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Victoria sponge cake

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CLASSIC BRITISH TREATS

Victoria sponge

A beautifully simple, light cake – classically British, of course – dusted with icing sugar and filled with jam would make the perfect addition to your table. Add whipped cream and fresh fruit to make it even more indulgent!

Gin and Tonic jelly

A great Nigella Lawson recipe – a grown up version of a party staple, and what better way to toast in the newly weds than with some gin and tonic!

Sweet vanilla cream and dulce de leche butterfly cakes

My own recipe for ridiculously delicious caramel and cream butterfly cakes. Forget cupcakes!

Scones with clotted cream and jam

You could make your own scones with this excellent recipe, but, equally, I’m sure no one will mind if you buy it in…

Lemongrass and raspberry trifle

Another Nigella recipe – and if you fancy a classic version, there are tonnes out there for sherry trifle!

Eton Mess

Legend has it this was invented at at Eton College – which is where Prince William was educated, of course, making this the perfect dish to serve on the big day. Just remember to mix it just before serving, because the meringues will melt otherwise! This is Delia’s recipe, but you can also add a splash of Pimm’s at the last minute to transform it into an ever more celebrationary dish!

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Pimms anyone

Image by Walt Jabsco via Flickr

You’ve got a host of people over to watch Will and Kate tie the knot – but what the heck do you give them to drink, apart from good, old fashioned tea, of course? Check out this handy list of the best British tipples for your thirsty guests!

DRINKS

Fruit Cup

Pimms isn’t the only fruit cup you can make – check out this awesome blog for reviews of some other great fruit cup liquers! What could be better than a long glass of a fruit-studded cocktail on such a great day?

Buck’s Fizz / Mimosa

In the UK, we mostly have Buck’s Fizz, but whether you call it that or a Mimosa, there’s no denying this classic glass of bubbly and fruit juice is a right Royal winner!

Ginger Beer

You can buy your own, but you could try this great recipe for lashings of the stuff – the appropriate quantity for such a feast…

Lemonade

For your drivers and sober types, you need something without alcohol, lest you fall asleep before the vows are over… Making your own lemonade is easy, just combine lemon juice, water and sugar to taste.

Rhubarb, ginger and apple cocktail

Make use of some very British ingredients for this cool cocktail.

Royal Wedding Cocktail

Gin, Dubonnet, lemonade and pomegranate juice make this symbolic cocktail, especially formulated for Wills and Kate.

Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches with tea ...

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I love sandwiches and they should have centre stage in your wedding party buffet! But you have to make sure you cut them correctly – not diagonally into quarters, but into long, dainty finger shapes as they do for afternoon tea at The Ritz!

Because I would imagine you’ve made your own sandwiches more times than you’ve made any other kind of recipe, I’m not offering quantities, just ideas. That way you can be inspired and dish up your own quantities, depending on whether you’re watching the wedding with friends, or the whole street!

SANDWICH IDEAS

  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • Ham, salad and cherry tomatoes with dijonnaise
  • Cheese and caramelised red onion chutney
  • Roast beef with horseradish mayonnaise and rocket
  • Egg mayonnaise
  • Prawn mayonnaise
  • Thinly sliced cucumber
  • Chicken salad

Have an idea I’ve missed? Tell me in the comments and I’ll add it to the list!

Don’t forget to check out my other post, on your ultimate recipes for a wedding watch buffet, here!

spicy coleslaw

Image by elana's pantry via Flickr

I’m going to be making a series of posts chronicling the best recipes and ideas for your wedding watching party – starting with traditional British buffet staples! No spread would be complete without these old-fashioned favourites!

BUFFET STAPLES

Sausage rolls

Now, it wouldn’t be a proper British buffet without some sausage rolls on the table. For the record, I like mine hot! Here’s a Jamie Oliver recipe – although if you have Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals, try his version from that book which has fennel seeds! Also, don’t forget about sausages on sticks, another old favourite.

Scotch Eggs

Now, I’m not going to be making Scotch eggs for my party, because I’d rather buy them than stand over the deep fat fryer. But if you want to give it a go, this recipe will make some really cute quails’ egg ones.

Cheese Straws

An old-school treat – just make sure you use puff pastry for flakey, delicious straws!

Pork Pie

Now, I’m not convinced it’s worth your time to make a pork pie to go with a buffet – if you’re going to make such a glorious beast, you should at least make it the centrepiece of a luscious picnic! But Nigel Slater knows his stuff, so I’m recommending this recipe for all you gluttons (for punishment).

Coleslaw

Everyone knows how to make their own coleslaw, but this Nigel Slater guide gives you some ideas for ways to liven it up with some twists!

Potato Salad

I love Martha Stewart! I think that people both sides of the pond will be surprised at the other’s claiming that this is a traditional national dish, but just like apple pie, the British and American versions have been embraced by their home countries. Here’s a link to a video and basic recipe, which also has a guide for some great add-ins!

Quiche

Now, it wouldn’t be a proper feast without a quiche, or as my nan used to call it, quince. But what kind of quiche? It has to be something seasonal, and a little bit special – what about smoked salmon? Delia’s the queen of baking, so I offer up her recipe for a smoked salmon tart.

Coronation Chicken

I’ve had loads of arguments with people recently about coronation chicken. I maintain it’s not to be served for a royal wedding buffet, because NO ONE’S BEING CROWNED. But, still, it’s a royally inspired dish, so include it if you like! Here’s a Gordon Ramsey version to make it extra special!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a loyal Lostie since the show started. While I’m sure I’m not going to love the finale (so many unanswered questions!) I’m sure I’m going to have a blast watching it – because I’m planning my very own Lost finale party! When it comes to parties, there’s only one thing I care about, and that’s the food. So here’s my lowdown on the best menus for a Lost finale party, culled from the interwebs, and in places, my own imagination. I’ve got three ‘menus’ to choose from, although in reality they are just three lists – food inspired by the show, food from the show itself, and an extra special, cos I love ya low-fat/low calorie diet menu. Plus, as an extra special bonus, a list of drink ideas!

Menu from the show universe

  • Peanut butter (Charlie’s present to Claire – bonus points if it’s in a Dharma-labelled jar!)
  • Fish biscuits (from the Polar bear cages – as eaten by Sawyer and Kate) – recipe here.
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches (brought to Jack by Juliet when he was being held captive by Ben)
  • Muffins (cooked by Juliet for her book club)
  • Mr Cluck’s Chicken (fried chicken from Hurley’s fast food chain – use generic fast food fried chicken!)
  • Foraged fruits: mango, banana, passionfruit, guava, papaya, coconut, oranges (for Locke-smiles…). Serve them whole on a chopping board with a hunter’s knife for added drama and authenticity. Or, make them into a fruit salad like Hurley.
  • Hunted meat like boar (cop out and use pork! Roasted pork tenderloin, pork ribs, pulled pork… Mmm!), rabbit and chicken
  • Grilled fish, or sashimi ala Jin
  • Dharma-labelled food, easily created by printing out labels and sticking them on pre-existing packages. Some of the most famous Dharma food includes the aforementioned peanut butter, ranch composite (ranch dressing), Dharmalars (probably a version of Mallomars), and mac and cheese. Click here for an amazing array of Lost labels for your food!
  • Apollo bars (dark chocolate and nuts)
  • Alcohol salvaged from the plane in mini-bottles, or provided by Dharma, including beer, whiskey, rum, red and white wine.

Menu inspired by the show

Low-calorie Lost menu

Lost-inspired drinks

  • Tropical fruit juice
  • MacCutcheon whiskey (stick a fake label over a bottle of whiskey to create ultra-rare Lost whiskey!)
  • Wine from Moriah Vineyards, as made by Desmond the monk (as above)
  • Zombie (2 parts white rum, 1 part dark rum, 1 part golden rum, 2 parts lime juice, 1 part orange juice, 1 part pineapple juice, half part sugar syrup, ice, shaken in a mixer)
  • Pina Colada (1 part white rum, 2 parts coconut cream, 2 parts pineapple juice, shaken and strained)
  • Banana Daiquiri (2 parts white rum, 2 parts lime juice, dash triple sec, 1tsp sugar, crushed ice, 1 ripe banana, blended until smooth)
  • Mai Tai (1 part light rum, 1 part dark rum, 1 part Cointreau, dash Grenadine, tsp lime juice, 3 parts orange juice, 3 parts pineapple juice, shaken over ice and strained)
  • Blue Devil (3 parts gin, 1 part lemon juice, 1 tbsp maraschino, shaken over ice)
  • Blue Lagoon (3 parts vodka, 1 part blue Curacao, 3 parts pineapple juice, shaken over ice and strained)
  • Non-alcoholic fruit cup (2 parts orange juice, 2 parts grapefruit juice, 2 parts pineapple juice, 2 parts apple juice)

You can find some Lost-themed menus, ideas and resources at these sites:

Have fun! And, be sure to tell me what YOUR Lost party menu consisted of…

DISCLAIMER: I didn’t create any of the content linked to here, nor can I vouch for the reliability or deliciousness of any of the recipes, save Nigella’s awesome peanut butter fudge sauce… Click and make at your own risk!

Although there aren’t many recipes for holiday bento treats from Japan (unless you count fried chicken and cake!), you can adapt western style ideas to Japanese cooking methods, like with these festive gyozas. They’re filled with caramelised onion, turkey and sage and onion stuffing, and are just right for getting in the festive spirit.

Christmas bento and furoshki

To make this bento, you’ll also need to make star shaped onigiri, topped with star shaped ham and cheese, pigs in blankets (chipolata sausages wrapped in streaky bacon and baked in the oven) and stuffing balls, and get rocket leaves (erm… to look like holly…) tomatoes, and cranberry sauce for a dip. A dipping container and food picks (penguin and star shapes were used here for the Christmas bento theme) are useful too. You can also fill a foil-lined side dish container, as here, with glazed biscuits, minced pies, and your favourite fruit and nut mix.

 

Recipe for festive gyozas

 

Ingredients

Small box sage and onion stuffing

2 medium onions

40g butter

1 tsp sugar

Pinch salt

Olive oil

150g raw turkey breast

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp soy sauce

26 gyoza skins

Oil

 

Method

Mix up your sage and onion stuffing – you need to keep 70g of it for the gyozas and the rest can be made into stuffing balls.

Finely chop your onions, then cook on a very low heat with the butter and sugar until they go a golden brown. This could take an hour or more, but you don’t have to stand over it and stir it the whole time, thankfully!

Shred the turkey breast with a knife so you end up with meat that’s finely cut but has a bit more texture than mince (and is leaner).

Once you’ve done that, mix the caramelised onion, the raw turkey breast, 70g of stuffing and the salt and soy sauce together.

Fill your gyozas by placing a small amount in the middle of a dumpling skin, wetting the edges and folding it in half, pleating the edges. It’s easier to do this with a gyoza press. 

Once you’ve done that, heat some oil in a pan and add six gyozas. Pour water into the pan until it reaches a third of the way up the sides of the gyozas, then cover and cook until the water has evaporated. Once that’s done, remove the lid and fry until the bases are crispy.

 

Note

You can freeze these gyozas and cook them from raw.

 Christmas bento

This recipe originally appeared in 501 Bento Box Lunches, published by Graffito Books.

If there’s one thing I’m learning from my 52 weeks, 52 chickens experiment, it’s how to dispose of leftover chicken (and turkey!) in a variety of ways. Here are the leftover chicken recipes I’ve come up with so far – they should all work well with leftover turkey, too!

If you’ve just popped in for a visit, I hope you’ll stick around!

I’m getting so excited about Halloween! Is anyone else planning a party to celebrate the spookiest night of the year? I’d love to hear your plans – what are you going to cook? What are you going to wear?! Leave a comment and let me know… I’m dying of curiosity!

You might notice that, in the spirit of the event, I’ve added a handy new link to your left, which when clicked, will lead you to all my posts with the category ‘Halloween’, so if you want to find the Halloween marshmallow recipe, my pumpkin fondant tutorial or anything else to do with Halloween, you know where to find it! Throughout the year I’ll be changing this to reflect the seasons, the holidays, and my latest obsessions!

Purple buttercream and stars

This year, my menu is nowhere near organised… but I do know what my costume will be. Thanks to a quick shop in Primark, I will be an ’80s zombie, complete with acid yellow dress, purple tights, orange legwarmers and a heck of a lot of purple accessories. I am perfecting my moaning noises every morning whilst getting up, I assure you! And I have a magic lipstick that looks green but turns pink when you put it on. Now, how scary is that?

Pst – I’m totally honoured to have been featured in Indie Fixx’sHalloween Tutes from Around The Interwebs‘ – in the same list as Martha Stewart, no less! Watch out, Mazza…

This weekend I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Life is Sweet, by Hope and Greenwood, which is, as it so rightly says on the cover, a collection of splendid old-fashioned confectionary (buy it if you get the chance! It’s very reasonably priced and ever so good). I’ve made marshmallows, fudge and cinder toffee, and although the cinder toffee wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted, I was particularly pleased with the fudge. However, as Halloween is coming up, I thought I’d make some spooky Halloween marshmallows by colouring them purple. The vanilla marshmallow recipe in Life is Sweet is unfortunately misprinted and the ingredients list is screwed up, so I’ve adapted my own from the recipe for Mallows D’Amour. There are a few technical aspects to this recipe which might prove difficult – you need a stand mixer (although I did experiment with an electric handheld whisk, and the patient might just be able to cope like this, holding it for around 15 minutes!) and a sugar thermometer. I had to borrow both of these, but a sugar thermometer is a great investment for making fudge, toffee, caramel and jam.

Halloweeen marshmallows with black stars

Halloween Marshmallows (adapted from Mallows D’Amour, Life is Sweet by Hope and Greenwood)

Ingredients

  • 450g (1lb) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 1 sachet powdered gelatine
  • Good dab of purple colouring paste (I used Wilton’s Violet)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Cornflour and icing sugar, to dust
  • Purple sugar/black stars or any Halloween themed decorations

Method

  • Line a 20cm/8inch square baking tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper and dust with cornflour and icing sugar. I’ve found you need a heck of a lot of this to keep the marshmallow from sticking.
  • In a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar, glucose and 200ml of water and stir. Place over a medium-high heat and add your sugar thermometer. Keep cooking until the temperature reaches 127C or 260F. This could take 15 minutes or as long as 25, so keep an eye on it.
  • Whilst this is happening, put 100ml of boiled water in a bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Stir well until dissolved. This will really smell. Gelatine is not suitable for veggies, and from the smell of the gelatine, you will know why. Don’t panic, the smell goes away, and there is no taste of the gelatine whatsoever in the finished marshmallow. Now that would be Halloweeny…
  • When your gelatine and water is mixed well, add the vanilla and a good dab of purple colouring. For Halloween, you could also try black, orange and green – just remember that the colour will fade because of the egg whites, and the dusting of sugar and cornflour. When you add the food colouring, you should get a very dark colour. So much that you are secretly thinking ‘oh dear, I put too much in’. This will most likely give you a subtle shade…
  • When your syrup has reached the right temperature, you need to have a little panic attack and start jumping up and down and worrying you’re not ready. Don’t worry if you haven’t mixed your gelatine yet – I did this and it turned out all right. Just add it to the pan of sugar syrup and mix well. It’ll bubble, so watch out.
  • Get your stand mixer and whip the eggs until stiff peaks form. Turn the mixer down as slowly as it will go, and add the syrup and gelatine in very gently. Slow, slow. This could take a while… The heat from the syrup is heating the egg whites, so if you pour it on too fast, it’s likely the word could implode.
  • When you’ve done this, you turn the speed up to superfast and leave to beat for at least 15 minutes. The mix is ready when it holds onto the whisk well, and is thick and shiny.
  • Pour into your dusted pan. Leave it to set for a long time – the book says 2 hours, but I’ve left mine overnight before.
  • Turn the marshmallow out onto another dusted piece of parchment paper. If you’re like me, the mix will still have stuck to the bottom of your originally dusted piece of paper, so dust all sides until nothing is sticky. Then, slice and dust, slice and dust, into whatever shapes you like. Once you’ve dusted your marshmallows, you can shake off the excess coating by throwing them gently from hand to hand. Store in parchment paper.
  • Serve with edible sugar, as above, or with anything suitably Halloweeny…

Purple sugar Halloween marshmallows

How about black sugar stars, like the first photo? Or purple sanding sugar, like the photo above?Or, if you want to be more sophisticated, why not keep your mallow mix white, and then decorate with tiny gold stars? (I got mine from Jane Asher’s site.)

Starry Halloween marshmallows

These are too good to give to Halloween trick or treaters…

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to have a go at making some cute little pumpkins to go on top of Halloween cupcakes.

Fondant pumpkins

These are easy to make and don’t require any equipment beyond fondant, orange dye and toothpicks. (And green and brown dye if you want to make stalks, leaves and vines.)

Equipment

If you have orange fondant, well, you’re one step ahead… Hurrah! If you want them to be hard, you should make them a couple of weeks before when you need them, so you can sit them in a cool, dark place to set.

Fondant pumpkins, step one

First of all, roll your fondant into a small ball, then squash it down so it makes an oval. This will give it a much more interesting shape than a plain old sphere.

Fondant pumpkins, step two

Now it’s time to use your specialist equipment. First of all, pierce the centre to mark it. Then, rolling the toothpick, create a dimple in the centre of your ball.

Fondant pumpkins, step three

There you go – now you’ll have what looks like an orange doughnut gone wrong.

Fondant pumpkins, step four

Now, use your toothpick to create lines from the centre down the edge of your pumpkin, using a rocking motion. I do this by doing the four compass points, then filling in the spaces in between.

Fondant pumpkins, step five

Like so! With the heat of your fingers, your pumpkin might get a little floppy. You can fix this by placing it in the fridge at any point if it starts getting hard to handle. Don’t be a pushover for a vegetable made of sugar.

Fondant pumpkins, step six

That’s pretty much it! You can add a stalk (I’ve seen people use cloves for this, but obviously they’re not really edible like that) or even make a curly vine from green fondant curled around a matchstick.

Too cute to eat? Never!