Just read, The Riddle of The Sands, Erskine Childers

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An enjoyable read, this and a good example of why it’s often really worth going back to beginnings and basics. I’d a vague memory that I may have seen the film adaptation of Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of The Sands when I was little but then I thought the story had something to do with WW2. I clearly haven’t seen it. It was published in 1903, an early spy novel. While I’m not particularly well read in that genre, I can see why it was influential and also why it was immensely popular pre WW1 as it suggests a German invasion of England and pinpoints England’s defence weaknesses. The Riddle of The Sands is well structured, with a slow beginning and a real sense of adventure and pluck in that old fashioned sense, which many people now probably find quite hard to read or boring and this is a real shame. I like to read ‘the firsts’ because you can then see how a particular genre developed over the coming decades although now I’m thinking of Le Carre and of the Smiley novels which I haven’t yet read. These will have to wait. The Riddle of The Sands was also a very quick read despite nautical and yachting terminology and frequent referrals to tiny maps. I’m very bad on nautical terminology but I do love a map, no matter how tiny. Anyway, a good pick from The Guardian‘s 1,000 novels list, I seem to be sailing through it at the moment, thanks to recent Yorkshire second hand bookshop finds. I will give it a little break however and tackle some new books next.

White chocolate and raspberry cheesecake

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An annual tradition this, staying with Beloved’s brother in Wales for his birthday and making him a cheesecake. I’ve made a couple of cheesecakes for friends and family this summer already so the recipe I used for this one was a mash up of sorts and it worked out beautifully. It is simple and quick to do and also relatively healthy as it hardly uses any sugar and while I am not a greatest fan of white chocolate, it works very well here with the combination of fragrant raspberries and coconut in the base.

Ingredients and method

Wash and clean 225g ripe raspberries, put them in a bowl and sprinkle with 1tsp of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice (I also squeezed a little orange juice as I found half an orange in the fridge, but this isn’t necessary). Leave to macerate while you get on with the rest of the cake. For the base: crush 150g digestive (unsweetened) biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or pulse briefly in the food processor then mix with 50g desiccated coconut. Melt 110g butter and pour over biscuit/ coconut mix, combine then press down into a 23cm springform tin lined (bottom and side) with baking parchment. Leave to cool in the fridge.  To make the filling, melt 200g white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water). While this is happening, mix 250g mascarpone (or any other cream cheese) and 250g Greek yoghurt to combine, then add the melted chocolate and mix well. Briefly puree the raspberries with a blender then combine with white chocolate, cream cheese and yoghurt mix. Spread over the base, working from the outer edges towards the centre, smooth the top and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

I’ve also made this cake with strawberries and think it could work well with blackberries too. Here’s a photo of a slice – I had to work fast here to take photos as the cake was quickly disappearing!

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Coconut milk layer cake

Oh wow! This is a very, very good cake! Coconut milk layer cake from Dan Lepard, which I made earlier today for beloved’s birthday. Beloved not particularly interested in celebrating but I made him a cake anyway.

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Beloved likes coconut, hence the choice. While easy to make, I don’t have the required three sponge tins to bake it in so had to do one sponge and cut into three. Assembling not for the light hearted, as layers are sprinkled with lime juice and rum, and even though I had some tears in the top layer, I managed to cover it up with lots of buttercream icing. One more pic:

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I was trying to find the recipe on the Guardian website but, unfortunately it hasn’t been published. There is, however a rather lovely sounding Coconut mascarpone cake so linking that instead.

Raspberry souffle pudding

 

My beautifully placed raspberries couldn’t cope with the rise, they’ve all been pushed to the side! Just made this fabulous Raspberry souffle pudding from Rowley Leigh. Delicious and light – yet slightly more set than a normal souffle.

Recipe was in the FT last weekend – I’d link it but you now need to register in order to access articles. I usually tear out recipes for my ‘to do’ pile from work copy, which saves buying the paper only to read an occasional article and tear out recipes. I made Rowley’s aubergine mousse earlier today as well but didn’t take any pictures. Here’s one more of the souffle instead:

Roast parsnip, lentil and watercress salad

 

Early supper of roast parsnip, lentil and watercress salad with lemon/honey/ mustard dressing and shaved parmesan – delicious, recipe courtesy of Hugh Fearnley Whitingstall and perfect ‘fuel’ as am rushing off to see Daniel Barenboim conduct West East Divan Orchestra, performing Beethoven’s 3rd and 4th at the Proms, yay! (love Barenboim)

Rye apple cake

What a lovely cake! Made with rye flour, ground almonds, apple, cinnamon, dark muscovado sugar, recipe from Dan Lepard’s Short and sweet. Dan said to cut when perfectly cold. Ha, half of it is gone already and it is still warm…

I am sorry Dan, it did, obviously crumble a bit when cut but it was such a perfect breakfast (terrible, I know – cake for breakfast and really eaten at lunchtime!) on a fairly horrid looking rainy day. Might have more with a cup of coffee in a bit. Here’s a picture of the whole cake – it’s a bit dark indoors today:

 

Having a fairly quiet work-at-home day, only really interested in funny articles about how much everyone is hating the chaos brought on by the Olympics but, of course, I will watch every event that I can on telly. It’s my favourite rant topic at the moment, alongside the weather, of course. Boycotting any and all sponsors that I can.

In other news, looks like my exam result may come early, oh dear, don’t quite know what to do with myself now but it could be a long wait still?

 

Kew, and the weather was pretty decent

I wander if anyone in the UK is not ranting about the weather and the fact that there hasn’t been much summer. On Sunday, the weather was actually pretty decent, good thing as we were in Kew Gardens. Lots of marvellous picture opportunities in Alpine/ rock gardens and a chance to try out some new pixlromatic filters and effects. Not that these filters or effects are new but I actually paid for them when I normally only use free apps for photography, mainly instagram. 

These photos would make lovely print patterns: 

Pink highlights:

And a couple more I liked: