Today was the dedication of my friends’ youngest boy, and I made these two gifts in keeping with those I made for his brother a few years ago. Rory is Oliver‘s baby brother and he’s just brilliant! He and Micah bring such joy to us all, they really are the rainbows amid the storms. He now has his very own rainbow hoop, and we all enjoyed his rainbow cake this afternoon!
As usual I turned to my favourite madeira cake recipe (complete with handy tips) and got to make use of my new 6 inch tin for that wee top tier. My trusty tool kit including a pizza cutter, ruler, tape measure and paint brush were put to good use. It was also good to try making some fondant bunting, in the interests of wedding cake research; not long to go now!
I’ve just discovered I missed breakfast week! On work days I don’t manage much breakfast as I’m too busy rushing around to get to work on time, but at the weekend brunch is my favourite meal of the day. Partly because the contrast with my week days feels so luxurious, and partly because I really really love eggs. In fact, I like brunch so much I even have a pinterest board dedicated to it!
I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of my best brunches with you, as captured on instagram (things might be quiet around here but you can still find me over there on a regular basis). Clockwise from top left:
1. Frittata can frequently be found on our menu, and is a great way of using up whatever’s in the fridge. See below for a recipe.
2. I’ve recently discovered green smoothies and they are taking my mid-week breakfasts from non-existent to refreshing and healthy. This recipe is a good place to start, although I also love a spinach-orange-pineapple-grape combo.
3. Another regular visitor to our breakfast table is some sort of strata. There is a great starter recipe here, but again this is a good way of emptying your fridge. I like to add bacon, chorizo, leek, spring onion, mushrooms, stilton … whatever is kicking around! If you add enough eggs and milk there is no need to let it soak overnight, so don’t worry if you’re not that organised.
4. I’ve shared my favourite pancake recipe with you before: gingerbread pancakes, best served with bacon and maple syrup. Pancakes are handy if you don’t have much in the house, as even without the spices they make a great base for a hearty breakfast.
5. Bonus brunch recipe: I’m intrigued by these cloud eggs! Might have to try them tomorrow.
Now, on to the recipe.
This recipe is fairly flexible, so feel free to change it up depending on what you have on hand. The basic method is to saute meat and vegetables, then add eggs and bake until set. This is one of my favourite variations:
1. Melt a knob of butter in a large frying pan. Add 2 rashers smoked bacon, chopped. Once the bacon is cooked, add 1 chopped onion and saute until soft. Add a large handful of spinach and stir until wilted, then remove from the heat.
2. Grease a large casserole dish (the prettier the better where brunch is concerned) and spread the bacon mixture over the bottom of the dish. Scatter over 10-15 cherry tomatoes.
3. Beat 5 large eggs with a splash of milk. Pour over the bacon and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and top with a handful of grated cheese.
4. Bake at 180 C for 20-30 minutes, until set. Serve slices with crusty bread or salad.
I came down with the dreaded festive lurgy a week before Christmas and am only just feeling better, so the Christmas holidays haven’t exactly gone according to plan. Amongst the cancelled plans, prolonged naps, bottles of cough syrup, mountains of tissues and extensive tv watching we did however find room for a little fun, and some good food. There were outside lights and an almost-too-tall tree, a three bird roast and my Mr’s first mince pies (I didn’t want to sneeze in the pastry), lazy mornings and a trip into town. Thankfully I was feeling well enough to host a little ‘winterfiesta’ on Hogmanay, comprising a big pot of chilli and some spiced brownies (a.k.a. these with a little cayenne thrown in to the mix), mulled cider and some papel picado-esque paper snowflakes (for which these templates came in very handy). So those were my holidays; how were yours?
Last Sunday night we bundled ourselves up in our warmest clothes, filled our tummies with pasta and headed out into the cold. We had tickets for Night in the Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a trail of light installations topped off with mulled wine and mince pies in the cafe. The whole experience was kind of magical: being in the gardens at night, the views over the city, the eerie soundtrack, seeing trees and plants from a completely different perspective. It’s amazing how much difference light can make.
I started this year with a photo challenge to encourage me to be brighter and lighter, in an attempt to focus on the good and grump a lot less. This year has brought a lot of joy and excitement but I’m still pretty grumpy, so I’ve decided to close the year the way I began it: with some happy instagramming. I’ll be following these daily prompts throughout December. Feel free to join me!
I’ve long been a fan of that sweet and salty combination, whether in my popcorn or my porridge, so how could I resist this salted fudge brownie recipe when I stumbled across it in a magazine? I know that salted caramel recipes are everywhere these days, but I urge you to try this one. They keep well and are even better on day two or three, if you can hang on to them for that long. They do tend to disappear quickly once people have had a taste!
Salted fudge brownies (recipe from Sainsbury’s magazine)
1. Put 225g unsalted butter, 275g dark chocolate and 400g caster sugar in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally and melt until smooth.
2. Meanwhile, whisk 5 large eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk the melted chocolate mixture into the eggs. Sieve 200g plain flour into the mixture and fold gently until combined.
3. Stir 100g chopped fudge and 10g sea salt (I tend not to measure this, and just add salt to taste) into the mixture. Pour into a 20x30cm baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 25 mins at 180 C / gas mark 4. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into small squares.
For my actual birthday we went to Bruges, ooh-ed and aah-ed over all the prettiness, stayed in a fancy hotel, chilled out in the spa, ate our body weight in frites, worked some of it off cycling around the city, took a bazillion photos, and generally had a wonderful weekend. If you’ve not been to Bruges, you should go! It was perfect for a romantic break away as it’s so small you can walk everywhere and see everything without getting weary and blistered, the food is good, the beer is plentiful, there’s lots to do if you feel so inclined and also plenty of scope for just pottering around and eating and drinking if you don’t.
We flew from Edinburgh to Brussels then had to get two trains to Bruges. This was a bit of a faff but was perfectly fine once we’d worked out which platform to go to – and who doesn’t love a double decker train? Once we got there it was a short walk along cobbled streets to our fabulous hotel (there were even chandeliers in our room, and a big bowl of Moet & Chandon bottles in the bar). There’s hardly any traffic in the city centre – mainly bikes, and horses and carts for the tourists – but the cobbles are not ideal for wheeling suitcases so try to pack light if you’re planning to walk!
If you fancy sight seeing my top tip is to get a city card which includes most of the main sites and is a bargain if you’re there for a few days. Our favourites were the Fritemuseum (yes, really), the Historium, climbing the Belfry (not really, but it has to be done), playing with crossbows at the Gentpoort, the brewery tour (free beer!) and the obligatory boat trip. We also made use of the bike hire discount and had a brilliant day cycling around the city streets and canal paths on our tandem, which was a surprisingly challenging trust exercise too. We eventually mastered starting and stopping without falling off, and had a lot of fun in the process! My second top tip is to have as much Oyya ice cream as you can fit in to your trip. It’s not a holiday without a daily ice cream, right?