Monday, 28 June 2010

Pretty as a picture

June has been a busy month so far, and the blog posts are a little fewer and further between than I would like, but such is life. I'm pleased to say that I have received a few cake orders for the coming weeks, so I am busy baking and adorning my cakes with summery decorations. First off was a Courgette and Walnut Cake. The timing was excellent as it killed two birds with one stone. I needed to donate a cake for Lily's school Summer Fair this weekend just gone, and I also needed to bake a cake for photography, so this little beauty did both!

A new magazine called Edible is launching in early Autumn. It is a local publication for Brighton and Hove and will cover everything food related; from restaurant reviews and recipes to seasonal features and foodie event listings. I'm as pleased as punch to say that Louise's Kitchen will be featuring in the launch issue. To run alongside the piece, Edible's lovely photographer Emma Gutteridge ( by on Friday to take some photographs of my Courgette & Walnut Cake. It's the first time I have ever had professional pictures taken of my work and I can't believe what a difference it makes when you have someone who knows one end of a camera from the other! I am so pleased with the pictures, they are stunning ... straight out of a Nigel Slater book, even if I say so myself!

An Allotment Supper

There has been much activity on our allotment lately. Earlier this year we decided to take on ‘Co-Workers’. This is allotment terms for the official and vetted persons who the plot holder shares their piece of land with. In real terms we now have an allotment family; Jodie, Jess, and their lovely children Misty (aged 5) and Sollie (aged 2). The plot seems to be enjoying the attention it now receives on a regular basis from us all.

It is a full plot of 10 rods, so with just myself, David and Lily trying to keep it going on our own it was likely to be an up hill struggle, particularly now Arthur is on the scene; an allotment isn’t the best place for a crawling 1 year old! Jodie, Jess, Misty and Sollie are the perfect allotment family … we only wish we had thought of this ‘veg plot marriage’ before. Four pairs of hands are certainly better than two, the kids keep each other entertained for hours and it means we get to spend extra time with our dear friends – a win win situation!

With the weather getting warmer and the lighter evening stretching out the day, it is great to plan a bit of early evening pottering down the plot at the end of a hard days work. It’s the perfect for of relaxation. Recently Jess and I spent an evening down the allotment before going round to a friend’s house for a few glasses of wine and girlie chat.

With no time for dinner, I made us a picnic tea to eat on the plot – Smoked Salmon, Spinach and Kale Tart with a simple salad and granary rolls. The tart started off as a Jamie Oliver recipe, but I changed and altered it to make it fit the ingredients I had to hand … and it tastes all the better when eaten outdoors with slightly muddy fingers!

Smoked Salmon, Spinach and Kale Tart


1 block of frozen shortcrust pastry, defrosted
A knob of butter
olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
350g of spinach / kale (you could also use chard), washed, thick stems removed
a few sprigs of fresh thyme (marjoram or oregano would also work well)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
500g creme fraiche
150g grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating
3 eggs
200g smoked salmon, cut into small strips

1. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is about 0.5 cm thick and big enough to line a shallow baking tray about 30 x 40cm. Grease the tray with butter and line it with the pastry. Trim any excess pastry off, leaving a 1cm overhang. Pinch this overhang dough up to create a rim. Prick the pastry case all over with a fork and chill in the fridge for 30mins.

2. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F / Gas 5. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and place it in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 mins until lightly golden.

3. Next add a glug off olive oil to a frying pan and gently fry the onions on a low heat for approx 10mins until they are soft and sweet. Turn up the heat and add the garlic, the spinach and kale and most of the thyme. Season lightly and give it a good stir. As soon as the leaves have wilted take the pan off the heat.

4. To make the filling mixture, put the creme fraiche into a bowl, stir in the parmesan, eggs and a pinch of salt and pepper, mix together and set aside.

5. Spread the spinach mixture over your pastry case followed by the smoked salmon. The spoon over the filling mixture evenly over the top, smoothing it out with the back of the spoon. Grate over a generous helping of parmesan and sprinkle over the remaining thyme. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for approx 15 to 20 mins, or until the top is golden and bubbling and the filling has set. Delicious hot or cold.