Sunday 3 July 2011

July? Already?!

It's been longer than I would have liked since my last post. This is such a busy time of year...Charlie's season is in full swing (he's the renowned Coffeeman, who takes my brownies & other things with him to all the major equestrian eventing competitions on his mobile coffee trailer...) and keeping him supplied is a full time job on it's own! Plus there have been many other unexpected occasions and requests. One of these was from a neighbour & friend...she celebrates her 80th birthday this year and her husband his 90th. They decided to have a big family party last weekend and she asked whether I would cook the food for the the cake, of course! I was happy to agree, although 40 people is quite a lot from my home kitchen. I worked through the night before to get everything ready...2 whole poached Scottish salmon with lemon/dill mayonnaise...a huge bowl of Coronation Chicken...2 big Salade Nicoise'...Greek potatoes...crudite desserts which you can (sort of) see on the table above! Joan was very certain that she wanted a chocolate fountain on the dessert table - I managed to borrow one from a friend - and I must say that it did make a lovely focal point...
I also wanted something interesting for the vegetarian guests that would be easy to eat, and would appeal to the carnivores too! My mum used to make pissaladiere from an Elizabeth David recipe and I found it again. It's really just a big, rectangular South-of-France version of pizza..and absolutely delicious. I made a rosemary garlic yeasted base and topped it with caramelised red onions, red & yellow sweet peppers, courgettes, lots of herb, capers and tiny black nicoise olives...
It also traditionally has anchovies arranged in a criss-cross pattern...but as this would stop it being vegetarian, and as so many people absolutely hate these strong & salty little fish (which I adore!) I placed a bowl of them on the table for guests to add if they wished (to the Salade Nicoise too...)

Paul helped me to deliver and arrange everything and we left them all to it....but I have heard that the party and food went beautifully and - most importantly - Joan & Bill were very happy with everything and enjoyed their joint birthday party so much...I was so pleased to be a part of it!
Of course, there has still been The Coffee Tree to supply...and I had the Farmer's Market last Tuesday too (you can maybe see why posting has been difficult!) Some recent deliveries:
Banana Pecan Bread...

Summer Lemon Cake - which I made up but is a lemon sponge, drizzled with sharp lemon syrup and glazed with home made lemon curd before I went a bit mad with the decoration and ....

added lemon buttercream and edible glitter too! It's my Hollywood side...!
Lastly, my absolute bar none favourite cake.....Salted Caramel Chocolate...

even the name sets my mouth watering!
I worked all day yesterday baking lots of trays of brownies for the week today, a bit of a rest. But I am just about to bake a Rhubarb Crumble Cake for the Coffee Tree tomorrow, and a tray of caramel Popcorn Brownies for another neighbour who tried them at the Farmer's market last week and was impressed!
So I'm never far from the oven...
with love to you and wishing my American friends a wonderful July 4th celebration tomorrow (even though you're celebrating your independence from US!!) Happy day xoxo


  1. It all looks so lovely. The party food is brilliant, far removed from my rather unimaginative fare of veggie sausage rolls and cheezels! xxxxxxx

  2. My dear Rachel, what a great party!
    You made it sparkle!
    I love your summer lemon cake and your salted caramel chocolate one...
    Is there any chance that you could you post the recipes? My mouth waters just looking at the photos...

  3. hi rachel...i just saw on someone else's blog asking...anyone home ? ...she said blogland seemed quiet too.... i haven't posted in over a week.... but am so happy to come here and see all of these beautiful goodies.....

    happy july my friend...and hugs to sweet alice

    sending love,
    kary and teddy

  4. I swear I put on a stone when I visit here, just looking at all of your scrummy cakes. I would absolutely kill for a slice of your lemon cake.

    Blimey lady, you really do work hard in the kitchen, and it's been so hot and muggy lately too.


  5. Thank you for getting in touch Rachel things did seem very quiet but may have been due to security settings being a bit weird. Your salted caramel, chocolate cake looks beautiful and i can see that your blingy side is popping up too.
    Have been asked to do a cake for a two year old.. Thinking of a bucket and spade?? just have to work on the sand. Look out for more info on the blog. Take Care.xx

  6. Hello dear Rachel,

    I can see why you haven't posted in a while, you simply haven't had any time for it! I must tell you that the food you cooked for the dual birthday party sounds fabulous. Wish I could have been there to sample all that delicious food. I absolutely love that pizza you made. It sounds and looks DELICIOUS. Would love it if you could share the recipe with me. The banana pecan bread looks fantastic, as do all the other desserts. I missed your blog this week, and I'm so happy you posted today. I just loved catching up on everything. Have a good evening sweetie! xoxo

  7. I love the idea of the pissaladière, but then again I love niçoises in general. Banana pecan bread is a lovely classic. And I WANT to try this caramel and chocolate cake. Like: badly.

  8. Normally it's my version of morning when I read your blog and I am hungry. Now it's dinner time and I'm eating breakfast, a massive plate of sausages, peppers and carrot salad. So what excuse is there that as I read down, drooling over all that spectacular food all the while, and ultimately reaching the crescendo with the chocolate cake and there I was screaming "Oh God." It's summer now, Rachel, and the windows are open and the neighbors are whispering, "Oh dear isn't she well over sixty. And there she is at IT again. What a shameful libido."

    What a gorgeous party you created and I'm happy to have been invited even if just through the window pane of your camera lense. Delish in every bite!

  9. Well, I don't know what we were thinking way back when....why would we want to separate when we all love everything British!!!? We've missed you dearly but after hearing of all your busy-ness, I totally understand why!!
    The great foods you created for the birthday are extra special!! How delighted they must all have been! Everything looks wonderful! I need to do a post myself---hopefully, I will get some photos taken tomorrow for the 4th and do something for that!!!
    Joann in CO

  10. Oh my, Rachel - seriously... How amazing is all that..?? A party for 40... You're a star. Gosh, I can't wait the weekend - will we have a chance to try at least a crumb of one of you cakes? Please...?

  11. All I can say is you have some VERY LUCKY neighbors to have you cater their birthdays.Wow, the food looks spectactular in and I'm sure it was delicious. My, no wonder you were up all night.
    As always I have a bit of drool after I read your posts and always I am amazed at your creative approach to desserts. Would love to know more about Brownie's with popcorn. You are going to have to get that cookbook finished so we all can savour everything for ourselves. With much love and appreciation for all your posts.

  12. I can't even imagine cooking so much food at once! Those were some lucky party goers. I'm with Sandy on your cookbook -- can't wait! And I hope you'll be doing a book tour in America so I can have it signed.

    As for the breakup, it was rocky there for awhile, but I'm glad we've remained the best of friends :) I think most of us never really cut the ties that bind us.

  13. Rachel, fantastic food! I know what it is like to prepare dishes for large crowds. Your friend is very fortunate to have you as a resource.:-)

    Are you REALLY going to have an American tour for your book?


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