I snipped this recipe for semi-freddo from the Co-op magazine many moons ago when I was looking for tasty eye catching, low sugar puddings. Making it appealed to my ”no-time-to-bake-with-a-baby” mind set as well as getting a gluten-free and low-sugar thumbs up for using honey to sweeten. The original recipe used low-fat ingredients and looked like this. Mine was sadly nowhere near as attractive; my raspberries sank to the bottom and it was somewhat icy (think chocolate shards through viennetta). I think this was probably a result of extra water in the mix from using frozen fruit instead of fresh raspberries. Preparing it the night before rather than getting up at the crack of dawn with baby on hip for it to be ready in time for lunch may also have contributed. If I’d engaged my brain even just a little bit I would have realised that ‘semi-freddo‘ meant semi-frozen and that an overnight stay in the freezer wasn’t such a brilliant idea afterall! Hey ho, you live and learn. At least my full fat version tasted delicious with a delicate balance between the honey sweetened sharpness of the raspberries and the mellow creaminess of the coconut milk.
what you need to make raspberry and coconut semi-freddo
300g (10.5 oz) raspberries
100ml (3.5 fl oz) clear honey
400ml (13.5 fl oz) custard
200ml (7 fl oz) creme fraiche
400g (14 oz) tin coconut milk
- Place 200g of the raspberries into a bowl with the honey, mash with a fork, then strain through a sieve into a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in the custard, then the creme fraiche and finally the coconut milk.
- Fold in the remaining raspberries and pour into the prepared tin. Cover with cling film and a sheet of tin foil and freeze for 3-4 hours until completely frozen.
- Leave at room temperature for about 20 minuntes before slicing and serve with a raspberry coulis.
Serves 6, prep time 25 minutes + freezing in a 1.5 pint terrine tin, lined with baking paper.
I always listen to drive time on Radio 2 while cooking tea.
A few months ago Simon Pattinson retold the story of he and his wife leaving their jobs as lawyers to become self-taught chocolatiers. They set up Montezuma’s in 2000, a chocolate brand I’d not come across before, and I was intrigued enough to find out a little more about them.
‘we started out with only a kitchen sink sized machine, huge enthusiasm, spades of naivety and most importantly, a broad ideal to bring chocolate innovation to a boring and staid British chocolate market. With the exception of that first machine, little has changed and the childish enthusiasm we shared exploring South America in 1999 largely wakes up with us every morning; although we now have three little girls who rise before dawn every day!’‘
I hopped on the opportunity to contact Simon and Helen to ask if I could review one of their best selling products ‘great balls of fire’ – described as an intoxicating and heady collection of spiced chocolate caramel balls. G opted to taste them blind whereas I like to know what flavours are going to be tickling my tastebuds (yes, I like to read the back of DVDs before watching films too!).
Halleys white chocolate – the tongue tingling chilli kick was an instant reminder of my childhood love of cinnamon fire balls. The flavour? – exotic sweet mango at first making way for a gentle lime twist. When you hit the buttery caramel centre the chilli flavour intensifies but is buffered nicely by the subtlety of the white chocolate wrapping it. I’ve never experienced such flavours in chocolate so it was no wonder G didn’t have a clue when trying to place them; ‘is it something perfumey or flower like? It’s good though, I don’t normally rate white chocolate’
Swift milk chocolate – encasing a strawberry and peppercorn caramel centre. ‘nice‘ G grinned immediately reaching for another. The fiery kick nestles discreetly in the folds of sparkling strawberry and the milk chocolate is rich enough to leave an enduring after taste that mellows out the spice of the peppercorns.
Shoemaker dark chocolate - these are the biggies when it comes to great balls of fire. A really nice rich chocolatey texture with a tongue tingley yet subtle flavour. Initially the salty caramel flavour comes through then gradually the pepper and finally the chilli fire. It probably sounds a peculiar mix for chocolate but they were amazing! ”Designed to be subtly satisfying while challenging flavour convention’‘ they certainly live up to their name.
Disclosure: I was sent these chocolates by Montezumas. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
One of the best things about days out when I was young was the awesome packed lunches Mum made. My most enduring memory from a school trip to the Natural History Museum in London was not the breathtaking exhibits or the barley sugar fuelled long, long coach journey but the 2, yes t-w-o, chocolate cream eclairs and packets of crisps in my lunch box. You can see from this months ‘me and mine family portrait’ and E’s ‘corrrrrr‘ face that he also thinks crisps on family days out are rather awesome!
We visited Croome Park this month as part of the National Trusts free weekend. It was the first bright sunny coatless spring day we’d had this year and we sauntered round the vast grounds pointing out ‘tree‘, ‘lake‘, ‘duck‘, ‘goose‘, ‘statue‘, ‘doggy‘ to E in his buggy. While he found it all interesting his highlight was the playground of course.
E was also rather fascinated by all the stones and leaves he kept stopping to study! What a fine way to spend a Saturday
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Nipitinthebud will be 4 years old in a few months time. I can hardly believe it! There have been many things I’ve cooked that haven’t made it to the blog so you could say the posts that feature are the ones I found easy to make, tasted delicious and were too good to forget. With that in mind you’d think I’d return to my on-line recipe book time and again but no; some favourites have still only been made a handful of times and many more just the once.
I knew exactly which recipe I wanted to return to when I was offered the chance to sample Boursin cheese with Fig and Nuts. I wrote about Brie Baked Apples in2009 and thought it would be a delicious combination to recreate the baked apples experience using the Boursin cheese. Delicious it was, especially taking a nibble of the fruity cheese round for every nub stuffed into the apple. However it wasn’t quite the culinary success I’d hoped for having not factored in the different melt point and texture of a Boursin round versus a brie.
Unlike last time I didn’t boil the apples in syrup as this would have deprived me of the light needed to have any half decent photos to post. So instead I brushed them with honey and rolled them in ground almonds and crushed sunflower seeds and sprinkled them with flaked almonds. I would have prefered to use walnuts to make a better match with the raisins, pecans, cashews and walnuts in the cheese but I didn’t have any. The finished result was less baked apple with melting middle and more warm but crunchy apple slices topped with silky soft cheese. So word to the wise, don’t try this just take your lovely fresh apple in one hand and your cheese round in the other and chomp away for a lovely decadent snack.
So how did they go down with E? Well you know how much babies love to lick anything creamy – when I presented the plate to him he was almost as excited as he was unwrapping our curious ice packed cheese when it arrived.
The garlic and herb flavour is quite potent so you only need a few to pep up your lunch. ”You can even eat them straight from the pot for a sumptuous snack” suggests the blurb on the pot. Which is what we did, baby and all. Easily our favourite fuss-free way of eating them!
Disclosure: I was sent the cheeses by Boursin to review. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own
We took a walk out to the allotment at the end of March; our first visit of 2013.
It looked just as we expected but worse! Even with all the work we’ll need to do to clear the soil for growing I’d imagined an idyllic scene of G and I busting a gut gardening while E played on a toy filled blanket on the grass. How naive! The allotment is riddled with nettles and brambles and all sorts of nasty spikey things and not at all safe for a little man out of arms.
With little enough time as it is, we can’t do the maintenance needed to contain it as well as grow food so for another year it will be a place less frequently visited and more likely to be tended by one or other of us in our usual tag team fashion. We’ve tamed it before and we can tame it again once E’s a bit older! This is how it looked this time last year with our parent task force helping out.
We managed a couple of jobs at least in the hour E slept. I cut back the autumn fruiting raspberry canes and I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed that they’ll work their usual magic of producing fruit effortlessly from July to October.
G picked the rhubarb and while there wasn’t enough to make rhubarb wine he was very happy to make his legendary coronary inducing rhubarb fool.
E’s first word at 6 months old was ‘Mumma’. ’Dadda‘ followed about a month later and ‘(l)ook‘ at 9 months (seen here being put to good use pointing out trees in the park). When he had his 12 month development check the Health Visitor commented on how advanced his language was – he’d dropped ‘cat‘, ‘George‘ and ‘blueberries‘ casually into the conversation and when she left chirped ‘bye‘ and what sounded like ‘lady‘. We thought nothing of it until a few other mums with children the same age as E started showing concern at how few words their babies were saying.
It’s so easy to forget your baby’s ”firsts” and when trying to recall the first fruit he ate, steps he took or tooth he cut I know exactly which photograph to go back to. For speaking we have some video clips of E but I wanted to capture more of the whole picture around how E’s learning to communicate. The wordle above lists the words he knows to date and the order in which he learnt them (largest first, to smallest most recently). He understands many more words than this but these are the ones he says unprompted and acts upon independently. If you’d asked me how many words he knows I would have guessed around 20 but having spent the last week jotting them down he’s actually up to 50*. It seems the Health Visitor was right as this is more than would be expected for a child of his age.
This second wordle was created yesterday on his 15 month birthday and shows how frequently he uses his 50* words. On and off are his favourite words as he moves around the house pointing out the lights and begging to be lifted up to flip the switch (for some strange reason Wordle didn’t list them). He shouts Dadda at the slightest whisper of George being nearby. And Doddo and Billa, in case you were wondering are two of our cats, Poppet and Billy. The third cat Mikey has no name yet, just a finger wagged at him as E says ”no no no” because he’s always trying to steal his food.
It’s been so interesting seeing E’s language develop. I began baby signing with him when he was about 6 months old and he soon grasped that squeezing your fist open and closed, like milking a cow,was how to tell me he wanted some milk. He was very polite about it up until a month or so ago when he was ill with a prolonged cough and worked out tugging my top was a more immediate way of communicating! He’s stopped signing since he’s become more verbal and now says ‘‘two two’‘ if he wants milk (picked up from me saying ‘other side, always two’ when switching sides for his bedtime feed). I’m in awe of how baby brains grow and develop right before your eyes.
It’s only right that E should have the last word – if you were here in person to say ‘bye bye’ to it would be accompanied with a smacker planted firmly on the lips. Such a charmer!
* 63, forgot to add George, no, hiya, there, wee wee, peepo, wow, row, boot, tea, right way, upside down
Of all the things I missed most while bringing up baby last year, making fruit cordials, jellies and chutneys was high up my list. I love the process of growing your own food and and turning a glut of produce into jars and bottles of preserves; almost as much as I love to make something with foraged ingredients. This year I suspect my cordial making will depend upon donated fruit from kindly allotment neighbours or keeping an eye out for the elderflower blossom. It will certainly be inspired by my recent tastings of Five Valleys Cordials using herbal blends of mint and rose.
We didn’t know what flavour to expect when we said yes to reviewing Five Valleys fruit cordials. From previous posts you’ll know how much I love anything that’s had a mint leaf shaken at it so I was chuffed when the first bottle we opened was a refreshing blend of Lemon and Mint. As we were in the full throes of a cough lurgy the timing couldn’t have been better – a winter recipe card from Five Valleys with the cordial + orange juice in the fridge = a soothing Lemon and Mint Hottie.
The second bottle we sampled was Pomegranate and Rose cordial. I was instantly transported back to my student days in Lancaster when I used to buy Rose syrup from an Asian shop to add to milk. I’ve never found anything that comes close to the fragrant flavour of that drink; until now. The Pomegranate and Rose cordial is quite simply lovely and unlike the Rose syrup of 20 years ago is made from natural ingredients with no artificial colourings, sweeteners or preservatives. For someone like me who loves flower flavours no further enticement is needed but for someone less easily persuaded husband and wife team Chris and Becky from Five Valleys describe it as ”an exotic blend of the finest Pomegranate juice expertly mingled with the heady aroma of Rose petals with a hint of geranium – full of Eastern promise”.
Georges’s comment ”it’s a bit good that Pomegranate cordial” and the fact it was all gone in just a few days is quite an endorsement (this from someone who refers to my preference for Earl Grey tea as like ”drinking perfume”).
Five Valleys Cordials are based in Stroud, a short drive from us, but we hadn’t come across them before. In Gloucestershire you can find them at these Farmers Markets and health food shops. If you have a Waitrose near you or shop on-line at Ocado you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by the range of flavours on offer; Apricot and Ginger, Coconut and Kaffir Lime and Sloe and Raspberry in addition to the flavours we tried. Chris and Becky will be offering free tastings at several events this summer if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Dorchester, Cheltenham, London, Painswick or Birmingham. Just look out for the big smiles behind this banner.
With a strapline of ‘‘lovely cordials for lovely people’‘ who wouldn’t want to try a drop of loveliness?
© photos of 5 cordial bottles and event drink stand – Five Valleys Cordials