Strawberry and Pimm's granita - summer has arrived

Has summer finally found its way to my garden?
It surely looked that way the last two days. This might have been the wettest and most gloomy june in years. I started my two weeks at home sitting by the window, watching the rain pour down and reading my new cook book.
At times it almost felt like christmas break, when temperatures dropped and I tucked myself in a blanket to keep warm, drinking my Earl grey... warming my hands on the teacup.

In the kitchen, I craved for succulent roast beef, rich chocolate cake and full bodied red wine.

Then summer came on wednesday...
The menu in the kitchen changed again, the blanket became the cats territory and my Oxford Uni jumper gave way to summer dresses.

All I needed was a drink to enjoy in my garden... which looks a lot more like a meadow as I haven't mowed the lawn in months.
As Pimm's is my favourite cocktail as a true Britain lover, my choice was made!

As I write this, I am on my way to sunny Tuscany. I will be enjoying beautiful food and views with foodie friends. I can not wait. But what I most enjoy is having time... to live, create and grow.

Time is precious.
Enjoy every minute...
why not enjoy it with this Stawberry and Pimm's Granita in your hand!

Happy summer darlings!

'Osso Bucco' and why we should eat Rosé veal

We should all eat veal
If we don't, a lot of bull calves in the intensive dairy industry will be shot at birth.
Veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry, so if you eat a lot of cheese and dairy… eat veal. Even to the vegetarians out there who do eat dairy, please eat veal.

Bull calves are of no use to the dairy industry if there is no demand for veal and therefore the little animals need to go. Numbers reached 260 000 male dairy calves in 2007. 

To feed our milk and cheese habit, dairy cows are kept constantly pregnant but while female cows can grow up to become dairy cows like their mothers, there is no room for their brothers. Male dairy calves are not always suitable for producing beef therefore (Rose) veal can offer a good alternative.

TV farmer Jimmy Doherty, is trying to persuade people to try veal.
"Dairy calves are being shot at 24 to 48 hours old and if we drink milk we all have to share in this instead of leaving the burden of it to the farmers. Eating rose veal is utilising those calves and solving a problem," said Jimmy Doherty, who is raising veal calves on his own farm.

Britannia sandwich cake - Best of British

As the reign of Elizabeth I is referred to as 'The Golden age', I wonder what they will call the reign of her namesake Elizabeth II.
Elisabeth, born in 1533 was known as the 'Virgin queen'. She never married as she never wanted to be ruled by a man. She might be the first feminist in history. As the previous two queens in English history both failed and her reign was of such epic importance, the role of women changed quite a bit. It started with noble men who started to educate their daughters so they wouldn't look ignorant in the presence of the highly educated queen. But in general, independent women were still being called spinsters, witches or prostitutes.
When her sister 'Bloody Mary' died, she inherited a bankrupt nation scattered into pieces due to religious conflict. She had to breathe new life into Britain.
With her came the flourishing of British drama, she was a great supporter of Shakespeare and Marlowe. How would the world have looked like without Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear? 
We wouldn't suddenly shout "Romeo oh Romeo" when we found ourselves on a balcony, we would just look at the view. The English language wouldn't be what it is today without Shakespeare as he invented nearly 1700 words for his plays, sonnets and poems. Words you wouldn't expect like 'frugal', 'gloomy' and 'monumental' were all invented by the man himself.
It is fair to say Elizabeth I reshaped Britain, made it "British", gave her name to an era and reigned supreme.

This weekend we are celebrating the current queen Elizabeth.
The Diamond jubilee is inspiring people to celebrate Brit style with street parties, cake contests and an explosion of Union Jack bunting everywhere.
If only Britain could look like this every day.
Shop windows competing for celebrating Britishness the best, biggest and most typical.
As an Anglophile, these are good times for me. I can buy Union Jack pajamas, purses and… shoes!
I finally have an excuse to decorate my cake with it, get out the bunting and watch the boats on the Thames while reading a British classic.
I celebrate, not my love for a monarch but for a land, its culture and its pride.

So this cake is for you, Britannia.
May the tea flow plenty in flowery teacups, the cakes be decorated with joy and the discussion scone-cream-jam versus scone-jam-cream go on until eternity.

'Union Jack' Britannia Sandwich cake.

I've tried a few Victoria sandwich recipes before I came to this one after testing.
This cake is slightly more solid than your average sponge cake.

What do you need

for the cake:
200g softened unsalted butter (I made butter recently, it's so easy. Go to the tutorial >)
200 g golden caster sugar
200 g self raising flour
4 medium eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of milk.

for the filling:

500 g double cream
if you can't get hold of double cream, you can use mascarpone
0,5 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Strawberry or raspberry jam

strawberries, tips for the top and slices for the filling
go traditional with a icing sugar finish

Preheat your oven to 180°
Line the bottom of two 20 cm cake tins with baking paper.

Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and whisk until creamy.
Add the eggs one by one, whisk well so the egg is completely mixed in before you add the next one.
Add the milk and vanilla.
Add the flour and fold it in gently.

Divide the dough over the two prepared tins and spread out well with a spatula.
If you only have 1 tin, bake one first and then the other.

*If you have smaller tins, you can make some little cakes too!

Put in the oven for 25 minutes, whatever you do do open the oven or the cake will collapse.

For the cream

Whisk the double cream with a hand mixer until you get a stiff mixture.
Add the vanilla

Decorating the cake
Put the cakes with their good side down on a tray.
Spread the jam on the cake for the bottom side, then add the strawberry slices
Spread half of the cream on the other side and then sandwich this side on top of the other, the cream side down.
Press down so they stick together.
Spread the rest of the cream on top of the cake.
Use the tips of the strawberries to create the St George's cross and then next the other red cross for Northern Ireland.
Now fill up the gaps with the blueberries to create Scotland.

All done!

Now make a cup of tea!

Please feel free to leave a comment, I love reading them!

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