Monday, 7 September 2015

Back to school, sunshine and lemons

I've been told that it was my fault that August went out a damp squib after blogging about autumn fruits... so I'm egging on this sudden return of summer with one of my all time favourite ingredients, lemons. Although used all year round, great in cooking as well as in long summer drinks, the humble lemon reminds me of the summer heat of Southern Europe and the wonderful flavours of the Mediterranean. Oranges are that often overlooked item of the fruit bowl - great in an Aperol Spritz. Lime, a bit more exotic marries well with lemon and orange giving an extra twist (get it!)
With children going back to school what can be better to slip into their lunchboxes (or your own), than a delicious slice of zingy citrus drizzle cake. My tried and tested recipe is easy to make, always moist and stays fresh for days. If you've over-bought lemons or limes then give it a try today.
Citrus drizzle cake (or lemon with a twist!)

You'll need...

200g self raising flour
200g caster sugar
200g soft margarine
1 of each of a lemon, lime and small orange
4 large eggs at room temperature

For topping

50g icing sugar
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2lb loaf tin or 8 inch spring-form tin
  1. Set oven to heat to 180C, grease and line your tin
  2. Zest fruit and place in bowl with the sugar and margarine
  3. Juice fruit and set aside
  4. Beat sugar, margarine and zest mix until pale and fluffy, best done with a hand held or stand mixer
  5. Gradually add eggs one by one beating each one in (should mix begin to curdle add a spoon of your flour)
  6. Add the flour and fold in, stirring in half of fruit juice.
  7. Pour mixture into the tin and place in centre pre heated oven for approx 40 mins till well risen and golden brown, a skewer should come put clean if you need to test.
  8. Mix rest of fruit juice and icing sugar to form a runny glaze
  9. Place cooked cake on cooling wire and prick several times with a skewer or cocktail stick, pour over the citrus glaze which should seep into the holes you've made.
  10. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
  11. Leave in the tin until cooled. 
  12. Serve with whipped cream and be stored in an airtight tin up to 3 days (if it lasts that long!)

Please try and tell your friends, let me know what you think.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Sunshine, rain and thoughts of autumn

As the rain lashes against my windows it's easy to forget that it is still summer! As much as I love summer there is something comforting about the transition into autumn - the fallen leaves, the misty mornings and autumn fruits. I've been lucky enough to have been given bagfuls of beautiful Bramley apples from a friends garden.

A quintessentially British apple, the Bramley is slightly tart to the taste has a mouth-wateringly delicious fluffiness, and they make a scrumptious pie - especially with a hint of cinnamon or paired with foraged  blackberries .

Richard's perfect apple pie 

You'll need...

6 to 8 large Bramley apples
A cup of water
2 tablespoons granulated/ caster sugar
Juice half a lemon
Optional pinch of cinnamon or cup of blackberries

For the pastry...
350 g plain flour
175 g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon icing sugar
1 egg
30ml cold water

Flour for rolling
2 tablespoon castor sugar
Milk to glaze

A metal pie plate (I've got my mum's) or deep dinner plate

  1. Wash, peel and core the apples, cut into rough size wedges and drop into a bowl of cold water with a squeeze of lemon to prevent them browning.
  2. Drain and place in a large heavy bottomed pan with cup of cold water and the sugar, place on on hob and bring to a boil, stirring to stop it from catching.
  3. Reduce the heat and cover, simmer the apples until they have softened but still retain  some shape, add the cinnamon or a cup of blackberries and stir in. Set to one side.
  4. Place flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor and whizz to the texture of fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Beat the egg with a fork and add to water, with machine running pour liquid bit by bit until a dough forms. Remove and form into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove chilled pastry from the fridge and divide in half and shape into a rough round balls.
  7. Slightly flatten and roll on a floured board till just slightly larger than your plate, lift carefully onto plate and ease in to fit, taking care to not tear or leave air bubbles.
  8. Sprinkle base with 1 tablespoon caster sugar (this soaks up excess juice and prevents the dreaded soggy bottom!)
  9. Roll other piece of pastry into disc slighty larger than plate.
  10. Spoon apple onto pastry base leaving a 1cm gap around edges - if there is lots of juice use a slotted spoon.
  11. Moisten the edge of the base pastry with a little cold water, place the disc of pastry over the apple mix and carefully seal the edges with finger tips allowing both pastry edges to bond.
  12. Using a sharp knife carefully  trim off excess pastry and crimp edges with a fork. Decoate with leaves made from leftover pastry. Cut small slits in centre of pastry top to allow steam to escape.
  13. Brush top with a little milk and place in centre of preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
  14. Remove and sprinkle with last tablespoon of caster sugar. Allow to cool slightly and serve with double cream, ice cream or home made custard.

If you make this recipe and enjoy please let me know and tell your friends!





Sunday, 23 August 2015

Blushing brides, scones and Lady Grey

To top off a fun-filled busy weekend I was at one of Surrey's top luxury bridal boutiques today serving brunch, canapés and vintage cream teas.

Miss Bush provides luxury wedding dresses and accessories to many of Surrey's brides to be.

I devised a menu appropriate for her style which is high-end and bespoke.

We had a range of bite size pastries, canapés and cream teas mixing the traditional with a modern twist. All served on some of my collection of glass ware and vintage china.

Most popular from the selection were the salmon, scrambled egg & caviar filo baskets, the asparagus & parmesan cocktail quiches, the Aperol panne cottas, the Lady Grey butter biscuits and my bite size scones with homemade jam.

It was fun talking to so many lovely people about plans their special day. I look forward to working with Emma and her team again.

If you or someone you know is planning a big day please do get in touch.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Canapés for Mary Portas new shop

When I woke up yesterday I had no idea I'd be doing canapés for a new Mary Portas shop!

By chance I was in Wimbledon Village and saw the new Mary Portas Living & Giving charity shop for Save the Children.

I got talking to Lindsey who helps Mary set up new shops and organise their launches. 

When she heard I was a caterer she suggested I might like to be part of the launch and provide some canapés to go with the champagne coming from Hemingways Bar.

I've always had great respect for the work of Save the Children and love the passion Mary brings to her work. So I jumped at the chance of being part of it!

I met so many great people all giving their time and skills to support a good cause. On a beautiful day with 30C temperatures it just doesn't get better.

My canapés seemed to go down a storm with people spilling out on the street and even a horse from the local stables making an appearance!

I love the whole concept of a charity shop with a focus on style and design. I think it will do really well and hope to support further launches.

If you're in Wimbledon Village be sure to pop in!

Friday, 21 August 2015


What could be better on a hot late summer afternoon than foraging for blackberries.

Seems a real glut this year after plenty of rain and hot warm days. Brings back happy childhood memories of going out picking with my mum. Then taking them back to my grandmothers where she magically transformed them into jars of beautiful jam or made hot pies topped with buttery pastry... Mmm can almost smell them now!

Share your foraging memories!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Yummy fig jam recipe

Fig Jam
If you're lucky enough to have a glut of figs from your own tree (or someone elses!) or even if you have bought too many, here's a great recipe for delicious fig jam - great on fresh bread or scones, and also with savouries and cheese..

You'll need..

1 kg ripe figs (don't use any that are spoiled)
1 cup cold water
1 Bramley apple peeled and cored
1 small piece of fresh root ginger
1 kg jam or preserving sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Generous splash of Cointreau or Port (decadent but really makes it!)

1 large jam pan or your biggest heaviest bottomed pan
6 clean jam jars with lids
Waxed paper jam discs

  1. Wash figs, remove base and stalk, cut into quarters and place into pan with one cup of cold water
  2. Peel and grate ginger and add with grated apple to pan
  3. Add juice of lemon and Cointreau or Port (if using..)
  4. Cook gently on a low heat for 45minutes - 1 hour, until figs are soft and breaking down
  5. Meanwhile... place jam jars on an ovenproof tray in a warm oven and heat for 15 minutes to sterilise
  6. Add sugar to fruit mixture and stir in, return to heat and bring to rapid boil for 10-15 minutes
  7. To test for setting, place a spoonful of mixture on back of cold plate, if a skin forms it is at setting point, if not then continue to boil and test again in a few minutes. Take care at this stage that the sugar doesn't overheat and caramelise!
  8. Once setting point is reached, turn off heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes, remove any scum that floats to the top with a ladle and discard
  9. Carefully ladle the jam into the warm jam jars filling to the neck, cover with a waxed disc and the lid of jam jar
  10. As the jam cools the lid should form an airtight seal
  11. Wipe jars and label, store in a cool dark place or fridge for up to 3 months

Tricks of the trade...
A cup of water gives a nice consistency to this jam

Adding apple gives pectin for the set as figs are low in pectin
If you make this recipe and enjoy please let me know and tell your friends!

Blogging, heroes, teacups and jam

I'm new to blogging but have been inspired by my wonderful cousin Sally who has been blogging for several years and shares lots of her interesting ideas and experiences. So here's my first try...

I've always worked in the food industry and have recently decided to focus more on my own business doing catering for cafes, small events and private parties.

My first and greatest love is baking - I'm known for my scones (my grandmothers recipe) and also my quiches and tarts. My ethos is artisan, fresh quality ingredients, and making my customers delighted (and not stressed by their special event). Hence my business name artytarty foods...

I love cooking and trying new foods - I'm very inspired by Mediterranean flavours and the whole spirit and attitude that the French, Spanish and Italians bring to cooking and eating. I also love music, art and design and the way that food and lifestyle intertwines.

My food heros are Bill Granger, Yotam Ottolenghi, Antonio Carluccio, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.

My background and training means I can handle large scale events but also love doing individual pieces or small intimate parties.

This week I've been having great fun meeting up with old friends and getting some great ideas for sharing my passion for food (hence this blog).

I've also been digging out some beautiful vintage china to serve afternoon teas on.

I've had a glut of fresh figs and so have also been making jam - which I'll share the recipe for.

I plan to use this blog to share some of my favourite recipes, thoughts and ideas - and hopefully meet some like minded foodies.

I hope if you find it interesting that you'll get in touch and tell your friends.