Here & There: VKL Prep

We only have three more sleeps till Vogue Knitting Live NYC, as Florrie would say. lol We don’t have a lot of homework to do before we start. Really just making yarn cakes of the wool we bought for the color work class.

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Down here in the city I am still running to and fro with meeting prep and lunch deliveries. While I’m downtown today I’m going to go to Purl Soho (believe me it was dangerously close when I worked out of the downtown store) to see about getting a last minute ball winder. Of course mine broke this week!   I need to rustle up some colored pencils for color work sketching.  I’m excited about the natural dye class, too.  I can’t wait!

-Marie

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Up here in the woods I’ve been doodling a little in preperation for the colour work class we’re taking. Tomorrow I’ll pack my bags and gather my supplies before heading to the Big Apple Thursday. I feel like a school girl getting ready for the first day. Pencils, check. Needles, check. Apron, Check. In a reverse of the norm I’ll be Marie’s house guest for a few nights, leaving the little ones at home with Dad.

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Candy Cane Centre Piece

Last year, in the sales after Christmas, I was lucky enough to get my little mitts on some ornament trees for a great price. They were whisked straight into storage and forgotten about until last week. I used one to hang my 12 days of Christmas ornaments and place it on the mantle, The other I turned into a this;

Candy Cane centre piece

To tidy up the ends of the candy canes I taped up any loose wrappers, and then used bakers twine to attach the candy canes to the ornament tree. It was a little tedious, but ask Marie and she’ll tell you how much I love tiny tedious tasks. As I worked my way down, some of the canes needed to be trimmed. In all, I believe I used around 8 dozen candy canes.

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Here and There

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20131210-090741.jpg     We’re having our first proper snow of the season here in New York. I was extremely tempted to call my boss (who is traveling) to ask if I could work from home today, but some of the work I have to do requires my presence in the store. Ah well! I took a few snapshots on my iPhone on the way in. If the storm drops the amount of snow that they are forecasting I will insert a few more pictures later in the day. This foolish girl didn’t bring her lunch today, so that should be an adventure!  I will just keep myself going with thoughts of a snuggly cat, some fuscia knitting and fleece jammie pants awaiting for me at home. -Marie

Snow kissed

Snow kissed

Up in the woods I’m splitting my time between toasting my toes by the fire and a marathon baking session as I watch the snow fall gently down. It seems as though we further north will be spared from the brunt on the snow accumulation this time. I love being outside, bundled up as the snow comes down, it’s so peaceful and quiet. Sometimes I think that if I listen hard enough I can almost hear the snow land. It’s deliciously dark  and fresh outside but inside is a glow with Christmas lights and comforting aromas. F

Buffaloaf!

At The Croakery this is our signature Thanksgiving dish . Neither Cobra Commander nor myself are big turkey fans so when we first moved here and hosted our first Thanksgiving we thought it’d fun to have a meaty feast with no Turkey in sight. On the menu there were wild boar sausages, venison welling and buffaloaf. Buffaloaf has been a staple ever since.

What is this buffaloaf, it’s meatloaf made from buffalo mince.Nothing too fancy, just a twist on a classic!

Buffaloaf!

Let’s get cooking’

2lb Buffalo mince

1 Medium onion white

1 Tsp olive oil

1Tbsp sugar

1/2 Medium apple

1 1/4 Cups fresh cranberries

1 Egg

1/4 Breadcrumbs

1 1/2 Packets of bacon

1 Tbsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp fennel seeds

1 Tbsp dried rosemary

1 Tbsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp mustard powder

2 Tsp Roasted cumin

2 Tsp salt

1 Tsp pepper

2 Tbsp honey

5 Tbsp ketchup, I usually split these 3tbsp of cranberry ketchup and 2 tbsp of regular

1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce

Parchment paper

A 2lb loaf pan

A baking sheet

 

Pre heat the oven to 380°F

Put the mince into a bowl and break up with a fork.

Heat the olive oil in  a small frying pan over medium high heat. Finely chop the 1/2 the onion,  add to the pan, cook for around 5 minutes until the onion is softened. Reduce the heat to medium and sprinkle over the sugar and stir. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool a little and add to the bowl with the mince.

Leave the skin on and grate the apple and other onion half into the mixing bowl. Stir this thoroughly.

Roughly chop the cranberries and stir those in also.

Sprinkle in all the dry spices and herbs.

Beat the egg before adding this and the rest of the wet ingredients to the meat.

Finally add the breadcrumbs.

You can go in and get your hands dirty and use them to mix with, or a wooden spoon also works.

At this stage I like to wipe out and reheat the pan used to caramelise the onion and cook a little of the mixture for a taste test.

Lay the parchment paper sheet flat on the counter. You need to have a big enough piece to fit inside the loaf pan and over hang a little.

Weave the rashers, lay 7 in a row so that the short ends are facing you and the length running away from you. Working left to right weave another rasher over one then under the next,  over then under until you get to the other side. With the second rasher, again working left to right weave under the first, then over the second, under then over all the way to the end. Continue with alternating over and under until you reach the botton, anout 8 or 9 rashers.

 

 

Gently lift the parchment paper and ease it into the loaf pan. Spoon in the buffalo mixture, pack it in tightly until it’s all in there. Fold over the loose ends of the bacon.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place the loaf pan on it.

Pop it into the oven on the lower rack and cook for 90 minutes.

Leave the oven on and turn up to 425°F

After 90 minutes remove from the oven and let sit for a further 20 minutes.

Take the loaf pan off the baking tray and sit on a flat surface. Place the baking tray on top of the pan, apply a good amount of pressure and do this quickly and carefully, flip the pans over.

Now the buffaloaf is resting on the baking sheet. Remove the loaf pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper.

Return to the oven for 20 minutes until the bacon browns, I check on the buffaloaf and baste with any juices every 5 minutes or so.

Buffaloaf

Serve with your favourite sides. This is also great cold as left overs, served with pickled onions and crusty bread.

F

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Despite the long title these are simple, and quick to make and most of all sumptuous!

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Makes 12

4oz Unsalted butter – room temperature

4oz Sugar

1oz 80% cocoa chocolate

2 Large cold eggs

1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

3 1/2 oz All purpose flour

1/2 Cocoa powder

1/2 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp Baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

100ml (1/3 cup) Heavy cream

Pre heat the over to 330 degrees F. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with cupcake liners. I like the use the fluted brioche papers. I think  they provide some extra support to the batter in the oven.

Cut the butter into cubes and put in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add in the sugar and cream together on medium until fluffy.

Melt the chocolate, and mix into the butter and sugar.

Crack the 2 eggs into a cup and beat a little, measure the vanilla extract and mix in with the eggs. Add this to the main bowl and beat on high until smooth.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Sift these into the mixer bowl. With the mixer on low beat until the dry ingredients are only just combined.

Pour in the cream and mix until the batter has an even consistency.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the liners. Do not over fill the liners, a slightly heaped scoop is all you need. Ensure all the batter is out of the scoop and in the liner before moving on to the next cupcake.

Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and set the timer for 22 minutes, they may need a little longer, but keep a close eye on them

Leave to cool and then ice and decorate.

Cupcakes

Someone’s Happy. Nom nom nom.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 Eggs

8oz sugar

Pinch of salt

12oz unsalted butter room temperature

3oz White chocolate

Bring a small pan with a little water to a boil over medium heat.

In the meantime, separate the eggs very carefully. You need to measure 1/4 pint of egg whites. There may be some left over, don’t be tempted to just chuck this in with the rest. Save them or discard them.

Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a bowl of an electric mixer.

Place the bowl on top of the pan of boiling water and stir with a whip until the egg whites are ot and the sugar has dissolved. Scrape down any sugar around the side of the bowl. Keep stirring if you don’t  the egg whites will settle and start to cook like an omlette.

Remove and attach to the mixer. Beat on slow until cold.

When the meringue is cold add the butter a little at a time.  Beating until it’s incorporated.

Increase the speed a little and beat until smooth.

Melt the chocolate and steadily pour in, beating until incorporated.

You’ll have enough to cover about 24 cupcakes. The remainder of the icing will keep in the fridge for a while.

Enjoy, f.

Butternut and Shrimp soup

Winter is coming, I’m building a freezer stash of soup for the frigid days ahead. My go to is lentil and lately I’ve been adding some smoked sausage and garnishing with feta. So I thought I’d try something new.

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Serves 4

1/2 of a large butternut squash

24 large raw shrimp with shells on

2 garlic cloves

1 medium onion

6 celery stalks

32 oz chicken stock

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp Mediterranean spiced sea salt

1 tsp Curry powder

1 tsp Hot Paprika

1 tsp Smoked sea salt

1/2 tsp Black pepper

1/2 tsp Mustard powder

1/2 Cayenne pepper

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and chop the butternut squash into small cubes.  Roughly chop the onion and celery, peel the garlic cloves and leave whole Place the on a lined baking tray, drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with the 1 Tbsp of the mediterranean spiced sea salt 1/2 tsp of the black pepper, curry powder, hot paprika, mustard powder. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes take out of the oven and place everything but the squash in a dish. Return the squash to the oven for another 15 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting  peel the shrimp. Heat 1 tsp of the olive oil in the soup pan. Once hot, add the shrimp shells and saute until pink. About 3 -5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and cover with the lid until the vegetables are done.

Strain the stock to remove the shells. Return the stock to the pan and add in the vegetables and 10 of the shrimp. Turn the heat to medium and gently simmer for 15 minutes.  Puree the soup.

In a small frying pan melt the butter and add a splash of olive oil. Cut the remaining shrimp into 1cm size pieces. Season with 1 Tbsp of mediterranean spiced seal salt, the cayenne pepper and the remaining paprika. if this is a little too much spice you can always opt for salt and pepper. Saute until just pink.

Stir the shrimp into the soup and let sit for 10 minutes, check the seasoning. The flavours on the shrimp should have leached into the soup. You can add in a splash of cream to make this a bisque, I had to do this once when I was heavy-handed with the spices.

A crusty baguette is the perfect accompaniment, but if all you have is sliced white bread, keep reading.

Rolled croutons

What you’ll need,

Bread

Butter

Pepper

Other spices and cheese optional.

Heat the broiler to low

I like the garnish this with a few more shrimp and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

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F.