Monthly Archives: May 2013

Flowers for the Table

Flowers_LR-0058Placing fresh flowers on a table, already set with linens, candles, flatware and glasses, visually brings a beautiful table setting to life; creating a certain mood which complements the dining experience from beginning to end. I’m not talking about elaborate floral masterpieces (leaving those to the experts), just simple floral displays arranged with what ever available flowers or herbs you might have in the garden or buying them instead.

A flower’s appeal is in its contradictions – so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect.- Adabella Radici

Flowers_LR-0044Take for example Bougainvillea, a shrub that grows abundantly in Bahrain, I love its vibrant colorful papery flowers. Placed in small glass bottles or vases, Bougainvillea adds a wonderful splash of colour to a table setting and one that I am particularly fond of.

Adding Rosemary to a delicious Home-made Salted Caramel Focaccia is one way of enjoying this versatile culinary herb, but sometimes I use the green needle-like woody sprigs for simple floral displays, along with the perfumed frangipani and jasmine flowers. So simple, but visually very pretty. The more successful gardeners among us will have more flowers to choose from! Glass bottles or small vases with a single flower or small bouquet repeated down the center of a table can look quite stunning.

Flowers_LR-0073I am not in favour of vision blocking floral displays when seated at a table, they might look pretty impressive, but try having a conversation through one of them! Large floral displays are best suited to a buffet table setting. Here are a few other ideas for simple floral displays by a Pottery Barns floral stylist which I thought were very doable. So, whether it’s folding the napkins a certain way or placing pretty gift boxes at each place setting, whatever way you choose to set your table… don’t forget some flowers!

Sweet Sixteens

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It has been some months since I participated in a sweet blog hop and when I saw the theme “Sweets without Heat” over at Nic’s Dining with a Stud, I knew straight away which recipe to enter! The Sweet Sixteens recipe is from the calendar  “Home Cooking” that a friend and I had worked on some years ago, back then I had no clue about photography so the styling and preparation of the food for the photo shoot was left to me. The photo above has some sweet memories, apart from being deliciously sweet, this was one of my first attempts at food styling for the camera! I also remember for this particular shoot, a short break was taken and on our return… a certain male in the house had eaten most of our “hero” food. Now knowing better I often get asked, “is this food for your photography or can we eat it?”

Sweet Sixteens is an old recipe for my childhood when living in Ireland and called Fifteens, as the recipe used 15 biscuits, 15 marshmallows and 15 cherries, I have always preferred calling them Sweet Sixteens! These yummy little morsels are not as sweet as you might think, even though the recipe uses sweetened condensed milk. With no heat involved these sweet treats are quick to make, however, the mixture needs a few hours in the fridge to set before slicing. Children will love helping you with this recipe and will take great delight in squashing the bag of coconut around, turning the coconut pink!

Sweet Sixteens

Ingredients:

  • 50g/2oz desiccated coconut
  • 2 or 3 drops of red food colour (optional)
  • 16 digestive biscuits, crushed finely
  • 16 red glacé cherries, quartered
  • 16 large white marshmallows, halved
  • 200ml or ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk

How to make: Mix together in a medium bowl the biscuits, cherries, marshmallows and sweetened condensed milk. If the biscuit mixture looks a little dry add another tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk, the mixture should not be very sticky.

Lay two sheets of greaseproof paper onto a work surface. Divide the contents of the bowl into two, tip mixture onto the greaseproof paper. With hands roll and form the mixture into a log.

Divide the coconut, sprinkle over log and greaseproof paper, roll each log until coated with coconut. Roll the log up firmly in the greaseproof paper, refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight to set. Slice the logs into desired thickness. Store in an airtight container until needed. Makes 20 slices (approximately).

How to colour coconut pink: Place the coconut into a medium plastic bag, add a few drops of red food colour. Holding the bag closed, gently massage the food colour into the coconut until you have the desired pink colour.

Variations: Use green glacé cherries or a mix of both. Use a mix of pink and white marshmallows.

To see all the other delicious entires for “Sweets Without Heat” head over to the hosts blog Nic’s  Dining with a Stud, which is part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop held monthly.SABH_13-05_Raw-300

Light Lunch Menu

Having a few girls around for a light lunch needn’t be a hassle with a menu that is easy and quick to prepare, leaving you with more time catching up with your friends and spending less time in the kitchen. No slaving over a hot stove with this light and refreshing menu.

Over time and with the addition of more recipes I hope to create different menus with recipes from Food and Tools. This hopefully will make it a little easier when choosing a menu for entertaining. We all (including me) have mulled over endless recipes and thought, “what shall I make”  or found it difficult to choose, so having a few menu ideas at hand is a good place to start.

The suggested menu below and do ahead tips will leave you with plenty of time to catch up… and we girls do love to chat!

Menu

Light Lunch with the Girls 

Edamame Beans with Vanilla Saltedamame beans with vanilla salt

Vietnamese SaladVietnamese Salad

Lemon Posset with Fresh ThymeLemon Posset with Fresh Thyme

Getting Ahead

Starter: Only needs a couple of minutes in a steamer before serving.

Main Course:  Chicken can be poached the day before and refrigerated. Vegetables can be prepared a few hours before serving and kept in a salad/vegetable keeper or ziplock bags in the fridge. The cooked chicken can be shredded in advance. The herbs are best chopped before serving. Assembling the salad and mixing with lime juice is best done before serving.

Dessert: Best made the day before as it needs about 4 hours to chill and set.

BON APPÉTIT 🙂

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