Yesterday was one of those days that I will remember and look back on with truly good memories. Spending a day with fellow food bloggers, chatting and looking at what everyone had brought for the gift swap was such a pleasure.
The “Let’s Make Christmas” gift swap held by Vanessa Kimbell at Fortnum & Mason was attended by 50 food bloggers.The idea being that each person could submit up to 3 gifts within the categories of “Sweets, Alcohols/Drinks, Cakes, Biscuits and Baked goods, Pickles and Preserves”. At the end of the event, everyone would take home gifts made by someone else and blog about them.
The gifts were being judged by someone I greatly admire, Dan Lepard. Master baker, food writer at The Guardian and author of “Short & Sweet”, probably one of THE best baking bible’s ever written.
Vanessa Kimbell organized this wonderful gathering of like minded food mad bloggers. Having not met her before, I have to say she was utterly charming and someone I would love to get to know more!
Winner’s in each category were as follows…
Drinks/Alcohols – Damson Schnapps made by Jaynerly
Baked goods – Amaretti biscuits made by Claire’s Handmade Cakes
Sweets – Cranberry & Port Mincemeat Pops made by Orange Thyme blog
Preserves & Pickles - Blackberry curd made by The Botanical Baker
What I really enjoyed was being able to put faces to names of some of the blogs that I love to read and follow. It was a day of discovery and of a shared love of food and cooking. No better way to spend a Friday afternoon!
I came away with some fantastic gifts too. As I had submitted three gifts myself, I came away with three gift swap items.
Gingerbread cookies made by Claire’sHandMade Cakes.
Blackberry Curd made by The Botanical Baker.
Crunchy Topped Mini Christmas Cake made by What Kate Baked.
I will give these recipes a try over the coming weeks. They were each so delicious that I will be making them as gifts myself for friends and family as long as I can resist them!
In the meantime, I will share with you the gifts that I took along……
Ginger Cordial ( recipe here )
Fruit and Nut Bars ( recipe here )
My final entry, which I had high hopes for, I shall write in full because I looked at the photos and thought they were worthy of posting. I hope you like them too!Using freshly ground cardamom seeds gives the Turkish Delight the most wonderful headily perfumed scent not for the fainthearted…….
Fry’s Turkish Delight – A version of a 70s favourite of mine
Ingredients:- Makes 36 sweets
25g powdered gelatine
2 or 3 tsp rose water
450g caster sugar
3 cardamom pods opened and the seeds crushed in a pestle & mortar
Red food colouring
100g of 85% dark chocolate
100g salted pistachio nuts finely chopped
Line a brownie tin with baking parchment.
Mix the gelatine, water and rose water in a heavy based saucepan and add the sugar.
Heat gently until the gelatine and sugar have dissolved and stir continuously (I used a mini whisk).
Then bring to the boil without stirring over a medium heat.
Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. I gave it a few stirs once it was simmering nicely.
Remove from the heat and add the red food colouring to achieve the desired colour- this depends on the quality of your food colouring so start off slowly and build up the colour drop by drop.
Add the crushed cardamom seeds and stir in well.
Pour the mixture into the tin and leave to set for 24 hours.
Cut into squares by using a very sharp knife that has been run under hot water.
Dip half your batch (18) in the chocolate and then let them cool on a tray lined with baking parchment.
While the chocolate Is setting, sprinkle a topping of the finely chopped pistachio nuts to garnish.
Recipe adapted from www.uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/573989 by Merrilees Parker.