Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Charlotte Russe

My Mum’s birthday falls on the 8th August, right in the middle of our holiday in France and Spain. Whilst this meant she was lucky enough to enjoy sunshine and swimming pools on her birthday – there was no homemade cake! Now in family with bakers and cooks, there should ALWAYS be a homemade birthday cake. So once we were home, out came the recipes!
barcelona2 061 Before we had left, my Mum had noticed a gorgeous looking Charlotte Russe in the window of the patisserie Paul. Paul is a very fancy French bakery which has now spread its chains all over London as well as smaller branches at motorway service stations! Whilst the standard of baking there is very high, this sure pushes up the prices! The rather small (if beautiful) charlotte russe my Mum saw was practically £20! So, a homemade one it was definitely to be.barcelona2 057
A Charlotte Russe is essentially when you line a tin or bowl with sponge fingers, and pour in a “bavarois”. The bavarois in the recipe I followed was a custard thickened with gelatine, with whipped cream and raspberry puree stirred in – then refrigerated in the tin. We (my Mum & I) topped our russe with whole raspberries which we set with a raspberry glaze, but we thought that the raspberries looked prettier without. The exact origins of the charlotte russe is, as with many desserts, not 100% exact. It is either thought to be named after the British Queen Charlotte (1744-1818, wife of George III) or to have been invented by the French chef Marie Antoine Careme (1784-1833), who named it in honour of his Russian employer, as russe is Russian in French.barcelona2 067
You can find the recipe I followed here except I made a few alterations…..
Instead of four miniature desserts, I used one large tin. I found I needed 4 gelatine leaves to make the custard set properly, and I also used two packets of frozen raspberries for the mousse and bought extra fresh raspberries for the top. Although I just used shop-bought this time, the recipe also includes how to make your own sponge fingers, which would improve the dessert even more!
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The charlotte russe involves quite a few steps, so I split it over two days – which is easy seeing how the bavarois needs at least 4 hours or overnight to set up well. I’m pleased with how the final product turned out and it looked so pretty waiting to be devoured! The rich raspberry mousse was delightfully offset with the crunchy sponge fingers, and the whole glazed raspberries added another dimension of sharp juicy goodness :) Whilst I wouldn’t rush to make this dessert again– it was a really good one to make as it was my first time using gelatine and a right show stopper!

Friday, 21 August 2009

The Markets of Barcelona

For a great start to our summer holiday this year, my family and I travelled to spend a few nights in the heart of Barcelona. Barcelona is a hugely varied, bustling city which has so much to explore. Just a couple of streets away from our apartment, was the huge street, La Rambla. On this was the indoor market: Mercat de La boqueria. Its a fabulous, thriving market, and here are some of the photos I took when we visited..enjoy!

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Saturday, 15 August 2009

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream!

Or, as it should otherwise be known…a bowl of pure joy :)

34Like a lot of bloggers around this time of year, the summer weather has not been perfect for turning on the oven and baking away like crazy (although I say that, but our British summer currently consists of plenty of showers!). Therefore, as I still like to while away the time in the kitchen: I turn to ice cream. And not just any ice-cream, hokey pokey ice cream!!

38 I don’t know if hokey-pokey goes by the same name in America or Australia, so basically it is honeycomb. Everyone knows honeycomb, right? Golden syrup+sugar=caramel. Mix caramel with baking soda, let harden – honeycomb! Pure sugar really, but so very good!

40After the honeycomb is hardened, you simply mix it with whipped cream and condensed milk and freeze. No churning or stirring needed – just chuck it in a box in the freezer until you want it. And my, will you want it! You could eat this mixture by the un-frozen spoonful [in fact I almost did :) ]


The delightful recipe was from this Thane Prince book, one I have not cooked from before but plan to experiment with more ice creams and recipes from it over the summer if they all turn out like this one! So honeycomb lovers: MAKE this ice cream! And even if you’re not, this may convert people with its rich and creamy glory :)

Honeycomb Ice-cream, from Simply Good Food by Thane Prince
This ice-cream does not need stirrings as it freezes.
Use within ten days.

5tbsps white sugar
2tbsps golden syrup
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
600ml (1pint) whipping cream
1 large tin condensed milk

1) Start with the honeycomb. Place the sugar and syrup in a saucepan and cook over a low heat until the sugar melts. Now boil rapidly until the caramel is a deep gold in colour.

2) Remove from the heat and sift over the bicarbonate of soda. Stir the frothy mixture, then pour on to a lined baking sheet. Allow to cool, then break into smallish chunks.

3) Whip the cream until floppy, then beat in the condensed milk. Continue beating until the mixture is quite stiff. Fold in the pieces of honeycomb plus any crumbs, then scrape into a freezer-proof bowl/box, and freeze for about 8 hours or overnight.