Thursday, 4 August 2011

Baskets, baking and scents of summer

I haven't done much sewing recently, but as yesterday was Wednesday (work-in-progress day) I was determined to get a few bits and pieces finished.  I finished the basket I began a few weeks ago, with a scissor case and needle case...

And then nearly finished another one which I'd begun shortly after the other...

 I also finished a little cottage stamp case that had been sitting around with only its windows and a few flowers for quite some time...

My new camera is still impressing me with its ability to take easy close-ups!

 Tomorrow we are having cavity wall insulation squirted up our walls, which necessitated a bit of heavy duty gardening on Tuesday to allow easier access.  The entire rosebush that used to crowd round our kitchen window is now gone - I am sad, but hopefully it will grow back (we've had to decimate it before and it didn't give up the ghost then); the pyracantha by the front door is a shadow of its former self (but it got its revenge with a nasty stab wound to my thumb which is still throbbing mildly!); the Virginia Creeper has been restricted to one bit of wall; and the lavender that was sprawling all over the pavement is now sitting upright again, having been roughly halved in size (not sure it will survive such drastic pruning, but at least I managed to harvest a huge basket full of flower spikes).

With the scent of lavender filling the house, I was reminded of an article I had saved from a French magazine some years ago.

I'd saved it for two of the projects in particular...

 Beautiful though the cross-stitch is, I won't be tackling that just yet.  But the twirly lettering was a quick and easy make, using some Oasis Aluminium Wire.  Only problem has been that I haven't managed to make my sign stand up like that in the picture, though I'm sure I'll find a solution.  In the meantime, it looks quite nice lying on top of the lavender, in the pretty basket my Mum found for me...

Tonight we are having friends round for a bite to eat.  I am trying out a few new recipes, the first of which is 'Pimms Jellies'.  Seemed like a good idea when the sun was shining - now I'm feeling more like a syrup sponge!

I love making jellies as they are so quick, and also not too filling.
Ingredients assembled...

Oh, and some gelatine might be a good idea!
For 2 portions 
 300ml lemonade
3 tablespoons Pimms
2 sheets leaf gelatine (or equivalent)
juice of half a lime
2 teaspoons caster sugar
2 strawberries,halved
2 thin slices of cucumber
2 sprigs of mint

 Heat 100ml of the lemonade and melt the soaked gelatine into it when very hot.  Stir in the sugar, then add the rest of the liquid.  Strain and pour into two large, pretty glasses. Decorate with fruit when set.

I am also making a more decadent dessert, using a recipe I first used a few weeks back which was a real hit.  I generally think 'White Chocolate - nah!  Too sweet and sickly!"  but the creme fraiche in this seems to cut through the sweetness, and combined with summer berries it is lovely!  It's also pretty easy.

White Chocolate Tart with Summer Berries

For the filling
200ml creme fraiche
225ml double cream
1175g good quality white chocolate
200g mixed berries (the recipe just uses raspberries, but I like the mix)

For the pastry
120g plain flour
2 teaspoons cocoa
1 tablespoon icing sugar
60g cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons iced water

 Heat the creme fraiche with 100ml of the double cream. 

 Break the chocolate into a bowl and pour the hot cream over it.  Leave for a minute, then stir till melted.

 Cover with cling film , punch a couple of air holes in the top, then put in the fridge to chill for 2-3 hours.

Make the pastry by sifting the dry ingredients into a food processor, adding the butter and whizzing briefly.  Then add the egg yolk and enough iced water to bring the dough together in a ball.  

Wrap in cling film and chill for at least half an hour before rolling out to line a 22cm tin.  Line with foil and weigh down with baking beans before  baking blind for 20 minutes at 200C/fan 180C/Gas Mark 6.

Remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes or until lightly coloured.  Leave till cold.  

To finish, whip the rest of the double cream till thick but not too rigid and fold this into the white chocolate mix.  Then, according to the recipe, crush the berries lightly and put in the bottom  of the pastry case, before covering with the white chocolate mix.  I did the opposite, putting the chocolate mix into the case, then topping with a pile of (uncrushed) berries.  This way, if the pudding isn't finished in one sitting, it doesn't go soggy before you get round to polishing it off!


  1. oohh love your creations. I made a skirt for my little one with that second fabric you used to line your basket, lovely isn't it :-) I blogged about it a couple of posts back.

  2. Yum yum recipes! Love your little cottage, it's gorgeous. We had the cavity walls done last year and it really did sound like the house was going to come down! It has made a difference though, however the down side is that it affects the mobile phone signal??!!

  3. I LOVE your lavender twirly word, what a fab idea.
    Wish i was coming for a bite to eat :o)
    looks delish, may have to have a go at those jellies!
    jooles x