So BritMums Live 2014, the UK’s biggest social media and bloggers conference has come and gone. I originally had no intention of going but I was lucky enough to be one of the 6 finalists in the BiBs awards and decided to treat myself to a couple of days of ‘me’ time in London. Sadly I didn’t go on to win the award but Lucy of Supergolden Bakes was a very well deserved winner. If you haven’t already come across her blog then go and have a look – it’s gorgeous. Thanks again to everybody who took the time to vote more me. It was a very special experience.
The event itself was full of positive energy and was packed with energetic and passionate speakers, leaving me feeling completely reenergised about my blog and about life in general. I love blogging but the one area I find the most difficult is building my social media presence. I am just not comfortable with the whole numbers game and find it hard to chase followers purely for the purpose of stats. It was therefore such a delight to listen to the lovely Jaume Marin from the Costa Brava Tourism talk about building relationships between their brand and travel bloggers. As a brand they believe not in the number of followers that you have but more in how you interact with your followers. This just makes perfect sense to me and I applaud their passion and common sense attitude to working and promoting their brand as well as the bloggers they work with. I left that session wishing I was a travel blogger 🙂
So what did I get out of my two days at BritMums Live apart from loads of good advice and meeting the lovely Lucy and Elizabeth? The answer is simply a renewed confidence in myself and a desire to be more creative with my time. It is not just about being a wife and a good Mum – it is about doing something for yourself, something that you love and that makes you happy.
And on that note I leave you with an all time classic dessert of a simple but delicious Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue. Perfect for summer entertaining.
I am very honoured (and proud) to have two guest bloggers today. They are Sean, who is 7 years old and Kirsty who is 5 years old and as you can probably guess they are my children.
It is half term holidays at the moment and the weather has been so bad that the kids have been stuck indoors for the last couple of days. It was while I was cooking lunch that my son asked if he could make dessert and then put it on my blog. At first I said no but then thought why not. It would give them something constructive to do and pass a couple of hours. I often make these pink and white fruit kebabs as they are perfect for after a heavy meal, they’re healthy and look pretty on the plate too. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own strawberry sauce then just use 120g pureed strawberries and mix with 90g of strawberry yoghurt and 2 tblsp of double cream.
While I was getting everything ready, my son came up with the idea of doing a video. I have no idea how to edit videos so this is the original unedited version.
Just a bit of fun on a cold and wet day.
PS Apologies to my kids for cutting their heads off at the end of the video.
I’m off to count how many times my son says ‘pop it’ 🙂
This is going to be another quick post as the deadline for this month’s The Spice Trail is nearly up and I wanted to submit this delicious recipe for Poached Pears. My Mum made this dessert for our Christmas lunch and it was so light and tasty that I know I will make it again and again. What I love about this recipe is that everything can be made the day before so that all you have to do ‘on the day’ is plate it up. Perfect if you are entertaining. The white chocolate cream and brandy snap tuiles just finish it off nicely.
Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds and place them in a pan together with the red wine, caster sugar and cinnamon stick.
Slice the vanilla pod into three long pieces and add to the pan.
Peel the pears, trying to keep as much of the shape as possible and leave the stalk intact.
Lower the pears into the red wine mixture.
Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and poach the pears, covered for 20 - 30 minutes. The pears are ready when they are tender all the way through.
Remove the pears from the pan and continue to gently boil the red wine syrup until the mixture has reduced by half and has turned syrupy.
The pears may be stored for up to two days if kept in the syrup in the refrigerator.
To make the Brandy Snap Tuiles
Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Cool slightly.
Gradually beat in the brandy and flour until the mixture is smooth.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Using a teaspoon, drop spoonfulls of mixture on to the baking tray.
Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.
Use a metal spatula to remove the biscuits from the tray and place over a small bottle (spice bottles are perfect size) to shape into a tuile. If the biscuits start to harden on the tray just pop your tray back into the hot oven for a couple of seconds and they will soften again.
Store the brandy snap tuiles in an airtight container.
To make the white chocolate cream
Melt your white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Allow to cool slightly and then stir in the cream.
Add the mascarpone and icing sugar and mix until well combined.
Store the chocolate cream in the refrigerator.
Bring the pears back to room temperature.
Place a pear on each plate and spoon some of the red wine syrup over each pear.
Spoon some of the white chocolate cream into a brandy snap tuile and dust with cinnamon powder.
I woke up yesterday to the news that there was a family wedding taking place that very afternoon. Now this wasn’t your normal kind of wedding that takes 12 months to organise. No this one had to be done in a day! The bride, aka Puzzy and the groom, aka Fuzzy are bears that live with us and no they are not real bears – that’s right – we were hosting a wedding for two stuffed bears. My six year old son loves detail so I knew this would be a well thought out wedding. I was right. He made a red carpet out of cardboard which was the length of the living room floor. All the other soft toys were laid out as guests. A small lavender sachet became the ring cushion upon which lay a jewel any girl would be proud of. The bride had a gorgeous fuchsia pink veil attached to her ears with clothes pegs. The fact that she wore nothing else did not seem to concern neither my son nor my daughter. The groom had a paper kilt made for him with a sgian-dubh attached to the front. This was worn in typical Simon Cowell fashion – up round the armpits and again with no other clothes. Super Monkey was brought in as the priest wearing only red briefs and a red cape. Music was by Coldplay.
My job in all this was Head of Catering. The Groom requested chocolate cake and the bride wanted raspberries. I thought I would go the extra mile and made some chocolate cupcases which once the cake was baked I placed into the chocolate cases and then decorated with cream and raspberries.
I also thought long and hard about a gift for the couple and so while all the preparations were taking place I made up this cute little cupcake holder in the shape of an oven.
I can’t imagine many brides who wouldn’t want a brand new pink oven to start off her new life of married bliss.
This also leads me nicely into the fab competition which is being run by Rangecookers.co.uk. All you have to do is make and blog about a cupcake to win a Select 90 dual fuel range cooker in stainless steel. Now I may pretend to care what two stuffed bears would like for their wedding but in reality I’m thinking of a gorgeous new oven for myself. Selfish, I know.
Anyway, back to the wedding. The day was a great success – the bears are off on honeymoon to the Isle of Toyland, the kids had great fun, and I enjoyed watching the creativity that every 6 and 4 year old should be allowed to express.
If you would like to make these gorgeous, deliciously moist, fresh chocolate cupcakes served in their own edible chocolate cupcases and drizzled with tangy raspberry sauce (yes I really do want to win that oven) then here is the recipe …
Beat together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until light and creamy.
Add the egg and beat well.
Add the jam and beat until smooth.
Fold in sifted flours, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa alternately with the buttermilk until nice and smooth.
Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre.
Leave cakes to cool completely before decorating.
Whip cream and icing sugar together until thick.
Pipe cream onto cakes and decorate with fresh raspberries and raspberry sauce.
I served these cupcakes in edible chocolate cases which I made by melting chocolate and coating silicone moulds before placing in the freezer to set. Once set, peel off the moulds and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I made the raspberry sauce by blitzing fresh raspberries with a touch of lemon juice and icing sugar to taste and then passing through a sieve to remove any seeds.
These blueberry and thyme curd tarts were inspired by nothing more than my love for all things purple. I had just seen Jen’s gorgeous blackcurrant & vanilla éclairs and decided I wanted to make something as colorful and vibrant and came up with these little tarts. There wasn’t much of the thyme flavour noticeable so I would probably try adding a bit more next time. The blueberry curd is finger licking good and would look and taste lovely on any sponge cake or just served with clotted cream and scones.