Maxi Skirt to the MAX

Have you ever spent time browsing Pinterest and all of a sudden someone’s pin catches your attention so fiercely that you are inspired to act on it immediately? That is precisely what happened to me last week. One of my friends posted this and I just had to make it.

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Simply, bold and billowy, a fabulous combination!

I’m taking a little trip to the Virgin Islands and thought this would be fantastic piece to pack.

First things first, the pattern. Although the skirt is very simple, I decided to use a pre printed pattern, I didn’t rely have time to figure things out, I wanted to hit the ground running. The skirt in the inspiration photo doesn’t have a drop waist, but I think the drop waist will flatter my body shape more and won’t add bulk around my tummy.

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So let the fabric search begin. There are few fabric shops near me and the choices they offer are a limited. I googled large black and white polka dots and began scrolling. I found several fabrics that were almost an exact match, but the weren’t cotton. I wanted cotton because it’s easy to sew with, easy to wash and cool, it’ll be hot under all those yards of fabric.  This is what I decided to go with.

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The fabric is, Art Gallery Avantgarde Tentative Dot Ink, $9.95 per yard

The pattern required a little over 4 yards of 60 inch wide fabric, the fabric I chose was only 43 inches. After looking at how the pattern is laid out on the fabric, it looked like there would be wasted fabric. I went with my first choice, but ordered 5 yards, and thought I’d fudge it if need be.

So, wash and dry fabric, iron fabric, cut out pieces, check, check, check.

After, I’d cut out all the mandatory pieces, I still had a full yard of fabric left. I pinned the front pieces to the top I was wearing so I could gauge the fullness, and after a few photos and texts with Marie, we decided that I should add a half panel to the front and back.

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To make  the front panel I folded the folded the patten piece in half along the centre, and then in half again, inverted the fold and smoothed it out. The important thing is to maintain the angels of the sides and the curve along the hem. The back was a little trickier because of the zip. Each back panel had to be a quarter of the original. The folding followed the same principle as the front. I was a little tight, but I managed to get all three pieces from the extra yard.

The pleated, shorter versions of the pattern are designed with pockets, but the maxi isn’t. I love love love pockets and they were a must for me, so I cut those from the fabric scraps left over. I also had to get a little creative when cutting out the front waist band, it wasn’t cut along the grain as suggested.

The sewing part was really easy, and fairly quick, nothing tricky. I did it all within a day. Roll on holiday because I cannot wait the wear it.

-F

Double Raspberry Pavlova

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Perfectly pink meringue, sweet raspberry curd, fresh raspberries and tart creme fraiche are a wonderful marriage of texture and flavour in these little pavlovas. I have opted to make 6 mini pavlovas, however one large pavlova would work just and well and be equally delicious.

Serves 6

For the raspberry curd

6 oz raspberries (one carton)

2 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)

4 oz butter (1 stick)

6 oz Sugar

pinch of salt

In a pan over medium heat, whisk the egg yolks a little and quickly add all the other ingredients. Keep whisking until the butter and sugar is melted, keep this mixture moving or the eggs will scramble. Cook for another 8 minutes, stirring intermittently until the curd has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Pass the curd through a sieve to rid it of the raspberry seeds, and store in a little jar. The curd can be kept in an air tight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

For the meringues

2 egg whites

2 oz sugar

2 oz  sieved icing / confectioners sugar

Red or pink food colour

Heat the oven to 180℉.

Whisk the egg whites and a teeny tiny amount of the food colouring until the whites are stiff enough that they won’t fall if the bowl is turned upside down. Gently fold in the sugars.

Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or a double layer of parchment paper brushed with a little oil.

The meringue can either be spooned out with an ice cream scoop or piped. You want to create a little indent in the centre either way.

For 6 mini pavlovas, I baked them for 1 hour, turned the heat off and left them in the oven for an additional 15- 20 minutes. A larger meringue will obviously take longer, set the timer for 1 hour 30 minutes and then check. If the tops are dry and crisp but the underneath still wet, carefully flip the meringues over, turn the oven off and leave, check every 10 -15 minutes. I like my meringues to have a little give in the centre.

Remove and let cool. These can be stored in an air tight container for 2-3 days.

Cream Topping

150ml/ 1/2 cup Heavy cream

75 ml / scant 1/3 cup Creme fraiche

Lightly whip the heavy cream and then stir in the creme fraiche. Set aside.

Assembling the pavlova

6oz fresh raspberries

1 oz dark chocolate

I like to crack the top of my meringues before filling them. It creates a lovely little nest to house the mounds of filling.

Spoon 2 tsp of the raspberry curd into the meringue nest, layer on a generous 2 tbsp of the cream, top with some fresh berries and grate on a little chocolate to garnish.

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Enjoy, F.

Double raspberry pavlova pdf

Champagne Aubry

Vineyard: a Jouy-les Reims

Region: Chmpagne

Country: France

Vintage: NV

Producer:

Importer: Skurnik wines

Grape: Torrontes

Alcohol: 14%

Price: $38.00

APPEARANCE:

Fast moving medium small bubbles.

NOSE:

The light and fresh zest wafts up the nose and literally makes you mouth water and long to taste whats promised. Fresh apples, a little lime and faint toasty notes.

PALATE:

As promised, sharp and zesty, lemons, limes and granny smith apples provide a wonderful bite.

The second wave is a deeper flavour, toasty pastry and honey. The fresh apple develops into a delicious baked one in your mouth. The finish is so pleasant it seems to roll and roll around.

PAIR WITH:

Strawberries and other ripe berries would pair wonderfully with this.

Florrie‘s footnote;IMG_8447

Bourbon Berry Pancakes

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Yay for Pancake day, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, which ever you prefer. Pancakes are such a wonderful vessel for experimentation, sweet or savory, breakfast or dessert, healthy or indulgent.

This is my little nod to the Mardi Gras festivities on Bourbon street. Not one for the kids, blackberries bathed in bourbon are a perfect combination nestled inside fluffy pancake envelopes and topped with a sugar crackling.

I have a nostalgic soft spot for Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix, so that is the batter I have used here. Feel free to tut and disapprove, and use your favourite batter or recipe. If you have a great from scratch recipe I’d love to try it.

Makes about 6

Ingredients

8 oz fresh blackberries

1 apple, you can omit the apple and double the blackberries or add in 8 oz of raspberries

Pancake mix

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

2-3 tbsp bourbon

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup sugar

cooking oil

butane torch

8 inch frying pan

Peel and core the apple, dice it into 1/4 inch pieces. Place the apple and 1 tbsp of water into a saucepan on a medium heat, put the lid on and gently cook until just tender, about 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and drain any liquid, add the washed blackberries and pour over the bourbon, replace the lid and leave to macerate while you prepare the batter.

In a jug or bowl, mix together 1 cup of pancake mix, 1 egg and 3/4 cup of milk. Beat until all the lumps are gone. You may need to add a splash more milk, this recipe works best the batter is a little runnier and the pancakes aren’t overly thick.

Heat a little oil in the pan over a medium flame, coat the entire surface, I pour out any excess. Ladle in some of the batter, roughly 1/4 cup and swirl it around so it covers the bottom of the pan in a nice even thinnish layer. Watch and wait for the bubbles to form and pop before flipping the pancake over. You want it to be cooked, but still rather pale. Cook for a few more minutes on the other side. Slide onto a plate and fold in half. Repeat until the batter is gone.

Pour half of the bourbon from the fruit into a glass, and some apple juice and ice if you like, and you have a tasty cocktail!

Douse the fruit in maple syrup, spoon the mixture into the each of the folded pancakes. Sprinkle with sugar and use the  torch to caramalise it. Repeat the sugar/ carmaelisation until you have the desired crust.

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Enjoy F.

Bourbon berry pancakes pdf

Alta Vista Torrontes

Vineyard: Alta Vista IMG_8432

Region: Salta

Country: Argentina

Vintage: 2013

Producer: Alta Vista

Importer:

Grape: Torrontes

Alcohol: 14%

Price: $15.00

APPEARANCE:

Shimmery, pale gold with the faintest hint of grass green.

NOSE:

Like the appearance is light and airy, Faint notes of citrus play with sweet elderflower.

PALATE:

Initially florals roll fast and free from the glass onto the tongue. Chasing behind quickly is a little minerality that subdues the florals. There is a little astringency and thinness in the first mouthful, keep sipping and what develops is rather pleasant. White peaches mingle merrily with ripe honeydew and elderflower. The zesty zing of grapefruit provides a great balance along with the gentle acidity, that just seems to delicately dance around. It’s like a wonderful waiter at dinner, there to make everything better without imposing. A short, crisp, sweet granny smith finish.

PAIR WITH:

This would be great with fish or some spicy Thai food.

Florrie‘s footnote;

A little light for a winters night by the fire, it makes one wish for long summer evenings.

Strawberry Shortbread

I think shortbread has to be my favourite biscuit, they are buttery and crumbly, a perfect combination. The strawberries provide a little extra sweetness and bite to these moorish morsels. Makes 12 fingers

Ingredients:IMG_8519

1lb fresh strawberries

6 oz room temperature butter

3 oz sugar

6 oz all purpose flour

3 oz semolina/ pasta flour

Parchment paper

Baking sheet

9 inch square loose bottom pan, or equivalent

Pre heat oven to 170℉

Place the parchment on the baking sheet.

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Wash and hull the strawberries.

Slice the strawberries 1/4 inch thick and lay them onto the parchment paper.

Bake for 1 hr 15 minutes.  Turn the strawberries over and bake for an additional 1hr 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, the smaller slices will be ready now, the larger slices may require an additional 30 minutes. The slices should not be completely dehydrated, they should still be a little tacky to the touch and soft. They will continue to cook in the shortbread dough.

Heat oven to 300℉

Dice the strawberries and set aside, there should be roughly 4 oz of strawberries now.

Combine the butter and sugar until creamed together, add in the flours, and beat until just incorporated.

 

Add in the strawberries and beat a little more. Work the dough with your hands until smooth.

Press the dough into pan, push it all the way to the edges, and make sure it’s an even thickness, about 1/2 inch, you can use a smaller rolling pin or smooth glass to do this.

Prick the dough all over with a fork and pop it on the centre of the lower oven rack, bake for 55 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and slice into 12 even fingers and sprinkle with extra sugar.

When it’s cool remove from the pan and devour.

Here’s the printable recipe – Strawberry Shortbread

PinBerry