Wednesday, 24 November 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Moomin Kitchenware

I love the Moomins. I love them, but am also a little afraid of them. The stories are a bit spooky, perhaps because they are set in cold Nordic lands, and often quite philosophical with the Moomin family pondering over life and it's wonders.

Various Tea Towels - £6.80 each

I first became aware of the Moomins from the felt animations - click here for a particularly creepy episode called The Lady Of The Cold. After that there were the animated cartoons of the 80's which were a lot less unnerving, but still quite odd. It is the original comics and story books that I love the most though - I think the term hauntingly beautiful best sums them up.

Moomin Adventure Pitcher Jug - £31.00

The first story book I read was called 'Moominland in Midwinter'. In it the main character Moomintroll, wakes from hibernation, can't get back to sleep and becomes the first Moomin to see Winter. He can't wake the rest of his family and so goes off into Moominvalley alone, along his way learning the secrets of Winter and the other creatures that inhabit the island and his home Moominhouse.

I think the scariest character to me would be the Groke. She is a dark, mound shaped creature with glowing eyes, and everything she touches freezes and dies - the novelist Alison Laurie described the Groke as being a walking manifestation of Nordic gloominess. Perfect kids reading huh?

65th Anniversary 'Night Sailing' Mug - £29.95

A close second though are the Hattifatteners - tall, thin, silent little beasties with waving 'fingers' on their sides. They grow from seeds and when there is a lightning storm glow and could electricute you! Here is a little exert from Wikipedia explaining them a little more -

"In the story The Secret of the Hattifatteners that appears in Tales from Moominvalley Moominpappa tries to understand the mysterious Hattifatteners. Unusually for what is ostensibly a children's book the story deals with what appears to be Moominpappa's mid-life crisis. His quest to seek out and understand the mysterious Hattifatteners is his search for a deeper meaning in life. Moominpappa follows three Hattifatteners to their desolate island and during this trip he slowly comes to resemble them in spirit. Arriving on the island he is eventually saluted by all of them as they bow before him, and he bows back. Witnessing their obsession with the lightning storms he concludes that their secret is that they cannot experience emotions unless confronted by lightning, which is why they desire it so much. Further, he speculates that by gathering together, they can attract lightning.

The Hattifatteners Mug - £16.95

My lovely best friend went to the Moomin Land park in Finland a few years ago and brought me back some cookie cutters of Moomintroll and Little My - I have recently seen a gingerbread house kit for the Moominhouse but cannot seem to locate one to buy - if anyone can find it please let me know where!

Moomins Cook Book - £7.79

The cook book above is lovely too, with lots of traditional Finnish dishes and pretty illustrations. Beware though, the recipes contain lots of cream and cheese and breadcrumbs, nearly as much in a book by the Barefoot Contessa! Yowza!

Would anyone like to join me for a Moomin party?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Aprons by Boojiboo

Gorgeous aprons in every pattern imaginable by Boojiboo! This lovely little Etsy shop has been one of my favourites for a good while now and I have bought a few of their items, my favourite being a vintage monster movie 'Bella' style apron - unfortunately no longer available.

There are four styles of full apron - Bella, Maggie, Chloe and Classic as well as three styles of half apron - Sophia, Madison and Classic, along with the 'Betty' plus size and a range for in kids' sizes.

Pricing ranges from $16.75 (£10.83) for kids' sizes, $23.75-$28.75 (£15.36-£18.59) for full aprons, $18.75-$21.75 (£12.13-£14.07) for half aprons and $38.75 (£25.06) for plus size.

Shipping to the UK is only $7.00 (£4.53) and within the US only $3.00 - they also offer postage discounts for multiple purchases.

So get yourself online and grab some fabulous kitchen couture from Boojiboo - at those prices, why not buy 2? And maybe another one for me? Well it is Christmas... ;)

All images shown are from the Boojiboo store -

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Chestnut Mushroom and Goats Cheese Quiche with a Cashew Nut Crust

It came as a bit of a shock the other day when I realised how little time we have left before Christmas. I've organised my work Christmas party, I have ordered several new outfit options for said party (one made me look like a shiney bat, that went straight back... ), I even started buying presents in October, but I am still at a loss thinking that there are now only 41 days left.

Being in my early twenties and without any kids I still spend my Christmas Day and Boxing Day with Pete's parents and my parents respectively so I don't tend to do much entertaining at home, but for some reason I still feel the need to fill the flat with company ready foods that I can grab at a moments notice, although it tends to be myself grabbing for a quick snack between baking rather than because we have guests over. Either way, Christmas is definitely a party season and although buying nibbles from the supermarket is far easier, I think you should always serve something homemade to make it extra special - and to gain a few Brownie points with the inlaws and other people you wish to impress!

One staple of the British buffet is a quiche, which can just be put on a plate and cut into wedges and is always a good option for vegetarian guests. I am however quite snobby about quiche, as bought ones tend to have cardboard like pastry and taste like the foil tin in which they arrived. I have made my own pastry for this which does lengthen the cooking time, but if you would prefer you can use some pre-made pastry to speed it up a bit. The filling though requires nothing more than a short bit of veggie frying, a little whisking and then some pouring so will set you back no more than 15 minutes before putting into the oven to bake while you potter off to do something festive.

Chestnut Mushroom and Goats Cheese Quiche with a Cashew Nut Crust

Serves 6-8-10 depending on generosity

Pastry Ingredients
200g plain flour
100g cashew nuts, finely chopped
140g cold butter, in small chunks
40g cold vegetable shortening (or lard if serving to carnivores), in small chunks
a little ice cold water

25cm tart tin - preferable loose bottomed
dried beans / ceramic baking beads
baking parchment

Filling Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, crushed
300g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
125g goats cheese, mashed with a fork
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
250ml double cream
3-4 tbsp grated parmesan
50g cashew nuts, finely chopped

Pastry Method
Preheat the oven to 180C / 360 F.

Place the flour, cashew nuts, butter and shortening/lard into a bowl and rub together with your fingers until it reaches a sand-like consistency. Now add the cold water a tablespoon at a time and then kneading a little until the pastry comes together. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is about 30cm in diameter, lift it up using the rolling pin and drape lcarefully over the tart tin. Gently push the pastry down into the edges of the tin, trying not to make any holes - if you do, patch it up with a little of the pastry overhang from the edges. Run your rolling pin over the top of the tin - this should cut off the excess leaving a neat, smooth edged crust. Lightly prick the pastry using a fork and chill for a further 20 minutes.

Cut a large circle from baking parchment and place it over the pastry in your tart tin, then fill with dried beans / baking beads. Blind bake like this for 20 minutes, then take out the beans and parchment and bake for a further 10 minutes.

While your pastry case is cooking, prepare the filling.

Filling Method
Fry the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat until softened, then add the garlic, mushrooms and sage. Season to taste. Fry for a further 5 or so minutes and then add the balsamic vinegar. Stir and fry for another 2-3 minutes then remove from the heat and set aside.

Mix the goats cheese, eggs and double cream, then add the fried mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Pour into your pre-baked pasty case and sprinkle over the parmesan and finely chopped cashew nuts.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until set. The filling may rise while baking but will sink back down when you remove it from the oven.

I think this quiche's flavour improves if left overnight in the fridge and then either reheated or served at room temperature. We ate this as dinner along with some roasted carrots and parsnips and a little vinegar dressed salad.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Baking Goodies from Fred & Friends

To be honest, I do already own a few of the following items, but how could I not? The wonderfully creative minds at Fred & Friends just keep coming up with the most pretty and unusual kitchen gadgets that I just can't seem to resist! Already in my posession are the gorgeous "Teacupcakes" and "M-Cups" and if I have my way I shall own all of the below by the end of the year!

I ordered my Fred items from, but when I Googled I found several UK sites which they can be purchased from including , & US readers can find them at , & among others.

TEACUPCAKES - Gorgeous silicone teacups and saucers that you bake your cupcakes right into - the perfect tea party flourish!

NOMSKULLS - Wonderful Halloween fun! Silicon skulls that you bake your cupcakes into and decorated with a frosting brain! A few drips of red jam wouldn't go amiss either!

YUMBOTS - Silicone robots in a range of colours - bake your cupcakes right into them and give them a bright coloured frosting hair do!
M-CUPS - Beautiful white plastic measuring cups that look like Russian stacking dolls od matryoshkas. They give the following measurements 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup & 1 cup - perfect for cooking from American recipes!

M-SPOONS - Lovely matryoshka measuring spoons! These gorgeous spoons accurately measure 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1 tsp, 1/2 tbsp & 1 tbsp.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Hummingbird Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Hummingbird Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting - The Inky Kitchen

Firstly, I'm really sorry about the bad quality photos on this post. This weekend was very hectic and I just didn't find time to photograph this cake in natural daylight and as it was quickly shot on my phone camera they really don't look that great.

But apologies out of the way, because this cake is absolutely delicious and super easy to make, as is the frosting. Really, you just dump everything in a bowl, mix it together and then bake. There's no butter in the batter which did worry me at first, however after tasting you really cannot tell - the banana keeps it so moist and the 4 eggs seem to make up for the lack of any other dairy. As Julie Powell once said "Think it over, any time you taste something that's delicious beyond imagining and you say 'what's in this?' the answer is always going to be butter
" - but not this time Julie!

A hummingbird cake isn't usually frosted with chocolate, but as I have started a diet today I wanted to pack in as many possible calories yesteday and went all out, and I think it worked wonderfully. Adding a spoon of chocolate spread is an easy cheat to get a rich chocolatey frosting when you have forgotten to buy some chocolate to melt in... oops. If you would prefer, just omit the cocoa and chocolate spread so you have a vanilla frosting instead.

Hummingbird Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting - The Inky Kitchen

Hummingbird Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from a recipe by Paula Deen
Serves 12-16 people

Hummingbird Cake Ingredients
375g self-raising flour
200g light muscovado sugar
200g caster sugar
170ml vegetable oil
50g pecan nuts, finely chopped
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
200g crushed pineapple and it's juice (from a tin)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 eggs

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
500g icing sugar, sifted
3 tbsp cocoa powder
200g full fat cream cheese
, at room temperature
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
1 heaped tbsp chocolate spread

Hummingbird Cake Method
Preheat oven to 170 C / 325 F, then grease and line three 8" baking tins and set aside.

Place all the cake ingredients into a large bowl and mix until well combined.

Divide between the three tins and bake, rotating the tins after 15 minutes,
for 25-30 minutes until the tops spring back when you gently pressed with your fingertip.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from their tins and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Method
Make sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature or you will have lumpy frosting!

Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mix until smooth and creamy and of a good spreadable consistency.

Cake Construction
Using a serrated knife trim the tops of the cakes so they are all flat.

Place the first layer onto your cake plate and spread on 1/4 of the frosting. Place on the second layer bottom side up and spread with another 1/4. Place the last layer on top, bottom side up again, and use the remaining frosting to cover the cake.

Hummingbird Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting - The Inky Kitchen

I reserved some of the frosting for piping on decoration and added a homemade florentine cookie as I had some left from earlier, but the cake looks just as lovely smoothed over and sprinkled with some more chopped pecans.

This cake is best kept refrigerated because of the cream cheese in the frosting - just remove it from the fridge 10-15 minutes before serving to take off a little of the chill.

I used this recipe from Delia for the florentine cookies, which were a present for Pete's Grandad on his birthday, but I added a little chopped stem ginger to them too!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Naughty Crockery by Trixie Delicious

This is a new little feature I'm starting on the blog where every Wednesday I will publish a post showing some sort of kitchen related item that I have been lusting after this week.

To kick off I will be showing you the work of Trixie Delicious, a New Zealand based company providing the world with some delightfully naughty (and occasionally offensive) crockery!

Below is a lovely little selection of her goodies, I first found her on her Etsy page but you can also purchase through BigCartel or her Felt pages.

Although she is based in New Zealand she does ship internationally, and to the UK it is a very reasonable $10.00 (around £6.25) postage.