Sunday, 23 March 2014

LEITHS Foodstyling session 6- Trifles!

Very overdue, but I thought I'd share some pictures of my final food styling evening class at Leiths. It was trifle night, lead by Katy Greenwood. I'm embarrassed to say that I ended up being quite late for this class (anyone who knows me will tell you this is very unusual), due to an absolute nightmare with my trains (jubilee line closed, etc. etc.). In fairness, I do have to get from about as far East as you can go in London, right over to the West, so it's amazing I hadn't had trouble until now really.

Anyway, I unfortunately missed the demonstration, and when I arrived, Katy told me I had 5 minutes before everyone was presenting their trifles. So, slightly panicked and very flustered, I rolled up my sleeves, and with the remaining berries and leftover custard and basically anything I could lay my hands on, did my best to create a layered trifle. We took in our own props, and I had chosen a fairly simple, elongated glass dish to serve my trifle in, which I rapidly started filling.

I was actually pleasantly surprised with what I managed to create in my short space of time. It's funny, I wonder if I'd have put more time and thought into it, whether I would have created anything better. It seems that sometimes a bit of time pressure can be a good thing, in stopping you from over-thinking where you're placing every single berry or blob of cream. The look I went for was relaxed and achievable (I didn't think precise and detailed would work at this stage of the game...!). I have to say, I was fairly pleased with my trifle- I much preferred it to my Greek salad that I'd spent so long on the week before. I got some good comments on it too, so I'm glad I persevered in my horrific journey there (eventually having to hop into a £25 taxi!).

Here are some pictures of my trifle:

Mixed berry trifle, layered with raspberry jam, custard, lady fingers and amaretti biscuits, topped with cream, passion fruit and pomegranate!    

I think the passion fruit and pomegranate saved the day on this occasion- they always looks great sprinkled over desserts! 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Good Eggs

I just had to do a quick blog post on the importance of great eggs inspired by my brunch this morning- English muffin, smoked salmon, and the richest, most luxurious eggs. My god, what a treat it was. I saw my Mum at the beginning of the weekend, and she gave me these glorious eggs from The Black Olive Deli in Southwold ( They were so pretty, the artist in me just had to take a picture.....

 Southwold eggs from Mum

I poached these for 4 mins 30 seconds, using a technique that my brother taught me and I've passed on to everyone I know (it's probably quite a common one, but he likes to think he invented it). You line a little glass or dish with cling film (use a big piece so it hangs over the sides), then pour a little olive oil in (you could use a flavoured one for a change). Crack in your egg, add some salt and pepper, and if you like it with a kick, a dash of chilli or hot sauce. Bring the sides of the clingfilm together at the top, and twist them together to seal it and form a perfect little egg-poaching package.

Then add to a pan of boiling water, and poach for between 4 mins - 4 mins 30 seconds, depending on the size of the eggs and how many your putting in one pan. Once they're done, fish out the little clingfilm parcels, tear off the clingfilm (I usually burn myself a bit at this point in my haste for food), and pop on a muffin or whatever you fancy! It's a great little technique, and much easier than most I've tried.

Egg poaching in motion- this blue egg was a double yoker!

I can honestly say, I did notice a difference between these hen eggs and any supermarket ones you can buy, and I wouldn't say that if I didn't mean it. The yolks were huge, orange and rich- they were incredibly tasty. The ultimate goal for me is to have my own chickens. That would be heaven. But until then, I will be snapping up proper free range eggs from small suppliers, when I see them, as it really does make a difference. I've still got 4 of these eggs left, so I guess I'll be getting my protein intake this week.

Al fresco Brunch

What better way to enjoy my eggs, than outside in the sunshine, amongst my spring flowers

This is what I'm talking about.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

LEITHS Food styling course session 5- Greek salad night

Our fifth session of the Leiths food styling course was with Jennifer, and it was Greek salad night. We took along our own props, but the ingredients were provided- we got given beautiful fresh multi-coloured tomatoes, baby cucumbers, fresh and dried oregano, feta, and lots of other lovely ingredients too.

We spent the first hour creating our own salads, with Jennifer assisting and advising us where necessary, and then we went round and chatted about what everyone had created and what had worked and what hadn't.

I was going for a rustic look....although I'm not sure if I completely achieved that, and my salad ended up looking a bit restaurant-y. It's surprisingly difficult to style a Greek salad I discovered, and I'm not sure if mine was anything I'm hugely proud of to be honest...! Jennifer was totally amazing though- she came over and started re-assembling my ingredients, and within seconds it was completely transformed. It was a fun night and I felt I learnt a lot, and now I know what I would do differently next time, even if my first attempt wasn't spot on. It was also good to work individually, as it allowed us to all do our own thing, and get a bit more creative- it was interesting to see how different all our styles were. So here are a few shots from the night:

My Greek salad....I put the dressing in a tiny jar I found at home

This is Ella's Greek salad- very envious of this beautiful blue plate 

Mine looked a lot better once I had torn the olives up a bit, scrunched the napkin up, and added olive oil!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

LEITHS Foodstyling Course session 4 with Katy Greenwood

It's taken me a while to get round to writing this blog post, I've had the busiest few weeks recently, having to reapply and re-interview for my job (it's a long and very boring story- I got it though which is good news), but better late than never!

So our 3rd foodstyling session was with Katy, and it was cake night. Katy gave a few demonstrations of different icing techniques, and showed us how to make the filling look abundant, whilst still creating a nice clean picture. She also showed us ways to cut it, to make a nice clean slice, and some techniques for dribbling icing down the sides of the cake. She said that she particularly likes doing cakes, because you get a bit more freedom and can be more creative with them, which I can understand.

We were then put into groups, and got given a challenge on a piece of paper. My group had to make a 'homely, achievable, women's institute' style cake. It was a lot of fun, and nice to try out some of the techniques she showed us. Here are some photos from the night, enjoy!

Working on our filling- doesn't it look delicious

My groups 'Women's-institute' style Victoria sponge

Pretty tasty looking hey?!

Mastering the controllable-ooze with the filling...

We made a stencil out of strips of baking paper to create this criss-crossed top

One of the other groups 'Afternoon tea' inspired cake- isn't it lovely?

Lovely piping on the Donna Hay inspired cake

I think this was my favourite - the Marks and Spencers cake- I love how clean it is, they piped the icing on beautifully.

All of them together- comparing cakes. (NB this is showing the bad side of our cake- the other side was it's front!)