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Category: Winter

My Favourite Winter Recipes

I love to experiment with new recipes and also to revisit some of my old favourites. On the run up to Christmas, and during the holiday period, I have had the opportunity to host a couple of special evenings and here I would like to share with you two of the recipes that contributed to their success. The two I have chosen compliment each other perfectly as the first requires 4 egg yolks and the second requires 4 egg whites.

Toffee Vodka Ice Cream (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons warmed maple syrup
  • 300ml double cream
  • 4 tablespoons Toffee Vodka
  • small pieces of vanilla fudge (optional)

Method

  1. Beat the egg yolks in a warmed mixer bowl for about 5 minutes until they have expanded as far as possible
  2. Slowly drip in the warmed maple syrup and carry on beating for further 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly whip up the cream with the vodka.
  4. Fold the two mixtures together adding small pieces of vanilla fudge if desired.
  5. Put the cream mixture into a plastic container and freeze for at least 12 hours.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop serve straight from the freezer.
  7. Use within 3 days as it may become a little rubbery after time.

This recipe was based on John Tovey’s Honey and Brandy Ice Cream from his book Wicked Puddings.

Blackberry and Apple Soufflé (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • Melted butter and caster sugar to dust the moulds
  • 100g mixture of diced, peeled and cored apples
  • 100g blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Icing sugar to dust

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. Brush the base and sides of 4 x 250ml soufflé dishes, or coffee cups, with melted butter and sprinkle with caster sugar, tipping out the excess. Chill until ready to use.
  3. Mix the cornflour with 2tsp cold water.
  4. Peel, core and roughly chop the apples, put them into a saucepan with the blackberries and half the sugar, to taste. Put on a medium heat and cook until the apples are soft.
  5. Process in a food processor until smooth, strain through a sieve, them tip the fruit into a small saucepan.
  6. Stir over a low heat and bring to the boil.
  7. Stir in the cornflour mixture and cook until thickened.
  8. Remove from the heat but continue stirring until the mixture is cool.
  9. Beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  10. Gradually add the other half of the sugar until the mixture is thick and glossy.
  11. Add a third of the egg whites to the fruit purée, mixing well with a metal spoon, then add the rest of the egg white and gently mix it in until it is one uniform colour.
  12. Spoon into the dishes and smooth the tops.
  13. Bake in the over for 12-14 minutes, until well risen and starting to colour.
  14. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

This recipe was taken from The Abinger Cookery School’s Chalet Cook Book in association with Fish & Pips.

I would like to think that both of these desserts are mouthwateringly divine and are great for weekend entertaining!

Winter Wonderland

This Christmas I have had the most fun creating a Winter Wonderland for my nearest and dearest.

And here the story begins….

As we approached the log cabin snow was falling onto the pine trees, filling the air with anticipation.

Garlands of fairy lights illuminated the entrance whilst lanterns hanging from the wooden beams provided a warm glow.

Sheepskin rugs strewn over wicker chairs and cushions piled high on wooden trunks beckoned us into this magical setting.

Here we feasted on tasty aprés-ski delights starting with baked Camembert served with crunchy green apples, carrot, celery and crusty ciabatta. This was followed by a warm chocolate dipping fondue accompanied by fluffy marshmallows, juicy red strawberries, stiff white meringue peaks, and home baked cookies. Lastly, my own toffee vodka ice-cream was consumed with rich mince pies.

Bellies full, we raised a glass to the season, and relaxed into this resplendent moment pleased with ourselves for creating a very memorable evening.

Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

My decorative theme this year is very much about bringing the outside in…

Ornamental birds, stags, polar bears, and hares adorn the surfaces, whilst leaves, twigs, and flowers are found on the curtains, tablecloths, and cushions.

The colours of the golden beech tree’s leaves are replicated in the porch with the installation of these Neptune pillar candles. Alongside an oil based Huxley Reed Diffusor emits a subtle blend of landscape scent from a gorgeous matte brown glass bottle. The simple handmade willow wreath was my first attempt at this particular craft.

This natural theme extends into the entrance hall. Here I have used this stunning brown/cream Indigo & Rose throw and cushion to dress my John Sankey slipper chair. The orange rug from Ikea and lampshade from RHS Wisley add a cheerful glow to this otherwise subdued scheme.

On the window cill in the background an Ikea glass vase is filled to the brim with a combination of green, yellow, and orange painted baubles and a wooden star wreath. A choir of angels play their version of “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town” when the music box on which they stand is wound up.

Leading from the hall are the lounge and the dining room. The colours in each are quite different although both rooms are south facing so both enjoy the benefit of the low winter sunshine when it chooses to appear.

In the lounge I have chosen a frosty white colour scheme with highlights of forest green and gold. The handmade paper pinwheels, interspersed with a ski-holiday themed paper chain, set the scene. Fastened to the beams above the fireplace their shapes reflect in the two above-mantle mirrors.

The dining room is dressed with red patterned fabrics in the form of a table cloth, runner, and curtains. The Christmas tree is covered with a mix of gold decorations, white berries, and fir cones (both real and faux).

Red Amaryllis bulbs planted in glass storm lanterns are beginning to shoot out and will hopefully be in flower over the next week or so.

Gold, white, and silver painted fir cones add decoration to glass domes and dishes placed on shelves in the dining room.

Faux stems of Eucalyptus and silver painted berries sit happily side-by-side in this lovely storm lantern. These, and the wintry characters on skis, add a hint of the season to the upstairs landing.

With skiing in mind I have converted my home studio to a “cosy mountain lodge” for the duration of the holiday.

My voluntary work with my local Wildlife Trust enabled me to cut my own pine trees to put in pots outside the window. A toboggan and penguin sit outside the door to evoke a sense of a winter wonderland.

Inside the “lodge” sheepskin rugs and large scatter cushions provide a warm welcome. An ornamental antelope’s head on the wall, and a frosty white tree decorated with glass icicles, are both in keeping with the mid-winter story that is being created here.

I hope you are enjoying the loveliness of the season too and wish you much happiness into the new year and beyond.

Alresford, Hampshire

Alresford, home of the Watercress Steam Railway Line, is a small town which lies just north of Winchester in Hampshire.

In search of Susie Watson Designs I took a trip there after a morning spent in Farnham.

West Street

The shop is located at 16 West Street amidst a plethora of independent retailers much to my delight.

So many shops – so little time

The purpose of my visit was to buy some red and white hand painted candles to display in two brass holders which I had retrieved from our garage.

I also bought a beech and ivory fan edge trimming which had been reduced by 50%. It will provide a luxurious finish to a Neptune Emma Sage linen that I have for making some scatter cushions.

Broad Street

Just around the corner in Broad Street I came across another parade of specialist interior and gift shops.

The Alresford Linen Company housed an array of fashionable clothing and jewellery, interior accessories, and gifts, including a colourful selection of candles.

A couple of doors down Lavenders has an eclectic mix of greetings cards, gift wrap, and miscellany.

Having achieved my aim, and a lot more besides, I decided it was time to leave this gorgeous Georgian town for a tad more exploring…

The Long Barn

Having arrived at Alresford on the B3047 I had passed The Long Barn at The Old Sheep Fair, Bishops Sutton Road.

Curious to find out more I pulled off the road and into the extensive car park. With fairy lights twinkling in the late afternoon light I was immediately smitten.

To a newby it is an extremely glamorous garden centre with integral café and shopping. That said, the quality of the merchandise is of the highest standard and the café was absolutely buzzing.

The garden store itself is modest in size but has an interesting selection of trees, plants, shrubs, and rusted metalwork. There is even a little shop that sells vintage finds.

I have to own up to not realising at the time of my visit that lavender is grown on this site and that it is used to create the Long Barn’s own goods from its annual crop.

I was so pleased that I chose to drop by and would certainly recommend a visit to this favoured destination.

Whoopee It’s Winter

Sitting on the floor in my studio, surrounded by magazines from over ten years ago, I decided it was time for a serious clear out.

With the recycling bin to the ready I started to thumb through Country Living magazines circa 2002!

I was neither diligent, nor meticulous, but as an article snagged my attention I removed it from the journal and put it to one side.

Very soon I had numerous piles covering my favourite topics; interiors (of course), gardening, recipes, and travel.

Interiors

“Exuberant” was a 2002 description that caught my eye, as the current trend for pared back style couldn’t be more different.

Warm, rich colour schemes, championing florals, nature, and cosy blankets, were at the heart of the featured homes.

I was immediately inspired to add some seasonal charm to our cottage. Putting on one side the pale greys and pinks of the summer I quickly uncovered a red, nature inspired, tablecloth with matching napkins.

Add to this heavy, interlined, Andrew Martin curtains, and suddenly the room felt warm and cosy and ready for the shorter days ahead.

Winter ready

My nod to current trends was the addition of my recently acquired cushion from ALSO Home. With its slogan, “LOVED At First Sight” I thought it added a little 21st century pizazz to the room.

Gardening

Looking at photographs of prairie planting schemes with ornamental grasses interspersed with the fading colours of autumn perennials are an inspiration for next year’s planting scheme.

Currently I am allowing our garden to die back so that the seed heads will provide additional food for the visiting birds.

I also like to collect pine cones so that I can paint them with subtle metallic colours and display them in glass vessels with fairy lights and faux candles. Oh so seasonal!

Recipes

A lot of the recipes that caught my eye were based on seasonal garden produce, such as pumpkins, carrots, onions, pears, and apples.

It reminded me that there were pumpkins in the allotment ready to harvest with which I could make a delicious, heart warming soup.

It is also time to collect seeds from the runner beans and pumpkins to dry and store for planting next spring.

I will leave the orange and purple carrots in the ground as a means of storage and harvest as required.

Travel

Not everyone wants to escape the UK for a dose of winter sunshine. People like me who enjoy the changing seasons will wish to stay firmly in this country and enjoy what it has to offer at this time of year.

Harsh frosts temporarily change the garden landscape into winter wonderlands whilst recent strong winds have removed many of the remaining leaves from trees to reveal skeletal formations.

Fireworks over the river

I love to embrace this time of year.

The excitement of the winter celebrations that start in October and run through to the New Year are reason enough to stay here, at home, and enjoy them while they last.

I hope you enjoy them too!

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