Whipped & Charred: The Launch Of A Cook Book

If a new cook book could be released at the perfect time of year, it would be Whipped & Charred. A collection of cosy homely recipes, from the Thomas Curtis, Head Chef of ‘The Best Traditional Pub in Oxfordshire’, the White Heart, Witney. Thomas’ recipes reflect his family roots and celebrate really good food, but in an accessible way, that home cooks can enjoy too. He describes the book in his own words:

“I have lovingly put this book together as a tribute to my late father, Ian Curtis, who sadly passed away at Christmas in 2014. It is full of rich, homely content and a few memories and insights into my personal life and time working as a chef,” he says.

A wonderful idea of sharing homely and comforting recipes, whilst supporting and raising awareness of two charities; the British Heart Foundation; a charity which deals with one of the UKs biggest killers, heart disease; and secondly MIND, a charity for better mental health.

Choosing a favourite recipe from the book which includes so many favourite pub classics such as steak and onion pot pie, herby sausage rolls and an indulgent cauliflower cheese would be an almost impossible task. At this time of year, I could happily cook and enjoy one of the book’s recipes every evening! One recipe that really caught my eye though was the Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread, which sounds like a lovely twist on a traditional classic. Thomas has very kindly shared the recipe:


Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread and fresh raspberries

Preparation time: 4 hours 10 minutes (including cooling time) | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves 6

A very quirky twist on tea and biscuits. We have substituted a small amount of the full fat milk for evaporated milk to really bring out a lovely malty flavour that goes so well with tea.

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
160g plain flour
1 tbsp lavender flowers
500ml full fat milk
100ml evaporated milk
60g caster sugar
6 Earl Grey teabags
3 sheets leaf gelatine
36 fresh raspberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°c/170°c fan.

Beat the butter and 50g sugar together in a mixing bowl, until smooth.

Fold in the flour and lavender flowers to get a smooth and soft dough. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the dough is 1cm thick.

Cut into 12 fingers and place onto a baking tray. Prick with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar, chill and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a pale golden brown colour. Set aside to cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
  • In a heavy based saucepan heat up the full fat milk, evaporated milk and 60g caster sugar over a medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar until it just comes to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes then remove the teabags, giving them a little squeeze to get the maximum flavour.
    Place the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until they are soft and pliable.
  • Take them from the bowl and squeeze away any excess water, then gently stir into the warm milk and tea mixture until the gelatine fully dissolves.
  • Pour the mixture into six 100ml pudding moulds and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
    To serve, fill a shallow dish with very hot water and submerge each panna cotta in for a few seconds to loosen up. Turn each one out onto the centre of a serving dish and garnish each with six fresh raspberries and two lavender biscuits.

I think this recipe would be so much fun to make for a family gathering, and it looks pretty impressive…plus anything involving tea and biscuits has to be a winner as far as I’m concerned!

Whipped and Charred retails at £20 and to ensure your money goes towards a good cause, buy a copy from the man himself at [email protected] or pop into the restaurant. It will be also be available to purchase from Amazon, book shops including Waterstones and online from www.mezepublishing.co.uk.

 

 
This post is not sponsored, but I am always delighted to support exciting local businesses and good causes

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A Special Pirate Dinosaur Themed Birthday Party

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If you follow along with my Instagram account you may have noticed that Joe celebrated a birthday recently…I seem to have been constantly baking this week, so had to share some of the cake photos! Joe may have only just turned three, but he knows his own mind so strongly, and was very clear on exactly the kind of birthday cakes he wanted. One with raspberries and cream cheese, and another party cake with chocolate and dinosaurs! He did also ask for cupcakes for breakfast, but I had to draw the line somewhere, so his birthday breakfast below was a very happy compromise (thanks Pinterest!)

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Joe’s birthday happily coincided with a school inset day and my day off work, so we all went on a trip to the ‘dinosaur museum’ in Oxford. It is one of his favourite places and he loves to race around, looking at all of the dinosaur skeletons and shouting out their names!

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He received a super cape as a gift, and was delighted with it, insisting he wore it around Oxford. A visit to the dinosaur museum dressed as a super-hero was pretty much his perfect day scenario! It was Joe’s choice of lunch after the museum and he requested ice cream, so it had to be the G&Ds cafe on Little Clarendon Street. We balanced out the ice cream with the most delicious bagels, and Mia and Joe persuaded the lovely (and incredibly patient) waitress to make them plain bagels with just cream cheese and cucumber (Joe) and plain sweetcorn (Mia). I can’t imagine that either of their choices would do very well if they featured on the main cafe menu!

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A little after Joe’s actual birthday we held a pirate dinosaur themed garden party, complete with pirate ship, jolly roger and real pirate grog (there were dinosaurs too!). We cooked barbeque food, enjoyed the warm weather and Mia and Joe soaked everyone there with a giant waterpistol Joe had received as a gift!

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The pirate grog was iced tea, which I made with tea, lemon juice and some old-fashioned style shop-bought lemonade. We had lots of empty homebrew beer bottles which were perfect for filling with the ‘grog’. On the morning of the party I just chilled them in a wheelbarrow full of ice, and then at party time the pirate guests could just serve themselves! I also experimented with an alcoholic iced tea by adding a little vodka to the mix (and clearly labelling those bottles, for adult pirates only!)

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A pirate party tablecloth made from brown craft paper and a Sharpie marker. You’ll have to excuse my artistic efforts…pirate ships are difficult to draw!

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Ahoy there pirate Joseph! A slightly grainy photo, as taken from a distance on my phone camera, but I had to capture him on his pirate ship!

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And pirate Phoebe, their lovely little cousin, who has just celebrated her own birthday!

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With all of the party preparations I opted for a fairly straightforward birthday cake! As requested it was very chocolately and there were dinosaurs. I think Joe had ideas of me sculpting a dinosaur out of sugar paste and icing, but I think it’s important to know your limits, and simple is always better! The cake is three layers of devils food cake, sandwiched together with a chocolate ganache and crushed chocolate chip cookie mix. I used the same ganache (with a little more double cream added) to frost the top and sides of the cake, and then topped it with more cookies and of course some dinosaurs.

 

Happy Birthday Super-Pirate-Dinosaur Joe! Wishing you the happiest little year!

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