Jubilee Coffee Cupcakes by Bruce.
My heritage and accent are a great source of puzzlement to everybody who meets me. Born in London but possessing a rather international family (both blood relations and friends whom I now consider family), ten to fifteen minutes of conversation pass before I’m inevitably asked, “where are you from?” or, the (strangely) rather more common, “are you Australian?” Let’s get this straight – I’m British, through and through. I’m not English, I’m not Aussie, I’m not Canadian or American: I am British.
My “British-ness” is something that has taken me a while to embrace – my family are Hong Kong Chinese, with a smidgen of Japanese and Russian blood, my parents both born in Hong Kong and possessing a tinge of an accent (my mother’s a natural slight American drawl, which is where I’ve picked up my own), so that aspect of who I am has always been celebrated and recognised, but this country in which I live has never felt quite where I belong, London too busy, too anonymous, too A-to-B for my liking. It wasn’t until I lived in America that I suddenly felt that this, my “British-ness”, made me stand out a little more, made me special, and at that point I fully started to appreciate the country I was born in, the little points of interest like our (relatively) fantastic public transport, our education system, history and culture, and our Royal family.
As many of you will know, this past weekend was set aside to rejoice everything Royal because we’ve been celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – 60 years on the throne. I’m not one to go particularly nuts over the Royals (during the recent Royal Wedding I skipped the telly watching and flag waving and nipped off to the hairdresser’s to chop off my long locks for The Little Princess Trust) but I fully admit that I love good ol’ Lizzie – she’s a real gem and it will be a sad day indeed when she’s no longer Queen of England.
So whilst the country engaged in street parties left, right and centre and a good 1.2m people showed up in Central London to watch the Royal Parade on the Thames (and in the pouring rain, typical bloody England; Liz did not look particularly happy as she was rowed up the river), I headed over to my good friends Mowie & Bruce’s around the corner for a Right Royal (Indoor) Picnic. Raaaather.
It has to be said, if you ever need a picnic catered, Mo, Bruce & I would make a pretty good team. We had, as usual, made way too much food for our party of nine and were of course stuffed by the end of the day, but by golly was it tasty! We watched the BBC’s coverage of The Jubilee Parade, made each other giggle until our sides hurt and I even whipped out the ukulele for a bit (I’m horrified to say that Bruce filmed one song so there may be a video floating around somewhere but I sincerely hope it never sees the light of day as I think I’d had one too many Pimm’s by that point); suffice to say it was a marvellous way to spend a Jubilee and celebrate both Liz and ourselves.
I’d decided to wrap my sandwiches in baking paper and tie with string, inspiration after a recent tea at Sketch in Soho with friends – also a great way to keep your sandwich together when transporting it and the fillings off your hands at a picnic (even if the picnic is indoors). Before you say it, I know, recipes for sandwiches?! But my egg salad is awesome (I use duck eggs) and I couldn’t really do only the egg salad so you get it all. Now shuffle along and enjoy the damn sandwiches.
At Mowie’s I even got to raid his props cupboard to find dishes for the radishes and potato salads I’d brought (how gorgeous is that little porcelain basket for the radishes from Anthropologie?! I want one!), one version of potato salad with a vinaigrette for my friend with an aversion to mayonnaise, and one dip of mayo and celery salt and another of truffle oil and honey dip for the radishes (a very tasty alternative).
HAM & MUSTARD & EGG SALAD PICNIC SANDWICHES
Makes 12 sandwiches.
3 medium baguettes
For the ham & mustard:
3-4 tbsps English mustard
3-4 tbsps mayonnaise
6 slices of thinly sliced deli ham
For the egg salad:
Margarine (for the bread)
3 duck eggs, hard-boiled and chopped finely
4-5 tbsps mayonnaise, or to taste (if the mixture looks too dry add more mayo)
Small handful fresh chives, chopped finely
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Slice the baguettes into 4 equal pieces each to form mini baguettes, halve lengthwise and set aside.
2. For the ham & mustard: mix the mayo and English mustard together then spread on the cut sides of 6 of the mini baguettes. Lay the ham on one half and top with the other. Repeat with the other 5 sandwiches.
3. For the egg salad: combine all of the ingredients for the egg salad (except for the margarine) in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside.
4. Butter the cut sides of the remaining 6 mini baguettes with the margarine, top one half with a tablespoon of egg salad and press together with the other half.
5. To present, wrap in parchment paper and tie with string.
AWESOME POTATO SALAD
500 g Jersey Royal potatoes
4 duck eggs, hard boiled and peeled
250 g bacon lardons
3 spring onions, sliced thinly (discard the tips of the green part – they have a tendency to be a little soggy)
Mayonnaise, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Wash and scrub the Jersey Royals then place in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer until tender (test with a knife – if it goes through the potatoes cleanly then they’re ready).
2. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, fry the bacon lardons over a medium heat until crispy, making sure to move them around the pan occasionally to ensure even crispiness. My best tip when crisping bacon is to not move it around too often – if you let it do its thing in the pan it’ll look after itself, just be careful not to let it burn!
3. When crisp, remove the bacon lardons to a plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil, then transfer to a medium bowl and add the sliced spring onions.
4. When tender, remove the potatoes to a colander and briefly douse with cold water – this will help to stop cooking and make the potatoes easier to handle. Using a sharp knife, slice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl with the lardons and spring onions.
5. Chop the hard-boiled duck eggs into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl with the remaining ingredients, add mayonnaise to taste, season and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover with clingfilm and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
If you have an aversion to mayonnaise you can, of course, leave out the mayo and instead make a simple vinaigrette. I made mine with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. If I’d not packed the Dijon mustard I probably would’ve added a little of that too!
Our custard cream filled donuts came courtesy of St. John Bakery, picked up from Maltby St. Market the previous day (they just loved me when I showed up and bought ten donuts) and the strawberries courtesy of British summer time! The beautiful Jubilee macarons were made by Bruce and were delicious – my boys certainly know their macs (Mowie recently taught me how to make macarons at his first ever Macaron Masterclass and all our of little mac babies came out perfectly – I’ve yet to reattempt it at home but I’m just about to move house so I’ll be on a mac mission soon enough)!
But that wasn’t all we were celebrating because yesterday was also TS’ birthday, so I’d designated this weekend as his special birthday weekend! I made him a delicious Chocolate Truffle & Raspberry Oreo Cake, which we shared and enjoyed at Leluu’s Supper Club on Friday, and brought the extra one (yes, I made two) to the Jubilee celebrations on Sunday. He was a very happy (and surprised) boy when I disappeared towards the end of dinner and reappeared with the cake on Friday (Uyen and I accidentally set the smoke detector in her house off when we were lighting the candles – here’s a hint: don’t light candles underneath a smoke detector) and I was happy to be able to share it again with friends on Sunday.
It is a very rich cake so I always tell people to only take a little piece or share but nobody ever listens to me… I’ve halved the amount of truffle filling as I think it was just too much chocolate but if you have a chocolate lover on your hands feel free to go nuts. TS was happy at least and that’s all that mattered to me.
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE & RASPBERRY OREO CAKE
Serves 15-20; adapted from Tyler Florence’s Chocolate Truffle & Raspberry Tarts.
For the crust:
4 (157 g) packets Oreos
90 g unsalted butter, melted
For the truffle & raspberry filling:
115 ml double cream
300 g good quality dark (70-percent) chocolate (Valrhona is best if you can get it, Paul A. Young stock it, otherwise Green & Black’s is very good)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 handfuls fresh raspberries
For the raspberry puree:
90 g fresh raspberries
30 g caster sugar
30 ml water
For the chocolate glaze:
50 g good quality dark chocolate (70-percent), finely chopped
60 ml double cream
90 ml Golden Syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the ganache:
50 g good quality dark chocolate (70-percent), finely chopped
60 ml double cream
10 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
15-20 fresh raspberries
30-cm springform cake tin, well oiled and with a circle of parchment paper in the removable base
1. Combine the finely crushed Oreos and melted butter in a bowl, mix well then press into the cake tin to about halfway up the sides (you will have lots of leftover mix). Place in the fridge to set.
2. Make the raspberry puree: combine all the ingredients in a pan and, over a low heat, stir and press down on the raspberries until they’ve completely broken down. Keep stirring until the mixture and thickened slightly then remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 mins – it will thicken even more in this time. Take the Oreo crust out of the fridge, spread the raspberry puree on the bottom and use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly across the base. Put back in the fridge.
3. Make the truffle filling: in a heatproof bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except the vanilla extract and raspberries) and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bowl. Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted and is totally combined with the cream. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract and allow to cool for about 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Remove the Oreo crust from the fridge and poor a third of the chocolate truffle mixture into it, stud with half of the raspberries, pour another third and stud with the remaining raspberries, then pour the rest of the truffle mixture on top. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight.
4. The next day, make the chocolate glaze by combining the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water (again, making sure the water does not touch the bowl). Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted and combined with the cream, then remove from the heat, add the vanilla extract and Golden Syrup and stir well. Remove the set truffle cake from the fridge and pour over the top, tilting it to make sure that the surface is entirely covered. Leave out at room temperature to set (about 30-40 mins).
5. Make the ganache: combine all of the ingredients (except the butter) in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water (again, making sure the water does not touch the bowl – this is the last time, promise). Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted and combined with the cream, then remove from the heat. Chop the butter into small pieces and add a little at a time until completely combined, making sure each piece is melted before adding the next. Let the ganache cool until at a pipeable consistency – to speed up the process put it in the fridge, stirring it every 10 mins until at the desired thickness. If it gets too cold you can blast it in the microwave for a few seconds.
6. Fill a piping bag with the ganache, and, using a decorative tip, pipe swirls of ganache around the edge of the cake at regular intervals and one more in the centre of the cake, then top each swirl with a raspberry. Cover the top of the cake tin with clingfilm and place in the fridge until ready to serve – if you let it chill for at least 3 hours the tin will be much easier to remove.
7. When ready to serve, unfasten the springform tin and slide it off. Use a palette knife to separate the springform base from the bottom of the cake (the parchment paper circle will make it much easier, too), place on a pretty plate and present to your chocolate lover! Enjoy.
I hope you all had a lovely Jubilee weekend, no matter what you were doing… oh, and God save the Queen.
Until next time, peace and love,