Sunday, 13 November 2011

My first cooking challenge disaster

On Friday I met up with a very good friend of mine, Fasting Foodie, and took a trip to London to attend the Masterchef Live event at Olympia. It was fantastic, a great day out full of fabulous food stalls, enthralling demonstrations and celeb chefs galore! We were lucky enough to meet Michel Roux Junior (who I can confirm is even more wonderful in real life than he is on the telly) and the the super-smiley Monica Galetti. We also watched demonstrations by John Torode and Greg Wallace, as well as by various previous Masterchef competitors, who all seem to have done remarkably well for themselves after finishing the show.

All-in-all, it was a brilliant day out, but the highlight was definitely watching Michel Roux Jnr cooking, and then meeting him at a book-signing afterwards. It is not often one gets that close to a two Michelin starred chef! In his demonstration, he cooked up a very delicious-looking dish of Parisian Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms. He made it look so simple and, as my newly signed cook book contained the recipe, today I decided to give it a go.

Interestingly, French gnocchi is made very differently to Italian gnocchi, which contains potato. The French version is made from choux pastry, made with water, rather than milk. I'm not going to write the recipe out here, as I intend to give this one another go, and will share it when I succeed! However, as I promised at the start of this blog that I would share my disasters as well as my triumphs, I have to admit that I had my first Cooking Challenge fail this week.

I'm not sure quite sure what happened, but the choux pastry I made just turned to a great big pile of mush when I boiled it in water. Michel's didn't do that; his were perfect little cylinders of deliciousness! I have a feeling I went wrong when beating the eggs into the pastry mix - I think I should have let the rest of the mixture cool a little before adding the eggs, as I think the first one may have cooked, rather than being combined into the mix. Either that, or I boiled the choux pastry cylinders for too long before draining them. One way or the other, they didn't work, and I was very disappointed.

Fish and chips for tea tonight!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Mollie Makes and so do I (again)

I'm not sure there's a crafter out there who has not read at least one issue of Mollie Makes by now. I have written before about how much I love this magazine and its beautiful styling. There is not an issue that comes through my letter box that doesn't have at least one project that I want to try. Usually, I add them to my list of "Projects I Want to Try" and leave them there for a little while. However, when I saw in Issue 6 a patchwork blanket made from old wooly jumpers, there was no way I could wait to get stuck in.

The day after the magazine arrived, I could be found in my lunch break rummaging in the local charity shops looking for jumpers that I could use to make this fabulous blanket. I got lucky and found a number of very large jumpers in the local Clic Sergant shop, in colours that went beautifully together. I complimented these with the biggest cardigan I have ever seen from the local hospice shop. In total, I spent £11.50 on jumpers for this make. £11.50 for charity, one snuggly blanket for me!

Making the blanket could not have been simpler. It was a case of cutting up the jumpers into nice chunky squares and stitching them together on the sewing machine. Some of the crosses between my squares were not so neat as to be called perfect, but I put this down to the fact that the knitted patches were fairly stretchy and so were not as easy to work with as the fabric I have used to make baby quilts in the past.

I took a small diversion from the instructions in Mollie Makes when it came to finishing my blanket. The instructions suggested edging the blanket with bias binding and leaving the back as it was. I thought that, whilst this looked nice from the front, the back of my blanket was looking a little scruffy and I wanted to finish it off a little more neatly. So, a little trip to the local fabric shop was in order. I bought some cream winceyette just larger than my quilt to finish it off. This fabric is so soft and snuggly that it seemed the perfect choice to complete my already very cosy project.

To finish my blanket, I put the patchwork and the winceyette together, right sides facing and ran the sewing machine around the edge, leaving a gap to turn the blanket the right way out. After doing so, I hand stitched the gap and then put small stitches at each cross where the patches met, through to the backing to hold the whole lot together. The result? A super snuggly blanket that is just perfect for curling up under on chilly autumn evenings.

The Mollie Makes blanket looked like this:

And my blanket looks like this:

I actually don't think this photo does the finished blanket justice, but I think you can see how cosy it is!

This really was an easy make. Thanks Mollie Makes for a fabulous idea!