My first sugarcraft lesson

I had my first sugarcraft lesson last weekend with Amalia, who´s making my wedding cake. She´s Portuguese I think but has lived in South Africa and Mozambique. Apparently South Africa is a very good place for cake decorating and all other types of crafts as they have loads of guilds for each craft.

She started off the lesson by showing us all the equipment and explaining what it was for and why we needed it. You need a hell of a lot of equipment especially if you want to make sugar flowers so it is quite an expensive hobby is all that I can say!

At one point I asked if it helped to be an artistic person as I don´t really have an artistic bone in my body. Amalia´s reply was that she couldn´t draw but later she showed us this beautiful ostrich egg which she had decorated-it was amazing!! My arse, she can´t draw!!!

I´d love to say that I made the flower above but unfortunately the course wasn´t as hands-on as I´d hoped but it was still very interesting! We took some icing sugar and an egg and Amalia showed us how to make our own flower paste. I didn´t get to take many photos as my hands were too dirty after preparing the flower paste plus I was too busy trying to take notes about making a rose bud. Amalia showed us and explained how to make a rose bud and other tips about making flowers. Three hours flew by! I had thought we were going to start with more basic things like different types of icing and how to make them, icing a cake and piping but it looks like we´re just jumping straight into the more advanced stuff of flower making, which is fine by me. Now I just need lots of practice and patience although I can´t do anything until I have all the tools!! Amalia also recommended a book called Sugar Flowers which explains how to make different flowers with the help of illustrations!


English Muffins

As I can´t buy English muffins where I live I thought I´d have a go at making them myself, plus I was also dying to try out making some homemade bread. I´ve only attempted making bread once before, which turned out quite successfully.I´m not a big bread fan, however there is something about fresh homemade bread which definitely beats mass-produced bread. Believe it or not, I first tried English muffins as part of Eggs Benedict in a breakfast buffet in a restaurant in Niagra Falls and they became one of my staple breakfast foods during my stay in the States!

As this was my first attempt at making English muffins, I followed Delia Smith´s recipe (I took the recipe from her Complete Cookery Course book but this is almost exactly the same)to the dot. The only difference is that I used normal sugar as I´d run out of caster sugar and I didn´t use 2 0z of lard...I only used the tiniest amount just to grease the frying pan. The recipe turned out to be a great success (as you can see in the photo below!) so I will definitely be making them again!

1. Milk, water, sugar and yeast mixed to form frothy head

2. Forming the dough

3. After kneading (top-left
hand corner) 4. Risen dough (top-right
hand corner) 5. Muffins covered in clingfilm to rise
(bottom left)

The finished muffins after light frying! Delicious!


Goat´s Cheese and Cranberry Salad

I´m so excited as this is the first time I´ve taken part in a blog event! Nuría over at Spanish Recipes is hosting a new bimonthly event Eating Good Feeling Good which will look at a different ingredient from the Food Pyramid in each event. The first ingredient of this month´s event is olive oil and I knew as soon as I saw it I knew which recipe I would be submitting!
Living in Spain I have been converted to olive oil and use it every day in my cooking from frying to salad dressings.I even use it for Chinese stir-frys!! My favourite ways to use olive oil is for frying and in salad dressings. However, I still can´t get used to putting it on toast in the mornings for breakfast and I prefer a mild olive oil as it doesn´t have quite as strong a taste as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, so it is more versatile and can be used in all types of dishes. Although olive oil is very good for your health, it is still a fat and I only use a little when frying-one bottle lasts me for at least a month!I believe that olive oil is good for your health because it is rich is monounsaturated fats which lower the risk of coronary heart disease and it actually lowers the cholesterol in your body.

Anyway, although olive oil is not strictly the main ingredient in this recipe, it is a very important ingredient in the recipe. As the days are starting to get warmer (at least they were!) sometimes it´s too hot to be slaving over a hot oven, so a salad is just what you need. And what could be healthier than a salad? The idea for this salad came from a recipe I saw for Goat´s cheese and Cherry salad in Allrecipes which I adapted to what I had in my fridge at the time and it has become a firm favourite. I think the flavours just blend together really well, the tart sweetness of the cranberries and pear with the crisp tang of the lettuce leaves and the creamy bite of the goats cheese.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main dish)
85g bag of mixed salad (baby leaf salad is particularly good)
1 medium/large ripe Conference pear, peeled and chopped

1/3-1/2 cup dried cranberries

55g goats cheese, chopped or crumbled

a couple of slices (smoked) ham or turkey, chopped (optional)

pinch of salt to taste

about 1 tbsp mild olive oil

about 1 tsp red wine vinegar


1. Place ingredients in a bowl.

2. Season with salt and dress with the olive oil and red wine vingear. Toss to cover salad completely with the dressing.


Cherry Sauce with Vanilla Mascarpone Cream

After making my Easy Cherry Cheesecake last week I had some cherries and mascarpone cheese left over so I decided to make a simple dessert based on a Black Cherry Sauce in my WeightWatchers Made to Measure recipe book. I also whipped up a vanilla mascarpone cream after looking at various recipes. Although not my favourite dessert in the world, the end result wasn´t too bad. Next time though I think I´d add a little cream to the mascarpone cream to give it a creamier texture and texture as I found it a little heavy.

Black Cherry sauce (adapted from Weight Watchers Made to Measure)

Ingredients (Serves 2)

383g pitted cherries and juice

about 3/4 of 1/4 cup of red wine (roughly about 45ml)

2 inch piece of cinnamon stick

2 inch strip of lemon peel

20g sugar

2 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp cornflour

Vanilla Mascarpone Cream (for 2 people)

leftover mascarpone cheese (about 100g roughly?)

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp sugar


1. Place cherries & juice in a saucepan with the red wine, cinnamon stick and lemon peel (as shown in the photo above), cover and simmer for about 10 mins on a medium/high heat.

2. Stir in sugar and remove from heat.

3. Mix the cornflour with the water to make a paste, stir into the cherries and put back on the heat.

4. Bring to boil ,stirring all the time and boil for a minute (as shown in the photo below),then remove from the heat.

5. Leave cherry sauce to cool and chill. Remove lemon peel and cinnamon stick before serving.

Vanilla Mascarpone Cream


1. Whisk mascarpone cream till fluffy, add vanilla essence and sugar and beat till combined and has a creamy texture.

Serve cherry sauce with a dollop of vanilla mascarpone cream and you have a fairly light and easy dessert to use up the leftovers. Unfortunately, I don´t have any final photos because it wasn´t the most attractive looking dessert I´ve ever made!


The Art Of Sugarcraft: Basic Skills DVD: A Review

As promised,here is the review of the DVD The Art of Sugarcraft:Basic Skills. This DVD may not feature a very famous cake decorator as far as I know but it is still a great bargain as you can find it on Amazon for under 3 pounds. Unfortunately, the supplier I bought it off didn´t send it to Spain so I had to get it sent to a UK address and my mum picked it up for me when she went to the UK.

The DVD is hosted by Jenny Harris and Sara Carter, who are both International Gold Medal Winners. They show you a variety of basic skills and techniques needed for cake decorating which includes marzipanning and coating a cake in sugar paste, crimping, piping, etc. Their explanations are clear and very informative, almost as if a friend were giving you a class in their own home. This DVD is a great starting point for those who want to learn how to decorate cakes as a hobby. I can´t wait to get started and try out all the things I´ve learnt from this DVD although some things seem quite complicated even though they´re supposed to be basic skills!! Plus, it looks like you need a lot of equipment for decorating!

The only down side to the DVD is the filming seems to be quite amateur. It almost seems more like a homemade video production than a professional production due to its poor quality. That being said, I´d still recommend it as you can´t beat the price and it is a great place to start if you are a novice cake decorator like me! It´s much cheaper than doing a cake decorating course!


Easy Penne Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Salami

This is a post without any photos as it was an experimental dish that I just kind of threw together. I didn´t bother taking any photos as I wasn´t sure how it was going to turn out. I fancied some pasta and was thinking of a vegetarian tomato sauce style pasta dish, but I had some salami which needed using so I thought why not chuck it in as well. It actually turned out to be a really tasty dish. Here´s more or less what I did but as I just eyeballed everything and kind of chucked it all in, I´m not too sure about the measurements. I´d bought a packet of sun-dried tomatoes the day before and was dying to use them so I thought I´d add a few of them too! A quick, easy and tasty meal!

Ingredients: (serves 2)

around 250g penne pasta (I just guessed the right amount for 2)

1/2 red onion,finely sliced

about 1/3 cup white wine

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce (I used all that had been left over from another day)

3-4 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

leftover salami, around 20-30g? (preferably containing fennel) (finely chopped)

1tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste


1. Place pasta in pan of salted,boiling water and cook until al dente.

2. Fry onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.

3. Add sun-dried tomatoes and salami and cook for 2-3 mins.

4. Add wine, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste and cook for a further 3-5 mins.

5. Serve the tomato sauce on top of the pasta with garlic bread and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Burn Baby Burn

Is it a new form of modern art sculpture or is it a plane? No, it´s actually all that remains of my very handy measuring teaspoon. It somehow ended up in the oven when I was making some Caramelized Red Onion and Goat´s Cheese Tarts (I have absolutely no idea how it got there!) In fact, my boyfriend only discovered it when he opened the oven to put in a pizza, so he got landed with the lucky job of cleaning it up!!
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