Friday, February 24, 2012

So it the marathon training?

I'm fed up of me moaning that I'm tired, so hell knows how fed up those around me must be with it... Coincidentally, the marathon training has reached a plateau, which means I sailed (well, not quite) through fifteen miles last weekend, or rather wasn't in knee-cruching agony and simultaneous exhaustion as I had been a couple of weeks ago when running only twelve miles.  Today was a fast session, one mile warm up, four miles fast, and one mile cool down. All in fifty five minutes. Excellent!

Now I'm tired. When I got back from the run it was 3.20pm so I just had time to change my clothes and jump in the car to collect little CC and her friend from the netball tournament. Friend dropped home, CC and I went and bought a dog lead and toy for the dog that we may be getting. It's a lakeland terrier, male (neutered), 18 months old. Cute as a button. But, am I bighting off more than I can chew ? Already feeling stretched to my limit, will this be a burden. This little terrier is a fantastic runner and I can see me and him having some fantastic times together. Of course CC has wanted a dog for about five years. So, one thing is for sure, is that he will be loved to bits...

Tonight I'm off to the cinema to see the new 'Marigold hotel' film thingy... starring Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel amongst others. I'm looking forward to it, if I can keep my eyes open...

The good news is that I have kept tomorrow free. CC and I are taking BB to see the DD, as he hasn't met him yet. How exciting! Other than that I plan to conserve energy for my run on Sunday.

What are your remedies when you're feeling really tired ? And don't be all clever and say sleep, because really that's not going to help. Who has time for that??

Monday, February 13, 2012

Maple Syrup and Pecan Tart

I've been wanting to make a pecan pie for some time now, but I haven't had a great deal of spare time lately. Also, I am trying to watch my weight and pecan pie is not exactly a diet-friendly dessert. The fact that BB and CC don't like it that much also meant that basically I was going to be making a pecan pie - for me. Oh, the greed.

I finally got the maple syrup and was lazy and bought a ready-made all-butter pie crust from the supermarket.  I had a copy of Jamie's Dinners to hand and was looking through it and came across this wonderful recipe for Maple Syrup and Pecan tart. I have traditionally made pecan pie by whisking eggs, maple syrup and pecan nuts together and then baking it in a pastry crust. But you will see, dear reader, that Jamie's recipe contains no eggs, but even better than that this is a lovely pie made lighter than the usual pecan pie with the addition of apple, orange rind, breadcrumbs and wait for it, ginger ! It certainly makes for a rather different pecan pie, but you know what - it made a nice, welcoming change.

Here's a picture of the dry ingredients before being added to the syrup and butter. You can see the breadcrumbs, pecan nuts, grated apple and orange zest. Yum!

I have been eating it all weekend, so tomorrow the rest of it will be taken to work to be shared amongst the boys. If you fancy a change from the heavier, traditional pecan pie I would definitely recommend this.

Maple syrup and pecan tart
This is Jamie's picture not mine - mine is at the end and is definitely not as good as this one - Dammit!

Serves 6-8 (or one in my case - Ha!)
Shortcrust pastry 55g/2oz butter
340g/12oz maple syrup
3 tablespoons golden syrup
170g/6oz breadcrumbs, half fine, half coarse
zest of 2 oranges
2 Cox's apples, grated
a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 handfuls of shelled pecan nuts
optional: crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream
optional: a handful of thyme flowers

First of all, make your pastry, then line a 28cm/11in loose-bottomed tart tin with it and place in the freezer for an hour. Preheat the over to 180C/350F/gas 4. Take the pastry case out of the freezer and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Heat the butter, maple syrup and golden syrup together in a pan, then mix in the breadcrumbs, orange zest, apples, ginger and half the pecan nuts. Spoon into the pastry case and sprinkle over the remaining pecans. Put back in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes. Lovely served with some crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with thyme flowers.

NOTE: My pre-made, shop-bought pastry crust was quite small and I could tell by looking at it that I would not use all of the filling stated above, so I did actually use half the ingredients indicated above, so one apple, one orange, a small amount of ginger, half the breadcrumbs and syrup(s) and it completely filled the pastry case. So, if you get a shop-bought one you may need to do the same....

My picture - not as good as Jamie's is it ??

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ultimate Fudge

Cupcake has been asking for ages and ages to make fudge, another one of the recipes from her book that she is working her way through. First, she measured out the ingredients, and we realised we had no sugar, then when we finally got the sugar, we had no time...

So, finally today we found the time. I had thought it would turn out like the fudge I had made in my youth. I was wrong. It is the scrummiest, buttery'est' (is that a word?), yummiest thing I have eaten in a while. Considering I just made a pecan pie the other day, that is saying something..

Here's the recipe..

450gr caster sugar
50gr unsalted butter
150ml milk
170g (6fl oz) can evaporated milk
2.5 ml (half a teaspoon) of vanilla extract

1.Grease your tin.
2.Heat the sugar, butter, milk in a saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon, until the sugar dissolves.
3.Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 - 25 mins. CC did the first fifteen, and me the remaining ten.. she was getting bored...
4.Eventually the mixture should reach 116deg c. or 240deg f. on a sugar thermometer. At this point, I too was getting bored and whacked the heat up to try and reach the elusive 240 on the thermometer, I was at 220. Oops! then, suddently brown bits started to appear in the mix. It would seem I was heating it too quickly, so don't do that. I never did see 240 on the thermometer, but those brown bits did seem to disappear. I digress...
5.Take it off the heat and add the vanilla extract. Beat until the mixture is thick and pale in colour. Basically, you will know when it is ready as the mix really thickens and at this point it will be like liquid fudge.
6. Pour into the tin and leave to cool. It should look like this.

7. Once it is cool, cut into squares and y voila - Fudge! Perfect for a little gift, or if you've been for a nice long run today, settle down with a movie and scoff a load y'self!