95 days to go…

I know, I can’t believe it either. But as Christmas draws near, I have been asked to produce some tasty bites for Christmas parties and the holiday period, so I’ve started to feel a little festive already. Now’s the time to get your order is, so contact me with all your ideas for Christmas treats, gifts, or hampers, and I’ll see what I can do.

Christmas cake, pork pie, sausage rolls, and macaroons to tempt you!
Christmas cake, pork pie, sausage rolls, and macaroons to tempt you!

All meat based goods to be ready for collection on 23rd December 2014 after 3.00pm.

All products made using quality ingredients and decorations all hand made.

I am also happy to do food for pre-Christmas or New Year’s Eve parties, such as canapés, savoury tarts, sweets tarts, puddings, meat platters, and dips.

Please enquire if you have any questions at all – you can use my email or Facebook page.

Micky

Christmas pudding-cake, macaroons, shortbread, fudge, and some cheeky sloe gin 'winter warmer'!
Christmas pudding-cake, macaroons, shortbread, fudge, and some cheeky sloe gin ‘winter warmer’!

Summer loving (and Autumn coming soon too!)

Well …. where do I start. I thought I would be blogging to my heart’s content but, somehow, the time has flown by and I have been busy making cakes and producing buffet food for some lovely people so haven’t been here for a while!

Birthday cakes, in particular, are flying out of the door. All very different; chocolate, vanilla, carrot, multi-coloured – yes, multi-coloured – check out the Rainbow cake for a very special birthday boy on Facebook. Brilliant fun to make and very exciting to be experimenting with colours.

I really enjoy producing food for lots of people, so particularly like doing parties. Themed parties are always a bit of a challenge, but researching and preparing food to bring back memories of a certain era or tastes we may have forgotten is all part of the service. I also enjoy gathering accessories to bring everything together, for example the vintage cups for the trifles made for the 1950s dance. There’s so much out there and all very readily accessible, and the little touches can really make the event that little more special.

Retro trifles for Cheek2Cheek's 50s do!
Retro trifles for Cheek2Cheek’s 50s do!

Most of all, I’ve enjoyed the seasonal produce which has flooded my kitchen. I’m lucky enough to have my own supplier – aka dad – whose garden overflows with goodies throughout the late Spring, Summer and through to Autumn. Marrows, tomatoes, beetroot, beans, and more, all organically grown and abundant, and perfect for vegetarian dishes. Usually I hate the term ‘vegetarian food’ as it can put dedicated meat-eaters off. But Italian cooking encompasses a vast array of dishes which are vegetarian, tasty and have guests coming back for more. Take, for example, melenzana or zucchini parmigiana; aubergines or courgette, sliced, battered and layered with luscious tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan, then baked until the mozzarella oozes. In effect, a vegetable lasagne! So tasty and equally good cold – in a sandwich with thick bread and plenty of butter! Tomatoes are now in abundance and beautiful when ripe, chopped up and mixed with day old (good) bread, salt, olive oil and oregano. Spruce up with feta cheese, olives and cucumber for a lovely summer lunch. So simple, so tasty.

If you have a favourite summer or autumn recipe I’d love to read about them, drop them on my Facebook or Pinterest pages!

Micky

Simply Delish on Facebook

If you’re more likely to be found scanning through Facebook than logging into your emails, then good news!

Simply Delish is on Facebook too (just follow this link, or search for Simply Delish Lambourn on the site), and my page not only has plenty of beautiful photos, but also regular updates on new food offerings and previews of cakes-in-progress. I will also occasionally run a competition or two for sweet treats through the page, so make sure you ‘like’ Simply Delish to be in with a chance!

Perhaps most importantly, you can also contact me through the page. Just click on the ‘Message’ button on the right hand side of the top photo, next to the ‘like’ button.

simply delish on facebook

Summer jam making begins

Most people traditionally associate jam making with the later stages of summer when fruits such as plums and blackberries are ripe. Of course you can always start with making strawberry jam around June, but it seems a shame not to eat the early crop fresh, or just with sugar or cream.

However, the Gooseberry is a perfect fruit to kick off the jam making early with. It’s a pretty ugly fruit, with a horrible texture and something of an acquired taste. But it makes probably the best jam out of all the fruit: tangy, sweet with a tang, and a runnier set.

This is an easy jam for first-time preservers to make and usually sets nicely. If you’re lucky, the jam will turn from green to pink as it nears it’s jammy readiness! Put into jars as soon as the heating process is over. I use a glass measuring jug (which has been sterilised too) to fill the jars. Wipe off any spills (be careful, the jars will be hot!), add wax circles and jam pot covers, then screw lid on tightly. Enjoy on fresh bread and butter but equally good on toast.

Gooseberry Jam

Gooseberry & Elderflower Jam

2lb Gooseberries
3/4 pint water
3lb Sugar (preserving if you have but ordinary will do)
Elderflowers 5-6 ‘bunches’
A piece of clean (sterilised) muslin

A preserving pan or saucepan with a heavy bottom!

Have ready 5/6 1lb jam jars that have been properly cleaned and sterilised. I run mine through the dishwasher then dry them upside down in a low oven. Wax circles are good if you have them and transparent jam pot covers seal in the freshness and protect the lids until you are ready to use. I also have a funnel which makes pouring the jam into jars so much easier. (All readily available in high street or online – just search for jam making equipment).

* Wash your elderflowers and make a bag with the muslin to put the flowers into.
* Bring gooseberries to the boil and let them simmer until soft.
* Take off the heat, then add sugar. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved (if you use a wooden spoon, you can feel if there is any undissolved).
* Put back on to heat and bring to boil. Hang the muslin bag from the saucepan handle so that it is submerged in the jam.
* Simmer until you get to the jam setting point on your thermometer! If you don’t have one, use a saucer which has been in the freezer for a few minutes. Carefully, take a teaspoonful of your mix and put it onto the saucer. If, after a couple of minutes, you get ripples when you drag a spoon through, it should be ready. I always do this, even with the thermometer as sometimes it’s still a bit watery and may not set very well. You’ll notice that it starts to cling to the spoon and reduces down quite a bit once it’s ready. Remove the muslin and discard the flowers.
* Get that jam into jars!

Notes:
I added my elderflowers when the jam was nearly ready as I didn’t have any muslin, so I plucked off all the tiny flowers and threw them in right at the end. I always add less sugar as well but if you are not confident follow the recipe so that the jam sets nicely, then if you find it too sweet you can adjust the sugar next time.
Most recipes say add a knob of butter at the end to disperse the scum but I find that this disappears on its own, so I don’t add any …

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to taste the jam when hot as it this will not have a very pleasant outcome!

Happy preserving!

Micky

Simply Delish on Pinterest!

You can now follow me on Pinterest!

I’ve got boards for my own cakes and savoury dishes, and also boards for inspiration. Send me your pins – I’m always on the lookout for ideas for presenting buffets and cake decorating.

Pinterest is also a really useful way of sending me your ideas if you’re planning a wedding, birthday, or any other event. Just share your pins with me pinterest.com/simplydelishpin!

Spring Dance at Cheek2Cheek

My first event!!  I was very excited when Alison agreed that I could lay on the food for this event … a leap of faith on her part, so I was determined that she wouldn’t regret this rash decision!  The theme was ‘Venice’ so I was in my element and began planning the menu straight away.  As the dance had been planned for some time, the ticket price had already been established so I had to work within fairly tight constraints.  However, I pooled all my resources and was really pleased with the outcome.

The buffet featured 2 pasta salads, frittata (an Italian omelette full of tasty vegetables and a bacon one for the carnivores).  Basically, a quiche without the pastry so that our dancers didn’t fall asleep after their supper. Home made sausage rolls, a flaky pastry tart with vine tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil scattered all over.  A lovely fresh coleslaw made with red and white cabbage provided a crunchy accompaniment.  This was finished off with a lemon cheesecake topped with raspberries, and a decadent tiramisu.

Many thanks to Alison for entrusting me with providing the food for her event and I am very much looking forward to working alongside her again for the Summer Dance – 1950s cool – on 21st August 2014.  Check out her Facebook page, Cheek2Cheek Dance for more details.

Keep dancing!

Micky

p.s. Alison has also sent a lovely testimonial which you can find here – thank you Alison!