Sunday, 26 March 2017

Two Birds

One of hobbies is printmaking. Although my skills could best be described as developing and I sometimes feel that I am not making any progress, I enjoy going to my class and the company of the other participants. They are are very talented group of women and so encouraging. I also belong to a Textile Art Group. The group is participating in an exhibition of local artisans. We are submitting a group entry called Birds of a Feather. Our display is a collection of textile/mixed media postcards and display of bird sculptures. I thought it a good idea to 'kill two birds with one stone' and try to use the work for both groups.

This is one of the pieces

And side by side, before and after the conversion to a postcard.

The etched copperplate

One of  the run of birds. Inspired by the starlings in my garden. Printed on interfacing for easier stitching.

Printed onto grease proof paper that was previously printed on a geli plate.

A close up. For the postcard I cut out the bird and tree from the interfacing print and then stitched it onto a 'baby wipe' that had been used by an artist friend to clean her hands. She saves all the baby wipes for me. They are fabulous as backgrounds and sturdy enough to stitch into. The bird and tree were stitched with DMC embroidery floss and then coloured with Inktense pencils.

This is another, made with the same techniques as the starling.

The copperplate 

The print on interfacing.

On grease proof paper previously printed on a geli plate.

This one is one of the used baby wipes and some feathers collected on my morning walks.

The 'Birds of a Feather'postcards, assembled on a canvas and ready for display.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My New Jeep

For some time I have been wanting and looking for an old fashioned shopping jeep. Despite many trips to op shops, looking on line and a visit to every store that I thought a possibility I was not able to get what I wanted.  I was talking about this at my knitting group and one of the 'Twisted Sisters', my friend Barbara who clearly has a sharp eye saw one on the side of the road as she was driving in to knitting a week later. It had a little rust and was dirty and smelt a little musty but nothing a good wash and a week or two of airing wouldn't fix.

This is my new ( found) printmaking jeep. It is larger and has square sides and the cover folds bag for easy access to all my equipment. Thank you Barbara, it is perfect.

This is my old jeep. Clearly not big enough and the wrong shape.

Despite all the rain this morning I was able to walk to my class and arrive with everything dry. 

The rain obviously influencing my work today. 

Nice weather ... For a duck. Copperplate etching

Printed onto interfacing.

Ghost print onto interfacing. I plan to do some embroidery on this.

Printed on grease proof paper that had been pre printed with acrylic paint using a geli plate.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Iced Cookies and Biscuits - Cloverleaf Cookies

It is quite easy to decorate plain biscuits and cookies with icing using the 'flooding' technique.

These biscuits are made using this dough and cut out with a cloverleaf cookie cutter.

The best way to flood is to pipe a thin line of icing around the edge. Use Royal Icing , recipe below.

Use a cake decorating icing nozzle, plain / round size 2 . The piped line of icing acts as a wall to hold the flooded icing to come. Let it dry. 

Pipe around the inside edge of the biscuit. Try to pipe in a smooth line, however,

If you make a mistake it easy to join a new line of icing in. Smooth the join with a lightly moistened, fine paintbrush.

Thin the icing with a little water or lemon juice and then drop or spoon put some into the area to be flooded. Use the paintbrush to spread it out.

Decorate with sprinkles or leave plain and allow to dry.

Icing can also be tinted. The piping icing can also be tinted the same colour as the icing that is used for the flooding.

You can also ice without the piping, although, you need to be careful as it will tend to run over the edges of the cookies.

The cookie on the left did not have the piping and the one one right did

You can change your mind and add another layer of icing.

Detail can be piped in and different coloured icings can be used, it is a good idea to let one colour dry before adding the next.

I make the icing with electric handbeaters. Do not whip the egg white too much as you do not want lots of air bubbles in the icing. A little lemon juice can be added. Unused icing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Royal Icing

1 egg white
200g pure icing sugar ( approx)

Lightly beat egg white and then add the icing sugar until the mixture forms a thick paste. The icing needs to be stiff enough to hold it's shape but not so thick that it can't be piped.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Fish with Caponata Style Sauce

This is the time of year when we ( and my friends) seem to have and endless supply of tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant in the garden.  They appear frequently on the menu - in, on and with just about everything. Caponata is a Sicilian dish that is very similar to the French Ratatouille and contains capers and a little vinegar and sugar to give a slightly sweet and sour flavour. I have had many versions of Caponata and Ratatouille and do not for a minute think this version is authentic. Leftover sauce is delicious with pasta or even as a base for baked eggs.

Follow my lead and create the version that you like using the proportions and combinations of flavour that you like.  Unlike most versions I steam or microwave the eggplant rather than frying as it absorbs a lot of oil and I prefer a less oily version, particularly when topping with the basil oil. I like more tomato, fresh at this time of the year and will use celery if I have some and sometimes a very finely chopped zucchini. I use dried salted capers soaked in a little water and then rinsed before chopping. Use whatever fish you like as long as it is a firm fleshed fish, I like Rockling and sometimes use salmon. This is served with some leftover rice that has chickpeas added to make enough for everyone, use plain steamed rice, couscous or even some cooked pasta.

If the fillets are thick you might like to 'butterfly' them. Slice through the middle but not all the way through and then open out.

Fish Braised in Caponata 
with Basil Oil

6-8 tomatoes, diced into small pieces (400 g tin)
1 red onion, finely diced
1 eggplant, diced into very small pieces
1 stick of celery
2 cloves garlic , crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon capers, chopped finely
1 -2 tablespoons caramelised balsamic or substitute 1 -2 tablespoons vinegar and 2 teaspoons brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley, optional

1 portion of fish per person

Basil Oil
1 bunch basil – leaves only
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil or a little more

Optional to serve
Steamed Rice or Steamed rice with chickpeas
Lightly steamed broccolini

Place eggplant in a bowl with a little water and microwave on high for three minutes.

Heat oil in a saucepan, add onions and celery reduce heat to allow to soften. Add garlic and continue to cook a further minute.

Add tomatoes and eggplant and cook until all the vegetable are soft and the mixture is thick but not dry. Add some water if it is becoming too dry.

Add remaining ingredients and check flavour. Adjust flavour to taste with more vinegar or sugar.

Place fish portions on top of the Caponata. Cover and cook for  3-4 minutes, turn fish over and cook a further 2 -3 minutes or until fish is cooked.

Basil Oil
Combine basil leaves, garlic and oil in a food processor. Process until basil is finely chopped. Scrape into a clean plastic container. Adjust consistency with a little more oil. Unused oil can be frozen for another time.

To Serve
Place the rice and chickpea combination on the plate.

Top with broccolini.

Place the fish portion on the stack and then spoon over some Caponata

Top with the basil oil.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Fika and Hygge - Finally Finished

Finally finished. Every recipe from the book has been cooked. When I first purchased the Fika & Hygge cookbook I never thought that I would make every recipe, however, one recipe led to another and then the challenge was on. For the most part I tried to recreate each recipe and stay true to the recipe. Sometimes an ingredient could not be sourced and a substitute ingredient was needed.

Almond Ring Celebration Cake. Page 118

Once I made the decision to make every recipe this was planned for the grand finale. Originally for my wedding anniversary but in the end May was just too far away. By happy coincidence the Almond Ring Celebration Cake made for a perfect birthday cake. Whilst not an '0' birthday I couldn't wait and there were no other celebrations in the offing. Traditionally, small paper flags are used to decorate the cake, however, I opted for a few sprigs of lemon verbena fresh from the garden.

Gingerbread Cake. Page 66 

Princess Cake page 122

Semla Bun Wreath page146

Finnish Doughnuts page 160

Butter Cake page 154

Nothing Biscuits page 22

Brunswick Bun page 42

Budapest Roll page 132

Tosca Cake page 87

Silvia Cake page 55

Liquorice Meringue Kisses page 101

Hazelnut Mocha Square page 98

Monday, 13 March 2017

How to Make a Galette

A galette is really a type of free form pie. Often they are made by rolling or turning the edges back and leaving some of the filling exposed. I like this technique that has the filling totally enclosed particularly for savoury versions. Any filling can be used, however, it needs to be quite thick so that it doesn't ooze or leak out.

All that is required is two sheets of puff pastry, about two cups of filling and and egg for the glaze.

Here's How

Take each sheet of puff pastry and cut out a large circle. It is easiest to trace around a plate. Save the edges to make leaves for decoration. Place the first circle on a greased tray or tray lined with baking parchment.

Brush with egg wash made from a beaten egg.

Add filling of choice. For this version I used some odds and ends of cheese that were chopped into small dice and a cup of cooked, chopped mushrooms. Leave approximately 2 cm from the edge clear of filling.

Place the second circle on top.

Make a decorative edge by cutting into the edges approximately every 2 cm and then press with your finger. Make hole in the middle and pastry leaves from the scraps. Brush with more glaze.
Bake in a hot oven (200 deg C) until golden brown approximately 20 minutes.

Place cooked galette on a cooling rack and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Filling Suggeastions

Use  3/4 - 1 cup of very thick white sauce made by doubling the flour in the roux. Add cooked meat such as chicken or ham, cooked vegetables.