Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The lovely Samantha Downes, who is an award-winning financial journalist, author and fashionista, has been so kind as to feature some of my recipes on her smashing new website, Ella Mag.

Have a look at it here!Fruit Pizza

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fruit Pizza

This post, written by yours truly, originally appeared on my friend's awesome new website. Have a look at her fabulous EllaMag website here EllaMag

I am not a great fan of doing any unnecessary work in the kitchen. Most of us live extremely busy lives, balancing work, family and social events so the idea of having to slave over a table making pastry or labouring to create the perfect icing is simply unappealing.

While I am all for doing things on a budget – and making pastry or icing from scratch is cheaper in the long-term – there has to be a limit to being a domestic goddess. Not all of us have kitchens the size of a supermarket, despite what TV chefs would have you believe.
Not all of us are so wealthy that we can afford not to work but can live a life of baking luxury. There has to be a line drawn between doing it yourself and doing yourself in.

And this is where my fruit pizza comes in. It’s simply called Fruit Pizza. I believe I made this up out of my own head, having tried a recipe for making my own savoury pizza, and deciding that I could make a dessert along the same lines. I certainly have never seen this recipe anywhere else!

Fruit Pizza
This recipe will have your friends, family and even children oohing and aahing and getting all excited, despite the fact they are basically eating fruit – lots of it.
It looks amazing when it comes out of the oven, in all its sizzly glory and tastes divine. You can mix and match fruits to your heart’s delight – but a word to the wise, oranges, clementines and satsumas do not seem to sit well with the other fruit. Leave the strong citrus fruit alone and stick with berries and orchard fruit.

You will need:
1 large, flat pizza tray, circular or square, lightly oiled
1 sheet of Jus’Roll puff pastry
2 large apples
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of strawberries, sliced lengthways
1 cup of blackberries
1 cup of raspberries
½ cup of custard – pouring custard will do but you can make it yourself and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Don’t allow it to be too thick-it has to be spreadable.
Two tablespoons of icing sugar to dust
Some cream – Elmlea low-fat pouring cream does the trick

What to do:
Roll the pastry out over the pre-oiled tray – whether square, round or rectangle, it doesn’t really matter. Score a distinct line about 1cm away from the edge of the pastry all round – this will help the edges to rise up in puffy goodness and go all brown.

Don’t make the base too thin – the fruit juices will penetrate the pastry base otherwise.
Take the cold custard and spread it over the base as if you were spooning tomato puree over a savoury pizza base. Sprinkle some nutmeg or Allspice if you like.

Start laying the fruit onto the custardy base. Have fun creating faces, patterns or just being liberal-handed. It doesn’t matter.

Cook it for 20 minutes on gas mark 6 or the electric equivalent. Personally, cooking with gas is just the best thing in the whole wide world, until the government announces that we’ve run out. I’ll cross that ecobridge when I come to it.

When the edges are all puffy and goldeny brown, take it out of the oven, dust it with the icing sugar and serve immediately at the table, using pizza cutters and a slice. If you leave it too long before you get to the table, the icing sugar will have dissolved. Serve with low-fat Elmlea double pouring cream (30% less fat than normal cream) or go the whole hog and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

How to be extra:
People at school used to say I was “being extra” if I drew in the margins of my essays. If you want to be extra, crush a meringue nest into pieces and put that over the top. These usually come in packs of eight and you can use the other seven for another fabulous dish like cherry meringues or Eton mess. Or just eat them by your own, when nobody but the cat can see. And he can’t tell a soul…..

How to save money
1) Berries freeze brilliantly if you are using them for baking or for smoothies. So I tend to buy bulk whenever there is an offer on for blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. So if you freeze these – and they keep for ages – you can save money and time when you make this in the future. Apples can also be cut up into nice slices and, if sprinkled with a little lemon juice to prevent oxidisation, can also be frozen. However, strawberries do not freeze well AND keep their shape afterwards, so best to buy these fresh.

2) Make your own custard – but not from scratch, using vanilla pods and all that. Who has the time? Insanity. But do always have a tub of custard powder and granulated white sugar in your cupboard. This will help you save lots of money as buying a carton of pouring custard is exceptionally costly – you use it once and it’s gone.

And that's basically it! Enjoy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Royal Wedding: Kate and William

For the Royal Wedding, mum and I decided to host a traditional English-style tea, with cupcakes decorated in white, blue and red with co-ordinating sprinkles, Victoria Sponge and Strawberry Meringue Sandwiches.

There were also sandwiches - coronation chicken (what else!?), salmon and cucumber and trusty cheese and ham.

The Victoria Sponge

The Meringue Sandwiches

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010

The theme for Christmas 2010 was pink, purple and silver - hence an aetherial rose-tinted glow from the tree and hence some silver balls on the cake.

Soaking the fruit:
For the cake, I wanted to make a traditional English fruit cake but I used spiced Jamaican rum to soak the fruit in for a couple of months before I was ready to use it.

To help keep the flaked almonds, currants, mixed peel, cherries, raisins, dates, diced prunes, diced apricots and diced apple moist and yummy, I also whacked in some chopped satsumas for sweetness, plenty of Jamaican rum, cinnamon sticks (broken) and plenty of cloves in a small teabag.

Often recipes will call for cooks to use special silky bags for spices, to prevent the hard cloves from getting mixed into the fruit, which can be very costly. To do it cheaply, simply take a teabag, cut the top of it off and put a generous helping of cloves into the bag.

Leave the tea in there however - it also lends a wonderful infusion to the fruit mixture - especially something like Earl Grey or Lady Grey tea.

I used a basic ring-tin for the mixture and, for the icing, traditional icing sugar, egg white and water mix to get those little snowy peaks, and then sprinkling silver balls liberally over the top.

The light is a cheap, plastic tea light - I bought packs of four battery-operated lights, for £1 each, from Poundland. Very cheap, simple and effective - and looks amazing, with or without the light on!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's been a long time coming

But I am back in the bloggersphere.

I will be posting my latest creations soon so watch this space!

This will also include all my food, fashion accessories and some pictures of cats. Sometimes this might include all three...

In the meantime, enjoy the slideshow below from my trip to Cuba.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Card Creations Christmas 2006

How did it start up?

I’m a journalist and youth worker, so creativity was lurking in my blood, waiting for a suitable outlet. Original Shimmering Designs originated at 30,000ft above the Atlantic before the days of ‘no sharp instruments allowed’ on the plane.

Having forgotten to bring earrings on holiday I decided to buy some beads, some findings, a pair of wire cutters and some bendy pliers. I’ve not looked back, although my days bead-making on the Air Canada flight AC360 are long gone.

I want to provide ethical, beautiful, fun, original cards and jewellery at high street prices, made by my own hand (and not by slave or child labour), and all my profits go to charity.

email me! originalshimmeringdesigns@yahoo.co.uk