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I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve just completely got out of the habit. Anyway I have actually been making lots of nice things so hopefully I’ll get to show you some of them over the next week.

First up Hazelnut macaroons with a chocolate filling. I’m really pleased with these, the recipe is adapted from the original Pistachio Macaroons from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.
Hazlenut and chocolate macaroon
To be honest this is more of a sandwiched biscuit than a macaroon but I like them none the less.

Macaroons

75g ground hazelnut
125g icing sugar
2 large egg whites
15g caster sugar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Filling
125g Softened butter
125g Icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Whisk the eggs until quite stiff, add the caster sugar and continue whisking until completely stiff (hold the bowl over your head, when it doesn’t fall on your head it’s stiff enough).

Mix the ground hazlenuts with the icing sugar, fold into the egg mixture.

Put into a piping bag and pipe about 30 circles using a 1cm nozzle. (Or just do what I did and pipe from the corner of a plastic freezer bag so you don’t have to wash up the piping bag).

Leave for 10 minutes to form a skin (not sure this really makes any difference but I’m not going to tempt fate and take the step out). Put in the oven for about 12 minutes.

While the macaroons are cooling make the filling.

Mix together 125g of softened butter with 125g of icing sugar and one tablespoon of cocoa powder.

Pipe the filling onto the flat side of a macaroon and squish another one on the other side…and your done. Alternatively just use a palette knife to put the filling on a macaroon.

These are really easy to make. I made the macaroons while Beatrix was in a baby carrier on my front, they baked while I put her down for a nap and I made the filling while they cooled.

Blog post and photography written during her nap – so I’m being completely serious when I say these are VERY simple.

And I leave you with a picture of the not so tiny anymore Beatrix!
Beatrix with headband

Scotch Eggs

This is a guest post from Mark (with a little help from Lizzy).

For the recent Royal Wedding party we went to I decided to make Scotch Eggs, I’ve wanted to make them for a long time as they’re always on the TV and they look tasty.

I wanted to make quails eggs but Lizzy said that it would be too difficult to adapt the recipe for the first time we did it. Just follow the recipe and you’ll have no trouble, here are some action shots to help you.

This is the recipe that I used, and here are some thoughts on how you can improve it.

1. You don’t need to flatten the sausage meat out on the board, just split it into equal portions and then squish it in your hand.
2. It would be considerably easier if you happened to own a deep fat fryer. (Lizzy – and it would be A LOT easier on the nerves of others living in the house)
3. The amount of flour and breadcrumbs suggested is ridonculous, you need half what they suggest, if that. (Lizzy – yes he said ridonculous not ridiculous).

All in all it was a delicious and very satisfying man sized treat. Pork pies up next!
Mmmm tasty Scotch Eggs
Lizzy – And just in case you were wondering, Scotch Eggs are English (despite the name). They were invented by Fortnum and Mason (a very posh department store in London for those of you who are international readers) in 1738. I think they would make excellent picnic fodder.

A Mere Trifle

Sorry about the title of this post, I couldn’t resist. We celebrated the Royal wedding at the house of some friends (who did an amazing job of Britishing the whole thing up with bunting, union jacks, and bacon sandwiches). I decided to make a very British dessert, trifle, to take with me (which was actually an excuse to buy a new glass bowl from Ikea that I’ve had my eye on for some time).
Raspberry and Lemon Trifle
I’m not sure if you get trifle in other countries but if you don’t know what it is it’s basically a layered dessert. First layer is sponge fingers with alcohol (or not) and a fruit sauce poured over the top to soak it, you can then add jelly (or jello if you’re American!) if you choose, then fruit, then a cold custard (that can be flavoured if you like), and whipped cream. My recipe then had caramel on the top but it’s more 1970s to add toasted flaked almonds, or coloured hundreds and thousands.

I don’t have much experience of trifle, my Mum doesn’t like it so it really didn’t feature in my youth. So I just googled lots of recipes and realised that there are A LOT of different ways of making tifle.

First I made a load of boudoir biscuits/sponge fingers using this recipe. That was super easy and very enjoyable, I like making anything that involves a piping bag. I’d say if you’re going to make these then try and make them at least an inch thick, you can do this by moving the piping bag more slowly. (Also I clearly didn’t get a ruler and mark the baking parchment – who would do this?).

I loosely followed this Raspberry and Lemongrass Trifle recipe by Nigella Lawson, but as I couldn’t find lemongrass in my local supermarkets (it’s a Swiss thing) I decided to use the zest from three lemons. It’s funny because the other day I nearly bought a lemon verbena plant and then I thought better of it ‘what on earth will I use lemon verbena for’ I thought. MMmmm lemon flavoured custard it turns out.
Trifle
I tweaked the Nigella recipe because I didn’t think it would have enough layers to fill my lovely glass bowl, so I added a layer of chopped strawberries. Strawberries were cheaper than raspberries which is why I opted for them.

Making the custard wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be (although you have to watch it like a hawk, and I took my eye off it for a milli second and nearly lost the whole lot).

Apparently there’s a huge debate surrounding the absence or inclusion of jelly in trifle. As I said before I don’t have much experience of trifle but it seems that if you add jelly you’re ‘common’ – seriously who spends time thinking of these things! There’s an entire article about it here.
My trifle didn’t contain jelly (partially because it seems you can’t get jelly here and having made the sponge fingers and the custard I wasn’t about to start faffing around with gelatine) but what do you think? Should trifle contain jelly?

If I’d thought about this further in advance I’d have made the trifle before last weeks pavlova…because I’ve now got 8 egg whites sat in the freezer…oh well we’ll have to make another pavlova soon!

And as so many of you are asking, here’s a picture of Beatrix and I watching the wedding.

Lizzy and Bea dressed in red, white, and blue for the Royal Wedding

It was Kimberly’s birthday ages ago, and we have somehow ended up with a small tradition where we make each other a gift. Normally this is fine…but when you have a small person in your life it’s a little more difficult.

Anyway, whenever Kimberly comes to my house she waxes lyrical about a scissor keep that I made myself years and years ago so I thought I’d make her one. It has cross stitch strawberries on it and is based on a pair of Queen Victoria’s slippers (I can find no evidence for this on the net so you’ll just have to trust me!).

I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to craft supplies and patterns, so I thought I’d just make Kimberly an identical scissor keep. I searched high and low and unbelievably this is pretty much the only cross stitch pattern that I haven’t kept from the last 15 or so years. So it was back the drawing board. I decided to make the Celtic Bird pattern from Textile Heritage (the same company that designed the Strawberry pattern I did years ago.
Strawberry scissor keep

I love the results, however, I did not love the copious amounts of backstitch in this design. I don’t remember there being that much backstitch in the strawberry cross stitch pattern, and when I looked at it there was none on my scissor keep (but that could just be because I was lazy and didn’t bother doing it). Also the counting on this was really hard for some reason, I think the large blocks of colour on the bird were actually more difficult than the smaller sections of colour on the strawberry.
Celtic Bird Scissor Keep
Sadly the celtic bird design doesn’t have any beading on it, which I’m sure is one of the things that Kimberly likes about my original scissor keep, but never mind.

I’ve now made three things from Textile Heritage and I think the designs are great, and the patterns really easy to follow. But they do change the patterns relatively frequently so if you’re interested in making the celtic bird I’d by the kit now.

A great little project but it took many more hours than I anticipated – but late than never hey!

I’ve also been enjoying

Anticipating the six month subscription to Bustle and Sew, the online magazine, from Pam’s lovely blog Gingerbread Snowflakes

The small bunch of lily of the valley in my lounge

The fact that Beatrix rolled over from her tummy to her back for the first time yesterday!

I’m a big fan of impressive looking desserts that don’t take hours to create, and for me pavlova fits the bill perfectly. It’s indulgent, yet can be made with ingredients you have in the house, and the vast majority of the work is done by the oven.

I made this particular pavlova for the BBQ we went to last weekend (which was lovely by the way). It’s an eight egg pavlova using this recipe by Nigella Lawson. But instead of using vanilla extract I used a teaspoon of rosewater. I’d love to say that this was my idea but actually it’s in Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’.

I’ve cooked pavlova using this recipe several times before, but for some reason the meringue cracked this time and the centre dropped. Meringues normally crack when you open the oven door too early, I didn’t open the door until the cooking time was up so I have no idea why this happened (let me know if you have any ideas).
Pavlova
Piling in a load of whipped cream and chopped fruit makes the whole thing look a lot prettier when it’s collapsed.

I’d definitely recommend using a food mixer to make your meringue as you need to whisk the eggs and sugar until they’re in stiff peaks. You know the peaks are stiff enough if you can turn the bowl upside down over your head and not get covered in egg and sugar. Another top tip is to make sure that your mixing bowl is spotless before you add your egg whites (otherwise you won’t get the volume you need).

When I separate eggs for meringues I use three bowls, one to transfer the egg yolks to, one to put the egg whites in once they’ve been successfully separated and one to separate the eggs over. This way if you screw up seperating the eggs (and I do this relatively frequently) you won’t ruin an entire bowl of egg whites, just the egg that you’ve just separated.

There are lots of things you can do with the egg yolks you have left over – carbonara and creme brulee are two of my favourites (we don’t always eat incredibly fatty food!).

Hope you enjoy the royal wedding if you’re watching it!

A Trip to Annecy

I hope you all enjoyed your bank holiday weekend. We had a little expedition across the border to Annecy in France. It was lovely, and very picturesque.

Palais De L'Isle Jail

Palais De L'Isle Jail


Canal Annecy

Canal Annecy


Annecy Lake

Annecy Lake


I’ve also been enjoying…

A spot of knitting (should have something to show you in the next week or so)

This fantastic mushroom soup recipe from Run Quilt Knit Write.

Ice-cream from the fantastic gelateria in Nyon.

And organising my bakeware and tupperware (I know I’m sad but this really made me happy!).

I’m loving the fact that the Swiss (well at least in the part of the Switzerland where I live) have lots of local traditions. One of the customs here in Nyon is decorating all the water fountains in the town for Easter. This is to celebrate the melting of the snow in the mountains and the return of the water to the rivers and springs.

Chicken and Egg Fountain

Chicken and egg fountain from a local school


Chicken and unlaid egg

Chicken and unlaid egg


The snow melted way back in February, and Easter was also late this year but I’m a fan of any tradition that involves local businesses and schools doing a bit of craft. Here are some pictures of my favourites (and one that Mark thought ‘could do better’).
Daffodil Fountain NyonTransport water fountain
Fountain from local primary school
It's just a bit of pink ribbon

Mark was not impressed with this one as it was 'just a bit of pink ribbon'


Hope you all enjoyed your Easter weekend and had some fantastic weather.