Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 comes to a close

(c) Jack Caffrey

& what a year it has been. You may have seen this post way back at the start and now that the year is coming to an end it's amazing to look back and see how things have actually turned out.

The anticipation at the beginning of the year...the not knowing what to expect work wise or whether to even expect anything at all! I guess that's what I love and hate most about being self-employed....and of course the strength of the self employed is as always to stay focused, positive and to just trust all will be ok....and the biggest challenge of all is to just enjoy those work free days!

I'm very thankful for the exciting opportunities I've had this year...and am looking forward to ticking along nicely in 2010 now also....with a few new dreams come true thrown in please fairy godmother!

Wishing all you fellow self-employeds an abundant, bountiful, positive and of course, fun year ahead in 2010! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hanging up my tools for Christmas

(c) Jack Caffrey

Have a fabulous break over the festive season!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Festive Blueberry Pies

We are coming over all Christmassy at Blueberry Pie....Here's a recipe for my signature Blueberry Pies with a festive twist...

Makes 24

225g plain flour
150g cold unsalted butter
75g icing sugar
1 egg
150g blueberries
25g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cornflour
1 egg, beaten
icing sugar for dusting
2 x 12 hole mini muffin tins, lightly greased

To make the pastry, blitz the flour and butter in a processor to fine crumbs. Whiz in the icing sugar for a second and then add the egg in. The mixture will come together into a dough ball within a few seconds. Shape it into a smooth, flat disc. Cover & refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Tip the blueberries into a pan with the sugar and cinnamon and allow to cook gently for 6-8 minutes until they begin to pop. Blend the cornflour to a smooth paste with a tablespoon or two of water and stir through. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until jammy and then remove and leave to cool and thicken.

Back to the pastry, I usually divide the dough in half (one for each tray) to make it easier to manage and roll. Then from each piece cut out 12 discs with a 6.5cm straight sided cutter and 12 stars with a cutter measuring 4.5cm from point to point. Refrigerate the pastry pieces for about 10 minutes until they firm up a little.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Use the pastry discs to line the muffin tins, fill each one with a teaspoonful of the blueberry filling and then top with a star to decorate. Brush the tops with the beaten egg to glaze and bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool a little in the tin before easing out gently and leaving to cool completely (or not, if you can't wait!) on a wire rack. Dust with plenty of snowy icing sugar before serving.

Obviously, you can make the full recipe and then refrigerate or freeze half of it to make some fresh pies another time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

safe food turkey

Well, it's that turkey time of year again and where better to turn to for advice on preventing killing off a family member with some dodgy cooking than safe food. Once again, chef Neven Maguire gives top advice on all things turkey. Here are some snaps taken while filming some commercials for the safe food website a while back (of which I can't now seem to find, so perhaps they ended up on the cutting room floor?).

Neven's kitchen being transformed into a winter wonderland in warm weather

Neven learning his lines. Is that Dustin the turkey watching on from the roasting tin?!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kirstie's Homemade Christmas series

Ok, ok, just one more post....Hope you liked the series and feel all christmassy now and fully inspired to get creative! Fear not, Kirstie will be back with a fab new 'homemade home' series next year where she will visit people's homes this time, as well as lots more craftiness. You can keep up to date, make suggestions of crafts you'd like to see and even apply to be on the programme on the show's facebook. Finally, here are a few final pics from behind the scenes of the christmas special...

Presenter Amy has her make-up retouched while being watched on by the biggest turkey in the world, lol!

You thought you only saw one turkey on the programme but that was actually three! it's a long story in the world of TV...this is where the story began...Amy & I glamourously shoving our arms under turkey skin (in our homemade home...'the van')!

Karen & I ditching the 'hero' turkey at the end of filming...unfortunately it couldn't have been eaten as it was sat around & in and out of ovens for hours on end!

Don't worry, not all the food went to waste....crew to the rescue!

Monday, December 7, 2009

kirstie's homemade christmas crafts

All set for tomorrow night? Here's some of what to expect on the creative front...

gold gilded pears & handcrafted place names

baked christmas decoration letters

beautiful garlands & twinkly fairy lights

handmade wreaths

homemade infused oils

frosted fruits

mosaic turkey

homemade crackers & hand embroidered napkins

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TV Christmas Specials

I was just watching Gordon Ramsay's F-word when I spotted the trailer for 'Kirstie's Homemade Christmas' in the ad break. So book your seat on the sofa for three indulgent evenings in a row next week...tuesday 8th - thursday 10th on Channel 4 at 8pm. I'm guessing the food sections I worked on (as per this post) will be in the final episode (more about that later).

Speaking of Gordie, I have insider info from my friend Lisa that she is off to LA with him to film a Cook Along Live Christmas Special in a couple of weeks time. I'm guessing it will be aired on our screens at some point though. I wonder will his LA pal Vicky Beckham make an appearance?!