Category Archives: Food Presents

Decorated Chocolate Easter Eggs – using real eggs

As Easter approaches, I have been trying to think of interesting ideas for eggs or gifts.  It occurred to me that one could decorate real eggs and fill them with chocolate.  If you saw one of these in John Lewis they would cost you a fortune and rightly so as they look so glamorous.

You could have a lot of fun with the designs, using applique, stippling, marbling, or just using a bit of ribbon and some stick-on gems as I have done.  I have a big bag of ribbons, sequins, sparkly things etc so I tend to use what I already have in stock.  This is what I did:-

DECORATED CHOCOLATE EASTER EGGS

Make a hole

Utensils:
1 x large needle
Kitchen roll (paper towel)
1 x heatproof bowl for melting the chocolate
1 x saucepan
Icing syringe
Acrylic paints – matt and/or metallic
Acrylic varnish for matt paints
Paint brushes – thick & thin
Ribbons – assorted
Decorative gems

Melt the chocolate

Scissors
PVA glue
Egg cups
4oz / 120g good quality chocolate per egg

Method:
Using the needle make a hole about ¼ “ / 0.75cm diameter in the bottom of the egg
Waggle the needle gently inside the egg to break up the yolk
Drain the egg into a bowl for use as omelettes or to make a cake

Fill the egg with chocolate

Rinse the inside of the egg thoroughly and leave to drain and dry on a towel
Bring some water almost to the boil in the saucepan and place the heatproof bowl on top
Break the chocolate into pieces and place in the bowl
Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally
Pour the chocolate into the syringe and fill the empty egg shell, leaving a little space for expansion
Wipe any excess chocolate off the shell and leave in a cool place to set
Paint the egg with several thin coats of acrylic paint, making sure not to get any paint on the chocolate
It’s best to do most of the top half first, leave it to dry and then do the remaining bottom bit
When the paint is dry, varnish if you need to and leave to dry

Paint the egg

Then decorate with ribbons and gems, fixing into place with a little PVA

When you come to eat the chocolate, hit the egg quite hard on the side and roll it a bit to crack the shell, a bit like you’d do with a hard-boiled egg.  Then peel the shell off and eat.

A box of eggs

The sadness and yet, the joy!

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Filed under Food Presents, Seasonal, Slider

What I’ve been doing instead of writing articles for you.

Sorry I have posted anything for the last couple of days, I’ve just been a bit knackered which is a pretty poor excuse really; I have a job to do and a public to satisfy!  I’m going to Marlow tomorrow to see my mother on Mothers’ Day and also  to see 10cc in concert on Sunday night with Sister the Second.  You see, I do take your advice.

I’ve had a lot to prepare; obviously a card and gift for The Aged Parent, but also there are Easter eggs to deliver and a present for Sister the First whose birthday is in a couple of weeks.

Below are some pictures of how I attempted to make a gift of Lindt Chocolate Bunnies more exciting and also a small Easter Basket for a mildly diabetic mother who can eat one tiny egg a day without fighting the desire to eat the whole lot.  I wish….
The photos aren’t great, but they give you an idea.

Four Bunny Basket

Two Bunny Basket

Easter Basket with Coalport China Egg

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Filed under Food, Food Presents, Slider

Easy cupcakes for any occasion

I’m not one for jumping on fashion bandwagons of any kind and I’m sure many of us having been making cupcakes or fairy cakes for as long as we can remember; what’s the big deal?

Of course, there isn’t one.  Cupcakes are simply 4442 sponge mixture with the decoration of your choice on the top.  You can take a week making sugar flowers or you can go to a decent kitchen shop and buy some, it all depends on the occasion.  Cookshops usually have a fabulous selection of ready-made decorations, food colourings, edible glitter and pearls.  You can have such fun and don’t need to be a skilled cake decorator to produce something lovely.

Boy the Younger will be 8 tomorrow, so I am sending him in with a tray of simple cupcakes to share with his school friends as he won’t be having a proper celebration until next month.  I’m going to do the same thing that I did for Boy the Elder’s birthday and take him and his chums to an English Heritage property and take a picnic.

  • I trebled the amount of mixture, doing 12 12 12 6 quantities which made 36 cakes
  • I trebled the quantities for the mock cream for the top. 
  • I tinted the mock cream with a tiny bit of pink food colouring – pastes are better than the cheap liquid stuff you get in the supermarket
  • I piped it through a wide serrated icing nozzle such as one might use to pipe mashed potato
  • I bought the sugar flowers and edible pearls from the Kitchen Range shop in Market Harborough
  • I used co-ordinating paper cases for the type of decoration I was doing

I was really pleased with these.  Unused as I am to blowing my own trumpet, I have a duty to let you know that I have a trumpet, so that you can have a go at making these yourselves.

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Filed under Children, Family and Friends, Food, Food Presents, Recipes, Storecupboard

Home Made Sweets 3 – Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice

I love coconut ice.  Unfortunately my children do not. 
Their friends do, though, and they love me for it.
This is a good recipe for you to do with your children over half term.

You might also like to have a go at Fudge and Truffles.

COCONUT ICE

Utensils:
1 x large heavy based pan
1 x cooking thermometer (ideal but not necessary)
1 x shallow 8×10” cake tin (20x25cm ish?)

Ingredients:
1lb / 480g granulated sugar
¼ pint /150ml milk
5oz / 150g desiccated coconut
pink or green food colouring
a little butter for greasing the tin

Method:
Grease the tin with a little butter
Put the milk and sugar into the pan and put it on a low heat, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved
Bring to the boil, then continue on a rolling boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches soft ball* or 14oC
Take great care not to let it burn or you will completely spoil the flavour
Take the pan off the heat and add the coconut, mixing it in well
Pour half the mixture into the tin and pop it in the fridge to cool
Add a little food colouring to the remaining mixture and stir well in
Pour the coloured mixture over the first, white, half in the tin
When cool, mark into bars or squares with a sharp knife
Leave to go completely cold then cut it up properly

* I would recommend buying a sugar thermometer if you don’t already have one, as it saves a lot of time dropping boiling gloop into saucers of water.  If you don’t have a thermometer, the mixture has reached ‘Soft Ball’ when a teaspoon of the mixture dropped into cold water forms a soft ball when rolled between your finger and thumb.

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Filed under Children, Food, Food Presents, Recipes

American style cookies with an English twist

Boy the Elder has been away at Scout Camp this weekend – rather him than me – it’s freezing.  So Boy the Younger and I decided to do some baking to welcome him home and make the most of the oven which was on for the Sunday Roast. We never put the oven on just for one thing!

A year and a half ago I experienced a loss.  I had a small, yellow notebook in which I wrote down and perfected my own recipes and which I had been writing for about five years. It was full up and I was a quarter of the way through a second volume, again handwritten, and I never bothered to commit the recipes to memory because they were written down; I kept meaning to type them up but never quite got round to it. 

You know what’s coming don’t you?  In the last but one house move the book went missing.  Volume 2 made the journey but Volume 1 has never surfaced.  I keep hoping it will turn up, hidden inside another book, or stuffed at the bottom of a box, but I don’t hold out much hope.  It is irreplaceable and I can’t even remember what half the recipes were.  Compound swearing doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I had a great craving for these soft cookies today, so BTY and I did a bit of experimenting and came up with these. They also make a very welcome present, in nice box or tin lined with tissue paper.  Hope you like them.

THE WARTIME HOUSEWIFE’S LUXURIOUS COOKIES – makes about 30

Utensils:
1 large mixing bowl
1 x electric food mixer
3 x large baking trays – greased and floured
2 x wire cooling racks

Ingredients:
6oz / 180g butter
2 large or 3 small eggs
4oz / 120g dark brown sugar
6oz / 180g white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
12oz / 360g self raising flour
12oz / 360g whatever you want to put in – I used:-
          4oz chopped marzipan
          4oz chopped dark chocolate
          4oz quartered glace cherries

Method
:
Pre-heat the oven to 180 / 360 / 4
Beat the butter, eggs, sugars and vanilla with the mixer until creamy thoroughly mixed
Beat in the flour to form a stiff dough.
Stir in all the remaining ingredients until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough
Form the mixture into balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place on the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space for them to spread – a 12″ tray should accommodate 8 or 9
Bake for 12-15 minutes until pale golden
Leave on the tray to ‘set’  for 1-2 minutes
Transfer to a wire rack to cool

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Filed under Food, Food Presents, Life in general, Recipes

Heaven Scent: How to make Rose Water

The hedgerows are so rich and fecund this year, I would pretty much call it showing off.  The hawthorn and blackthorn blossom shed clouds of petals on the roads and pavements as though nature had hosted a wedding on every corner. Now the elderflowers and wild roses have taken over and the sights and smells are just heavenly.

Being The Wartime Housewife, I don’t just enjoy the flowers and smells – I see food and cordials and natural preparations of all sorts.  I was briefly standing with my nose in a rose bush on Monday, taking great lungfuls of their heady scent and I remembered my sisters and I attempting to make perfume when we were children with the rose petals from our garden.  It smelled gorgeous for about 24 hours and then it went brown.

But now, darling acolytes, I know how to do it properly.  Rose Water can be made with either wild or cultivated roses.  It can be used both as a perfume, a cosmetic (as an astringent, particularly for fair and dry skin) and a flavouring for puddings and sweets; who can resist rose flavoured Turkish Delight with its thick coating of icing sugar?

ROSE WATER

Utensils:
1 x large cooking pot with a rounded lid– large enough for a brick
1 x slightly smaller bowl
1 x house brick

Ingredients:
4 pints rose petals
Water
2-3 trays of ice Cubes

Method:
Put the brick into the cooking pot, then put the bowl on the brick
Put the rose petals into the pot (around the brick)
Top up the pot with water to about level with the top of the brick
Place the lid upside down over the top of the bowl and the pot making sure that the handle in the middle of the lid is right over the bowl
Put the pot on the stove and heat and bring to the boil
As soon as it boils, put the ice cubes on top of the lid
Immediately turn down the heat and let it simmer
The steam will then start to condense and drip into the bowl
After about 20 minutes lift the lid quickly and take a teaspoon of the liquid.  When it begins to taste and smell strongly of roses remove the bowl from the heat.  It should only take about 40 minutes.
Pour the rosewater into sterilised bottles and store.

Well done.  You have just done home distilling.

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Filed under Food, Food Presents, Hedgerows, Recipes, Seasonal, Uncategorized

It’s Elderflower Time! Make some cordial

Boy the Younger took the photo. Shame it wasn't Boy the Elder.

We love squashes and cordials and every year I make a large batch of Elderflower Cordial.  Elder is rife absolutely everywhere and it should be easy to find enough heads to make at least a few bottles.  I usually buy a few of those flat bottles with the self-bunging corks to give as summer gifts to people I like.  Food presents are always welcome.

As long as you sterilize the bottles properly, the cordial will last a long time.  If you make absolutely loads, a Camden tablet popped into each bottle will kill off the yeasts and allow you to store your cordial almost indefinitely – chemists can usually supply these.

If you can, pick the cream coloured elderflower heads on a warm, sunny afternoon.  The starches will be higher then and the resultant cordial will be sweeter.  Dilute the cordial  with still or fizzy water (1 part cordial to 10 parts water – approx).  Delicious.

Utensils:
2 x large pans
1 x large sieve
sheets of muslin to line a sieve OR a jelly bag
1 x funnel
1 x large spoon for scum skimming
Glass bottles

Ingredients:
35 elderflower heads
3 pints / 1.75l  water
3lb / 1.5k white granulated sugar
3 lemons – sliced
2oz / 60g tartaric or citric acid

Method:
Sterilize your bottles like this
or fill the bottles with hot water right to the top, to which has been added 1 Camden tablet and leave for the prescribed time. Empty out the water just before you are ready to fill the bottle.

Place the elderflowers, water, sugar and lemons into the pan
Put the pan onto a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved
Remove from the heat and add the citric or tartaric acid
Cover the pan and leave to infuse overnight
Strain the liquid into a large pan
Then strain it again through the muslin or jelly bag – I do this twice to reduce any light residue
Using the funnel, fill each sterilized bottle, leaving about an inch and a half of space at the top
Wipe clean and seal
Attach suitable labels including the date on which it was made

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Filed under Food, Food Presents, Hedgerows, Recipes, Seasonal