Sunday, 31 March 2013

Home Made Chocolate, Lemon and Passion fruit Creme Eggs

I haven't had a Cadbury's Creme Egg yet this year.  This is quite an achievement for me.  I'm not sure why - it has not been a conscious choice, I just haven't gotten around to one!

I thought I would give my own a go.  The lemon cheesecake filling is light and airy, the passion fruit yolk is sharp and cuts through the creamy white.

This is another recipe that I had seen on Pinterest originally made by Steph at Raspberri Cupcake and then I also saw it crop up on The Londoner's blog.  I had been intrigued by the idea for a while and it's not that difficult a recipe to make - it is just a bit trickier for them to look good.  As you can see from mine, they look a bit more scrambled than Rosie and Steph's do, but it is the taste that counts!

6-8 hollow chocolate eggs (I got mine from Morrisons in an Easter Egg hunt bag)
30g icing sugar
1 lemon (juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used Madagascan)
150ml whipping cream
2 Passion fruits
1 tsp apricot jam
1 tsp butter


Using a serrated knife, cut the tops off your eggs.  I discovered that the closer you can get to the top of the egg, the better for filling later.  Keep the tops if you want to re-seal the eggs later - try and keep them next to the egg so you don't get mixed up!
In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla
In a seperate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks
Gently fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mix until combined.

Fill your eggs with a spoon.  This gets messy.  Try and get the top as level as possible.
Pop the eggs in the fridge and make your yolk.

Sieve the passion fruit into a saucepan.  Using a pestle on the pulp gets a lot more juice out and breaks down some of the pips.   Add the apricot jam and butter and heat to a sticky sauce.
Using something small and thin (I used a skewer) make a small hole in each egg and spoon your yolk in.  It may be worth letting it cool slightly first - I used it hot and it melted some of the cream cheese filling!  You may need to use some of the cream cheese filling to seal any gaps that cause the yolk to overflow.
This is the point where I wished I had thought ahead.  I realised I had no egg cups or shot glasses to rest the eggs in while they set in the fridge.  Luckily I had an egg box so that would have to do!

Pop your tops back on if you want; use some of the cheesecake filling to grout the lids back on.

Stick them in the fridge to set - they need at least 15 minutes.
Eat like a cream egg.  This is personal choice.  As they say, how do you eat yours?

Friday, 29 March 2013

Ballroom Dancing

I was a proper little groupie girl last night.

A friend of mine plays in a band called Green Diesel and his girlfriend had asked if we wanted to go and see them perform.  They are one of my favourite local bands and even performed on stage with us in one of our plays last year which was an experience!

I highly recommend you lend them your ears for a little while.  They play classic folk-rock with a decided modern edge to it which you cannot help but dance, gyrate and jump around to.  If you go and watch them perform live, wear shoes you can caper and careen in.  You will thank me for it later.
Other practicalities to consider?  Buy drinks you can shimmy with - bottle beer is ideal as it doesn't slosh too much when you are a foot in the air, soaking the poor soul next to you and get some space around you (you will want to link arms and do a sailors jig).  Be prepared to clap and whoop and cheer.

They were performing in The Ballroom, supported by two other local acts, Galley Begger and The Bubbleband.  Both of these bands were excellent, but the main attraction was Green Diesel. 
The Ballroom, next door to and upstairs from Bramleys is a bit of a staple for the live music lover in Canterbury.  I must confess, I had not been here in years, not since it was the Orange Street Music Club and a little bit shabby.

Entry is through quite a dingy foyer which looks like you may be accidentally stepping into someones apartment block.  You walk up the wooden, slippery curved staircase, holding tightly to the bannister in case you trip and stumble down the dark corridor.  You enter the Ballroom.

Then you realise.  It's not so shabby anymore.
Ceilings are ridiculously high and painted a deep rich blue with gold panelling.  Heavy drapes drop from floor to ceiling, negating the need for the old cork boards that used to be used to dampen the sound.

Mirrors hang everywhere, reflecting the soft candle light back and increasing the size of the room even more.
Artwork is eclectic and slightly creepy as the paintings expand beyond their frames, dripping luminescent blood down the marl grey patterned paper.

Two giant chandeliers hang suspended from metallic gold ceiling roses while intricate detailing add to the richness of the decor.
The Ballroom branding is subtle.  Ish.   A giant B made from old fashioned stage lightbulbs hangs garishly above the dance floor which the wrought and rusted iron B sits more comfortably within the bar.
The bar dominates the middle of the room, while sofas and benches frame the edges, prompting conversation and banter across groups as you work your way around the low coffee tables designed to look like hewn tree trunks.
Bar prices vary - there is a cocktail menu (including the cocktail in the tea pot) and a bottle of Sol costs £3.50.  Careful though - a Desparado is £4.20, pretty steep for Canterbury, and while you can pay on card, there is a £10 minimum charge.
There was a distinctive pirate theme.  All the bands were calling out for the audience to make pirate noises between sets, which we did enthusiastically.  And then there was this gentleman.
A lovely man, we chatted for a while, he drank brandy and red wine and we danced.  He is a member of another local drama group.  The pirate theme also meant I was pleased I had unknowingly coordinated with these shoes.
My beloved gold skull platform ankle boots from Iron Fist.  Ridiculously comfortable and perfect for the rocker vibe I was channelling last night.

There was also a bathtub by the dance floor.  I'm not kidding.
Let's be honest though.  We were there to dance the night away.  And we did.  Right at the front of the stage, jumping and waving our arms like fools.
Afterwards we collapsed on the sofas, got the drinks in and chatted about all sorts of sweet nothings until the lights came on, the bar staff started lifting the stools onto the tables and we took the hint that we should probably say our goodbyes.

My feet are a bit tingly today.  Sign of a good night.

By the way, apologies for the blurry nature of some of the photo's.  It was really dark, people were dancing quite erratically and this doesn't make for a good combination for my little camera!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Vine Tomato, Chilli and Bacon Pasta

I have to say, I do like my pasta.  I am also incapable of making a tomato based sauce without putting chilli in it.  If I have none in the house (unlikely) then the tabasco comes out.  Normally I use both together to be honest.

I'm not sure why I require my tomato to pack a punch; it is a partnership thing.  You wouldn't have Laurel without Hardy, Ying without Yang or Bubble without Squeak and likewise I would never have tomato without chilli.

If you are not a chilli fan, just leave it out. I will be looking at you strangely though.

This is ridiculously quick and easy to make.  There are a million and one ways to make a basic tomato pasta sauce and I'm sure everyone has their own version; this is my go to for a fast, vitamin packed meal without opening a single tin.

5 large vine tomatoes
4 rashers streaky un-smoked bacon
1 large red chilli
1 clove garlic, crushed
Extra virgin olive oil
Tomato Puree
Dried Basil
Dried Oregano

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and pan fry in a dry saucepan for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.  I don't bother with peeling the tomatoes as I quite like the skin.  If this bothers you, dunk the tomatoes into a large bowl of boiling water before cutting them.  This makes the skin loose and easy to slide off.   It takes about 30 seconds or until the skin splits.
Add the bacon and crushed garlic to the tomato.  Sizzle for 2 minutes then add a good slog of olive oil.
Chop the chilli and add to the tomato mix.  Take the seeds and the membrane out if you don't like heat.  These big fat ones I don't find hot but have a lovely earthy rich flavour.
Add a good squeeze of tomato puree to the tomato sauce
Add a good shake of the dried herbs, pinch of sugar and decent amount of black pepper.  Fresh herbs are better if you have them. I don't really use measurements - just season to taste.  You shouldn't need to add extra salt as the bacon compensates for this.
When your sauce is simmering nicely, add a slosh of water and turn down to leave to simmer.  Stick your pasta onto boil.  Don't salt the water - you will see why below.
Cook according to the packet instructions.  When you drain your pasta, keep back a little of the cooking liqueur and add it to the sauce - this thickens it and makes it a little creamier.  If you have salted the water, don't bother with this stage.

Combine, serve and guzzle.  Makes enough for 2 people to have a generous lunch.  The below wasn't all for me, I promise!