Despite having my own blog I don’t follow many others, but I’d like to tell you about two of my favourites, just in case you don’t know about them already.
The first is Recipe Rifle by Esther Walker (she’s the wife of Giles Coren but don’t let that put you off). There’s usually a recipe but the bit I like most are the introductions – hilarious and honest stories about her life with young kids. If (like me) you are often exasperated by your children, do trawl through the archives of this blog – you’ll feel as though you’ve found a friend. Esther eloquently tells it how it is – putting in words what many of us really feel about motherhood whilst outwardly smiling and telling our friends how much we’re ‘loving it’.
Cupcakes and Cashmere
In complete contrast is smiley Emily who writes ‘Cupcakes and Cashmere‘. This blog is the epitome of shallow but it’s beautiful presentation lures you in like, well just like a pretty cupcake. She writes posts like ‘How to style your bookshelf’ (you mean there’s another way apart from alphabetically?). Her food is always tiny, and immaculately presented and often includes stars, hearts and sprinkles. Despite becoming a new mother recently (when surely it should have all gone to pot!) she continues to look elegant wearing tiny skirts and beautiful shoes. There are no photos of sleep deprived/puffy eyes, there is no whinging, just lots of sunshine and all American positivity. I should hate her but Emily is so likable and sweet – like a Disney Princess. Reading her blog I feel as though she genuinely wants to show me a better way.
But Esther is now finishing her Recipe Rifle blog which I’m gutted about, but on hearing her disarmingly honest reasons perhaps it’s for the best.
‘When I was in the eye of the storm I was a better person, I thought more deeply, I was more sensitive, attuned and intellectually alive. Now all I think about is my career and clothes. That’s it. I chase the high of a new commission and the high of total, sheer, vanity.’
It seems that Esther fears turning into Emily, or rather she fears that ‘Recipe Rifle’ will become like ‘Cupcakes and Cashmere’. From my point of view I don’t really want to read one without the counter balance of the other, so I’ll probably give up blogs entirely and read Victorian novels and Elizabeth David cookery books instead.
Anyway, despite food being a key part of both of these blogs, I have only ever tried one recipe from either. It was this Martha Stewart one which Emily recommended, accompanied by some photos of her own version which were, of course, more beautiful and perfectly formed than the original.
Mine were ugly but tasted delicious. I also had the idea of adding lavender instead of rosemary to half the batch. This was with my son Edgar in mind. He hates ALL fruit but eats lavender straight off the plant without blinking an eye.
Rosemary (or Lavender) Butter Cookies
Makes about 30
- 225g of soft butter
- 170g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 312g of plain flour
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary OR lavender flowers
- 3/4 of a teaspoon of coarse sea salt
Mix the butter and the sugar together until pale and fluffy. I used an electric hand whisk for this bit but you could probably just use a wooden spoon.
Mix in the egg and vanilla extract, then add the flour, salt and rosemary OR lavender. Mix until well combined.
Halve the dough and shape each into a log with floured hands.
Place each log on a square of baking parchment and roll up into a log about 3 3/4 cm in diameter twisting the ends to keep the shape. Put in the freezer for an hour to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 190oC.
Cut each log into 1 cm thick rounds and place on a flat baking tray lined with parchment. You will need two trays and probably two batches for this amount.
Bake until the edges are golden 15-20 minutes (mine were pretty well done after 15).
Cool on wire trays and store in an airtight container.
Martha recommends using a loo roll around the log to hold the shape while freezing. I didn’t think this was necessary.
She also paints the logs with egg white and rolls in sanding sugar before cutting into rounds. I still don’t know exactly what ‘sanding sugar’ is (they don’t sell it in Tesco so I think you may need to find a specialist cake decorating shop). I used granulated sugar instead on half the batch but to be honest preferred the ones without.