Friday, 22 March 2013

Raggy Jo's Summer House Picture Quilt

Way back in March of last year I went down to the lovely Cowslip Workshops, just outside Launceston in Cornwall, for an applique weekend.  The project in hand was a little picture quilt that could be used as a wall hanging and the technique was needle-turn applique.

As you can see I came back home with a good start on the quilt.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, my little quilt sat unloved and not worked on for quite a while. 

Not so any more!  I've finally got around to finishing off the picture, adding the wadding and backing fabric and putting on a nice edge.  I'm really pleased with it and it will take pride of place on the wall in our spare room.

Last Sunday, my Mum and I took the train to Brighton and spent a lovely 4 hours at the Brighton Sewing Centre doing a Patchwork & Quilting workshop, run by the lovely Liz.  You had a choice of simple designs to try, which could be made into a cushion or enlarged into a quilt. 

We opted to have a go at a 'Disappearing Nine Patch Block'.  You take 9 equal squares and sew them together as shown at the bottom of the photo.  By then cleverly cutting this block into 4 pieces and re-sewing, you create a totally new pattern.

I've had the cupcake fabric for a while and couldn't quite make my mind up what to do with it.  Its going to make a fantastically bright lap / cot quilt that I plan to give away........ if I can bare to part with it!

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A Mothers Day Afternoon Tea

A very unsubtle suggestion by my Mum, that a Mothers Day Afternoon Tea would be just the ticket was a great excuse to scour the baking books for ideas.  In case you hadn't noticed, I'm on a bit of a 'Jo Wheatley - Passion for Baking' frenzy at the moment and seem to be working my way through her book with glee.  More on that shortly! 

OK, so this isn't actually baking (apart from the homemade bread toasts it sits on!), but I had to share this Chicken Liver Pate recipe from Waitrose.  Its really quick and easy to make and I substitute the sherry for brandy as we normally have that in the cupboard for cooking.  I also got some locally caught and smoked trout and the plan was to make little pinwheel sandwiches.  Not everything went to plan as my Sleepless White Bread decided to go horizontal on the baking sheet, rather than rise up.  Normally I make 3 loaves out of a 1kg batch, but this time opted for 2 loaves.  No matter, I just sliced the lovely crusts off and saved them for making breadcrumbs.  With the inners of the loaf, I cut out little discs and toasted them under the grill and topped with either pate or trout.  Tasty little morsels they were too!

We also had little chocolate peanut crispies topped with micro mini eggs from Jo's book and the main event was a Vanilla Cake (also a Jo recipe!!).

Its a delicious Victoria sponge style cake filled with a vanilla buttercream and homemade blackcurrant jam from my friend Jane. 

I then had fun with some leftover buttercream, to which I added some purple colouring and piped little flowers over the top and a few on the side.

Then it was time to set the table with some lovely antique crockery I received from lovely friend Cathy at Christmas and adorn with tasty goodies.

Quite delicious and the cake was even better the next day.

Happy baking!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Hampshire Watercress Tart

Around Hampshire, we are lucky enough to have the Hampshire Farmers Market Group run Farmers Markets all over Hampshire throughout the year.  January should have seen the first ever market in Emsworth, but rather a lot of snow put the kibosh on that one.  Thankfully February was a much better month and a good show of over 20 stalls plus lots of visitors / shoppers made it a worthy kick-off.

Amongst the stallholders was Maple Leaf Watercress, who supply lovely local bunched watercress.  I needed something to make for a Saturday lunch, so buying 3 bunches of watercress was just the excuse required to try a Watercress Tart.  I'd torn the recipe out of You magazine ages ago.

A top Mary Berry tip is to take the base of your tart tin and lay in on the work surface.  Lightly flour, then place your pre-made ball of shortcrust pastry in the centre. 


As you roll out the pastry you are able to see whether it is the right size, rather than lifting it up and down and placing it in the tin.  Once it looks the right size, pop it in the tin and fork over the base.


I tried to be clever this time, to prevent the sides from shrinking during the blind bake and decided not to trim the edges until after.  You place some tin foil in the base and add baking beans to weight it down.  Bake for 15 minutes in a static 200c oven.  Remove the foil, lightly brush with egg white and bake again for another 10 minutes until lightly coloured.  What I should have done, was removed the trimmings after removing the foil.  Leaving it until after the second bake, the pastry was getting more brittle.  No worries, but I'll know for next time - it just looked more rustic this way!

Add the filling, sprinkle the extra cheese and spring onions on and pop back in the over for 35-40 minutes.

The end result was a little dark, due to the sprinkled cheese and I had to cover it for the last 10 minutes of baking to stop it burning, but don't let the colour put you off - it tasted delicious.  A delectable mix of watercress and Gruyere cheese.

We ate it slightly warm, but it was even more tasty the next day cold.

I now have baking to plan for a Comic Relief Bake Sale and then Mothers Day.  Oh decisions, decisions!

Happy baking!