Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas at Afternoon Tease (and our festive opening hours)…

Christmas has well and truly arrived at Afternoon Tease!

Our decorations are up…

We’ve made our Christmas cakes, which involved the biggest and heaviest bowl of cake mix I’ve ever encountered…

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Please excuse the messiness…it was quite an ordeal man handling that amount of cake mix into the tins 🙂 …

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We’re feeding them with a variety of liquors…two are fed on Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum, two on Brandy and two of them are teetotal and fed only on Earl grey tea.

We made our own marzipan, much to the delight of my Mother, who is a serious addict!

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and got down to decorating them…

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This year we’ve even made our own mincemeat, which we’re using in these gorgeous little mincemeat Bakewell puddings…

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and my Mum has been sharing her Polish paper star making skills…

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Although we love this time of year and all of the festive baking and goodwill it entails, the Afternoon Tease Team also need a little break to be with our families and to eat and drink ourselves silly!

So, below are our Christmas and New Year opening times for you to see when we’ll be here for you, as a little respite from your Christmas/sale shopping or a little haven of tranquility if you just need to get out of the house…come and say hi over the festive season!

Christmas / New Year opening times…

Monday 22 Dec- 8am – 6pm
Tuesday 23 Dec – 8am – 6pm
Wednesday 24 Dec – CLOSED
Thursday 25 Dec – CLOSED
Friday 26 Dec – CLOSED
Saturday 27 Dec – CLOSED
Sunday 28 Dec – 10am – 5pm

Monday 29 Dec –  9am – 5pm
Tuesday 30 Dec – 9am – 5pm
Wednesday 31 Dec – 9am – 5pm
Thursday 1 Jan – CLOSED
Friday 2 January – 9am – 5pm
Saturday 3 January – 9am – 5pm
Sunday 4 January – 10am – 5pm

Now, last but not least…if you’re looking for a gift idea for that coffee/cake fiend in your life…look no further! We do treat vouchers

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There are 2 options for you to choose from…

The drink and cake Treat Voucher at £5.50, perfect as a stocking filler or secret Santa!…it entitles the lucky recipient to a hot drink and slice of cake of their choice.

Or you can purchase a Treat Voucher to the value of £5, £10, £15 or £20, which can be used as currency in the cafe for anything the recipient desires 🙂

We aren’t able to give change for the Treat Vouchers but if you/the recipient would like to spend more than the value of the voucher, the balance can be paid in cash.

To buy treat vouchers just pop into the cafe and talk to one of the team!

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Homemade marzipan treats…

There’s just about time for another of my last-minute-Larry Christmas present ideas…it’s not too late to whip up a batch of marzipan treats!

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My Mum is a huge marzipan fan but she’s also very particular about recipes that use raw egg. Unfortunately, marzipan is one such recipe, which gave me a bit of a challenge! After some internet trawling, I stumbled upon this little recipe from good old Delia. Although it still uses eggs, you have to spend a very achy arm inducing 12 minutes whisking them with sugar in a bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water, which in my mind, equates to cooking the egg and therefore reduces any risk…well that’s what I’ll be telling my Mum :)…

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The recipe worked really well, but I was a little bit impatient when it came to cooling the egg & sugar mixture and decided to mix the ground almonds in when it was still warm. The mixture was pretty sticky so I wrapped it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for an hour or so until it was less sticky and ready to mould into shapes.

Now comes the fun part, the world is your lobster and you can freestyle your marzipan into any shape you like!

But if you need a bit of inspiration, I made small cylinders, which I inserted in the middle of pitted medjool dates. I also made discs, dipped some in melted dark chocolate and stuck dried cranberries and pistachios on top of the others before drizzling them with left over melted chocolate…

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It ended up being a lot of fun and I think they look pretty darn good, even if I do say so myself. 🙂

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Pineapple chutney: for that cheese on toast lover in your life…

There’s a recurring theme to my blog posts at this time of year…I’m all about helping last minute Larrys like me, who haven’t yet bought presents for their loved ones! If that’s you, please, please, please don’t be tempted to buy a last minute, ill thought out gift from a major department store…a homemade present might take a little extra effort but they’ll mean so much more! Ok, sorry, rant over! 🙂

If you need some last minute inspiration, last year I made (and blogged) Christmas Granola, red onion chutney and balsamic pickled shallots or for festive sweet treats you can’t go wrong with these chocolate coconut macaroons.

But today’s Christmas gift for the tardy is this amazingly addictive pineapple chutney…

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The perfect accompaniment to cheese on toast or delicious served on chunks of cheese, as we did at our ‘Childhood Memories’ themed Plate Lickers Supper Club

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So without further ado, to make 3 x 330ml jars (normal jam jar size) you will need…

2 tbsp sunflower oil

3 red onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

1 tbsp black onion seeds

1 tsp turmeric

2 pineapples, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks 

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

250g soft light brown sugar

175ml cider vinegar

Start by chopping and getting all of your ingredients ready, this is the most time consuming part, but it’ll be worth it believe me!…

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I recommend chopping the pineapple into fairly small cubes (approx 0.5cm-1cm square) as it makes the chutney easier to put in sandwiches etc…

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Now, Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Tip in the onions and spices and cook for 5 mins until fragrant…

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Add the rest of the ingredients plus 1 tsp salt…

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Simmer for about 1 hr until dark golden and thick. Don’t worry if after an hour, your chutney isn’t dark golden & thick, just keep it bubbling until you’re happy with it and it’s the right consistency for you…

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Pour into sterilised jars and put the lids on. 

To sterilise jars all you need to do is pop them on a hot wash in the dishwasher (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or…wash them by hand in hot soapy water, rinse them well and just pop them in your oven at 160 degrees (fan) for 10 minutes just before your chutney is ready. The perk of sterilising your jars is that it means that once sealed with the lid, your chutney will keep for up to a year!…however, once you’ve discovered how good it is with cheese on toast there’s NO way it’ll last that long! 🙂 

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Festive chocolate coconut macaroons…

I’m sure at this time of year, Google is swamped with people looking for festive baking ideas or inspiration for handmade gift to ply their loved ones with. I’m happy to admit that I am one of those people…eagerly looking for THE recipe that’ll make the perfect present!

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, look no further, I thought I’d share one such recipe with you…these chocolate coconut macaroons are easy to make, delicious and if you fancy getting creative, you can even follow my lead and make them look like little Christmas puds :)…

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To make about 24 chocolate coconut macaroons all you need is…

120g dark chocolate, chopped (I used 70%)

3 egg whites

25g cocoa powder

150g granulated sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

220g dessicated coconut

200g white chocolate for decorating (optional)

Some green and red writing icing for your holly leaves and berries (optional)

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the dark chocolate (make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl). Once it’s melted set it to one side to cool a bit.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, salt and vanilla extract and whisk in until combined. Stir in the dessicated coconut and melted chocolate, making sure that every little bit of coconut has a chocolatey coating. When you’re happy that there are no escapees, cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge to cool for about an hour until it’s firm.

Now, preheat your oven to 165 degrees and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Remove your coconut mixture from the fridge and taking a heaped teaspoon at a time, roll into balls between your hands. Lay each ball on the prepared tray a couple of inches apart so that they’ve got a bit of room to spread in the oven.

Once you’ve used all of the mixture, put them in the oven and bake for 13-15 minutes or until the macaroons are shiny and just set. Remove them from the oven and leave them to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes. When they’re cool enough to handle you can transfer them gently to a wire rack to cool completely. At which point you can either tuck in or…get decorating!

To make your macaroons look like little Christmas puds you will need to use the same method of melting chocolate that you used earlier, but this time with the white chocolate. Once it’s melted  you need to work quite fast and spoon a little onto the top of each macaroon before it hardens. Leave the white chocolate to set and then you can get creative with the writing icing to create your holly leaves and berries.

The icing needs a while to set before you can package them up…this is the most dangerous part of the whole process…a true test of your self restraint…can you resist eating them all before they make it to their intended recipient? 😉

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Plate Lickers Eastern European Christmas…

For our 5th Plate Lickers Supper Club we decided to start Christmas a bit early and bring an Eastern European Christmas inspired menu to the good people of Cambridge. The menu was a lot of fun for Ivana and I to compile and prepare and as you may expect, contained a fair few z’s and (compulsory) cabbage…

We both called on our parents for some help and advice. Me & my Dad spent a Sunday afternoon in a beetroot splattered kitchen as he showed me how to make barszcz (beetroot soup) and Ivana’s Mum treated us to some of her divine homemade baklava. There are quite a few similarities between the Christmas dishes and traditions in many Eastern European countries and we tried to cover as many as possible in our 5 courses. 

We began the evening at Balzano’s Delicatessen by toasting ‘na zdrowie’ with some homemade Wisniowka (cherry vodka), accompanied by these Bosnian cheese and potato filled pita…

Our guests settled down for the first course, my Dad’s jewel coloured barszcz (beetroot soup) and mushroom filled ‘little ears’ (uszka), so called because of their shape and not because they contain any pork, much to our vegetarian guests relief! :)…

The main course was an exciting one for me & Ivana, we’d been dying to try our hand at cooking pigs cheeks and finally got our chance! We allowed for 1 large pigs cheek per guest, which we got from our lovely local butchers Northrops. They were a true labour of love, taking 7 and a half hours to cook! However they were most definitely worth it! The meat was unbelievably tender and the rich sauce, a great accompaniment to the kasza (buckwheat groats) and sauerkraut…

Our usual sorbet course was replaced by an equally refreshing traditional dried fruit salad called Kompot…

The sweet course was the most amazing baklava I’ve ever tasted, made by Ivana’s Mum!..

Thanks to our fabulous guests we had another lovely evening. It was great to be back in the place where Plate Lickers had first begun in May. We’ve come a long way since then and it really felt like we ended the Plate Lickers year in style, with big smiles on our faces!

Thank you to all of our 2012 guests, local suppliers and venue owners who have helped us make Plate Lickers special.

We’ll be back in 2013 with plenty more exciting events, new themes and secret locations! Sign up here to be kept in the loop!

We hope to see you in 2013!

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Homemade Christmas moonshine…

I know Christmas has passed but I couldn’t withhold the most successful of my homemade Christmas gifts…both alcohol based!

First up I made a litre of liquid Christmas pudding by infusing vodka with all the typical ingredients that you’d associate with the traditional dessert. I discovered the recipe on the Domestic Sluttery website here. It was unbelievable easy and the only effort required on my part was in chopping up the fruit to bung in a large bowl along with the vodka…

and then to stir it up and give it a bit of love every day…

sampling every now and again of course 😉 …

After a week, I used a piece of muslin and a funnel to decant it into a pretty bottle and hey presto…

My other seasonal concoction was a rather large batch of Limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, which originated from Southern Italy. It took slightly longer to prepare but was equally as easy. The recipe I used was from the BBC Good Food website here.

Basically all you need to make 2 litres is…

5 unwaxed lemons

1 litre of vodka

750g caster sugar

700ml boiling water

and some large receptacles for brewing your limoncello up in!

Simply zest your lemons, being careful not to get too carried away as you don’t want to include the bitter white pithy layer, just the bright yellow outer zest!

Put the zest in a large jar and pour over the vodka, seal and leave for a week, giving a gentle shake of encouragement daily…

After a week, put the sugar in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir until it has fully dissolved. Without thinking I used golden caster sugar, which gave my limoncello a deeper colour than if I’d used the white variety…no harm done!

Add the sugar syrup to the vodka and lemon peel and leave to infuse for another week…don’t give up on the daily stir of encouragement…

Appearance-wise nothing much happened but the taste developed beautifully as time went on…

After a couple of weeks I strained my limoncello into pretty bottles and there you have it…

Limoncello is best served straight from the freezer as a digestif and it’s ridiculously delicious!

At this point I’d like to wish anyone who reads my inane food related ramblings a very Happy New Year! I for one can’t wait to see what 2012 brings…hopefully many more baking exploits and delicious meals! 🙂

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There’s still time to make some Christmas granola…

Recently, whilst flicking through one of my Mum’s food magazines a recipe for Christmas granola jumped out at me. I whipped up a batch last weekend and was really pleased with the jewel-like, crunchy, delicious outcome…

It’ll take pride of place in the homemade hampers that I’m gifting my family members with this year along with the caramelised red onion chutney and balsamic pickled shallots, which I’ve blogged recently.

All you need to make about 2 litres of the stuff…

500g rolled oats

1 x 90g pack sunflower seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp ground allspice

150g maple syrup

100g light brown sugar

300g mixed nuts, roughly chopped

750g mixed dried fruit, roughly chopped (I used dates, apricots, sultanas and these amazing crimson raisins, which I found in Sainsburys)

100g dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. 

Put all of the ingredients except for the dried fruit and coconut into a large bowl and get your hands dirty mixing it all together and making sure that everything is coated in syrupy, sugary, spicy goodness.

Pour the mixture out onto 2 to 3 baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. The added bonus is that it’ll make your kitchen smell absolutely divine. When the time’s up, take the trays out and shake them up, turning the mixture over before popping back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Whilst the oaty mixture is in the oven you can mix the dried fruits and coconut together in a bowl ready for later.

Remove your granola from the oven and leave it to cool…

Then simply mix everything together and decant it into pretty jars…

Use your artistic license to cover the lids and/or add labels…

Easy as pie…or granola!

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