2 and a half years out of University, and the glamour of London working life is fading rapidly.
Apparently we are talking about flowers this week. However I have decided to take my post in a loosely related direction – flour.
On Tuesday evening, I dragged up my mad Leiths School of Food and Wine skills and made FROM SCRATCH profiteroles. Having existed since 1604, we allegedly stole profiteroles from the French (what’s new) and they are of course close cousins of the chocolate eclair. The Americans have their own bastardized version known as the Cream Puff.
The creation of the profiterole first involves the artful, graceful and complex method of making choux pastry. However having been trained as the esteemed finishing school Heathfield – this was no problem for me. Even not having an appropriate measuring jug could not stop me, so armed with my original Leiths reciepe, and a sprinkling of improvisation – I set off. You have to melt butter in cold water with a wee bit of sugar to begin with, and to be honest this just looked like an ugly mess – but I was not deterred. When all was melted, I thrust in the flour, and salt and stirred vigorously until a paste was formed and the whole ugly mixture came away from the sides.
While all this excitement had gone on, I had turned on the oven and heated to an appropriate temperature. The wallpaper paste mixture was set aside to cool, while I snacked on some leftover easter chocolate. After the cooling, I chucked in the eggs – and the mixture didn’t split, RESULT. It was glossy and ready for the oven.
Next came the most masterful twist in our tale, as a piping bag is required to get the mixture into their perfect swirls on the baking tray – but my local Tesco Express doesn’t stock such things. Instead I bought some sandwich bags and cut off a small corner and piped the swirls onto the baking tray – dabbing the tops with a droplet of water (not sure why but the recipe suggested it). While the little darlings were in the oven, I set about whipping cream – with no hand held whisk, I had set my sights on using spray can cream – but apparently this is not sold in West London. So I used my blender, yes the blender. Don’t worry I washed it first – and it whipped up the cream in a neat and timely fashion.
The choux buns rose perfectly in the oven and I set them aside to cool, before filling them with the expertly whipped cream, from the sandwich bag piping bag. Chocolate was melted and drizzled on top before serving.
All in all a success, my Leiths examiner and cookery teachers would be so proud. And the whole event was further validated by the fact that no one was sick or got food poisoning.
At the awkward late 20s stage, only minorly disillusioned by living and working in London.
After this bank holiday I am quite certain that every weekend should be four days long, and every week four days long, four days on, and four off, wouldn’t that just be nice?!
I spent my bank holiday in the Sussex countryside which was really very good. We discovered the village of Firle – I would very much like to live in Firle House, it is beautiful and has ponies grazing on the lawn 😍. Took a trip to Charleston and had lunch in the tea room during which Pip (a jack russell of the long legged variety) managed to escape into the kitchen causing all sorts of excited commotion. We walked along part of the south downs way in the sunshine, and climbed a very steep hill, but it didn’t matter too much as the weather was beautiful. And as it was Easter we had an easter egg hunt and we all ate a little bit too much chocolate, including Barney who was very happy to find some lone Easter eggs on a low table – they went down all in one, foil and all 🍫🐣🐶 ..
I also spent a lot of time in the garden, and was particularly happy as all the cherry blossom was out. I really like cherry blossom very much. I love the way the branches of the trees look weighed down by their mass of heavily petalled flowers, but the flowers themselves appear light and airy. That every cherry is different, some very refined with carefully arranged petals, others more haphazard, their petals a little like many layers of crinkled and hastily arranged petticoats. And I like that they come in all sorts of colour variations, a pure white, a tinge of pink, and a hint of very pale purple.
I thought I would share three very beautiful Japanese flowering cherry trees (prunus) and an apple tree (malus) with you, all from High Beeches Garden in Sussex.
So from left to right (or top to bottom if you are on your phone), 1 & 2 Prunus ‘Shirotae’ (+ Emily), 3 & 4 Prunus ‘Tai-haku’, 5, & 6 Prunus Shimidsu Sakura, and 7 & 8 Malus.
About to graduate from University, excited for intrepid adventures into the real world.
After a solid 24 hours in the library, Susannah handed in her dissertation today and has gone to bed. She is looking forward to a post dissertation feast of Scotland’s finest haggis, neeps, tatties and whiskey. Mainly the whiskey. With her studies approaching their end, and the real world awaiting, we she will be joining us again very soon.