Daring Bakers – Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

I had this month’s daring challenge prepared way early in the month, but I’m playing catch-up with the post.  My blogging has been sporadic lately, but at least the Daring Kitchen gives me some deadlines I have to meet and thus keeps things turning over.  I’ll hopefully  get working on the backlog of photos, cat news, food and garden stuff I haven’t managed to get down here once my cold is away ;)

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

This definitely wasn’t the prettiest thing I ever made, not touching the other beautiful entries for this month, and the photographs were hurried as they were taken when it was served – after a dinner with Andy’s parents, his sister and her partner.  I’d wanted to do the dessert when they were over as otherwise it’d have taken Andy and I weeks to eat it all up – we still ended up taking extra over to M&M’s the next day with some extras stuffed in the freezer!

As you can see, it’s not quite like the recipe / guidelines.  I’m not a huge fan of chocolate upon chocolate upon chocolate, so I wanted something lighter.  I decided, eventually on a ‘trifle’ theme for it – custard ice cream, mixed summer fruit sauce, vanilla ice cream, and plain swiss roll with brandy-cream filling. Whilst I can’t say it was even an unreserved success taste wise, I certainly learned a lot from making it.

I had never made my own sponge cake before and, though the first one was a failure, the second one turned out perfectly – despite being gluten free (Andy’s father is coeliac) and I learned how to make ice cream!  As if I needed yet another way to put on weight ;)  The custard ice cream was interesting, if a little odd.  I think both ice-creams suffered from being under-beaten (I was a bit rushed, trying to get everything ready at the same time) and our over-zealously cold freezer.

Read More

Daring Cooks – Nut Butters

I dropped the ball on this month’s challenge, a little – though I’ll manage to scootch my post in just on time ;)! I’ve wanted to try nut butters for a time – specifically cashew butter, used as a substitute for peanut butter, since Andy is allergic.  One thing he’d never tried, therefore, was chicken satay.  Given that this month’s challenge was to use a nut butter with a savoury recipe, that’s what I decided to do!

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

I actually got my baking challenge done this month before doing this one – despite the fact that I’d know straight away what I intended to cook.  Andy’s been super-busy, though, and when he’s not, things just conspired to put this dish off the menu.  However, I decided last night that I’d make it today, which… was very handy, since I realised this morning that today was my last chance to get this month’s challenge in on time!

It wasn’t hard to make the nut butter itself, and I followed a recipe to make a thai satay sauce (leaving it a tad thicker) as well as their chicken satay marinade.   Both were delicious and I know I’d be more tempted to use nut butters in something with it taking so little time to make, if I can stop myself feeling so guilty about eating half a packet of nuts as a ‘sauce’.

Recipe and details found here.

Read More

Stormy Weather

It’s been rather stormy the last few days (as, I’m sure you’ll know if you’ve been here, 80mph winds are hard to miss) and by garden has been thrashed about like a terrier’s toy.  Although it’s been the first bad weather, besides freezing, that my little garden has had to cope with I think it’s come out of it relatively unscathed.

The one major casualty was my sweetcorn – the stems didn’t break, thankfully, but the ones in the taller of the two containers did fall over.  I put them in the shed overnight, to keep them out of the worst of it, but even light winds are blowing them over more easily now – I may have to stake some of them.  The sunflowers came close – they’re just starting to get above the height of the rest of the vegetables and thus are in the ‘danger zone’, unprotected, but the quick addition of a sturdy log stake stopped them from being toppled, thankfully.  I’ve only managed to grow three sunflowers, of many planted, so I would have been a bit sad to see them fall over or break.

Everything else seemed to lean into the wind – the brussels sprouts, and even the purple sprouting broccoli, both of which have grown quite tall, managed to evade any damage.  The marigolds, oddly, are all facing away from the sun at the moment – in the direction the wind was blowing them.  Not sure what that’s all about, but we’ll see if they turn back.

Despite the ravages of the weather, though, the garden is still in overdrive mode.  Every week I look out and am surprised at just how much it’s come on.  Last week, everything was promising, with buds aplenty and the start of filling out in the more leafy plants.  This week, that promise has been fulfilled.  The radishes are blooming, as is the coriander; the cauliflowers are no longer tiny buds, but nearing full size heads, one of the cabbages was big enough to pull, and I can harvest a handful of peas every few days!  The purple sprouting broccoli is still producing buds, despite several days of having it as a side with dinner, and the lettuce is, as always, coming again.

Despite a great deal of diligent egg and caterpillar smushing, some have managed to survive.  They’ve had relatively little effect on my brassicas, though, so I’m feeling slightly generous towards them at the moment – we found this spiky little thing the above cabbage and I put it back outside in a quiet spot.  It’s a cabbage white chrysalis and can’t really do much harm now, except, I suppose, birth the next generation ;)  As much as I don’t like them munching on on my veggies, I’d certainly not like to see them disappear entirely.

Read More