Of Speculoos and Guy Bourdin

Bonne année and all that jazz

Firstly, thank you for all of your wonderfully caring comments on the passing of The Hound. I cried all day everyday throughout December, customers cried with me, people who i have never spoken to put their head round the door to say how sorry they were, remembering him from his antics in the farmers market or as a regular fixture in the Tobie Norris.

It is a very strange reality without him, i keep forgetting and looking for him, or shouting him to get up.
I have become obsessed with looking for another dog on the internet, i think i know the whereabouts and age of every lurcher/ whippet/ weimaraner in rescue. I even went to see one, a lurcher who looked quite similar to The Hound, but she was so different in character, and i had a bit of a meltdown.

The first cut is the deepest.

In amongst all the tears and despair i have managed to fit in

Hundreds of Christmas wreaths
A trip to Brussels
Turning 40
A trip to London
3 rolls of 120 film
A lot of champagne
A few instagrams

It was the trip to Brussels to see the Belgian arm of the bee team, that inspired the above cheesecake. After my attempts at stealing baby Patrick were thwarted, i instead filled the suitcase with Speculoos biscuits.

Speculoos cheesecake with salted caramel sauce 
( adapted from this recipe from Le Journal des Femmes)

I made this in an 8inch round tin.

175g speculoos biscuits
80g butter melted
360g cream cheese
140g Quark
2 eggs
100g sugar
Teaspoon of vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce
80g sugar
4 tablespoons of water
200ml double cream
50g butter
fleur de sel

In a food processor whizz up the biscuits to a fine crumb. Mix in the melted butter to form a dough. Tip this into a greased and lined loose bottomed tin, and with the back of a spoon spread it to form a base and about an inch up the sides of the tin to form a case. Bake blind in the oven at 180 for about 5 minutes and allow to cool.
Meanwhile mix the cheese and quark. The French recipe calls for 400g of Philadelphia with honey and 100g of plain. You can't get Philadelphia honey in Rutland, and the tubs are 180g in size, hence the last minute decision to add in some quark i happened to have. I think it would have been far too sweet and rich made the original way. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth, pour into the tin and bake in the oven for a further 30-40 minutes. Chill in the fridge for a few hours.
For the sauce, put the sugar and water into a heavy frying pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved then turn up the heat until a caramel colour and scent is reached. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and butter, then add some fleur de del to taste.

Serve sauce in fancy copper pan purchased in Brussels.

Then to London to see friends who are expecting a baby any day, and a trip to the Guy Bourdin Exhibition at Somerset House, do go it is very good.

and skies that belong in movies.

and chicken roasted after being smothered in creme fraiche, garlic, red onion, tarragon and flat leaf parsley.

A strange time, hideous and wonderful in equal measure.