locate something to stand the finished eggs in – an empty egg box would be perfect.
Make the curd by placing a pan of simmering water over a medium heat and placing a heat proof bowl over the top, being careful that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Place the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice into the bowl and whisk. Stir until completely dissolved.
Then add the eggs and whisk intermittently for 10 minutes until the curd has thickened. Chill in the fridge.
To make the mousse, whisk the egg yolks until pale and creamy then add in the melted chocolate and whisk well.
In a very clean bowl whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks then add 1 tbsp into the mousse to loosen it a little – simply beat it in with a wooden spoon.
Then add in the rest of the whisked egg whites and fold into the mousse with a metal spoon using a slicing action. Place the mousse in the fridge.
Take the hollow chocolate eggs and gently saw off the top of the egg with a sharp knife, just to reveal the inside enough to spoon mousse into. (Don’t worry if some of the chocolate falls into the chocolate egg).
Spoon white chocolate mousse into the hollow eggs and place in the egg box. Spoon a tiny bit of cooled lemon curd into the middle of the mousse before serving.
NB: These hollow eggs must be kept in the fridge until serving. It is advised not to serve raw eggs to young children, pregnant women or the elderly.
I’m a mum of 3 boys, a cookbook writer and also a finalist on the 2011 Great British Bake Off.
I’ve decided to record the recipes I use, partly to save them somewhere and partly in case someone else might like to use them...
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