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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Cooking&Baking Challenge - Session 3 - Birthday cake

Our little girl turned 2yo this month and we decided to make her a chocolate cake with berries, her favourite being blueberries and raspberries (she can eat a lot of them in a very short time). I gave my husband a Green&Blacks cooking book some years ago. They have amazing recipes both for desserts and main dishes (all with chocolate). The following recipe was just perfect for little N. :

Chocolate Berry Torte

Preparation time:25 minutes
Cooking time:40 minutes
Use:a cake pan, 7 ½ -8 inches across, 2 ½ inches deep


  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons organic unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa content, broken into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 teaspoons heavy cream [I made the mistake of using 5 tablespoons instead, it made the cake a bit too mousse-like but it was ok]
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups raspberries
  • mixed berries and whipping cream to serve


  • One 3.5 ounce bar dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa content, broken into pieces
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 275°F. Butter the cake pan and lightly dust with flour to coat. Sift together the flour and cocoa and set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat, add the butter and the cream, and stir well until the mixture is quite liquid. Remove bowl from pan.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, add the sugar, and continue to whisk until think and glossy. In another large bowl, beat together the egg yolks then gently fold in the flour mixture. Add the melted chocolate and mix well. Spoon a few dollops of egg white into the mixture, stir, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Gently pour half the mixture into the prepared cake pan, dot half the raspberries evenly over it, then pour the rest of the mixture on top of the berries.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and unmold onto a wire rack to cool.
To make the icing, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, cream, and confectioners’ sugar. Immediately pour it over the cake to coat it completely, smoothing the icing using a metal spatula. Leave for 1 hour to set.
Serve with whipped cream and mixed berries.

It was absolutely DE-LI-CIOUS!! I will make it again any time! I was afraid it might be too much chocolate or sugar, but it was all very well balanced and the fruits made it PERFECT!

Cooking&Baking Challenge - Session 3 - Isabel

A Cottage Pie  
i. Ingredients:
-          300 g. minced meat (I used beef only).
-          2 garlic cloves, minced.
-          1 medium onion, grated.
-          3 medium carrots, grated.
-          1 glass red wine.
-          3 “generous” tablespoons of home-made tomato sauce.
-          About 1 (maybe 2) handful of peas.
-          About 2 l water.
-          500 g potatoes.
-          About 1 tbs butter.
-          50-75 g Emmental cheese.
-          Extra virgin olive oil.
-          Salt.
-          Pepper.
-          Oregano.
* NOTE: If you are terribly in a hurry, you may replace the water, potatoes and butter with boxed mashed potatoes.

                    ii. How it’s made.
a.       Mashed potatoes:
1.       Boil the potatoes with a tablespoon of salt until tender.
2.       Peel and mash them.
3.       Add the butter and Emmental cheese. Mix well.
4.       Set aside.
b.      Meat:
1.       In a large skillet with extra virgin olive oil, sauté the garlic cloves and onion until brown. I usually add a bit of salt for them to cook better.
2.       Add the carrots and let them become tender.
3.       After that, incorporate the minced beef and let it cook a little bit. Season with salt and pepper.
4.       Pour the red wine and let it simmer so that all alcohol is evaporated.
5.       Slip in the home-made tomato sauce (I always have some in the fridge; it’s usually tomato, onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and sugar; sometimes I might throw in bell pepper, usually red).
6.       Pop in the peas (the quantity depends on how much you like them), and let everything reduce until it’s thick and creamy.
c.       The dish:
1.       Get the meat mix in an oven-proof dish.
2.       Place the mashed potatoes on top of it. If you really like cheese, you may add a bit, but it’s not necessary, considering the potatoes have some now.
3.       Put it in the (preheated) oven (200ºC) until the pie is golden.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

La Cuisine de L.

Finally here is my niece's present! L. is turning 3 this summer. Last year I made her this set, this year I got my inspiration there and turned into this:

I guess I do not need to write any more. Except one thing maybe: next time that I am making kiwis, I am using a double layer!
 They are rather see-through.

My niece is going to spend hours and hours feeding those new things to her dolls! Her mother had told me that the pasta and the camembert had been a great hit, so I believe this will be enjoyed (and the dolls can have a different menu now, not that they were complaining but well...)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Jeans scraps to make toys

I have loads of jeans fabric left overs (old jeans) and I found a great picture on Pinterest of a whale. I love Pinterest, I started using it some time ago in order to easily keep track of some links and ideas. I end up finding a lot of inspiration and free patterns! And you can follow my boards there if you are interested. Anyway! Back to that whale. I've always been a big fan of sea mammals, as a teenager I even wanted to become an oceanograph(ist?) in order to spend time studying them... Needless to say that I never made it ... was never good enough in sciences and maths ;) 
At least now with my small sewing skills I can make whales without even having a pattern, just printing the posted picture and cutting out the pieces, arranging them a little. The rest of the work involved some guessing on how pieces would be best assembled. 

What do you think of the result?

I gave it to my 7 months old baby. He looked a bit dubious at first, but then ended up putting it directly in the mouth which makes me say that he adopted the whale ;)

Monday, 5 August 2013

A toy kitchen

My daughter is very lucky, she has a rather crafty family: grand-mothers knitting and sewing, mother sewing and crafting, grand-fathers "diy-ing"... Look at her early birthday present! She was supposed to get it on her birthday but since we are going on holiday on the next day she wouldn't have been able to play with it. So there:

To learn how to wash-up (without water though!)
She needs oven-dishes, but for now pans will do the trick ;)
The door holds in the closed position thanks to a magnet.
Buttons that can be turned.
 N. cannot reach the upper shelves yet, and she will also need more felt food such as a roast, some potatoes, some fish or chicken, as well as an oven-dish. But on the whole she is already now rather well equiped ;)