Sunday, 12 May 2013

Brunch & Co Event #18 - British Domestic Goddess Brunch!

With a special international guest flying in for this brunch event (my old University buddy, Jen, who now lives in Toronto) we had to pulled out all the stops to impress!  Luckily, Nigella Lawson, whom this brunch is centered on, is the Queen of decadence & cooking with passion & heart - so together with great ingredients we were sure to come up with a brunch that would make Nigella herself proud.  We also timed this brunch to coincide with our return from a trip to the UK so we were able to stock up on lots of yummy British goodies to share with our guests today!  (We were back in the UK to celebrate Mark's Dad's 70th birthday - Happy Birthday Bryn!!)

To welcome our guests, we served a very traditional British summer time drink, Pimms & Lemonade as well as a Fizzy Elderflower Lemonade - both able to quench the strongest thirst.

To enable each of our guests to channel their own inner domestic goddess, we decorated each place setting with take home parcels of Snickerdoodle cookie mix along with their own spatula & recipe.  There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked (anything) cookies and these, packed with cinnamon, are totally delicious and very moreish!!

Here's the full recipe for those of you that would like to be domestic gods/goddesses as well!

Snickerdoodles (adapted from Betty Crocker's epitomizing recipe)

Makes approximately 10-12 medium sized cookies

Cookie ingredients:
115g softened unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
1 egg
176g plain flour
1 teaspoon cream tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb soda)
1/8 teaspoon salt (pinch)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping ingredients:
2 Tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Mix together softened butter (leave out of fridge for 1 hour or zap in microwave for 5 seconds at a time until soft, but not melted), sugar & egg.  In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients together then add to the butter mixture and blend together until fully incorporated (no butter streaks visible).

Shape the dough into walnut sized balls and roll in a mixture of 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to cover (this step can be omitted at a push).  Place the balls on a tray lined with non stick baking paper about 4cm apart (you may need to do them in batches if your tray & oven are not big enough).  Place the tray in the freezer/fridge for 10 minutes to firm up the butter again so the cookies don't spread out too much in the oven.

Bake in preheated oven on a middle shelf for 8-10 minutes or until risen and golden brown.  Remove from tray onto cooling rack.  While still warm, gobble up with a glass of cold milk and/or share leftovers with loved ones.

For starters, we served up Nigella's "Sunshine Soup" from her cookbook entitled "Kitchen".  A delicious & health soup destined to put a smile on anyones face due to the bright happy colour.  We served this soup with homemade Irish soda bread rolls piping hot from the oven along with lashings of butter.

For the main course today, we decided to serve up our take on the great "Full English/Welsh/Scottish/etc Breakfast".  Consisting of our version of "bubble & squeak" (potato & cabbage) - with the "squeak" replaced with nuggets of Welsh black pudding (sourced from a fantastic farm shop located just down the road from where Mark & I were married), topped with grilled rashers of proper Welsh bacon bought from Mark's parent's local award winning butchers (located in a tiny village called "Penyffordd" - yes, you are in Wales when you are no longer able to pronounce the street signs!), fried duck egg (deliciously rich & creamy - bought from a farm shop in the Lake District on our way back from Northumberland), homemade spicy baked beans ("It's NOT a proper full British breakfast without baked beans!!!" exclaimed an expert on the subject when I announced the original menu sans beans), asparagus & homemade tomato chutney.

My heart fills with joy when I see happy brunchers tucking into a freshly cooked talking for a few moments, just intense concentration, appreciation & enjoyment.  Happy days!

After a short break where I managed to get a few barista practices in with a couple of cappuccino orders, we served up a Lychee & Coconut sorbet - our guests really liked these!

The pièce de résistance of the menu today was the dessert consisting of a homemade "Very Boozy Sherry Trifle" adapted from a recipe taken from a lovely cookbook called "Sweet Tooth" by Lily Jones (aka Lily Vanilli) who has a bakery in East London (which I am yet to visit!).

Photo by Jennifer Futol
A gorgeous dense sponge that maintains it's cake texture without becoming a gluggy, soggy mess, topped with berries, homemade vanilla custard & whipped cream.  It was supposed to also be topped with some homemade almond flake crumble but I forgot to add it at the last minute - whoops!

Thanks again to all our lovely guests today - both international and local!! :-)

We hope you all enjoyed each other's company as well as the food.

Until next time, happy brunching!

Louise & Mark xxx

PS. Here are a couple of photos from our blissful trip to the UK - we had "A"mazing weather, especially our 5 day trip to the Northumberland coast just south of Scotland.

Holy Island Lindisfarne Castle
Stunning view of the North Sea from Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland 
View of the windswept Northumberland coastline and impressive fortress of Bamburgh Castle in the distance.
And finally, no trip back to the UK is complete without a meal of Fish & Chips - this HUGE portion was demolished in a little pub in Bamburgh village.

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