Monday, 21 April 2014

Inspirational weekend in Shaftesbury, Dorset

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury is a small idyllic town in Dorset, United Kingdon. It's  just  under two hours away by train from London Waterloo to the nearest town of Gillingham, you then take a bus or a cab to Shaftesbury which is about 10 minutes away.  Actually, this adventure started back last August when Jeanne, aka @Cooksisterblog help me to buy a proper slr camera. I can't thank her enough for all the guidance. I was  busy experimenting with my new toy, when in November last year, I saw on Instagram the picture of Gold Hill, above. It took my breath away... I had to go there to see it for myself. 
 Another month passed by and I saw, again on Instagram, that Marte Marie Forsberg, a professional photographer from Norway, who I met last Summer in London, was hosting a one day food and lifestyle photography workshop for beginners in Shaftesbury!! I emailed her straight away and signed up for the workshop which was taking place two months later in her cosy cottage in Shaftesbury. That was my Christmas present to myself. I bought the train ticket two months in advance, that was  £22/ return, If you leave to buy near the time of your travel it will be three time more expensive. 
Hurray! I was finally going to Shaftesbury!  

Picturesque Shaftesbury 

view of the Old Chapel  from Castle Hill

the view from Abbey Walk
The town is small making it easy to walk everywhere. I feel in love with this place and the people. 

The photography course:
It was a good full-on Saturday of introduction to food and lifestyle photography 
and visual storytelling. Hope this workshop has help me to take better pictures and develop my photo taking from here on....

introduction at Marie's cottage over hot chocolate and fresh pastries

getting started for some action at The King Alfred cafe, a great venue with stunning lighting

    Zoe was our model for the day

the most photographed cabbage
We then moved on to The Grovesnor Arms for lunch and more photos

The pizza oven at The Grosvenor Arms

a family setting
a moody b&w setting

capturing action during service

A  pleasant Saturday learning about photography, use of natural light, composition, a little about styling, assignments and some food and drink! 

 Walking around Shaftesbury
(not included in the course, pictures taken before the course)
Bright Blossoms - gorgeous florist in Bell Street

 I found Corita Rose, a fabric, furniture  and furnishings company,  by chance, its a beautiful and colourful  studio owned by the very stylish Caroline.

Where I ate: 
Quick coffee and cake break
The Artisans Bakery,  based in a building dated 1890, bell street, quality, taste and elegance

Lunch: The Salt cellar - a lunch with a view! This eatery overlooks the Gold Hill, I had the chicken pie recommend by one of the locals.
Diner: La Fleur de Lys, an award winning and  smart place to eat in town. They also have a B&B. I apologise for the poor pictures, I only had the iphone with me and the poor lighting didn't help either.
The staff was very welcoming and friendly. The restaurant bar is a bit on the old fashioned side. Nice started courtesy of the chef and owner, David, who has been heading La Fleur de Lys for the last 23 years! Good quality and local produce made this a very enjoyable experience.

 main: the juiciest beef and potato rosti and dessert: box of dark chocolate, was decadent and delicious

A quick drink at The Grosvenor Arms, what a beautiful hotel and restaurant 

Pub time nice place for a drinks and food: Mitre

where I  stayed:  
The Old Chapel - B&B
A bit of research and found a nice and charming B&B, The Old Chapel. The owners, Sue  and Philip, are so lovely and welcoming.  The breakfast was massive and very tasty.There are only two huge and comfortable double rooms, in a converted chapel. I highly recommend this B&B.

The Old Chapel breakfast
It was a brilliant weekend and I have since gone back for more of Dorset. Everything on this trip was paid by me. All views are my own. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Quindim recipe, a Brazilian egg and coconut dessert for Easter

At the beginning of my blogging life I published a recipe for Quindim.
It's an egg, sugar and coconut mixture with added vanilla and baked in the oven. 
It can be baked in a big pie dish, small ramekins or mini pudding moulds.
They are bright yellow, have a shinny top and a very light golden bottom.  The origin is believed to come from African slaves in the 17th century Brazil, where coconut were found in large quantities and sugarcane was a important industry at the time.
Recently I found this fantastic recipe, that takes a bit of time, but it's well worth it.  Quindim is a dessert for all occasions and a crowd pleaser. Happy Easter!
Bendito Quindim 
60g of unsalted butter
500g of caster sugar
325g of fresh grated coconut *
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
18 egg yolks, sieved


1 . Mix 500g caster sugar and 325 grams of fresh grated coconut with your hands. Continue until the dough is smooth, the sugar has completely dissolved, that takes time! I do it watching TV
2. melt the 60g unsalted butter in a double boiler.
3 . Add the melted butter to the sugar and coconut mix
4 . Let the mixture sit for 12 hours in the refrigerator, covered with plastic . the cooling process will make the butter  harden again. You need to take the container out of the fridge and work it again for 5 minutes with your hands. the 18 yolks together in a  fine  sieve, perforate all of them, and let them sieve through naturally.  Don’t  touch or help it with a spoon . let them fall by themselves it will take about 2 hours. Discard the skin left in the sieve.   

6. Add the sieved 18 egg yolks to the sugar, butter and coconut mix . Mix (yes, you can now use a spoon or spatula ) to form a homogeneous mass. Add the vanilla extract.
7. Prepare the family mould or individual moulds with butter and sprinkling with sugar.
8 . Fill the moulds with batter and place all in a larger roasting pan and add water so that the sweet is baked in the oven in a 'water bath'. It takes about 40 -45 minutes at 180C fan assisted oven .
9. Unmold the quindims while warm.

Makes 50-60 small bite size quindims (molds of 4cm diameter)  or 1 big family (approx size
22cm diameter pie dish)
It keeps in the fridge for a couple of days, or you can freeze it. 
The original recipe asks for 36 egg yolks, I halved  the portions to make domestic friendly!  
Also, the bottom of the quindim should be light golden, my one (picture below) is a bit too golden, but still tasty! 

Tip: you can't find it or don't have time to grate fresh coconut, then hydrate 250g of sweetened shredded coconut, with approximately 50ml of coconut water, the coconut should feel moist and not wet. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, mix one in a while and then use in this recipe as directed. 
The ultimate question is what do I do with the egg whites? 
well, suggestions:
1) portioned, frozen and used at later date in other recipes, I tried and it worked!
2) make a giant pavlova, and/or small meringues
3) have egg white omelettes for the rest of the week!

This recipe was adapted from Cátia Farias of Bendito Quindim in Sao Paulo, Brazil

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