Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Fresh fig tart for friends

Hi everyone

Summer holidays are coming to an end & those of us who work in education are doing a last catch up before we are back to work.

With beautiful summer fruits about, I decided on a fresh fig tart as my contribution.

This is a recipe by Rick Stein.

Croatian Fresh Fig Tart

For the pastry
170g plain flour, sifted &  extra for dusting
pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, cubed
50g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
50ml double cream

For the filling

500g mascarpone cheese
6thsp clear honey
6 large, or 7 medium, or 8 small fresh figs, stems trimmed, halved.

For the pastry - mix the flour, salt & butter until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Mix the egg yolk & cream & add to the mixture so it forms a dough. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry & use it to line a round 26cm loose bottomed flan tin. (I had to chill mine first then roll it out).

Trim the edges of the pastry, cover with clingfilm & rest in the freezer for 30 min. (I didn't have time to do this so mine shrunk a little but was fine) Heat the oven to 180C fan.

Line the pastry case with baking parchment, fill with baking beans or rice & bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper & beans & cook for a further 3 minuted. Take out of the oven & lower the heat to 160C.

Soften the mascarpone with the honey in a pan over a low heat.

Pour into the pastry, then lay the figs on top, cut side up. Bake for 30 min until just starting to turn golden at the edges. Cool to room temperature before removing from the tin & cutting to serve.

This is the tart, baked & cooling on the rack. I backed it on a baking tray in case it leaked (it didn't) and it looks so good.

Then off to my lovely friend who had set a gorgeous girlie table for us for supper ...

Individual chicken breasts with bacon, cheese & a spicy sauce, vegetables & roast potatoes - heaven!

Then pudding & coffee time .... heaven ... the fig tart was delicious

The tart at our girlie supper with some vanilla ice-cream - it was so good but very rich - something I will definitely make again.

Thank you for stopping by, I always appreciate  your comments.
Dee ~♥~

Friday, 19 August 2016

Interesting tea spoons

Hi everyone

I had a lovely market browse while visiting friends in the lovely Shropshire town of Ludlow recently. I love browsing markets  & we were looking at various cutlery bits when I saw these.

They are fun with their royal / British symbols & I was happy to take them home

They will be brightening up my tea cups very soon ...

Would you use them for tea or coffee or does it not matter anymore?

Thanks for stopping by & taking the time to leave a comment,
Dee ~♥~

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Crocheting a rose brooch ...

Hi everyone

Are you enjoying summer where you are? We have been promised a heatwave but it has yet to materialise.

However, I am loving my time off work to just catch up with friends & things for a change.

I recently showed you my tentative crocheting efforts following some beginner lessons. My late Mother & Grandmother could crochet & chat at the same time & they were always making something while muttering about my 'idle hands' ....

I am ambidextrous so I do some things with my right, some with my left hand & it so I skipped certain skills (knitting as it was easier to get my Mom to do it)

However, the lovely crochet tutors have been brilliant & have let us find the way that we are comfortable with ... my thread holding works for me is all I am saying.

I saw a workshop to learn to crochet a rose brooch & talked my friend Liane Pearl in to joining me at a local craft shop. It was intense to get the rhythm of the pattern .... 5 trebles ... 2 doubles ...  5... 2

Amazingly, it took on the shape & I was even impressed with how neat mine was - progress!

One leaf done & then time for a crochet button for the centre ....

Finishing them off & putting the backing pin on - fabulous achievement.

Oh yes - a great evening was had by all, a new pattern learnt & a lovely brooch too.

My lifelong learning aim continues this year ... I need to practise this while it is fresh in my mind because it is so effective!

I am sure I am not the only one learning new skills. Do you figure it out yourself or are you happy to enrol on a new course? Tell all & thank you for stopping by & taking the time to read & comment.

Dee ~♥~

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Streetlife time on the sideboard

HI everyone

I hope you are all enjoying Summer. It is the time I have my break (I am a tutor) so I get the opportunity to catch up on things that fall by the wayside with my busy schedule.

I have not changed my sideboard in a bit & so today I decided on my favourite Royal Stafford Streetlife china, designed by Petra Tilly.

It is a set my regulars will recognise it from breakfast posts with the family

It was collected for me by the daughters with pieces gifted over some time to make up a lovely set.

I love the drawings which reflect life so well  - keys, phone, socks ..... 

Ahem ... car washing ...

I love how cheerful the set is - fun & modern ...

Reading in the garden with a squirrel running about - my garden ...

The large platter is a favourite view with interesting snippets of life

Designed by Petra Tilly who is well known for unusual designs ..

An uplifting collection that is meant to be enjoyed ...

This cluster reflects the dilemma of the Olympic coverage - TV vs vacuuming / work or is multitasking best?

Fresh & fun - I will use it when it is out on the sideboard - this set is an indulgence that is fun ...

Do you have a favourite set? Which image above is your favourite?
Dee ~♥~

Friday, 12 August 2016

Come Vizslas .... and Tuppence

Hi everyone

I am always an early riser - I love the stillness of early mornings, I find the quiet & peace very calming;  in Castle 'La Bergelière' France, I would go quietly downstairs to be greeted by excited dogs in their runs in the kitchen.

The dogs had heard my footsteps on the many stairs down to the kitchen ...

I would pop on the kettle, make some tea then take the 3 excitable dogs for an hour long walk / run / play in the chateau gardens while everyone snoozed on.

Vizsla Apollo & Aura adopted Ms M's Cavachon Tuppence as one of their own - see A Wondering Star's account of Tuppence 

Each morning I would greet them with 'Come Vizsla's' & Tuppence would trot along beside them, part of the Vizsla pack but stay to the side during their energetic ball fetching times ...

The Chateau provided such great space for the dogs to have long runs, safely off lead as I was confident that they would respond to commands if need be.The energetic Vizslas enjoying the morning time too ...

The bells of the adjoining church at La Flocelliere would rouse the others & they would wander down to join us in the garden

Castle 'La Bergelière' in La Flocelliere,  France A wonderful setting for a family getaway with space for well behaved dogs too ...

The lovely chateau with its extended gardens was a perfect spot, especially for a large group & some energetic dogs ...
Dee ~♥~

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Grapefruit - a spoon or a knife?

Hi everyone

I love unusual cutlery & while browsing a cutlery stall in the lovely Ludlow market with a friend this week,  we saw a serrated knife & both speculated on its use.

The helpful stall owner came over & informed us that it was a grapefruit knife? 'Really?'was our surprised retort!

I use a elongated, serrated grapefruit spoon at home but he said the knife had replaced it  even though he is asked for the serrated spoons on a regular basis.

I bought the knife to see if it is an improvement on the spoons I use.  I bought some grapefruit from the nearby fruit stall so I could test them out - I know, I like to do such things!

This morning - test time ....

 My usual grapefruit spoon - easy to use & it gets right down, even if it has to be done in stages.

The serrated curved knifes is surprisingly quick & easy to use - much faster than the spoon ...

The spoon removed it right to the skin, the knife left some behind. However, I use the spoon regularly so this probably helped. However - the knife was much quicker to use ....

An interesting test - I think I will be using the knife a lot even though I was originally very sceptical about it. It is quicker but both do the same thing ....

Are you a grapefruit eater?  How do you peel yours?  Do you find strange cutlery interesting?

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read & comment
Dee ~♥~

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Planning two very different weddings ....

Hi everyone

By now, I am sure you have all enjoyed the unique experience of having a daughter marry - twice in a week - once a legal ceremony in England, the second a unique celebrant led one in France.

It also involved a ferry ride & a long drive in France to the chateau but we all planned that trip well with our ferry rides booked months in advance because it was the start of school holidays & the 3 dogs needed pet passports, our house bunny needed a babysitter at home & Katie's cat had to be kennelled - lots of planning to make it all work smoothly.

The first wedding in Dorset was in a gorgeous knee length silk Prada dress with a stunning hat & bouquet

The photos reflected their fun personalities

A very modern & beautiful wedding cake ... 

The second ceremony in a stunning full length dress in a fairy tale chateau setting with their dogs attending too

Their personality shone through - Lace Toms for Pat, sandals for Andy ....

Hydrangeas from the chateau garden - hand-tied with ribbon 

The lovely chateau was a perfect backdrop to this fairy tale day ...

Several have asked how we made it all happen - if it was planned or spontaneous? It was planned spontaneity - carefully planned but then relaxed on the day ...

We did not know what would be available at the Chateau so we gathered a good stock of things we could use to make it special - a cake topper which reflected their personality (choice of two)

 Various wedding items

Wedding bunting which was not used on the day but was there in case it was needed

Cards from their Grandfather in Africa had to be posted weeks in advance 

 Along with gifts he asked for ...

The selection of ribbons meant that glass jars collected by Sue could be hung in the trees 

The fruit cake was decorated with hydrangea flowers & the topper & it looked stunning 

We bought beautiful paper decorations off Amazon which could travel easily & they transformed the outdoors space in to something special with everyone folding the decorations for the tree, even the little lads getting in to the folding ...

Ms M & Katie found the lovely Wedding Day sign & it was perfect for the tree

Rolls of broad blue ribbon transformed ordinary chairs in to lovely items, the tree lit by solar lights at night  ...

We relied on an award winning chef who cooks for special occasions at the chateau - he was amazing

 The chateau was very well stocked with more than enough cutlery, crockery & glassware. It all came together perfectly on the day in a relaxed way that had been well planned behind the scenes to make sure that we had a varied supply of things that could be used ....

The relaxed day was reflected in the dress too - it was about the occasion & people

A tiny group of people who came together to make it happen for the lovely couple

The day was as special as their unique & special rings - Pat designed a ring with an uncut diamond set with claws & flanked by 3 traditional diamonds to balance the design. Their wedding rings are a combination of 18 & 24 k gold - set with a diamond inside the band which was a gift from their friends - very special & designed by them, as unique as they both are. 

Not everyone has understood their desire to have their wedding in their unique way. Pat & Andy have the confidence to walk another path & those that love them the most, were happy to make it happen as they wanted & that made two very special occasions ....

It was hard to keep it under wraps but it was not my secret to tell.

Love is - keeping their secret, planning 2 weddings in their vision, driving 1000 miles on the wrong side of the road in a country where you don't read, write or speak the language, explaining to those who don't understand a unique experience that is is not about them but the couple ....

The Tipsy Tart summed it up perfectly for me:

 I think everything Pat and Andy did was so romantic....going to France and having just family there....keeping it a secret...sounds like the perfect wedding to me...well done them...xxxx

Thank you for your company & taking the time to read & comment,
 Dee ~♥~