27 July 2013

The Simple Things: English Summer Garden

I had a few quiet hours yesterday, so I decided to lend a hand in tidying up our garden; weeding, trimming, and pulling up old lettuces and overgrown radishes to be replaced with new seeds. Afterwards, I picked a punnet-full of our strawberries, and treated myself to some whilst I sat in the sunshine. The sweet peas have just begun to flower, so I cut a few to fill up my room with their delicate scent.

24 July 2013

Take Three

#1. Taking advantage of later summer opening times, Mum and I treated ourselves to an ice cream at the new parlour in town, which sells local Yorkshire Wolds ice cream. Today, they were trialling a new flavour, pistachio. This has got to be my favourite ice cream flavour, but it isn't one that I come across often, so I was pretty pleased. I wasn't the only one, it seemed, as we got the very last scoop out from the box; so hopefully we should be seeing this flavour more often. It was the perfect antidote to the confusion of the stormy, humid weather that we've seen this week.

#2. Congratulations to my gorgeous Mum for graduating from a Master's degree of science with clinical research. I am so in awe of the fact that this is now her third degree... I have a lot to live up to! It was a busy day of cancelled flights down to Southampton, but I am so proud.

#3. Happy summer holidays! I am finally off for the next six weeks. I've ended up baking twice in two days -flapjacks and lemon drizzle traybakes -and I am looking forward to taking inspiration from my Flavour Thesaurus to start experimenting a little more, like in this post. Today's leisurely lunch was a wrap filled with turkey, cooked peppers, and guacamole (which I make with avocado, lemon juice, mango chutney and chopped chillies). Delish.

23 July 2013

All those hazy, lazy days of summer

This last term, post exams, has seemed to have gone on forever! Happily though, I am finally on my summer break, with a bit more time on my hands to spend on my interests and blogging. I should even be starting driving lessons soon, after some seven months of procrastination, so watch out if you find yourself on the roads near me!

I am all ready to go off to Turkey on holiday, and finally get some sailing in, since I am currently on the market for a new boat and haven't been out on the water this year. I'll also be windsurfing, doing early morning yoga and hopefully trying a bit of diving -in short, keeping myself as close to the water in the mid-summer Mediterranean heat as possible! Then, I'll be hoping onto a train and making my way down to see the lovely Miriam of The English Mademoiselle Diaries.

My challenge for August is to take the veggie challenge. I'd like to spend a few weeks with a lower impact diet, by removing the more intensive, polluting meat from my plate, and hopefully becoming a more inventive cook in the process. I will allow myself a couple of seafood dishes a week, since I don't eat much of  that anyway, and as seafood is still largely a wild product. I should be keeping a food diary on this, so you can all see how I am doing.

In the meantime though, I am looking at updating my blog layout, so watch this space!

Until next time xxx

4 July 2013

Thyme-infused Ganache

Recently, I was asked to take part in a flavour pairing event run by Aero. I was soon sent my kit in the post containing the impressively-sized Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, along with a bar of Aero mint and orange bubbles. The chocolate was spotted immediately by my family, and disappeared before you could say "Nestle".
The book however, provided me with a more lasting satisfaction as I perused through all the listed combinations with chocolate. The Flavour Thesaurus, although not something that I might of necessarily bought myself, looks like it may well prove to be invaluable, as a brief skim through has left me feeling inspired and ready to become more experimental in the kitchen.
Lots of ingredient combinations caught my interest, but in the end I decided to pair my chocolate dish with thyme. As soon as I read this, I knew that it would work; I could imagine the flavours in my head and knew exactly what I wanted to make.

We have plenty of thyme in our garden, so after arriving home today, I set about preparing my infused ganache. Make sure that the cream isn't too hot; if your 37 degree skin can melt chocolate, then boiling liquid will almost certainly cause it to split.

Thyme-infused Chocolate Ganache
  • 125g good quality dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • 100ml double cream, extra thick if it is availible
  • 2-3tsp fresh thyme
Chop the chocolate up as finely as possible, and place in a bowl.
Add the cream and thyme to a milk pan, and gently heat, using a really low heat to allow the thyme to infuse its flavour fully. When the cream starts to feel hot to touch, but not boiling, remove from the heat. Strain off the thyme leaves, and pour evenly over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes while the chocolate melts, then stir into a smooth, glossy mixture.
Line a rectangular tin with greaseproof paper, and pour over the ganache, spreading into a even layer between 1cm and 1.5cm thick. Leave in a cool place -not the fridge if you can help it -to set, before cutting it up into squares, shapes using icing cutters. 
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