Category Archives: Let’s Party!

Citrus Sorbet Cups

new-years-clip-art-12

 

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

 

A cool way to serve ice-cream and sorbet.

 

METHOD:

  1. Cut citrus fruit (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.) in half.
  2. Squeeze out juice.
  3. Scoop out any left over pulp.
  4. Cut a thin slice off the bottom so that the cups sit flat.
  5. Freeze until firm.
  6. Use as serving cups for scoops of sorbet.

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Pepper Dipping Bowls

 

I think these pepper dipping bowls are an awesome idea for serving up dips, sauces, salsas etc. at parties. It’s especially for individual portions because then afterwards you can eat the bowl!

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

METHOD:

  1. Cut the stem ends off washed peppers.
  2. Dry with a paper towel.
  3. Remove seeds.
  4. Test the base of each  pepper, and if necessary cut a little off , to make sure that the peppers will stand up when filled.
  5. Fill with a variety of dips.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips and crudités.

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The Coolest Ice Cubes Ever!

 

I can’t believe how hot it is. I swear I’m melting away. I know England cries out for hot weather but seriously this is just too much. I feel like I’ve been locked in a sauna. People may pray for the sun but in my opinion, hot weather is so overrated – and that’s coming from a summer baby! Beach babes are able to look effortlessly hot as the temperature soars, and I’m no different. I’m able to look like a hot, sweaty mess with no effort at all!

 

So in this heat, it’s no wonder my thoughts have turned to keeping super cool. For me it’s cold drinks – and I’m knocking them back like there’s no tomorrow. And cold drinks mean ice, which right now is a necessity. The summer season means parties, weddings, barbeques etc where ice and drinks will go hand in hand. But the problem with ice cubes is that they can be pretty boring to look out and as great as they are at keeping your drinks cool, they’re also great at watering them down (which is only OK if you’re drinking water!) I did a post a while back about creating an ice-bucket – made from ice. It proved to be very popular and inspired this post about livening up the humble ice-cube in terms of appearance (presentation is important, you know!) and taste!

1. GOT TO BE HOT TO BE COOL!

Everyone knows that if you freeze cold water, you get cloudy ice. But freeze boiling water and you get crystal-clear ice. And that’s really important if you’re going to add other ingredients to your ice cubes.

2. THE HERB GARDEN

 

Add washed sprigs or leaves to the water before freezing. Mint ice-cubes are great in iced-tea (Mr. D’s fave) or fruit punch; rosemary or thyme are perfect with home-made lemonade; basil works well with gin, vodka or rum based cocktails,  and lemongrass ice-cubes in pineapple or apple juice – WOW!

3. CITRUS FRESH

Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are a very obvious choice as slices are often served with cold beverages. But you could also try experimenting with pieces of grapefruit, pomelo, blood or ruby orange. These will work with still or sparkling water; as well as a variety of sodas, cocktails and juices.

4. BERRY NICE 

If you want pretty as a picture ice-cubes, berries are the way to go. They give a fantastic burst of colour and a fruity flavour to drinks. Raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries etc. could go in whole, although strawberries would probably have to be sliced. They would be perfect with iced tea, lemonade, sodas, berry, cherry, pomegranate or cranberry cocktails or juices, and raspberry would also work well with orange or peach juices.

5. TROPICAL PARADISE

 

Try pieces of pineapple, kiwi fruit, lychee or dragon fruit for a touch of the exotic. These would be a welcome addition to coconut water, a multitude of cocktails and tropical fruit juices.

6. SALAD DAYS

Cucumber, celery, red, yellow and green peppers might be more at home in a salad bowl but these can be really refreshing served with still or sparkling water or in a Pimm’s (my absolute fave – summer just isn’t summer without it!)

7. EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES

Add some washed, fresh rose petals to water before freezing. I adore the delicate flavouring and aroma of rose as an addition to food and drinks, and it is amazing with pomegranate, raspberry and other berry based drinks.

8. IF THE SUMMER HEAT ISN’T ENOUGH…

 

… then try adding cut pieces of chilli to your ice cubes. This will give a light heat to drinks and complements citrus, pineapple, papaya and mango based drinks. Just remove some of the seeds in order to reduce the level of spiciness.

9. GLITTERING COLOURS

Add some edible glitter for sparkle or food colouring for a marbled effect. These obviously won’t do anything in terms of flavour but they will make the ice-cubes in your drink look so pretty, so it might be good for those who want to keep the taste of their drinks pure.

10. DITCH THE H20

Who says that ice-cubes can only made with water. It can be annoying when ice-cubes water down our drinks. So freeze cola for cola-flavoured ice-cubes; pineapple juice for pineapple-flavoured cubes; iced tea for iced tea cubes… you see where I’m going with this.

And of course you can combine any of the above and freeze them in water if you really want to be creative with your cubes. Try rose with raspberry; pineapple with lemongrass and ginger; cucumber with mint… the possibilities are endless!

Let’s hope the only thing that melts in the heat wave is the ice in your drinks! Stay cool.

 

 

Cocktail Heaven: Dark n’ Stormy

 

I love cocktails… I adore rum. So Bermuda’s national drink, Dark n’ Stormy is just perfect for me. And it’s so easy to make. Try it and see.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

50ml rum

25ml lime juice

Ginger beer

Ice

METHOD:

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. Pour rum and lime juice into glass.
  3. Top up with ginger beer.
  4. Drink!

 

 

 

 

Sweet Valentine

 

St. Valentine’s Day is about to descend upon us very soon and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s definitely one of my favourite holidays and it means all the more to me because I couldn’t wish for a better Valentine than Mr. D. And this St. Valentine’s Day will be very special indeed…

 

I’m a sucker for a romantic meal and having the kind of sweet tooth that keeps my dentist in employment, I can safely say that the dessert course is my favourite. But for such a special occasion it has to be a very special dessert – tinned fruit salad with vanilla ice-cream just won’t do! For St. Valentine’s Day, it has to be a dessert that screams love and romance from the rooftops.

So I’ve picked my top five romantic Valentine desserts which I think are the perfect finale to a St. Valentine’s Day meal. So why not make one of these for your beloved on Friday? And if you can’t make up your mind, why not make all five!

1. WHITE CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY CREME BRULEE

Who couldn’t love crème brulee? Lashings of creamy custard with a crisp caramelised topping. I often say that dessert isn’t dessert unless it’s chocolate. And as chocolate is known for having aphrodisiac properties, that’s just the perfect excuse for creating this classic pud with a twist. White chocolate, raspberries and crème brulee – could there be a better culinary combination?

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 6 (3 each! perfect!)

Ingredients:

  • 7oz /200g white chocolate
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 oz/75g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ cups/350ml double cream
  • ½ cup/125ml milk
  • 9 oz/250g fresh raspberries

Preparation:

  • Put the eggs, chocolate and sugar into a large heatproof bowl.
  • Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan until just boiling, then slowly pour over egg mix and whisk over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water, until thick.
  • Place in the fridge to cool completely. Divide 3/4 of the fresh raspberries between 6 individual ramekins (3″x 2″ deep, or 5″ x 1″ individual dishes) and spoon the brulée mix over smooth over with a palette knife.
    When ready to serve evenly sprinkle the surface of the brulée with a thin layer of caster sugar and blow torch, or place under a hot grill until golden brown. Repeat until you have a thick, golden and hard surface.
    Decorate with the remaining raspberries and a sprig of mint.

2. CHERRIES IN RED WINE

An unusual dessert but it’s still got that Valentine vibe going on. Red wine and red in colour for passion – what more could you want! Can be serves with sweet, vanilla flavoured whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • 425ml red wine
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 500g cherries

Method

  1. Tip the wine into a medium pan, then add the vanilla pod to the pan with the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Stone the cherries if you want, or leave them as they are. Add to the pan and cook gently for 6 mins. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Increase the heat, then boil the liquid for 8-10 mins until slightly syrupy. Pour over the cherries and serve warm or cold in glass bowls.

 

3. MARBLED ROSE CREAM

Roses are to Valentine’s Day what tinsel is to Christmas – you just can’t have one without the other! This fruity pud is flavoured with rosewater – one of my favourite flavourings. I found this recipe in  the National Trust’s Traditional Puddings by Sara Paston-Williams.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250 gr raspberries
  • 75 gr castor sugar
  • 7 ml cold water (a good dash)
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 7 ml rose-water or Kirsch (a generous dash)
  • sprig of mint
  • glitter sugar, chocolate flakes or other topping

METHOD:

  1. First, put half the raspberries into a saucepan with 2/3rds of the sugar (50 grs), bring gently to the boil and continue to simmer until a pulp. Push through a sieve and allow to cool.
  2. Whip cream until thick and add the remaining castor sugar gradually. Reserve a few of the remaining raspberries to decorate. Mash the rest and mix with the whipped cream very thoroughly, then add the rose-water or Kirsch.
  3. Then add the cooked raspberry pulp, stirring just enough to give a marbled effect.
  4. Pour into a glass bowl (or bowls) and chill for at least three hours in the fridge.
  5. Add the mint sprig and decorate with the raspberries and glimmer sugar or chocolate flakes.

4. OUEFS A LA NEIGE/SNOW EGGS/FLOATING ISLANDS

Whichever name you decide to use, I absolutely adore this dessert. It combines soft, marshmallowy meringue with creamy crème anglaise and caramel. It looks so pretty and tastes divine. Crystalised rose petals can also be added for even more prettiness.

 

Ingredients

For the crème anglaise
For the poaching liquor
For the meringue
For the caramel

Preparation method

  1. For the crème anglaise, heat the milk and vanilla seeds in a saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  3. Pour the hot milk mixture onto the eggs and sugar, a little at a time, so the eggs do not start to cook, whisking continuously until smooth and creamy.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place the pan over a medium heat and stir continuously for 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, leave to cool and then refrigerate.
  6. For the poaching liquor, combine the milk and 500ml/18fl oz water with the sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  7. For the meringue, using an electric hand whisk, whisk the whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed, but the mixture should not look too dry. Add one tablespoon of the sugar to the egg whites, and continue to whisk until the mixture comes back to stiff peaks. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until it has all been used, and the meringue is thick and glossy.
  8. Using a serving spoon dipped in cold water, shape big quenelles of the meringue and gently poach in the milk and water solution, turning after 4-5 minutes to ensure they are cooked on both sides. Make sure the liquid doesn’t boil or the meringues will puff then collapse. When fully cooked, gently place on a wire rack to drain.
  9. For the caramel, pour the sugar into a clean pan. Melt the sugar slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon over a low heat until the sugar turns a dark copper colour. Remove immediately from the heat to ensure the caramel does not burn.
  10. Pour the caramel over the meringues. When set, take the caramel-covered meringues off the tray and serve in a generous pool of the crème anglaise.

5. CHOCOLATE FONDUE

I absolutely love love LOVE chocolate fondue and in my opinion it was just made for St. Valentine’s Day. It’s delicious, chocolatey and designed to be shared – could anything be more romantic? It’s also so easy to make and you can choose the dippers you like most.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup  whipping cream
  • 3  (4-ounce) semisweet chocolate bars, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons  coffee liqueur or other flavoured liqueur
  •  Assorted cookies, pretzel sticks, fruit, marshmallows

Preparation

  1. Microwave whipping cream and chocolate in a microwave-safe glass bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in liqueur.
  2. Transfer to a fondue pot; keep warm, stirring occasionally. Serve with cookies, pretzels, fruit, and marshmallows.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

 

Hassle-Free Cocktails and Canapes Chez Mrs. D

Entertaining must be my middle name – I LOVE it. I love nothing better than having a crowd of people over, and  dare I say it, I’m well known for my cocktails and canapés. If it were possible, I’d be having cocktail and canapé nights every night. It’s simple but impressive if you’re having a lot of people over although it can require a lot of effort. I tend to make very fruity cocktails so there’s a lot of chopping, crushing and pureeing going on. And canapés, unless you keep them really simple, can be quite fiddly to prepare. Furthermore, when ever I invite people over, it usually tends to be a very last minute thing so I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been running around like a crazy woman trying to get everything ready in time before the doorbell starts ringing. Goodness knows what I’d do if I regularly put on four-course dinner parties!

That’s not to say that the hard work isn’t worth it because when I hear the raucous laughter and non-stop chatter above the already very loud music, see the empty dishes and knocked-over cocktail glasses (accidentally of course) and know that everyone’s having a damn good time, then it’s most definitely worth it.

But there are ways of hosting a great cocktails and canapés night without feeling as though you are in danger of committing murder beforehand. Here are some great tips to hosting the perfect C&C evenings Mrs. D style:

BECOME THE COCKTAIL QUEEN

If like me you are very last minute dot com or you simply dread having unexpected guests, it’s a good idea to make sure you have some stand-by items ready in the fridge or cupboard. There isn’t really much need to stock up on ultra expensive ingredients that you’re probably never going to use again. We all remember the fairy tale about the magic stone soup and it’s true – with limited ingredients and a lot of imagination you can come up with something quite impressive:

  1. I always have at least one bottle of wine, rum or vodka ready to act as the base for a good cocktail so always make sure you have a bottle of something tucked away for ’emergencies’.
  2. Always make sure you’re never out of ice.
  3. You can cheat by using a cocktail mixer pack where all you have to do is add alcohol and serve.
  4. I can’t think of any fruits that can’t be used in a cocktail, either sliced, pureed or muddled and strained so let your fruit bowl be your best friend!
  5. Herbs and spices such as basil, mint, lemongrass and ginger and even chilli can really give your cocktails a much needed kick – just remember not to overdo it!
  6. Cola, lemonade, sparkling water and various types of juices make great mixers.
  7. Never underestimate the importance of the humble lemon (or lime.) The zest and juice can be added to the alcohol; the fruit can be sliced, and the peel can be used for decoration.
  8. When all else fails, cooled sugar syrup + lemon juice + alcohol + ice + soda + lemon slice = inexpensive yet impressive cocktail!
  9. Don’t forget to frost the rims of the glasses with sugar.
  10. If you do have time to prepare, freeze either fruit juice, coffee, cola, tea lemonade etc. to avoid watery cocktails.

Also remember that it’s not all about the alcohol (strange coming from me, I know!) as you may have guests who don’t drink. Where possible simply omit the alcohol in their drinks, substitute it with a flavoured syrup if necessary or top up with more ginger ale, lemonade, soda etc.

THE EASIEST CANAPES EVER

Canapés and antipasti platters are traditionally nibbles served to guests as they arrive and as they are a precursor to a main meal, they tend to be light. However, it’s not uncommon now for people to forgo a sit-down meal in order to serve an array of canapés, especially if they are having a lot of guests or want to keep things informal.

  • So unless you’re planning a party with lots of guests, keep the antipasto fairly simple so you don’t override the the main meal. You could perhaps serve two or three dishes from the list below along with some fruit, nuts and bread.
  • If you’re planning on serving a main meal, then the  antipasto should complement the meal you’re planning.
  • Think about the appearance and fragrance of the food; blending flavors, aromas and colours will create interesting antipasto plates.

We’d all love to do a Delia when it comes to entertaining but let’s face it – we don’t all have time to stuff quail eggs or make pastry from scratch. Neither do we have the patience or finances to track down obscure, expensive  ingredients which can probably only be ordered online. So if you’re pushed for time – or money – cheat! Make the most of your local, supermarket, grocer or deli. And if you’re fortunate enough to live near a farmer’s market, so much the better!

Here’s a list of simple nibbles you could include as part of your canapés:

  • Jarred marinated artichoke hearts
  • Water crackers
  • Various types of cheese
  • Sliced or cherry tomatoes marinated in dressing
  • Olives
  • Cold meat slices
  • Different types of bread
  • Slices or chunks of fresh fruit
  • Jarred roasted peppers
  • Garlic hummus and pita bread
  • Sardines and sweet onions
  • Capers
  • Sweet pickles, chutneys and relishes
  • Cold shrimp
  • Roasted nuts
  • Homemade garlic bread
  • Grilled deli vegetables
  • Marinated fresh mozzarella
  • Anchovies

You could also decide what you’d like to be the key component in your antipasti platter ie. – meat, vegetables, fish etc. and then base other nibbles around them:

Meat:  a selection of natural deli meats – pepperoni, salami and prosciutto etc. — then add mixed olives, brie, deviled eggs, roasted vegetables and crackers.

Vegan: vegetable crudités, marinated olives or olive tapenade, pitta bread, roasted peppers, vegetarian stuffed dolmas and roasted garlic hummus.

 

Seafood:  fish roe, sardines, anchovies, seared fresh tuna and smoked salmon, crackers served with cream cheese, sliced marinated onions and capers.

Fresh Fruit and Nuts: Serve chunks of melon, figs and pomegranate alongside  deli meats, and then add toasted walnuts and roasted, salted pistachios.

Roasted Vegetables with Cheese: roasted veggies e.g. – baby aubergines, beets, bell peppers,courgettes, carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, onions and garlic. (Look for roasted vegetables in the prepared foods section of the store, or simply toss raw veggies with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a 450°F oven until tender.) Served with tangy cheeses like feta, Gruyère or aged Manchego.

Cheese and More Cheese: Look for out-of-the-ordinary cheeses like Rustica cheese with red peppers or black peppercorns, rosemary coated Manchego, Caciotta cheese with green olives, Gouda with mustard seeds or cumin, drunken goat cheese made with red wine and Sotocenere cheese with truffles and a hint of cinnamon. Then combine them with a few traditional ones like provolone or fresh mozzarella. Serve with crusty bread, olives, deli meats, fruit, crackers, pickles and chutneys.

 

I’ve included an example of a super simple antipasti platter and a quick and easy cocktail. Hardly any fuss at all with easily found ingredients.

ANTIPASTI PLATTER

 

INGREDIENTS:

125g grissini

240g sunblush tomatoes

225g queen green olives

70g Napoli salami

70g Milano salami

70g sliced chorizo

80g Parma ham

METHOD:

Arrange the selection of canapés on a breadboard or platter.

APPLE AND CINNAMON SPARKLE

 

INGREDIENTS:

200ml vodka

300ml sparkling apple drink

1 green apple, sliced

6 cinnamon sticks

METHOD:

  1. Mix vodka and sparkling apple drink.
  2. Pour into martini glasses.
  3. Garnish with a slice of apple and a cinnamon stick.

What could be simpler! Enjoy!

 

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Where did Christmas go? One minute I was shopping like there was no tomorrow in anticipation for the big day and now it’s NYE! Mr. D and I have had an awesome Christmas break. We’ve just been chilling, eating, drinking (perhaps a bit too much!) watching movies, snuggling, sleeping til whenever we want, waking up whenever we want and generally hiding away from the rest of the world – and we’ve loved it! And yes, I have written a few blog posts in that time. I’m thrilled that I took the initiative to book a few extra days off work so I don’t have to return straight after New Year’s Day. Yay me! Although talking of work, I don’t mind having to return and catch up with my colleagues and students again.  I wonder what awaits us this term…

I’m getting a little emotional realising that this is going to be my last blog post of 2013. I started this blog six months ago and I have had an absolute blast. I promised that Mrs. D’s house would be full of fun – and I think I might have been right!

It took several attempts to get Chez Mrs. D just right. I realised that the blog host was not right for me and I tried about a million times to get the style and design right. Once I’d done that I just had to wait for inspiration for writing my blog posts. Well I didn’t have to wait for very long because there was inspiration EVERYWHERE! If I’d managed to write all the posts I’d wanted to this year, I’d have had to give up my job!

I really enjoy writing for Chez Mrs. D. because it’s such a versatile blog and I can write about absolutely anything. What’s awesome is that there are many of you out there who seem to like Chez Mrs. D and appreciate the effort I put into each blog post. So a big thank you to everyone who has followed, liked or commented on this blog. It’s you guys who make it worthwhile.

Happy new year everyone. See you in 2014! xx

 

 

 

How Cool Is That! Make Your Own Ice Ice-Bucket!

 

It’s Christmas; time for eating drinking and being very, very merry! Socialising is one of the best things about the festive season, and I love having a full house.

Of course, along with drinks comes the need to keep them cool. I found this method for making a beautiful ice- bucket using a plastic bottle and water! You can decorate it however you like using a range of materials. The end result is stunning – and costs virtually tuppence!

 

You Will Need:

Empty 2ltr plastic bottle

Empty 1ltr glass bottle

Water

Decorative materials for ice-bucket e.g:

flowers

leaves

fruit slices

petals

sprigs of herbs

berries

food colouring etc.

METHOD:

  1. Cut the top off empty plastic bottle.
  2. Place glass bottle inside.
  3. Fill two-thirds of bottle with water.
  4. Push decorative materials around the sides (or add food colouring. Do not stir if you want a marbled effect.)
  5. Stand the bottle in the freezer for 4-5 hours until frozen.
  6. When ready to use, run glass bottle quickly under a hot tap so that it slides off.
  7. Place hand-crafted, highly original ice-bucket on the table along with drinks and mixers.
  8. Wait for admiring comments!

TOP TIPS:

  • Use boiled, slightly cooled water for a crystal clear finish.

 

  • You can also apply the method to making ice-bowls to serve ice-cream (place a smaller bowl inside a large one) or make shot glasses.

 

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