Monday, 25 November 2013

Dawn's Wedding Cake

For the second year running, I had the pleasure and honour of making a wedding cake for one of my two lovely step-daughters. This time it was Dawn, the younger of the two, who (after 18 years and 3 children) finally married the love of her life, Nick. It was a beautiful, emotional and very happy day!

The bottom tier was a dark chocolate "mud cake", layered and covered with dark chocolate ganache butter cream; the middle tier was a white chocolate and raspberry "mud cake", layered and covered with white chocolate ganache butter cream; these two tiers were them covered again with Renshaw's White Chocolate Flavour Fondant Icing, which I decorated using a quilting technique and silver dragees, then placed diamante ribbon around the bottom edge of each.

The top tier was a dark chocolate sponge cake, layered with chocolate whipped cream and covered with plain whipped cream. I then covered it with slats of tempered white chocolate, which I had also given a quilted look with a diamond pattern, and secured with a white satin ribbon and more diamante ribbon.

All three layers were then further decorated with sugar flowers I had made ... stargazers, callas, roses and carnations. (The top tier was supported by a polystyrene "cake", which was wrapped in cream satin ribbon and covered with flowers.) The whole cake was then topped off with a diamante heart and presented against a satin backdrop in the bridal colour of turquoise and a few "diamonds" scattered around the base. (The plinth was also a polystyrene "cake" wrapped in cream satin ribbon. The stand for the satin drape was made by my husband.)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Eggs Benedict

Well, it was my version of Eggs Benedict, anyway ... toasted muffins, topped with thinly-sliced smoked ham and cheesy bechamel sauce. I sprinkled them with smoked paprika and served with a small pile of leaves, drizzled with balsamic glaze ... both more for colour than flavour, although actually the sweet and tangy salad gave the dish a delightful "lift".

We started having "brunch" on a Sunday morning (late) last week - our first week back from Corfu - and enjoyed it so much that I think we might make it a fairly regular event, ringing the changes and even trying out different things from time to time; this, for instance, was my first attempt at Eggs Benedict (which I did without any recipe or even knowing exactly what it should consist of!) but we will certainly have it again. Next time, I will use more (or stronger flavoured) ham and make the sauce a little thinner ... I'll also use less sauce, but I might stick with the salad garnish, even though the idea of lettuce for breakfast is a bizarre one!!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Prawn Salad

Another "fasting" day ... didn't have enough calories left for coleslaw (a hefty 145 calories per tablespoon!), but this prawn salad was super delicious just with a drizzle of balsamic glaze (30 cals). At only 170 calories, it was a tasty, nutritious and surprisingly filling meal ... very nice! I also had a large bowl of fruit salad at lunchtime and a low-cal chocolate drink this afternoon.

Having completed a whole week of ADF now, I weighed myself this morning and found I had lost 7lb ... pretty impressive, I think! Admittedly, I had put on 3lb the week before (having visited Plymouth for a few days for my step-daughter's wedding), but to have got rid of that AND another 4lb on top was most encouraging. Even if I was only doing this for weight loss alone, I would be happy enough to keep going after that result ... but it's about so much more than just weight loss, and I'm already feeling less tired and more alert, so I will definitely keep going!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Starting ADF

Having seen the BBC Horizon documentary, "Eat, Fast and Live Longer" and watching a couple of friends enjoy the process, I decided to have a go at Alternate Day Fasting (or ADF). It's not just a weight loss programme, it's (allegedly) a way to prolong life expectancy, give more energy, lower the risk of certain cancers and other age-related illnesses and be generally much better for overall health and energy levels. One friend in particular has found the increase in her energy levels to be quite noticeable.

Not really fasting in the true sense of the word, the ADF plan allows for an intake of up to 500 calories (700 for men) on alternate days, then whatever you wish to eat on the others. On my first "fasting" day, I consumed a few pieces of fruit around midday, a bowl of salad late afternoon and some steamed vegetables in the evening. I also had a cup of low-calorie soup and a drop of skimmed milk in a coffee around bedtime. I found it easy and hardly had any hunger pangs.

Today was my second "fasting" day and I decided to make my few calories as delicious as they could be! My first meal of the day was this gorgeous bowlful of fruit salad, which amounted to less than 200 calories; I didn't eat it until 1.30pm, as I wasn't particularly hungry until then.

Then, this evening, I cooked a huge wok-ful of stir-fried vegetables, in a little olive oil and flavoured with black pepper and a few shakes of soya sauce. My husband had a pork chop and a few baby new potatoes with his, but I just had a big bowlful of veg at a little under 300 calories (would have been much less without 120 calories worth of olive oil).

(Sorry about the steam - but it was very tasty and filling!) At the moment, I'm finding this "diet" very easy to maintain and most enjoyable; if, on a "fasting" day, I suddenly feel like I simply must have a cream cake, or cheese on toast, or a bar of chocolate ... I just think, "Ok, I'll have that tomorrow"! Chances are, I probably won't, but at least I know I can if I wan't to, so there's no feeling of deprivation like there is with most conventional diets. And I do already feel healthier!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Jen's Wedding Cake

The bottom layer was a delicious chocolate sponge, with chocolate ganache butter cream; the middle layer was a zingy lemon sponge, with lemon curd butter cream; the top layer was a moist, light and fresh-tasting fruit cake (quite different to the usual heavy, dark fruit cake), covered with marzipan. The whole lot was covered with ready-to-roll icing (two layers marbled with purple/pink/white icing) and decorated with sugar-paste flowers and rice paper butterflies. The recipe was from the BBC Good Food website and can be found here.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Souvlaki, rice and Greek salad

Time to get "in training" for our Greek holiday in just over 8 weeks' time ... so we turned our kitchen into a taverna and produced this scrumptious Mediterranean meal.

A simple Greek salad (cucumber, tomatoes, green pepper, red onion and black olives, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, mixed Mediterranean herbs and dried mint, then topped with feta cheese and a little more oil and herbs); wholemeal rice and lamb souvlaki (lamb chunks, marinated in oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs, threaded onto skewers and grilled for around 10 minutes) topped with pepper sauce (chopped onion and peppers fried in oil, then simmered in chicken stock and finally blitzed in a food processor/blender) and tzatziki (natural yogurt, grated cucumber and mint). Quick, healthy and totally gorgeous!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Griddled King Prawns

So ... here I am, at the very beginning of my healthy eating and weight loss journey. Up to now, I am thoroughly enjoying it, am never hungry and haven't even thought about cakes, biscuits, butter or chocolate! The reason for that, I believe, is that I am eating such delicious, satisfying meals; I'm covering all the necessary food groups, keeping fairly close to the NHS-advised "Eatwell Plate" proportions and ensuring that the food I eat is good quality and prepared in a tasty way. After all, I AM worth it!!

Over the last week we have enjoyed lovely meals, such as baked salmon with stir-fried veg and wholemeal rice, dry-fried lamb steaks with new potatoes and steamed veg ... and even sausages and baked beans! But last night was a little bit special. This was a truly scrumptious meal, one we will definitely be repeating!

I baked a couple of quite large potatoes in their "jackets" and hubby knocked up a wonderful fresh salad (no oily dressing, but lots of fresh herbs from the garden - marjoram, chives and lots of mint). I drizzled some balsamic glaze over my salad and sprayed a tiny bit of light olive oil on my spud (I'm avoiding butter wherever possible), we topped our jacket potatoes with low-fat cottage cheese and a couple of skewers of lovely king prawns.

Before putting them on the hot griddle, I threaded the raw prawns onto metal skewers and flavoured them with smoked paprika, a little chilli powder, crushed garlic, grated ginger and freshly-squeezed lime juice. They were really flavoursome and the whole dish tasted quite luxurious.