Best Friend: Don't forget the kid's Xmas party on Sat...remember you said you were going to make something "festive"
Me: Sure..not a problem (hmm...what on earth is she on about?)
Best friend: and don't overdo the sugar!
Me: Yeah..ok (so I suppose red cordial is out of the question!)
So I find myself committed to helping out at a children's Christmas party which of course I had bookmarked but totally forgot about. And I had to face a bunch of already hyperactive 8 year olds who would more than gladly give me their opinion on my cooking...and let's not forget their mothers!
I got thinking about what to make and of course I wanted to incorporate some of those delicious summer fruits I had purchased. At least this way the kiddies would get their fruit intake as well. After a little internet research and cookbook perusing I decided to go ahead and make some sweet pies using cream as a filling and blueberries as the topping. Sprinkled with some icing sugar at the last minute they certainly had that "christmassy" appearance.
Pastry of any kind is not my friend usually. I find pastry making to be almost like an exact science. One wrong measurement and you end up with something completely different. However, how could I let down all those kiddies relying on me? (cue violin music here and pictures of soft baby kittens...) I found this very easy recipe on the Australian Lifestyle website which guaranteed success. The recipe called for the pastry to be made by hand. I cheated and used a food processor and let's just say that I achieved mixed results. Once I rolled it out as per the instructions, I cut out the moulds for the mini pie tins the pastry all squished up and it was really sticky....ugh! I somehow managed to scoop it into the tins and managed to make it look half decent. After I had blind baked it and let it cool, I filled it with a light whipped cream and topped with the fresh blueberries. It actually worked and it all held together. The pastry was almost like a biscuit and the kids munched on them quite hungrily and I received rounds of applause from all the mums there! (especially since the sugar content was quite low).
I also decided to make a batch of "strawberry lemonade". It's not really a "lemonade" in the traditional sense, more like blended strawberries and lemon juice mixed with a very light sugar syrup. Because the current summer strawberries are quite sweet they only needed a slight enhancement to give them that extra "happy party" factor. And what is it with red drinks and kids? You should have seen their eyes light up when I was mixing it all up. And the recipe is dead easy. I just blended up a punnet of strawberries and added the juice of one small lemon. To that I added a light sugar syrup, which is basically a cup of caster sugar to two cups of water (bring it to a rapid boil, constantly stirring and remove it to cool). Taste as you continue to mix it to achieve the desired sweetness (which in this case wasn't much). Don't forget to add the crushed ice either! And I actually prefer the chunky bits of strawberries in this as it gives you that extra much needed fibre. A lot of recipes call for the berries to be strained but that's just an extra unnecessary step for me.
Oh! And I couldn't let the kiddies have all the fun could I? I had mine with a good splash of gin....