Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Tea at Fortnum and Mason Cookbook Review + The Snow Day Bake-Off

As I'm now part of the UK Food Bloggers Association I thought it might be fun to join in with some bake-offs. As the weather has been horrible over the past week I wanted to take part in the Snow Day Bake-Off as organised by A Slice of Cherry Pie. It was also a perfect chance for me to use my new Fortnum and Mason cookbook. http://www.asliceofcherrypie.com/the-food-blogging-community/the-snow-day-bake-of/ Brrr, all wintry in our garden - always better to be looking at it from inside!
This is such a sweet little book. I didn't actually know what it would contain but at £3.99 from The Book People http://www.thebookpeople.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/qs_product_tbp?storeId=10001&catalogId=10051&langId=100&productId=199678 I thought it was worth the risk. I've bought so many cookery books from here. They're always bargains and I often find things on there I was after anyway. I've got my fingers crossed that Bill's Basics turns up on there soon under £10! The risk definitely paid off with this book though as there are some lovely recipes.

The first 40 pages are all about the history of tea and how that ties in with the history of Fortnum and Mason. There is also a section about different teas; their characteristics, infusion notes and drinking notes. It would make a great gift for anyone who likes afternoon teas or would like a nice posh brand of cookery book in their collection!

There are photos for about half of the recipes. The book itself is only small and just over 100 pages long.
I wanted to bake some biscuits for an extended-break we were having at work for a colleague's last day before maternity leave and I couldn't resist having a go at making the Macadamia and Stem Ginger Cookies from the book. They were exactly as described, crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle and the ingredient quantities were bang on. I'm not often very good at baking but I was very pleased with these biscuits and they went down very well at work, I think there was only one left at the end of the day and that soon went! Hurrah!


The macadamias were a nice contrast to the soft, chewy centre and it was nice to find little pieces of stem ginger throughout. Such a good recipe.

So much so that when I went to a friend's housewarming party this weekend I thought it would be nice to make a little gift of some ginger biscuits without the nuts, having been told that ginger biscuits were her favourite. I used the box from a previous cupcake treat and luckily the biscuits were just the right size to fit in. Pretty!

I hope they were enjoyed. The recipe says they keep well for 5 days in an air-tight container, that's if they last that long! I made yet another batch yesterday for La Mama to take to one of her end-of-term parties with her adult education classes. I varied the recipe to make them vaguely festive! I put little bits of marzipan, some ground ginger and cinnamon and some candied peel and left out the stem ginger. It worked out very well and the marzipan just added a hint of background almond flavour. I like the soft citrus flavour you get when you bite into a piece of peel.

I also gave a small amount of the dough to my brother for him to make mint chocolate biscuits. He seemed to like them. They look quite pretty all marbled but it's probably just because they weren't mixed properly - shall we lie and say it was on purpose?!

So I think it's fair to say that the ginger biscuit recipe was fairly successful!! It covered a few snowy days and hopefully many clearer days in the future.

As the book is based on afternoon teas there is a selection of savoury goodies too. Classic sandwiches such as Smoked Salmon and Herb Creme Fraiche and Chicken with Tarragon Butter. Probably not the most difficult things to prepare but an afternoon tea book with be lost without a few sandwich recipes. I decided to make myself a Welsh Rarebit for lunch today as I've never actually had one and you can't go far wrong with cheese and bread.

The sauce was very quick and easy to make, unfortunately I had no Fortnum and Mason hot mustard to hand (common Northerner that I am!) so I used a nice dollop of Dijon mustard instead. Very nice indeed, though it always helps if the bread is especially delicious.

Other lovely looking recipes in the book include cranberry and lemon scones, rose biscuits (I'd like to make these next), sugar-crusted cherry cake and blueberry and vanilla financiers. A lovely looking book and I will be returning again and again to the biscuits recipe.

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