Sunday 24 March 2013

A bit of crumpet...with the husband... ;-)

Sorry folks, I couldn't resist the title! 

This weekend has been just lovely - one of those rare weekends where you feel like you've had true quality experiences to remember, with the ones you love - where you know you've made the most of your time, and got the best out of those two short days. 

Sometimes, I can feel like the weekend has eluded me altogether...suddenly it is Sunday night before I've had a chance to blink. Other weekends seem long, dull and full of not-a-lot, which leaves me with a feeling that I've wasted the potential of an exciting weekend. Not this week! 

I've recently been reading 'The Wonderful Weekend Book' by Elspeth Thompson and it has evoked in me a really strong drive to fill my weekends with things I enjoy, people I love, and not just chores and ticking things off my 'to-do' list. I think it is all about planning ahead, shopping ahead (good food, a bottle of wine, some posh chocolates - whatever will help to make your weekend extra-special) and prioritising - what actually NEEDS to be done this weekend? What will make me the happiest? Etc.

 Elspeth gives lots of ideas of fulfilling and fun things to fill your weekends with, as well as 'little victories' like running yourself a hot bubble bath with your favourite bubbles, a glass of something scrummy, and some chilled music on. Simple. 

This weekend was filled with things I love - quality time with the husband, baking a brand-new recipe, being creative, meeting up with my mum, going to London, and relaxing at home. Perfect.

Friday Night

Does Friday night count as part of your weekend? It definitely does in our house! And this week we celebrated the start of the weekend with an impromptu visit from our lovely friend Danni, a natter, a bottle of red, and some homemade burgers for dinner. Sharing homemade food with my best friends is definitely one of my favourite ways to while away an evening...perfect. 

The 'Perfect' Crumpets

Hubby is a regular Guardian reader, and has introduced me to the wonderful 'Perfect' food column by Felicity Cloake. Each week she chooses a dish - cooks multiple versions/recipes by all the 'top chefs' and then comes up with her own 'Perfect' version by combining the best bits from her weeks attempts. 

I absolutely swear-by her 'Perfect Carrot Cake' , and this weekend hubby suggested we try her latest recipe for 'Perfect Crumpets'. We love a crumpet, but have only ever eaten shop bought ones. Would a homemade from scratch crumpet really taste that much better?

This recipe appealed to my husbands interest in bread-baking (he's very good at homemade loaves, pretzels, iced buns etc!) Whereas I just don't have the patience for waiting for things to prove for hours on end, hence my love of conventional cake baking. I was really interested in the cooking process of the crumpets, and obviously the tasting - so hubby made and proved the mixture, while I supervised the cooking. Great teamwork. 

The Recipe

Recipe from 'Perfect' by Felicity Cloake (The Guardian)

Our Take on Perfect Crumpets...

sugar, milk & boiling water in jug with yeast after 15 mins - frothy

mix in the flours & leave to prove

after proving

adding bicarbonate/water mix

vigorous stirring from the hubby

well oiled pan & rings (mine were silicone, but can use metal rings too)
spoon in a little mixture (it rises lots!)

leave to cook until top is covered in bubbles & dry

nearly there...

ready for the grill...

after and ready for the butter

all buttered up! YUM

SOOOO delish! This was crumpet No.2

and these were No.3 batch - yes, we ate 3 each! #piglets

Such a fun bake, and seriously superior to any shop bought crumpets I've ever eaten. Well worth the time and effort for a special weekend treat. And you'll have loads of fun if, like me, you share the baking experience with a loved one. Thanks hubby! 

Being Creative - Chocolate Truffle Stylie!

For Christmas my lovely Mother and Father-in-Law bought Hubby and I a chocolate truffle making course with The Cocoa Box, and deciding it would be sensible to book our course sooner rather than later (what with the pregnancy etc) we booked our course for this weekend. 

Hubby is a chocoholic - so this course was absolutely perfect for him, and as Roberto (the rather charming French leader of the course) pointed out to me - good dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and so very good for pregnant women - bonus! 

It was a 2 hour masterclass involving learning the history of chocolate, process from bean to bar, and then piping and enrobing your own truffles to take home. 

The course was so much fun, very light hearted, and messy! We learnt a lot - and made LOADS of truffles to share with friends and family (and of course, a few for ourselves too!)

We even got a chocolate cocktail each (hubby gladly drank them both - no alcohol for me!) and got to taste some different varieties of chocolate. 

the choccie cocktail

hubby mixing the ganache


our first attempt at piping, lol, yes...very poo-like

the very gooey piped and loosely rolled truffles, awaiting their enrobing...

mmmmmmm....melted milk chocolate for enrobing the truffles

beginning the milk choc enrobing process- very messy work! 

our organised 'groups' of truffles, milk-choc enrobed, with icing sugar, cocoa powder, or hundreds and thousands - drying so they can be bagged up. 

hubby gloved and aproned up - messy but very fun job! 

some of our finished bags! we made 8 bags of truffles in all - yum!

cocoa powder dipped/hundreds and thousands

the supply we bought home (3 bags were given to my mum!)

the best bit...tucking in today as I blog with a nice cup of tea....heaven. 

I would seriously recommend this course for anyone who loves chocolate, and fancies something fun and alternative to do with your weekend, or for a special occasion. The Cocoa Box also run a cupcake decorating course which I'm sure is just as fun! 

Meeting Up with Mumsy

Coincidentally, my mum happened to be in a similar part of London to us yesterday, on a course for work, and so we arranged to meet her after our chocolate course for some dinner and a catch up. I love impromptu meets with my lovely family, and it was nice to meet-in-the-middle (London) and natter in a different environment to usual. We found a lovely pub just a stones-throw from St Pancras (as I can't walk very far at the mo!) and had some yummy dinner together. A perfect end to a perfect saturday! 

What Sundays Are All About...

For my husband Sundays are now all about the Formula 1 Grand Prix races... which means some quiet time for me while hubby is glued to the TV. 

I have to say I love a quiet Sunday where I can potter around, take a long bath, do some chores, and take time to write blogs, or read a good book. I'm well aware that post-baby Bishop's arrival I'll be less likely to have extended me-time, so I'm definitely going to make the most of it for now...

What would make your perfect weekend?

Do you take time out for yourself on the Sabbath? Or are you glued to the ironing board/kitchen sink/cooker? 

I'd love to hear what you're all up to.

With hugs

Mrs B