Sunday, 16 June 2013

Father's Day Treats: Chocolate Truffles

Evie's school let me down this week. Back in March when I picked her up on the Friday before Mother's Day Evie made it very clear, as she met me at the gates, that under no circumstances was I to look in her bag because, 'there is a surprise in there for you Mummy'. Indeed there was; on Mothering Sunday morning she came rushing in to my room to proudly present me with a gorgeous homemade lavender bag, 'It makes your drawer smell nice', along with her own original artwork card. It seems reasonable then that this week I had assumed that Evie would come home on Friday laden with homemade gifts for Father's Day. I was wrong.

It's not that I had forgotten. I just thought that Evie had it covered. I had been reminded of it on my way home from work on Wednesday when listening to a hilarious exchange between food writer Giles Coren and and a chap from a dads' internet forum. Is Daddy Pig (of Peppa Pig fame) a real representation of modern day fatherhood and a suitable role model for its audience of under-fives in comparison with modern day dads like David Beckham ? In our household we are firmly in the Daddy Pig camp along with Giles who quite rightly argued that Daddy Pig is a hero. His catchphrase, 'I am a bit of an expert at...' is regularly quoted by my husband and much to my dismay our own Daddy's favourite episode is the one where, upon attempting to translate a letter from Peppa's French penpal, Daddy Pig concludes, 'it's no good... it's nonsense.' That one is regularly quoted (jokingly) when I am speaking French in an attempt to encourage multilingualism in our daughter. But this is the point: Daddy Pig is a sweet, funny character who clearly loves his wife and children. In a day and age of so many absent fathers, he seems like a pretty good role model to me. Evie's favourite episode is the one where Daddy takes Peppa and her brother George to the office with him. They get to do Daddy's work: stamping; printing out different coloured shapes; and writing on the office whiteboard with coloured pens. I have never loved my husband more than the day he recreated this episode for Evie in his own office. She came home with the biggest smile and a clutch of paper with printed out shapes; she was in heaven. 

In my opinion, Giles Coren came to the perfect conclusion in the Radio 4 debate: 'I would rather have Daddy Pig bring up my daughter than David Beckham'. Me too! The last word goes to Evie though. In reply to my question, 'What do you like most about Daddy?' she said, 'He likes being silly and I like playing with him the most.' 

Chocolate Truffles

Our solution to no school-made Father's Day gift. It's a great recipe for kids to make; easy, and they can say they made it all (with supervision Evie even stirs the chocolate in the bain marie). More importantly, it involves messy hand fun! 

Makes 12 truffles

150g. Chocolate of your choice.

50ml. Double Cream

15g. Butter

2 tsp. Icing Sugar

Cocoa, sprinkles or chopped nuts to coat the truffles

Break up the chocolate into a mixing bowl and add the cream. Pour a couple of inches of boiling water into a saucepan that is large enough to sit the bowl in. On the hob, keep the water at just below boiling point so that it maintains a gentle heat in the bowl to melt the chocolate into the cream. Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the butter and icing sugar (it is best to sieve the icing sugar to avoid lumps). Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove from the fridge and take a teaspoon of the mixture and place it into the palm of your hands, roll it into a ball before rolling it in cocoa powder or chopped nuts. Put on to a plate. When you have made all of your truffles cover them and return them to fridge until you are ready to eat them.

Happy Father's Day! Enjoy. Vic & Evie xxx

Saturday, 1 June 2013

A Walk in the Woods: Wild Garlic Butter

Wow, it's been a long time but I have finally made it back to the blog. I don't quite know what went wrong; a busy week turned into a busy month and into a busy spring and before I knew it I had missed a whole season of inspiration. In that time I have had lots of ideas, I even started writing a number of posts but never quite had the time to finish them. I have missed it! Being out taking the pictures and sitting at the computer this week was so much fun, like re-connecting with an old friend. I promise not to stay away so long this time.

During the break I have got totally addicted to Pinterest. If you haven't discovered it yet, it is a social networking site that is image-based. You set up pin boards and pin images of things that inspire you. You can also follow others to see what they are pinning. It has been a source of much inspiration and certainly helped nudge me to get blogging again. Seeing the gorgeous images and blog posts of others inspired me to want to practise my photography more and create beautiful things to share. I have also been inspired by posts that aren't just restricted to food and recipes. So although I am sure there will continue to be lots of recipes here (food is never far from my thoughts), I am hoping to also blog about other ways to find beauty in the everyday and the simple. Which brings me on to today's post.

In the welsh borderlands we have been finally feeling a change in the season. The cold clung on well into the spring but the last few weeks have seen a change. The tell-tale scent of garlic first hit me last week on my drive to work. I am very lucky that my commute climbs the hills of the Clwydian range before descending into the valley along the edge of the Loggerheads country park. At the bridge over the river at this time of year the air is thick with the aroma of wild garlic, a pungent smell that contradicts its delicate flavour. It was time to get out picking. 

Evie and I set out one beautifully clear and sunny morning for a walk in the woods, basket in hand. While Evie told me stories of the bears and witches that live in each of the dark nooks of the woods I scouted out a good picking spot. The perfect place was next to a shallow bank ideal for paddling. It was still cool enough for Evie to prefer to keep her wellies on. Splashing over we began our harvesting, aiming for enough to fill a salad bag.

Wild Garlic Butter

Back home, I washed the leaves before blitzing them in a food processor with a drop of olive oil. I then mashed my wild garlic paste into a packet of crunchy sea salt butter at room temperature. Next I took out a sheet of greaseproof paper and shaped the butter into a sausage shape in the middle before rolling it up and tying either end with string. This will remain stashed in my freezer waiting to be sliced and stirred into pasta or soup, pushed under the skin of a chicken for roasting, melted onto jacket potatoes or smothered onto a stale baguette for delicious wild garlic bread. 

As we were enjoying our wild garlic pasta on the patio, I noticed that the bluebells were in full bloom in the woodland that surrounds our neighbours' house. Wild garlic and bluebells; what better reason do you need for a beautiful woodland walk this weekend? 

Enjoy, Victoria xxx