Roasted figs

Gareth got some figs the other day, and I started noticing them everywhere – in the supermarket, in other people’s lunches, in bread…took me a while to clock that it’s fig season.
Fig and walnut bread

He roasted our figs, like so:

– Cross cut them, not quite all the way
– Sprinkle icing sugar on top
– Roast at 190 °C for about 10-15 minutes or so, until soft.
– Optional step: If they’re not quite soft after 10 minutes, add a little water (ours were a little hard to begin with)
– Serve with mascarpone cheese mixed with a little cream and icing sugar

Roasted figs

Roasted figs

Roasted figs

Roasted figs

Roasted figs

Incidentally, I’ve gone all my life saying “roast” and “bake”, and only now properly looked up the difference:
Mainly, it’s in the structure of the food. If it’s something already with a solid structure being cooked (e.g. chicken, fruit, veg) it’s roasting. If it’s something that lacks structure to begin with, and then gains structure as part of the cooking process (e.g. cakes, bread) it’s baking.

On another day we had carbonara, so to use up the egg whites Gareth whipped up some meringues. He threw on some fresh figs and berries with cream.
Easy, pretty, and yummy.

Meringue with figs and berries

Norwegian sardines

When I visited (and fell in love with) the Norwegian Canning Museum in 2013 I bought a souvenir that came from the very last sardine cannery in Norway. 2015-01-04 Norwegian sardines

I’ve been torn between wanting to eat it and wanting to keep it forever…but in the early days of this new year I finally decided to open it up.

Don’t they look beautiful, so precisely arranged? 2015-01-04 Norwegian sardines

Gareth fried them up with lemon juice and capers, and they were delicious on toast. 2015-01-04 Norwegian sardines

Also, as we had friends coming round that day, we’d made cupcakes the night before, and went a bit mad with the icing and the sprinkles left over from Christmas… 2014-01-04 Cupcakes 2014-01-04 Cupcakes

Christmas cookies

The advent calendars are being opened, there’s a constant supply of mince pies in the house, and we’ve put up our tree – it’s officially Christmas!
This year we have our first real live tree, which I’m very excited about.
2014-12-07 Christmas tree

A couple of weekends ago I was going to make and ice gingerbread cookies, so Gareth suggested we build a house. Why not?
(That was my second reaction; my first reaction was “Whaaat? What part of ‘I’m trialling this recipe and I’ve never used royal icing so I need to practice’ did you not hear?”)

Anyway, armed with a gingerbread recipe from 500 cookies, and a template from here, we set out upon this DIY mission.
2014-11-23 Gingerbread house

The template shapes all fit onto an A4 sheet, so it wasn’t too big a job. We got all the sides together, and then the tricky bit was getting the roof on and keeping it on! This is the part on Grand Designs where Kevin McLeod stands pensively next to a crane, and wonders if we will get the roof on in time so that we’re watertight by winter and finished by Christmas, before heading off for an ad break.
After lots of holding on and a lot of cement, we finally got the roof to stay up on its own.
2014-11-23 Gingerbread house

Then the fun part of decorating, and we even had some trees to go with it.
2014-11-23 Gingerbread house

2014-11-23 Gingerbread house

The house remained standing, and we held off eating it for a week, until our friends came to visit last weekend and we all did a pretty thorough demolition job.

So all that was a practice run for this weekend, when we had my knitting group round for our annual Christmas crafting session – this year’s craft was, of course, cookie decorating.
2014-12-06 Sticka Christmas cookie decorating

We had a great time, and iced up 4 batches of cookies in all manner of pretty, creative, and cheeky designs (let’s just say there was an anatomically correct gingerbread man).
Here are my efforts,
2014-12-06 Sticka Christmas cookie decorating

featuring some brilliant work by Gareth – I do love the little footballer.
2014-12-06 Sticka Christmas cookie decorating

And this little guy made it onto the tree.
2014-12-07 Christmas tree

Wishing you all a great Christmas, and hope your holiday prep is going well too!

Cake thoughts

We have a (well used) tea towel with very sensible instructions.
2014-10-18 Cake

While we haven’t been doing all that much baking lately, Gareth attempted strawberry cheesecake last week, which was a tiny bit runny but certainly very yummy.
2014-10-12 Cake

Today he decided to stick with a good old Asda vanilla cheesecake, but jazzed it up with kiwi, blueberries, and passion fruit.
2014-10-18 Cake

Meanwhile, my baking workmate made an impressive cake the other day, for someone’s birthday.

You may recall some of her previous work

And happily for me, she’s agreed to make my wedding cake!

I won’t ask her to bake me the world, as exciting as that would be 🙂

Image from Cakecrumbs

White chocolate and lemon tartlets

I was given John Whaite Bakes for Christmas (I was a big fan of his during Great British Bakeoff 2012), and I finally made something from it yesterday.

Very impressed that I attempted the sweet pastry from scratch
2014-04-19 Lemon and white chocolate tartlets

Essential ingredients
2014-04-19 Lemon and white chocolate tartlets

Also very pleased with my nice new baking beads for blind baking. However, lesson learnt: fill the pastry cases with more beads! Mine didn’t quite keep the deep cup shape, but it worked out anyway.
2014-04-19 Lemon and white chocolate tartlets

2014-04-19 Lemon and white chocolate tartlets

Also managed to get some biscuits out of the leftover pastry, as recommended by John 🙂
The recipe for the tartlets is available here