Monday, 24 September 2012

What I did on my holidays

The title is a bit misleading as I didn't actually do anything at all except eat, drink, sleep and swim.  After a hectic few months of running Bluefinch Boutique as well as contracting in a demanding full-time job, I was more than ready for a fortnight of rest and relaxation and that is exactly what I got, bar several messy 5am cocktail sessions. (But I blame them on a lovely north Wales couple we were introduced to by a mutual Turkish friend. They practically MADE us stay up drinking all night.)

My boyfriend and I holidayed in Kalkan, which is on the Turquoise Coast of Turkey.  This was our 5th time there and while I never thought I'd be the sort of person to keep going back to the same place, it's so perfect and we have so many lovely friends there that it's hard not to! I thought I'd share some of my favourite holidays snaps so you can see for yourself how beautiful this part of the Turkish coast is...

Bench with a view

Kalkan boats

Don't you love those pics you take yourselves with an outstretched arm?

Cat in a bowl

Me, in a hurry to get to the beach club

Kalkan flower

Turkish lanterns outside a Kalkan shop
A fondness for cocktails requires big glasses the next morning

Mahal Beach Club, voted most romantic place in Europe

More of that Mahal romance

The view from my Mahal sun lounger

Pomegranates growing by our swimming pool

Glyn with the lovely Haldun

Kalkan sunrise

....and a Kalkan sunset

Typical (and very healthy) Turkish breakfast

I love this cat so much I didn't want to crop him into a square

Adorable dog at a beach club

Ottoman seating

Patara beach, longest beach in Europe & nature reserve

Footprints in the sand...

Ruins at Patara

Now, is it too early to book for next year....?


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes

I have a terrible habit of enthusiastically offering to do all sorts of things well ahead of time and then finding myself flapping around at the last minute because I've got too much to do.  I promised to make cupcakes for a family party the other day but then had a hectic week in work, lots of orders for Bluefinch Boutique and a hundred and one other things cropping up so had a last minute dash to the supermarket the morning of the party looking for inspiration.  I wanted something quick, easy, light and summery so when I spotted some lovely, Scottish strawberries, my dilemma was solved.

These strawberry cupcakes are super quick and easy to make.  They're lovely and light and although the frosting is sweet, it's not too heavy as you whip it to a fluffy consistency.  You could substitute pureed fresh strawberries for the jam in the frosting but I like to use seedless jam so it's nice and smooth.  I just use a basic cake mix with a touch of vanilla which goes perfectly with the strawberry frosting.  

Recipe (makes 12)

250g butter
250g caster sugar
250g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
2 medium free range eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


200g butter
500g icing sugar
90g seedless strawberry jam 
Fresh strawberries 

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. 
2. Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the sugar, flour, salt, eggs and milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. 
3. Place the cake cases into a muffin tin and divide the mixture evenly into the cases.
4. Bake for approx 20 minutes or until cakes are a light golden brown colour.  Remove cakes from the tin and transfer to a wire cooling rack.

For the frosting:

1. Whisk the butter and jam together until smooth and well combined. 
2. Add the icing sugar gradually, whisking to combine each time before adding the next lot.
3. Pipe or spread onto cakes, top with a fresh strawberry and enjoy!

They are best kept in the fridge until a few minutes before serving.


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Malteser Refrigerator Cake

When I was little, a neighbour used to make an amazingly rich creation for parties that we kids all charmingly called 'Chocolate Poo Cake'.  I now know it to be more commonly known as Refrigerator Cake, or Traybake, being a mixture of melted chocolate, crushed biscuits, butter, and anything else suitable you have to hand, such as glace cherries or raisins.

I was planning on making two types of cupcake for a family party at my auntie's house this weekend, one fruit based and one chocolate based.  Whilst trawling the Internet for ideas for a Malteser cupcake, I came across several recipes for refrigerated traybakes and as I'm not one to turn down the easy option, I decided to go down this route instead.  

After assembling the most unhealthy group of ingredients I've ever used in one recipe, I was a bit worried it would be too rich but the dryness of the Malteser centres takes the edge off so it's definitely worth leaving them whole rather than crushing as I've seen in some recipes.  You definitely need to serve it in small squares though!

Recipe (makes approx 20 small squares)

200g milk chocolate
2 tablespoons golden syrup
100g butter
250g crushed digestive biscuits
135g Maltesers (one large bag)
100g white chocolate

1. Break the chocolate into small chunks and slowly melt over a low heat with the butter and syrup, stirring regularly (you can microwave but I prefer the bowl over a pan of hot water method)
2. Mix in the crushed digestives and the Maltesers until evenly combined
3. Pour into a large baking tray lined with clingfilm and press down to ensure an even thickness.  Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours or until fully cooled and set
4. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle or spread over the top. Return to fridge until set, then cut into small squares with a sharp knife.

Hell, yeah