Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015

2015 is nearly over which means that it is time for my annual reflect. This is the second one I have ever done so technically it is only now beginning to become annual.

This year has been amazing. I got to travel to San Francisco AND Venice, I turned 13 and I got to do some really cool things and eat some really good food.

In February I got to take part in round two of the cooking competition I was taking part in. I represented my school and it was very scary. I did end up leaving the competition however the experience was amazing and I had a lot of fun. And because I had won the one at my school, leaving wasn't as bad as it could have been.

In March I did my first cello exam. It went very well and I ended up getting a distinction.

In April we went to Venice and it was amazing. I had always wanted to go there and it was so fun. We stayed in a nice little apartment and spent our time eating gelato, taking pictures and walking around little alleyways.

In May I went to Paris with school. It had always been my dream to go to Venice and Paris and I ended up going to them both in the space of two months. I can't wait to go back to Paris with my family at some point, because I am 100% sure the experience will be very different since my first time there was with 39 other students and my language teachers.

In July I did my 3rd piano exam which also went very well. I got a Merit.

In July we also flew to San Francisco for 2 weeks. I got to eat some amazing food, make a pineapple out of glass tubes and spend a lot of time with my friends. It was a great holiday.

In August I turned 13 and my friend turned 13 2 days later. We had a joint birthday party and had some great cake. I was also very glad I was finally a teenager because everyone in my year had been for ages.

In September I started Year 9. Technically I had been in Year 9 for half a term before the summer but that is just a confusing story so I wont explain it. This meant more homework, more tests and a ton of talk about options.

In November I went for a weekend away in Devon for my mum's birthday. We spent our time in a cabin and I got a lot of pictures of the rainy coast. We had some nice food, played silly games and relaxed. I then got home and had a panic filled German revision session. Millie Cooks also turned 2 in November which is an achievement since I honestly didn't believe I would last that long.

In December I baked more, cooked more and got really excited about Christmas. That happens every year, so it wasn't that special.


Here are some of my favourite Instagrams:



Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

See you next year!

Millie xxx



Sunday, 27 December 2015

Mince Pies

Last year I made a Mince Tart and put it on this blog. The photos are horrible and the recipe isn't very good. This year I am going to blog actual Mince Pies. This is based on Nigella's recipe from her book Feast.





I really like mince pies, but if they have too much pastry they are too dry and if they have too much mincemeat then they will have melted into a blob.



This recipe says that it makes 36 mince pies. Nigella's mince pies must be tiny, because I only managed to make 15.



Ingredients:

240g plain flour
60g vegetable shortening
60g butter
juice of 1 orange
1 pinch of salt
approx. 200g mincemeat
icing sugar (for dusting)
1 egg for glazing


Method:

In a large bowl combine the flour, vegetable shortening and butter. Rub the mixture together until it forms a breadcrumb like mixture. Mix in the orange juice and salt and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 - 30 minutes. After they have been placed in the fridge, preheat your oven to 200°C.

Remove your pastry from the fridge and roll out to a thin disc. Cut out circles that are slightly bigger than the tin holes. Place them in and add in a dollop of mincemeat. Cut out stars and place a star on each mince pie. Glaze with the egg and then bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until they are nicely browned.

Take them out and allow them to cool. Dust with icing sugar and eat up. They are nicest while warm.








Friday, 25 December 2015

Gingerbread Houses

Merry Christmas! Right now I am sat with the tree lights on blogging while lunch is cooked. I just made the bread sauce and it smells amazing.


Today's blog post is about gingerbread houses. I really love gingerbread houses. They look cool and they are extremely festive. This year my sister and I took on the challenge and made one from scratch.

As you can expect, not everything went to plan. The recipe we used was Mary Berry's and it was not very good. It was very dry and super hard to roll out. I would probably use a better recipe next time. We used this recipe, however I would not recommend it.


We tried to build the whole structure within the space of minutes. As you can expect, the whole thing collapsed. We then built the foundations, left it for a day and then came back to put the roof on. After the roof had been left for a while, we decorated it.


We have decided to make this a tradition. Come back in 5 years and there may be a perfect (or almost perfect) gingerbread house on the blog.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Eclairs

I started writing this post ages ago and never posted it. Sorry. This is my third blog post this weekend. I posted a ton because I hadn't for a while and because I wanted to give you a food one as well as the two non food ones.

For some reason I only took pictures on my iPod, not my camera, so they aren't very good.


There has only been one time in my life where I have remembered eating an eclair. We were living in San Francisco at the time. I was probably about 8 and we had picked some up on the way home from school. I can remember thinking 'oh this is going to be so sweet' but then thinking 'actually, it wont be too bad'. I sat on our orange futon thing with it on a plate and slowly ate the whole thing. I was at the age where I thought that eating too many sweet things in one day was bad. I once went to my friends birthday sleepover. We had ice cream sundaes for pudding and I had two scoops of vanilla ice cream with a bit of chocolate sauce while everyone else had sprinkles and more ice cream. As you can see I was a bit of an odd kid. I am no longer like that and I see it fine to have two slices of the cake I made in one day.


Eclairs always seemed like a challenging food to make. They are made of choux pastry, which is cooked twice. Once on the stove and then in the oven. I decided to take on the challenge on the last day of my summer holidays. My sister was already back at school and my dad was working. Why not make the last day of summer a good one?

They turned out to not be as hard as I thought they would be. The only hard part was when you added the flour. My mum had to do the mixing at that part because my arm power was not up to speed.


We have about 4 recipes in the house, but I ended up using the one from Tartine. Tartine is a bakery in San Francisco that always has an extremely long line that is around the block. We have never actually got to eat there but we know that it is a good place to go. I mean anyone knows, all you have to do is look at the line...


Ingredients:

Choux Pastry:

125 ml of milk
125 ml of water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
115g unsalted butter
115g of plain flour
5 large eggs

Chocolate Glaze:

115g chocolate, broken into pieces
125ml heavy cream
1 tbsp agave syrup (or any kind of sweetener that you have)

Filling:

Double Cream to whip


Method:

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Butter a baking sheet and then cover with baking paper.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water, salt, sugar and butter. Place over a medium heat and heat until the butter has melted and the mix begins to fully boil. Add in the flour all at once and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the mix is smooth and pulls away from the sides. Some of the moisture should have evaporated. This takes about 3 minutes.

Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Add the eggs one by one, mixing each one in thoroughly before you add the next. The mix should be smooth, thick and shiny.

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe out fingers that are about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide. Make sure you space them out well; 2 inches is ok. Smooth the ends off with a damp fingertip.

Bake until they are showing some colour, and are puffed. Reduce the temperature to 190°C and bake until the eclair shells feel light and are hollow. This should take about 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and poke holes in each end to let the steam escape. Leave them to cool on a wire rack. These keep frozen for up to 3 weeks. Recrisp them directly from the freezer in a 230°C for 10 minutes, then cool.

To make the glaze, combine the chocolate and agave syrup in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a sauce, and then pour it over the chocolate and agave. Leave the mixture for 2 minutes without stirring. Mix gently with a spatula until smooth and shiny. Leave to cool until warm.

Whip your cream, and then pipe it into the eclairs. Top with the chocolate glaze mixture. They should be eaten the day they are filled.






Saturday, 5 December 2015

DIY Advent Calendar

It is finally December and I am super happy. Some festive posts will be coming your way soon.


This is my second post today. Well Done Emilia!


Last year my sister made me a advent calendar full of drawings. It was a surprise and I didn't get to make her one because I got one day's notice. 


This year, my sister and I decided we would make each other a calendar. We got our dad to take us to Abergavenny, and went shopping. We then came home, went into our bedroom, sat on our beanbags and wrapped all of the presents. It took a long time, but the Blondie record I had on made it fun.


I think making people advent calendars is really fun. You can customise it to the things they like and you can decorate them and make them all cute. 


I had so much fun decorating these packages. They are so cuuuute!

Millie xxx


A Weekend Away in Devon

Last weekend it was my mum's birthday. We went away to a small cottage in Devon, and spent the weekend playing games, eating good food and relaxing.




We were staying on the coast in this small bungalow. It is part of the Landmark Trust, and was amazing. There was a path down onto the beach and there was also some castle remains nearby.




We went on a really nice walk alongside the beach, and I got some really good photos. It started raining and my hands were frozen, so the second part of the walk had less photos. Me, my dad and my sister went onto the beach later on, but it started raining and then I ran back up to the bungalow. On the second day (Mama's birthday) we all went down onto the beach and took photos.