Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Summer Vanilla Rice Pudding

Small Pretty Glasses of Vanilla Rice Pudding with Summer Raspberries 

Rice pudding is a classic winter dish and while some people think a classic can’t be bettered, amended or changed or for that matter eaten out of season I think the opposite. It doesn’t just have to be served in huge, steaming bowls in winter – although I wouldn’t complain at all if you did. I think with a light touch of vanilla and raspberries, rice pudding can be served chilled in glasses in a slightly more sophisticated way. But feel free to serve it as you please!

Makes 6 good portions (or 12 small glasses)
Prep time 5 minutes
Cooking time 2 hours
Suitable for freezing No

1 litre whole milk
1 Ndali vanilla pod, split lengthways
50g Vanilla Sugar
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
60g butter
150g Arborio rice

1 Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2.

2 Put all the above ingredients into an ovenproof casserole dish, stir well and pop it into the oven for 2 hours in total. After 30 minutes, open the oven door and stir it all again.

3 When it’s time for the pudding to come out, it’s not always set as firmly as you would like, so you must leave it for a good hour. It will carry on absorbing the liquid and thicken up more.

4 Serve with raspberry or Plum Jam.

• Check the pudding after an hour and a half as oven temperatures can vary. The depth of your casserole dish may also affect the cooking time.

Use Lavender Sugar  instead of Vanilla Sugar and serve it chilled in June.

The Cambridge Cookery School Baking Course for Children

I’m often asked to review cookery classes.  It’s something I love to do, but when I was asked to review a fish class at the Cambridge Cookery School a few weeks ago I wasn’t able to attend.  I called quite dismayed at having to cancel. Not to worry said Tina Roche, the founder of the school.  She pointed out the children’s class, and asked if would I like to bring the children along in the summer holidays to one of the baking courses. She thought that my children might enjoy it..  they certainly did!

The school was started by Scandinavian born Tina Roche.  Tina originally trained at Leiths in London and as I flicked through the local glossy I read her columns about her passion for local food and passion for Scandinavian dishes. She formed the school in 2008 and her partner Liz just joined in May of this year. The school has been based at the old stone masons just outside the centre of Cambridge since 2010. It is beautifully designed with light from the huge industrial windows flooding in to a wonderfully open clean and easy space.

Oh the look on Isobel's face says it all !  

Of course I have taken the children to cookery classes in the past, and to be fair I include the children in so much of what I do. Cooking is second nature to them.  However there have been several occasions when they have been somewhat frustrated when on a children’s course.  Let’s face it kids cooking is always messy and some courses just don’t let the children go for it.  Yes cook, but really cook  .. get your hands in, mould, feel taste, prod, poke and bake.  That is what kids need to do to learn.

Well the Cambridge Cookery School course did just that.  The children got to weigh out ingredients, touch, taste, mix, knead, shape and bake. Every single stage was theirs to do.  I think that it was one of the best kids cookery courses ever.  The prices are also very reasonable at £31 all inclusive.

 Beautiful Scandinavian Ceramics. 
All three of my children were bursting with pride as they come home with armfuls of baked delights.  stomboli, beetroot and feta bread, sun dried tomato and olive rolls.

On the way homeI was listening to the children as they were chatting about the best bits.  My eight year old son just loved that they made a gazpacho soup for their own lunch and my eldest daughter really enjoyed relaxing in the sunshine in the amazing gardens.  She even spent her lunch break drawing one of the amazing garden structures.  They were dying to know when they could go again.

William loving getting hands on!
My youngest daughter Isobel, age 5, was literally bursting with pride as my poor husband was subjected to a no win breadathon tasting when we got home.  All three of them watching intensely, all wanting him to declare that their bread was best. It’s a good job he’s such a diplomat, because they all won. The course was fabulous. The venue was really spacious, light and airy and the people teaching really did seem to enjoy the day as much as the children.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Libiana said it was the best day ever. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Summer update

James Galway Rose picked from the cutting garden by David Austin Roses

It’s been over a month since I posted and I’ve finally got the chance to sit and write for a few minutes. 

I have been up to my neck in house, garden and children, but coming back from a world far away from my own has also really altered the way I feel about my own world.  It’s hard to describe, but I felt that so many of the things I would normally write about seemed to have no relevance. I feel haunted, as though I must do something that matters. 

So I am sitting here wondering what I should write.  

Of course my list of things I will write about is pretty long.  I have the most beautiful flowers in the garden, inspired by a visit to Sarah Raven earlier in the year, and the most incredible salad growing in my Victorian kitchen garden that I really must share.  Oh and then there is the fabulous course I went on to the School of Artisan Food where I had a refresher in making some delicious croissants with Emmanuel Hadjiandreou.  

 Fresh croissants, children's baking courses, armfuls of garden flowers ! 

Of course my children are on their summer holidays and almost my entire waking day is spent running after them.  Their needs are absolute and I was delighted when I was asked to review the Cambridge Cookery School because they just had the best day learning to bake bread ever. Oh and then there is the end of the potting shed project.  We’ve spent the past six months turning the potting sheds into working offices for my husband to run his company from, the before and after photos are amazing.

I have some recipes I must share too. But it's hard. I suppose the only real way to start writing again is to ignore everything and just sit down and type. So here is a taster of the blog posts to come over the next few weeks and you’ll have to forgive the tardiness.